Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to choose what to read?

I was looking at the books I yet have to read... well, not all of them, they're quite a lot, but I was looking at them and realized I have several books to keep me busy (even more so when I keep buying them...) but I really feel the issue of not being able to read everything "right now".

I was wondering, how do you guys choose what to read next?
Often, a reader's big dilemma is which book to choose or what to read next. I confess I don't really find this a struggle because I have monthly lists. At the end of the year, or close to it, I write down 12 lists, one for each month, containing titles I want to read. I always leave some room for books I know I'll pre order and will want to read when they are finally released and also for books people lent me and I usually feel like reading those as soon as possible to hand them again to their owner.

The problem with this tactic is that I often forbid myself from reading things just because; I like to maintain some order in my reading, I feel like I'm going through my TBR list in a steady pace (yes, adding more books shouldn't happen but...) and I like it when I finally get one more book done.

The fact I try to read my own created lists means I usually leave books everyone is talking about for another time. 
I also leave many books for a long time after I got them and when I get to them they no longer have the same appeal.
Because I can't read all day, and some books are more difficult than others, many books are left behind and I feel sad to think of them all alone...

I know it's quite silly to think these things, there are more serious things in real life to worry about, but reading is something every reader considers vital so often thoughts about reading stuff occupy my mind.
I have monthly lists I try to follow as well as I can, I only add new books to my list for that month if it's a book I really wanted that has just been released or a borrowed book or, if I'm really fast, books from the pile that weren't in my list but suddenly I have time for them. I like to organize my reading...
What about you?

(image from here)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Juliana Stone - His Darkest Hunger

Jaxon Castille: jaguar shifter, warrior, assassin. He has long hungered for the chance to make his former lover, Libby Jamieson, pay for her deadly betrayal. After three long years he’s finally found her. The hunt is over…
But the Libby that he finds is not what he expected. She has no memory of their tumultuous affair; of her treachery; of anything beyond her own name. A shadowy and deadly clan has marked them both for death, and in an instant the game changes: the hunter has become the hunted.
On the run, with the ghosts of their past between them and a dark, desperate hunger quickly reclaiming their bodies and souls, Libby and Jaxon must discover the truth behind the dark forces working against them. Together, they must grab hold of a destiny that has the power to either heal them or destroy them.
But the truth is far more shattering than anyone could imagine...

Comment: This is another of the several books I "collected" while I was first discovering and improving my taste for PNR. I have a huge TBR but once in a while I pick books that have been waiting to be read for a longer period of time and add them to my monthly lists. This is one of those and, as always, I hoped it would be a good story.

In this book we meet Jaxon, he's a jaguar shifter and when the story begins he has just found a woman that used to be part of his past and whom he believes - along with some other colleagues - that she betrayed them and caused the death of an element of their team. However, memories of who she used used to be to him stop him from killing her and he follows her instead. Someone else tries to kill them both and when Jaxon finally gets to her he is shocked by how fragile she looks and by how submissive, scared and hurt she is. Her memory seems to be lost as well.
Jaxon then embarks in a mission with other members of his supernatural team not only to fight an enemy but also to find out what happened to this woman, someone he didn't fully accept before but whose scent tells his jaguar she is their mate.
In the meantime, as the plot moves along, we find out several secrets and situations that bring this story to life...

When we star a new book, we always have the expectation we are going to be positively surprised, even if others' opinions or impressions don't seem to be as good. I confess I wasn't expecting this to be the best PNR story ever, but obviously I wanted it to be a good read. It ended up being so-so for two reasons, mainly:
1) It's been years reading the genre and now that I have my favorites, now that I'm more certain of my preferences, it's difficult not to judge every new book (especially if it was written years ago) by our current level of taste;
2) Some books are quite good but with time, some aspects start to look dated and that influences the way we see books. A decade ago, some situations felt interesting and innovative in a PNR and now those same things just look repetitive if the whole book isn't done with precise and perfected tones.

