Reader Reaction – The King

the kingWell, we have all had a couple of weeks to process J.R. Ward‘s latest Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, The King. None of the books in this series are something that I find you can breeze through, and I think I spent pretty much a solid week on it. As usual, there was a lot going on, but personally I thought it was a much easier read than the last book, Lover at Last. I did enjoy LaL, but by the time you kept everything that was going on straight it was a bit of a workout.

“What did you think of The King? I had some hesitation about going back to Wrath and Beth’s story, but I thought it worked. What do you think it contributed to the series overall? Are you hoping for a second book for the rest of the Brothers, as well?”

 

Instead of the something like 10 storylines and tangents that were going on in LaL, The King had a much more manageable 3 major arcs…which was great. Wrath and Beth’s personal and royal issues was one, Assail and Sola was a very strong second, and the developing Trez and iAm situations leading into the next book, The Shadows, was the third. Layla didn’t annoy my face off this time, and I am intrigued where things are going with her and Xcor again. Saxton moved way up in my estimation, and it was really nice to meet a Chosen (Selena) that didn’t aggravate me. Bonus.

What are your thoughts? Spoiler zone is wide open in the comments, so be warned going in. Rave, vent, whichever works for you.

Release Day Review…The Kraken King

review iconDonna Grant is doing it. So is A.C. Arthur. Lynn Viehl. And Cassandra Clare. It seems like a new trend is developing, and that is to serialize a new release over the course of a few weeks (or months) before the print release. Meljean Brook has entered the fray with her new Iron Seas story, The Kraken King, which has been divided into eight separate parts to be released over the next eight weeks. Doug Meeks got his hands on the first three installments, and did up a quick review.

the kraken king part 1What Doug said…

Meljean Brook sent me the first 7 parts of her new serialized novel The Kraken King and it may be the best thing i have read in a very long time and I am only through part 3.  Thought I would send this along since it releases tomorrow and she will release another book each week at $1.99, this isn’t my best work but writing a review on what seems to the reader to be a work in progress is difficult at best :)

dcm

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The Kraken King Part 1

I am giving this 5 Stars because I loved the story and this first installment just gives you the basics of a great story and several mysteries.

The heroine has many secrets and you the reader will only know a few of them, the Kraken King (one of his many titles) is more of a mayor of a town that kills a lot of the krakens.

There is the beginning touches of a good romance but this short story only gives us the very basics, these stories being serialized and released about a week apart might prove to be a source of frustration because this has all the earmarks of a really great story and romance.

I will have to see who I can beg/bribe/threaten to get the rest of these as soon as possible :)

NOTE: Maybe it was just me but the first few chapters brought up memories of Romancing the Stone (the movie) but now that I have finished I think that was a misconception on my part since our heroine has a LOT of secrets.

The Kraken King Part 2

Well there is only so much I can write about this continuing story without injecting spoilers but this second part moves the story along nicely and some unforeseen problem.

Ariq is determined to stay close to Zenobia for reasons that he does not allow himself to believe at times. They are a perfect couple as far as a opposites attract couple. The secrets they both are holding start to come out just a small bit but it muddies the water more than provides clarity plus the story takes a sudden turn towards the end of this part that sends us off the intended track a bit.

The romance is still not moving along as hoped but I am sure it will eventually but some misconceptions need to be cleared up and of course that constant threat of death always messes up a good romance :)

Still 5 Star addiction and so I will be grabbing Part 3 soon and continuing on in this addicting story. If you can’t enjoy this you need to get counseling :)

The Kraken King Part 3

So many of my favorite series seem to have a third book that stands above the rest and this is no exception, of the three books so far this one knocks my socks off as far as progress, action, romance, and a bit more info for the reader,

Zenobia and Ariq (the Kraken King) end up in a smuggler’s den due to circumstance in the last book and as you might think there is danger everywhere.

Our heroine manages to find trouble as you might expect but things will happen that will leave you smiling and a good place for me to take a break before moving on with book #4 since I have other reviews to write :)

I haven’t really gotten into the whole steampunk genre, myself. I have read precisely one story…which was the first novella from this series…but I found I very much enjoyed it. Not sure actually why I didn’t continue, but now I just might have to give it another shot.

