Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: First Law World #4

Pages: 661

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Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

It’s no secret that the last book of The First Law Trilogy left me with a huge stab wound on my back. One that I enjoyed immensely. I was afraid of reading the rest of the books, because the bar was pretty high. But my fears were pointless. Best Served Cold is a superb book that has nothing to envy to the first trilogy.

The time we follow Monza Murcatto and her band of merry men and women in a killing spree to satiate her thirst for vengeance. Seven targets are between them and the peace of mind Monza is seeking. One of those targets is Duke Orso himself, so the quest is far more dangerous that anyone could expect. Lucklily for Monza, she has a lot of gold to buy “loyal” assassins.

As in the previous books, this one has upstanding characters that make that fantasy world much more appealing and enjoyable. But the character development doesn’t hinder the pace. The story is a non-stop festival of different kind of actions: dark alley assassinations, undercover missions, infiltration ala Assassins Creed, skirmishes, full battles… Anything in the field of murder you could think of it is possibly in this book. The book is divided in seven parts, one for every target. Any of those feels different from the others, which is something very positive for such a big book. Obviously, there are better and worse parts. My favourite is the one to kill Mauthis, due to the weird sense of humor displayed in those chapters. The worst (but not bad) the part for the murder of Faithful Carpi… there were too many changes and I couldn’t get over one when the next was happening.

Maybe you are wondering if this story is linked with the shocking finale of the first trilogy. It is a different story, but the “new” political context is mentioned more than once. And Sulfur makes a lot of cameos along the story to let the reader know that the Big Bad Baldy is still out there being the Master Puppeteer I love to hate. The Eater made me so nervous every time he was in a scene. You never know when the kicks to the gut and groin are going to start with this writer… Because I have learned that with Joe Abercrombie is not a matter of IF… it’s a matter of WHEN those kicks will start.

And talking about guts… Man, the other books were bloody, but this one has increased the gore to a new level. It is mostly contained with one character, though: the mysterious Shenkt. A powerful something that is creepily strong and has no problem in using brute force in the most twisted and bloody way you can imagine. I’m talking about fingers drilling skulls or heartbreaking hand-to-hand combat… He is SO scary! But one of the best characters of the book. There are not many pages with him, but all of them are pure gold and full of “I was not expecting that” moments.

The catalog of interesting characters in this book is unending. All the main ones have something special to remember them by. We reconnect with Shivers, the Northman who wanted to claimed vengeance over Logen’s corpse but who changed his mind to pursuit a better life. He ends up in Styria, full of hope and good intentions, but second chances are hard to come by. Monza recruits him for her quest and the journey makes him a different man. His plot line is by far the saddest one. As a reader I felt hopeless and helpless with the events unraveling before me that transform Shivers into a bitter man. I am actually scared of him now…

The Master Poisoner Morveer and his sidekick Day are a joy for the reader. I love the way he talks, how he considers himself superior to everyone else. I know he is a perturbed individual that I should ignore, but the way he sees the world through the “blindfold” he wears is one of the most special characteristics of the story. On the other hand, Day was underused and underdeveloped. I would love to have read more about her. I have the feeling there is much more about her that what we learn.

Other character that should have had more time is Friendly. He is so weird and interesting. We barely get to know any of the background that made him behave the way he does. He may be cold, but his honesty makes him a beacon of light in a world plagued with too much smoke and too many mirrors. I hope he comes back in any of the following books to get to know him better.

We also reconnect with Vitari, but her part is not very important except for a revelation that would break your jaw. My brain is still boiling with all the implications… And we also have a lot more of Nicomo Cosca. In this book he shines with all his splendor and he has become one of my favourite characters in this saga. Even though I’m not sure if we can trust him, but I guess that’s the main trait of the character…

Monza… At first I was 100% pro-vengeance, so I was Team Monza all the way. But during the journey we get to know her quite a lot and I wouldn’t like to consider her my friend even if that could cost me my life (so dramatic!!). She is too self-centered. First me, then me and last… ME!! She sacrifices friendships and loyalties with an unsettling easiness and when we discover the truth about Benna… I wasn’t sure if I should support Monza or Orso. I need good guys and bad guys, but I should have learned by now that I’m not getting that with these books. The only good thing about Monza is that she is going to be a thorn in Bayaz’s mighty ass, so she is still on my “OK” book.

An awesome fest full of great moments. I have already bought The Heroes to keep with this saga sooner or later, because this is getting better and better.

