Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Pages: 464
Published: September 27th, 2011 by Simon and Schuster
Synopsis:Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong. (from Goodreads.com)


Could you survive the death of your three friends, knowing you were the only survivor in the fall of the building that killed them? And, to top it off, not only are you the only survivor, you are the only one who can tell everyone else what happened.

The only problem is...you don't remember anything.

You don't remember going to the asylum that ended up crashing down over your head killing your best friend. You have no memory of anything related to her death or the deaths of your boyfriend and his sister. How would you cope?

In The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, this is Mara's predicament. She hurts, she hallucinates, she doesn't know what is and what isn't. In her world, her best friend Rachel has been killed along with the two other people who were with them in the broken down asylum. The aftermath is crashing in around her, wanting to suffocate the life out of Mara and, it feels like something is trying to rip her sanity from her as well. In this twisted novel of death, life and love, Mara will wind her way through the unbeaten path and try to find the answers for everything she can't remember.

In her debut novel, Michelle Hodkin has created a story of a girl who has a little different kick to her personality and life. With a loving family who does just about anything they can for her, she tries to get over the death of her friends, but it isn't always that easy. With a plot that redefines creepy, Hodkin's has woven for us a tale that will make you want to double check that the lights are on and the doors are locked. Mara though, she's made of stronger stuff then some, she's strong and twisted in her thinking, keeping the reader guessing at what move she'll make next. Her ambitious character traits are nothing, if not refreshing and her snark only adds to the development of her character, creating the comedic device necessary to break up the seriousness of the story. However, Mara isn't alone.

Noah Shaw, the epically gorgeous, ruffled boy is there to join in on the fun and innuendo front presenting a bad boy that we can all enjoy. With a library that will make you sigh and blush, he is the boy that every girl would like to tame. The darkly edged, comical characters and sub-characters are the perfect addition to a story that is sharp and twisted, giving just the right amount of reality to an otherwise fantastical story. Everything you thought you knew about Mara Dyer will be questioned along the way and more than anything you'll hope that she'll find her way through the dark that has become her memories. But, Michelle Hodkin won't give up the information that easily and leaves the story with a cliffhanger that leaves you wondering if you really did know what was happening, all along.

A mesmerizing tale of loss, pain and first love, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer will pull you through it's pages, aching for every hurt and touch Mara experiences, hoping beyond hope that she is strong enough to make it through.

[note: this book is highly concentrated with swearing and sexual innuendos/talk{fyi}]


Friday, July 29, 2011

Jane True - GIVEAWAY International


To commemorate my Jane True Week, I'm having a giveaway of ALL of the Jane True books. That's right, ALL 4 of the Jane True books! Boo Yah!
Rules:
  1. Must be 18 years old to enter
  2. International - Open internationally to all countries The Book Depository ships to (for a list of countries see HERE)
  3. Fill out Entry Form to enter.
  4. You don't have to follow me, but you get 4-extra points for doing so.
  5. Contest runs through August 12th, 2011 - 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time)
If you are wondering anything about these books, you can check out all the links below:

Book Reviews:
Tempest Rising (Book 1) - Book Review
Tracking the Tempest (Book 2) - Book Review
Tempest's Legacy (Book 3) - Book Review
Eye of the Tempest (Book 4) - Book Review

Character Descriptions:
Jane True - Character Love
Anyan Barghest - Book Boyfriend

Nicole Peeler (Author):
Read First Chapter of Tempest Rising
Blog
Twitter

Now, let's get a move on, my pretties! FILL OUT THE FORM and leave me a comment before you head out! :D

[NOTE: if you have any issues with the form, please feel free to email me at jtheunknown{at}gmail{dot}com with "Jane True Giveaway" in the subject line.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Book Boyfriend (1) - Anyan Barghest


In going along with this week's theme of Jane True, today I'm finally getting to do "My Book Boyfriend" hosted by The Unread Reader! My pick is Anyan Barghest, the sexy man/hell hound that graces the pages of the Jane True series in all his furry glory. Not only is he strong, he's rugged and caring. He knows when to hold you in his arms and let you cry and he knows when you need it a little bit rough. *grrrr* I think Mathew Fox would fit him very nicely [as long as he grew his hair out a bit and we added some curls - BECAUSE Anyan definitely has CURLS!].
In front of me stood the biggest dog I'd ever seen. It didn't look like a wolf; it looked more like some sort of black-furred saber-toothed hell hound. My stunned gaze traveled up from its enormous clawed paws, over its powerful shoulders, and to its oversized jaws--which were filled with the largest fangs I'd ever seen outside of a prehistoric-mammal exhibit.