In a way, this book was, to me, a blend of these two aspects. This has colored my impressions a bit and I can tell it would have been enjoyed a lot more before my taste got used to other types of PNR and other stories.  Of course, each story should be worth it on its own and I don't mean to say this is rubbish when compared but... it's just the way things are.
I think the author has spend a long time outlining the plot, which had its interesting moments, but not enough explanations about the jaguars or the shifters as a whole was something I couldn't hope but noticing. I wish more structure and a better sense of community would have been presented. These characters felt very "alone" in a way and it was difficult to bond or empathize with all if we didn't get to know them besides the more basic notions.

The romance wasn't too bad, especially when they were yet unsure about their feelings but as things progressed it became obvious they didn't communicate well as a rule and some aspects of their relationship felt not well done. When they finally admitted their love and stuff, it no longer felt very believable or true. Plus, there was a very inconvenient sex scene in the middle of all the going after the bad guys and looking for characters... I mean...pointless.

All in all, this book, as it happens with so many others, has interesting ideas, the premise and parts of the plot are quite engaging in certain moments, but when I think about the whole picture it's not such a great read overall. But it gains points for originality and some scenes.
Grade: 6/10

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lane Hayes - A Kind of Honesty

Music is drummer Tim Chalmers’s great escape and the one thing that’s never let him down. But his band Spiral’s meteoric rise to fame has made it difficult for him to maintain a low profile. Unwanted press pesters him after a public breakup with a volatile ex-girlfriend who loves the limelight as much as he loathes it. Tim’s main goal is to avoid confrontation. However, when a handsome stranger in a dive bar turns out to be someone he might know, everything changes.
Carter Hamilton-Temple might be a successful financial consultant with more brains, sophistication, and charm than most, but he always falls for the wrong guys: closet cases or men with issues. He can’t fight his attraction to tattooed rock star Tim, but can he trust his own judgment? When the thrill of danger combined with a fierce physical connection proves too strong for either man to resist, a quiet liaison away from the public eye and curious friends seems like a safe bet. But some secrets are hard to keep. When rumors threaten to rock his world, Tim realizes it’s time to confront his fear with his own kind of honesty.

Comment: This is the third installment in the A Kind of Stories trilogy by author Lane Hayes. I really liked the first installment and the second was very enjoyable, so I was very expectant to read this final story and, thankfully, it was as amazing as I hoped for.

In this book we have Tim Chalmers's story. He is the drummer of Spiral, the band we saw starting having work and recognition in the first book.
Tim has always been a quiet boy because his family wasn't as stable as he would have wanted it to be and he coped how he could. He realized very soon he was bi but most of his relationships have been with women, including the last one, from which he is trying to distance himself after a bad breakup. One night he meets this gorgeous man and they spend the night together.
Both Tim and Carter, the stranger's name, are surprised when they meet again at a party in their friends' Zeke and Benny's house. From then on, they embark on a secret relationship that soon evolves to something very serious. Can Tim let go of his missed expectations and admit he has feelings for Carter? Can he accept they are a couple for real?

Like I said, I was very impressed with this book. I really liked all the steps taken by each main character in order to have a stronger relationship, especially because nothing was being said, but the feelings were there, to be seen. The evolution of the romantic relationship was really my favorite part, even more so when Tim proves he trusts Carter completely in a certain situation. I really enjoyed the sense of "destined love" I got from the guy's relationship. I was left feeling they were truly in love and sometimes that counts a lot.

This plot also has some interesting situations. Tim's family members have gone through hard challenges, they no longer resemble a perfect family, but the need to ensure all are minimally well is something always on Tim's mind even if he tries not to dwell too much on that.
The music industry is again a focus point when we see Tim and the guys trying to keep their passion alive while the more commercial side of things becomes a necessity as well.
Also interesting was the bad side of fame, and how some people just want to be seen at all costs. It seems incredible people really behave like this but...the pressure around fame can be huge, I guess.

If I could change something in these books would be the 1st person narrator. I really would love to have some scenes from both protagonists' POVs, especially when they are about to take a decisive step into the relationship. It was good to see how both reacted to some feelings because of previous situations or things in their lives and in this case, to have Carter's thoughts and not only what he said to Tim would have been great as well.
The writing, globally, seems pretty fluid and easy for me. I'm curious to see if this enjoyment would reflect in other books by the author.