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2019 – Book Gallery

 

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Stygian – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #27
Pages: 670

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Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years, believing myself to be something I’m not.
Someone I’m not.
Lied to and betrayed by gods, Daimons, and Dark-Hunters, I’ve struggled to find my way in a world where I’ve been cursed since the moment a vengeful goddess prematurely ripped me from my mother and planted me into the womb of an innocent woman who thought me her son.
Trained as a slayer and predator, I’ve learned to fit in and stay low. To become a tool for evil. Until I was sent to kill the one woman I couldn’t. My hesitation cost her, her life.
Or so I thought. In an act of betrayal that makes all the others pale in comparison, I’ve learned that things are not what they seem in this world and that my Phoebe still lives.
Now I will have to travel into the very pits of Hades to try and save her, even as everyone around me attempts to steal what little soul I have left. There’s only one person at my back and I’m not sure I can trust her either, for she was born of an enemy race. Yet sometimes the road to redemption is one that singes us to our very core. And if I fail to find the answers I need to save Phoebe, more than just my wife will die.
We will lose the world. Both human and Daimon.
~Urian of the House of Aricles

I did it!! I did it!! I’m up-to-date with the Dark-Hunters saga!! *happy dance*. Only 33 more sagas to tackle! Sadly, I start much more than I finish, so it’s an impossible race against my To Be Read list. Well, sure steps and small victories. That’s the trick for a happy reader. I will start with the review now, before I lose myself into the metaphysical concepts of reading goals.

This is the book of Urian. Enough said! We follow the character through more than 11 thousand years. Since his weird birth, to the present time where he has to deal with the truth about Phoebe. A story about family, loss, survival and immortal love. A biography of one of the most charismatic characters of this saga!

This is a milestone book, like Acheron or Styxx; so is much longer than other Dark-Hunters books. But, while the other two were made for lovers of the saga, Stygian’s focus on lovers of Urian. If you don’t like the character, you won’t like the book. Story wise, there is not much to tell. All the focus of the book is on the former Daimon and his lengthy life. Yes, there is still a bit of the epic craziness we love; but if you think that is going to be the main course, you are meant to be disappointed. Even though Urian’s story is a lot of fun, I guess that could not be enough for some readers.

Gladly, it’s not my case. I love the character, so I have enjoyed every single page of this book. After the dragon trilogy that left me with a sour aftertaste, I needed something like this to boost my love for this saga. I have laughed, cried, bitten my nails, jumped in the bed, yelled at it… All the emotions you can imagine. I was eager to finish my work day to reunite with Urian and all the amazing characters that wander around his life. I’ve been team Urian 100%, to the point that I considered the Dark-Hunters my mortal enemies as well. It’s one of the things I have loved the most about Stygian. Getting to know a much deeper point of view of Apollite and Daimon life has made me more empathetic towards them. I know I shouldn’t give the time of day to people like Stryker, Urian, Davyn and the others, but I can’t help thinking they were the true heroes of the book.

I’m extremely happy with this book, but I must point out some of the weakest elements of it. Once we reach the present time, the story becomes a retelling of previous books. Not as heavy as with Illarion’s book; but there is a nice hunk invested in telling us again Wulf’s, Acheron’s, Styxx’s and Falcyn’s books. Thankfully, the author drops some “deleted scenes” and different points of view to tell us again the same thing; so it’s much more bearable than expected. And let’s be honest, those books are important to undertsand Urian’s story, so I guess some readers will be glad for the refresher.

The other part that makes me frown a little is the ending. I have a love/hate realtionship with it. On one hand, it’s a new dawn for the Dark-Hunters and the Daimons. One I’m eager to devour as soon as the next book is published. On the other hand, the part of the story about Phoebe feels a little too short. After the ending of Falcyn’s book, I was breathless with the revelation that Phoebe was still alive. I needed to know Urian’s reaction. But it takes 90% of this book to just reach the same point in the timeline where the previous book left us. It took so long, that I was afraid the resolution of that plot twist was going to be weak and easy. And, sadly, I wasn’t wrong. I don’t mean it was horrible, far from it! I just think it hasn’t made any justice to the cliffhanger we had after Dragonsworn.

I can’t finish without mentioning my recently discovered love towards a character that has been there for a while but never caught my attention that badly. I’m talking about Davyn. If I could make a wish related to this saga, that would be to get his book sooner rather than later. Or maybe the longer wait will make his story sweeter. Ugh! Sometimes being a reader feels like a constant fight against myself…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Axios – Jaclyn Osborn

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Author: Jaclyn Osborn
Pages: 334

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I am Axios of Sparta, and I was born to kill. At age seven, I left home to train with other boys where we were taught obedience, solidarity, military strategy, and how to withstand pain. My harsh upbringing stripped me of my weaknesses and forced me to become strong. Ruthless.

