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Review: Unwound by Lorelei James

July 24th, 2014 Kelly Posted in Review No Comments »

UnwoundTitleUnwound

AuthorLorelei James

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

SeriesThe Mastered Series (Book #2)

Publication Date: March 25, 2014

Format: Paperback, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451467310 (NAL /Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451467317 (NAL /Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kelly

Synopsis:

UNWOUND…a man’s need for control is tested by the one woman he’ll risk everything for…

When sensei Ronin Black first encounters Amery Hardwick, the fire in her eyes ignites a sexual spark a thousand times better than the primal rush he used to get from mixed martial arts matches. She accepts his darker edges and admits to him that her desires aren’t as wholesome as he believed. And before long Ronin is grappling with emotions he’s never felt before…

Yet despite demanding Amery bare her body and soul to him, Ronin holds a part of himself back. When she learns Ronin’s secret and walks out, his life begins to unravel. To regain her trust he must let go of his pride and prove to her that it’s more than passion binding them together. But after their private pleasures are made public, Ronin is unsure if he’s the right man for Amery. Can they face the consequences together? Or will their differences rip them apart…

Quick & Dirty: Having never read a story featuring MMA fighting before, I was fairly nervous about what was going to be in the pages of Unwound. I didn’t need to worry. While there was (of course) some violent content, the story was first and foremost a contemporary romance. I had some issues with the stiffness of the dialogue and stalkerish male character but found it to be an overall interesting read thanks to its unique bondage elements.

Opening SentenceRonin Black had thought his breaking and entering days were behind him.

ExcerptYes

The Review:

As anyone who reads a lot knows, you can make a fairly accurate assumption about what a story is going to be like based on its genre. I’ve read enough BDSM stories to expect that every BDSM story is going to involve restraints, sexual toys and domineering behavior. It’s rare to find a story that gives me more than this over-generalized expectation, however. Unwound exceeded this assumption with a surprisingly fresh take on the BDSM aspect by incorporating Japanese erotic binding techniques known as Kinbaku and Hojoitsu.Unfortunately, even the novelty of these practices couldn’t overcome the poor characterization, confusing timeline and problematic dialogue.

Ronin Black is probably one of the most contradictory characters I’ve ever come across and THE reason why I didn’t enjoy Unwound. As an accomplished Sensei, he demands respect from his students. As the owner of a highly successful dojo, he’s politically savvy enough to make beneficial business deals in the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) industry. He’s also one of Denver’s most sought-after Ropes Masters thanks to his extensive knowledge of erotic binding techniques. He should be the perfect example of a desirable alpha male. Problem is Ronin immediately reads as a controlling stalker thanks to how James chooses to introduce him: breaking into Amery’s home because he can’t accept their relationship was over. That might’ve been a forgiveable offense if, when Amery didn’t respond, he didn’t then show up at her door beat to a pulp in order to guilt her into taking him back. These actions don’t produce a weak-kneed response in me. Regardless of the reason why they broke up – which is still unknown at this point – I’d be getting a restraining order and buying a gun.

However, his manipulation seems to work just fine on Amery. She accompanies Ronin to the hospital and agrees to be his nursemaid as he recovers from a serious head injury. It’s only once they’ve returned to his apartment above the dojo that we learn the reason why Amery left him; he didn’t tell her he’s an heir to a multi-million dollar international corporation. So, the girl will accept Ronin manipulating her emotions and commanding her to be in his bed the first night he returns from the hospital. But not telling her he’s rich and has familial connections to a corporation she’s trying to get a freelance contract with…THAT is the deal breaker? Ooookay.

It doesn’t take long for Amery and Ronin to pick back up where things left off – having a lot of sex and binding each other. Despite Ronin’s declaration that things will never be over between them (again, creepy and definitely not sexy to me) and that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her, the secrets begin again. Ronin’s past quickly catches up with them once Amery gets hired by Shiori, Ronin’s estranged sister, to do design work for the family company. There’s lots of unnecessary drama around Ronin’s Rope Master status but Amery is determined that giving Ronin even more sex will make their relationship stronger and solve all their issues.

