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Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by [Elizabeth Lim]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, teens and YA.

Well, re-tellings are a bit hit and miss for me, some I’ve adored and others…well, lets just say I didn’t. This story though, based on the old Grimms fairy tale, pulled at me. I adored Grimms as a kid, any fairy stories but especially those, and I’d read them over and over.( Mum used to say “Jeannie, you’re too old for fairy tales.” I’d have been maybe 9 or 10….) I’m much, much older now – frankly, you’re Never too old for fairy tales 😉
I remember this one so well, the poor sister spinning and knitting sweaters out of nettles…

Elizabeth makes the sister a princess, and the brothers princes. Sets them in a beautiful Eastern setting, with woods that stretch for miles, huge snow covered mountains, harsh dusty roads. There’s a very pronounced master/servant divide that works so well for the story.
The closeness of Shiori and her brothers grows, she’s always been loyal to them, loves them, but they’ve grown apart over the years. Now though, forced into each others company, depending on each other to break the curse, they grow back as one unit.

I loved this book, loved the addition of dragons, loved the fantasy elements that were still true to the original story but changed to fit this new one. I enjoyed the way Eastern beliefs and myths were woven into an essentially European fairy tale. It all added to that overall roundness of the story, made it feel believable.
I really liked seeing the day to day life, the little things like Shiori struggling to work for the lady she tried to steal the boat from. There were some great characters, harsh ones, kind ones, and of course my favourite, the cruel but clever, wicked ones.
Shiori grew so much in this book, from a sweet but selfish princess, into a much more rounded and understanding character. I enjoyed the gentle romance that grew towards the end, loved the way poor Shiori and her brothers seemed to take one step forward and two back. Those setbacks all added to the story, pushed her and her brothers into devising even more ways to try to break the curse. Kiki though, Kiki really was the star for me. I loved her, and can’t wait to see where Elizabeth takes her and Shiori on the next adventure.
This story is complete but…there are seeds sown for a follow-up that I’d love to read.

Stars: Five, a fun read for all ages, not just teens and YA.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2), Emily Croy Barker 

 

How to Talk to a Goddess, (The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic 2),
Emily Croy Barker 

How to Talk to a Goddess and Other Lessons in Real Magic by [Emily Croy Barker]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy

Its so long since I read book one that I decided to reread it. I remembered parts but discovered there was much I’d forgotten, and found that it was still as much fun as first time round.
Then I went straight on to read this and I think having refreshed my thoughts via first book made it easier to get into Nora’s mind, to follow why she chose certain actions. I was a bit sad for her parents who would once more get plunged into a mysterious disappearance, but really, how could she explain it? I think at least leaving them a note would have been kind, even if they don’t believe it.
I liked that Nora’s return was not seamlessly easy, and very believable. I wondered how after accidentally slipping into that world she’d be able to repeat it, and it was done in a way that felt natural.

I loved this book, the first is still my favourite by a small margin, but this has some great parts. I did like the things that happened, good and bad, to Nora and Aruendiel, the separation, the jealousies ( I love a good jealous issue!) I wasn’t so keen on the Goddess parts, and of course that’s a huge part of the story. It wasn’t that I disliked that part, I just felt Nora became someone else at times, and I wasn’t convinced she’d have acted in the way she did.
I’m glad the Faitoren were brought in and a resolution found, that tied up any lose parts from earlier and allowed the story to move forward.
I enjoyed meeting Aruendiel’s friends, and how they pulled together in dangerous times. The magic, I love that, loved the workings of the spells, loved the whole idea but then at heart I can’t help wishing there was magic in the world…..
Its a fun read, a worthy follow up and I would still like more from this world. I think Nora, Aruendiel and their friends could still have lots of adventures.

Stars: Five, A fabulous read, worthy follow up. And please Emily, more??