In his human form, Anyan was like someone I'd known in a dream. It was a strange sensation, but it wasn't uncomfortable. I examined his face, so close to mine. His hair was the same color as his fur had been, and equally wild and long. It poofed out in loose, wiry curls that fell just past his high cheekbones. His features were very strong--a long, prominent nose that was quite crooked, a wide mouth with full lips, and an angular jaw. His eyes were large and expressive, but that description fit every bit of him. If he'd been a big dog, he was a huge man. He must be well over six feet tall, and his hands met easily around my neck. He could have crushed my head like a grape.


I moved aside so he could squeeze past. As he did so, I finally broke down and ogled.

He was just as big as I remembered, maybe even larger with clothes. My eyes swept up
his big black boots, up his worn jeans, and over a thick leather motorcycle jacket. There was a saddlebag thing over one broad shoulder, and he held a helmet in his hand. I smiled at the sight;I'd always wondered how he got around. He couldn't run everywhere, could he?

When my eyes finally met his again, he was still frowning. I also noticed that his longish
hair was suffering a bad case of helmet head.



...He stood there, staring at me. Then he walked around to where I was sitting. His large hand gripped mine, and he held it gently, probing at it with magic.
I shivered at the touch of his power and pulled my hand from his.

"Anyan, it's fine--" I began to protest, but he silenced me with a thumb over my lips. The barghest cradled my jaw with his hand, forcing me to meet his gray eyes with my black. I could
smell cardamom and leather and man. And maybe the faintest whiff of clean doggy.

"Shush, you. You're still hurting. Let me see it."

I was still hurting, damn him. So I pushed my curled fist back into his palm. He gently spread my fingers open with both hands, stroking his thumbs over my palm. I didn't know which was hotter: Anyan's own skin or the healing magics he sent through me. I felt like a child, dwarfed by his imposing frame as he loomed over me, his attention turned inward as he fixed whatever was still wrong with me...

...another warm surge of power went into my hand and I felt--and heard--something pop. The ache was gone finally, and I suddenly really wanted to stretch my fingers.

"You were very brave," Anyan told me, his rough voice dark.

I blushed, stretching my hand out underneath his calloused palm.

"Never do something like that again," he concluded as he ran his calloused thumb one
last time over my palm before he turned back to the stove to stir the lentils.
Suddenly too warm, I took my cardigan off as I watched him fiddle with the fire until he got the lentils to simmer just so.

...He gave one mighty sniffle, lifted his T-shirt to scrub his face (revealing his thick, deliciously furry torso), and then sat back on his heels, staring up at me.

"You scared the shit out of me, Jane. I haven't been that scared since...since forever," he finished, his voice still strained.

"I'm sorry," I said. "But I had to do something."

"Just never like that ever again. Not the running. I nearly had a f***ing heart attack when I realized you were gone.

...without thinking, I raised my hand to soothe away his anger before pausing.

Do I get to touch him now? I thought. Is it as easy as all that?

As if realizing what made me pause, Anyan reached forward, took my hand, and laid it against his cheek, inclining his head so that his long nose nuzzled the inside of my wrist.
What do you think? Anyan's pretty freaking hot, eh?!




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jane True - Character Love

I've wanted to do one of these for a long time and I thought with today being release day for the fourth book in the Jane True series, Eye of the Tempest, I'd do it this week.

Jane True
Half Selkie

It's truly difficult, in my opinion, to find a person out there who looks like the character that's in your head. Because, let's face it, the imagination does all sorts of things that genetics simply cannot. However, after searching, I think that Cheryl Cole fits quite nicely. I always imagine Jane to have a sweet face, small nose and giant black eyes. Also, her hair is black, but that's a little harder to find on a specific person. Enjoy my character portrayal:

"...I took a moment to apply a little mascara, blush, and some lip gloss, before brushing out my damp black hair. I kept it cut in a much longer--and admittedly more unkempt--version of Cleopatra's style because I liked to hide my dark eyes under my long bands. Most recently, my nemesis, Stuart Gray, had referred to them as "demon eyes." They're not as Marilyn Manson as that, thank you very much, but even I had to admit to difficulty determining where my pupil ended and my iris began." (Tempest Rising: Jane True No.1- Page 2)
"Hands off my woman!" crowed a hard-edged voice from the front door. Grizelda!