But, I craved something greater—a life I could never have.

Against all odds, and the toughest training a warrior could endure, I found an unexpected love in the arms of a fellow Spartan. He was the very air I breathed and the water that sustained me. Fighting side by side with him, we were invincible. Where he went, I followed.

However, there was no place for love in Sparta. Feelings were for the weak. The only life for a Spartan was one of battle and brutality with no guarantee of tomorrow. In times of war, all men were put to the test, but the greatest challenge for us was not one of swords and spears, but of the heart.

I rarely read Historical books. For some weird reason I don’t enjoy that genre as much as any other. I’m capable of immersing myself in a contemporary book, or in a fantasy world or maybe in a far galaxy full of wonders. But when I have to surround myself with historical events I usually get dizzy and lose the North. So, in order to pick a Historical book, I need a carrot. In this case the carrot was a M/M Spartan tale.

The book is written from the point of view of Axios, a spartan boy who is forced to start his training to become a warrior as every other male in that city. He is different from the rest, though. He is not bloodthirsty and has dreams beyond the so-called glory of battle. The other side of the coin is represented by Eryx, who excels at everything during their training and is a firm believer of the Spartan way. The unlikely friendship between the two of them blooms into sexual attraction and later into deep love. We, the readers, are invited to follow that journey through serveral years.

First of all, I must congratulate the author on the perfect guide tour for that period of time. It is far from being a History lesson, but the readers will get tons of fun facts about the life in the ancient Sparta. And by fun I mean the mostly bloody, cruel and desensitize life they have to follow to a T. Before reading this book, my interest in Sparta was non-existent; but now I know it is much richer and surprsing than what movies have shown us. The fact that this book has made me curious about it is already a huge accomplishment. Thumbs up for teacher Osborn!!

The book has two main weak points that are greatly surpassed by the good ones. One of them is the beginning. The pace at first feels too slow. In order to easy the reader into the way of things of Sparta, the story of the characters has to start when they are pretty young. After that, we have time jumps of two years until they reach their early twenties. Those first chapters felt much longer than they actually are. I understand the need of them, but a faster pace for them would have been great. The other weak aspect of the book is the action or, better said, the lack of it. We are being told the tale of some Spartan warriors, but there are barely any fight scene in the book. The ones we get are usually rushed and just long enough to deliver some emotional blow. I guess I was expecting much more action from a book based on that period of time. With those two complaints it could look like the book could be boring, but nothing would be further from reality. The hard truth is that Axios is not a book about warriors from Sparta. It is a book about love between two people who shouldn’t be involved with each other.

So, when you embrace the truth about this story, you are up fro a treat. This is one of the most beautful love stories I have ever read. It is unexpectedly sweet and full of heart-melting gestures. Every time Eryx looked for Axios’s hand to reassure him before a big event, the butterflies in my stomach would perform several summersaults to applaud that simple gesture brimmig over with true love. The whole book is cramped with those. I will forever be grateful for having been given the chance of witnessing their story through several years. From their initial shy encounters to the full power of their passion during adulthood. From friendship to unbreakable loyalty to each other. I have enjoyed every moment of it: the happy moments, the storytelling, the games, the constant support, the doubts, the fights, the sad moments, the extremely sad moments, the please-kill-me-now moments (yes, the one that will leave you crying like a baby for hours…). All of it!!

It is not perfect, but I will treasure the memory of this book until the end of my days. Even now some tears are threatening to come out just remembering the whole story again. This is the first book by Jaclyn Osborn I have ever read, buy I’m going to make sure that it won’t be the last.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Last Argument of Kings – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #3

Pages: 670

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The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.

While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…

Last book of the trilogy of The First Law, which I have taken my sweet time to read it and enjoy it. Thankfully, the author has written much more books based on that world. And, after the earth-shattering ending of this one, they are more than needed. I know they don’t follow the same story per se, but I’m hoping for enough winks and nods to put my mind at rest. Fingers crossed! By the way, this review will have heavy spoilers, because I can’t truly write about my feelings without them.

