Hi, my name is Kim and I am addicted to books. See? I can admit it!!
Defensive Zone is the 10th full-length novel in the Portland Storm series, a series that has created an immense fan base of romance lovers and hockey fans!
This book focuses on Cody "Harry" Williams, a defenseman for the Portland Storm, and Dani Weber, the impetuous daughter of one of the coaches. Dani has harbored a not so secret and not so subtle crush on Cody for a long time, much to the chagrin of her father. After an incident last season, Coach Weber knows more about Cody than he wants to and has ordered Cody to stay away from his daughter. But Dani isn't taking no for an answer. She knows that there is more to Cody than his buttoned-up, bowtied facade and she is determined to find out what it is. She calls him Dirty Harry, after all...!
One of my favorite things about this series, besides the hockey, is that they each have a very serious focus beyond the romance. But this novel takes a bit of a different direction than most of the other books in the series. Cody has a secret, one that he is not all comfortable sharing. And that secret makes the theme of this novel acceptance without judgment. At first, Dani's quest to find out what he's hiding is just about having fun, but then she realizes that there is a lot more to the ginger-haired hockey player than she realized and she jumps in head first. And once she has decided that she wants something, she will not be stopped.
Through the first third to half of the book, I really just wanted to slap Dani. She's young and she acted it. She was extremely narrow in her vision, wanting what she wanted and to hell with anything that didn't further that goal. She was dismissive of Cody's protests, almost scornful of his reasons for pushing her away. Her attitude was beyond selfish and she annoyed me to no end. But then things began to change when she finds out more about Cody and his family. Then she grew up and became the woman she needed to be.
As I said, this book was very different from the others. Less actual romance and a lot less hockey, but no less full of emotion and thought-provoking situations. I love Catherine Gayle and I love that she keeps her readers guessing.
The Bone Witch is a beautiful book, telling the story of Tea as she discovers that she is an asha, one with very rare abilities. The writing is lyrical and descriptive, allowing you to see the world through Tea's eyes. It is written in two alternating points of view and the voices are very different. The first voice is that of Tea, telling her own story in a voice that, while a bit haunting, feels somehow lighter and more hopeful. The second voice is set at some point in the future, as Tea tells her story to a Bard who has sought her out. The tone of that voice was much heavier, much more bitter.
The mythology of this story was so beautiful, a world where, instead of on their sleeves, people wear their hearts around their necks in heartsglass. The color of your heart sometimes determines your entire future, as it did for the main character Tea. After accidentally raising her brother from the dead, Tea's life changes dramatically. She's an asha, a Dark asha. The Dark asha are the strongest of their kind, but also the most feared and usually the most reviled. It is not an easy road that Tea finds herself on.
The worldbuilding was the most stunning aspect to the book, in my opinion, along with the mythology that surrounded it. The mythology is influenced by geisha culture, Zoroastrianism, and Persian culture, woven together a complex world. Despite the fantasy elements, the world felt very authentic with its threads of social classism, politics, sexism, and racism. Those elements exist in all societies and their inclusion, while not positive, helped to create a world that was believable for the reader.
This is a book that I truly loved. A sequel is coming and I am waiting breathlessly for it!
The Country of Ice Cream Star came to me almost by accident. The library on post hosted an event around Valentine's Day called Blind Date with a Book. I chose one based on nothing more than a genre and a vague blurb. And it was unlike anything I've ever read.
It is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, young adult novel set in the future. It takes place in the remains of what was once the United States. But disease and war has left the country decimated. The overwhelming population is black or Hispanic, and even this population is left with a crippling disease that leaves what's left of the country run by children.
The story was fantastic, filled with sometimes subtle messages about society and values. Faith, or the lack of it, plays a huge role in how new micro-societies have been formed and how they are run. There are shreds of recognizable faith from our own reality, but it has been changed by the experiences these children have gone through and by time. Race, too, plays a pivotal role. It highlights how assumptions about race can evolve into entire belief systems.
