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ARC Review: Infinity Key by Chrysoula Tzavelas

The Particu18243141lars: Urban Fantasy, Candlemark& Gleam, available in print and as e-book
The Source: ARC from Netgalley

The Grade: A-

The Blurb:

While her best friend is pulled into the supernatural underworld, Branwyn isn’t about to sit on the sidelines. Unfortunately, Branwyn is decidedly mortal, and in the supernatural underworld, humans are weak and helpless, no better than toys, tools and prey. But she isn’t having any of that. Branwyn wants to face the world on her own terms, mortal or not.

When she strikes a bargain with an imprisoned faerie, Branwyn thinks she’s found the solution. He’ll teach her magic and she’ll use that magic on his behalf. It’s a great deal, until she discovers what the faeries really want from her: there’s a door that only she can open…



The Review:

I supported the Kickstarter for Matchbox Girls solely based on C.E Murphy's blurb. And after reading it, I was glad I did. So when Infinity Key appeared on NetGalley, I requested it on the spot. And after reading it, I can say it was better than Matchbox Girls. I can also say that this is one of those reviews that cannot tell all the reasons why this book is awesome , since doing so would veer into spoiler territory.

If Matchbox Girls focused on Nephilim and Angels, this book focused on the Faeries, and their wish to be free from their prison. The Faerie world that Chrysoula Tzavelas have created is just the kind of Faerie world I want to read about: Unpredictable, dangerous and filled to the rim with manipulative beings. It was fascinating to see how the Faeries treated her, and how all of them were willing to strike a deal with her. Luckily, Branwyn were wise enough to avoid deals most of the time.

I really liked Branwyn. She was blunt, outspoken and utterly loyal to her friends and family. And determined to save Penny. It was interesting to see how Branwyn changed from being in the Underlight realm, and other Faerie realms. Yet she also remained her. It was fascinating to follow Branwyn, and see how her quest to create the Key went. It wasn't easy, but it moved forward. It was fascinating to see how Branwyn and Tarn interacted. There wasn't any romance, but  the time she spent in Faerie changed her, and Tarn was affected by her presence in subtle ways.

But the book also took place in LA. And it was interesting to see how Branwyn was around her friends and family, how she struggled to keep a secret exactly what she was involved in. Yet, as the quest went on, she had no choice but to tell them, to reveal at least part of what's going on. And their reaction was telling. They were worried, and they had reason to be worried.

Because this book involved a good dose of kaiju as well, and let me tell you: kaiju is creepy.

The different plot threads was connected in ways that gradually was revealed, and everything that happened slowly built towards the end. And the twist at the end was a delightful surprise, that made total sense.

The only thing I disliked with this book was Branwyn's tendency to act first and think about the consequences later. On the other hand, that's part of Branwyn's personality, and Branwyn is what makes this book so good.

