Book Minx

Sometimes the books I read/review are classics and sometimes they're so sweet they'll rot your teeth out. Basically, I read anything from critically acclaimed fiction to trashy romances. You've been warned.

Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth

Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth - Adam Glass, Ryan Benjamin

Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth centers on a group of villains unleashed to do the government's dirtier assignments for a shorter prison sentence. To keep the team under control, each member of the squad has a nanite bomb injected in their necks. Problem with villains, such as Harley Quinn, Deadshot, El Diablo, Black Spider and King Shark, is that sometimes a death threat isn't enough to keep them in check.

Suicide Squad is primarily Deadshot's story, with the comic trying (and basically failing) to set him up as an anti-hero. Despite being the leader of the group, Deadshot is entirely self-serving and has no compunction about treating everyone he encounters as expendable. Based on the gimmick of the series, this part works. What did not work was the painful attempt to make Deadshot an empathetic character. I guess we're supposed to root for him because he has a soft spot for something vulnerable and innocent, but it didn't gel for me. At that point, it was yet another painful cliche in a storyline that had been riddled with them.

What I did enjoy about the collection was Harley Quinn. She plays a pretty minor role during the first half. Basically, Harley was there just for some chuckles, occasional cheesecake poses and to bang Deadshot. During the second half, the plot shifts to the squad having to hunt her down and I enjoyed Harley's small moments in this part. Like how quiet and serious she got when suddenly motivated. It was a nice contrast to how she was just doing her own thing and having fun on the team in the first half. I have high hopes that something great will be done with her character down the line, but I fear that she'll be relegated to the background once the Joker makes an entrance.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the series will get better further in, so I'll definitely be picking up the next volume.

Atoning

Atoning - Kelley Armstrong

Atoning is set after Armstrong's Darkness Rising trilogy. Chloe, Derek and gang go on a mini-camping adventure that gets interrupted when someone tries to kidnap them. This novella is more for fans of the series, but I read it to see if I could to get into Armstrong's Young Adult books. After reading this one, I'm unsure if I can.

Armstrong has said that she started writing Young Adult because she wanted to create something that her daughter could read, and it shows. This story was laden with morals that Armstrong probably wanted to pass on to her kid. This is fine, except when all of your main teen characters are extremely responsible and understanding to the point of having no major flaws. It makes the characters boring and gets pretty heavy handed when the adults are all commenting on how crazy responsible they are.

However, I'm willing to give Armstrong the benefit of a doubt and will probably one day read a full length book in this series. I'm just not in any rush to do so.

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Dead Heat  - Patricia Briggs

Dead Heat is the long awaited fourth book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. While this series can be read without reading the Mercy Thompson books (to which it has strong ties), I would highly recommend reading the Alpha and Omega stories in order, due to the world’s politics.

 

Taking a trip down to Arizona to buy a horse and see an old friend should’ve been a simple journey for mated werewolves, Anna and Charles Cornick. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned for the pair, as they quickly find themselves in the middle of an investigation. Something has been hunting children in town and has made the mistake of attacking a family considered Pack. All signs are pointing to the Fae, even though they’ve all quarantined themselves away. Anna and Charles will have to step lightly as they look into the attack to avoid tipping the scales on the cold war between the Fae and humans.

 

At this point in the series, most of the dust between Anna and Charles has settled. They seem to have reached a point in their relationship where they’re both feeling secure and that shows here. There’s some mild tension between them about the possibility of a baby, but that takes an extreme backseat compared to the other things happening. I’m a huge fan of internal conflict between protagonists, so I definitely missed the tension in Charles and Anna’s relationship throughout Dead Heat.

I will say that the main plot featuring a hunt for the Fae abducting children was great and made-up for the lack of conflict between Charles and Anna. However, this side of the story was extremely slow to get going, for which I blame the horses. There were a lot of horses in this book. If the actual animal wasn’t in the scene, there was a good chance that someone was probably talking about one. It was clear that Briggs did a lot of research into the subject, but all the horse talk really bogged the book down in places. I also would’ve liked to have spent more time with Joseph, the old friend that Anna and Charles went to see in Arizona. His character played a major plot in the story, but had very little actual page time. This was disappointing since Joseph had the potential to carry a lot more emotional weight by giving him more face to face interaction with the other characters rather than just talking about him.

