Dark Queen Review

It has been a while since there has been anything approaching a review on the blog, but Doug Meeks was kind enough to send his over for the next Jane Yellowrock book from Faith Hunter, Dark Queen. It took me a while (and a couple of false starts) to get into the series, but when I did I didn’t look back. I have had this one pre-ordered for a long while now, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

dark queenWhat Doug said…

Ok, where to start … probably unknown to most people is that this was originally thought to be the last Jane Yellowrock book (a crime beyond comprehension). The series got a reprieve and there will be at least 2 more books BUT according to the author most of this book was written by that time and so it does some things that you might not like (I can think of several of them). In the long term I am sure it will be fine but you can see it was lining up for a finale and then the story turns a corner and starts down a new road.

Pretty much everything that has been happening for the last several books (and the series in a couple of places) is coming together for a final battle. There are some serious surprises here and a story that is addicting, we have what seems to be a requirement in recent books to have a lot of pages of “naval gazing” and while not boring you keep wondering what is happening while she is doing all this self introspection with the almost non-stop action in this book.

There are a couple of new characters, some more revealing things about some old characters and some side stories that left me a bit depressed. I was never really bored but Jane’s reaction to some things got somewhat redundant if not a small bit irritating.

The book starts with a bang and after release day you can read the teaser that Amazon shows (WARNING: You better be ready to buy the book if you do LOL). The action only lets up a few times which makes the quieter parts seem slower than normal.

I don’t dissect plots in my reviews, more of a feeling when I finished and this one kept me thinking about it long after I went to bed and the sorta cliffhanger ending (I am still considering if it is a true cliffhanger since you can mostly guess at the general direction of the plot). All I can say is she better write fast, I want to know what happens next ! I should add there is actually 2 sorta cliffhangers (HATE THAT)

Bottom Line: Loved it, mixture of emotions, love, hate, rage, warmth, and my favorite …. revenge. Obviously this is NOT a place to start this series at book 12 and one of the few series that the random short stories/novellas released along this journey DO matter. Jane is the hand of justice and while she might not love many of the aspects of that responsibility, she does not shirk them. These last few books have had a multitude of plots and subplots, this one is no different so hang on and don’t even try to scan through or you will miss something that might leave you confused later. Jane Yellowrock and Kate Daniels still sit atop the world of urban fantasy genre in my opinion and always will I am sure.

I am still more team Nell rather than team Jane, but the gap has been closing a bit with the last couple of Jane books. I think it is my love for the supporting cast that is helping that along. Who do you most love – or loathe – in Jane’s world?

Oh, and totally off-topic, but I need to vent. I haven’t been able to go to the movies for something like a year now because of my wonky work schedule, but I figured I would make an exception for The Avengers – just so I wouldn’t get spoiled as to any major deaths. I did watch a spoiler-free review on Youtube, though, which was great. What wasn’t so great? The douche-bag top commenter who listed the three who get killed. Seriously?!? What a bastard.

 

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The Others Arc II – Lake Silence

lake silenceMarch is like the mega-load month for great, anticipated books for me. Last week, there were three of my top reads for the ENTIRE YEAR released on the same damn day. Karen Marie Moning‘s High Voltage was great, and I really enjoyed Patricia BriggsBurn Bright, too. But for me the big surprise was just how much I liked Lake Silence.

It isn’t like I didn’t think I would like it, but when Anne Bishop said she was wrapping things up with Meg and Simon and the gang in the Lakeside Courtyard to focus on new stories, I was a bit…meh. I was hoping for maybe a Vlad spin-off, or even Henry, but a totally new set of characters didn’t really get me excited. Glad I was so wrong.

I loved Lake Silence – just as much as the first five books. I bonded pretty quickly to the new cast of characters, and I really enjoyed the storyline. Usually a book without a pretty strongly defined romance (or romantic potential) doesn’t really click for me, but this one did. I can honestly say that I didn’t even miss the Lakeside crew after about the second chapter, and that is saying a lot.

Now the problem is that the next book is supposed to be set in Bennett, so does that mean we won’t get any more stories about Vicki, Julian and Wayne? Not to mention Ilya and Natasha, who were complete scene stealers. That would just be wrong, on so many levels.

What did you think of this new spin on The Others? Were you happy with it, or did you still miss the originals?

Reading Wrap Up

widow's webMy reading wrap ups usually follow the “I read this and I thought this what about you?” trend, but this time it is more a series specific post. The last couple of weeks, I have been doggedly reading Jennifer Estep‘s Elemental Assassin series – and I still can’t tell you how I feel about it. Weird.

