Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Title: Frost Burned
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson World, Book 10
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 5 March 2013

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

I can't believe that I haven't written a review of this one. That seems so foreign to me, especially since I just re-read it a little over a year ago. But, I guess that gives me time to write my review now.

I'm not sure I love it quite as much as my original thoughts below, but I do love this book still. Mercy and Adam are, as always, amazing. And we even get a couple of chapters from Adam's point-of-view! He's much calmer in his head than I might have expected, but Mercy gives a very good reason for that in this book, and it makes sense. I love Adam, completely.

There's not a whole lot of a chance to figure out who the baddie is in this book until it's revealed to you - and that's probably my only complaint. I like to have the opportunity to determine what is going on, and who is calling the shots. Even if I never can figure it out (and there've been a few books out there that have thoroughly stumped me - I love those the best), being able to see the breadcrumbs on re-reads is a real pleasure for me.

I didn't remember as much of this book as some of the previous books in the series, and that's probably because this is only the third time I've read this book. Still, I didn't see the clues I was hoping for throughout the story.

Even despite that, I love this book. The first obstacle (as Mercy calls it, her 'triage' of the situation) is fraught with suspense. I love this part of the book even though there's a ton of worry in my head for all these characters that I love. And there's a huge heartbreak that I can feel in my chest, still. The second, and in truth - real, obstacle is ... scary. I can't say more than that for fear of revealing any of the truth, but it scared the hell out of me. And scared me more that Mercy decided to fight that fight. She speaks the truth when she says that all that is required for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing, but she's so damn vulnerable! I don't like my heroines invulnerable, but I'd love it if Mercy could find some mithril armor or something.

Also, I loved all the geekish references throughout the book. They added some much-needed levity in very scary and wrenching moments.

This book is another excellent addition to the series, and I can't wait to continue my re-read.

I have two minor complaints as a whole with this series:
1. Patricia Briggs ends the books REALLY abruptly. It's not cliff-hanger-abruptly, usually, but I always feel like I could have used a couple extra pages of denoument to bring me down off the high of the climax.
2. In order for Mercy to fight the 'big-bad' at the end, Adam is ALWAYS taken out of commission somehow. Probably because he's so much stronger, physically, and able to take on damn near anything. But after several books it just starts to ... become noticeable.

Grade: A-

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date:

Murder, mayhem and magic...

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

How long have I had this book on my to-read shelf? I'm not even sure. I think I bought the paperback when it first came out, whenever that was. At the urging of Sarah and Khanh, who both RAVE about this book, I decided to finally pick it up.

I'm so glad they badgered me into starting it, finally. I enjoyed it quite a lot. Yelena's probably my favorite part, but there's a lot here to love.

Yelena is a fantastic character - she's spent nearly a year in a dungeon awaiting execution, when suddenly she's offered an out. It's not much of an out, because she's going to be the food-tester for the Commander, but it is life for at least one more day. She's damaged because of what she's gone through, not just the time incarcerated, but the history prior to that - which is only hinted at in the beginning. But you get a pretty good idea. And yet, at the same time, she's so incredibly strong. She's determined to live, not just day to day, but really live, safe from the threat of death. There are few characters that are actually smart, but Yelena's one of them. She takes the time to plan, implementing her plan without being (too) devious, or cruel. She trains and figures out what skills she's going to need, and goes about learning them. She doesn't trust (or fall in love - this is a big one for me) quickly or easily. I found it really easy to root for her, to want her to succeed, and I loved that I never felt the next to smack some sense into her.

Valek, well, he's a bit of a different story for me. It took me a LONG time to warm up to him. And then once I did like him, I still wasn't (and am not) shipping this relationship. I think it's got a long ways to go. But I will say that I'm interested in seeing where it goes, how it develops. I appreciate a lot about his character, namely that "love" doesn't change everything. I also really love how things develop organically. There's no insta-love here.

I have to mention Ari and Janco, because I absolutely adore them. I really hope we get a lot more of them in the future.

The world kind of confuses me. There was a king, and his whole kingdom was apparently corrupt. So there was an uprising - and the Commander took over. Now there are unbendable rules. Period. All the rules and punishments for running afoul of those rules are spelled out, and there are absolutely NO exceptions. I find this a little harsh, and - despite wanting to like the Commander, I'm left not being able to. I hope that changes, because I really like the backstory there.