After the disappointment of ending their epic quest empty handed, the group go back home. Bayaz, Quai, Logen, Jezal, Ferro and Longfoot go to the capital of the Union and, from there, they say their goodbyes. Logen travels to the North to meet their friends and help them in the fight against Bethod. The rest stay in Adua with different objectives in mind. Meanwhile, the Gurkish Empire decides it has been in the background of the plot for far too long…

This last book is divided in two big chunks: the war against Bethod and the North and the war against the Gurkish Empire in the capital of the Union. I have enjoyed the later much more than the first one, but that doesn’t mean the brutish Northmen lack the abilty of hooking me up. I was just a bit sad while reading it. In the previous book, Logen blossomed as a character. I really wanted for him to be happy and I thought his going back home could be a first step. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Ninefingers is miserable among his people. I wanted to take him back to Adua and Ferro and let him be happy, but it seems his honor demanded to see the war against Bethod handled. It’s pretty hard to read how his so-called friends turn on him little by little. Even the congratulations after the much needed victory feel empty (which is totally on point taking into account the very final chapter of the book…). The best moments of the plot in the North are those with the focus on West. The soldier shows a lot of cunning and leadership skills that I dind’t know he was capable of. My opinion of this character has improved greatly since the first book.

But the mamia is mostly in the capital of the Union. There stay most of the original team fulfilling diverse roles. Glokta is balancing his many masters in order toi keep his head. Jezal is being catapulted to the top of the noble life thanks to Bayaz. Ferro is Ferro, so she is looking for new ways to get her revenge on the Gurkish Empire. And Bayaz… I will talk about him later (do NOT expect nice words). Jezal is the subject of one of the most shocking and unexpected moments of the book. It made me smile from ear to ear. I was salivating thinking about the reaction of Glokta, so prone to jelousy when the former Captain is involved. Sadly, there is not much time to enjoy the new era due to the massive Gurkish armada attacking the Union. Unexpected allies and returns just in time are two of the main ingredients that save (barely) the situation…

The most important role in the events that are into play during the battle is the one conducted by Bayaz. He could be mistaken as the hero who stopped the dreadful Eaters of the Gurkish Empire. by far the most formidable adversaries. But it is also during the first days after the victory that all pretenses are dropped. Bayaz is bad news. Very bad news. He is a liar, a murderer, a tyrant, a master manipulator. Everything that happens was to enhance his glory, no matter if the puny mortals that surround him are oblitarated. He put all the pieces together to create and solve the issue, as if it were a simple game for him. The cruelty, the coldness, the emotional impact that he provokes in every character… I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was fuming with pure anger. The real bad guy of the books was walking free… I was so invested in the story that I truly felt his traitorous backstabbing. I hate him with a passion. I can’t think of another character in any other book that I would like to see suffer as much as Bayaz deserves.

If Bayaz getting away with his crimes wasn’t bad enough, he leaves his “friends” in a sorry state. Ferro has been touched by the Other Side. She is hearing voices, but the First of the Magi doesn’t care at all. He has used her as a kleenex. Use once and drop it. Yulwei is trapped or dead in the Tower, after being left there by his supposed friend. Another one who has outlived his usefulness. West… man… that one is hard. After all he has done to get the North back and save the capital, he is affected by a weird illness that has transformed him in little more than a corpse. A disease released by Bayaz experiments. And it wasn’t an accident. He knew about it and he didn”t care. Even wrose, I bet he could do something to cure it… but he just shrugs and turns around. He despises everyone who is not Bayaz. Disgusting fella… Jezal’s situation is not better. He has been placed as King thanks to the lies of Bayaz, but the Magi expect full obedience. When he doesn’t agree with his methods, Bayaz uses his power to submit Jezal thorugh pain in a really cruel exchange that left me speechless and trembling. And I could keep going with Glokta, Logen and more.

I must congratulate the author on the mastery of the plot. He creates a fully character driven story through the first two books to make the reader at home with them. To make the reader feel like part of the group. Like a friuend to them if you get into books as much as I do. And then he drops the bomb and the reader is too close to avoid collateral damage. I have had a knot in my throat while writing this review. I don’t know when I will recover. I just wish that we will see Bayaz fail in the future books sooner or later. I am like Ferro now. Only driven by vengeance.

Well played, Mr Abercrombie. Well played. These books are going to be amongst the most special ones I have ever read.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Dragonsworn – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #26

Pages: 336

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There is nothing in the universe the cursed dragon, Falcyn, hates more than humanity . . . and in particular, Greek humans. In a war he wanted no part of, they systematically destroyed everything he’d ever cared for. Now he lies in seclusion, away from the world and waits for the day when evolution will finally rid him of the human vermin.

