Ok folks, the deadline has arrived! No further reviews posted here, please. The tallying begins!
The Mage in Black is the second book in the Sabina Kane series by Jaye Wells. Sabina Kane is a half-vampire, half-mage (witch) assassin for the Vampire council. At least, she was until she learned her grandmother who rules the vamps betrays her in book 1 and tries to kill her. Those two never really got along since Sabina isn’t a pureblood and has been corrupted by icky mage blood. Sabina joins forces with a sexy mage agent named Adam working for the Hekate Council. They flee to NYC to meet Sabina’s long lost twin sister. Together with the countcil, they must plan the next move against the vampires who are hellbent on mage genocide.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between the sisters. They are twins but with opposite upbringings (vamp vs. mage). Sabina also has an undeniable attraction to Adam even though it’s forbidden for mages and vampires to get together. Good thing she’s half-mage. Sabina, Gilguhl and Adam become an even more formidable trio by the end of this book.
enjoyed this third book much more than its predecessors. Sabina finally embraces both parts of her vamp/mage heritage. And damn does she kick some ass. Unfortunately, for them the vamps are playing dirty and weilding some mage magic of their own. Her relationship with Adam has progressed faster than expected, which has her worried he may become a distraction from the mission. I absolutely loved all of the colorful new characters they dig up in NOLA. Sabina once a lone assassin now has a host of allies willing to help her foil her grandmother’s plans. And with each book, we uncover more about Sabina’s past and whether this prophecy is worth its salt.
This was my favorite book of the series because it starts out with the supernatural war relatively wrapped up and descends into chaos with each oncoming chapter. I suspected the villain, but was pleasantly surprised by the final twist. The ending was so gut-wrenching because the characters grew so much only to be knocked on their asses. It really sets up the final entry where the stakes could not be higher in this supernatural war.
Sabina has come full-circle from the first book where she lived a lone vampire assassin existence. All the characters from past books re-appear and show the part they had to play in her journey. Wells kept her black humor and didn’t forget to keep the action going until the very end. All in all a great ending for a this urban fantasy series.
I would recommend this series for fans of no-nonsense female characters and age old wars between supernatural races.
Read the full reviews for books 2-5 on my blog.
I’m finally done!
#59: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)
#60: Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (3 stars)
#61: Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (2 stars)
#62: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (4 stars)
#63: Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker (3 stars)
#64: Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffman (4 stars)
#65: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (5 stars)
(Ok, I’m really going to start writing these reviews as I read this year instead of waiting!)
ANYWAY. I’m a little late to this party, and probably the last person I know to read these books. My husband has had the first movie uploaded to our Tivo for awhile, and we haven’t watched it because I wanted to read the books first!
Anyway, in the future, after the oceans rise and North American continent has been reshaped, the former United States is now called Panem. Split into 12 districts, they are ruled over by the Capitol. There had been 13 districts, but 75 years before the 13th district led a rebellion against the Capitol. The rebellion was crushed, and the 13th District was detroyed. As a lesson to the rest, every year the Capitol puts on the Hunger Games. Two young people from each district are chosen to compete in a fight to the death. The people are forced to watch, and the winner gets food and shelter for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.
Katniss Everdeen is a 16 year old girl living in District 12 (what is currently Appalachia). She hunts illegally with a bow to feed her mother and sister. She’s a tough cookie, but she has to be to survive. When her little sister’s lot is chosen in the Hunger Games, Katniss takes her place.
She is sent to the Capitol to prepare for the games with Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son and the other “tribute” from District 12. There they are trained and sent into the arena to meet and try to kill the tributes from the other districts.
The first book, The Hunger Games, tells of this first competition. It’s harsh. I’ve heard these books described as the “anti-Twilight”, and while they are more than that, I can’t think of two more opposite characters than Katniss and Bella. Katniss is smart, resourceful, but also vulnerable in a way that feels genuine. She’s not supergirl, but she’s pretty awesome. Young girls need more characters like her. The Hunger Games ends with the end of the competition and announcing of the winner.
Catching Fire starts where the first book left off. We find Katniss dealing with the consequences of her decisions in the arena. The Capitol is not happy with her. I won’t spoil it, but she has to go back and compete again, this time against new characters. This book felt the shortest, and I read through it pretty quickly. Where the first spent time setting up the Hunger Games universe, this just rolled right out of the gate and was fast paced.
