Six Crimson Cranes, 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
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
Wild Sign, An Alpha and Omega Novel. Book 6, 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
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.
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
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
Smoke Bitten, Mercy Thompson Book 12, Patricia Briggs.
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
A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr
Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA
Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.
Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
Well, adventures galore after the antics at the end of books two. Trouble in the pack for Gunner, Trouble for Mai with Kira excelling herself in brat mode here. Honestly, at times I wanted to shake her. She a kid though and gone through such a lot. And because she’s a kid then social services are always overlooking what the two do, and checking Mai is looking after Kira properly. Of course she can’t tell them whats going on “ ah well, you see, actually we’re fox shifters, Kitsunes…” – “ right, OK dear, now lets just give you a nice shot to clam you down….”
There are possible relatives for the girls who though they had none, Gunner has pack troubles, getting wolves to accept him having a fox mate. Kira’s mum is still throwing in unhelpful tips, and its really chaos all round. All Mai wanted was a quiet life for her and Kira, then she met Gunner and he convinced her they could make a life together. The pack has been through such a lot though and they are not happy.
Stars: four, its a fun finish, packed with action and suspense, but the actual ending did feel a little rushed. I’m not usually one for books following the ending of a story but I think a longer epilogue with a peek into the future would have finished this off well, just to let us know that after all the chaos and disasters things did work out, that the pair had not just a HFN but a HEA.
A bought book!
Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance
So, after the last adventures Mai and Kira are hiding out with Gunner and the pack. Of course that doesn’t go down well with many of them, historically the two Do Not Mix….and Kira is fading fast. Trying to be helpful we saw in the last book things she did that are now affecting her badly. Kira is desperate to help her sister, but can see her sickening daily. Kira is still a brat though, in a nice way, she adores her sister but it seems the fox/kitsune playfulness and trickster genes came out in force in Kira. She means well, but somehow ends up doing the opposite, causing chaos. If she was a NI spirit she’s be Coyote!
Its a fun read, I loved the fact the Pack weren’t happy and the issues that brought. I did feel a bit confused at times, sort of lost the thread of where the story was going, and it took me a while to get back “into” the story. There was a patch where I lost it completely, got confused and just kind of switched off and skimmed a couple of chapters, and of course that didn’t help. “But I wanted to see what would happen” she explains plaintively…
There’s some more surprises for Mia and Kira here, mum’s voice is still throwing cryptic comments at Mia, and some of those made me smile and think “what on earth does THAT mean??”. Its good to have some lighter moments 😉 Gunner is doing his best to help but he’s Pack and his leader brother makes it clear he needs to choose where his loyalties lie. While Mia and Kira continue to help the pack in their search they’re there in sufferance but its a thin line he treads.
I enjoyed this installment even though like other reviewers there were parts where I got a bit lost, but I love to read a series back to back, and to reread good ones, and find that works well for me. I’m sure when I get to reread this one those foggy moments will be clearer, especially as I’ll know the ending and be able to resist skipping to there 😉
And, I’ve bought book three. It takes a lot to make me buy books with getting lots of lovely arcs ( thanks authors and publishers), free kindle reads and KU.
Stars: four, a fun read, some terrific characters – including Kira’s social worker! I doubt in real life that would swing but she’s a gem. I did find parts a little hard to follow but as I’ve said I’m sure re-reading will clear that up.
A bought book!