Odd as it is to say, I would’ve been even more outraged on Amery’s behalf if the dialogue had been better. When Ronin wasn’t spouting creeptastic stalker promises, his dialogue came across as a woman writing what she wants a male character to say. I don’t want to feed in to the stereotype that alpha males can’t be sensitive or sweet. Neither do I want to say that women authors can’t write believable male characters. However, in the case of Unwound, it seems like James overstretched in her effort to create an authentic male character.

There are plenty of readers who have and will enjoy Unwound. As I stated earlier, James knows how to write a sexy scene and the new binding element did keep my interest. Nevertheless I don’t recommend this title for any but the most steadfast readers of BDSM because of it’s emotionally abusive undertones.

Notable Scene:

“I know.” She continued to stroke his hair. “Even if you were one hundred percent healthy, I still wouldn’t be all in for sexcapades.”

Ronin looked at her quizzically. “Why not?”

“Because I’m not ready to resume a sexual relationship with you. We need to reestablish intimacy first.”

“The sexual pull between us hasn’t diminished at all since we’ve been apart, and fulfilling those needs is the ultimate intimacy, Amery.”

“It is in part. Intimacy means sharing. Bodies, minds, thoughts. Parts of the past. Fears for the future.”

He stared at her. “My biggest fear is you don’t believe we have a future.”

She said nothing.

“Your silence is not reassuring.”

“I know.”

“So maybe I need to reassure you first. I swore when I got the chance with you again I wouldn’t hold back. On anything. Thoughts. Feelings. Actions. Words.”

Her heart raced.

“Maybe I need to start with the words and tell you that I lo—”

Amery put her hand over his mouth so fast his teeth connected with her skin. “Don’t.”

Ronin didn’t bother to hide his frustration.

“The only reassurances I need right now are that you’re taking your meds and giving your body time to heal.”

The Mastered Series:

1. Bound

2. Unwound

3. Unraveled (March 3, 2015)

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FTC Advisory: NAL /Penguin provided me with a copy of Unwound. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

July 24th, 2014 Kelly Posted in Review No Comments »

Half a KingTitleHalf a King

AuthorJoe Abercrombie

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Shattered Sea (Book #1)

Publication Date: July 15, 2014

FormatHardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-100804178321 (Del Rey/Random House)

ISBN-13: 978-0804178334 (Del Rey/Random House)

Reviewed by: Kelly

Synopsis:

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

Quick & Dirty: I was truly impressed with the evolution of Abercrombie’s main character in this first installment. Half a King is everything I want in a YA Fantasy – adventure, humor, surprises and lovable characters. I’ll definitely be checking out Abercrombie’s other work as I wait impatiently for Book 2 of the Shattered Sea Series.

Opening Sentence: There was a harsh glare blowing on the night Yarvi learned he was a king. Or half a king, at least.

ExcerptYes

The Review:

It’s not often that an author takes a chance on a character who doesn’t conform to the normal hero (or even anti-hero) standards. Even in the majority of the Fantasy genre, there’s little deviation from the typical stereotypes. Elves are beautiful strong-backed warriors and intellectually superior. Dwarves are hunched greedy creatures skilled at working with various materials. There are very few heroes with physical deformities – and even fewer who emerge from their trials as a morally darker character than in the beginning. Abercrombie took that chance with Half a King and it paid off.

Born into a society of warriors with a maimed hand unable to carry a shield, Yarvi is used to disappointing others. There hasn’t been a day since his birth where his father, King Uthrik, and mother, Queen Laithlin, hasn’t cursed his existence. Even his older brother is embarrassed to have the boy with half a hand in their famed warrior family. His attachment to Mother Gundring, his father’s Minister, and Odem, his father’s brother, is the only bright spot in Yarvi’s life of shadows and bitter shame. Thanks in large part to them, Yarvi has grown to be an intelligent, resourceful and observant young man despite his father’s hard fists and mother’s cold indifference. In fact, Mother Gundring had such influence over him that Yarvi decided to give up his title and become a Minister.

