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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-26 18:33
Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur (2015 Review)
Moon Sworn - Keri Arthur

Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Riley Jenson's life takes a dramatic turn when she awakes in the desert, confused and alone. She can't remember who she is, or who to trust, even when her so-called brother rescues her. Everything feels so wrong, from her very name to specific details of her past. If only her memories would return, she'd be able to tell truth from lie, and friend from foe.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

After nine books in total, read over the space of three years (because admittedly I can be a super slow reader), I've finally finished the Riley Jensen Guardian series! It had its up and downs like any series of course, but overall I believe it was worth the read and more importantly, I'm glad I stuck through the difficult moments, which were unfortunately in abundance at times. Moon Sworn definitely offered a pleasant ending, what with tying up loose ends and giving Riley her desired happiness. Sure, it could've been better, perhaps less rushed at the final confrontation with Blake, but it didn't disappoint as much as the last book, which left me frustrated as all hell. I hated Kye with every fibre of my being and despised how Riley failed as the character I thought she was, so I didn't want a repeat, but thankfully she had very little time to sulk over her dead psychotic soulmate.

The plot was surprisingly refreshing, or at least one half of the plot; Riley separated from her people, her memories tampered with and essentially, it was up to her alone to figure it all out. I think it should've dominated most of the book, without the sidetracking vengeance case, as I didn't particularly care for that side of things at all. Kade's death shoved Riley right back to her old way of thinking, which I suppose I should've seen coming; she was never going to remain happy being a guardian. She had recently admitted to herself she enjoyed the hunt and excitement of it all, which I appreciated as character progression, but to achieve a HEA (happily-ever-after), that the majority of readers seem to prefer in books these days, her acceptance needed to crumble. I didn't mind, even if I believe it was a bit too easy for her escape the Directorate. It was always a set in stone choice - military or the Directorate. The possibility of being a consultant was never even mentioned before, at least if my memory is correct.

I may have been too hard on Quinn in the past; he rubbed me the wrong way when he was messing with Riley's mind, but he grew on me in this one. I couldn't help but think; "He's actually not so bad", so I guess it was better late than never. I still would've preferred Cole as a romance option however, as the chemistry between the two was obvious from early on. I also believed Cole to have more sex appeal than Quinn, or any of her partners, ever had. The rest of the characters, whilst likeable, were nothing I found particularly memorable. I didn't fall madly in love with any of them. I will miss the lady herself though, but I'm hoping she'll at least make appearances in the spinoff series, Dark Angels. Riley is a good character, even if she hit ridiculous levels of stupidity in the past. If you look back to the first book, then look at her here, she's certainly grown as an individual, which is something I really highly favour in series'.

In conclusion: This was definitely one of the better additions, but overall I'd consider the whole experience to be an average one. I neither rated any instalments one star or five stars, it was purely in the middle. I find Arthur to be a good writer, so I'll surely pick up more of her works in the future.

Notable Scene:

"For fuck's sake, what's happened to you?" He scrubbed a hand across his face. "I'm Evin. Your brother."
My brother.
No, I thought, staring at him. He wasn't my brother. Not the brother I wanted, nor the brother I was expecting.


photo 96188e6d-fff0-4732-84c2-8b4322a2cc87_zps2apzb0sw.jpg

© Red Lace 2015


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-04 07:16
The Rift by R.J. Clark
The Rift (Detectives and Demons #1) - R.J. Clark

The Rift by R.J. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt Faustus, whose very soul is connected to a high ranking fiend, finds himself neck-deep in a new case - one he accepted despite being warned about the possible ramifications. A little girl is missing, abducted by the family's house-cleaning demon, and it's his job to find her. Eager to earn that paycheck, Matt's enthusiasm soon lands him in trouble within the Hellspawn society, though that sure doesn't stop him.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to R.J. Clark for giving me the opportunity!

This came as an unexpected surprise, especially considering I added this one to my Goodreads shelf way back in 2011; the year I made the decision to start reviewing everything I read. Being able to jump into something that piqued my interest that long ago, well, it was more than nice. What initially drew me in was the compelling aspect of the Rift itself, and how it expelled demons of all shapes and sizes right out into the city of New Orleans. Can you imagine if that happened? It's a terrifying thought; an apocalyptic occurrence right out from Revelations. However, whilst the book includes adult themes of gore and some sensitive subject matters, I wouldn't classify it as horror. For me, it was urban fantasy through and through - perhaps on the darker side of the spectrum, yes, but urban fantasy all the same - a genre that still appeals to me despite my tastes evolving toward more darker material.