I think this book was very solid when it came to match plot and characterization. I really liked both Tim's and Carter's personalities, all the little aspects that made them a different but interesting person, how well they were together and the HEA seemed pretty well done as well. Maybe a little bit longer scene or more details would have added to the magical side of things, after all, romance is the thing we want to see the most, but overall, I thought this worked out very well for me, personally, and it's a satisfying story in general.
Grade: 9/10

Thursday, March 23, 2017

JD Tyler - Black Moon

A group of former Navy SEALS, the Alpha Pack is a top-secret team of wolf shifters with Psy powers combating the greatest dangers in the world. But sometime those dangers are more intimate than they bargained for…
Ever since he saved Dr. Mackenzie Grant’s life, panther shifter and sorcerer Kalen Black has had trouble keeping the beautiful doctor out of his thoughts, and his heart. The brush with death awakened an intense passion between them—one that for the first time had the notorious loner letting down his guard.
With the Alpha Pack battling an evil Fae who is slowly gaining control over Kalen’s mind, Kalen can no longer trust his own actions, and he breaks off his affair with Mackenzie in order to keep her safe. But when Mackenzie learns that she is carrying Kalen’s child, no amount of danger will keep her away from the man she loves. To be with his mate and unborn child, Kalen will have to unleash the full fury of his power, and risk destroying them all…

Comment: This is the third installment in the Alpha Pack series by author JD Tyler. I didn't particularly like the first book but the second somehow won me over and I was eager to see if this improving trend would continue. I didn't have as much fun reading this one as I did with the second but there enough elements to make me want to read the next one, at least.

This book features Kalen, one of the youngest members of the pack, and a sorcerer. Kalen has been suffering with the influence of Malik, the villain behind many of the bad things that have happened and with which the pack has had to deal with.
Kalen also deals with his feelings towards Mackenzie, one of the compound's doctors, and the fact she is his mate. They can't seem to agree on their relationship because of Kalen's issues with his own perception and the bad influence that takes a toll on him, but will Kalen be able to overcome all that in order to be free and find happiness with Mac?

This story focused very heavily on Kalen's struggle to fight against the influence of Malik. We've been knowing about this since book #1 and it's obvious it was a difficult part of plot, how could Kalen simply fight the influence Malik had on him. In a way, this made sense, after all, this was an important part of things, but I also admit it felt like it was the only things going on. I think it would have suited the story a lot more if we could have had more interactions between Kalen and everyone else in the pack.

The romance between Mac and Kalen had its moments... I don't mind seeing them together but as it usually happens in the genre, it revolved a little too much on physical scenes and not much on their intellectual or emotional matching. Yes, they say things but the way they act doesn't always seem very appropriate to what they say. Oh well.
It also annoyed me a bit because it's one of my per peeves, that she was older. I can't remember by how much, and I really don't care but just knowing got in my way of reading everything else.
I guess the relationship isn't badly done overall, but more scenes with them just getting their bond stronger would have added the reader to feel more confident in the certainty of their feelings.

The plot outside Malik's influence seemed very non existent. What else is happening? After the way this book ended, it seems books will be more centered on couples again? I hope so, because that is one of the best elements in the stories. I guess I'd love to have the sense of community for everyone to be more accentuated in each book. I really hope that happens in the next installment.

I think the author has a great concept here, interesting details and situations in which characters need to prove themselves. For a paranormal romance, things seem to be well placed. But I think every series needs something to make it more compelling than something else, in order to grab and keep out attention. I just wish things could go a more personality/character interaction way than a usual bad guy fighting/sex with mate when possible kind of story so often seen in these books.
I liked this book overall, but it won't be a favorite for sure.
Grade: 6/10

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lorraine Heath - The Last Wicked Scoundrel

William Graves is the last of Feagan's scoundrels. A onetime grave robber turned royal physician, he has devoted his life to saving others—because he knows there is no way to save himself. Especially not around a lady like Winnie. Though undeserving of her touch, he cannot resist. His passion cannot be tamed…even in the face of certain danger.
Winnie, the Duchess of Avendale, never knew peace until her brutal husband died. With William she's discovered burning desire—and the healing power of love. But now, confronted by the past she thought she'd left behind, Winnie must face her fears…or risk losing the one man who can fulfill all her dreams.

