Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Widow by Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #12
400 p.
Published: 11/25/14
Publisher: Pocket Books
Source: From publisher for review
There’s nothing worse than a cruel, cunning enemy with time to kill—and my murder to plan. 
With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit. 
The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.
My thoughts:
Oh wow! I didn't think we would get the showdown we were waiting for so soon. I thought there might be a couple of books yet to go but I was so happy when we got it. I know that some of you aren't quite up to this book yet so I'll try to make it spoiler free.

Often in a series that runs this long and you get a big bad with impossible circumstances we often get regurgitated story lines. Not so here. The villain invents a new way to come at Gin and Gin responds in kind. It wasn't what I was expecting and I was pleasantly surprised. In this book brains won over brawn but brawn still helped in the end. :) Fans of Owen will love this addition and although the romance is scant, what is there packs a punch.

I give this book 5 stars. It is a series that is going strong at #12 and I can't wait for #13. I suggest that those that haven't started with this series start at the beginning. You have 12 books to devour in a row! I recommend it from the beginning to get the full feeling of all the characters. I also recommend it to those that enjoy UF.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Ice by Susan Krinard

Series: Midgard #2
384 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 8/12/14
Source: From publisher for review
New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice. 
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought. 
The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.
My thoughts:
This is the second book in the Midgard series. It follows closely to what happened in the first book, Mist, and this should not be read out of order. If you are looking for action, then this is the series for you. While we had some hints of romance in the first book and it was continued in this book, I didn't feel connected to it. It just didn't quite have the same impact as it did in the first book. Mist's development continues in this story and I have enjoyed how much she has grown. I think this growth will continue as she becomes more comfortable with her power and how powerful she will become.

We also get introduced to a few secondary characters. I hope those get more developed as the series progresses. I can see a lot of potential with some of them. Right now they are all a bit underdeveloped but we just met them and we seemed to be in the midst of some battle when they came onto the scene. There are some animal characters that have personality and I look forward to learning more about them as well.

I give this book 3 stars. It is a good continuation to the big showdown you know is coming. I recommend it to those that enjoy UF with a lean toward fantasy as well as those that know their norse mythology.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Figures of Beauty by David MacFarlane

Standalone
384 p.
Publisher: Harper
Published: 10/7/14
Source: From publisher for review
Moving from Paris to Italy to North America, a sensuous, heartbreaking novel about art, beauty, star-crossed lovers, and the choices that define our lives, from the award winning author of Summer Gone 
A young man arrives in Paris in 1968, where a series of unlikely events lead him to a tiny village in Italy—and to the great love of his life. A marble merchant meets a couple on their honeymoon, introducing them to the sensual beauty of Carrara. An Italian woman travels to Canada on an odyssey to find the father she never knew. A terrible accident in a marble quarry changes the course of a young boy’s life and, ultimately, sets in motion each of these stories, which David Macfarlane masterfully chisels into a magnificent whole.

Oliver Hughson falls in love with wild, bohemian Anna over the course of one glorious summer in Italy. Bound by a sense of responsibility to his adoptive parents, he leaves her and returns home—an act he will regret for the rest of his life. Through luck or fate, Oliver had found the woman with whom he was meant to be. And now he must try to find his way back to her. 
Narrated by the daughter Oliver never knew he had, The Figures of Beauty is a love story of mythic proportions that reminds us of the powerful bond that can connect two people indelibly across oceans and time.
My thoughts:
The book is centered around sculpture, particularly marble sculpture. You travel through different time periods all which interconnect in some way through marble. The lush language puts you in Italy where most of the book takes place. In any time period, you can really travel with this author's words.

The story mostly follows Oliver, his doomed love story and his daughter. There are also references to artists, in particular Michelangelo as well as Anna (Oliver's lover and his daughter's mother) a present day non-figurative sculpture artist. The ventures back in time especially the ones in the 40s were intriguing but the time shifts just didn't come together for me. Yes, I did see a connection, but as an observer it didn't connect to me personally. It may be due to shifting constantly through time or that I never developed a connection to Oliver and his daughter. I think that if a book was made more about the past and it was constant, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars. It is beautiful in the descriptions of the places, it has some interesting secondary characters, but I just didn't quite connect to much in this book. I would pick up a book by this author because of the beautiful writing, but this one didn't quite come together for me in the end.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chained by Night by Larissa Ione

Series: Moonbound Clan Vampires #2
 400 p.
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: Sept. 30, 14
Source: From publisher for review
THE FUTURE OF HIS TRIBELeader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction - or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader's daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans. 
THE LOVER OF HIS SOULBut survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress's identical twin sister?
My thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book so I had to have this one. It is about Hunter, the leader of the Moonbound clan. We also get a bigger glimpse into the lore in this world. And while this is PNR, there is enough action and worldbuilding to satisfy most UF readers. And yes, there is enough sizzle to satisfy the romance crowd as well.

I think the characterizations were what I really enjoyed the most in this book. I liked Aylin and how her instinct for survival made her the strongest of the group. I also liked that her sister was the negative to her character. I think there will be a lot of growth there in the coming books (and yes, sign me up for them all!). Although Hunter paled a bit to Aylin in this book he was still what really sizzled in the pages. Yea, he put the rawr in PN-rawr.. (stop staring at me like I lost my mind. I swear I never had it to begin with!)

In all seriousness, I give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed my time in this world and I cannot wait to get back to it. I am hoping we get a Myne book soon and it looks like that may be the case. He is one vamp that I want to have a HEA... even if it is hard won. I recommend this series to those that enjoy action with their romance.

Sunday, November 16, 2014