ARC supplied by author

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf, Hannah Whitten

For the Wolf (The Wilderwood Books Book 1) by [Hannah Whitten]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was so looking forward to this but the beginning…well, I had to restart a few times because, honestly, it was a slog. Once past that though it was a fantastic read, I’m so glad I didn’t give up, and I really want the next book Now!

I loved the Wilderwood scenes, they really were the best part. The slow burn romance, the Fife and Lyra interactions, the other characters, descendants of those caught in the past, and of course, the Wilderwood. A wood like no other, sentient, but focused on survival at all costs, and that’s meant the deaths of second daughters in the past.
What I wasn’t keen on was the Neve, Kiri part of the story, at least in the early stages. When the end grew near the two parts melded and became one but until then it was as if I was reading two different stories, only tangentially connected. It was hard jumping from one story arc to the other.
There were some terrific characters here, some horrific moments in the Wilderwood, and lots of things to learn, superstitions and stories, some of which were true, others not. I hadn’t read the connection to Red riding Hood, thankfully, as I don’t like re-imaginings of traditional stories and would have not requested this. To me, the only connection really is superficial, Red’s name and cloak, the woods and Eammon being known as The Wolf.
Its a fantastic read, once past the beginning I was gripped. Its very intense at times, lots of gritty drama and details, and the fabulous slowly unfolding romance. I am so hoping its not long to wait for more!

Stars: Five, If you struggle at first, stick with it, its so worth it. Fabulous, dramatic, intense story. And a gorgeous slow burn romance.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow

A Grimoire for Gamblers, (The Trove Arbitrations Book 1), Amanda Creiglow


Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

This sounded unusual, and that’s good in a market saturated with so many fantasy reads that are almost copies…so I dived in.
The magic here is different, very different to the usual, and I liked that, it was good to read a protagonist that wasn’t instantly transformed into someone more skilled than others hundreds of years older. Magic here – for humans at least – relies on skill, practice, accuracy- and intention. I really felt that part was one of the things that sets this novel above so many others.

I liked Elizabeth, and understood her grief for her father even though he’d been trying to end his life for some time. Her curiosity – that would be me, I couldn’t leave such interesting papers and items alone either….The grief provides a convenient excuse for her not being at work too, which gives her time to sort out this mess she’s inadvertently involved in. I didn’t see the point of the boyfriend, Faisal, he’s away for most of the novel and doesn’t add anything. Their relationship doesn’t feel like a very solid one, there’s no real pull between them, they feel more like flatmates than lovers.

I did get a little confused by all the different magical creatures, and I’m still not entirely sure what/where the Gravelings come from. That kind of brings up the weakness in the story for me, I have several unanswered questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of some incidents, felt others were too slickly glossed over. Max seems almost manic at times, yet terrified of his masters – why? What was the significance of the train, other than to begin events? The solutions occasionally seemed a bit slick, though the end result, the big problem, worked excellently for me. Complex enough to make me think, yet with a logic that I could understand.

Overall this was a fun read, and the issues I had could easily be put down to first in series syndrome. Those books have a tough ask, delivering a story interesting enough to hook the reader, but a world wide enough to carry future books. I think its successful here, I’d certainly like to read more.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun fantasy, but with some darker edges. Holds promise for an interesting series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

Well, Patricia Briggs is by far my favourite author – in any genre. Her books are as fresh now as when I first read Moon Called back in Sept 2010!! I had to look that up, can’t believe it was so long ago…I’ve re read bother the Mercy Thompson ( Hauptmann) and the Alpha and Omega ones many times now. I discover things I’d missed in earlier reads each time, there is so much detail and subtle clues.

As these books have advanced in series I’ve noticed they’ve become closer, with characters from each series making cameo appearances in the other. Of course Bran, Charles and Samuel have always featured in both, and the more major secondary characters take appearances and get referred to, but now even the plots seem to be connected, and get referenced to in each story. I love that connection.

