Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Reviews 13-16: Sabina Kane books 2-5

#CBR5 Review #13: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells (3 stars):

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.

#CBR5 Review #14: Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells (4 stars):

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.

#CBR5 Review #15: Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells (5 stars):

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.

#CBR5 Review #16: Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (4 stars):

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.

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #12: Assassins in Love by Kris DeLake

Assassins in Love is the first in a new series of books written by Kris DeLake.

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This was obviously another vaginal fantasy pick. I was pretty skeptical based on the title. I had some time to kill before Thanksgiving dinner, so decided to read a few pages. Surprisingly, I was hooked by the second chapter, which made my 82 year old grandmother quite curious to know what the heck I was doing in my room and not helping in the kitchen! The book is told from both assassins’ POV with alternating chapters.

The setup reminded me alot of Mr. and Mrs Smith with Brangelina. Rikki is an independent assassin on job on a cruise spaceship. She’s already done the deed but having trouble desposing of the body through an airlock. Out of nowhere this mysterious and surreally attractive guy, Misha, comes to her rescue. He opens airlock two seconds before guards descend upon them. They pretend to be a drunk couple trying to get it on who hit the button by mistake. Since Misha is a VIP guest, they stroll back to the bar with only a warning. Rikki is speechless (maybe by his beauty) and has to go along with everything until she can escape. But maybe she doesn’t want to escape? Misha too can’t concentrate around her. He’s blown away by her – smart, somehow manages to work freelance when the Guild is a much safer bet, beautiful and suspicious of him. He tells her he wants to recruit her for the Guild. He also mentions they met before. Rikki doesn’t remember him and hates organized groups (too many rules). First chance she gets, she steals an escape pod and runs away from those beautiful ice blue eyes.

I know what you’re thinking, this has cheesy romance written all over it. But actually, there’s a deeper story from when they met originally. It was rather cool following Rikki’s past as her memories slowly return while simultaneously Misha who is completely omniscient about those events dropping clues for her. I also loved this future where assassin work is totally legit if the person has broken the law or wronged someone. Corporations have to stay in line lest a ninja assassin comes out the shadows and wastes them. The attraction between Misha and Rikki started off a bit cheesy since they had to be all over each immediately to save their skins. Even still, they remain suspicous of each other since assassins aren’t supposed to drop their guards. But there’s something they can’t seem to deny in the end. Yes, an attraction, but also a subtle curiousity to learn more about each other.

I would recommend this book for fans of futuristic urban fantasy and action oriented romance novels. The Assassins Guild series continues with completely new characters in the same setting.

Read my other reviews on my tumblr.

The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Review #27: Zorro

I’m officially on my victory laps after completing my annual half-cannonball. Now it’s just about setting a new personal best. You can keep up with these and all my reviews of other things at my personal blog

For those who prefer authorial style to iconic characters: Zorro

I’ve been listening to Blair Brown slowly, almost lovingly, read Isabelle Allende’s take on the famous caballero and off for the past year. Finally reaching a stage where I turned it on double speed just to get through it all.

It’s not dull exactly, there are plenty of humorous adventures and acts of daring-do to keep fans of the masked swashbuckler happy. But it’s much more of an origin story than an epic adventure. Diego De La Vega (the man who will be Zorro) isn’t around for the first quarter of the book–only his parents are–and he doesn’t become Zorro until the final third kicks off. The last disc (which I would guess is about a fifth of the book) is where the action really picks up and all of Allende’s other work pays off.

That’s the thing, with an author like Isabelle Allende behind it, you have to expect that the immensely gifted author is going to make it her own. But with a character as well known as Zorro, you come into the book with a host of preconceptions and expectations. In an ideal world, Allende would use her talents to enhance and illuminate an already beloved character. In the real world, Allende used the character to showcase her talents.

Again, that’s not a bad thing, it’s a pleasure to hear a gifted author’s words brought to life (it certainly seems like Brown favors the description to the action, enhancing this feeling even more). But it’s a trifle disappointing to expect a heroic character’s greatest adventures only to find a beautifully described portrait of life in Post-Napoleonic Spain and her colonies.

The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Review #19: The Red Pyramid

For more on young adult fantasy literature (especially meta-cognitive thoughts about the nature of YA Franchises) check out my regular blog: The Scruffy Rube.