Medea was born the granddaughter of the Greek god Apollo, and among the first of his people that he cursed to die. But she will not let anyone rule her life. Not even her notorious grandfather. And when Apollo sends a new plague to destroy what remains of her people, she refuses to standby and watch him take everything she loves from her again.

This time, she knows of a secret weapon that can stop the ancient god and his army of demons. Once and for all. However, said device is in the hands of a dragon who wants nothing to do with politics, the gods, humanity, demons or Greek Apollites. And especially not her. He is the immovable object.

My enemy’s enemy . . .

When Apollo makes a strategic move that backfires, he forces Falcyn back into play. Now Medea either has the weapon she needs to save her people, or she’s unleashed total Armageddon. If she can’t find some way to control the dragon before it’s too late, Falcyn will be an even worse plague on the world than the one Apollo has set loose. But how can anyone control a demonic dragon whose sole birthright is total destruction?

It’s no secret that I thought that Dragonmark (the previous book) was a very weak reading. It scared the hell out of me, because it looked like Sherrilyn Kenyon was running out of ideas. To my relief, Dragonsworn is a much better book that erases some of the fears I had after reading Illarion’s no-book.

This time we follow the story of Falcyn, a dragon brother of Max and Illarion, and Medea, the daugther of the Daimon leaders. As we already knew, Apollo is a vengeful god who want to get rid of the Daimons making them fatally sick. Medea is looking for help and, thanks to her brother Urian, she learns about the curative capacities of a dragonstone. Too bad Falcyn’s stone is also craved by Morgen, one of the big bad wolfs of the Dark-Hunter Universe.

Even though I consider this book a leap forward from the previous one, it lacks emotion and good action. But that is just the consequence of making the good guys a bit more powerful in every book. By the 26th the main characters are gods with the ability to command armies of unbeatable demons or capable of snapping their fingers to solve their problems in a fast way (Thanos would be a mere novice among these guys!!). That means there is not really action, just a face-off to show who can muster more power without getting their hair undone. And even though everything seems a bit too easy, that doesn’t mean the pace is boring. On the contrary. One of the strengths of this book is the fast paced rhythm.

Another thing that is getting too old too fast is the multiple dimension hopping. Parallel dimensions are cool and all, but the last books in the Dark-Hunter saga and the Chronicles of Nick series have been an orgy of dimensional jumping that would give any reader a good headache in order no to get lost. I tend to feel more connected with the story in the books where most of the action takes place in our beloved mortal plane of Earth. But I must also confess that the thing I love most about Kenyon is her skill to bring the craziest elements to her stories and that sometimes means a lot of dimension hopping gathering the cream of the crop of the supernatural realms.

In my opinion, the main course of this book are the characters. And I don’t mean just Falcyn and Medea, which are OK, I mean all the rest. And being this a Dark-Hunter book, I would need about eight hands to count them all. In other books that could be a synonym of a disaster, but in a Dark-Hunter book it only means endless banter. That’s the main reason her characters are always so easy to fall in love with. They make the reader feel like one of them when they are gather in a group, no matter if big or small. No idea if that makes any sense, but it is how I feel.

The author even has time to drop a huge bomb for Urian (metaphorically speaking, of course, the former Daimon is quite well physically). I won’t reveal it over here, but I guess that what we are told will play a huge role in the next book, which is Urian’s book. I will try to read that one next month to be up-to-date with the main saga, so I can start thinking about the other series of Paranormal Romance I have started and abandoned…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Dragonmark – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #25

Pages: 344

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Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn…

Twenty-five main books is a really big number and Kenyon is not stopping anytime soon. But so many books and so many on-going sagas are paying a toll. The price has been paid with Dragonmark, one of the weakest Dark-Hunter books I have ever read

This story is supposedly to be Illarion’s book (more on that later). He is one of the oldest dragons, a solitary creature until he met Edilyn, a human daughter of a demon. As it is very common with shapesifters, Illarion knew she was her mate. This book tries to tell the love story between the two of them…

I say try, because the plot of the book is developed in a pretty wierd fashion. We start in the past, with Illarion meeting Edilyn and her brother Virag. They fall in love and, as any normal couple, go to a demonic realm to fight The Morrigan. It goes pretty bad, pretty fast… Edilyn dies behind the scenes. One chapter she was there, the next she wasn’t. The book had barely begun and, suddenly, Illarion’s book mutates into Cadegan’s book (again!!). A huge chunk of this book is a retelling of Son of No One, where Illarion is mere supporting character.

