The Roses of May

The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson is the second book in The Collector series. It is a sequel (of sorts) to Hutchinson’s first novel The Butterfly Garden. While the agents at the FBI and the Butterflies deal with the aftermath of their captivity, spring is coming, which means another serial killer is preparing to strike.

For years agents Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez have been trying to solve a string of murders where an adolescent girl is laid out in a church with her throat cut and flowers strewn around her. Sixteen girls have died since this killer first started and the FBI has very little to go on. This case has also become personal as the agents have bonded to the sister of one of the slain.

Priya Sravasti’s sister was murdered by this killer five years ago and she has forged a strange relationship to “her” FBI agents. When Priya starts receiving flowers on her doorstep, she knows that the man who killed her sister has chosen his next target.

Can Priya and the FBI stop the killer before it is too late? Will the Butterflies ever be able to heal after their ordeal in the garden? Will evil ever stop and will justice find a way?

I should preface this by saying that I am not generally a fan of thrillers… or, at least, they are not my go to genre but these were great. I don’t know if there will be another book in this series but I am a fan of Hutchinson’s writing. These books are psychological thrillers and are easy to get caught up in.

One of the things I really love about Hutchinson’s work, is her character development. I loved Maya and Vic in the first book and I love all the characters in this one. Priya is not as “saucy” as Maya but both are strong females in their own ways.

Honestly, I felt exactly the same way about this book as I did The Butterfly Garden. It had the same elements, so I am going to steal from my earlier post…

This book is horrible in some ways but “it happens almost abstractly; you know it happens, you know it is happening but you are sort of on the outskirts of the scene. You don’t feel as present for it as you do in some of the things you read or watch.”

“It’s hard to say what exactly it was that caught me about this book. It wasn’t overly suspenseful or graphic, the format wasn’t new, […]. If I had to pick something, I’d have to say the story itself just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.”

As much as this one pulled me in and I enjoyed it, I wasn’t as desperate to finish as I was with The Butterfly Garden. For this reason I am giving it 4 stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spectacle

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent is the second book in the Menagerie series. We pick up right after book one–Metzger’s Menagerie has been taken over by the cryptids it once held captive and they are putting on quite a convincing show in the hopes of escaping persecution and injustice. But the jig is soon up and Delilah and her fellow cryptids are once again sold into slavery and this time the slavery is more than just cages.

The Savage Spectacle is home to the rich and the depraved, where even the most perverse fantasies are brought to life. Delilah, her friends and her protector, Gallagher, are separated, each expected… forced to perform. For technologically sophisticated collars round the neck of every captive and these collars can turn even their own bodies against them.

What can Delilah and her Fury do when caught in a new cage and surrounded by injustice around every corner? Will Gallagher keep his promise to protect Delilah at all costs? And what price would Delilah be willing to pay for freedom?

I enjoyed this one much more than the first one. The Savage Spectacle was just that, savage and brutal and brought another layer of the injustice the series is obviously portraying that the characters are fighting against.

I like the fight in this book. Our cryptids don’t give up and even though they may despair at times, the fight never leaves them. They got a taste of freedom and refuse to let it go. This is a book about survival and surviving the worst life has to throw at you.

God I just love Gallagher. I feel like he’s meant to be this emotionless, honor bound warrior but this book shows that there is definitely more to him than meets the eye. I’d stick it out for the third book just to see what shadows… and heart come out of his closet. He’s also brutal and devoted and I sort of love that. I can’t help it, dark and twisty is my fictional type.

With it’s many ups, there also comes a few downs. This book doesn’t shy away from the awful. The cryptids are sold into a house of horrors where literally every savage wish is granted. We don’t see any of the gory details but brutality, degradation, sexual abuse and slavery and both physical and mental torture is behind the curtain. The cryptids are violated in every way possible and just because we don’t see the details doesn’t mean that it isn’t awful. I said it before and I’ll say it again, thank god this one is adult fic because I’d have a real problem with the content if it were YA.

We also lose some characters that we became familiar with in Menagerie. Yes, our favorites are still there but we don’t really learn anything more about them in this book than we did in book one. The only characters who evolve and whose relationship evolves is Delilah’s and Gallagher’s.

Finally, this book felt very similar to it’s predecessor, except it takes place on a campus instead of in a traveling circus. The only things that really make it different, plot-wise, is the expanding relationship between Gallagher and Delilah, the more overt brutality and the fact that the ending isn’t all peaches and cream.

I originally gave this one 4 stars but on further reflection I’m leaning more toward 3.5. The audio for this one might have help contribute to pulling me in as much as it did but when I really sat down to think about it later, I could see some of the flaws.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Windwitch

Windwitch by Susan Dennard is the second book in The Witchlands series. This one picks up only a few days after book one. All of our main characters are separated and facing trials of their own.

