Hearts of Darkness

Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass, #1)Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass Series)
Author: Kira Brady
Publisher: Zebra (August 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1420124560
ISBN-13: 978-1420124569
Pages: 352

The Seattle Kayla Friday arrives in is a dark and dreary place, it looked like a war torn third world county, a far cry from the city she recently left. Most electrical devices do not work, people drive old diesel cars and street lights are mostly gas lanterns. This is the Seattle that has stolen everything from Kayla, her mother died violently years before, her father from heartbreak a year later and now her sister Desi has died. Kayla is on her way to the morgue to identify her sister as she notices strange things around her and finds trouble when a man named Hart approaches her and others try to kill him.

Souls are supposed to pass through Gates of death peacefully and move on to the other side; however those that refused or are forbidden swarmed around and caused problems. Kayla can see the Aether which are the waves that surrounded all matter. The Aether does not like the ghosts that do not pass through the gates; these beings are the cause of modern day problems for a city like Seattle.

In the recent weeks before her death Desi had become remote and non-communicative and although she was studying at the university, she was dating a mysterious man that Kayla did not know, named Norgard. Desi became very interested in Babylonian history and mythology and Kayla believed she was caught up in something violent and evil that got her killed.

Hart is a wolf shifter from the Kivati pack, but was run out of the pack because he was “moon marked” and not welcomed. It is said that Hart is not able to control the beast within and therefore he is not to be trusted during a full moon. He believes Kayla has information about a necklace he needs that gets him one step closer to freedom from Norgard. The necklace is believed to open the Gates of death and bring evil into the world and many want it for power.

Norgard is a powerful Drekar, dragons that feed on human souls, and although they are not the only ones that want the necklace Hart was making sure Norgard gets it first. The Kivati also want the necklace, they are a legendary species of shifters that have been around for years, Raven, Cougar, Coyote, Thunderbird and Wolf. They once protected the land and humankind and although they still do officially, they are too caught up in a war with the Drekar to help.

Hart tells Kayla that he will help if she gives him the necklace when they find it. With clues her sister left, they find the necklace at her mother’s grave and Kayla gives the necklace to Hart for safe keeping not knowing he will give it to Norgard, she feels betrayed and soon finds herself in trouble as Norgard believes she can fulfill a destiny and is kidnapped. When others find out Hart is free and what his last mission was to gain it they are angry and asks him to try to save her, and even though he believes he has no redeeming qualities, he does have a conscience and begins to think that although it may be a suicide mission he can rescue Kayla from Norgard.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the world building and characters take you to an alternate Seattle that looks nothing like you would imagine. The ending is surprising and the fact that neither the Drekar nor the Kivati seem to be the good guys and we really do not know who to trust makes the story even more fun to read. Humans are unaware of “the others” that surround them every day until the fight to free a valued leader and find the necklace to keep the Gates closed bring it all to a head. Hart and Kayla learn to trust each other to help with the fight and become much more than they ever thought to each other. A riveting and engaging read that grabs you until the end.

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Shaedes of Gray

Shaedes of Gray (Shaede Assassin, #1)Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Shaedes of Gray
Author: Amanda Bonilla
Publisher: Signet (December 6, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0451235290
ISBN-13: 978-0451235299
336 Pages
Rate: Loved it

Darian believes she is the only one of her kind left in the world, an immortal Shaede that is at one with the shadows when the sun goes down and can leave her corporeal body behind. Her creator Azriel found her at a most desperate time in her life, when she was beaten down by an abusive husband in a time period when a woman could do nothing about it. They were together for twenty years and although he taught her a lot about fighting and assassinating people, he was very vague about what she was and what abilities she has. One day Azriel abandons her and vanishes into the night, and leaves her to her own fate, she believes he is dead and since he always told her they were the only two surviving Shaedes, she picks up where he left off and becomes a highly trained assassin.

After several decades living as an assassin, Darian finds Tyler, he runs a temp like agency for the seedy people of the world, and he becomes her employer and benefactor. She makes herself believe they are doing good deeds as they only assassinate the truly evil that do not deserve to live. Darian and Tyler have a tight bond of friendship however, she knows that Tyler wants more and as he begins to act on the feelings they have for each other she holds back as she has been hurt several times in her life and is not very trusting.

On a routine job that Tyler has been hired for, Darian finds a surprise, there are others like her, she is not alone in this world. She leaves without the kill because the mark is faster and becomes a shadow like her, in order to find Tyler for some answers as to who hired him. It turns out that they were hired for the main reason to meet Darian and introduce her to the King of the Shaedes, Xander.

Suddenly Darian’s life has drastically changed, not only are there other Shaedes in the world like her, there are other non human beings that have always lived around her and she never knew. She begins to train with Raif, a fierce warrior, as Xander has hired her to kill an unnamed supernatural being that is stronger and faster than most and who is on the verge of causing a war that would end the world as they know it.