Source: http://www.book-recs.com

Beyond the Night

Beyond the Night - Joss Ware, Colleen Gleason I have had this in my TBR pile for years, but for a number of reasons I never got around to read it until now. After reading it, I am sorry I waited for so long.I don’t read many post apocalyptic novels, but I liked this one. Ms Ware has created an intrested world. The cause of the post apocalypse felt unique, and I liked how more and more was revealed through the story. One thing I liked was that the world was dangerous, and how everything was focused on survival, no matter the consequenses.I liked the characters. It was intresting to get know them, and to see how they thought and reacted to the story that unfolded. I liked how the characters backstory was gradually revealed, and how it affected the plot. It was fascinating to see the world through Elliot and his friends bewildered eyes since it didn’t look like it used to. I liked the fact that despite how it affected them, Elliot and his friends were Alpha males, yet they also cared. Elliot had been an doctor, and he was still a healer at heart. I liked how he was willing to sacrifice himself if necessary.Jade was intresting. She had a hard past, but it had also shaped her into the independent woman she was. It was intresting to see how her and Elliots relationship formed amid all the other things that occured.The plot was complex and fast paced. The complexity was one of the things I liked with this book. The events moved fast, but everything was connected to the characters past and the history of the world. It was intresting to see how the romance between Elliot and Jade started to form during all the action. I liked how they were forced to trust each other, or they wouldn’t survive.But the romance was also one of the weak points for me. I couldn’t feel any spark between Elliot and Jade, there were simply too many other things going on. Another thing I struggled with was some of the revelations at the end. They simply felt too far fetched for me. On the other hand, there had to be something unique to affect the world so drastically…
Soul of Fire (The Portals #2) - Laura Anne Gilman Heart of Briar wasn't my favorite Laura Anne Gilman novel, but despite that I squeed and requested Soul of Fire when it appeared on NetGalley. And after reading it I am glad I requested it. It is was intresting read about Jan's and her friends search for the queen. How they followed every lead, and got more and more desperate. But it was also intresting to see how that forced them to think out side the box, to disobey. But I liked the fact that I could sense a friendship between them, even if it in some cases wouldn't last for much longer than it took to find the Queen.I appreciated to get a glimpse of how life was at the Queen's nascent court, and how her allies slyly manipulated her to their own gain. Those glimpse gave tantialising insight into how their species thought, and their opinion about humans. Nalith, the Queen were creepy, but then all Preters gives me the creeps. I am fervently glad that Preters doesn't exist. The book also revealed exactly how far the Preter Court were prepared to get Nalith back. The setting shifted between the Farm, the Queen's court and the Preter Court. I really appreciated all the detail and careful work Ms Gilman has put into creating the settings. All of the showed how unique and different the factions were. All of them, their motivations felt believable. The biggest problem I had with this book was that I didn't feel an sense of urgency as they raced against time to stop the Preter Court. But despite the lack of urgency, I closed the book with a craving for more stories set in this world which is a sign of Ms Gilman's greatness. I have spent some time thinking about the issues I had with this duology, and the conclusion I have come to is that is a duology that you should read back to back really appreciate it.
Heart Fortune - Robin D. Owens When Robin D Owens offered to send me an ARC of Heart Fortune as a thank you for helping her with the copy edits, I accepted.Like all Celta novels, this was a well written novel, and for a nice change it didn't take place in Druida. The camp setting felt believable. I really liked how there were a sense of community, and how they worked together to excavate Lugh's Spear. But I also liked that not everyone was friends, that there were rivalry between different people.Glyssa was born and raised in the city, but it was intresting to see how Glyssa gradually got used to life at camp, and the wilderness that surrounded it. I really liked Glyssa, and how she didn't hesitate to stand her ground, yet she was willing to change to get a future with