Friday, May 22, 2015

Fables Vol.1: Legends in Exile (Fables, #1)

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

Fables Vol.1: Legends in Exile 
by Bill Willingham, James Jean, Lan Medina, Craig Hamilton, Steve Leialoha

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy, Mystery & Crime, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 stars


Melissa Thinks: For those of you who don’t know, the Fables graphic novel series has spawned a video game by the name of The Wolf Among Us. It is through this quirky video game that I discovered and fell in love with the Fables universe. Hundreds of years ago, the fairy tale characters we know and love were exiled from their homes, forced to find refuge in a place void of magic: New York. In present day NYC, the fable creatures live in a community known as Fabletown, where they’re faced with monetary, political, and magical issues that threaten to tear apart their carefully crafted community.

The first issue of the series begins abruptly with the news that Snow White’s sister, Rose Red, has been murdered. It is up to Snow and the reformed big bad wolf (of Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood fame), now sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby to find out exactly what happened and why.

The most important aspect of theses graphic novels, of course, is the characters. Most of them, if not all, will be recognizable to you, but they’re different than you’ll remember, deeper and darker. This works to their advantage and it brings the reader closer to the characters and the story. Of course, the artwork is another of its shining qualities of this series because where would a graphic novel be without the illustration. It has a 90’s Sunday paper comics feel to it. The dialogue is hardly ever contrived as it can be in many comics, which seem to rely on plot and art instead of characterization and content. It’s dark, gritty, and funny as hell.

I would recommend this series to anyone who is skeptical about comics or graphic novels or who is new to this genre. The recognizable characters, background information, and themes will make the transition from novels to comics easier.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ricochet

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
For Gemma, the hardest part about traveling across southern Africa looking for an infamous criminal wasn't the constant danger, the long days, or even working undercover. It was pretending not to have feelings for her partner, who was not only endearingly complicated and frustrating, but also her new pretend husband. Banner Credit: Ali

Melissa Thinks: Unsurprisingly, Carmel March has bestowed upon us another addicting story.
Gemma and Boone are back and better than ever in this sequel to Vertigo. Just as action-packed as it's prequel, Ricochet promises to be a well-developed look into the lives of two CIA agents as they take on their next mission in South Africa. Chapter one starts only a handful of days after the events of Vertigo with the winsome couple once again having to pretend to be married in order to complete their undercover operation. Despite the fact that Vertigo ended with them finally getting together, Gemma and Boone have yet to talk about exactly what happened that night and their feelings for one another. So, once again, we find ourselves waiting patiently for the two to realize they're meant to be together.

I can't say I'm surprised that this story was suggested the second it was posted, because Carmel March is one of the greatest authors on Fictionpress currently. The reason she's so amazing, you may be wondering, is because her stories include everything anyone could ever want: deeply developed characters, thrilling action/adventure, idyllic romance, and earnest dialogue. It's also important to mention that this story is intense in nature; its constructed with long chapters (that I devour so quickly, I have to reread them later to savor the experience) packed with excitement and sexual tension.

Carmel states in an author's note that while Vertigo was about the build up of Gemma and Boone's relationship, Ricochet is the development and strengthening of it. Within the first few chapters we get a strong sense of the story's tone and pacing, which lends to the author's intended focus on her character's relationship.

Recommended for fans of On the Run and Close Protection.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My Daylight Monsters

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Crime; fantasy
Rating: 4 stars


Helen Thinks: My Daylight Monsters by Sarah Dalton is a short novella that introduces the protagonist from Dalton's upcoming novel Mary Hades. The novella sees Mary's parents putting her into a psychiatric ward voluntarily for a week due to the 'visions' that she has been having lately. While in the psych ward, Mary makes friends with some of the other patients there and learns that they are betting on how many die across the corridor in the palliative care unit because recently it's been high. At first, Mary shrugs it off like the others because it's palliative care but then starts to realise that something else is going off over there. Something a lot more sinister...

The characters are believable, with great dimension and their own individual little quirks that allow them to stand out and Dalton has written their psychiatric illnesses flawlessly without any exaggeration. The dialogue was quick, witty and actually did sound like a bunch of teenagers sitting around a dining room table having banter.

My Daylight Monsters is a young adult novel that highlights the importance of friendship no matter where you find them, mental illnesses as well as corruption and abuse of power. It's a quick, fast paced novel that filled up a couple of free hours at work and I will most definitely be checking out the follow on novel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Other Woman

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 8:31 PM 0 comments
The Other Woman by Caught In A Simple Game
She knows that there's another woman in his life. She also knows she'll never get rid of the other woman.
Banner Credit: Arden

Melissa Thinks: The Other Woman" is a 3000-ish word one shot that, as the title states, deals with the idea of being the other woman. It's not a happy story, nor is it terribly exciting, and it comes across more like a character study than anything, but there is something psychologically fascinating about the main character and her cheating partner. Also, it's written in an elegant manor; the third person present tense narrative puts a unique spin on the story while also helping to make the reader feel more involved with the story. It's a little different than some of the fluffy stuff we usually review for the site, but still amazingly good.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Captive Prince (Captive Prince Volume 1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy; slash
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: I like to think of this series as one of the greats of the m/m genre. Look at any m/m list on Goodreads and this series will be floating somewhere near the top - and deservedly so. I first read this when C.S. Pacat had the first two volumes free online, and I raced through them. And now she's scored herself a deal with Penguin Australia for her books to be published all over the world! Words can't express how excited I get when online authors achieve their dreams of being published, and it seems to be even rarer for an m/m author to get there! Anyway, I'm super excited to share this novel with all of you just as it's being released by Penguin.

