Mark of The Demon by Diana Rowland, Book Review

Goodreads Blurb 

Cop and conjurer of demons, she’s a woman in danger of losing control to a power that could kill….

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives’and souls’of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.

Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head…

My Review

Rating: 4*

So this was an interesting one for me as it was a little outside of my usual fare. It was a real combination of police-procedural and urban fantasy, with a healthy dose of humour and just a dash of eroticism. I think Ms Rowland did a seamless job of blending all those elements together and the one constant throughout was Kara. She was a great lead character as she was imperfect, flawed and ordinary except for when she was extraordinary. I like her vulnerability, it makes her extremely human in sometimes inhuman situations.

I must confess to taking an immediate and very shallow liking to Rhyzkahl. Ryan, on the other hand, was a slow burner, intentionally so I think. The two male leads really make you question the concept of good and evil, reminding me a little of Anne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil.

All told, an enjoyable read and I look forward to finding out what happens to the trio in the next one.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

Well, what to say about this book!

I love reading books with beautiful prose and vivid descriptions that paint pretty pictures in your mind and carry you away somewhere else.

This book is not one of them. 

This book seems to have taken the other route, the route where the author focuses on the story more than the prose, the characterisation rather than the setting. This is not writing by numbers, this is writing by feel. 

Cinder is an intelligently written story and I like the choices that Meyer makes throughout the book. The writing is clean and simple in the best way possible, you barely notice the writing. It flows, it’s smooth, it’s secondary to the telling of the story. It’s not distracting. Meyer gives you just enough for your mind to fill in the rest. She is not showy with her skill, and I believe it takes a skilled writer to write in such a minimalist way and for the story not to suffer for it. Instead of being carried away by pretty writing, it’s the story itself – and the way Meyer tells it – that draws you in. If she would have written in flowery prose it would have read like the original fairytale, and a fairytale this book is not. Meyer hasn’t re-written Cinderella, Meyer has taken all of the pertinent moments from Cinderella and re-invented it. 

If The Brother’s Grimm were only now writing the fairytale of Cinderella, this is the story they would write.

Bravo, Marissa Meyer.

 

Widow’s Web (Elemental Assassin #7)by Jennifer Estep, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb 

I used to murder people for money, but these days it’s more of a survival technique.

Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town. 

Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back in town, she thinks he’s hers for the taking. 

Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

 

My Review

Rating: 4.5*

Gin Blanco is still one of my favourite female protagonists, and Jennifer Estep is yet to let me down in her recounting of Gin’s adventures. Perhaps I’m just in a demanding or particularly picky frame of mind right now,(I get like that when I’m in writing mode) because, as much as I want to, I can’t give this book 5*. 

Why? I hear you ask. If you love the story and you love the writing, why not give it full marks? 

I only have one answer to that. For the first time in reading an Elemental Assassins book I felt the formula. This series, as with many ongoing series, does follow a formula, but usually with this series I don’t notice it. The story flows logically, with one or two surprises on the way, ending with Gin kicking ass. But with Widow’s Web it felt very similar to a couple of the earlier books, just with a couple of name changes. The result of that was it lacked a little of the usual Gin magic that I have become accustomed to.

That is the only criticism I have of this book. What I am enjoying is watching Gin’s development as a person, aside from her identity as The Spider. I very much like how this book focuses very heavily on Owen and his background, which I hope means we’ll be seeing more of him as the series progress. In fact, many of the characters that feature in this series are growing and changing, even Jo-Jo (g’wan, rude girl!) has a little twinkle in her eye. Thankfully, Finn has stayed exactly the same: flirtatious, materialistic, fiercely loyal, utterly loveable.

I wonder what book #8 has in store.

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6) by JR Ward, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other—six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now, a dutiful twin must choose between two lives…

Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love…

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

How I’ve missed the boys! It’s been a while since I’ve read this series as I’d heard that they has changed for the worse. Now, having read it for myself, I have to disagree. They have changed somewhat, perhaps edging closer to UF than PNR, but I liked the changed. The series has grown, in my opinion, the stories are deeper, more emotional, and more exciting. I understand why that may not be to a lot of BDB fans liking, and I was worried myself as I’m old and don’t like change, but I loved it.

Phury is in a bad place. He’s much more like Z than I’d previously thought, and Ward really explores the depths that he has sunk to. You really develop concern for Phury that I’m not sure I felt for the others in the earlier books to this degree. That may be because I’ve forgotten them or because of how Ward’s writing has changed. I liked exploring the psychological aspect of one of the Brothers.

And how cool are the Baby Brothers? We really get to see how the next generation of BDB are growing into their shitkickers in this book, and rather a lot of it focuses on them, which I didn’t mind in principle, but would have liked maybe even more about Phury.

All told, a great read, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as the previous 5, and am certainly going to keep reading this series.

Vain by Fisher Amelie, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

If you’re looking for a story about a good, humble girl, who’s been hurt by someone she thought she could trust, only to find out she’s not as vulnerable as she thought she was and discovers an empowering side of herself that falls in love with the guy who helps her find that self, blah, blah, blah…then you’re gonna’ hate my story.

Because mine is not the story you read every time you bend back the cover of the latest trend novel. It’s not the “I can do anything, now that I’ve found you/I’m misunderstood but one day you’ll find me irresistible because of it” tale. Why? Because, if I was being honest with you, I’m a complete witch. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a friend using, drug abusing, sex addict from Los Angeles. I’m every girlfriend’s worst nightmare and every boy’s fantasy.

