Review – Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher

summer knight

Summer Knight can almost make me forgive book three.  Almost.

From Goodreads: “Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything…”

From the start I’ve said this series is a lot of fun.  My frustrations (especially with book three) were due to some of the characterization – not the writing itself.  So, in fairness, I’ve decided to remind you of the issues I had with Grave Peril and talk about how they were improved (or not) in SK.

 #1 – Grave Peril included characters and story lines that weren’t introduced in earlier books which made the first 25-50% very frustrating to read.  For the most part, Summer Knight stuck with the characters and overall story that we knew from the series.  Any introductions made sense and seemed organic.  The only caveat is Michael.  He played a major role in GP but is basically non-existent here.  If he and Harry worked together so much then I would have expected some interaction in this story.  Grade: A-

#2 – I didn’t feel the story made as much sense in Grave Peril. Why were the bad guys after Harry, etc.?  The story is much improved in SK.  Faes playing games with those around them, the threat of war, the powers that be not appreciating those that work for and with them.  This all worked as Urban Fantasy.  Grade: A

#3 – Misogyny, chauvanism, whatever you want to call it but at the end of the day Grave Peril was offensive to women.  I have to give Butcher some credit here.  He did make improvements in this area and Harry is starting to treat the women around him with more respect.  Listen, he still likes legs and breasts (and hair and pink lips and, I could go on) but that’s okay.  What I don’t want is for him to act like he is supposed to save the women around him because they aren’t able to save themselves.  I think he’s starting to get it.  Grade: B

Overall, a very enjoyable and improved installment in the Dresden Files.  4/5 stars.

Review – Late Eclipses (October Daye #4) by Seanan McGuire

late eclipses

Once again, Toby Daye is being called upon to save the day.  Late Eclipses is the fourth installment of the October Daye urban fantasy series by Seanan McGuire.

From Goodreads: “October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, finds the delicate balance of her life shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended. Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile.

Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher, for the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda. With everything on the line, Toby will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most—because if she can’t find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she’d have to face again…”

Honestly, I’m sitting here at my computer and having a tough time writing a review for this installment.  I usually make sure that I review one book in a series before I move on to reading the next one.  Yesterday, though, I couldn’t help myself and finished book five.  I have so much in my head right now that I don’t want to give you everything here.  So I’ll keep it simple and get into the meat of my feelings on the series so far in my review of One Salt Sea.

One of the things that I love about this series is that Toby is real.  She makes mistakes and has to deal with the consequences.  And her sarcastic big mouth gets her in trouble more often that not.  While she knows that the Queen of the Mists hates her, she doesn’t back down one bit when dealing with everything that can be thrown in her direction.  I respect that.

All of the major characters make appearances here and there was a decent amount of Tybalt, the King of Cats.  Even Amandine, Toby’s mom, shows up at one point.

This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order starting with book one. Otherwise, you won’t understand and respond to the intricacies of some of the relationships.  Rayseline, Luna, Sylvester, May, Lily, Connor, the Luidaeg.  Trust me, you want to know the history.

Another great addition to the series.  4/5 stars.

Review – Revenant (LOD #6; Demonica #11) by Larissa Ione

revenantRecently I have broken one of my cardinal reading rules TWICE.  I’ve read books in a series out-of-order.  I will not make that mistake again.

From Goodreads: “For five thousand years, Revenant believed he was alone in the world, a fallen angel beyond any redemption. Now he finds he has a twin brother who had all the light and love Revenant was denied. Caught in a tug of war between Heaven and Hell, he must weigh his thirst for revenge against his desire for a mysterious female named Blaspheme—a female whose very origins could deliver him into salvation . . . or destruction.

Blaspheme has a deadly secret: she’s the forbidden offspring of an angel and a fallen angel. Hunted by both heavenly and satanic forces, she has survived only by laying low and trusting no one. When Revenant claims he can save them both, how can she possibly believe him? But the powerful angel is persistence incarnate and for Blaspheme, there’s no place she can hide in Heaven or Hell where he won’t find her.”

Revenant is 100% a paranormal romance.  And, I’m sure fans of the series will love this installment.  It’s fun, sexy and well paced.

For me, it wasn’t quite a win.  I’ve said before that I tend to prefer urban fantasy over paranormal romance and this is a good example of why.  A while back I read a post from an erotica writer who discussed why, even in a romance or erotica, you must have conflict and a strong plot line / story.  You can’t build a successful novel on just the couple getting together.

In many ways, that was the problem with Revenant.  Almost every scene between Revenant and Blaspheme was written around him trying to get her to have sex with him.  As a result I felt very little connection with them as characters.  If I had read the series I may have known more of their backstory and understood his obsession and her reticence.

Lastly, while I love stories with strong alphas, Revenant came off poorly.  Mostly because he was very pushy with Blaspheme and kind of raunchy without the cheekiness that can make that work.  Some of his dialogue was eye roll worthy.