Mockingjay, like Catching Fire, begins exactly where the second book ends. In this book, Katniss finds herself the unwilling symbol of rebellion against the Capitol. I think while good, (and a fitting end to the trilogy), I enjoyed this book the least. The pacing is necessarily slower – there is a great deal of soul-searching and we do see growth from all of the characters.
There is a quote that runs through all 3 books, from Haymitch, former champion and mentor to the tributes from 12: “Always remember who the real enemy is.” In the end, Katniss does.
Read more reviews at misskatesays.com: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/04/miss-kates-cbrv-reviews-10-1112-the-hunger-games-trilogy-by-suzanne-collins/
1943 Berlin. The title of this book refers to the fact that at this point in WWII, Berlin is basically populated mostly by women holding the home front together.
Sigrid is the wife of a soldier away at war. Middle-aged, living in a drab apartment with her horrible mother-in-law, she goes through the motions every day. She works at an office, tries to make her rations go as far as they can, tries to keep her had down and be a model citizen.
She has desires, though. Sigrid can’t stop thinking about her former lover, who is Jewish. She has lost contact with him and is frantic to hear whether he has managed to get out of Germany. There are other people who enter her life, as well: the high-ranking Nazi officer and his pregnant wife who move in to her building, the young girl downstairs working as a mother’s helper who is more than she seems.
Soon Sigrid is involved with things and people she knew existed, but was careful to avoid. She is faced with the choice of either continuing to ignore the reality around her, or to face it and do what is right.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Sigrid felt real to me: intelligent, passionate – she is compelling, a hausfrau who rises above what is expected of her. What struck me the most, I think, is how nuanced many of the characters are. Like real people, they are neither completely good nor bad.
I highly recommend this book.
Read more reviews at misskatessays: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/04/miss-kates-cbrv-review-9-city-of-women-by-david-r-gillham/
I discovered Loni Love on Chelsea Lately. I loved how she doesn’t put up with any of Chelsea’s shit and her stories always make me laugh. She seems like a hot mess, and yet she totally has it together. She always comes across as super confident and you can tell that she has too many important things to do than deal with stupid people. She’s the friend you’d go to when you want to know the truth, not get complimented.
Apparently women approach her all the time like they are BFFs. There’s something about her that makes people think they know each other. After standup shows, they wait for her in the bathroom or hang out at the meet and greet and then ask really personal questions. Lots of TMI. But they know Love isn’t going to bullshit them, so if they spill the details, she’s going to speak the truth.
When you have this much power, you write a book.
I for real lol’d several times when reading this. She covers all aspects of dating and love. First dates to throwing a man out of your house. Recovering from dating disasters to dealing with his baby momma. Figuring out how to handle an unexpected hook up to dealing with your man’s stupid friends. It’s all in here. The best part is that there are seriously out there questions, like can I sleep with my mom’s ex-husband (No. Unless you trade her one of your exes.) and then there are things just about all women deal with like what to do when you don’t think you want to get married. Or do want to get married.
The absolutely best part of this book is that Love has a story for everything. Either she’s dealt with it herself or has a friend or family member who has been through it. She details her own disasters and lays everything on the table. You really do feel like you’re BFFs. This book feels like you’re hanging out with a hysterical and honest friend. Yeah, she’s going to tell you to stop fucking around, but she’s going to help you get drunk while you discuss it. Also, there will probably be pancakes.
If you’re looking for a quick and fun read, grab this book. If you’re a fan of Loni Love and haven’t read this yet, you will not be disappointed. Although she had help writing it, it is 100% her voice. I didn’t need the audio version to feel like she was reading it to me.
I couldn’t be happier with this being the last book I read in 2013!
Book groups are the best because not only do you get to pick books that have been on your To Be Read list since forever, but you also get to read books that you wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on your own. In Cold Blood is the latter. It’s one of those books that I’ve probably thought “Huh. I should read that some day.” Happily, a book group member had access to a ton of copies, so here we are.