Merrick’s ship exploded, causing his country to believe him dead; now Merrick is burned beyond recognition, hellbent on getting revenge. Vivan is trying to save her country from starvation while guarding the border and trying to claim her rightful crown.

Iseult is running from the cleaved and her nightmares while trying to track down her thread-sister and figure out what she really is. Aeduan failed to track down the person who stole his coins and when he takes on a new mission, he is surprised to find that the threads that bind work in mysterious ways.

When we left Safi, she had agreed to work for the Empress of Marstok to save the people she loves. Now she is separated from her thread-sister and at the mercy of assassins.

Who will find who? Who will survive? And how will the Witchlands survive the tumultuous political climate to come?

This book had an interesting narrative style. We basically get two and a half duel perspective narratives. Merrick and is his sister Vivan; Iseult and Aeduan; and Safi thrown in between. In each section, you are given just enough to pull you in, so you want to know what happens and then, poof, you are thrown into another narrative. This works and it doesn’t. It works because you are sucked in and want to know more and it doesn’t because with so many narratives it doesn’t feel like very much happens.

I was a bit more understand of this when I realized The Witchlands is an expected 5 book series. So Windwitch is really supposed to be a way to set the stage for what’s to come. Right now there are hints of the overarching theme/conflict/battle to come but we are still not exactly sure what that will be and what part our characters will play in it.

I said in my review of Truthwitch that the world building was a little lacking but that it didn’t really bother me because the book was so character driven. That opinion still holds for this one, except that I am really missing some of the driving details… the overarching conflict to come.

I’m giving this one 3.5 stars because I really enjoy the dynamic between Iseult and Aeduan. Their storylines are so complex and their characters are just a little dark and twisty and I like it.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Red Sister

Little lag in my posting. Got caught up with a few projects. Preparing for Summer Reading is really getting in the way of my reading. Anyway…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is the first book in a new adult fantasy series that seriously kicks butt. At eight years old Nona Grey is saved from hanging by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Now young Nona, sold as child labor and accused murderer, is to become a novice at a convent even as her past chases after her.

But this is no ordinary convent. The Sisters of Sweet Mercy are trained in blade and fist, in the way of the path and yes, even as holy sisters. Nona has her sights set on becoming a Red Sister, the fiercest of warriors for:

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

But more than Nona’s training is at stake. An ancient prophecy has brought it’s own troubles down on the convent and war is brewing even as the sun dies and ice engulfs all but a slim corridor of land.

First, let me start off by saying that this book is so much more than just warrior nuns. I keep fumbling when explaining it to colleagues because hearing that a book is about a school for kick ass nuns… doesn’t necessarily say “read me.” But don’t let the sisters fool you, this is a fantasy world with a lot going on; it is character driven and a lot is happening behind the scenes.

The set up of the narration in this book, with a few peeks into the present, reminds me a little of Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. And just like Rothfuss, I wonder when the story-lines are going to meet and then what. Sometimes I really like knowing what is going to happen, the journey is the real sweet zone, but depending on how it is handled, it can be off-putting. We’ll have to wait for the next book to see how this one is going to go.

Holy cow did this book bring the tension. Talk about some intense action scenes! I mean, this book did have some flaws but the dramatic intensity of the writing in these scenes makes up for it. Lawrence really has a knack for filling his action scenes with suspense and drama. Really well done.

Finally, this book is all about the strong female character. It’s a book full of individual women/girls who are confident, strong both mentally and physically, and so much more. I also feel some LGBT relationships coming, on top of the few that are mentioned, which is great. By the end of the book Nona is finally getting a little more interesting… there is just something about a destructive, violent, yet ultimately good character that tugs at me.

On a gut reaction I gave this one four stars and I am going to stick with it. A good fantasy but if you don’t like serious cliffhangers, maybe wait until the next book is out.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the ACOTAR series. This one picks up a few weeks after the disaster in Hybern where the Court of Dreams was injured, Feyre’s sisters turned into high fae and the high lady of the night court left her mate to spy on their enemies.

Now Feyre is back in the Spring Court, painting flowers and pretending to be a perfect all-but damaged lady of spring. When really, she is playing a dangerous game, gathering information on Tamlin and the kings invasion of Prythian. Feyre must walk a fine line all while war inches closer and closer to the people she loves.

Will Feyre be able to sabotage Hybern and it’s allies? Will she get out of Spring alive? Will the Court of Dreams survive the coming onslaught?

Hmmm what to say about this one? I loved ACOMAF so much, I read it three times and listened to the audio book once. But I do not see myself re-reading ACOWAR. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I was the second book. In fact, I found myself feeling about ACOWAR the same way I felt about ACOTAR–not bad but not spectacular.