What do you think of the serial idea? Do you read them as they come out, or do you hold off and wait for the entire release in print form? I think the idea of the serialized story is actually quite brilliant – and profitable. At only $1.99 per entry, you are still getting almost $16.00 for that one story before it ever makes its print debut. Not bad at all.

Bite Me Review…

review iconWe don’t have long to wait now for Shelly Laurenston‘s next Pride book, Bite Me (it is due out this Tuesday), but Doug Meeks got his hands on an early copy and has already done up his review. I very much enjoy this series, since I find that its zany humor is a great break between the darker, heavier stuff I usually read. It isn’t a series I could marathon and read several in a row, but I look forward to every new release and read them as soon as I get my hands on one.

What Doug said…

Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.

That’s where Vic Barinov comes in–or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge…

Livy and Vic are the most unlikely couple I have read about in quite some time, couple that with a plot that had to be hatched in some asylum someplace, a world where mental health is a weakness and you have Shelly Laurenston’s latest novel, Bite Me.

I had forgotten how much I liked these novels since it has been a long time since the last one for me, it had me laughing regularly from start to finish but then you have to really love her humor to truly enjoy these novels.

These books are actually supposed to be a paranormal romance of sorts but underneath all that is a story of murder, mayhem, insane relatives, equally insane friends who love you and revenge (I love revenge).

One of the things I do enjoy about this series is that hardly anyone ever goes away, they almost all show up in each book and play a part, some larger than others but all the favorites from past books are usually around (including the Smiths) and this is no exception.

This book was so much fun you hardly notice that there are some serious things going on at times (aside from the romance that takes a back seat many times in this book). Great writing, insane humor that appeals to a lot of people (like me) and a great ending are all trademarks of Shelly Laurenston’s books and this one stays true to form. 4.5 Stars and if you ever enjoyed any of her books you WILL enjoy this one.

I know that there are a lot of fans of the Pride series (and the Dragon Kin books, written under the name G.A. Aiken, too). Does anyone else feel that this is one series that shows no signs of slowing down, but keeps getting better with each book?

Reader Reaction…Murder of Crows and Night Broken

There were a few big titles that came out in the last couple of days, including Anne Bishop‘s book of the month, Murder of Crows, and the new Mercy Thompson book from Patricia Briggs, Night Broken.

I am starting Night Broken next, but I did manage to devour Murder of Crows in a couple of days. I was very, very happy that it managed to live up to the high expectations I had after reading last year’s Written in Red. I think I enjoyed the second book even more because I went into it after pulling a recent re-read of the first book, so all of the details were fresh.

The world-building for this series is both unique and complex. I like the different take on the Others – there’s not a tortured but misunderstood shifter or vampire to be found. I like the dark, violent, unpredictable edge that these characters have…and I also very much enjoyed seeing these predators become just a little bit more human through interactions with their growing “human pack”. Simon’s confusion over his changing relationship with Meg provided some unexpected lighter moments in what could be a dark story.Murder of Crows was an excellent read, and I can’t wait to see where the next book will take us.

What was your take on Murder of Crows or Night broken? Did they prove to be all you hoped for? Where do you see the stories going next?

Review – The Angeli

Thanks once again to Doug Meeks, who sent over his review of The Angeli by Jody Wallace, which is the first book of The Maelstrom Chronicles.

angeliWhat Doug said…

I have to admit, I was not excited about reading this for a few reasons. It was science fiction which I enjoy but thought I was not in the mood for a “end of the world” scenario, it was aliens posing as angels (did not sound like anything fun or interesting), and of course there is passion with the poor human. All of which said “BORING” to my mind, I could NOT have been more wrong.

The action starts on page one and does not let up for awhile, the heroine is more entertaining than I ever imagined and the hero who is a bit conflicted (something else I generally hate) comes across as a real person who is interesting.

The plot is more complex than you will get from reading the synopsis (way more), the world building is good so you understand why things are being done pretty well and the romance becomes an intrinsic part of the plot and the ending.

Gregori and Adelita were perfect characters to play off of each other and the apocalyptic plot since they kept the story from getting too dark.  Make no mistake, this novel will pull at you emotionally in places.

