Hello, darling readers. IT’S FRIDAY!!! There’s nothing more exciting to me than a weekend full of book hauls, tea, fun treats, and mail surprises. It’s been over a month since we last took a peek at the reads I revived from the TBR grave, and there’s so much to discuss! From witches and wicked faeries to sassy serial killers and unrelenting darkness, April was packed so many amazing stories. However, it was also struck with a tinge of disappointment, which is where I’m going to start this talk. After all, endings are really just beginnings in disguise.
Blue Moon Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: PNR, UF, Mystery Audience/Market: Adult
Publisher: Berkley Books Length: 418 pages
When she chose master vampire Jean-Claude over her ex-fiancé, alpha werewolf Richard Zeeman, Anita learned that sometimes love is not enough. But though she and Richard won’t be walking down any aisles, she can’t turn her back on him when he’s arrested on a rape charge in Tennessee. Anita knows firsthand that Richard has the morals of a saint—or at least a boy scout. But his guilt or innocence is not the issue. He’s behind bars, and in five days a full moon will rise…
My thoughts: I really, really, really wanted to keep loving this series. The first handful of books were interesting, with a badass female character who wasn’t afraid to shoot first, mouth off, or get a little bloody. I loved how fiery and fierce Anita Blake was–how it both fed her desires and denied them at the same time. I loved the internal struggles, the way she constantly fought the urge to become a monster, and how unapologetically bold she was. Notice all the uses of past tense here.
Because by the 8th book in this series, I had to DNF it. I felt like the Anita Blake I’d adored didn’t exist anymore. I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details (I’m saving this for a DNF review), but long story short: her character went from utterly grey to unlikable in two books flat. I think it started with the whole Richard-Jean Claude triangle that was happening, which wasn’t even the issue; my problem was with the ways Anita handled her feelings. Or, I guess, the ways she didn’t. Her character became indecisive, aggressive, murderous, and cruel–not to mention the “love” she felt for Jean Claude never felt real because either Hamilton or Anita herself didn’t allow space to show this. Wow, okay. That wasn’t very short at all! Sadly, as much as I loved this story in the beginning, I’m worried it’s just becoming smut fodder; 8 books in and I still know very little about Anita beyond details about her body or attitude, and as much as I love her, it’s as Anita herself kept saying for 3 books: sometimes love just isn’t enough.
A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Genre: UF, Romance Audience/Market: Adult
Publisher: Penguin Length: 580 pages
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
My thoughts: This book has been sitting at the bottom of the TBR grave for nine years. NINE YEARS! To be fair, I was still caught up in my post Harry Potter gloom and I’d read strictly non-fiction for nearly a year (why? Because….I have no idea). Then, by accident, I’d watched the TV series. It was surprisingly not bad, in my opinion, and I wanted to read the series. It’s really not that hard to convince me to read a book 😀 I am a sucker for witches, libraries, and dying worlds in general. But this series seemed to have everything I wanted in a book. So here I am….
I only just started book one, so I can’t give many thoughts on it. All I can say is…I’m excited. Here’s the trailer for Season 1 if you haven’t seen it:
Where the Veil Is Thin by Alana Joli Abbott
Genre: Fantasy, Anthology Audience/Market: Adult
Publisher: Outland Entertainment Length: 210 pages
Disclaimer: A copy of Where the Veil Is Thin has been supplied to Bookish Valhalla in exchange for our brutally honest review.
Around the world, there are tales of creatures that live in mist or shadow, hidden from humans by only the slightest veil. In Where the Veil Is Thin, these creatures step into the light. Some are small and harmless. Some are bizarre mirrors of this world. Some have hidden motives, while others seek justice against humans who have wronged them.
In these pages, you will meet blood-sucking tooth fairies and gentle boo hags, souls who find new shapes after death and changelings seeking a way to fit into either world. You will cross the veil—but be careful that you remember the way back.
My thoughts: I only just started reading this anthology and I’m having feelings about it. Some of them are good, like how I’m loving the twisted little fairies featured beneath this gorgeous cover, but others are…not so great. The cockney accent of the fairies hasn’t been done 100% well. There are “th” sounds where there shouldn’t be and I know THIS shouldn’t bother me, not really, but it does. I think the stories are interesting, but out of the four I’ve read thus far, two have felt incomplete. I think some of the stories are aiming for horrific, but fall into comedic territory, and I’m not quite sure exactly what I should be feeling yet. It’s been a long while since I’ve read shorter works, so this could be a contributing factor.
Should I laugh or cry? Am I loving or hating this? I’ll let you know in another 25 pages.
At least the cover is BEAUTIFUL.
A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E Schwab
Genre: Fantasy Audience/Market: YA
Publisher: Tor Books Length: 400 pages
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
My thoughts: I have so many questions. Why did it take me forever to read this? I love the magic already and the many different Londons. Is this a Historical Fantasy or an Urban Fantasy or a regular Fantasy? Do I even care? No, not really. It’s that good so far. I’m not very far into A Darker Shade of Magic but I can definitely see where the hype for it came from. The world is deliciously immersive and Kell is such an interesting character. I mean, it’s rare I connect this well with a male character, but so far, I’m curious about him and love his current debacle. I have every intention of breaking the law with him and slipping off into another world. Please do not talk sense into me.
As I’ve stressed before, these aren’t the only books I’m reading. This is more or less a sneak peek at reads I’ve raised from the bottom of the TBR pile or stories with themes I’ve been meaning to dive back into (but hadn’t gotten around to for half a century). Have you read any of these? Penny for your thoughts?