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Nocturnal Book Reviews

Blogging at Nocturnal Book Reviews since May 2011 about steampunk, urban fantasy, historical & paranormal fiction, contemporary, fantasy, sci-fi & erotica.

Confessions of a Greedy Girl

Confessions of a Greedy Girl - Madelynne Ellis not bad, but I didn't know this was just a novella. Still, nice.

Bound (Mastered, #1)

Bound (Mastered, #1) - Lorelei James Holy hell! That was off the charts hot and a very good book to boot! Bound is my first foray into Lorelei James, and it's definitely not my last, peeps.

I am very, very picky with erotic romance, and this book ticked all my boxes for an exceptional story. Great characters, nice background story, an intricate balance of power on the edge of a razor blade as this was an erotic romance on the side of D and s relationship.

Amery Hardwick is a 28 year-old talented graphic designer, who struggles to keep her business afloat. It's been years since her last serious relationship, but that's about to change when she signs up for a self-defence class out of solidarity with her friend and meets sensei Ronin Black.

Ronin is an enigma. Partly Japanese, a talented martial arts master and a successful businessman he has his hands in a few pots but not many people know exactly what he does or who he is. He is very much Japanese culturally, 10 years older than Amery, and his difference in expressing himself and his feelings is mostly what creates such a violent clash with Amery.

He is also a celebrated master in shibari and kinbaku - the art of Japanese erotic bondage, and it was extremely interesting to see this aspect of D and s relationship being discussed. Even his name ronin was ironic, considering the origin of this art form.

The relationship was a turmoil, and it ended quite predictably for the first book in the series with a dramatic separation. Separation for many valid reasons, I add. I admired both Ronin and Amery, but at the same time, I could totally side with Amery's healthy instincts of self-preservation which made her draw back from the relationship.

A strong, addictive read with a wonderful insight into a different cultural background. I can't wait to read book #2, and recommend this to you wholeheartedly if you a fan of this genre.

Hers To Command (Verdantia)

Hers To Command (Verdantia) - Patricia A. Knight Started really well, but it got boring over time. Still, a nice fantasy erotic romance. Review coming.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet - Darynda Jones Cheeky and wonderful as usual! Review soon!

Raw

Raw - Belle Aurora DNF at about 60% then skimming until 70%. It was pretty revolting, peeps. No redeeming qualities for both hero and heroine, and I could not understand what have kept her with him. She had no sense of self-preservation. None. I reckon they were both psychos.
Otherwise I can't explain your boyfriend bashing someone's head in while you're standing there and all you are upset about is that he said that you are "one of his girls" not "the girl".
He is not only psycho, he is a drug lord and he kills in this book and mutilates someone. So, NO. Count me out.

I usually don't post DNF reviews, but this type of book riled me up, although I do respect author's note that this was a story of love gone wrong. Despite my love of BDSM, kinky books, this was way beyond my tolerance levels.

In the Company of Thieves

In the Company of Thieves - Kage Baker This is all my fault, ladies and gents.

Somehow, when I read the description on Netgalley, all I could see was that this was the book about time travel. Woohoo! I love time travel books. Well, what I failed to notice was that it was a collection of short stories from Kage Baker.

I hate short stories with a passion, that's why I avoid anthologies and rarely review novellas. There is just never enough time to immerse yourself into the story and fall in love with the characters.

In this case all the stories were connected to The Company which dabbled into time travel among other wonderful inventions. However there was very little actual time travel involved, and really the stories were pretty dry and reminded me of Gordon Dahlquist's style (although the latter is a much better writer).



The only story I enjoyed and appreciated was The Women of Nell Gwynne's. All the heroines were prostitutes employed by The Company, who were stuck in the castle trying to prevent a major invention being sold abroad. One of them - Lady Beatrice, was the most striking heroine, and I instantly fell in love with her spirit and her brazen red dresses.

Otherwise, this is not the most entertaining book, and I'm hesitant to recommend it to anyone who isn't a loyal fan of Kage Baker's works.

Shadows of Asphodel

Shadows of Asphodel - Karen Kincy Really enjoyed it! :) Review soon!

Be My Enemy (Book Two of the Everness Series)

Be My Enemy - Ian McDonald I can't say I've enjoyed Be My Enemy as much as Planesrunner, but it had some pretty awesome moments (the destruction of Nahn - one of them). Sen as always is pretty charming, and I adore the whole mad crew of Everness, but I wasn't keen on Everett M's side of story and the plot development was not as exciting as in book #1. However, the ending opens a lot of scary possibilities, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Unexpected (Woodlands, #3)

Unraveled - Jen Frederick Some lovely moments, but the dynamics between two main characters were awkward. Not my favorite in the series, sorry, Jen! Review soon.