I think the thing is, I want to like it more than I do. Or, more specifically, I really like parts of it, but others I just can’t warm up to. I have already covered the repetition that annoyed me so much at the beginning – describing the same thing (eye color, weapons arrangement, etc.) over and over in the same book made my OCD twitchy. That has mostly been worked out, or at least I have moved on from it, but other things are starting to make me nitpick. Phrases used so, so much – not just within a book but from book to book – are having the same effect as the eye color. Mostly, it is the way the people in Gin’s life are constantly described. Owen is “my lover”. We get that, but you don’t need to say “my lover” every single time he is mentioned. Ditto with the almost belittling “Goth Dwarf” being tossed around every couple of pages for life-long friend Sophia. Once or twice is fine in a story, but every few pages is overkill.

Another thing I seem to be struggling with is that I am not the biggest fan of Gin. I can’t put my finger on why, but it just isn’t there for me. I don’t despise her or anything, but I can’t warm up to her, either. The sad thing is, I pretty much enjoy all of the side characters way more than I do her, and it is the side characters I keep reading for. I don’t think it is normal to skim over the main character parts searching for more of the secondary characters, but that is what I am doing. I like Finn, Sophia, JoJo and the gang a lot, and find myself wanting more of them. I just finished Deadly Sting, though, and my liking for Owen took a nosedive. Honestly? I thought he needed a good stiff boot to the balls for most of the last of books, so not sure I will be reading his parts anymore, either. Meh.

So, I guess where I am at is that there is enough I like to keep me wanting to read it, but it is hard to justify devoting my time to a series where I have started to skim over any sections involving the main character. I am “finishing” a book in a bit over an hour that way, and at $10 dollars a book…well, yeah. Not doing that math again.

What is your “trying so hard to love it” series? When do you throw in the towel and admit defeat? I already picked up the next two stories – both novellas – because they were only a couple of dollars each. Not sure after that, though.

 

Reading Wrap Up

this fallen preyIt has been a couple of weeks since I did a reading wrap up post, so it is time to check out what everyone has been enjoying lately. I picked up Kelley Armstrong‘s This Fallen Prey, which is the third book of her Rockton series. I am a big fan of pretty much everything she writes, and this series is no exception. The only slightly negative thing I can say about this one is that I found at the end that there were too many killers. Not a big complaint, but it just felt a bit too rushed for the wrap up. Still a great story, though.

baby i'm howling for youI also enjoyed Baby I’m Howling For You from Christine Warren. She was a favorite author from back in the day, but we broke-up a few years back when I found myself really not liking a few of her later Others books. Or rather, the characters. But when I saw her new series set in the Others world, I decided to dive back in – and so far, so good. That makes me happy, because the books of hers that I loved remain among my all-time favorites, and I would very much like to see a return to the stories that made me a fan in the first place.

the emerald lilyThe Emerald Lily from Juliette Cross was one I was quite looking forward to. It is the final book in the fairy-tale retelling Vampire Blood series, and I am sad to see this one wrap up. For me, it was probably the weakest installment in the series, but that could just be my inborn dislike of reading the final book in a series. Any series. I did like it, but while this arc is finished I feel like there are still a lot more stories that not only could be told, but should be told. Perhaps a spin-off series is in the works? I hope.

the last wolfAnd the last one for this batch comes from Maria Vale. I have been looking forward to The Last Wolf since I first saw the listing for this new series, and I wasn’t disappointed. It had a very different feel to it, both in terms of writing style and world building, and it is definitely one I will be keeping up with. In fact, the first four or five chapters of the second book were included at the end of this one, and I have a feeling I will like it even more than this one.

Add in a couple of re-reads, and that wraps things up for me. What have you been reading lately? Anything exciting, either good or bad?

 

Reading Wrap Up

Happy end of weekend, everyone. Time to take a little look at what we have all been reading this week.

hell's bellLast year, I read my first Keri Arthur book and quite enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to getting my hands on the next one, Hell’s Bell. It was a decent read – but maybe not quite what I hoped for. I was hoping that the romance angle only hinted at in the first book would be developed this time around, but it didn’t pan out as much as I would’ve liked. Decent storyline and world-building, but it did leave me wishing for a bit more.

