Jessica Rules the Dark Side Was Good!

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It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is —and whom she can trust— before it’s too late? (From Goodreads)

I loved the first book and the second one lives up to it (thankfully!) what I really liked about this one while reading was Jessica’s development as a character grows up. Dramatically. Considering she now has to rule and take Lucius place due to the circumstances she had to learn how to take control and she does it gracefully.

The plot itself wasn’t so bad although there could have been more substance to it. The reader already has a hunch as to who is behind the entire plot – a little mystery would have been appreciated and would have kept the plot a little more exciting. So the predictability of it sort of dampens the enjoyment of the book.

Nevertheless it’s the characters that keep the book going. Jessica and Lucius still have that great chemistry together. It’s the light banter Lucius has with Raniero that was also fun to read throughout the story.

Fun to read and it’s light, worth the time – from what I know there’s no more after this one. So to give the duology a nice closing, it’s a good one. (A story about Mindy would be great though.)

Bonus points to the cover. Love it!

I give it an 8 out of 10

 

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Nikolai Seems the Better Catch ….

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Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead, you have been warned***

You’d have to read Shadow and Bone to read and understand Siege and Storm. Otherwise you’d be pretty lost as events follow up right after the first book.

The first half of the book was at a great pace and filled with lots of action, bombs, explosions, fighting, magic, all sorts of goodness you would expect for the second book to follow up for an excellent start in the first. It slows down in the second half of the book where preparations for encountering The Darkling are made and you have this whole drama with Alina and Mal going on;

Okay I was wrong about The Darkling. I was torn apart when he ended up being jackalope of the year and I was holding a banner of love for Alina and Mal.

Then Nikolai steps in.

Handsome, charismatic, swashbuckling, people sway to his beat Nikolai. I loved reading about him whenever he came into the picture. It’s like when your school crush comes into the classroom and you realize you’re going to share a table with him. That kind of giddiness is what Nikolai brings to the book.

I saw the chemistry with Alina and Mal in the first one, and it just falls apart here in Siege and Storm – understandably so as the dynamics have changed a lot and Alina has climbed up in the ladder of importance and Mal has suddenly fallen off the grid and is just considered a lowly guard of Alina the Sun Summoner. Which is pretty good right? You’re near the person you love and care about, you’re standing guard and you’re close by.

No. Can’t be that easy right? First Nikolai steps into the picture and is suddenly looking like a much better prospect and the drama with Alina looking for the Firebird to amplify her powers even more – the point where she becomes obsessed with it changes her personality and makes her more darker, assertive, and she’s not the girl we all once knew in the first book. I really love this personality change in her. There’s a slight whiny voice to it but she really steps up and grows exponentially as a character.

So I can see the romance aspect of the book falling apart, but at the same time you ask yourself is it really necessary? I can see the attempt at a love triangle with Mal and Nikolai with Alina in the middle but from what I see, she gets along fine with both of them, but does she really need one or the other as a love interest? I don’t see the chemistry there with either of them.

Sure, Alina still cares a lot for Mal but everything’s changed and it just seems like she doesn’t need romance..not yet anyway. Instead, the attempt at the romance is seen as two whiny people who can’t get their own way and they take it out on each other by indulging themselves on the road to self destruction. Again, that’s a very human trait and good on portraying that. The whininess though, I could do without. It caused unnecessary drama in the book, and endless of pages in the second half where the plot doesn’t seem to be moving forward or anywhere. It feels like an unnecessary filler.

The last third of the novel though did pick up the pace (did not make up for the whiny drama though) and provided a lot of the explosions and action you had in the first half. Not really featuring a cliffhanger ending, but it’s making me look forward to what I have to see in the third and final book of this series.

PS: My heart bled for Genya.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

 

Jackaby is Eccentric but fun

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Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny. (From Goodreads)

 

This book was a little slow to start. However I find that because the characters are so interesting and have their own quirks you find yourself sticking to the story because they’re so fascinating.

When I was reading about Jackaby and his character he bears the resemblance of an unorthodox detective whose social skills are rather lacking (speaks his mind without realizing he’s offending) but who happens to be brilliant at what he does and those in the police force grudgingly accept his help because they have no one else to turn to. So in turn you can see why Abigail is needed in this partnership. She provides the social skills and provides insight on things that Jackaby might miss. Which is why they make an interesting team.

