Review: Ice Kissed

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Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 54.5 of 5 stars

*** Advanced Reader Copy provided by the publisher ***

Ice Kissed is the second book in the Kanin Chronicles by Amanda Hocking and is a worthy successor to the first novel Frostfire. The world of the trolls is fascinating, with the exception that Canada seems to be a world locked in snow and ice. As I write this I am in Banff National Park in March staring at … green. Perhaps this is a world without global warming?

The writing is crisp and precise and the story moves along at a quick pace. When you can empathize with the character the author has done a good job of portraying the characters strengths and faults and presents them a situation that seems all too real. That is what Amanda Hocking has done in Ice Kissed as Bryn seems truly tortured by the events transpiring around her. Trapped in a world where her desire for justice, for doing what her heart tells her, causes a rippling effect throughout the community, Bryn is forced to follow a path that she doesn’t enjoy, but that she must follow..

For me, at least, the ending of Frostfire seemed incomplete while Ice Kissed seems to be just right. Bryn is faced with a number of choices and behaves exactly how I would expect her to behave and while the overall story arc still continues the storyline in Ice Kissed seems complete. This is not labelled as a mystery, however, so don’t expect the plot to be complex and convoluted. The plot is somewhat see-through and mystery lovers will find it somewhat weak. As a Young Adult fantasy, however, the mystery is used as a character development tool and in that the novel does what needs to be done.

Believable characters combined with an excellent adventure. What more do you need?

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Review: The Darkest Minds

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure that I was going to like The Darkest Minds as the book started off slowly, at least for me. However, in a very short period of time I became emotionally invested in ensuring that Ruby survived. Invested in ensuring that Liam, Chubbs and Suzume all escaped the shackles they found themselves under and not just lived, but thrived.

Safety, however, is not something that can easily be found. And being able to care about those around you? Harder still. The Darkest Minds follows Ruby as she struggles to make sense of the world around her and the powers that she possesses.

I must admit that I was initially not a big fan of the ending. I mean, girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy, is the normal swing of a book. Not for [a:Alexandra Bracken|2973783|Alexandra Bracken|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1411581389p2/2973783.jpg] as she decides that she wants to play with you and your emotions. While it makes sense what happened, it is most definitely not what I was expecting nor what I wanted.

The Darkest Minds is an excellent book by a woman whose career looks very bright.

Review: You Are Mine

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You Are Mine by Janeal Falor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You Are Mine by Janeal Falor provides us with a very stylized world in which the “ownership” of women is a well established fact and our protagonist feels compelled to break the rules in an attempt at preventing herself from falling victim to this policy.

The book was interesting, but the callousness of the warlocks and their rituals seemed “over the top” and added more as one more thing that the civilized reader would hold against the warlocks. And the barbarians? From the readers perspective the barbarians are actually the more civilized, causing our heroine, Serena, to wonder whether or not the stories she has heard are true.

While the book does a good job of helping us understand how decades of institutionlized abuse and wholesale ownership of women, well, people in general, can do a good job of warping one’s perspective, the sudden realization that there is an underground in place to help people like her seems to lack standing within the novel. A few more hints, earlier on, of trouble in society would have gone a long way towards setting a better base upon which to build the finale.

Overall, however, the book was a good read and kept me entertained throughout.

Review: Claimed

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Claimed
by Sarah Fine
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

*** Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher ***
*** Goodreads rating: 4.5/5 star ***

Claimed is the sequel to Marked, but unlike many sequels this novel focuses it’s attention on two different characters than those emphasized in the first book. And I think it worked. While Eli and Cacy were good characters for the first book, Galena Margolis and Declan Ferry are more complex, nuanced characters that allow the psychologist in Sarah Fine to come out.

The backstory behind Galena is tragic and something that no one should have to go through, but it fits so well within the world created by Marked that the details of its appearance in Claimed seem natural. While the storyline around the Ferrys and the Keres and the Keepers of the Afterlife continue, it is Galena and Declan upon whom we focus our attention. The universe being built, novel by novel, is complex and frightening to envision and throughout all of the pain and sorrow that we witness in the novel, there is still a shining thread of hope that binds us all together.

Claimed is a worthy successor to Marked and I look forward to the next novel in the series.

Review: Aquila

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Aquila by Sue-Ellen Pashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*** Advanced Reader Copy provided by the Publisher ***

It has been a long time since a novel captivated me so completely that I finished it in a single sitting. Aquila is the first to do so in ten years or more and every second I spent with the novel was worth it.

