Written in Red

While I enjoy any book by Anne Bishop, I haven’t been quite this excited about a series since her Black Jewels Universe stories came to an end (sob).

Written in Red (Novel of the Others) While I enjoy any book by Anne Bishop, I haven’t been quite this excited about a series since her Black Jewels Universe stories came to an end (sob).

She has this amazing ability to create a world with characters that are unusual but so very appealing.  If I was explaining to someone what this series was like, I would say the Others are a bit like the Kindred in the Black Jewels but also, so much more.  Neither human nor animal, they are something… Other.  The Terra Indigene (Earth Natives) – Deadly, feral, guardians of the world of Namid. Humans live by their sufferance and largesse, and woe betide them if they trespass on land that does not belong to them.

Simon Wolfgarde is the leader of the Lakeside City Courtyard – a place of the Others to live, work, rest and play.  Human laws do not apply.  Trespass and you may be eaten, and they aren’t kidding.  Meg Corbyn is an enigma to the Others, obviously human, she doesn’t smell like them, but doesn’t smell like ‘prey’ either.  Appearing from nowhere half frozen, and running from something, she applies for the job as Human Liaison between the Courtyard and the human world.  And so begins a very confusing and enlightening time for the residents of Lakeside.

This book is just so full of charm, from Meg herself to the Others and their interactions with her, and with each other about her.  Often hilarious as they try to figure out what to do with this strange short human who is willing to interact with their kind and as she creeps into their hearts, they all crept into mine.

I suppose the closest thing to call the others is shapeshifters, vampires, elementals etc. but those labels do not do them justice.  The creation of the world and the Others place in it is brilliant and without having to use lengthy explanations, Bishop manages to give you a broad view of the way it works.  Humans are not the dominant species even though their nature is such that they don’t believe half of what they hear about the Others and that is always their first mistake.  And there are some horrible humans.  There are also some amazing ones but you come to think of them as part or extension of the courtyard.

There are so many characters to love here, Meg first and foremost.  She is just so loveable and her innocence could have been annoying but it’s not at all.  You just want to look after her.  Simon is a close second and his confusion over dealing with a human female that does not smell like prey is just priceless.  There are quite a few laugh out loud moments where that is concerned.  Tess and her ever changing hair is both scary and awesome.  Sam is just so adorable as a wolf puppy, your heart just goes out to him for everything he’s suffered.

The rest of the cast are numerous and each and every one has a personality that shines – not always in a good way, but in their experience of humans and their distrust, Meg is something entirely new.  Anne Bishop keeps it simple though and you can identify new characters quickly by their surname as to what type of Other they are.  Wolfgarde for wolves, Crowgarde for Crows etc.

The story is fascinating and even the simple details make for enjoyable reading.  Pace wise, it never moves slowly without good cause and makes perfect sense for the plot happening at the time.  When it speeds up though, it really gets going.

Whether the Others will match my fangirl love of the Black Jewels books it remains to be seen, but after one novel, it’s off to a fantastic start!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Anne Bishop
  • Series: The Others (1)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Roc
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
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Chained by Night

Hunter and Aylin together are something really special, their interactions were funny and sweet, heated when arguing but you felt the underlying tension – and oh my, Ione really turns up the heat for these two, the yearning and longing were almost more than I could take.

Chained By Night (Moonbound Clan) As I suspected at the end of Bound by Night, this is Hunter’s story and oh my is it a good one!  Yet again Larissa Ione manages to create a protagonist who I love, can respect and also leaves me feeling the need to fan myself.  It’s a skill that leaves me in awe as you would think they would start to get similar when you create so many alpha males but honestly, they all have their own personalities and flaws and are very different from each other.

The female lead is Aylin, the twin from ShadowSpawn clan who helped Nicole escape and that made me really happy as I loved her already from the first book.  There is so much more to her than I thought and she is as strong as she is compassionate. Her sister Rasha is a complete and utter bitch however, and I was worried that Hunter was really going to do something he didn’t want to.  She has balls though, I’ll give her that!

Hunter and Aylin together are something really special, their interactions were funny and sweet, heated when arguing but you felt the underlying tension – and oh my, Ione really turns up the heat for these two, the yearning and longing were almost more than I could take.

