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review 2018-07-08 13:52
Midnight Hour: A Shadow Falls Novel - C. C. Hunter

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I received this book through The Reading Room/Bookstr in exchange for an honest review. 

I requested this book because I liked the cover and the idea of a witch who is dyslexic. I was blown away when I finally read it.

This is the first book I have read in either of the Shadow Falls book series, but after reading it, I am thinking of going back and reading the other books.

I'm not a huge fans of romantic books or love triangles and while those elements are incorporated into this novel, there is tons of other stuff going on, which make it a great read. The book flows through various struggles from the everyday (test-taking, studying, romance, friendship, fights with parents) to the extreme (kidnapping, crazy warlock conspiracies, being wrongfully accused, undercover work, evil family members). This book basically has it all. It combines romance with the paranormal and criminal investigations. And it is so entertaining.

The thing that really interested me about this book initially was that Miranda is dyslexic. At the beginning of the novel, Miranda views it as "a curse" and struggles with it. But by the end, she realizes it is "a gift". I think Hunter did a pretty fair job of showing how dyslexia can make some things harder, but it also helps people see things in a different way than non-dyslexic people. The narration doesn't go into too much detail about what it is like to have dyslexia, but it expresses an overall attitude about accepting it. 

My only critique is that this is a huge book. It's a little over 400 pages long. It only took me about two weeks to read because I was so engrossed in it, but my thumb is killing me after holding is open for so long during binge-reads. There are a few slow moments that didn't seem necessary and could have made the book more concise if they'd been cut. It kind of drags on at times. But overall, I found it fascinating and really enjoyed the writing and the characters. This seems like one of those series you can just lose yourself in. 

Thanks a lot, C.C. Hunter. Now I have to go back and read the other eight books (and short stories). You have found yourself a new fan.

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review 2018-06-29 02:49
John Saul, The Handkerchief
In the Shadow of Evil: The Handkerchief - John Saul

From Casual Debris.

 

 

 

The fourth part of John Saul's serially published The Blackstone Chronicles focuses on a handkerchief. If italicized prologues are to be believed, this cursed item is embroidered with a fancy R by an asylum patient who deliriously believes she is living at society's upper social echelons. Drama ensues, which includes the less-than-pleasant nurse using the handkerchief to wipe spaghetti sauce (I'm assuming tomato) from her uniform, and, tossed in for good measure, some old asylum water therapy/torture.

Enter our buddy Oliver Metcalf, editor of Blackstone's local paper, The Chronicle. Arriving at the office he learns from his assistant that local gossip Edna Burnham has been spreading theories related to the recent trend of violent deaths. Burnham connects the three deaths to the mysterious gifts each household received shortly before tragedy struck, and in addition links it all back to the asylum. Editor Metcalf refuses to believe there is any connection, is not aware of any mysterious gifts, and generally scoffs at the woman's ideas. Yet the reader, aware of the all-too-obvious connections, is left to wonder if perhaps town gossip Burnham should depose Metcalf and serve as The Chronicle's, and Blackstone's, top investigative reporter.

Following her aunt's death in Part Two, Rebecca is taken in by librarian Germaine Wagner and her wheelchair bound mother, "Miss Clara." As I discussed in my review of "The Dragon's Flame," Germain is only one of two negative characters in the series (this was before we were introduced to Clara), both being unmarried women. In her previous home Rebecca was likened to Carrie, whereas here she is treated like Cinderella, with Prince Oliver delivering the cursed handkerchief as though it were a glass slipper. Germaine usurps the gift, passing it onto her mother who seems to know something of its history. Germaine takes it back and begins to hallucinate, and the predictable occurs.

Our side plots include Oliver rummaging through old asylum case files, and bankers & contractors & lawyers (Bill McGuire and Ed Becker and a woman, all interchangeable) visiting the asylum to help assure themselves the investment is sound. There Becker comes across a chest of drawers he decides to purchase (a presentiment of things to come?).

Part Four is more of the same. It reads like filler in that nothing new is discovered, only some minor details regarding Oliver's father which we already suspected. Both build-up of the main plot and its drawn out climactic sequence are familiar. Saul tries to escalate suspense by pairing the climax alongside Olliver's realizations about his father, but since the former is predictable and the latter delivers no surprises nor conclusions, the effect is flat and I found myself rushing through it all. I expect the fifth book to be a similar filler-type entry, with part six being the most interesting, at least of the second half of the series.

Finally, amid all this drama, the most intriguing mystery is left unsolved. When Germaine takes the handkerchief from Rebecca, she notices it is "spotless and neatly pressed." (29) Now, how did the asylum staff get all that spaghetti sauce out of the fabric?

Source: casualdebris.blogspot.com/2018/06/saul-john-handkerchief-1997.html
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review 2018-06-26 15:38
Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts
Shadow Spell - Nora Roberts

They've known each other since they were children, but they were always only friends. Then, one night after his near brush with death, things change with a sizzling kiss, and their friendship evolves, strengthening the circle against evil...