The characters were complex and yet so believable that I could envision them being friends when I was growing up or as friends of my daughters. And while the novel was written in the traditional three act style, the author did not let that her stop her from creating a world that grabbed me from the start and would not let me go. The alternating of the perspective between the two main characters kept the story moving and made you more fully understand the anguish that each of them felt about the situation.

It is, ultimately, a novel that tries to show you that who you fall in love with is a decision that you need to make for yourself. Whether that love is based on years of gradually getting to know each other or through “love at first sight”, the decision is yours.

While this may be the debut novel of Sue-Ellen Pashley it is impossible to tell. Weaving story and emotions into an elegant tapestry of character development, this is a novel that I am very happy that I got to know.

 

Review: Marked

21805566Marked by Sarah Fine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*** Reader copy provided by the Publisher ***
*** Goodreads rating 4.5 / 5 stars. Rounded up ***

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading [b:Marked|21805566|Marked (Servants of Fate, #1)|Sarah Fine|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1408475509s/21805566.jpg|41068478], but what I got was a surprisingly engaging novel that had a number of plot twists and thoroughly engaging characters. Cacy and her extended family are part of the Ferrys and the head of the family is the Charon. Those familiar with Greek Mythology will see where the genesis of the novel began as Charon guided the souls over the river Styx. Cacy and her family perform a similar function, shepherding souls into Heaven or Hell.

Into Cacy’s life comes Eli, her paramedic partner and the first person to penetrate the “no man allowed” wall that she put up after she escorted the soul of her last lover into the Afterlife. At this point things start to get complicated.

Sarah Fine does an excellent job at combining mythology and a futuristic world after an ecological collapse brings most of the nation to its knees. Add into this world a plot where no one is really what they seem and you have the makings of an excellent story. Sarah Fine delivers a fun romp that captured my attention from the first page.

Light and Dark

Based upon the writing prompt located at A Writing Prompt a Day

They say that in order for there to be good in the world there must be evil. Balance must be maintained. The creation of the most vile causes the birth of the most holy. Sinner begets saint. Darkness begets light. Whereas most people are grey – light souls with a streak of darkness – there are those for whom there is no light or dark. And there are those that go beyond, those for whom the words light and dark have no meaning. The darker the blackness of the damned, the brighter the light of the redeemer. My wife, Miranda, was a soul of blinding light. I was not.

Miranda would stop to talk to people who appeared lost, sad or confused.  She would help people cross the street, reach items on high shelves and carry parcels to their cars.  Children flocked to her as if she were the only light in a darkened room.  Everyone loved her, but no one more than I.

In a bleak and angry world of my own creation, she appeared as the lighthouse to anchor my soul and keep me human. She reached out to me, to me!  The blackness within my soul was a searing cold that burnt all that touched it and yet, when Miranda held me close there was no cold nor black, no depths of despair, only bright glorious love.  She showed me the heights of love and how two people,  so different in temperament, could find a common ground, could find solace and comfort with each other.

She gave me so much that given an infinite amount of time I could never describe the gifts that she left me with every single day that we were together.  She gave me the gift of compassion, the ability sympathize with my fellow human beings and express my concern for their sufferings.  She gave me the gift of altruism, where I truly felt concern for others and strived to make their lives easier.

She gave me love.

A love that I had never known existed, that I had never known could exist.  A love so pure and free that I drowned in its expression and was reborn a better man.  I strove to make myself worthy of her love.  I did my best to return her love in every way I could.  I felt that my love for her was never what she gave me in return, falling short of what I wanted to give her, but she didn’t care.  She loved me for the person I was, the person I wanted to be and the person that I would be.

She was, most assuredly, the brightest star that banished all shadows.

But, as darkness begats light, so does light begat darkness.  As Miranda dragged me from the screaming abyss of darkness the universe was out of balance and, in an effort to balance the universe, a new evil was born.  An evil that made my previous self seem pale in comparison.

All of this came to me as I stared down at the still, cold form of my wife, her head nestled in my lap.  The sounds of sirens approached, police and ambulance coming together.  They were too late, both of them, for my wife was gone, as was her killer.  The darkness that Miranda had kept at bay in my soul leaped upwards and threatened to consume me, threatened to fill me with a burning cold of hatred.

But, within that void, within that black soulless night that filled me there lay a shining beacon of light.  My memories of her would not fade.  My memories of her would keep the darkness from completely filling me.  She would survive, within me, I would survive because of that.

Revenge is black.  But justice?  I do not know if justice is dark or light, but I intend to find out.