As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna...

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives...
Sometimes I can really kick myself for letting a book languish and collect dust in my TBR Monster for so long. But you know, there's always a right time for something and the stars were in alignment so there you go - I finally got around to reading the 3rd in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling Series.

And I do deserve a kick in the butt.

Why? Because I enjoyed it so much!

In Visions of Heat (book 2) there was a Psy serial killer that was targeting young female changelings. Brenna was the only victim to survive, but not without some severe psychological scars. The most damaging I believe was her inability to shift to her wolf form - an intrinsic part of who she is, stolen. Among all her rescuers that day was Judd, a Psy assassin who dropped out of the Net to protect his family.

In the aftermath of the events from Visions of Heat, Brenna has been looking for answers to what happened inside her mind from Judd. Brenna believes that there may be something wrong with her that maybe Sascha didn't pick up during the healing, namely the fact that there's a dead Changeling in the compound and Brenna swore she saw it happen. Which leaves everyone nervous, namely the killer.

So now there's another murderer on the scene and the Psy Council is creating a new version of the PsyNet that resembles a hive-mind (think the Borg) and they're trying to manipulate the wolves and leopards into taking each other out, which puts tension on the truce between the two clans. And right in the middle of all this is one strong-willed Changeling and one cold Psy assassin.

With all the scheming and plotting, I thought I'd get confused. But I didn't. A fact which attests to Ms. Singh's strength in world building. Because even behind the PsyNet, there's the Ghost, a mysterious figure who is keeping the Psy Council from progressing too far with their hive-mind. It all blends together and builds up and the reader is caught right up in it. I can see a big improvement in the writing from Slave to Sensations. Things were much smoother here.

As much as I found the greater complicated picture interesting, the real story for me was Judd and Brenna's relationship. This was the heart of the book and I loved these two characters.

Brenna only survived what she did because she has a will so strong she made herself heal faster than everyone thought possible. And despite her strength and steely determination, everyone is treating her with kid gloves with drives her crazy. Her experience changed her but it also left her vulnerable, and she finds herself seeking comfort from the emotionless Psy, Judd. And Judd, with the abilities he has put together with the training he endured is a block of ice - no emotions, no closeness. But slowly Brenna starts to get through all his shields.

Eventually, he looks forward to seeing her, he becomes protective of her and he doesn't shun her casual touches. Even if it causes him pain to open himself up to Brenna, he does it, he can't help himself. And he knows that with his abilities he can kill her with a thought, so he welcomes that pain - anything to keep Brenna safe from himself.

Caressed by Ice is an excellent read and a great installment to the series - I enjoyed it more than I did VoH. I thoroughly enjoyed it and if you haven't already picked up this series, what are you waiting for?

A solid B+ from me!

Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming.

But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . .
Talk about taking forever to review a book! I started this book, paused in reading, and then finished it a bit later, so it feels like it was a long time ago that I read it. Instead, it was only a matter of months ago... (Oh, is that all? I am sure you are thinking that!)

Title and author of book: Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Fantasy. Fairy-tale retelling.

What led you to pick up this book? The title. I think I might have seen a couple reviews, too, but it was the title that first drew me to reading it.

Summarize the plot, but don’t give away the ending! See above...

What did you like most about the book? Let me show you. This is the first paragraph in the book:
I loved arriving at the bookstore first thing in the morning, when the streets were still quiet, the sun half risen, and the whole place felt like a secret meeting room. I liked walking through the still-dark city, as if I were wading through air--the buildings like shadows looming on either side of me, the streets rushing forward in black rivers. There was something about the empty store, too, the books piled all around, that made you want to whisper and walk as slowly as you could. The city was always on top of you, pressing in, but the moment you stepped inside Daedalus Books, it felt like you'd closed your eyes and gone to sleep.
The minute I read those words, I was in love! That is how I feel, but I don't work at a bookstore. As a book lover, I am going to be drawn to another book lover. It is just how it works, and I think Turgeon caught my attention very successfully! I also enjoyed the story. It was a different take on the on fairies, even if it was a retelling of the very famous 'Cinderella' story. Haven't you ever wanted to hear the Godmother side of the story? It is about time, really. The characters in this book were great, too.