Comment: This is the last installment in the Scoundrels of St James series by Lorraine Heath. I've enjoyed all the books in the series and I was quite eager about this one, since book #1. This final book, however, has a change because it's only a novella when the others were full length stories and, in a way, I think this was what made it weaker in my eyes.

In this novella, we finally have William Graves' romance. He is a doctor, now even at the queen's service and is very well respected. Like the other boys, and Frannie, he was part of the group who survived the London streets. He was called in previous books to help in this or that situation, including when Winnie, Catherine's best friend, was hurt by her husband. We have been aware of a spark at that time but since Winnie was very fragile, nothing else was mentioned.
Now that Winnie has recovered, now that all their friends are happy, it's finally their time to see if happiness can be in their future. But William has a secret that Winnie will never accept. And strange clues are left for Winnie, she starts to doubt she is actually a widow...

This story suffers from a limited page count sort of syndrome. It's positive that we are familiar with all the characters, with the things that have happened (it is necessary to read the series in order for everything to make more sense) and that makes it easy when it comes to simply follow certain plot lines. But the fact this is a novella, means some things have to happen more quickly or aren't described with as much detail. I found this to be a negative point, because I finished the novella thinking it was way too quickly solved in order to be satisfying. Plus it wasn't fair in a way too, all the others had the chance to have their romance develop at a acceptable pace and this couple didn't.

The central point in the plot was how Winnie, years after becoming a widow, is finally ready to embrace life again and she wished William could be part of it. She got used to him while he took care of her, medically, but now she looks at him and sees a man she cares about and not only a doctor.
The problem is that she isn't completely confident he feels the same and she doesn't want to crate a situation that might ruin their friendship. Besides, she feels like someone is watching her and strange little things are happening, like a necklace showing up beneath her pillow when she knew it was in a safe or her husband's cologne in the air when no one else uses it. She thinks she might be going crazy and wonders if William will think that too.

William, however, certainly doesn't think crazy when he thinks of Winnie, he is very attracted to her and has been acting as a friend when he actually wants something more from her. He doesn't act because he fears she might not welcome his advances and also because he feels guilty by keeping the secret of how her husband really disappeared from her life.
Obviously, there are some tricky situations but eventually honesty is best way to deal with things. I just think that, considering the amount of time necessary to solve this and to develop the romance in a credible way, the author has picked a lot more things to deal with than she should. In a full book, this might be amazing but being this story a novella, less issues should have been done.

I think that, at the end of things, the romance, despite cute, wasn't explored as romantically as it could and we know they like each other but I would have liked more page scenes with them seducing each other or something. William is a great character and I kind of wish he had as much time to develop his HEA as the others had.
I liked this but it could have bee done better.
Grade: 6/10

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Maddy Barone - Sleeping With the Wolf

Rising country music star Carla boards a plane in the year 2014. But it crashes in the future, fifty years after Armageddon has destroyed technology and plagues have reduced the female population to a precious few. She finds herself offered as prize in a Bride Fight, where only the strongest and fiercest men are allowed to compete to win a wife. Alpha werewolf Taye knows Carla is his mate. He wins the Bride Fight and takes her to his den, ready to give her everything, even his heart. Will Carla ever be ready to give him anything?

Comment: I like shifter stories, especially if they are about wolves. So, I added this book to my list in hopes of it being the next best series featuring wolf shifters and their community but it certainly wasn't as pleasant as I imagined...

This books presents us Carla, the heroine and main focus of this novel, after the plane crash that sent her 50 years into the future. Carla is a young woman, she was about to become a country singer star and now she is facing men fighting to be the winner of her person in marriage. How this can be possible she has no idea but it seems the future is now a place where there aren't many women and all men want the chance to have a partner/mate.
One of the men, also a wolf, wins the Bride Fight that will "give" Carla to him and they set off to his house. Can Carla find happiness?

