Wednesday, January 29, 2014

review: THE MYSTERY WOMAN by Amanda Quick

by Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Ladies of Lantern Street #2
Penguin: Putnam Adult
Released: April 23, 2013
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 357

Rating: Liked It

Beatrice Lockwood, one of the intrepid ladies of Lantern Street, is in the middle of a case when her past comes back to haunt her. Joshua North, a former spy for the Crown, has come out of a self-imposed retirement after a disastrous case that left him scarred and forced to use a cane. He is hunting the villain who is blackmailing his sister.

The trail leads him to Beatrice who is his chief suspect. But when he realizes that she is not the blackmailer they set out to find the real extortionist. Passion flares between them as they dodge a professional assassin. Meanwhile a mysterious scientist intent on resurrecting his dead lover using an ancient Egyptian formula for preserving the bodies of the dead is also hunting Beatrice. He is keeping his dead love perfectly preserved in a special, crystal-topped sarcophagus filled with the special fluid. but he needs Beatrice's paranormal talent to activate the reviving properties of the preservative in the coffin. Time is running out for everyone involved.

The two cases collide at a mysterious country-house filled with artifacts from ancient Egyptian tombs. The drama concludes in the mad scientist's laboratory where Joshua discovers that the past he thought was dead is still very much alive - sort of.

My Thoughts
With Krentz's Arcane series, I tended to put up with the historical installments under the Amanda Quick pseudonym because they were part of the series. Historical is not a genre that I generally enjoy. There is too much formality, especially with the era featured in The Mystery Woman. That is why I am not rating this book overly high - it's just not something that I enjoy reading as much as my regular genres.

We were introduced to Beatrice in Crystal Gardens, yet The Mystery Woman does not touch much upon Evangeline the third friend in their trio, except in the very last chapter. I found that to be a little odd and had rather hoped to read at least a little about them.

The story was formulaic, although this is not entirely surprising as most of Krentz's books read the same way. What makes some of them stand out over the others is the characters, and I did not find myself falling for any of the characters in The Mystery Woman.

At the end of the day, I would only recommend this book for hardcore fans of Krentz's paranormal stories. Otherwise, it is rather forgettable and does not serve as a tie-in with any other books.

Monday, January 27, 2014

review: SHADES OF MIDNIGHT by Lara Adrian

Series: Midnight Breed #7
Random House: Dell
Released: December 29, 2009
Source: Library
Page Count: 383

Rating: Loved it!

Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witnessed as a child and evoke in her the inexplicable sense of otherness she has long felt within herself but nver fully understood . . . until a darkly seductive stranger with secrets of his own enters her world.

Sent from Boston on a mission to investigate the savage attacks and stop the slaughter, vampire warrior Kade has his own reasons for returning to the frigid, forbidding place of his birth. Haunted by a secret shame, Kade soon realizes the stunning truth of the threat he faces - a threat that will jeopardize the fragile bond he has formed with the courageous, determined young woman who arouses his deepest passions and most primal hungers. But in bringing Alex into his world of blood and darkness, Kade must confront both his own personal demons and the even greater evil that could destroy all he holds dear.

My Thoughts
Holy sexiness, Batman. This book was yummy!

As we found out in the last book, the Ancient has escaped into the Alaskan wilderness. While there, he seems to have availed himself of the many people who are living in out-of-the-way areas in order to fuel up after the decades-long deprivation he experienced during his imprisonment at Dragos's hands. Kade, one of the newer warriors, is sent to Alaska to investigate and comes across Alex, the woman who discovered a crime scene and, of course, a Breedmate.

Alex has first-hand experience with the Breed and suspects what has happened. Their relationship is pretty hot, and I enjoyed watching it develop. Probably one of the better parts of the book, though, is its setting in Alaska. Besides the simple change of locale, Alaska lends a certain edge of wildness to the story and brings the passion up another notch.

As an aside: Kade can communicate with predatory animals, and I am super jealous that he can commune with wolves. Alas, I shall have to content myself with my pack of Siberian Huskies.

With every installment, I find myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Midnight Breed series!

