Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review | Ever After by Kim Harrison

Ever After
Kim Harrison
The Hollows #11
Published 22 Jan 2013 by Harper Voyager
Urban fantasy
4 stars

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing... for the worse.

While saving the world is important, it isn't Rachel's only motivation. There's also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It's also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He's already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn't give herself up soon, they'll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn't going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She's also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she's going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones... and prevent an apocalypse before it's too late. Or, at least that's the plan...

Contains some inevitable spoilers for previous books in the series. Spoilers for Ever After are hidden and can be seen by highlighting the indicated text.

Bite-Sized Review
Although it had a few issues, Ever After was a highly enjoyable read and a good continuation of the series.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-They finally had to deal with the leaking ever after. That's been going on for about three books and it's about time they did something about it.

-Relationships in this series are always changing. I love that as the characters change, they don't just stay in the same roles; sometimes they grow apart, sometimes they grow closer, sometimes their opinions of people change. That's really one of the best things about this series.

-The pacing of this book was, for the most part, excellent. There was always something happening, some new escalation of the crisis, but it was all related, with virtually nothing extraneous or irrelevant. Even if I didn't know there were only two more books, it would be clear from the way things are starting to wrap up, which is good.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-Rachel has this incredibly annoying habit in the last couple books of thinking that she has to do something important, never actually doing it, and then thinking the same thing again 50 pages later, not as a reminder, but as if she hadn't already had the same thought 50 pages ago. I don't know if this is just sloppy editing or what, but it's getting increasingly irritating.

-Rachel also spends far too much time making her head Drama Central, thinking constantly about her feelings for Trent, her relationship with her friends, her relationship with her enemies, and so on. It's just too much. [highlight to view spoiler] I thought it was strange that, amidst all that, she spent surprisingly little time worried about Ceri and Lucy. Of course, she was concerned, but she seemed more worried about Bis than about her infant goddaughter. And she seems slightly confused as to which disasters are her fault and which aren't. It's like she gets them backwards.

-[highlight to view spoiler] I was not a fan of the very end of the book. If you can only declare your attraction for someone after drinking half a bottle of wine (and we've all heard "no really, I'm not drunk!" too many times in our lives to believe you), then you're clearly not ready for any kind of romantic relationship. That was not the way to have Trent and Rachel kiss for the first time in uncontested reality.

Recommended for
Fans of the series.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Excellent

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Favorites | Songs

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Songs

Sorry for being late with this one! It's been a crazy week, and I almost forgot. But it's here now!

Who doesn't love music? My taste ranges from Disney to Broadway to classic rock to pop and everything in between. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Payphone" by Maroon 5
"Some Nights" by Fun.
"For Good" by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith
"Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel
"King of Pride Rock" by Hans Zimmer (from The Lion King)
"Black Balloon" by The Goo Goo Dolls
"Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles
"Flowers in Your Hair" by The Lumineers
"Finale B" from RENT
"Irish Rover" by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
"I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan
"Dueling Ninjas" by Trace Bundy
"Hallelujah" by Rufus Wainwright
"Now We Are Free" by Lisa Gerrard (from Gladiator)


I could most definitely keep going, but I should probably stop before you start to ignore me. What do you think of my list? What are your favorites?

Thanks for participating! Stop by next week to talk about your favorite (non-dessert) foods.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Review | Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds
Chuck Wendig
Miriam Black #1
Published 2012 by Angry Robot
Urban fantasy
4 stars

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

It's really difficult to split this review into things I liked and things I didn't like, so I'm just going to talk without all the organization. Blackbirds was a unique, enthralling read. I could easily have finished it in one sitting, but then my brain would have exploded from disturbing-ness and we wouldn't want that. But the story and the characters were fascinating and even though it didn't end in a cliffhanger, I really want the next book.

Maybe it's because I don't read a lot of horror, but Blackbirds disturbed me in a way that no book has since I read about people being tortured on Catherine wheels when I was twelve. I'm not saying this was a bad thing, but it did mean I had to take breaks every few chapters.