Matt was certainly an entertaining and likeable protagonist, even if he displayed selfish and immature behaviour, but those faults didn't affect my impression of him. His soul-bound connection to Baalberith was yet another high point, offering a more intimate and unique peek into the relationship between man and monster. A large part of what intrigued me was Matt's entire history - there's so much backstory, so much unexplored territory to his character. Mentioned throughout were snippets of his difficult childhood, a large portion including Father Donovan and his ceaseless exorcism attempts. Clark has a great amount of freedom if he wishes to return to the world in which Matthew resides, either as a recollection of earlier events, or following the conclusion of this debut. Maybe even involving a new hero entirely!

My favourite character had to be Persephone, however. I found him a great addition to the team as he added much needed spice to what would've been a couple's day out. There was nothing wrong with Alura per se; she had a temper I found to be enticing, and I loved the Succubi as a species, but overall I didn't quite feel connected to her partnership with Matt. This could be because their attachment had already been established, and instead of accompanying them along with their courtship, I was thrown into the middle. I felt somewhat lost at times, and when particular information was held back, of which concerned the reason why they had fallen out in the first place, it even further distanced me.

The plot itself was the definition of action packed. It just didn't stop; trouble followed Matt everywhere, biting at his heels. I appreciated the fact that injuries were in abundance - pain, bloody and brutal, was dished out over and over. There's nothing more tedious than an overpowered hero that comes out on top of every bad situation. For me to get properly invested and absorbed, there has to be that feeling of danger and struggle, even if it's nothing but a convincing illusion. Clark was able to pull this off superbly, successfully giving considerable weight to every threat. The ending also held a twist I adored, because of the sheer horribleness of it. Suffice it to say, I felt sorry for Matt.

As for the Bestiary and wide selection of demons - I enjoyed the large amount of creativity put into their creation. They had their own culture and each offered their own strengths and weaknesses. It might not have been pretty, but I was completely on board with that.

As you can tell, I've a lot to say about this once forgotten novel as I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I do believe it's in need of further editing. There's a large amount of mistakes; incorrect words placed within sentences, although it didn't bother me all too much.

In conclusion: I would consider this a great beginning to a series. I enjoyed the demonic elements, and Matt as protagonist. This book deserves more recognition in the urban fantasy genre, for sure, however I believe it needs a bit of tidying up in regards to sentence structure.

Notable Quote:

Most humans saw these creatures as second class citizens, and treated them decidedly so. Like their slaves for the most part. Regardless of the concept of inalienable rights, man is a creature attracted to subjugation, and since it wasn't legal in this country to enslave each other anymore, many figured they'd just substitute the Hellspawn. Demons were the food that fed that primal urge without attracting social ire or reproach.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/04/the-rift-by-r-j-clark
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-28 21:07
The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson (2016 Review)
The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At sixteen, Joanna Archer experienced an extreme act of violence, something that stole her innocence and destroyed her youth. As an adult, she seeks solace in her photographs whilst stalking the streets of Las Vegas, using the darkness to hunt for the monsters that cause pain. Nothing will prepare her for what is about to happen however, as nothing can prepare anyone for their death.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I was at first very unsure whether or not I wanted to grant this a higher rating - yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it in some instances, but was it enough to justify a four star review and therefore dismiss the obvious issues? After much consideration, I finally made the difficult decision; I couldn't completely disregard the things that irked me. They ranged from little annoyances to what I believed to be more obvious faults, but I'll get to those in a moment. I just feel the need to state how much I love urban fantasy and starting a new series; it'll always remain one of my all time favourite pastimes. There's something about the genre that I adore, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Joanna Archer was a decent protagonist yet not overly likeable. Indeed, she experienced a horrific ordeal as a teenager, but at times it appeared she held an air of superiority because of it; continuously mentioning her own personal strength and her sister's "innocent" weakness, it got a little repetitive. The fact she also turned to violence as an answer was in itself questionable and no doubt self destructive; definitely not the ideal role model, yet whilst these obvious flaws bothered me, I also appreciated their presence. No character, in any book, should be perfect, as no person in the real world is perfect.

I found the plot largely improved in the second half (the first half being somewhat dull), when Joanna's identity was altered and she joined the Zodiac team. Yes, she turned out to be some all-powerful figure of prophecy, but that didn't bother me. There was a lot of focus on the "superhero" aspect and the battle between Light and Dark, which interested me even though some of the dialogue forced me to cringe. The group dynamics really sucked me in however; I liked that she was looked upon with suspicion and that she struggled to gain their trust. I suppose I just favour conflict amongst relationships, it serves as entertainment. It can get a bit too much when the heroines of the genre are instantly liked way too much by everyone, and desired by every male.

