Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Re-read of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Kushiel's Universe #1)

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt. 

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission... and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair... and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear. 

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

What I thought:
So, I read this last year, but never formally reviewed it because it's been out in the world a loooooong time and I was way late to the party. But, this book is on my keeper-shelf for a reason. 
This book destroyed me the first time I read it. It's an emotional boulder falling off a cliff, and, I, like an idiot, keep walking beneath it. Because, really, the second time, I know what happens. I'm prepared. Right? 
*Snorts* How could I have been so naive? But, much like Phedre, (the main character), I'm drawn to the pain of it, and I will read this book again and again. 
Never has a story consumed me like this one. Never. I have never been so devastated over a character. I've never sobbed so freaking hard over fictional happenings. OMG, every love and every loss is magnified because their Phedre's first, and then their mine. 
So, yeah, I've never seen so clearly through the lens of a character before, but it's not just one of them. There is quite a cast here and there's not a single one without depth. I mean, seriously, when you prop this book open, there should be holographic people walking across the damn pages. 
Sweeping plot. 
This book is everything. I'll say it's probably not for the squeamish, I think. I'm hard to shock, really, so it felt perfectly natural to follow a prostitute across a continent or two. I suppose that might be a moral hurdle for some. But the prose here is gorgeous and Phedre's trips though the occasional boudoir are tastefully done.
I love this book.   

Rating: ****** (6 stars)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN by Emily R. King/THE RED by Tiffany Reisz/KILLING JUNE by May Bridges

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1)

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

What I thought:
For me, the best thing about this book was the cover. I had high hopes. I wanted to love it. Reviews compared it to THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh and I was all grabby hands. The first page was promising... 

And then it swirled down the toilet from there. 
Gaping plot holes. For example, something very important that happens is supposed to be an act of revenge, but it happens before the MC does the thing that pisses the guy off. Wut? 
The writing was flat. The voice was monotonous, plodding along like a tired horse. And then it was a camel without any explanation. (Sorry. Notsorry.) Lazy metaphors and a sprinkling a blood and gore are not enough for me. There was no tension. None. There was insta-love. No sparks. No chemistry. Kalinda had so much potential, but then she describes the first man she sees (from a distance) and suddenly she's waxing poetic about boy-parts and manly man-ness. Nope. 
The surprises weren't surprising. I made it all the way to the end, but this one was not for me. Other people really love it, so judge for yourself. 

Rating: ** (1 1/2 stars)

*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


The Red

Hot. Hot. Hot. Like erotic romance? Like fantasy? Then this book is for you. 
At night I’m June, dominating with the whip, even as I crave the hot, searing blow of the cane, myself. I loathe this side of who I am, but I can’t deny it or escape it. And as my clients cry out for me, begging for mercy, I can't help but want June dead.

By day, I’m Alex Ryan, the good, successful Southern woman everyone thinks I am. I’ve compartmentalized my life to make it bearable, and to get what I want most: revenge. I can have a future with June dead, as soon as I confront the man that terrorized my past.

Cade Brannon is the local gun for hire, part of the seedy underworld of Dallas, but he may also be my savior. I want his help and he wants me. But Cade refuses to play by my rules and is forcing his way into every one of those compartments that I want to lock away. Now the parts of my life I’ve fought so hard to keep separate are bleeding together and it’s tearing me apart.

I just want to go back to being Alex Ryan. But at what cost am I willing to kill June?

What I thought:

Dark and sexy. Did I mention dark? I love the darker side of romance. June/Alex dominated the pages, (wink wink) but it's not just BDSM for the fun of it. There's an emotional current here that takes the story to a deeper level. I can't wait for the next book in this series. Like your romance dark? Then this one's for you!

Rating: **** (4 stars)

*I received an eARC of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.