Book Review: Rogue by Gina Damico

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Young Adult > Paranormal

(Croak #3)

Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.  The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

Book 1: Croak review       Book 2: Scorch review

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I hate this book. Made me cry twice (or thrice?) while riding the bus, no less.

Uncle Mort!
Lex!
DRIGGS!

Gina Damico you cruel, cruel woman. Give me back my happiness!!!

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Have you read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins? Rogue ended up just like Spell Bound: both finales are heartbreaking, it’s as if all the laughter and humor that launched both series stopped in the middle of their second books. I had high hopes for Rogue! But it gave me more sadness than joy. =(

Lex always feels guilty. Guilty that she cannot save the sister she loves the most, the best (boy)friend she loves the most. Now, she cannot save the future she wants for herself. I love Lex, and I always will. But the heroic acts Gina Damico imposed on her young character is too much for me to bear. I thought that her transition from being a problematic teenager to a world-saving Grimm is too quick to give her due credit.

At the end of Scorch, I was hoping against hope that Lex and Driggs will have a happy ending. If Rogue‘s ending is a happy one based on Gina Damico‘s standards, I don’t think I would want to read any more of her stories. It is just too depressing. *cries again*

It’s times like these when I get too attached to characters that, no matter how unique the world-building was, or how neat the story was wrapped up, the reading just felt heavy for me. And from the (humorous) impression I got from reading the first book, Croak, the morose ending of the series was not palpable for my taste.

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ROGUE by Gina Damico

Ebook, 384 pages

Published September 10th 2013 by Graphia

3/5 stars

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Book Review: The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore

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Young Adult > Science Fiction > Fantasy

(Lorien Legacies #4)

The Garde are finally reunited, but do they have what it takes to win the war against the Mogadorians?

John Smith—Number Four—thought that things would change once the Garde found each other. They would stop running. They would fight the Mogadorians. And they would win.

But he was wrong. After facing off with the Mogadorian ruler and almost being annihilated, the Garde know they are drastically unprepared and hopelessly outgunned. Now they’re hiding out in Nine’s Chicago penthouse, trying to figure out their next move.

The six of them are powerful, but they’re not strong enough yet to take on an entire army—even with the return of an old ally. To defeat their enemy, the Garde must master their Legacies and learn to work together as a team. More importantly, they’ll have to discover the truth about the Elders and their plan for the Loric survivors.

And when the Garde receive a sign from Number Five—a crop circle in the shape of a Loric symbol—they know they are so close to being reunited. But could it be a trap? Time is running out, and the only thing they know for certain is that they have to get to Five before it’s too late.

The Garde may have lost battles, but they will not lose this war.

Lorien will rise again.

Book 1: I Am Number Four review

Book 2: The Power of Six review

Book 3: The Rise of Nine review

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Poor Marina. Now, I am interested on her POV in the next book.

This series is very easy to read. But now I realized that it can be contained in just 3 books. The Fall of Five‘s good stuff started on Chapter 31 (it has 37 in total). Instead of training to death in preparation for the war against the Mogadorians, Four is cuddling with Sarah (why the heck would I be interested in that?!), Four is awkward towards Six, Four just do not know what to do.

Spare me the drama, Pittacus Lore. Who cares about teenage alien/human flirtation? I need some action, so give me a battle of a lifetime between Loric and Mogs!

Good thing that besides Four’s POV, there is also Sam‘s and Marina‘s. And Adam‘s character is kind of intriguing.

One measly training session. One (almost) entertaining Capture the Flag game. The rest is just flirting, bantering, bickering. When the ultimate unexpected happened, the Garde are just about as screwed as they were in The Rise of Nine. (If only they trained on how to work together, their powers complimenting each other, then they would have never fell for that trap. They would’ve defeated that pudgy enemy in a flash. Duh.)

Is The Revenge of Seven the final book? I hope so. Because I’m starting to wonder why I am still reading this series. It’s beginning to look like I am wasting my time.

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THE FALL OF FIVE by Pittacus Lore

Ebook, 268 pages

Published August 27th 2013 by HarperCollins

3/5 stars

Book Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

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Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #9)

Payne, twin sister of the Black Dagger Brother Vishous, suffers a devastating injury, and brilliant human surgeon Manuel Manello is called in to save her. Their attraction is instant, and as powerful as it is dangerous. But as human and vampire worlds collide, a centuries- old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in jeopardy.

Book 1: Dark Lover review

Book 2: Lover Eternal review        Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review     Book 5: Lover Unbound review

Book 6: Lover Enshrined review   Book 7: Lover Avenged review

Book 8: Lover Mine review

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“And I say to you now, I killed my father, not yours.” Lifting her palm, she peeled back and slapped him across the face. “And do not insult my blood.”

