In this near-future utopia, in Halcyon all are free. People with wings fly alongside skyline railcars, between the towers. They are more than what we’ve known as human, the next stage of our evolution. Amid the psychic computers and genetic freaks, competitive laser sports and mindless bots, runs a love triangle stronger than death itself. Over these three nights in 2051, Harmony and Azad must find their way through misfits and prophets, blood and tears, to new horizons. Their fate, in the time of climate change, in the afterglow of the rise of machines, is entwined with the world.
I went into this with really high hopes. The cover is gorgeous and the obvious work that went into it carries on into the inside—nice paper, pleasant font, good enough editing. The physical book is slick.
Unfortunately, about a dozen pages in I said to my husband, “I think this author wants to be a poet, instead of a novelist.” (I was therefore not surprised to find a selection of Stelling’s poetry at the end of the book.) By page twenty, I wanted to be done and not have to read anymore. Because here’s the thing. I don’t care how pretty or lyrical writing is, what works in a page-long poem is unbearably pretentious and damn near unreadable over 212.
I spent most of this book confused and, since it’s written more like a series of interconnected vignettes than a flowing plot, I was wholly uninvested in the characters. Then, the entire thing ended in tragedy. Of course, it did. Because an author who thinks his pseudo-cyber-mystic ramblings practically in stanzas, using a teen girl’s sexuality as the harbinger of doom, as men go around and tell women things and women raptly listen, would think the only acceptable, intellectual enough ending would be a meaningless tragedy. Of course. I think there might have been an interesting world here, but frankly, I couldn’t find it in the actual writing.
I picked up a copy of Maria Vale‘s The Last Wolf when it was a freebie last year. When I finished it I bought a copy of A Wolf Apart and requested paperback copies of Forever Wolf and Season of the Wolf from the library. Then, I got impatient. So, I canceled that request and borrowed the e-copy of Forever Wolf through Hoopla (which I had to read on my phone) and Season of the Wolf from Netgalley.
Description: The last Wolf
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.
If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die. But if she stays…
Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…
I absolutely loved this. I’ve now bought the next one and requested the rest from the library so that I can finish the series. I did think a few important moments (like a pretty major betrayal) were glossed over, but I also understand that that wasn’t really what the book was about. It also ended a bit abruptly. But on the whole, I loved both Ti and Silver. I loved Vale’s take on werewolves in general and I simply laughed and went “awwww” too many times to count. All without ever becoming overly sappy. I can’t wait for more.
Description: A Wolf Apart
When the Great North Pack is on the verge of falling apart, Pack wolf Elijah Sorensson wants to give up on his successful life in the human world to return home. But the Alpha says no—Elijah must continue to play his role to protect the Pack from those who want to destroy it.
Knowing he needs strength by his side, he seeks out human Thea Villalobos, a woman he’s admired from the moment he met her. He hopes she can help him break through his human shell before the ailing wolf inside him dies, and before the Pack is betrayed again. But can Thea accept who and what Elijah really is?
By the end, I liked this book. But I despaired in the beginning. I can honestly say I flat out disliked the first third. In the beginning, before Elijah found Thea, the book is just so god awful full of derision of women I didn’t even want to continue. I understood that the author wanted to show Elijah’s contempt for humans and that since he tried to fill the emptiness in his soul with sex it was women he mostly engaged with. So, it’s not really misogyny on his part. But I wouldn’t swear it isn’t on the author’s part. Why do authors keep writing women like this? The unrelentingness of it grates. There is no variety or humanity in any of the women Elijah encounters. They’re all silicone-filled, money-hungry, informal prostitutes. Maybe not getting paid but still having sex in exchange for gifts or power. Every damn one.
Eventually, that petered out (thank god) and I liked Elijah and Thea. I even liked them together. However, I couldn’t tell you what their relationship was built on. Elijah just kind of decides she’s the one, out of nowhere, and they run with it. I liked it, but I can’t think too deeply about it or it crumbles. I still want to continue with the series and can’t wait to get my hands on books 3 and 4.
Description: Forever Wolf
Born with one blue eye and one green, Eyulf was abandoned as an infant and has never understood why, or what he is…Varya is fiercely loyal to the Great North Pack, which took her in when she was a teenager. While out on patrol, Varya finds Eyulf wounded and starving and saves his life, at great risk to her own.
