Illuminae (Illuminae Files #01) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Audiobook Review

Written by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Narrated by: Olivie Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Jonathan McClain

Duration: 11 hrs and 41 mins

I’m not normally a fan of audiobooks, for one most of the time, the narrator sounds nothing like I imagined what the character sounds like and second, one person reads the entire thing, for all the different characters which is annoying. There are a few exception, I thoroughly enjoyed the Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events audiobooks, and those are absolute jems, the other being Matilda by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet, this is also a lot of fun and narrated wonderfully by Winslet.

However, with regard to Illuminae, I had no idea what to expect. I’d already read the hardcover version of the book and that had blown me away so, I figured that the audiobook was worth checking out and I am so glad I did.

Don’t let those 3 narrators fool you, Illuminae is read by a whole cast of actors, the actual list of narrators is close to 20 and this transforms the book from simply being read into an audio-play (well, almost.)

It is wonderfully cast and Dudley and Hoppe (and I’m assuming they play Kady and Ezra) were amazing as those two characters. Plus whoever played AIDEN and some of the afflicted were downright creepy. The words “Little Bird” are forever ruined for me and have never sounded so damn sinister and scary.

Listening to the audiobook, there were certain nuances that I missed when I first read the book. I loved Kady even more and was struck by just how much of a badass she is. She was single-handedly responsible for making sure that the Hypatia survived and was willing to die to make sure of that. The death of James McNulty struck me much harder than it did when I read it. One of the best characters in the book.

The other thing that really benefited from the audio were the surveillance footage analyses by analyst 7213. Those analyses were some of the best parts of the book and listening to that guy added to the fun and humour.

Also, as I listened and got close to the end, it struck me that perhaps the real love story wasn’t so much between Kady and Ezra as it was between Kady and AIDEN. I’m pretty sure that AIDEN did go partially insane when he made the decision to kill the command staff aboard the Alexander but you can see his thinking start to shift the longer he speaks to Kady. I think he falls in love with her, with the way she thinks and it genuinely troubles him to know that she hates him and would likely kill him if she could.

Illuminae is an amazingly well-crafted book and deserves to be read in the physical hardcover or paperback format, the ebook version is just woefully inadequate, and the audiobook adds to the enjoyment. It is exceptionally well-produced and acted and worth a listen. Give it a shot, you will not be disappointed.


Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 22 Theories

We know very little about the season finale except that Robbie is back. We know that he joins the team, probably in the early part of the episode. From the promotional photos we’ve seen, we know that we’ll go back to the Framework and see Mack, Hope and Radcliff.

Daisy, Robbie, Coulson and May are together. We don’t know where Simmons is though. At some point, again in the first act of the show, Fitz is attacked by Ophelia. I hope Simmons is not kidnapped again, quite tired of the ‘abduct Simmons’ ploy.

Daisy and Robbie are probably going to team-up with Daisy taking on the Superior and Robbie squaring off against Ophelia and/or the Darkhold. To defeat him, all they technically have to do is locate his head and destroy it but finding it will be hard especially since even AIDA didn’t know where it was and I doubt it’s the kind of thing that Superior would just leave lying around.

We know that the Daisy fleet is still in play
 and it’s obvious that they’ll be brought in to cause even more chaos and confusion. Its possible that while the team is scrambling to deal with Superior and Ophelia, the fleet will start targeting the Inhumans. I’m not very sure about this though because with the exception of Vijay, we haven’t really seen any new Inhumans and I don’t think it works if you kill nameless characters, characters that the audience are not invested in.

Now that Ophelia and Superior have read The Darkhold, it’s easy to see that they both want to remake the real-world, one that will deeply resemble the World of Hydra. Ophelia wants to cause Fitz pain and take down Shield and Superior wants to eradicate the Inhumans. These two have turned into such an epic pain in the ass! Damn you Radcliff!

Ophelia might kidnap Fitz again but it doesn’t look likely, from the shot, it looks like they’re still aboard the Zephyr. Fitz isn’t ready to be out on the field so maybe Simmons stays back with him because someone needs to monitor Mack and Elena as well, leaving Simmons, Fitz and Piper on the plane. Also, please leave Piper the fuck alone, she better not die!

