Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)

Shadow of NightShadow of Night
by Deborah Harkness
Rating: ★★★★★
isbn: 9780670023486
Series: All Souls #2
Publication Date: July 12, 2012
Pages: 577
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Publisher: Viking Books

In a trilogy, I tend not to like the second book – it always seems a bit dull compared to the first and the third. In contrast, I found this book to be excellent – just as good as the first book. Lots of drama, enough action, and the author’s ability to have me completely lost in the story is something I just love. Once again, I felt like I was watching the story in my head as I was reading it on the page.

Shadow of Night takes place primarily in 1591, but the author doesn’t get bogged down in too much historical detail – or at least, the historical detail is woven seamlessly into the story itself. Most of the detail is in passing observations made by Diana, so it’s easy for non-history lovers to take in. I loved the Libri Personæ at the back of the book, detailing the characters, and noting which ones were known to actually exist at the time. I think it makes the fiction that much more fun to read when notable figures in history are interwoven into the story.

There are a couple of plot lines that run through the book, and there were a few times it felt like one or the other might be getting a bit lost. Most of the questions raised in the book are answered by the end, with one or two hanging out there to be answered in the third book. But what I really appreciated was this book felt like it ended – no gigantic cliff-hangers. There are upcoming events and confrontations that you know will appear in the third book; major events that need to be explained, but Shadow of Night, I think, has enough of an ending that early readers like myself won’t get too irritated with having to wait another year/18 months for the final book. I was able to close the book at the end with a sense of satisfaction, not frustration.

NB: I loved the last chapter – it made me smile.

Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray (Tara Holloway Mystery #3)

I think this may be my favourite book in this series so far. I thought that the plot was a slightly different spin on the typical mystery – no murders for a start – and the need for Tara to be creative in order to bring down the ‘bad guy’. I put this on my shelves as a cozy mystery, but really it’s a bit more of a chick-lit mystery – the romance is just a little bit more explicit and the language just a little bit more vulgar than what most would consider ‘cozy’. But the humour is dry and wry and the romantic tension is ratcheted up a notch in this book as Tara tries to decide who is a better fit in her life, Brett or Nick.  An excellent read, I really enjoyed it.

Pies and Prejudice

Well, about 1/2 way to 3/4 of the way through this mystery, I started to get aggravated. It was obvious from the start that Ella Mae had no idea she had any gift beyond being a very good pastry chef. Yet, as the evidence mounts, it’s never explained and she blithely goes along as if she just accepts the effect her pies have on those that eat them without any curiosity or question. Luckily, it’s all explained at the end, the author just waited rather longer than expected to explain everything.  

 

The murder mystery was a good one, although the clues felt a bit disjointed. I guess that’s to be expected – otherwise the mystery might be too easy to solve for the reader.  Still, the ending took me unaware, and I liked it – no obvious solution and no clichés.

 

There are quite a few great characters, although her ‘evil nemesis’ will probably get on my nerves quickly if she makes too much of an appearance throughout the series – pure nastiness is NOT what I look for in a cozy mystery. The aunts are a hoot, and I love the steaminess of the romantic possibilities. I’m looking forward to the next book, Peach Pies and Alibis.

Serpent’s Kiss (Beauchamp Family Series #2)

A good read – fun, quick, and interesting. Great character development, with characters you like and characters you like to hate. Ms. de la Cruz does a wonderful job bringing North Hampton to life for me, and it’s nice to see the Beauchamp family evolve. I don’t know how much of the story’s ties with Norse mythology are accurate, but it’s fun to read about nevertheless.

Wicked Business (Lizzy and Diesel Series #2)

This book is the equivalent of a funnel cake – it has no redeeming nutritional value, but it tastes so good and is so fun to eat!  

 

Diesel and Lizzy are on the hunt for 7 stones – each embodying a deadly sin. In this book, it’s the stone for Lust. So it’s a treasure hunt, complete with puzzles, clues and required objects. I love this kind of stuff – pure Goonies.  I like Lizzy; she’s no Lara Croft, but she’s got moxie.

 

I found the comedy to be laugh-out-loud as only Janet Evanovich can write – she can make me laugh at the rudest boy humour! A bit of danger, a bit of frustrated romance. Great supporting characters who are all interesting and likeable – Glo and her spells are always good for a chuckle.  

 

Many will find this series to be silly beyond the pale, but I knew going into this series exactly what I was in for – I’d read the Plum between-the-numbers books starring Diesel and I enjoyed them for the light, fun reads they were designed to be. If you enjoyed those, you’ll have the right expectations for this series. I just loved reading this book and I had an absolute blast until the end, and unlike the funnel cake, it’s calorie free. I sincerely look forward to the next Diesel and Lizzy adventure.

Brownies and Broomsticks (Magical Bakery Series #1)

I’m always a little apprehensive when I pick up a first book in a new series; not sure if the book will live up to expectations. But Brownies and Broomsticks was everything I’d hoped it would be: great characters, fantastic setting (I love Savannah), and the plot was solid and unpredictable.

 

The main players in the book were all likeable and interesting, with lots of possibilities for future development. This is especially true about Katie – lots of hints about her abilities as a witch and I’m looking forward to seeing where it all goes.

 

About the only thing I didn’t like from the start; it looks like the author is going to try to create a love triangle – and I’m not a fan of that. Still, it became apparent that the two suitors were at least interesting. I just hope Ms. Cates doesn’t string it along and make it painful. I’m really, really looking forward to future books in this series.

The Seduction of Phaeton Black

This book ended up just not for me at all.   I suppose I found the combination of the three story lines – romance (and I use that term VERY loosely – really it was closer to small vignettes of erotica), pirates and supernatural – disparate enough to each distract from the other. It just felt too scattered for me to enjoy completely as one story. I would have liked to have seen the connection between Phaeton and Jason Exeter explored in more detail; the possibilities there intrigued me. I liked Phaeton’s protector, Edvard the Sneaky too. And I was very disappointed that America Jones’ abilities as a witch were completely ignored. Had more attention been paid to any or all of these, I’d have enjoyed the book so much more.  I will also add that for anyone out there who is uncomfortable about romance that goes beyond innuendo, this book is most definitely not for you.

Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files Series #5)

I can’t say anything except this is an excellent book. Funny, endearing, interesting. As with all the previous ‘documents’ there are quite a few plot lines and Izzy Spellman does her usual excellent job at getting to the bottom of all of them. The evolution of character development throughout all the books has been interesting, humorous and at times painful to witness and bittersweet.

 

I’d have given this book 5 stars, but was personally disappointed with the resolution of one of the story lines.

 

A definite recommendation for anyone who enjoys some hilarity with their sincerity.

Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte (Tara Holloway Series #2)

I took a break from reading this book after about 6 chapters because it wasn’t holding my attention. I picked it back up after a few days and found myself much more interested in the rest of the book.

 

Slow start or short attention span, the book picked up quickly afterwards and while you pretty much always know who the bad guy is, I found myself looking forward to finding out how they catch him in the end. Lots of action, a few slapstick moments and great characters. I’ll be on the lookout for the third book.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson Series #1)

I had so much fun reading this book! The author’s wit and humour clicked with me and I absolutely loved the dialogue.

 

The mystery was, while not the main focus of the story, well thought out and not obvious. The only part of this story I didn’t like was just how nasty the women in her family are to her but at least the author allowed the main character, Jane, to have a spine and she didn’t take being treated like crap as though she deserved it. Jane gives as good as she gets and I love reading about her. I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.