4 Followers
3 Following
Alissa

Alissa

The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers

The Garden of Three Hundred Flowers - E.K. Johnston Johnston certainly has a way with words; this free short story is poetic and suave, despite being just a few pages long, and I truly enjoyed it.
A must-read for any fan of A Thousand Nights.

"I do not fear you, lady-bless, because I love you.”

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things - Bryn Greenwood 4.5 stars. It takes, I guess, intelligence and empathy to pull off a book like this.

This story is a departure from my usual reads, I rarely read contemporary fiction and I was forewarned it dealt with very serious themes which I cannot even apply the word “controversial” to, because it would imply the possibility of debate. Maybe that was the attraction, maybe that was the risk since I'm very judgemental when a book tackles disturbing subjects.

Point is, this novel had the potential to be a huge disappointment and instead it turned out very good. The writing and the alternating first and third person perspectives were spot on, so was the gradual unravelling of Wavy's behavior.
Let me get this straight: I devoured it. The story was sweet and painful and impossible to read detachedly, the events slowly brought me to sympathize with the main leads and I consciously let them.

I had some minor issues with the ending because it’s hard to make room for allowances, but my experience with this book was, at the same time, most fulfilling and emotionally draining.


I mostly liked high school. I liked learning things. How numbers worked together to explain the stars. How molecules made the world. All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.

Ember

Ember - Bettie Sharpe 3.5 stars. I had fun with this brisk and irreverent take on the Cinderella fairytale. What if Prince Charming were a selfish, dangerous man cursed to be on the receiving end of adoration and lust? What if Cinderella were a witch who said, when she first met her step-mother, “Now that the air is clear between us, I like you just fine. My father needs a wife, and as long as you care for him and do not cuckold him with other men, we shall get along as well as he imagined.” and later, when the father died, became her madam?

"Charm and goodness are overrated.” Indeed.

This is humorous, wicked, nicely written and definitely not a children's bedtime story.


Running a whorehouse was surprisingly good training for running a government.

Unfettered II: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy

Unfettered II: New Tales By Masters of Fantasy - Shawn Speakman This anthology is a precious gift, for both the contributes, the editing, the cover, the interior art, the dedication and the cause.

Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik: I liked Novik's novel Uprooted, and here I found again that mix of historical fiction and gothic fairytale I've so appreciated in her standalone. I also love her care for details and the way she writes female protagonists.

A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian: this story features a Machiavellian assassination. It’s carefully planned, well-worded and chilling to the bone. Exciting!

And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls by Seanan McGuire: a short story about inevitable doom, with two PoVs. Odd and nice.

Day One by Jim Butcher: the story was okay, but being without a Harry Dresden background I felt like I was missing too many references.

Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu: very, very good. Beaulieu is really skilled at short format, this is the second short story of his I read, and I immersed very easily in the investigation. High time for Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.

Aokigahara by John A. Pitts: A sci-fi short story, not my usual read, but fascinating and thought-provoking.

The Decoy by Janny Wurts: She is my favourite adult fantasist, and with reason. Here she regales new and returning readers alike with a tale of unique balance, which shows another facet of the rift between the human cultures in Athera but it’s primarily a harrowing and upbeat standalone. I didn't anticipate the final twist and I had goose bumps by the time I reached the last word.

The King’s Despatcher by David Farland: very good story, a prequel in the established universe of the author, whose first book of the Runelords series is now in my TBR. Traditional fantasy, straightforward and very catchy.

Figures by Rachel Caine: I’m familiar with Caine because I'm reading The Great Library trilogy. She is talented, and her very very short story is original and interesting.

The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ by Aidan Moher: Moher is a known ex fantasy blogger now turned writer. A broke mercenary priest is called to save the day. Okay read.

Magic Beans by Django Wexler: Wexler is an author I've had my eyes on for a while, and I've already appreciated a short story of his. His main series is epic/military fantasy, so imagine my surprise when I read this hilarious short piece featuring a magic coffee-maker and sex.

The Hedgewitch by Sarah Beth Durst: cool setting, I like tree dwellings and spirits with a “dismember first, apologize later” policy. The story is simple and flows nicely.

Victim with a Capital V by Scott Sigler: a fantasy story with a weird western vibe set in a San Francisco where metals don't exist anymore. The author managed to convey the right atmosphere even without guns. Raw and hard, I really liked it.

A Duel of Evils by Anthony Ryan: I've not had a chance to try Ryan's first trilogy, but this is the second short story of his I read and this time he chose the form of an historical document. My lack of context notwithstanding, it was ultimately satisfying because I liked the style and the military parts. Successful experiment.

The Raven by Erin Lindsey: a prequel about the main villain of Lindsey's Bloodbound series (which just moved higher up my TBR). I'm probably biased, because if done well, I love morally questionable protagonists. At first I thought it simplistic, then I became very absorbed in the story, the pace was just right. Very good!

