series

Perfect Dystopia

The Phoenix Project by C.A. Gray, the third in the Liberty Box series, was one of the most satisfying endings to an excellent series. Well written – well paced, surprising but not disappointing, well plotted, and with all the right folks surviving at then end… it was perfect.  Too often in this genre the last book, especially the ending to the last book… well… stinks.  But that is not the case here.  The Phoenix Project (The Liberty Box, #3)It was a perfect ending to a wonderful book and series!

There were all the right twists and turns, the right balance of characters and action. There was the right balance of romance and plot too – the characters cared for each other, but it wasn’t so totally sappy that the romance overshadowed everything (and turned the main characters into a bunch of whining selfish obnoxious teenagers – and I think finding that balance is phenomenally hard and hats of to the author for pulling it off throughout this series).  It was not needlessly dragged out just to get the page count up – or worse, to stretch a fourth (or more) book into what was a well planned trilogy. It was great reading on the elliptical machine on the gym – I couldn’t put it down and that meant extra workout time.

I have struggled a little with the YA-dystopian sub-genre lately. They seem to be well written in the beginning, or at least interesting enough to hold my attention, and then ‘wham’ something happens that makes me regret having read the entire series. That was not the case here. I was so happy with the way the story ended, the fate of each of the characters felt right, and it didn’t feel contorted or as if the author didn’t know how to end things so the characters ended up being ridiculous (**cough, cough** Divergent **cough, cough**).

The other thing that this series, and especially this book, illustrated is the power of suggestion, the power of brain washing, the power of only hearing one side of a story, the power of the mind. It is so very hard to re-train the brain, even when what was learned in the first place was not real. It takes great strength of will and character to be open to other perspectives, even when the other perspective is the reality. This book never looses sight of the broader plot, never stretches things so that the next steps taken by each character doesn’t feel logical (even if at times it was frustrating to watch the characters make the choices they were making), and most of all, met the expectations set by the first 2 wonderful installments of this series. It was awesome and wonderful, and I would read it again.

In my book this author is on a roll – 2 wonderfully delightful series – with not a single let down in 6 books! And, it is not often that is the case. Thanks for the read C.A. Gray! Keep up the excellent work!

p.s. I received a free copy in advance in exchange for an honest review.

p.p.s.  I think the cover for this particular installment of the trilogy is breathtaking and the best cover, for either this or the Piercing the Veil (although the latest for those books are nice too) series, yet!

Advertisements

Under the Spell Thief’s Spell

This is one for the kiddies…  it is for beginning chapter book readers.  The Spell Thief by Tom Percival looks like the first in a series (the ARC I got has a little from book 2 as a preview).  While is isn’t complicated and doesn’t have the heft of something like Harry Potter for character development, dialogue or plot, if you keep in mind that it is aimed a very beginning readers, it is delightful.  The story if of a little boy, Jack of Jack-in-the-beanstalk fame, and his fellow young friends: Red (yes, Little Red Riding Hood), Rapunzel and Hansel & Gretel.  They live in a little town with a delightful tree that records their stories.  They are at war with trolls and 29623561Jack’s father is off mining moonstone, which keep trolls at bay.  One day, a ship from a far away land arrives with another little boy, Anansi.  Jack catches him talking to a troll and sets out on a quest to find out if Anansi is a troll spy.  He meets a young saw witch named Lily and tries to get her help.

In the end, I think it will be something that will be super fun for my little guy to read once he is old enough.  A tiny bit of exposure to the characters would add in on the fun, as it would be easier to understand why Rapunzel has such long hair or why Hansel & Gretel are always finishing each others sentences.  But, hard core knowledge of the fairy tales they come from isn’t necessary.  Again, it is important to remember the target audience for this; if you picked it up expecting an adaption like Wicked or some other “fractured fairy tale” (which is apparently new lingo), this isn’t that.  Instead, the characters and their story are merely a delightful device to explain what they have in common and where they all come from.  There is a little bit of magic to keep things interesting and to, hopefully, spark an interest in reading things more magical and more complicated.

It has messages of friendship and the value of listening as well as a few others.  The little illustrations are cute enough to keep my 3-year old looking at the page while I read and I loved the way Lily was drawn.  I certainly will look forward to other installments.  The Spell Thief cast a delightful, albeit simple, spell.

