Move over Bluebell, Sparkle has arrived!

image

Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh (Guildhunter #9)

Superb! Nalini Singh does it again, she couldn’t write a bad book if you paid her.

I adore this cover.  Yet, today I’m staring at it rather bleary eyed.  Normally I’m dreaming by 10pm.  Instead last night I was still reading at 2am. I was so swept up in this wonderful story, I couldn’t even consider putting it down.

So, this book revisits Raphael and Elena and in particular focuses on Elena’s past.  I’ll admit at first I was disappointed that Bluebell wasn’t meeting his match, in fact it’s Aodhan who plays a huge part in this story.  And little by little I fell in love with Aodhan.  His steely strength, soft humour and love of art coupled with a depth of character that is slowly coming to the surface meant I was a goner. Illium who?

Nalini Singh’s writing style is so gentle, it’s like a friend whispering in your ear.  Slowly she sucks you in, and it’s not until the end you realise you’ve been subsumed. Hence at 2am I’m reading ‘just one more chapter’.  When I finish a Nalini Singh book there’s a sadness, I’ve lost that friend’s voice in my ear.

Nalini’s beautifully gentle style contrasts sharply with the Machiavellian angel politics and the evil surrounding the Cadre as they try to solve the riddle of Lijuan.

Aside from Aodhan, the other star of the show is Morocco. The descriptions of the buildings and town market were so perfectly evocative, that I imagine the Moroccan tourist board has been on the phone!

And so back to my wonderful Bluebell. Yep, I’m kinda sorry but Aodhan has replaced him in my affections. Oh well, something tells me that the blue winged one will cope.

Let’s hope that Aodhan is next! Would saying please help?

 

Thank you you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review. However at midnight my preordered book I arrived and I happily finished reading that! 

 

Brave new world

image

Allegiance of Honour Nalini Singh psy changeling series #15

Truth be told, I knew I would love this book before it even appeared on my kindle (two days after the rest of the world!). After all the pupcubs finally appear, and Ms Singh had promised updates on favourite characters.

And love it I absolutely did.

With this book the author starts a new story arc, I just have to marvel for a moment at both her skill and bravery in doing so.  This book is so different from Ms Singh’s usual classy fare that she did risk fans not going with it. Yet, by combining glimpses of much loved characters and a new challenging story line that will move on from these favourites, she’s managed to extend the shelf life of an absolute gem long before it needed an update.  Many of her PNR peers could learn a lesson or two.

So, three aspects stood out for me. Firstly, and this maybe fresh in my mind with the recent Brexit campaign debacle, Ms Singh shows us the strength in genetic diversity and how isolationist tendencies create inherent weaknesses. Strength comes from tolerance and learning to appreciate others’ strengths. Absolutely the message of our age.

Secondly, let’s hear it for the girls!  Each psy changeling book has featured the story of an alpha male finding his mate. These are never silly dim girls, but it’s always been the men who’ve been front and centre. Not this time, damn these girls rock!  They may not all have Mercy’s dominant personality but the tone is set by the women. And you’ve gotta love that the men know it!

Lastly, I loved the author’s concept of family. Or the bonds that can connect people who aren’t always family.  Kaleb’s realisation that he’s acquiring ‘people’ and Judd’s reply had me laughing and tearing,  and then examining my own familial bonds. It’s just gorgeous when an author has you looking deep inside yourself.

The psy changeling world now has a fantastic new future, waiting for the next book will be a killer.  Thank you Nalini, just don’t make us wait those extra two days, please!!

It’s all about the girl


Rock-Redemption-186x300

Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh out Oct 6th

This is Kit’s story. Sure the blurb will tell you its Noah’s story, but its not.  It’s all about Kit and wow is she a heroine and a half!

I didn’t immediately love this series.  Fox and Molly’s chemistry didn’t quite do it for me. David and Thea were cute and sweet but it was only a novella. Then I got T-Rex’d and I loved it!  I’m watching Sonny Bill Williams play in the rugby world cup and dreaming of Gabriel (its the shirt story!).

I’ve read Rock Hard four times now.  Three on the first weekend.  So, perhaps its not surprising that this didn’t quite reach those dizzy heights. Maybe I wouldn’t have cope if it had!  But its a great read and Kit kills it.  She’s strong but vulnerable.  She’s funny but serious.  She’s passionate but practical.  She’s simply my kind of girl, the fact that she’s a super amazing actress just endears her that much more.