A lot of the disturbing-ness was plain old gruesome violence. Blackbirds contains death, murder, torture, pain, and all sorts of savagery and it's written in a more significant way than what I normally read; there's no glossing over the mayhem here. Some of it is also how screwed-up the majority of the characters are. Again, not a bad thing -- the characters are well-written and interesting. They're just screwed up. Some of them are legitimately evil. Few are legitimately good. Mostly they're somewhere in between.

Part of the unusual impact of the grittier scenes comes from the fact that the book is written in third person present. While first person present is common in YA novels and third person past is probably the most common narrative style there is, I don't think I've ever seen third person present used for an entire book before. In most cases I would say it's a bad choice because the surprise of a different style can jar the reader out of the story (that's how I feel about 1st person present), but here it works really, really well. It reflects the way Miriam, the main character, thinks and it gives the story greater impact.

Miriam's ability, knowing how people will die when she touches them, is one I've actually seen once before, in Meg Cabot's Insatiable, but this story is so much darker (and better) that I could never compare the two. Having this knowledge and not being able to do anything about it is the main source of Miriam's issues, and I found her reaction very believable.

In this book, everyone had a story that explained why they were who they were. I think it gave the characters greater depth to know that the bad guys were bad guys for a reason. That led to a better plot and to a better book overall. Blackbirds was really excellent on so many levels, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who's not squeamish.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chocolate from the Cloud



•Publisher's Weekly has compiled a list of the 2012 starred reviews just in time for awards season.

•On tor.com, Jo Walton asks if there is a right age to read certain books.

•A new ebook retailer, Total Boox, has plans to allow customers to purchase only the amount of the book they actually read.

•Wharton has a piece on Barnes and Noble's future prospects given the increasing impact of digital sales and online retailers (read: Amazon).

•Tor.com also has a list of where to begin reading Star Wars books.

•In a pleasantly hopeful article, Mashable recounts why print books will never die.

•Daniel Abraham writes a brilliant short story about the private lives of superheroes (part of George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards universe).

•The BBC has a hilarious but insightful article about sexist fantasy and sci-fi covers.

•Young Adult Fiction and Whiskey Sours has a recap of the John and Hank Green event at Carnegie Hall.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
TV Shows

I will take any opportunity to talk about my favorite TV shows (and clearly I have, since I created the topic!). I don't watch a whole lot of it, and I think reality TV is a travesty, but there is definitely some quality television out there. Also after writing my list, I realized I like the nerdiest TV shows ever, and I'm okay with that. In no particular order (except for the last one):



Sherlock
BBC

I joined Netflix a few months ago and started to discover the wonder that is British television. Sherlock, a modern-day reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle's illustrious series, is hilarious and brilliant and sometimes sad, but it never fails to be excellent. I can't believe we have to wait so long for season 3!


The Big Bang Theory
CBS

Big Bang is pretty much the only sitcom I actually watch regularly. I love the characters and their lives, especially Sheldon's impossibly clueless attempts at social interaction. But my favorite character is Raj, who is unbelievably awkward and adorable and can't talk to women unless he's drunk. Great, funny show.


Psych
USA

Psych is a combination of comedy, criminal investigation, and quirky awesomeness. Shawn is one of my favorite characters, while Gus and Lassiter are the perfect straight men. Shawn's "psychic skills" make for some interesting situations around the Santa Barbara Police Department, particularly with Shawn's total disregard for little things like rules and laws. And it's starting back up next month!


Firefly
Fox

Oh, Firefly. Why did the Fox executives have to cancel you after only one season? You were the second best scifi show in the world: smugglers and thieves struggling against a dystopian government, quick-drawing cowboy space pirates, a pilot who plays with dinosaur figurines, the world's nicest mechanic, a classy courtesan, a batshit crazy unbelievably smart teenager -- what more could you want in a show?


Supernatural
CW

I remember watching the first few episodes of this show in about tenth grade, when it first came out, and being extremely nervous about ceilings, planes, water, cabins in the woods, and driving in the dark for several days afterwards. I love the supernatural-hunting schtick and the constant danger. And look at that picture and tell me you wouldn't want to watch those three for forty-two minutes a week.


