Review: Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh

October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 13th September 2012
Publisher: Berkeley Sensation
Author’s website: http://nalinisingh.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: #5 in Guild Hunter series
Find it at: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

GoodReads Synopsis

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

What I loved:

  • Jason. He’s always been one of my favourites among the Seven (scratch that, they’re all pretty fantastic) and this story highlighted his awesome factor. There’s just something so forbidden about him and that level of intelligence paired with the stealth that he carries like an extension of his body is very alluring.
  • The wedding and subsequent scenes with Honor and Dmitri. It was a great to come almost full-circle and see the continuation of their story, considering that at the end of Archangel’s Blade (Dmitri’s story) it felt like it was cut off abruptly – happily, but abruptly.
  • The level of intrigue in Neha’s court.
  • Nalini Singh can write. Her language is beautiful, lyrical and so bittersweet at times. I see Singh as the cook who can make creme brulee out of egg shells, she’s magical.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Mahiya. Sorry girlfriend, I may be the possessive book-girl/fan-friend of Jason, but I thought his love would be extraordinary.
  • The plotline and ‘twist’ with Mahiya’s family. I can’t say I didn’t expect it because I saw it coming a mile away. Also, after the epic battle between the sisters, I fully expected something tremendous to happen, but all the story details after that point is Mayiha’s getaway to New York. I mean… I felt like the story was cut short, and that it spent too much time laying foundation rather than having things happen.
  • Jason and Mahiya’s romance and relationship. For some reason, I felt it was very… sterilized, like I was touching with gloves. I didn’t feel the same amount of ebb-and-flow surges of passion like I did with the other Guild Hunter books.

Other Thoughts:

… Particularly with the continuation of the series. I think Singh made it very easy for herself to continue writing books in the Guild Hunter series because this particular installment leaves more questions than those answered. What will become of Nivriti and Neha? Will Lijuan play a part in the next book and how will her incorporeal manifestation adapt? What will the Archangels do with the emergence of their new powers, and what will they be?

I can already see power balances shifting with the new powers the Archangels are getting, and I predict that the next book will center on this particular aspect of the books. There will be discontent within the Cadre and I’m sure one Archangel or other will feel slighted, and boom! Out come the powers of epic destruction.

I wonder whose story will be next, however? I’m thinking it’ll either be Illium and a newfound love or the next Raphael and Elena installment. Aodhan seems unlikely, but I would love read Venom’s story.

Overall, a fantastic book that I did not love as expected, but enjoyed all the same. Solid 4 stars!

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Review: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 3rd July 2012
Publisher: ROC
Author’s website: www. kalayna.com
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #3 Alex Craft series
Find it at: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

Official blurb:

When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.

But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…

What worked for me:

  • This plot. How amazing was it? The mystery behind the ‘apparent suicides’ was fantastic, the big reveal of the murderer being the grave-entity of the ‘rider’ and how they managed to contain him in the end? Absolutely riveting. I was hooked.
  • Death (the character). My opinion and love for Death still stands. Smoking. Hot. Absolutely tender, masculine and totally amazing, my hopeless romantic heart practically flip flopped in my chest when I realized they had a chance.
  • That sex scene. Nowhere 50 Shades material, but come on, it was still hot. And it was so affectionate and warm between them! And the morning after? Sheesh. I wonder what we would have been reading had Tamara not interrupted. I also found it amusing that Alex has known Death since she was 5 years old, hopped into bed with him, and doesn’t even know his real name.
  • A deeper understanding of the mechanics behind being a soul collector. I have been dying to know more about Death’s contextual construct and Price managed to give me a scrap without making me angry and demanding more. And I love how she never really confirmed or denied that the ‘mender’ Alex met is or isn’t ‘god’. Pretty obvious though, right? I like that Price doesn’t treat her readers like they’re idiots.
  • The exploration of faerie politics during the faerie revelry celebration. How interesting is it! Usually, as I’ve mentioned before, I hate reading books about fae because most of the authors do a fantastic job of describing Faerie and its occupants and it creeps me out to the max, but this was well written. Had me shivering and cringing, to be honest, especially whenever the Winter Queen made an appearance. Heinous bitch.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Falin. Seriously, get out already. Okay, fine, I’m sorry for being harsh – I know you’re only doing the bidding of your bitch-queen, but seriously. Alex can’t trust you and your boss is plotting her demise. Guilty by association, I know, but Alex needs to trash your toothbrush and make some space for Death’s.
  • This love triangle! Come on Alex! Stop being a typical indecisive lover and just choose one (preferably Death, thank you). I’d like you a lot more as a character if you stopped dancing between Falin and Death and just make a decision. I know you’re heartbroken but you’re a glutton for punishment what with the way you’ve been carrying on. Again, like I’ve previously mentioned, I abhor stories that have love triangles without a clear ‘winner’.

