Archive | January 2014

Review – Flesh & Bone (Rot & Ruin #3) by Jonathan Maberry

flesh & boneAnyone who looks at my Goodreads status updates for this book might believe that I was struggling to get through it or that it wasn’t as good as the first two in the series (which I finished in short order.)  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  With the holidays, I was trying to put myself on a book buying hiatus and I didn’t have book four in my library yet.  The idea of finishing this one and being unable to pick up Fire & Ash was not something I wanted to contemplate.  So, I read this slowly and tried to hold on to Benny and the crew.  It was worth the extra time and I have ordered F&A – thank goodness – so that I can end the journey with these friends.

Flesh & Bone is the third book in the Rot & Ruin series.  It would be impossible to give any sort of summary without major spoilers for the prior books so let’s just skip that step.  Mostly because you need to read this series.  I hope that you experience it untainted so that you can see the surprising beauty of this YA story that seems to be about a group of teenagers fighting zombies but is really so much more.  And, if you dismiss it because it’s YA, then you are missing out.  It is tightly written with well-developed characters and an unbelievable amount of emotional depth.

Friendship and family, grief and love, loyalty and bravery, anger and fear, happiness and heartbreak – it is all here.  I know I sound like some sort of geeked out fangirl of Jonathan Maberry (and I am) but I truly feel like this is a story that stays with you.  I mentioned in an earlier review that the true villains in the Rot & Ruin aren’t the zombies.  It’s other people.  Greedy, power-hungry and zealot-like people.  There isn’t a lot of fun to be had when you have to fight both the zombies and your fellow humans.  It would be easy for this to become a morose and depressing story.  Maberry doesn’t pull any punches with the physical and emotional dangers the characters face.  But, there is always hope.  And that hope for a better life, for a little peace, is what drives the narrative forward in such a powerful way.  I don’t read these books to get to the next action sequence (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I read them because they help me believe that, even in the face of great adversity, there are good people out there who are willing to do what is right.  Even when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do.

I could go on for pages about Flesh & Bone but I will just leave you with a few of my favorite quotes:

“It was why Lilah did not fear death.  So many of the people she loved were waiting for her there.”

“He never did get right all the way again. And every once in a while he’d come down all bitey.”

From the author’s note: “After they died, I found it painful and difficult to accept that the sun shone, the birds sang in the trees, and the world turned without them.  Grief is like that.  To resist or deny grief does no good.  It hurts us to pretend that we are not hurt.”

5/5 stars.

Review – Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

magic rises“There is a price for everything, and it’s never something you can afford to give up.  It’s always someone you love.”

Have you ever gone into a book with a knot in the pit of your stomach?  It’s so bad that you can’t read past page 38.  You clean the house (gasp!), watch television, walk the dog – all to avoid finding out what one of your favorite fictional characters has done that made so many other readers rabidly angry.

Magic Rises did that to me.  I was warned by both Goodreaders and Twitterers that Curran was going to do something that I wouldn’t like.  If you have read my reviews of the prior five books in this series, then you know that I am a big fan of Kate and Curran’s relationship.  They took it slowly, came through the bumps in the road and then finally accepted each other.  If they fall apart, what fictional couple has any chance of success?  I know, I know.  I’m overreacting.  It’s just a story.  But, you see, it’s really not just a story.  A great writer can make the readers care about the characters.  They become part of our family, one of our friends.  If they hurt, we hurt.

HERE WE GO:

A young member of the pack starts to go loup and is about to be put down.  There was only enough panacea (potential loup cure) to save her sister.  The doctor, after some convincing, puts her in a coma until Kate and Curran can try to find a solution.  Curran then gets an opportunity to travel to Europe on bodyguard duty.  His reward would be enough panacea to last the pack for months.  He and Kate both know it’s some sort of trap but they cannot pass up the opportunity to save the pack’s children.  BOAT TRIP!

I’m about to get a little spoilery so if you haven’t read the series and want to go into the story fresh, then avert your eyes and by all means don’t click on the next page which includes spoilers.

I believe there are three to four more books planned for this series.  Part of me wants to know the end game but another part doesn’t want it to be over.  Through all the pain that this book put me through (thanks, Ilona Andrews), I still have to give it 5/5 stars.  To evoke this level of emotion takes a talented writer and I’m still reeling.  So, there you have it.  Now I need a drink.

Review – Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

rosemary and rueRosemary and Rue is the first book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant.)

