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review 2018-02-19 00:43
The Weight of Shadows (Shadow Series) (Volume 1) - Karl Holton

4.5 stars rounded up


“The weight of shadows can be devastating. I’ve been collecting them since I was a young man….”


Three years ago Danny Benedict was the resident genius with homicide at the Met. In a chilling prologue we learn why he carries physical & emotional scars from what turned out to be his last case. Now he’s an investigator with NCA Organized Crime Command & the team has its hands full trying to track down mobsters with foreign ties.


DI Wallace is a whip-smart detective with the Flying Squad. Her team is sent to the scene of a major jewelry heist & it’s not long before she realizes things just don’t add up. But even she couldn’t have guessed where the investigation will lead.


Ray Hanson is a billionaire with a decidedly shady past. He left London years ago but personal reasons have brought him home. Besides, he has some scores to settle. First he needs to assemble a team & he has specific people in mind to execute his plans.


These are the 3 MC’s & initially we follow them in alternating chapters as their story lines take shape. By circumstance & design, they eventually cross paths in this fast paced, intricate & intelligent thriller. They’re compelling but very different characters which makes for entertaining interactions & great dialogue.


But it’s Benedict that really shines. He’s usually the quietest character in the scene but you get the feeling he was born with a few more grey cells than the rest of us. When he does speak, his lack of social skills frequently (if unintentionally) has darkly funny results. This is a man who can piss off an entire room with a single sentence & I thought he was a hoot.


There is a large cast of peripheral characters including government agents, mobsters & cops. Of note are DCI Evans, an old nemesis of Benedict’s & asshat of the highest order. And then there’s the Doctor, a man with all the charm of a Komodo dragon. Let’s not go there.


All these elements combine to produce an entertaining read that keeps you turning the pages. And that ending. I don’t know who’s more gobsmacked…Benedict or the reader. There’s a big question mark left hanging after it’s all done & dusted that guarantees I’ll be moving book #2 up on my reading list.




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review 2018-02-08 16:01
Beginning of a trilogy with a cliff hanger
When Gargoyles Rise (Shades and Shadows Series) (Volume 1) - Ashley Rae Harris

This story intrigued me with the mix of characters and their hierarchy. There is a cliff hanger for an ending, which I was not prepared for. Despite expectations, Rose wants to figure out her own life and move about on her own. She has a strength and it grows as the story moves along. I am curious as to where the story goes from here and to find out who she ends up with.

I received a copy of this book as a prize, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2018-02-08 14:38
A series that actually gets better in the second book!
A Gathering of Shadows - Victoria Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows starts out following Lila who was a secondary, but significant, character in the first book of the series. Happy with accomplishing a transference to a London she likes better than the one she grew up in, she looks for a pirate ship to commandeer.


Lila is a little too efficient as a thief and fighter to be entirely believable, but it is Fantasy after all. In the second part of the book we get reacquainted with Kell, from the first book of the series. His brother, the prince, drags him into irresponsible situations for which Kell has to shoulder the blame all too often.


A tournament of elemental magic is to take place in the kingdom where Kell and the prince live and Lila draws near, in the company of a ship captain who has a reputation as a rogue, but a certain appeal to Lila.


This is one of those stories that starts slowly but becomes more and more interesting as it goes along. That both Lila and Kell have limitations and weaknesses came out more as the story went along and by the time they got to the competition, I was completely hooked into the story.


My one complaint is that it ended on not exactly a cliffhanger, but in a way that forces you to buy the third book to find out what happens. Luckily I've already got it and can continue.

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review 2018-02-06 23:08
Wait What That's The End ? Noooooooooooooooo
Lord of Shadows - Cassandra Clare

Lets do this backwards- the end
It's all fun and games till somebody goes nutters and swings a sword ! What happened ? I think my mind passed out there for a few moments. Somebody hold me upright because I am in shock. Where did that turn come from. Holy smokes. What, where, how did that happen ? Deep breathing required during those last 20 minutes, and some smelling salts. 
The book was a slow start for me but quickly picked up. Oh there is drama- Emma and Jewels have some feelings that are a big no no in their society. One of the institute's most trusted friend betrays them. Fairy lets one go, with a barbed leash attached. A painful secret is shared with an unlikely source. Thugs from long ago are unleashed. The dead return to life ? Are you getting the idea it's a whirlwind, but the ending is a tsunami.
Excellent narration, excellent story. I'm off to download book #3- oh great it's not out for 9 months ?! Ugg the suffering begins   

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review 2018-01-27 00:00
The Duke of Shadows
The Duke of Shadows - Meredith Duran There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head. First, I caught this book as a BR - I was having trouble bringing myself to read it otherwise for some reason so it was just the push I needed.

I'll probably recycle some thoughts from that forum as well as borrow upon others as a result. Also, spoilering for sake of that...

So, when I went to bed after reading this late into the night last night, shadows and depth were two things that stuck with me from this book. Obviously that one is right there in the title, but as motifs, I thought they were masterful. Both characters are dealing with these 'shadows' and being so different and set apart. And both characters have unseen depths by others-and likely each other...and really the two go together so brilliantly and heartbreakingly in this book. Because this book did break my heart.

Julian noticed Emma in a garden and she looks bored, unwell, and miserable. Neither of the characters seems to fit in their relative place, and Duran shows how the lack of fit when all appearances indicate you should fit can be a bit awkwardly painful and make one feel more alone. Julian is between world in a heartbreaking situation. And in each other, they find a match. Emma is, by her own declaration, fierce. Julian is sensitive and empathetic and sweet. The book is filled with lovely dialogue that would feel out of place in other books, but fits so well here. Duran delicately demonstrates the heartbreak each character has had to endure that led them to this place, to their vulnerabilities and ultimately connection with one another.

I'm at risk of rambling on, and I just might eventually. I still have a lot of processing to do. Because if the first half of the book was in tone delicate and brutal, yet hopeful somehow, the second half was gut-wrenching.

Normally if a character felt or did what Emma did in the second half of this book, I'd be so annoyed. In this case, you understand. You understand her brutal loneliness, her heartbreak, and the ultimate conclusion that she'll never be over it. Meanwhile, Julian thinks her dead with good reason and I really was cringing before their first reunion. As I was reading it, I was thinking "there are so many ways this could go that I won't like. I will be angry at one or the other of them" and guess what? I wasn't. His approach to her was flawless. His utter disregard for others; her reaction was equally realistic. After all, by their own admission, (don't get me started on the globe: ("You want my whole itinerary? I won't give it! I have given you enough!") he looked for her everywhere but in London. And that doesn't make things easier. At this point, of course Julian is completely devoted even if 'she won't have him.' He tries different tactics, confuses her, we get some great insight into Lockwood. In the process, we can feel his pain too. She seems cold, resigned to her loneliness.

Emma struggles to both deny and accept him. She's still so heartbroken and afraid since she's faced so many terrors, and was so incredibly let down by him. And her fear is completely understandable. So here, instead of veering into "God, get over it already" it stayed very much in the "Yep, I get it" territory.

Anyway, as I still process, I feel I'm only doing a plot recap & reaction of what I felt was an incredibly effective, heartbreaking, beautiful romance. It felt so very unlikely yet so very real. I haven't mentioned how masterfully Meredith Duran says things like
"I am not blind. Words are not the only way we communicate. They never were."
And things like "You are not the only one who took that journey."

Or "Water under the bridge" "Then a very stagnant river"

I am just so impressed at how I could feel their heartbreak and their tenderness. Simply beautiful, elegant, and brutal.
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