Only a few short hours away from turning control of his life over the Ministry, Yarvi’s only chance at happiness is ripped away with the death of his father and older brother. Supposedly killed in an ambush by Grom-gil-Gorm, their country’s long-standing enemy, Yarvi is thrown into a position he never wanted and feels ill-prepared to step into. It’s in this moment that Abercrombie’s skill as a writer emerges. Yarvi’s terror, doubt and deep sadness is a potent combination and I found myself tearing up over his situation. He’s a young child who’s never known the love of his parent, who’s been told all of his life that he’s nothing – or half of nothing – and now he’s responsible for leading a country that doesn’t believe in him and certainly doesn’t want a cripple on the throne. Which only makes Yarvi’s determination to avenge his father and brother’s deaths that much more admirable. With Odem’s help, Yarvi gathers his Gettland army and sets sail to attack their enemy Grom-gil-Gorm in Vansterland.

Then, a devastating betrayal once again turns Yarvi’s world upside down. Even though it’s only been a short amount of time since his terrorized ascension to the throne, Yarvi is a quick learner. He’s better prepared to handle the disastrous situation he finds himself in and his fast thinking is the only thing that saves him. If you can call being bought as a slave the same as being saved. Still, Yarvi clings to the only piece of advice his mother ever gave him: There’s always a way. Even if it means sacrificing those few friends he’s finally found in order to fulfill his vow to a family who hated him.

Though it’s considered a YA Fantasy, Half a King reminded me of the adventure and character complexities found in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. There are gut-wrenching betrayals. There’s adventure and innocence. In fact, Gettland and Vansterland in Half a King could very easily fit into the Game of Thrones universe. However, as with that series, the characters are the true element that makes Half a King standout above others in the Fantasy genre.

Abercrombie may use his words sparingly, but what he does say leaves an impact. He excels at creating personalities that jump off the page. Yarvi’s evolution from innocent child to calculating leader is made all the more fascinating because of how people reacted to his so-called deformity. His transformation wasn’t a straight line – there were peaks and valleys as circumstances changed. Abercrombie didn’t shy away from making Yarvi a darker character and I’d be lying if I said I liked the Yarvi at the end of the book. I didn’t, even though I appreciated why he changed. Power corrupts and the thirst for revenge twists people’s hearts until there’s very little innocence left. This overarching plot gave me more insight into the character’s personalities than pages of tedious description ever could. The same can be said for Abercrombie’s world building: it’s the details he chooses to include that make the landscape such a vivid environment.

I think most Fantasy fans – regardless of age – will find something to like in this character-driven and engrossing story because Half a King is amazingly multi-layered. There’s the superficial tale younger readers will enjoy: a young boy’s adventure in a magical world. But dig deeper and you’ll find a story about the values of self-worth, friendship and perseverance in the face of cruelty and injustice. This is definitely a story I’ve already recommended to all of my friends and I can’t wait to see what the next book brings to this extraordinary world.

Notable Scene:

They flung Yarvi down with unnecessary violence between two other slaves, by no means an encouraging pair. At the end of the oar was a hulking southerner with a thick fold of muscle where his neck should have been, head tipped back so he could watch the seabirds circling. Closest to the rowlock was a dour old man, short and stocky, his sinewy forearms thick with gray hair, his cheeks full of broken veins from a life in the weather, picking at the calluses on his broad palms.

“Gods damn it,” grunted this older one, shaking his head as the guards chained Yarvi to the bench beside him, “we’ve a cripple at our oar.”

“You prayed for help, didn’t you?” said the southerner, without looking around. “Here is help.”

“I prayed for help with two hands.”

“Be thankful for half of what you prayed for,” said Yarvi. “ Believe me, I prayed for none of this.”

The big man’s mouth curled up a little as he looked at Yarvi sidelong. “When you have a load to lift, you’re better lifting than weeping. I am Jaud. Your sour oarmate is Rulf.”

“My name’s Yorv,” said Yarvi, having turned his story over in advance. Keep your lies as carefully as your winter grain, Mother Gundring would have said. “I was a cook’s boy-“

With a practiced roll of the tongue and twitch of the head the old man spat over the ship’s side. “You’re nothing now, and that’s all. Forget everything but the next stroke. That makes it a little easier.”

Jaud heaved up a sigh. “Don’t let Rulf grind the laughter out of you. He’s sour as lemons, but a good man to have at your back.” He puffed out his cheeks. “Though, one must admit, since he’s chained to your side, that will never happen.”