Talbot isn’t going to be any help if the previous episode was any indication. Shield is on its own and they have no one to rely on.

Elena is meanwhile stuck in the Framework and has to rescue Mack. I didn’t think that we’d be going back into The Framework, so I guess I was wrong there. It is strange though that neither Ward nor Tripp appear in the episode. Tracking down Mack is going to be hard for Yo-Yo since she knows nothing about the Framework reality, she went in blind, literally. I’m guessing they come back in the nick of time but how will they get out? Daisy’s no longer with them to quake the back-door, unless Radcliff helps them get back. I’m curious to see Elena and Hope interact. It still won’t be easy to get Mack to leave his daughter.

For the final act of the episode, I feel like the entire team will be together, they will have defeated the Superior, leaving Ophelia and the Darkhold. I’m not sure one episode gives you enough time to take down 2 difficult adversaries which is why I think that Ophelia or the Darkhold might still be in play next season.

I initially thought that we might see Hope come back, thanks to the machine that Fitz built and while that still might happen, I am a little unsure about it now. I don’t see the writers bring back a child into play, for one, she doesn’t fit into the narrative and secondly, with Hope in the real world, Mack keeps holding on to his past and what could have been, keeping him from fully committing to Yo-Yo and the life he could have with her.

So who do I think will come back if anyone comes back at all? Well, I have a feeling it will be Ward. This goes all the way back to Season 3 finale, when Coulson tells Daisy that she was branwashed and she replies, “So was Ward, we make the perfect pair.” In season 4, we saw an alternate version of him in the Framework and his name keeps coming up with Fitz saying that “I’m just like Ward” Why keep referring to a character if you had no future plans for him? Why keep reminding the audience about him? It makes no sense unless they were planning something. But Jed did say that the while the machine still works, it won’t be used to bring back Ward or Tripp, so it’s bit of a toss-up. Also, we don’t know how accessible the machine is considering that oil rig was destroyed by torpedoes. But it would be the perfect epilogue, after the dust has settled, the team is at their base (if it’s still safe, that is) and in walks Ward leaving the team speechless. I do think that if he does come back, it should ideally be in the epilogue as a lead-in for the next season. Maybe, he’s carrying a message from Radcliff, something he discovered while he was in the Framework. Of course, Radcliff come back as well but I think he’s served his purpose. Besides someone needs to operate the machine. So my best bet is that Ward comes back. The Grant Ward we, the team and Daisy deserved.. so here’s hoping…

P.S. – ABC renew the show already!!! What the hell are you waiting for!

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 21 Impressions

So the season finale is literally around the corner and episode 21 did a great job is setting it up.

The team woke up and is currently split up; Daisy and Simmons are aboard the Zephyr along with Elena, Piper, Davis and Prince and trying not to get shot out of the sky, May and Coulson are on the oil rig along with Mack and multiple Robo-Superior and finally Fitz has been teleported to a beach with AIDA / Ophelia. It’s safe to say that none of them are particularly safe.

Coulson and May: There were so many amazing Philinda moments and clearly, things have changed for Coulson, you can see it in his face, in his hesitation when May asks him what happened with her Robo-self. For May, However, not much has changed, except for the whole ‘living two lives’ thing. Her ‘real’ life was on pause as soon as she was kidnapped and placed into the Framework. At some point (probably sooner rather than later) Coulson will have to tell her what really happened between him and Robo-May, they have to start being honest about their feelings and stop beating around the bush if they have any hope of being together.

Daisy: She didn’t have much to do this episode, it was more about May, Coulson, Fitz, Simmons and Elena. But now we know that AIDA and the Superior crushed Mace’s body to make it look like Daisy attacked and killed him. Looks like she’s back to being a terrorist, at least as far as the public is concerned.

Elena: Elena’s having a tough few days, finding out that Coulson, Mack and Fitz had also been switched and then finding out that they were being held in a virtual world and then the real straw was that Mack had not woken up. She’s having a tough time being objective (which is understandable) She has one goal, find and rescue Mack and that’s easier said than done. At the end of the episode, she’s plugged herself into the Framework and woken up strapped to a bed with the world going up in flames around her.

