March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Welcome to my first Waiting on Wednesday post! Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

My first choice is a surprising one. When I decided to do Waiting on Wednesday, I figured I'd pick an obvious choice for me, like the next in the book in the Mortal Instruments series. But, many who know me know that the Vampire Academy series is my most favorite series EVAH. Because I love it so much, I was reluctant to read the spin-off series, Bloodlines. I didn't want to ruin a good thing, you know? But, in the end, I decided to give it a try anyway. Nothing could make the VA series bad - it is what it is already. And... I actually loved Bloodlines! So, this week, my Waiting on Wednesday book is...

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2). It's due out in mid-June, which is far too long of a wait for me. Bloodlines ended in kind of a big way. I want to know what happens next! Luckily, Richelle Mead just released the first chapter of The Golden Lily, and it was deliciously infuriating. It was really good! It was captivating right from the beginning. It was exciting. And, it had absolutely nothing to do with the cliffhanger at the end of Bloodlines! ARGH! I have to wait three more months to find out what happens, and then suffer through four more years while I wait for the last of the six planned books in this series to see how it all plays out. What I won't do for a good read.

March 27, 2012

Book #35 - Hush Hush (Hush Hush #1)

Hush Hush (Hush Hush #1), Becca Fitzpatrick
391 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/19/12
Finished 3/20/12

I know, I know. I said angel books weren't my thing. And, for the most part, that has been my experience. I supposed there are exceptions to every rule. I was initially drawn to Hush Hush by the gorgeous cover. Again - I know. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Literally. But, in this case, both the cover and the content were equally beautiful.

Brainiac Nora is focused on one thing - getting through high school with a 4.0 GPA so that she can get into an ivy league school and make something of herself. And then, Patch happens. They are forced to be lab partners, much to Nora's chagrin. Patch is abrasive, arrogant, infuriating and annoying. But, somehow Patch gets under her skin, despite displaying some alarming and scary behavior. It turns out Patch is a fallen angel who wants desperately to become human once again. And, he thinks that in order for that to happen, Nora must die. But, the fact that he's in love with her puts the kibosh on that plan.

Hush Hush had all the stuff that makes up a good book, in my very humble opinion. It has a strong and plucky heroine, a dark and flawed hero, a good mystery, some twists and turns, and a good ending. I loved it. There is so much more to Puck than meets the eye. He's a complex character with some serious depth underneath all the snark.

I was very happy to see the absence of a love triangle too. Honestly, sometimes the triangle is just exhausting and causes the story to drag. Are they really necessary? I realize it's an effective plot device - I mean, it must be. Authors use it all the time. Honestly, a good story with plot points that surprise me and characters that move me keep me engaged more than asking myself who she will end up with in the end. It's clear from the beginning that Nora and Patch are like star crossed lovers, destined to be together. There's a very slight hint early on at another love interest, but that is quickly quashed. It was so refreshing.

I think my only complaint in this book is Vee. Lordy, she was annoying. I could've done with a lot less Vee.

I loved Hush Hush so much, that before I was even done, I was putting a reserve on both Crescendo and Silence at the library. I can't wait to see what else awaits for Patch and Nora.

March 26, 2012

Book #34 - Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1)

Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1), Kalayna Price
325 pages
urban fantasy
Started 3/8/12
Finished 3/20/12

I listened to this book in the car on my morning and afternoon commutes, which is why it took me so long to finish it. I'm starting to wonder if audio books are just not my thing. This is my second one, and neither of the ones I've listened to have been good books. 

Alex Craft is a witch that can summon "shades," or souls, from dead people. She gets tangled up in a serial murder case and has a bit of an affair with the lead detective on the case. Oh, and Death also has the hots for her. Not that Alex cares. She only seems to care about one thing - her fugly dog, PC.

Don't get me wrong - overall, I liked Grave Witch, but found Alex way too cold (no pun intended) for my liking. She's never all that friendly to anyone. She finds Roy a nuisance, even after all the help he gave her. She never warmed up to Falin, even after he saved her life repeatedly and obviously cares a lot for her. She keeps Death at a distance, despite his help and (view spoiler)profession of love. And, she doesn't seem like a very good friend to any of her "friends" (Holly, Tamara, Caleb). It's REALLY hard to like a character who doesn't like anyone else. And, it's really hard to love a book when you don't like the main character.