The plot and pacing are kind of ... quiet. That's the best word I can think of to describe it. It's not slow, but it's not edge-of-my-seat. I was interested because I wanted to see Yelena come out on top, but the mystery and plot were mere backgrounds to seeing her triumph, for me.

Poison Study is a nice start to a series. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here - especially with the knowledge of Yelena's immediate future at the end of this book. I do hope that the world is more developed in the future books, and that the plot becomes a bit more opaque to me, though.

Grade: B

Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

Title: Dreamer's Pool
Author: Julie Marillier
Series: Blackthorn and Grim, Book 1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 4 November 2014

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier "weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page" (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland...

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help. Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

The first Juliet Marillier book I read was Shadowfell, and I adored it. I adored that whole series. I've been anxious, ever since, to pick up another book/series by her for a long time.

Finally, I was able to squeeze this start to a new fantasy series in. Dreamer's Pool is the first book in the Blackthorn and Grim series. And the two title characters, I absolutely adore.

We first meet them both in a prison. Blackthorn thinks tomorrow is to be her "day in court," so to speak. Unfortunately, the powers that be have different plans - ones that will result in Blackthorn never seeing the light of day. Grim has the cell across from her. His only thought is of her safety, even when he knows what is to happen.

That night, a mysterious visitor appears offering a deal that's too good to be true. Yet, what choice does Blackthorn have but to accept it. This delays her vengeance and justice for seven long years, but the alternative - no justice at all - is unbearable. So Blackthorn accepts, and makes the long journey north as bid....with Grim following along behind.

This is told in multiple first-person points-of-view. There's Blackthorn, Grim, and the prince of Dalraida - Oren. I really enjoyed all of their voices, even though Grim's stuttered way of thinking did take me a bit to get used to. I appreciated how different their voices truly were, how unique they were to themselves. And I can't help but want to know more - especially about Grim's past.

The story itself meanders a bit to get to the point. For a good deal of the book I know what happened, even if I can't figure out how. So it was slightly frustrating that it took so long for everyone else to figure out. Granted, we had everyone's point-of-view, and they only had their own, but still, that's one of the disadvantages of this kind of storytelling.

All the same, I did enjoy the pace and the world. This is a beginning, a fairy-tale-like set-up to this new world. We get bits and pieces, and just the barest mention of magic. I'm dying to see what Conmael is up to (and who he actually is to Blackthorn). I already mentioned wanting more of Grim's past. And I'm eager to see Blackthron settle more into herself - though I know (and am glad) that her thirst for justice/vengeance will not wait for eternity....maybe just long enough to see it done.

Dreamer's Pool didn't grab me quite as completely as Shadowfell did, but I am definitely happy I read it, and excited to go on in the series.

Grade: C+

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Title: The Deal
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus, Book 1
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 24 February 2015

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy...

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

...and it’s going to be oh so good.

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

What in the name of hell took me so long to read this?? I would say I don't know what I was thinking...but the truth of the matter is that I do. I was going to say that New Adult and me don't really get along, but the truth of the matter is that I'm incredibly gun-shy about it. First, I've read a MILLION reviews of NA books from friends, and they horrify me. Second, NA is - primarily - contemporary romance; not my favorite genre. Third, I'm not a fan of angst, and there's usually plenty of angst to go around in New Adult. So, I get them, because they sound good, but then they languish on my shelf for ages until I finally pick them up.

No matter how much I love Elle Kennedy's Out of Uniform series (and I seriously love that series - don't judge me that it's more sex than story, at least for the first half dozen books - it's fun AND sexy as fucking hell), it still took a friend's amazing updates to make me excited to pick this up. I have mentioned that I'm not a fan of NA, right? I want to be, I swear I do, and I've actually had pretty good luck - but that's probably because I'm incredibly picky, and only read the NA that my trusted friends vouch for.

And then, even when I'd decided to read it, I waited until I had some buddies to read it with. Because I'm a coward. And, if it sucked, I needed someone to bitch with and commiserate with.

First things first, because when I opened the book and read this sentence - on the first page - I wish I'd had a little warning.


