Archive | February 2014

Review – Archangel’s Kiss (Guild Hunter #2) – Nalini Singh

archangel's kissArchangel’s Kiss is the second book in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh.  The first book was a 4-star read for me but Singh took it to the 5-star level with this one.  As I wrote when I finished reading, this series is my new guilty pleasure.  In many ways it is a standard paranormal romance.  But, the writing is exceptional and the characters are smoking hot.  What more can you ask for in a Sunday afternoon read?

Review may contain spoilers for book one:

Elena and Raphael are back.  She just woke up from a year-long coma and now has to adjust to being an angel.  “Give me wings so I can fly.”  Those wings don’t come with an instruction manual and Elena needs to get up to speed fast as she and Raphael have many enemies.

The archangel mythology that Singh is building is pretty fascinating.  So many of the older angels are slowly becoming less and less human which leads them to do things that we find reprehensible.  But, for an immortal, most of what we find important is insignificant.  Seeing Raphael regain some of that humanity through his mating with Elena is one of the great parts of this story.  He is still arrogant and controlling but is learning to become better.  Elena is strong and independent so she needs that freedom from him if their relationship is going to work.  It was difficult for her to be vulnerable and one of the weaker beings during her recuperation.  I look forward to future installments where she comes into her full angel power.

There was a lot of archangel action in this installment and the members of Raphael’s seven (including the vamps like Dmitri) were all there.  The guild played a very small role but I think we’ll see more of them in book three.

Recommended to paranormal romance fans and anyone looking for a fun escape from day-to-day life.

Review – The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born

the gunslinger bornThe Gunslinger Born was my first foray into the world of graphic novels.  While I am a huge Dark Tower fan, I’m not sure I fit the target audience of this format.

The story is from Wizard and Glass which is my favorite of the series.  The novel had so much action and the writing never faltered.  But, it was the emotion that it brought out in me as a reader that made it a favorite.  TGB didn’t evoke those same feelings.  I knew the ending and maybe that made this a little less enjoyable.  Would someone who hadn’t read the book enjoy this more?  Maybe.  My guess, though, is that because the story was so condensed for this format I didn’t have a chance to truly connect with the characters.  The surface feelings were all there but there was no depth to the emotion.

I did also feel that the script writer overused the Dark Tower language, especially in the first half.  It was filled with “ka”, “the face of your father”, “if it please ya” and more.

The drawings were excellent, though, and elevated this to a 4-star read.  The details were almost perfect.  While the faces didn’t exactly match those in my head, the eyes captured the emotions.  The color use was also exceptional.  Some of the pencil sketches included at the end were unbelievable.

Overall, this wasn’t bad first graphic novel for me.  I do plan to pick up the second in this series soon.  And, I have the Outlander graphic novel up soon for comparison.

What do you think about graphic novels?  Do you have to get used to the different format?

Review – Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

bone crossedBone Crossed is the fourth book in the Mercy Thompson series.  After the emotional events of the last installment, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Patricia Briggs delivered another great story that features a strong woman (Mercy) and her mate, Adam, who is slowly becoming one of my favorite alphas.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that he rivals and, in some instances, surpasses Curran.  He treats Mercy with respect and allows her to be herself without compromise.

“Personally, I figured it was up to me to keep me safe.”  Mercy has a lot of friends and will accept help when she needs it.  But, she depends on herself first and foremost.  Her coyote form may not be the strongest physically but she makes up for it with her intelligence and general wiliness.

Samuel, Stefan, Warren and all the other werewolves are present.  This book primarily focuses on the vampires and fallout from Mercy’s decisions in book two.  That worked just fine for me.  Stefan is a great character and I want to know more about what makes him tick.  He clearly cares for Mercy but I know there is more to the story.

Trying not to spoil anything because there is major movement forward in the overall series storyline.  There was one paragraph, though, that I specifically marked as I thought it captured Mercy so well:

“Adam was conducting what was rapidly developing into a full pack meeting in his living room upstairs.  He’d looked relieved when I’d excused myself to see Stefan – I thought he was worried someone would say something that might hurt my feelings.  In that he underestimated the thickness of my hide.  People I cared about could hurt my feelings, but almost complete strangers?  I could care less about what they thought.”

5/5 stars for another great book from Patricia Briggs.  Already looking forward to the next one.

 

Review – Cold Steel (Spiritwalker #3) by Kate Elliott

cold steelCold Steel is the third book in the Spiritwalker series which features Cat Barahal.  (This review may contain spoilers for the prior books.)

One of the things that I’ve liked about this series is that the author has given Cat a lot of personal strength.  She’s been taken advantage of by almost everyone in her life but she chooses to focus on those things that she can control.  I’ve seen some criticism of Cold Steel that Cat became a doormat to her love for Andevai.  I read it as the opposite and believe her acceptance of her love and marriage to Andevai strengthened her.  When her father, the Master of the Wild Hunt, kidnapped Vai of course she was going to go after him.  That’s what love is and I’m not sure how that is a weakness.  And, yes, she was a little ‘susceptible’ to Vai’s kisses.  Don’t we all remember the first flush of love?  They are still infatuated with each other.  When it counts, she stands up for her rights in the relationship and makes it clear that she won’t be a wife who sits by while her husband makes all the important decisions.  Her actions may sometimes frustrate Vai but he accepts and loves her.