Bulletproof by Mark Lawrence: I'm current with everything Lawrence has penned, but I miss a few of his short stories and his Gunlaw novel; I'm happy this piece is in the anthology, so I could read something new. It's a weird western about the nature of strength and making the right stand, I liked the setting.

The Gunnie by Charlaine Harris: this is the second fantasy story featuring guns of the anthology, whose plot is probably inspired by the Mexican/US border reality. It's a brutal tale, skilfully written (well, considering the author's fame I expected no less) and emotionally involving.

Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan: another writer I like. This is a dark fairy-tale from his Riyria universe, a "simple and charming fable, which is so popular around campfires and as a bedtime story". I'm always sold to an author who calls sheep "wooly puffballs".

The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson: this is my first Sanderson experience. I met the guy in Lucca this year, and he was fun and very audience-minded, able to skim around the language barrier with ease. This tale is an excerpt from his upcoming book (meaning he warned this may not be the final cut) but it's self-contained and it was easy to read even If I missed the context.

The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch by Shawn Speakman: Speakman is the editor of this anthology, an author, a cancer survivor, a son: nothing of this factors in my review but anyway, this is a well-written fantasy story, full of hope, framed by a beautiful landscape and shaped around the author's love for his mother and her final battle against cancer. This is the third short story (more Nix please) of his I read, and it's always a pleasure.

The first anthology ever where I could not find a single story that I disliked. Only a couple were a simple pass, the rest ranged from nice to amazing. Absolutely recommended!


The butterflies carried her will and farewell.

I Cavalieri del Nord

I Cavalieri del Nord - Matteo Strukul Finalmente un libro che non parla dei Templari, ma dei cavalieri Teutoni, poco rappresentati.

Un’avventura infinita per il Grande Nord, la neve, il freddo, il pericolo, il trionfo di un’idea e i numerosi ostacoli che si frappongono ai nostri protagonisti.

È un fantasy insolito e avvincente, l’eterna lotta tra il bene e il male e le passioni umane…e l’affascinante Kira, misteriosa figlia delle steppe.
L’autore lascia aperto il romanzo ad un possibile prosieguo che non manco di aspettare.

Amber Fang: The Hunted (Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 1)

Amber Fang: The Hunted (Librarian. Assassin. Vampire. Book 1) - Arthur Slade 3.5 stars. I liked this short paranormal novel and its main character, a vampire librarian with fastidious eating habits. Nothing original but the author knows how to weave a well-paced tale, and does a good job with irony. It's both a standalone and the first installment of a series.

It was embarrassing when your food outsmarted you.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant - Drew Hayes 3.5 stars rounded up because it was a nice fun read, perfect for October. Several evil villain and paranormal clichés are played for laugh in a simple and episodic tale which follows Fred the vampire and his motley crew. The “accountant” in the title did it for me; I simply can't resist the lure of fangy economics!

Did I mention the were-pony?

I prowled the darkness at first, hoping to find others of my kind, but after a few movies depicting the vampire political system, I started staying in more. I didn’t really have the constitution for such constant subterfuge and betrayal.
A pleasant evening with merlot, blood, and brie worked just fine, thank you very much.

Cethe

Cethe - Becca  Abbott 2.5 stars. Not what I expected. There was more plot and darkness than the cover led me to believe. Although it's accurate in portraying the protagonists, its ethereal beauty put me in the mood for a delicate, fluffy tale, which it is decidedly not.
Fortunately, I quickly adjusted my expectations and I ended up enjoying the ride. The ending is a bit rushed.

Trigger warnings: rape & abuse.

Sempre (Forever, #1)

Sempre (Forever, #1) - J.M. Darhower The protagonist should have known better. I should have, too.
I gather Mafia/Mob Romance YA (in no particular order) novels are out of my comfort zone, particularly when there is a glamorized vision of the Italian Mafia. Of course this book deals with very serious themes, like slavery and many shades of violence, but it’s still romance, and it was truly too long for its plot.
I liked the author’s style though; someday I could try some of her adult stuff before giving completely up on the whole mafia&redemption (or corruption) scenario.

Feverborn: A Fever Novel

Feverborn: A Fever Novel - Karen Marie Moning Better than Burned. Unfortunately not enough Lor and Jo, fortunately slightly more Dani (I like her nom de guerre) and Ryodan. Maybe it’s me. Maybe my expectations were too high because the book is not bad (Jericho Barrons is still a masterpiece), but I miss that wow factor of the earlier novels.

The story gets confusing at times, particularly about certain twists and details like the sidhe-seers’ numbers and strengths and it ends with a cliffhanger. Again, I’m not sure where this is going and I'd be happy if the author penned "the end" before this series becomes another paragon case of milking the cow to death.

“Pessimists are only pessimists when they’re wrong. When we’re right, the world calls us prophets.”

Burned (Fever #7)

Burned (Fever #7) - Karen Marie Moning This is the weakest installment of the story so far. Mac and Barrons are back in action as main leads and as much as I love them, I don't think it's a good turn of events because last I checked this is mainly Dani’s story. Even if there were some open ends, their tale was told.

