Go Together (Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh)

Review of 
Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

Welcome to a dark new world where lethal, beautiful archangels hold sway over mortals and immortals both, with the Guild Hunters caught in between, tasked with retrieving those vampires who break their contracts with their angelic masters. 

Elena Deveraux is a Guild Hunter. She was hired to do the impossible - to hunt down a rogue Archangel - and she succeeded where none had believed she could. But in the process, she fell in love. And not just with anyone: with Archangel Raphael. It's a love that's as powerful and entrancing as it's terrifying, and dangerous. 

But the world won't stand still while Elena and Raphael enjoy their new-found love. Vampires and angels go rogue, and it's still Elena's job to hunt them down and return them to their angelic masters. For all that she is exceptional, Elena isn't invulnerable - and the more obvious her talents become, the bigger a target she could find herself....

(Yet another case of who wrote the summary and did they even read the book. There's just something weird about that summary above.) 

Are you ready for some fangirling? Because that’s what this review might all be about. I’ve read this book now for about five times - in a row - so as someone who rarely re-reads books, that might already tell you how awesome it is. 

Now, the book begins nearly right where the last one left off and I was extremely pleased to see how it moved from there. Firstly, not all the problems where solved magically. I felt like the continuing problems all in all and the difficulties in the relationship of Elena and Raphael, are what made the story worth reading. Hell, what makes the series worth reading. 
I seriously can’t tell you how much I like the fact that things don’t just get magically solved and swept under the rug. 

In the last book, Elena and Raphael only just fell for each other. There was very little conversation about it and even in this book it’s handled as “We love each other, it just happened, oops.” I kinda like the idea of it being a surprise to the both of them, but it’s still maybe a little too much a little too fast, when you consider how long they’d known each other and how little they had good moments. Well, luckily, they admit they might not be equal and they fight about it. They get to know each other, they dance around insecurities and reveal secrets to each other. That just blew me away. It’s obvious how they both want the relationship to work and they work for it. They have conversations about things and even if they go two steps back, they keep working together. 

And that’s how, I think, it really shows that they love each other. Raphael has a serious power-advantage and still he keeps trying to see Elena’s perspective, even if he’s made clear that he doesn’t quite agree. They keep trying and they develop this trust in each other, that even though they’re not equals in power, they’ll still stand by each other against dangers and catch the other if they fall. 

Before, these two characters were a little bit like strangers to us. We were given glimpses to bigger pictures and then moved on. I think Singh’s done that nicely - if you already know the details of something, you’ll only gloss over it in your head. And that’s what it feels like the last book was like and now, as these two characters get to know each other, they also allow us to get to know them. 

Last time Raphael was more distant, but now we get to know him that much better and it’s easier to understand and like him. He really grows and while he changes a little thanks to Elena, it’s not this change from him to Prince Charming.
And similarly, Elena grows, too. In AK, it becomes more clear that she has trust issues and how strongly she cares about the people she chooses to call her family. And it’s interesting to see how she handles the big threats of archangels. She at the same time relaxes and gets more sure in her own footing. 

While I was reading the book, I kept checking the page count. It’s really hard to believe it’s only a little over three hundred pages. It feels like it’s five hundred! There’s so much happening, things that are revealed and how the plots moves... It’s like roller coaster, with slower bits that don’t make it feel like it’s frantic, a race to the ending. But neither is it slow, with lots of info-dumps. It keeps you invested until very last page and then you’re left wondering why there are no more pages. 

Well, having said that, I do have to mention that the last three scenes or so, do feel a little like they were cut for time. They stop and begin maybe a little awkwardly compared to the rest of the book. I feel like it was done on purpose, to make it stand out and to give the book the perfect ending and the next one the perfect beginning. But it’s still very abrupt, like the roller coaster just came out of a curve and then stopped, almost giving you a whiplash. 

With the last book I was pretty sure I’d fallen in love with Singh’s talent and writing, but with this it just became painfully obvious. Her other series doesn’t really sound as captivating as this one did, but when she writes this good, I’m going to have to give it a try. 

Final thoughts: If you’re at all unsure after the last book if you’d like to continue reading, picking this up is worth the try. We get a better picture of the world, all the characters and well, the storyline gets bigger and better. The hero and heroine really steal the show this time and by the time the book’s finished there’s a good chance that you’re hooked on Singh’s writing.


How Did You Find Me? (Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward)

Review of 
Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward

In Caldwell, New York, war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will...

