The Handmaid

The Handmaid by Shay Savage

I think the only reason I couldn’t finish this book in one afternoon was my work schedule. I didn’t very much like that.

I’m no stranger to books that can be red non-stop through, nor have a problem with short books, and I’m definitely no stranger to Shay’s way to take you all the way through  story in segments without feeling like you stopped to change books.

The problem I had with the Handmaid was the fact that it felt more like a long prologue or a first chapter than like a whole story. There was really nothing going on there. You are barely starting to get  feel for what’s going on and who these character are, when the book is suddenly over.

I felt cheated. Of course, I’m going to read the whole series, but this one really felt like it could have come in a single book. 2/5

Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you much. I am intrigued, and you can definitely see some sexy moments coming your way… but nothing much has happened yet.

 

Alex Craft series

Turns out that the best way to catch up with my reading is to be stuck in an airport for a couple of hours without anything else to distract me. Lately, when I try to take advantage of my time by reading while in transit from one place to another, there’s always someone trying to make conversation and it becomes impossible to focus.

Today, thou, I’m not sure if it was some kind of Don’t Talk to Me signal I might be sending out, but no one has tried to make conversation. I am grateful. Best group of people I could possibly keep company with in an airport as far as I’m concerned.

Let me read in peace, and I’m a happy camper. I can keep on waiting for the plane to beard for a couple of hours more. (It doesn’t look like I’ll have to, though).

So, this means I’m finished with Grave Visions. And a bit shocked, somewhat annoyed, but mostly curious to learn there is another Alex Craft book coming out this summer. Alex Craft series

I felt this one was a bit slow and not as packed with detective and mystery goodness as all the previous ones. And while I still liked it, I’m not as crazy about it as I was expecting.

There was crazy magic, and crimes were being committed and investigated… But I felt there was a lot going on in the story that was beyond Alex’s point of view. So much happened while she was unconscious or asleep, or as plain and simple as just terribly confused. And while all this makes sense when you take into consideration that she’s somewhat sick, it still left me with a feeling that I was missing much.

I think this story might need some alternative points of view. I’m dying to know more about Alex‘s father, of her elf, of her changeling, or even her Grimm Reaper of a boyfriend (who happens to be one of my favorite characters and barely made an appearance in this book). 3/5

But well… Hopefully next book would give us more. Right?

I’ll have to add the release date to my phone alerts, otherwise I’ll totally forget.

NSFW 

4/5

Specimen by Shay Savage

Definitely not appropriate for reading in public, specially if you’re like me and it requires effort and concentration to keep what goes through your head to show on your face.

Specimen by Shay Savage

Specimen by Shay Savage

I did enjoy it, though. Besides the hot and detailed sex descriptions, there is also a good story being told. There are super soldiers, and brain-machine interfaces, mad scientist experimenting with human beings, and all a bunch of stuff that can be considered immoral, but it is not because it happens in a post-disaster world.

It kind of made me think about all the things we would be willing to do to eachother as humans when survival is the immediate goal. I imagine we wouldn’t be so “civilized” then…

I also like the ending of this story. It took a moment to let it settle, but I honestly think it couldn’t have gone any other way. And it wasn’t even that surprising with the pace and direction of the book. It did feel a little sad, though.

But I won’t spoil it for you. Let me just say that it took me back to when I read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s all I’m saying.

Current goal: Cake.

4/5
Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

As you know, I’m a fan of Shay Savage‘s books. To me, they are like a good scoop of sorbet. Delicious, refreshing and excellent to cleanse my mind from all stories and free it for new stories.

It is not uncommon for me to get stuck on a story. Sometimes, even when I didn’t really enjoy the, that much, little pieces of moments get replayed over and over in my head. Sometimes, I even dream about them for days in a row… And even when that doesn’t happen, I feel like little left over residues of old stories and plots get smeared in my mind everytime I read a new book.

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

But there are these ones… these stories… that take everything else out of my mind as I go trough them. Like washing the blackboard before using it again. Win Some, Lose Some felt like that.

Of course, that is NOT to say that I didn’t enjoy it for itself. This is the only book I have ever read with a main character with autism. I think that makes it special.

Matthew Rohan is a very smart young man, to whom very sad things have happened, but all that on top of his social deficits, are not really what defines all that he is… And I think that’s the main thing we all most always remember. Our differences, be these what they’d be, are not what defines us as people… Our actions do.

