Grete

Grete

I'm a complete bookaholic and never want a cure... more shelf space maybe. The only things I love more than reading is my husband and my cats!

Sep 162014
 

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy 3) It’s finally here!  The final instalment of the All Souls Trilogy!

I thought I was prepared for everything coming together but oh my, I didn’t know the half of it!  The blood rage becoming more real and more defined was worrying, especially where the twins were involved.  From almost the start I was in tears  and as the book progressed, other things made me emotional. The surprise from the past – YES!  I admit I cried with joy ;)

The Book of Life is written as beautifully and as cleanly as the first two books.  Sometimes the pace was slow but it’s something I have come to expect and there was always something interesting going on so it didn’t feel like wasted time.  Diana, oh I just love her and everything she does and, without giving away spoilers – Ashmole 792 – WOW, I expected something spectacular but I didn’t see that twist coming.

If I have one problem it is that the De Clairmonts are seen as so powerful but they don’t seem to actually do anything.  Eventually however they hatch a plan – and once they do you kind of see why they took a while to get to it!

Matthew is much better being back in the 21st Century and away from the time when women should be seen and not heard.  He seemed much more together and aware of his tendency to overprotect and try to reduce it.  Diana always gave as good as she got, mind you, which is one of the things I love about her.

The birth scene was just perfect – everything I had hoped for, with humour as well.  Poor Gallowglass!

I’m really sad the series has come to an end but I can’t wait to see what Deborah Harkness will bring us next.

Book Information
  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Series: All Souls Trilogy (3)
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
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Rating: ★★★★½ 

Sep 112014
 

Festive in Death The kitchen knife jammed into his cold heart pinned a cardboard sign to his well-toned chest. It read: Santa Says You’ve Been Bad!!! Ho, Ho, Ho!

It’s Christmas, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas is in no mood to celebrate. While her charismatic husband Roarke plans a huge, glittering party, Eve has murder on her mind.

The victim – personal trainer Trey Ziegler – was trouble in life and is causing even more problems in death. Vain, unfaithful and vindictive, Trey had cultivated a lot of enemies. Which means Eve has a lot of potential suspects. And when she and Detective Peabody uncover Trey’s sinister secret, the case takes a deadly turn.

Christmas may be a festival of light, but Eve and Roarke will be forced once more down a very dark path in their hunt for the truth.

I honestly don’t know how J.D. Robb does it.  Thirty-nine books in and the stories are still fresh, gripping, emotional and funny. I keep expecting some dip in form, some ‘haven’t I read this before’ feeling but no, Festive in Death was just unique and brilliant.

The full cast we’ve come to know and love are back and as colourful as ever.  Peabody is a favourite of mine in particular, because of how she copes with Eve’s acerbic nature.  She gives as good as she gets but in her own style which makes me laugh.

Eve herself makes a lot of progress in this book, realising just how important the connections with her friends are and there are several moments that made me a bit weepy but with a big grin at the same time. Her bafflement with social norms never fail to make me laugh and Roarke’s fierce love and patience with her are wonderful.  She is her usual sarcastic and kick-ass self but her sharp edges are getting just a little softer.  Not that she would admit to it!

The crime is a sneaky one, J.D. Robb is a master at getting you to look one way while she sneaks something in elsewhere and in this book she does it wonderfully well, keeping you guessing until the last minute.  As always, the police procedure elements are extremely well written and give you the sense that it’s not all action; cases also get solved through hard work and digging through evidence, witnesses and backgrounds until you get to the truth.

The pace of the book gives you a sense of urgency; with Christmas approaching the need to get to the answers before things shut down or people go away to visit relatives is a mounting pressure.  Also looming is the party, and that was just so good I had to read it again.  Cue weepy joyful things and Eve’s antisocial tendencies, run ins with Summerset and you have one amazing read.

This book just hit all my buttons and as usual I absolutely can’t wait for the next.

Just sensational!

If you want to start with this series (and you really, really should!) then Naked in Death is the first book.

Book Information
  • Author: J.D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (39)
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Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sep 042014
 

Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter) It’s been a year since Samantha Carter blasted back to 1888, barely escaping with her life. Now, returned to present-day London with only her nymphomaniac flatmate for company, she’s starting to believe that everything – the blood-curdling vampires, her strange and sudden skills with a gun, even her mysterious lover Harry – was nothing but a dream.

Just when Sammy is about to lose all hope that her friends and memories were real, it finally happens again. This time she’s pulled back to a city she does not recognise: a London in the grip of a terrible plague, where death haunts the night and a deeper, darker threat lurks underground, waiting for its chance . . .