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father's war camp, he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. 

But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of a human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time  - until a destiny he didn't choose takes him into a future that cannot include her... 

This is not one of my favorite books in the series. I have neutral feelings towards it, if we’re not counting the set up for the pairing, so I knew I was going to have a hard time reading this. 

The set up of Vishous and Jane is pretty much this: it’s fate! But how they meet is the part that I have problems with: basically they meet through an accident and then (slightly spoilery) V thinks it’s a good idea to kidnap Jane and take her back home with them. Enter me facepalming. I just don’t understand why romance stories choose to do this kind of a thing. I mean, yes, it forces these two spend all their time together, but ugh. 

Jane is an excellent doctor, who does everything she can to save her patients. She’s tough as in will-not-back-down-from-a-challenge and will do everything that she thinks is right. She’s got a shitty parents-situation going on, but while she’s a little bitter, she’s basically moving on from that and isn’t going to let that rule her whole life. Points for that.  
Though the book or the pairing isn’t really one of my favorites, Jane is. Though she really steps back out of the limelight for Vishous’ story, she stands firm in her own beliefs and knows exactly who she is. Her brain, her smartness and obvious talent in being a doctor are the things that she lives by. She’s also got a fondness for those she cares about and a softness that she keeps rather hidden, though it’s obvious that she cares fiercely. I just love how iron-willed and steady on her feet she seems and then there’s also a fiercely gentle and caring side to her that we see in parts. 

Vishous, as we know, is the tattooed smart-guy out of the Brothers. I do like him, but it seems there’s almost nothing he can’t do - though he does have a lot of package to go with it. 
He starts the book a feeling shitty and sorry for himself and it gets worse from there. He’s really intelligent and used to relying only on his own talents. He’s only ever gotten close to is Butch, so cue problems in this book! (And future.)
Our hero does not show emotions big time, but prefers to keep them locked away. Probably because of his past, which also takes us to his hobby, the apartment where he keeps all his BDSM stuff. Though I have nothing against stuff like that, when we see it, it at some points feels a little like fetishising. 
What sometimes makes him really likeable is how caring he actually is, though it’s not in a obvious way. He has serious issues with his emotions, not denying, but he actually cares about the people around him. Not in a Butch- or Jane-way, but he isn’t an asshole, who goes around hurting people. He’ll push others away, but he won’t go out of his way to hurt them. 

Like I mentioned before, I do not care about their relationship’s beginning or actually, middle either. The obvious attraction aside, I’m finding it a little hard to find why these two actually fall in love. The conversations are good, though, both getting to the point quickly and poking at each other’s painful bits. So maybe by revealing painful truths to each other and then matching that intelligence, there is something there. 
I do have to admit, that though at points these two very smart people are being very stupid, they have good points. They seem to have a place of trust and it does feel like they share something deep. I’d just like more actual evidence of that and not just the feeling. 

By the fifth book, we’re already in Big Plot territory and well, I really don’t care for some of the things that this one particular plot brings around. I love the world and its details that Ward’s created and they just keep getting bigger, but some parts of it just don’t taste good to me. And I don’t really like the way Ward has a way of sometimes introducing something and then just having her characters forget it until it’s mentioned later on in one sentence. 

I think I liked the previous book so much that when I compare reading these two books, this one is almost underwhelming. I mean I like this book. I love it when all the Brothers work together and when Butch gets a little protective over Vishous. I love the continuing sidestory of John Matthew and learning how he grows and becomes friends with Qhuinn and Blaylock and their adventures are my favorites. But I feel like I was personally looking forward to some high point that never came - for me. While this one is a good book in the series, it’s not my favorite and yet it’s not one of the “bad ones”. 

This review seems to be a bit of a downer and I apologize for that. If you’ve liked the story so far, don’t feel afraid to take a chance with this one just because of my weirdness. If you’ve read this far in the series and nothing seems to interest you, I don’t think you should keep reading - there must be other books you could be reading. Unless you want the specific story of a certain character, then you could just go for that book, if you don’t mind missing a thing or two. 

Final thoughts: By the fifth book of her BDB series, Ward has pretty much established her world and characters and keeps on going with her usual talent. While this certain pairing’s story and the storyline that’s introduced in this book, aren’t my favorite, Ward delivers a good story and keeps it together even with a lot of things going on.