But this is not the only reason I liked this book, it is also lovely. The budding relationship between Matthew and Mayra, the bond between siblings that Matthew enjoys with his sister even when they both have their own issues, and even the glimpses we get of all other relationships between many characters… I thought it was all simply lovely.

This was a heartwarming reading, even win the sad and dramatic bits.

But, hey! There’s a reason why I like Shay Savage‘s books so much.

The Build-Up

3/5
The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

This was the second part of the series, A Fire Beneath the Skin, after Ink Mage… and while the story does move forward a little, it felt much like prep work.

There was a lot of setting the stage happening, from meeting the Empress who cannot back up from the already-laid invasion plans, to the cith and soldiers preparing for the expected siege. It all felt like a big long prologue.

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

There was even a considerable part of the book where the fate of the Duchess was unknown!

And don’t get me started on Alam and his thoughtless fleeing. It gave the story a sense of going backwards. The Duchess is again on the road, looking for the tools she will need to fight her enemies, whoever they may be; Alam and the gypsy girl are again getting involved behind Rina’s back; the the girls from the whorehouse and their madam seem to be the only ones truly involved in saving the city from within; and, the enemy army prepares for a full-on invasion. It all feels too much like what was happening in the first book, just slightly bigger. And throwing some battling Gods into the mix…

I want to think that all off this anticipation and build-up will be worth it for the last part of the series, A Paintes Goddess, because if it isn’t I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Fey and technology

2/5

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I’d like to believe that most women of my generation and younger, like me, enjoy and prefer the stronger take-charge can-save-myself heroines. But I just have very little patience for whining.

And the first two-thirds of this story we got nothing but whining. And this main character, Megan Chase, starts out our story just like that. And when she’s not martyring herself, she’s making half-ass decisions without considering the consequences in the slightest.  Like giving away a memory. I thought that was a terrible idea even before we got to glimpse what the oracle took.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

By the time we get to see Megan get into the frey as an equal, there’s only a couple of chapter left in the book.

She’s supposed to be the daughter of a Fey King! She lacked a little… something… oomph, maybe.

Another thing that bothered me was how things develop between Robin Goodfellow, Megan and Ash. The girl falls in-love with the handsome an dark prince while ignoring and allowing him to override his trust for his life-friend? Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of  potentially abusive or destructive relationship to you? That is without considering that she’s all in-love with this guy, who she doesn’t even really know. That has always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to love story plots.

Of course, she doesn’t really know her long-time friend either, but that’s a whole other thing… isn’t it?

To make a long story short, i didn’t really enjoy this book much. i think reading Empire of Storms at the same times didn’t help much. So, there’s that too. No fae prince can really measure up when compared to Rowan Whitethorn… what else can I say!

I do have the whole series, The Iron Fey. I got it in a bundle before I even started the first one. So, maybe… and let me remark on that, MAYBE… I’ll end up reading the rest of them. I understand that in the third one, Megan Chase actually becomes The Iron Queen, so that might be worth reading about. I’m not in any hurry, though.

 

Nameless is my price

5/5

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

OH MY GOD!

This book was amazing!! I have no words for how much I’m absolutely in-love. I was at the edge of my sit during the whole thing, there was no good moment to stop or even breathe!

Queen Aelin Ashryver Galathynious spent the whole 700 pages going for one betrayal to a disaster to an ambush, to another betrayal and ambush. It was insane! I LOVED IT!!

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms is the fifth installment in the Throne of Glass series, so there is a lot happening that relates and/or recounts what has been happening since the beginning. And this one has way more explanations about how all those things merge together. So there were many times I felt like I should be re-reading all the previous books to freshen up my memory about the details.

I also think I waited to long to read Asassin’s Blade. There were a few new character that I felt I should know already, and many more that I think we’re mentioned lightly before hand.

But all of that, didn’t matter. The story was awesome! Simply mind-blowing.

Land not just because of all the magic and battles, but also for all the scheming and surprising turns of events. Then, of course, there was a couple of sexy times and a lot of built-up.

The next book -that still has no name- better be as good. I think better is impossible, but I wouldn’t discourage Sarah J. Maas for trying,

The downside? The wait for the conclusion of the story is going to be a year.

A WHOLE year!