Noah’s issues are difficult and I wasn’t always convinced about why he didn’t seek help before or indeed get help now.  But his desire to be a better man and friend to Kit are so heartfelt that you want him to succeed.  The line that Kit draws for him seemed to me insurmountable but yet not.  I kind of knew he’d do it. Or maybe i just hoped!

We get to see lots of David and Fox in this and the relationship between the four is genuine and gorgeous.  Fox and Noah are the ultimate bromance boys!  Divine!  So, we wait for Abe and Sarah’s story – that was very well trailed and I think its going to be a complicated roller coaster.  Can’t wait!

Thanks to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.

Stealing the Show

Archangel’s Enigma Nalini Singh

So, we finally know what Naasir is!   I’ll keep the secret a bit longer…

But it was certainly worth waiting for.  As usual with Nalini she has tee’d up the couple perfectly.  Andi is just what Naasir wants and needs.  The dialogue is another absolute winner.  With Naasir’s childlike nature and Andi’s naivety Archangel’s Enigma is funnier and more heart warming.  Nalini doesn’t write dialogue she simply and brilliantly records what is said to her.  Never more so than when Naasir is given his task by Raphael.

He kicks it off brilliantly with the complaint: “I can’t be dragging around a historian.  They break.”  Its especially inconvenient whilst he searches for his mate and his response to Andromeda’s vow is a classic!  But my favourites were about his diet from different restaurants to telling Andi he’d eat a person if he hated them and was “really hungry”.  It makes a change from most man whores who like variety in their bed partners – Naasir is all about his diet!  And yet, her responses to being food were so matter of fact I just laughed.

Apologies to Naasir even with the prospect of him eating someone, he was outshone.  Illium and Aodhan stole the show.

This bromance between two very different characters who have been life long friends simply killed it.  There’s a scene where Illium is injured and Aodhan who can’t bare to be touched, grasps Elena’s hand – it stole my breath and my heart.

And visually – these two are dynamite!  Bluebell with his gorgeous distinctive blue wings coveted by everyone but especially Lijuan and Aodhan with wings that seem to be of fractured glass and ice.  Can you imagine getting out of a yellow cab in NYC and looking up?  When you picture something like that you know that Nalini’s not a writer but an artist.  Phenomenal.

As you’d expect the social media chat is all around are they the next guildhunter couple.  I guess they could be.  And wherever Nalini takes her characters I will simply follow, I’m fine with it.  But I think their story is one of relationships and connections.  Until Elena had Raphael her closest relationship was Sara.  She understands friendship and Raphael who has spent almost his entire life without Caliane does too.  To me, it’s not just about fixing Aodhan’s issues but confirming for Ellie that its the family you choose that sustains you – true for all of us but especially true for an immortal with mortal friends and family.

naasir

 

 

The Immortal Bogeyman

Angel’s Blood & Archangel’s Kiss  Nalini Singh (books 1 & 2 Guild Hunter series)

So, I’m on a re-read of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series before the arrival of the mysterious Naasir’s book on September 3rd.

Two things struck me with these first two books that didn’t quite resonate first time round.  Of course, these are stories about Elena & Raphael’s romance and the world of angels and vampires that Nalini has created, but beyond that there are two powerful themes in play here – The Bogeyman and the Immortality Choice.

At some stage everyone has a Bogeyman.  For the humans and vamps of the GH world Raphael’s Archangel is the bogeyman, that is no doubt the purpose of the broken vampire left in the centre of his New York.  Elena’s connection with Raphael allows us to see his own bogeyman – Ms Singh’s imagery of him with broken wings in a field is vivid and heart felt.

“Drip, Drip, Drip” Lijuan goes to extraordinary lengths to taunt Elena with her fears.  Whilst her nightmares increase equally Raphael’s determination to vanquish them grows, allowing her to start to understand the grip this horror has on her.  Again, the imagery of the blood, tiles, shoe, etc is vivid and painful.

Interesting to see how Michaela and Lijuan both fear not being the centre of attraction or being forgotten.  Lijuan in particular fears being inconsequential.  Their hatred of Elena is multi faceted but driven by the fact that her existence threatens their roles as the most compelling (Michaela) or extraordinary (Lijuan).  How the world has space for both of them is amazing!