 

All in all, Dead Heat was a fairly good installment to the Alpha and Omega series. I’ll be curious to see if Briggs has any plans to write another book featuring Charles and Anna though. Throughout the book it felt like their story had basically wound down.

 

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Innocent in Death By J.D. Robb

Innocent in Death - J.D. Robb

Innocent in Death is number 24 of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series and my introduction to the books.

 

It’s the year 2060 and lieutenant Eve Dallas has taken a case involving a young teacher’s murder. The case seems like a standard poisoning, but Eve is having trouble building a good list of possible suspects. The young teacher seemed honestly well liked in the community with no real enemies. On the home front, Eve is battling her own insecurities as an old flame from her husband’s, path has suddenly returned.

 

I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, it was pretty spectacular. I loved the futuristic and gritty world. It gave everything a great almost film noir tone to the story. The hard edge really complimented the eclectic cast of characters.

 

Eve was the highlight of this for me. She’s a spectacular heroine who has a slightly skewed perspective of the world compared to everyone around her. I liked that in this installment we saw a vulnerability in Eve that offered a balance to the tough and highly competent homicide detective.

 

While I loved this as an introduction to Eve Dallas and her world, I’m not sure if I would’ve enjoyed this story as much if I had already been familiar with everything. I really enjoyed how all the drama between Eve and Roarke played out. However, the main mystery lost my interest toward the end. Call me cynical, but when the villain was unveiled I couldn’t drum-up the expected horror over it. So, the drawn out ending centered around the murderer bored me.

 

Despite this, I really enjoyed Innocent in Death and can’t wait to pick-up another book in the series

Review: First Drop of Crimson

First Drop of Crimson - Jeaniene Frost

First Drop of Crimson is the first spin-off novel set in Jeanine Frost’s popular Night Huntress universe. It’s a standalone that focuses on Denise and Spade, who are two reoccurring side characters from the main series.

 

A demon has slowly been killing off members of Denise’s family. After she witnesses the demon murder her cousin, he makes her a deal. Find the relative who skipped out on a bargain with him and she won’t meet the same fate. With Cat and Bones out of country, Denise enlists the assistance of the only other vampires she knows, Spade. With Spade’s help, Denise has to track down her errant relative, who is hidden in the vampire community, before the demon runs out of patience.

It’s been a couple of years since I read a book set in the Night Huntress world. While I adored the early books in the main series and loved Eternal Kiss of Darkness, I can’t say that I felt as strongly about First Drop of Crimson. It fell firmly in the “it was ok” category for me.

 

The main reason for this is that Spade and Denise were pretty plain characters. They had very little to make them standout when surrounded by memorable characters, like Ian and Mencheres. It didn’t help that the snarky vampire, Ian, was given the best lines or that Bones’ appearance breathed some life into a plot that had started to feel meandering. It got to the point where I was reading more to catch glimpses of the other characters than to find out what would happen to Denise or Spade.

 

All in all, First Drop of Crimson wasn’t bad, just nothing really stood out about it. This works as a nice side story for fans of the series. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are looking to get into the Night Huntress books. If you’re contemplating starting the series, I would suggest to just take the plunge and begin with the first book,Halfway to the Grave.

Source: http://bookminxreads.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/review-first-drop-of-crimson

Review: Radiance

Radiance - Grace Draven

Radiance by Grace Draven is the first book in her new Wraith Kings series. The book had first been published in short installments on her blog before getting released as an ebook.

 

Ildiko and Brishen, are the royal spares in their respective families. Each only important enough for a marriage of convenience to strengthen the relationship between the Kai and humans. Issue is that humans tend to flee in terror at the sight of Kai, who are armed with sharp teeth and claws. The Kai are equally off-put by human features, believing the way their eyes roll around in their sockets creepy. Despite their misgivings, Ildiko and Brishen are determined to be allies against a brewing battle over trade routes and the poisonous atmosphere of court.

