Review: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh (UK edition)

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, is thrust centre stage into an eons-old prophecy . . .

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind . . . and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late, and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava scallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind there’s a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible . . . not even for the consort of an archangel.

Series: Guild Hunter 11
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz (1st November 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

Eleven books in, and Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series is really raising the stakes. The Cascade has caused problems before but in Archangel’s Prophecy Elena, the first mortal to be turned into angel in angelic memory, seems to be regressing – making her easier to hurt, and easier to kill. With so little known about once mortal angels, it is extremely difficult for anyone to unearth information that may help her. Whilst Elena and Raphael fight to find out what is going on, the rest of the world stands on the brink of chaos: New York has a lava filled sinkhole, the deserts of Africa have monsoon floods, and the Archangel Favashi shows the first signs of madness. Survival is not looking good for anyone, mortal or immortal.

First of all I just want to mention how pretty the cover of my edition of the book is – I really love the grayscale image with the vibrant colours on the wings just pops. I have really enjoyed the Guild Hunter series so far, so of course I was excited to get my hands on Archangel’s Prophecy. Singh always manage to surprise me, and this book was no different.

I did really enjoy it, but in a lot of ways it does read like the first part of a series – there is some serious setting up going on. Archangel’s Prophecy really sets the scene and let’s us know what exactly is at stake. I don’t know how many books there will be in the series, but to me it almost feels like Singh is gearing up for the endgame of the series. I’m probably reaching, but I definitely think there is that quality to the setup in the book. I don’t think that the next book will be the last one, but I do think Singh may be drawing things to a close.

As always, there is a lot going on – I found it easy to keep track of everything, though I did think that one of the resolutions in this book came a bit out of left field. I really admired Elena’s determination in this book, how she never stopped fighting. Although the story primarily focuses on Elena and Raphael, I did enjoy the return of some familiar faces – and I would have loved if there had been more of them, but that’s just a minor gripe. I also thought the way that the voice in Elena’s mind was handled was really well done, and interesting. Archangel’s Prophecy has definitely left me excited for book twelve.

Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

POWER IS A LIGHTNING ROD FOR PERIL. AND A STORM IS BREWING.

ARRAM DRAPER IS ON THE PATH TO becoming the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial Univeristy of Carthank, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness — and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “left-over prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.

As Arram’s education continues, he discovers a disturbing dark side of the Carthaki Empire — one that not even his powerful masters at the university can protect him from. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realises that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Series: The Numair Chronicles 1
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Childrens' Books (6th February 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

Tamora Pierce returns to the realm of Tortall with Tempests and Slaughter, the first book in The Numair Chronicles a prequel of sorts to her Wild Magic series. The book follows Arram Draper during his first year at the Imperial University of Carthak. He is one of the youngest students attending the university, but his powerful Gift places him in some very difficult classes. Being friends with Varice and Ozorne, a younger prince in the Imperial Gamily, allows Arram some protection and access to influential people within the Imperial Court, which brings its own brand of trouble. Readers of the Wild Magic series can expect the return of more than a few familiar faces.

I went into this book with high expectations. To be honest, they were probably too high. I found Tempests and Slaughter an uncomfortable read, not because of the storyline or the book itself but because I recognised a LOT of the characters and knew things that influenced my feelings. I knew going in that I would probably have this issue, but honestly I was not expecting how much it unsettled me and consequently it took me a long time to finish the book. Having said that, I did actually like reading it and I found the plot of the book interesting and I enjoyed getting to see a new side to familiar faces. Pierce also manages to sneak in a couple of surprises.

Tempests and Slaughter allows us our first real glimpse into Carthak from a resident’s point of view. The story is primarily set within the Imperial University, though we do get to explore a few other places. This is very much has a boarding school feel to it; we see Arram and his friends attend classes, deal with their teachers and other students. But we also get a glimpse of some of the members of the Imperial family, which I found quite interesting and there were definitely overtones of empire and colonialism. Carthak is a more brutal country than Tortall and it really shows in this book. I enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Gift in a more structured setting.

