Tag Archives: romance

Pursuing Prissie (Pomeroy Family Legacy #1)

Title: Pursuing Prissie

Author: Christa Kinde

Series: Pomeroy Family Legacy #1

Ten years have passed since Prissie began seeing angels. Many of her old friends have moved on, but she’s still in West Edinton. And after a stint in college, Ransom is back and ready to stay. His feelings for Prissie have only grown . . . but she’s content to see him as a friend. And Prissie is distracted by a demon who has taken a particular interest in her.

I would recommend reading the Threshold books before this one, as it will provide a lot of context to the story and the characters. This takes place ten years later, and it’s a lot of fun to see how everyone’s grown up. I do miss the exuberance of the younger Ransom, as his uncertainties (as well as his goal) make him more restrained than he was previously. But Prissie mellowed out a lot, and as usual surrounds herself with a diverse crowd. I think I was most surprised with Margary, her former best friend, and seeing not only how far their paths have diverged, but how Prissie is mature enough to recognize the real needs in her former friend’s life and tries to meet them.

The angelic side is as fun as ever. Tameas and Ethan are surprised to find their charges swapped for the time being, although some of the angels eventually guess the reason. I wonder if Ethan ever figured out his main qualification was looking like a teenager. . . but he does get a level of encouragement from Prissie that Zeke doesn’t provide, simply because Prissie can see him.

I think my favorite line in the whole book was this exchange between Tamaes and Jedrick.

Tamaes sagged to a seat beside Jedrick, who smiled sympathetically. “How fares your new charge?”
“I used to laugh at the stories Ethan shared.”

I also think it’s funny how much Beau and Prissie rely on Marcus, which drives Ransom crazy because he can’t help interpreting this from a human perspective and feel left out, not understanding that they tend to turn to Marcus for issues more demonic in nature. And Marcus is always in full agreement with them about “we’re just friends.” I wonder, given Prissie’s comment in Ransom’s new house at the end, if she’s told him a bit more of her strange life. Not telling her brothers is common sense, but Ransom has a better reason to know by the end.

Overall, I liked having this followup to the main story to see how everything came out. Recommended.

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Seeker (Riders #2)

Title: Seeker

Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Riders #2

Daryn is haunted by her greatest mistake: the conflict that severed Gideon’s hand and thrust Bastian into a world that only she can enter. She has to go back. Has to make things right. But she’s totally unprepared for what’s waiting . . .

Gideon is frustrated at Daryn’s reclusiveness. ALL the Horsemen want to go after Bastian (and messily dismember the demon who went with him), and Daryn won’t clue them in. But they’re searching for her. And once they find her, they’re going after Bastian.

As much as I loved being with these characters again, this felt like a necessary conclusion rather than a story I liked as much in its own right.

The first book was a big favorite, so I’ve been looking forward to the sequel for months. I didn’t want to believe Bastian was doomed to “probably dead in a horrible way” as part of the bittersweet ending to the first book. And I wanted to see more of the Horsemen being awesome and wrecking stuff, or otherwise goofing off with each other, or digging into their personalities more. There was a little of that, but most of the book was so heavily focused on hooking up Daryn and Gideon, and the rest of the plot didn’t go far enough into some of the more interesting ideas it started to explore.

This was still funny. Well, Gideon’s portions were funny. He’s still got that bit of a smartass to liven things up, and there’s some great mini-stories about various misadventures he had with Bastian. Which is a great contrast to the general heaviness of the overall book. Daryn is more depressive, but sometimes she’ll observe something hilarious that the others are doing or saying, but I definitely preferred Gideon’s point of view.

And there were still interesting bits. I found it fascinating how Gideon refers to being War as a VICE, something he has to struggle to overcome. At the same time, I thought the pocket world could have done more to push them through that. As it was, the only character growth I could see was what had happened in the first book (I’m not counting him and Daryn staring intensely at each other and being swept away by “I want you.”). Daryn has a lot more development, for sure, but I felt a little let down by her wanting to go back home to her family. That needed to happen to close out the threads from the first book, but I didn’t care for how it actually worked out (although the aftermath was plenty amusing).

