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Why do we freak out when we KNOW for a fact that the main character doesn’t die (he/she’s in the next installment’s blurb), or that a happily-ever-after is pretty much guaranteed (i.e. paranormal romance, contemporary, etc)? I think it’s because as readers we become so invested in the characters that when something bad happens to them we take it to heart. Personally, when I’m engrossed in a novel, I’m more of a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, meaning that I’m just enjoying the ride the way that the author intended, so when those oh shit moments happen I’m not thinking about the eventual HEA. My whole world becomes that thing that made me freak out/worry/cry like a baby.
Plus, in my opinion if an author can make you feel all of those things, then mission accomplished!
Gameboard of the Gods
Series: Age of X #1
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Published on: June 4 2013
Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Format: 472 pages, eBook
Provided by: Purchased
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In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.
When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.
I love Richelle Mead. Everything that I’ve read of hers–Georgina Kincaid, Dark Swan, even Vampire Academy (though I still haven’t read the last book of that series)—I’ve, at a minimum, REALLY liked. But for some reason, I held out on reading this new series until now. The initial reviews were kind of MEH, and I’ve gotten leery of Mythology-based UF (fad = crap).
Gameboard of the Gods is one of those genre-crossing books that often turn into my favorites. It’s part SciFi, part UF, and finally, FINALLY someone has done the whole “gods” (Norse and otherwise), and done it well. In the adult genres, I mean. It seems like the combination of Rick Riordan’s immensely popular Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series and the box office explosions of Thor and The Avengers are responsible for the mass influx of mythology-based YA (as with dystopians, some good, some bad), but not as much in books for adults.
Not that I’ve seen anyway.
I’m admittedly less familiar with the Norse pantheon than I am the Greek and Egyptian pantheons, but so far, I’m liking it. And Mead does more than just create a future, post-apocalyptic world that is beginning to see the influence of the various and myriad gods for the first time since religion was essentially outlawed in the aftermath of the apocalypse. With an often quiet and sly humor, she has satirized MANY of the hypocrisies, contradictions, and over-zealous practices that are wide-spread among the various and myriad forms of organized religion, no matter what form they take.
I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the world-building in this book, and while I can understand and sympathize with a lot of the issues other readers have had, they weren’t problems for me.
RUNA is mentioned numerous times before you’re given an explanation of what it actually is (Republic of United North America), but things like that, I just roll with. If I’m being completely honest, I infinitely prefer for information to be doled out sparingly than to be bombarded with the almost universally reviled, but accepted “info-dump” that is a necessary evil in most first-in-series books.
But maybe that’s just me . . .
So. RUNA is what rose from the ashes of a chemical warfare-reduced world—religious zealots unleashed a disease that took out half the world’s population. In the aftermath, RUNA meticulously guarded its borders, deemed “belief in fictitious entities” as dangerous and in need of government regulation, and implemented a forced relocation of its citizens based on the optimal genetic reproductivity for compulsorily breeding a resistance to the disease.
As a result (or perhaps in spite of) of these measures, RUNA became the new world power.
Lots of times in series, you will see initially unrequited love. A typical manifestation of this occurs between partners, often with the lovelorn female MC pining for the womanizing male MC, whom she is perfect for, if he would only realize it . . .
I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
This scenario is painfully drawn out over several installments, and the readers wring their hands in frustration and agony every time Womanizer makes eyes at the cute bartender or assistant, and slips away with her, leaving Lovelorn alone AGAIN.
So it’s really fun to see Womanizer (Justin) pining away after Lovelorn (Mae), but using his womanizing ways to keep her at arm’s distance.
Well . . . maybe not fun, but it’s definitely new and entertaining.
Romantic drama aside, Justin and Mae are immensely likable characters. Justin is an extremely intelligent and observant detective/profiler à la The Mentalist‘s Patrick Jane whose mischievousness isn’t dampened by the loss of his family. But the absence of tragedy doesn’t make Justin a less sympathetic character—he has plenty of problems uniquely his own. And Mae (LAWD, I love Mae) is so strong, and so beautifully damaged. I want to give her a hug, and maybe sing “Hang on Little Tomato” while widening my eyes meaningfully at her.