Legend says his eyes portend the end of the world…or perhaps, the beginning…
With old and new enemies threatening the Great North, Varya knows as soon as she sees his eyes that she must keep Eyulf hidden away from the superstitious wolves who would doom them both. Until the day they must fight to the death for the Pack’s survival, side by side and heart to heart…
We were back in the Homelands for this one and I think that’s just how I like this series. I like all the wolfy behaviors and customs. My reaction to the couple is mixed though. I didn’t feel I got to know him anywhere near enough and, while I liked her, I don’t understand why she fell so hard for him so quickly, other than being another arctic wolf (and ‘I like you just because you’re the same race as me’ seems a squinky basis for a relationship). Having said that, I liked the book but was disappointed in the ending. It makes sense and wasn’t hard to see coming, but it’s a happy ending with a heavy dose of sad.
Description: Season of the Wolf
In a world of danger and uncertainty, the Alpha has enough to worry about without him…
For Alpha Evie Kitwanasdottir, things are never easy. The Great North Pack has just survived a deadly attack. Evie is determined to do whatever is necessary to keep her Pack safe, especially from the four Shifters who are their prisoners.
Constantine lost his parents and his humanity on the same devastating day. He has been a thoughtless killer ever since. When Constantine is moved to live under Evie’s watchful eye, he discovers that taking directions and having a purpose are not the same thing.
Each moment spent together brings new revelations to Constantine, who begins to understand the loneliness of being Alpha. He finds strength and direction in helping Evie, but there is no room for a small love in the Pack, so Constantine must work harder than ever to prove to Evie he is capable of a love big enough for the Great North Pack itself.
I’m conflicted about how I feel about this latest volume in The Legend of All Wolves series. I liked it, don’t get me wrong. I really liked Evie and Constantine themselves and Constantine’s pining was very sweet. I liked seeing a lot of the wolves being more open and seeing some of the pack’s personalities. But the book COMPLETELY bypasses the fact that the shifters are the mortal enemies of the wolves. It was wholly unbelievable to me that they would have been so easily accepted into the pack and I had a hard time overlooking this rather large plothole. I also found Evie’s knowledge to be inconsistent. One moment she doesn’t know what a compass is, the next she’s referencing alternative dispute resolutions in a legal context.
Having said all that, I enjoy this series because of the feels. Both the ones the romance evoke and the ones the descriptions of wildlands make me experience. So, I can’t wait for there to be more. Yes, I could quibble with the fact that you’d never see the (female) mate of a male alpha trying so desperately to support them in a manner that suggested he secretly needed it, thereby undermining all the strength he’s supposed to have. I could, I certainly thought it. But I won’t.
Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network.
After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart. Faith seizes her second chance to prove to Nicholas that they are a true love match but his past catches up with them when three French spies come to exact revenge. Surviving rather than wooing has become the order of the day.
First off, I should not have read this book without reading book one. I don’t think it stood well on its own. But what’s done is done and that’s not the book’s fault.
Outside of that issue, I simply didn’t care for the book. I think I liked what the author was attempting to do (create a group of sassy, self-reliant women going after control of their lives) but not what she actually wrote. I found the whole thing repetitive, contradictory, and overly sappy. I’ll break that down a little more.
I lost track of how many times the characters’ internal thoughts ran the same rail. Nicholas was especially bad about this, but certainly, Faith thought the same things over and over too. Tying into this was what Nicholas actually thought. I hated the way every other paragraph was interrupted for either thoughts of how badly he wanted Faith (how attracted he was to her, etc) or how much he disliked her (or both). I get that the author was trying to show that he was conflicted. But instead, it just felt like waffling. But it also made the first half of the book REALLY choppy. Similarly, as the book and relationship progressed the characters went from obviously wanting each other to thinking about how the other was about to leave them or not want them, etc. Over and over and back and forwards.
The sappiness is on an objective scale, but this tipped over into too sappy for me. There were just too many passages about how amazing one or the other was, how much they loved the other, too many declarations of adoration, etc. In my experience, this is a symptom of a particular sort of blunt romance that I just don’t enjoy very much.