Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh

Hi all!

Another one!



Author: Nalini Singh
Title: Archangel’s Enigma
Release date: 1st of September 2015
Series: Guild Hunter #8
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Paranormal
Published by: Jove
Pages: 372 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required - those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets is fascinated by his nature - at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it's too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare...

Review:

It’s no secret that I adore the Guild-Hunter series and, luckily, it’s still going strong. I’m dreading the day that it might fall into the same tiresome, repetitive and sparkles pit of beating a dead horse, as many similar urban paranormal and fantasy novels tend to slip into after a long-running successful steak. There were some itty bitty hints (I may be paranoid) in this book for such alarming future developments, but this disaster is still a million miles away and the series is solid, continuing to be action-paced, unpredictable and sexy as hell.

This instalment centres on Naasir, the mysterious one form Raphael’s Seven, who we’ve been teased about in previous books, but not shown anything of real substance yet. Well, the curtains get drawn down big time and we are presented all the answers to questions about this sensual and animal-like human predator. What the heck he exactly is, has been a burning issue also for Elena, whose scene with him in the last book playing twenty questions regarding this topic was hilarious. Anyway, the veil is lifted and, while definitely a unique concept, I was already expecting something to that end, and the revelation didn’t shock or wow me as much. Despite this, I found Naasir intriguing, and there is certainly something alluring about a guy who’s feral and wild, but naughty and charming as a puppy with his loved ones. He came across boyish, basic in his understanding of human affairs, simplistic and taking everything at face value, eg. emotions, behaviours and personality. This was to me at least quite endearing and understanding, taking account his unique dispositions, but even more adorable were his attempts to accommodate and act according to human/angel norms and rules, despite his thought process being nothing like they have it. Still, even though, at first glance being quite naïve and clueless, you can in no way claim that, due to his black and white view of the world, he wasn’t highly intelligent, capable or dangerous.

So, Naasir, motivated by others in the Seven finding partners, is ready to find his mate, who apparently is hiding from him. Luckily, this angel, Andromeda, smells like his mate would smell, but she doesn’t act accordingly nor does she feel the same way. Their first meeting was awkward yet cute and sexy. But the most appalling barrier to them getting it on, is Adromeda’s celibacy vow, toward which Naasir reacted quite comically. From the plot point of view, this was, however, an acceptable and believable hindrance stopping the couple from giving in and hopping into bed too fast. To Naasir, it’s all instinct and he wouldn’t hold relationship development beforehand in high regard, but me as a reader, I do, so it worked out well for everyone except him. The reader got bonding, progress and growth in their relationship before sex was added into it, Andromeda got an excuse and Naasir got… frustrated. Everyone’s happy! Not.

Despite this aspect of their connection being well crafted, I’m sad to say, I wasn’t as wild about their romance as I was previously with Elena and Raphael and even Dimitri and Honor. I didn’t feel the same sky-high swoonyness and anticipation. They were, to my mind, maybe too different from each other and a teeny bit dull. The latter totally sounds unbelievable, considering the nature of Naasir, but I guess it comes down to the other side of the couple – Andromeda. I didn’t fully understand why her, why specifically she was the mate, she was too perfectly perfect. I mean, she was a nice person, had her strengths and admirable qualities, and some not so visible qualities lying dormant, and as Naasir said, they both wore a different skin, eg they were hiding or suppressing a part of themselves from the world, but still. They did overall work, so I can’t complain too much, I guess it comes down to preference.

One thing I was annoyed at in regarding to Andromeda was her not telling Naasir the truth about her imminent future and duties. It simply created cheap and bothersome tension not only for me, but also for him, because of her hot and cold attitude. The solving of that issues and another one, which came about within the story between them, was also somewhat too convenient, but oh well.

While our lovebirds were globetrotting, saving people and dancing around each other teasingly, things were running out of control in the overall angel community with powers surging and the situation getting unpredictable with the Cascade approaching. Things were progressing in Raphael’s domain in New York as well, especially with everyone’s favourite blue winged angel. That, I wasn’t expecting, and it was interesting how the event unfolded and worked out. Talk about an intense scene! I’m still, however, anxiously looking forward to seeing that storyline develop in the future.