The book focuses Arram’s first year at the Imperial University, but Pierce weaves a few subplots throughout the story. Some of these subplots are dealt with in more detail than others, and I think that is because this is the first book in the series so Pierce is setting up for events to come. I did find it a bit frustrating, but honestly it’s also made me curious about the next book. This book also deals with the onset of puberty, and what that means for Arram. There is a lot of potentially good set-up for later books, but at the same time not a lot really happens in this book. Tempests and Slaughter was both what I was expecting and something else entirely, so I’m looking forward to what the next book will reveal.

Review: Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton

Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton (UK edition)

MY NAME IS ANITA BLAKE AND I’VE ALWAYS OVERCOME ANYTHING I’VE FACED. BUT THIS TIME, THERE’S A MONSTER THAT EVEN I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIGHT . . .

A remote Florida island is the perfect destination for my fellow U.S. marshal and best friend Edward’s wedding. And for me, it’s a welcome break as it’s the first trip I’ve ever taken with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel for company. But it’s not all fun, games and bachelor parties . . .

In this tropical paradise, Micah has discovered a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

The last thing I need is more drama, but when women start disappearing from the hotel – and worse – my own friends and lovers become the prime suspects. A strange power is afoot, a force that’s rendering those around me helpless in its thrall. I can’t face this alone and am willing to accept help from even the deadliest places – help that I will most certainly regret. If I survive at all . . .

Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 26
Genre: Erotica, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP (7th August 2018)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

The twenty-sixth novel in Laurell K. Hamilton’s brilliant Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, Serpentine follows Anita, Micha and Nathaniel to Florida for Edward’s wedding. Life has been busy for Anita and her beaus, so romance and even sex have been on something of a back burner. The wedding is their chance for a break in tropical paradise; only like most things in Anita’s life it’s just not that easy. Micah has discovered a horrific form of what appears to be lycanthropy. And then women start disappearing from the hotel they’re staying at.

I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book. I know a lot of people are disappointed with the later books in the series, and whilst I can understand why I’m just really invested in the characters and actually really enjoy the reading experience. So I’ll just straight out say it – if you are looking for a more plot based story, like the early Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books, then you are going to be disappointed. Hamilton has again gone back to focusing more on Anita’s relationships than on the plot. Having said that, there is a plot that whilst small is interesting and I wish it could have been explored more.

A lot of the drama of this novel comes from interpersonal relationships. Things are not all sunshine and roses for Anita and her family, or for her friends. Getting caught up in a case when she’s supposed to be on vacation certainly doesn’t help matters, but Anita wouldn’t be Anita if she didn’t. The case is actually rather interesting. Hamilton drops little hints about what’s going on, but although I had some guesses it wasn’t until the big reveal that I actually knew what was going on. It would have been nice if the book had been a little more case focused, but I think it does work well the way it is and it does fit in with the style of Crimson Death .

Although Serpentine is not in St. Louis we do get to meet a lot of familiar faces – there’s even a namedrop of a character from near the beginning of the series – and we are introduced to some new faces. As you can tell from the blurb, the main focus of this book is Anita, Micah and Nathaniel’s relationship. I enjoyed catching up with them. I also really liked seeing Edward and his family again – and it was nice to see how different he is in this book from when we first meet him. I wasn’t that impressed with the new faces that are working for Anita and Jean Claude. Most of them felt like you’d blink and you’d miss them, and the ones that got the longer page time just seemed a little flat to me – though to be fair this might have been because Anita is the narrator and she’s dealing with the aftermath of the events in Crimson Death. Fans of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter will not be disappointed with Serpentine as long as they have enjoyed the more recent additions to the series.

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (UK edition), with bookcover from Illumicrate.

ON THE DARKEST NIGHT, THE STARS STILL SHINE.

Feyre’s first Winter Solstice as High Lady is drawing near. With it will come a hard-earned rest from the work she. Rhys and their friends have done to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond. Yet the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows from looming. Even as her own heart heals, she finds that those dearest to her have wounds that go deeper than she knew.

AND THE SCARS OF THE PAST WILL TOUCH HER COURT IN TIMES TO COME.