Other thoughts:

Caleb and Holly: totally saw that coming, and I think it’s hella cute.

My thoughts for the next installment (can’t believe it’s coming out August in 2013!!) is that Alex chooses a lover (preferably Death, thank you) and that her powers manifest even further, or even better, she understands and is at least able to control her planeweaving. Remember the Shadow King’s Changeling? Perhaps she meets him again and learns some valuable lessons from him. And maybe a plotline that involves something perhaps with Alex’s faerie power inheritance, and perhaps some more secrets her darling of a father has been keeping? I’m curious if the ‘mender’ will also make an appearance. His parting words of definitely seeing Alex again sounded ominous!

Adored the third installment to this series and cannot wait till August 2013 for Grave Vision!

A solid 4.5 Stars.

[ Alex Craft Book 1 review | Alex Craft Book 2 Review ]

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

October 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

Star Rating: Date released: 27th September 2011 
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Author’s website: http://www.lainitaylor.com/
My source: Apple iBooks
Format: eBook
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Daughter of Smoke and Bone series
Find it at: GoodReads Amazon | B&N

GoodReads book description

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

What I liked:

  • The darkness in the book. You can almost feel it trickling out and seeping into your arms, your eyes. Taylor is a very talented author because she can really give that illusion of night, but at the same time assures you that you’re safe in her hands.
  • The worldbuilding. What a fantastical world! I’ve never read anything like it. It was magical, frightening, epic and absolutely interesting. The idea that there is a war being fought unbeknownst to humans is definitely not a new concept, but for some reason it feels like it is one when you’re reading.
  • Karou. As a character she’s totally multi-dimensional. A talented artist, a conflicted teenager and a budding woman, she’s everything you expect her to be but she still manages to surprise you. She is strong and independent, a girl who is walking the line between two worlds and actually able to handle it.
  • Karou’s family, and their relationships. As creatures borne from ‘hell’, you expect there to be a lot more… hmm.. how to say it? Violence? Maliciousness and cruelty? I’m not sure. I expected this from her family considering which side of good and evil they were on, but the love and kinship between them all was endearing and Taylor does a fantastic job of making the reader sympathetic to their side.
  • Themes of love. The passionate, the enduring, the star-crossed, familial love, and the forbidden. Daughter of Smoke and Bone has it all.

What I didn’t like:

  • The instant love between Karou and Akiva (for reasons I don’t want to completely spoil). As most YA books go, this happens almost everywhere and I find it irritating that this still happens.

Finally, a book that really lived up to its hype. The ending absolutely destroyed me, and I was literally left wide-eyed thinking wait… that’s it? Where’s the rest of it? No. No! It was so tragic, I actually teared up. I can’t wait for the sequel’s release. And check out that amazing cover! Delicious to read.

A solid and luminescent 5 stars!

Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 5th July 2011 
Publisher: ROC
Author’s website: www. kalayna.com
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #2 Alex Craft series
Find it at: GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

GoodReads synopsis:

Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.

What I really liked:

  • The plot. The mystery with the severed left feet? Exhilarating, I was riveted the entire time.
  • The time spent in Faerie and the alternate magical realities within the Faerie realm. It was confusing as hell, but I enjoyed the way it was written and the complete lack of predictability the world help.
  • The character dynamics between Alex and her friends and associates, i.e. John, Detective Jensen, Holly, Tamara and Caleb. It’s good to know that these relationships aren’t set in stone and that Alex’s actions affect them deeply with even the smallest action on her part. I’ve read a lot of books where the hero or heroine do something stupendously idiotic, but the offended friend still continues along merrily like nothing happened.\
  • Death, the character. Smoking. Hot.

