Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

5 Stars

I don’t even remember what number this book is in the Mary Russell series, but it was A-MAZING!  When the book starts it keeps referencing Japan and I kept wondering if I was forgetting some part of another story.  As it turns out, we are hearing snippets of a story we have not yet heard.  We first meet Haruki Sato as she is breaking into Russell’s house in Oxford bleeding and wet.  We then travel back in time to catch the reader up. 
Russell and Holmes are leaving India by way of boat to travel to Japan for a brief stay.  Of course, Holmes isn’t the relaxing type and soon finds something mysterious to occupy his time.  Russell meets a young Japanese women who agrees to educate her on the Japanese language and culture.  At just a guess I would say at least half of the book takes place before they reach Japan, however, when I think of this book what I remember is everything that happens afterwards.  

In true Holmes/Russell style they are put through the paces to earn the trust of someone.  They don’t even know who they are trying to prove themselves to, but this is obviously more exciting than just touring Japan.  In addition the mysteries of the ship have followed them to Japan and they are unable to walk away. 
It appears that the story ends in Japan and in a very unsatisfactory way, until the reader is brought full circle back to Russell’s kitchen in Oxford.  The story takes a somewhat surprising turn here, but I loved it! 

I think my favorite part of the story was everything that happened in Japan.  I loved reading about the culture, the scenery, and all the shenanigans that Holmes and Russell got themselves into.  Sometimes, when a series has gone on for a long time you lose the initial feel of the story.  It can turn into another monster altogether.  What I love about these books is that I always get the same humor, excitement and well thought out storyline that I got from the first book.  Can’t wait for the next one!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taunting Destiny by Amelia Hutchins (The Fae Chronicles #2)

5 Stars

I have already finished book #3 and when I finished #2 it was my favorite, but now I am having a hard time remembering this one.  I remember what happened in book 1 and book 3, but book 2 in kind of a blur…

This book takes up right where the first one end (which was right in the middle!).  Syn had just looked through a window to see Rider and his 13 in black robes and brutally interrogating a group of men…some of which Syn knew…from The Guild!  Syn runs away right as rider looks up to see her (end book 1), Syn makes it away from Rider and to The Guild where she is persona non grata anymore because she is fae and not a witch!  Her mentor Alden coldly tells her to get lost.  She ends up going to her parents’ house where she is living with Adam.  Except is going into transition faster than Syn and has to be taken to Rider’s so he can transition in safety. 

Syn has signed another contract with Rider which gives him the sole right to guide her through her transition.  On top of this, the mages are still out there killing fae and they are also after Synthia now.  She ends up moving back in with Rider and his men.  The bombshell in this book is who they think Synthia is.  They know who Adam is (another bombshell) and because of this it puts Syn in a position to choose her own happiness or the death or thousands of fae.  Fae that she thought she hated for killing her parents, but she is learning that not all fae are evil like not all humans are good.  She meets her mother and father and more as she is taken back to Faery to fulfill a prophesy. 

Fighting Destiny by Amelia Hutchins (The Fae Chronicles #1)

4 Stars

I started reading this book without expecting much.  I had never heard of the author and it was a fairly cheap book, but I am a sucker for books about the fae.  I am really glad I ran across it because I devoured the entire series (so far, books 1-3, but at least 2 more are supposed to come out).

The main character is Synthia Mckenna.  She is a witch for The Guild in Spokane, Washington.  The book opens up with Syn taking a job that is nearly impossible.  She has to break into the Dark Prince’s abode and steal his crown.  Synthia ends up in a binding contract with the fae, working with the same Dark Prince (Rider) to catch a killer.  They are after a serial killer who can take out both witches and the immortal fae with very little resistance. 

Syn has her own reasons for hating the fae which make this assignment particularly difficult.  Her parents were murdered by the fae when she was very young.  She trusts very few people and is finding this number shrinking more each day.

This is a great starter to a series.  I have two complaints.  One is there was too much sex!  Often when you see that kind and amount of sex it is covering up the lack of a storyline and/or writing skills.  But the author is clearly talented and the storyline is A-MAZING.  I could have cut out 75% of the sex and built up more of the sexual tension and been happier with this book.  My second complaint is that the story seemed to just off in the middle.  There was a point in the book where it would have made sense to end the book and leave it open knowing there is more.  This is so far beyond a cliff hanger.  It is like the editor (or author, not sure who to blame) opened up the pages at random and said, “we will end it here.”  It was a very odd place to end the book. 

Overall, when I finished it, I went right online and bought the next book (which is my favorite so far), and started it right away.    

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of The Beauty and the Beast by Robin Mckinley

4 Stars

So you may notice that I recently read another retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  The reason why I chose to read this one right away is because one of the reviews for the K.M. Shea version left a comment about how her version couldn’t compare to the Robin Mckinley version.  I think that is way too strong a statement and I think this person is over fond of the Robin Mckinley version because it is from her childhood.  I liked both versions very much.  K.M. Shea has a very different take on the story and it is well written and refreshing.  I loved the vivid depictions in the Robin Mckinley version. 


