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The Skull Throne
The Skull Throne
Peter V. Brett | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry
9
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
The fourth installment of Brett's impressive Demonwar books takes up exactly where the last book, The Daylight War, finished. With Jardir and Arlen last seen falling from a high cliff during a fight to the death, each side must manage without their Deliverer to battle the threat from the demons - and each other.

With Jardir gone, Inevera and Abban face a struggle for survival as his sons try to position themselves so they can take the Skull Throne and continue the daylight war against the Thesans seeking to unite all of mankind against the demon threat by force and subjugation.

Meanwhile the leaders of Hollow County are embroiled in political intrigue over the failure of the Duke of Angiers to produce an heir and questions about the rise of the Hollow as a power that could rival the Duke. Any actions by either side now could put the whole fate of the world at risk.

This is undoubtedly the best in the series to so far. All the characters and plot strands from the previous books are woven into a taut tale that drives forward with each page. Where previous installments have been mostly dialogue, this book moves neatly from one set piece to another, from battles against demons to assassination attempts stirred by old rivalries this books has it all.

Once again it is the characters that drive the book; without Brett's fine eye for detail the reader wouldn't care so much about the characters and it's a rare trick that the reader is able to support characters on both sides of the conflicts and arguments.

The momentum builds throughout to a final few chapters that are simply jaw dropping in terms of storyline, pace and scope. The next installment simply cannot come fast enough.

I'm also glad I read the UK hardback edition with the fantastic picture of Rojer looking very mean on the cover. From being my least favourite character he is definitely the stand out in this book.

Entirely recommended. It's a big book (the story ended on page 737) but well worth the read. However if you have not read the previous books in the series you will need to start at The Painted Man as previous knowledge of the characters and situations is assumed. But you will not regret it, Brett's world of demons is one of the best fantasy concepts out there.

Rated: Violent scenes and some sexual references
  
The Taking (Afterlife #2)
The Taking (Afterlife #2)
Katrina Cope | 2015 | Fiction & Poetry, Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult (YA)
9
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
After her actions at the end of the first book in the series - Fledgling - the human-turned-angel Aurora has drawn the unwelcome attention of Separus, one of the most powerful of the demons. He covets her power and is determined to capture her and turn her to the side of darkness.

Aware of this Archangel Michael, leader of the angels, assigns her and her friends to be further trained by Zacharias, a rather bad tempered 'earthbound' angel who is an expert in fighting and weapons. As their - at times brutal - training takes place the demons are plotting to capture the three angel friends by using the ultimate bait for Aurora - Ethan. Aurora will need to make a choice, and not an easy one.

The Taking continues more-or-less where Fledgling left off although there is a distinct change of tone. Whereas in the first book Aurora, Cindy and Ben are out and about in the world saving innocents, here they are in training for very much of the time. In other hands this might be a disappointment, but Cope has an eye for telling the interesting bits of stories and not labouring the mundane. It also helps that the training is somewhat unusual, as is the teacher. As the major new character Zacharias is very well drawn, suitably grumpy and terse at being given 'humans' to train, as he sees it.

When conflict with the demons arises Cope again shows the flair for describing fight scenes from the first book and these, as would be expected, are far more intense battles with much more at stake. These are not serene angels gently guiding their human charges through life. These are kick-ass super heroes who are not afraid to put themselves in the way of extreme danger for what they believe is right.

Aurora must also confront her feelings for both Ethan, her human love, and Ben her angel friend. Both relationships are forbidden and this just complicates things further. I suspect that this aspect of the books would appeal more to female young adult readers but they are well written even if you will probably be shouting at the book telling Aurora not to be so silly at points.

Overall a second strong showing in this series and very recommended. If the angel/demon theme doesn't sound like your cup of tea then just give it a go. You will be pleasantly surprised
  
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Hazel (913 KP) rated Who Did You Tell? in Books

Dec 20, 2019  
Who Did You Tell?
Who Did You Tell?
Lesley Kara | 2020 | Mystery, Thriller
8
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Compelling and engrossing
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of "The Rumour" comes another cracking story from Lesley Kara.