It’s funny, Maas has these fantastic gems within her series. Books that just cannot compare and I absolutely fall in love with her characters but I don’t always feel like the books are consistent. I’m still going to fangirl over ACOTAR regardless because I love the Court of Dreams so much!

If, in this series, we were only invested in Feyre and Rhys then this would have been a wonderful conclusion to their story. For those two, it was quite a satisfying end. But we aren’t just invested in Feyre and Rhys. We want to know what happens between Cassian and Nesta, Lucian and Elain, Mor, Azriel, Amren, even Tamlin and the other high lords. But we don’t and that’s what was really missing in this one. Even if we got a few chapters with a glimpse of whats to come for those characters, I would have been happy.

Normally, I don’t like when a series switches from one PoV to multi-PoV but in this case, I think it would have added a little something. I hope the future books do this because I really want to see some insight into other characters.

Overall, ACOWAR satisfied my thirst for more Feyre and Rhys but it will be hard to wait to get the missing pieces from the rest of our favorite characters tales. This one gets three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Ghokshi is the “sequel” to The Star-Touched Queen. Every hundred years the otherworld throws the Tournament of Wishes, an ancient tournament full of terror and wonder, where the risks are real and the prize is a wish of unlimited possibilities.

This year two contestants from different kingdoms must work together to stay alive and save their homes. Princess Gauri has been banned from her home by her brother, a twisted ruler whose thirst for power overshadows the good of his people. Prince Vikram is at the mercy of his council and will only ever be a puppet king while his legitimacy is in question.

Gauri and Vikram must come together despite their differences to beat the odds and survive a world of monsters and dreams. Can they solve these death defying riddles before time runs out? And what happens when reluctant allies become more?

Ghokshi does it again, all but a little differently. Where The Star-Touched Queen was a magical journey to find oneself and to rescue true love, A Crown of Wishes is a magical race against time and a journey toward self discovery and fate. These sound the same but the two books felt pretty different. There is an urgency to The Star-Touched Queen that we don’t really get in this one. This isn’t a bad thing but it does change the feel of the narrative just a bit.

A Crown of Wishes focuses more on the characters and the character development than the magic and mystery of it’s predecessor. Where The Star-Touched Queen only really develops Maya’s character, we get three fully developed narratives in this one. Gauri and Vikram play off each other really well. Gauri is serious and tactical with her warrior mind, whereas Vikram is sure of himself, intelligent and sly. It makes for an interesting dynamic and pairing.

I just love this world Ghokshi created; it’s magical and real and it feels unique. Ghokshi tells us in this one that the otherworld will soon be closed off from the real world and I wonder if there will be one more book about this. I hope so and I hope we see more of Maya her beau and Gauri and Vikram working in tandem. That’d be awesome!

Overall, this one gets 4 stars from me. It was a good read but I didn’t fall in love with the romantic relationship as much as I did with Maya’s. Still worth a shot.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Million Worlds With You

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray is the final book in the Firebird trilogy. The fate of the multiverse rests in the hands of an eighteen-year-old artist, Marguerite Caine. Marguerite has been hunted by the Triad for her one-of-a-kind ability to be a perfect traveler and she has finally learned their endgame.

The Triad will stop at nothing to get back their version of Josie, even if it means destroying hundreds of universes to do so. Now Marguerite must hunt down Wicked, her evil Triad self, and stop her from killing every version of Marguerite and the worlds she inhabits.

With the help of her family and her broken soulmate, Paul, Marguerite must race across the multiverse to save her loved ones in every dimension. Can Marguerite keep her sanity when every jump puts her at deaths door? And throughout it all will Marguerite and Paul be able to keep each other safe and find their way back to each other when all is said and done?

This was a surprising end to a pretty good series. This book had twist after twist. I am not sure what I expected but I did not expect the intertwining threads that twisted together to form a book with so much more depth than I anticipated.  It’s nice when the final book in a series lives up to it’s story.

We also get some closer with the worlds that Marguerite visited and left… well a mess. We get to revisit some of our favorite universes and we get to see what happened after Marguerite left. This was a real treat because we really begin to feel for those universe’s characters and it was nice to see them again.

All of our characters develop more in this final book, not just Paul and Marguerite. We see Theo at his best and worst and the Kane’s even have their chance to shine. We also see good sides to some of our bad guys and this was an interesting parallel.

This book left me satisfied with the story as a whole. I listened to this whole series in audio and didn’t have a hard time following along at all. If you need a good long audiobook series, this would be a good one to go to. This book gets four stars from me and I think the series as a whole deserves four stars as well.

That’s all for now!

-M-