Again, there are few answers or reveals and there is no conclusion in sight. I'm going to keep on reading the series but the author is stretching it and it shows. Unfortunately, the increase in chemistry (or, shipping spree) doesn’t make up for the decline in plot.

“If only it were that personal. Life fucks you anonymously. It doesn’t want to know your name, doesn’t give a shit about your station. The terrain never stops shifting. One minute you think you’ve got the world by the balls, the next minute you don’t know where the fuck the world’s balls are.”

Iced

Iced - Karen Marie Moning I like Dani. She is a good character and I'm not bothered by the fact she is underage, because her personality surely isn't. Behind the teen braggadocio, she is a complex, attractive young woman, even if she acts immature and/or over-the-top for most of the book. Sure enough, she is the victim of a lot of abuse and that, instead, bothered me a bit (particularly considering who is dealing out some of it), but it never felt gratuitous.

I'm not sure where this series is going and after the great fifth book ending, all I wanted was a satisfying wrap-up of Mac’s story. Instead of answers, this instalment only provides new plotlines which I’m not sure there was a need for at this point.

Anyway, I liked it.

"Rule #1 in the Universe: the crap always hits the fan. It’s the nature of crap. It’s a fan magnet."

The Fever Series 5-Book Bundle: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever

The Fever Series 5-Book Bundle: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning Oh, very, very good. It is way WAY better than I expected when I first picked up this series as my next paranormal romance fix. I've been on a PR kick lately, it's odd the way I became fast addicted to a genre I basically avoided, considering I wasn’t even much into urban fantasy. Actually, I’ve never liked emphasis on romance in my fantasy, I’m all for epic/low/grimdark stories and romance doesn’t factor well into the equation (I still don’t. That's what romance novels are for).
In August I only had Anne Rice’s and Laurell K. Hamilton’s books under my belt. In September I read the whole [b:Black Dagger Brotherhood|42899|Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)|J.R. Ward|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1429676285s/42899.jpg|2158128] series, started both [b:Night Huntress|1421990|Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)|Jeaniene Frost|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1373855613s/1421990.jpg|1412415] and the [b:Elemental Mysteries|12755792|A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1)|Elizabeth Hunter|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1475548523s/12755792.jpg|17897317] series, tried and dropped both the [b:Dark-Hunterverse|84136|Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunterverse #1)|Sherrilyn Kenyon|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348332807s/84136.jpg|2384] and the [b:Guild Hunter|3819326|Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, #1)|Nalini Singh|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1436398982s/3819326.jpg|3863622] series. Go figure.

The Fever series is more than I've bargained for. Belatedly, I noticed this is primarily shelved as urban fantasy and I agree, there is a romance subplot (with a sharp focus on sexual tension) but it's not the core of the series. Setting, concept and characters are. It's well written, the rhythm is good, there is a plot, there are several mysteries, the tones are very dark, there is murder, there is violence, there is rape; it also gets very disturbing at times, particularly during the interactions between the main leads (#lovehurts).

And it's totally absorbing.

No matter the narrative flaws, some inconsistencies or the high-handed alpha-males, I truly enjoyed the snarky banter, the engaging plot and the themes explored.

I plan to get current (Edit 01/12: The second half of the series is not as good as the first, unfortunately it seems the author is running out of steam; gradual decline notwithstanding, I’m looking forward to [b:Feversong|12446825|Feversong (Fever, #9)|Karen Marie Moning|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1458832646s/12446825.jpg|17429860]).


There’s comfort in knowing your limits. It’s a safety zone. Most people find theirs, get in it, and stay there for the rest of their lives. That’s the kind of life I thought I was going to live. There’s a fine line between being stupid and knowing you have to test your limits if you want to do any real living at all. It was a line I was poised on very delicately at the moment.

Wallbanger

Wallbanger  - Alice Clayton Okay, this is definitely not the kind of book you want to read at work during downtime (or anytime in public, let's face it). It's absolutely silly, over-the-top, improbable, full of bon-mot and totally hilarious. I had to resist snaughling (yup, maybe I'm team Giggler here) so hard I got a jaw-ache.

I loved the absurd cat btw. I picked up this book because I wanted a lightweight palate-cleanser (a.k.a. no-brainer chick-lit romance) and it turned out to be really good, even if the second half dragged a little. Who would have thought that baking could be such an exciting activity?

Recommended for a steamy, ridiculous and fun read.

J.R. Ward The Black Dagger Brotherhood Novels 1-4 (Penguin Classics)

J.R. Ward The Black Dagger Brotherhood Novels 1-4 (Penguin Classics) - J.R. Ward "Well...then. Okaaaaay."

Dark Lover

Dark Lover  - J.R. Ward *Bangs head on kindle* I can't believe I read this. And liked it. And will probably read #2, too.

Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex.