A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

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The saving grace of this book is that Deborah Harkness is a legit historian which she researched a lot especially about science especially Darwinism and genetics that made the some of the info dumps within this book tolerable. I tolerate this book enough that I was interested enough to read the continuation (which is why I read this book in the first place) but as far as the book goes, this book superbly and example of how good someone’s writing was, even as a first novel, it failed in many ways of storytelling and characterizations that made the book painfully predictable and the series painfully overrated. 

First of all, it was unnecessarily too long. I have the physical hardback copy of this book and it was thick, the size of my head and the font was the size of a regular paperback which means its a nearly 100k words book for a book mainly filled with fillers with a story I can safely concise everything in 100 words. It was a torture to go through the first 200 pages and I only like the scene where Diana and Mathew went to his lab where they talk about genetics and origins of species and the book did improve over 200 pages mark. Normally, that was half the length of an average book and also the DNF benchmark for most readers and also the sign that despite all credibility as a non-fiction writer, this book should have undergo extensive editing as any book normally do and seriously, for a fairly new novel written in 2011, does anyone never discuss with the author about this book being a Twilight fanfiction being superimpose over a fairly good worldbuilding about a mysterious book? I like a story about old books and history but I wish I could surgically cut out the trope characters for another readable and hopefully original characters. 

A Discovery of Witches is about the story of a lot of people talking to each other because it is written in first POV of the character Diana who basically is a very very special snowflake who was lucky enough to be born into two very powerful wizarding families and possess unnatural superwitch powers which she unknowingly and subconsciously using it when she found a missing alchemical manuscript which was hidden for centuries in Oxford library. Since she was the only one who can access the hidden manuscript, she was being targeted by every kind of supernatural creature who thinks the manuscript was the solution to everything in the world about them. So, she went to the most approachable and still creepy supernatural character which turns out to be a millennial and half old vegetarian vampire as her overprotective super-stalker-bodyguard who have many more brooding issue condensed in his long centuries of living. Plus, he have an unhealthy obsession with Diana’s apparent overexpression of adrenaline which made her smell wonderful for vampires alike. Of course, both of them conveniently fall in love although relationships between different supernaturals are frowned upon by some pact between the supernaturals millennial ago by this covenant of supernatural. To avoid more supernaturals trying to harm her, Diana and Matthew had to travel all the way to his fortress in France where she met with Matthew’s family and learn more about the man himself and his vampiric nature.

The book was intriguing and sometimes well-written but it still have a problem of expressing itself intelligently through Diana who in a lot of way, partially Mary Sue and partially the ultimate character the author fantasized herself to be – a superpowered gorgeous blue eyed blonde goddess historian. When I say superpower, I really mean Mary Sue with omni-level god powers that its unbelievable. Also near the end of the book I was reminded of Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy and it gets even more predictable in that way

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Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races #6.5) by Thea Harrison

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I never knew why it had a bodice-ripper cover. Just because it have Dragos in its title? Its a story about a dragon and a unicorn with their kid on a holiday for a treasure hunting session in the Caribbean. The cover should have a baby dragon in it because Liam owned this book. If you haven’t follow the Elder Races’ series, basically it started around the aftermath of “Kinked”. Dragos lost two of his sentinels to their mates which didn’t help with the workload and the demesne suffered some trade embargo from the elven demesne which then was resolved with a war against the Numenlaur elves where they became enthralled by an ancient elf who hold a God Machine. Now that his sentinels were all peachy right after “Kinked”, Pia wanted Dragos to have some time off from governing the Wyr demesne and need help in figuring out how to raise a dragon child together.

Its a short novella with some plot thought out but the main focus was the characterization between the dragon’s family which their story was still ongoing from the first book. In this story, we finally had some variety with the added light faes and dwarf characters. This time we had the story of the light fae demesne when they migrated from Europe and I guess from the hints, I know what the next novel will be about.

This book was just plain adorable because Liam has his own POVs in it. A several month old child’s POVs, can you believe it? It was like reading Baby’s Days Out with the baby shape-shifting into a dragon-unicorn hybrid. Liam adoring his parents. Liam trying to crawl. Liam trying to fly. Liam with his bunny. Liam getting into trouble with the bad guys. Liam’s Days Out, I want more of that. Please?

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Vampire’s Christmas Carol by Cynthia Eden

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I’ve seen and read many versions of Christmas Carol even though I don’t celebrate it. This one is by far a christmas filled with a lot of brooding angst and blood. A Vampire’s Christmas Carol was about a vampire slowly losing himself and about his choice to fall into the darkness and lose himself to madness or redeem his soul. A demon who owed him his life came to Ben and decided to play the ghost of christmas past, reminding him the good days before he was killed in the alley, when he still have the love of his life in his arms and before everything changes and how anger will only drive him to a destructive path and he will soon destroy what left of his humanity.

For a one short novella, it was a good love story. Ben was a very dark character wrought by his past and the the Victorian Gothic Romance atmosphere in the story was a nod toward was Dickens. It was an emotionally heavy book and can be exhausting for those seeking some light reading but it was rewarding in the end. The storytelling was driven around the character and how he came to be and what he had lost. There was a side plot with the circumstance of the revenge path he had taken and how a deadly mistake could change everything.

It was not a usual feel good christmas romance which was accompanied by the season. It was a dark and violent book. Death and blood was a common theme in it but also forgiveness and love. It was a good short story you’ll enjoy at one sitting.

The ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.