So yes, I really liked it.
Gameboard of the Gods is the highly entertaining beginning of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series that exceeds the high expectations I’ve developed for her writing. It combines a unique and utterly believable world destroyed by zealots and the resulting anti-religious government with likable and interesting characters that will have you alternately laughing out loud and cringing in sympathy. There are performance-enhanced soldiers, blue blood scandals, and a new world government hellbent on maintaining the status quo . . . and we all know how well that usually turns out (it doesn’t).
I recommend this to anyone interested in mythology-based and futuristic Urban Fantasy, and especially to anyone raised in or around strict or stifling religion (ANY religion)—you in particular will appreciate some of the hilariously represented universal truths.
The Thirst Within
Series: The Thirst Within #1
Author: Johi Jenkins
Published on: August 9, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: 299 pages, eBook
Provided by: Purchased
Amazon | Book Depo | GoodReads
Seventeen-year-old Tori Green is an orphan—again. Raised by her grandparents in a quiet Midwest town after an accident claimed the lives of her parents, Tori must now move across the country after her last surviving grandparent passes away. To a new family that doesn't seem to care about her. To New Orleans, The City That Care Forgot.
In a city full of new faces and new experiences, Tori finds solace in her new friend, Thierry, for whom she falls head over heels despite her many reserves towards the beautiful stranger. Thierry appears to genuinely care about Tori, until his brother shows up hinting towards a relationship that can never be. What is the big secret?
Determined to find the truth, Tori will find herself torn between two very different but gorgeous vampires...
The Thirst Within is tailored for a young adult audience and contains language, mild violence, and sexual situations, not recommended for readers under the age of 17.
I first heard of this book because the author and I are in one of the same GoodReads group, and we are also friends on GoodReads. However, she doesn’t know I read this or that I am reviewing it. And I am going to be totally honest. So with that said, here goes.
Tori is an seventeen year old orphan that has just moved to New Orleans to live with her uncle and his family. She is totally out of her element, has never visited before, and has never met the family before. She is pretty much treated like an unwanted house guest for the most part. So she is more then ready to befriend the guy she meets on her first shopping trip. Thierry is every girls dream-hot, rich and super nice to her. Things go along pretty well until she meets his brother, Corben. If it’s possible, he’s even better looking then Thierry. And he totally doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. Worse, he wants Thierry to stop seeing her. Tori hates him. Or does she? Thierry and Corben have a huge secret-they are vampires.
My first problem with the book is how easily Tori accepts that Theirry is a vampire. Sure, she is shocked, but really she is just intrigued. And the way she finds out would have had me running for the hills. The author does have some explanations for this. So okay, for purposes of moving the story along it ended up working. I read a lot of vampire books. And I mean a lot. So my second problem was that I have read too many books with a very similar plot and that took me away from the story a bit as I started comparing it to other books. In the authors defense, I guess there are just so many plot lines that you can write about vampires. Then there was the love triangle and the cliffhanger ending. I don’t mind a love triangle so much, especially when it’s necessary for the story as in this case, but cliffhangers really are getting on my nerves! One redeeming factor about the cliffhanger, she posted the beginning of the next book on her blog, so I forgive her!
The very fact that I looked up her blog, is very telling. I could not put the book down and HAD to find out what happened next. A good book does that right? This book reads like a YA, but since it’s from a seventeen year old POV, that made it pretty real. There are a couple of mild sexual scenes(above the waist), and some bad language and violence that bump it up to suitable for the over seventeen crowd.
Over and above the minor problems I had with the book, I did enjoy the story and the characters.The author does know how to write a book that kept me reading far into the night. I will definitely be adding the next book to my to be read stack as soon as it comes out. If I could, I would give it 3.75 paws and I am sure there’s a lot of readers in a younger age group then me that would rate it much higher.
by Deborah Cooke
Author’s Website GoodReads
One spark can banish every shadow in his heart.
