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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1)

Goodreads blurb:
In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

5 stars (more if I could)
I am so glad I splurged and bought this book the day it was released. It was truly a great book, and it ranks right up there with my two other favorite Marilliers - Heart's Blood and Daughter of the Forest. Blackthorn and Grim are some of the most flawed yet perfect characters I have ever read. Their tale broke my heart. It always hurts to know just how evil humans can be to one another. We never get to hear Grim's backstory though which was pretty clever on Marillier's part. If you needed a reason (which I don't) to read the next book, learning Grim's tale would be a good one.

The story was magical. So much so that I wanted to savor each word and draw out the book, yet I rushed toward the ending to see the outcome. You really come to care about the characters and want to see things work out. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and realistic.

I loved the shout out to Daughter of the Forest letting us know that Sorcha and her brothers were not too far removed from this story. I have so many books in the TBR pile, but all I really want to do is lose myself in a Marillier book even if it is one I have already read. There is something about her writing draws you in and keeps you spellbound.

This is an adult novel and has some sex, but no offensive language.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1)

 Blurb from Goodreads:
Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.


3 stars
Having recently read The Fall by Bethany Griffin and the fact that I love EAP, I thought this was going to be a 5 star read. For some reason, this just didn't catch hold for me. The romance was the focus of the book. I wanted to learn more about the plague and how it impacts life. Other than the inconvenience of having to wear a mask, the characters didn't seem too bothered about the plague. At times they even rip their masks off usually to engage in kissing. Nothing says romance like someone ripping away their life saving mask.

I wanted more Prospero too. He was the main bad guy for the first half of the book, and then we find out that there is a minister who is the actual bad guy. Prospero showed such promise. He is the kind of evil that is inherently evident. He has no compassion and is a total narcissist. A combo that is always entertaining for the reader (not so much for the characters).

So I loved Araby's name. I thought it was beautiful. I felt she would be master of her own destiny in one passage, but then would allow other people to decide for her in another. Sometimes it was Elliot, others Will and her parents. I understand she had to let Prospero dictate his terms. I wanted her to just scream at everyone to leave her alone and let her decide for herself.

This was a good book, it just missed the eerie atmosphere and wonderful world building of The Fall. I will be reading the second book because I believe that Prospero will play a larger role, and I want to see his get his comeuppance.