But, as I said, fans of this series will probably love it.  And, I’m still giving it 3-stars.  If you can kind of relax and take it for what it is, then you will enjoy the hours you spend with Larissa Ione.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour Review – The Mesmerized by Rhiannon Frater

The Mesmerized Blog Tour BannerThe Mesmerized is the most recent published novel from Rhiannon Frater and it does not disappoint.  While reading I was reminded of books like The Stand and Under the Dome by Stephen King and movies like The Happening from M. Night Shyamalan.

Minji, our main character, is a wife and mother who will do what it takes to protect her family.  She is tough, smart and doesn’t back down.  She and her family are visiting Las Vegas when people are suddenly stricken – bleeding and becoming unresponsive.  Minji is one of the few that is able to continue functioning and it’s up to her to find out what is happening and save those that have been Mesmerized.

If you like fantasy or horror with a strong female lead, this is for you.  The character development was exceptional and Minji is just what I look for in an MC.  No cookie cutter Mary Sues here.  The pacing works well within the story and it pulls you through all the way to the end.  I didn’t want to put it down.

5/5 stars and highly recommended.  (And the e-book is on sale for $2.99 through 12/19).  Grab it now!  Or enter here for a hardcopy giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e14451c620/

mesmerized

Excerpt from The Mesmerized

By

Rhiannon Frater

“Okay, the tigers are at The Mirage. So that’s our first stop,” Jake decided. “Then we can head to the Hard Rock. I want a t-shirt from there.”

Minji looped the end of the leash a few times around her wrist before taking Ava’s hand. “Perfect. Let’s get this show on the road.”

“It’s really crowded right now, so everyone stay close. I’m looking at you, Ava.”

Ava gave her father a plaintive look while tugging on her leash. “I can’t run away!”

“Good! I’d like my little girl to not go splat in the road.”

Minji winced at the memory of her daughter dodging into the road to greet Jake when he’d returned from an evening run. Luckily their neighbor had seen her in time and jerked her car onto someone else’s lawn, avoiding Ava completely. The mere idea of losing any of her family was enough to make Minji sick to her stomach.

Shoving negative thoughts away, Minji kept in her husband’s wake as he threaded through the crowd toward the escalators that descended from either side of the waterfall. The atrium loomed ahead filled with bright sunlight that reflected off the creamy walls and pillars.

The first sign that something was wrong came when her brain was assailed with what felt like millions of cold needles burrowing into the gray matter. With a whimper, Minji pressed her fingertips to her temples in a futile attempt to stave off the pain. Then the sensation intensified.

Screams echoed through the vast resort in a horrifying chorus. All around her, people flailed about, or gripped their heads in their hands. Jake grunted and stumbled as Bailey let out a shrill cry. Woozy, Minji reached for her screaming baby just as another stab of unbearable agony tore through her brain, blinding her. Rapidly blinking her eyes, she desperately attempted to restore her sight.

“Mommy! Mommy!” Ava wailed. “Mommy, my head hurts! I can’t see!”

Howls of agony reverberated through the mall corridors. Minji tugged on the child leash, dragging Ava into her arms. Unable to see, she clutched her daughter close. Paralyzing fear churned in her gut. The pain diminished, but the blindness remained.

“Jake!”

“I’m right here.” A familiar, warm hand floundered against her back then found her shoulder. “I’m right here, hon. I got you.”

Again there was a flash of icy discomfort, then the world returned to sharp focus. To Minji’s horror, blood streamed down the faces of some of the shoppers close to her. Bubbles of the rich liquid formed in their eyes, noses, and ran from their lips. Swaying slightly, the bleeders stared blankly past the faces of their frightened companions. Minji swiftly checked Ava, Bailey and Jake. None of them were bleeding. Lifting Ava onto her hip, Minji pressed against Jake’s side.

“Jake, are you okay?”

“My head is killing me,” he answered. “Check the baby.”

“She’s not bleeding, just crying. What the hell is happening?”

“I don’t know. Keep Ava close!” Jake wrapped his arms around his wife, pulling her toward the far wall.

You can find info about the author, this book and others at:

Website: rhiannonfrater.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rhiannon.frater

Twitter: twitter.com/rhiannonfrater

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=340109912&trk=spm_pic

Google+: https://plus.google.com/113336058823746385572/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rhiannon-Frater/e/B0027DLFL6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2310121.Rhiannon_Frater

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rhiannonfrater/

Email: rhiannonfrater at gmail.com

 

Thank you to the author for providing an e-book as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Grave Peril (Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher

grave perilGRRRR…This book annoyed me.

The third installment of the Dresden Files has Harry fighting ghosts that are being driven by a strong force that wants to destroy Harry.

Sorry to fans of this one but I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.  Yes, it made me angry and I’d rather just tell you why and then move on to book four where things better change!