War, heartbreak and friendship

3/5

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

While there not as many little action sequences as in the previous one, this one did have more mass violence and strategy. It felt more like a book about war, almost as if I were back at college reading about all the disturbingly creative ways people have devised over the centuries to systematically kill each other.

The Last Four Things does take the massacre and disturbing imagery farther than The Left Hand of God did. There were some people being blown to pieces, bolts raining down from the sky to kill dozens, and most gruesome of all, the almost complete annihilation of an entire envoy of women and children for the sake of making a point.

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

It never reaches the disgustingly gory level, if only for the couple of times we…

reserve the right to look away

…instead of going into detail about the most horrendous war crimes that are talked about. Because that’s what it all feels like… a series if hideous and unnecessary war crimes.

That is to say, this is most assuredly not an uplifting read. And it is definitely not for everyone. It has many religious reference that could easily be offensive for some and a heavy handed criticism of many things… from holy war and the politics withing religious institutions, to the decision-making processes of all kinds politicians or leaders and the easily swayed loyalties of people.

One of the positive things that come from all the killing and betrayal, is the seemingly reluctant friendship between two of these kids that have survived the grueling upbringing of abusive monks seeking to make ruthless soldiers out of children, Thomas Cale and Vague Henri.

They mostly don’t agree with each other’s choices and decisively tell one another all that’s wrong with their actions… but continue to follow each other to the origin of their traumas, to war, to perilous travels, and even to the middle of potentially treacherous political alliances.

What better kind of friends? Even when they keep on saying that…

“He’s not that much of a friend”

Everything seems more depressing and more uncertain after finishing the second book, so I will surely read the last one, The Beating of his Wings, if not right away.

Odd one out

4/5

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This might not have been my favorite among the three books that make the whole series, His Fair Assassin, but it was undoubtedly very good and a fair ending.

Ismae‘s story has much political intrigue, and a sense of  self-discovery and finding your our strength.  She’s manages to find herself and her faith, outside of the boundaries of the into tutor hat has fostered her for years. Unlike that, Sybella‘s story was more about family intrigue and the capacity of depravity mankind can reach, about finding peace and love when you have suffered much. She finds her own capacity for love, honest and devoted faith, and even manages to learn to thrust others.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This story though, Anneth‘s, felt completely different.

We got a completely different love story, deeper and more complex. And more family drama instead of intrigue… But here was also less action.

This story felt slower.

With Dark Triumph, I couldn’t stop. I simply couldn’t get it out of my head that something dramatic and game changing could happened at any moment, but Mortal Heart had more waiting periods when nothing happened. We even got some implied and not-so-implied time jumps!

I think I’m more a fan of stories that happen quickly with a somewhat fast pace. The times of introspection where Anneth‘s debates what she’s feeling and what could thing possibly mean, drove me a bit crazy… But it all helps to separate clearly and definitely the three girls and their distinct personalities and backgrounds.

One of he things that I definitely loved about this third and last part of the series is the presence of Death as main character. We had had glimpses of him before, when he shows himself to Ismae and the to Sybella. These ARE his daughters after all. His presence has been implied and hinted at. He was a real entity in the background for most of the first two books, but now we got to really know him and understand him. He is more than just a silent shadow, he is almost a man. That was one of my favorite parts in the whole series.

How can I not be totally intrigued and besotted with stories that give flesh, mind and heart to mysterious and incomprehensible ideas as Death itself? Right?

The Claw, the Wing and the Smoke

2/5

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

After a painful beginning, the middle has ok. It wasn’t until two thirds of the way in that things started to get exciting, and then it was over.

I was honestly, quite disappointed with this books. After The Shadow Queen, and in between chapter of Dark Triumph, the introduction of the characters felt way too slow, and annoyingly meaningless.

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

There were people and events that were only talked about, but never fully explained nor recounted. I think adding characters or happening to a story, when these don’t affect or have any bearing I the plot is a waste of book pages; and this was specially true for Silver in the Blood. 

The idea behind all the parts and details I didn’t like, was quite intriguing. Two girls who come face to face with a family legacy that they were completely unaware of, and a ruthless grandmother who rules the family clan as it were a cult… It could have been an awesome book.

But, it wasn’t.

