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 #10: The Angel Stone by Juliet Dark

The Angel Stone is the final chapter of the Fairwick Chronicles trilogy See my previous reviews here and here. Beware small spoilers to follow!

Callie McFay is a literature professor (at only 27, mind you) at a small liberal arts college in New England. In the previous books, she discovers her father was fey and her mother a powerful witch, their frowned upon union giving birth to her. On top of her mixed supernatural heritage, she is a doorkeeper – born with the power to open the door between Faerie and the human realm. She fell in love with not one (an irish professor named Liam) but two! (a handyman named Bill) incarnations of an incubus. Apparently, it was true love which restored the demon lover to his former human form. Shame it was two seconds before his throat was cut by a nasty fallen angel. Book 2 ends with Callie losing her true love and the door to Faerie closed forever…or is it?

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And so begins book 3 with things looking very bleak for the sleepy town of Fairwick. All the supernatural professors including the former dean were forced to return to Faerie leaving the school open for a fallen angel aka nephilim takeover. Duncan Laird is the big bad from book 2 and now has become dean, formed a fraternity full of bastard nephilim boys. It reminded me of the fifth Harry Potter novel, everything becomes more and more unbearable for the characters with each turning page.  In similar fashion, Callie and the remaining supernaturals in town form a secret resistance and vow to find a door to Faerie to uncover the angel stone, the only weapon again the nephilim.

I would recommend this novel for fans of scottish fairy tales, nephilim myths and novels about true love that doesn’t involve abstinence.

Read the full book review on my blog.

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #9: Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

I voraciously consumed the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead. Meaning when I came across the Dark Swan books, I was instantly intrigued. Storm Born was an easy read with another kick-ass female protagonist – a shaman named Eugenie Markham. However, the tone of this series seemed far more serious than a succubus demon with romance problems. Nevertheless, I delved into the second book, Thorn Queen with no expectations.

In the first book, Eugenie discovers her father was the brutal, all powerful Storm King. A prophecy foretells she will deliver a male heir who will rule both the human dimension and the Otherworld. Thus, she must continually fight off creatures trying to impregnate her by any means necessary (i.e. rape). None of the supernaturals seem to have heard of birth control, which could totally throw a wrench in the works. Eugenie simply decides to never have kids and stay vigilant with her pill. Voila. Apocalypse averted. [small spoiler] At the climax of this first book, when Eugenie defeats an evil king, she inherits a kingdom in the Otherworld that is physically and emotionally tied to her, even when she’s crossed over by to the human world. This means she immediately and at no warning from her sexy OtherWorld tutor/ally King Dorian transforms the lush land into a desert. Almost a near replica of her Tuczon, AZ home in the human world.

 

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At the start of Thorn Queen Eugenie doesn’t want to be Queen of anything. She is afraid of the strong storm magic from her evil father who liked to murder people with lightening for fun. She rather keep her that part of her locked away, content with her semi-uneventful shamanistic existence. But she can’t give up her kingdom that easy. If she’s in the human world too long, the land literally suffers without her – a fierce drought has taken hold of the land and the fae have no irrigation systems. She takes pity on them and is eventually talked into harnessing some power to call rain for crops. Too bad, she’s pretty shit at it. Raw storms with killing lightening come natural, but seasonal rain not so much.

She calls again upon Dorian for help, who says in not so many worlds he still wants to bang her, but only willingly. And she’ll thank him for it. Talk about sure of yourself. In the end, since he likes her and is such a nice guy, he agrees to help her with no strings attached. Eugenie still suspicious demands a female teacher this time around since things got a little hot and heavy last time. So Dorian offers to lend his number 1 mistress to teach her magic. And let me tell ya, that lady is NOT pleased. Eugenie is offended but decides to get in a few quickie sessions. The plan is to learn air and water magic, call some rain, abdicate that throne and get the hell out of dodge. Leaving behind the temptation for power (and sex from Dorian) in the Otherworld. In the human world, she lives with her veterinarian/shapeshifting fox boyfriend who just moved in with her. However, even that situation is a bit of a pickle. His ex-girlfriend Faery queen is having his baby back in the Otherworld. These fae don’t get pregnant often and consider babymaking a dying art.

In summary, this Eugenie gal has to contend with a new kingdom, powerful seductive magic, hot Dorian, also hot boyfriend, potential supernatural rapists and figuring how to give up said kingdom. Throw in a mystery of disappearing girls and we got shitload of subplots going on in this book. Mead surprisingly juggles all these stakes quite well. I was way more engaged than with the first book. Instead of being afraid of the Otherworld, Eugenie feels a motherly allegiance for her kingdom especially when she learns innocent girls are being kidnapped. And with the prophecy, there is this undercurrent of anxiety with her every move. She could be seduced by her own power and embrace that dark prophecy at any moment. We do see a glimpse of her power, but of course we must wait until book 3 to see how it all unfolds.