But the most distinctive aspect of this book is the patois. This is what made the book almost magical to me. The book was written in an evolved version of street language, peppered liberally with Russian and French derivations. Not just the dialogue, but the entire book. From a technical standpoint, this awes me because of the sheer creativity it takes to undertake such a thing, and to do it successfully. And this is not a short book. As a linguist, this got my juices flowing.
Is it difficult to read? Yes, it can be. Having the language background that I do probably helped a little because I recognized a lot of the root words as French and Russian and could translate those easily. Sometimes it was the evolved English that gave me the most trouble, words that had developed over fictional time to be used in different ways, in different forms and contexts. Nouns that are now verbs. Verbs that have become nouns. Even familiar places are made unfamiliar with the new language.
This patois is something that I've seen turn many readers away, but I urge you to give this a shot. It probably does take a great deal more concentration to read it, but the story is well worth it. And the concept is just so unique that the experience is fantastic.
Half the reason I requested this galley was because of the pirates. Even better was the fact that the lead pirate in the novel is a girl. There are not enough pirates of any gender in YA literature!
Alosa is the daughter of the new pirate king and the captain of her own ship. But she is more than a pirate. She has abilities that make her powerful, abilities that she hates. But she uses them in order to please her father, who is a tyrant at best. And he has sent her on a mission... to find a third of a fabled map that leads to impossible treasure.
Alosa is a strong, confident girl who doesn't hesitate to go after what she wants. She knows that there are very few that could match her skills. I love that attitude! But she isn't all hardened edges. She desperately wants to please her father, even after the ways in which he's treated her. And she just might have a soft spot for a certain fellow pirate.
I really enjoyed this story. Alosa's character was fantastic. Strong and powerful, but with an edgy sense of humor. Her interactions with the men on the ship are sometimes serious, but most of them time she is pushing them just for the fun of it. There were times, though, when the plot dragged a little bit for me. A little repetitious, but not enough to ruin it for me. All in all, it was a fun read!
When I was offered the chance to read the ARC of this by Entangled Publishing, I jumped at it! I'm all about any book that features hockey at any level of the game. And it is a book that yanked me in from the very first page.
There is a lot to love about the story in Off the Ice. The characters are well-developed and feel like real people. Tate is a goalie on his high school team, thrust into the limelight when the star goalie is suddenly ostracized by most of the town. He loves the game, but it comes with baggage for him and he just isn't sure where he fits anymore. Claire is a year older than Tate, taking a break from college to put her family first during a crisis. She has baggage of her own and there are days when she just doesn't know which end is up.
These are characters that are thrust into adulthood too soon, dealing with issues that they shouldn't have to. And while my heart bleeds for their characters, I can't help but appreciate that they are characters that act with maturity and strength. Their stories aren't all light and happy, but they are real, with all of the emotions that go along with real life. They were both characters that I understood and related to. And most of all, I loved that their romance wasn't the stuff of fairy tales. It had more than its fair share of angst and issues. In other words, it was real
Overall: I didn't want this book to end. I loved it. I loved the story. I loved the romance. I loved the issues and conflicts and that they had the undeniable ring of truth. This was my first book by author Julie Cross, but it won't be my last
This is the novella I've been wanting! The story of Dali and Jim. It is something that was teased in one of the earlier novels, but I've been wanting this story. It is the romance of two unlikely people and I loved it.
I have loved Dali from the moment we met her. She is so quirky! She's a shifter, one of the most celebrated in the shifter world. But she's a vegan. Yes, a vegan shifter. And shifting isn't easy for her. And on top of that, she is practically blind. She has self-esteem issues of the highest sort and compensates by drag racing, despite her eyesight. I love her. And then there's Jim. Usually surly, he's the head of security for the King of the Beasts. And, for once, he has to rely on someone else to help him. Enter Dali.
The romance is sweet and rife with all those bizarre issues that exist in relationships. And then if the romance is between shifters? Well, things only get more complicated.
Overall: This is a great side story to the series. They are two very different characters and their relationship is just one I rooted for.