Fighting side by side with her friends once again, Sammy encounters horrors beyond her imagining; yet what really terrifies her are the endless questions, one most of all: who is she really? Torn between the life she longs for and the life she can believe in, Sammy must decide whether she’s brave enough to risk everything, even her heart . . .

Well, I have to say I enjoyed this book more than I did the first.  The writing was smoother although I still found it a little on the immature side, and while the story still jumped around from scene to scene without much transition it was easier to follow this time.

I warmed up more to the characters and Sammy in particular but I still found the connections hard – especially between Sammy and Harry.  Their sex scenes were much more readable but there still doesn’t seem to have been anywhere near enough interaction between them to make it seem real rather than a bit tawdry or meaningless.  Also the multiple references to listening to her nymphomaniac flatmate having sex (or Preacher and Louise) was a bit off-putting.

The plot makes a bit more sense in that it’s obviously going to be a recurring theme for Sammy to time travel but have no idea why or remember where, and the groundwork that should have been in the first book was finally present in the second one.  There are still some moments where Sammy does idiotic things for the plot’s sake and I find that hard to take – she is not a stupid woman yet does stupid things.  For example, she gets warned not to do something and with very good reasons and then she goes and does them anyway.  It just makes me facepalm.

By the end I did want to know more and Sammy and a couple of the other characters were starting to grow on me but overall, it was not a book I found gripping or exciting, and was just an OK read.  I will read the next book because the big picture plot is quite interesting, but I strongly hope the series continues to improve as much as this book did.

Book Information
  • Author: Tim O'Rourke
  • Series: Samantha Carter (2)
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Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Sep 032014
 

Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter) Samantha Carter believes a vampire is responsible for the brutal deaths of four women in London and finally she has the chance to catch him. Desperate to prove the killer’s identity, she chases him onto a late night tube train. But Samantha doesn’t reach the next station – instead she’s pulled into a very different journey, back in time to the Wild West – where friendship, desire and even love all come hand in hand with deadly danger.

To stay alive she’ll have to work out who to trust – and when to resist temptation. For Sammy’s nightmares are about to come true – vampires are real and more lethal than she ever imagined…

I’d heard a lot of good things about Tim O’Rourke so was quite looking forward to discovering his work.  Having just finished Vampire Seeker, I’ll be honest, I’m quite disappointed.

The story is written in a first person perspective, from the point of view of the female protagonist, Sammy.  Overall, the writing felt immature to me and in too many places it did not flow well at all.  The action felt very jumpy, and I just couldn’t settle into it.  At times, despite the perspective being Sammy’s, the author made assertions about what the other people were feeling, which broke the illusion of first person.

I think the hook of any book is to have characters you love or love to hate, someone you can root for and in all honesty, there was just no-one in Vampire Seeker that I felt this way about.  Even the main character was irritating, thinking one thing then doing the exact opposite the next minute.  If Sammy had been 18 and a bit starry eyed, it might have worked but she was supposed to be 22 and a smart girl.

The plot was convoluted for no apparent reason.  Things just came at you without any groundwork being laid, so it felt as if the author was just throwing things in to make it more interesting but without taking the time to blend it.  There were a couple of attempts at foreshadowing but they ended up being just obvious and clumsy.

I felt the masturbation leading into the only sex scene was actually quite cringe-worthy and on reflection, because there was no groundwork laid for this, apart from a few thoughts from Sammy thinking ‘he’ was a bit hot and some mild flirting, it made me slightly uncomfortable.  That’s on top of it being hurried and unrealistic.

There are some positives, it was a short book so it was easy to read and there were a few moments that made me chuckle.  I am going to read the second book because I’m hoping it might explain what the heck happened in the first one!

I’m sad because I really wanted to enjoy this book but it just didn’t do it for me at all.

Book Information
  • Author: Tim O'Rourke
  • Series: Samantha Carter (1)
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Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Aug 252014
 

Cursed Moon: Prospero's War: Book Two MAGIC IS A DRUG. IT’LL COST MORE THAN YOU CAN PAY.

When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magical Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and everyone’s emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon’s impact is especially strong for Kate who’s wrestling with guilt over falling off the magic wagon.

After a rogue wizard steals dangerous potions from the local covens, Kate worries their suspect is building a dirty magic bomb. Her team must find the anarchist rogue before the covens catch him, and make sure they defuse the bomb before the Blue Moon deadline. Failure is never an option, but success will require Kate to come clean about her secrets.

So poor Kate is in it up to her neck – secrets, lies, John Volo and Uncle Abe, not to mention the events of the first book threatening to drag her under.  Her promotion to a member of the MEA taskforce is taking its toll on her both personally and professionally.  However, she is trying so hard to make it work and to stay away from magic that my heart goes out to her at every turn.  With the Blue Moon bearing down on them, Babylon is going crazy and she seems to be just one step behind all the time.  Danny, Pen, Baba all think they know what is best for her but do they, especially when she doesn’t know what that is herself.