Michaela and Lijuan also bring clarity around the choice to be immortal.  Knowing the potential downsides – insanity, infertility, boredom, watching those you love die – would you choose immortality?  Is living forever enough of a gift to live on knowing you’ve seen it all hundreds of times before?  And that the resulting detachment from humanity may make you evil?

Yet, so many willingly make the choice, even Elena’s own family aren’t immune.  What’s powerful though is that neither Dimitri or Elena willingly chose their immortal status.  Dimitri has at this point thrown himself into the advantages and for the time being abandoned his mortal heart, whilst Elena fights not so much to hold onto her heart but to bring her mortal heart to others.

What a fascinating and multi dimensional series this is and I haven’t even mentioned Bluebell or Aodhan!  Nalini Singh is the mistress of world creation, powerful imagery and gripping romance.  It’s not for the faint hearted!

Oh and my bogeyman is Jaws – white pointers terrify me.

Family ties and so much more

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Politics, drama, romance and unforgettable quotes – Ms Singh is in the form of her life!

“You’ve made me a better man”.  How many times has the romantic hero yearned to a better person for his love?  Kaleb being a prime example.  I loved this twist, for once its the girl who wants and needs to be a better person.  It was beyond touching as she dares to be more than she thinks she can be.

Zaira the pied piper with a pony t-shirt – who saw that coming?!  Yeah!

Yet, what resonated for me was the insight into family.  Aden sets himself the task of creating a family for the Arrows, drawing on two role models – an old and a new character.  Its a pretty easy stretch to compare this new family with those of the changeling packs.  But I think Ms Singh is saying so much more.

She’s asking what do you do about renegade family members?  Can the bonds of family loyalty stretch to include others?  What should you sacrifice for your child?  Aden’s view of a renegade family member is extraordinary and will have rung true with anyone who’s suffered from the terrible actions of a family member.  You can love and accept someone who stands for all you abhor.  How hard is that?   Whilst Nikita didn’t give Sasha the kind of relationship she wanted from her mother it was what she needed.  And that was no doubt painful for both.

As for Aden’s own parents – their ambition for him was worse than any stage parent I’ve ever come across, yet they set in motion so much of the good that is now happening.  I loved that Aden, wasn’t conflicted by them – they didn’t define him or his story.  That would have been an easy angst story, but not good enough for Aden.

Ms Singh is the queen of the quotes – they make you smile, grab your heart and always add to the characters.  My kindle is full of highlighted text.  Kaleb and Sahara discussing Nikita and Anthony – absolutely perfect!

As its Nalini Singh the fantastic story adding layers to her already rich world is a given.  What’s challenging now is not to work out who the next book will focus on, but who’s behind the political shenanigans.  Its only as you start to ponder who the architect of the drama is, that you appreciate how rich the psy changeling world is -there are so many candidates.  And all of them valid.

Congratulations Nalini what an extraordinary achievement this series continues to be.

#ShardsofHope

 

Gotta have Faith

Visions of Heat (#2 Psy-Changeling series) Nalini Singh  (spoilers below – watch out!)

This was another re-read for me.  I’m shocked at how much I’m getting out of a book the second time round, especially as I know what happens in the next eleven books!  This is an absolute credit to Nalini Singh’s skill and imagination.

It’s easy to talk about the amazing world she’s created, but its so much more than that.  Its an intricate story arc, with each book carefully developing the story.  Ms Singh doesn’t waste a phrase, its all beautifully crafted to give you the insights you need as the story goes forward.  Clearly, her imagination runs riot (thank god!) but its her story telling skill and the link from one episode to the next that keeps you hooked.  She’s a master craftswoman.  Be very envious!

I’m quite surprised I didn’t realise that Faith’s father Anthony was leading a fifth column inside the PsyNet.  Although, I’d not twigged at the time (or perhaps forgotten since reading) his response to Faith’s defection and his subsequent conversation with his daughter and Vaughn made it quite clear.

He knows where he needs to be and what he’s doing – I wonder why he never told Faith?  Perhaps he really did see her as the perfect Psy as he intimated. (or should I re-read that bit?!)

However, now in hindsight the clue was in Faith’s name.  It’s an interesting choice for a member of the Psy race that eschews all emotion and lives by science and data, seeming only to value business growth.  Unlike the other two virtues – Charity and Hope – Faith is all about believing in something that you cannot know or prove and probably never will.  It’s an unknown concept to the Psy, yet it was Anthony’s choice for his elder daughter.