A book, a blurb, and a victim

The book:  Devil’s Daughter (Lucinda’s Pawnshop, Book 1) by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

The blurb (from netgalley, that got me interested in the book):

“Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life—human and immortal. Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father, Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes. In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer’s service. And if the Devil’s daughter will not love a man he can control, can Lucifer control the man she loves?”

The victim: Me.

BUT… it’s ok.  Because while I was suckered by the blurb and requested the book because of it, while it was so very different than what I expected, it is ok.  Because I really enjoyed it!  I won’t bother with a synopsis, because, well, the blurb.  But, I will say that I expected some paranormal romance it was more like Tom Clancy or Brad Meltzer meets, well anyone that I read that is paranormal but working the Devil/fallen angel angle (like Larissa Ione’s Demonica), but minus any of the sex.

What I mean is that this is a plot driven story, with a number of threads of the plot all scattered, but coming together.  It is fairly easy to find the common thread of an object from the pawn shop for most of the folks involved, there are places where the link is tenuous at first.  And there are a lot of plot threads to keep track of to get to the whole story.

I am pleased that this seems to be the start of a series, since when I realized I was at the end of the book I was disappointed that it ended and it felt like there was still so much story left to tell, with respect to a number of the individual threads, and with respect to the entire tapestry as well.  I don’t know how many installments are planned, but I think it will be wonderful to read more of this world.

The world building was decent, decent enough to make sure I wasn’t more confused than I think the author intended (for which side is Nathaniel really on?).  And the character development was enough, especially with the player’s in the Devil’s game, that I felt like I really wanted to know where the story was going to take them.  There was action, and some romance (although not as much as I expected from the blurb) and definitely paranormal workings.  The idea of a pawn shop selling talismans that have actual powers is a pretty cool idea too, that leaves room for so many things.

So, the real issue is that I expected more JR Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood, Larissa Ione – Demonica, you name the author – sexy paranormal book title here!  But got some woo’ing of Lucinda by a super religious guy who wouldn’t mess around (no judgment, that’s ok with me, just not what I expected) with her casually.  And a pervert who pretended to be someone else to try to get into Lucinda’s pants, plus a succubus who implied she was getting action, but there was no page time for any of it.  Again, that’s ok – I read plenty like that, but with the emphasis on Lucinda’s love for a man her father can’t control, that isn’t where my brain was expecting to go.

So, kudos on the story – I thought it was a unique and fresh take on this aspect of paranormal, maybe I’ve now even been introduced to a new little sub-genre that I wasn’t aware of.  I look forward to reading more.  I would just like to have my expectations properly set by the book blurb with the next installment.  Sometimes the blurbs set things up for disappointment, here it didn’t, but improper blurb writing runs the risk of leaving unhappy victims behind.  And this was a good enough book, I would hate to see it fall prey to that.

 

There can be no such thing as too much Southern Spirits!

Gangsters, ghosts, murders, a pissed of passive-aggressive would-have-been-mother-in-law, a hunky police officer, and a pet skunk.  What could be better? The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #2) The second (full length anyway) installment of the Southern Ghost Hunter series, The Skeleton in the Closet by Angie Fox, was another awesome little paranormal cozy!  And I can’t wait to read the third!

As a reminder, Verity, a girl hard on her luck because of a jerk of an ex-fiance, saw her life change in the first book when she dumped an urn full of the ashes of a 1920s gangster on her rose bushes. The gangster ghost, Frankie, is grounded to her and her property. In this installment, her town of Sugarland is preparing for an annual festival that will be filmed for a documentary about the Civil War – the “Ball in the Wall” (love that name!).  Frankie is still funny, Verity still doesn’t really shy from danger and is she is still sarcastic and witty (although not quite as much or as often here), the dialogue between characters is amusing and feels real. Melody, Verity’s sister is a great tool for info (she’s the Hermoine of this story, being the resident librarian) and Ellis is the hunk police officer who asks Verity for help investigating the murder.

This installment stayed true to the recipe for the cozy, even the paranormal type.  There was a lot going on, some misdirection (but I love that the misdirection headed down the “Virginia did it” road was really fun because of the history between Virginia and Verity), some mayhem, and a lucky discovery or two.  And what makes it even more fun is the ghostly element – there’s enough to keep things ever so slightly creepy but not so much that this isn’t something that can be read while smiling the entire time.  The “southern” way of making sure someone knows they are unwelcome, all with a smile, was on full display here during Verity’s visit to her ex-almost mother-in-law.  And it was awe.some.!!!  And, if I were paying more attention, some of the details wouldn’t have been surprising because the title is pretty meaningful (**hint, hint**) here.  I had so much trouble putting this down because it was cute and fun and all that I want out of my paranormal cozies!