What did you like least? You know, this book really should be on my top reads of the year. I loved the original story! I think she sold me on the book theme, really. It wasn't hard to keep my attention after that.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books? This is my first. I plan to read more, though.

What did you think of the main character? When you are young, even now really, you must've had moments where you wished for your very own fairy godmother to come and help you with all of your problems, right? Well, now we are learning that life was not so simple for this fairy godmother. We are learning what it was like to be a fairy and be assigned the job to make the prince fall in love with a girl that has lead a very rough life. I felt for the main character. Life had not been kind to her because the 'popular' version of the story is not the real story (according to her). This was the secret revealed and I really fell in love with the main character.

What about the ending? By now you are probably wondering why if I had so many good things to say about this book, I didn't include it in my top reads of the year. Very simply... I can't make up my mind about the ending! To be very truthful, I hated the way the book ended. The problem is, I am not sure it is because it was a bad ending, or if it was more that I was very invested in the story and the character and felt like her at the end. It could have been a horrible ending, but at the same time, it could have been a very brilliant ending. Even months later I can't make up my mind. Sometimes I wish I had stopped before the ending and still was reveling in the magic of the story, but at the same time, reading the ending was necessary. I think the ending was a let-down for me. It's the only reason I didn't love this book. Everything else, for me, was perfect!

I still think you should read the book. It is such a magical tale and I can think of so many regular readers of my blog that would probably quite enjoy the story. If you do read it, though, be sure and email me about the ending. I would love to hear what other people thought!

My thanks to Random House for this book! Cross-posted at The Written World.

In Mary's world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Reason for Reading: Kailana from the Written World told me it was excellent and I love zombies.

Summary: In Carrie Ryan’s the Forest of Hands and Teeth, zombies (or the Unconsecrated) have taken over and the human survivors have fenced themselves in. This is the world that Mary, our narrator, has grown up in. Her village is smack in the middle of the Forest and surrounded by fencing. The forest stretches as far as the eye can see and everyone assumes that they’re the last people to survive the Return (what they call the zombie infestation).

Mary’s mother grew up listening to stories of how the world was before the Return and she passes on to Mary the stories of the ocean. Mary even used to have a picture of one of her many greats-grandmother in the ocean, so she knows it’s real. Her friends don’t really believe her and think her stories are just that, stories, fiction, NOT REAL.

So our tale begins with Mary washing some sheets. One of her best friends has joined her and he’s basically just asked her to marry him. Mary is looking up at him, thinking of his brother, and she’s just about to respond when the siren goes off – which means the fence has been breached. Mary knows in her gut that something has happened to her mother. You see, Mary’s father has gone missing months ago (into the forest) and everyday her mother watches the forest, waiting for her husband to come back to her. But today, Mary knows she dallied too long at the stream and her mother didn’t wait for her to return before she began her lookout…and got too close to the fence.

Now when someone gets bitten by the Unconsecrated, they become infected. They will die and rise again as a zombie. When this occurs in Mary’s village, the bitten always has a choice – they can be killed or they can be turned loose into the Forest of Hands and Teeth to join the other Unconsecrated. Mary’s mother chooses to join those in the Forest (which leads Mary to believe that her father is also Unconsecrated).

Throughout this, Mary’s brother, a Guardian (those that mind the fences) has been away checking on some fencing further out. He gets back just in time to see his mother rise as a zombie. So Mary’s guilt over not being with her mother and her brother’s anger at her letting her mother make the decision to turn in the first place all result in Mary joining the Sisterhood.

The Sisterhood runs the village. They have the final say in major decisions and they have all the knowledge of the Return and life before it. Mary does not want to join the Sisterhood, but she doesn’t have a choice. (There’s a good scene here where one of the sisters shows her which choices she does have.) And Mary quickly realizes that there is more to the Sisterhood than she knew. There are secrets hidden within the Sisterhood and when an outsider comes through the fence, Mary’s world as she knows it changes forever.

My Thoughts: Ok, not sure I did justice to the book, but just know that I loved it loved it loved it!

I picked this book up and did not put it down until I was done reading it. The story sucks you in and doesn’t let go! There is terror, action, romance and zombies! What more do you need?