The heroine in this novel was raped, five years before the start of the book, but it is mentioned fairly frequently. She's still dealing with it, and it comes up in discussions, thoughts, and memories in regards to some situations. And I'll talk about it a lot in my review below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Best of 2015

2015 was a year of change for me. I became engaged in November 2014, moved across country in February 2015, worked remotely for several months, and have recently changed jobs, bought a house, and planned my wedding. I didn't get as much reading done as normal, and because of that re-reads took up a greater portion of my total reading this year, but I enjoyed - thoroughly - my year in books.


It bothers me, a little, that the list doesn't have even numbers, but it can't be helped. These all deserve to be on the list (no matter if it's 'best of' or 'worst of' or even the 'bonus books' list which I couldn't resist adding).

Here are the book stats: (Through 22 December 2015)
67 Read Books
28 Re-Read Books
39 New-to-Me Books

Of those 39 New-to-Me Books, there were:
7 Five-Star Reads
7 Four-Star Reads
7 Three-Star Reads
4 Two-Star Reads
14 One-Star Reads (10 of which were DNFs)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Title: Grave Witch
Author: Kalayna Price
Series: Alex Craft, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 21 September 2010

Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say...

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around...

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life... and her soul.

I've been looking forward to this book for a really long time. I bought it when it first came out, and then it languished on my ever-growing to-read shelf. It wasn't purposeful, but I had so many other things to read that I just never really got around to it. So, when some friends of mine decided to do a buddy read of the series, I jumped in!

Unfortunately, this book let me down on multiple levels. The biggest of which was Alex, herself. She's just not a heroine that reaches out and grabs me, connects with me. I like that she's got some stuff going on, that she's strong and powerful - even more so than she realizes, as is pretty normal in UF books, but she still has some weaknesses to work out. I imagine they will be worked out, to make her even more strong and powerful, but for right now there are some pretty significant drawbacks to her using her Sight. And yet...she's boring. I'm not connecting to her. I don't care.

Then there's the love triangle. On the one hand, it's a better than most love-triangle, but on the other...well, I just don't buy it. Falin is an asshole, that I kind of hate. And Death just isn't there enough for me to buy his 'I love her' moment. Though, I'm currently rooting for Death. Weird. I don't know what to do with that. But I can't get behind a guy that says 'For a woman with your reputation, you're incredibly difficult to get into bed,' like she owes him something. Ugh. Rage-inducing moment, there.

The world set-up suffers in weird ways here. There's both too much set-up and not enough. Then you have the fact that every single thing that happens in the book feels contrived, I could feel the author's hand in setting up and pushing the characters through to the desired storyline. Nothing felt organic. Yeah, yeah, I know that this is fiction and the author actually makes this up, but I want to lose myself in the story. And I can't do that if nothing feels real.

I'm thinking that this probably suffers from first-book-syndrome. A lot of first books in series do. And I'm slightly curious to see if it gets better in the second book, if things pick up and I start to actually care about any of the characters, but not enough to actually pick it up at this point. I'll read some friends' reviews and see what they have to say before I jump back into this world. Finishing the first book was hard enough because I only had moments where I was actually interested. I don't want to do that to myself again.

Grade: D

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review: Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Stars
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 8.5
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: Christmas 2015

Novella set in Kate Daniels world...

Derek Gaunt has no family and few friends. Scarred, solitary, he is the lone wolf who separated from his pack. When those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through magic-drenched Atlanta.

Soon Julie Olsen joins him and what begins as revenge turns into the race to save the city. Their search puts them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

I went into this novella knowing very little, except that it had potentially world-changing events within its pages. Now that I'm done - I tore through this on my (extended) lunch break today - I can definitely say that's the dead-honest truth.

I've long wanted a Derek book, and I've been 'shipping Derek and Julie, hard, for a very long time (since the metal rose). To say I was excited when I realized exactly who this would center around is a massive understatement. I could not wait to dive into the world. I thought, initially, that it would be told in Julie's point-of-view, but it's actually in Derek's, and I think I like that better. I think Julie might have begun to sound a bit too much like Kate, not that that would be unrealistic, but it would make it harder to fall into the story.

Derek has a very different voice. Different from Kate, Curran, and just about every other character I've read from Ilona Andrews. And I love that. He's himself. If you've read the rest of the series you know who Derek is (if you haven't, stop here and go start!), and exactly how Kate describes his scars - which is minimally. I like that when we get to step into other characters' heads in this series we learn a bit more about Kate and Curran as well. Kate tends to minimize things that others would see as faults or disfigurements in her friends and loved ones, and even though I suspected that, seeing how true it is in regards to Derek's scars was a bit of a revelation. I think an even bigger revelation, though, was the scars he carries on the inside. He hides them well, until we're in his head.