Jemma: Like Daisy, Jemma didn’t have much to do either in this episode, save for worrying about Fitz and then shooting both him and AIDA to incapacitate them. I need Simmons to put on her scientist hat again.

Fitz: He’s having a hell of a week. His father died in the Framework, then he woke up and realised that not only did kill a bunch of nameless and faceless potential inhumans in the Framework but he also killed Mace and then tortured Daisy (something everyone seems to have forgotten. “Beaten to within an inch of her life” remember that?)

AIDA/Ophelia: Well, for a while, there was a slim chance that, freed from her directives, she might exercise her free-will for more noble endeavours, but all that came crashing down. She is experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions. Humans have years to get used to them, she didn’t. She went from zero to 100 and she has no idea how to handle them. She also has no idea how to handle rejection. Faced with her very first, she flies off the handle and proceeds to kill people.

Plus she now has Inhuman powers! The ones we know for sure about are Gordon’s teleportation and Lincoln’s ability to control electricity. But she can also heal but it’s not like Jiaying, where she needs to absorb another person’s life force in order to heal. So we don’t know where this particular power comes from.

The biggest idiot on the show is without a doubt, Talbot. He’s seen Shield at work and knows what was happening behind the scenes. He’s not like the public who only know what they see and read in the news. And yet, time and again, he chooses to believe the worst of them. It’s why he often comes out looking like a fool. when Coulson is right ends up saving the world from a threat Talbot didn’t even know existed.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas Review

A fun and satisfying read if a wee-bit underwhelming, but that was only because my expectations were, perhaps, a little too high. In the series, A Court of Mist and Fury is, in my opinion, the best book, but this one is a close second.

The problem with ACOWAR is the pace and plot. The first half of the book is filled with a lot of plotting and planning but little else. We know that Hybern is the big bad but we spend precious little time around him. We never actually meet him save for an encounter or two and if you want a villain who seems truly formidable, show don’t tell. The pace too, is choppy with the first half seeming too slow and the second, teeming with activity. Most of the action, takes place in the second half and the big, deciding battle, felt too short. The plot felt too rushed. There were parts that I thought were very well done, especially with regard to Mor, more on that later. These books are also great as far as women’s representation goes. I have one problem with most Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Fantasy novels, their insistence of referring to men as males. I know that part of the reason is that there are species other than humans, but the constant, ‘this male’ and ‘that male’ always reeks of being contrived. There’s something about it that just rubs me the wrong way.

I liked Feyre in book 1 but loved her in ACOMAF, where she freed herself from the shackles that held her back. In ACOWAR, we meet a Feyre who is more in control of her powers and is more ruthless than before. She is willing to do what’s necessary to protect Rhys and their friends. She is still seething from Tamlin’s betrayal. It was satisfying to see her tear his court from within and playing all them against each other.

Rhys was as amazing as before. He’s the antithesis of most alpha males you come across in popular fiction. He’s supportive even when he doesn’t know the full extent of Feyre’s plans. He treats her like his equal and it’s not just talk, he stands by her decisions knowing that she’s placing herself in danger. He trusts her judgement and never undermines her. In his own right, Rhys is extremely powerful but never abuses his power. He is a loyal and friend and a steadfast ally. So far, we hadn’t seen the full extent of his power, but we finally got a glimpse of it in ACOWAR and it was magnificent. It finally made sense why the other High Lords were wary or scared of him, even that Tamlin the Tool.

Tamlin was the embodiment of a toxic relationship. He was abusive emotionally and physically and more than that, he wanted to isolate Feyre from her family and kept undermining her sense of self. I read some reviews that spoke of a redemption arc for him, I for one, didn’t see it. There was no shame in him for what he did when Feyre came back to him in ACOWAR, for what happened to her sisters. He was blind enough to think that Feyre wouldn’t hold it against him, that she wouldn’t hate for siding with Hybern.