SPOILER ALERT

The shy and self-conscious girl finds herself with knowledge of her new power, but the strong willed one just crumbles? That felt weird. And then, just when you think she’s gone pull out of it whe her situation gets a bit more dire… She gets all meek and catatonic?

It wasn’t until the last moment when we got to see Dacia finally own up to her new power and status within he wolf pack, but by then, LouLou was now the week one.

And then! That so called confrontation with their grandmothers! That was totally disappointing. Inspected more backbone and maybe for the two girls to bring the family together. The fact that Grandmother dearest got to get away with half the family made everything else feel meaningless.

Seriously. There were many things I didn’t enjoy about this book, I could rant for a long time.

Death’s Justice

5/5

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

 

This is book number two for His Fair Assassin, and it has been a while since I read the first one, Grave Mercy.

I remember in general way what the first one was about… There were three girls, daughter of Death himself, trained as assassins in order to serve their father; there was a loyal man who falls I love with one of Death’s handmaidens; there’s also a child Duchness being forced into marriage with a horrible man, and a plot to make it so.

It wasn’t until I was well into the story of this second part that I realized that I might be in serious need of a character chart. There are just so many names!! And most of them, in French!! It wasn’t so difficult to keep track of who were the good one and who the bad ones… But Imdo have to put to the record how difficult it was for me to keep the names straight,

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Even so, that doesn’t deter for the story one bit. It was amazing.

We don’t get to hear much about Isme, the main character form the first book, not about her budding love story wint he bastard brother of the Duchness… Instead, we get to know Cibela, another one of Death’s daughters. The darker one…

And it is heartbreakingly sad and tender and the same time.

While the first girl we met was soft of heart and only seemed to help others, this one is more violent and full of hate. Cibela had a horrible, horrible upbringing at the hands of s monstrous man who stops at nothing in order to pursue his ambition.

The more horrible things we learn about this man, the clearer it becomes why and how is hat Cibela has come to be who she is, and what led her to the convent that was to give her new purpose.

It is a wonderfully told tale of violence, intrigue, human cruelty, loyalty and deliverance. It was non-stop action, only interrupted by moments where you could see our main character grow and transform. I simply loved this book, and cannot wait to get to know the third  and last of Death’s daughters.

To the sky and back

5/5

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

It’s been a while since I read a book like this one. One that I simply couldn’t put down.

Work get me from going past the first page for most of the week, but by Thursday I was finally able really get into int. And after that, I just couldn’t stop. I even managed to squeeze in some pages while at work, between appointments…

It was a great story, with a fast pace plot that doesn’t feel rushed or tiring. There’s lost of magic, some comedy and some heart break. There’s even dragons!! DRAGONS!! I mean… If someone had told me there would be dragons, I would have gotten to this book a long time ago.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

People that turn into dragons, to be specific, but they were great. The idea that this being can have two hearts that beat together in their chests (one for their dragon instincts and thirst fro violence, and one for their human natures and their ability to feel things like love or mercy) was one of my favorites. I think it added an extra layer of complexity to this characters that was delightful. I DO wish we could have gotten to know the people of Eldr better, the Draconi, but I understand the story was about Lorelai Diererich.

SPOILER ALERT

I did find the death of Lorelai‘s brother, Leo, to be terribly sad, and the sudden disappearance of the Eldr King‘s uber-loyal friends/guards and then their equally sudden re-appearance felt slightly weird and empty. I think a couple of chapter from their point of view would’ve been good, but again, I understand this was not a story about the Eldrians. Maybe it should have been.

At the beginning we are introduced to all this characters… the Draconi princess, the Master military trainer and royal adviser… and the problems the Eldrian crown faces. But by the time we get to the last page, everything over there has been solved and we got no clear answer as to how, what really happened or how did all these character fared. That, I didn’t like.

But, if you ignore that, everything else was amazing. The strong princess that can climb trees and crumble mountains. How cool is that!! My favorite thing however was the falcon pet. She has a mental link with the magic wielding princess and her thoughts are simply the best part of the whole book in my opinion.  What better thing that a pet that can talk to you in your mind to offers you eating advise?

“Mouse? Rabbit?”

In short, I loved it, will add it to my list of favorite books and would absolutely love to know more about this. Maybe C.J. Redwine should consider writing a book all about the Eldrians.