As for her clan name – NightStar – it seems perfect for Anthony and Faith, reminding us of how the night star can guide the lost home.  And when seen its a point of fixed point of clarity – something (or someone) to follow.

From now on, I’ll be scrutinising those book names.

With book 14 Shards of Hope due out in the UK on the 4th June I think I’ll abandon my re-reading until after I’ve read that instalment.

 

Want to be a winner?

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Dominated by a triumvirate of three competing races – psy, changeling and human, Nalini Singh has created pretty much the perfect fictional universe.

Unusually for me this was a re-read.  Given how full Amazon’s shelves are I’m not much of a re-reader.  What’s the point when I know what will happen?  However, with the 14th book in the series out June 4th and a new cover reveal there’s a bit of buzz about it and I’ve been swept along.

In actual fact I didn’t re-read it, I savoured it.  This time there was no rush to the end to see what happened.  Ooh what a delight!

Two things struck me this time round.

The concept of sensation.  Like the rest of her race psy Sascha Duncan has been programmed to shun all emotion.  An emotionless state isn’t totally unique, but the psy live in an airtight vacuum.

When I first met the psy I thought they couldn’t feel but I needed to expand my understanding of feeling – its also touch, smell, taste.  Sascha’s world isn’t just devoid of emotion but anything that might appeal to the senses.

Think about it – no silk dresses, no freshly laundered sheets, no sand between toes, no sloppy kisses, no hazelnut lattes, no chocolate, no smell of home.  Certainly, no gorgeous male like Lucas Hunter to inflame all your senses!

But the real shocker was Ms Singh’s genius.  In this first story she put out the tentacles of a story still coming together fourteen books later.  Its an intricate universe, carefully balanced and wonderfully crafted.  Now, I know where she takes the story I am in awe.

If you want a HEA romance with passion, you’ll enjoy it.  But if you want romance plus – something that takes you to another world and lays down the possibility of so much more you’ll love it!

First time round I gave it a solid 5 stars, this time round I’m annoyed there isn’t a 5 star plus.

Want to see what all the fuss is about?  To celebrate the new cover for Slave to Sensation and introduce new readers to this fab series ahead of her 14th book, Nalini is offering the chance to win the first 5 books in the psy/changeling series.  Its open to readers everywhere – so no excuses for not entering!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/984c05ae22/?

And here’s the new cover – I liked the old rather intense paperback image better but maybe this one captures Lucas a lot more?

slave-to-sensation-new-cover-186x300

Becks is no T-Rex

Rock Hard Nalini Singh (#2 Rock Kiss)

Having read the first book in the series I was keen but not desperate to read the next book in the series.  I hadn’t really “got” Molly and Fox.  But Nalini Singh had been posting some updates on this story for the past month which whetted my appetite a bit.

“Any problems with my goals?”

The hero is a former international rugby player, and a Kiwi national icon.  So, its tries not goals he scores.  At this point I must say hats off to Ms Singh.  Being a New York Times best-seller, she’s writing for a global audience.  Rugby is far from an international sport, so its a brave move to write about it.  Not only that but to base it somewhere rugby isn’t just a sport but a religion, she captures this perfectly.  The date at the rugby and the bbq in the park fizzle with authenticity.

I hope her legion of global fans, appreciate the difference in football codes.  After all, rugby heroes are physically different from your soccer global stars, they personify menace, grit and determination all at once.  David Beckham is no match for T-Rex.

Becks might not be a match for him, but Charlie mouse takes him down.  Interestingly she starts off with a stapler along the way roses, bracelets, black lace, muffins and pasta sauce play their part.  T-Rex’s advice that a hole punch was a better option will stay with me!

This is romance that sizzles on the page, its the kind of romance that the term “can’t put it down” was made for!  Nalini Singh is in stunning form with Rock Hard, kicking this series into touch (see what I did there!).

Being part of Charlotte’s metamorphosis, I was rooting for her to bring him down.  But as her story unveiled that wasn’t important I just wanted him to win her.  I could totally relate to the enormous task he faced.  And I loved the way he detailed his plans for her to veto (as if she would!).  Gorgeous just gorgeous!

Both Gabe and Charlie and far more complex and real characters than Molly or Fox, and that made for much better story.

Oh and Nalini if you’re looking for another Kiwi national sport – maybe try cricket with a Chris Gayle look a like?

The book is out on March 10th and I received an ARC in return for an honest review.