I was looking forward to reading this after having read and enjoyed Ms Kara's debut novel "The Rumour" and I certainly wasn't disappointed although this was sometimes a difficult read due to the main character, Astrid, being a recovering alcoholic with a chequered history.

Initially, Astrid was a difficult character to like but as the novel moved on, I found myself rooting for her to succeed against the inner voices in her head pulling her back towards the demon drink and although I am not an alcoholic, recovering or current, it does feel authentic. The way Ms Kara describes the impact addiction has not only on the person themselves but also on the family and wider relationships is well captured in this book.

Astrid is trying to rebuild her life - moving back to her childhood home to live with her mum, attending AA meetings, trying to rekindle her gift of painting, rebuilding the trust of her mum but she is full of shame and guilt regarding events she recalls from her past drinking days; events that only she and her ex-boyfriend know about or so she thought ... someone is watching her, someone is sending her notes, someone is going out of their way to try and prevent her from moving on.

The book is told mainly from Astrid's point of view with snippets included from the "stalker's" perspective. This, I think, was genius as it not only immersed me into Astrid's thought processes and daily struggles with addiction but also gave me an idea of what she was up against.

The story starts quite slowly but develops in intensity and pace with twists along the way and although you would think it would be heavy-going given the subject matter, it isn't as there are lighter moments sprinkled throughout. All of the characters are well developed and interesting and the setting of the small coastal town is perfect.

This is a compelling and engrossing read dealing with a difficult subject matter with sensitivity and one I would definitely recommend to readers who like to get their teeth into something a bit different.

Many thanks to RandomHouse UK, Transworld Publishers via NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.
  
Pale Demon (The Hollows, #9)
Pale Demon (The Hollows, #9)
Kim Harrison | 2011 | Fiction & Poetry
8
9.3 (6 Ratings)
Book Rating
One of the things I have grown to love about Rachel Morgan through all of these nine books is her constant positive and hopeful perspective with others, despite how contrary their behavior. Though her friends and partners are telling her in so many ways that the rulers of her kind, the witches' council, will never let her make it to the coast and are more interested in killing her than anything else, she won't believe it until she sees for herself. And then there is her odds-defying ability to always find a way to survive against all attacks - she truly has become one of a kind, as is revealed in several ways in this book, with her match-up against the just-released demon creation that is her genetic match, as well as the sad speech that Ivy gives her about how Rachel is leaving her and Jenks behind with the way she can create change across all species.
And if that is not enough to keep her busy, Rachel's love life only becomes more complicated, since Pierce has professed his love for her in the previous book, and Rachel feels a certain obligation to him. Of course, Al continues to pursue Rachel despite her refusals, and one violent-turned-steamy moment showed the kind of lust-filled potential that exists between them. Towards the end of the book, Rachel also makes a rather interesting observation about demons in general that could put Al in the potential category for future books. If two men is not enough to keep her busy, a very obvious growing attraction between her and Trent seems to show the most promise, and is ironically the one I found myself most rooting for, especially with some of the scenes in the book.
Trent's part in the book is an elf quest of sorts that he is particularly silent about, but gets him in all kinds of trouble and just creates more work for Rachel and crew. Of course, the outcome of this quest makes Trent more likable in the end, but he has to do much to prove himself to Rachel. The newest element to the series in this book was the use of wild magic by the elves, which has an untamed, old world quality that Rachel dislikes immensely. Trent wields it well, though often secretly and against Rachel's wishes.
In the end, the revelations that Rachel undergoes regarding herself and the people around her mark a major turning point for her and the series. I only wish I knew when the next book was due for release!
  