What I didn’t like

  • The love triangle. From what the gray man told Alex, it really sucks because it seems Death doesn’t even have a chance of being with Alex, that he’s already out of the running for her affection. I hate how these angsty love triangles make me feel – especially in this case because I’m actually rooting for Alex to be with Death, not Falin. Ugh!
  • The parallel of Alex and PC entering Faerie and Dorothy and Toto entering Oz. Alex’s almost fanatical devotion to her dog was so irritating.
  • Alex’s… indifference. I find her a hard character to relate to, she’s incredibly cold and inaccessible to me. She’s passionate about her friends and her job and her magic, but for some reason, that passion doesn’t translate to any particular affinity for me to like her.
  • The introduction of a lot of new characters closer to the end of the book that is obviously laying the foundation for the next book. It was a little irritating because Price obviously wanted the characters introduced, but a lot of them seemed superfluous to the current story (like the reject ‘king’ of the nightmare realm).
  • The scene with Maximillian Bell in the cemetery with his goons. I seriously thought that scene was useless and dragged out that part of the story for me (the part that was supposed to be all gung-ho, oh my god we’re approaching the climax kind of part).

Overall, I liked the second book because of the mystery and the plot. It got a little fuzzy towards the end, especially the parts where she enters Faerie and meets something like half a dozen new characters that we never end up learning a lot about. The romance in the book was considerably lessened because Alex was torn between two love interests, but it seems from the way the book ended that Alex will be staying with Falin for now because of what happened to Edana and the rogue reaper.

I feel really bad for Death, and wish we knew more about the soul collectors and what binds them. Seriously, I feel that Death is so amazing compared to Falin. I can’t even discern the two of them but my heart’s telling me to root for Death and Alex – and even with Edana’s demise and warning, I still want them to be together. Impossible? Fuck it. Even Alex’s relationship with Falin is doomed to failure because of his loyalty to the Winter Court and queen. She just can’t choose the easy way out, can she?

Solid 4 Stars.

My review of Book 1 in the Alex Craft series can be found here.

Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

September 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 1st September 2010
Publisher: Penguin
Author’s website: http://www.kalayna.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Alex Craft series
Find it at: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

 

 

 

GoodReads synopsis:

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around…

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life…and her soul.

What worked for me:

  • The plot. It was great, really interesting and the conclusions that Alex made were logical, didn’t leap into the unknown and flowed quite well. The element of mystery was almost tangible, as was the atmosphere of constant danger.
  • Death, the character. He was hot, that’s for sure. I was always intrigued by his presence, he seems like such a great persona! Pity we don’t see enough of him and that he’s basically bound by whatever rules that soul collectors have to abide by.
  • The categories of witchcraft. I liked that Alex wasn’t just a witch, she was a grave witch. I liked the different categories each individual witch could be placed in, because it made it easier to organise in my head and ultimately made it easier to understand the world I was reading about.
  • Alex’s friends: Caleb, Holly and Tamara. I liked the friendship between them; close and dependable but not suffocating.
  • The scene at the Eternal Bloom. Usually ‘heavy’ fae books scare the bejeesus out of me, and I was wary of reading this scene. It was very craftily written though, with everything I expected out of a Fae-run establishment and more. I liked what happened during this scene, too, where Alex cuts the silver thread and breaks the violin’s strings, I was held in thrall throughout this chapter.
  • The sex scene between Alex and Falin. It wasn’t over the top but it was still quite steamy. I liked the buildup towards it, and laughed at the cab scene where the driver is yelling at them.

What didn’t work for me:

  • Falin’s lies of omission. I feel like it was a huge “no-no” after we discovered he is the Winter Queen’s lover and assassin, especially because I had such high hopes for a relationship between Falin and Alex.
  • The quasi-love-triangle that emerges when Alex is near death, between Alex, Falin and Death. I don’t do love triangles very well, especially of the intended lover is unclear and it’s just a tug-of-war with no determined ending or path to walk towards.
  • The world building. I’m heavily into books with fantastic worlds, but I feel that Price’s city of “Nekros” was… really terrible. I mean, with a name like that, it automatically makes me think of cringe-worthy emo teenagers who flaunt morbid labels. The actual world in which Alex lived in was always quite blurry. I didn’t need precise details, but some more information would have been lovely, Ms. Price.
  • Alex, as a character. She seems like she’s so unsure of her identity, her actions are governed on a whim and she seems impulsive without a cause. I can admire an impulsive heroine if it’s in her personality, but Alex jumps back and forth between logic and stupidity at times
  • The dialogue was dry and boring, I felt. I didn’t feel any particular spark between characters through their dialogue, and I’m big on it.