The dragon shape shifter Thorolf is known for an impressive lineage, raw power in battle, and an impulsive indulgence of his appetites. The last has made him an outcast from his fellow Pyr, and even his hunt for their dangerous opponent, the Slayer Chen, hasn’t helped. Beguiled and weakened by Chen’s ally Viv Jason, Thorolf finds himself drawn into a trap, as bait to lure his fellow Pyr to extinction. The only one to come to his aid is a woman he already knows to be a thief—does he dare to trust her with not just his own life but the survival of his kind?
Chandra is a sorceress who has trained all her life for a battle against evil that she knows will shape the future. She has never wasted time on the pleasures of the physical realm, much less experienced passion—until the firestorm sparks between herself and Thorolf, demanding more from her than she ever expected to give. Will the firestorm provide new power, or be a dangerous distraction that gives Chen the chance to triumph forever?
by D.L. McDermott
Helene Whitney has been losing time. Not losing track of time—but finding whole blank spaces, hours, in her day she can’t account for. A year ago she would have written it off as overwork and exhaustion, but that was before she found out about the Good Neighbors, the Fair Folk, the Beautiful People, the Fae.
Ancient, immortal, tricksy, and cruel, these creatures out of myth and legend rule the Irish enclaves of South Boston and Charlestown, and one of them has been using magic to abduct and control Helene for hours every day. That’s because the collection at her museum contains ancient objects of Fae power, and the Fae want access to this magic for their own ends. Now, Helene’s only hope of escaping this unknown assailant lies with the Fae sorcerer Miach MacCecht, a man she knows she can never trust—and who may prove impossible to resist.
by Meljean Brook
A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…
After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.
But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…
Includes a bonus excerpt of Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke.
by Marcella Burnard
With her art and magic, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create or destroy. In her tattoo shop, Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the power embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it. But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.
When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink—something she swore she’d never do again. But a broken vow soon becomes the least of her problems.
The real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked with a Living Tattoo against her will. Now, saddled with a powerful, amoral entity willing to do anything to win his freedom, Isa must fight to keep her Living Tattoo from consuming her completely…
by Natalie Whipple
Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.
(The Black Symphony Saga #1)
by Alivia Anders
THEIR SOULS, REAWAKENED.
When 13-year-old Lilix Morgan is found alive and floating on a bed of ice at sea, everyone counts it a miracle. Kidnapped nearly four weeks earlier, she remembers nothing of her mysterious abduction. When she tries to remember what happened, she hears only a melody – a faint and delicate set of notes, strung together in a tune she doesn’t understand.
THEIR POWER, UNMATCHED.
A year later and desperate to put the lingering nightmares of her past behind her, Lilix crosses the country to enroll at Baelmorte Academy, aiming to become the violinist she once dreamt of. Things seem to be finally going well, and Lilix settles into a routine of sheet music and inspiration among new friends.
Then the dreams start.
The melody and night terrors she thought she’d left behind return with a vengeance, threatening to ruin her fragile version of normalcy. Then an unlikely ally tells her that she isn’t alone. That there are others just like her, fighting to hide their own shocking truths from coming to light. That they know who she is, and what she’s been through. Now, accompanied by four other girls, Lilix discovers her nightmares are larger than a single trauma; they’re a window to a hidden part of her soul, a place of immense power with a destiny that cannot be ignored.
THEIR BATTLE, IS ONLY BEGINNING.
With this knowledge comes a new and frightening reality. For Lilix has been reawakened to stop an age-old enemy, one thought to have been destroyed centuries ago. Trapped by her destiny, Lilix is torn between what feels right and what she remembers. Her memories tell her of a star-crossed love waiting to be reunited, of friendships and trust broken in the past. But can she save that love when reality brings her an enemy, and an evil that will be the undoing of them all if they don’t destroy it?
by Erin Bowman
The Heists were only the beginning.
Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.
Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…
Series: Nature's Destiny #1
Author: Justine Winter
Published on: March 14, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Werewolves
Format: 256 pages, ARC
Provided by: Author
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My life was changing, morphing into something greater than I could have anticipated. I was becoming something I didn’t recognise as myself anymore. A Werewolf.
I was different.
‘Hybrid’ was what they called me, and the weight that rested against that one word was crippling. They depended on me to bring them safety. What made me so special?
Oh, that’s right. My destiny.
I was sucked into a world I’d had no idea existed. Twenty-one years as a human, and this was what I found out.
My travelling plans, my writing degree, all of it was gone within one night. One evil night that robbed my humanity.
I wasn’t completely sour. Life had been unfair a while ago, only now I’d had something worth fighting for besides myself. Something to live for.
I was afraid for the others. I couldn’t let them down. I wouldn’t let them down.
I’d gone to bed a human and woken up a Werewolf.
A special Werewolf.
I couldn’t help but get excited when I first discovered this title because not only is it about werewolves (my favourite), but it’s by a debut author and is considered New Adult which are two things that I don’t read enough of. So, I was psyched to be able to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The book started out strong with the heroine getting bitten in the prologue, and then experiencing her first change in chapter one. Unfortunately, the story grew stagnant after that and was rather uneventful until the 3/4 mark. The heroine wasn’t believable, the insta-love rubbed me the wrong way, and the secondary characters weren’t well developed. The last fifty odd pages or so were a completely different ball game, and I found myself wishing that the entire novel had been like the closing chapters.
The foundation of Winter’s werewolf mythology is solid; I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of her shifters, and thought that she introduced some interesting new elements to the genre. One being that the various fur colours actually have meaning beyond the obvious link to their hair in human form. Another aspect that I found intriguing was the pack home; I’ve previously read books that have featured a kind of wolf mini-village, but the author takes things a step further in NATURE’S DESTINY by giving them their own infrastructure as well, like a school and hospital. On the other hand, there was a bit of a comical side to the lore as well. For one, these werewolves can avoid the call of the moon by simply closing the curtains, and their clothes magically stay on their bodies when they shift back to human. The latter isn’t that unusual, but the former just seemed a little silly in my opinion.
I think the main reason why I didn’t love this novel is because I had a hard time connecting with Luna; she was just so… simple-minded. She gets turned into a werewolf in the opening chapters, is told by the alpha that she has to give-up her life, and move in with a bunch of strangers. Now, any sane person would resist or at the very least question these imposed changes every step of the way, but not Luna. She just says “ok” like a well-trained dog. The protagonist goes from being a recent university graduate with her whole future ahead of her to a freaking werewolf forced to obey Pack law overnight and doesn’t even bat an eye! Then she falls in love with Riley in one day, and is calling him “the man of her life” before the week is out. The whole thing was just… implausible.
There’s not much of a plot to this book; in fact, I didn’t really figure out the point of the story until the 3/4 mark. I understand that this is the first installment in a new series, so heavy world-building and character development is expected, but there should still be a few plot threads scattered throughout the entire novel, not just at the end. At times, it felt like the author was checking elements off of a list rather than marrying them together in a symbiotic way. Winter would focus completely on one specific aspect then move on to the next one and so on instead of blending the whole together to create a well-balanced read. And, on top of the heroine being not very credible, there were also a couple of other unlikely occurrences, like when one pack wars with another, but only one side experiences casualties. Again, highly improbable.
I rarely adore book 1 in any series because there are always a few growing pains, so I’m not overly surprised that this turned out to be a 3 star read for me. However, the final chapters left me hopeful for the future of NATURE’S DESTINY which means that despite my misgivings, I fully intend on adding the next installment to my wish list.
Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on: April 8 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: 613 pages, Hardcover
Provided by: Purchased
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In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.
When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat--and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love.