Creatures Lurk (Soulless by Gail Carriger)

A review of 
Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tabarotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking al standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire - and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? 

Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? 

If you’ve been hanging around blogs that blog about adult paranormal/supernatural/something-whatsitcalled books, you’ve probably heard about Carriger’s excellent book and its followers. As you should have, because oh boy, is it amazing, yes it is. 

The plot of Soulless basically goes like this: evil goes do stuff, but our heroes don’t know quite what yet - they’re baffled by events that will be all puzzled out in the end. Meanwhile, all these strange events seem to happen around our heroine and even when it is least likely, she seems involved somehow. As things are investigated, we get a look at how deliciously attracted our main lady and main gentleman are to each other and still so stupid about it. Adventure happens, some romancing and things get solved in the end! 
Sound like a book, you’ve read before? Well, Soulless is nothing like that. The basic plot and idea sounds like all the books I’ve ever read - almost - but there’s just something that Carriger does that twists things so that it’s completely new and absolutely deliciously. Basically, if you’re bored of all books seeming the same and want a no-nonsense lady in your book with quick wit, I urge you to grab Soulless. 

Alexia Tarabotti is introduced to us as a spinster and beyond that, as a completely inconvenient lady - she speaks her mind, has a quick with about her that she uses with pleasure and isn’t afraid to do something herself, if needed be. Alexia’s point of view gives us the most peculiar and delicious view of happenings - she catches onto things really fast and really sees things her way. She’s read all her dead father’s book and shies away from almost nothing. And yet, she’s got this near innocence about her, when faced with some certain things. I think it’s quite nicely handled, as she comes off as someone who’s strong-willed, knows a lot about the world, but hasn’t really fought that many battles - and after all, this is an alternative universe of the Victorian times (I think that’s it.) 

Now, the main gentleman, Lord Conall Maccon almost falls into the trope of a surly, brooding gentleman, who will protect their ladylove a little too passionately (read: make all the decisions for her, while trying to protect her) and has very little conversational skills. Luckily, I think Carriger evades this with the talent she has. While Lord Maccon, an Alpha werewolf of the London pack, really needs to re-learn some manners, he can almost match up to Alexia’s wit and is a really good at his job - as far as we can tell. While he doesn’t quite know how to go about some things, he’s a quick thinker and apparently quite the ferocious fighter. And I do like how Alexia seems to make him stumble and that he does the same to her. And, it does have to pointed out that he does try his best, he just sometimes forgets some things? Well, while he might try to forcefully protect Alexia, she’s quick to stop him and he does acknowledge that she’s not useless. 

Carriger’s writing makes me want to build a shrine to it and worship it as if her books are the only ones I’ve ever read. There are a lot of good books out there and still this one stands out. Carriger seems to write constantly with this tiny twinkle in her eye, but still not losing this serious tone to some of her scenes. Some scenes are very lighthearted indeed, but then there are some really serious parts where our heroes are in danger and yet she keeps writing with the same twinkle. And that doesn’t cheapen anything, it just makes this book stand out from the rest. 
The very language is partly what you’d expect from the time period but it’s not difficult to read, as some books are on occasion to a non-native English speaker, like me. No, Soulless has some fast moments and slower moments and yet the book is so very easy to read. It just flies by and you’re left wondering, wait, did I just read three hundred pages in such a little time? Where’s the next one? 

And the world is so glorious. I love a book world, where the supernatural is already a part of it as we’re introduced to things. Of course it’s interesting to see and explore the idea of normal humans meeting the strange and supernatural, but in the end, if I have to choose, I’ll rather choose this. Because it’s not like there aren’t going to be problems and Soulless does touch on that. Of course there’s going to be some problems between normal humans and supernaturals, but I so much rather like it when the supernatural is already a part of the system. 

Anyway, Carriger has created a good system. Not only does she manage the this-is-set-in-a-past-time-period, she handles also the supernatural society and she unites everything seamlessly. There’s nothing about how things work that made me go “Huh?” And that does happen sometimes, when world building is so big and complicated and there is a certain etiquette to this book’s. But we get a good view of things thanks to Alexia and while some things go beyond her, we might understand them and even if we don’t it doesn’t stop you from enjoying something. 

Final thoughts: Absolutely amazing book and I cannot wait to start the next one. This one ends rather calmly, but the hook that the characters have on you should be strong enough to get you to read the rest. I just love everything about the book and while I rarely reread books, this one I always go to when I need a good book.