Beauty lives with her father and two sisters.  Beauty’s real name is Honour, but has long gone by Beauty although she notes throughout the book how she is not beautiful like her sisters.   Her sister Grace is engaged to be married to a man who works for her father in their shipping business.  The business goes on hard times and the family is forced to moved far away and build a new life.  The other sister Hope finds a man to marry as well during all of this.  Their father makes a trip and on the way back gets lost in the enchanted forest.  It is during this time that a deal is struck with the beast in the castle in the enchanted forest.  Either the father but die or he must bring one of his daughters to live in the castle.  Beauty is chosen and like the story goes she must see past the outward appearance of the beast. 

I loved everything about this story except the falling in love portion.  Beauty, although always saying she is not beautiful, still considers herself far above the beast.  She makes a very sudden realization that she loves the beast although prior to that she was adamant about keeping her distance even to the point of running away and appearing quite disgusted when she wakes up in the beast’s arms after fainting.  He is always very gracious and patient with her but I found little in her character to warrant such patience.  At the very end when the spell is undone, it all happens too fast.  He changes back, she wants her beast, but quickly sees he is the beast, but thinks she isn’t beautiful enough, he assures her she is and they go out to meet her family.  There should have been more substance to this part.  It is the climax and yet it is as though once the spell is broken we must end the story ASAP.  No declarations of love, just look how richly dressed your family is as they come to our wedding.  It also doesn’t discuss the significance of the week.  The beast lets Beauty go for a week and if she doesn’t return he shall die.  Why???

House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter (Cresent City #1)

3 Stars
First, I think it is important to note that this is a spin-off series from this author’s “House of Comarre” series.  I didn’t read that series and although they only mention “comarre” briefly I have no idea what that is.  Other than that you should be able to read this without reading that other series with no issues, although you can tell that Augustine is more familiar to the reader of the previous series.
This book has two main characters and we get alternating points of view.  Harlow is the daughter of Olivia Goodwin who is a retired actress.  Harlow doesn’t get along with her mom because Olivia refuses to tell her daughter the name of Harlow’s father.  Olivia lives in New Orleans and when Harlow gets in trouble with the Cyber Crimes Unit she has to ask Olivia for help.  Augustine lives with Olivia and has ever since she took him off the streets as an adolescent.  She saved him from a grim existence and he loves her dearly.  Augustine is forced to take up the mantle of Guardian (it means he is protector of everyone in New Orleans) after Olivia is attacked by rogue vampires.  Augustine wants revenge and Harlow just wants money to pay her fine and go back to Boston.
I enjoyed the premise and am currently reading the second book in hopes that Harlow won’t drive me crazy like she did in the first book.  She is probably the most selfish, childish, annoying main character I have ever read.  I am wondering if the author is trying to show growth with this character so that is why I am continuing to read.  Literally every encounter Harlow has with anyone was annoying.  She was estranged from her mother because Olivia wouldn’t tell her her father’s name.  There is a reason for that you spoiled brat!  Ugh.  I liked Augustine except that he seemed to has an unexplained attraction to Harlow no matter how bad she treated him. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea (Timeless Fairy Tales)

5 Stars

I don’t even know how I came across this book, but it was available for loan on Amazon Prime so I had saved a sample in my kindle.  I decided to give it a try and it did not take long to realize I had come across a gem!  I am always excited to find new authors that I love.

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (obviously), but it goes beyond the original story.  Admittedly I have not read the original (although it too has a place on my kindle), but like all good girls I have seen the Disney version many times. 

The cursed prince in this version is actually an illegitimate son of the king.  There is a legitimate prince as well, but these two appear to be very good friends.  In this version, the cursed prince gets into this predicament for apparently no good reason.  I think perhaps this is my only complaint.  It is mentioned numerous times that a witch cursed the prince to live as a beast in both mind and body through no fault of his own, then an enchantress comes along and is able to lessen the curse by making him a beast in body only and finding a way to break the curse. 

So the main character (besides Prince Severin) is Elle.  We meet her right as she is falling through the glass ceiling of the prince’s chosen exile.  He doesn’t want her there but his servants are determined to nurse her back to health and endeavor to push the two together.

The twist comes in that Elle is keeping a secret about who she really is.  There are many hints, but also red herrings, so although the book excerpt warns that the prince may not be able to forgive her betrayal, the reader must decide how far this betrayal goes.  I had it mostly figured out, but the author had me second guessing myself until the end. 

When I finished I could not wait to get my hands on the next book in this series which is a retelling of the German fairytale The Six Swans.  I was disappointed to see that readers did not like it as much as the first book because it appears the ending is done in a way that does not provide the reader with a clear “happily ever after”, but instead lets the reader choose.  I was also hesitant to read it because I have read a fantastic version of this fairytale by Juliet Marillier called Daughter of the Forest (which I would highly recommend).  However it looks like I could read the third book without problems.  I am going to explore more by this author that is new to me.