The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

91mpjtaddjl-_ac_ul320_sr180320_Rating: 5 stars

Series: Graveyard Queen #6

A great end to the series! It wasn’t perfect. The mystery revolving around the ghost and the people she was connected to was way too easy to figure out. That’s okay because the ghost story was not my main concern. I was much more interested in what was going on with Devlin and the conge.

Devlin and Amelia spent a fair amount of time together. It was different with them this time. They still had the same chemistry as always but it was underlying. Amelia was trying to move on, and Devlin was with Claire. Regardless of what was going on the magnetic pull was there, but nothing felt as romantic as in the prior books. I was happy that Amelia didn’t have any interest in other men. In the other books when she was alone, she went out with someone else even if she wasn’t truly interested.

Devlin’s grandfather finally got some page time. He had a strong presence throughout the series without getting the chance to know him other than by reputation. The guy was a manipulative bastard, but there was more to him than that. Claire finally made herself known to Amelia. There wasn’t a damn thing I liked about her, and it wasn’t all about her being the other woman.

This wasn’t my favorite in the series, but it was definitely one of the better ones. I didn’t want to put it down despite the mystery being predictable and not being as spooky as some of the others. The danger was from the living not the dead. The general tone of it was different, but I really liked it. The end was slightly rushed. Having a brief epilogue would have been good. Not everything was completely wrapped up making me wish and hope there could be another book, but based on how things ended with Amelia it seems unlikely Amanda Stevens would ever change her mind and write another.

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The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

23383896Rating: 4.5 stars

Series: Toby Daye #11

Finally Amandine made an appearance!!! I had been waiting so long for this. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. Amandine is formidable woman. She makes the Luidaeg look sweet and sane, and she’s known as the sea witch. I have the feeling this book only showed one side of her personality. As someone who loves psychology, I’m curious to see what makes her tick and why exactly she feels the way she does about Toby. I think there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Since these books are becoming increasingly character driven, I can’t talk about much in regards to the characters because there would be major spoilers. One thing that made this book very different from the others was the lack of Toby’s usual sidekicks. Quentin was around but not highly impactful on the plot. The other main character was someone from Toby’s past who she detests. I would love to say more, but I was absolutely shocked at how that played out. It was this forced relationship that made the book great.

Amandine forced Toby’s hand and made her look for her long lost sister. In the century or so that she had been missing no one could find her and some incredibly powerful people looked. I like how the whole plot unraveled. The thing I didn’t like was that it was too convenient that Toby was the only person alive with the right abilities to possibly make it happen. The end game of the series has finally been laid out. Based on the few hints that were dropped, it’s looking grim. After all the title of the final book is When Sorrows Come.

Thank you so much to DAW and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!!

The Sinner by Amanda Stevens

28507382-250x375Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: Graveyard Queen #5

So this is officially my least favorite book in the series. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t bad, but the last book was amazing. This paled in comparison. It wasn’t creepy enough, and I hate it when Amelia leaves Charleston. It’s not the same when she is away from the people there. I wouldn’t mind it as much if there wasn’t a potential romance with a new guy every time she leaves town. Can’t she nurse her broken heart without having feelings for another guy? Just like in The Kingdom the lust was there but not much else. Everything between Amelia and Kendrick felt too manufactured.

Now that Amelia’s powers are strengthening and she is in contact frequently with powerful beings, it’s hard to gauge what is genuine and what is manipulative magic. Amelia constantly questioned if things she saw, heard, or felt were real. It’s not bad if magic is used to confuse her every once and awhile, but I don’t like it when it happens often.

The mystery started out interesting enough with the discovery of some unusual graves and the appearance of Darius Goodwine. Everything was too straightforward in regards to the bad guy. I had them pegged early on in the book. There were two unexpected things that happened along the way to revealing the bad guy. Not much directly had to do with the overarching storyline. It hinted at what Devlin is really up to. This book is a victim of my high expectations. I had assumed the penultimate book would have gotten me more amped up about the final one.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

17333174Rating: 5 stars

Series: Kate Daniels #9

So much happened, and it was completely unexpected! There wasn’t a dull moment. Lots of humor. Roman was the perfect wedding officiator/organizer. Why doesn’t he have his own series? I love that guy. Finally there was plenty of page time with Roland!!! He’s fascinating. I want to hate him but I can’t. Julie’s relationship with Roland was explored although I’m still not sure that bastard hasn’t corrupted her in some way no one is expecting. The reappearance of a certain character was great. I did not see that coming at all, but it was a very interesting twist.

Kate is one hell of a kick ass woman! She was on her own a lot. It was a good change to have her and Curran operate independently. People were there for her, but she made all of the important decisions by herself. It really felt like she was the guardian of Atlanta. Her magical skills were off the charts! Lots of introspection in this one since power was beginning to corrupt Kate while she tried to remain true to herself. I liked seeing her evil side emerge.

There were two things I didn’t like about the book. One is that Hugh wasn’t in it. It wasn’t a big deal, but he was mentioned a fair amount, which made his absence more notable. The second thing is the predictions from the witches. I’m not a fan of stories where events are dictated by a predestined fate. Kate’s future isn’t set in stone, but knowing something was likely to happen seemed to lead to the eventuality of those events. That was a minor annoyance. The rest of the book was so damn good that it didn’t matter.

Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire

51whx4kpkdlRating: 4.5 stars

Series: Toby Daye #10

Many rulers on the west coast had a conclave to determine what should be done with the alchemical breakthrough Walther discovered in the last book. Of course nothing goes as planned when Toby is around. It didn’t take long for before the nobility was either being attacked or killed. The political part of the story emphasized how divided opinions are amongst the nobility about the fairness of their laws and changelings. The murder mystery definitely brought some much needed action and entertainment to the story. Not much happened to advance the overarching storyline, which as a die hard fan of this series was a disappointment. If something useful had been learned or if there had been a sex that was not glossed over, I would have given this 5 stars.

I miss the times when Toby was struggling to make her way in the world. A lack of respect is something she will always face because of her heritage, but as she keeps making friends in high places it’s not quite the same. It’s still good; it’s just different. For someone who lacks diplomacy skills she has managed fairly well in the political arena. Although her abilities have piqued the interest of some, it’s just as much a liability as it is an asset. For every friend she gains, she gains 3 new enemies. Toby was just as entertaining as always and pushed the limits of what is socially acceptable.

Tybalt’s role was much smaller than in the last few books. It was necessary for him to keep his distance from Toby for political reasons, but damn I missed having him around more. The Luidaeg had plenty of page time though. She’s always good for a laugh or for frightening the nobility. Toby did have the opportunity to ride her blood, but I have no clue what the significance was of the scene she glimpsed. Quinton was around a lot. After reading Full of Briars it’s hard to mesh his inner thoughts with his behavior in this. They’re not the same. I like him, but couldn’t help but wonder what type of thoughts were going through his head as events unfolded. Was he really as open minded as he appeared to be? WTH is he going to think when he learns the truth about his heritage?

The pacing was slow for the first quarter of the book and progressively became more action packed after that. I’ll always love this series, but I’m dying for something big to happen. Certain scenes in this were unforgettable, particularly one towards the end with Toby and Tybalt. Toby made amends with another character, but I have mixed feelings about that. It’s not one of my favorite books in the series, but it was much better than the last one.