The task force members continue to grow on me and I especially love Drew Morales, he is so deadpan and sarcastic.  I also love that while there is flirting and heat between Kate and Morales, it’s on a very slow burn and was not a central crux for either Dirty Magic nor this book.  What is developing is trust, understanding and barriers dropping which actually seems more intimate.

Parts of the book are pretty heart-wrenching, with Kate’s best friend Pen breaking down and barriers developing between them.  There are also some very funny moments as well, which balances the book out brilliantly.

The pace is much more even in this second book, now we know how the world works and Kate’s place in it.  The action is pretty full on with the plot being tied to the arrival of the full moon and the threat that is bound up with it.

Some more interesting characters were introduced here – the most notable being Aphrodite, what a perfect creation,  I loved reading the scenes with her/him in it.  I also just realised I forgot to mention Mary and Little Man in the last review but I shall mention them now, as they continued to entertain and become a part of the story.  Again, a brilliant creation that I have come to love (even given the creepiness factor!).

I really loved the ending and the things Kate has come to realise, and I applaud Jaye Wells for her handling of the issues surrounding it.  I don’t think it will be a smooth run for Kate still but it’s a good start, if a little bitter-sweet.

A clever and gripping second book in this series and I can’t wait for the third!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jaye Wells
  • Series: Prospero's War (2)
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Aug 202014
 

The King: Number 12 in series (Black Dagger Brotherhood) 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 with 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?

For the most part I loved this book, but there were a couple of things that didn’t work for me very well. The whole Assail and Sola storyline seemed very out of place and disjointed and while I can only assume the storyline will finish in another book, it did take up a fair amount of this one. The characters as well – while I did like Sola, I really didn’t warm to Assail. His actions, apart from when he was dealing with Sola, just made me grind my teeth and hope he got taken out. Honestly, he seemed like Rehv, only despicable.

With that out of the way, the rest of the book I loved. Seeing Wrath’s parents was bitter-sweet but wonderful as well. Beth kicks ass as usual and I thought the arguments between the two of them were spot on – I absolutely got why she was so set on wanting a child. Watching them work it through was a special thing, especially as Wrath comes to terms with everything he is.  I was in tears at the end and loved the way it all resolved.

The Band of Bastards continue to be interesting and I can’t wait for the next book to see how Layla deals with her promise and where that takes Xcor. Are we seeing a possible resolution or alliance with the brotherhood?  I hope so!

The shadows Trez and his long suffering brother iAm feature prominently and I do like them a lot although I’m not sure how iAm hasn’t strangled his brother yet! I do sympathise with their situation though and the Trez and Selena storyline just makes me want to cry – I don’t know where it’s all going yet but again, I can’t wait to find out.

I think any long running series probably suffers this issue but it seems almost the cast that gets covered each book is getting bigger and while that is good, it also detracts from the ‘main’ story or couple. Is it resolvable? Probably not if we want the series to continue (hell yes we do) so I think it’s a case of get used to it. When it was just the brothers it was easier to keep the books tight but when their stories have been told it has to expand or come to an end. Personally I loved revisiting Wrath and Beth, and long live the king!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: J.R. Ward
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood (12)
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Aug 142014
 

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy 2) Fall deeper under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the captivating second volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew’s forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past.

When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. Now the coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

Shadow of Night is the second book in the All Soul’s Trilogy and follows straight on from A Discovery of Witches.  It opens with our beloved Diana and Matthew having travelled back in time to the year 1590 in search of the mysterious and undamaged Ashmole 782 manuscript.

This book was utterly fascinating and I can only imagine how fertile Harkness’ imagination is, combining documented historical events with her own prose to make something so rich and believable and make you feel as if you were there!

Diana progresses so much in this book, she really comes into her own, as witch, wife and historian. Matthew is a complicated character, having lived so long (and through this time period once already) he does struggle with possessiveness, misogyny and at times needs a good smack on the back of his head. Balancing that out though, he is also extremely loving, clever and underestimates his wife so when she takes matters into her own hands, his reactions can be amusing.

The love they have for each other is undeniably sweet, even when they lose their way a bit, you know that is at the core.

I loved most of the new characters in this book, except Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, he was just a jealous little toad! Gallowglass, Jack, Annie, the coven were all superb and Elizabeth 1st was awesomely erratic.  I also loved the magic that Diana wields, the threads of life using a skein of embroidery thread and knots to represent different things.  I look forward to finding out just what she can do!

I’m not well versed in history but Deborah manages to bring characters to life that I’d only heard about in vaguely remembered history lessons at school and it even led me to do further reading. Of course that just increased my respect for the author’s talent at blending fact and fiction.