*** SMALL SPOILERS***
The fact that the actual going home was skipped, as well as it being such an easy reintegration, bothered me.
*** END SPOILERS****

I didn’t like how the pocket world limited everyone’s abilities. It helps add to the tension, but it takes away a ton of the fun. Rather than have a scary world where their powers are matched by equally scary Harrows, we get a bunch of restrictions on what can and can’t be done that make them little better than well-armed ordinary humans.

The romance, too, was kind of there for me. I really don’t care for these types of relationships, where it feels a bit more like two people crushing hard on each other, but at least there are things each of them can notice and pull out of the other. So there’s at least something of liking each other as people, and being a decent fit for each other. I did prefer the first book, though, since this one reverses the balance. Here, romance is a much stronger focus than the rest of the plot.

Overall, I was still happy to read this to get more of an ending, but I found myself frustrated at a lot of the directions the story went. I wanted more Jode and Marcus. I wanted more wrecking stuff in huge ways. I wanted Gideon to be more effective, and to be able to use his leadership. That said, this wasn’t bad, just not all I wanted it to be. Be sure to read Riders first, though, as this heavily depends on the previous book. I rate this book Recommended.

Firebolt (The Dragonian #1)

Title: Firebolt

Author: Adrienne Woods

Series: The Dragonian #1

Elena Watkins is tired of her dad’s paranoia. Moving every three months, never settling down or making friends, never able to experience a normal life . . . and then the dragons attack, she wakes up in a magical country, and she realizes “normal” will never define her life again. No one knows who was after her (or was it her father?) or why. Now she’s struggling to fit into a world where the ordinary humans surrounding her might be dragons in disguise, and her own role might be bigger than anyone expects.

This book has a lot of solid parts, but it’s also kind of jerky. The first bit is a thriller, with the abnormal home life devolving into an attack that leaves Elena all but dead . . . and then the plot just forgets about that and moves on. Elena’s feelings for her father gets a few brief mentions but otherwise nobody brings up anything about that time, which felt really bizarre. The enemy doesn’t appear to have been killed, so the lack of follow through was puzzling. Elena doesn’t ask any questions about it. No one offers any answers. No one even offers to guard her against the possibility of future attacks.

Once we get past that, it’s pretty definitely a YA fantasy/paranormal romance. There’s one main romance (I can’t honestly call it a love triangle yet) although this is hampered by Elena’s emotions and will running one way and the plot clearly pointing her in another direction. I’m pretty sure the prophecy, for example, has a lot more to do with her romantic choices than anything else.

I did like Elena’s female roommates. They’re neat characters, and Sammy in particular was a lot of fun. I liked the dragon shapeshifters, the various types of dragons, and the various abilities. I wasn’t at all fond of the whole “dragon personality completely changes when claimed by a human,” which was disturbing to watch in action (even if it does clean up his character from jerk to decent guy). Especially since it’s a given this is going to happen again with Blake.

It is pretty easy to spot the overall way things are going, though, which makes Elena’s romance uninteresting and to my mind unimportant.

****SPOILERS****

Elena is clearly the daughter of the late monarchs, with her “mother’s” disappearance and its timeframe, and the prophecy about Blake, being some of the strongest evidence. Blake, equally clearly, is her Destined Soul Mate, so anything not involving him is basically doomed by Authorial Fiat, because the prophecy says the monarch’s child will claim the Rubicon. Elena even has a PICTURE of her “mother”, which she never bothers to bring out but would likely be instantly recognized by some of the older dragons who actually knew that dragon.

****SPOILERS END****

I was also a bit annoyed that so many of the riddles present in the book are just reusing rather famous ones. Particularly Elena’s last and hardest one. Given that it was part of a myth, the two pages devoted to her thinking it over had me wondering how she hadn’t run into this before, since her father likes riddles and this is hardly a new one.

I’m torn about continuing this series. I would probably read more on Kindle Unlimited, but I don’t think I like it enough to buy it outright (if this was in my library, it would get a rental). I feel like the story is dropping some interesting angles in favor of a love story it’s too obviously telegraphing can’t work anyway. On the other hand, the world was fun, and the dragons are by and large more fun, so I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them. I rate this book Neutral.

Further Thoughts – Yona of the Dawn

I wanted to jot down a few further thoughts on Yona, since I had a chance to review the dub, and I wanted to mention a few things in a bit more depth about the manga.

