2013 – A bookish year

 So another year is behind us and in spite of the personal life stuff going on resulting in the dearth of reviews, reading was still going on behind the scenes.

So what books made us sit up and beg?

Grete

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett – The fantastic third book in the Demon Cycle.

Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Military sci-fi with superheroes.  This second book was an excellent addition to the Shadow Ops series.

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey – This series needs to be on either the big or small screen – any screen!  Until then it’s an amazing sci-fi story and this third book was a brilliant addition to the Expanse.

Parasite by Mira Grant – An amazingly creepy but riveting novel. If you liked her Newsflesh trilogy, you are going to love this!

Kevin HearneThe Iron Druid Chronicles was a series that entranced me so much, I ended up romping through and didn’t take time to review.  It’s a fantastic series and one I will be re-reading, slower this time, so I can actually do reviews!

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione – The first in a new series by Larissa and just as exciting as her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance.  Speaking of which, the next book in that series, Reaver, is on this list too as it was utterly fantastic and had my jaw dropping several times as things were revealed.

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones – This is another series I love so much that I keep racing through them and end up not reviewing.  It’s a habit I really have to stop as my memory is just not up to it these days!  Charley Davidson is one of my favourite paranormal heroines and I just can’t get enough of her!

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I loved, loved, loved this book.  I cried, I laughed, I may have shouted a few times.  A worthy companion to Acheron and a brilliant addition to the Dark-Hunter’s series.  It does take you through the wringer though!

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I absolutely loved this light hearted approach to the paranormal and look forward to the next one, out this year!

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – A gritty and powerful epic fantasy debut.  I loved the magic system he devised and I hold high hopes for the second book.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin – First in a new series by Gail and it’s off to a promising start.  I loved her two previous series a lot so it had a lot to live up to!  Looking forward to book two!

J.D. Robb – Thanks to Tracey, I discovered the In Death series and devoured the whole lot one after the other.  It amazed me how good they are and how, even 35+ books in, they are still extremely enjoyable and great reads.

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose – So many of Karen’s books have characters that appear or are related to people in other novels and this one felt like it had been a long time coming.  It was utterly amazing and prompted me to go back and read ALL the previous books!

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This book honestly surprised me and I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a review after I read it, as it so very much deserved it.  It’s an amazingly gritty fantasy, written with a single focus and I urge anyone who loved David Gemmell’s work to pick this up.  I will be re-reading this (and reviewing this time, dammit)!

Unseen by Karin Slaughter – Every time I think Karin has outdone herself, she releases the next book and raises the bar even higher.  I can’t get enough of Will Trent and Sara Linton!

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward – The latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was hotly anticipated and I was not left disappointed!

Tracey

While my list has some similar ones to Grete, I also have some totally different genres to her.  Being much more of a romantic sap, it will come as no surprise that I have a number of romances on my list.

The books I share Grete’s love for are :

Styxx of course – the most anticipated book of the year for me and one that did not disappoint. Probably my book of the year!

Reaver by Larissa Ione – another eagerly awaited novel that ticked all the boxes for me.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb – I read all 35 books in 4 weeks and absolutely loved them.

For me though the year was all about romance! There were books from my favourite romance authors: Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean and Sarah Morgan.

I really cannot express all the books that I loved this year, I read well over 100 of them! Since I tend to read books I know I will enjoy, it is so hard to only pick a few.

If I was to recommend a few books to other readers I would go with the following:

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan – I have been a fan of Ms. Morgan for many years, reading all her Mills and Boon books and it was great to have a longer book to enjoy. This is romance at its best and a great start to a new series.

Nora Roberts has featured heavily in my reading this year but a trilogy I particularly enjoyed was the Key Trilogy – Key of Light, Key of Knowledge and Key of Valour. This has a paranormal slant with Ms. Roberts’ usual excellent romance story.

Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series is recommended reading, particularity if you enjoy historical romance. I have loved all the books in this series and look forward to the next one hopefully coming in 2014!