I had very little background knowledge of this story. I know the book itself is considered a great work and is often found on Books You Must Read list. It also helped create a genre of fictionalized journalism where Capote took nonfiction and added in the details. We don’t know what really happened, but Capote interviewed people and filled in the blanks with his own details. This, of course, bothers some people who think it creates fiction. Once you muddy the waters, it’s no longer a truthful account.
In November 1959 in a town in Kansas, four members of the Cutter family were murdered. This was a place where things like this don’t happen. There was no motive, no reason for the family to have been targeted and it looked like whoever had done it was going to get away with it.
OK. This book looked promising to me at first. Part historical fiction, part thriller/romance/fantasy, it seemed the perfect Next Read. But for me it devolved into full-on hate read.
Set in 1980s London, the book centers on Jo Clifford, a “modern, independent career woman”. She is a journalist, and in the course of researching a story on past life regression, she is hypnotized and begins to have visions of life in the 12th century. it turns out that Jo is the reincarnation of Matilda de Braose, wife of William de Braose, actual historical bully, and one of King John’s closest friends.
As she goes deeper and deeper into the investigation, Jo starts to regress automatically. She has no control over when or for how long these sessions last. She gets more and more involved with Matilda’s life, believing that YES, she is Matilda.
This part was interesting. Although a lot of the real Matilda’s life is murky, it’s obvious that the author did her research here. De Braose was a noble with lands in Wales, and was responsible for some pretty gruesome attacks on the local population. He was raised up quickly, and when he angered John (a petulant SOB if there ever was one), he lost everything. While de Braose fled to France, his wife Matilda and oldest son were captured and starved to death at Corfe castle in 1210.
Again, I enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Matilda. But Jo was a bore, and my heart sank every time the book switched back from Matilda’s story. Seriously. Jo is supposedly a “strong” woman. How do we know? Because we keep being told this. There’s clearly no evidence of it in over 600 pages, as she really has no personality. Ugh. (I’ve never read Barbara Erskine before, so I can’t say anything about her other work, but I’m not likely to try her again.)
I generally don’t like straight romance novels but I like good writing, so I gave this book a chance. Is this a Romance novel? I don’t know. The “romance” itself was pretty sickening. The men in her life are the Worst. SPOILER! Everyone Jo knows was also regressed. They knew her in the past, all want her now, and at various times they: let themselves into her apartment/hypnotize her against her will/RAPE!/BEAT!/or just creepily take advantage of her. But at no time does this nitwit consider calling the cops or even changing her freaking locks. CHANGE YOUR LOCKS!
She just keeps going back for more. And on. For 600-plus pages. I’d say that this is the author’s commentary on the mindset of an abused woman, but I think that would be giving her too much credit. I honestly believe that Erskine thinks this shit is romantic.
Lady of Hay could also have used an editor – at over 600 pages, I can’t tell you how much time is wasted describing about Jo’s latest linen shift dress or how often she shared dinner and a bottle of wine with Nick despite the fact that he’d tried to strangle her the night before. the story could easily have been told in half the pages. At one point, about 500 pages in, new characters are introduced out of the blue and become important for a hot minute. I liked them, but kept waiting for them to have a purpose. I frankly would have preferred the book to be about them.
Why did I keep reading? Because I’m not a quitter, that’s why. But seriously – if you want to read a good book about the Plantagenets or Wales in the 12th Century then read Sharon Kay Penman. Spare yourself this dreck.
Read more reviews at misskatesays: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/04/miss-kates-cbrv-review-8-lady-of-hay-by-barbara-erskine/
I read and reviewed 26 books in 2013. Here they all are.
- Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner – 2 stars
- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 4 stars
- Among Others by Jo Walton – 4 stars
- The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – 2 stars
- The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – 3 stars
- Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire – 2 stars
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 5 stars
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – 3 stars
- Some Things that Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr – 2 stars
- Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace – 5 stars
- Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – 4 stars
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 3 stars
- Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain – 3 stars
- The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter – 4 stars
- Stonemouth by Iain Banks – 4 stars
- Embassytown by China Mieville – 3 stars
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – 4 stars
- Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – 3 stars
- Shift by Hugh Howey – 4 stars
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 5 stars
- Railsea by China Mieville – 2 stars
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – 2 stars
- Oblivion by David Foster Wallace – 4 stars
- The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt – 4 stars
Phew! On to next year. Happy reading, everyone!