Heh. Payne is badass. :))

Lover Unleashed featured more of Vishous than Payne. Why is that? I mean, I did not like Lover Unbound‘s ending, so I don’t want anything to do with V and Doc Jane anymore. *huffs* (Although it was here that I only realized that they were not formally mated in their book installment.)

Fine. Good thing I have patience to sustain me so I can continue reading this series.

Manello, I like. He’s funny, can stand toe-to-toe with V or Butch, and he’s undeterred by a strong female like Payne. She, on the other hand, has no inkling on worldly desires, and it’s kind of funny (for me) that she can trash Wrath, beat him to bits during their sparring sessions, and then not know what kissing was. 😀 But she’s cool. Her loyalty to her twin is scary, despite being separated for more than a hundred years.

The back story of the Bloodletter is the intriguing part. Imagine Payne who is not afraid to kill him, and now she is being hunted by the Band of Bastards that stayed loyal to him.

I was anticipating the showdown between Payne and Xcor… then nothing happens. WTH.

Lover Unleashed is all about Payne being introduced to the world other than what she was used to with the Virgin’s Scribe spiritual abode. It’s about her romance with the human surgeon, V’s drama, and a lot of non-action.

But… I feel for Qhuinn. 😦

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LOVER UNLEASHED by J.R. Ward

Paperback, 537 pages

Published November 1st 2011 by Signet

3/5 stars

Book Review: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

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Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #8)

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

Book 1: Dark Lover review

Book 2: Lover Eternal review

Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review

Book 5: Lover Unbound review

Book 6: Lover Enshrined review

Book 7: Lover Avenged review

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Wish I could skip the next books and go straight to Lover at Last. 😀 Qhuinn!

I am more tuned in to the story of John Matthew’s best friends, Blaylock and Qhuinn. Imagine me looking at each chapter, expecting to read more, only to see that it will take me 5-6 chapters before I see them again after the last chapter they had. No wonder I finished Lover Mine in no time! Blay’s full of longing, Qhuinn is full of ghosts inside his head.

Xhex does not need John to save her, and when she escaped from hell out of her own resources, I was electrified with her success. A true female of worth, as the brothers would say. She’s one of the strongest female characters in this series.

John has a lot of baggage from his past life as a human. His blindness perfectly complimented Xhex’s symphath nature, and wasn’t that something for me smile about. He’s not intimidated by Xhex’s strength, so plus points for him. Although his connection with his best friends went out the window when Xhex stepped into his life.

Darius‘ and Tohrment‘s back stories are some of the best parts, I think (after Blay & Qhuinn, of course). Not all Brothers are good to their offspring, or doomed to a life of loneliness.

I’m thinking, have I seen the last of Lash? I like Payne, too.

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LOVER MINE by J.R. Ward

Hardcover, 512 pages

Published April 27th 2010 by NAL

3/5 stars

Book Review: Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #3)

Gretchen Lowell is still on the loose. These days, she’s more of a cause celebre than a feared killer, thanks to sensationalist news coverage that has made her a star. Her face graces magazine covers weekly and there have been sightings of her around the world. Most shocking of all, “Portland Herald” reporter Susan Ward has uncovered a bizarre kind of fan club, which celebrates the number of days she’s been free.
Archie Sheridan hunted her for a decade, and after his last ploy to catch her went spectacularly wrong, remains hospitalized months later. When they last spoke, they entered a detente of sorts—Archie agreed not to kill himself if she agreed not to kill anyone else. But when a new body is found accompanied by Gretchen’s trademark heart, all bets are off and Archie is forced back into action. Has the Beauty Killer returned to her gruesome ways, or has the cult surrounding her created a whole new evil?

Book 1: Heartsick review     Book 2: Sweetheart review

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Three books into this series and I am still hooked. Even though I think Evil at Heart has too much mind games for my taste, it never failed to give me what I want: heart-stopping suspense.

I think the character development is the strength of this installment. Archie Sheridan is (almost) over Gretchen. Susan Ward is getting smarter by the day. Henry Sobol is one fantastic friend and detective.

I don’t need complications for a book to be a good thriller, and Evil at Heart would’ve have worked better for me, if Chelsea Cain just cut through the chase, you know? I keep thinking that Archie is f*cked up enough to be handling intricate puzzles in his miserable lifetime.

Still, I am gunning for The Night Season to keep me at the edge of my seat by the time I pick it up. I want to see more of Gretchen, as an ordinary person same as everyone else. Because it would help Archie if he knew that she really has no power over him. And because I want Archie to have some semblance of a normal life in the upcoming installments.