Although he’s eccentric and Abigail may come off as ‘normal’ they both are similar because they both don’t stick to the social norms that society at the time (18th century USA) which is why they make good teamwork. Not to mention, Abigail is also searching for adventure and working with Jackaby provided just that.

The world building is interesting and good. There’s supernatural elements and creatures throughout the city in hiding. Those with special vision (Jackaby) would be able to spot them whereas Abigail accepts this – a little too accepting but going with the notion that she needed to find employment right away to survive, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. It still ended up being the right choice anyway.

Other secondary characters (Jenny and Douglas) are good fillers to provide more substance to Jackaby’s world. I enjoyed reading about Charlie and I hope he makes another appearance in the next novel.

I would say, stick to the story because of the characters that you end up liking as the book progresses. It does get exciting in the last third of the book despite the lack of momentum in the beginning. It was still an enjoyable read.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

The Salt Line Falls Too Short…

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In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line–a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.

Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks–and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line. (From Goodreads)

The first third of the book had lots of promise. I was intrigued and thrilled to read it. It had the perfect introduction of the characters you’ll stay with throughout the book and you already had a sense of who your favorite characters are.

The world building was certainly interesting and the explanation of how the ticks took over the country and divided it was well done. The breakdown in stages on what happens when you get a tick bite is done in good detail and the idea of the Stamp (which is a harsh form of an epi pen) is great and also well written. However, when I went halfway to the book it started falling short.

The plot started losing its’ momentum and slows to a crawl. The characters then start losing their personalities and start becoming flat and two dimensional. I’d have to say the only two characters that were the most interesting to read were Marta and Wes. Understandably so, because they were key characters throughout this book. But their chemistry together and personalities just seemed to flow together and I enjoyed reading them the most.

Edie, well it took a trip like this for her to see the light about Jesse. Although I wouldn’t say she’s really likeable. She has her moments where her compassion shines towards the last third of the novel which is admirable. But there’s just nothing to her personality. She just happens to be a page filler.

By the last third of the book, you could already smell that there’s going to be a possible sequel as some aspects of the characters go on unexplained or incomplete. It’s almost eye rolling when this book really should have been completed in just one volume.

If there ever is going to be a sequel, it would have to be ten times much better than this one and a vast improvement on plot and characters. I’d probably pick it up only if it focused a lot more on Marta and Wes.

The book had a lot of promise, but it just fell short which is disappointing. It was such a great idea for a plot and the setting was well done.

I give it a 5 out of 10.

The Song Actually Fits the Novel…

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Newly reinstated to the Homicide Division and transferred to a precinct in Tokyo, Inspector Iwata is facing superiors who don’t want him there and is assigned a recalcitrant partner, Noriko Sakai, who’d rather work with anyone else. After the previous detective working the case killed himself, Iwata and Sakai are assigned to investigate the slaughter of an entire family, a brutal murder with no clear motive or killer. At the crime scene, they find puzzling ritualistic details. Black smudges. A strange incense smell. And a symbol—a large black sun. Iwata doesn’t know what the symbol means but he knows what the killer means by it: I am here. I am not finished. As Iwata investigates, it becomes clear that these murders by the Black Sun Killer are not the first, nor the last attached to that symbol. As he tries to track down the history of black sun symbol, puzzle out the motive for the crime, and connect this to other murders, Iwata finds himself racing another clock—the superiors who are trying to have him removed for good. (From Goodreads)

So if you’re into police procedurals where you want high speed chases, lots of action and a real fast plot you will not find it in this one. You read this more for the characters and how they’re involved or what they have in common with each other whether through association of one other person, or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I do admit, this is a very lyrical and poetic novel. There’s snippets of song lyrics, and quotes in between the book that can be distracting to the reading experience and may cause some confusion. Also, you go back and forth in Iwata’s memories to show how he became who he was in present day. This part can especially be confusion because you’re not sure where it starts or begins (you get the rhythm of it however, once you get further into the novel.) This may be off putting to some readers. I found myself taking breaks in between. There’s a lot of characters to take into account and there’s a lot of putting together the puzzle to get why these characters are involved and how.

I took a liking to Sakai. I loved her fiery attitude (understandably so once you figure out what she’s been through) and in the end you do feel for her. I really liked her character, she puts up a tough front and you know she’s hiding something within. When you find out what she’s been hiding all along it’s sad but makes sense as to explaining her behavior.