Bereavement 

4/5

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

This is a sequel to Seraphina, and follows a couple of months after the end of the previous book. It was more complex and offered more details about the world in which our main character lives. Not just to her native Goredd, but also the neighboring countries… Their religion, politics and social structures. Even the inner workings of the Tanamoot, or dragon society, that seems to be crumbling in itself.

In that regard, it was a wonderful book. I felt it constructed a whole universe where these characters dwell and where interacting with dragons and Ityasaari (half.-dragons, half-humans) is entirely possible. So many things were explained, from the actions and reactions of people to their believes and motivations.

Shadow Sale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Sale by Rachel Hartman

We got to know Abdo‘s family, and his gods, Chance and Necessity. Of all the religions I’ve ever read about, this is one that makes the much sense to me. This world, in all its complexity, completely bowled me over. It was wonderful.

On the other had, though, there were many thing that Seraphina did or didn’t that I found frustratingly near-sighted, and while the ultimate fate of Jannoula felt right and appropriate, the actual end of the book felt way too sad.

SPOILER ALERT

Jannoula‘s goal was achieved at the end, she took everything of sentimental value away from Seraphina. She tainted her life goals and chased away her brethren, she killed her friend and took her beloved Uncle Orma from her.

And even when, thanks to her need to fight Jannoula back, she managed to unleash her powers and come to a better and deeper understanding of the world, she never gets to keep the love of her life. Prince Lucian Kiggs ends up marrying Queen Glisselda, even when even the Queen herself seems to be in-love with Seraphina. How messed up is that?!

I think it was all just too sad.

And even worst, she didn’t seem all that heartbroken about it! That is what I found the most perplexing. I can understand about duty and putting the needs of the nation before her own heart’s desires, but she ends up all alone and… I don’t know. It just felt depressing.

Still, it was a great book…  magnificently written.

Unexpected horrors

3/5

Commodity by Shay Savage

 

I don’t think it is possible to Love this book. It has nothing to do with either the writing nor the plot, it is just the content. How can you possibly love a book about human trafficking, rape and world-wide extermination?!

It was a hard read the first time around, I don’t think I would be up for reading it again in a very very long time… If ever.

Commodity by Shay Savage

Commodity by Shay Savage

I have to say I was grateful for the mid-book time leap that we get between part 1 and 2. I’m not always a fan of time voids or jumps that happen in he middle of the action part of the story, or that leave you hanging with out knowing the fate of one of the main characters, but this time I seriously appreciate not having to witness the horrors Hannah had to endure, from her own perspective. I think that would have just made the whole thing unreadable.

All in all, it was not that far from what I’ve come to expect from Shay Savage. She always delivers some heart-wrenching stuff just when you were hoping things would get better.

I did have a problem with the Alien part of this story, thou… If it weren’t because it was alluded  to in the introduction, it would have felt completely forced…

Specially that last encounter Falk has with them, that turns out not to be the first one he has!

It felt like a last minute addition to me that didn’t quite flow right, but I guess some kind of explanation had to be given for the almost extermination of the whole human  race… Right?

Maybe it would’ve been better for it to remain a mystery to just speculation.

 

Closure

2/5

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I really didn’t like that ending. It simply felt anticlimactic.

I understand it. Really, I do. This is a book about grief and self-discovery, but I really didn’t like that ending.

It all started good and exciting. The mystery of the Runaway Aunt, the meaningful task that were meant to actually teach her something…

… But then, it all started to go downhill.

It did feel realistic, thou. All trips have a certain amount of failed expectations, and you had to consider that this one was planned by a reckless woman that was in fact already dead… So, of course, things had to fall through some.

By the end, it was exhausting and all I wanted was to get to the end of the tasks… Give the whole thing a sense of closure… And be done with it. But then…

SPOILER ALERT
13envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

… The whole buch of envelopes get stolen. And we don’t get to discover what was it that the Aunt Peg really wanted from Ginny.

Of course, that too feel tremendously realistic… Getting your stuff stolen is kind of a rite of passage when it comes to international travel. One of those thing that you simply have to go through. But I think this book needed a bit less realism. At least for my taste.

It would have been more emotionally satisfying to have Virginia go through has all envelopes, even if the tasks fell through or even if she decided to not mod them.

The not knowing is what bothered me the most. This were her beloved aunt’s last words to her, and now they are lost forever. It’s just downright depressing.