9780451488510_JudgmentRoad_FCO_mech.inddAnd I just finished up the first Torpedo Ink book from Christine Feehan, Judgment Road. Sea Haven is one of my favorite fictional worlds, so I am always happy to get one of these stories. Judgment Road was a bit of a change of pace, though, since the “magical ability” angle that was so strong in the other books takes a back seat in this one, and it was a nice change. It was my first motorcycle-club based read, and while I am not a huge fan of the “property of” status and “old lady” handles, all in all I enjoyed it. It was Reaper and Anya’s book, but it was the secondary characters that made the story for me. But for the down side, while I don’t so much mind the bringing up the traumatic pasts of the Torpedo Ink gang, it is getting a bit old to have every book focus on rapists. It isn’t as bad as the Bound Together kiddie gang rape in progress scenes, but it is still a theme here, and I would like them to move on. There are other scum-bags to hunt – killers, terrorists, drug dealers – all while dealing with their own brutal pasts. So, I liked it for what it was, but I have hopes for some changes in future books.

thread of deathI picked up the Thread of Death novella in the Elemental Assassin series, too, which was a nice, quick read. It added a bit of closure to Mab and Gin saga, and while it wasn’t a necessary read, I was glad I picked it up. I am still annoyed by Jennifer Estep‘s constant references to Sophia and JoJo as the dwarves, but the eye-color thing has finally died a solid death (along with some of the other repetition that drove me nuts in the first couple of books), and that is a plus. Still chugging along on this one, and still enjoying it overall.

forbidden mateMy goal is to try at least one new-to-me author a month, and the one I picked for January was Cecilia Lane. I had been eyeing her Shifters of Bear’s Den series since it started last year, and I finally decided to take the plunge with Forbidden Mate. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me. I found it difficult to get into, and I had the urge to start skimming at about the 15% mark. That is never a good sign, and couple it with main characters that didn’t interest me and it is downhill from there. I probably would’ve kept going, but there are a couple of things that are a giant character no-no for me, and the female lead pulled one when she betrayed the trust of her HEA, then didn’t have the guts to come clean immediately, I was done. I don’t like to DNF a book, but I just wasn’t interested after that, so I might as well cut my losses and move on.

There, that wraps up my reads for this past week. What were yours? What story line situations make you give up on a book? Mine are main characters cheating on each other, a betrayal-then-cover up done by the female lead that puts everyone else in danger (it is always the females, honestly), and walking into in-progress rape scenes are getting there for me, too. They make me highly uncomfortable – as they should – and take away of my enjoyment of a story. And why else do we read if not for enjoyment? I get that it is a real-life thing, but it is becoming the recurring theme of pretty much every recent Feehan book, and I am finding it to be just too much. Sermon ends here.

Reading Wrap Up

On a side note, I have done an update of the new release pages, and there were a couple of little changes here and there. But one of them made me happy – Keri Arthur‘s second Lizzie Grace book, Hell’s Bell, has actually been pushed UP by a month. Instead of a late February release, it will now be out on January 23rd. The first book of the series was my first Keri Arthur read, and I have been looking forward to getting my hands on the second one ever since.

spider's revengeBut as for the reading wrap up portion of things, there hasn’t been a ton to mention. I did plow through another Elemental Assassin book from Jennifer Estep, Spider’s Revenge. There was a lot going on in this one – it was a pretty pivotal book, and it was nice to see everyone get what they deserved. I figured Mab the big bad would be a series-long nemesis, so I was honestly surprised that that angle was wrapped up only 5 books in. Either the repetition has been toned way down, or I have just gotten used to it, because it hasn’t been something I have been focused on for the last couple of books (thankfully). Well, the constant referring to Sophia as “The Goth Dwarf” still grates on my nerves, but that is about the only thing now that I can point to that bugs me, so that is a bonus.

guardian's bondOh, and I also got my hands on a review copy of a book I mentioned a couple of days ago in my “Things that have caught my eye” post. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Guardian’s Bond from Rhenna Morgan, and so far I am very much enjoying it. It is the insta-mate thing which turns some readers off, but for me I thought it was well done and not as melodramatic as some I have read. There are only two little nitpicks that I had – one, I had a bit of trouble with the world-building at the start. I felt like maybe I had missed a novella or something that introduced the world, the power-structure and abilities, that sort of thing, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. I kind of like to get all of that stuff out of the way at the start so I know who’s who and what is what, but I figured it out as I went and it didn’t impact my enjoyment.

