Review: The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

the fire rose

The Fire Rose
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published: 1995
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Elemental Masters #1
Rating: A


The Fire Rose is the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, which re-imagines classic fairy-tales. This one is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but is set in the early 1900’s in California.

Rosalind Hawkins is screwed. She had been in the middle of getting her masters degree when her father died; leaving behind a mountain of debt and no way to pay it all off. Now all Rose has to her name is a couple of ratty dresses and a handful of worthless mementos. And, since this is 1905, her options of employment are pretty limited. So, when Rose receives a job offer to be a governess for the railroad baron, Jason Cameron, she accepts it and moves to San Francisco. Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

4836308

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Author: Katherine Howe
Published: 2009
Genre: Magic Realism
Series: Standalone
Rating: B-


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane follows Connie, a graduate student, as she tries to track down one of her ancestor’s physick books. As she goes deeper into her family’s past, she starts to uncover strange facts. On top of this, her academic adviser is acting very odd and someone is burning occult symbols into her door.

Katherine Howe is great at establishing the setting of her story. The descriptions of the hot summer atmosphere of Salem were wonderful. My biggest complaint was that it felt like the story skipped around a lot. We didn’t really get to see very much insight into how the characters handled some situations immediately after they happened. This is probably one of the biggest things that cut down on the intensity of the plot. Big moments would happen and then in the next chapter we’d get characters reflecting on it days or weeks later.

Aside from this, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was a great slow-burn story. If you are into witch folklore and the history of the Salem Witch trails then I recommend checking this one out.

Dime Store Magic: A Re-Read

dime store magic

Dime Store Magic
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2004
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld #3
Rating: A –


I did a re-read of Dime Store Magic for one of my categories in the 105 in 2015 reading challenge. I can’t believe that it’s already been ten years since I first read this book.

After the events of Stolen, Paige Winterbourne has taken in thirteen year old Savannah Levine whose mother recently died. Savannah is a powerful witch for her age, but impulsive. It’s a dangerous combination that has the Nast Cabal (the supernatural equivalent of the mafia) tearing Paige’s life apart in a bid for custody. As her life continues to crumble around her, Paige is forced to accept assistance from Lucas Cortez, a young lawyer with his own motives for helping.

I decided to read Dime Store Magic again because I didn’t give Paige a fair shot the first time around. When I first read this, it was immediately after devouring the first two books in the series, which feature werewolf Elena Michaels. I had adored Elena and wasn’t excited to discover that the next book’s narrator was going to be the twenty-something witch from Stolen. (Especially, since I hadn’t cared for Paige in that story.) While I had ended-up enjoying Dime Store Magic on my first reading, I still thought Paige was a little lack luster. It wasn’t until later in the series that I got into her and Lucas, as characters. So, I’m glad I did a re-read as I was able to appreciate them more this time around.

The most interesting thing about going back to this book was seeing just how far Armstrong has come with her characters and the world. There were several moments in the story where I thought Paige, Lucas, and the ideas behind witches were rather shaky and clichéd. It felt like Armstrong wasn’t sure where she wanted to take the characters at this point in the series. Despite this, I still enjoyed the book enough that I might also re-read Industrial Magic.

Overall, my grade for this book didn’t change. I would recommend Dime Store Magic to fans of the series, but I don’t think I would suggest you start off with this book. If you’re looking to get into the Women of the Otherworld series, I would suggest starting out with Bitten.

Thirteen

16171268

Thirteen

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: 2012

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld #13

Rating: A


Thirteen is the final book for Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld. While I’m very sad to see the end of one of my favorite series, I’m also glad that Armstrong chose not to drag it out until she was beating a dead horse.

The world is turning to chaos as the Supernatural Liberation Movement sets into motion their plans to expose the supernatural population. With powerful demons now choosing sides, all the factions of the Otherworld must work together if they hope to successfully stop the movement. Still caught in the middle of the brewing war is Savannah Levine, who has yet to completely regain her powers.

Even though Thirteen is told primarily from Savannah’s point of view, this is definitely everyone’s story. Her character arc is mostly over near the beginning, so the focus shifts fully to the impending battle as everyone pulls together. With things completely out of control, Savannah is just along for the ride at different points, as other character’s take the wheel. I really loved that we got one chapter from the viewpoint of each of the previous narrators in the series. Armstrong executed this wonderfully as all of those chapters worked to move the plot forward. It also seemed critical that they be told from that particular person’s point of view, rather than Savannah’s. So, it was a nice nod to all the main characters without interrupting the story’s flow.

My only confusion here is that, by the end, I felt like there should’ve been a novel for Cassandra. Cassandra has been a reoccurring character since Stolen and, while I don’t believe that we need a full length book for every character, she played an oddly large part here. She also seemed to have had a character arc happen off-page, which is the main reason I felt like there should’ve been a story for her. She does have a short story (found in Otherworld Nights) that touches briefly on it, but her change felt bigger than that.

All in all, this was a fantastic ending to the series that left a few open possibilities for Armstrong to explore in her novellas. So, while we may not get another full length Otherworld book, I’m glad that we are still getting small tidbits every now and then.

Spell Bound

7797032

Spell Bound

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publish Date: 2011

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld #11

Rating: A


Spell Bound is book 12 in the Women of the Otherworld series and takes place immediately after Waking the Witch. It’s also a hard one to talk about since it serves to ramp things up for the final book of the series. After her adventure in Waking the Witch, Savannah discovers that her powers have disappeared at the worst moment. Witch hunters are after her and the Supernatural Liberation Movement, an organization bent on exposing supernaturals, is trying to recruit her. Without her magic, Savannah must learn to survive on her own as the world turns to chaos.