 

It’s hard not to gush about this book because there was just so much that I adored about it. The slow build-up of a relationship between Ildiko and Brishen was wonderful. I loved how honesty between them was often painted in a courageous light and was the foundation they built their relationship on. Watching them overcome their knee-jerk reactions to each other’s appearance was also a delight. It’s hard to find a romance where both parties think the sight of each other is disturbing and rather hideous. The funny thing is that Draven did a great job of making the things the Kai found creepy about humans believable. Quite a few times in the story I sat there going “huh, I guess that would be a little odd.”

 

Aside from the relationship, there was also an intriguing political plot occurring in the background. From the epilogue (which acts as more of a teaser for the second book) it seems this will be more of the focus for the next book. It’s the political machinations at work that often had me thinking that things will never be smooth sailing for Brishen or Ildiko. Too much is at play and working against them in ways neither expected. So, I’m on the edge of my seat to discover how they’ll manage to continue forward and remain happy.

 

I can tell that this is going to be a book that I continually try to force people to read. If you like high fantasy with a strong romance, then I suggest you check this out. I’m already stalking Draven’s website to see when the next novel will be released.

Source: http://bookminxreads.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/review-radiance

ARC Review: Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

Dreaming Spies - Laurie R. King

Dreaming Spies is the 13th Mary Russell book by Laurie R. King. It’s a frame narrative, where the beginning and end of the novel act as a bookends to a flashback story.

Mary Russell returns home one evening to find Sato, an old friend from Japan, bleeding in her kitchen. As Sato describes the circumstances that brought her to England, Mary discovers that the blackmail case she worked on with Holmes in Japan may not be entirely closed. Now, they must work to unravel what happened in Japan before a public figure is forced to comply with the extortioner’s demands.

 

One of the things I really love about the Mary Russell series is how often the stories are set outside of England. It’s always a lot of fun to see both Mary and Holmes stumble their way across an unfamiliar country while trying not to stick out like sore thumbs. However, I sometimes miss the cozy atmosphere England tends to have in these novels. So, I was pretty thrilled to find that this book had a good mix of both worlds. The beginning and end take place in England with Mary firmly in her comfort zone as she investigates, while the middle of the story is set in Japan.

 

As always, Mary is a wonderful character and I love seeing the quiet relationship she has with Holmes. However, Mary’s first person perspective didn’t work well for this book.Dreaming Spies is primarily the character Sato’s story. It’s that character who drives the majority of the action and influences the outcomes of the mystery. Mary and Holmes’s actions, unfortunately, do very little to influence the plot. I think they both could’ve been removed from the story entirely and the whole affair would’ve ended the same way. This was incredibly frustrating as Mary was regulated to pressing her face against the glass as she watched the main action of the flashback and present day stories unfold.

 

Despite this, I still enjoyed following Mary and Holmes on another of their adventures and in a new setting. I only wish Mary had more influence on the plot as the story often dragged since she was regulated to the role of mere observer. If you’re a fan of the series, I strongly recommend picking this one up. If you’re wanting to try a Mary Russell book, then I suggest you start with A Monstrous Regiment of Women.

Advance Reading Copy provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://bookminxreads.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/arc-review-dreaming-spies-by-laurie-r-king

ARC Review: Unbearable Desire by Vivi Andrews

Unbearable Desire (Lone Pine Pride) - Vivi Andrews

Unbearable Desire is the fourth book in Vivi Andrews Lone Pine Pride series. After reading and enjoying Andrews’ Serengeti Shifters series, I was pretty excited to dive into this one.

 

Over a decade ago, Moira had a brief fling with Hugo, a fellow bear shifter. When he invited her to join the Lone Pine Pride, she had believed that he was inviting her to share his life. Her hopes were dashed when she arrived on his doorstep a week later. Hugo hadn’t meant to give Moira the impression that they would be together, because his heart already belonged to another. Despite the rejection and humiliation, Moira decided to stay with the pride and to build a life for herself. Over ten years later, Hugo is starting to regret his decision but isn’t sure how to go about mending fences.