Friday, January 24, 2014

review: THE POWER OF SIX by Pittacus Lore

THE POWER OF SIX by Pittacus Lore
Series: Lorien Legacies #2
HarperCollins: Harper
Released: August 23, 2011
Source: Library
Page Count: 406

Rating: Liked it

I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world,  he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us - if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio - and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I'm ready to fight.

My Thoughts
I didn't really love I Am Number Four, but The Power of Six was not bad. I realize that that is not exactly a glowing recommendation, but at the very least I can say that this book makes me more excited to finish the series than the first book did.

Number Seven was what gave this book some interest. We already know what happened with Number Four from the first book, and, given that I didn't care too much about his character, I couldn't bring myself to care much about his further adventures. (Especially since he's being kind of a jerk regarding his relationship status.) Number Seven's Cepan (guardian) did not teach her much about herself, so what she has learned is due to her dogged determination. As the two storylines merged, I actually found myself interested in what happens in the third book.

That said, if John decides to further pursue Number Six instead of figuring out his relationship with Sarah (and, by the way, what the HECK was going on with her?), I will probably want to smack him across his stupid face.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

review: RISE by Anna Carey

RISE by Anna Carey
Series: Eve #3
HarperCollins: Harper
Released: April 2, 2013
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 310

Rating: It was okay

How far will you go when you have nothing left to lose?

When she lost her soul mate, Caleb, Eve felt like her world had ended. Trapped in the palace, forced to play the part of the happy, patriotic princess of The New America - and the blushing bride of her father's top adviser - Eve's whole life is a lie. The only thing that keeps her going is Caleb's memory, and the revolution he started.

Now, Eve is taking over where Caleb left off. With the help of Moss, an undercover subversive in the King's court, she plots to take down The New America, beginning with the capital, the City of Sand. Will Eve be able to bring about a new, free world when she's called upon to perform the ultimate act of rebellion - killing her father?

In Rise, Eve must choose who to leave behind, who to save, and whot o fight as Anna Carey's epic tale of romance and sacrifice in the thrilling dystopia of The New America comes to a stunning conclusion.

My Thoughts
I LOVED the first book in Anna Carey's Eve trilogy. I picked up an ARC at BEA and almost didn't hand it over to be signed because I was too into the story. The second book was also fabulous; I sped through it in one night. Rise was also a quick read, but the story ended abruptly. Topping out at just over 300 pages, this is not exactly a long read. I expected there to be an epilogue to expand on the event that happens at the very end of the very last chapter to keep it from feeling so choppy. The lack of a real ending is mostly what brought the rating down for me.

Not considering the ending, Rise was okay. Eve is a little badass, even if she doesn't feel ready to admit it to herself. She did what she had to do to survive, and she does her best to take care of the people around her. The other characters are difficult to care about at times, however. Some of the girls who escape with Eve are stupid beyond the realm of naivete, and Eve's friends from the school can't get over themselves. Both of these things are incredibly frustrating. Several characters are killed, and their deaths are merely glossed over. I realize that the story is fast-paced at that point, but it would have been nice if Eve could have taken a few seconds after it was over to reflect on what she has lost. I wanted to mourn their loss, even if she just wanted to move on.

I suppose the main problem with Rise is not the story or the characters but rather the lack of shine on the novel. Nothing in this book is memorable. Considering how wonderful the first two books were, Rise is a disappointing conclusion to the trilogy.

Monday, January 20, 2014

review: ASHES OF MIDNIGHT by Lara Adrian

Series: Midnight Breed #6
Random House: Dell
Released: May 26, 2009
Source: Library
Page Count: 368

Rating: Really liked it

As night falls, Claire Roth flees, driven from her home by a fiery threat that seems to come from hell itself. Then, from out of the flames and ash, a vampire warrior emerges. He is Andreas Reichen, her onetime lover, now a stranger consumed by vengeance. Caught in the cross fire, Claire cannot escape his savage fury - of the hunger that plunges her into his world of eternal darkness and unending pleasure.