Yes, I'm very aware the premise of this book is a little bit weird and far fetched but there are many series/books out there in several genres that can be quite great in presenting something like this as a start and the development is well done. It wasn't the case here and in order not to turn this into a post about only bad issues (I found very little to appreciate), I'll simply enumerate my issues in topics.
But I'll start by saying that the good things were the concept, I was actually interested in reading about wolves, a pack and a world where women are seen as sort of treasures and how their presence could change a family or a pack.
I was also very interested in having a good world building and interesting scenarios to see developing in further books.

Apparently, I was too expectant because this felt like a story the author thought of, focused on the details necessary and the rest was just put there with no real complexity nor credible development (even considering the sci fi scenario).

Ok, some issues:
1) I didn't like the story simply because there is no solid explanation about anything. Why has the world suffered an apocalypse? Why did it affect mostly women and not men? Why, inf so, are some women spared and others not?
2) Why are there Wolves? Did they exist before or after the apocalipse?
3) Some cities seem to work out well enough, despite the erasing of most commodities and energy and stuff we would consider vital to a contemporary world. Why didn't people simply organize themselves again?
4) Everything changed in 50 years. Is this really time enough for things to change so radically in terms of world's population and technology and social situations but not in people's ages? Can wolves really just show up because of whatever happened and act and live as they've been there for longer?
5) In terms of people and pack structure, where does so many wolves come from?? Weren't women just a few? And if not much time went by to renovate a generation....

I also thought the romance wasn't good. It was not romantic and the couple never seemed to be as in syn as we are told. The constant "no, I don't know you" to "you're so hot and I want to have sex with you" from the heroine were very annoying.

This story has many ideas, yes. But the way this is written seems very superficial and I think it didn't pinpoint the important/necessary situations to turn the story - and eventually the series - into something complex and well structured in general.
Because I didn't like the story much nor the writing style, I think I won't read any more books by this author.
Grade: 3/10

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Clive Cussler - Serpent

On the bottom of the icy sea off Nantucket lies the battered remains of the Italian luxury liner, Andrea Doria. But few know that within its bowels rests a priceless pre-Columbian antiquity—a treasure that now holds the key to a puzzle that is costing people their lives. For Kurt Austin, the leader of a courageous National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA) exploration team, the killing begins when he makes a daring rescue of a beautiful marine archaeologist. The target of a powerful Texas industrialist named Halcon, Nina Kirov was attacked off the coast of Morocco after her discovery of a carved stone head that may prove Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover America.
Soon Kurt and Nina embark on a deadly mission to uncover Halcon's masterful plan—an insidious scheme that would have him carve out a new nation from the southwest United States and Mexico, and ride to power on a wave of death and destruction. With Austin's elite NUMA crew attacking the murderous conspiracy from different sides, an extraordinary truth emerges; that Columbus may have made a fifth, unknown voyage to America in search of a magnificent treasure. And that the silent, steel hull of the Andrea Doria not only holds the answer to what the explorer may have found—but the fate of the United States itself.

Comment: After some positive recommendations, I decided to try this book because it adds two things I like in the adventure/action genre: interesting historical or scientific facts and smart characters. I got this book last year this month I added it to my reading list.

In this book we meet the NUMA team, a group of people who work to defend archeological sites, to study whatever comes their way, to provide help in scientific explorations, to work in any capacity needed to salvage and help and enhance whatever situation that comes their way.
In this book the team is working near the coast of Morocco when they rescue an archeologist, Nina Kirov. She claims her team and and fellow co workers have all been killed and the important piece she found was stolen. The NUMA team joins the search after several clues point out to an organized action against many other archeological groups in the world. What can possibly be behind killings and steals? How is Nina involved in all this and how did the killers know where to find those also involved?