"Oh, sorry," I apologized, backing away from Tracy.

"I meant for Tracy to get off you," Grizzie said, swooping toward me to pick me up in a bodily hug, my own well-endowed chest clashing with her enormous fake bosoms. I hated being short at times like these. Even though I loved all five feet and eleven inches of Grizzie, and had more than my fair share of affection for her ta-ta-riddled hugs, I loathed being manhandled (Tempest Rising: Jane True No.1 - Page 7).

Once I was installed in the shower, under the water, Ryu opened his shampoo and began to wash my hair, very gently.

"I can't believe how long your hair has gotten, baby."

I didn't do what I'd done to Anyan and remind Ryu how long it had been since we'd last seen each other.

"I may have nudged it a bit, with magic," I admitted instead.

"You look absolutely gorgeous," he murmured in my ear as he massaged my scalp. I relaxed back against him, letting his fingers soothe and settle me.

Ryu rinsed the shampoo from my hair, then repeated everything, including the massage, with conditioner. I just let him go at it; let myself be putty in his hands. I'd cried the entire short walk to the B and B, but now I just felt...empty (Tempest's Legacy - Jane True No.3).

This one was just for fun for me because I liked the dress
I'd stood up, held the dress in front of me, and looked at myself in the mirror. It was just as perfect as I'd remembered it. Although what I was going to do with my boobs was beyond me--hopefully Elspeth had some magic spell for keeping boobs and dresses in their proper places. (Tempest Rising: Jane True No.1)
This is my favorite scene from Tempest's Legacy (Book 3)
"Hello?" I shouted. "We're here!"

And then I saw him.

Anyan, I thought, my whole being trembling at the sight of his big body. He was striding forward, one large hand cupping a mage ball, the other holding an assault rifle. Then he saw me, too. The mage ball disappeared, the rifle was passed behind him, to Capitola. As for the expression on his face...

Dude, he looks pissed...

The rest of that thought was cut off as the barghest practically flew into the room, grabbed my elbow, and started to haul me out of the gap I'd made in the wall...

..."Um, Anyan," I said trying to catch his attention as he pulled me forward. It was almost fully evening now and I was stumbling in the dark, but he just kept dragging me toward a shed on the outskirts of the little garden.

He is going to spank us, my libido purred.
Or kill us, you idiot, came my virtue's dry rejoinder.

"Anyan, can we please talk about..."

"No," he growled, hauling me about to face him. We were behind the shed now, hidden from view, although I could still hear an occasional random explosion from behind us.

"F*** you, Jane! Do you have any idea what you put me through? What the f*** were you thinking?" Shocked, I stared at the barghest's red, angry face. His hands were clamped on my forearms as he shook me roughly and randomly. His grip hurt, but not as much as the look of fury on his face.

He's really yelling at me, I thought, suddenly scared.

"Were you even thinking? At all? About anyone besides yourself? What would I have told your father if you'd died! What would I have done, Jane? What would I have done!"

Between Anyan shouting, his mention of my father, and hearing the slightest hitch in his voice when he said that second "What would I have done," I did what any self-respecting warrior woman did after getting kidnapped, rescuing herself and her friend, and single-handedly capturing her first coterie of bad guys.

I started crying.

Hard.

With that, Anyan stopped yelling. Then, to my surprised, he dropped to his knees in front of me. Wrapping his arms around my hips, he drew me forward to bury his head in my breasts. But there was nothing sexual in the gesture; it was simply one of comfort. After a shocked few seconds, I realized he was reassuring himself as much as, or more than, he was me.

Tentatively, I reached down and stroked my hand over his rough curls, only to find that they indeed felt pretty rough. But they were Anyan's curls, and they were beautiful.