Illium and Aodhan’s deep friendship was of course adorable as well, I’d ship them, but I really want a nice quirky and fun human girl for Illium, and if that doesn’t work out, then Aodhan can have him, he’s my second choice for the blue beauty. The new addition to the archangels was also quite an impressive number, but despite the balance towards great characters, Lijuan needs to die already! It’s getting irritating, I mean, how many times can she be neutralised, pushed back and almost destroyed and she still be crawls back? She’ll be among the roaches after a nuclear war as well I presume.


4 stars!

LIIS

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Hi all!

Another review, after a long while!




Author: Jenn Bennett
Title: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Release date: 3rd of November 2015
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 302 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

Review:

I read a review in Goodreads from a reviewer who absolutely destroyed the story and I got really curious if it really is that awful, because the synopsis had my interest piqued. To my mind, the book was nowhere as disastrous as it was made out to be by the review, then again, she tends to overall be extremely picky with giving books above two or one star ratings. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, the story had its fair share of issues, but was generally quite enjoyable with some elements that were quite original or seldom applied in YA fiction and some that were somewhat cringe worthy and/or annoying to no end.

First, the aspects I thought were well crafted and stood out: The heroine Bex was someone who was passionate about her art, she had a specific goal and was determination to reach it. She knew what she wanted to do in the future and took active steps to ensure it. This is quite rare in the YA world, since the girls usually live only for their romance with the swoony guy. Ok, so maybe I’m unfair, and some do have some interests outside of their hot boyfriends, but being so eager, hard-working and concentrated on her target was out of the ordinary. Moreover, this topic took up quite a big chunk of the plot and was in a way the driving force. The romance was a major part of the story, but as equally significant was Bex’s artistic pursuits. In regards to this, I also found it refreshing that her passion was something very specific, unique and something I myself didn’t really know much about. Plus, she had an ordinary part-time job, which was a great addition as well, enabling her to be more similar to a realistic character.

Next to Bex, her artistic and Buddhist, rebel on the outside, gentleman on the inside, love interest, Jack also stood out due to his hobby, which was creating graffiti on important landmarks and other significant places. I wasn’t really wild about this concept, because while he was apparently talented in the field, it was also vandalism and someone had to clean it up. I really dislike people creating unnecessary work and trouble for those that have to eat up all the unpleasant soup later on, in this case, the cleaning staff. Still, his interests made him more original than your typical ripped, hot and handsome wannabe badboy Ken-doll YA boyfriend. He was very handsome though. This book also includes a very sex positive attitude, which is always, when dared to include in YA fiction, something I applaud.

The families of the couple were very much involved in the plot. Both had in a way quite unusual family situations and several potential sources for conflict there. I did like the so-called secret of Jack’s family, which was also the motivation for him to vandalise as he did. Despite it being for a more or less worthy cause, it still came across as questionable in my mind, I mean, wasn’t there anything else to be done except mess up other people’s property? Being the child of divorced parents is nothing spectacular, but the situation within Bex’s family was slightly different and, thus, not as worn-out as you’d expect. What I really appreciated, and which was at first gasp-worthy, was the fact that despite Jack’s rich family, they couldn’t fix everything and Bex didn’t want them to.

Now for the major issues within the book. I know many explode with annoyance with the popular and overused poor-solitary-girl/rich-misunderstood-and-full-of-baggage-guy trope, but I don’t mind it at all. In this story, however, it sort of pinched my butt from time to time, I cannot explain why, but I guess, because Jack was in a way too good to be true and there was no reason for him to be from a prominent family. I would have enjoyed the story more, if he would have been a guy with a regular background and still incredibly talented with his graffiti art. Also, Jack’s Buddhism and spirituality choices were unexpected and unique in a quirky way, but they felt forced at times. Please, keep over-controlling borderline psycho mothers away from me! I thought Bex’s mom, while having some moments of clarity, had issues, issues I didn’t want to read about. She did manage to redeem herself in the end… somewhat, I’ll give her that. While Bex was someone to admire due to her determination and passion for her original hobby, besides that, she showed little interest in anything else (excluding Jack), had no notable friends (not only named and stated as friend) or social life and it was a slight let-down for the potential. Her life was dull at times and I was hoping for more. Though, I did love her humor and banter with Jack.

3 stars!

LIIS
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