First the world-building. Carrie Ryan has done an excellent job in creating a post-apocalyptic society. There’s no info dumping and we learn through Mary’s thoughts and experiences.

Second – our narrator. She’s a girl that’s always dreamed about what’s beyond the forest. While everyone around her is content with their existence, she’s heard about the ocean and she wants to see it. She lets her guilt get in the way when she’s forced into the Sisterhood but she’s independent and can think for herself. She makes hard decisions and she’s brave. She’s also good to have around in a jam (like zombies trying to eat you). I like my heroines to be strong and kick ass and that’s what Mary is.

The characters and the way they relate to each other are interesting too. Sister Tabitha is a scary lady, her brother is a redemptive jerk, the two brothers as love interests, her best friend. There’s even a dog. LOL

And the story doesn’t stay in Mary’s village. There’s plenty of action beyond the fence’s borders...

So for those of you who enjoy an excellent story with a smart and strong heroine and you don’t mind a little blood and guts? The Forest of Hands and Teeth is for you.

You can buy the Forest of Hands and Teeth here or here.

p.s. There is a sequel!

p.p.s There is a movie!

In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.

After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.

The Hatter sisters—Sophie, Lettie, and Martha—and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.

In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle?

Diana Wynne Jones's entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

Title and author of book: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Young Adult Fiction. Fantasy.

What led you to pick up this book?
I really need to read more from Wynne-Jones, so this seemed to be the time to do so!

Summarize the plot, but don’t give away the ending!
See above...

What did you like most about the book?
The world. Diana Wynne-Jones is a fantastic world-builder. She doesn't write anything that you cannot easily picture. When she tries to be a bit unusual, she can very successful explain how things are accomplished, so then it just makes sense. I love the characters. They all interact together in humourous and entertaining ways. The good and the bad, they all worked together to make a very readable story. There wasn't a character in the book that I didn't think was written really well. There is a lot of good things about this book.

What did you like least?
There is nothing that jumps right out at me. I really enjoy Wynne-Jones and her writing. She can really do no wrong in my book.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books?
Yes. I read Fire & Hemlock. I consider it one of my favourite young adult novels of all time, and yet, it took me a few years to read anything else by her! That makes no sense, right?

What did you think of the main character?
I really liked Sophie. She was a bit annoying in the beginning, but as she progressed as a character and developed more into who she was supposed to be she became a character that I will remember for a while to come. The oldest of three sisters, she had resigned herself to a rather dull life. Events conspire to end her up in The Moving Castle, though, and then she really starts to shine. You quickly learn that not everything in this book is how it seems and Sophie might just have some surprises of her own in store for you.

What about the ending? I liked the ending. Obviously there are sequels now, but there don't have to be. The ending ties things up nicely.

The sequel to Howl's Moving Castle

When Charmain Baker agreed to look after her great-uncle's house, she thought she was getting blissful, parent-free time to read. She didn't realize that the house bent space and time, and she did not expect to become responsible for an extremely magical stray dog and a muddled young apprentice wizard. Now, somehow, she's been targeted by a terrifying creature called a lubbock, too, and become central to the king's urgent search for the fabled Elfgift that will save the country. The king is so desperate to find the Elfgift, he's called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, the great Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer won't be far behind. How did respectable Charmain end up in such a mess, and how will she get herself out of it?

Title and author of book: House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne-Jones

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Young Adult Fiction. Fantasy.

What led you to pick up this book?
Sequel to Howl's Moving Castle.

Summarize the plot, but don’t give away the ending!
See above...

What did you like most about the book?
Twinkle. I'm sorry, but I thought the scenes with him in it were laugh out loud funny. He is just a great secondary character. The interaction between him and the main character and him and Sophie were immensely enjoyable! This book takes place in the same world as the previous book, so I enjoyed more world building. I also love the humour. The fact that the author can make you laugh really adds to the book.

What did you like least?
While I didn't enjoy this book as much as Howl's Moving Castle, it was still a really good book. I can't find any major flaws with it to mention.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books?
Fire & Hemlock and Howl's Moving Castle. I enjoyed both of them.