A few spoiler-free reviews on goodreads have me quite apprehensive about the last book saying it took a horrible near offensive turn. So naturally, I’m curious for Iron Crowned but not sure I’m up for a character sabotage. Definitely at the bottom of my library wishlist.

Read my other reviews and musings on my blog.

Mrs Smith Reads The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, #CBR5, Review #20

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Having spent some weeks in Barcelona this past summer, I was intrigued to read Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s series of novels about writers and booksellers in Franco-era Spain. I actually started with the third book in the series, The Prisoner of Heaven. I enjoyed it immensely and am hoping to read the other two, The Angel’s Game and The Shadow of the Wind before the end of the year. A fourth novel is expected soon, to complete the set. The books are not time sequential and do not have to be read in order.

Daniel Sempere runs a bookshop with his father, just off Las Ramblas in the gothic quarter of Barcelona. Daniel, his wife Beatriz and their newly born son, Julián live above the shop. They are happy, but Daniel has some doubts about his wife’s commitment to their marriage. Sempere and Son have only one employee, Fermín Romero de Tores and it is Fermín’s story that is divulged inThe Prisoner of Heaven.

Mrs Smith Reads The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Reviews #28-30: Song of Ice And Fire Books 3-5

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

The last time I tried to review a book from George RR Martin I was pilloried as a twit who didn’t/couldn’t understand his genius. I freely admitted I didn’t, that I could be wrong and that I apologized for any offense, but all the tumult made me felt excluded, as if only those who adore Martin can review him.

Still, my wife, devoted both to nerdery and (against all odds) to me, encouraged me to pick the books up again. And after the season finale this spring, I did. Rather than write long reviews I’m boiling my thoughts down to one sentence each…may god/Martin-Uber-fans have mercy on my soul.

For those who enjoy saying “What-the-what?!??!?”: Storm of Swords

A dry first half lays the ground work for as thrilling a set of three hundred pages as the series has ever had, with monumental swings in momentum that turns the heretofore expected plot on its ear.

For those who wonder about the role of religion in politics and war: Feast for Crows

A less dramatic but totally riveting look at the depth and complexity of a few key characters (particularly the ladies), including  an incisive look at the faith & belief systems that have rationalized their desires. (These two books get three stars)

For those who are pot committed: A Dance With Dragons

By this point you need to know what happens next–even if several stories are numbingly repetitive, others are aborted mid-book and more seem utterly inconsequential–this book quenches that thirst. (This one gets the two)

The Scruffy Rube’s #CBR5 Review #23: Days of Blood and Starlight

It’s time for some turbo-charged book reviews, complete with recommendations for those who care for them. They’ll be up here day by day, or if you want to gorge yourself check out my separate blog

For those who love being into things before they’re mainstream: Days of Blood and Starlight

Granted, at least four other writers at the Cannonball Read program (which has been pushing me through more and more reading each of the last three years) have already suggested this, and I’m guessing that many readers have read it. But, while this on-line community of hard core readers has heard about it, other social groups I love to talk about reading with (Goodreads/Chapter and Verse/my students) seem to be utterly in the dark about this series.

I have a feeling that will change soon. And not just because Universal is at work preparing it for a movie, and not just because the cavernous hole of transferring the author’s work into a film version, but simply because in literature, as in all things, quality will out. And the second book of Laini Taylor’s series more than affirms her commitment to quality.

Last year I gushed over how a supernatural novel (with a healthy dollop of romance) managed to perfectly capture the tone of a jet-setting espionage thriller. Now, I’m even more impressed at how Taylor’s invented world of angels and demons serves to guide us through the serious moral ambiguities and serious badassery of a war novel. Conflicted soldiers, renegade assassins, mastermind stratagems, incomprehensible cruelty and a virtuous core all make for a great read. This is what great writing (not great fantasy writing, not great young adult writing…great writing) is all about.

 

I’m glad I found Laini Taylor’s work, and so help me, I’ll restrain my most hipster impulses…or at least…try to.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 46: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

#36I’m really doubting I’m going to add anything new to the decade-long conversation about A Song of Ice and Fire, so I’m going to put my whole review (and by “review,” I really mean casual collection of thoughts) under a cut. Continue reading