If I have any real complaints it would be that while the main plot was resolved well, there were some threads of things left hanging without being addressed or answered, I assume these will be answered in a future sequel but there is no real story left and this can be considered a stand alone with no trouble for most readers.

Bottom Line: Get this book, I tend to enjoy PNR/UF mostly but this was an amazing diversion and one of the better books of any genre I have read in months. 4.5 Stars rounded to 5.

Reading Roundup – Rule Breaker

rule breakerSo, when I got my hot little hands on my copy of Lora Leigh‘s newest Breeds story, Rule Breaker, I dropped everything else I was reading to dive in. On a shallow note, the cover was actually better looking in person than I expected, but my favorite part was under dust jacket where there is the initials LL and what looks like claw marks. Nice.

Well, there were a couple of things different with this release. First of all, it was the hardcover debut for the series, and thankfully it seems that the editing and proofreading were upgraded, as well. I only caught one instance where the wrong character’s name was used, but it wasn’t a glaring issue. If there were any other problems or mix-ups, I didn’t catch them. Error after error really takes me out of a story, and I am happy to say that it didn’t happen here.

Storywise, I was quite happy. I enjoyed both Rule and Gypsy, both as individual characters and as a couple, and I liked Gypsy’s genuine friendships with many well-known Breeds (Ashley, Loki, Flint, etc). Her tragic past could very easily have turned her into another Storme Montague (loathsome bigoted creature with a Breed-bias a mile wide), but instead it seemed to make her more of a part of the Breed world.

Here is where things get a bit tricky for me, though. As much as I did enjoy Rule Breaker, I did find myself confused a couple of times. The whole Navajo storyline is, for want of a better word, unwieldy. It has played quite a large role in the previous few books, and it continues to do so here. I think that for me things just got too complex to try and keep track of, and in each book the whole Navajo angle seems to get tweaked a bit so that you can’t easily keep track of things. For me, the confusion came from awkwardly written info-dumping – several times I had to stop and re-read passages to figure out what was going on, and to see if that info matched up with what I remembered from previous books. I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes I lost the flow of the story because of developments that seemingly just popped up out of nowhere (Rule and Cullen, Gideon and Dane, Dane and Gideon and Amber. There is some previously unknown Breed becoming Jonas’s right hand man. And Ryan Desalvo is now Rhys? Huh?).

On the plus side, things seem to be picking up steam for both Dane and Gideon, and the end is finally (Lord, FINALLY) in sight to the Amber saga. Some threads that have been seemingly hanging forever are starting to come together, and you can feel a bit of a new direction on the horizon. So, Rule Breaker shaped up to be better than I had hoped, and even though there were a few developments that seemed to come out of nowhere, they did add to the both this book and future storylines. I found myself quite happy with this one, even if the whole Navajo nation angle still feels a bit off to me. Now, I am ready for Gideon…

What did you think of Rule Breaker? Were you happy with the shift to hardcover? How hyped are you for the next one?

Reading Roundup…

Hard to believe another week has gone by, and we are staring at the end of the first month of the new year already. My goal this year is to read 150 books, including novellas, which I have never been able to hit. I think last year I topped out at 130, or somewhere in that range, but I will give it another shot this year.

This past week, I didn’t get as much done as I had thought I would, but I enjoyed everything I did get to.

the coldest girl in coldtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown – This stand alone from Holly Black is actually a carry over from last week…and it will be carried on to next week, too, since I am only about half way through. I have heard raves for this one, but I have to admit that it was rough going for about the first 100 pages. I can’t say it was bad, but it was dry. There was a lot of world-building to do, and I found myself having to go back quite often to figure out the whole cold/infected/immune/vampire dynamic, and that took me out of the story (hell, not sure I am clear on it now, but I am just going with it). Things do pick up as soon as they hit the Coldtown, which is like a quarantine area for vampires, those who might be infected, and some rather sad humans. I should be able to fly through the last half of the book, since things are getting quite interesting.

city of ashesCity of Ashes – This one was a re-read for the Mortal Instruments character guide that I want to get done before the final book is released. As always, it always amazes me how many details I have forgotten, or just missed altogether, from the original reading. I bought this series for the pretty covers, but I ended up being a huge fan of Cassandra Clare‘s world. Can’t wait for the last one…but I can’t help wondering who will live. And who won’t.