Saying that, I didn't particularly like the implied love triangle that's obviously going to play a role in further instalments. Hunter seemed like an interesting character, but I hope it won't turn out to be a Hunter/Ben dilemma - I find triangles infuriating more often that not, as the females usually spend most of their time dwelling over both men rather than focusing on the vital matters. Another thing that got to me greatly, was the comic book store scene. I just really do hate the stereotypical portrayal of such stores, and those who read comics. The other characters however were written well - even Chandra - as they all displayed individual traits and differing demeanours. Warren was probably my favourite overall; who doesn't like a bit of insanity?

In conclusion: The very obvious possibility of a love triangle didn't appeal, and the main heroine seemed to be selfish - though that certainly gives room for growth. Regardless of what I favoured and those aspects I didn't care for, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Notable Scene:

He was bereft of all his senses now, as helpless before me as Olivia had been in his arms, but instead of killing him, I lowered myself to the edge of the bed and watched. I wanted to observe the last seconds of his life, as death marched across his features. I wanted to see if he would heal.

Then I could kill him all over again.


© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/28/the-scent-of-shadows-by-vicki-pettersson-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-14 22:46
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder (2016 Review)
Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four years attending the Magician's Keep, and Opal believes she's nothing but a disaster and a disappointment. Instead of being able to learn and practice new powers like other students, her one and only ability is placing a thread of magic within the glass figures she creates, which can then be used as a means for cross-country communication. Definitely not combat related, thus she is shocked to learn the Master Magicians have an assignment for her.

(WARNING: This reviews contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I quickly fell in love with the world of the much conflicted Ixia and Sitia all the way back in Poison Study. Not only was the book a perfect reminder of why I love immersing myself in works of fiction, but it created pleasant excitement for the future instalments penned by Snyder. It was then unfortunate that the following segments of the series only declined, leaving me disappointed and pessimistic. What my gripe essentially stemmed from was the character development of Yelena, and how she evolved drastically into a famous, almighty Soulfinder than could accomplish everything and anything. But whilst Yelena's magic varied to the extreme, Opal's was very limited... At first. It offered zero offensive and defensive capabilities, but it was extremely useful and beneficial to the Sitian council and magicians as a whole. This, after the sheer extent of Yelena's power growth, was refreshing and I welcomed the unique simplicity. Imagine my irritation that as the book progressed, new magical discoveries were made, each more powerful than the last. It's an easy assumption to make that history will repeat itself.

Opal suffered through quite a lot in her ventures, and made more one than one mistake along the way. Her insecurities could've been endearing, but I felt they became a little too much when she continuously refused to accept praise or compliments of any kind. She also displayed a hunger for power, which in itself was slightly off-putting, though to be fair, if I were considered a "one-trick wonder", I'd probably feel sour about it as well. Despite these faults, which definitely threatened her likeability, I thought she was an average protagonist with the potential for improvement. Perhaps if she was given room to breathe and grow into her own person, and not overshadowed by Yelena, which of whom played a part in this book and was mentioned regularly.

Of course the love triangle ticked me off, as they usually do. I just don't understand how they can appeal to anyone. It seemed, at least to me, that Opal settled with Ulrick because Kade didn't reciprocate her interest - it's ALWAYS selfish, in one way or another. It doesn't matter which one I favoured (Kade though), it just becomes unbelievably tedious.

However in regards to the other characters, I believed there to be a satisfactory variety. I actually became a little fond of Leif, whereupon I initially hated his immaturity. Zitora I liked, Pazia was a tad annoying, as was Ulrick. Kade was a delight, and I immediately wished him the love interest. The plot itself was eventful, yet at times confusing as it veered off into different directions. I don't think it needed to be as complicated; sometimes a straightforward story does the job just as well. I very much liked the in-depth look at the Stormdancers in particular, and I would've loved if they were focused on a little longer. Hopefully they make appearances in the next two books of the Glass trilogy.

Speaking of glass, I enjoyed the detailed scenes of craftsmanship found throughout the pages. I never thought I'd find an interest in such a thing, but the writing was very well done and inspired me to perform some additional research. I do appreciate when an author can ignite enthusiasm on a certain subject otherwise ignored.