The jury is still out on whether I'll bother trying the second book in the series. 

March 23, 2012

Book #33 - Firelight (Firelight #1)

Firelight (Firelight #1), Sophie Jordan
323 pages
Paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/17/12
Finished 3/19/12

This book was a wonderful change of pace for me. There are no vampires, werewolves, fairies, or angels in sight. Finally - something DIFFERENT!

Jacinda is a draki - a being decended from dragons. Humans by day, dragons by night, they can change form at will. However, they only change at night because of the hunters. The hunters are people who, well, hunt the draki. Draki skins and blood are prized and there are people that will pay lots of money  for them. Jacinda is a bit of a rebel, though, and during an early morning fly-by, hunters spy her and chase her into a cave. One of the hunters, Will, finds her, but he lets her go.

Jacinda, along with her mom and sister, decide to run away to a desert town. While there, she runs into Will and they fall in love. It's totally a Romeo and Juliet romance, though. She's a draki and he's a hunter - they're meant to kill each other, not love each other. Eventually others find out and they're forced to part.

First off, I loved this book because it was different. I loved the concept of the draki - dragons that can also be human is something that hasn't been done before. I like to be surprised from time to time. This fit the bill. I loved the characters, the world-building, and the romance. I cried and laughed and raged in all the right places. Sophie Jordan has a winning series right here. I absolutely loved it. 

In My Mailbox

Welcome to my first meme! 

As started by Kristi at The Story Siren, welcome to my listing of  all the books I've procured in the past week. Check out this pretty stack.

So, what do we have here?

Hallowed (Unearthly #2), Cynthia Hand
Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1), Aimee Carter
Evernight (Evernight #1), Claudia Gray
Pandemonium (Delirium #2), Lauren Oliver
Silence (Hush Hush #3), Becca Fitzpatrick
Crescendo (Hush Hush #2), Becca Fitspatrick
To Tame a Highland Warrior (Highlander #2), Karen Marie Moning

I got all these from the library. I actually belong to two counties' library systems to maximize my choices. This usually causes me to have almost too many books to read within the allotted time - I get a little carried away sometimes. I guess it's a good problem to have.

These are the only books I received this week. Believe me - it's enough!

March 22, 2012

Finally Some Memes

Although I'm new to writing a blog, I'm certainly not a newbie when it comes to reading them. I've been checking out interior design, photography, canning and book reading blogs for, what seems like, years. Many blogs use "meme"s as a way to bring the blogging community together and share thoughts on a common subject. Since I just started my blog a few months ago, I've focused entirely on my book reviews as a way to get my blogging bearings. But, I realize that if I want my blog following to grow beyond 2 people, I need to get my name out there. Doing some memes is a good way to do that.

So, to that end, I'm looking to two very popular book bloggers:  The Story Siren and Breaking the Spine.

Kristi at The Story Siren started In My Mailbox as a way to highlight all the books she got her hands on in the past week, whether it be by purchasing, borrowing, or winning them. I intend to do my IMM posts on Fridays. Check out The Story Siren on Sundays to see links to all the book blogs that participate in IMM.

Jill at Breaking the Spine started Waiting on Wednesday to talk about the books she was most looking forward to reading, but hadn't come out yet. Lord knows I have a lot of books that I'm looking forward to being published in the coming months of 2012.

So, stay tuned!

Book #32 - Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1)

Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1), Karen Marie Moning
375 pages
Paranormal romance, time travel
Started 3/15/12
Finished 3/16/12

What a cheesy cover. Sheesh. I've never been a fan of the Fabio-inspired, chesty guy, heaving bosoms book covers. The entire time I had this book from the library, I kept it hidden underneath other books so that my husband wouldn't see it - I would've never heard the end of it. But, ultimately, I got it because it was written by Karen Marie Moning, and I loved her Fever series. And, because there's time travel to past Scotland, and since Outlander is still my reigning most favorite book of all time, I had to see how this measured up. 