Jace. I also liked her with Lepid, her intrepid fox fam. And how he encouraged her to be more daring.Jace on the other hand was used to living in camps, and to wander from job to job. I liked Jace. He had a sense of honor, and was determinded to keep his independence. This included having any relationships. But his reluctance to form a relationship with Glyssa made sense to me, since he had been scarred by his parents marriage.The plot was well written. I liked that Glyssa and Jace's romance moved slow, and that their relationship had its bumps. But I liked how they worked together to get over the bumps. And I really liked how the romance and the villain's actions were connected.Despite all the things I liked with the book, it wasn't perfect. It missed that touch of angst that the best of Robin D Owens novels have.
Waiting For Love (The McCarthys of Gansett Island, #8) - Marie Force I hesitated over buying this book. After reading it, I am glad I did. Mostly.It was nice to revisit Gansett Island, and see how it prepared for the onset of the Tourist season. This is the 8th book in the McCarthy series, and this time the focus was on Adam and Abby. Both of their lives were in upheaval at the beginning of the story. It was intresting to follow their Romance as it turned from a fling, into something more. What I liked was how they didn't have sex until they had gotten to know each other. Instead, they spent time hanging out with each other. I really liked how Abby slowly rebuilt her selfconfidence when it came to men. This romance unfolds at the same time the McCarthy's are struggling with the aftermath of the boating accident. It was touching to see how they become even more close knit. Both when it came to assuring themselves that all of them was still alive, and when it came to Grant, Mac and Evan adjusting to the fact that they still were alive and Steve wasn't.And, that is also my biggest complaint. As always, there was secondary romances. Normally I enjoy them, but this time they felt superfluous.I wish that Marie Force had scaled them down and let the focus be on the McCarthy's healing.
Beguiled Again - Patricia Burroughs I have wanted to read this ever since I saw the blurb and cover on Patricia Burroughs blog. So when she contacted me, wondering if I would be interested in an ARC, I said yes.And, I had a blast reading it. Cecilia's and Jeff's romance was a case of opposites attract. Jeff's life were ordered, Cecilia's were chaotic. It was intresting to see how they fought against their attraction, yet they couldn't stay away from each other. I really appreciated was that the obstacles were believable. From Cecilia's children, to Jeff's busy schedule, to Cecilia's scars after her divorce.But,it was also intresting to see how their lives changed during the story. Cecilia slowly started to realise that she didn't have to fit the mold, that her occupation was perfect for her. Jeff started to realise that he needed Cecilia's chaos in his life, and that Cecilia needed his calm. One thing I especially liked was how Cecilia's children treated Jeff. From the wariness at the beginning, to the grudging acceptance at the end of the book.All in all, this was an enjoyable romance. I just wish that it was longer. I wanted to stay with Cecilia and Jeff, and see how they together dealt with all the chaos created by a household full of children.
A Fatal Twist of Lemon (Wisteria Tearoom Mysteries) - Patrice Greenwood Summer means reading mystery novels for me, and right now I am slowly reading through the TBR pile. This was a recent purchase, and I am glad I read it. The setting was wonderful, and believable. The cast of characters was a delight. I loved following Ellen as she interacted with her staff, family, friends as she searched for the killer. What especially made me happy was how Ellen and Tony butted head, since he was a bit of a brute sometimes. And, most of all it lacked my main pet peeve when it comes to mysteries: The plot wasn't bogged down with all the details of the main characters daily life.