The Line (Witching Savannah)

The Line - J.D. Horn Joint review with Victoria

Karina:

Well, I'm eating my hat now. First of I didn't like this book, ladies and gents. It took awhile to get used to somewhat detached writing style. The emotional accents were not where I was expecting them. But... in the end the whole experience was awesome. J.D. created a story rich in flavour, intensely atmospheric and full of unexpected twists.


What do you think, V.? What were you initial impressions on the book?


Vika:

Okay, so first impression – I might have fallen asleep reading the first couple chapters, but perhaps it wasn’t the book’s fault. Admittedly, I was a tad tired and it was quite late at night. So after I recovered the book picked up quite a bit and the story definitely got my attention. It was a fast read.

Savannah served as a beautiful backdrop to the story, and the characters’ voices were unmistakably southern – I quite liked that actually. And perhaps because of its setting and a somewhat similar storyline of a witch coming into her own power and the conflict between good and bad it strongly reminded me of The Beautiful Creatures, which I haven’t read but I did see that movie... In any way, I wouldn’t say I loved it per se but there was definitely something there. I might have to contemplate it a bit longer.



Karina:

I know where you're coming from, V. There is plenty of potential, but at the same time the main heroine, Mercy, is going through major changes way too fast and plot twists are all over the place. There is also not enough emotional development and background story, however there is certain brilliance in secondary characters, for example, Oliver and Jilo.


If it was an urban fantasy, the pace would have been perfect, but with the publishers comparing it with Deborah Harkness's trilogy... no, just no. This is pretty misleading.


Mercy is a very nice character. Not having an ounce of magic of her own (with all the magic going to her twin) she leads a healthy life away from the Taylors’ intrigues, but when her aunt is murdered and the time comes to choose another anchor for The Line - a magical barrier between demonic worlds and Earth, the magic somehow keeps trying to choose her. Add to it an investigation into her aunt's death, a love spell gone wrong and unexpected jealousy and turbulent, violent feelings from Mercy's twin, and her normal life ends pretty quickly.


Vika:

I couldn’t agree more with you K. There was a lot going on. Potential was there but the execution was at fault here. It felt like the author had too many great ideas and tried to squeeze them all in this book; it lacked development, at least for my taste.

I also couldn’t bring myself to care for Mercy much. I just got a sense that she passed through life and accepted everything life handed her with the same air of nonchalance. Mother Jilo on the other hand – fascinating – I want to read her story! And then there were the rest of the Taylors, talk about dysfunctional family… Still, I was entertained!

Karina:

I admit, I was also sceptical about Mercy’s relationship with her twin, Maisie. As twins they suppose to share a deep bond, so I can't see how Mercy stayed clueless about the changes happening to her sister. Jackson - Peter dynamics were too vague for my taste as well. *sigh*

Still, this was crazily atmospheric! I am giving this book 4 stars because from urban fantasy point of view The Line was wildly entertaining and I hope next book by J.D. Horn will be even better.

Vika:

Agreed. I'm not rating this one as high, I liked it but it was far from "loved it" type of read for me, so 3 stars. Still, I'm curious to see what happens next. I just read description of The Source, second book in the series, which will be out this summer, and I’m quite intrigued!

Lineage

Lineage - Skyla Dawn Cameron While this is a not bad book, so far it's the weakest in the series, peeps. I'm trying to think rationally about things that made it so and all I can come with is that Peri is not a very likeable character and she is outshadowed constantly by Zara Lain.

Peri is a quarter-demon who found out about her powers when her husband and two kids died in a blast of the initial attacks around the globe in the first book of the series. She lives for revenge and works for the secret organisation which promised her to find the man who blew up her loved ones.

When her superiors send her for answers to Zara Lain, our favorite vampire invites her to join the hunt for Court of the Veil just for the fun of it, and while they are at it they might as well stop the upcoming apocalypse. No pressure or anything!

Peri doesn't like herself and she half-dislikes, half-admires Zara. Her need for revenge makes her so morally ambiguous, she doesn't appreciate what other people do for her and she is quick to abandon them or even betray them. This was my major complaint about our gal. Zara works for her own benefit, it's true, but she has wherewithal to make it everyone's benefit and make money at the same time. Peri does not.

Still, Peri manages to redeem herself in the end, and I'm pretty sure I'll see her again in Exhumed and maybe, just maybe like her more. Otherwise, it's an okay read but not my favorite.

Deadshifted (Edie Spence)

Deadshifted - Cassie Alexander This is one of the few series, my dear readers, where each consecutive book is much stronger than the previous one. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews is another series that comes to mind.

Cassie Alexander likes shaking things up. Her heroine not only goes from bad to worse, she also changes locations and her situation just when we start feeling comfortable about it. And damn, for a change, this is sooo good!



Deadshifted is one of the best urban fantasies I've read in a while. The whole thing happens on a cruise ship, for God's sake! How fantastic is that?