The plot moves along nicely at the same pace as the first book but with an added sense of urgency and tension. It’s not a quick read but it is extremely engaging and hard to put down. The majority of this novel is set back in time with a couple of glimpses as to what is happening with the families back in modern day. I expected those to feel disjointed and jerk me out of the story but actually they happened quite organically.

Now, at the end of the book, they have returned to present day and its time to find out if everything they went through was worth it. It’s time to finish this and open the final book in the All Soul’s Trilogy, The Book Of Life!

Book Information
  • Author: Deborah Harkness
  • Series: All Soul's Trilogy (2)
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Rating: ★★★★½ 

 

Aug 042014
 

Dirty Magic: Prospero's War: Book One MAGIC IS A DRUG. BE CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realises she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good.

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with Urban Fantasy lately in that it all seemed quite similar and nothing was really grabbing me.  I was already a fan of Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane series, and the back blurb on Dirty Magic seemed a little different, enough to grab my attention and want to give it a go.

It did start a little slowly but it was a new version of our world to build and it was really interesting learning how potions have become part of normal, everyday life alongside conventional medicine.  I thought it was a really clever alternate commentary on how pharmaceuticals have done the same in our reality.  You have clean potions (legal) and dirty potions (illegal) and the alchemy adepts who brew or ‘cook’ them.  Covens instead of drug cartels, but it all results in addicts needing another fix and another dirty potion hitting the streets for those who are looking for the next big thing.  Addicts of clean potions like vanities, youth, weight loss or pain also hits home.

Kate Prospero is an excellent heroine – a former adept with a talent for making magic potions turned cop with a young brother to raise.  I understood her issues and felt for her for trying to make something good out of a life that dealt her a bad hand.  She isn’t a hugely powerful magic user, nor a clairvoyant, vampire etc.  In fact she goes out of her way not to use magic (sometimes a little too far) but for very good reasons (you have to read the book to find out what those are!).  She became a cop in order to balance the scales for what she had to do as a kid and that is where the brilliance of Dirty Magic comes in.  It’s a police procedural as much as an urban fantasy and it works very very well.  Wells’ research was meticulous and having read a lot of crime and thrillers, this was spot on for me.  Obviously the fantastical elements were included and I loved them!

I also thought I could see where the book was going to go when we were introduced very early to Kate’s ex, John Volos – fabulously rich, bad guy turned philanthropist (and I admit I rolled my eyes when I made that cynical snap judgment).  Full credit to Jaye Wells for completely surprising me in that regard!  The team of MEA agents were brilliant too and did much to flesh out the feel of this book – Mesmer and Morales in particular were my favourites but also Gardner for her sarcasm and no nonsense attitude.

I really liked the plot – seemed pretty simple at first but there were several layers to the story and it kept things interesting right to the end. So in spite of the slow start, everything else worked wonderfully and it was a really good book.

If like me, you have become a bit Urban Fantasy jaded – take it from me, this is something different that will really grab you!

Book Information
  • Author: Jaye Wells
  • Series: Prospero's War (1)
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Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jun 182014
 

Extinction An extraordinary discovery in the Sahara desert will turn history on its head…

A series of unexplained phenomena create shockwaves across the globe – a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there’s a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it’s the end of the world…

Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life.

Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect?

As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they’ve learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction…

Wow, this is a hard one to review.  On the one hand, it’s an utterly gripping thriller with some extremely clever parts and on the other it has the worst type of ending for me personally and I’m going to put that aside because it shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of this book.  It’s also hard not to spoil things as there are a few elements that I really want to shout excitedly about!

The story is extremely well written, engaging and emotional, and oh yes, very gory!  The characters are exceptional too, I especially loved Alyssa and was glad she wasn’t made out to be a wilting flower, given her job as an investigative journalist.

Apart from the prologue and epilogue, the pace is full on, have to keep turning the pages while on the edge of my seat.  You can easily see it being a blockbuster action film.

The twists.  Oh my goodness the twists.  I can’t talk about them because they really would spoil the book, but there are two that had my jaw on the floor.  One is outstanding, I didn’t see it coming and it had me in shocked tears.  The second manages to be both extremely clever and a little disappointing.  Clever in that it encompasses the entire book, the writing is part of it, and it wasn’t until after I’d reached the epilogue, that I then had to skim through the book again to make sure it was how I thought it was.  That aspect – stunning.  The disappointing part was that it was so improbable but it is a minor part of an otherwise fantastic book that still has me thinking about it, a week or so on from reading it.

The first book by J.T. Brennan I’ve read and it won’t be the last.  Even if he doesn’t cater to my ending preferences ;)

[book rating=4.5/5]

Book Information
  • Author: J.T. Brannan
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