The second gripe is the one where I sound like a spoiled brat, but I can’t help it. I was very lucky to get an ARC, and I am grateful, but…but, it was the formatting. I haven’t had many ARCs, so maybe it is standard, but way the book was physically laid out aggravated me to no end. Spacing issues and formatting almost made parts of it feel run-on and unedited (even though it wasn’t), and messed with my reading flow. Not the fault of the author or story at all, but it did get distracting. Sigh, I am such a princess, but what can you do?

bound-togetherAnd finally, I am re-reading Bound Together from Christine Feehan for the Sea Haven guide update. This is another one where I sound like a weirdo, but as much as I like the book (and I do), and as much as I enjoy all of the books in all of the Sea Haven series (and I do), the story was heavier the second time around. I loved seeing the Drakes with the Sisters of the Heart and all of the Prakenskiis, and I find myself very intrigued by the Torpedo Ink gang, but what threw me off a bit was all of the rape survivors. Human trafficking is an issue that Christine Feehan has been focusing on recently, in several books and in different series, but man did you see it here. I didn’t really notice it until I was almost finished, but if you start adding up who had been a rape survivor/torture victim/human trafficking rescue, they outnumber the ones who weren’t. Elle. Jackson. Lexi. Most of the Prakenskiis. All of the Torpedo Ink club members. The four kids Airiana and Max are adopting. The young girls and teenaged boy Viktor and his team rescued. Kidnapped and raped. Raped and tortured by their “teachers”. Rape survivors. Kids being gang raped in real time. Ugh. I know it is a real-world issue, but it was getting a bit gruesome at times – and I was getting numb to the impact, which is worse. So, still a favorite series set in a favorite world, but I do hope that the whole human trafficking focus is wrapped up soon.

Ok, I rambled enough. What are you reading and enjoying this week? Are there any plotlines that you are getting worn out on? Anything you think needs to be addressed that isn’t?

 

Entertainment Winners and Losers

I have been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and to go from all work to no work is weird. Lovely, but weird. When I am working, I don’t really get to watch tv or movies, and my reading gets behind, too. Now I am in catch up mode, and having varying degrees of success.

  • I have been getting caught up on the character guides, and right now I am re-reading Bound Together from Christine Feehan‘s Sisters of the Heart series. I am strangely excited for the next spin-off, Torpedo Ink, but the introduction of the 17 (SEVENTEEN!) new characters was…interesting. I got 6 full pages of notes from the first two chapters alone. So, so many biography info dumps for so many characters at once is a bit of a challenge to keep straight, but things smooth out a bit as it goes on. But really? Seventeen?
  • It has been forever since I have been to the movies, but I did decide that on my vacation time I would watch the Star Wars movies. I have seen a few minutes of them here and there, and I have read about them over the years, but I haven’t really sat down and ever watched one. I started out with Rogue One and The Force Awakens, both of which I liked. Then I went back to Episodes I-III and…yeah. Wow. I rolled my eyes a bit through the first one, but the second one was on a whole new level of cheesy acting. Every time Anakin and Padme are onscreen, I find myself literally cringing. Is it just me being picky, or are they a painful pairing?
  • On the TV side of things, I have been enjoying The Gifted, and I finally got caught up on The 100 and Stranger Things. Next up is the Marvel stuff – Punisher, Defenders, maybe Iron Fist. But I have been secretly binging Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Yep, I admitted it. I have sneered and mocked them and their show for a while now, but it might be my guilty pleasure. I don’t always like them, but they are definitely not boring.

What do you do with your time off? Have you been watching anything interesting, or have any guilty pleasure shows?

Reading Wrap Up

origin in deathI have been steadily chugging though some pretty great books the last few days – some of which I liked more than I expected to, honestly. After a bit of a break, I got back into J.D. Robb‘s In Death series, picking up book #21, Origin in Death. It has been well over a month since I read the last one, and I missed it (which sounds weird, but there it is). This was another great installment, but at this point I expect nothing less.

blood furyNext up was Blood Fury from J.R. Ward. I was on the meh side of things heading into this one, but it was a very pleasant surprise. I ended up really liking both story lines (and all four main characters, which is rare). Wrath stole every scene he was in, there was enough Rhage to make me happy, no Layla (yes!) and only had to suffer through a glimpse of Qhuinn (I have not forgiven that turd yet, and may never. Bastard). This one was a winner for me all the way around.

ritualsAnd on the re-read front, I am about half-way through Rituals, the final full Cainsville book from Kelley Armstrong. I loved this series with an undying, unexplainable passion, so having it wrap up is bittersweet. On one hand, it was great to get to the Olivia and Gabriel coupledom, but on the other hand, who likes to say goodbye to a favorite? It is a great end to a great series, though, and I am loving the re-read even more than the original.

