Shadow Blizzard by Alexey Pehov

Shadow Blizzard (Chronicles of Siala 3) by Alexey Pehov

Shadow Harold, master thief, and his band of companions have reached the deep catacombs of Hrad Spein, where Harold must go in alone to face unknown horrors and retrieve the Horn that will save Siala. He is magically bound to the Key with which the dark elves sealed Hrad Spein, and the Master’s servant, the sorceress Lafresa, is close behind him.
Harold and his companions must face H’san’kors, evil magic and the agents of the Nameless One, but unless they find the long-lost Horn darkness will overrun the realm of Valiostr. Harold’s destiny is tied to the fate of the kingdom… (publisher)

Large part of the book is about Harold and his quest through Hrad Spein. It’s also called as Palaces of Bones and it’s very describing name… Creepy place!

I like Harold as the hero because he’s not your typical hero. Thieves are rarely called heroes but Harold is very likeable. And then there’s Kli-Kli, who wouldn’t like the jester? And speaking of jester, I totally didn’t see that coming! Even though I liked Harold my fav people were the elves. I wish there would have been more of them and I would have liked to learn more about their world and history.

As it is in war, we lose more characters and I understand that it belongs to war but how could you do that! And it was evil to do it so soon in the book! But we meet few people who I had totally forgotten about which was nice. I should have reread the first 2 books before this…

My only complaint is that the part in Hrad Spein could have been tiny bit shorter and the battle scenes in the end less jumpy. There were too many perspectives to the battle and from people we hadn’t meet before.

I enjoyed these books so much and I’m gonna miss this world. I hope more of his books gets translated because I’m reading those for sure!

Published: Simon & Schuster UK (2012)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 464
Source: my own

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels 2) by Ilona Andrews

Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive… (Goodreads)

Someone stole maps from the pack and Kate promised as a favour to retrieve them. Some mysterious guy just keeps getting into her way and tries to stop her. Kate meets young girl and helps Julie to find her missing mother. And sparks continue to fly between Kate and Curran.

I really like Kate and she’s a great heroine. She can seriously kick ass and she stands up to Curran, the Best Lord of Shapeshifters. They annoy the crap out of each other but you can see there’s something between them. I love that it’s not love/lust at first sight-kind of thing between them.

I can see myself becoming total Curran fangirl but I can’t help myself! I wish there was more Curran and I love the interaction between him and Kate.

“Not only will you sleep with me, but you will say ‘please.’”
I stared at him, shocked.
The smile widened. “You will say ‘please’ before and ‘thank you’ after.”
Pg. 184

More Curran for me, please!

I was happy to see Derek again. It will be interesting to see how far he will climb because he showed power growing.

And I hope we learn more about Kate and her powers. Things are hinted but never explained and I hope we get some answers at some point.

I liked the book and can’t wait to see what way the books will go. I’ve heard the books get only better so can’t wait!

Published: Gollanz (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 260
Source: my own

Control Point by Myke Cole

 Control Point (Shadow Ops 1) by Myke Cole

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down–and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he’s ever known, and that his life isn’t the only thing he’s fighting for. (Goodreads)

All over the world people are getting magical powers. Oscar Britton, military officer, and his unit are told to take part of an operation to take down two Selfers (who use magic unsupervised) at a local school. Britton is not happy when he discovers that they are hunting two teenagers and to his horror the girl is executed in front of his eyes. So when he manifested magical ability after the operation, he’s convinced that they will kill him on the spot and decides the best action is to run.

The book is very action packed from the start but it still moved little slow when Britton was on the run. It did pick up pace when he was in training and learned to control his powers.
At first I was bit overwhelmed with all the military terms and acronyms but I soon gave up trying to memorize them. It’s a very good thing there’s a glossary at the end of the book and I would have been totally lost without it. I just wish I had noticed it from the start because I was about half way through when I saw it.