Shattered Sea Series:

1. Half a King

2. Half the World (February 3, 2015)

3. Half a War (Autumn/Fall 2015)

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FTC Advisory: Del Rey/Random House provided me with a copy of Half a King. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

July 22nd, 2014 Kaitlin Posted in Review No Comments »

The HavenTitle: The Haven

Author: Carol Lynch Williams

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: The Haven (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 224 Pages

ISBN-10: 0312698712 (MacTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0312698713 (MacTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs—and memories. 

But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they’ve been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

Powerful and emotional, The Haven takes us inside a treacherous world in which nothing is as it seems. “Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea of what Carol Lynch Williams has done for early teen readers.” (Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby)

Quick & Dirty: This book was enjoyable and fast-paced but overall not my style.

Opening SentenceThey came during lunch.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

In Haven Hospital, strange things are happening. When people are brought out of lunches, they come back without limbs. Every morning and night they drink a tonic. And everyone moves in slow, monotonous steps. But Shiloh is waking up, and the truth will be so horrible she might wish to be stupid and unknowing once again.

The Haven was an extremely quick read for me, so this will probably be a very short review. I’m first going to talk about the characters. Shiloh, at first, made me cringe. She was a stickler to the rules and was in pain so much of the time I was irritated. As the book progressed she developed, becoming braver, and the reason she had been so annoyingly pained became apparent. Since the story was very fast-paced, it started off running and she met the love interest within chapters. I was not a fan of the romance. The guy came on too strong, and it was almost creepy at the insta-love he seemed to have aquired for her. Some of the smaller characters like her friend Abigail had more charm and I did really enjoy the teacher at Haven Hopsital.

The things they did at the hospital were seriously messed up. The idea held an eerie fascination in my mind, helping me to speed through the book. The plot was original and unique. When I started this with the synopsis in mind I was wary — it sounded like many other books. And while I can find similarities, I was pleased with the originality of The Haven.

The sudden twist at the end didn’t really affect me much. The characters weren’t very relatable, which made sense considering they were in an entirely different situation, but I still couldn’t connect. I didn’t care much what happened to certain characters and didn’t feel much emotion. I think it’s the shortness of the story that made me not really connect, considering I didn’t get enough time with them. 200 pages is not much and 200 pages is what I got with somewhat bigger print.

For some reason this book, while exciting and hooking me almost immediately, wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe it was the writing style. It was dark and interesting but any imagery was brief. Sometimes I would be reading fast and miss one sentence, then have to reread the whole page to find when something happened. Maybe it was the characters, who were entirely unrelatable, or the shortness of the novel overall. Whatever it was I was left with an overall “eh” feeling and it took me a long time to write this review because of my lack of things to say. I will give it this, The Haven is a cool idea that is so much more exciting than the synopsis implies. The science stuff could have been explained more thoroughly but the idea of what was being done was really surprising.

Notable Scene:

“So here it is. If you’re not obediant-” Principal Harrison tapped on the desk again, his face that grotesque contortion. “-we take matters into our own hands. Is that clear?”

Something cool slid over my skin.

The Haven Series:

1. The Haven

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FTC Advisory: St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Haven. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Warrior’s Curse by Alexa Egan

July 21st, 2014 Steph Posted in Review No Comments »

warrior's curseTitleWarrior’s Curse

Author: Alexa Egan

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Imnada Brotherhood (Book #3)

Publication Date: April 29, 2014

Format: Paperback, 388 Pages

ISBN-10: 1451672934 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-1451672930 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

Major Gray de Coursy, Earl of Halvossa and exiled heir to the five clans of the Imnada shapechangers, must regain his throne in order to save his people from a deadly war with the Feybloods. First, however, he must break the curse he has lived under since the final chaos of Waterloo. Desperate, he resolves to steal the Imnada’s most sacred relic—the mysterious crystal of Jai Idrish—to help him. When he receives a visit from his childhood companion Meeryn Munro, Gray is surprised by her offer of help . . . and by how the girl of his memories has grown to become the woman of his dreams.

None of Meeryn’s powers as anointed keeper of Jai Idrish have prepared her for the threat of battle, but it’s the passion Gray arouses in her that she finds herself fighting. In a perilous quest spanning two realms, Gray and Meeryn must outwit and outrun a cunning enemy. And only the strength of the warrior, the magic of the priestess, and a love greater than death can reclaim a crown and win them a future together.

