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review 2019-01-19 23:18
Bright Ruin by Vic James
Bright Ruin - Vic James

 

Book #3 in the Dark Gifts Trilogy 

 

๏ ๏ ๏ Highlights ๏ ๏ ๏

 
Alternate/Dystopian-ish Society
Magic
Fantastical Elements
Intrigue
Good Triumphing Over Evil
A Small Splish of Romance

Audiobook Narrated by Evita Jay
 

 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Thoughts ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
What can I say...that was a satisfying ending to an intriguing series.  While I found the first book in this series hard to decipher with all the ginormous words that I never heard before being thrown around like everyday language,  I honestly didn't know if I would continue the series.  That is until I tried the Audio version with book #2.  With the easy to understand narration from Evita Jay, I found a way to like this sesquipedalian*writing style of Vic James.

The unique alternative slash dystopian-ish modern day British setting and the captivating characters...from the good to the bad and the completely unusual made this possible for me to really get into the story, despite being confused at times.  The ending was unexpected, but it completely worked.

*I totally looked that word up...and I think I used it correctly.
 

๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
☆4.3☆STARS - GRADE=A-
 
 
 
 

๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

Plot⇝ 4.2/5
Narration Performance⇝ 4.3/5
Main Characters⇝ 4/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 4/5
The Feels⇝ 4/5
Pacing⇝ 4/5
Addictiveness⇝ 3.8/5
Theme or Tone⇝ 4/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 3.8/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 3.8/5
Originality⇝ 5/5
Ending⇝ 4.7/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nah...
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝  It's amazing...
Setting⇝ An Alternate Britain
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
๏ ๏ ๏
  

๏ ๏ ๏ Links ๏ ๏ ๏

Kindle eBook | Audio

Add to Goodreads | Add to Booklikes 


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.



 

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review 2019-01-18 16:03
Bayou Moon / Ilona Andrews
Bayou Moon - Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

 

One of the main things that I love about the Andrews’ female main characters is that they are very self-sufficient & competent to run their lives. They are acknowledged to be high functioning people by their families & circles of friends. Not only can they handle the vicissitudes of life, they can defend themselves and their dependents.

Another reason that I love their books? The humour. In this book, when Cerise and William first meet, they are both “undercover.” She thinks he’s an ass and secretly calls him Lord Leatherpants. She is smelling rather pungent, and William not-so-secretly calls her the Hobo Queen.

William leaned forward and pointed at the river. “I don’t know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce,” he said in a confidential voice. “I don’t really care. But that water over there won’t hurt you. Try washing it off.”
She stuck her tongue out.
“Maybe after you’re clean,” he said.
Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises.
She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead.
Now what?
The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face.
“No,” William said. “Bad hobo.”



There are, of course, the obligatory rocks in the romance road. As Shakespeare told us, the course of true love never did run smooth. But that line is from Midsummer Night’s Dream and the plot line of this story is more Taming of the Shrew.

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review 2019-01-17 19:57
Fawkes
Fawkes - Nadine Brandes

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Gorgeous cover (I admit the cover + the title are what drew me to the book in the first place), and also an interesting take on historical events by showing them under the colours (see what I did there) of magic rather than religion. In this alternate early 17th-century world, people are able to bond with a specific colour, and exert control over items of this colour through the wearing of a mask. The conflict arises from how people view the use of colours: Keepers (the ‘Protestants’) believe that a person should only master one colour and not give in to the ‘White Light’ that governs them all, lest greed devours them and twists their powers to nefarious ends; while Igniters (the ‘Catholics’) believe that listening to the White Light, and controlling more than one colour, is the way to go. Both factions are in conflict not only because of these views, but because of a plague that turns people to stone, with each camp blaming the other for the advent of this mysterious illness.

Enters our protagonist and point of view character, Thomas Fawkes, son of the (now) infamous Guy Fawkes, who’s been struck by this very Stone Plague and can’t wait until he gets a mask of his own, learns to master a colour, and hopefully manages to heal himself, or at least make sure the plague will stay dormant in him and never spread further than his eye. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and as he finds himself reunited with his father, the latter offers him a place in a plot meant to blow up the King and Parliament (as in, literally blow up, re: Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, and all that).

So. Very, very interesting premise, and I really loved reading about the London that is the backdrop in this novel—not least because I actually go very often in the areas depicted here, and I enjoy retracing in my mind the characters’ steps in streets that I know well enough. Little winks are found here and there, too, such as Emma’s favourite bakery on Pudding Lane, or a stroll to the Globe. It may not seem much, but it always makes me smile.

The story was a slow development, more focused on the characters than on a quick unfolding of the plot. I don’t know if the latter is a strong or a weak point, because I feel it hinges on the reader’s knowledge of the actual Gunpowder Plot: if you know about it, then I think what matters more is not its outcome, but the journey to it, so to speak. If you don’t know it, though, the novel may in turn feel weak in that regard, by not covering it enough. I didn’t mind this slow development, since it allowed for room for the side plot with Emma and the Baron’s household, and I liked Emma well enough. I still can’t decide whether her secret felt genuine or somewhat contrived, but in the end, it didn’t matter so much, because she was a kickass person, with goals of her own, and actually more interesting than Thomas.

