Monday, March 30, 2015

Camp Nano (Again), SC, & tumblr

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 8:17 PM 0 comments
Hi again! Just a reminder that the Star-Cross'd entries are due in 74 days (June 13, 2015). If you've been thinking about participating this round, I highly recommend joining ADoR's cabin at Camp Nano. If you're already registered for NaNoWriMo, then you're already registered for Camp Nano. You simply have to log in and set up your novel. We start writing on April 1.

So if you plan on joining us on writing something of any length (like something for SC), let me know your username via email or a comment to this post so I can add you to the cabin. It's definitely going to be fun/scary/crazy/awesome.

Lastly, I want to formally present ADoR's tumblr to you all. We post bookish and writing-related things. Feel free to follow!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Judas Kiss

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 12:43 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery; crime
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: Here we are with the third trip to Nashville with DI Taylor Jackson in Judas Kiss. Just back from her trip in Italy with handsome FBI boyfriend, Baldwin, Taylor is called to a crime scene. As if it's not bad enough that the victim is seven months pregnant, the scene is accentuated with the tiny red footprints where her daughter has been running roaming around the house waiting for her Mother's body to be found. Before long, the whole thing is a media frenzy and things don't go any smoother when videos of Jackson in compromising positions with her ex-partner come to light on the internet just as Baldwin is called away to deal with a case for the FBI.

Once again, Ellison shows the reader just how manic a detective's life can be with more than one case load as well as juggling their own personal lives with their careers. Taylor's detective's are the ones that find the 'sordid' videos online and respect her enough to immediately stop watching as well as let her know. Ellison writes the bond between the detective's superbly and makes the reader believe that these people are not a family by blood but still family all the same. One of my highlights of this novel is that Ellison introduces new characters to this series flawlessly such as the internal affairs officer that is now 'gunning' for Jackson.

The highlight of book three is that we finally get to see Baldwin work solo as an FBI agent and not as a consultant with Taylor and the Nashville police force. I appreciate that local police force do sometimes get a lot of input from the FBI but I was starting to bore of Baldwin constantly being called in just as a backdrop and a great access point for sources on Taylor’s cases.

Ellison delivers fast paced cases, a combination of characters that have you feeling their pain as well as laughing along and also an explosive cliff hanger that has me reaching for the next book as soon as the last word has been read.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

14: Taylor Jackson 2

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery; crime
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: Taylor Jackson is back in 14 by JT Ellison and in this novel we see her getting prepared to marry her FBI boyfriend, John Baldwin, but that's being clouded by the return of a serial killer known as Snow White to Nashville. In the 1980's, Snow White hunted down women with pale skin and long dark hair where he would slash their throats and smear their lips with the same shade of red lipstick. He claimed ten victims before sending the police a letter saying that his work was done. Now four more bodies have been found and Jackson is unsure whether this is the work of a copycat or has Snow White came out of retirement?

Ellison creates a perfect balance in this novel between Jackson's personal and professional life that allows the reader to feel more for her protagonist. We can see how much she loves Baldwin and wants to marry him but she also has a love for her work, her team and her job that makes her want to put all her focus on catching Snow White before she gets married. Thankfully, Baldwin understands this and also focuses on catching Snow White so they can get married without a hitch – or so you would think. Just as we’re about to get Jackson to the aisle, her limo is hijacked and she is kidnapped causing her to realise that this case lies a little more closer to home than she originally thought.

One of the great aspects of 14 is that Ellison gives the reader a glimpse at who Snow White is by showing us who he is in league with. Due to the audience knowing the characters already, this is a perfect hit of the wow factor that allows the reader to be on the edge of the seat as well as wanting to tell Jackson what’s coming.

Just like her first novel, Ellison writes a great plot that has the reader sucked in from the very first chapter but keeps us hooked with the twists and turns in the plot that she introduces as the plot unravels. 14 is a fast paced novel that had me hunting out book three in the Jackson series before I had even reached the final chapter...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Camp NaNo!

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 10:33 PM 0 comments

Hello, everyone! This year, Rosie, Melissa, Helen, and I are participating in Camp NaNo. It starts on April 1st and lasts through the rest of the month. It's essentially NaNoWriMo (except that it's in April), and you can set your word count to be any number. There are cabins made up of twelve people to create a supportive environment.

If you're interested in joining our ADoR cabin, create an account and comment on this post with your username or email it to me.

And as always, FictionPress suggestions are always highly welcome!

Monday, March 23, 2015

All the Pretty Girls

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery; crime
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: All the Pretty Girls is the first book in the Taylor Jackson series written by J.T. Ellison. It follows Jackson as she investigates two cases; The Souther Strangler and the Rainman. The Southern Strangler is a serial killer that abducts brunettes in one state and disposes of their body along with a hand from a previous victim in another state making the case federal. The Rainman is a serial rapist that only attacks when it rains and has made the previous lead investigator to his case his latest victim hence Jackson's involvement in the case. You would think what with the two individual cases that it would be easy for Ellison to make minute errors that cause the cases to intermingle and become hard to follow. This, however, is not the case. Ellison makes the cases airtight so that there is no confusion or intermingling. You know which case is taking up Jackson's time at the part you are reading and can follow on from what has happened previously without the fear of information overload.