WD
Walking Dead (Walker Papers, #4)
C.E. Murphy | 2009 |
8
8.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Normally I don't care for zombies in my fantasy literature - the ick factor is just too high for me. (I don't do horror movies, either.) This book is probably the first exception as Joanne disliked them as much as I do. I love that she now as a better sense of what she is doing with her shamanic abilities, and she has even studied a few things related to this so that she is better prepared for future needs. It seems to me that as Joanne better understands the mechanics of what she is doing, the better I, as the reader, can understand them, too.
At the beginning of the book Joanne is dating the mechanic she has nicknamed Thor. I really like the guy and how genuine and honest he is with her, but I feel sorry for him because I know that it is not him that Joanne really wants. She takes him for granted and does not give the relationship any real chance at surviving.
The mess with the cauldron is an interesting bit of folklore that ironically ties back to Ireland, where Joanne's mother comes from. I like also that it introduces some new characters, such as the medium Sonata, and brings back Suzanne Quinley from the first book. Suzanne has got some serious magic of her own, and the courage to use it wisely. This makes me wonder if the author couldn't give her a series of her own in the YA genre. My favorite part of the book is when Suzanne uses her future-seeing abilities and Joanne tunes in. Joanne gets to see all of her possible past, present, and future selves based on alternate choices she could have made throughout her life. This was absolutely fascinating for me because I am always wondering about the "what ifs" with the main characters of the books I read. How I wish more of the books I read would find a way to employ this tactic, heck I would not mind it in real life!
As for loose ends, there are two that really bug me. The first is the outcome of the annoying insurance adjuster, since he just seemed to fall of the radar at the end. The second is Captain Morrison and his ever-evolving relationship with Joanne. He plays a major part at the climax, but the reader does not get to see any sort of personal reaction on Morrison's behalf or his reaction to Joanne's new relationship status. I will just have to wait to see what happens in the next book, Demon Hunts (Walker Papers, Book 5).
  
The Mortal Instruments 1: City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments 1: City of Bones
Cassandra Clare | 2007 | Children
10
8.2 (106 Ratings)
Book Rating
City of Bones is the book that started the phenomenon that is the Shadowhunters world and fandom. The book introduces us to a beloved cast of characters and the fascinating Shadow World that will be developed over the course of the future novels. We discover the world through the eyes of Clary Fray, a girl who always thought she was normal but discovers that she is actually part of a race of people who are part-angel and spend their days fighting back the demon hordes.

Clary and her best friend Simon are thrust into a world full of werewolves, vampires, warlocks, fairies and demons. They meet three Shadowhunters around their age: Jace, Izzy and Alec who live in the New York Institute. The first book has a number of different action scenes, but I think it shines most in the world-building department. Cassandra Clare develops an intricate world that you can easily imagine and yet is infinitely more complex than our own familiar one.

While there is some character development, the book only takes place over a period of two weeks. We are just getting to know the characters and that development or growth will come in later books. For now, we are learning about these characters and their secrets. Having read the series before, I am already in love with certain characters so it's strange seeing their early personas. They grow so much over the course of the six books that there are some that I don't particularly connect to, yet absolutely adore them later on.

Although I relate most to Clary, Jace is by far my favourite character in the series. He is witty, sarcastic and has the best lines in any scene. Some of the other characters have hilarious, memorable lines as well because Cassie writes fantastic dialogue - but Jace is the star. He can cause you to laugh out loud, which might garner you strange looks if you're in public reading.

This book is fantastic, but you can definitely see the difference in writing quality between this book and Cassie's most recent series. I think the writing is well done, the world building is immersive and the characters are relatable. I adore this book because it is what introduced me to the Shadow World and my beloved Shadowhunters, but I can admit that her writing has come so far in the last ten years. Regardless, I cannot recommend this series more to young adult/teen fans of fantasy, books with unique and immersive world building and if you're willing to continue with it fantastic character building throughout the series.
  
City of Heavenly Fire
City of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare | 2015 | Children
10
8.7 (15 Ratings)
Book Rating
The conclusion to the Mortal Instruments was certainly a pleasing one. There is nothing worse than reading a great book or series, or perhaps watching a tv show that creates a multitude of story lines... And then fails to resolve them. It leaves the reader with a sense of dismay and confusion. What happened to my favourite character? Did the problem ever get resolved? No one likes that feeling.