I’m Sophie Price… And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most envied girl to the girl no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

 

My Review

Rating: 3*

I was pleasantly surprised with this book, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I, wrongly, assumed it would be quite vacuous teenage angst. 

It wasn’t. 

It was a sentimental, yet moving, story of self-discovery and redemption. There were moments when the story made me laugh out loud or blink back a tear. I liked the originality of the setting and the sensitive handling of the subject matter. There were moments of real tenderness captured in this story and I think it’s a great example of a NA novel. Ms Amelie flirted with the line beautifully without ever crossing it.

Where it fell short was in the editing. It needed a good old edit, both for grammatical errors and sentence structure. I say this because the book has so much potential, with a bit better editing it would be a smoother read, leaving more room for the subtlety of the story to breathe.

All told, a touching story well worth reading.

 

Broken (Women of the Otherworld #6) by Kelley Armstrong, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

In this thrilling new novel from the author of Industrial Magic, a pregnant werewolf may have unwittingly unleashed Jack the Ripper on twenty-first-century—and become his next target.

Ever since she discovered she’s pregnant, Elena Michaels has been on edge. After all, she’s never heard of another living female werewolf, let alone one who’s given birth. But thankfully, her expertise is needed to retrieve a stolen letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper. As a distraction, the job seems simple enough—only the letter contains a portal to Victorian London’s underworld, which Elena inadvertently triggers—unleashing a vicious killer and a pair of zombie thugs. 

Now Elena must find a way to seal the portal before the unwelcome visitors get what they’re looking for—which, for some unknown reason, is Elena.

 

My Review

Rating: 4.5*

Women Of The Otherworld is back to it’s best with this instalment. Loved it!

For me, Women Of The Otherworld is at its best when Elena is at the heart of the action. Though there is a cast of interesting and unusual characters in the series, it’s Elena that piqued my interest from book 1, and it’s Elena’s story I really want to follow.   

In this instalment of WotO, Elena is pregnant. ‘How on earth is Kelley Armstrong going to make this work?’ you may ask. That’s what I asked. I mean, Elena Michaels is a kickass werewolf chick who never walks away from trouble and loves to have a bit of a rumble and a tumble with Clay. I’ll tell you how she handles it: With serious aplomb and a deft touch.  

From the earlier books we always knew how much Elena worried about her fertility, whether she’d be able to have children after the horrible things that were done to her. So now that she’s pregnant she’s likely to be taking a back seat, letting the guys deal with any situation that might arise, right? Wrong. Though she’s aware that she needs to be careful, Elena is certainly not allowing pregnancy to turn her soft.

Kelley Armstrong has been very clever in choosing the situation for this instalment in that, although there are fights and scraps that Elena invariably gets caught up in, the theme of the plot is more a magical mystery than out-and-out action. It’s a more closed environment than we’re used to seeing in WotO, it’s more intimate, really driving home the emotional nature of this book. How Elena feels about her pregnancy is a thread that runs throughout Broken like veins of colour run through marble. In proportion to the whole, it’s a small percentage,  but without it you’d just have a lump of rock. The very presence of those veins intrinsically changes the very composition of said rock, and that’s exactly what Elena’s pregnancy does, not just to her, but to Clay and Jeremy,  too. It changes the dynamics of their relationships with each other and I very much enjoyed seeing, and feeling, their personal growth.   

As always, the book is well written, easy to read, imaginative and well paced. Though I enjoyed the last few books in the series, this one had something extra, something some of the earlier books perhaps lacked,  that I found really pleasing. This story didn’t just have heart; it had soul. One of my favourites yet.

Days of Blood And Starlight by Laini Taylor, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

Wow! My heart is racing! This book…this series…is magic conjured by the written word. It left me breathless. I’m so jealous of Ms Taylor’s skill. So beautifully does she weave words, this book has to be called art.

Karou’s journey continues in book two right from where it left off in book one. Everything has changed. She is alone, seperated from all her loved ones and forced into dealing with someone she would otherwise choose to avoid. And Akiva’s betrayal has left her altered: hard, vengeful, broken. 

Desperate to save the chimaera from extinction at the hands of the Seraphim, Karou tries to turn off her feelings for Akiva and focus instead on rebuilding, re-conjuring a chimaeran army. But her loneliness, her devastation and heartbreak are palpable and they crawl off the page like a living thing. Laini Taylor makes sympaths of us all as we feel what Karou feels. 

What makes it all the more impressive is that the book is written in third person narrative and flits between different perspectives, yet is still personal enough to absorb the reader. At no point does the writing become confused or tricky to follow. It flows seamlessly from one thread to the next, as unnoticed as a tear in lace mended by a master with a needle. 

The pace of the book initially feels slow, but as I continued to read I realised that quite a lot was actually happening, just in such a way as it felt effortless. The reading was so pleasurable that I just wanted it to keep going. With a lot of good books you’re so desperate to find out what happens next that you wish the book away, rush through the pages. This book, however, is so beautifully written and cleverly paced that, though you really want to know what happens next, the experience of reading this book is equally as satisfying as having your curiousity sated. Very few books engender this type of response in me that I relish it when it does. 

I could go on but instead I’m just going to say this: if you want a book that will in turn make you gasp, make you sigh, make you cry and make you cheer, you have to read Days of Blood and Starlight. It’s breathtaking.