The MoonBound Clan is a progressive one led by Hunter and you really get to see the differences within other clans.  The other Clan Chiefs we get to see are utterly despicable and a few things happen there that gave me great satisfaction.  The members of the Clan are a pretty lovable – if lethal – bunch and I already loved Riker and Nicole from the first book.  Myne, oh Myne, I wonder what is in store for you.  A lot gets revealed about him and I’m hoping the next book will be his but I don’t know if he is ready yet.

I liked the plot of this book a lot, we learn the true origins of the vampires and what legends are real and which are meant to hide the truth.  It’s pretty fast paced too which worked really well given the time frame involved and it’s all starting to come together for some pretty major action and change in future books.

All in all this was an engrossing fast read that you won’t want to put down and you might want to have a fan handy when you read it! Now the wait begins for the next book, argh!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Larissa Ione
  • Series: Moonbound Clan (2)
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The Book of Life

The Book of Life: (All Souls 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 

Vampire Watchmen

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☆☆ 

The King

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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Bound By Night

Bound By Night (The Moonbound Clan Vampires Book 1) A WOMAN OUT FOR BLOOD

Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories-along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .

A VAMPIRE OUT FOR REVENGE

A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation-a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever.

A new series by Larissa Ione??  Yes please!

With the Lords of Deliverance series ending and the characters merging with the Demonica, it did feel like there was now a void that needed filling (until Reaver is released!). Happily we now have Bound by Night and our introduction to the MoonBound Clan Vampires.

Nicole and Riker are just magic together and their interactions are brilliant whether it’s romantic or confrontational.  They have every reason to hate each other but being ‘with’ them as they worked through everything just made me love them more, even when they are being idiots. Such is the charm of Larissa Ione’s characters!  Intriguing glimpses of the other members of the MoonBound Clan give me hope that this series will have a good few books and I am really looking forward to reading the next, which I think will be Hunter’s story.

Initially I was a bit doubtful about ‘yet another vampire series’ but in all honesty, I loved the premise of this one.  Vampires are out in the world but are treated as little more than animals – kept as slaves, farmed and experimented on, yet there are also clans of ‘wild’ vampires who remain hidden and fight to live their lives with honour in spite of the human threat.

The lore is drawn from Native American history and again, while this is not an interest of mine, Larissa Ione made it interesting and added her own twist to it which I loved.

Everything I love about Ione’s clean writing style and visual storytelling is in this book; emotional conflict, characters you want to kick one minute and love the next, tense battle scenes and hot, hot sex.  By the end I was completely in love with the new characters and wish I could pick up the next novel already. The pace of the story was nicely judged and when mixed with fluid prose, it made for an extremely easy to read, but no less enthralling book.

Bound by Night is just amazing – more please!!

Book Information
  • Author: Larissa Ione
  • Series: MoonBound Clan Vampires (1)
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Rating: ★★★★★ 

 

 

The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) Zoe Norris is a successful guide book writer/editor who lost her job due to a dalliance with her boss.  Unfortunately the boss turned out to be married, a fact he’d neglected to tell Zoe until his wife, also the town’s Chief of Police found out and became very unhappy. Conveniently made redundant and strongly encouraged to leave town for her safety, she heads back to her home city of New York.  A job advert pinned up in a very odd old bookshop seemed tailor made for Zoe except that she keeps being told that she wouldn’t be suitable… Being human had never had a downside before.

This is the first book I’ve read by Mur Lafferty and I really enjoyed it.  A travel guide for the non-human visitors and denizens of New York City was a brilliant premise and the author built up a great cast of characters centred around Zoe.

Each chapter is separated with an excerpt from the guide and they make great little informational snippets that helped flesh out the ‘world’ Zoe never knew existed before applying for the job.  Often they relate to a place you’ve recently discovered in the story and it was a really nice touch.

Zoe herself is a really well written character, and I loved her a lot; her sense of humour is very appealing and matched well with my own.  She also has a huge amount of determination and balls of steel to enter into a world where she is at the bottom of the food chain… literally.  Her co-workers and new boss are brought to life (so to speak!) with equal care and attention and made this an extremely well rounded book.