I love everything Verity that I have read so far, and hope there are many many encores!

Recipe for a Witchy YA Book

The Curse of the Bruel Coven by  Sabrina Ramoth was a little atypical for a YA/paranormal.  There were lots of things that were typical, but the biggest anomaly here was the lack of a real love interest for the main character.  But, I will get back to that.  Because there were so many of the typical elements, it was like the author was simply following a recipe.  A teaspoon of absentee parents, a tablespoon of being someone different than what you were raised to believe, a cup of an adult figure not telling you everything, 6 cups of taking off and doing all sorts of stuff without bothering to tell your parental figure where you are, a few mysterious dread, a bit of paranormal surprise and a cliffhanger ending.  Bake at 350 for a few hours and viola, you have your self the typical paranormal YA.  But, most of these that I have read lately all have a romantic element, and here, the closest we get are some weird feelings towards someone Viv (our main protagonist, adopted, witch) sees in her dreams.  Although at least she herself is skeptical of these feelings.

Towards the beginning I was feeling a little, “aheh” about the book.  I had a bunch of things that were gnawing at me (like the fact that Viv finds a picture, assumes she’s adopted, and accepts it, all in about the span of 30 seconds and has less denial over it than I have guilt that I ate a few extra french fries with lunch).  But, after a little while, as the story progressed, I became pretty enamored with the story.  The pace picked up and the writing improved over the course of the few hundred pages.  My opinion grew enough that I was fairly annoyed to reach the end and have so many loose ends, those both directly placed in front of me and those subtly hinted at (Savannah, where are you?).

I don’t know if the story will turn to some sort of reincarnation story or some other witchy explanation; I don’t know how the traitors will be dealt with; I don’t know what happened to Savannah; but I do know, I am eager to read the next book and find out.  Overall, despite a few small points that I would have corrected (like calling the immortal a vampire, because the traditional ideas of vampire aren’t really what is going on here), and having a little more denial/resistance when Viv finds out she’s adopted and a witch (really, even for this genre, she is a little too open and accepting to these elements of her life), I think this was a pretty solid start to a new series.  The world building and the characters were intriguing and enough to get us started – and I am expecting more to each.  I also love stories set in New Orleans, although here, I would love it if the setting played a bigger part in the story or, at least if it were described a little more to make those mental pictures easier to form since I have never been.  But, if I were rating this particular recipe, it would get 4 stars.  And, I would be looking forward to seeing what the chef had to offer for the dessert course!

Will we be Blest with a sequel?

Blest by Blaise Lucey started off slow, but boy, it is take off in the end.  After the first half, I found I had trouble putting it down.  I love stories about angels and demons falling in love – and this one was no exception.  While I had some little issues with the beginning, specifically pace (insta-love) and world-building (background for it), by the time I was half-way through I was so very sucked-in I was sitting on the edge of my chair while reading because I was desperate to know what happened next.

Since the book begins with the first half, however, let me address a few of the short-comings.  First, there was a lot of love between two character who merely spent a few minutes, and one afternoon, together.  Even for the PNR stuff that I read, which is usually all about insta-love, that is giving the relationship development shot-shrift.  There is no reason why the characters couldn’t have developed the feelings over a little bit of time, a month or two for example.  Then, frankly, some of the vitriol towards Jim by the demon kids would have been more on display and a deeper connection to Claire and Jim would have been easier to feel.  There was no need for their birthdays to be quite so early in the school year – or the story – a little more of the suspense as to why the two characters were this books version of Romeo and Juliet would have only added to the plot. The acceptance of why they were different was also a little quick (and this is the second book I’ve finished in the last 3 days that treated this the same) – way too quick  – like, the Flash might as well be moving in slow motion compared to the speed at which they all accept the supernatural and paranormal and that angels and demons are real.  It was just too quick.  It didn’t give me time as a reader to adjust and again, I think a little more page time spent on that would have added to the overall plot and pace of the story.  Once things got going though, there were a bunch of reveals – and that was great as I felt much more involved in the story and it was easier to stay engaged.  I am just a little curious – as I don’t see this being billed as the start of a series, and lots of loose ends were tied up, but there is still certainly loose ends that aren’t tied up, including the events of the epilogue, so I hope there is at least one more coming.

