February readings | Shifters, Magic, and Mysteries

Title: Red Notice
Series: Tom Buckingham #1
Author: Andy McNab
Genre(s): Mystery, Action, Thriller, Military Fiction
Page count: 416 pages
Published: 5 November 2012

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Shadow and Bone
Series: Shadow and Bone #1
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Page count: 358 pages
Published: 5 June 2012

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Face Offs & Cheap Shots
Series: CU Hockey #2
Author:Eden Finley, Saxon James
Genre(s): Contemporary, Sports, Romance, MM
Page count: 302 pages (ebook)
Published: 5 October 2020

My review |
Book | Audiobook

Title: Jon’s Spooky Corpse Conundrum
Series: Jon’s Mysteries case 3
Author: A.J. Sherwood
Genre(s): Paranormal, MM Romance, Mystery
Page count: 207 pages
Published: 2 August 2019

My review (soon) | Book | Audiobook

Title: The Capital
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #1
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 222 pages (ebook)
Published: 23 March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Captivate Mate
Series: Mismatched Mates #2
Author: Eliot Grayson
Genre(s): Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 207 pages (ebook)
Published: 15 August 2020

My review (soon) |
Book | Audiobook

Title: The Border
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #2
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 228 pages (ebook)
Published: 23rd March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: The Sea
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #3
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 180 pages (ebook)
Published: 23 March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Putting the Romance in Necromancy
Series: The Knight and The Necromancer #0.5
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical, Romance, LGBT
Page count: 17 pages (ebook)
Published: 23rd March 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

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Shadow and Bone | Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo published 12 June 2012

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

How was it?

Something very strange happened with this book. I’ve seldom had reading experiences like this one. I zombie read* a lot of it, so much so that I had to go back several times to find whichever passages I remembered last. I was interested in the plot but I wasn’t engaged. Maybe the complex names dulled my concentration – I doubt it – or was it Alina’s near obsession with looks that did me in? – maybe. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it almost felt like I was at risk of not going back to the book if I even glanced at another one.

It may sound like I didn’t like the book or that it’s barely average but paradoxically I enjoyed it. There are a lot of elements that I like, the world building, Alina, the way the Darkling was portrayed, and how everything was set up for Alina not to be a Mary Sue later on. But it’s only three quarters into the story that it really picked up for me.

Before that I was going along to get along but every time I thought “OK nothing is happening, the story is in a bit of a rut, in a routine.” something would come up to revive my interest a bit before depleting again. So there was quite a bit of that, it wasn’t ups and downs per say but a slow and steady disinterest before a surge of captivated reading.

Shadow and Bone is unique, you might like it right away or squint at it trying to figure out why you’re still reading.

*Zombie reading: reading something without really processing any of the words on the pages. One often wonders how they got a particular section, with little to no recollection of what came before, after zombie reading.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

If you’re interested by this book, help us by getting – at no extra cost to you – it using the links below:

The Trilogy

Calamity | Brandon Sanderson

Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson published 16th February 2016

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.
David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when the Reckoners’ leader struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . .
But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Buy links:

How was it?

Firefight was a turning point in The Reckoners’ series, it felt more and more like a transition but it didn’t really explored what that transition, that transformation would be, Calamity does.

The series took a serious turn in this book, it’s familiar but feels and sounds different, and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it didn’t seem so abstract. The fact that the main characters are just as clueless as where are for a good chunk of the story gives the impression that Sanderson didn’t fully think through the trilogy. Calamity seemed so haphazardly stitch together at times that Megan became a convenient solution for every corner the author painted himself in. She became some sort of MacGuffin, the solution for every or any problems.

David is another “problem” unlike his weird expressions and metaphors David being reckless is not cute and yet it keeps being rewarded for it. In this book more than the others, his reckless behavior has no consequences. In the previous stories it at least seemed like he got lucky, there’s a sense of danger, impeding doom but with “don’t worry I got everything you need” Megan that just vanished.

As bad as it may sound, Calamity has its moments. Parts of the story, scenes that are engaging and really entertaining to read with a fair share of plot twists. However the book still left me with a weird aftertaste. Something or some things are missing. It’s unclear. Sanderson didn’t just leave a door open to eventually come back to the series, he delivered a “I need to get this done” book instead of a “I did it 😀.” but it’s impressive to see that even when it doesn’t look like he tried hard enough, it’s still good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Calamity is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

About the series:
I appreciated that the Epics, in all the levels strength and powers they possess, are still subject to time, decay, and sickness. In the series we see the ordinary humans fear and/or revere them as deities. But they are riddled with issues that you wouldn’t expect in such powerful beings to have.

More in the series:

The Reckoners 1
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 1.5
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 2
Review | Book | Audiobook

Firefight | Brandon Sanderson

Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson published by 6 Janvier 2015

Babylon Restored, formerly Manhattan, may give David answers. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers. 

Buy links:

How was it?

