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Forged in Blood I (The Emperor's Edge, #6) - Lindsay Buroker Soooo. This one took me much longer to get into than the last 5. It may well be because it didn't have the impetus of reading them back to back to back. Therefore, I had to pick up and get back into the characters and the ongoing story. I considered re-reading the first 5 before picking this one up - and I even intended to do so. However, I have had such a reading 'tude going on that I was just not of a mind to re-read anything.

Even though it took me a bit, I did enjoy this one. We get a bit more a feel for Sicarius and who and what he is. I didn't think I would, but I really enjoyed getting into his brain. Much less of the sillyness that is Maldynado - and I think I missed that a bit. For most of the book, two teams are split up trying to accomplish different goals toward the same end - and I missed their camaraderie.

I don't know that I am a fan of the typical fantasy plot set-up - slow going at the beginning, build up to discover what is happening toward the middle - until we get to the big, really climactic finish. I mean, most of the stories these days are told in series, and when each book follows the same model, it makes it hard for me to enjoy. I have already had the slow build up - I read the first book. I deserve some action now, doggone it! I shouldn't have to wait until the end. And, oh yea, when I *do* get to the end, it really isn't the end - but a darn cliffhanger which means to get to the end of the darn story I am going to have to wade through the beginning of yet another book. (Um, in case you, dear reader, cannot tell, I really don't care for the slow beginnings.)

Which brings me to the end. Lindsay did not lead us astray here - she warned us of the cliffhanger at the end of book 6. This would be why I did not pick up this one until the next was out. Here is the problem. I was hooked - hook, line and sinker - right up to the last sentence. The VERY LAST SENTENCE. It made me mad. The cliffhanger actually made me mad. I don't like it. I don't like where the story must go from here. I don't think I want to travel that path.

In truth. I bought the next book. I read the epilogue. (So, shoot me. I wanted to know where the story went - though I was fairly certain I knew.) I still don't know if I will read that book in its entirety. I am still angered by the plot device caused by the cliffhanger.

That single paragraph - on which the book ends - took the book down to 3 stars from 4. Sorry. But, there is the truth of it.
Shadowed Threads (Rylee Adamson, #4) - Shannon Mayer Rylee is adding to her menagerie. Sometimes, I feel like Shannon is trying to hard to include *every* mythical being ever conceived of. And, don't get me wrong - I loved Blaz. I have loved dragons ever since I read my first Pern novel. But, he just seems so . . . dropped in. His presence makes no sense - and his character makes no sense. Maybe all the dragon nonsense will become clear in a future episode, but right now it only leaves me scratching my head.

I found Jack actually useful - I enjoyed him - he seems to be taking the place of Giselle as a mentor to Rylee.

I am totally over Milly. When we began in the first novel, we are told that Milly is Rylee's best friend - almost a sister. Yet, we see none of this relationship - only Milly being a first class . . . witch.

Eve is growing and maturing. I adore Eve.I felt the characters of Will and Deanna are short-changed - both hold such promise - and are just dropped like a hot potato. Alex. I love Alex. I want an Alex.

But, mostly, Liam is back. Almost everything can be forgiven with Liam back.

These people form the basis of why I shall keep returning to this world: I love Rylee's passion and concern for everyone around her. I feel for the way she tries to be everything to everyone and even if she fails, her heart is *always* in the right place. The story doesn't matter so much - which child we are after of why we are after her/him - these are just vehicles to share a journey with Rylee - and her menagerie.

Ugh. I wanted to love this one. I have really enjoyed the series up until now. But, one simple thing took it from a 4 star to a 3 star - the f-word. While it has not been absent from any of the previous novels, it is prevalent in this one - as in several times on each page. I will make no bones about the fact that I *hate* that word. If you use it in conversation with me, I will hear nothing that you say after it. It is just a fact. Not intentional - it just happens. That being said, I will forgive it if used in an "appropriate manner." You thought you were battling a witch, and her entire coven shows up? Sure. I'm ok with it.

In this novel, however, every time Rylee feels something going wrong - or like it *might* go wrong - or for any reason really - she thinks, "Fword me." I mean - seriously all the time. She has absolutely no other phrase to use - only that one. I think Ms. Mayer would have found a thesaurus handy. :D This doesn't include the other times she uses it in conversation (even with little Pamela ears nearby.) Its use dragged me out of the story and journey and truly hurt my enjoyment of this novel. Its only saving grace is that it is *not* used when Liam *finally* returns.
Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning Welllll gee. I really didn’t love this one – but I didn’t hate it either.