I read this book in Portuguese, thanks to a special deal I found but I confess I wasn't very aware of this author, apart from knowing his name and what kind of books he wrote.
As with everything, my taste for this type of book has changed in the past years but here and there I still enjoy reading the genre. I was very interested after seeing the prologue dealt with a ship that sunk in the 50s, a real one and it would be great to see a book that would exploit something related to this. Things weren't as simple, though, since the book wasn't the protagonist I thought would be.

This story actually focuses on several historical subjects. We have the ship, the Mesoamerican culture, Colombo and other smaller historical facts that add up to the plot. I really like this aspect, in fact this is the best part of these kind of books, the way we learn new things or how we can have a different perspective on things we hear about but can't really explain and how that helps with the plot and its veracity. Of course, some things are only useful for a while but I always feel intrigued but how many funny details we can learn, from ancient brotherhoods that barely anyone would know about or even theories about things we believe as facts.

The characters are very generic, since their personal development isn't the focus. We know things about them, we learn about their personalities but anyone would have done the same job, had they had different names. I can see that personal relationships' development isn't the interest here, we have just enough to like and support them, to understand why they are driven to work and help but nothing is overdone in this regard. We obviously have a bit more focus on the why behind some actions and in the motives of the villain - which seem very silly in one way.

The plot has a good resolution, meaning we get to learn things but I didn't think the over the top scenario would be accepted as real. This is supposed to be an adventure story but based on reality. How realistic that end was I can't really say I would buy it.
There are also many exaggerated situations, especially when the good guys are trying to survive or get away from a problem or situation. Yes, there is to be expected some dose of incredible accomplishments but I'd hope that such a clever cast would find a more believable course of action in some cases.

All in all, this was certainly enjoyable if not always easy to focus on some nautical information (which was quite a lot, from the ship's descriptions to the machines that exist nowadays the good guys used to recover stuff from the ocean). I don't feel like running to read more right away but I'll probably try another one day.
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TBR Challenge: Jojo Moyes - The One Plus One

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages... maybe ever. 

Comment: This was my choice for this month's installment of the TBR Challenge. March would be a month dedicated to a Comfort Read. As Wendy has said, a comfort read can be open to interpretation and in this specific case, I looked at it as in a book that I knew would be entertaining and I'd want to spend time with, feeling comfortable. By opinions and and other comments I knew this would be something along my tastes so I felt pretty content with picking this one and, joyfully, I was proved right and comforted.

In this book we meet a British family which includes a single working mother, a math's genius child, a eyeliner user teenager and a not always good smelling dog. This family isn't at its best but when the opportunity to gain some money appears in the form of an Maths' Olympiad in Scotland, the family goes there with the help of mr Ed Nicholls, one of the patrons the single mom Jess works for. But the journey isn't easy and all characters must learn something from it, even if the lesson isn't easy to accept. In a both humorous but deep style, we learn that first impressions aren't always the most trustful and everyone can hide a better person inside.

I was very expectant of reading this book, especially because I've read other books by the author and liked the style (if not always the content) and I saw good opinions and people mentioning things I know I'd like.
This book is told from everyone's POV, one chapter at a time, always alternating between Ed, Jess, teenager Nicky and little Tanzie. It's not always easy to keep the flow using this writing tactic but in this case, it worked out pretty well.

What truly made me eager to get to this book was Jess. She is a single mom and she works two jobs to support her family. Her situation with her husband, trying to deal with a depression at his mother's is part of the plot, so I won't say much about it, but Jess herself was fascinating. She is the epitome of so many women, women who work, who have bills to pay, who feel the weight of their actions on their shoulders, who can't always meet ends meet, who love and defend their children but don't always have the power to change things. Reading about this type of character could be depressing and sad but the author has an optimistic Jess, someone who tries to see the best of everyone. And I like when a working woman, even facing adversity, can find someone to trust in, like Ed and can be her own person even when things don't go as easy as she wanted but at the end, all goes well, because hope always moves us.
I really liked Jess, not because she is perfect - she isn't! - but because she tries her best.