My fist clenched in his hair, and my free arm snaked around his head, pulling him tighter against me. (Tempest's Legacy - Jane True No.3)
This is a very small taste of Eye of the Tempest

"You have no idea how happy I am to see you upright," Anyan's low voice growled. Then he leaned in to kiss my forehead, before moving his lips to my ear. What he whispered next made my poor, overtaxed libido nearly faint: "But that doesn't mean I'm not going to want you flat on your back agian as soon as possible."

His teeth nipped my ear and I whimpered, a million Anyan-related fantasies suddenly swarming through my brain like overstimulated honey bees. When I didn't budge, my gaze turning inward to enjoy my own naughty thoughts, he chuckled before putting his hand on the nape of my neck to steer my dreamy ass away from the front door. (Eye of the Tempest - Jane True No.4)

What do you think of Jane? This is just a small dose, you can check out my reviews of books 1-3 for other quotes of Jane and her selkie snark. You can also read the first chapter of Tempest Rising on Nicole Peeler's website. And if you are interested, the e-book for Tempest Rising is on sale on Amazon for $1.99!

Also, make note: I WILL be holding a contest for Jane True. I will be giving away a copy of the books, so look out this week for its posting. It will be international in some way, so all you peeps who don't live in the US, be ready! I want to share my love for Jane with all my loverly readers!

Stalk Nicole Peeler:
Blog
Twitter

Order Eye of the Tempest:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository


Monday, July 25, 2011

Eye of the Tempest (Jane True Book 4) by Nicole Peeler - Book Review

Title: Eye of the Tempest (Jane True No.4)
Author: Nicole Peeler
Pages: 320
Published: July 26th, 2011 by Orbit
Synopsis:Nothing says "home" like being attacked by humans with very large guns, as Jane and Anyan discover when they arrive in Rockabill. These are professionals, brought into kill, and they bring Anyan down before either Jane or the barghest can react. Seeing Anyan fall awakens a terrible power within Jane, and she nearly destroys herself taking out their attackers.

Jane wakes, weeks later, to discover that she's not the only thing that's been stirring. Something underneath Rockabill is coming to life: something ancient, something powerful, and something that just might destroy the world.

Jane and her friends must act, striking out on a quest that only Jane can finish. For whatever lurks beneath the Old Sow must be stopped...and Jane's just the halfling for the job. (from Goodreads.com)

Jane True is back and kickin' ass, selkie style! My hero on so many levels, Jane is back in book four, Eye of the Tempest. Our dearest Jane has learned so much along the way. In book one, (review HERE) she started off small and confused, thinking she wasn't worth much. In book two (review HERE), she realizes she may be physically small, but she can get it on and dish it out with the best of them. In book three (review HERE), Jane finally understands how truly strong she is, even if she is only a halfling - half selkie, half human - she can kick ass, too. But Jane will always be Jane - strong, independent, loyal seal who will always have a war raging inside her between her libido and virtue. Personally, I vote libido as it gives a better argument on all topics debated...especially Anyan.

Anyan, the deliciously, masculine hell hound/Barghest has got me wrapped around his giant finger, right along with Jane. Besides...you know what they say about hell hound shapshifters, who not only can pull from the earth's magic, but who also have large hands....well, I'm not exactly sure what they say, but I'll tell you what I say...they really know how to make a girl sweat in all the right places and I wouldn't mind being thrown up against a railing with one of them in front of me...[rephrase] Anyan in front of me. And all you readers who are fans of Jane and Anyan, be prepared for some hot steaminess that will fog up the metephorical windows of your mind and give you a taste of the intensely, exquisite relationship that has been building for three books. Although, I will warn, Nicole Peeler is going to make you work for it...but then again, what would the fun be in it if she didn't.

Jane True is a wickedly genius series that melds together urban fantasy, humor and snark together with heartbreaking scenes, that make the series drip with brilliance and delight. Eye of the Tempest fits right in with everything that has ever happened in Rockabill, Maine. With Jane True saving those she can and bringing her wittingly, humorous snark to those everywhere, the giggles never stop. Even with her near death experience, Jane will do what she must to keep those she loves alive, even if it means confronting a creature from the dawn of time. And, she will prove that humanity isn't as degrading as some supernaturals think, humanity just may prove to be their saving grace.