The secondary characters are important to the story and it’s refreshing that you don’t always know who is good and who is bad.  “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” seems rather appropriate.  Rory, Cat’s half-brother, is a hoot but is truly the one person who never leaves Cat’s side.  Bee was still Bee.  Cat loves her and I guess that’s enough.  I’m not sure I would like her in real life, though.  I also appreciated that all races were represented and there was really no distinction between them.

Kate Elliott did a nice job of wrapping up the storyline in a way that tied in several loose threads.  Not all questions are answered and that’s okay.  Life isn’t that easy and can’t always be finished with a bow on top.

It’s not perfect.  Words and phrases are overused.  For example, during the first half of the book, the author used the word “peradventure” so many times that I wanted to start counting for fun.  In the second half, Bee’s “honeyed” voice is referenced almost every time she is mentioned.  Plus, I believe writers have to be careful with exclamation marks and use only when absolutely warranted!  Otherwise, it seems like fake enthusiasm!  Everything isn’t exciting!  Use them to make a point!

Overall, this is a good series with a strong female protagonist.  I recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy.  4/5 stars.

 

Review – The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

the wind through the keyholeWizard and Glass is my favorite of the Dark Tower series.  The story in The Wind Through the Keyhole starts after that novel but before Wolves of the Calla.  Reading this was a no-brainer for me.  I have missed Roland and his ka-tet and have been contemplating a re-read soon.  So, finding new-to-me material was a treat.

At his core, I believe Stephen King is just a storyteller.  Since Roland is basically a version of King, he is also a storyteller.  Some of my favorite scenes throughout The Dark Tower series were Roland telling Jake, Eddie and Susannah tales from his past.

TWTTK begins with the ka-tet on the path of the beam.  A storm, or starkblast, is coming and they need to find shelter.  They find a meeting hall in a deserted town and settle in for several days while the storm rolls through.  Roland then tells them the story of The Skin-Man.  After the death of Susan Delgado and Gabrielle Deschain, Roland and another young gunslinger, Jamie DeCurry, are sent to investigate several killings in Debaria.  There are rumors that a shapeshifter (Skin-Man) is committing these murders.  A potential witness is being held in protective custody and to help ease his mind during another storm, Roland tells him The Wind Through the Keyhole.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as there was a lot of build-up to the main event.  It’s classic King – young boy trying to come of age, people making horrible mistakes, magic, trickery and a little bit of ka.

At this point, we are now in a story, within a story, within another story.  Only King can keep a reader interested through these layers.  He brings us back to finish the search for the Skin-Man and then completes the tale on the path of the beam.

What can I say?  5/5 stars.  Learning more about Roland – a strange choice for a book boyfriend, but nevertheless he’s one of my favorites.  There are many opportunities for more stories within this world and I hope that King will continue to write them as the wind blows through him.

A few of my favorite quotes:

“There’s nothing like stories on a windy night when folks have found a warm place in a cold world.”

“My mind was like his: cold.”

“Once Tim asked his father what civilized meant. “Taxes,” Big Ross said, and laughed – but not in a funny way.”

“The guardian of the beam at this end is Aslan. Aslan is a lion, and if he still lives, he is far from here, in the land of endless snows.”

Review – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

skinwalkerSkinwalker is the first book in the Jane Yellowrock urban fantasy series.  Jane is a skinwalker – a type of shifter who can change into many different forms, including those where she loses or gains mass temporarily.  Beast lives within Jane and they have a sometimes tenuous alliance.  As a vampire hunter, she has been hired to kill a rogue in New Orleans.

Overall, this was a successful start to the series and I can see why it is popular among UF fans.  Immediately after finishing, I rated it 4/5 stars and I think I’m going to stick to that.  For me the most compelling character was actually Beast.  She is what she is.  Her thoughts are simple.  She follows her instincts.  Beast makes no apologies.  I like her.

The story was well done and interesting.  There was a good bit of detailed writing but that works for me.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the heat, New Orleans vamp politics and the smells of the city.  The vampires themselves were an interesting bunch and I can see many more stories that have their beginnings in this first novel.

Jane, however, is going to need to grow on me.  I found her somewhat weak, especially for a vamp killer.  And she seemed to miss clues or take way too long to question those that could have helped her find the rogue sooner.  The author also gave her a trait that I am coming to loathe in current literature.  It seemed that every man who met Jane had the hots for her.  We aren’t talking about a love triangle here.  This would be like a decagon.  I couldn’t keep up with all of her admirers.  One minutes she’s sniffing the Joe, the next she’s salsa dancing with a bodyguard and then tango-ing with a vamp.  Hey, she’s single.  Go for it girl.  But, really, I have never met a woman who attracts every man she meets.  That is the stuff of movies and men’s fantasies.  And speaking of men’s fantasies…Jane has a killer body and is apparently a mesmerizing dancer who is trained in Latin, ballroom, belly dancing and all forms of unintentional seduction.  Her hair.  Oh, her hair.  Would a vamp hunter seriously have butt-length hair.  Even if she braids it, IT IS STILL GOING TO GET IN THE WAY DURING A FIGHT.

I’ve got to stop now or I’m going to lower my rating.  And, I really don’t want to as I do think this can be a good series.  My plan is to read book two soon and see if some of these things are ironed out in the next installment.

Have you ever really enjoyed a book but decided that you had to let a few things slide to maintain that enjoyment?