The story is a fast moving thrill ride from start to finish with so many twists and turns. I almost had a heart attack close to the end when the plot went in a direction that I did not expect. The story is fascinating and the character depth is amazing. The ending brings many surprises with both main and secondary characters that are not what they seem to be.

I really enjoyed this book; Darian is a very strong woman that has had a hard time in life and has trouble accepting her new role, and Tyler has some secrets of his own that they must work through. The plot wraps up satisfactorily with enough of a story left undone for the next book.

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The Asylum Interviews: Bronx (The Asylum Tales, #0.5)The Asylum Interviews: Bronx by Jocelynn Drake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great start to a new series.

Gage owns a tattoo parlor called Asylum. He tries to live his quiet life flying under the radar because he has many things to hide, however nothing is ever simple in the world Gage lives in.

He meets Bronx, a troll with a mysterious past that is an excellent tattoo artist, as he comes to Gage’s rescue when a friend tries to distract him and gets into trouble.

As this short story unfolds, Gage and Bronx try to help Parker causing more trouble, the fix finds themselves in several predicaments.

A fun and compelling story and I am looking forward to meeting more characters that will surround the tattoo shop called Asylum.

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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare proves there comes a point of “too many” in a series

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Clockwork Prince (Book 2, The Infernal Devices)
Cassandra Clare
YA Historical Urban Fantasy
PG
3/5 coffee beans
Spoilers: No, just strong opinions 🙂

So, this review may be a little disheartening, but I feel I have a right to write it that way since I’ve been a fan of Cassandra’s since the very beginning. I devoured the Mortal Instruments series when they first came out. Drove out in a snow storm on a Sunday to Costco so I could get the third book. I was sad when they ended, I wanted more. Then she came out with a fourth! Oh, happy day! Then I read the fourth. Meh. Then she came out with a “prequel” series, the Infernal Devices series set in Victorian England. At that point I started to groan. You can only beat a dead horse so much before it becomes a sadistic action. I feel this series is one slap with a stick too many.

But, I’m into self punishment, and I am a loyal reader, so I picked them up to give them a shot. The first book, Clockwork Angel, was actually pretty okay. Not the best, but okay. I wasn’t particularly interested in picking up the second book, this one, since I wasn’t really attached to any of the recycled characters or invested in the storyline. But, I got a Nook for Christmas and a $50 B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I couldn’t think of another book to purchase (immediate gratification, people).

Right around the time CP came out; the release date for book five in TMI series was announced. Oh yeah, along with the third in the prequel series, Clockwork Princess, and oh my gosh I just looked at her website and there’s a SIXTH book in TMI series scheduled to come out and for the love of Pete can this just stop?!?!?! You can’t help but wonder, with so many LARGE books in the same series/storyline, if the integrity of the writing and the story will be compromised. I love the idea of Shadowhunters, but I’m starting to wonder if Clare’s “cast-typing” herself. Is that all she knows how to write? I guess it doesn’t really matter since she’s built a gazillion-dollar empire and a movie’s coming out soon for Book 1 in TMI – City of Bones, and people LOVE this series (for cryin’ in a bucket, the woman has FOUR –if not more—websites dedicated to the books, TMI, TID, her own, and a tumblr account, PLUS a LiveJournal account, not to mention Twitter and fb). I mean, how the heck is she keeping up with two series and all that other crap? Anyway, I’ve seem to have gone off on a tangent. Let’s get back on track, shall we?

I feel that the characters in TID are just regurgitations of her original characters from TMI with the addition of a second, possible romance and little bits to make the books fraternal in nature. But, scrape away the 1800’s British English, and the bustles and stiff clothes, and you’ve got the same blasted story. I don’t think Clare did a good job of setting up the place and time of TID for the reader. I feel that she just went to Wikipedia or some other comparable sight, read a few broad details and left it at that. She gives you those common elements in the beginning of the book, but that’s about it. Most of the time I was reading, I didn’t feel that I was there in that time period. I think she could have included a lot more unique details to make it more “there” for me. More than just a parasols and bustles and carriages. The only thing truly convincing to me was the dialogue.

So, in the end, it was just “okay.” The storyline is entirely forgettable, I’m really sad to say, because it’s too much like her other series. I could definitely live without reading the next in the series, Clockwork Princess, but unfortunately, I was so excited about my new Nook that I pre-ordered it. I need to look into B&N’s return policy.

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown: Promises so much, but in the end, doesn’t deliver

Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1)Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy (?)

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

Rating: PG
Coffee Beans: 2.5/5
Spoilers: Not really
Favorite Line: I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that. (pg 10, ebook), Maris chose her words like a surgeon chose a scalpel (pg 18, ebook), The sky darkened like ink spreading through a shirt pocket… (Pg 86, ebook)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review

Publisher’s Summary:
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

My Review:
Okay – First, I felt this book had a lot of promise. The cover is suh-weet (although I was confused as to why they put a mermaid on the cover when it’s told from the point of view of Calder, a merman). The summary is dark and awesome. The first few chapters were more than I could have hoped for.