Will definitely be doing more reviews this year, even if only a few lines, there are so many great books I want to share my love of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unseen

 Karin Slaughter does it again!  I could be mean and leave it there… but I won’t.

Unseen is the seventh full length book in the Will Trent series and her fourteenth overall.  With every new book comes the slight fear that this one won’t be up to her usual standard, as it’s something I do see in authors of long running series.  Happily, right from the first chapter, I knew that this wasn’t going to be the case and it continually amazes me that she manages to produce such high quality stories time and time again.

In this story, Slaughter really put me through the wringer.  It’s cleverly written in a way that draws you in and there are some sections that are ‘a few days earlier‘ which could have been annoying, but actually it added some depth to what was going on with one of the characters.  She doesn’t hold back on the darker sides of life nor the realities that, if we are lucky, we never have to experience.  I get the feeling though that she hits these accurately and I can only imagine that the research involved must have been extremely harrowing.

Will Trent, Sara Linton and Lena Adams are without a doubt three of my most favourite characters.  Flawed, strong, stubborn and broken, they have all been through so much and are still (mostly) standing.  There is quite a lot of character progression in Unseen which I was overjoyed about, but also there was proof that even the nicest of people have their breaking point.  The end of the book left me with a huge feeling of satisfaction but the details of why, I’m afraid you are going to have to find out for yourself 😉

The pace of the story was good and coupled with a compelling and shocking plot, it meant I didn’t want to put the book down.

Karin Slaughter is one of the best crime writers out there in my opinion and her brand of gritty, exciting, intriguing and often horrific storytelling with superb characterisations means that she is an author I recommend time and time again.

So, if you haven’t read anything by her yet, go and start now with Blindsighted from the Grant County Series!  I won’t wait though, as you have a lot to catch up on 😉

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Series: WIll Trent (7)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Criminal

 I think I was hooked on Karin Slaughter right from her very first book.  She has the ability to create scenarios that contain the worst and the best of people, characters that you either love or hate, even when you perhaps shouldn’t.  As with any long standing series, it can become stale and repetitive yet Slaughter manages to avoid that trap, unafraid to say goodbye to major and much loved characters because it makes sense in the story rather than using a get-out clause that make some characters seem invulnerable.

Criminal is a story told in two time periods and is a very personal one to Will Trent.  His history with Amanda Wagner has always been confusing to him (and the reader), and finally, we have the answer!

We see Amanda as a fresh faced young woman, in a time when women were expected to marry and stay at home, not become police officers.  The attitudes of the time were appalling but it really gave you an insight into what makes her tick and why she is how she is now.  As a character I really disliked up until now, it was a surprising turnaround for me.

Will is really at a crisis point, in a relationship with Sara Linton but still unable to open up, to let her into his past, one that he doesn’t even understand himself until events start unravelling and he has no choice but to follow.

Sara is as likeable as ever, strong and determined but with her own flaws.  She dealt with many of them in past books so while her presence wasn’t at the fore in this story, it was a necessary one.

The pace, as always in a Slaughter book, is unrelenting but the switch between the different time periods provided a much welcome pause for breath.  Criminal’s plot is thoroughly enjoyable and I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Amanda could solve the current case, and if everyone would be able to deal with the outfall.  Tense stuff!

I admire Karin Slaughter’s writing ability a great deal, her books are easy to read and understandable but with no lessening of impact or shock in core scenes.  She conjures up crime scenes that give me a visceral reaction and once I start reading, I can’t stop. Criminal was no exception and a brilliant addition to the series.  I just want more, and given the last page, it’s going to be another gripping book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Fallen

I always expect great things from a Karin Slaughter novel.  She raises the bar with every book she writes and Fallen is no exception.  Right from the first chapter I was drawn in and if life had allowed it, I would have read it in one sitting.

The majority of the story takes place in just three days and every one of them is nail biting, on the edge of your seat and utterly gripping.

It was great to see Faith Mitchell back in action again after she took an amusing but back seat role in Broken due to having a baby.  Being a mother again has definitely increased her ferocity!  Will Trent is another character who I just can’t get enough of, he’s such a wonderful mix of quiet confidence, capability and vulnerability.  Karin always developes her characters so naturally over time, and after showing signs of coming out of his shell in Broken, Will continues to improve in leaps and bounds in Fallen.  The change in him is partly due to my favourite doctor, Sara Linton who I hope Karin adds as a permanent member of the cast in this series.  The attraction between Sara and Will is undeniable now and so sweet for many reasons.  With Grant County now behind her she continues to build her life in Atlanta.

In my opinion it is a major feat bringing two such distinct series together and has been a painful pleasure to read and watch it happen.  As the Grant County series started to draw to a close and the cast of the other started to merge with it.  It’s a testament to Karin Slaughter’s powerful writing that out of the ashes, we now have a new one, a blending of both.

The plot itself is amazingly intricate and extremely clever.  The crime is against Faith Mitchell’s own family and secrets that have been kept for nineteen years start to emerge.  I love how the book was like one big puzzle with the pieces almost fitting together, only to find you have pieces that don’t belong or are missing a few others.  By the time the missing pieces were found, I don’t think I had any nails left!

I’m sure there were hints along the way as to what was really going on but I was willingly led into trying to get those odd pieces to fit.  Karin did the reveal really well and the eventual outcome hadn’t even crossed my mind but made complete sense in the end.

I can’t finish without touching on the Will/Crazy Angie subject.  Trying not to use spoilers, a lot happens there, even with everything else going on and I wanted to cheer when he makes his decision.  I’m sure there will be a lot of fallout in the next book but wow, the end of the book made me cry!

Karin Slaughter is without doubt one of the greatest Crime authors around at the moment and you will really miss out if you don’t read Fallen.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Broken

Sara Linton returns home to spend Thanksgiving with her family.  What should have been a peaceful time is interrupted when the body of a student is discovered in the lake.  But was it suicide… or murder?  Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is sent in to investigate and finds more than he bargained for with Lena Michaels, the local Police department and what appears to be a massive cover up of mistakes.

The Grant County series comes to a thrilling end!

As sad as I am to see the series come to an end, it was fitting and very well done.  A natural closure that was organic and left on a sombre but hopeful note.

I fell in love with the characters right from their dramatic entrance in Blindsighted, the first book in the series.  With Broken at the other end of it and with so much having happened over the course of ten books, this seems like the perfect place to leave it. I think Karin Slaughter hit it just right.

I can’t think of a better testament to a writer that a character can still be missed, three books on.  The character leaves a gap, not only because of the others that were left, but also because they were so well crafted, they became real to your mind.  It’s more poignant and true to life that the loss is still felt and the anger and sorrow almost tangible.

Broken is so much more than a crime novel.  It’s also a story about people who have been through hell and back and are still standing, even if at a slightly wonky angle.  It was wonderful to see both Sara and Lena again, but equally painful to see they are both still hurting.  Sara’s attitude towards Lena was totally understandable even if it felt wrong and Lena’s attitude towards herself was no surprise.  I did love how much she grew through this final book, to finally own up to herself.

Will Trent from the Atlanta GBI was a great addition to the cast and while it’s not the first time he and Sara have crossed paths, it was the first time for him in Grant County.  It amused me that his partner Faith Mitchell helped out from the end of the phone while she counted down the hours until she had a caesarian.  Will being so uncomfortable every time she talked about the procedure or gave too much information about her pregnancy was the much needed lighter counterpoint to the grimness of the crime.

The case itself was quite convoluted with a few things not adding up until later in the book, when there were a series of dawning realisations.  Again a testament to the way Slaughter writes.  She isn’t afraid to be gritty, realistic and shocking and in my opinion, that is what makes her so good.