Nothing will stop Andreas from destroying the vampire responsible for slaughtering his Breed brethren . . . even if he must use his former lover as a pawn in his deadly mission. Blood-bonded to his treacherous adversary, Claire can lead Andreas to the enemy he seeks, but it is a journey fraught with danger - and deep, unbidden desires. For Claire is the one woman Andreas should not crave, and the only one he's ever loved. A dangerous seduction begins - one that blurs the lines between predator and prey, and strokes the flames of a white-hot passion that may consume all in its path . . .

My Thoughts
Poor Andreas. He's been put through the wringer lately. In Veil of Midnight, we learned that Andreas's Darkhaven had been wiped out by someone who had turned his beloved Helene into a Minion. The story continues in Ashes of Midnight, when Andreas returns home only to find the bloodbath that destroyed his kin. Not unjustly, Andreas wants justice - and revenge - on the man responsible for destroying everything he loved: Wilhelm Roth.

This was a good story that, like all of the Midnight Breed books, had its ups and downs. Overall, I thought that it was quite interesting. Andreas's power is not one that I would have expected, and we get to watch him eventually learn to how to control it. (Come on, it's a romance, you know it's not going to overcome him, then we wouldn't get a happily ever after!) I am curious to see what is in store next for Andreas and Claire and their post-book mandate. Will we get updates on them? I hope so!

I do wish that Adrian would give characters some breathing room between the horrible things that happen to them and finding their happily ever afters. She did this with Rio, too, and it annoyed me, and that was an even greater timeframe (betrayal in book 1, HEA one year later in book 4). It felt a bit strained to me that Andreas would fall so hard for Claire - yes, even though he had had a relationship with her 30 years earlier - after losing his longtime lover just three months before and that Claire, being a generally good person, would actually cheat on her husband - even if he is entirely worthless - to be with Andreas. I wish they had waited until after defeating Wilhelm to follow through with the blood bond, even if it was useful to their investigation. I realize that Wilhelm didn't love Claire and that she realized this long before she saw Andreas again, but what can I say, it's just a personal preference.

Mira doesn't show up much in Ashes of Midnight, which was a tad disappointing. I want to watch her grow up just like Savannah from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. That would make me incredibly happy.

This installment ends on a bit of a cliffhanger regarding the overall story arc of Dragos and the big bad alien. It's a good thing that I already nabbed the next book from the library!

Friday, January 17, 2014

review: VEIL OF MIDNIGHT by Lara Adrian

Series: Midnight Breed #5
Random House: Dell
Released: December 30, 2008
Source: Library
Page Count: 355

Rating: Loved it!

A warrior trained in bullets and blades, Renata cannot be bested by any man - vampire or mortal. But her most powerful weapon is her extraordinary psychic ability - a gift both rare and deadly. Now a stranger threatens her hard-won independence - a golden-haired vampire who lures her into a realm of darkness . . . and pleasure beyond imagining.

A combat-loving adrenaline junkie, Nikolai dispenses his own justice to enemies of the Breed - and his latest quarry is a ruthless assassin. One woman stands in his way: the seductive, cool-as-ice bodyguard, Renata. But Renata's powers are put to the test when a loved one, a child, is threatened and she's forced to turn to Niko for help. As the two join forces, as desire fans the flames of a deeper hunger, Renata's life is under siege by a man who offers the exquisite pleasure of a blood bond - and a passion that could save or doom them both forever . . .

My Thoughts
First, I need to make it known that I take exception to the description given above. Renata is decidely NOT independent, as is demonstrated rather harshly in the book. Also, Renata is not exactly standing in Niko's way. She is being used through the bodyguard position she was forced into accepting. It bothers me when whoever writes these descriptions just sort of makes up their own story.

Moving on . . .

Niko and Renata are a delicious mix. They obviously mesh well together, and yes, there is a bit of insta-love, but they manage to make the timeline mostly believable. It's not quite as action-packed as some of the earlier books - Renata is injured, and the two need to take some time for her to recuperate, eating up a good chunk of the book. It was actually a nice change of pace to have the two main characters have some time to really bond and figure each other out instead of constantly running from one danger or another.