Am I hoping for too much? Ha.

Evil at Heart shows how much Gretchen loves to play with everyone. Bodies are piling up even though she has no hand in it? Now, that’s a talent.

(I am a member of her fan club, true.)

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EVIL AT HEART by Chelsea Cain

Hardcover, 308 pages

Published September 1st 2009 by Minotaur Books

3/5 stars

Book Review: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

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Paranormal | Urban Fantasy

There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

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I expected this to be in par with Karen Marie Moning‘s Fever series… but, no. I’m 100% sure even Pink Mac can whip McKenzie’s ass in a flash.

Kyol – I like. Aren – I really like.
(McKenzie – dumbass.)

The cover is very misleading, I kid you not. She is not a sword-wielding chick! What a disappointment. The Shadow Reader is my typical UF – human caught up in a world she doesn’t want to be in. Poor McKenzie. Although that did not stop her from nurturing an unrequited love towards Kyol.

Should I change my rating to a 2?… Because McKenzie is a not as developed as a character I thought she would be. A string of bad, bad decisions seemed to be her specialty. Ding ding! I cannot help rolling my eyes, and smirking about her idiotic thoughts that led to her idiotic decisions.

Kyol reminded me of Chaol of Throne of Glass, only because they are both captains and seemed to take their jobs very seriously. Aren, I like… until he became this obnoxious guy because of his supposed “claim” for McKenzie. Really man, I’d go for Team Kyol, if you will always this immature.

The constant itch I had while I’m reading The Shadow Reader is that Fae are too human in behavior. Vindictive, yes. Selfish, yes. And yet, if I try to compare Fae here to Fae in the Iron Fey series, the former lot are so inferior. Fae are more wicked and more wicked in Julie Kagawa‘s books, and that’s YA.

If ever the next installment shifts to Kyol, I’m going to curse someone to be stuck in the In-Between.

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THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams

Paperback, 307 pages

Published October 25th 2011 by Ace

3/5 stars

Book Review: Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

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Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #7)

Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood. Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him- and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

Book 1: Dark Lover review     Book 2: Lover Eternal review     Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review       Book 5: Lover Unbound review       Book 6: Lover Enshrined review

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Rehvenge will not be a favorite, but he’s okay. It’s like him and me have come into a civil agreement: “You’re okay as long as the Family/Brotherhood is okay.” Ha.

Ehlena is also okay, not quite rising to the other heroines in this series. I do have to applaud her brass balls, because she stands up to Xhex, and knowing Rehv’s personal guard, that is not easy.

The ending rankled my chains in protest, but it’s a good protest. It just means I need to pick Lover Mine soon. Man, I hate Lash. Someone needs to teach that traitor a painful lesson.

Rhage is still funny. Wrath and Beth’s growing relationship is nice to see. and Z is so gentle 🙂 still my favorite brother! I have to mention Trev and iAm, because they are really interesting characters, more intruiging than Rehv IMO.

Lover Avenged is a slight improvement over the last book, Lover Enshrined. It might not be as stellar as the other books, but compared to Phury’s lame story, Rehv’s is much better.

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LOVER AVENGED by J.R. Ward

Paperback, 642 pages

Published Nov 24th 2009 by Signet

3.5/5 stars

Book Review: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

(Hannibal Lecter #1)

Will Graham stands in a silent, empty house communing with a killer. An FBI instructor with a gift for hunting madmen, Graham knows what his murderer looks like, how he thinks, and what he did to his victims after they died. Now Graham must try to catch him. But to do it, he must feel the heat of a killer’s brain, draw on the macabre advice of a dangerous mental patient, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and follow a trail of microscopic clues to the place where another family has already been chosen to die–and where an innocent woman has found the Dragon first.

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I hope the next books in the series are better.

Red Dragon. Ordinary. Interesting but not quite riveting for my taste. Or could I just be expecting more from the famous Thomas Harris? The story seemed so… normal. Heh. I’m beginning to think I am hard to please with this genre (because I love it so much).

Will Graham did not look particularly brilliant, but he’s a good observer. And Francis Dolarhyde was just as I suspected, predictable but not wholly appealing to me.

But… I watched the movie, and I can say that I liked it more than the book. That’s why I will continue reading this series. And Hannibal Lecter is calling my name, urging me to be a fan of his. And I think I will answer him when I read the sequel, The Silence of the Lambs. *grins*

I might have read too many serial-killing themed books, for Red Dragon was just another (almost) forgettable story among them.