First of all, until I reached about the 25% point I was convinced I had missed a book.  I went back and confirmed that this is in fact book three and I’ve read books one and two.  Oooookaaaay.  Maybe there was a novella or short story (Dresden Files 2.5) that would explain things.  Like who the heck is Michael and why is he being presented as an almost partner and good friend to Harry when I have never heard of him.  And, Harry’s fae godmother being thrown about like we know her.  Nope, no novella or short story to explain.  Seriously, what the heck?  I could live with a few things left unexplained or to come later.  This was just bad writing or laziness.

The story itself was also much sloppier than the first two books.  It didn’t make much sense as to why the big bad was targeting Harry.  How did he really control the ghosts and attack the living?  No clue here.

Lastly, I already knew Harry was a chauvinist but he really took it to the next level here.  He was obsessed with breasts and legs when he should have been worried about his life.  Or, I don’t know, the lives of the women he was ogling.  Butcher also allowed Susan to revert to idiocy.  As Harry’s girlfriend she’s seen a decent amount of the supernatural at this point.  Enough for a smart woman, as she is, to use her brains.  Instead she walks into danger without a concern for herself or how it would affect Harry.  It made no sense for her character and led me to believe that Butcher may just believe women are wired to be idiots.

2/5 stars.  There were a few things that I liked. The humor and the pacing.  But, come on, Butcher – GET IT RIGHT.  I am going to read book four and truly hope I don’t see these same issues.

P.S.  I didn’t factor this into my rating but my edition was riddled with typos including Hellbounds instead of hellhounds.  It was very distracting and I expect more from a national publisher.

Review – Coyote Dreams (Book Three: The Walker Papers) by C.E. Murphy

coyote dreamsWell, color me surprised.  I was convinced this would be my last venture into the world of the Walker Papers.   Then C.E. Murphy pulled out a 4-star read.  What?

Joanne Walker is back.  All around her cops are succumbing to the “Blue Flu”. They are randomly falling asleep and unable to be awakened.  Of course it’s all related to Joanne and her new shaman powers so it’s up to her to save the day.

Listen, Joanne is still kind of a mess in book three.  She hasn’t figured out her powers and sometimes doesn’t seem that interested.  While she wants to help people she doesn’t like being known as the crazy shaman lady. She considers herself less than desirable to the men around her and blames herself for everything bad that happens.  But…

BUT…she is finally starting to get there.  Accepting her powers and accepting herself – inside and out.  We started to see some real growth in her character and I can feel a Joanne starting to emerge that I can pull for.

The supporting cast continues to grow and Murphy does a good job with their development.  Of course, Gary and Coyote are important.  Coyote?!?!?  Morrison, aka Boss, is still an enigma but I am looking forward to getting to know him more as Joanne figures out their relationship.  A few temporary characters for this installment aren’t as fleshed out but that’s okay.  They were still able to play their parts even if I had more questions.

Joanne does go in and out of the spirit world quite a bit in this installment and you have to be okay with spending about half the book in her garden or another plane.  I felt it made sense for this storyline but hope it doesn’t continue in future stories.  Give me more real world action.

Overall a solid story that was a lot of fun.  Yes, I’m going to read book four!

Coming Soon – The Mesmerized Blog Tour

cropped-the-mesmerized-blog-tour-banner.jpeg

 http://rhiannonfrater.com/2014/12/01/the-mesmerized-blog-tour-and-sale/

 

Watch out for The Mesmerized blog tour stop on DECEMBER 9.

If you haven’t read Rhiannon Frater then this would be a great one to start with.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Synopsis:

It is silence, not screams of terror, which proclaims the end of the world… 

Minji Nordim is vacationing in Las Vegas with her small family when she witnesses the beginning of a terrifying apocalypse. When humanity is transformed into mindless drones by a terrifying supernatural event only Minji appears to be immune.

Thousands die instantly, but the other affected people are drawn to the Nevada desert. Nothing stands in the way of the mesmerized. Not fire, not heights, not rubble. As the bodies pile in the streets and the relentless wave of the mesmerized plods into the deadly desert, Minji is trapped in a burning city attempting to rescue her family.

When Minji encounters other unaffected survivors, they band together to survive in a city that is crumbling all around them. With no hope of rescue and the event slowly spreading across the world, Minji and the others must decide who to save among the mesmerized and where to go before the city is in ashes.

Even more unsettling is that Minji senses that the force behind the event is observing them…

Can one woman save her family and the world? 

 

Listing on Publisher Website:

http://permutedpress.com/books/the-mesmerized

 

 

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor), as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog), and other horror novels. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.

 

You can find her online at:

Website: rhiannonfrater.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rhiannon.frater

Twitter: twitter.com/rhiannonfrater

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=340109912&trk=spm_pic

Google+: https://plus.google.com/113336058823746385572/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rhiannon-Frater/e/B0027DLFL6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2310121.Rhiannon_Frater

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rhiannonfrater/

Email: rhiannonfrater at gmail.com

rhiannon