Damianos is Crown Prince of Akielos, rightful heir to the throne until he is betrayed by his brother. He loses everything, including his identity, and is given as a slave to Laurent, Crown Prince of Vere - once an enemy nation, now a cautious ally. Laurent is cruel, manipulative and beautiful - the perfect embodiment of his country - and he is more than happy to take out his hate of Akielos on his new slave. Damen is thrown into the middle of a subtle yet violent power struggle between Laurent and his uncle, the Regent, and wants nothing more than to escape back to his own country and keep his identity a secret. But, of course, things are never quite what they seem in Vere, and C.S. Pacat weaves an intricate tale of plots within plots within plots, so you're never quite sure what is going to happen, or even what is really going on!

Captive Prince contains all those fantastic elements that I look for in a story: complex characters, an engaging world, action, and a plot that keeps me guessing. It's told solely in the perspective of Damen, so the reader is left almost completely in the dark about everything that is going on. Now that I've read it a second time, I can pick up on some of the very subtle hints that are dropped, but I can't stress this enough - nothing is what it seems! The re-read just made me realise, even more, how fantastic C.S. Pacat's writing and plotting is.

Honesty time: the first time I read this, I was a bit put off by the beginning. There are parts at the beginning that are quite unpalatable and dark, but I urge you to continue on if you feel this way. Although this technically is a slave story, it really isn't about that. It focuses more on political machinations and two countries a hairs-breadth away from war, plus the struggles of Damen and our fascinating antihero, Laurent. Laurent is truly an enigma, and I say that after reading the first two books in this series twice. He is such a delightfully complex character, and one of my favourite examples of truly genius characterisation. You will start off feeling equal parts intrigue and hate towards him, and he's not an easy character to get to know. By the end of the first book, many questions are answered but that's just made even more questions!

The world is also a phenomenal low fantasy world. There's no magic involved, and Pacat hasn't borrowed from that same medieval world that every second fantasy book is based in. There are elements of France in Vere, and Ancient Rome in Akielos, but Pacat has developed each society into distinct cultures. We only really see Vere in this book, and what I've seen is incredible. It is a culture that is based on debauchery, wealth, beauty and Machiavellian politics hidden beneath it all.


I can't recommend this book enough. Not only is Pacat an incredible writer, she's a truly lovely person and I can only see these books growing in popularity. So I urge every m/m fan to give it a chance, you won't be disappointed!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy; romance
Rating: 4 stars


Rosie Thinks: This book did what the final book in a series is meant to do - bring every single story line together to create an explosive finale. And it did. From the very start, this book set off at a furious and unforgiving pace. The near-constant cliffhangers nearly killed me and it was hard to tear myself away to do real world things, like go to sleep. And eat. And have a life outside of this book! Yet again, I am in complete awe of Laini Taylor's writing ability. The structure is incredible, the descriptions beautiful, and I love the way she ties everything together through repetition.

Once finishing an epic series like this, I love looking back to the beginning of the first book and comparing my thoughts. I just can't get over how much I did not expect this. At all. I went into it thinking it was going to be set in Earth and the angel love interest would be as boring as every other angel love interest in the YA genre. I was so wrong! The incredible, sweeping saga that Laini Taylor has packed into three books just blows my mind. The stories of all the supporting characters and minor storylines were just as engrossing as the main one. We go from art-student Karou, who has no other worries beyond collecting teeth for Brimstone and enacting petty vengeance against her ex to Karou/Madrigal, restrictionist for the chimaera, last hope of a world being literally torn apart by a thousand-year war.

Actually, let me correct myself: the first 85% or so had my eyes clued to the page, and was just as epic as I expected. After that . . . well, I was a little bit let down. The whole story seemed like one massive, climatic event after the other, right up until the end where it all fell through for me. The plot twists became a bit too convenient and I found myself frowning at my Kindle, thinking, "Really? Is that it?". The two main storylines (Akiva/Karou's dream and the Stelians/Cataclysm, to put it simply) never sat together well for me and in the moment where Taylor finally brought them together, I expected a glorious revelation. Instead, it became artificial and forced. Don't let this stop you from reading this story though - the rest of it is incredible, and the epilogue did a great job of redeeming it for me, since I thought it was a perfect way to end. It didn't tie up the entire novel in a neat, unrealistic bow, but rather cleared up most things and left a bit open. I couldn't really see it ending any other way, so I'm happy for that!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Fantasy; romance
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: From the incredible ending of the first book, this story took off at the speed of light. The pace was just frenetic, and it grew to a fever-pitch for an ending that was even more explosive than the last one. Maybe one of the reasons this book held me so captivated is because I could never guess where it would go next. Laini Taylor provides so many twists and turns that I probably have whiplash, and couldn’t even begin to fathom the next one.
 

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