Despite the need to pay attention to some of the terminology, lest you get lost, this reminded me much of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments – and some of the hints that were dropped had me holding my breath that the reveals weren’t going to be the same as with City of Bones, and thank goodness, they weren’t.  But to me, Blest had tones of City of Bones with the love between our main protagonists and the good vs evil nature of things.  Unlike Mortal Instruments, however, I have enough details to hold me to book 2 (assuming there is one **fingers crossed**) and enough to make at least another good book or two out of the things that aren’t solved and the stuff we don’t know.  And some of what we don’t know has such potential – like the back stories to the parents of all our teenage cast, the mythology of the Tribunal and how the demons were originally banished, exactly what the feathers that each of Claire and Jim have that are “opposite” the rest of their respective wings… there quite a bit of fodder to serve as the basis for some excellent follow-up books.

Even out the pace a little with the second, balance the relationship building and world building to give me more, and we may have a new favorite YA/Angel and demon series!  At least, I really hope there will be a second!

p.s. LOVE the cover!!

Twice in a row… and two for the price of one…

I am getting behind on my reviews.  Again.  Yikes!  So, while I hate to do this, I am doing it anyway.  I am giving you all another multi-book review.  At least I am sticking to the same author/series though… and it is only 2 books…!

I read a number of books by Setta Jay (thanks Netgalley for the ability to read a bunch of them all at once!).  The two in question here are Binding Ecstasy and Piercing Ecstasy.  And these two didn’t disappoint.  Picking up right where the story has left us, we see Bastian and then Jax respectively  find their mates.  And a few others too, but the primary stories are about these two Guardians and their mates.

The series seems to improve with each installment.  It was wonderful how seemless the world-building now seems to be.  The character development is on full display and we get much more of the characters with each book.  It was easy to find pure joy in the stories here – and the caveman behavior has toned down a little – not much mind you, but I guess that is part of what I get for reading this genre.

Some of the twists and turns in these two installments were pure delights!  And it was wonderful to see some ass-kicking being done by some of the females too.  Both of these books moved their own plots, as well as the plot of the overall series, nicely along.  It was such a relief to see the overall story arc be moved forward too.  To often series like these fall into the trap where the overall story arc is barely moved forward and a reader could skip most of the non-sex chapters and still not miss much.  I find it super refreshing that the characters continue to plot ahead and so does the story here.  We see some changes to the players, real reprucissions, the author isn’t afraid to take out the bad guys, and the steaminess is super steamy!  It is also pretty amazing that seven books in and there is still real plot that doesn’t feel all stretched out to just be a platform for the author to churn out books.  Series like these tend to take that wrong turn, typically about book 7 and these haven’t so far.  I can’t wait to read Divine Ecstasy!  True to their titles, both of these books were ecstasy!

Scared $*%&less by The Spirit Chaser

Wow.  It’s been a long time since I read something that scared the ever-livin’ you know what out of me as I read it.  The anxiety, the butterflies in my stomach, finding myself literally-sitting-on-the-edge-of-my-seat as I read, the pure hatred that I can’t speed read 1,000 words a minute because I have to know what happens next, and the creepy goosebumps because the story is scary and – like while watching any horror movie – the feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just know that things aren’t going to end well…. well The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor had it all in spades.  OMG.  It was Awe.Some!  And I so hope there is a sequel of some sort!  I haven’t had a book run me through this particular gamut of emotions since Michael Scott’s Image (and sequel, Reflection).  Creepy!   I would say Anna Dressed in Blood did this too, but Anna was YA (aka PG-rated) and this one had the added bonus of being adult (between all the blood-draining-from-my-face scary as crap scenes there were some rushing-blood-to-my-face steamy as crap scenes between Austin and Casey), so if you are looking for something totally scary but a little steamy too, this is where it lives!

Austin Cole is the star of a TV show called SCI – Spirit Chaser Investigations – where he and his team investigate homes and other places, looking for ghosts.  When an investigation goes wrong at a warehouse and his best psychic (and best friend) ends up injured and refuses to be part of the team anymore, Austin needs to find a replacement.  Enter Casey, a tough psychic who steps into place and becomes part of the team.  But, the warehouse was just the beginning of a terrifying story.  Two more super creepy places are tainted by so much evil that Austin, Casey and the rest of the SCI team have a huge battle to face.  There are ghosts, demons, and terrifying exorcisms between the pages.  Need to be convinced as to how creepy this book is?  All you need to do is look at the cover picture as it sets the perfect tone.