October is a part fae private investigator who goes through tough times and has little to do with that world now.  When an old friend is murdered, October is forced into finding the killer which means she has to rebuild some of those relationships.

R&R is a good start to this Urban Fantasy series.  In some ways, I found it darker than most UF’s out there but there was also some wicked humor in spots.  Told in the first person, it’s almost written with a little bit of stream of consciousness.  It felt like we were in October’s head and hearing her inner monologue.  “And when the hell did it go back to being ‘we’?”  “-and I, prepared as always, had left my flashlight in the trunk.”

October is a relatable MC who makes a lot of mistakes.   She definitely needs some sense shaken into her but it’s easy to understand her issues.  A dose of self-confidence wouldn’t hurt either.

The supporting cast is well written and each adds a lot to the story.  Tybalt…October, girl, open your eyes.  I saw it in the first scene.  Get with the program.  He’s got the major hots for you.  Sylvester, as her liege, is a strong father figure with his own family issues to work through.  There are bad guys, good guys and some in-between.  Just within this story I can see so many other tales that need to be told and I cannot wait to read more.

4/5 stars and another must-read series to add to my list.  Will I ever catch up with my TBR pile?

 

Review – Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh

angel's blood“Because the very thing that repelled her about Raphael also attracted her. Power. This was a man she couldn’t take on and hope to win.”

Angel’s Blood is the first book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series.  I can see what all the fuss is about.

Elena is a born vampire hunter.  She can scent and track them when hired to find rogue vamps.  Raphael is the archangel over New York City and needs the best hunter to help him find a killer.  Elena knows that crossing Raphael will mean her life but she can’t help pushing his buttons at every opportunity.

This is a book full of action – both physical and physical *wink wink*.  Nalini does a great job building an interesting world where angels rule vampires.  The archangels are complicated and we have just scratched the surface of their background story.  Her descriptive writing brought to life the beauty and power of the angels.  The wings, the angel dust, mind control and more.  And, the vamps.  Dmitri, an ancient vampire, is especially intriguing.  Why does he continue to serve Raphael and does he have more power than some of the angels?

The book jacket called this an Urban Fantasy Romance.  I was kind of surprised as I would have put this right into the Paranormal Romance category.  Not a big deal as I liked it either way but I do think that someone picking this up as a UF might be in for a shock with the sexy times.  There is a lot of overlap in the two categories (my used bookstore puts them all in one section) but some readers don’t like one or the other so I do think it’s important for publishers to categorize consistently for the reader.  Just my opinion.

And, I do have to say that I don’t love the cover on this one.  The model doesn’t live up to the description of the tough as nails Elena.  I’ve seen later covers and I think they do her more justice.

Angel’s Blood is a great start to this series.  4/5 stars and highly recommended.

Review – Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

gunmetal magicGunmetal Magic is part of the Kate Daniels series (#5.5) but focuses on Andrea.

Several shifters working for Raphael, Andrea’s ex, are killed at a job site and she is tasked with the investigation by Jim, the pack’s security chief.  This means she will have to deal with Raphael and that isn’t high on her list of priorities.

As with all Ilona Andrews novels, this is well written with strong female characters and a lot of action.  You know you are going to get a good story.  Plus, I like Andrea and Raphael as a couple and have since day one.  This really was a ‘can’t miss’ book for me.  And, miss it didn’t.  4/5 stars.

You may be asking why it wasn’t 5 stars.  The truth is that I’d have a hard time answering.  After thinking about some of the scenes for several days, I’ve decided that a few of Andrea and Raphael’s actions seemed out of character.  I believe it was intentional on IA’s part but I was still left feeling a bit unsettled.

Slight spoilers ahead:

At the end of Magic Slays, Andrea and Raphael break up (sort of – it doesn’t seem official but as Ross Gellar would say ‘We were on a break!’)  My opinion then was that they were both wrong but that’s beside the point.  We find in GM that they haven’t seen each other in a while.  Andrea is coming to terms with all the changes in her personal and professional lives and she does want to make it work with him.  But, Raphael is a man scorned.  This is the point where the story lost me a for a little while.  Raphael comes into Andrea’s office with another woman who says that they are dating and about to become engaged.  For reals?  This from the man who worked his butt off to get on Andrea’s radar and under her skin?  In a few short weeks he bounces back with someone else?  The part of my brain saying that he was doing this to make Andrea jealous was getting very angry.  Not cool, Raphael.  Not cool.