Archer, Edie's shapeshifter boyfriend surprises her with a romantic cruise to Hawaii, and for once Edie is looking forward to some relaxation time with her steady and suave man candy. However, everything goes to shit pretty quickly when first Archer recognises a villain he dealt with in his previous "incarnation" as one of the guests on the cruise and then kids begin falling ill and die one after another, and the whole cruise ship becomes one eery, dangerous quarantine zone.

With Archer trying to find out what's going on under his guise as a doctor, Edie is left to her own devices with passengers throwing themselves overboard, attacking each other for food or spilling their guts in hot tubs all around her.

Even Edie who is used to all sort of disgusting, horrible things from her job as a nurse is taken aback and is really very afraid. The death toll goes higher and higher, there is no sign of Archer, and along with a crippled old couple and an orphaned little girl she has to find a way to survive and get off the goddamn cruise ship.

Gripping, suspenseful, scary and with an unbelievable twist in the end, this is a glorious read! Highly recommended, and I honestly cannot wait to see what comes next.

Tempt the Stars: A Cassie Palmer Novel

Tempt the Stars - Karen Chance 3.5/5
Oh God, yet again I find myself striking another urban fantasy series off my list of favorites!

I've been a big fan of Karen Chance's both series - Cassie Palmer and Dorina Bassarab for awhile. Last year latest Dorina left me underwhelmed, and this year I finally finished newest Cassie which I dragged along for a couple of months. So what went wrong, peeps?

There is such thing as too much action. I know, I know, I like it just as much any other fan of UF, but when the main heroine starts with one emergency in the beginning of one book and doesn't get a break (physical or mental) for the last two or three, I get exhausted as well.

Where is wonderful Mircea when you need him? He was an enthralling character in the first few books. He doesn't visit Cassie even once, - a so-called boyfriend/husband turned per functionary figure no less! Then she spends all this book trying to save Pritkin from Rosier and everyone else in between. Then there are the usual suspects - demons, dark mages, witches and gods. All of them trying to use or kill Pythia. I just can't deal with tripping through fast-forward action anymore. It's too much, too fast, and my brain can't cope.

I might read the next book, but the only thing that keeps me interested is Pritkin so far and what would happen to him next. Read at your own risk.

Letters From a Murderer

Letters From a Murderer: Introducing Jameson & Argenti - John Mathews 3.5/5 stars
What if famous Jack The Ripper got tired of London and moved to a fresher start in New York? With that concept I was hooked.

This is a pretty good historical fiction, systematic, meticulous and... slightly boring. I found it interesting but more from the scientific point of view.

Both Jameson and Argenti are good partners. Jamison is a criminologist from London, aristocratic, sophisticated and slightly mentally disturbed. Argenti is an American who went from a beat cop to a detective and who knows the streets of New York from the inside out.

When they get partnered there is a little bit of tension, mostly because Jameson is clueless of the cultural and societal gap between them and sometimes does bizarre, snobby things, but the reader forgives him because his heart is in the right place.

The Ripper is an intriguing character and we don't see who he is until the very end, but there is also a dirty political power struggle going on a the same time, making the investigation unnecessary muddled.

One of the local mafia bosses bids on a corrupt policeman to become a chief, and to do that he needs to be the one to solve the Ripper case, which is why Jameson and Argenti stumble through many more delays and obstacles than they should have had.

Overall, Letters from A Murderer would have benefited from a faster pace and less dry main characters, but otherwise it was a nice book.

Love Hacked: A Reluctant Romance (Knitting in the City, #3)

Love Hacked: A Reluctant Romance (Knitting in the City, #3) - Penny Reid Joint review with Victoria

Vika:

Okay, all I can say: Can I have more please!? I'm seriously having a girl crush on Penny Reid because her books are amazingly addicting! I have yet to read Neanderthal Seeks Human, the first in the Knitting in the City series, but I went and purchased it as soon as I finished this one because I really wanted more. But because Penny is awesome you can totally read the books as standalones, although they are even more charming as a series.


In any way, there is no denying it, Penny Reid has a special way with words and her characters are so full of life – it’s hard not to love them. From Janie and Quinn, to Elizabeth and Nico, to Sandra and Alex, every story is unique and touching. I feel my heart melting along with those of our heroines because the men are just so unbelievable, yet quirky, imperfect and endearing in so many ways. I want to fall in love with them over and over again. And I’m seriously thinking I need to pick up knitting. Maybe then the ladies of Knitting in the City will adopt me into their circle, pretty please?

Karina:

Haha, V.! I can't believe you haven't read Neanderthal Seeks Human! It's just the best! By the way I do knit, but I'm nowhere near as proficient as the ladies of the series. I mean, sometimes they talk about rare yarns of wool with the same passion we talk about books.