Heart of Briar - Laura Anne Gilman I love Laura Anne Gilman's novels, so when I saw this one at Netgalley, I requested it on the spot. After reading it, I am glad I did. Mostly. I had one big issue with it.This is the first book in the Portals duology, which isn't set in the Cosa Nostradamus world. No, this is a world filled with tension between the non-native Preternaturals and the native Supernaturals. I really liked that the Preters and the Supers behaved very differently. The Preters were cold, and only acted for the benefit of Preters. The Supernaturals on the other hand, were motivated with a drive to save the world.The characters were intresting. I liked how Jan struggled with the fact that Supers and Preters existed. I also liked the fact the Supers didn't try to hide that the situation was dangerous, and that she shouldn't really trust them.Jan's, Martin's and to some degree AJ's, search for Tyler was well plotted. I liked how it took Jan from an ordinary life, to a life filled with danger. What I especially liked was Jan's stubbornness. She was scared, but she searched for Tyler anyway. And I really admired her when she faced the Preters.Despite all the things I liked with this book, I didn't feel the urge to pick it up to continue reading when I put it down. But I still plan to get the second book.
Haven - Kay Hooper I discovered Kay Hooper purely by coincidence a couple of years ago, and I promptly devoured her backlist. But then, she switched publishers and moved to hardcover, so I decided to wait until this book was out in mass market. And after reading it, I have a bit of mixed feelings.It was interesting to explore Baron Hollow from Jessie's POV and see how it had changed from the last time she was home. I liked how not all of the changes were good changes.It was interesting to follow Emma and Jessie as they tried to build a relationship. What I also liked was that it didn't happen over night. I liked Jessie's motivation for returning sense, which made sense. But... sometimes I wished Jessie wasn't so secretive. That she dared to open up, to talk to Emma. Emma had her own issues that she struggled with, both the fact that they existed, and that she wasn't sure if she should tell Jessie or not.Nathan was an outsider, and had his own reasons for being in Baron Hollow. I liked him. He felt... grounded in away that Emma needed.The plot was well crafted, and I really liked how the different plot threads were connected. From Jessie's poking around, to Emma's secret and Nathan's blood hound gift. All of them contained a part of the solution. The romance between Nathan and Emma was sweet, even if it wasn't without issues.That said, I had one big problem with this book. It didn't feel like a Romantic Suspense novel. It felt more like Mystery novel, with some paranormal elements tossed in. Maybe a big reason for that was that it felt like Ms Hooper had picked several plot elements from her previous novels and reused them. And, to be frank, those previous books were much better.
Haunted Wolves - Moira Rogers I loved Haunted Sanctuary, so when Haunted Wolves release approached I e-mailed and requested an review copy. And Bree graciously sent me one :).This is a poignant tale, with a theme of taking the steps to heal past scars. And the most poignant part was Lorelei's and Colin's romance. I loved it. From the first step to acknowledging the spark, to acting on it, to starting to build a relationship. Both Lorelei and Colin had their scars, and I really appreciated how they started to trust each other, and help each other heal the worst of the scars.The plot was well crafted, and filled with unexpected twists. I loved how everything was connected, and how even the most tiniest thing could turn out to be pivotal. I especially liked how the setting and the plot was interconnected. Things happening at the farm propelled the plot forward, as did old prejudices in the town.The biggest problem I had was that all the other emotions in the book occassionally overshadowed the spark between Lorelei and Colin. But it was an wonderful romance, and I look forward to read the next book in the series.
The Wicked - Thea Harrison When Thea Harrison asked on Twitter for reviewers, I jumped on the chance. And I am glad I did. This was an excellent addition to the Elder Races Universe.The story takes place on Carling's Island, located in an Otherworld. It was intresting to follow the preparations for their trip there. It also felt right that it wasn't easy to get to the Island, and the fact that part of the journey was the most dangerous one.I really enjoyed Olivia's and Sam's romance. It felt nuanced. There was a sexual attraction between them , but they also talked with each other. I also loved the supporting characters, from Phaedra ( and I am having my fingers crossed that she will get her own story) to Bailey.The plot wasn't unique, but it was well crafted. I enjoyed the romance, with a dash of mystery tossed in. It was intresting to watch Sam struggle with his curse, and the despair he felt over it.The biggest problem I had, was that I felt that the story should have been longer. For example, the part of the book that focused on Olivia, and her work to pack up the library felt... shallow. As a result, I didn't feel the impact when the disaster finally struck. It was more ” Oh, the villain finally acted.”