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RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris

Mass Market Paperback, 454 pages

Published May 2nd 1990 by Dell

3/5 stars

Book Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

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General Fiction > Fantasy

Eight of the nine provinces of the Peninsula of the Palm, on a world with two moons, have fallen to the warrior sorcerers Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico of Barbadior. Brandin’s younger son is slain in a battle with the principality of Tigana, which the grief-stricken sorcerer then destroys. After sweeping down and destroying the remnants of their army, burning their books and destroying their architecture and statuary, he makes it so that no one not born in that province can even hear its name. Years later, a small band of survivors, led by Alessan, last prince of Tigana’s royal house, wages psychological warfare, planting seeds for the overthrow of the two tyrants. At the center of these activities are Devin, a gifted young singer; Catriana, a young woman pursued by suspicions of her family’s guilt; and Duke Sandre d’Astibar, a wily resistance leader thought dead. Meanwhile, at Brandin’s court, Dianora, his favorite concubine and–unknown to anyone, another survivor of Tigana–struggles between her growing love for the often gentle tyrant and her desire for vengeance. Gradually the scene is set for both conquerors to destroy each other and free a land.

Literary Awards: World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (1991), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee (1991), Prix Aurora Award for Best Long Form in English (1991)

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I would have love this book, if only Dianora is braver, or her brother had a happy ending, or Catriana did not end up with the most unlikely partner. So many ifs, that even if the fantasy was grand, I could not give it a 4, knowing that these chinks in Tigana‘s armor do not bother me at all. Because they do. A lot.

The pace was slow, at the start, until I’m halfway done. See the patience I have of seeing Tigana through? And yet when the war began, it coalesced, then consumed my thinking, because there’s no stopping Alessan’s small band of warriors into ending Brandin‘s and Alberico‘s reign once and for all.

The plot was really good.

Until a warrior ends up coupling with a new acquaintance after winning a battle (what is up with that?!). And Alessan declares his love for this woman (because there’s no way I read anything about a romantic connection between them, nor flirty insinuations at that matter, throughout the book!). And Dianora taking the easy way out of her miserable life (and you call yourself a survivor of Tigana, you have no spine!).

(Don’t mind Devin. He’s a man-slut. Heh. :D) I actually like Brandin.

If you don’t mind how characters end up in a book, then by all means, read Tigana. Pick it up if only for the intriguing story of how a man, a father, leveled a city and erased them from history, just to avenge his dead son.

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TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay

Ebook, 692 pages

Published  February 10th 2011 by Harper Voyager
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3/5 stars

Book Review: Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

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Young Adult > Fantasy | Steampunk

(The Lotus War #2)

A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.

A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.

A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.

The ghosts of a blood-stained past.

Book 1: Stormdancer review

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Out of all the sequels I read in 2013, Kinslayer is one of the most disappointing.

Sure, the opening (bloody) chapter alone was enough to raise my adrenalin sky-high. Yukiko was relentless in pursuing the war against the Shogun empire. As the story progresses in a more complex level, and characters are more competitive in power, revenge, or love, I am hooked. Buruu and Yukiko have a stronger relationship (more humorous, too). New POVs from secondary characters that are important in the rebelllion’s cause that made the plot more dimensional and concrete.

And yet, I found Kinslayer lacking when I am done with it.

I expected a face-off between Yukiko and Hiro. After that gruesome parting in Stormdancer, I waited with bated breath of what will come out from their next meeting, but nothing happened. I know that Yukiko is better than me, turning away like she did, but, but!

I am not that keen about Yukiko’s connection to Hiro in the end. This twist will further lengthen the drama, I think. Can we just get back to her thinking of a hundred ways of ripping Hiro’s head off his body?

I found out who the kinslayer is, found something that does not hold the thunder tiger, Buruu, into the pedestal. Heh. A lot of insinuations on Buruu’s history, but no confirmation on why he’s keeping that from Yukiko, or why a chance encounter with something from his past will color Yukiko’s opinion of him.

Still, once Buruu & Yukiko returned from their journey, the war that is begging to be unleashed.. began. And what a bloodbath it was!

I could not decide whether to root for Kin, or to wish he’s dead. His POV was the most intense, as the emotions jumbled from Yukiko to the rebels to the unexpected visitor from the Guild. As messed up as he was, I think he’s a favorite character.

Overall, Kinslayer will satisfy any Yukiko and Buruu fan. But this one, no. Not that much. But that doesn’t mean I am not excited for the next book. Still am.

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KINSLAYER by Jay Kristoff

Ebook, 448 pages

Published September 17th 2013 by Thomas Dunne Books
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3/5 stars