One of the best parts of this series were the secondary characters, the ones we met in ACOMAF; Mor, Cassian, Azriel, Amren and then there were numerous new ones in ACOWAR, like the other High Lords and their mates. Needless to say that I love Rhys’s inner circle, especially Mor and Cassian. Of the other High Lords, I liked Hellion, Tarquin and Kallais. I liked Viviane and Cressida. I loathed Beron the Turd and hope that Eris kills him soon. We got a picture of Eris in the previous book, but I’m inclined to believe that there is still decency in him and left on his own, he would be honourable.

Nesta and Elain played much bigger roles in ACOWAR and I’ve always liked Nesta. She was a complex character, just as beautiful as Elain but with darkness in her soul. She could be mean and cruel but there was always something about her that kept her from being hated by the reader. Both she and Elain were changed by the Cauldron and both had to come to terms with their gifts as well as the fact that their lives as they knew it, was over. If they were to survive, they would have to learn to adapt and that meant learning some hard truths that Feyre had tried to shield them from.

I love the positive female representation in the this series. There are so many strong female characters in this series and they aren’t defined by their love interests. They are warriors, scholars, priestesses, healers, witches to name a few. They fit into an assortment of roles but are never subservient. They fight and bleed just as the men.

Now, about Mor and the big reveal about her. Spoiler Alert! First off, she’s bisexual who prefers women, she’s not a lesbian, so no bi-erasure here. She explicitly states that she likes both but prefers women. Let there be no debate about that. And for those crying about the doomed Mor-Azriel ship and saying that this reveal is forced and has no basis, well there’s plenty of evidence against those statements. In hindsight, it makes sense why, in over 500 years she never made a move for him. In fact, in ACOMAF, every time, there was even a hint of what might be between them, Mor immediately shuts down. That’s not the behaviour of someone madly in love. For those crying about how she lead him on and why she didn’t say anything sooner. Well, ACOWAR gives us the answers to those questions as well. Coming out is never easy and add in Mor’s history with her twisted family and it gives you an insight into why she may have kept that part of herself hidden. I can understand her need to keep that part of herself clean from the taint that her family would attach to it. I am thrilled that she came out as bisexual and that entire exchange was handled exceedingly well. It was sensitive and respectful. Mor’s sexuality alone and the way it was handled was enough for me to love this book. I loved Mor and her journey.

Another aspect about ACOWAR that I loved were the number of same-sex couples there were and the way they were introduced without any fan-fare like it was perfectly normal in this world. They were written the way heterosexual relationships were written. And perhaps the best part, none of the gay or lesbian or bisexual characters died. That too, is exceedingly rare. Of the High Lords, Hellion is clearly bisexual (pansexual perhaps?) and Thesan is gay, plus there are other relationships. I haven’t read all of the books in Maas‘ other series, The Throne of Glass Series but one complaint I’ve heard repeatedly is that in that series there are LGBT couples who die or who are so far in the periphery that you only ever come across them in passing. Well, at least in this series, she’s rectified that problem.

We know that Maas is planning at least 3 spin-offs as well as 2 novellas, based in the same universe but focusing on different characters. I think one will focus on Cassian and Nesta. I don’t think there’s a mating bond in place, and if it is then Cassian is doing a good keeping it to himself. I like that it’s still taking them time to adjust to each other but when it counted, they were both willing to die for each other. The second will probably focus on Elain and either Lucien or Azriel. I’m on the fence about who I prefer with her. On the one hand, Lucien is her mate but on the other, Azriel is so kind and gentle with her. I don’t trust the mating bond, it feels so much like it’s pre-ordained and negates free will. I find that troubling. I want Mor to get her own full-length novel and I want her love interest to  be a woman (Viviane’s sister maybe) Maas has made no announcements about who the books will focus on so this is all speculation. But it would be nice to see a canon-bisexual character have her own novel and have a female love interest. Too often, they get pushed aside to make space for the straight, heterosexual couples and it’s always disappointing. Mor deserves more and we deserve more representation.

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episodes 21 and 22 Theories

Things we know from episode 20 and the promo for 21:

AIDA now has a human body, free will and emotions.

She took Fitz with her and can teleport.

May and Coulson will have to square off against The Superior and guns probably don’t work on him anymore.

Daisy and Simmons will find the submarine and attempt to save May and Coulson and probably Mack.

So then, where to begin… Let’s start with AIDA, now that she has everything she wanted, I think she’s going to start regretting it very soon. She went from no emotion to an emotion overload. With regard to her teleportation abilities, I think she briefly appears in the same space that Robbie was sucked into. That’s probably how he makes a come back in episode 22. AIDA has become a complete product of the Darkhold and the only one who can combat that damn book is the Ghost Rider.

AIDA also took Fitz with her, now it is unclear whether, given time, he would have gone with her willingly or not. But for now, we have to assume that AIDA either has real feelings for him or that she still needs him for something. I’m pretty sure it’s not the former, since we know that she’s manipulative as hell. I’m banking on the latter because she clearly tells Fitz that she wants to remake this world into something better. She’s now a certifiable psychopath and the sooner that Fitz gets away from the better.

I expect Fitz to be stuck with AIDA till episode 22 when Robbie makes a comeback. i don’t know how much a reunion Fitz and Simmons will have in the real world considering that he’s still reeling from everything he did in the Framework. It is clear that the guilt will be overpowering for him, however I don’t see him actively helping AIDA anymore. I think AIDA will play into his guilt to make him feel isolated, cutting him off from the Team and Simmons. So we’ll probably see AIDA trying to manipulate him some more in episode 21 and then finally some much needed FitzSimmons scenes in 22.

The Superior has a brand new body and no strings controlling him anymore. This one’s a bad seed, no other way to look at him. I think that Coulson and May will manage to escape with Daisy and Jemma, leaving the door open for a Daisy and Superior boss match. These two are more evenly matched now and it should be an epic showdown. Technically, Superior went after Coulson but what he really hates are Inhumans and in Daisy, he has a representation for everything he hates. My only concern is that she’s still injured from her fight against Robo-Mace, Mack and Coulson, her arm is still in a sling and it’s only been 10 days since then, not nearly enough time to recover from two bullet wounds. If there is a fight between them in episode 22, it won’t be as one sided as their previous encounter.

I don’t see Trip or Ward making a come back in the 2 remaining episodes. For one, they aren’t listed in the guest stars and two, I don’t think either of them is coming back to the real world. I think the character that might actually step into the Real World is Hope. For one, she’s listed as a guest star for episode 22 and since Radcliff is still alive in the Framework and knows about the tech, who’s to say that he doesn’t help bring Hope into the Real World? It would certainly work for Mack and give at least one of them the happy ending they deserve.

I also don’t think we’ll be going into the Framework anymore even though Mack is still in there. I’m not sure how Mack will leave the Framework now that Daisy is no longer there to activate the backdoor. Also, what could prompt Mack to leave Hope behind, unless she’s not there anymore and is instead aboard that submarine, having been given a real body. If that does happen to Hope, then she has my sympathies, that’s got to be some confusing shit.

Episode 22 will also see an appearance by General Talbot, I expect that Coulson and the team will approach him for assistance and also update him on everything that’s happened since we last saw him. I don’t think Talbot is going to be very happy but then he never is, not where Shield is involved. I’m not sure how much help he will be considering that they’re dealing with the Darkhold. Could it be that some old faces may be coming back like Hunter and Bobbi. I know that their names aren’t in the guest stars list but what if the writers are keeping it under wraps? Because how else is Talbot going to help against the Darkhold?

So close to the end, the show isn’t really giving us any time with the characters to really explore the impact of the Framework on their psyche. It’s one thing to know that you were in a virtual reality but another to process that and your actions in that virtual world. I’m hoping the writers don’t gloss that over. We need a season 5 to fully explore the fallout of the Framework and the way it’s going to affect all of them once the dust settles. As long as they’re fighting AIDA, the Darkhold and the Superior, they’re busy. It’s only once that the crises are averted that they’ll have quiet time and that’s when it’s going to hit them.