Quick & Dirty: Old flames reunite and try to break a curse that’s slowly killing one of them. While having a strong start, I just didn’t end up really enjoying this book.

Opening Sentence: No matter what, they would not see him weep.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I wasn’t a huge fan of book 2 in this series, so I wasn’t super excited about reading this one, but I tried going into it with an open mind. It started off strong with a great prologue, but unfortunately went downhill from there, repeating a lot of the same issues I had found with book 2. Apparently, this series is just not my cup of tea.

Gray de Coursy’s time is running out. The “cure” that keeps his and his friends’ curse in control is slowly killing them, and it’s becoming obvious that the cure will only continue to last for a short time, maybe only a few months. Gray’s spent years researching ways to break the curse, and he finally feels close to a breakthrough. All he needs now is a sacred Imnada artifact, the Jai Idrish. Luckily, the person who can communicate with the artifact shows up at his door. Meeryn and Gray grew up together. Everyone assumed they would marry one day, but then Gray left for the army. Meeryn hasn’t seen him since. Now, she’s been sent to tell him that his grandfather is dying. They’ve been estranged for years, but Meeryn thinks they should try to patch things up before it’s too late. The only problem with this is Gray has been banished from the Imnada clans, so it could be very dangerous for him to return home. He’s been guaranteed safe passage, but has learned not to trust anyone. He agrees to go, hoping that Meeryn’s connection to the Jai Idrish will help him break the curse. Along the way, there is danger at every turn, as not every enforcer is willing to obey the orders not to kill Gray. Old feelings are also reignited as Gray and Meeryn begin to spend more and more time together. Will Gray be able to break the curse so they can be together?

I honestly could not bring myself to care about any of the main characters. The most fascinating character in my opinion is Badb, and she’s a very minor character. I would love to see more about her. As for Gray and Meeryn, I just didn’t feel any sort of connection to them. They felt very flat to me. The nature of their past relationship also seemed to come out of the blue. At first, it was described as if they were just really good friends. And then suddenly, we find out that everyone assumed they would get married and that they secretly harbored feelings for each other. None of this is mentioned until later in the book, so it always felt off to me. The romance itself fell flat for me as well, probably because I didn’t particularly care about either one of them.

I also had an issue with the transition between scenes, which often felt very rough. We’d be following Meeryn one moment, and then with seemingly little or no resolution to her scene, we jump to someone else’s point of view. It was very jarring and really made it hard to concentrate on what was going on.

All in all, I think I’ve discovered that this series just isn’t for me. I have a hard time connecting with the characters and just find it very difficult overall to get invested in the story. I hate feeling like I “have” to read a book just so I can finish it, and that’s what I kept feeling as I was reading this. Others may end up liking it, but it’s just not for me.

Notable Scene:

The enforcer laid the brand to Gray’s back, singeing through the skin to the muscles and tendons below. The charred stench of roasting flesh filled his nose. Screams ripped from his body and tore up his throat. They bounced off the stone circle of the Deepings Hall, echoing back to him in waves of anguish. His knees buckled as he arched away from the pain, every nerve aflame, every drop of blood in his veins on fire, his very soul cleaving from his body.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he escaped to the darkest corner of his mind as a hunted creature burrows away from even the hope of light, but the desolate keening sounds of his disgrace followed him as his clan mark was burned away in a stripping of all he was or would ever hope to be. He retched until his ribs cracked and piss leaked into his boots.

But not one tear fell.

They never saw him weep.

She never saw him weep.

Imnada Brotherhood Series:

0.5 Awaken the Curse

1. Demon’s Curse

1.5 Unleash the Curse

2. Shadow’s Curse

3. Warrior’s Curse

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FTC Advisory: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Warrior’s Curse. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Stolen by Bishop O’Connell

July 21st, 2014 Steph Posted in Review No Comments »

The StolenTitle: The Stolen

Author: Bishop O’Connell

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Format: eBook, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062358774 (Harper Voyager Impulse)

ISBN-13: 978-0062358776 (Harper Voyager Impulse)

Reviewed by: Steph

Synopsis:

Tonight, for the first time in over a century, a mortal child will be kidnapped by faeries.