The pace was good, the majority of the book taking place in only three days.  My only minor complaint is that it felt slightly unbalanced, as if the book focused more on the characters than the crime.  Having said that, I still feel as if it was the perfect way to end this series and lay the groundwork for the next.

Not reading this book, and in fact the entire series, would be a crime!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Genesis

On a stormy night in Atlanta, Georgia, a naked woman stumbles into the road and is hit by a passing car.  It’s clear her injuries aren’t all from the accident and at the hospital, Dr Sara Linton examines her and is horrified to find evidence of brutal torture.  Agents Will Trent and Faith Mitchell from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) are assigned the case, with the local police being unhappy and obstructive.  On a search of the area, they are shocked to find another body in a nearby tree.  When other women go missing, matching the profile of the first victims, they realise they have a serial killer on their hands and it becomes a race against time to find them before they can be subjected to the same horrific brutality as the first victims.

I was both sad and excited when I started Genesis.  It was great to meet Sara Linton again but I did have some reservations. After Sara’s tragic loss, would she still be the same compassioniate, sweet natured and feisty woman we used to know and love?  I loved that GBI Agents Will Trent and Faith Mitchell were teamed up in this book as well, two characters who I enjoy very much.  Your heart can’t help but go out to Will and you love Faith and get exasperated by her in equal measure.  They make a formidable threesome, and while they weren’t strictly working with Sara on the case, she was the doctor caring for ‘Anna’ so had a lot of input and admits she missed working cases as she did when she was the M.E. in Grant County.  I’ve missed that side of Sara too.

I have to admit that after Skin Privilege, I wondered if Karin Slaughter had shot herself in the foot.  Even though it was a fantastic book, it was a brave and risky move to kill off one of her major and much loved characters.  I wondered if we would ever see Sara Linton again, so when I heard Genesis was being released I was ready to reserve judgement and see what would be made of it.

I should have trusted that Karin Slaughter knew what she was doing and has again produced a brilliant book with strong characters all with their own inner demons, fighting against the depths of human depravity.  With flair, a clean and crisp writing style that is so easy to read, and a plot that keeps you turning the page, hoping that they will all make it through, the book delivers an exciting read.

The only negative thing  I have to say about Genesis is the ending felt a little flat but I’m going to trust Karin Slaughter this time and hope it leads into another book because I really would like to see Sara Linton, Will Trent and Faith Mitchell in the same book again, they make for an explosive mix.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Fractured

Abigail Campano arrived home earlier than usual and finding a car in her driveway, she expected to see her daughter and her best friend cutting school again. What greeted her instead was horrific – her daughter’s beaten and bloody body and her killer hovering over the still form, bloody knife in hand. Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assigned the case, his boss breathing heavily down his neck, he has to work with a none-to-friendly Atlanta Police Department to try and solve this high profile case involving one of Atlanta’s wealthiest families. He also has to work with a partner from APD, Faith Mitchell who has more cause than most to hold a grudge against him. They have to put their shared history aside and work together to save the life of a teenager and after mistakes were made early on in the investigation, time is running out.

I didn’t realise until a little way into the book that I had met Will Trent before. He first appeared in Triptych which I had enjoyed, so it was nice seeing him again. I could have used a clue on the cover tho, I have a terrible memory and find it very handy to have related books listed. That aside, there was much to enjoy about Fractured. It was very easy to read, the story flowed really well, and I was caught out a couple of times as to where the plot was headed which is always nice. I liked the main characters of Will Trent and Faith Mitchell, Karin Slaughter always manages to create believeable, likeable and interesting people as her ‘heroes’ and she often makes you feel sorry for the ‘baddies’ up to a point, along with hating them for what they’ve done. She doesn’t use an excess of gore and is almost matter of fact about it, which I really like. It’s there, it’s an inevitable part of the plot event but it can be way overdone for the sake of it.

I was up until 2am finishing it as I couldn’t put it down and that for me is a sign of a good book.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)