I am totally with you on the series appeal - this is one of the best contemporary romance series I've had pleasure to read in years. These books are funny as hell, insightful and Penny keeps coming with such amazing new words that I can't help but borrow them from her. Manlicious, - for example. A delicious, yummy man candy.

Vika:

Alright, alright. I'm officially ashamed! But back to Love Hacked; I just finished Friends Without Benefits and went straight into this novel. Having read the blurb I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I loved Sandra from before and I wanted to know her story. And I should probably know by now that Penny doesn’t disappoint. Love Hacked is another fantabulous installment in the series! This book was perfect: incredible, touching, extremely hot, intimate, a bit unbelievable and I loved every minute of it.

Dr. Sandra Fielding is a child psychotherapist and she is an absolute firecracker. From her inner monologues to her occasion t-shirts she is just a trip in the best kind of way. Level-headed and rational, she is an optimist and is ready to find her prince charming. Only it’s been about two years of unsuccessful searching, as her professional persona seems to be having a negative affect upon her love life. That is until Alex, the waiter, comes along. Needless to say sparks fly immediately and the two decide to give this affair a go…

Karina:

Let's not even go into her love of horoscopes! Sandra reads her horoscope faithfully every day, and she has this serious criteria for finding a life partner, but inevitably her kind, sensitive, good natured, successful, middle-aged men end up crying on her shoulder before the first course of the evening is served. Consequently her psychologist friend's practice is booming because she keeps referring her dates to him.

Because she brings her dates to the same Indian restaurant, Alex watches her make men cry for two years before he at last decides to approach this maneater... *grinning*

Vika:

And oh, Alex! He was so full of mystery and delicious in every possible way. The slow unraveling of his secrets and his love for Sandra – it was almost too much – I mean the man does dishes after the night of hot monkey sex!!! *Swoon!* So ladies, I’ll tell you right now you will love the hot and brooding Alex because the man just has all the right words and actions to sweep Sandra of her feet – it was master class in delicious seduction.

“Oh sigh and shitzterhozen.”

Karina:

The best part of it is that Alex is much younger than Sandra which brings a nice twist to their relationship. He is also a famous computer hacker who is being watched by FBI and NSA which makes him extremely paranoid and which brings Sandra to their attention. Between his antisocial genius and her extreme eccentricity the reader can only laugh and sputter and hope for love to conquer all.

Vika:

All I can say – expect mayhem. And as always there are plenty of highlight(able) words and passages (I’ve probably highlighted a good portion of the book myself and savored those passages a number of times since and I’m not ashamed!). The writing is smart and witty, and laugh-out-loud funny and of course there are fab knitting sessions with the girls. So it's 5 stars for me but I will say no more because you should just read it for yourself and fall in love.

Karina:

Read it, peeps! Fabulous, sweet, sharp witted and full of yummy, manlicious goodness (what, between Quinn, Nico and Alex you wouldn't know where to lay your eyes!).

4.5/5 stars from me and Happy Valentine's, everyone!

Autumn Rose (The Dark Heroine, #2)

Autumn Rose (The Dark Heroine, #2) - Abigail Gibbs What a mess! *sighs* I am wretchedly frustrated right now, peeps, considering how much I loved The Dark Heroine. It took me weeks to get through Autumn Rose, and I had to push myself all the way through.

First of all, Autumn Rose doesn't mention Kaspar and Violet until its last 20%. Everything in this book happens parallel to the time stamp of The Dark Heroine but in a different dimension and involving a completely different set of characters.

The main heroine, fifteen-year old Autumn, is a sage, a magic user and a noble woman, a Sagean Duchess of England, who goes to a normal school and struggles with her rising power as a seer and her depression due to the loss of her grandmother.

No one in her school knows who she really is until Prince Fallon enrolls in the same school to keep and eye on her, and they start falling in love.

Straight away I struggled to like Autumn. She did not feel like a well developed character, she was disjointed, jumpy, scattered, neurotic. It seemed that I was supposed to admire her but she confused the hell out of me.

Her relationship with Fallon was even worse. They were meant to feel for each other but I wasn't seeing it. No spark, zilch, nada.

At last there was the whole threat of Extermino suspiciously similar to Harry Potter's Death Eaters and a pretty messy concept of Heroines saving the world. From what? Extermino with their conflicting goals? People like Violet's father? I wasn't seeing the picture.

I perked up a little when Kaspar and Violet showed up, but the joy didn't last. They were described through Autumn's eyes, her perception, and looked pathetic. She was very judgemental, our girl.

So, perhaps, Abigail Gibbs rushed this book through publication, perhaps she felt like she needed a back story and lacked enthusiasm to write it, but whatever the reason, Autumn Rose failed to keep me as enthralled as the previous book. I reserve my judgement until book three, hoping it will rekindle my enthusiasm for the series.