So far, the only person we’ve seen struggle is Fitz but not much from May who was just as willing a participant as Fitz in the Framework Hydra. I think it will be interesting to see how the erasure of her one big regret plays out now that she’s had a glimpse into a reality where she made a different call. With May, it could go either way, she could go back to the closed-off person she was or she could finally throw off all that baggage and really open up to Coulson, to Daisy.

As much as I love the FitzSimmons drama, I’ve always found the Philinda-Daisy dynamic more interesting. I want more Philinda-Daisy moments in the two remaining episodes. I also think we’ll see more Daisy and Simmons team-ups in the bid to get Fitz back.

P.S. – I loved the Framework Ward and would have loved more scenes with him and Daisy but that last scene with them in episode 19 was as close to closure as we’re going to get with regard to Grant Ward. In a way, I’m happy for him, for one, he’s still alive as long as the Framework is running and second, I hope he really did get back his version of Skye, the one who loved him just as much as he loved her. In hindsight, that seems unlikely since Daisy jumped into the backdoor, I think as soon as Daisy left the Framework, Skye ceased to exist.

Agents of Shield Season 4 Episode 20 – Brief Impressions

Well these Framework episodes turned out to be epic emotional roller-coasters and episode 20 was no different. Brief impressions:

Well, the minute this conversation was over, it was obvious that Jemma was going to go after Fitz. But bless Daisy’s naive heart that it never struck her. Also, I love the dynamic between these two badass ladies. More on that later.

This evil Fitz gets on my nerves. Sorry, I know the performance is great but I think the evil Fitz story-line may have overstayed its welcome. I was so done with this.

Daisy’s happiness at seeing Trip and then hugging them so enthusiastically was one of the best parts of the episode. I loved their friendship in season 2 and was glad to see them interact here.

Also this:

So many amazing Trip-Daisy moments. Trip’s increasing dismay that he didn’t hook-up with any of these lovely ladies and Daisy’s just like, ‘Nope, didn’t happen.” And honestly, I think Chloe Bennet has amazing chemistry with pretty much every cast member.

Another gem:

Coulson behaving like a little boy who’s in trouble, Daisy’s exasperation and May’s long suffering expression. I loved seeing this version of Coulson, reminded me of season 1 before AoS started to get darker.

This episode had so many painful good-byes and this was the first among them. Seeing Daisy leave Trip behind while also not wanting to tell him that he’s no longer alive in the Real World, so painful and so wonderfully acted by B.J. Britt and Chloe Bennet.

The Philinda was strong in this one. This relationship has had one hell of a build-up and it will be so disappointing if nothing comes of it. Also, Coulson is so gentle with her…

Radcliff’s redemption arc is complete. He brings Fitz to the backdoor and pushes him into it. I didn’t buy that whole ‘intrigued by immortality’ bait. He has nothing left to live for, I saw him still trying to save Fitz, someone he genuinely came to see as a son.

The most painful scene in the entire damn episode and maybe the Framework Pod. From the very beginning, it was obvious that the one person who would have the toughest time getting out was Mack because of Hope. I appreciate that Daisy was honest with him and didn’t try to force or coerce him into going with her. These two were partners in season 3 and became really close and you can see the heartbreak on her face. Bennet and Simmons were so good in this scene.

In other news, AIDA is a real girl now and can also teleport, Yaay! Just what the team needs. Mallory Jensen deserves a shout-out, she has been outstanding this entire season. Every character that she’s had to play, she’s played so well. Every character was so distinct, so kudos to her.

Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop Review

*internally screaming!*

I just finished Etched in Bone and I don’t even know where to start! It was funny, heartbreakingly sad and infuriating. It is every bit as good as the previous books and a very satisfying end to the series. I’m sad that the series is over but I’m happy about how well written the end was.

As with the previous books, Bishop presented various POVs including the protagonists as well the chief antagonist, Cyrus. The other notable additions were the two Elders who came to Lakeside to observe the Courtyard and their interaction with the humans.

With the decimation of the human cities and the thinning of the herd in the Marked in Flesh, the humans are more sombre and most of them are more careful around the Others but there are others like Cyrus who are just troublemakers and so drunk on their sense of entitlement that they just refuse to see that the world has changed and they are living on borrowed time and the slightest infringement could mean the destruction of an entire city.