Babylon restored might be the weirdest place to imagine but Sanderson does a good job to take you there. The more time you spend there the clearer the picture gets. The fact that Regalia, the High Epic, the Reckoners are hunting is said to be the cause of Babylon restored present state makes her enigmatic and scary in a way.

With “Firefight” I started to like David’s quirks, he still annoys the hell out of me at times but I kind of like him. The story in this second the Reckonners book is quite captivating and thought provoking but I find I’m mostly interested and amazed by the structure and writing of the book.

The world building again is spectacular, Babylar or Babylon Restaured, former New York City, is a bit weird but easy, maybe easier, to picture than Newcago in Steelheart. The new characters are just as colorful and fascinating as the mostly submerged City with glowing fruit and graffiti described here is. The characters are distinct, not one voice seems like the other, it doesn’t mean that they’re all memorable but they don’t have a sameness that could make them interchangeable in one’s memories. It’s the singularity of each characters, old and new, that bring up such strong feelings when it comes to their behaviors.
I enjoyed how some key concepts are subtly introduced in the story thus expanding this dystopian world. However it is a rather big shift from what was previously introduced. It wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, Calamity and Firefight’s powers seem to have been conveniently redefined rather than better explained.

The story remains an exciting dangerous maze of carefully laid plans, mysterious desires and motives. The main antagonist Regalia, ruler of Babylar, is much like her power, a force to be reckon with. The people and the Reckoners cell from Babylar are nothing like Newcago. David is still brimming with good intentions but still reckless and irritating. Prof and Tia’s layers are slowly getting peeled.

Firefight seems to be redefining the series, a turning point in the Reckoners’ story that isn’t very smooth but still a thrilling emotional roller-coaster.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Firefight is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

Previous books:

The Reckoners 1
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 1.5
Review | Book | Audiobook

Shattered | Kevin Hearne

Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles #7) by Kevin Hearne published 17 June 2014

Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.

And Owen has some catching up to do.

Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.

But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.

As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.

How was it? This book is full of surprises, twists, and thought provoking plots.

The changes of P.O.V. was jarring at first, because the characters had their own thing going which made the whole book feel out of focus at first. However in the end, it made the story a lot more interesting. It took alliances we took for granted in a grey area of uncertainty and made a looming threat look more dangerous than it had.

I’d say it’s centered around Granuaile, since her storyline seems to be the one following / tieing up with Trapped and Hunted the most while also pushing the story forward.

Arc Druid Owen Kennedy is brash, funny, and full of surprises. Him adjusting to modern life was fun but seemed unnecessary until he talked about his past – hint hint – it made him more interesting, and more of a wild card.

As for the Iron Druid, Shattered might be the book in which he disappointed me the most. Just when you think that Atticus has learn his lesson and his using is accumulated knowledge wisely, he does something to create more grief for himself and the people associating with him.

Shattered was fun, frustrating and entertaining.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can check out the book and audiobook here

Hunted | Kevin Hearne

Hunted (The Iron Druids Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne published 25 June 2013

For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
 
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

How was it? The weird thing about Hunted is that, in my mind it makes one big book with Trapped. I seem incapable of disassociating the two. They truly read like two halves of one book. It’s the title, Hunted, that helps me find my place in the overall story arc.

This book starts off sad, gets funny, then sad again. It’s fast-paced for most of it but then it slows to a crawl. The thrilling action-adventure ride that it is will make you renew your vows to the series. At times, the excitement is constant, and the comedy and heart-wrenching moments are sprinkled throughout. There are very cleverly dropped seeds that are used here. A kernel of a story, a foreshadowed plot point, whatever you want to call it’s . I’m thinking of one in particular that was planted so long – or many books – ago that you might have forgotten about it or not noticed it but once you make that connection it’s impressive.

There’s another impressive feat done here by Hearne, besides ramping up the danger, he made a newer character – I’m trying my best to stay vague – more palatable, likable, even badass.

Like I said, Trapped and Hunted feel like one long book. I didn’t realize that I had started another book – since I dove right into this one. So when I said that I might revisit book 5 I actually mean both stories.

P.S.: I’m so proud of myself I didn’t spent the whole thing gushing about the dog. I’m not really a dog person what is happening to me?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can check out or get the book here: US | EU

Trapped | Kevin Hearne

Trapped (The Iron Druid Chronicles #5) by Kevin Hearne published 27 November 2012

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.
Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

How was it? Contrary to Tricked, who was kind of – much needed – swerve from the “main story-line” Trapped is that breath of fresh air The Iron Druid Chronicles needed. In this book we are smartly lead to the a place that would revives some old story-lines. It’s a whirlwind but one hell of an entertaining one. It’s face-paced with exciting passages, some serious action that is thrilling. There are frustrating moments a few that would make you think “Jeez let a beech get bound.” Or funny exchanges like “Poochism” and many others. Oberon is in top form in this one, he’s seriously the heart of this book series, it doesn’t work as well without him.

Trapped has depth, a great dose of culture, amazing geeky references, action and fun. It might be the one book that I might return to revisit in its entirety.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You can check out or get the book here: US | EU