Rick Riordan never really left the page. One year after finishing the Percy Jackson series he was back with not one but two series. The similarly Greek themed “Heroes of Olympus” and an Egyptian styled series called: “The Kane Chronicles”. My school happened to have a cache of The Red Pyramid the first book in “The Kane Chronicles”, so naturally I picked up a copy both to see if Riordan still had a deft touch for action-adventure with a dollop of mythological education, and to see if it was worth discussing in the classroom.

 

To be sure, Riordan has a teacher’s style, a strong ear for teenage dialogue and a fair sense of fun when delving into exposition heavy monologues. He attacks Egyptian mythology with the same sincere appreciation of history and coming-of-age stories that made Percy Jackson such a pleasure to read, and seems all too happy to guide readers beyond American shores into London, Paris and Cairo.

 

Beyond different deities, Riordan separates “The Kane Chronicles” from Percy Jackson in one major way: altering the narrative focus from a single first-person point of view, to a pair of narrators telling their story through an “audio recording” that comes close to second-person point of view. It’s a clever conceit, one that I haven’t seen done in young adult series before and it helps to equalize the power balance between his two protagonists, the siblings Carter and Sadie Kane.

 

Unfortunately, that conceit also mucks up the act of story telling. The story starts with a plea to go quickly and a sense of urgency, then the narrators fixate on prosaic style. I readily believe that teenagers (whether they’re descended from an ancient order of Egyptians or not) would record their every thought, feeling and interest. I don’t know as I can make the leap from that kind of teenager, to the kind who possesses an incredible recall for events of several months before or who casually incorporates description like: “His clothes were similar to those he’d worn the day before, and I had to admit the guy had style. His tailored suit was made of blue wool, he wore a matching fedora and his hair was freshly braided with dark blue lapis lazuli“particularly if there’s an urgency to telling the reader a particular story.

 

While Sadie and Carter often sound like teenage siblings (particularly in the bickering, squabbling, under-your-breath insult arena), they also sound far more worldly than any teenager/magician/possible demi-god has a right to. The narrative bogs down in their descriptions and whenever there’s a hint of an explanation coming up, both characters are hurtled into a fresh action sequence, jumping from one monster to the next with a seemingly interchangeable array of adult guardians.

 

Still, give Riordan credit. He knows enough about what fans want to read (action and a healthy dose of mythology) that he can satisfy them while exploring other avenues of his own artistic interests as well (altering the narrative format, expanding the world around him). He even gives a satisfying glimpse into social dynamics of a mixed-race family, even if that point gets largely subsumed by falcon heads, swinging swords, ravenous hippopotami and plenty of explosions. I might not have asked for an encore to Percy Jackson, but I can’t say that Riordan’s half-assing his way off stage.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #102: Global Frequency by Warren Ellis and assorted artists

Global Frequency is an international, independent organisation founded by the mysterious and secretive Miranda Zero. It’s made up from 1001 agents all over the world and deals with occurrences and situations too big, strange or dangerous to be handled by conventional means, such as eco-terrorism, mass hysteria, or secret government cyborgs out of control. The agents range from law enforcement representatives, both active and retired, professors, scientists, tech savvy teenagers, intelligence operatives and just generally experts in some field or other. Every single member can be called on in a crisis, connected in a world wide nexus, controlled by the enigmatic Aleph, who sits at the centre of the organisation and co-ordinates everything.

More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #91: Wonder Woman vol 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins

After DC pressed the big cosmic reset button AGAIN, quite a lot of their superhero titles no longer exist, and others have pretty much been rebooted from scratch. Generally uninterested in these “new” interpretations, I’ve been avoiding DC (the first new issue of Catwoman were especially atrocious, really beyond awful), but my husband picked up Azzarello’s reboot of Wonder Woman and strongly recommended I give it a chance. I always liked the character, but figured that when even Gail Simone (whoseBirds of Prey and Secret Six comics I loved) couldn’t really get her right, it was unlikely that anyone would. I was wrong, though. Azzarello’s take is fresh, and interesting, and Wonder Woman herself is as awesome as she should be.

Full review on my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #90: Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison and various artists

Following on from the events of Batman R.I.PFinal CrisisBatman and Robin and The Return of Bruce Wayne, this trade paperback collects a lot of stories setting up the new and international Batman Incorporated. Bruce Wayne has gone public as the financier of Batman. He wants to make sure that anywhere there is crime, there will be a Batman, or someone closely linked to him. Batman and his associates travel the globe to recruit new members for their organisation, while fighting the emerging crime syndicate known as Leviathan.

Complete review on my blog.