Which is why I was so confused by all the two and three star reviews on GoodReads (I didn’t read any of them, just looked at the ratings). I thought to myself, “Pft! These weirdoes don’t know a good book when they read one!” and proceeded on my merry reading way. I mean, a book with an opening line like this, had to be good, right? RIGHT?!?!

I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.

WRONG.

What I liked:
I liked Brown’s take on the traditional mermaid myth where mermaids were bad and killed people (anyone else notice that YA books are turning more dark when it comes to fairy tales? I like it). The fact that they fed on the happiness of humans because they couldn’t produce their own. The fact that deep down, they were primal and instinctual beings.

The author does a great job of dropping tidbits of information relevant to the mythology behind the story as well as the mermaids’ motivation for what they’re doing. It flows so well and feels so natural. But there were some points where I was thoroughly confused and wished Brown had dropped a little more clues. Like the revenge Calder and his sisters felt for their mother. Were they just really pissed, or was their drive more paranormal and instinctual? I’m leaning towards the latter of the two, but we’re never really given a good picture.

The writing, for the most part, was really great. Good descriptions and flow (…my stomach twisted like a snake in a jar, pg 30, ebook). Dialogue was natural and engaging. I liked Lily’s tattoo: No Coward Soul is Mine but that’s beside the point. The story had so much potential to be a really good book.

What I didn’t like:
The book opens with Calder telling us he’s abstaining from taking human lives. But why? All we’re given is the reason of “because he wanted to see if he could.”

*Shrugs shoulders*

Yeah, okay. I guess that’s good. Enough. But I would’ve liked to be given a meatier reason. A reason that actually had more significance to him to give him depth as a character, so that way when he’s tempted to kill Lily, we know the battle he’s fighting and the strength it takes to resist. (But now that I think of it, there really wasn’t that much of a struggle for him. C’mon, dude. You haven’t eaten ANYTHING in over NINE MONTHS. It’s okay to be thinking your girlfriend looks a little tasty).

There also seemed to be a couple of scenes that weren’t important because they didn’t add to the plot what-so-ever and then were never mentioned again. And WEIRD things happened in them, and in the “real” world, the events would have been brought up and shunned. (I put “real” in quotes because in a REAL world, Calder’s fishtail of a rear end would’ve been kicked to the curb and would’ve been served with a restraining order by the biggest, baddest, meanest looking delivery person I could find).

For the most part, I got a good, 3D sense of the characters, especially Maris. Calder, though, was a little ambiguous. I couldn’t help but get a generic feel for him. And therefore, generic, non-committed feelings for him. Good-looking guy. Strong. Smart. Funny. Possessive. Protective. (Anyone else seeing the clichéd cookie cutout “main guy” image so prevalent in today’s YA books?) I want something, SOMEONE real! I thought I’d get it with Calder, but no dice.

And Lily…flat. And a 100% WEAK character. No, let me take that back. She’s far from weak. Loves her family, would sacrifice herself for them, has the good sense to think Calder’s muy estraño from the very beginning. So she’s not weak, I guess. But the fact that Calder’s pretty much STALKING her, and she KNOWS IT, and she doesn’t follow her first impression that he CREEPS HER OUT, is pretty aggravating. So maybe she’s just a DUMB character? At the very least she’s a horrible roll model for girls when it comes to relationships and guys.

I would have liked it so much more if she was put in a situation to be forced to partner with him against her better judgment in order to save the greater good instead of falling for him after he keeps pestering her. To me, it would’ve been a much more plausible evolution of a relationship. And slightly more healthy.

I also think that part of the story being told from Lily’s POV would have been VERY beneficial for me as a reader. Then, at least, I’d have had some sense of reasoning behind her decision to go out with this complete creep that is Calder.

Girls (or anyone, really): If a boy is stalking you (showing up at your house in the middle of the night with lame reasons, ends up getting a job where you applied, is following you around), and you already have a bad feeling about him, please don’t perceive that as flattering. I’m so fed up with books that portray this kind of behavior as right or acceptable. There are real people out there who do these kinds of thing and are dangerous. People go missing or end up getting hurt. The fact that authors are portraying this as something to be attracted to or desired is horrible.

*Steps off soap box. Dusts hands off*

There, I feel better.

I hate delivering BRs like this one. It hurts me to give my honest opinion because I know how much love, blood, tears, and pieces of themselves authors put into their books. They love it. Their agent and publisher love it. But it’s my job to give my honest opinion about what I read. And I DO NOT love this book. I don’t even really LIKE it. I feel meh about it. I know there will always be people like me out there, but it doesn’t make this any easier.

Ever.

Anyway, you may like it. Pick it up and read it, deciding for yourself. Me? I won’t be recommending it to anyone.

Happy reading, my friends!