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses 3.1
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA (1st May 2018)
Source: Illumicrate - The Starfall Edition.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a companion tale set in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses universe. It follows after the events of the third book A Court of Wings and Ruin and it is set around the Winter Solstice. It is the first Winter Solstice since Feyre became High Lady, and she is nervous about what to expect. The Night Court is rebuilding itself, but it has meant a lot of work for Feyre and her family. Despite then festive atmosphere shadows are hanging over Feyre and her family, as they try and cope after the war.

A Court of Frost and Starlight was one of the books I was most anticipating in 2018, curious about what story Maas wanted to tell. At over two hundred pages A Court of Frost and Starlight is considerably shorter than the three main novels in the series. It is therefore quite a quick read, and one I really enjoyed perhaps more because of the brevity of it. I went into the story without any real knowledge of what to expect apart from the blurb, which I think worked well. I fell straight back into the world of Prythian without feeling lost at any point.

There is, in my opinion, not a lot going on in A Court of Frost and Starlight in terms of the plot. If you are looking for something as filled with plot as the main novels of the series, then I think you will be disappointed. In the two hundred plus pages not a lot happens. But that is for me the cleverness of A Court of Frost and Starlight. Instead of plot Maas focuses on the characters; on Feyre and her family, and how they are coping with the fallout from the events in the previous books in the series now they have had time to take stock.

Seeing more of Feyre and her family and learning more about them was really interesting. I enjoyed how realistic the different ways everyone was coping were, and how the different narrators really helped to illustrate this. I also enjoyed getting to see how Feyre was settling into her role as High Lady without the threat of war looming over her. I would have liked to read more about how everyone was settling in, but even with that A Court of Frost and Starlight does feel like a complete story: Maas does a good job with leaving me wanting more, helped along by the sneak peek of the next novel at the end of the book.

Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses will not be disappointed by the addition of the companion tale A Court of Frost and Starlight. It may not add much to the overall story arc of the series in terms of plot, but it does add extra dimension to the characters and allow you to get to know them a little more. It has left me looking forward to getting my hands on the fourth book in the series, as if the hints in this book is anything to go by it will be a great read.

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Title: Etched in Bone (The World of The Others, 1)
Author: Anne Bishop
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace (6th March2018)
Blurb:

In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, an inn owner and her shape-shifting lodger find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others – vampires, shape-shifters, and even deadlier paranormal beings. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns such as Vicki’s don’t have any distance from the Others, the dominant predators who rule most of theland and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what is out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger , Aggie Crowe – one of the shape-shifting Others – discovers a murdered man, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the death on her, despite evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, ancient forces are roused by the disturbance in their domain. They have rules that must not be broken – and all the destructive powers of nature at their command.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

LAKE SILENCE is the first book in Anne Bishop’s new series The World of The Others, a spin-off from her brilliant The Others series. This book is set in the same world as the first series, but features new characters in a different place. This book follows the story of Vicki DeVine, a divorcee, who has taken over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. The new move was supposed to signal a new start for Vicki, but the discovery of a dead man on her property brings a lot of trouble instead.

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Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands, 2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Faber and Faber (1st February 2018)
Blurb:

Once, there was a desert under siege, and no one to defend it . . .

The rebels are crushed: most are captured, burned out or dead. Except Amani, and it’s up to her to protect the survivors.

But how can one girl save a whole rebellion?

Then foreign armies begin advancing across the desert plains and the Sultan stars hunting the rebels through the streets of Izman.

Now Amani must prove that she’s not  just a  desert girl any more, that she’s learned a few tricks since then. . .

Here begins the final battle for the throne. Who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

All heroes are mortal in the end . . .

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ (5 stars)
Review:

HERO AT THE FALL brings Alwyn Hamilton’s fantastic Rebel of the Sands trilogy to a spectacular close. It continues the story of Amani and the Rebellion after what looks like the end of their uprising: their story is not over yet. Amani must work out how to save the rebellion, and in doing so prove that she is more than just a desert girl as the final battle for the throne begins. There is more than just the Sultan to be wary of, as foreign armies have begun advancing across the desert as the realm appears up for the picking.

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