Julie kicks ass. I'm not usually a fan of kids in stories, because they're generally written so unrealistically. That was never a problem with Julie, she's always been exactly who she is, and it never felt forced or fake (like some kids do). She's grown so much, and seeing those changes in her is amazing. She's strong, and powerful, and smart, and absolutely, awesomely, self-assured and confident. I love her. A lot.

I won't say a lot about the plot because it is a novella and I don't want to risk spoiling anything, but I will say that a lot of new, interesting, world-building things appear. And a few WORLD-CHANGING things are revealed. I think I'd known some of the revelations from previous books, but the extent of the implications and knowledge of that was nothing compared to what I learned here. I can't wait to see how this affects everything going forward. Considering we're in the home-stretch of the main story-arc of the series, this story just amps up my excitement - and worry - for everyone I love in this series.

This book was amazing - I always enjoy the Kate Daniels' World novellas, but this one is something else altogether. I loved every moment and read it in one sitting. Now I just want more.

And I still 'ship Derek and Julie. Harder now than ever before.

Grade: A

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Review: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

Title: The Great Hunt
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 2
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Release Date: 17 November 2009

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. For centuries, gleemen have told of The Great Hunt of the Horn. Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages.

And it is stolen.

I think this series, so far, is presenting me with the hardest time I've ever had writing my reviews. I want to talk, and all that seems to be ready to come out is: "OMG! IT'S AMAZING!!!! READ IT NOW!!!!! I CAN'T STOP!!!!!!

I resorted to bullet points in my last review, and I'm not even sure that can help this time. So bear with me while I spew out whatever I can manage to get out. If you haven't started this series, just go to my review of The Eye of the World and GO START THIS AMAZING SERIES.

The Great Hunt picks up right where The Eye of the World left off, and very quickly ups all the antes. Even more so than the first book, I was locked in suspense for the entirety of this novel. I hated having to put it down, because I worried about everyone. Would they be hurt? How would they be changed? What was going to happen? There's too many people in danger! Gah! Help! It definitely wasn't an easy read, I was incredibly stressed while reading, but it made for one hell of an amazing roller-coaster of a ride.

The Horn of Valere is one of the most important things that needs to be found prior to the Last Battle. It recalls the heroes of legends to fight - for whomever sounds it, good or evil. Ever since the horn was first mentioned in The Eye of the World, I've been waiting to see what would happen with it. I hoped that it'd be our heroes that found it, sounded it, and couldn't wait to see the heroes of legend return. After hearing so much about them, from so many different sources, to say I was excited would be a gross understatement.

All of my favorite characters from the last book are here and we get to know them so much better. Plus, there are new characters that are given more time and more depth. Some we'd met briefly in the pages of The Eye of the World - like Bayle Domon - others, we hadn't yet met at all - Ingtar was a particular favorite of mine in this book. None of them has an easy path. Obstacles, despair, trickery, and the Pattern itself throws them all into disarray and sometimes complete confusion.

I still love Rand, even if I want to occasionally smack him and make him take three-seconds to actually listen. Two Rivers stubbornness, in truth. Mat's growing on me. Especially at the end, I think I might end up loving him. Perrin....well, I think when he truly accepts himself, that's going to be something to see. I can't wait for that moment. I absolutely LOVE Lan, and he's not in this enough - though when he is, they're awesome and impressive moments, that sometimes broke my heart. And Nynaeve. I love her. She's absolutely amazing. Strong and determined, stubborn and smart. I even grew to appreciate Egwene a bit more. She ... scared me at one point, and might have had one of my favorite lines in the book. And Min, I'd hate to have her ability, but I love her to death. I'm so glad we got more of her here.

Lanfear scares the shit out of me. She's not only one of the Forsaken, incredibly powerful, and crazy, she thinks that Lews Therin - her lover before he married - is hers. No matter the incarnation. You can imagine how this might be bad for certain other characters I love. It's not only that she lays a claim on him, it's that she so obviously doesn't even know the man she claims. I don't think she knew Lews Therin, probably why they never made it, and she definitely doesn't know his reincarnation now. If she did, she wouldn't go about her machinations in the way she does.