Doctor Who
BBC

Doctor Who is my favorite show in the world. It is probably the best thing ever created since the advent of moving pictures. I started watching it last summer and finished all six seasons in about a month while working full-time and also having a life and stuff. I just love everything about it. It makes me laugh and cry and when the hell is it going to start up again? Also, I love David Tennant more than words can express. Seriously, everyone should watch this show.

So that's it for this week! If you want to participate, leave a link below, and don't forget to stop by other people's lists and comment! I hope you enjoyed the first ever Friday Favorites. Next week's topic will be songs.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review | Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon

Sheepfarmer's Daughter
Elizabeth Moon
The Deed of Paksenarrion #1
Published 2000 by Baen Books (Simon & Schuster)
Traditional fantasy
2 stars

Paksenarrion — Paks for short — is somebody special. She knows it, even if nobody else does yet. No way will she follow her father’s orders to marry the pig farmer down the road. She’s off to join the army, even if it means she can never see her family again.

And so her adventure begins . . . the adventure that transforms her into a hero remembered in songs, chosen by the gods to restore a lost ruler to his throne.

Here is her tale as she lived it.

Bite-Sized Review
I was excited to read this book, especially after greatly enjoying Ms. Moon's Vatta's War series, but I was disappointed by the halting, disconnected storytelling. Because that problem improved as the book went on, I'm still willing to give book 2 a try, but I won't be rushing to read it.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-A girl runs away to join the army. That's a pretty awesome start to any book, and I loved the premise of the story. Sheepfarmer's Daughter shows Paksenarrion, or Paks for short, in her life in the army, which even now is rare enough to be pretty cool.

-I actually did like Paks herself. She was uncertain and insecure at times, but she was also tough and compassionate. Aside from the couple of times where she was a total idiot, she was a good character.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-The storytelling. The book, especially the first half, is written more like a series of short stories that feature the same character but aren't really connected. It was really difficult to stay engaged without any real flow to the story. In the second half it got a lot better, but not enough to really make up for everything else.

-The supporting characters. None of them seemed to have much of a personality of their own. They were basically interchangeable and even in cases of their danger and death, I couldn't scrape up an ounce of give-a-crap.

Recommended for
Fans of Mercedes Lackey, especially The Oathbound/Oathbreakers, and people who want to read the book a chunk at a time, possibly with some time in between.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review | Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (UK title Rivers of London)
Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London #1
Published 2011 by DelRay (Random House)
Urban fantasy
2 stars

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Bite-Sized Review
Despite a promising start, this book trudged through an unspectacular plot. I thought it had enough potential that I'll probably try the next book, but I won't get my hopes up.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-The world-building was good. I liked the difficulty Peter experienced learning magic, and the fact that most people liked to pretend the tiny division of the police devoted to the supernatural didn't exist. I especially enjoyed the personalities of London's rivers.

-Geeky references are always a plus. I caught Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, among other things. I am automatically inclined to like anyone who also likes those things, so that definitely put me in a good mood. Peter Grant was a likable sort of character.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
Full disclosure: I finished this book sometime around hour 11 of a 13 hour flight. I hate being stuck in one spot for more than an hour or so, and I don't sleep on planes, so at that point I was extremely uncomfortable as well as sleep-deprived, and therefore ready to murder anyone who looked at me sideways. Basically what I'm saying is: I wasn't a huge fan of the book, but while I don't think my situation at the time of reading was the total cause for my dislike -- I finished Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, which I loved, on the same plane ride -- it probably contributed.

-First, the whole plot lacked urgency until you already knew everything anyway. Peter displayed amazingly little concern for a series of murders, and seemed to dedicate very little devotion for any of the things he was supposed to be doing.

-Along with the lacking urgency, the whole story just seemed slow. Months passed without much of anything happening, just Peter learning magic and maybe a murder or two, about which, as I said, nobody really did anything. I was reading on my Kindle so I can't say for sure, but the book seemed a lot longer than the 298 pages Goodreads says it has.

-I did not find Midnight Riot anywhere near as funny as other reviewers seem to think it was. It had its moments, sure, but "funny" is by no means even in the first ten adjectives that come to mind when I think of this book. And before you say "Oh, you just don't get British humor," don't. I like British TV much, much better than American TV. I just don't think this book was that funny.

