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review 2019-01-21 02:58
Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin #1)
Widdershins - Jordan L. Hawk

Reread review 1/20/19:

 

No wonder I couldn't remember some of this. I read it three and-a-half years ago! ;) Time flies.

 

Whyborne and Griffin are the best. <3 I really enjoyed revisiting them at the start of their relationship, and seeing how much they've both changed and grown in confidence and strength since this first outing. Whyborne's so used to abuse and bullying that just Griffin being nice to him is enough to endear Griffin to him. And Griffin is so used to being abandoned that Whyborne sticking by him in times of trouble is enough to make its own impression. They're exactly what the other needed. <3

 

Christine's as great as ever. I still think making Ms. Parkhurst

fall for Persephone is a retcon. She's clearly crushing on Whyborne this whole time, but suddenly she's into a squid monster. Ooookay. Sure.

(spoiler show)

I'm going to try to be more open-minded about Niles, since as of book 10 I still have reservations about him. He was somewhat less awful here than I remembered him being - though he's still plenty awful, no question.

 

Original review 6/7/15:

 

I held out on delving into this series for the longest time, because historicals, especially in M/M are almost never done to my liking. They're too contemporary, or they're costume dramas, or they've got the sickly waif, or what have you. I've really only enjoyed Tamara Allen's works because she gets into the mindset of the time and doesn't try to modernize them. Ms. Hawk doesn't quite come up to that standard, but she comes incredibly close. The characters sound like they're from the turn of the century, more or less. They don't go gaga over the dress of the times; there is no more attention paid to anyone's garb than there would be in a contemporary fiction. So I liked this book just for that right from the start.

 

Then the plot starting picking up. Historical AND paranormal? Two genres I'm usually picky about. I'm trying to get into shifters, but so far I've only read THIRDS and that fell flat. Vampires? Even if I hadn't had my fill with Anne Rice in high school and with Buffy/Angel right after that, I do believe Edward Cullen has ruined the genre for the rest of humanity and all of time. Harry Dresden works for me because it's from the POV of someone working to oppose those forces and it doesn't get overly angsty, and that's more or less what Ms. Hawk does here as well. There is some angst, thanks to that Big Misunderstanding, but I wasn't bothered by it because of the way it was resolved. The paranormal element takes front and center, and I liked seeing Whyborne struggle to understand it and resist its lure. I thought the family conflict was resolved a bit too neatly, but I'm willing to see if it's resolved for good or just put on hold due to traumatic circumstances. 

 

I really enjoyed Whyborne and Griffin. They're not as cut and dry as they appear to be. They both have past struggles to contend with and past regrets that haunt them, but they're a good match for each other. You could see Whyborne slowly growing more confident in himself as the book progressed. Griffin too gets some development, but as the story is told through Whyborne's POV, we only get to see it secondhand, but we do get to see it and experience it. Then there's Christine, who in my mind looks and acts much like Marvel's Agent Carter. She's the perfect woman and I hope she becomes a regular character and a part of their team. 

 

There were a few typos, words repeating where they should have been edited out (no, not the stutters), and a couple of other minor instances but nothing overly glaring. There was just the right amount of sex, at least for me. And while this isn't quite instalove, they do fall for each other fairly quickly if you pay attention to the timeline. Still, with the focus being primarily on the investigation, that didn't bother me all that much. I'm much more forgiving of that trope when the characters are able to get over themselves and focus on the actual plot instead of getting sidetracked constantly by feels and horniness. Not that there isn't some sidetracking, but it's not on every single page and they're able to act like mature adults.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I can see myself becoming a fan of this series if they continue to hold up to the standard set by this one. Plus, Widdershins sounds like a place that can get Hellmouthy, so I'm looking forward to what their future adventures might entail. 

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review 2019-01-21 01:19
Srong Collection
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier

There are six stories in this volume and they all work on that eerie maybe-normal-maybe-fantastical/grothesque/horror line.

 

The Birds is excellent at suspense and the daily made unnerving. And it leaves you there.

 

Monte Veritá reads almost like one of those non-Cthulthu's Lovecraftian tales. I really like the beginning, and the maybe-magical-maybe-mundane and expansive tone. The thing is, though, that much like in Lovecraft's writings, I had issues... I don't know, it was not... It felt like it was written by a man trying to be fair-for-his time but still...

 

The Apple Tree was a perfectly done unreliable narrator. He makes you despise the dead woman, but at the same time, you can read between the lines his own "polite" chauvinism, and so you feel for her. And then the layers peel, and oh my. Another that treads the line between the real and the fantastical for disquiet, and it's a gruesome poison study that you can see coming and still...

 

The Little Photographer ... Well, talking about poison-study. Ennui does not make good councilors. A bit of tragedy with some karma.

 

Kiss Me Again, Stranger was the eerie of prototype modern goths with some sauce.

 

The Old Man is interesting because you don't question it.

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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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