So having done my fan-girling about PB and these fab stories what about this book.
I made sure to read in daytime only, as one review mentioned parts verged on horror – and I’m a complete wimp. I get nightmares from the slightest things, My kids laughed when I couldn’t even watch The Mummy with them 😉
However I needn’t have worried, its got mo more “horror” in that the MT one with the Hardesty witches, and as usual everything here fitted the story line perfectly.

What I love is that its not just Charles and Anna, but others that creep in, and along the way seeds are sown for characters, plots in later books. With the story overlaps now, that could be in either series, its become a kind of game for me, trying to see people and events that may become more. One of my favourite “newish” characters from the MT series, Sherwood Post, makes an appearance here, not in person but as a character that’s been involved in the current plot in the past, and some of the mysteries about his past have come forward. I’ve a fleeting thought from this book of who he might be really, given he’s lost his memory and no-one knows – apart from Bran, who may know, but is saying nothing. That man is a real enigma.

Of course there’s the usual slow burn plot development, where things seem relatively simple, but turn out to be anything but, and Anna, Charles and Tag are in real danger. We’re introduced to yet another new supernatural entity, well two really, one is a group rather than one ..person? Creature? I wonder if the new group will take a greater part in later stories? I get the feeling by now that when PB introduces someone or something new its for a reason. Sherwood is a great case, he crept in fairly innocuously and yet he’s become a major, essential character in recent books. As a fellow one leg amputee I have a kind of feeling of kinship with him…though sadly wolf changing is beyond me. Leah features more here, usually she’s just the cold, unfeeling person in the background, the Alpha’s Mate who hates Mercy. PB did what I thought wasn’t possible, made me feel sorry for her.

Its a cracking read, and reminds me its been a while since I revisited the whole series. Over Xmas I reread all the Mercy novels and had a fabulous immersion into that world, so I think its time for an Alpha and Omega immersion, my favourite way to read books like this, allowing me to get totally lost into that world for a while.

And the end..what can I say about that? Nothing, sadly, without spilling too much, but its incredible, unexpected, though again the clues were set in earlier books from both series. Its not a cliffhanger, just a huge surprise ending. Bittersweet in that some folk are very happy and others will be very sad, and of course it makes me wonder whats going to happen about this new development..

 

Stars: Five. Another riveting, drama filled suspense from Patricia Briggs. A fantastic read, bring the series forward and setting openings for future plots. Thank goodness, what would I do if PB stopped now??

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Wild Signs, Patricia Briggs

yay, just been approved for the latest Patricia Briggs egalley Wild Signs 🙂 I’m easily pleased.

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Its been weird this last year, I find it really hard settling to anything, where I can ususally lose myslef for hours in a book, my mind is restless, thinking about what weird times we live in, how live has changed so very much in such a short span. So I’ve done a lot of rereading old favourites where my mind doesn’t have to work so hard as I know the story. I’m on the last book in my rereading of PB’s other series ( Mercy Thompson – I’m still in love with Adam though I have a soft spot for Ben, and Sherwood is fast growing on me too) for the Nth time…..so maybe a time to reread this series.

 

Yesterday I read Spinning Silver Naomi Novak but….I didn’t really enjoy it even though I stayed up way too late to finish, I hate when that happens. It was one of those where i had to see what happened, and how they got there.
Spinning Silver by [Naomi Novik]
I loved Uprooted, her first book, so was disappointed not to enjoy this.
Uprooted by [Naomi Novik]

The Awakening, The Dragon Heart Legacy Book 1, Nora Roberts

The Awakening, The Dragon Heart Legacy Book 1, Nora Roberts

Genre: General fiction ( Adult).

Its ages since I read a Nora Roberts trilogy, ( or any from her alter ego Nora Robb come to that…) Those I have read have always been when all the books are released. I hate waiting for next parts, and part two is Nov 21 and its scheduled to finish in Nov 22! I find I’ve forgotten much of the story by time next installment is out. Still, when all parts are out its wonderful to get lost in another world, in a back to back reading fest. I can see this story being one of those.