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
I love pie. This is not a secret. I particularly love blueberry pie (which is weird b/c I HATE blueberries). My husband does too. So much that on his birthday, he’d rather have pie than cake. I’m happy to oblige, but b/c I’m a miser and a glutton (when it comes to pie), I always make two—one for guests, and one for me and the hubs when they leave. I eat our pie for breakfast with a ginormous scoop of Edy’s vanilla bean ice cream.
It’s kind of like cereal, right?
Anyway, the further we get from the hubs birthday, the more covetous I get of the pie. Three days after the fact, it no longer seems like Birthday Pie, it’s just pie, so the slices get progressively larger until I make myself sick of pie.
Yes, that’s right. Sick. Of pie. Gluttony 1, Jessica 0.
That’s the best analogy I can come up with for Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I love this book, I love this series, but I think I gorged myself on it. I crammed all 600+ pages in without really letting the individual parts settle, so that I’m left with a confused mishmash of conflicting emotions: I’m happy, I’m sad. I’m annoyed, I’m elated. I feel cheated, I’m satisfied.
Since I can’t talk about what happens, I will tell you that this final book strikes a happy balance between the series’ previous installments, so regardless of whether you preferred Daughter of Smoke & Bone, or Days of Blood & Starlight, you’ll like this one. It has some of the drama and angst of book 2, but most of that is resolved quickly and painlessly, enabling the warm fuzziness and wonderment of book 1 to prevail.
Until the next Bad Thing happens, anyway.
And I think that is my issue with this book, and the reason that it’s not five stars—it’s the roller coaster to END ALL roller coasters. A Bad Thing happens, and is quickly resolved. But then another Bad Thing happens, and another . . . I feel like I have whiplash. That may sound intolerable to a lot of you, but Taylor is clever about it. She consistently breaks up the Bad Things with witty banter à la Zuzana, intriguing breaks in the main story to introduce and flesh-out a new character, AND the immense character growth of one particular secondary that transformed one of my least-liked characters into a favorite.
So it sneaks up on you. “It” being the emotional exhaustion.
I think I would have been fine if I went slowly and gingerly into the reading of this book. But I didn’t. Like with pie, I gorged, and was left feeling unhappy and slightly nauseous. So that’s my recommendation: take your time with this one b/c SO much happens, you will likely be overwhelmed, if you rush through it. Take the time to process.
General things to know:
1. It is more than obvious that Taylor plans to write more about this world. She may do that by writing more Karou and Akiva-based novels, or she may write a spin-off. The door is WIDE open for either or both.
2. One of my favorite movies is The Mummy (don’t judge), and one of my favorite parts is when Evelyn says to Benny, “You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance.”
3. Embrace the words, “Must not panic,” for you will need them.
SO. Dreams of Gods & Monsters is a magnificent conclusion to what will probably remain one of the most popular series in its genre. An incredible new world filled with fantastical people and creatures provides the backdrop for a love story to outlast the ages. The melding of mythologies is brilliant and will suck you in from the very beginning. I recommend this series to EVERYONE who has even the tiniest inkling of interest in fantasy literature. Read this series, read it NOW! Or, you know, whenever, BUT you’ll be the one missing out, if you delay. *wink*
Series: The Hallowed Ones #2
Author: Laura Bickle
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published on: September 3, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Format: 325 pages, eBook
Provided by: Purchased
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One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
After reading a recommendation on GoodReads by author Karina Halle, about The Hallowed Ones, I had to read it and I absolutely loved it(5 stars). I guess it would be considered YA but there is a mild sex scene so not sure if that still keeps it in the YA category. At any rate, I think it should be at least 16 years old and up. This book is the sequel and it really lived up to the first book. Perhaps not quite as good but still good.