Some things I really enjoyed. I liked Mac. I liked that she is all pink and girly girl. I liked that fact that while she observes that she broke a nail, she doesn’t fester over it – it is just an observation. I like her sense of humor. I like the fact that she doesn’t cuss and uses other words as replacements (petu-ass). It made me laugh. Though, I gotta admit, I usually do it the other way around – start to cuss and change the word to a more acceptable one midstream. I liked the fact that she justified purchases by how much she saved off of Wal-mart prices. Just the little things as she tried to go about living when her world had been totally turned upside down.

I didn’t like Barrons. Though, I assume there will be some growing attachment between the two as the series progresses and concludes – I don’t like it. To *me*, he almost has her prisoner. Though, technically, she can come and go as she pleases, he does not provide her with enough information and knowledge so that she can do so with any chance at surviving. I do not like this type of relationship when one character has so much *power* over another and, then, they inevitably fall into bed with each other. It really irritates me. There should be some sort of equality.

I also did not like this thing with V’lane – that he had her ripping off her clothes and committed mental and emotional rape every time they were within sight of each other. I do not like the way she reacted (during and after) each time this happened – though I gotta admit I chuckled when she stumbled across the little piece of cute pink fabric only to realize it was her panties and it brings her back to some semblance of reality.

I didn’t like that way Ms. Moning was constantly referring to the fact that Mac didn’t know how important something was until later . . . this happens frequently. Mac observes something, then says, “I didn’t know how important this was until much later.” She then neglects to tell us *how* it was important, just that it was. As a plot device, I found it annoying: either let me question the importance to see if I am smart enough to pick up on the clues, or tell me what the importance is, gosh darn it.

And, while I enjoyed the whole ‘pink’ thing, I did not like the whole ‘Barbie’ thing. We are told ad nauseum about how she has this cute little Barbie doll figure that we all know cannot really exist. And, not only that but she eats constantly – and not healthy good for you food – but fried and other comfort foods. I realize this is a fantasy novel, but seriously . . .

With all that, what I *really* missed in this book was relationships – at least relationships I enjoyed being a part of. I would have enjoyed Mac’s relationships with her family, especially her sister – but these were only referred to – not experienced. I absolutely did *not* enjoy her relationship with Barrons. And, there are few other relationships here to follow.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars. I am unlikely to continue in this series – I am just not enjoying the ride enough to care about the destination.
Legend - David Gemmell *Warning: small spoilers herein*

This book has been on my “to be read” pile for a very long time. I read it mostly to do a vampire cleanse. And, because it was the *only* book on my TBR pile that garnered ONLY positive reviews from my friends. Also, because in my digital sample, Rek fascinated me.

To me, this was a sad, sad book. Not because it was depressing and many people died – Hey, its war, people die. But, rather because there was no villain. No bad guy. No sum of all evil. There was the side about which we read and the side that was attacking them. The warchief for the opposing side, to all intents and purposes, was a decent guy, a good warchief and was just expanding his territory. No different from Hannibal or Alexander. He was no Hitler. He treated his people well – or at least as well as could be expected, and respected his opponents. Therefore, there was no glee, no joy, no real celebration when the war finally stopped – there was just . . . relief. Relief that the deaths on *both* sides (at least for this confrontation) were over.

One thing really bothered me. It was a very small thing. But it nagged at my subconscious. At one point, before Rek, Virae and the thirty arrived at Dros Delnoch, the thirty discovered that traitors had poisoned a well. They were shown not to be able to reach our heroes in order to warn them. We had one paragraph where someone drank out of this well and died. That was it. No big AHA! moment where our reluctant heroes determined that OH NO! the traitors have poisoned our well. No masses of people dying. Just one little very brief paragraph. Seemed to me it should have been bigger than that. See, told ya, it was a very small thing. Sometimes that is all it takes in a story to leave that little niggly hmmmm in the back of your mind.

While I *did* actually love the ending, I think the best part of the entire story is the overwhelming theme (OMG my English teacher mother would be so *proud* of me for recognizing an overwhelming theme . . .) that one man *can* make a difference. Whether that man be Druss or Rek or Serbitar or Orrin or Gilad or Bregan or even, yes, Ulric. These men all did what they felt was right, regardless of the consequences to themselves. They defended all that they loved to the best of their abilities, no matter how big or how small those abilities might be. Most of these guys were not born into greatness, they earned it – not by being the best there was or ever would be, but simply by being the best *they* could be. This, in itself, led others to also strive for ‘bestness.’