The pace of the book was well measured; slow at the start while Zoe was still trying to come to terms with the massive change in her life and figuring out what her new direction would be.  As she discovered this supernatural half to the city she never knew about, it started to pick up.  As she got to grips with it and the story progressed, it sped up until it was running full tilt at the end.  I was quite breathless!

The plot was equally as measured, and we discovered the new ‘world’ at the same time as Zoe and went through it all with her.  From co-workers who would love to have her for dinner to weird and wonderful establishments catering to the weird and wonderful, it was a great read.  What really made it good though, was the threat hanging over her that someone was out to get her and would stop at nothing to mess with her life.  Who that was, was very well concealed, and I was kept guessing right to the end.  The action scenes were entertaining, sometimes funny and it was a refreshing change to have a heroine who wasn’t suddenly a kick ass fighter with unimaginable power.  She was however organised enough to keep working on the book as her new found life threatened to come crashing down around her!

In summary, this is a great book and highly recommended to fans of Urban Fantasy.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mur Lafferty
  • Series: The Shambling Guides (1)
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Blood Born

Blood Born Luca Ambrus is a rare breed: vampire from birth, begotten by vampire parents, blood born. He is also an agent of the Council – the centuries-old cabal that governs vampirekind, preserving their secrecy and destroying those who betray them.

When a cryptic summons leads him to the scene of the brutal killing of a powerful Council member, Luca begins the hunt for an assassin among his own people. But instead of a lone killer he discovers a sinister conspiracy of rogue vampires bent on subjugating the mortal world. 

All that stands in their way are the conduits, humans able to channel spirit warriors into the physical world to protect mankind. Chloe Fallon is a conduit – and a target of the vampire assassin who’s killing them. When Luca saves her life, an irresistible bond of trust – along with more passionate feelings – is forged between them. As more victims fall, Chloe and Luca have only each other to depend on to save the world from the reign of monsters – and salvage their own future together.

This is a great book with the promise of leading into a fantastic series. There was quite a lot of description and character introduction which meant the pace was a bit slow at times. This is only to be expected with a new series and will hopefully lead to having further books following the various characters. When the pace picked up and the action kicked in though, it was worth waiting for.

Luca totally rocks, I loved him a lot and while he had his happy ending here, I hope he will feature prominently in future books too. Chloe was funny, spirited and quite pragmatic when it came to her life chances! The other characters were interesting and even the ‘bad vampire’ won his way into my heart – not the bitch vampire though!

There was some sex but this book was not as heavy as most other paranormal romances.  The romance was also on the light side when it came to the plot, but I have to say it didn’t need any more than there was. Stopping the uprising was much more important than hearts and flowers!

I was on the edge of my seat in parts and I think I physically jumped at one point! The ending seemed a bit rushed after all the build up, but I got my happy ending and was left salivating for the next book. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Linda Howard, Linda Jones
  • Format: Kindle
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)

 

Lover At Last

Lover at Last: Number 11 in series (Black Dagger Brotherhood) Grete’s Review

When I heard that Blay and Qhuinn would have their own story I was overjoyed.  Then, once I knew it was due out, it was a mix of joy and worry about how J.R. Ward would handle the relationship of the two males.  Would she gloss over the passionate parts which she usually wrote so well, or would she focus on the romance more than the physical side?  I must admit when I had the book finally in my hands, I did feel some trepidation.

Having finished it the day it arrived and being completely unable to put it down, I wonder why I was worried.  J.R. Ward is fearless and if I wouldn’t look silly doing it on my own I would stand up and applaud her.  While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I felt these two characters deserved as much sexy time as any of the others had, and oh my was it hot!

As I finished the last page and closed the book I was crying, and the only word I could think of was… perfect.  It was everything I’d hoped for, and more.

There are many things Ward does extremely well and one of those is writing an emotional scene so well that it resonates strongly with me.  She can make me laugh and cry with well turned words and this book made me do both.  I love the characters of Blay and Qhuinn so much and theirs is a story that has been on the sidelines for several books so for me it has been a long time coming.