Mira was my favorite part, though. The young breedmate has the power to  show people the future in her eyes, yet using her gift is making her go blind. I hope she shows up in the later books, as I would love to see what her future holds!

I do wish that what happened with Andreas Reichen had not happened. That was tough to read, although it is easy to see that something is coming because Adrian focused so much on his relationship with Helene. Reichen will probably join the Order and star in the next novel.

Adrian manages to pull off some very dark storylines without delving into the depths of depravity like J.R. Ward. Some may enjoy that, but it is not something that I personally enjoy reading. The Midnight Breed series has struck a chord with me, and I am so happy that I finally picked up these fabulous books this year!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

review: ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST by Jennifer Rardin

by Jennifer Rardin
Series: Jaz Parks #2
Hachette: Orbit
Released: December 12, 2007
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 336

Rating: Loved it!

Jaz Parks has enough trouble in her personal life. What she doesn't need is more trouble with her vampire boss and another mission. This time she has to retrieve a vital piece of biotechnology by killing the maniac who stole it: an ancient Chinese vamp. Their cover in this mission: professional entertainers at the Corpus Christi Winter Festival.

The crew's all here: a psychic, a techno-wizard, a singing vampire, a juggling PI, and Jaz. Holy crap in a bottomless well, Jaz is going to bellydance. It's definitely, probably, quite possibly going to be the end of the world as we know it.

My Thoughts
I am really loving this series. Jaz is sarcastic and irreverent, and I can't help but love her. Add to that all of her many annoying yet hilarious sidekicks and one incredibly sexy vampire, and there is really no way this book can go wrong!

In this second installment, Jaz and co. have been sent to Texas to retrieve one of Bergman's creations - a set of body armor that is bio-enhanced in some way to interact with both its wearer and its environment, essentially making the wearer unkillable. Predictably, Jaz accepts this challenge just as Barney does on How I Met Your Mother. What I enjoyed about this mission was that it didn't hinge on just one thing. There was a significant amount of technology involved as well as your usual spy tricks, yet there was still magic from Cassandra, intelligence from Cole, and vampire badassery from Vayl. No one on this team is useless, and no one can get away with not pulling their own weight. They are a cohesive unit (at least when they really need to have it together... downtime is another story) and it's nice to see everyone be evenly necessary. Just because Jaz has her own paranormal skills doesn't mean that she can go off on her own, because she isn't skilled enough to do everything on her own. It's a nice change of pace from almost every other urban fantasy series out there.

Also, I have a total book crush on Vayl. Oh, baby, he is one hot vampire!

Monday, January 13, 2014

review: THE RULES by Stacey Kade

THE RULES by Stacey Kade
Series: Project Paper Doll #1
Disney: Disney-Hyperion
Released: April 23, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Page Count: 416

Rating: Loved it!

1. Never trust anyone.
2. Remember they are always searching.
3. Don't get involved.
4. Keep your head down.
5. Don't fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane's survival - and that of her adoptive father - depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) "project."

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief's son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening - and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, and especially not the rules . . .

My Thoughts
I was a little nervous about this book, because it seemed to have shades of James Patterson's Maximum Ride series with the human-other DNA mix. Luckily, The Rules only reflected the very best parts of that series and fully stood on its own. I should have known better - Kade's The Ghost and the Goth was such a fabulous book!

Ariane was created through an experiment that combined human DNA with that of an exterrestrial, possibly from the Roswell crash. This wasn't harped on in the book, but it was mentioned a few times, so I get the feeling that it will be touched upon in a later installment. She used to have powers of some sort, but they went away around the time she was taken from the lab that had been her prison. She needs to stay out of the spotlight, or she could end up right back where she began. Of course, in the way of novels, that turns out to be more difficult than anticipated when the local mean girl decides to make it her mission to torture Ariane's best friend. Her powers suddenly flare to life during their confrontations, and Ariane must learn to control them before she is found out.

