Monday, 11 May 2015

Brianna's Brief Thoughts on #2-5 of Darynda Jones's Charley Davidson Series

WARNING: As a summary of 2-5 this WILL I repeat WILL contain spoilers (I will try to keep them minimal but you have been warned). 

The main reason this is a summary of books 2-5 of the Charley Davidson series, is because I read books 2-5 a year ago and honestly I read them back to back over such a short period of time that I’m a bit fuzzy on where one book ended and the next one started. I guess that is a testament to how much I enjoyed them as I didn’t own them all it was a case of as soon as I had finished one I immediately bought the next one.

After reading the first one (First Grave on the Right) I just had to read the next one, it didn’t take me long to buy the second one. They are books that I just can’t put down. So firstly here are all of the details of the 4 books:

Second Grave on the Left
Published: 5th January 2012
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: "If you hang around with dead people, life can deliver a whole world of trouble." Take it from Charley Davidson, part-time P.I. and full-time Grim Reaper.The deceased find her very sparkly. Demons find her irresistible. And one entity in particular wants to seduce her in every way possible...

When Charley and Cookie, her best friend slash receptionist, have to track down a missing woman, the case is not quite as open and shut as they anticipate. Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally.) has left his corporeal body because he's being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can't let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they'll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven...well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty.

Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Can she keep those she loves out of harm's way? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel her as she does?

Third Grave Dead Ahead
Published: 2nd February 2012
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she's drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because every time she closes her eyes she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan.

Granted she did imprison Reyes for all eternity, but how is she supposed to solve a missing-persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hell-bent on murder when the devil's son just won't give up on his plan of seduction..... and revenge?

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Published: 30th October 2012
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: Sometimes being the grim reaper really is that - grim. And since Charley's last case went so awry, she has taken a couple months off to wallow in the wonders of self-pity. But when a woman shows up on her doorstep convinced someone is trying to kill her, Charley has to force herself to rise above. Or at least get dressed. She quickly realizes something is amiss when everyone the woman knows swears she's insane

Fifth Grave Past the Light
Published: 9th July 2013
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: Charley Davidson may not look like your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper, but she has vowed to reap grimness wherever she goes despite this unfortunate fact. Sadly, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. As he is the main suspect in her arson case, she has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth.

However, when dead women start appearing in her apartment—lost, confused and terrified beyond reason—Charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes' help, especially when it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the serial killer's next target. With his ability to observe incorporeally, surely he can find out who's responsible. And even if he can't, he is the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return: Charley. All of her—body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she might be willing to pay…


Okay so I’m not going to go into detail for each book mainly because I don’t remember where one ended and the other starts! I’m not really sure where to start so bare with me if this seems to ramble a bit.

So Reyes is the Son of Satan… and planned his entire life (even birth) around meeting Charley. Firstly that is a little bit creepy but on the other hand he forgot all of that so technically he kind of fell in love with her naturally – if you call appearing incorporeally and severing spines natural. Their relationship confuses me, well not the relationship itself, the way I feel about it confuses me. I ship it… I love it, I love them together and he proposed and I’m so happy… But let’s rewind… the first word he said to her was a threat to rape her… Whenever she says or does something that makes him uncomfortable or he doesn’t like he threatens her – that is not a healthy relationship, that is not a relationship I can get behind! I can’t condone that. Clearly you see my problem, so why do I ship it?
Firstly let’s look at where he is from (this is not an excuse). He is the Son of Satan, he was a general in hell, Darynda never goes into detail about what that would entail but I’m sure we can assume it’s not going to be fluffy bunnies and roses. And then after that he was brought up by Earl and routinely abused, (again these are not valid excuses) but where this does all become relevant is that when he threatens Charley it is normally in response to her being sympathetic to him. Pity as he would call it or when she puts his well-being before hers, he doesn’t want pity and he doesn’t care about his well-being definitely not at the expense of hers. Charley herself compares Reyes to a wild animal, he lashes out when she backs him into a corner emotionally. He’s trying to stop her from feeling sorry for him, he’s trying to make her not care about him.  It’s a learning curve for him, and he is learning and I don’t believe he would hurt her and as he keeps saying she is far more powerful than him.

I think all of the supporting characters are great, even Denise (I mean obviously I don’t like her but you are not supposed to). I think my favourite is Garret, I’m so glad he didn’t die, and I’m very pleased to see that he has taken a slightly more prominent role since coming back. Cookie is definitely underrated. It seems to me that she does most of the actual investigative work. 

If you remember from the review of First Grave on the Right, I wasn't entirely sure what I thought of the books or Charley and after 5 books I’m still not sure! But I think I’m addicted. Once I finish one I have to read the next one immediately the only gap was between Fifth Grave Past the Light and Sixth Grave on the Edge because I had to wait for the latter to actually be published. I think this is the most that I’ve read a series back to back most series I read 2-3 back to back at the most before taking a break and reading another book before going back.