[p.s. - Nicole - that ending was a little evil of you. I think I heard your evil laughter when I finished it. However, that didn't stop me from totally rereading the last chapter...several times *grins*. You are eee-vil...but also awesome. Awesomely eee-vil?]

Read the first chapter of Tempest Rising - Jane True: Book 1 by Nicole Peeler

Also, make note: I WILL be holding a contest for Jane True. I will be giving away a copy of the books, so look out this week for its posting. It will be international in some way, so all you peeps who don't live in the US, be ready! I want to share my love for Jane with all my loverly readers!

Stalk Nicole Peeler:
Blog
Twitter

Order Eye of the Tempest:

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository







[NOTE: all those curious about content in these books, there is sex and the f-word is used often. It is definitely written for a mature audience. - FYI]

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls No.3) by Maggie Steifvater

Title: Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls Book 3)
Author: Maggie Steifvater
Pages: 386
Published: July 12th, 2011 by Scholastic

Synopsis: In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.


Forever, the third and final book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls Triliogy, is the most amazing thing Maggie Stiefvater has ever published. With her poetic prose, Maggie has created a world filled with dangerous wolves, everlasting love and creative, astounding images that push the envelope on everything you ever thought you knew about Sam, Grace, Isabel, Cole and Mercy Falls.

Shiver, the FIRST in the series, sets the scene for the rest of the series and introduces the hopelessly devoted relationship between Sam and Grace and gives us the first glimpses into the world that is Mercy Falls. Linger, the SECOND in the series while holding and weaving Sam and Grace into the picture, introduces Cole St. Clair - the musically talented yet totally damaged lead singer of the band NARKOTICA - and Isabelle Culpeper - the sister of the dead Jack Culpeper whom we meet in Shiver. In addition, Linger also presses upon readers a predicament that was thought to have been solved, but turns out is so much worse than we ever thought it could be.

Forever, is the continuation and tie off of the stories of these four characters and the journey that takes them through the woods on paths that they never could have known, existed. The Wolves of Mercy Falls keeps a similar pacing and tone through every one of the books, pulling them together as a whole so simply and sweetly that it makes the reader feel that everything that ever happens inside Mercy Falls was perfectly designed and written - Forever is no exception. With excellent description and world-building, the fictitious world of Mercy Falls seems to truthfully exist as do the amazingly well-developed cast a crew who reside within.

This tale of life, love, happiness and death flashes us to a place where true love is possible in a world where bad things happen, where friends die and where all you want to do is belong somewhere in the melee that is your fanatical existence. Each turn will only raise the curiosity of the reader and every bend will either bring tears or a smile to their face. Emotions run high page after page and bring with them suspense, happiness, heartache, chills and a bittersweet story that will make you sigh at that very last page, feeling like this book, this final book, was everything you'd waited for -- a story that will stay with you forever.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grave Dance (Alex Craft Book 2) by Kalayna Price

Title: Grave Dance (Alex Craft No. 2)
Author: Kalayna Price
Pages: 371
Published: July 5th, 2011 by Penguin Group
Synopsis: After a month of down time, Grave Witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But when her new case forces her to overuse her magic, it might be the last mystery the Grave Witch ever gets to solve... (From Goodreads.com)

Sometime this year I found that I am completely in love with Kalayna Price's work. Grave Witch (review HERE), the first of her books I read, saved me with it's delicious writing and brilliant characters. The Haven series (BOOK 1 review, BOOK 2 review) was a genius take on shape shifters and contained such an intense development of characters that I couldn't help but fall in love with all of them for their different eccentricities.

So it stands to reason that Grave Dance, the second in the Alex Craft series would be equally high on my love chart. And so it was. Price starts off with a confused if not somewhat, slightly hurt Alex. With Death announcing his - completely unexpected - feelings at the end of book one, Alex doesn't know where things stand and to top it off, Falin, the Winter Queen's assassin - someone Alex may or may not have feelings for - has up and left without any sort of goodbye. Plus, there are a bunch of left feet laying about and no one seems to be able to tell where the rest of the bodies are...even the feet. It's as if the bodies never existed to begin with. Alex must use her strengths as a Wyrd Witch, using her grave sight and her ability to function between the realm of death and life, to find the mystery behind these left feet.

