Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison

Ugh, where did my week go?! I'm exhausted!! I feel like I spent the whole week running around :( Work was very busy this week, especially since my boss is going to a conference in Chicago tomorrow. The good news is that he'll be gone for a couple of days! Yay!

I was also very busy in the evenings. Basically, I had guests and friends over Monday, Tuesday and Friday. That's really rare for me LOL. Usually, once I come home, that's it. No going out again... Just the computer, TV and/or a book. I was planning to catch up on my reading this week, but yeah, didn't happen. I shouldn't complain though, because I had a great time :)

Now, I'm just looking forward to relax this week-end :) There's going to be more curling - yay! This time around, it's the Men World Championship. There's also some figure skating... but really, I just want to stay in bed and cuddle in my blankets :) Especially since the temperature is cold again! :)

What about you, any plans this week-end? If you don't, well you could read this review LOL.

Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison
published by Berkley in March 2012
As a second daughter, Grace Andreas never had to worry about the intrigues of the Elder Races. But when her sister, Petra, and Petra’s husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister’s two young children – neither of which she is prepared for.

Yet, she is not alone. Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn prince of House Marid – driven by his genuine caring for the children – has decided to make himself a part of the household both as their guardian and as an exasperating counterpoint to Grace’s impudence toward the Elder Races.

But when an attempt is made on Grace’s life, she realizes that Khalil is the only one who can protect her – and offer her more than a mortal man…
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Elder Races, Book #4

The Story: Grace Andreas was in the same car accident that killed her sister - the Oracle of Louisville - and her brother-in-law. While Grace survived, it came at a cost: a shattered knee. With the death of her sister, Grace has inherited the Power, which has been passed down in the female line of the family for century, and has become the new Oracle, but more importantly, she's also become her sister's children's guardian, Chloe and Max, 4 years and 9 months old respectively. For this young woman, it is a lot on her plate; however, she is determined to do her best to protect and provide them a good life.

When the most powerful entities in the world show up at her doorstep asking for a prophecy, Grace cannot turn them down and ask them to come back at a later time. The good news is that she ended up saving Carling and, by extension, Rune's lives. However, all she has to show for her efforts is the presence Khalil, a condescending and critical Djinn who's taken an interest in her children... but at the same time, she's grateful to Khalil for the protection he provides as Grace seemed to have become a person of interest for very powerful Wyrs and other supernatural beings. When Grace suddenly has a vision, prompted by Dragos Cuelebre's presence, in bright daylight and on her front lawn, she realizes that perhaps all the traditions that have been handed down about manifesting the Power were wrong... As such, she sets out to harness the Power, take control of it, so her niece can be spared from becoming the next Oracle.

Khalil's first impressions of Grace are not good. However, he has elected to stay behind, entranced by the children. His protective instinct is awaken as such innocence is not seen among the Djinns. As he comes to know Grace better, to understand the circumstances and witnesses Grace's devotion to the children, his opinion of Grace changes for the better... and he actually finds himself being attracted to this young woman.

My Opinion: Well, well, well. If you have not heard of The Elder Races series, I'm sad to be the one to let you know that you've been living under a rock LOL. While this series is hugely popular, it didn't click with me :( I thought Dragon Bound was a good book, but not the wowzer everyone raved about. As for Storm's Heart, it was just a let-down. So I decided not to continue the series... and I was able to stay strong when Serpent's Kiss was released... But it was another story with Oracle's Moon LOL. Almost all the reviews for this book were positive, but more importantly, the blurb made me want to read this book and the storyline sounded interesting to me. And here we are :)

It's clear to me the strength of Oracle's Moon was definitively Grace and good thing too, since she was the focus of the book :) Ms Harrison definitively did a great job with her characterization. Here you have a young woman of 23 years old, who got into an accident. She lost her sister and brother-in-law, finds herself in charge of her young niece and nephew, has become the new Oracle, is recovering from her injury and has to deal with the pile of debts from the surgeries, but also student loans for a degree she has not been able to complete yet because of the accident. She's struggling to make ends meet as being the Oracle is not very lucrative... and despite everything, she still has a positive outlook on life. Oh, she's not bubbly and cheerful, but she's not grim and depressed either. She's very pragmatic and doesn't mind setting her pride aside for the sake of the children. She doesn't try to shirk her responsibilities as Oracle, even if she wished to. I couldn't help but admire her. I mean, most women under this much amount of stress would have cracked, but no Grace. There was so much strength, so much focus in Grace... However, what I liked most about her was her devotion to Chloe and Max, how much she cared about them. They came first, no matter what... She was truly a good mother: loving, understanding and solid, but also strict when needed it. And when the burden got lifted a little and Grace could relax a bit, you got to see her spunky side. It's no wonder she had the guts to  go toe to toe with a Djinn who's almost immortal. Something else I appreciated was her sense of fairness and justice. As you can see, I really loved Grace and she made the book for me :)

There were also some great scenes in Oracle's Moon between the characters, especially involving the children. Khalil's interactions with them were so sweet and made me smiled. I thought Ms Harrison did a great job with the characterizations of Chloe and Max as well. I know some readers don't like children in their books, but I do and really, Chloe and Max were very good secondary characters :) And seriously, there's just something about a powerful, almost immortal being asking to spend time with children, reading to them, etc. It makes my heart melt LOL. Another good scene was when Khalil tracked down Carling and Rune, reminding them that they own the Oracle and then, letting them know he's going on a date with Grace. LOL, their reaction was great and then, Khalil getting dating advice from Rune? Priceless LOL.

One weakness of Oracle's Moon for me was the pacing of the story. It was simply to slow to my taste. I felt it took an eternity for the storyline really take off. It's unfortunate, because I thought the overall storyline was very interesting. I also expected a lot more action and there was some near the end, but not the big bang like in Dragon Bound or Storm's Heart . Instead, there was a large part of the book focused on Grace harnessing the power, becoming the Oracle... and that was building up to the main intrigue, but with a lot of subtlety. It also felt like Ms Harrison spent time on many superfluous story threads such as where the Power came from and the tortured Djinn, Phaedra. And in actuality, they feel superfluous because Ms Harrison did all the built-up, the but resolution was a let-down. For example, the ghost that is the source of the Power. There was a description of what she looked like, how she gave the Power to Grace's family, her reasons for still clinging to the Power... and one tug from Grace and she was gone. It's unfortunate because it was all very interesting, but at the end of the day, I wonder why Ms Harrison did not focus on something else or really develop that part?

The second weakness of the book was the romance. It seemed a bit off for me in terms of timing. Everything happened too fast in my opinion. Yes, Khalil and Grace got to spend a lot of time with each other and therefore, got to know each other very well. That was definitively a plus in the pro column... but I had difficulty believing that Khalil would fall under the charm of someone so fast. It just seemed to me that for someone immortal, it'd take more time to thaw his feelings, warm up his personality. Also, I have to say, I never really got a good sense of Khalil as a character ^_^; It just seemed we got to know the "him"
 with Grace, but what about the "him" before Grace? There's no doubt to me he wasn't the same person and I felt he was able to let go too easily. Perhaps he didn't like himself ^_^; I'm just a bit baffled because I think someone like Khalil would have a lot of issues and I expected his issues to come into play, but it never really did. I would have liked for his character to be as well developed as Grace.

My Grade: B. In everything, Grace tried her best, give her best and that's my kind of heroine :) She made the book for me and that's why Oracle's Moon is getting this grade. Otherwise, I think the book lacked a bit of balance between the characters, storyline and action. I feel if there's been a bit more focus on the storyline and Khalil, Oracle's Moon could have been a wowzer.