I'd heard a lot of not-so-good things about the first few books in this series. So, I approached Beyond the Highland Mist with much trepidation. And, I'll admit, the first quarter of the book was very touch and go. I didn't immediately like Adrienne, I thought the time travel was kinda hokey and the fae court scenes were just stupid.

But, as Hawk started falling in love with Adrienne and she with him, I actually found myself enjoying the book and looking forward to seeing the characters' fates. I really wanted Hawk and Adrienne to end up together and for Adam Black to get his due.

So, ultimately, after a rough start, it ended up being a bit better than a three-star book, which is better than I expected. It's certainly no Outlander, but it held its own. Heck - if what everyone says is true, and they only get better from here, I anticipate good things from the rest of the books.

March 21, 2012

Book #31 - Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3)

Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3), Rachel Hawkins
327 pages
Paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/13/12
Finished 3/14/12

UGH. I am so disappointed. I was so looking forward to the final installment of the Hex Hall series. I guess I'd built it up in my mind a bit too much, but why wouldn't I have, really? I loved the first two - especially Demonglass. The story was interesting, the characters were snarky and cool and the romance wasn't too much or not enough. But, I gotta tell you, Spell Bound really fell from the lofty perch on which I sat it.

Although the book is divided into three parts, in my mind, it's really in two parts - the "good" part and the "*sigh* - really?" part. The first two-thirds were really good. (view spoiler)I KNEW there was something up with Sophie's mom, and it was kinda cool to find out she was a Brannick. My favorite parts of the book came in part II when all the kids were transported back to Hex Hall. That was a really cool twist, and I thought the story moved at a great pace and was exciting at that point.

The last third felt like Hawkins gave it "The Hunger Games Treatment." You know - you spend two-and-then-some books building up characters and plot points and worlds, only to rush things so much at the end that the readers are left wanting so much more than what they get.

(view spoiler)SO MUCH MORE could've been done with the underworld scene. I mean, they started talking about it in the beginning of the book, then made a big deal about Sophie being the only one to go there, and in the end, all four of them went, spent about a half dozen pages there, and came back. Mission accomplished. Nice and neat. It's freaking HELL!! Hawkins could've done some really cool stuff and given Sophie some difficult problems and challenges to face. But, nothing. Just a few replays of some bad moments in their lives. BFD. And, did they even use the demonglass they went there for? Nope. So, really, what was the point?

Besides what happened with Cal (don't even get me started on that), the final showdown was very benign. I like those final scenes where the reader has a few moments of "OMG - it seems like the baddie might actually win!" Yeah - none of that here. A few nasty words from the big bad, an evil cackle or two, and then, whoosh - everything's better again. Bo-ring.

And, what's up with the big nasty spell book? You know - the one that was so powerful that it had to be kept in an enchanted case and was treated with some amount of reverence. Well, we saw it shoved down Sophie's pants several times, as well as stuffed in a few drawers. That dropped it's awesome quotient down to the cellar. I was so hoping they would use it to restore Sophie's dad's powers and Hex Hall to it's former glory. But, it was used to give Sophie her powers back, and then it was, "big bad spellbook? what? where?"

I wanted more making out with Archer, more professions of love and devotion, more scenes with Sophie's dad (who was such a main character in the last book), more from the new character Torin - more, more, more. Instead I was left feeling rushed and annoyed. I'll say it again - UGH. UUUGGGGGHHHHHHHH.

Book #30 - Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1), J. R. Ward
393 pages
Paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/12/12
Finished 3/13/12

I've been listening to my fellow PNR/UF book lovers sing the praises of the Black Dagger Brotherhood for quite some time now. So, I finally decided to try one out. I mean, so far this year, I've had two false starts, and I didn't really think it could be THAT bad. Right?

So, it finally came in to the library (it took forever - apparently, these BDB books are popular!), and I had my chance. And, well, everything you've heard about the BDB... is TRUE!

Beth is a half-human, half-vampire who doesn't know she's half-and-half. So, Wrath, king of the vampires is dispatched to help her learn all about what she is and all that. Of course he comes with his own baggage which prevents him from getting close to anyone. And, of course, Beth is different somehow and they develop this crazy connection that transcends everything they had experienced or thought they were before. 