Unbearable Desire is about crushed expectations, which is one of my favorite tropes. When Moira first met Hugo, she had dreamt of a happy future with him and quickly found that she had put the cart before the horse. Hugo, for his part, let the idea of a grand forbidden love blind him to any other relationship. I liked that both parties were, essentially, in the wrong and that Moira didn’t spend all the intervening years pining away for Hugo. While she’s still attracted to him, she has ruled out the possibility of them having a relationship. So, she’s a little baffled and pretty bitter when Hugo suddenly seems to change his mind after all these years.

 

I only wish this had been a little longer to give Moira and Hugo more time to work things out and ease into the relationship. Things were pretty rushed once Hugo decided to pursue Moira, with a lot of things happening in quick succession. The pacing made the catalyst at the end feel like a rash decision for Moira, rather than one she came to naturally and would stick to. While I felt Moira may regret her decision, I was positive that Hugo wouldn’t. Andrews did an excellent job of showing Hugo get closure with his long term obsession.

 

All in all, Unbearable Desire was a great quick read. If you like Vivian Arend or Dana Marie Bell, you’ll find something to enjoy here.

 

***ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***

Guardian Demon

Guardian Demon - Meljean Brook

In Guardian Demon, the final book of the Guardians series, things have finally escalated in the war between Guardians and hell. Lucifer has set into motion events that will allow him to break through the barrier to earth and destroy humanity. In order to stop him, the Guardians must pool all their resources together. This includes Andromeda Taylor, who, after the events that brought Michael back from hell has committed herself to leaving the guardians by “falling”.

Guardian Demon was an intense read and an excellent conclusion to these books. What made it so suspenseful was that everyone was racing against the clock to discover Lucifer’s plans for starting the apocalypse and to save loved ones who got pulled into the fire. This became direr as each move seemed to play into his hands. On top of this, Michael has finally returned from his torture in the frozen field and is committed to atoning for what he has done to Taylor before the personal clock he’s racing against runs out.

What I love about Brook is that she isn't afraid to put her characters through some pain. Just because someone has been a staple of the series since it began or has gotten their own book, doesn't mean they’re safe. Knowing that characters you love could be hurt makes the emotional impact of the battle so much more engaging. I only wish that Brook had pushed this envelop a bit more in the final confrontation and that ending of the book wasn’t so clean cut.

All in all, this was a fantastic read and a very satisfying conclusion to the series. If you’re looking to get into the Guardians, I would recommend you start at the beginning with Demon Angel since each book builds upon the other. However, if you don't want to read all 8 books in the series then at least read Demon Angel and Demon Moon prior to this one since the characters from those two books are key ones here.

The Martian

The Martian - Andy Weir

I picked-up the audiobook of The Martian to listen to on an 8 hour drive to Minnesota. From an audiobook perspective it was extremely engaging and managed to make the time pass quickly. My only complaint is that the way the narrator voiced the female characters started to get on my nerves in some places. But I'm unsure if this was due to the tone he chose to read some of their lines or if it was the character's actual dialog that grated on my nerves. Despite this I still really enjoyed listening to this novel.

Six astronauts are on a scheduled Mars mission. It was supposed to be the 3rd in a series that NASA had planned out, but when a strong dust storm suddenly develops they are instructed to abort the mission. During evacuation one of fleeing astronauts, Mark Watney, is hit with debris and presumed dead. Without any other recourse, the remaining 5 astronauts flee the worsening storm and unknowingly strand Mark alive on the planet.

This was a great survival story in a setting you don't normally see. Usually survival stories are about the person learning to live off the land and "going back to nature". Stranding someone on an inhospitable planet is a fantastic idea because that isn't an option. Mars is out to kill Mark, or so he sometimes believes, and he has to make due with the limited mission supplies in order to survive. Every time we were with Mark, it was a wonderfully tense atmosphere as we experienced things through his daily mission logs. Mark had a sense of humor that acted as great comedy relief to a novel that could've taken several turns towards depressing. The humor made reading about Mark planning his courses of action, to only have to re-plan when things went wrong, a lot of fun. However, the book started to drag for me when Weir began switching back and forth between Mark's log entries and what NASA was doing.