This is the first novel in the series that wouldn’t work well as a standalone. Unlike the other books, there’s no central plot that gets wrapped-up at the end. Instead, this acts as part 1 since the book ends on a cliff-hanger. It made me very glad that I could immediately hop to Thirteen instead of having to wait for it to be released. It also heavily references past stories and characters, which if you’re not at least vaguely familiar with them you’ll lose something while reading this.

As an “in-between” book, this was great. I loved the increase of tension as the Supernatural Liberation Movement starts to gain traction and the characters band together as things continue to get worse. Mostly though, I think Spell Bound excelled with Savannah’s character development. Her loss of power forces her to confront some of her greatest fears and mature a little further. I also loved getting to see some of my favorite reoccurring characters through her eyes.

While I don’t think you necessarily need to have read the entire series to enjoy Spell Bound, I do think you should have read some of the previous books. At the least, you should read Waking the Witch prior to this, otherwise I think a lot of the backstory will be lost.

Waking the Witch

6725785

Waking the Witch

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publish Date: 2010

Series: Women of the Otherworld # 11

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: A –


Waking the Witch is book 11 in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series and marks the beginning of the end. When twenty-one year old, Savannah Levine sees the opportunity to prove she’s ready for more than just administrative work at Cortez and Winterbourne Investigations she takes it. The case leads her to a small town to investigate the possible supernatural connections in the deaths of three young women. For a small town, it’s full of suspicious characters and they all seem to have supernatural connections.

I have adored this series since I stumbled across Bitten back in 2004. So, I was incredibly sad when I heard Armstrong was going to end it at book 13 and disappointed that she planned to finish with Savannah as the main character. In her early appearances, Savannah was extremely self-involved and drove me crazy anytime she was on the page. However, by the end of the novel I was fully on-board with her as the narrator. It was nice to see how much Savannah has matured from the twelve year old we met in Stolen. She’s also given some interesting conflicts that I’m looking forward to seeing play out in the next couple of books.

Aside from establishing Savannah as a main character, Waking the Witch also works to lay the foundation for the overarching plot of the last two novels. At times, this would overshadow the main plot involving the mystery of the dead women but I still really enjoyed the story. I also kind of guessed what was happening based on how the short story Amityville Horrible had ended. Despite this, the novel was a fun ride.

If you’re going to pick-up Waking the Witch, I would recommend reading the short story Counterfeit Magic first. It acts as a nice prequel and (for people who have been following the entire series) it explains why Paige and Lucas are MIA in this one.

Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong


Otherworld Nights: An Anthology
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publish Date: October 28 2014

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld, anthology collection #3
Rating: A


Otherworld Nights: An Anthology is the third collection of short stories Kelley Armstrong has written for her Women of the Otherworld series. All of which have been previously published with the exception of the last story Vanishing Act which features Savannah and Adam. It was great to dive back into the series. Armstrong is an author who I have absolutely no issue going back and re-reading her work. So, despite already having read most of these stories, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Fans of Elena and Clay (Bitten, Stolen, Broken, Frostbitten) will love that there are two very well fleshed-out stories and one quick short featuring the pair. Stalked was originally published in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon and was probably my favorite out of the three because they left the kids at home. This made the dynamic between them a little more reminiscent of the early books in the series, which I’ll admit I have missed. Hidden was a great novella featuring Clay, Elena, and the kids as they attempted to have a Christmas to themselves. I loved the slow build-up of suspense and how Armstrong handled the personal dilemma Elena was facing concerning the twins. From Russia with Love was a very quick short, which had been included in the hardcover of Thirteen. This one acted as a kind of epilogue for Elena and the Pack. I’ll admit that I haven’t gotten around to reading Thirteen yet, but I don’t think anything was spoiled by reading this.

There were also two more stories which stayed with Armstrong’s werewolves. Chivalrous featured the new recruit, Reese, and told the background of why he needed to run from Australia to seek refuge with the American pack. As a prequel to Bounty Hunt, which will be released in December 2014, it was a good teaser and I look forward to seeing how Reese’s story will continue.

Lucifer’s Daughter is my favorite out of this collection and was originally featured in Blood Lite II: Overbite. The story focuses on Hope and Karl as they deal with an escaped demon at a museum gala. I have a serious soft spot for this pair and loved every minute of their story.

Twilight was originally featured in Many Bloody Returns and centers on Cassandra. I’m not a huge fan of the character, so this was one of the few stories included that I had never read. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. It centers on Cassandra’s fear that her vampiric life may slowly be ending. My only complaint is that it ended rather abruptly and didn’t feel like a lot of the questions raised were concluded.

Demonology was originally published as a free short story on Armstrong’s website. It features Adam’s mother as she goes on a quest to find help and answers for her son. It was interesting, but very short and a little abrupt.

Vanishing Act was the new short story included in this anthology. It features Savannah and Adam as they handle the aftermath of a demon summoning case gone wrong. It was a nice change of pace to get a fully fleshed-out story in the collection that didn’t center on the werewolves. It also worked as a nice incentive for me to pick-up the last three books in the series, which I have been avoiding since I had never gotten into Savannah’s character. However, Armstrong managed to make me interested Savannah and I look forward to going back to read her journey to this point in life.

All in all, a really great collection that any fan of Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series will love.

Ebook provided by Netgalley and the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review