The pace in Etched in Bone felt faster without affecting the flow of the narrative. The threat was also apparent as soon as Cyrus Montgomery stepped onto the page. Unlike the other books in the series, there was only one antagonist here, Cyrus, unless you count his no-good son, Clarence. The first three acts of the book were a good balance of tense and lighter moments though the lighter moments were fewer here. The tone was also more serious like everything was coming to a head. The last act was positively frenetic in terms of pace. There was so much happening and there was a real sense of frustration and rage.

The world-building remains an amazing aspect of this series. In a series about the Others and humans where the former are very different from humans and are the apex predator, the readers’ sympathies always lie with them and never with the humans. The readers may come to like certain humans but remain wary of the human species. Bishop creates a very deep dislike for the humans. This is a theme I noticed even in the Black Jewels Trilogy. The humans were sly, untrustworthy, greedy and always wanting more than their fair share. I hated the humans in this series. Except those who worked with the Courtyard.

The Others are easily the more entertaining characters. With each progressing book, we get a deeper insight into their world and the rules that govern it, the different kinds of predators who roam the Courtyard and the Wild Country.

I absolutely loathed Cyrus Montgomery. Bishop writes the antagonists exceedingly well and Cyrus was no different. He was sly, greedy and just a very vile character and his mere presence was so disruptive that it created clashes in the human pack almost as soon as he arrived. At then end, I felt that he may have gotten off light, he didn’t suffer nearly as much as I wanted him too.

I have so many favourites in this series! I love Meg, the human who isn’t prey, the catalyst, the pebble in the pond. I love that she was never helpless, even when she had just escaped the Compound, she had a spine and she refused to take shit from anyone, even Simon. Even when she has no weapons, she is resourceful.

I love Simon. He is the leader of the Courtyard, in any other book, he would be the quintessential alpha male, but Simon is so much more than that. He is considerate of Meg. He treats her care and sees her as an individual when those of her own species see her as nothing more than property. He’s changed from the first book, losing some of the more feral aspects of his personality.

His relationship with Meg is one of the best parts of the entire series. Their interaction was often hilarious but there was a gradual shift in their dynamic. It is one of the best slow-burn romances I have ever come across and the end made it absolutely worth it. It was so unabashedly sweet, that’s all I’ll say about it.

Sam continues to be an absolute sweetheart and where do I even begin about Skippy. He broke my heart in a particular scene. It was heartbreaking and one can’t help but feel protective of him.

I loved Merri Lee and Nadine. These two women are powerhouses and they don’t take shit from anyone. While the Others might scare them, they don’t back down. Twyla Montgomery was amazing and the only women capable of making Simon feel like misbehaving pup. We didn’t see much of Theral or Ruthie this time, they were present but definitely in the background. I love Burke with his fiercely friendly smile and his absolute intolerance of bullshit. Kowalski was amazing as well, he’s stepped up in a big way since the first book, actually taking up some of Monty’s slack. Monty, I’ve found has actually slipped.

Among the others, I love Tess and Henry. Henry always struck me a fiercely protective of Meg even when Simon didn’t completely trust her. He had a calm and soothing presence that was soothing to the reader as well. Tess was an all-around bad-ass and not someone to mess with. She was one of the first to understand what Meg was and how to handle her when she made a cut. She gradually came to regard some of the other women of Meg’s pack as people she would protect. I also loved her team-up with Nyx and I would love a spin-off with just the two of them, being bad-asses. I also love Nyx and Grandfather Erebus.

I love the Elementals especially Winter. Sadly, she’s been asleep since it’s been spring and summer for a while. But I loved the concept of the Elementals and just how amazingly powerful they were.

I loved Jenni Crowgard, the Crowgard are a strange combination of childlike and  vicious. Jenni appears to be their leader at the Lakeside Courtyard.

The Others series by Anne Bishop is an amazingly well-written series. The world-building is superb and has great characters. It is a world that you won’t want to leave. It has the perfect balance of laugh-out-loud moments interspersed with serious drama. The Series as a whole is one of the most consistent series I’ve ever read, I loved every single book!