But the travesty doesn’t end there. Illarion is rescued from the demonic plane and the plot travels to the present. I could barely believe what happened then… Kenyon retells us Max’s book, Dragonbane!! That was the previous one… I don’t have a great memory, but it is not so bad!! Almost 80% of Illarion’s book is not about Illarion. I think this story was just meant to fill some contractual obligation with the editorial, because I don’t understand why the author would do something like this on purpose. I hope this doesn’t happen again…

Is Illarion’s short story any good? The part in the past is pretty basic. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl’s jerk of a brother steals from boy and all hell is set loose… It looked pretty interesting, actually. Virag (the brother) is a nice character that I want to meet again in the future. After the huge retellings, Illarion takes again the spotlight. If you remember, in Max’s book he joins Apollo’s gang to save his mate (yes, she didn’t really die). What happens after that is very short, but good; so, overall, the story is decent. The final revelation is SOOO sweet. I’m savouring it!!

Kenyon is lucky to have such an amazing (and huge) cast of characters. Thanks to them, even a poor book like this one can be enjoyable. Any other author would have got a strike on my chart, but I can’t really be that tough with her. I like her books too much. Let’s hope the next one makes me forget this book (another way to say I don’t want more retellings!!).

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2018 – Book Gallery

Part & Parcel – Abigail Roux

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Author: Abigail Roux
Series: Sidewinder #3
Pages: 302

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Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend’s call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.

Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.

Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli’s letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave—and from each other.

Cut & Run by Abigail Roux was my first M/M book and I fell in love. Since then I have read a nice of bunch of books of that genre (let’s call it that). Getting a book by Abigail in my hands is always special. I love her characters and the fast paced stories with plenty of action. That’s why she is one of my favourites out there. That’s why it saddens me to say that this last book is quite disappointing…

Nick is recovering from his injuries with the help of Kelly. During that time, he decides to go through Eli’s box of mementos to see what his deceased friend and teammate left for him. Among many things, there were a bunch of letters with instructions for Nick and the rest of Sidewinder. Those letters described some kind of road trip with rules and activities to do as a group. When Eli died, Sidewinder felt broken… so he is trying to fix it from beyond the grave.

It’s a cute plot, if I’m being honest. I thought it was a clever way to reunite the members of Sidewinder (plus Zane!!). A first necessary step before all hell breaking loose and having to deal with it as a team. That was what I thought. I would have taken anything: a murder, a kidnap, a crazy treasure hunt, a weird conspiracy, a cult… Anything!! But what the reader gets is a bunch of big muscular guys crying all over the USA geography. Over and over again. I know the trip is emotional. I get that. But it’s emotional for them. They knew Elias. We, readers, do not. So you may call me a cold bastard, but I didn’t feel anything with all those moments that ended in tears. I was more like Zane, an awkward spectator who wanted to see the end of it as soon as possible.

Where is the action and danger I always link with these characters? I feel robbed. This is not the kind of story I expect when I read a book based on the Cut & Run universe. OK, now that’s out of my chest. But, if I don’t get that… does it mean the romance is mindblowing at least? WRONG!! The conflicts between Nick and Kelly were a pain to read. Kelly’s behaviour is all over the wrong places: insecurity, jelousy, self-righteousness… So, when they were not crying they were yelling at each other. Over and over again. I’m sorry, but Abigail in this book more than conflict creates a really unhealthy relationship. They are unable to communicate. They resolve everything with sex and swallow the rest… After this book, I’m incapable of believing in their love story.

I could also rant about the rules of Eli’s trip. I will keep it simple: what a cheap trick to force even more conflict… And what the hell was all that talk about Eli’s ghost and paranormal activities with phone apps? If it was meant as a joke I didn’t laugh at all. I was pretty scared of all the paranormal shenanigans going further than that…

Fortunately, this book is  bearable thanks to some characters like Ty and Zane. There were several parts of it were Zane’s actions have the focus and those are pretty enjoyable. Maybe because he is not one of the Sidewinders and as a reader I had that in common with him. He was like my ally during the book… Weird. I usually don’t feel the need of having back-up…

There is also a nice bomb about Nick’s life almost at the end of the book. It gives me hope that the next book and the ones beyond that are going to have at least some action. Abigail is good at the emotional stuff, but not if that is the whole deal of the book. She is the greatest when she mixes action, romance, humor and emotions. I wish with all my heart that this is not the last book by her that I’m going to read. I mean, she hasn’t published anything the last three years… That’s not normal at all for a Romance author. I hope everything is fine!

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2018 – Book Gallery