The plot isn't too complicated but in every page we learn something new, we see something more in each character's development and the situations that seemed easy to deal with have more layers we didn't anticipate, even if we did wonder about them at times.
It was great to see how each character was changed by getting to know the others better, especially Jess and her kids knowing Ed and vice versa. Every day's feelings we don't always think about were portrayed here quite well, especially when it came to deal with family and expectations others have of us.

There's a subtle romance  between Jess and Ed which I liked to see develop but their lusting after one another isn't the focus and it never feels cheap. They bond somehow and their feelings just happen. The evolution of their romance is in sync with the plot development and this now only makes everything seem well structured but also reveals how the author has thought about how to insert every detail at the right moment. It just seemed flawless for me.

The character's themselves are amazing. None is perfect, all have a bit of introspectiveness in them, but who hasn't at our weakest moments?
Jess I liked a lot, Ed was a good surprise because he faced a bad situation and he acted very realistically. Nicky is the bullied teenager just because he is different but he is a wonderful person and Tanzie is a genius but still a little girl. All these characters interactions with one another and other people show us always a little bit more about them and how they change to become better somehow. I really liked the sense of hope we get from the end of the book.

After finishing this book, I realized I had gone through the major emotions, from laughing to crying, from feeling sad to very happy and this book feels very good. I think that, in terms of enjoying the read and getting some comfort, this was quite the success for me. Sometimes, things align themselves in a way with books and they just make sense and feel right for us. I really liked this one a lot and I think this is now my favorite by the author. I'm curious to see if the ones I haven't read yet (but that I have in my TBR) will be as amazing.
This one I really recommend!
Grade: 9/10

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Anne Bishop - Etched in Bone

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…
As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.
With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the Others series by author Anne Bishop. This series has been very successful and the world building one of the best that probably has been created in the last years in fantasy.
Although this was also the last book in the series that focused on characters Meg and Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard community, it appears the series will continue in another setting, still featuring Others and humans and this is great news!

In this last installment we see the repercussions of the Elders' actions in the last book when the humans' movements against the Others were defeated in a huge counter attack.
In the Courtyard life seems to go on as usual, with the normal situations to be dealt with but suddenly things change because two Elders decide to see what's special about the human pack within the Courtyard and also because Monty's brother and his family come to live in Lakeside. But the brother's reputation isn't the best and his actions shady and with second intentions. How will his presence affect the balance the community has? Can Meg and Simon maintain the human pack intact?

As it has happened with the other books in the series, I was very eager to red this one and when I finished it, this feeling of having been with beloved friends was still with me as well.
I know I keep repeating myself in every comment I write about this series' installments but this author is an absolute genius when it comes to give life to every character, to construct a community and our understand of it. Even when nothing more serious than a simple conversation happens we still have the feeling is an important part of the whole thing. I really like how each single word seems to matter and always gives us some feeling or notion.

The plot isn't too complicated, basically the Elders show up, they don't reveal themselves to many characters but they are key in why certain decisions are taken, namely why it's allowed for Monty's brother Jimmy to stay in the Courtyard for so long. All action revolves around this idea and many decisions seem to derive directly from Jimmy's actions and choices. There's an interesting sociological aspect here, even from a reality POV, and obviously things don't go too well for Jimmy... but there's a good pace in the story and, like I said, because everything feels important, it feels like we are just getting news from people we care about and time doesn't seem to go by in a unsatisfactory way.

The personal relationships are the best part of this series...it's amazing to see characters that were "designed" a certain way or come from a specific background, I'm referring to the Others in particular, and how by dealing with humans, other emotions and expectations come to surface.
Simon and Meg, an Other and a human (even if special) have a strong bond and in this book we finally have them talk about it. I do confess the end wasn't what i expected but it was extremely sweet and adorable.

I don't have enough words, nor can I write them with talent as mrs Bishop does - and she makes it seem to easy and flawless - but this series really is amazing. It offers such a large range of emotions and human aspects, even in the characters who are not human. The best thing I always get out of these books is simple: be a good, honest and loyal person and no matter what is around you, no matter how bad things can get, you'll always have your own conscience and, eventually, maybe, someone else will know the goodness of your heart.
Grade: 9/10