Fire Inside (Chaos, #2)

Fire Inside (Chaos, #2) - Kristen Ashley I read and liked Motorcycle Man, so when I got the chance to read an Arc of Fire Inside, I took it.It was intresting to revisit Chaos and Ride, and see how they lived now. And they hadn't changed, they were still rough bikers with a honor codex.I loved Hop. He was rough, he had a temper, but he also had a heart of gold. And my heart melt when I saw all the ways he helped Lanie. Lanie... I struggled a bit with Lanie. She had a lot of issues, both from how her fiance died, and how her parents treated her. It was intresting to follow her path from a disharmonic bitch, to being more certain of herself. I'll admit that she grew on me, especially when she started to face her fears. It was intresting to read about their relationship, I especially appreciated that there was a sense of uncertainty if they would reach their HEA.Despit all the things I liked with the book, I had trouble with the characters. Mainly because I never felt the angst Lanie felt after her nightmares, or the passion between them. I cannot pinpoint why. For me it just lacked that magical something that takes a good book to a great book.

Fire Inside (Chaos, #2)

Fire Inside (Chaos, #2) - Kristen Ashley I read and liked Motorcycle Man, so when I got the chance to read an Arc of Fire Inside, I took it.It was intresting to revisit Chaos and Ride, and see how they lived now. And they hadn't changed, they were still rough bikers with a honor codex.I loved Hop. He was rough, he had a temper, but he also had a heart of gold. And my heart melt when I saw all the ways he helped Lanie. Lanie... I struggled a bit with Lanie. She had a lot of issues, both from how her fiance died, and how her parents treated her. It was intresting to follow her path from a disharmonic bitch, to being more certain of herself. I'll admit that she grew on me, especially when she started to face her fears. It was intresting to read about their relationship, I especially appreciated that there was a sense of uncertainty if they would reach their HEA.Despit all the things I liked with the book, I had trouble with the characters. Mainly because I never felt the angst Lanie felt after her nightmares, or the passion between them. I cannot pinpoint why. For me it just lacked that magical something that takes a good book to a great book.
Diana's Hound (Bloodhounds, #4) - Moira Rogers I have been looking forward to reading Nate's story ever since I read Wilder's Mate. And I am glad I requested this ARC.The world of the blood hounds are a harsh world, filled with dangers. This book gave another dimension to the vampires. It was intresting to see how polite the vampires in Eternity was, compared to how they normally were described.Eternity might be home to vampires, but it was also a flaunting of power. In fact, I couldn't help wondering how the life in both Deadlands and at the Border would have been if Eternity hadn't existed.I liked Diana and Nate. They are both oddities among the Bloodhounds. Diana because she is female, the only female hound, infact. Nate because he is part blood hound, part vampire. But.. they fit each other. Diana were a fighter, and Nate primarily a inventor.Their search for the rogue hound that created Diana was fast paced, and filled with unexpected twists. The fact that they were headed to Eternity, a town filled with vampires added to the tension. As did the sexual tension between them. The sexual tension, combined with the protective urges added another layer to the story.The plot wrapped up the story arc, but it had a whopper of a twist that made me itch to read the next book.Despite all the things I loved with this book, it took a long time before it fully hooked me. And a big part of that, is because I requested this ARC two days before I realised that I am tired of paranormal romance and Urban Fantasy.

The Hob's Bargain

The Hob's Bargain - Patricia Briggs I was in the mood for Patricia Briggs, so I decided to re-read this one.It was nice to revisit Fallbrook. The world felt very believable. From how they focused on what was best for the village, to the contact they had with the rest of the world, to their fears and their prejudices. I liked how the villagers gradually became aware that not just magic, but other supernatural beings were stirring again. I loved how everything had a price, both when it comes to magic, and dealing with the supernatural.It was intresting to follow Aren, and the rest of the villagers as they fought to save their village from the raiders and the wildlings. But, they also struggled with their prejudices and their reaction to magic and wildlings. I admired Aren for her courage. Both when it comes to daring to speak about her visions, despite knowing what the cost would be. But also when it comes to putting all the clues together, and strike a bargain with the Hob. In fact, it felt as if it wasn't until then the story really, started. But it was fascinating to follow Caefawn and Aren as he taught her how to harness her gifts. At the same time, he courted her. I liked the fact that the romance between Caefawn and Aren was sweet. It fit the story.In the end, it all come down a confrontation with the villain, and Aren stepped up. My heart almost broke at the sacrifice she made.This book, it wasn't bad, none of Patricia Briggs books are. But... I had troubles connecting with the characters. However, I think the main reason for that was because I had read this story, many, many times :).( On a side note: I prefer the old cover. Sure, the new cover is nice, but where is the hob?)
The Source of Magic: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles) - Cate Rowan This book has been on my wishlist since I bought Kismet's Kiss. I never got around to buy it, until now. I am glad I bought it.Teganne was an intriguing contrast to Kad, and it felt very believable. From the way the castle was described to the customs and traditions they had. I also liked the magic, and the fact that the Kyrra was limited. Once you burned it out, it was gone forever.I liked Jillian and Alvarr. Jillian's reaction to suddenly being in Teganne, and the struggle to adapt to it, and what it meant felt believable. Alvarr was honorable warrior, but I also liked that he struggled with keeping his country independent.It was intriguing to follow Jillian's and Alvarr's romance. From the way they clash in the beginning, to how they gradually start to get to know each other. I liked how both of them had their own issues to work through, and how that caused additional problems between them. I also liked that they were ready to compromise with each other. The plot twists were unexpected, yet logical when they happened.Despite all the things I liked with this novel, I never felt the desperation that Alvarr and Jillian felt.