Recommended for
A lot of people have compared Rivers of London to the Dresden Files, but I think it's actually closer to Simon R. Green's Nightside series. I will grant that both of those series started a bit slow themselves, so maybe Midnight Riot is just going along with the trend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chocolate from the Cloud


Chocolate from the Cloud is a new feature that will run approximately once a week to bring you interesting book-related news and articles from around the interwebs that you might have missed. Hope you find something good to read!

•On Kirkus Reviews, John DeNardo talks about the scifi and fantasy books kids should be reading in school. Notable books include personal favorites A Wrinkle in Time, Ender's Game, and The Hunger Games.

•io9 compiles a long list of science fiction and fantasy books expected to be published in the coming year. It's missing some of my most anticipated titles (particularly of the urban fantasy variety), but at least one of the books made me go "Aaahhhh how did I not know that???" In a happy way :P

•April of Good Books & Good Wine writes a number of innovative ways "You Totally Have Time to Read," including audiobooks, read-a-thons, and -- who'd have thought -- timers!

•Alexandra Bracken talks about the inspiration for her recently published novel The Darkest Minds on The Book Smugglers.

•A variety of writers, including a couple of my heroes, Seanan McGuire and Daniel Abraham, talk about whether and what they re-read in a post on SF Signal.

•Over at Book Riot, Peter Damien discusses the merits of reading "bad writing" in "Grumpy Old Men and the Books They Hate."

•The Book Smugglers introduce readers to the ways we can nominate and vote for books to win the Hugo Awards in a guest post on Kirkus Reviews. It costs le money, but if you can, it would be a really cool way to make your voice heard.

•And finally, Ilona Andrews' serial free fiction Clean Sweep is back! So far it's a really cool and different story by one/some of my favorite author(s), and it's unrelated to their other works if you haven't read them yet.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review | Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Published 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
YA contemporary
4 stars

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Bite-Sized Review
I didn't expect to like this book nearly as much as I did. I loved the characters and the writing from both authors. This book is definitely going to become a Christmas tradition.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-Dash. Dash might be one of my all-time favorite characters. I liked him so much that I actually used the highlighting feature on my Kindle, which I have done approximately once before (to see how it worked). Dash says things like

My parents hadn't spoken to each other in eight years, which gave me a lot of leeway in the determination of factual accuracy, and therefore a lot of time to myself.

I love the phrase "leeway in the determination of factual accuracy." It makes my fond-of-linguistic-quirks brain smile. And then there's

I had always felt that mittens were a few steps back on the evolutionary scale -- why, I wondered, would we want to make ourselves into a less agile version of a lobster?

which is just hilarious. I think that's the most I've geeked out over a character in a while, so that's probably enough for you to get the idea. (Dash is awesome.)

-In fairness, I liked the other characters as well. The appropriately-named Boomer, who couldn't seem to say anything without fourteen exclamation points; Mrs. Basil E., who might be the coolest great-aunt anyone has ever had; the titular Lily, who was occasionally exasperating but very relatable. What was even more appealing, though, was how the notebook changed the characters, even those who were only peripherally connected to it. Even though this book is touted as a romance, I think it is really more of a coming-of-age novel, and it does it very well.

-I think my favorite part of this book was actually the beginning, watching Dash and Lily trying to top one another's increasingly absurd dares in the notebook. Although there was also the Thing With The Dog And The Baby, which was just brilliant.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-There was a point somewhere around the middle of the book where the plot slowed and failed to be as fascinating as the rest of the book. A bit later it did pick up again, and then it was back to its captivating self, but for a while there I thought it had peaked way too early.

-I have said before that YA contemporary romance is sort of far from one of my favorite genres, and while this book is an impressive exception to that rule, there were times when I felt it was...excessively YA-contemporary-romance-y. Which, in the book's defense, is what it was supposed to be, so I guess it's not really a fair thing to list against the book. Um...look, a reindeer!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review | Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues
Diana Rowland
White Trash Zombie #2
Published 2012 by DAW (Penguin)
Contemporary science fantasy
4 stars

Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia.

Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart.