And then…Andrea.  I get it.  She’s a bit lost right now and unsure where she belongs.  But shifting into her beastkin form when Raphael pulls his new girlfriend stunt and then traipsing all over town?  All the while knowing that she has now drawn a line in the sand with the pack.  Within a few days she will either have to join the pack or get the heck out of dodge.  Curran can’t and won’t put up with it.  I don’t know guys.  I felt like this was so out of character for her that it was a bit jarring.  Yes, I did start to understand and accept this new Andrea more as the book progressed but for a while she lost me.

I’ve already started Magic Rises, the next in the main series and am having some of the same feelings about Curran in that one.  Out of character decisions that are making my tummy hurt.  Where is Ilona Andrews taking us?  Is this a permanent change in the direction of the series?  I’m having a tough time coming to terms if it is.  This is my favorite UF series and I do not want to give it up.  Wish me luck.

Has this ever happened to any of you?  Can we commiserate for a while?

Review – The Spider by Jennifer Estep

the spiderThe Spider is the 10th book in the Elemental Assassin series.  Those of you that know me in the real world know that I am a bit OCD and must read a book series in order.  But, I saw The Spider on Netgalley and couldn’t resist the “Request Now” button even though I’d only read books one and two so far.  Since the story is primarily a flashback to an earlier time (before even book one), I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal and, honestly, I was right.  There are some minor spoilers for books 3-9 but they were all things that I pretty much expected anyway.

We learn about Gin’s training with Fletcher and an early job of the Spider.

Guys, I’ve said it before and I will say it again – I REALLY want to love this series.  Ms. Estep is a good storyteller and I like Gin as the MC.  But, Lord help me, we are still seeing the same issues with book ten that I saw in book one.  There are times when Gin is almost TSTL (too stupid to live for those of you who, like me, are getting too old for this slang.)  She’s a stone and ice elemental.  She’s smart (yes, you can be smart and still stupid).  She’s strong.  How the heck does she end up in these situations where she is almost killed because of her own stupidity?

The writing tics are all still here:

  • Repeating words for emphasis – up, up and up.  creak-creak-creaking.  melting, melting, melting.  drowning, drowning, drowning.  racing, racing, racing.  down, down, down.
  • Location of her knives.  Seriously!  Seriously?  Seriously.  Over, over and over.  (See what I did there?  Ha.)
  • First and last names used when not necessary.
  • Obsession with eye color.

Has anyone else read this series?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether I am being way too tough or if this is a real issue.  Should I continue with books 3-9 and just get over it?

3/5 stars for a good story with some writing that drove me a little nuts.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an E-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Must Love Hellhounds (an anthology)

must love hellhoundsI’m going to be honest with you.  I saw Must Love Hellhounds at the used bookstore and bought it simply because it included an Ilona Andrews story set in the world of Kate Daniels.  Yes, my plan was to read all of them but I knew I might only enjoy the one story.  I was wrong.

The Britlingens Go To Hell by Charlaine Harris – 4/5 stars.  To say that I had given up on Charlaine Harris after the last few Sookie books is an understatement.  Imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed this story but was rather impressed by it.  Batanya and Clovache are bodyguards for hire.  When they take on a job that lands them in hell, they will have to use all of their skills to get out alive.  I want more stories about these two!  It was exciting, funny and full of action.

Angel’s Judgement by Nalini Singh – 4.5/5 stars.  This is a prequel novella to the Guild Hunter series.  How much did I enjoy it?  So much that I immediately went out and bought book one of the full series.  Sara and Deacon, I need more.

Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews – 5/5 stars.  The main event, well at least for me, which is primarily an Andrea and Raphael story.  It filled in a few blanks from the full novels and included a BIG reveal about Curran.  I’ve since read the Andrea novel (Gunmetal Magic – review to come) and think she and Raphael could probably have their own series.  It’s not quite Kate and Curran but I like the differences.  While Kate and Andrea are best friends they are very much individuals with distinct voices.

Blind Spot by Meljean Brook – 4/5 stars.  My first read from this author and I’m looking forward to more.  This is a novella set in the Guardians world.  The details were unique and I especially was impressed by Geoff, who is blind but can see through others’ eyes.  Maggie had to grow on me but, by the end, she won me over.

Recommended to fans of Urban Fantasy and those who want to check out some of the popular series without making the investment of a full length novel.