When Weir began to intersperse Mark's scenes with NASA, it killed the suspense for me and caused one of my biggest issues with the story. In the beginning, you really felt Mark's sense of isolation and the desperation to make rations last until the next Mar's mission was scheduled. To remain with him like that and continue to only know what he knew would've made for a much more tense read. However, this tension was erased when we began to switch to NASA's point of view. It caused Mark's plight to lose a lot of the atmosphere it had built-up in the beginning, because you knew what NASA was doing and that things weren't as desperate as Mark thought. You were able to see the extremes NASA was going to in order to help Mark and these extremes were what started to kill my suspension of disbelief.

I could understand the media attention and NASA's struggle to get Mark back safely. However, I was a little baffled by the obsession with it. Mark is stranded on Mars for a long time. Much longer than the media's typical attention span and yet throughout the entire book the outside world is completely engrossed in the story the entire time. Some major channels even dedicate entire programs towards just Mark's situation. I could understand this in the very beginning, but as time wore on and only baby steps were made, the world probably would've began to lose interest. The fact that they never once seemed to waver and that the entire world was essentially holding its breath, really threw me off. Additionally, there's a lot of emphasis on how much time, money, and resources are utilized to save Mark that it started to become too far fetched for me. I began to have a hard time believing that so many people and governing bodies would give up so much to save one person's life. I was glad to see Weir eventually address this issue, but when he did, it almost felt tacked on. I read that part of this book was re-imagined, so I can't help but wonder if that section of the book was what they were referring to.

All in all, an excellent read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys hard Sci-Fi books or survival themed stories.

SPOILER ALERT!

New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection - Book 3

New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection - Book 3 - Grant Morrison, Chris Bachalo, Phil Jimenez, Marc Silvestri

First off, the cover of this volume should have "Spoiler!" written across it. Secondly, there were a lot of things I did not like about the last leg of Morrison's run. But, we'll start with the good.

Highlights:
-Jean and Wolverine's connection. The arc of Wolverine and Jean being stuck inside a run-away ship was probably my favorite section of this part of the collection. But there were a lot of moments between Jean and Wolverine that really highlighted their friendship and did it in a way that (for once) I could actually understand why they would have such affection for one another.

-Magneto. I really enjoyed the arc of Magneto as this aging and outdated radical activist that didn't know how to connect with the people he was trying to sway anymore. It was almost heartbreaking watching him struggle to gather people to him like he was once able to do. I loved the internal conflict we kept seeing as he tried to be the man he once was. I only wish that his arc hadn't been so rushed. I would've loved to have seen it given more attention and time to develop instead of whipping through it.


The Annoying Things:
-Pacing My main issue with all three of these volumes is the pacing. I got whiplash from how many things happened in such a small amount of time. Plots would be over in the blink of an eye and it never gave the characters' time to react properly to anything that was happening or to explore an interesting concept. And Morrison had so many interesting stories that got only a fraction of the time they deserved dedicated to them.

-Cyclops. Throughout the whole Morrison run I kept waiting for Scott to get his shit together and step-up. Sadly, he never does and it drove me nuts. He's supposed to be a leader but all we got was an emotionally stunted man who spends the better part of his scenes whining and getting dragged around. Sometimes quite literally. In this book, Wolverine carries a passed-out Scott into a dangerous mission because he wants him there as backup. And that's a huge issue I had with Scott's character here.

Scott plays a purely reactionary role throughout the entire Morrison run. Stuff goes wrong and he reacts to it. He gets dragged into situations and just does what he needs to get out alive or because "it's the right thing to do". Even at the end he doesn't have to deal with the fall-out of his cheating on Jean because he ran away when it was discovered and Jean dies before he has to actually talk to them about it. (And yes, even though it was telepathically, I'm counting his thing with Emma Frost as cheating.)

