April 3, 2020

Abbreviations #102: Naked in Death, The Magpie Lord + Half-Blood

I still can’t fully believe I read Naked in Death because this novel is so far out of my comfort zone, being a romantic suspense read. I’ve never been one for romantic suspense (or mysteries or thrillers), and to have read one and have it be about a serial killer (which generally tends to freak me out, thank you) is no small thing. This is the first novel in J.D. Robb’s long running In Death series, which centers around Lieutenant Eve Dallas and this first one simply tells the story of Eve’s investigation of the gruesome death of a senator’s granddaughter. I can’t say that I really enjoyed the reading experience per se, because it wasn’t easy to read about brutality, assault, murder and rape – and there is plenty of that in spades as Eve gets further into her investigation. But I can say that it was riveting. I was really swept up in the story, and curious to find out how things would be resolved (side note – I thought it was a strong resolution). And though I didn’t initially like Eve, I found that she had grown on me by the end. I also enjoyed the beginnings of the romantic relationship between Eve and Roarke a lot and could see that being an interesting thread to follow with every succeeding story. I’m still unsure if I’ll keep going with the series, since it’s such a big commitment and it’s still not something I think I’d fully enjoy. But at the very least, I’m glad that I gave it a shot!

Naked in Death (In Death #1) by J.D. Robb was published July 1, 1995 by Berkley.

I first heard about The Magpie Lord from my friend Chachic, and finally picked I up when I saw it was a recommended Romanceopoly read for the square I’d landed on. This historical fantasy series starter follows two individuals: Lucien Vaudrey, a peer who finds himself the victim of a cursed item meant to result in death, and Stephen Day, the magician hired to sort out the curse and find out who was behind it in the first place. Magic, mystery, romance, a historical setting – all the elements made this sound like this would totally be my cup of tea. Though I did find it diverting at the time I read it, The Magpie Lord just didn’t wow me. Everything about it was fun, certainly, and the mystery was intriguing enough that I saw it through. But it felt underdeveloped in all aspects, leaving me with a surface-level understanding of the characters, their motivations and their relationships. It was a rather disappointing read for me overall, and I’m sad to say I will not be continuing with the series.

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1) by K.J. Charles was self-published on September 3, 2013.

I’ve been meaning to read Half-Blood (and the rest of the Covenant series) for years, so I’m happy I finally took the plunge and happy that I liked it! The premise is simple: Alex is a half-blood, a child of a mortal and a pureblood descended from the Greek gods. When her mother is murdered, Alex finds herself returning to the world the pair left three years before, determined to prove that she can catch up on her training to become a Sentinel. Juggling her intensive summer training, the typical teen outings and her developing feelings for someone she shouldn’t see in a romantic light, Alex eventually finds herself facing a challenge that will forever change her life as she knows it. It’s undeniable that Half-Blood shares similarities with other stories in terms of plot, character types and the basis of the lore. But I still really enjoyed it! While I felt a lot of the plot was predictable, it was still entertaining. I also liked Armentrout’s lore (which is foundational to the tale) and writing style (which is compulsively readable and always manages to reel me right in). But, as with most things I read, the characters were my favorite thing about the book! Admittedly, Alex took a while to grow on me, since she felt so young at times. Her sass and determination, as well as her underlying desire to do the right thing (even if it involves a bad or reckless choice), ended up winning me over in the end. I also liked many of the secondary characters, though I feel it best not to mention specifics so you can discover their personalities and motives for yourself. So, while Half-Blood didn’t fully hit that bullseye for me as a reader, there is enough potential for the rest of the series to do so (especially after how it all ends). I’m interested in seeing how the rest of Alex’s story plays out, and definitely plan on checking out the rest of the books!

Half-Blood (Covenant #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout was published on October 18, 2011 by Spencer Hill Press (and is now self-published).


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