Nalini Singh

Dynamite Review Best of 2018

Each year I try to make a list of all my favorites for the year. Most years I don’t see or read or play much that came out in the actual year, but for once I was able to make lists of stuff that exclusively came out in 2018.

Black Panther

Movies
I feel like I should place a warning here before anyone can read my list. It is going to be heavy on the Superhero films. I watched Hidden Figures and Girls Trip for the first time in 2018 and loved them, but because they didn’t come out in 2018 I decided not to include them. So I apologize for the following boring list of movies.
1. Black Panther
Holy shit I still love this movie. I watched it recently, wondering if it would hold up from my original viewing and it did. If anything I like it more than I did the first time around.
2. Deadpool 2
I really need to re-watch this. I was finally able to get ahold of the unrated cut and I haven’t yet watched it. Still, the first viewing was incredibly memorable and I’m looking forward to seeing what was added. Also, they fucking made a PG-13 version with a tie in to my favorite movie, The Princess Bride!
3. BlacKkKlansman
This movie stands out like a sore thumb on my list, but I can’t help it. It was a great movie and hit me right in the soul.
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
I loved the Wasp, she was such a badass.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
I’m still not sure about this movie. It was great, hit all the right notes, and got me super excited for the 2019 Marvel movies, but my final opinion of it is not going to be settled until those come out.

Honorable Mentions
Incredible 2
Oceans 8
The Hurricane Heist

Magic Triumphs

Books
The wonderful Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is not on the list since it didn’t come out in 20118, but it is definitely one I loved reading. Sadly, this will also be the first time I’m not including a Patricia Briggs book on my list, Burn Bright just did not cut it for me. I debated whether or not I should add Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews to my list since it’s a novella, but ultimately decided I liked having a nice round number for my total.
Like my movie list, my book list is kind of heavy on one side, namely Ilona Andrews’s book. Often in the past I’ve just listed them as one entry, but I did not read much this year, and my list would be bare without them.
So without further ado, my best of 2018 books!
1. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) By: Ilona Andrews
This was THE climactic conclusion of possibly my favorite series. It was well worth the wait.
2. A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) By: Alyssa Cole
This was my favorite find of the year. I freaking LOVED this book and I’m so excited for the books to come.
3. Ocean Light (Psy-Changling Trinity #2) By: Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh is such a great author and I was so happy to finally have a human love interest in this series. It was all so sweet.
4. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacies #3.5) By: Ilona Andrews
This may have been a novella but it packed a lot into the limited pages. I’m beyond exited for the books coming up and looking forward to seeing more of Catalina.
5. Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1) By: Ilona Andrews
Before I read this I was not excited that Hugh was getting his own series, but I have now been converted. I never should have doubted Ilona Andrews.

murphy-brown-season-11-cast-photo

TV Shows
I watch a LOT of TV. I also, rarely write reviews for what I watch. I try to do season recaps after I binge, and I succeed at that about fifty percent of the time. I do better reviewing pilot episodes.
Like everything else, I’m going to limit myself to seasons that aired in 2018, which means that one of my favorites, Dramaworld, won’t be on the list. I’ll also try and include shows that I wrote reviews for, but sadly I haven’t gotten around to writing a review for The Good Place and I have to include it on my list.
So here we go!
1. Murphy Brown
You have no idea how much I love this series. I honestly had no idea how much I loved it until it came back and I actually set my little rabbit ears up and watched it live. I know the likelihood that I’ll actually get another season is slim to none, but I can’t stop myself from hoping for more.
2. The Good Place
Holy shit this show does not fail to deliver. Every episode I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen and it does not disappoint. It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched.
3. Westworld
Just when I think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on I’m thrown for a loop. Then they have an episode that shows an entirely new side of the hosts and I learn even more. It’s an interesting and beautiful show.
4. Jane the Virgin
Apparently, I love twists. That’s what my list is teaching me this year. Jane the Virgin gave me the biggest twist of the year with the season finale and I’m still on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.
5. 12 Monkeys
The final season wrapped up a complicated story very well. It gave me closure and had me guessing right up until the very end. It was a fitting conclusion to a great time travel sci-fi TV show.

Honorable Mentions

Timeless

Doctor Who
Anne with an E
Sense 8

20180924183849_1
Games
I love playing games, but it is one of my hobbies that ends up getting pushed aside for other things, so I don’t play as much as I would like. I also, don’t review many games, but here’s a list of my 2018 favorites.
1. No Man’s Sky: Next (PC)
I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky since the beginning, but the Next expansion brought me back to the game. The added content was amazing, and was quickly followed by more expansive updates. I spent well over 100 hours playing it this year and had so much fun doing it.
2. Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
Smash Bros Ultimate just came out and I haven’t had much time to play it. I’ve definitely not beaten the “story mode” yet, but I’m having a blast. I haven’t liked a Smash game since the original on N64 and I’m so excited to finally be enjoying the franchise again. There is so much content that it’s going to take some time before I’m able to finish it, if I’m able too.
3. Splatoon 2: Octoling Expansion (Switch)
It honestly feels like this came out forever ago. I downloaded it day one and somehow ended up beating it. The Octoling Expansion felt like the story we should have gotten with Splatoon 2 originally. It was fun and creative, several times infuriating, and just an all-around pleasure to play.
4. Civilization VI (Switch)
I love the Civilization franchise. I’ve been asking for it to come back to consoles ever since I moved away from playing on the XBOX 360 and I finally got my wish this year. I’ve only had it for about a month, but I’ve already spent over 60 hours playing. It’s so easy to say just one more turn and since I can play in bed, instead of at the PC, I’m playing it more than ever. It doesn’t have as much as the PC version, but so far I’ve been incredible happy with all that’s been included and with how it runs. I tend toward the Standard map, so I’m not sure how well it goes on larger maps, though.
5. Overcooked 2 (Switch)
My husband and I beat the original Overcooked together and for Christmas we started the sequel. Overcooked 2 is everything that I love about the first, but with polish. It looks nicer, the mechanics are better, and it still has all the fun and frustration of the first. It’s been a great game to coop with my husband and we’ve both been enjoying it.