the weird girlsThe Weird Girls and A Cursed Moon – I am trying to get caught up on the e-novellas I am behind on, and I somehow missed not one, but two, from Cecy Robson‘s Weird Girls series. This series is surprisingly good, and reading the prequel novella cleared up some questions about how and why the sisters were cursed in the first place. But the recent second novella…wow, you don’t really want to miss that one. The main character is Bren, but there are some developments that impact pretty much everyone else. They were both great, quick reads.

clean sweepClean Sweep – This one was the highlight of my week. I didn’t read Clean Sweep when it was offered as the free serial on Ilona Andrews‘ blog (not sure why), and I am not a huge fan of e-books, so I skipped that version, too. But when I finally got my hands on a print copy that I had to order through Create Space, I devoured it in one setting. It was fun, original, and over way too soon. I am actually on my second reading, and going to whip up a quick character guide so I will be reading for the next installment.

So, what did your reading week look like? Any great one, or any big fails so far?

Reading Roundup…

bookWell, while I didn’t manage to keep my three-books-a-week pace up for this week, I still consider it a major, major win. That is because I finally made it through a monster book that has been uneasily sitting on the top of the TBR mountain…Lover at Last. Potential Spoilers ahead…

Lover at Last – Good lord, I have a complicated relationship with this latest one from J.R. Ward‘s Black Dagger Brotherhood. The thing is, as much as I have been invested in the series over the years, a male/male story has never really interested me, and that is pretty much why it took me almost a year to get to it. Once I started, though, I dove back into the world pretty quickly and found myself quite involved with the story.

The thing is, though, that the long-awaited Qhuinn and Blay story ends up playing such a small role in the book overall that sometimes it was hard to remember that it was actually their book. I have always been a Qhuinn fan, and he did steal every scene he was in, but there were so, so many other threads and storylines going on that it almost got hard to keep track of. I actually had to write them down to keep track of what was going on. There was Blay and Saxton, Qhuinn and Layla and her pregnancy, Layla and Xcor, Xcor and the Bastards, Assail and the Lessers, Assail and Sola, Trez and his destined mate, Trez and Selena, and the return of Luchas. Add onto that the starting of Wrath and Beth’s next storyline, and it was a very full book. It wasn’t one that you breezed through, for sure, and I found myself liking some parts more than others.

I enjoyed Qhuinn coming to terms with who he is, but I found Blay a bit of a non-entity. Layla was more of a nuisance (until her last scene with Xcor), and Xcor and the Bastards just slowed things down. The whole drug-angle with Xcor/Lessers/Assail seemed a bit pointless, too. I did really enjoy Assail and Sola’s story – I think for me it was one of the highlights of the book. Trez’s angle definitely has potential, and I found myself very much liking the Shadows. Another highlight for me was the Brotherhood itself. The original gang played a large part in the story, and I realized I had missed V, Butch and the gang. I was especially happy to see Phury back as not only as the Primale, but as a full part of the Brotherhood. I thought he got a raw deal being shuffled off to deal with the Chosen, but he was very much a full Brother again in Lover at Last, and that made me happy.

After having read this one, I do have questions about featuring Wrath and Beth again in the next book. At where it stands now, to me it would make more sense to go either the Xcor/Layla, Assail/Sola, or Trez/Selena route. Wrath and Beth feels like a step back rather than ahead. Although, if The King follows the path of Lover at Last, all of the other storylines will get more than their share of time. In summary, after wimping out for months, I was glad I finally got around to Lover at Last. It was a bit of a roller-coaster, with both highs and lows, but things were never, ever boring.

Howling for You (novella) – This Chicagoland Vampires e-novella featured Jeff Christopher and Fallon Keene, and the shifter side of things. I enjoyed this fast little read, and I would love to see more from the shifter world. Jeff has always been a favorite, and I was glad to get to know him a bit better. He has always been the sweet, geeky nerd, but here we also get to see the strong, lethal predator he is. I was expecting to see at least a cameo from Merit and company, but this story was vampire-free. You don’t miss anything vital to the series if you don’t pick this one up, but it is a fun addition to Chloe Neill‘s world.