As a side note: yes, there is romance here. Fortunately, no gratuitous kiss and sex scenes that don’t bring anything to the story and only waste pages. In spite of the blurb that mentions how Thomas will have to choose between the plot and his love (= usually, a sure recipe for catastrophe in YA, with characters basically forgetting the meaning of things like “priorities” or “sense of responsibility”), it is more subtle than that. Thomas at least also starts considering other people being involved, such as, well, the three hundred Members of Parliament meant to go up in flames along with the King. Casualties, and all that…

Bonus points for White Light, who we don’t see much of, but was overall engaging and somewhat funny in a quirky way. I just liked its interventions, period.

Where I had more trouble with the story was Thomas himself, who was mostly whiny and obsessed with getting his mask. All the time. You’d get to wonder why his father trusted him and invited him to be part of the plot in the first place. Often enough, he came as self-centered and constantly wavering in his beliefs. While I can totally understand that the prospect of his plague suddenly spreading left him in a state of constant, nagging fear, and therefore prone to focus on this more than on other people’s interests, the way he hesitated between which way to pursue (stay faithful to the plot, or listen to the White Light, or shouldn’t he listen to his father, but then are his father’s beliefs really his own as well, etc.) was a bit tedious to go through. Good thing Emma was here to set his sight straights, and by this, I don’t mean showing him the light (OK, OK, I should stop with the puns now), but making him aware that her circumstances are more complicated than he thinks, in his own ‘privileged’ way, even though his being plagued does contribute to a common understanding of being immediately rejected because of what one looks like.

Also, let’s be honest, Guy wasn’t exactly Father of the Year either, and the story didn’t focus much on developing his ties with Thomas. They were united through the plot, but that was pretty much all, when this could’ve been a wonderful opportunity to reunite them differently, in deeper ways, too. There just wasn’t enough about him, about his personality, and in turn, this lessened the impact of Thomas’ decisions when it came to him.

Another issue for me was the magic system. I got the broad lines, and the reason for the Keepers/Igniters divide, but apart from that, we weren’t shown how exactly this magic works. It is, I’m sure, more subtle than simply voicing an order to a specific colour, and there seems to be a whole undercurrent of rules to it, that aren’t really explained. For instance, why can the masks only be carved by the biological father or mother of a person, and not by an adoptive parent (or even by anyone else)?

Mention in passing as well to language: sometimes, it veered into too modern territory (I mean 20/21st-century modern English specifically, not ‘but Shakespeare’s English was technically Modern English, too’ ;)). I think it was especially prevalent in Thomas’ discussions with White Light, and I found this jarring.

Conclusion: 3 stars, as I still liked the story overall, as well as the world depicted in it, despite the questions I still have about it. I was hoping for a stronger story, though.

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review 2019-01-17 10:50
Doubletake Review! Not Broken (True Destiny # 5) Dana Marie Bell!

 

 

Today I am revisting Not Broken - The 5th book in the True Destiny series by Dana Marie Bell! Enjoy and don't forget to add the book to your shelves!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

 

 

Three hearts are stronger than the sum of their scars.

 

True Destiny, Book 5

 

Slade Saeter endured centuries of torture, longing for the day he could claim Magnus Tate and Sylvia Grimm as mates. Now freedom is his, but nightmares still plague this son of Loki, and he fears his lovers will believe him too fragile to bond.

 

Magnus never thought he could have the woman of his dreams, not when she was broken by his own father, her heart shattered by Thor’s infidelities and their ultimate divorce. But Slade’s determination gives him a glimmer of hope.

 

Never one to let anything keep her down for long, Sylvia has long since healed from her ex-husband’s betrayals. But accepting her own stepson as a bonded mate? While it’s something she can wrap her body around, her heart is another story.

 

As three war-weary, damaged hearts slowly find balance among them, they form bonds of surprising strength. But with danger descending upon them with the fury of a Valkyrie, time is the one thing they may not have.

 

Warning: This title contains explicit sex, graphic language, and the only two people who know for sure if Slade really is hung like a horse. (They aren’t talking.)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


Three War-weary, damaged hearts find balance and form a bond of surprising strength but with war descending on them they may not have a lot of time in this gripping paranormal romance.

 

Slade was tortured for centuries, Magnus thought he could never have the woman of his dreams and Sylvia’s fighting her attraction to her stepson and the reader can’t help but get caught up in this emotionally gripping romance that captures the heart as Slade’s determination gives them all a glimmer of hope. The chemistry heats up every page and the sex scenes are scorching including m/m/f but the relationship is almost overcome by the all the emotional turbulence that these three have suffered and by the present situation. These strong, captivating characters grab your attention as they strive to reach for their chance at happily ever after and the fast paced, smooth flowing plot holds all the reader’s attention with suspense, excitement and romance.