It is stories such as this that give me strength and confidence to press forward in the face of adversity, no matter how big or how small. For that reason, I give this one 4 stars.
Alien in the House - Gini Koch TLDR: Now, other than these two (well, three if you count the names . . . which I should) things, this novel is much like the rest. Maybe too much. I felt the jokes getting a little stale, the conversations getting a bit repetitive and the characterizations getting a little trite. Therefore, I would rate this one a little lower than average for this series – 2.5. I am rounding down to 2 because I am irritated. (And, that means the book was OK – not that I didn’t like it.) Will I buy the next one? Sigh. Yes. I do think without the political venue, I would have enjoyed this a lot more.

The meat of the review (such as it is) can be found @ Silk Screen Views: Alien in the House Review
Blood Cross - Faith Hunter I enjoyed Skinwalker, needed another book to read, so I picked this one up. I didn’t like this one as well. I don’t know if it is because it was just more of the same or why – I just didn’t.

First, the good news: Molly is here! With her children. I love the friendship between Jane and Molly. And, the unconditional love and protection that Beast feels toward the children – or kits. The basis of the story is again a mystery. And, Ms. Hunter excels at the mystery. Through its resolution, we learn more of the mythos in her vision of this urban fantasy world. It is a very interesting background lesson. We also learn more of who and what Jane is.

Now – what I didn’t like. I really do not like the “anything in pants” thing Jane/Beast has going on. If there is going to be a love interest, let there be a love interest. But, that Jane (or her Beast alter ego) just kinda lusts after every male in the story is a huge detraction for me. It really overwhelmed the other aspects of the story and causes me to wonder if I really want to invest any more time in this world.

Again, I give this one 3.5 stars. I round it down to 3 simply because I liked it less than the last.
Angels' Blood - Nalini Singh I absolutely *loved* *adored* *reveled in* the ending. I am an eternal optimist and in a genre that has such a negative interpretation of the human condition, I adored the fact that one person *can* make a difference. Caused me to round up my 1.5 star rating to 2 stars.

The beginning of my review can be found: Angels' Blood Review
Skinwalker - Faith Hunter As I read more books about shifters and vampires, the reviews become harder and harder to write. Yep, she’s a shifter. Yep, she is after the bad vampire. Of course, this book is a tad different – they are *all* a tad different, but repetitive as well. I do not, however, feel a book should be penalized as the ‘same ole, same ole’ for many reasons, not the least of which is the author has no control over the order in which I read.

So. Jane’s a shifter. But, Jane is *more* than a shifter. She actually co-habits with her alter ego – Beast. She is after a vampire – but not just *any* vampire, the *bad* vampire. The other vampires are good. Or, at least sorta good. She rides a motorcycle. With a name. Bitsa. She has a best friend – a witch named Molly. She says and thinks things like ‘ick’ and ‘icky’. It is the silly little things that make me happy!

The story, itself, is quite the mystery. Not only do we not know *who* the villain is, we are not sure *what* the villain is. And, as Jane has just arrived in New Orleans, we are meeting everyone with her and not sure anyone is whom he or she pretends to be. I will be honest – I figured out part of the mystery, but she gob smacked me with the other part. So, not predictable. At least by me. That raises it a notch in my opinion.

My one real struggle with the novel was the ‘Beast’ chapters. These are written in stream of consciousness and very hard to follow. I didn’t like it in literature class, and I don’t enjoy it here. The first time, it is a jolt out of the smooth narrative previously presented. It does become easier – not sure if the writing became more fluid or if my reading did, but it became easier.
I did really enjoy Jane. I loved her relationship with Molly and Molly’s daughter Angela. I loved the often inappropriate nicknames she applied to everyone around her. I loved the tough as nails exterior – while taking all the safety precautions she can come up with – and the sappy heart she has toward everyone in Molly’s family. Even the protectiveness she feels toward Katie and her ladies. Hallelujah, there is no love triangle. Zip. Zero. Nada.

So, TLDR, if you like vampires, shifters, mysteries and non-love relationships, this book is definitely worth a look. I have already picked up the next one to see the Jane grow. I give it 3.5, but round up to 4 and I have no idea why.
Judgment at Proteus - Timothy Zahn TLDR: I give this book – and the series – 4 stars. I really enjoyed it, and Timothy Zahn does not fail to entertain.

The meat of the review can be found at Silk Screen Views: Judgement at Proteus Review
The Domino Pattern - Timothy Zahn All the books in this series have the feel of Murder on the Orient Express, but none more than this one. It takes place entirely on the Quadrail – murder after murder – aboard the train that Spiders prevent any type of weapon. So, how on earth – er train – is someone able to commit murders?