This is the part where I tell you that the main character is a teenage Amish girl. If you don’t want to read an Amish book, let me explain. Katie is a shunned Amish girl, now on the run with her non-Amish boyfriend, Alex. The world these two inhabit has been almost completely taken over by vampire type creatures that are not anything like we normally read about. These vampires are truly monsters, and true to the legends, only come out at night. They no longer act completely human and have no qualms about who they kill. And wow do they kill. In the first book, Katie is one of the first of the Amish settlement to see and understand what is going on in the world outside their home. Alex is denied access to the settlement as an outsider. When Katie goes against the elders and hides him in a barn, life changes for Katie. She might have been a bit rebellious before the monsters come, but after, by taking in Alex, she becomes a problem the elders want nothing to do with. So after the two are found in a compromising situation in the barn, they are thrown out of the settlement. Another outsider,Ginger, a friend of Katie’s family, leaves with them. To me the elders were pretty monstrous too!
This book ends up being a total adventure of major proportions and not in a good way. Every night is a quest just to survive until the dawn. For Katie, pacifism is no longer an option. Along the way they scavenge for food, get involved with a crazy snake handling preacher, come across abandoned animals in a zoo, and even have fun in an abandoned department store. The whole time they are heading towards Canada, where they think they can find refuge with Alex’s family.
I know I have told more about the first book and that’s because it was just so good and really set up a lot of what happens in this book. I loved the characters of Katie and Alex and enjoyed their romance. I really liked learning more about the Amish religion and way of life. Over and about all of that though, this series is paranormal mixed with horror overtones. There’s some strange scenes, new characters are introduced and through it all, Katie and Alex are the heart of all of it. This author can definitely write good characters and suspense. The story is not all about the bad, some of it ends up being really uplifting and shows the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of such evil.
If you want your vampires to be good or even with a bit of evil, this book isn’t for you. But if you are interested in vampires that are truly monsters, and enjoy a good story with quite a bit of action, you may enjoy this. I did.
I’m organizing a one month blog tour from July 1st to 31st, 2014 for the first installment in Kelly Meade’s new CORNERSTONE RUN Trilogy, BLACK ROOK. The book is scheduled to release on July 15th, 2014. It’s a Paranormal Romance from Berkley Intermix set in a world of hidden loup garou, their mystical Magi enemies, and the occasional vampire.
There will be a tour-wide goodie basket giveaway, and advanced copies will be available for hosts interested in reviewing as well. Posts will include the usual author bio & pic, social media links, cover & blurb, giveaway details plus either an author/character interview, spotlight/excerpt, or guest post.
Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people—and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.
Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn’t sure he’s capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn’t expect the attraction that draws her to him—and him to her.
No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father’s real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #12
Author: J.R. Ward
Published on: April 1, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: 592 pages, eBook
Provided by: Purchased
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Long live the King…
After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle--with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything--and everyone--at risk.
Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response--or the distance it creates between them.
The question is, will true love win out... or tortured legacy take over?
Before I start my rant review I’d like to put things into perspective; last year when LOVER AT LAST came out I called in sick, and finished it the same day. Now, I didn’t LOVE it, but it was still a 4 star read. For THE KING, I woke-up at 2:30 AM—patiently waited until it was actually available for download at 3 AM—and dove in. I’d anticipated a long day of uninterrupted reading, but after a couple of hours I could barely keep my eyes open, and gave-up. Ok, so if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a BDB fangirl. I’m also no virgin to all-nighters, so the fact that Ward put me to sleep after two hours was a very bad sign. THE KING felt like a short stories anthology with a Beth & Wrath novella at the end. I enjoyed the latter, but unfortunately I had to push through 400 pages of meh first.
The BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD series is renowned for its gangsta slang and shameless product placements, and never have the two been as apparent as in THE KING. The author went a little overboard with these two elements in my opinion, and I found this book a more difficult read because of it. But, those weren’t the only reasons why I struggled to finish this twelfth installment; there were also too many side stories, not enough brother moments, and too much “filler”. It took me FIVE DAYS to finish this novel! Need I remind you that I devoured LOVER AT LAST in one, and it too was pushing 600 pages. Reading the first 3/4 of this novel was a chore, I was dangerously close to do-not-finishing it on several occasions. And, what exactly is Ward’s problem with Miley Cyrus!?