So, I know - typical plot points. But, here's the thing. Wrath is broody and cranky and scary. He's tall, dark, handsome and a little insane. And, all that fades away when he sees Beth. That's the kind of love that I love. When these big hunky guys who are cool and sexy and don't care about anyone melt for the girl they love. But, if anyone or anything threatens her, they can instantly turn back into Scary McHunkerson. Wrath and Beth are awesome together - they totally make the story. 

But, there was one other couple that was formed in this book that I loved ALMOST as much as Beth and Wrath. Butch and Vishous have the best bromance going EVER.

Book #29 - Delirium (Delirium #1)

Delirium (Delirium #1), Lauren Oliver
441 pages
Started 3/10/12
Finished 3/11/12

This is a really beautiful book that explores all that it means to "love." It takes place in future Portland, OR, when love has been classified as a deadly disease and the government has made it mandatory that all citizens have a labotomy when they turn 18 to rid themselves of feelings of love. The government pegs this procedure as life-saving, and citizens are brought up to believe that loving is a horrible, disgusting thing that should never be experienced. Girls and boys are segregated, much the way blacks and whites were in the 50s and 60s. And, this is the story of a girl who falls in love with a boy mere months before her scheduled operation and the hope - and hopelessnes - of that in a world such as this.

Initially, the only kind of love I was thinking about these characters going without is the romantic kind of love. And, true, sometimes that kind of love hurts in terrible ways. Sometimes people do kill themselves or others out of strange, twisted versions of this kind of love. But, it's also joyful and wonderful and exciting - there's nothing like it. And, to be ordered to have the capacity to love that way removed from me would leave me with feelings of violation so great, I can't even fathom it.

But, that's not the only kind of way that we love. I love my children totally and unconditionally. I love my parents. When I had cats, I loved them too, in a way. I love to read, take pictures and each chocolate. Can you imagine not loving ANYTHING - that everything is just lukewarm? It seems robotic, calculated, boring, depressing. Without the capacity to experience love, you lose the ability to feel anything extreme. Without love, how can you know what sadness is? Or excitement? Or joy? The only emotion you would know without a shadow of a doubt in this world would be fear, and it's obvious that is what Oliver's version of our country and our government is going for. If people are fearful, they can be more easily controlled.

I can't wait to see what happens in Lena's and Alex's continuing story. I hope they find a way to live with their love for each other.

March 16, 2012

Book #28 - Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1)

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1), C.C. Hunter
398 pages
Paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/6/12
Finished 3/8/12

First off, isn't that dress on the girl on the book cover cool? Wish I was young enough (and had a rockin' body) to pull it off. :)

Kylie thinks she's just a girl down on her luck. Her parents are getting divorced, her boyfriend broke up with her, and she got busted at a party. So, to top it all off, she gets shipped off to juvie summer camp. And, on the first day, the poop hits the fan. Kylie finds out she's not human, but... something else. And, the rest of the camp's members are fae, werewolves, vampires and witches. Oh my!

I enjoyed this book a lot, actually. I like the big mystery around what, exactly, Kylie is. She can see ghosts, which apparently, is unique. I love that I don't have even an idea of what she is. So often these books are so formulaic that I can see the ending or "The Big Twist" a million miles away. And, while that doesn't necessarily detract from the plot of the book, it is a little disappointing.

Kylie draws the interest of both Lucas, a super hot werewolf, and Derek, a super hot fae. You know, I remember summer camp when I was 17, I didn't have super hot guys throwing themselves at me left and right. Anyway, I digress. I, personally, think she'll end up with Lucas when it's all said and done.

I liked this book enough that I'm looking forward to checking out the second book in the series. 

Book #27 - Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3)

Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry #3), Simone Elkeles
308 pages
contemporary fiction
Started 3/5/12
Finished 3/6/12

I feel like I should just link to my reviews for the first two books in the Perfect Chemistry series. Because, really, the only difference is that this story is about Luis - the youngest Fuentes brother. Other than that, it's really the same story. So, here ya go:

Perfect Chemistry
Rules of Attraction

Yep - that about covers it.