I really liked this book, although it had its difficult parts (emotional, not technical). I have read / seen many books / shows similar to The Rules, but they have mostly been middle grade child-raised-in-a-lab books (Replica series by Marilyn Kaye, Undercover Girl series by Christine Harris) or shows that only had one similar theme (Roswell with aliens, The Pretender with the lab-raised child). It was nice to see the alien bit playing nicely along with the lab aspect, as they are two tropes that I very much enjoy. It was the betrayal that really got to me, though. I just wanted to hug poor Ariane through the pages!

Ariane is a nice girl stuck in a terrible situation, and she does her best to balance her own self-preservation with being a decent person. This is a theme that many high school students can relate to, as dealing with the popular kids - even if you don't care to be one of them - can sometimes force you into difficult situations. Adopted kids can also relate to Ariane wanting to know more about her unknown parentage yet having no resources to do so. As an adoptee, that is always something I am interested in, especially when it's handled well. It's not a driving force or obnoxious source of angst; it just is.

Kade leaves the book on a bit of a cliffhanger, so get ready to curse her for not having the second book ready right this second!

Friday, January 10, 2014

review: CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Simon & Schuster: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released: March 19, 2013
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 565

Rating: Loved it!

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan.

He needs Tessa.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are engaged, Will is still in love with her.

The last words of a dying Shadowhunter provide the clue that might lead Tessa and her friends to Mortmain. But their small group cannot stand alone, and the powerful Consul doubts that Mortmain is coming. Deserted by allies, the Shadowhunters find themselves trapped when Mortmain seizes the medicine that keeps Jem alive. With his best friend at death's door, Will must risk everything to save the girl they both love.

To buy Will time, the warlock Magnus Bane joins with Henry Branwell to create a device that could help defeat Mortmain. As they all work to save Tessa and the future of the Shadowhunters that resides with her, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself - for in the discovery of her own true nature, Tessa could become more powerful than she ever dreamed possible. But can a lone girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Internal Devices trilogy.

My Thoughts
This is going to be a tough review to write without spoilers! Really, this will be more my reaction to the book than an actual review, as I would hate to ruin anyone's reading experience by giving away critical information.

I went into Clockwork Princess with low expectations, as the first two books in the Infernal Devices series didn't really do it for me. They were good, but they didn't blow me away like the Mortal Instruments books did, and that was terribly disappointing. And to be honest, I was frustrated with Clockwork Princess as well, in the beginning. I got through chapter six and then set the book aside for three days, not reading much in the meantime because I was in a bit of a book funk. (If Cassandra Clare's name on the cover couldn't get me pumped up, what could?)

Last night, I grabbed the book, curled up with my dog on the couch, and forced myself to finish it. It started out that way, anyway. I could not imagine how Clare could possibly create an ending that I would find satisfying! A couple of chapters in, though, I had hope again. There were still a few moments when I couldn't quite wrap my head around what certain characters were doing, and the timing of one particular event was rather sketchy, but the last few chapters really blew me away. I cried so much that my glasses ended up with water spots and I had to keep wiping them so I could see the pages. I am so incredibly pleased with how the book ended that I am actually considering re-reading the entire series so I can see it from a new perspective.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

review: DIVIDED IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

by J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts
Narrated by Susan Eriksen
Series: In Death #18
Berkley / Brilliance Audio
Released: January 26, 2004
Source: Library
Page Count: 354

Rating: Liked it

Found alone on the streets as a child, Eve Dallas has built a new identity and a new future as a cop. Now the hard-edged and cool-headed detective fights for truth and justice, but she still has one very human weakness - enigmatic Irish billionaire, Roarke. And when a trusted employee of Roarke Enterprises is a suspect in a double-homicide, Roarke comes to Eve for help.

Reva Ewing was a former member of the Secret Service, and now a security specialist for Roarke Enterprises - until she was found standing over the dead bodies of her husband, renowned artist Blair Bissel, and her best friend. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas believes there was more to the killing than jealous rage - all of Bissel's computer files were deliberately corrupted. To Roarke, it's the computer attack that poses the real threat. He and Reva have been under a code-red government contract to develop a program that would shield against techno-terrorists. But this deadly new breed of hackers isn't afraid to kill to protect their secret - and it's up to Lieutenant Eve Dallas to shut them down before the nightmare can spread to the whole country.

