Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Midnight Jewel (The Glittering Court #2)

The Selection meets Reign in this dazzling trilogy of interwoven novels about three girls on a quest for freedom and true love from #1 internationally bestselling author Richelle Mead.

Midnight Jewel, by Richelle Mead, is the second installment in The Glittering Court series. Mirabel Vaina (henceforth Mira) is not like the other Glittering Court girls. She is a war refugee, cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where she has learned to fight against the many injustices around her. For some, the Glittering Court offers a chance at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. But for Mira, it’s simply a means to an end. She learns that her older brother, Lonzo, is a bondsman an ocean away. Seeking to reunite with her brother in the new world, she plans to earn off her marriage contract price, and finally be free.

Mira pitches herself as an asset to one of the passengers on board the ship: the sardonic and aloof Grant Elliot, whom she’s discovered is a spy for the prestigious McGraw Agency—and her ticket to buying her freedom. His cover blown, Grant has little choice but to take her on. Mira applies herself by day, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity. By night, she dons a mask and slips into the city, fighting injustice and corruption on her own terms—and impressing Grant with her extraordinary abilities and insights into a brewing rebellion. But the rebellion isn’t all they’re fighting…

Neither of them can ignore the attraction burning between them—an attraction so powerful, it threatens to unravel everything Mira’s worked so hard for. With freedom finally within her grasp, can Mira risk it all for love?

I thought Adelaide and Cedric's romance was breathtaking. Midnight Jewel exceeded my expectations in every way. I loved the romantic relationship between MIrabel and Grant. A minor character in the first novel, Mirabel turned out to be a brave young woman with inner strength and an adventurous streak to fight injustice that comes her way. Grant, a undercover agent of Balanquan and Osfridian heritage, seeks to reclaim his citizenship and social status in the Balanquan Empire. He has enough Osfridian features to mingle among the colonists and spy for the McGraw Agency, an investigative crime unit of the Crown. Grant's secretive and cynical personality annoys Mirabel at first, she can't help how handsome and strong he looks. The two slowly come to realize their feelings for each other and together work to rescue their friends and loved ones. I will admit that Mirabel and Grant work well together as a team!

Although I wished Mead had provided some kind of map or pictures to illustrate the historical period of the series, I could haphazardly guess that the background mirrors life in the 18th century American colonies prior to the Revolutionary War. Cape Triumph, Adoria would be somewhere in the Middle colonies (present-day Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York). Osfrid would be Great Britain, Lorandy would be France, and the Balanquans would be similar to the Iroquois Federation. Sirminica, where Mirabel hails from, is somewhere in Southern Europe (Spain, Italy) or North Africa. Keep in mind this is my estimation of the plot so I could be wrong with my geography. Overall, I enjoyed this installment in the Glittering Court and cannot wait to hear the fiery, practical-minded Tasmin's point of view in the final installment!

Stay tuned for the third and final novel in the Glittering Court!
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Reiew: Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter #8)

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required - those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Archangel's Enigma is the eighth installment in the Guild Hunter novel series. This story focuses on Naasir, one of archangel Raphael's Seven, who have pledged loyalty to serve him. Naasir is unique in that he is neither a vampire nor human. He is an other--born out of an abominable experiment that combined different animal species without consent. His kind shouldn't exist - a human body with tiger-like features and a vampire's blood thirst. But Raphael and the angels found him and raised him in the Refuge, teaching him how to behave around people and angels despite his feral (animal) abilities. Several centuries later, Naasir feels that it's the right time to find his soulmate, whom he believes is hiding from him.

When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required - those more common to predatory animals than to man. Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets is fascinated by his nature - at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. Andromeda is the only grandchild of Charisemnon, ally of Lijuan, archangel of China. She fled the abuses and depravities of his court for the Refuge when barely more than a fledgling to pursue her dream of becoming a scholar. Her main area of study is the Ancients for the wisdom they can offer, and the study of mythological creatures because she is fascinated by them. It's her knowledge of the Ancients that causes Raphael to send Naasir to protect her while she searches for the Sleeping Ancient whom they believe Lijuan is also seeking. Lijuan is determined to exterminate anyone who is a threat to her rule of destruction.

As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it's too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. Andromeda has a big secret that she vowed not to tell anyone. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare...

Singh delivers another brilliant story from an underrated character that I had no idea would be so fascinating to hear in his own voice. Naasir is a chimera born out of an angelic experiment that defied the laws of nature. Although his Creator is deceased, Naasir is allowed to live because he had no choice in the matter. Over the centuries, Naasir has learned to control both his feral abilities around people though it is no easy feat. He thins like a man and like a tiger which presents an interesting case. Readers also learn that Naasir is a brilliant spymaster who can get in and out of dangerous situations. And for the first time in his life, he has learned what love feels like with Andromeda, who does not see him as a freak of nature but as a mysterious creature that excites her scholarly instincts. Andromeda will later reveal that she has the fighting skills to defend herself, which impresses Naasir even more so. I thought Janvier and Ashwini's romance was amazing, but Naasir and Andromeda take it to another level that I didn't think was possible. Singh continues to outdo herself in ways that I thought were impossible with this series. I highly recommend this novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Guild Hunter series, Archangel's Heart.
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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Review: Into the Fire (Night Prince #4)

In this explosive finale to Jeaniene Frost's Night Prince series, Vlad is in danger of losing his bride to an enemy whose powers might prove greater than the Prince of Vampires. In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