March 12, 2012

Book #26 - Unearthly (Unearthly #1)

Unearthly (Unearthly #1), Cynthia Hand
435 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/4/12
Finished 3/5/12

I am a Christian. I believe in God. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So, I always knew I might have a slight problem with angel stories. But, in my effort to expand my literary horizons and try new things, I decided to give an angel story a try. My first one was Unearthly

Cynthia Hand writes beautifully. Her world-building was perfect - I could picture the mountains of Wyoming in my mind as if I was there. I think that's a key element to any story. Character development was also nicely paced and thorough.

If this is sounding a bit more detached than my usual reviews, it's because that's how I feel. Although the world-building and character development was really great, the story didn't GRAB me - y'know? I didn't find myself caring as much about what happened. The main character, Clara, does find love and seemingly fulfills her destiny, but even though all that, I was still left with that "meh" feeling. I think part of it is the whole angel concept. Perhaps my faith clouds my judgment on those types of stories. I don't know. But, it didn't do anything for me.

Book #25 - Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2)

Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2), Simone Elkeles
324 pages
contemporary fiction
Started 3/1/12
Finished 3/3/12

This is the continuing story of the Fuentes brothers. Once again, this story is deliciously devoid of vampire, werewolves, faeries, angels or demons. Hey - even I need a change-up every now and again. Rules of Attraction is set up exactly like Perfect Chemistry. The Fuentes brother in question - this time it's the middle brother, Carlos - is a self-professed bad boy on a path to destruction. Until he meets a girl. A good girl. And, she changes his life. Makes him believe in himself again, and in the process, makes her own life better too.

Sure it's the same story. It's been done a million times before. I don't care one bit. :) It's well written. I was engaged from the first page until the last. I love how Elkeles keeps the story from the first book alive in the second by weaving Alex's and Brittany's story through Carlos' and Kiara's. And, of course, there's the happy ending. You know how I love those.

March 9, 2012

February Book Report

Because of varying annoyances that have kept me from blogging for a week or more - sickness, busy work schedule, kids - my February book report is long overdue.

Books Read - 11
Books Read To Date - 23
Total Pages Read - 9,314
Favorite Book of the Month - City of Glass

My pick for favorite of the month was actually rather easy this time. I loved City of Glass. It was so rewarding to see Jace and Clary finally end up together. I don't see how any of the final three books in the series could be as good.

I've always had a passion for reading. I can remember devouring my mom's old Nancy Drew books when I was in grade school. Then, I moved on to Sweet Valley High. The day my order from the Scholastic Book Club came in was better than a field trip day. I see a lot of those qualities in my own daughter now, and I love that about her.

Most of the books I read, I borrow from the library. An obsession this big could be expensive if I bought every book I read. I actually belong to two libraries so that my selection is a big bigger. I always try to borrow to my Kindle first, but Kindle lending is just getting off the ground, so the selection kinda stinks. I currently have nine books out. It's a lot - I know. I probably won't finish all of them before the lending period is up. But, I'd rather get them and renew them instead of waiting until I'm ready to read something specific, and it's already checked out. Man - that's irritating. In any case, I have a full complement of books to ensure that my March book report is just as interesting.

Book #24 - Crossed (Matched #2)

Crossed (Matched #2), Ally Condie
367 pages
Started 2/29/12
Finished 3/1/12

I am proud to say that I'm playing a major role in corrupting my friends. I'm always talking about this book or that book that I'm reading, and a few of them have finally decided to humor me and read a book or two that I recommend. Honestly, I think they agree just to shut me up, but whatever. It works. It all started with The Hunger Games - the movie's coming out soon, so it was easier than I thought to convince them to read it. Even with how great those books are, it still took my friend April a week to read each one. I know, right? Unheard of. So, then I introduced her to the Matched series. When she got to Crossed, it took her, like, three days to get through it. That should tell you how good this book is.

Our heroine, Cassia, is on her quest to find her heart mate, Ky in the dangerous Outer Provinces. While there, she learns more about the rebels that are organized and fighting against the oppression of the Society. She, Ky and the friends they make along the way finally make it to the rebel base (Star Wars, anyone?). There, they are separated as they're assigned to different posts within the rebellion. Ironically, Cassia is asked to go back to the Society to spy on them. Ky is sent somewhere else to learn how to be a pilot.