I’m in two minds how I feel about Oscar Britton. At times I couldn’t follow he’s reasoning and he couldn’t make his mind if the SOC are bad guys or not going from one opinion to another. He seemed to make huge amount of collateral damage and seemed indifferent to it. But I did like seeing how he grew and changed when he tried to adapt to his new life and trying to learn to use the magic.

This was out of my comfort zone with all the army stuff but it’s still great debut from the author. My struggle with the terms and acronyms lessened my enjoyment little bit but I’m happy I got a chance to read this. It was definitely different from what I’ve ever read.

Published: Ace (2012)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 389
Source: publisher

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen”–a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor.

Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy. (Goodreads)

Jane Grey’s parents desperately wanted a son and Jane was a disappointment from the start to her parents and her mother, Frances, was very strict to her. As Jane grows she goes to live with Queen Katherine Parr and finally finds some happiness in her life. But the queen’s death changes everything and once again Jane finds herself to be a pawn in her parents hands.

This was my second fiction book I’ve read from Weir and I remember liking the book about Elizabeth more. I found Jane to be extremely boring and too self-righteous. She spent lot of time just whining and judging other people.

One of the problems was that there was way too many POV’s. There was like 9 POV’s and the good thing was that it was clearly stated who’s chapter it was. I understand the need of shifting viewpoints but enough is enough. Some people like Jane Seymour had just one chapter and I didn’t see point of it.

Jane’s mother Frances was showed to be overly strict mother who punished Jane for even the smallest things. I’m sure there was other strict families so I don’t see the point of hammering this detail so thoroughly.

And who doesn’t love to learn new words like “zounds”. You know, the words you can use in everyday life? Especially when the book is written in so modern day style words like zounds just fits naturally there…

I’m thinking I should stick with her non-fiction books from now on. But I do have her book on Eleanor of Aquitaine in here somewhere…

Published: Hutchinson (2006)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 408
Source: my own

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Wolfsbane (Nightshade 2) by Andrea Cremer

This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended.Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered.

But then the Searchers make her an offer,one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack and the man she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive. (Goodreads)

The book starts right after the last one ended. Calla wakes up in the custody of the Searchers and they make her an offer; to help them to take down the Keepers. She’s still trying to choose between Shay and Ren and along the way she learns more about the history of the Guardians, Keepers, and Searchers.

I really loved Nightshade and I’ve wanted to get my hands on this one but I have to say I’m kinda disappointed. The first half was so boring with page after page telling the history of the war but it got better towards the end.

Calla goes through huge change in this book, and not all for the best. Gone is the confident leader and she’s turned to this unsure, easily-trusting-person who probably lost half her IQ along the way. I mean she grew up thinking The Searchers are the enemy and she spent a week in chains and when they unchain her explaining they need her help, she just agrees? Just like that. I’m not convinced it’s should be that easy. At all. There were few times that I just wanted to slap her really hard to get her to understand. There were so many hints dropped that even I figured that out and I’m not exactly rocket scientist…

There was way too much telling about the history with dialogs that went on and on and quite frankly I just skipped most of them. Maybe I missed something but I just don’t care.

I’m not sure if my biggest complain is that there’s hardly any Ren in the book. I started to think if I read the books just for him and I just might be right…

I still find Shay very annoying and for the life of me can’t understand why Calla would choose him! I wasn’t fan of him in the first book and I’m even less in this. He gets mad pretty much every time someone mentions Ren and can’t remember that’s its him that stole another’s intended mate in the first place?!

We get bunch of new characters who are Searchers and I liked Connor. I really hope he’s in the next book too! I wasn’t huge fan of Adne but I think she would be good with Shay. Especially if it means Shay won’t be with Calla… Then there is Ethan. Guardians killed his brother and he hates Calla from the start, and all the guardians. But when he sees Sabine he is awestruck from the first. Seriously?!

All in all it wasn’t bad but it could have been so much better and it did get better towards the end. I’m hoping the next one is better but I’m fearing for the worst. I read couple reviews of Bloodrose and I’m already having problems with it…

Published: Atom (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 390
Source: library

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

 Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch . . .

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . . Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors. (Goodreads)

In 1941 the Soviets are gathering people they think as anti-Soviets, mainly from university, army, teachers. When NKVD comes knocking on their door, 15 year old Lina’ life turns for the worse. She along with her mother and 11 year old brother gets deported from Lithuania to freezing Siberia with crowded train car that’s labelled as thieves and prostitutes. As in worthless people.

This was such a great and emotional book. There isn’t many books about Stalin’s regime and even fewer about the Baltic countries and it was great reading about those for change.

They were given very little food and water which resulted in people dying of hunger and disease. Under those circumstances people react differently. Some fights back and won’t give up, some are just desperate and some has given up. Lina’s mother is good example of someone who has courage and stays strong through it all. Even with small rations of wood, she always has food to give to those who needs it. She’s the one who keeps it all together.

The NKVD officers treated them worse than human beings. They were there to do their job and often saw it as a game. But it also made me thinking if there were some who had sympathies for the victims and who for their own good did nothing. I mean they would have gotten themselves killed otherwise most likely.

I would have liked to hear what happened to the other half after the camps were separated. And why they were separated in the first place. I also wondered what happened to that one guard and I found having more symphaty for him than I probably should have.

I’m not usually huge fan of historical YA but don’t let it fool you. This was amazing book and I’m glad I read it!

And it always makes me excited when Finland is mentioned in a book lol :)

Published: Puffin (2011)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 344
Source: my own

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire 1) by Mark Lawrence

When he was nine, he watched as his mother and brother were killed before him. At thirteen, he led a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king…
It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he hung pinned on the thorns of a briar patch and watched Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. Life and death are no more than a game to him–and he has nothing left to lose. But treachery awaits him in his father’s castle. Treachery and dark magic. No matter how fierce his will, can one young man conquer enemies with power beyond his imagining? (Goodreads)

9 year old Jorg Ancrath sees his mother and brother killed. Soon after he leaves his father and becomes consummated with rage, and guilt for not being able to save them. He flees with group of men freed from the dungeons and 4 years later he is the leader. At the age of 15 he vows to be king.

Although the main character is a teen, this is not a book for kids and Jorg is not very likeable character. And his actions are even less likeable. But I loved it!

The book starts when the gang is torching a village and it sets the pace for the book from the start. There’s no hero to root in this book for sure. At first I thought it weird that he’s so young and still the leader of them and how he grew up to be so cold. There’s flashback’s from the past that explains some of the things and while I’m not usually fan of too many flashbacks, I think it worked here.

I liked the relationship between Jorg and Makin. Makin used to be the king’s guard and he knew Jorg before he flees from home and he’s the one who really knows him. Or at least as much as anyone is able. But it makes Jorg more humane anyway.

My only complain will be the references to “our world”. Like at some point someone mentioned Shakespeare and stuff like that. I prefer my fantasy to be totally in other world. But it only happened few times so it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I really enjoyed this book and it was truly wonderful debut book. I can’t wait for the next book to come out and I hope I get my hands on it! But this may not be for everyone so be warned…

Published: Harper Voyager (2012)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 399
Source: publisher

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels 1) by Ilona Andrews

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way… (Goodreads)

Kate works as a mercenary instead of working for the Order. When her guardian is killed she finds herself working on their behalf for finding the killer. And she must work with shapechangers and vampires to do so, and with the Beast Lord.

I liked the book and I thought it was great one to start a new serie. There’s magic, shifters and vampires so what’s not to like? I would have liked to learn more about the world and how everything came to pass, like how the magic came back and shifters and vampires too.

I liked Kate who knew how to stand up to herself and was no damsel in distress. She’s not afraid of Curran the Beast Lord of the city, and I’m not sure if she should be. You can see there’s something between them but there’s no romance yet but I hope there will be! We don’t really learn much about Curran yet but I’m sure he’ll be more in the next books.