I actually picked this book back up again after about two weeks when I had first begun to read it. The first few chapters are boring, but it was only after the entrance of Detective Andrews did I involve myself into the story. Alex seems likeable enough, and something tells me she’s as special as Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, a special element that will be revealed in subsequent books in the series. I enjoyed the race to find the mysterious ritualistic killer and was interested throughout.

I really hate love triangle books, and I’m hoping the next installment doesn’t have one. Well, let me reiterate: I hate love triangles where the main love interest is unclear and the one in between is indecisive. Hate. That. It just drags on and on.

Still, a 4 Star read – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Further Information:

 

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

September 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Star Rating:

Date released: 21st May 2011
Publisher: Feral Dream
Author’s websitehttp://susanee.com/
My source: Amazon Kindle Store
Part of a series: Yes, #1 Penryn and the End of Days series
Find it at: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

 

Amazon book description:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

What worked for me:

  • THAT BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS COVER
  • The fast paced action, how every development in the plot didn’t drag on
  • Penryn on the whole. She can take care of herself but isn’t stuck up about being bad-ass. How she isn’t vain and does not view herself as beautiful. How we aren’t told of her loyalty, but see it through her actions and others’ words.
  • The world-building. Damn. Ee does a great job of describing post-apocalypse San Francisco very well.
  • The final scene, after Penryn gets stung by the hybrid angel scorpions and how she could do nothing but observe as her body refused to work due to the paralysis from venom. This was written beautifully. I wonder what Raffe was thinking? Did he think she was truly dead? If he did, why did he fly over the truck as it was making its getaway? Maybe as a last salute and goodbye?

What didn’t work for me:

  • Some parts of the plot seemed superfluous, such as the scenes in Obi’s renegade camp. The fights, especially the one organised by Dee & Dum just seemed so unnecessary.
  • Penryn’s narrative voice, it annoyed me a few times because of the disparity between what she was thinking, to what she did and how she felt – it didn’t connect at times.
  • Raffe, at times. It was strange how he went from complete indifference towards Penryn, to kissing her passionately, to risking his life for her in such a short time without any kind of indicator that he was feeling anything at all. It was a strange leap to make because there were no romantic notions whatsoever except from Penryn’s point of view.
  • Penryn’s teenage infatuation with Raffe. This annoyed me often, because she couldn’t seem to stop ogling him. If there does end up being a romance in the second installment of the series, I’m going to be wary of it because from Penryn’s perspective she’s infatuated with his physicality and is not entirely committed into truly caring for him (though her actions in trying to save him at the aerie said otherwise). I need more!

I’d heard a lot about this book and the significance of it gaining so much popularity considering the author is self-pubbed. Add to the fact that it was relatively cheap on the Kindle Store, I didn’t hesitate considering I’ve been wanting to pick up a fantasy book lately. I liked the ‘ride’. It was frantically paced, and some of the more gruesome scenes had descriptions that had me cringing. A great read and a new look on angels that don’t quite fall with the added bonus of agnostic angels, something new with a kick! Sad to know that the next installment is due out in 2013, poo!

 

Review: Crow’s Row by Julie Hockley

September 23, 2012 § 1 Comment

Rating: 4 Stars

Crow’s Row by Julie Hockley is a contemporary romance story about Emily and Cameron, who from the outset seem as if they’ve been thrust together out of coincidence and that their magnetism towards one another builds up into a beautiful love. It’s a nice ride of a story, with thrills and spills and some deeply emotional decision making.

Love is excruciating, especially when you can feel it slipping through your fingers and there is nothing you can do about it. Like someone was playing tug-of-war with my limbs, ripping to shreds whatever was left behind.

Enter Emily Sheppard, your average college student living off take-out, once a month laundry days and sleeping in a broom cupboard big enough to fit a single bed. She’s perennially poor, but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t come from money – oh no. Her parents are jaded blue bloods with enough money that covering up the not-so-legal antics of their eldest son from the media was no problem.

Enter Cameron Hillard, the top dog for the local drug lords. Broody and timid, he is a force to behold and it’s obvious the kind of authority he wields when his colleagues treat him with such fear and deference.

Hockley’s writing style is elegant. It borders at times on more “telling” than “showing”, but she paces well and is big on environmental descriptors. Her characterisation is fair, as is her storytelling.

One thing is for sure in this novel: nothing is what it seems.

Spoilers under the Read More!

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