The dub is serviceable, but most of the characters didn’t feel great in their roles. Gija is a major exception, as his voice actor absolutely nails his bug-related freakouts, but others like Jaeha don’t have any transition between their comedy portions and their regular voices, which made Jaeha sound more monotone than his Japanese voice. Or there are odd moments like Yun using his obviously male voice when talking to Yona during a period when he’s disguising himself as a girl—and none of the other girls figure this out until so much later it feels really stupid. In addition his attempts to sound feminine are still gravelly.

As an added annoyance, this disk is the first anime I’ve watched that didn’t allow me to put subtitles on when I was watching the English, which is how I prefer to view dubs. That allows me to more easily evaluate where the dub changed the script, or catch lines that might be muttered or in the background.

Jeno/Zeno is still my favorite. (Looks like he’s officially Jeno, but it sounds like Zeno in the Japanese, and we already have Jaeha, so I prefer Zeno.) His little “we can totally storm the castle” speech in the last ep is the first big hint that he’s more than he appears—why the massive amount of confidence when he’s previously described himself as basically powerless?

And when the manga finally shows his ability in chapters 99-100, Zeno demonstrates he could probably storm the entire castle by himself. And win.

**MANGA SPOILERS**

I love how Zeno’s backstory is basically: the other three dragons never let him fight because he was weak, and then when they got old and retired, he went out and did everything by himself. He’s unkillable but not invincible, as Shin-Ah demonstrates by tying him up. So despite having massive powers, he doesn’t unbalance the plot because his personality isn’t suited for fighting, and because in order to trigger those powers he’s first got to take deadly levels of injury.

I adore his initial battle, as his ineffectual resistance slowly transforms into complete invincibility. And all his friends are shell-shocked from the moment he first gets stabbed through the heart . . . and he’ll take way more damage than that before he’s done. One of my favorite frames is the panel after he’s been stabbed multiple times, dismembered, and beheaded, and is standing there with ruined clothes but a whole body and taunting the enemy: “What will you do? Unlike you, I have no limits. I can go on fighting for hundreds of years. Come at me. I have all the time in the world.”

And then they find out that he’s not only unkillable, but after a certain point he can’t even take injuries anymore, and they’re now fighting a dragon just as ferocious as Gija and Jaeha combined.

It really is a shame it’s going to take so long to get volumes 17-18 in English.

I like how the dragons are becoming more and more a group of friends. Zeno admits the original four never really meshed that well, as the thread of competitiveness disrupted the sense of being a team. But the current group demonstrates again and again their willingness to support each other, which is perhaps a reflection of Yona being weak where King Hiryuu was strong. Yona can’t pull her own weight in fights the way he did. And Zeno isn’t volunteering to hurt himself as long as the other three can  handle things without his help, but if the situation calls for it, he’ll cheerfully offer to undergo hideous pain because he knows he can take it.

I also like how the manga has generally moved towards longer plot arcs. Su-won turns his attention to the surrounding kingdoms, and Yona for one reason or another is in the middle of things, which means plenty of time to explore the other nations. It raises some interesting questions about Su-won’s ultimate goal, as his short-term aspirations are building up Kouka and reducing his neighbors so they won’t face external threats. He doesn’t seem like he wants to invade, so I do wonder what he’ll get up to once the last neighbor has either submitted or lost a war with him.

At any rate, it’s a shame that the anime doesn’t look likely to go any farther. The plot continues to improve, the characters have a lot of interesting revelations, and the surprises keep on coming.

Yona of the Dawn (anime)

Yona of the Dawn

Episodes 1-24

Yona is a pampered princess with a peace-loving father. She’s in love with her cousin, Su-won—but when Su-won kills her father and usurps the throne, Yona becomes a fugitive, with only a single guard, Hak, to protect her. In order to survive, she’ll need allies. So begins her quest to gather the four legendary dragon warriors.

I was hoping for something similar to the excellent 12 Kingdoms, and in that regard was disappointed. Yona is very solidly a shoujo with a dash of reverse harem, and the show focuses a lot on the string of guys she accumulates and the various semi-romantic hijinks that occur between them. That said, there’s a fair amount of action as well, and even if I didn’t like Yona, the guys tended to be a lot more interesting.