Once again, the writing in this book is really beautiful. I love the way that Condie incorporates poems by Emily Dickinson and Alfred Lord Tennyson into the story. She works their meanings into what's going on - I especially love the continued use of the "Don't go gently" line to represent Cassia's and Ky's hard line stance against the prescriptive lives they lead and the love they have for each other, but aren't allowed to.

There were a lot of really great moments in Crossed. My favorite, of course, was when Cassia and Ky finally find each other. I think I read that part three times just so it could sink in. It was completely romantic, totally sweet, and really intense - all the parts of a great romance story. And to think that this great romance is woven carefully into this violent, post-apocalyptic world.

There's one book left in the Matched series, due out in November 2012. It's called Reached - great title. The cover design was just release this week - it's GORGEOUS.

See? November is far too long to wait to see if Cassia and Ky can find their happiness. 

March 4, 2012

Book #23 - Fire Study (Study #3)

Fire Study (Study #3), Maria Snyder
441 pages
high fantasy
Started 2/26/12
Finished 2/29/12

Notice this book has an extra 50 pages on the first two in the Study series? Let me tell you, those were 50 pages that were not needed. I loved Poison Study and Magic Study. And, while Fire Study did wrap up the loose ends and give me the happy ending I wanted, there was so much extra crap in there, that it sort of went on and on and on about nothing for way too long.

I don't know exactly what it was, but I was less than enamored with this final installment. It didn't hold my interest like the others. Yelena got on my nerves more often than not. And Valek started seeming pretty whipped. Everyone was mopey and boo-hooey. I mean, yes, there were some big baddies out there trying to wreak havoc, rape, pillage and plunder, but there should still be a little comic relief. Ari and Janco were the only bright spots in this book for me.

But, as I said, Yelena did get her happy ending with Valek, she vanquished the bad guys, got to stick it to her arch nemesis, Roze, and the real story behind Cahil and his motives was a bit of an unexpected surprise. So, for those reasons (plus the Power Twins - I'd love to see a book about them from their POV), I will submit that Fire Study was more good than bad, and the Study series as a whole gets a solid 4-star rating in my book.

March 2, 2012

Book #22 - Magic Study (study #2)

Magic Study (Study #2), Maria Snyder
392 pages
high fantasy
Started 2/25/12
Finished 2/26/12

I like it when a book keeps sight of the main plot points and doesn't deviate to focus on the red herring - usually the budding romance between the two main characters. Did you ever notice that? You get a really good first book with a really fun plot. Along the way, the protagonist falls in love. Then, in the second book, it's all, "Oh, I love so-and-so so much! I want to put myself in mortal peril so that he can save me!" "Oh, I'm thinking about so-and-so all the time. I can't wait until we're together next." "Oh wait - there was a plot?" Don't get me wrong - I LOVE a good romance. It makes a good story great and gives a great excuse for some good angst and action. But, please, if you spend an entire book setting up a complex plot, please don't abandon it in favor of the love story. Wind them together and make the story amazing.

Thankfully, Magic Story does just that. In fact, the plot arc gets even more interesting and complex, and Valek, Yelena's love doesn't even show up until halfway through the book. It gives plenty of time to flesh out Yelena's back story and to introduce some new, key characters, like Irys, her magic instructor, and Leif, her brother. The story told is wonderful - Yelena meets her family that she hasn't seen since she was 6, and isn't sure what she thinks of them. She heads to the capital city of Sitia to begin developing her magic abilities, but doesn't stay there long when it's discovered that someone is kidnapping young girls with magical talent and killing them to add to the killer's own power. Yelena seems to be the only one who has a clue how to stop the bad guy. So, she abandons her training to try and discover who is committing the heinous act and stop him or her. Valek shows up to help her out, along with some of her other friends from Ixia.

Like Poison Study, Magic Study was an awesome book. I loved the story, the characters and the world building. The author's descriptive language is wonderful. And, Yelena's relationship with Valek is very fulfilling. They love each other, but know when to put it aside in order to get a job done. I do love this book.