There's the Children, who I think I will always hate. Their superiority and self-righteousness is impossible. Not only do they punish people who have no reason to be punished, but they then decide that the 'sins of the father' be visited TEN generations down, and the 'sins of the mother' SEVEN generations down. Are you freaking kidding me? Actual children are guilty of things they know nothing about? You choose to be bigoted assholes. Maybe you should look for actual Darkfriends instead of accusing innocent people, or people that you just don't understand. Ugh. I hate you. I hope you all die.

But the real threat in this book, besides the Dark One himself, is the Seanchan. They arrive from seemingly nowhere to demand obedience and punish those who didn't wait for them - over hundreds of years - to return. This might not seem too bad, but add in the fact that they ride enormous bear-like creatures, with scales, three-eyes, and sharp, hooked beaks. Then add in that they're big fans of slavery. Not only of their servants (who'd rather kill themselves than live without their masters), but of wielders of the One Power. I think that's the thing that scared me the most. They chained and control women who should be Aes Sedai. I can't even deal with that kind of insanity. And the way they control them? I just can't.

I haven't even mentioned all the threats, there's still the Trollocs, and Myrddraal. And the various Darkfriends - which are in every aspect of this world, infiltrating some of the most unexpected places, which is scary as hell. There's the threat of the Black Ajah - an Aes Sedai that serves the Dark One. I know, WTF? The guy that I won't even name, because he might scare me a little more than the Dark One does.

All of these things, all of these worries, all of these threats...and I was nearly having a coronary while reading. Right up through the ending my eyes were wide with wonder.

I'll be starting the next one, soon. Very, very soon. I know I've got twelve books left, and there's a lot that can happen to everyone I love. I'm still worried, truth be told. There's a lot at stake, and they're right in the middle of it. Ta'veren. Pulling me in.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Faefever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever, Book 3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 16 September 2008

Mac's quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V'lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.

As All Hallows Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds with devastating consequences.

I never wrote a review for this before. How the hell is that even possible? Scratch that. I know why. This book is ... world-changing, heart-breaking, intense, mind-blowing. I'm not sure that I could ever begin to do justice to the emotions that I feel throughout it.

Even now, even knowing how things turn out, what happens and how it all goes down, I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this book, needing to see, needing to know.

Spoiler-free? This book is amazing. I quoted as much as I could without spoilering anywhere, but there's so much more that I wanted to. Even in this, dark as it sometimes is, there was a great amount of humor, and I wished I could share more of it.

If the walls come down completely, all the Unseelie will be freed, not just the lower castes that are currently managing to get through somehow. The most powerful of the Unseelie Royal Houses will escape." He paused and when he spoke again, his voice was low, urgent. "Myth equates the heads of those four houses, the dark princes, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

I knew who they were: Death, Pestilence, War, and Famine.

Mac's Growth: I love how consistently it's increased. Mac doesn't just become stronger and better and smarter. She learns - sometimes difficultly - and grows organically. I know that some people have issues with Mac in the first few books, but I get her. Even when I want her to trust Barrons, I applaud her for not. Yes, he gives plenty of reasons to, but there are those times when his actions are more ambiguous. I love that she doesn't trust him just because. I love that she doesn't really trust anyone, except herself, and she's using all she can to make herself more self-reliant.

But left to my own devices I'd prefer to skim over the events of the next few weeks, and whisk you through those days with glossed-over details that cast me in a more flattering light.

Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it's those hours that make us what we are. We stand strong, or we cower. We emerge victorious, tempered by our trials, or fractured by a permanent, damning fault line.

I never used to think about thinks like darkest hours and trials and fault lines.

Barrons: That being said, god-damn, do I love this male. He's so freaking....everything. I can't even help it. The small moments of humour. The moments of approval. The moments where it's very clear he wants to help her become everything she can be. The way he ensures that she maintains her agency. And when he does answer questions? Damn. Love.

"What are you? I said irritably.

"In the Serengeti, Ms. Lane, I would be the cheetah. I'm stronger, smarter, faster, and hungrier than everything else out there. And I don't apologize to the gazelle when I take it down."

V'lane: I don't love V'lane. Never did. But in this book he ... became something different for me. He redeemed himself to a small degree, for a time...

"Your wards are laughable. They could not prevent a nightmare of me from getting in."