I really love the premise of this series! In the world of Seriously Shifted, witches are not good. Not all of them are evil, but there is a defined since of superiority that allows them to live by rules of their own. But Camellia is determined to change that. Her mother is on the borderline between good and bad, mostly bad, but Cam wants more than that for herself. And she is learning that there s a fine line sometimes between good and evil. And that is the underlying message of the novel.
The adventures in this book really force Cam to think about what it means to be a good witch. How far is too far to go in the name of "helping" someone? Do the ends justify the means? And then there is the whole pesky concept of free will. The book is quirky and mostly light-hearted, but it asks some important questions.
Overall: I really enjoy this series. It is a lot more light-hearted than I usually read, but it's fun. It's a YA novel, but it reads more like a middle-grade.
The Sun is Also a Star is the second novel by Nicola Yoon and I loved it every bit as much as the first. There was just something about this book that got to me. And, in retrospect, this is surprising, because a big part of it centers around something I usually hate. Instalove. Instalove that takes place in a span of 24 hours. But somehow, in this story and with these characters, it worked.
Natasha and Daniel are two very different people. Natasha is wise beyond her years and highly intelligent. She's a practical soul that believes in science and facts, not love and fate. She's also an illegal immigrant that feels more at home in the US than in Jamaica, the country of her birth. And she is just hours from being deported when she meets Daniel. Daniel is the polar opposite to Natasha. He is just as wise for his years, but he believes in fate and destiny. He's a poet and has a dreamer's soul. But he is first generation American in a Korean family. And his family has very strict expectations for his future. It's a future he doesn't want, but until Natasha, it is the only one he thought he had. Yet the differences between them fall away over the course of a single day.
But The Sun is Also a Star is more than a book about love, even first love. It's a book about family and choices and fate. It's about finding your own way in the world, your own place. Natasha is fighting to stay in the US, unhappy that she losing everything she loves and a future that is bright because of someone else's mistake. Her journey is about family and forgiveness, even acceptance. But Daniel's journey is different. His is about living his own life in his own way, despite his family. And meeting each other is a chance moment that changes both of them forever.
On the surface, this book is a sweet romantic story. But it is also a book that makes you think. It makes you think about your own life and your own choices. The choices that led you to where you are right now and the choices still ahead of you. It makes you think about those random moments that can totally change the course of your life. It's about all the ways family can make a difference in your life, good or bad.
Overall: This is a book that deserves to be taken at more than the surface. It is a book that deserves to be thought about, to be considered. I definitely recommend it!
I think Magic Bleeds, the fourth novel in the Kate Daniels series, is my favorite. I loved everything about this book. The story, the characters, the mythology, the action. All of it combined to make a novel that was hard to put down!
Kate Daniels is probably my favorite female protagonist. She is fierce and strong. She knows her own mind and she isn't afraid to speak it. She is smart and independent. She is funny and brave and everything I want to be.
All of these things make her the kind of person that won't back down from a fight when it is for something she believes in. And that is truly the premise of the novel. She finds herself fighting the battle of her life and it forces life-changing decisions on her, decisions she never dreamt she would be in a position to have to make.
This story, while just as full of action as the others, felt somehow more personal. Kate has spent a lifetime avoiding personal relationships, whether romantic or friendships. But there comes a time when those things develop and now she has to make the worst kinds of choices.
A lot of questions are answered in this book, but by no means is the story over!!
Overall: The best yet!
Magic Mourns is a companion novella in the Kate Daniels series. This one tells the story of Andrea Nash, Kate's best friend and a Knight of the Order.
Although Kate is in the book, this story is almost exclusively about Andrea. While it is possible to enjoy the series without reading this, I personally liked learning more about Andrea.
Andrea's history is not a happy one, but it goes a long way to explaining who she is as an adult. She is a woman who feels like she has to prove herself each and every day. And while her reasons might not be your typical ones, I think it is a response that many women can understand.
There is also quite a bit more romance than in the other books. But perhaps romance is the wrong word. Romance among shifters can be a combination of stalking, violence, dysfunction, and love. Oh, to be a shifter...!
Overall: This is a short read, but it a good one. I enjoyed Andrea's story!
This series just gets better and better! Magic Strikes is the third book in the Kate Daniels series and I loved it just as much as the others.
In this one, Kate has been drafted to work in the Order as a sort of liaison between the Pack and the Order. She is on shaky ground with them, even though her mentor was a Knight of the Order and held in high esteem. But Kate quit before earning her Knighthood and is a bit of an authority-hating rebel.
These books are action-packed and thoroughly engrossing. But for me, the characters are what really bring me in. We learn more about Kate, her past, and why she is the way she is. The story of Kate is fascinating and tragic at the same time. Curran plays a big role in this novel and I love his character, too. It would have been too easy to make him the alpha male, all brawn, and no brains type. He is an alpha male, but he is so much more than that. He is smart and just and surprisingly amusing. Derek, one of my favorite shifters in the story, is significant in this novel. I loved his story almost as I did Kate's.
The mythology is fantastic in these books. The way it is woven into the mythology of the world is creative and seamless and adds a really rich layer to the entire series.
Overall: This has quickly become one of my favorite series and it is one I highly recommend!
Magic Burns is the second book in the Kate Daniels series and I loved it just about as much as I did the first. Magic comes and goes unpredictably in the world of Kate Daniels, but every seven years there is a magic flare. During those times, the magic runs wild and brings with it even bigger magical issues.
Because of the flare, the stakes are higher for Kate. The flare is the one time that ancient gods and goddesses can manifest on earth and they take advantage of that. Once on earth, it is a battle for power and Kate is stuck right in the middle of it.
I love the characters in these books. Kate is smart and fierce and surprisingly funny. Her love-hate relationship with Curran, the Beast Lord, is equal parts hilarious and sexy as sin. We learn a bit more about Kate and her past in this book, although I still have more questions than answers. That just makes me even more ready for the next book.
I think Curran might almost be my favorite part of this book. He has no idea what to think about Kate. She's stubborn and unyielding and he has no idea how to handle. As the Beast Lord, he is used to subservience, but he doesn't get that with Kate. She has zero problem mouthing off to him and as much as that frustrates him, he loves it, too.
Overall: This is a great series and I feel like it is just getting better!
I don't read a lot of urban fantasy, but I loved Magic Bites! The action is fantastic and it features a badass heroine. Mix that with a ton of paranormal lore and mythology, and it is a truly engrossing read.
The world of Kate Daniels is a post-apocalyptic one, but different from most in fiction. The apocalypse wasn't the fallout of war, famine, or strife. It was the downfall of technology. A wave of magic came over the world and changed everything. Now it comes and goes, leaving technology sketchy at best. But more than that, it has left the world teeming with new creatures and new battles.
The paranormal aspects of this world are fantastic. There are a lot of the usual suspects of the paranormal world, but they are given a new spin. Vampires are not sparkly, but piloted by necromancers. And the world of shapeshifters is expanded and fascinating.
Kate is a mercenary in Georgia and it is her job to fix these magical problems, whether it be something dangerous, or just something messy and inconvenient. It's a thankless job, but it's one she's very good at. And it lets her be what she wants.... alone.
She is a fantastic main character. She's strong and badass, but smart and witty, too. For a book with so much action, there is a lot of humor. Her one-liners and her inner dialogue had me laughing more than once.
Overall: This is a book with a smart, kickass female lead and I definitely recommend it! Tons of action and an amazing world!
I ran across Seriously Wicked on the e-library site for my local Army library and fell in love with the cover. But they didn't own the book. I recommended it, and the next in the series, for purchase and, much to my delight, the library purchased both of them.