What did you think of the main character?
The first moment that we meet Charmain she is reading. Apparently, she always has her nose in a book. When I heard that, I thought I was going to love her! Sadly, she is not exactly what you expect in the beginning, but she will grow on you. She has lived a 'respectable' life, by her parents standards, and now has to figure out how to do many things on her own. It adds to her character in many ways which will leave readers a fan of her.

What about the ending?
I enjoyed the ending. It was one of the more humourous scenes in the book!

This review is one big spoiler.

When a vampire serial killer sends Anita Blake a grisly souvenir from Las Vegas, she has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Ten officers and one executioner have been slain - paranormal style. Anita heads to Vegas, where's she's joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward. It's a good thing he always has her back, because when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses 'tiger' too strongly to ignore it. The weretigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher.

Series: Book #17 in the Anita Blake Series

Reason for reading: We all know now that I don’t have a reason – I’m addicted to this shizz like it’s crack.

Summary: Skin Trade picks up not too long after the events of Blood Noir. In a bid to appear more servant-like to the Master of the City, Jean-Claude, Anita has moved into the Circus of the Damned. I think that’s the only concession Anita makes though, because it quickly becomes apparent that this woman is going to do what needs to be done, with or without approval from her “Master.” So what has Anita done this time? Well, after receiving a severed head at her work, some quick calls reveal that the head belongs to a body in Las Vegas and that an old vampire friend has left a message written in blood for Anita for everyone to see. So Anita rushes down to Vegas to save the day. And I really do think she’s there for all of a day – two at the most. So 486 pages for two days. Fun times.

But back to what happens. The friend I’m referring to is a vampire Anita has come across before, Vittorio. He’s a serial killer and he got away a couple of books ago. In Vegas, Anita is reunited with US Marshalls Edward (playing good time guy Ted), Olaf (another serial killer who has a crush on Anita, LOL) and Bernardo. Good times are had by all. Olaf gets his jollies by feeling up dead people with Anita, Anita gets mind-raped by Vittorio and sleeps with a bunch of strangers (one of whom is 16, thank goddess we don’t get that in detail) and oh yeah, Marmee Noir dies! And Anita all this time is pondering her life and if she’s truly happy and does she even want to be a vampire executioner even more?

My Thoughts: First of all – the 16 year old weretiger. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I’m sorry, using the excuse that he’s legal in Vegas does not work for me. And the fact that Anita wasn’t even aware of what she was doing doesn’t work for me either. That shit just pissed me off.

Second – and this is a biggie – the lazy writing! I noticed this in the last two books. Someone likes to use the phrase “what does that mean?” way too much. I had picked up on it enough that I went back and counted how many times that phrase or a variation of it was used in Skin Trade. Want to know how many times it was used? 37!! That’s a bit excessive in my opinion. I find it a lazy way to get the characters talking. And also the fact that Anita says that phrase 85% of the time? HOW THE FRICK IS ANITA SO KICKASS IF SHE DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING?????????????

I’m frustrated.

Also, there was a lot of repetition. The description of Anita’s tigers running up the forested path inside her head, that was repeated quite a bit. Every time it happened actually.

The basic plot of Skin Trade was ok (despite the fact that it’s the second book in a row featuring Anita out of town). Anita goes to Vegas to hunt for a serial killer vampire. Hijinks ensue with Edward and the rest of the team, they save the day and she goes home. But no, more crap has to be going on with the ardeur (I mean after 9 books don’t you think Anita would realize she needs to eat and feed more often before it goes out of control???? ) and yet even more men are added to her menu – despite the fact that she emphatically tells everyone she doesn’t need anymore men in her life. So my thinking is, if she doesn’t want to collect more men, she should use the men she’s already sleeping with to keep that freaking ardeur under control. That just makes sense right?

One more thing – I hate how Marmee Noir dies. Can we say anti-climactic?

AND I just knew that Anita was going to use the hated ardeur to save the day, again. I mean why does she hate it? She should freaking embrace that shit and rule the world already.

Skin Trade gets a D from me. And yet despite all that, I’m still going to keep reading this series in the hopes that one day things will get better.

This review is cross-posted at Thrifty Reader.

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About Me

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.