So, what did you read this week? Anything exciting? What did you think of Lover at Last and Howling for You?

Reading Roundup…

bookI stopped doing the reading round-up posts a while back, but thought I would get back to them for the new year. I use it as a reminder as to what I read, and what I thought about them.

The Morganville Vampires (Volumes 1 and 2) – I had heard mixed reviews about Rachel Caine‘s series, but the first few books were so cheap on Book Outlet I figured I might as well. Turns out, I quite like them. The first four books contain two full stories each, which is a bonus, and I like the progression the storyarc is taking. They have a very different tone to them, and I like the fact that the vampires in question in this series are far from being the good guys. There are a couple of times that you want to smack a couple of the main characters (Clare and Shane, I am looking at you), but so far I am enjoying Morganville.

Written in Red (re-read) – One of last year’s favorite books for me, I decided to go back and do a re-read for a character guide for the new Anne Bishop series. I can’t believe how much I forgot since the first time I read it. I actually ended up enjoying it more the second time around, since I already had a feel for the complex world. What I picked up most this time was the romance. I didn’t feel it as much the first time, but the second time I got a real feel for Meg and Simon as a couple, and I liked where it is going. I am glad I gave it another spin to get ready for the release of the second book in a couple of months.

Dark WolfChristine Feehan‘s long, long awaited story of Skyler and Dimitri surprising me. I don’t mind when a character has a brutal past, but for some reason I thought that most of the book was going to be a rehash of Skyler’s childhood and how that meant that she could never love (until she could). Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Her past was acknowledged, but Dark Wolf featured a fully grown, mature, capable Skyler who was completely in love with Dimitri. The story was action packed, with great characters, a strong story, and enough development in the overarching storyline to get me quite excited about the Dark series again. It was always a guilty favorite, but my love took a dive after the debacle of Zacarias’s story. The last couple of books have gotten me back on board.

That was my reading week…how was yours? What did you read this week, good or bad?

Review – Faith Hunter’s Black Arts

Thanks once again to Doug Meeks, who sent over his review for the upcoming Faith Hunter Jane Yellowrock book, Black Arts. Doug got his hands on it early, but it will be officially released on January 7th.

black artsWhat Doug said…

Summary

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker who always takes care of her own—no matter the cost….

When Evan Trueblood blows into town looking for his wife, Molly, he’s convinced that she came to see her best friend, Jane. But it seems like the witch made it to New Orleans and then disappeared without a trace.

Jane is ready to do whatever it takes to find her friend. Her desperate search leads her deep into a web of black magic and betrayal and into the dark history between vampires and witches. But the closer she draws to Molly, the closer she draws to a new enemy—one who is stranger and more powerful than any she has ever faced.

Review

When I got this I was already sure that I was going to like it (since I have loved every installment in this series) but this was a major step up in not just the story but the look inside to see exactly who Jane Yellowrock is under the hard exterior.

Don’t get me wrong, Jane is STILL Jane but she does a lot of self introspection during this novel and comes out better for it.  I must admit I still spent most of the novel wishing for or waiting for her to kill someone that richly deserved it (and there are a plethora of candidates).

The main thing here is that Molly is missing and she has to find her since Evan is a loose cannon without Molly but nobody seems to know what happened to her but Jane will be piecing things together all through the book and concurrent plotlines that all converge with deadly results as always.

The book comes to an explosive conclusion with most things settled but some things are left for the next book so it is not a cliffhanger but everything is not settled …. yet.  Ms. Hunter tried to give us a bit of payback for the acts of betrayal of Leo/Katie/Bruiser back in previous story but maybe I am a hard case since I was not really satisfied yet, but it was not overlooked completely which would have been completely out of character, there may still be some payback.  We shall see……

Bottom Line:  This is 5 Stars with no real reservations other than maybe I am such a revenge junkie I might want more payback but that was not the real story in this novel.  Jane is her deadly best and she handles things better than anyone could and her love life still sucks but what else is new.  You don’t want to miss this so get your order in now and read it the first chance you get.

How may Jane Yellowrock fans are out there? It is a series that you always see good things about, but it never usually gets mentioned with the Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels crowd, which is a shame.