Bite-Sized Review
I started this series after enjoying Diana Rowland's other series, Kara Gillian, but at this point I'd say that White Trash Zombie is at least as good. This book, the second, has improved over the first, and I really like where the series is going. Definitely give My Life as a White Trash Zombie a try if you think you might be even remotely interested.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-I love that Angel continues to grow as a character in this book. It would have been easy for Diana Rowland to say, "Whelp, her life (as it were) doesn't suck anymore! Character development, check!" but she doesn't. Angel's new life was sort of handed to her, but in this book, she takes control of it, which makes her an easy character to root for.

-Blues has a lot more scientific explanation of zombies than the first book did. That may not appeal to everyone, especially since the imparting of this explanation was in the less-than-ideal form of an info dump, but I really like having more background than "everyone knows what zombies are, duh." As an added bonus, the science-y stuff actually made sense, although someone with more of a background in biology might disagree (or not, I really don't know).

-Even though there are a lot of parts that could be really gruesome, Diana Rowland deals with them in such a matter-of-fact way that it's easy to ignore all the brains, guts, brutal injuries, etc that crop up during the course of the novel. It's written in such a way that you could revel in the gooey viscera, but you don't have to.

-Despite the whole "zombie" plot, the casual tidbits about morgue work seem exceedingly authentic. Some quick googling that was totally not stalking reveals that Diana Rowland has been, among other things, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant, so clearly she knows what she's talking about. Not only is it cool to get a glimpse of "real"(ish--most police forces probably don't have to deal with mysterious zombie-related deaths) police work, having a realistic morgue/sheriff's office makes the "zombie" part of the story easier to swallow.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-Probably the only real issue I have with this series is how easy it seems for Angel to fix her life once she becomes a zombie. I think I would have found it more believable if she had made a few mistakes along the way.

Recommended for 
Fans of urban fantasy with a focus more on plot than romance. Though I would technically classify this series as science fiction, it feels more like urban fantasy. Give it a try if you like Stacia Kane, Carrie Vaughn, and Kalayna Price.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane


Hello, friends! Just a quick announcement here to inform you that I will be incommunicado for the next couple of days due to about 24 hours straight of travel (36 if you count time changes) and moving in to my new apartment in Korea, where I will be living for the next year. I expect to be back online next week, as I will have plenty of time to read on my flights, just no opportunity to post.

See you then! Hope everyone enjoys the first weekend of 2013!

Review | Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Grave Memory
Kalayna Price
Alex Craft #3
Published 2012 by Roc (Penguin)
Urban fantasy
3 stars

When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.

But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…

Bite-Sized Review
As a whole, I like this series a lot, but this book is not my favorite in the collection. The overarching storyline has stalled a bit, and there seemed to be more focus on the love triangle. However, the series is definitely worth reading, and if you've read the previous two books, you'll probably enjoy this one as well.

Chocolate
-With each book, Alex's life gets more complicated in a way that's a lot of fun for the reader. She continues to discover more about herself and her abilities, and while I'm not sure how long this can go on without becoming ridiculous, so far it intensifies what could otherwise be a run-of-the-mill supernatural PI story.

-The world is relatively straightforward, but I like it a lot. There's enough detail and conflict to make it seem real, and while there's less of an overarching world story than I really love, Kalayna Price does a great job adapting well-known myths and legends in a unique way. I especially appreciate the inclusion of serious magical limitations or consequences to magic.

Brussels Sprouts
-In this book, the love triangle seemed to be much more prominent than previously. This triangle doesn't bother me as much as many others because the focus is still definitely on the plot rather than the soap opera element, but I have to say, I preferred it when Alex didn't spend all her free time wondering what to do about her love life.

-This one could go either way depending on your preferences, but I'd like to see the books start to shift in plot toward fae politics and whatever Alex's father is up to. The supernatural PI schtick is a tried and true way to start a series, but doesn't necessarily take you very far. This series definitely has the potential to go beyond that, and I'd really like to see it get to that point. With this book, Alex's case seemed to get in the way of the meta-plot rather than advance it.

-I really enjoy these books, but sometimes Alex can be incredibly annoying. She's terrible at making decisions, as demonstrated by the previously mentioned love triangle, so reading her internal monologue can be a torturous exercise in vacillation. Don't get me wrong, I don't actually dislike her, but sometimes...

Recommended for
Urban fantasy fans generally.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Acceptable