The evil Cabhan still isn't vanquished (that's why it's called a trilogy folks), but the bonds of family, blood, love and friendship still hold true in this particular trilogy. It was like visiting with old friends, ones you know from childhood, ones you share joy and sorrow, know their deepest secrets. And this is what I love most about Nora Roberts writing—realistic characters. True, they're mostly flawed, with deep-seated issues and scars, but they feel real, normal, living, human. Their relationships and interactions are always a pleasure to read.

This time it was Connor and Meara's turn. It could've gone the icky way, this friendship of theirs "marred" by deeper emotions, but having gotten to know both of them, the reader knows and feels those emotions are already there, they just needed to be dug out.
It brought heartache and annoyance (thanks to the heroine and her abandonment issues), but it also brought joy and laughter. Much needed before the final battle begins; both with Cabhan, but mostly between Branna and Fin.

This was the middle one of the trilogy, so it didn't bring anything really new to the table as far as the big bad is concerned (except for a few new forms of fighting him and him eluding them), and nothing really new about the characters (except for the two best friends turning into lovers), but it wasn't bad.

Well-written and well-paced, it gave us the calm before the storm, some lighthearted scenes, and the warning to brace before the big finale.

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review 2018-06-23 01:28
Shadow Keeper - Christine Feehan

The third installment of the Shadow Riders series focuses on Giovanni Ferraro, the one who was shot and can’t travel through shadows, so his job has become the quintessential playboy in order to give his family the alibis they need to do their work. He hates it. It has caused him to become jaded and cynical because all of the women he meets only want his money or the publicity his family name can provide, never ever him. Sasha is a waitress in the Ferraro club in Chicago and she unfortunately overheard him tell his brothers and cousins about a game that is vulgar and demeaning. A game based on points earned for having women do certain things without being asked or told; they have to offer it freely or initiate it. The moment Giovanni sees that Sasha has overheard the rules of this game he doesn’t understand his reaction to her anger and judgement of him but the fact that she stands up to him in her own way snags his attention. When he later has to rescue her after she is assaulted by other customers, he whisks her away from the club and that starts the whirlwind relationship between the two. She doesn’t take his crap and she speaks her mind and she doesn’t trust why Giovanni seems to be pursuing her. They are both stubborn and strong willed. When he finds out she is working two full time jobs to pay for her brother’s medical care, he can’t help but admire and respect her more and more and he really wants to take care of her, though she tells him how she feels about that quite succinctly. Sasha has had it rough ever since her parents were killed in a car accident and her older brother suffered a severe brain injury. She knows she doesn’t belong in Giovanni’s world but she can’t help but be drawn to him and see beneath his public persona. When a stalker breaks into her apartment Giovani and the rest of the Ferraro family come to her aid and the conflict becomes more complex and intriguing. They have to work together to figure out who her stalker is and it isn’t a clear cut case to say the least. I loved their adventure. The plot was multifaceted and engaging. The characters were entertaining and strong and I loved coming back to the Ferraro family. The series is really standing out in the Feehan universe for me as one of my favorites for sure.

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review 2018-06-17 00:00
Daughter of Shadow
Daughter of Shadow - Tyler Sehn Daughter of Shadow - Tyler Sehn I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of Shadow follows Melea, a warrior who serves Emperor Anathasius, the Lord of Light and Living God of the Shining Empire. She is a tool for his vision and is tasked with carrying out his will.

Melea is an interesting character. She is clearly tormented by her past and suppresses her memories which later resurface. While clearly powerful, she is also prone to making mistakes and bad decisions. She is not perfect and she's also not infallible. As a fan of imperfect characters, I like her. She knows she is a tool and still holds up hope that her emperor may not view her as an object and actually value her. Her deep desire for acknowledgement and to be valued is clear is made clear as well as her want to not disappoint.

Daughter of Shadow follows several POV characters, not all of whom were given an equal number of pages. As such, it can sometimes feel uneven and there were some characters I didn't like reading the POV of, such as the priest Belenus. There were also some characters whose POV I wanted to see more, such as the Emperor's. While I enjoyed Queen Ritika's POV, I sometimes wondered what her POV contributed to the plot overall. Maybe build-up for the next one? I don't know. Still, I did like her point of view and she was an interesting character.

My favorite characters would be Melea and Ritika. Ritika, while the queen of her native land, is also young and somewhat inexperienced. However, I appreciated the fact that she does not let this hinder her. She remains in control and has a lot of agency. She would remind everyone that she is the queen and I liked that she stood up for herself. I'm intrigued by the character of Emperor Anathasius. The entire time I felt like there was something more to him and I would have loved to see his character and backstory explored more.

The writing tends to be well-paced for the most part, with some tedious moments depending on the point-of-view. It's also pretty descriptive which helps me imagine the world better. The worldbuilding is rather good, with a deep religious component regarding the Shining Empire. I liked that the empire had this utopic facade with dark undertones feel to it.

Overall, I liked Daughter of Shadow. It's an epic fantasy that's easy to get into and has a large cast of intriguing characters.

This review can also be found on The Bookworm Daydreamer
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