In conclusion: Looking forward to delving into more Chronicles of Ixia, but let's hope they rise to the standard of the very first. It just strikes me as the protagonists get overly powerful, which takes all the fun out of them struggling for their survival.

Notable Scene:

The roar of the wind and sea ceased the moment the monster wave engulfed me. For one heartbeat, my world filled with gurgling sounds and foamy green light. Then the force of the crashing water slammed me into an unyielding object. The sea grabbed my limp body and tossed it about. Confusion dulled the pain until my forehead smacked into a jagged rock.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/14/storm-glass-by-maria-v-snyder-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-08 01:15
Hidden by Benedict Jacka
Hidden - Benedict Jacka

Hidden by Benedict Jacka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst rumours of his master's return circulates throughout the mage community, Alex Verus, Diviner and known "outsider", chooses to ignore the gossip and focus on something else entirely, such as rebuilding damaged friendships. An interruption comes in the form of abduction when Anne, his once housemate and valued companion, disappears in her home. Taking it upon himself, Alex doesn't hesitate to stage a rescue mission, which just so happens to lead to a shadow realm, belonging to the one and only Dark mage, Sagash.

(WARNING: This reviews contains spoilers.)

I started reading this series (Alex Verus is nine instalments long), in 2014, as it was one of the few in the genre that had a male protagonist. Being largely into Urban Fantasy at that time, it didn't take a genius to notice the staggering amount of females that dominated. Alex's trouble-making was thus refreshing, yet always struck me as having some issues that I just couldn't ignore. For one, the plot-lines primarily consisted of Alex saving women - not that I have a problem with the odd damsel in distress; I'm not a fragile flower that gets offended by a man coming to the rescue of a lady, but with the amount it happened it got repetitive pretty quickly. The fourth book, Chosen, turned the tables, and Alex was the one in need of saving by the strong females he surrounds himself with. I appreciated that instalment considerably more than the rest, hence my rating of four stars. This one, however, seems to have returned to its roots - the rinse and repeat of Alex being good at everything in full force.

The events that transpired in this one, whilst interesting to an extent, were very clearly filler. However I admit, I actually liked the concept of a shadow realm; the very personal domain of a Dark mage, where their deepest, most sinister creations can take form. In general, I find the darker side of mage society to be far more interesting in comparison to the lighter side. This isn't to say Light mages are dull - on the contrary, there's a lot of shady stuff going on there, but they strike me as far, far too political, at least for my tastes.

There's a part of me wishes the overall tone of the series was more adult, for the simple reason as to allow the malevolence of the Dark to shine through on a much more heinous level. As it was, I felt a little underwhelmed by Anne's recollection of her past - which consisted of her being forced to kill others in an arena. Yes, murder is ugly, but it just didn't shock me as much as I'd like, especially when it's been stated that Sagash was twisted and, most definitely, bad on all counts.

It's at this point that readers are very much aware of Richard, and his impending and much anticipated return. Richard's been a very prominent character from the beginning - Alex has never missed an opportunity to ramble on about his past trauma as his unwilling apprentice. I was hoping there would finally be some sort of reunion or confrontation, and whilst it did happen, it certainly wasn't as explosive as I wanted it to be. Despite being all together anticlimactic, it nevertheless set the foundation for what I assume to be the next book.

As for the characters themselves; Alex still had his obvious faults, but he remained likeable in personality. I'd most assuredly have him as a friend if I could, even if he'd probably get me killed. I've always been fond of Anne, though I considered her a little bit over-dramatic here. Arachne wasn't in it as much as I'd like, but I was thankful for Luna being absent for a large portion. The character I disliked the most was Sonder - he was the definition of annoying, clearly stealing Luna's spotlight in that regard. The introduction of the blink fox was, of course, the most memorable aspect - I hope it returns as a permanent ally! Goodness knows Alex will need it.

Veiled is the next instalment of this series and it was first published in 2015. It's currently on my reading list.

In conclusion - Yet another addition which I considered average, at best, and more than definitely filler. Hopefully the next will be more relevant and include dear ol' Richard!

Notable Scene:

It didn't make me any happier. My crude ability to see the future didn't make me any friends - the opposite, if anything. I had knowledge, but there wasn't anything I could do with it. I was left just as isolated, hating the people who'd ostracised me. Until one cold autumn day when Richard had stepped onto the schoolyard where I was standing, promising me everything I'd secretly wanted if I'd follow him and call him master. And I'd said yes.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/08/hidden-by-benedict-jacka
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