I found the start Very Slow, at times it dragged. There were a few magic elements slid in with Sedric’s interventions but they are few and mysterious as we don’t know then what its all about. I did out aside a couple of times and come back to it another day here…
Then once more we have the obligatory Gay Best Friend. Are there really so many of these? Solid, safe backups, someone who’s protective to death, trustworthy, has the other persons best interests are the front always? And of course, good looking, great friends etc. It seems every other book has one now, and its beginning to feel unreal. They’ve been in the last three books I’ve read, all different genres.

So, once that slow start is past its a story that was great fun and had me gripped. Magic, magical creatures, spells, Good and Bad people, and of course a contender for the male MC’s heart. That’s very early though and may just be wishful thinking on my part, I do so love a good “ bad” manipulative person 😉 The possibilities are there, so I’m hoping it happens.
I love Nora’s writing, full of interest, lots of minor plots, lots of threads to hold my interest. The story doesn’t jump about, just moves through these threads, these different sections, gradually joining them all together.
I loved the characters, in both worlds, and the sheer volume of supernatural in the story. I hate ones that promise magic, and then throw in a tiny speck, a few minor spells and that’s it. Once Bree is in Talamh she’s surrounded by all magics. I loved it. Just hate that wait for next two parts.

Stars: Four. If it wasn’t for that slow, slow start this would be a five star read. Roll on the next book. And the one after 😉

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Intended Bondmates, D. Lieber

Intended Bondmates, D. Lieber

Intended Bondmates by [D. Lieber]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance.

I love paranormal romance, and this sounded intriguing, with some serious conflict happening. Sadly the conflict only lasted a short while before everyone was happy and friends 😦 From there it became a fairly simple story of friendship that quickly turned to more, a few vampire clashes, meeting others in the extended family, and a neat twist towards the end, throwing everything Luna believes into confusion.
Its a sweet romance, I’d have liked to know a little more about how the different types of paranormals interacted, and their history but it was easy enough to follow on. There’s no overall story arc that suggests a series, so I assume this is a stand alone read. It is a pretty basic story, low on drama and high on cute, which makes it feel to me a YA type read. I’ve read some great YA reads, even though I’m long past that, but this is one that I think YA readers will enjoy more. I’m looking for something with a bit more depth and drama, more twists and turmoil, more story and less simplicity.

Stars: Two and a half, its a good read, well done but the story-line just feels too YA for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Calypso’s Heart, Orion’s Order Book 1, M.C. Solaris

Calypso’s Heart, Orion’s Order Book 1, M.C. Solaris

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance.

I love this genre combo and expected to love this book. Sadly I couldn’t get past 20% and that was a struggle.
I found Caly obsessed with her morning drinks, and just plain weird. I mean, you have a recurring dream, you wake up one night and they guy – searingly hot and massive of course – is in your bedroom. What do you do – scream? Leap out of bed to grab something to defend yourself with? Rush for your phone? All of those? Caly? She just tells herself she must be dreaming and happily has sex with the guy. I was rolling my eyeballs there. I mean Blake is supposed to be a hero/gentleman, yet he’s happy to have sex with this unknown woman, who might be a threat to all he and his friends do, who has one of said friends waiting for him in the next room…..
Then there’s the confusion over who was who. Caly meets and dates a couple of times someone called Nick, so when we met a Nico among Blake’s guys I thought maybe they were the same – but no, The guys making up the order behaved like overgrown college kids. There’s a difference between banter and tussles or juvenile talk and fights. It was as if everything was either something to joke about or something that involved some of them fighting it out. I didn’t feel the long bonds of friendship I expected, hadn’t a clue what they were actually doing, hadn’t the patience to listen to more of Caly’s inner musings or watch her unbelievable actions.
Maybe if I could have made myself read more it gets better, but for me if its not working by this far in its not going to suit me. I can see others love it, as usual its the horses for courses stuff, what one person doesn’t like another loves, so make your own judgment.
I did restart this twice thinking maybe id missed something, that restarting might make it read differently but sadly, no. Just not one for me. I hate writing low star reviews, I’m aware of all the hard work that goes into a novel, but sometimes it has to be done, or it makes higher star reviews meaningless.