I got goosebumps more than once while reading this.  And shivered from the chills plenty of times.  The temperature in the rooms with the ghosts was not the only chilling going on while reading this.  The settings were downright disturbing and the action while trying to chase the ghosts and/or demons away was excellent.  The character building was great, and the scenes with Austin and Casey’s families made their characters so much more real and likeable.  Austin, for the most part, is a dream.  Ok, maybe he’s a little over the top in a few areas, but really he’s pretty innocent and looking to to make sure Casey is happy.  Casey and all the other characters were easy to like and despite the ghostly elements, it was also pretty easy to feel like this was grounded in enough reality to make the story that much scarier.  I loved that I was able to picture it all in my mind so easily while reading.  This would make a phenomenal scary movie!

Only criticism, in the very first chapter, the first few pages, referring to Austin as “the Spirit Chaser” instead of simply identifying him in that way and then using his name, was a little confusing and lead me to re-reading the first 5 or 6 pages twice.  That could have been avoided with a slightly more discerning editor/editing job to those few pages.  But, once I caught on to who was who, it was smooth, albeit spooky, sailing.

**spoiler alert** One of the most tragic yet brilliant parts of the story?  The heartbreak at the end.  This was also part of how I knew I found a book that I loved.  The fact that I felt so attached to the characters that the last 10 (or so) chapters were so hard to read as they were so heartbreaking, drove home the fact that I had become invested in the story and the characters.  To be honest, I don’t mind sad endings, but the “closure” here, I could have done without as it took things from sad and a little unknown to downright cruel.  I think I would have preferred the loose end of not knowing what happened to Austin than the heartbreak when I read the last chapter.  It felt like a sucker punch to the gut.  Conversely, it again was a win for the overall book because I was able to feel that strongly about the characters and story.

Bottom line, The Spirit Chaser is filled with all the frights, spookiness, sexiness, and wonder of an excellent ghost story.  I’m just glad I wasn’t sitting around a campfire having this read to me right before bed, or I might never have gotten to sleep.  I loved it!!!

 

 

 

Can Earthbound Bones fill the hole in my heart?

This was my first exposure to anything by ReGina Welling, and I am thrilled to have found someone to fill the gap left by Madelyn Alt (at least I hope more books by this author will leave me feeling that way).  See, when I finished reading “Home for a Spell”, by Madelyn Alt (which was book #7) I was so eager to read the next.  This was the perfect set of “cozy mysteries” for me – the perfect blend of cozy with paranormal.  I absolutely adored the books!  And I watched, and watched, and watched (like so many others) for details on “In Charm’s Way”.  10559681I was super excited when a cover showed up on good reads.  And even more super excited with there was an original December 2015 publication date.  And, then I had to face the cold hard reality that I am never going to see book 8 – the author hasn’t updated her “website” since April 2012 (here’s what she said in November 2011 about the book – after explaining that life was hard for a while for her (no judgment, just a short way of summarizing):  “It’s time for me to get back in saddle and reclaim the life I love. The writing . . . it’s there. It has not forsaken me. Maggie and Company have been whispering to me all along, assuring me all was okay, that they would be there when I was ready. And they are. I’m pushing to complete IN CHARM’S WAY{please, please don’t groan, sigh, or stamp your feet with exasperation that it is so behind schedule — I have put quite enough pressure on myself as it is, LOL}, and . . . I think it’s good. Quite good, in fact. I know you were looking for a publication date of this fall, but obviously that didn’t happen. The reason the book shows a 2025 release date is that it was removed from the schedule to remove the pressure from me. Just as soon as I turn it in, it will find its way back onto said publishing schedule, and all will be well.” but that was November 2011!).  Everything online says release is “pending” but it’s been that way for years now.  And, all evidence points to the book not even being finished.  So, I turned to a few of the suggestions that goodreads or amazon gave me based on that series.  And none of them ever felt quite right.  They were too much paranormal very little mystery, they were too much mystery and no real paranormal, they were snarky but not funny, they had characters that I despised, they were merely two book “series” that puttered out….  There were lots of reasons that they just didn’t fill the void that the Bewitching Mysteries left.  That’s not to say that I did’t enjoy them or find a umber of really great books – because I did – but they just didn’t fill the very particular spot in my heart that Madelyn’s books did.