There you have it. What have you been reading lately? Any big winners (or losers) to share? How do the Black Dagger Legacy books stack up to the Brotherhood stories for you?

Reading Wrap Up

tangled threadsHey all. It’s time to take a look at what we all have been reading lately. I am continuing on my Jennifer Estep Elemental Assassin mini-marathon, and I seem to be settling in. The repetition thing that bugged me so much in the first two books seems to be working itself out. I finished up both Venom and Tangled Threads, and it is chugging along pretty well. It isn’t jumping on my favorite series list yet, but it isn’t bad, either. I like the world-building and pretty much all of the supporting cast, but I’m not so sure how I feel about Gin. It isn’t that I dislike her character, I just can’t seem to warm up to her for some reason. Sometimes she comes off as a bit smug and superior, and it throws me off. Not enough to make me stop reading, but enough to get on my nerves once in a while.

something to howl aboutI also dove back into Christine Warren (in a small way). She used to be a must-read for me, and some of the books from her The Others series are among my all-time favorites. But during the course of the series, it seemed like I went from loving them, to being a bit bored, to actively disliking some of the characters, so I stopped reading her a few years back. Fast forward to this week, and I decided to pick up the novella from her new Alphaville series, Something to Howl About. It is sort of a spin-off of The Others, and it seemed to go back to what I enjoyed about the original series. I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised.

And I did a re-read of all three Innkeeper Chronicles books from Ilona Andrews. It was a treat to get back into the world, and it was fun to pull a mini-marathon. It had been a while since I read them, and it made me realize all over again that I don’t think Ilona could ever write anything that I wouldn’t love. It sounds gushy to say that everything they write becomes an instant favorite, but it is true.

wicked abyssIt was also time to do a re-read of Wicked Abyss from Kresley Cole to update the Immortals After Dark character guide. I think I enjoyed this one more on my second read, honestly. I have found my IAD love really taking a down-turn the last couple of years, and for a while that made me sad. I don’t actively count down the days until the next release, I don’t get disappointed if the release date is pushed back, and I don’t actively hunt down any and all tidbits I can find about upcoming stories. It has settled into a solid, mid-range series for me, I guess – I enjoy it for what it is.

So, that’s me. What about you? What have you been reading and enjoying so far in 2018? Anything great (or not so great) to share?

Heart of Fire Review

Heart of Fire by Amanda Bouchet was my pick of the week for this week. I enjoyed most of the first book, and I remember liking the second one well enough, too. Maybe not as much as the first, but sometimes there is a bit of a lull in the middle book in a trilogy. Unfortunately, according to Doug Meeks (who was kind enough to send over his review), things don’t end on a high note.

heart on fireWhat Doug said…

Plot in 4 Words “I am a failure”

Well I must be one of the few people in the world that did not think this was some great literacy achievement, coming in at 418 pages for a story that could have been told in 250 and probably better unless you are addicted to pages and pages and pages of self-introspection and did not succumb to terminal boredom.

While the above may be a bit over the top it does represent where I spent a LOT of my time reading this book and was finally forced to scan a few pages to stay awake.  After you have read so many pages of “I am a failure” … ad nauseam you want some action.  Seems the action usually follows some TSTL moment and more “I am a failure” laments.

I can say at least this one did not have the feel of any domestic abuse I found in the other 2 books but this was IMHO an overwritten novel with pages and pages of near nothing happening.  Throw in a few VERY frustrating action scenes and battles with her mother, followed by   ….. you guessed it “I am a failure” I am beginning to think I did not read the same book as everyone and after dragging us through pages and pages of nothing we wrap the whole thing up in a few pages (now she wants to conserve pages WTF?)

Taken as a whole this trilogy gets 3 Stars from me, it has made me mad, bored me and frustrated me with a whiny heroine, an overbearing alpha male (who along with his heroine seemed to have done a Jekyll and Hyde do-over for this last book) I guess I am missing whatever made this such an addicting reading experience for so many people.

3 Stars and really I am confused why anyone thinks it deserves more ….

line

Welp, that is unfortunate. I was hoping that maybe the author would branch out and tell more stories set in this world, but I guess we will have to see. Did you check out Heart of Fire? What did you think?