Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Study #1

Poison Study was awesome! It had great characters and an interesting setting. In the country of Ixia, killing of any kind was banned including self defense and accidental. Magic was banned. It didn’t matter if the powers were used or not; just having the ability to use it was against the rules. When things were not allowed in Ixia, it normally resulted in a death sentence.  Yelena was supposed to be executed for her crime. She got a last minute reprieve as long as she agreed to be food taster to ensure the commander’s food wasn’t poisoned.

Valek is the one who taught Yelena all about poisons. He is a fascinating character who was smart, diligent, duplicitous when necessary, and well trained in combat. She liked him but feared him as well. He always knew what Yelena was doing. It was his job to kill people with magic, and she was trying to hide her powers from him.

There was a some political upheaval, and Yelena got mixed up in all of it. FYI the politics in this weren’t drab, boring, or complicated; it was more like a mystery since Yelena and Valek were trying to figure out who was trying to change the way Ixia operated. Many were leery of Yelena, but she managed to make a few friends. Several of the characters kept me guessing if they were really friends or enemies. It was awesome that Yelena had powerful magic but it did not solve all of her problems. This was a book I didn’t want to put down.


Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Darkest London #3

The Darkest London series is one of the best paranormal romance series. Winterblaze was the best book in the series so far (chronologically speaking). The main character was Poppy Lane. She was bad ass and independent. Over the years she had lied to her husband and her family about what she really did. Her lies were exposed to her husband, Winston, in the last book (Moonlglow) when he discovered the paranormal world.

At the start of the story Poppy and Winston were separated. He was not quick to forgive her for all of her lies. Poppy heard that he was in danger. She rushed off to protect him. They were forced to work to together because the enemy was after both of them. It was nice for a change to have the romance revolve around a married couple. It isn’t a concept that is commonly seen in PNR.

There was more to the story than romance. Since Poppy worked for the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals, much more was revealed about it than in the prior books. The enemy who was after Poppy and Winston had closer ties to both of them than they ever knew. The family history of Poppy and her sisters (who were the main characters in the first two books) was finally unraveled.

Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Series: Fever #7

Burned was disappointing on many levels. The pacing was slow. The action was practically nonexistent. Too much page time was spent focused on people’s thoughts. It leaned more towards PNR than UF. It didn’t have excessive sex scenes, but the appearance of the characters was described ad nauseam. Of course in true PNR fashion, everyone was hot, sexy, or beautiful, and everyone wanted to have sex all the time because when the world is literally falling apart people’s main concern is when they can get laid next.

The gist of the plot revolved around helping/saving Dani, which meant she didn’t have considerable page time. Many of the other characters were talking or thinking about how great and special she was. I don’t get it. She was a reckless hothead with a serious ego. Her few good attributes certainly didn’t outweigh her negative ones. Dani certainly deserves friends, but the deep admiration for her does not make sense.

Something was off with Mac. She was passive and compliant. There were times when Barrons and Ryodan were ordering her around, and I wished she would have told them to get lost. The bold and daring side of her vanished. She got lost in thought often, and most of it didn’t add any value to the story. It was extremely repetitive. Also she desperately wanted to have sex and ogled every man in sight. It didn’t jibe with the Mac I recall from the first five books.

Barrons was an asshole. He’s always been cold, hard, and unforgiving. Love didn’t soften him at all. He still calls Mac Ms. Lane FFS. He did a few things, nothing despicable, but it made me think Mac deserves better than what he has to offer. It was mentioned a few times that Mac and Barrons get along great in the bedroom but clash outside of it. In reality relationships like those don’t last.

It was told through multiple POV. Some of them were unnecessary. There were changes in several other characters that didn’t feel natural. An unexpected twist did happen in the middle of the book, which spiced things up a little. It had a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t a doozy. Although this was my least favorite book in the series, I’d definitely recommend it to any Fever fans. I may have liked it better if Dani didn’t drive me nuts.

Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop

Rating: 3 stars

Series: The Black Jewels #3

A lot of the issues I had with this were the same ones I had with Heir to the Shadows. Hekatah and Dorothea’s plans to overthrow Janelle were not well thought out. They were depicted as depraved, vile women, but it wasn’t shown well with their actions. Their plans and schemes did not indicate their ruthlessness to the extent that I would have expected.

Too much time was spent on social niceties. Everyone was learning how to properly interact with the other members of the court. It made the characters seem immature especially when taking into account their age. None of the characters could figure out how to deal with others on their own; they always had to go to others for advice.

On the upside, Daemon was back! He had some issues to sort out after being in the Twisted Kingdom. He was the darkest character in the whole series. What made him great was that he could do bad things but still held to his own code of ethics, so he never hurt people that didn’t deserve it. Ultimately he did the right things but didn’t use the best methods to do it. He strongly reminded me of Damon on The Vampire Diaries in the sense that he was good but misunderstood and often perceived as bad. Except for Janelle, all of the other characters treated him poorly or didn’t trust him when there wasn’t a valid reason for it.