Again apologies that these are not proper individual reviews, but individually they are a bit of a blur and its surprisingly hard to generalise the middle of a series. But with a full review of Sixth Grave on the Edge coming up I felt I needed to address the gap!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Caragh Reviews // Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Published - 28th April 2015
Publisher - Harlequin/MIRA
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant. Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

Rogue is the sequel to Talon by Julie Kagawa. If you've read Talon then you'll know just how much I was excited to read this! Talon ended so amazingly and full of possibilities that I was itching to start reading it. Rogue picked up quickly and it felt seamless following on from Talon.

Rogue is told from the perspective of multiple characters. Usually I love this writing style but this time it kind of felt a little too much - at the beginning at least. There were multiple character POV's but it also switched between past and present. In hindsight, I loved it but at the time of reading it felt a little confusing. 

No review should ever really start with 'It wasn't a bad book but...' but that's what this was for me. It was enjoyable and had a lot of points where I was biting my lip because of the tension but it just didn't really give me what I was looking for. If i'm being totally honest, I can't tell you what the main focus of this book actually was. There was a little bit of everything going on but nothing that stands out majorly. When I started reading Rogue, I was hoping that I would find out more about the inside workings of Talon and St George. 

That's also the beauty of trilogies too I guess. Each book hints just that little bit further at what really matters, ready for the climax in the final book. It just makes me anxious that i'll invest so much time and never really get the answer that i'm looking for! There is so much potential with this series that I am genuinely looking forward to seeing where it's heading. 

As I mentioned in my review of Talon, the love triangle seems to be teetering on the edge now. Garrett makes a choice that forces Ember to think about what she really wants and who she wants to be. I don't think that it's done with yet and one of the biggest things i'm looking forward to is seeing it resolved. 

There's no release date (that i'm aware of) but keep an eye on Soldier, the third book in the series!

Caragh Reviews // Talon by Julie Kagawa

Published - 28th October 2014
Publisher - Harlequin/MIRA
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Talon was an incredible surprise and a bit of a whirlwind! I didn't really know much about it and i'm one of the few people left who haven't read anything by Kagawa before. Right from chapter one you are thrown in the deep end. Dragons! Enemies! Secrets! Missions! I mean come on, who isn't dragged into a book that is primarily about dragons!

I'll admit, it was a little weird to wrap my head around agiant, scaly dragon kind of morphing into a little frail 16 year old girl but you know what? The logistics don't really matter and I didn't spend too much time thinking about it as the pace of the book had me reading at lightning speed.

For me, Talon had the perfect balance between your typical crush story (hello, love triangle!) and a whole lot of excitement and adventure. Ember was really likeable and relatable which is super important to me. I think the only character that I didn't really connect with was Dante and considering how that goes i'm not totally surprised by it.

What spurred me on whilst reading Talon was the relationship between Talon (the organisation) and St George. I wanted to know where this war came from and why it mattered more than anything else (more on this in my review of Rogue, later!). The book was so fraught with tension over this and honestly, I was kind of stressed out just thinking about the possibilities. The end of the book was so explosive that it left me reeling. What was going to happen? Were any of them safe now? What is Dante thinking? There were so many questions that there was never a single doubt in my mind that the very next book I would read was the sequel, Rogue. Review coming soon......

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Caragh Reviews // Conquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra

Published - 15th March 2015
Publisher - Post Hill Press
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - Since Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra shared their story of teen pregnancy and adoption on the MTV's 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, they've been known for their inspiring commitment to growing up right. Between their experience placing their first daughter for adoption, and their struggle to cope with problems in their families, Catelynn and Tyler were challenged in every imaginable way. But against all odds, the childhood sweethearts rose above the dysfunction to become responsible adults whose story has inspired many others.
How did two troublemaking kids from the trailer park make it through the storm of family dysfunction, teen pregnancy, and adoption without letting go of each other? What gave them the strength to conquer the chaos of their lives and go on to become people their children could be proud of? And what really happened when the cameras weren't there?

This will be a quick one! So in order to review this book, it must come with a confession: I love Teen Mom. There, I said it. Catelynn and Tyler have overcome so many incredulous things in order to become birth parents that their daughter Carly, will come to respect. Carly was placed in the care of adoptive parents Brandon and Teresa just days after she was born because her 17 year old parents made a brave and selfless decision.

I have so much respect for these two parents. I can't even begin to imagine the trauma they must have experienced. So when they released their book, describing what life was like growing up under the care of addict parents, drug-fuelled and alcohol filled parties and how all of this led to their decision to place Carly for adoption - I knew that I would have to read it.

It was never going to be a piece of literary art. Catelynn and Tyler are self confessed 'bad kids'. Catelynn tells all about how she completely failed middle school and had to fight to get an education. So the writing style of this book isn't something that should be paid attention to. Catelynn and Tyler are brave young adults who have experienced more in their short lives than most adults (and most definitely me!). This book, along with the MTV show Teen Mom really only serves one purpose - to show the world what adoption really means, and that is powerful.

They have a great relationship with Carly's parents and they undoubtedly made the best decision for their daughter at that time. Catelynn and Tyler are now also parents to their newborn Nova and are parenting for the first time.
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