Sidhe-Seers: I love that there are more strong females out there. Females that have the will to make their own choices, even in the midst of crisis. This is probably my favorite thing about these books: Women are STRONG. Don't forget it.

"You are not one of us."

"I say she is, and she just got off to a bad start. She didn't have anyone to help her figure things out. How would you guys have done in the same situation? She's just trying to survive, like we all are."

The Plot: OMG. JFC. Everything's coming to a head. Things are getting real.

"Speaking of which, I've decided I see the wisdom of your advice."

"Has Hell frozen over?" he said dryly.

"Funny. I'm not going to ask you questions tonight, Barrons. I'm going to ask you for three actions."

Interest uncoiled like a dark snake in his eyes. "Go on."

This book was the hardest ending for me to read on my first read. It's dark. And final. And there was no Dreamfever in sight for more than a year. I had to wait, and speculate, and wonder. I'm glad I don't any longer.

Grade: A

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Title: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 1
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Release Date: 16 January 1990

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For a very, very long time this series has intimidated the hell out of me. I first started hearing about it sometime in the late 1990s. At that time there were seven or eight books out (less than the fourteen that finalized the series), but I was scared as hell because they are DOORSTOPPERS, and there was NO END in sight. I worried that the series would never end. I worried that it'd suck and I'd be stuck reading thousands of pages of books that I hated (this was back in my MUST FINISH EVERYTHING stage of life). But most of all, I worried that I'd love it and be stuck waiting forever for the end (also back in my no-bigger-than-a-trilogy stage with a few exceptions). So I put it off, waiting for the right moment. I've had this book on my to-read shelf for nearly 2 decades.

Honestly, I'm glad I waited. I'm not sure 15-year-old me would have appreciated this in quite the same way that adult-me does. Even though I thought I knew it all and read far beyond my age at the time, I know there are ideas and concepts that just wouldn't have held the gravitas that they do now. I wouldn't have missed them because they'd have flown right over my young head, but it wouldn't have been the same experience.

I still should have read them long before now, but by that time the length of the series started to intimidate me for a whole other reason. It is SO LONG. Good gods, we're talking over ELEVEN THOUSAND pages in total. Eleven thousand. That's an epic story if ever there was one.

Thankfully, I have some friends that praise the hell out of this series and finally convinced me to pick up the first book and start my journey.

This last month while reading this book has been one of the best book experiences of my life. I'm not sure I can do a review justice, which is probably why I've spent so much time talking about my journey to this book. What I can, definitively, say is that it is very worth it. Maybe a bullet-review will help...

  • The World: I've read a lot of books. I've read my fair share of fantasy, even. I've never, never entered a world that is so intricate, well-built, and detailed as this one. One book and we've already seen and learned so much of it, but I feel like we've barely touched the surface. Not only is there a vast amount of geography to cover, there's a ton of cultures, races, species, and magic. The history here is so intricate that I have a hard time imagining Robert Jordan being able to keep it all straight, but he does, beautifully in this first installment. I never floundered over what or who something was, never felt like I was reading info-dumps of information, and was always glued to the pages to learn more, more, MORE.
  • The Characters: I tried, the other day, to say my favorite character and ended up with a list of about fifteen. There's such diversity and complexity to the characters that I can't help but be interested in almost everyone that I meet. I'm rooting for them, worried for them, and hoping that I get to see a lot more of each of them (with 11,000 pages, I should certainly see a bunch of some of them).
  • The Prose: This writing. Holy shit. It's lyrical and beautiful, sparse and pointed. It's everything it needs to be in every place it needs to be it. There are some passages that are so arresting I had to stop and re-read them several times before I could even move on. Not only is the prose gorgeous, but the writing itself is tight. You'd be forgiven for thinking that such a long book has some (large) amount of fluff, but you wouldn't be right. There's nothing extra here, just what's needed, and it makes the book fly by.
  • The Plot/Pacing: All I can say here is that I never wanted to put it down. I always resented work, sleep and my commute for getting in the way of my continuing this story. The pacing is spot-on, the plot is amazingly suspenseful, and in the end it's everything I could have hoped for.

That's all I've got. The rest is fangirl squeeing, and incoherent muttering about how fucking amazing this book is.

Now excuse me, I have to go start The Great Hunt.

Grade: A+

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