Queen of the Darkness was an improvement over Heir to the Shadows, but still paled in comparison to Daughter of the Blood. All of the major plotlines had a satisfactory conclusion, but the book ended rather abruptly. It seemed like there should have been another chapter or an epilogue to explain a few things.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Assisted suicide is a controversial topic. Everyone has varying opinions on it, but why should others get to decide whether it is the choice or not for someone else? This issue is explored but not in the level of depth that I expected based on the mass amounts of rave reviews.

Louisa who has no experience as a caretaker was hired to be a caretaker for a quadriplegic man, Will. They are the main characters. The side characters play such small roles that they have no personality whatsoever. Most of them could have been taken out of the story altogether, and it would have made no impact on the story all.

Character development was poorly done not just with the side characters but with the main ones as well. Will’s struggle since his accident could have been more thoroughly explored. There really wasn’t anything special about Louisa except for her funky way of dressing, but that doesn’t really make anyone special, does it?

It may be personal life experiences that make me view this novel differently than most people. I had a very close family member that was disabled and severely depressed. After experiencing that, it made Louisa’s reactions to Will’s situation seem dumb, selfish, and immature. Louisa seemed dumb mainly because she thought a vacation and going out more would cure depression. As if! Obviously she hadn’t dealt with anyone who was depressed before. Something so simple cannot cure a serious mental illness. Would people really bother with anti-depressants if all they needed was a nice evening out at a the movies or at a concert? No, they wouldn’t because they would be cured before medication would be necessary. It was Louisa’s inability to truly empathize with anyone else in her life (particularly Will) that made her seem selfish and immature. She was like a child (although she was actually 27) who couldn’t put others before herself.

What was up with the medical treatment or are things in Europe done very differently than in the USA? Paracetamol is Tylenol; a different name is used for it in Europe. It’s the weakest pain killer someone can get, but a situation like Will’s warrants something stronger than freaking Tylenol. The man was in constant pain. No wonder why he wanted to die. My family member was prescribed much stronger pain meds. They never took away all of the pain, but it helped. It didn’t cause this person to be high either. It was mentioned several times that Will had burning sensations, which is a common symptom of neuropathy. Did the author of this not know that they have medications to treat that? Treatments for this was never mentioned. Granted the medications are not always highly effective but can provide some relief. I haven’t researched the use of them for someone in Will’s condition, but if they are effective for phantom limb pain (i.e. pain in a limb that has been amputated) or other types of neuropathy, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t have worked on Will at least a little bit. I found it curious that it wasn’t mentioned that Will was on an anti-depressant. It seems like the logical first step in trying to treat a clinically depressed person with suicidal ideation. This isn’t a medical issue really, but why hadn’t Will’s uber rich family gotten him voice activated software for the computer like, oh IDK, two fucking years earlier! How is it possible they did not know it existed?

Smack dab in the middle of the book for no apparent reason rape gets thrown into the story. This really bothered me because it didn’t add any depth to the characters nor any valid point to the storyline. The book would have played out the same with if it had been left out.

Most of the book was from Louisa’s POV. A few random chapters were from other characters. It was incredibly jarring. Especially when it came to Steven’s chapter. When I saw his name all I could think was who the hell is he. It took me a minute to realize that was Will’s dad who was virtually nonexistent in the book. I’m not even sure if his first name had been used in the book before then. None of these chapters added anything to the story. The way those characters felt had already been known from Louisa’s POV. 

Last but not least, Louisa was saved from her miserable existence in the end, which should be a good thing. She didn’t work her ass off or even decide that she needed to change her life. What really saved her was a man. Just another story where the lowly poor uneducated woman needed a good looking rich man to change her outlook on the world and her position in it.

2 stars

Of Shadow and Stone by Michelle Muto

Rating: 2.5 stars

Kate was an actress with a great career. Her personal life was falling apart because of issues with an ex-boyfriend. Weird things began happening to her. She kept having bizarre dreams that seemed real, and a strange connection with gargoyles was developed.

The world building was lacking. The gist of it was explained but no details were given. There was so much more I wanted to know. It would have been preferable if more time had been spent on world building and less time had been spent on Kate’s romantic issues.

Kate and Ian were rather suddenly introduced to the paranormal world. It didn’t have much of an impact on them. They should have been more shocked or terrified or worried about what was being asked of them. They were too accepting of it all.

Too many men were into Kate. One was an obsessed stalker. The other was her ex-boyfriend who was somewhat obsessive, and the other was a new guy she met to whom she felt an instant attraction although they knew nothing about each other. All of this took up a large portion of the story, and frankly I didn’t care about any of it.

I did appreciate that Kate was a strong character. She dealt with a slew of deranged men but didn’t rely on a man to save her. She was perfectly content with protecting herself.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.