The plot, true to form, was very good, although there were quite a few threads running at the same time.  The Band of Bastards continue their plans to take over the throne but I’m hoping we are seeing a chink in Xcor’s psyche.  The Lessening Society are back with a vengeance and it was oddly good to have them involved again, as horrible as they are.  There is a huge OMG moment which I won’t spoil but suffice to say it even had me a little shocked.

Layla, the Chosen is such a sweetheart, I’m glad she is finding her voice and I really felt for her.  Payne is a rockstar in my eyes for what she did, as I think the impact on Layla and Qhuinn would have been huge otherwise.  I do worry what the consequences for Payne will be though.

The pace of the story was excellent, the battle scenes fast and furious with some heart in mouth moments and then utter hilarity.  It was a really well written blend of everything I have come to love about the Brothers.

Some new players were introduced  and while they are quite interesting, they didn’t get to do much so I’m guessing they will play a larger role in the next book.  I love the way Ward can keep it fresh but also give us new characters to love and hate.

All in all, I loved this book so much I would rate it more than a five if I could!  The Black Dagger Brotherhood series goes from strength to strength and long may it continue!

Tracey’s Review

As with Grete I awaited this book with some trepidation but for different reasons. I have never read, or had any desire to read m/m romance, and while I have absolutely no problem with people’s sexuality whatever it may be, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about it in graphic detail (which is what I was expecting based on previous books). I needn’t have worried however, at the end of the day a love story is a love story whoever is involved and I thought the sex scenes were well written without being OTT and in your face. As a true romantic at heart it was great to see Blay and Qhuinn get their HEA and I agree with Grete that the ending was perfect.

There were lots of side plots running through this book (some that make absolutely no sense but I’m sure will soon become clear) and a lot of loose ends left hanging, but that only makes me want the next book even more!! A whole year to wait! One thing I did think was missing were the interactions between the brothers and their shellans. Usually they need to be surgically separated from each other but there were few scenes between them.  I guess with the new people introduced and the expansion of characters who previously had minor roles there was no room, which is a shame.

It seems fairly clear who Xcor is going to have as his heroine and I am intrigued to find out how Ms. Ward is going to manipulate that one – I’m sure she has it all mapped out somewhere!

Overall another great addition to the BDB, although my rating would be 4.5 stars to Grete’s 5.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: J.R. Ward
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood (11)
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The Indigo Spell

The Indigo Spell Moroi, magic and murder, oh my!  Sydney Sage is up to her neck in it and is increasingly fighting against the beliefs she was raised with as an Alchemist.  After a forbidden moment rocks her, she starts to question everything she believed in and doesn’t know where to turn.  When someone who managed to leave the Alchemists offers to teach her the secrets she was never meant to know and how to break free of them, she is sorely tempted.  But how can she leave her Moroi and Dhampir charges as well as the very real situation of untrained witches being killed.  Continuing her magic studies seems all the more urgent, and then there is Adrian…

I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this book… It felt a little lacklustre in comparison to the others in the series and not all that much seemed to happen, even though some major plot was moved on.  That’s not to say it’s a bad book, it just didn’t feel up to the standard I enjoyed in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily.  It was still enjoyable and interesting and as always, great to be back in a world with characters I love so much.  Sorry Sydney, but Rose and Dimitri will always be my first loves and I treasure any cameos from them 😉

Some of the characters felt superfluous and while I have no doubt they will come to play their part, having them constantly around doing nothing seemed wasted.  Having said that, had they not been mentioned at all, I would have missed them and I did love some of their interactions!

Adrian has really come into his own in this book, he’s still the playboy we know and love but I think he is finally maturing and I have to say a large part of that is due to Sydney.  Sydney herself was brilliant but I did get a little irritated with her protestations. While they are valid, it just seemed to be more of the same.  I think I understand the reason why now though, and while it made the plot interesting, I felt it dragged on a bit too long.  The last quarter of the book was what engaged me the most and I may have had a little cheer at certain points.

The end though, oh very nicely done, a huge spanner in the works!

All in all, an enjoyable book and you definitely need to read it if you are a fan of the series, but not quite the quality I have come to expect of Richelle Mead.  This will not put me off waiting as eagerly for the next one though, oh no 🙂

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Richelle Mead
  • Series: Bloodlines (3)
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