Stars: Two, a book others love but which was a fail for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.

Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.

Smoke Bitten: Mercy Thompson: Book 12 by [Briggs, Patricia]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, wow! This series continues to grow, each book building upon the whole story. With some ongoing series its clear at a certain point they’ve run out of steam, but this one has plenty of potential stories yet.
Patricia Briggs is my favourite author, this series my number one closely followed by her alpha and Omega novels. I could – and have- read them over and over, seeing this I missed each time. This twelfth book still feels as fresh as the first one.
There are so many fantasy reads out there in book-world, some excellent and some ( only imo of course) are just dire. I’d love if Patricia could write faster, I could devour everything she puts out, but what makes these books special is the realistic characters ( even though the are anything but real!), the solid story, the multiple plots, the carefully woven links that grow through each book, and that takes time. I’d rather wait and have quality to read, than for the series to have more books but devolve into some of that dire writing. Actually I don’t think Patricia could ever write like that, its just not in her. Thankfully.

Well, another puzzle for Adam and Mercy here, and as usual there’s not just one plot but multiple ones. A weird and incredibly dangerous creature no-one knows much about, that may have escaped through the door Tilly opened in Mercy’s back yard, some strange werewolves in town, and problems between Adam and Mercy, not with their relationship but which could affect it.
Its always a treat trying to work out just how Marcy and Co will resolve things. Because although Mercy is always the driving force, she’s aided each time by her pack, her friends and somehow she always ends up in the firing line.
I love that we see so many of the old characters here, along with the new ones. I can see how things from earlier books have led to relationships – not friendships but those kind of connections that prove very important when Mercy needs them. As well as the tension and danger, there’s the usual fun and games, the day to day issues that make the story feel grounded and balanced. Fae bargains have to have balance, and for me books need to have balance too…
With some authors I feel they write themselves into plots that only magical solutions will get them out of, and when they just pull those out of a hat, do things no-one has heard of, that have never been mentioned and don’t have any real connections and – bingo- everything’s fine, I feel cheated. With this series though the magic is part of it, and though Mercy has no magic per-se, she has those connections, the Fae, the vampires and of course Adam and the pack, with the Marrok always in the background, and of course her own special heritage from Coyote. When there’s magic involved it always follows set rules that have been brought up in earlier books, so I don’t feel its some new, unheard of superpower solution. Mercy and the pack bonds feature strongly here, and her being pack but not pack, being coyote and something different, means her pack bonds are different too. I found that part really interesting, had me visualising what Mercy was seeing.
I love that Adam has some problems here. I adore the man, the perfect mix of gorgeous, charming, Gentleman and sex, and sometimes guys like that need a few issues to make them real. There’s one point where I was really almost tearful at events, very much moved, and also very much angry that things had gone so far.
Once more its like meeting old friends, and knowing their individual strengths and weaknesses ( Aurielle and Christy!) I can see how they will work in the story. I guess my big fear is that the constant dangers to them mean each book maybe is the last for some of them. We’ve seen people die in previous books, it happens with the constant pressures, it can’t be just the bad guys that die, that would make it unbalanced. The fact so many have died or left the pack because of the dangers is brought up here. The Colombian Basin pack is noticeably smaller, and that brings in vulnerabilities. My heart was heavy that it might happen here to two longstanding characters, and that fear is what makes it real. And I’m not saying if they died or not 😉
So, I finished this yesterday and am already thinking – read again or go the whole hog through the series – I know that these books can stand that constant re reading. Maybe I’ll do both 😉

Stars: five, a cracking read, perfectly paced and balanced, and gave me a story to lose the real world for a time. I adore these books, fingers crossed there’s many, many more to come 🙂

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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