It was good first book, maybe not the best, but I’ve heard those get better. Can’t wait to read more!

Published: Ace (2007)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 260
Source: my own

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters 1) by Michelle Zink

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters–one good, one evil.

Who will prevail?

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, they find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’ deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets. (Goodreads)

After Lia’s father dies she discovers a mark on her wrist and learns about a prophecy that has been in her family for generations, and is now concerning Lia and her twin sister Alice. One sister is the Gate and the other the Guardian and the mission is to keep Samael and other demons from coming into this world.

First of all I had no idea when I started this that it’s set in 1890’s and if I had known I’d have been more hesitant to read it. But apart from characters riding in carriages and wearing gowns I could have said it’s set in modern times.

I enjoyed this but it was little slow going. The main problem was that it had way too many questions but few answers. I never got the sense of the prophecy and it was too evil vs. good, I mean Lia was so good and Alice so evil. When Alice started to turn evil and why? I didn’t feel the sisters had any connection with each other or that they were ever really close.

Blurb says that the prophecy has turned sisters against each other but I never got the feeling that there was problems between the sisters of previous generations. Lia’s and Alice’s aunt Virginia lives with them but it was never mentioned that she had problems with her sister.

The book was enjoyable but I was still little bit disappointed. I’m not sure yet if I’ll read the next book but I’m curious if there’s some improvement in it.

Published: Atom (2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 343
Source: my own

Queen of Shadows by Edith Felber

Queen of Shadows by Edith Felber

In fourteenth-century England, beautiful Queen Isabella-humiliated by her weak, unfaithful husband-is emerging from the shadows to take her revenge. But her newly arrived, twenty-oneyear-old Welsh handmaiden, Gwenith de Percy, also seeks vengeance-against the English invaders who crushed her beloved Wales. Isabella’s once-golden marriage is now her penance. Due to his rumored relations with men, Parliament forced Edward to share his throne-a demeaning arrangement that torments Isabella.

With the help of her secret, noble lover, Roger Mortimer-an enemy of her husband, imprisoned in the Tower of London-the queen plots to take control. Thrilled by this turn of events, Gwenith realizes that a king cannot afford to be weak-especially when his formidable, discontented queen seeks his power as her due. (Goodreads)

Gwenith’s family is killed when Edward I crushes Wales and Gwenith grows up with her grandmother, who makes Gwenith promise to seek vengeance for her family. She starts to serve Queen Isabella intending to bring harm but comes to respect Isabella, but comes hate the Despensers.

Book is told mostly from Gwenith’s point of view, for reasons I can’t figure out. The idea of Gwenith taking revenge for her family is kinda far-stretching. Why does she want to kill Edward II who isn’t in anyway responsible for the things that happened to her family? It would have been far more interesting to hear the story just from Isabella’s point of view. Instead we get abruptly changing POV’s which made me so confused. I had to read a sentence few times to make sense of it.
But I have to say I didn’t like Isabella either. She was just too good to be true. She is constantly complaining how the women are treated, how everyone loved her in France more and telling all the time that she is the queen.

The most annoying this was that it’s hinted through the book that Edward II wasn’t the real father of future Edward III, and it’s never told who the real father is supposed to be! I mean why!? It’s mentioned that Isabella spent some time in Scotland when Edward abandoned her and had an affair from which Edward III was born. If you invent such rubbish at least you could tell the inventory man’s name!

Isabella is also sneaking out to The Tower to have sex with Roger Mortimer, multiple times. Because queen can just leave castles wearing a hood as her only disguise. Queens are constantly watched and very rarely alone so how could she have managed to get her little trysts?

In the afterword it’s told that Edward III had huge sexual appetites and had many mistresses and illegitimate children. I don’t remember reading about any other mistress than Alice Perrers but I’m not sure about the children. Wouldn’t call it “huge sexual appetite” if he has one known mistress.

Published: NAL (2006)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Source: my own