Hak, for all that he isn’t a dragon (officially, at least) can rampage just as well as any of them. He’s also in love with Yona, although his position as her servant won’t allow him to admit it (and Yona is extremely clueless). The dragons themselves are a fun lot. Each of the dragon warriors has a specific power, and generally very different relationships with that power depending on how their villages viewed it. The one major exception in the anime is the Yellow Dragon, mostly because he shows up in just the last episode, but presumably the manga digs into his character more. I like Jaeha’s power the best, and his stubborn insistence not to let dragon-blood-destiny run his life (although he ends up coming anyway, of course). Rounding out the group is Yun, whose competence with everything not fighting makes him a vital support.

(I did read the manga and once we FINALLY get Jeno/Zeno’s backstory and get to see his powers, he easily became my favorite. I like his casual, happy attitude, rumpled appearance, the moments of surprising insight or wisdom that shows he’s not an idiot, the spirit of self-sacrifice that says, “This may be all I can do, but I will do it.” He’s really not a fighter the way the other three are, and his approach to battles horrifies everyone who watches him because of how much he has to suffer to use his abilities, but he never complains, and even volunteers his own suffering to save them pain. And his powers are SO MUCH FUN. Even if, far more than the other three, his could honestly be called a curse.)

Yona, though, is almost unbearable in the beginning. I’m glad the anime beginning included a flash forward, because I don’t think I would’ve stuck around long enough to get there otherwise. Eventually she realizes the depths of her helplessness and determines to get better, but it’s a long journey to even marginal usefulness. She’s almost more of a mascot, whose job is to keep everyone else happy and willing to fight. This is starting to turn around by the end of the anime, and I can only hope the manga grows her up more.

The plot can also suffer from some bizarre moments, particularly early on. Like the snakes that show up out of nowhere, at night, and are chasing Yona and Hak through a forest. Because . . . cold blooded creatures with no legs can run as fast as two humans? Yeah. Although I ended up liking the show, especially once I read the manga and got to see some of the later ways things play out, the beginning is just hard for me to watch.

Overall whether or not you like this is going to depend on how much you like the shoujo aspects of it. It does have a good amount of action, humor, and depth of character, so there is enough to enjoy if the presence of some of the tropes doesn’t ruin it. One of the more surprising aspects, to me, is that the usurper Su-won is actually a remarkably good king—and so much better than Yona’s father that it’s arguable if it would even be a good thing for Yona and the dragons to go against him. Certainly Yona’s not ready to sit on a throne. But neither the anime nor the manga treats that question much. It’s more about Yona being able to survive in a desperate and dangerous world. I rate this series Recommended.

In Arcadia (Touchstone #5)

Title: In Arcadia

Author: Andrea K. Höst

Series: Touchstone #5

Laura never second-guessed her decision to walk through the gate to Munia to live with her daughter. But now that she’s on the other side, living in another world is settling into a directionless, mundane existence. Then comes the complication of possible romance. Having been divorced, Laura isn’t sure she wants to go through a relationship again.

I was expecting something closer to the Gratuitous Epilogue than the first three Touchstone books, but this isn’t even much like that. Although the idea of a story focusing on Cassandra’s mother was interesting, I thought the execution fell rather flat in several places.

I liked being able to see the impact Cassandra’s disappearance had on everyone at home, and what happened to the family as a result. Even though this was more of a summary backstory, it still filled in some holes and helped to explain why everyone who came with had decided that way. I liked the general story about Laura and her wanting to be close to her daughter but not be some kind of helicopter mom, understanding her daughter now has a family and a life.

The problem is I never really bought the romance, and unlike the other books, where there’s plenty going on outside that, here the romance is basically the story. I don’t mind the story being sex-positive, but I still find it bizarre Laura has no inkling this man even likes her, then a week later decides to sleep with him as the FIRST step in a relationship. And then half the reason she decides to continue it seems to be nothing more than “we had really good sex.” It would’ve made a lot more sense to me to have them start building the relationship on some common foundations before getting to that point. As it is, she’s known the man for mere hours before offering him that much intimacy.

It would have been nice to see more of her struggle with being a divorced person in a new relationship (and frankly, his struggle with the same; Tsur Selkie’s backstory is interesting, but he’s a rather flat character compared to Kaoren).

At least the twist at the very end leaves me hopeful some future book might explore the impact of that. But even if it does, it’s unlikely this one will need to be read to augment the story. I rate this book Neutral.