Into the Night, by Jeaniene Frost, is the fourth and final novel in the Night Prince series. For nearly 600 years, Vlad Tepesh (famously known as Dracula but do not dare mention that name in his face) cared for nothing. Essentially, he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolish stayed away from him. However, falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. His enemies see his love as a weakness worthy to exploit. As a result, one adversary indeed has found a way to use Vlad's new bride against him in the most tormenting way possible.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires. While this spell backfired for the necromancer, it also means that Vlad cannot torture the man who tried to hurt his bride. Worse, Vlad has no idea where the necromancer is hiding. So Vlad and Leila seek the most unlikely guide (fans of the Night Huntress series with Cat and Bones will get a kick out of this character) to search for a way to break the spell. But another ancient enemy is upon them, capable of turning Vlad and Leila's closest friends against them and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

This novel concludes the NIght Prince series. As the previous novels mentioned, Vlad and Leila’s man mission is to find Mircea and break the bond that is between him and Leila. When either one is cut or inured, the other feels that pain too. Mircea has been nothing but a thorn in Leila and Vlad’s side and now the overprotective Vlad is determined to find a way to break the bond so that he can kill Mircea. The hunt kicks into full gear once they learned that Mircea has been kidnapped by an ancient cult of magic users. Vlad turns to Mencheres and--shocker--Ian! Much to his dismay, Vlad does not have a choice as his usual ruthlessness does not work in the magical realm. Ian! Much to Ian’s own dismay, his love for Mencheres has him doing his bidding. Unfortunately for Vlad, the trio run into unexpected guests (and tragedies) that makes the journey even more dangerous. It also doesn't help that Vlad continues to harbor secrets and do things without consulting Leila. Whatever Vlad does is always out of love for Leila Still, the humor and cameo appearances are the main highlights of this novel. However, I felt like Frost did not define any resolution between Vlad and Mircea. Besides the cliché fatherly talk, I wonder if Frost is saving this cliffhanger for a future story.

Stay tuned for the next likely series on more side characters in the Night Huntress Universe, especially Ian! He played a large role in this book, and I am thrilled he's finally going to get his own story! He's hard to ignore once he opens his mouth and spews his raunchy sense of humor. He does something drastic in pure Ian fashion and the consequences are dire. And we also get to see who will be starring alongside him in his book, a fact that is confirmed at the very end of the novel! Which only makes me more excited for Ian’s book, something I’ve been longing for ever since Jeaniene ventured to Mencheres' and Spade’s books! I also highly recommend the entire Night Huntress series, which has been covered previously on this blog, starting with the exciting first novel, Halfway to the Grave.
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Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this...

Magic Binds, by Ilona Andrews, is the ninth novel in the Kate Daniels series. Kate Daniels is a mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. She knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar.

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person--her mentor--Kate can ask for help is long dead. The odds are not in her favor. The future even looks grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules. And she will show Roland that nothing is impossible.

Another impressive novel by Ilona Andrews in the Kate Daniels series. Just when you think Kate has reached her greatest, she continues to outshine her previous records. Her persona, magic and abilities are unbelievably kickass. Kate and Curran continue to be the most intriguing pair of characters in urban fantasy fiction. These lovers work well as a team. While they are very strong alone, they become incredible together. That is what makes these series so fascinating to read. Not only the kind of trouble Kate Daniels gets herself into in the worse way possible but how she continues to outdo herself through courage and care for others. This is definitely one of the best female warrior protagonists to follow. I don't want this series to end, but from what happened in this novel, I have no doubt that the series finale is very close.

Stay tuned for the tenth novel(and possibly the finale) in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Triumphs. In the meantime, check out the other novels/novellas in the Kate Daniels Universe: Gunmetal Magic (2012), Magic Steal (2016), and Iron and Magic (2017).
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Grave Ransom (Grave Witch #5)

Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.

Grave Ransom, by Kalayna Price, is the fifth novel in the Grave Witch series. Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say. In addition, she learns about her fae ancestry and her unexpected nobility as a Sleigh Maith in previous novels. With this revelation about her origins, Alex's life changes in drastic ways--she discovers her planeweaving ability and must live like a fae (for example, fae are allergic to iron and cannot thank another person or they risk inheriting a debt). Nonetheless, she is determined to live an independent lifestyle with no court allegiance so that she can continue her private investigation business in the human world. On the positive side, it doesn't hurt to have your own castle in Faerie.

Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister, forbidden magic. Deceased people who appear alive are walking about which is both strange and unprecedented in Alex's professional experience as a grave witch. Worse, her grave senses reveal that the soul piloting the deceased body do not match. How is that possible? When Alex When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can she get to the soul of the matter in time? Alex must race against time to find the culprit or she becomes a target herself.

I have enjoyed the Alex Craft novel series very much. Kalayna Price (who is an underappreciated brilliant writer) introduces her readers meticulously to the world of Nekros City where normal humans live in a society where magic exists. Those who are sensitive to magic attend a boarding school to hone their abilities (in Alex's case, she becomes a grave witch). What Alex did not realize that she was born fae. As a result, her encounters with the alternate realm of Faerie has presented new challenges for her both as a grave witch and as a a private investigator. Although I won't spoil the details in Grave Ransom, I will say that Alex has become a more confident protagonist both in her fae abilities and empathy towards others. She listens to her gut feeling in cases which is a very strong trait when dealing with mysterious magical phenomenon. Her cases may become more bizarre and dangerous but she has a strong support network to help her in need. Her personality is attractive in her desire to protect her friends and provide assistance to the police--even if she's easily misunderstood. I recommend this series.
Stay tuned for the next Alex Craft novel.
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