 

The war is escalating and there are so many players with their own agendas that the excitement and action could come from any direction keeping everyone on their toes, with tension building from the possibility of betrayals and new alliances being made. Intriguing events draw the readers in and guarantee that they have to know what happens next and the well written scenes and details ensure that the readers can picture each and every event as it happens.

 

The fascinating dynamics of this world and the way that the author brings the prophecy into play not only keeps the characters guessing but the reader’s as well which adds mysticism and spice to the story while Dana Marie Bell also manages to keep the timeline flowing smoothly and full of never-ending excitement. Once again this series had me enthralled from the very beginning of the story and I can’t wait to find out what happens next as Ragnarrok looms ever closer.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23876060-not-broken

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/not-broken-true-destiny-book-5-by-dana-marie-bell

 

Riffle - https://www.rifflebooks.com/books/1033215

 

Romance.io - https://www.romance.io/books/548ff68f7a5936fb04062794/not-broken-dana-marie-bell

 

GBooks - https://www.romance.io/books/548ff68f7a5936fb04062794/not-broken-dana-marie-bell

 

BookLikes - http://booklikes.com/not-broken-dana-marie-bell/book,13995734

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Not Broken is the 5th book in the True Destiny series

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/series/46713-true-destiny

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073VGJ2CM?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

 

Author - https://www.danamariebell.com/true-destiny

 

 

1 Very Much Alive
2 Eye of the Beholder
3 Howl for Me
3.5 Just the Way You Are
4 Morgan's Fate
5 Not Broken
6 Hide and Seek

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

AVAILABLE in print or ebook

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Not-Broken-True-Destiny-Book-ebook/dp/B06XR21K3N/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1490129901&sr=1-1&keywords=not+broken

 

B&N - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-broken-dana-marie-bell/1126007143?ean=2940154301135

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Dana Marie Bell wrote her first short story when she was thirteen years old. She attended the High School for Creative and Performing Arts for creative writing, where freedom of expression was the order of the day. When her parents moved out of the city and placed her in a Catholic high school for her senior year she tried desperately to get away, but the nuns held fast, and she graduated with honors despite herself.

 

Dana has lived primarily in the Northeast (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, to be precise), with a brief stint on the US Virgin Island of St. Croix. She lives with her soul-mate and husband Dusty, their two maniacal children, an evil ice-cream stealing cat and a bull terrier that thinks it’s a Pekinese.

 

 

Website - http://www.danamariebell.com/

 

Blob - http://danamariebell.blogspot.com/

 

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1611087.Dana_Marie_Bell

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/authors/dana-marie-bell

 

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Dana.Marie.Bell/

 

Twitter - https://twitter.com/danamariebell

 

Pintrest - https://www.pinterest.com/danamariebell/

 

Tumblr - http://danamariebell.tumblr.com/

 

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/danamariebell

 

InstaGram - https://www.instagram.com/danamariebell/

 

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Dana+Marie+Bell&search-alias=digital-text&text=Dana+Marie+Bell&sort=relevancerank

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

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review 2019-01-16 21:07
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic / Emily Croy Barker
The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic - Emily Croy Barker

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.

 

Not quite what I was anticipating—which is a bit of an issue when the book is over 500 pages!

Under normal circumstances, I adore books which include the Fae, which this one does. Nora, our main character, bumps into an odd guy on campus and he rather obscurely grants her wish for a complete change of pace in life. One assumes that he is a member of this book’s Faitoren who was inhabiting our world, instead of the alternate world that Nora is transported to.

This is very much an alternate reality book—like Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series, H. Beam Piper’s Paratime novels or Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. In this iteration, Nora gets transported into a rather medieval world which relies on magic rather than technology. Of course, she discovers some facility for magic, which saves her life from being total drudgery.

One of my main issues was the character of Aruendiel, the magician who rescues Nora from the Faitoren and assumes responsibility for her in this very, very patriarchal world. He’s no Dumbledore or Gandalf—he’s cranky, prejudiced, and arrogant. His relationship with Nora is a very reluctant one, consisting more of feeling responsible for her than any affection. Then when the balance seems to twist towards Aruendiel wanting more of their relationship, he isn’t willing to unbend enough to verbalize it, leaving Nora really to twist in the wind, wondering if she’s imagining things. Just to confuse things even more, Aruendiel seems to try fairly often to foist her on other men as a wife or he is searching for a “window” to send her home to her own reality. There’s a limited amount of speculation about the magician’s age and I gained the feeling that he was way too old to be a viable love-interest for Nora.

There is some exploration of the notion that Nora, coming from our reality, doesn’t act enough like a (subservient) woman in the magic time line. But the chances to explore the nature of the relations between men and women gets short shrift (except on the many occasions when Nora is pissed off about it). She basically works like a galley slave on Aruendiel’s estate except when he grants her special privileges to study or practice magic.


Although Nora ends up feeling attracted to Aruendiel, I just couldn’t feel the basis for it. He was too old, too arrogant, too prejudiced against women. I could understand some respect for him as a teacher (although he didn’t seem to be all that great an instructor, honestly), but beyond that was beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief.

Nevertheless, there’s a lid for every pot and I’m sure that this book will suit a lot of readers better than it did me.

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