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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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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-08 13:00
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night - Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Joanna Archer, representing the Light-side Sagittarius sign in the Zodiac troupe of Las Vegas, continues to juggle her new-found life in her sister's body. Not only does she have to keep up appearances of being the sole progeny to the richest man in the city, she also has to protect society from the Shadow organisation hellbent on terrorising the innocent. Finding herself in a rather peculiar predicament, Joanna reluctantly makes a deal with a Shadow initiate; one that she might come to regret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I've always been fond of the good ol' fight between good and evil, so the aspect of superheroes was definitely refreshing to return to. Whilst finding The Scent of Shadows to be rather average as a whole, I believed this instalment (Signs of the Zodiac series is six instalments long) to be a large decline - primarily because of the heroine herself, Joanna Archer. I personally love the first-person perspectives that dominate the genre; it gives an in-depth and intimate picture of the character, however it can be especially unforgiving if that character happens to be someone you dislike.

And boy, did I dislike her.

I'm a firm believer that characters should be flawed, because people are flawed, however there's only so much I can take when I can find very little redeeming qualities. Joanna repeatedly made the exact same error and refused to learn from it, instead putting herself and her troupe at risk over and over. I'm legitimately shocked how anyone could find her actions reasonable, and how anyone could consider her a good protagonist. Being vengeful is one thing, but being stupidly selfish is another thing entirely.

Let me give a rundown of her transgressions; the ones that bothered me the most. 1: She kept going off alone after the bad guy, with the knowledge that her enemy was stronger. Thus, he would obviously get the better of her and she would need rescuing by her team. This happened three times, if I remember correctly. 2: The gateway to the Light side's secret hideout, she compromised it twice (the second time she was well aware of her actions), and so put the safety of her group, not to mention children, at risk. 3: Due to jealously, she couldn't allow her ex-boyfriend to move on, so she forced herself back into his life, when he was just beginning to be happy again. And she spent a night with him, then disappeared again.

The third one bothered me the most, I think. This is a woman whose identity needs to be kept a secret, yet as soon as she caught a whiff of a new woman in Ben's life, she didn't waste any time to metaphorically urinate all over him. The fact is, she can't have any sort of relationship with him, she can't even allow him to see her physical appearance unless she uses a prepubescent's shield-mould-thing. Am I the only one that found it creepy, that she had sex with Ben whilst using that little girls essence or whatever it was?

I'm going to end the rant about our dear Joanna there, if I can bring myself to it.

I can't say I favoured any of the other characters either, except maybe Regan. She really did play her role expertly, and I daresay she'll be one hell of a villain for the team to battle in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has in store for the Light side. Sometimes you just have to root for evil, because in this case, the Light doesn't exactly offer anything substantial. I mean, what do we have? Hunter? Well, he took a page from Joanna's book; his selfishness actually resulting in someones death. I'm not a fan of love triangles anyway; I'd much rather he or Ben be removed from the equation altogether. Warren and Tekla's frustration throughout was understandable - they were definitely the adults of the situation.

The plot itself could've been better. I honestly expected the plague to have more of an impact, but it didn't even occur until a hundred plus pages. The focal point seemed to be Joaquin, and because of such the tone of the book was needlessly dark. Joaquin was portrayed badly; his entire thought process being about rape, despite him apparently being an avid collector of the comics. It was basically telling us he had depth, yet every time he was on-page he was constantly sexually abusing and / or harassing women. At one point he even yelled: "I will rape you, Joanna!", which in itself summed up his character perfectly.

I like the premise of this series, I do, but I got pretty sick and tired of Joanna's mess. I dearly hope she'll develop into something better.

The Touch of Twilight is the third book in this series, and was first published in 2008.

Notable Scene:

"Uh... good doggie?" I said, taking in the sight of an animal with the muscle of a bear and the angular ferocity of a wolf. He let a warning rumble loose in his throat, and the deep reverberation jarred through my immobile bones like a jackhammer through concrete.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/08/the-taste-of-night-by-vicki-pettersson
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