I am a huge fan of crime novels but an even bigger fan when the protagonist is a female detective with a tough as nails persona and does Ellison deliver this with Taylor Jackson. She's the lieutenant of the homicide division, she has a close rapport and is respected by the detective's that work under her command, she has close friendships that she maintains and has a hot FBI boyfriend to boot! Despite all these positive characteristic traits, Ellison still manages to make Jackson a believable three dimensional character through the flaws and vulnerabilities shared throughout the novel. I personally cannot wait to see how Jackson progresses as a character throughout the series.

With two addictive cases that deliver twists at every turn, All the Pretty Girls can definitely be defined as an addictive page turner that leaves you speechless when the conclusion is shared with you – a conclusion I did not work out myself which I normally find myself doing!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Shadow and Bone

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 stars

Rosie Thinks: I didn't really know what to expect out of this book. It looked like a solid fantasy, set in a world based around historical Russia and with an interesting magic system. But then came the reason why this book stayed as a sample on my Kindle for months and months - LOVE TRIANGLE. Oh, those two words make me want to throw my Kindle onto an eight-lane highway, then put my head through a wall and claw my eyes out. For me, there's not much worse than a dreaded, Twilight-style love triangle - I hate them. So, so much. But this book had been taunting me for months, constantly appearing on my 'recommended' list on Goodreads, so I finally decided to take the plunge (mainly because I was stuck in an area with limited internet and no other samples on my Kindle). And I'm seriously glad I did! It was completely enthralling, and the LT was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was really only torturous for about twenty pages - manageable.

Now that I've got my LT rant out of the way, what's this story actually about? Mal and Alina have been the closest of friends since they were brought up as orphans together in the same household. As they grow older, Mal starts to shine and Alina's left in the shadows, pale and withdrawn. This all changes when they're attacked and Alina saves the day by letting loose an incredibly rare and near-mythological power, heralding her as a Sun Summoner. The Darkling, leader of those with magic ('Small Science'), realises her potential and whisks her away to learn to become one of the magical Grisha - it's about this area where the novel really began to pick up pace and hook me in.

As far as magic systems go, I quite liked this one - it's not overly complicated, but is incredibly unique. Some aspects are similar to other stories I've read but on a whole, I enjoyed learning about it. I also really loved how this world is based off old Russia. I've read way too many medieval-style fantasies (GoT, LotR), and if it's not medieval it's usually based off the Middle East or an Oriental country. I saw that a few people were quite critical of historical errors, but my view of it is that it's fantasy - the author can do whatever the heck he/she wants! So despite the uniqueness of the world and the magic system, I found that at times, the story-line went too close to cliche, especially towards the end. I could predict a few things that would happen, but there were enough unseen twists and turns that I wasn't too worried. The only other thing in the story I wasn't fond of was the way the religion was handled - or rather, wasn't handled, because it was barely ever mentioned except as a plot device, and I would've loved to see what the religion was even based around.

I really liked Alina though. I found that Bardugo could have easily let her situation and power become her personality, but she developed Alina beyond that, which was very refreshing! Alina's quiet and self-conscious, but also fiery and loyal. It was amazing to see her develop, and the way her character changed throughout the novel. With a few exceptions, the other supporting character's weren't overly cliche and I found myself liking several of them.

I wrote the majority of this review after reading only the first book, but now that I'm done with the whole trilogy, all I can say is this: go and read this now. The first book is just a taste of what the other two are like. So while I do rate this first book as a 3.5/5, I'd easily give the whole series a 5/5.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Mourning Sword

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
The Mourning Sword by Fairyfern
Allary, reluctant princess of Orcad and cousin to the King, takes a journey to Almeirím, the city of Elves, in order to honor an ancient tradition that may save her country from a bloody war.
Banner Credit: Arden

Melissa Thinks: It's been awhile since I've found a high fantasy story on Fictionpress that stole me away quite like "The Mourning Sword". Allary is a headstrong girl who lives a life of relative peace beside her cousin, and King of the human kingdom of Orcad, Fenn. With the tension between Orcad and the neighboring Elvenkingdom rising, it seems one little mistake could bring the two species to war; so when Fenn becomes sick and can't journey to the Elven city of Almeirím in accordance with tradition to take part in King's Week, Allary, as princess of Orcad, must take his place.

Don't you just love when you're so emotionally invested in a story that you get those butterflies in your stomach? Your world falls away and you can become completely involved with an amazing story? That's what "The Mourning Sword" was like for me. There were so many memorable components of the story. Most importantly, the world building was incredibly on point. It's easy to drown in endless facts that you don't care about, or even find yourself craving a deeper explanation in fantasy novels, but that is not the case here. There is an immense amount of knowledge thrown at the reader, but it works so well both because we are learning as Allary learns and the content is incredibly interesting to digest.

On top of all of this, we have the characters, which I adore. Thiago, the love interest and prince, doesn’t disappoint. His charm, wit, and compassion are what ultimately draw Allary (and the reader) to him. King Theodoro is great example of a character who you dislike, but also empathize with on some deeper level. Orlón is charming, friendly right from the moment Allary meets him, and he keeps this up throughout the story. There is also a considerable amount of political elements at play. As we learn more about the problems both the human and the elven kingdoms face, we find Allary caught up in more than she bargained for.

I don’t want to say that this story is without fault, because there are a few things I found to nitpick at. There were a few small grammar issues; one or two times Allary seemed to embody that “not a typical girl” trope. This story was not suggested to me; in fact, I found it on my own. It doesn't have many reviews, regardless of its brilliance and so I’m very pleased to be able to share it with all of you. Enjoy!

Recommended for fans of His Queen, The Silver Tower, or Koibito no Ryu.

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