Cassandra Clare did a wonderful job of making the reader feel like the series had all of its loose ends tied up. People found or lost their loves. Villains plotted and heroes fought. It was beautiful. (And incredibly long.) I never found myself drifting from the text, although I love long books, so I may be biased. Each change of scene held my attention and I was loathe to put the book down each night to go to sleep. While I am sure that there were some scenes or dialogue that could have been trimmed to improve the flow of the novel, I never found those things distracting to me as the reader.

I also praise Cassandra Clare for the way she writes her dialogue. The characters seem so much more realistic as a result. I find myself laughing at the jokes or smirking when Jace or Clary say something snarky/sarcastic. I'm left with lines or quotes that I absolutely love (and save to my goodreads quotes.)


SPOILERS:


I love Jace and Clary's relationship. They are supportive of one another, and I believe bring out the best in the other. But they are not perfect, which makes the coupling that much more authentic. You relate to Clary (unless you're a brunette bombshell, Izzy, or you know... Excessively hairy and prone to outbursts when the moon is full, Maia) because she is authentic. She has her selfish moments, times when she is incredibly strong and others when she's unbelievably stubborn. Jace is the guy you wish actually existed because he's strong, protective, and maybe, when he lets his guard down, just a little bit sensitive.

I'm just wondering one thing - why did Jace expect to have sex (for the first time, mind you) with Clary in the demon dimension? The one they expected to die in. Boys.

Izzy and Simon? Well they don't make as much sense, but are still cute together in their own way. Simon is generally the perfect sidekick. The best friend you always wanted and sometimes the one you never knew you needed. Izzy is the female archetype that you should live up to - tough, courageous, and loyal.
  
The Girl in The Tower: The Winternight Trilogy
The Girl in The Tower: The Winternight Trilogy
Katherine Arden | 2018 | Science Fiction/Fantasy
9
9.8 (6 Ratings)
Book Rating
The Girl in the Tower is the second in the Winternight Trilogy, after the acclaimed debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale. It's always hard to talk about sequels without giving too much away about the preceding books, so forgive me if I'm vague. One advantage to waiting so long to read The Bear and the Nightingale was that I got to jump straight into the sequel! Now I have to several months for the third.

The Girl in the Tower revisits our heroine, Vasya, from the first book. Now she has left home to begin her adventures - though her travels are curtailed pretty quickly, and she's roped into going to Moscow with her brother and the Grand Prince, while disguised as a boy. While in Moscow she learns a little bit more about her family history, and I'm hoping the rest will be revealed in the third book this summer. (The Winter of the Witch is scheduled to release in August 2018.)

In this second book, Vasya has done some growing, and has learned to make use of the spirits she sees - she knows the hearth spirits can always find their families, and uses that trait to track a kidnapped girl when no one else can. So long as no one realizes what she's doing, she's fine. But Rus is in the crossover period between the old ways and the new, and if she's found talking to spirits, she'll be branded a witch all over again. She keeps her masquerade going through the first two-thirds of the book, but it's obvious it's going to fail eventually. The way in which it does is sudden and unexpected, and the repercussions are harsh.

And then there's Morozko, the Frost Demon, the god of death. I love Morozko. He's by necessity enigmatic - and in a rough position. I want he and Vasya to fall in love and have a happy ending - the attraction between them is impossible to miss - but immortal beings, in this world, can't love. If they love they lose their immortality. And, possibly, their lives entirely. I hope the author has a solution in mind for these two, because I currently don't see one.

I actually liked this one more than the first book, which is unusual. I liked the first one, but I wasn't blown away. This one pulled me in and didn't let me go. Amazing sequel, and I hope the third one lives up to this standard!

You can find all my reviews at http://goddessinthestacks.wordpress.com
  
    Minimon: Adventure of Minions

    Minimon: Adventure of Minions

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    A LEGEND AWAKENS… The once peaceful and harmonious homeland of Minimons is being threatened by...