My Thoughts
Divided in Death was actually quite difficult to read from an emotional standpoint. Due to information that comes to light during this investigation, Eve and Roark go head to head on a difficult issue and face the possibility of their marriage falling apart. The lower rating I gave this book actually came from wanting to rush to the end of the book and hoping that everything would be better at the end. I dislike when authors disrupt the main characters' relationship, even if it is 18 books into the series.

The case was quite an interesting one. It seems open-and-shut on the surface, yet the chain of evidence eventually leads to a secretive government agency that comes in to try to shut down Eve's investigation. There were a few interesting spy tricks, and I enjoyed seeing Eve and Roarke out-maneuver the spooks. I especially liked how Eve tricked a certain character into confessing after this person ended up in the hospital. Genius!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Review: How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

(Naked Werewolf #3)
by Molly Harper
Simon & Schuster: Pocket Books
released December 31, 2013
source: bookstore

Down, Boy

Anna Moder has just witnessed a shooting, seen her car pulverized, and rescued a wounded stranger only to discover he's really a werewolf. And by her recent standards, things are actually looking up. Lycanthropes don't faze Anna. Doctoring a wolf pack outside Grundy, Alaska, is the closest thing to home life she's known in years. But hitching a ride to Anchorage with long-absent pack member Caleb Graham - that's a risk. Part of her itches to whack his nose with a newspaper. The rest is trying unsuccessfully to keep her paws off every delicious inch of him.

The problem is - Caleb employs his lupine tracking abilities as a not-quite-legal bounty hunter, and Anna is suspicious of both him and his profession. On the run from her past, with old problems closing in, she'd like to stay far, far away from anybody with connections to the law. Caleb, however, seems determined to keep her close. Are his intentions noble, or is he working a more predatory angle?

Anna's been dreaming of returning to a semi-normal life, but now she's experiencing a strange new urge . . . to join Caleb in running with the wolves.

I remember loving this series when I started it many moons ago, but for some reason I had a hard time getting back into it. It's probably because there are several werewolf series set in Alaska. Anyway, it was difficult to remember who these characters were. Maybe they weren't mentioned much in the previous books, and that's why I'm drawing a blank? Someone leave me a note in the comments if you know!

Don't get me wrong - this is still a good story. But if you're looking for a hot-and-heavy romance or some serious werewolf action, you're in the wrong place. The main focus of the book is on Anna's problems and, later, the burgeoning relationship between Anna and Caleb.

I have a tough time reading about abused characters, which is likely another reason why I didn't love this latest installment as much as the previous two. Molly Harper has such a lighthearted writing tone that it was off-putting to read such a serious story written in such a cutesy voice.

THE BOTTOM LINE B Liked it and will read more in the series, but probably won't re-read it

Monday, January 06, 2014

review: CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare

CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #2
Simon & Schuster: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released: December 6, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 502

Rating: Liked it

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street - and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister knows their every move - and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will - the wall he has build around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

My Thoughts
This series is breaking my heart. I want to love it, but I just can't make it work for me. The writing itself is fabulous, very typical of Clare, and that is what kept it in B territory for me. Nothing really happened in Clockwork Prince. A few questions were answers, but the important ones are still left unanswered. That's a little annoying.

The only character that really came through for me was Gideon. Tessa turned wishy-washy in the romance department. Jem is oblivious to his parabatai's feelings for Tessa. Will continues to he his normal jerkish self until something happens, and then he expects everything to magically go his way because he changed one thing. Even Sophie, at times, annoyed me with her attitude of "no one treats me poorly, yet I must act servant-ly at all times." Ugh.

I have read a few reviews elsewhere online in which the reviewers expressed surprise that Will actually loved Tessa and vice versa. This seemed rather obvious to me in Clockwork Angel, although it may not have been obvious to Tessa. Will was obviously self-aware of his emotions even if he did not express them.

Personally, I am rooting for Jem. That said, I do not believe that he and Tessa will end up together. I somehow always end up rooting for the wrong guy. I am not sure how Clare will solve "the Jem problem," but somehow she will make it so Will gets the girl.