-Jean's Death. I absolutely hated the way Jean died. Not because I enjoyed her character in the story and didn't want to see it happen. No, it was because I loved her character in the story and her death made me feel nothing. If you kill a character off, it should invoke an emotion. When Jean died all I thought was, "Well that was stupid." The entire scene felt extremely trite.

When Jean dies, the battle with Magneto is essentially over. She reaches down to touch him and he uses a last burst energy to give her a stroke. After watching her and Wolverine survive a plunge into the sun on a run-away spaceship, this was extremely anti-climatic. She dies in Scott's arms who expresses grief. Wolverine goes feral. Everyone stands around in sadness. It's all very...boring.

I got the feeling that the whole reason for Jean's death was purely to allow Scott to be with Emma without guilt or having to outright make the choice to leave Jean. It was extremely frustrating. The collection ends on the lackluster scene of a Phoenix Jean giving Scott her blessing to be with Emma as she joins all the other Phoenixes. A very "meh" ending to an otherwise good run.

SPOILER ALERT!

New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection - Book 2

New X-Men by Grant Morrison Ultimate Collection - Book 2 - John Paul Leon (Artist),  Grant Morrison,  Phil Jimenez (Artist),  Frank Quitely (Artist),  Igor Kordey (Artist),  Ethan Van Sciver (

What in the world is with the "Here's Johnny." look Wolverine has on this cover?

This collection wasn't as tense as the first, but I still really enjoyed most of the stories here.

Highlights
-Jean...again. Still really loving her character and she had several awesome moments in this volume. I only wish that when she finally found out about what was going on between Emma and Scott that she hadn't focused all her rage/blame onto Emma. (Even though I understood why she did.)

-The whole Who shot Emma Frost storyline. It had some odd moments. Like the insertion of Beak and Angel's pupa babies. But overall I really enjoyed that entire storyline.

Emma's character development has also been fairly engaging. I like that Morrison shows glimpses of who she is once you get past the unaffected wasp queen persona. Like how shaken up she is over the death of one of her students and the Stepford Cuckoos' hostility towards her.

-The Hank is gay running gag. This really amused me. How everyone kept bringing it up to him. How Emma was reading a magazine where the cover was a picture of his face with the headline "I'm as gay as it gets." I also liked that was used very subtly to show the emotional turmoil he was going through after a break-up.

The Annoying Things:
-Bringing back Polaris. Polaris is discovered alive among the ruins of Genosha....that's about it. It was a "well that's something that happened" moment. This is the only part we see her in for the rest of the Morrison run. Was this supposed to be a hint to the readers that Magneto is still alive? Because if it was, it was a bad one.

-The entire Kick storyline The whole mutant steroid drug was rather "meh" for me. I don't think it especially added anything to the story. In fact, I think it would've been more interesting if the group of teenagers had decided to cause the riot and got as far as they did without the aid of the drug. It could've brought up some interesting questions and conflicts amid the X-men instead of just verging dangerously close into a PSA comic.

Lack Luster

X-Men, Vol. 1: Primer - David López, Oliver Coipel, Brian Wood

I read this less than a week ago and I already had to go back and flip through the comic to remind myself of what the plot was. That should tell you something right there.

The story arc was ok but nothing was memorable about it. (Also, I hate children in stories. Babies are no exception.) The story kind of just meanders along until the main action thread wraps up and we're left with several pages of a very G rated Wolverine hanging out with Jubilee and a baby as she takes a walk down memory lane. And [he buys her a house....yeah.

All the characters were just as unmemorable in this and that's impressive considering that the story features some of the most interesting female x-men in the franchise. Additionally, everyone pretty much sounds the same and the little conflict that pops-up is extremely forced. For instance, there's a scene toward the end of the comic where Storm and Rachel start arguing. Up until that point, you never had any inkling of tension between these two characters so Rachel's outburst just seems very random, as does Storm's knowledge of what her issue is.