I found the multiple story lines very confusing because not only does the POV change from chapter-to-chapter, but there were subsections within each one with even more character perspectives, and none of them really went anywhere. I enjoyed the flashbacks to Wrath’s parents, and the way that the author connected them to the present king’s circumstances. iAm and Lassiter were a-m-a-z-i-n-g in this installment, and I liked Beth and Wrath’s story once I finally got to it. As for the rest—Trez and Selena, Xcor and Layla, Assail and Sola, and… s’Ex(!?!)—I couldn’t have cared less. There’s very little actual brother action in this book, in both the fighting and the cameo appearance departments, which I found hugely disappointing. I was so psyched when Blay and Quinn made their first post LOVER AT LAST debut—only to not see them again for the duration.
I haven’t DNF’d a book in years, I’m too type-A to be able to leave anything unfinished, but THE KING came dangerously close which pretty much says it all in my opinion. I still plan on reading the next installment, however it will not merit a sick day this time around. In fact, I might just wait until it’s available in paperback because this one definitely wasn’t worth the inflated price tag.
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A good chunk of you, like me, bought THE KING the day it came out, and not necessarily because we expected awesomeness, but rather just because it’s J.R. Ward. I actually downloaded it to my Kindle at 3 AM on April 1st—not because I’m a die hard fan (well ok, I kinda am…)—but my dog woke me up, and I figured “why not?” Well, it took me five days to finish the damn thing, and for me that’s saying something. That point aside, the book prompted this week’s Question, and before you quit reading for fear of spoilers, this is just a general discussion post about the BDB; I’ll save the good stuff for when my review posts tomorrow.
THE KING was a pretty tame installment in comparison to its predecessors; the action was minimal and the stakes weren’t overly high which leads me to my first question: Is it ok to have a novel here or there in a long-running series that is used as a buffer? Personally, these “filler” books never rank high on my favourites list, although I do understand the necessity of them at times. After a series has exhausted all of its main story arc options, authors are left with little choice but to create a segue to a new plot line or call it quits. All of the brothers have now had their tales told which leaves Ward with an interesting dilemma—how to make future installments feel like BDB novels without featuring these warriors as main characters?
Are our expectations too high? Is it right to expect awesome-sauce-ness this late in the series? For me, it’s no and no on both fronts. There are several series out there that are way further along than BDB that are still delivering 5-star reads. Personally, I think Ward owes it to her fans to continue to put out quality books, and if she can’t, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate her game plan. Do you like the direction the series seems to be going now? Again, I’m a resounding no on this one. I’m not a fan of the Band of Bastards nor do I enjoy the Omega and his gang. The only characters whose stories haven’t been told yet that I wouldn’t mind reading about are Trez, iAM, and Lassiter.
I was actually rather happy about Ward revisiting Wrath & Beth; it’s been a looong time since they’ve been front-and-center, and I thought that seeing this couple again would help reignite the BDB spark. And, for the most part I did enjoy reconnecting with these two, I just wish that they’d been the focus. Would you like more novels about other main characters from past books? Absolutely! The cameo appearances in recent installments haven’t been enough for me, and I think they all still have plenty of story to tell. Part of my frustration from reading THE KING stemmed from the lack of updates. I jumped for joy at the first official glimpse of Qhuinn & Blay as a mated couple only to not encounter them again the entire novel. One measly mention, that’s all they got.
What makes a series capable of keeping their readers engrossed and STILL wanting more?! And, does Ward and the Black Dagger Brotherhood have enough staying power? I think the author achieved that “magic recipe” in earlier installments, and I believe her capable of doing so again in the long-term; I’m just not sure whether her plan and my hopes match-up. THE KING was a borderline DNF for me, and I’m not confident that the next novel will be much (if at all) better which leads me to my last question. Who is your favourite Brother? This is like asking me to pick my fav book, and could probably turn into its own discussion post, so for the sake of brevity I’ll give you three: Zsadist, Rehvenge, John Matthew.
Alright, so there you have it, this week’s questions. Plural. Your turn…
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