So, I am now super hopeful that since goodreads lists this as book 1 of the Earthbound series) there will be lots more of the same to come.  Earthbound Bones: A Psychic Seasons Novel (Earthbound Series Book 1)Because I thought this book was amazing!  It was the perfect blend of mystery, funny, snark, paranormal, and unique.  There was just enough of a cliffhanger to tie the next story in easily, and we got to know the main character, Galmadriel aka Adriel, well enough that she should be a joy to follow.  No real romance brewing (at least as it appears now) for the Angel and that’s perfect – perfect for this type of cozy.

Here’s what we learn (and what I will share at the moment – spoilers not for the moment) – Galmadriel and a band of psychics attempt to expel an earthwalker (malevolent spirit making a human’s body home) and Galmadriel wakes up no longer angel but human.  And she was never human to being with, so she is in for it as she tries to figure out a way to live among humans.  The town she is in – just happens to have a murder mystery on their hands after she’s been in town for a few days and she works to help set it right.  She thinks it is going to be hard because she is no longer an angel.  But has she really lost her powers?  Just read to see!  It didn’t take long to read, in part because it was hard to put down.  And to me, that is the first sign that I am holding an excellent book – I don’t want to put it down.

There were quirky characters, your typical cozy suspects, nosy neighbors, a small town, a friendly cop who is more ally than enforcer (at least to the main character anyway), and a mystery solved.  But, here’s the great thing – there is also mythology and world building like what goes on in a great PNR series.  There are rules to the paranormal, there’s a paranormal character who seems to know more than she is able to let on, a bigger overarching paranormal conflict, and a loveable paranormal character as the main protagonist.  See?  Perfect!

I really hope to see more of Adriel and Pam and friends – and hope that this series really can fill the paranormal-cozy size hole in my heart!

p.s. Does anyone know – this is listed as “A Psychic Seasons Novel” on goodreads and I see some Psychic Season’s books – are they related?  Should I go read that series while waiting for what ever is #2 in this Earthbound Series?

If only it were as good as the tag line and as creepy as the cover

The Devil’s Engine by Alexander Gordon Smith has a great little tag line on the intriguing cover:  “The Machine will give you everything, If you’re willing to risk everything.”  But, it can’t make me give the book more than an “ok” rating.

Marlow Greene 23310749ends up in a no-win-situation and he enters into a contract with a machine, supposed to be the “devil’s engine” or something (not sure it was really created by the devil, but the bad guys want it so they can spread evil) – that will have him turn his soul over should he not survive an impossibly short time frame, unless some “lawyers” – which aren’t really lawyers but more like mechanical engineers – can figure out how to break the contract.  And there is a girl and a best friend and the need to save the world from the bad guys.  But, in typical YA twist, is the bad side really bad and is the good side really good?  That plot twist came from nowhere because, well, the author did a piss poor job of building in any foreshadowing, even when looking back on the story.  Or maybe it’s just because the plot was so confusing and weird that I missed the hints.

What ever the case, I struggled with this book.  Big time.  The way the machine worked…?  More strange then creepy.  The environment and settings…?  More forced and hard to picture mentally then noir or dramatic.  The characters…? More selfish and one-dimensional than sympathetic or interesting.  The kick-ass action that was promised…?  More like Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider and way less like Jean-Claude Van Damme in his best (say what you will about his acting, he kicks serious ass – and as for his best, well, i leave that up to you to decide).  The little bit of romance other readers saw…?  More depressing and creepy than… well… the creepy parts of this book should have been.

It was clear that the author was no amateur.  But the story was really hard to read.  It wasn’t the compelling supernatural story I was looking to read.  And it wasn’t the dark and creepy and gruesome that I was expecting (because I recall that netgalley, where I got this had it classified as horror).  There were some creepy parts (the romance with Pan because of a contract… sheesh…) but overall, it didn’t live up to the expectations that I had based on what I have heard about the author’s other stuff.

All things considered, I thought it was “ok”.  There was just enough of interest to make me consider reading the second, but not enough to make me really care enough to set up a page or say “bravo”.  At lease not yet anyway.  I never seem to agree with the fancy book reviewers (NY Times, I am talking to you), but I need to stop believing the book blogs’ reviews or I am likely to have my expectations dashed again and again.  Hellfighters, #2 in this series, is set for later this year.  I am fairly certain I will read it – with the hope that it lives up to expectations better.