My very favorite thing about these novels in particular is the involvement of death and Death. With an intense plot and storyline, Price weaves a novel of suspense and curiosity. The involvement of Death, in his jeans and black t-shirt, only adds to the brilliant makeup of the story. His dark and mysterious appearances and the evident feelings he has for Alex, deepens the plot and makes the reader salivate at his very existence. Death's darker presence in the book only seems to add to his bad boy persona, as the collector of souls, it's his job to take that bit of life from those who are at death's door - and he isn't sad about it in the slightest. The genius of a destined killer who retains his gentleness in regards to Alex, softens our hearts, as the reader, and pushes our buttons in all the right ways.

Grave Dance is a magnificent piece of fiction that adds significantly to the original story of Alex Craft that was started in Grave Witch. Price has created a story of witches, magic and fae with just the right touch of death to make the entire book just this side of dark and just that side of magical. With characters and relationships given the development they deserve and world-building that makes the reader feel like they are winding their way through Nekros or hiding from the Winter Queen in Faery, the addiction for Alex Craft only intensifies. Small details bound up around every bend making the story seem even more real with darkly delicious sub-characters and original evilness, Price crafts an air of reality in this magical world of Alex Craft - Wyrd Witch.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Heartless (Parasol Protectorate Book 4) by Gail Carriger

Title: Heartless (Parasol Protectorate No.4)
Author: Gail Carriger
Pages: 374
Published: June 28th, 2011
Synopsis: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet? (from Goodreads.com)


If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you are most likely aware that I am a fan of the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Her humorous steampunk novels are a tickle in a world that needs as much as it can get. If you have never read Gail's work, you can find my reviews for BOOK 1, BOOK 2 & BOOK 3 by clicking the links.

Ms. Carriger's fourth book in the series is another brilliantly, lovely read. However, while I feel that Heartless is nothing but spectacular, I also feel that it doesn't quite live up to the amazingness that was the first in the series, Soulless. The initial book in the series starts off with Alexia Tarrabotti in the thick of spinsterhood. I believe it is this preliminary introduction of Alexia and her creative antics that leads to the addictiveness of that first book and, in following, the rest of the series. Changeless was hilariously perfect with the addition of the scientific genius Madame Lafoux in all her manly garb, during a century when she would have been looked down on for such dress. Blameless, book three, added in a more developed personality of Floote, Alexia's dearest butler, and a broader look at the world in which Alexia lives.

Heartless, the fourth and most recently published, in the series is that of a very pregnant Alexia and her plan to keep from getting killed. While scheming and plotting with the devilishly brilliant Professor Lyall added with the fanatical antics/genius of Lord Akeldama and a yummy touch of Lord Connall Maccon the plot thickens to become one of suspense and interesting clothing choices. When finally it seems Alexia is safe, suddenly she is warned of a plot against the queen and has made it her duty, and that of her eight month pregnant body, to root out the culprit and stop the madness.

I never tire of Alexia's antics throughout every book. Her husband, the deliciously sexy Scotsman werewolf only adds to the mirth set within every line of the book as it does the salivating factor for the reader. However, the most favorite of characters is sure to be Lord Akeldama. He seems to be a multilevel character that never shows his true self on the surface. His mostly permanent face is set for more than just outsiders, it is set for himself. The clothes, the personality, the gayety with which he tackles his continuous existence, it's a coping mechanism...it's also so funny it brings tears to the eyes. But then, just so subtle, just so amazingly light and delicate, he shows his serious side, a side that seems sad and hurt and doesn't know what the next step to take and as the reader, while you feel that stark connection to him, you would rather have the boisterous Lord Akeldama back to temper your good humor back into play. It's an amazing development, to be sure, and it makes me love every part of his character.

Heartless weaves and winds and gives a side to many of the characters that the reader had either decided to not like or be angry at, turning the tides on the feelings that may have been premature in the first place. It connects the series together, finally bringing the Parasol Protectorate into play and pulling at old histories that thread their way through the pages sewing together hints and mentions from previous books, tying some of the loose ends back together and creating an entire slew of new problems and questions for the Parasol Protectorate series. Heartless is a exquisite read that while not quite as good as that very first taste of Alexia, still better than the second or third. Which in turn makes me believe that book five will be only that much better and Alexia will surprise us around even more turns than she has thus far.

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