At this point, I am waiting for a clarification on Tessa's parentage and some more concrete information about the Magister and his interest in Tessa. If I don't get that, I will be sorely disappointed in this series.

Friday, January 03, 2014

review: CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Simon & Schuster: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released: August 31, 2010
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 479

Rating: Really liked it!

Magic is dangerous - but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Thoughts
I decided to wait until this entire series had been released, because Cassie Clare is far too good at cliffhanger endings. (This is the same reason why I have yet to read the second Mortal Instruments trilogy.) I love her as an author!

This series definitely has a different feel than the Mortal Instruments series. Unlike Clary, Tessa is thrust into the world of the Shadowhunters far more forcibly when she is abducted by the Dark Sisters and forced into acknowledging that she has the power to fully transform into other people. That had to be a rude awakening for her.

However, Clockwork Angel was a tad more predictable than any of the Mortal Instruments stories. i don't think I was surprised by any of the plot twists. What really sold me on this one was the characters. Tessa, although somewhat stereotypical for her time period, is strong, capable of independent thought, and ready to accept - at least eventually - that her life is not what she thought it was. Jessamine, although annoying at times, is completely understandable in her dislike of the Shadowhunters, especially given her family history. Sophie was extremely likable with her disregard for the normal rules of society. And Jem . . . Jem was my favorite of all. He may be quiet, but he can't be underestimated.

I did not like Will. At all. In TMI, Jace had his jerkish moments, but he was never really a complete and total jerk. Will, on the other hand, is. Nothing he said or did redeemed him in my eyes. Of course, that probably means that Tessa will end up with him in the end.

I can't wait to jump back into this series with Clockwork Prince!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

review: TIME UNTIME by Sherrilyn Kenyon

TIME UNTIME by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunterverse #24
Narrated by Holter Graham
St. Martin's Press / Macmillan Audio
Released: August 7, 2012
Source: Library
Page Count: 414

Rating: Really liked it!

The Mayans aren't the only ones with a 2012 prophecy . . .

Long before recorded history, there was a Keetoowah warrior so feared that everyone trembled before his wrath. Only a brutal betrayal by the one closest to him could defeat him. But not even death was the end of a man so strong. The Time Untime approaches . . .

Kateri Avani has been plagued her entire life with dreams she doesn't understand: images of places she's never been and of a man she's never seen. Her quest for answers has driven her to Las Vegas where she hopes to finally silence the demons in her mind. What she never anticipates is coming face-to-face with the warrior who has haunted her her entire life. One who belongs to a world the scientist in her refuses to believe is real.

Ren Waya came back from the dead to keep the prophecy he began from coming true and ending the world. For thousands of years, he has fought the same evil that once possessed him. But now that evil has found the one person he can't fight. The one person who, against his will, holds the most sacred part of him: his heart. But if he doesn't kill Kateri, the deadliest of evils will reemerge and destroy everyone else on the planet. It was a sacrifice he made once. Will he be able to make it again?

My Thoughts
The description doesn't really match my perception of the book. It doesn't matter all that much, but I personally find that a little annoying. Regardless, this was a good one. It was nice to see some characters from earlier in the series, namely Sunshine and Talon. It was also nice to have a bit of a continuation of the story begun in Retribution and to see Sundown again. Kenyon bought into the end-of-the-world craze with this book. Kateri is the one who must reset the clock on 12-21-12 or the world will be plunged into chaos, yada yada yada. I was far less interested in that storyline than I was in Ren's flashbacks to his childhood, seeing him come to accept that his brother is truly a contender for the title of World's Biggest Jerk, and watching as Ren and Kateri fell in love. Their romance, while quick, did not feel rushed, and I thoroughly enjoyed their story. The epilogue was especially sweet.

On the other hand, I was a bit confused as to why Time Untime totally disregarded all of the destruction that occurred in Las Vegas in Retribution. Seriously, it sounded like the entire city had been destroyed in the plagues, but there was absolutely no mention of it. Did it all magically return to normal after Retribution ended? I have no idea! Gah!