It sounds like I hated this more than I did. My main issue is that it was just boring. And also, while I enjoy the fact that several of my favorite female x-men are being highlighted in their own comic, I dislike that it means almost completely eliminating the male characters. It's about balance. You can feature female x-men without having to basically remove all the male x-men. In fact, removing all the male team members just does not make sense within the context of this series.

I'm not sure if I'll continue reading this series or not.

New Jim and Dali Short Story Due in November!

Night Shift - Milla Vane, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Nalini Singh

I'm pretty behind on the Kate Daniels series, but I'm super excited about this novella by Ilona Andrews coming out in the fall because it's going to feature Jim and Dali. I loved Magic Dreams, which was released a few years ago and had them as the leads, so I'm pretty anxious to get my hands on this new short story. Now if only Andrews would put a full length novel starring Jim and Dali back on the roster.

And we're done.

Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) - J.R. Ward

During a check-up on a critically injured gun-shot patient, Dr. Jane Whitcomb discovers three large men hell-bent on removing him from the hospital. Almost immediately, Jane finds herself abducted and held prisoner in a large mansion working as the group's personal doctor.

After reading this book I can officially say that I'm done with this series. I hate captive heroine plots and I think that's why I quickly got burned out on the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. (Three out of the four novels I read featured this trope.) I'm also tired of the cliched traits of the Brotherhood constantly being shoved down my throat. I get it, they wear shit-kickers and listen to rap therefore they're a hardcore and edgy group. I don't need it repeated to me constantly.

However, I will give it to Ward. She's not afraid to stick to her guns when it comes to maintaining previously established character traits for her heroes. Zsadist was someone who couldn't find pleasure without pain, Rhage had to sleep with a regular assortment of women for his curse, and, in this one, Vishous was heavily into BDSM. Ward didn't tone down these character kinks when it came time to feature these guys in their own books. So, even though none of those really worked for me, I give her credit for not softening those aspects.

 

I would recommend this one to fans of the series, but...I'm done.

Justice Hall

Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6) - Laurie R. King

King's time-line gets kinda screwy around this point in the series. Book five, O Jerusalem, backtracks to where the series started with the plot taking place in the middle of The Beekeeper's Apprentice. At the time I didn't feel like doing a flashback with the characters, so I skipped to this book since it takes place almost immediately after The Moor. I had assumed that I would be safe skipping O Jerusalem but I was sort of wrong.

During The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Mary and Holmes went on a trip to Jerusalem on some business for Holmes' brother Mycroft. During this trip they made friends with two brothers, Ali and Mahmoud, one of which turns up bleeding on their doorstep. The injured Ali, has come to ask for Holmes and Mary's help in convincing his brother to return to Jerusalem with him. Owing Ali and Mahmoud their loyalty for the help they offered all those years ago, Holmes and Mary set on a journey that both of them view as rather pointless. However, when they arrive at the sprawling mansion that Mahmoud has taken up residence in they are disturbed by the immense changes in their friend. Shackled with an outdated responsibility to his family, Mahmoud has become quite the miserable drunk. Wanting to help, Mary and Holmes attempt to figure out a way to make it so Mahmoud can return to Jerusalem with Ali.

The story here had a really interesting tone. This is the first novel in the series where King gives us a glimpse of the roaring 20's the way I typically imagine it, with extravagant parties and a cast of eclectic characters. It was pretty amusing to see serious Mary navigate her way through the fast-paced party atmosphere that this investigation foisted on her. Her horror/amusement at the parties and people found in them, paired with Holmes dodging out of going to the shindigs with her, was a definite highlight. It also offered a nice contrast to the more depressing aspects of the mystery that involved a World War I execution.

Seriously though, I was a little lost in parts of this novel because I hadn't read O Jerusalem. Which took me by surprise since most of King's novels seem to stand well on their own. However, King does give some back-story concerning Holmes and Mary's history with the two brothers, but it wasn't enough to explain why they both have such unswerving loyalty to Mahmoud and Ali. All this, of course, is my own fault for skipping the previous book. So I would definitely recommend reading O Jerusalem before diving into this one.

Currently reading

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain
Swamplandia!
Karen Russell
Progress: 22/397 pages