Speculative Fiction Book Review Blogger
I loved Elliott James’ PAX ARCANA universe, his first person POV writing style, and John, the male protagonist, but I had some major issues with the love triangle, info dumps, and the fact that the female lead was a Valkyrie. However, the former appears to have been resolved, and even though I have reached my limit on books that feature this type of lore, the Norse mythology was light enough to be tolerable. And, because of this, I will not hesitate to one-click DARING in September. CHARMING was made for audio, as soon as I heard Roger Wayne’s voice I knew that this series was meant for my ears and not my eyes.
A number of reviewers mentioned that having the narrator speak directly to the reader was a little weird; I on the other hand did not have this problem thanks to the audiobook. From the prelude onward I felt like I was part of the story, and I really enjoyed that aspect of James’ style. The world-building was rich albeit a little too much at times, and I especially liked the idea behind the PAX ARCANA. Many authors struggle with whether supes are ‘out’ or not, so I loved the idea behind a world-wide spell. The Knights Templar oath also added an interesting twist on what John can and cannot do, plus he’s learned how to brew the perfect cup of coffee—a man after my own heart!
I’m not sure why the love triangle surprised me, but I honestly just didn’t expect one from a male Urban Fantasy author which is probably why it annoyed me way more than it should have. Dvornik and Charming are two bad ass characters, so the fact that they are fighting over Sig like a couple of school boys struck me as ridiculous. And, at times I found that the vampire hunt became secondary to the romantic drama which caused me to lose interest in the story. But, the wonderful secondary characters helped to reel me back in, and John’s wit & snark reminded me of Atticus O’Sullivan (Kevin Hearne), another protagonist whom I adore.
Roger Wayne was an instant hit with this listener; I loved everything about his delivery and tone, and how I felt like he was talking to ME because of the first person POV. His narration flowed well, and I liked all of his character voices. I sometimes had difficulty telling when an explanation wasn’t part of John’s storytelling, but otherwise this audiobook was a near perfect listen. I finally have another male narrator to add to my favourites list—I’m now at two in case you’re wondering.
CHARMING brought a lot to the table with great writing, lovable characters, and the geeky humour that I love. It wasn’t perfect, but Elliott James hasn’t really even gotten to the best part yet… the werewolves!
I held off on the fifth book for the sole purpose of evading the cliffhanger, yet here I am experiencing exactly what I wanted to avoid—a horrible hangover that’s going to last five months. Ok, so I know it’s bad form to start a review off by talking about the ending, but holy geez how can I not? I mean… the series just completely changed directions because of one revelation! I always feel like Darynda Jones leaves readers with more questions than answers, and that’s the case yet again with SIXTH GRAVE ON THE EDGE. As usual, this installment is packed with so many plot threads that trying to figure out how Lorelei King managed to cover them all in under 10 hours just might make your head explode.
It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned the entertaining quotes this author uses at the beginning of each chapter, so it’s definitely worth repeating. Jones also takes it a step further in this installment with the addition of hashtags which I LOVED! Then there were the countless references to Charley’s coffee addiction that always make me feel like we’re sisters-from-another-mother. All of the spork jokes cracked me up too! The author also delves deeper into the powers of the reaper, and if you thought Davidson was badass before, just wait until you learn what other tricks she has up her sleeve. And then, there’s the mystery surrounding the prophesies, the daughter of light, and the twelve. Yes, we get some answers, but mostly it’s just more questions.
Charley’s got her hands full once again in this installment with a naked dead man riding shotgun in Misery, her on-going child abduction case, Reyes’ looming question, and then there’s The Dealer. Ooh, and of course let’s not forget that Angel’s true past comes to light, there’s news on the Mr. Wong front, and in the midst of all this chaos Charley is also playing matchmaker to Cookie and Ubie. Needless to say, life as the Grim Reaper is never dull! But, leave it to Reyes Farrow to totally eclipse the entire action packed story line with his hot self. I love how far his and Davidson’s relationship has come through the course of this series, and I think the ending of this book will be a step in the right direction for them, even though the world might not agree.
When it comes to audiobooks I consider myself somewhat of a slow listener, but I had no problems finishing SIXTH GRAVE ON THE EDGE in a day thanks to Lorelei King’s exquisite narration. Her pitch is perfectly suited for Jones’ writing style, and her voice couldn’t be any more CHARLEY DAVIDSON if she tried. You can tell that she’s having a blast while in the studio recording these, and that really comes through in her performances. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an action or sex scene; King always gives it her all which is why pre-ordering this audiobook was a no-brainer.
SIXTH GRAVE ON THE EDGE ends with a big surprise that will leave you reeling in the possibilities. I’m telling you, this could change EVERYTHING! #holyshit
Normally I’m not one to turn all fan girl in my reviews. In fact, I pride myself on writing cohesive, thorough feedback with actual words instead of squeals of delight and captioned screencaps. But in this case, I could use all of the above and more, and still not manage to do this series justice. It’s that good. Anne Bishop’s world-building is without parallel; she explores sensitive issues with tact and fineness, and makes you see them in an entirely different light. THE OTHERS’ universe manages to be dark, scary and magical all at the same time—I wouldn’t want to live there, but it sure makes for an absorbing listen! I finished MURDER OF CROWS in record time, and now I find myself unable to start my next listen because all I want to do is go back to the beginning and do it all over again!
I’m surprised by how much I like Meg because she’s not your typical Urban Fantasy heroine; sure she has her fair share of strengths, but she doesn’t mow down bad guys and physically, she’s incredibly vulnerable. I gained a whole new appreciation for her fragility in this installment. Cassandra sangue aren’t known for their longevity, and when every cut has the potential to be her last, it makes each bump and scrape feel life-threatening. I loved watching the dynamics between Corbyn and Wolfgard evolve, and this novel helped give a whole new meaning to “mixed signals.” The romance between them continues to be minimal, but I’m really enjoying just exploring the mere possibility of more.
I expected the world-building to slow down a bit in book 2, so imagine my delight when Bishop introduces even more awesomeness into her already overflowing universe. In the earlier chapters, I had some concerns about the HFL (Humans First and Last) movement having encountered similar plot lines in the past, but the author does such a fabulous job of putting her own spin on it that you never get a sense of déjà vu. Intuits, Skippy and a “snake charmer” type character were interesting additions to this series’ already all-star cast of supernaturals, and I enjoyed delving deeper into Meg’s prophecies too. Despite the story’s somber tone, there continues to be a darkly humorous side to Anne Bishop’s writing; from the terra indigene movies, to people shaped wolf cookies, to yielding a tea kettle & broom as weapons.
Alexandra Harris threw me through a bit of a loop with her change in narration. In WRITTEN IN RED, it was box on wheels or B-O-W and cassandra sangue, but in this installment those terms became BOW and cassandra sang—not major differences, but still noticeable. She reads at a slower pace than I’m accustomed to, although I think her style is well-suited to Bishop’s writing. It really adds a palatable element of danger to the story line, and helps keep listeners invested in the plot. The innocence of Meg Corbyn’s character really comes through in her narration and her wolf sound effects aren’t too shabby either!
Anne Bishop has quite possibly just ruined the next five books on my to-be-read pile because there’s nothing that can conceivably live up to MURDER OF CROWS. This novel is without equal, and the series itself remains unmatched—it’s quite simply, the best audiobook of 2014. 5++ ∞ stars.