When her daughter Fiona is snatched from her bed, Caitlin’s entire world crumbles. Once certain that faeries were only a fantasy, Caitlin must now accept that these supernatural creatures do exist—and that they have traded in their ancient swords and horses for modern guns and sports cars. Hopelessly outmatched, she accepts help from a trio of unlikely heroes: Eddy, a psychiatrist and novice wizard; Brendan, an outcast Fian warrior; and Dante, a Magister of the fae’s Rogue Court. Moving from the busy streets of Boston’s suburbs to the shadowy land of Tír na nÓg, Caitlin and her allies will risk everything to save Fiona. But can this disparate quartet conquer their own inner demons and outwit the dark faeries before it’s too late?

Quick & Dirty: A single mother comes home to find her daughter stolen by the fae. Now, she must team up with a wizard, elf, and warrior in order to get her daughter back in this book that had a lot of promise, but ultimately ended up falling a little flat.

Opening Sentence: Brendan Kavanaugh smiled and examined the wrought silver claddagh ring, admiring its fine details.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’ve lately become very interested in books dealing with the fae, whether they’re depicted as good or evil. So, I was very excited about starting this book once I read its description. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. While it certainly moved quickly and was entertaining, I had a lot of issues with character development that hampered my enjoyment of the story.

Caitlin has had years to adjust to being a single mom. She loves her daughter Fiona more than anything and often puts her personal life on hold in order to spend as much time with Fiona as possible. Her friends finally convince her that she needs to have a night out, so Caitlin makes a decision that will change her life forever. She hires a babysitter and goes out with her friends. The night starts off with Caitlin feeling as if she’s being watched from the shadows. Then, she’s attacked by two creatures who at first glance, appeared to be teenagers, but proved to be much more than that. She rushes home just in time to see Fiona taken by more of those same creatures. The creatures knock her out, and when she awakes, she finds herself at her friend Eddy’s house. She frantically tells Eddy what happened, worried he won’t believe her, but Eddy has a secret of his own. Turns out, he’s a wizard. Together, they team up with an elf and a warrior to go into the fae lands and bring Fiona back. Will they be able to find her before it’s too late?

I’ll start off by saying I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the story. The first chapter immediately drew me in, and I just wanted to read more. This feeling continued until about the halfway point in the story. At that point, I found myself feeling more and more detached. While I was still interested in what was going on, something just wasn’t clicking for me anymore. I think the fault for this lies in the fact that the characters just aren’t developed very much. We only get to know the very basics of who our main four characters are, and we never really learn anything else. I found Brendan to be the most intriguing, but we never really learn much about him beyond what happens in the first chapter. Caitlin is defined by her love for Fiona. Eddy is a therapist wizard who loves Caitlin but has resigned himself to being just friends. Dante is Brendan’s closest friend and also the Magister of the Rogue Court. We learn all this right away, and then never go any deeper into who these people are. It makes it very hard to care about them when we don’t know anything about them.

As I said, the basic story itself is very interesting. I would be interested in learning more about this world O’Connell has created. However, the lack of character development leaves me a little concerned as to how much I’ll like any future stories set in this world. I would say this book is worth a read, but be aware you might not feel much for the characters.

Notable Scene:

“You’re not going anywhere,” the voice behind her said.

The knot in her stomach began to tighten, but she thought of Fiona and her resolve hardened. She clenched her jaw and turned, ready to fight.

“Leav-” Caitlin stopped when she saw who’d been speaking to her.

An eerily beautiful boy, perhaps thirteen, looked at her with more confidence than anyone that young should have. His skin was white–not just pale, but unreal, alabaster white. His hair was sheer black, as were his clothes and fingernails, and he must’ve been wearing some kind of special contact lenses, because his eyes were all black, no whites at all. He was thin and not much over five feet tall, just about her height.

He smiled, showing his teeth. Every single one, upper and lower, came to a sharp point.

Caitlin felt the blood drain from her face and her heart skipped a beat.

The boy’s eyes narrowed and he looked at her for a moment before he smiled wider. “Boo!”

skull3

FTC Advisory: Harper Voyager Impulse/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of The Stolen. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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