Remainder of review can be found @ Silk Screen Views: The Domino Pattern Review

Alien vs. Alien - Gini Koch TLDR: I gave this book 3 stars solely on the strength of the series. Again, don’t read this for any reason except to spend more time with characters that you love.

The beginning of the review can be found @ Silk Screen Views: Alien vs. Alien Review
Alien Diplomacy - Gini Koch TLDR: I gave the book 3.5 stars – will round up to 4 just cuz it makes me laugh.

The beginning of the review can be found @ Silk Screen Views: Alien Diplomacy Review
Alien in the Family - Gini Koch TLDR: I give this book the series standard 3.5 stars – rounded up to 4 for the alien snark. The story is still outlandish. Kitty is still ridiculously relied upon. Yet, the snark is still ever present and, if you maintain the suspension of belief by the boatloads, the series continues to be a laugh riot.

The beginning of the review can be found @ Silk Screen Views: Alien in the Family Review
Alien Proliferation - Gini Koch The long and short of it:

The story is true to the series. All the characters and snark are here. So, once again, I give this book the series standard 3.5. I really do not want to round it up or down – 3.5 seems just right. As I am forced to do so . . . I’ll round up to 4. Because I am a sucker for moms and their newborns. Oh, and for the way Uncle Mort saves the day.

The beginning of my review can be found at Silk Screen Views: Alien Proliferation Review
Alien Tango - Gini Koch TLDR: I enjoyed this one more than the last. I give it 4 stars.

The beginning of the review can be found @ Silk Screen Views: Alien Tango Review
Urban Shaman (The Walker Papers, Book 1) - C.E. Murphy Finally! This dog lover gets a book with a dog. Ok, it is *really*Coyote, but if Joanne can call him ‘dog’, that is good enough for me. ;)

This book starts off with a bang. Joanne, exhausted, with contacts stuck to her eyeballs, is airborne and returning home from Ireland. From the plane, she sees a woman running for her life. When she lands, she attempts to get people to take her seriously and send someone out to rescue the unknown woman. Strangely enough, however, no one believes her, so she takes it upon herself to jump into a cab and go looking for the church she saw from the plane in hopes of rescuing the woman. From here, she gets involved in a wide reaching plot and attempts to dig up clues and save the world, because without the saving the world part, we’d have no book to read.

This is an interesting book. Joanne is Irish/Cherokee. So, she is battling both parts of her heritage. And Ms. Murphy uses both parts of this heritage to derive the mythology she uses to tell her story. As I am not completely familiar with either mythos, I am not really able to comment on the validity of her ‘mash-up’, but, on entertainment value, I found it fascinating. That being said, even upon finishing, I not totally sure I know why and what happened – I am not completely sure who Cernonnus is – and how he relates to The Hunt and The Rider. I mean, I *get* that they are directing the path of the story, and resolving the crisis is what is pushing Joanne to become the Shaman – I am just a little befuddled at the other world and what happened there or in whose world and in which between place and what would cause permanence in the ‘real world’ and why it all mattered. But, I really enjoyed the ride. And, I enjoyed her relationships with those around her and I really cared about all of them.

Again, this is another book I have resisted because it is published by Luna, a Harlequin company. As I have mentioned before, I do not mind a little romance with my fantasy, but I don’t want to read a ‘romance,’ no matter if it is dressed up as fantasy. And, strangely enough, this book has absolutely zilcho romance. Now, there is a relationship (or 2 or 3) that I can see developing into a romance, but this story is about Jo and how she starts her path as an ‘Urban Shaman.’ What I *did* find a tad unbelievable was how quickly those around her accepted her strange ideas and resolutions. But, eh, in a book such as this, one must always suspend some amount of belief, so I let that slide. There are no vampires or wereKin present in this volume.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this story because I *loved* Joanne. I could just wrap her up and keep her. I think I liked her from the very first moment she had her contacts stuck to her eyeballs. I liked the way that she didn’t care that she looked like a raving lunatic, she was determined to save this woman from that which she was running. I liked the way she insisted on calling Coyote dog. I liked the way she loved being a mechanic and that was all she every really wanted to be. But, I really fell in love with her when she booted her computer and it was in Linux! Then, I *knew* I had found a kindred spirit.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars – had the mythos been a bit easier to follow, it might have hit 5. I will probably pick up the next one when I get through the large stack of books through which I am currently working. Or, when I just need a reprieve and want to spend time with a beloved character.