The plot itself is slow moving and the setting is bleak and dark. The entire theme of the book is rather dark and gloomy. It does not have a noir feeling to it and I was hoping for something more on the creepy side considering a cult is involved. It’s not much scary or thrilling as it’s more dark and foreboding undertone throughout the entire novel. And it’s not just the police case that has this tone. It’s the characters, and Iwata himself that carries this feeling with him.

Iwata as a character, he’s not that likable or unlikable. There’s not much to him. He’s very stoic and takes quite a beating throughout the book. He can be wry with other characters in the book but when he puts his mind to his police work, he does the job even though he makes the rest of the department angry with him. He’s quite abrasive with his co workers but can be a great partner when need be.

Also, take the time to actually listen to the song “Blue Light Yokohama” the song actually suits the novel. 🙂

There’s a sequel supposed to come out with Iwata. I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up or not. I don’t mind reading about the characters in depth and length but the plot could have been a lot quicker and less lyrical/poetic.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

 

We need more Eric Carter novels!!

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Necromancer Eric Carter’s problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he’s the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone. To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can’t trust either one. Carter’s solution? Kill them both. If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he’ll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins. (From Goodreads)

***spoilers ahead you have been warned***

Nooooooooooo this can’t be the ending of the series can it???!!! I’ve taken a liking to Eric Carter. He’s still has his anti hero jerk side, but in this book, he’s mellowed out quite a bit (or if you really think about it, he grew up and stopped being filled with rage.)

Sad to say, I noticed Gabriela takes an absence in this one. Which is too bad because I rather liked her presence. She was a perfect side fighting partner with Eric. Alas perhaps later I hope?

I also liked the complete 360 Tabatha did. She’s not what you thought she was and now that things are getting pretty serious she’s really down to earth and idealistic. Which I rather started to like about her. She’s also started to grow more of a backbone and talking back to Eric a bit more. I’m not sure if I really like them as a couple though. I think it just seems like Eric is so much of a lone wolf you don’t see him with anyone romantically. Who knows though, as Eric does take a personality change though.

Eric’s journey in this book has a more serious undertone and not a high flying adventure like the first ones. This one, well he’s just about at the end of his rope and he’s had it with being the pawn in the games of the Gods. Plus, well he’s turning to jade so that can’t be comfortable can it? So his journey into the underworld is pretty serious at this point. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the underworld. I can’t get over the “Mad Max” cars (because that’s the first thing I thought when I read the description!). I thought it was well done and what an underworld really should be.

The ending was good. It did tie up various loose ends and it seems like the series stops there. I did hear however that this is not the end, there’s going to be more Eric Carter novels so I’d like to know who he’ll square up against now. It’s nice that he closes everything that’s been following him all throughout the first three books so I think he’s ready for another set of getting beaten up to a pulp 😀 more demons please!!!!

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Plot was ok. Could have been slightly better.

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Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is finally invited to a social event that she doesn’t have to cater—but there’s more than champagne bubbling. Theo is mingling with the cream of Charleston society at the engagement soiree of the season. But as they eagerly await the dazzling young couple’s arrival—the groom meets with a freak accident. The exquisite wedding ring—a family heirloom from the crown of Marie Antoinette—is mysteriously missing. Theodosia suspects that trouble is brewing. But when she goes to the authorities, they treat her like she’s been reading tea leaves—and that’s the surest way to put Theodosia’s kettle on the boil. (From Amazon)

This book still retains their likable and quaint characters, and still ends up a light enjoyable read. Although it would be preferable if read in order so you can get a feel for the characters, it could be read out of order (there’s a few references in the past books but nothing that will let the reader be lost and confused.)

My guess as to who the culprit was going to be was spot on. That being said though, what I really enjoyed about this book was the author got the reader to second guess their deductions. There were moments where I was second guessing myself because of the way the breadcrumbs were trailing. That was the best part of the book and the most enjoyable. I liked the little twists and turns being made to finally come to the ending and revealing of the cat burglar.

Although the characters and the mystery aspect of the book was enjoyable. The plot itself was a little lackluster and not very interesting to begin with. Delaine really struck a nerve with me as I didn’t enjoy her personality or her drama queen antics. I wanted the plot to be a little more interesting and more engaging to read. If it wasn’t for the breadcrumb trail you were being led on, the book would have been less enjoyable.

Overall, it wasn’t the greatest book of the series. The first two were much better. Let’s hope the next one will be better than this book. Still, it’s a light read to get through the day in between heavy novels. Worth a read through for cozy mystery fans.

I give it a 6 out of 10.