It is a quirky, quirky novel, which is something I appreciated! Camellia Hendrix is not your normal 15 year old high school girl. Instead, she is the apprentice/slave to Sarmine, whom she refers to only as "the witch." How she came to be under the control of Sarmine is sketchy at best and doesn't help the already rocky relationship between the two. To say that the witch is not maternal would be a vast understatement. Her idea of punishment is to turn Cam's hand into noodles, wrap her in vines, turn into a statue, and much worse. Clearly a case for child protective services, but the witch insists the punishments teach lessons and are character-building. Cam's best friend is quirky in her own way, smart and accepting of Cam's secrets. And then there is Devon, whose character went through all kinds of mayhem.
The characters, even if you hated them, were interesting and well-developed. Because the novel was fairly short, each one of the characters played a significant role in the story. Kelvin, Jenah, even her teacher... each one of them was significant to the plot. Cam's character was fantastic, a strong female personality without any of the emo-angst I hate. Instead, she met diversity with a smile and a quip. She adapted to her circumstances and found a way to make the best of it. I loved the fact that no matter how much she was oppressed, and she was, she still made it her mission to protect others. And there were plenty of unexpected moments along the way.
Overall: The book is marketed as a YA novel, but although I enjoyed it, I felt like the tone of it was a probably bit younger than that. Seriously Wicked is fun, light-hearted, and quirky read full of witches and magic.
The Fifth Petal is the second book in The Lace Reader series. I really enjoyed the first book, especially with its setting of Salem and the witch history. This novel is set several years into the future and it features some new characters along with some from the first book.
Callie is at the center of this book, having come back to Salem after decades away. Salem holds a lot of memories for Callie, many of them too horrible to want to revisit. But coming back forces her to confront her demons, both inside herself and those around her.
Like the first novel, the story blends magic, history, and thriller elements to create a rich story. The characters are so quirky, even if you didn't like them. The local witch at times seems harmless and at other times the femme fatale. The romantic hero is one moment the privileged son of wealth, the next passionate about his work. Callie is a healer, who uses sound and singing bowls as her healing modality. And there is even a bit of old world feuding that has persevered for centuries, manifesting itself in unexpected ways.
I loved the story, but there was a lot going on at times that made it a lot to track. There really were two major plot lines, that while they overlapped from time to time, could really have been two different stories. One other thing to love... I loved Towner in the first novel so seeing her character's life now was wonderful. She was such a tragic character in the first that it was good to see her happy in the second.
All in all, a great read!
I got the ARC of The Fifth Petal (review coming soon) from NetGalley, not realizing that it was the second novel in the series. So I purchased The Lace Reader. Being fascinated with all things Salem and its witchcraft history, I was really interested to see how it played out in this novel. And I absolutely loved it!
There was so much for me to like about the story, not the least of which was the structure. Prefacing each chapter was a snippet from a journal kept by one of the characters, called by the same name as the novel itself. More than just a random passage, they provided moments of foreshadowing for the rest of the book. Interesting, too, was the unique usage of perspective. I have read many books in alternating points of view, but not in this way. Towner’s chapters were all in the first person, while Rafferty’s were in the third. I have never seen the change in person as well as the change of POV. It was an interesting choice that I found I really liked.
Sometimes I read a novel that has ties to actual history and I find the ties too weak to be true relationships, skewing the history so much that it might as well be an alternate reality or history. Or the book will feel more like a history book than a novel. I found neither of these things to be true in any way. The nods to history were those that have long since been established, framing a story that was incredibly engrossing. The story was more than the Salem witches hook. It truly was the story of Towner, almost a coming of age, despite the fact that she was already an adult. It is a book filled with sadness, secrets, heartbreak, and fear, but it is also a book of acceptance, understanding, and love.
The characters in this novel are extremely varied. From Rafferty, the practical-minded cop with an open mind, to Towner, the tragic and damaged main character. The villain is truly frightening and reprehensible. May is one of those characters that makes you hate her at the same time as you may love her. But together, they create a cast that really drives the story.
Overall: It is not always a happy story, to be sure. There is a lot of pain and sadness. It isn’t always easy to read, with Towner’s story and the flashbacks to her childhood. But it is a beautifully written story. Such a great read!