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Ocean Light


Ocean Light (Psy-Changling Trinity #2) By: Nalini Singh

Plot:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

Review:

Finally, I get a book with a human love interest! I was so happy about that, and then the leads wound up being so awesome it made me even happier.

I devoured this book, it was so sweet and hopeful and exciting. Not much happened in the world, though definitely enough to move things forward, but the love story was very much the heart of “Ocean Light.”

Bo and Kaia were not perfect for each other on the surface, but it was an immediate attraction on both sides. Bo was dying and Kaia had already suffered so much loss. Bo has a secret and so does Kaia and it’s just more reason for them not to be together. None of that ever matters though. You know that Bo is going to live and that they’re going to live happily ever after, there was really never any doubt in my mind, but it didn’t make the story any less. I was swept away in the romance and love. It was perfect.

5/5

Silver Silence

Silver Silence (Psy-Changling Trinity #1) By: Nalini Singh

Plot:

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

Review:

Now this is what I wanted! The previous book, Allegiance of Honor, was basically a combo epilogue for the Psy-Changling series and a prologue for the Psy-Changling Trinity series. It showed you all the couples from the previous books and it set up the world for this new series. It was alright, but honestly too long for what it was, but whatever.

Silver Silence is about the Psy Silver, who is head of the EmNet, which is a humanitarian organization that helps out all the races. She has chosen to remain Silent because she feels that’s the only way to control her incredible power.

Valentin is the alpha of the bear clan in Russia. I loved the bears so freaking much. There better be more books about them because they were so much fun. If I was a changling that’s who I’d be. Family was everything, which is normal in a changling clan, but they’re also very in each other’s lives more than the other changlings we’ve met so far. As the alpha Valentin was all the bear traits cranked up to eleven and I liked him a lot. I did find it kind of weird that he liked to put his hands around her neck, but he never choked her so eh.

The couple has great chemistry and their romance was so awesome. By far the best part of the book was them and their interactions with the bears. I thought that the issues that began to arise with Silver’s power felt kind of contrived and the solution very abrupt, but it did give us Part 2 of the book which was just so sweet so I don’t know.

We were given a little hint at the leader of the Consortium, even though the bad guy in this wasn’t working strictly under their desires. You got to really see the struggles that are going to shape the world and I kind of understand why we haven’t gotten a human Psy relationship yet, at least not one that I remember off the top of my head.

I’m looking forward to the next book, it doesn’t come out till later this year, so hopefully I’m able to stay caught up this time.

4/5

Allegiance of Honor

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changling #15) By: Nalini Singh

Plot:

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Review:

This book and series really, reminds me of the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Both started out as basically Paranormal Romance, girl and guy meet, fall in love, danger, sex, happily ever after. It was a formula I loved and what made these two women stand out were the worlds they created along the way. They were interesting and complex and well thought out. However, both of them have sort of dropped the Paranormal Romance, or put it on the back burner. It’s there, but not as big a part of the story as it used to be. Instead we’ve got history and politics and seeing what happens after happily ever after. Their casts have become so large and people want to see all the past people that the book becomes, basically, a look at all the past couples. It’s a bit frustrating as a fan of the original format, but I’m not sure if what either series has become is a bad thing.

Allegiance of Honor did not have a romance in the normal sense. There were letters sprinkled throughout from a human that lost his love years ago and searched for her but failed to find her. Until the end of the book when he finally does. The rest of the book was almost like a massive epilogue. It peeked into almost every single couples lives that we’ve met since the first book. It’s about their lives and the allegiances they’re cultivating. It was interesting, but not what I wanted, it was also kind of confusing because I honestly don’t remember everyone’s name and story at this point.

There is an author’s note at the beginning of the book where Singh explains that the previous book, Shards of Hope, is the end of an arc and that Allegiance of Honor is the beginning of a new one. It made sense, Shards of Hope wrapped things up pretty well. There were still questions about the world, but you knew things were going to be alright, because everything always is in Paranormal Romance. If she’s moving past that, though, people are going to have to start dying. People we’ve become invested in and that’s going to suck.

I was hoping that this book would be a return to form, that we would be given a new pair of people to watch as they fell in love while they protected their loved ones. I was hoping for humans and that’s what I got, kind of, they just weren’t given any time.

This is a great series, the world created is amazing and intricate, this is not the book to start with, though. Even though I was disappointed I plan on continuing the series, but I really hope she returns to the original formula.

3/5

Side Note: I am not caught up with the Dark Hunter’s series so it’s entirely possible that Kenyon has returned to her previous formula and clearly I’m not caught up on Singh’s series either.

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling Series #14) By: Nalini Singh

shards of hope

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling Series #14) By: Nalini Singh

Plot:

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

Review:

The world just keeps getting more and more complex. The cast of characters is expansive and the romance is not the main focus anymore. Well, relationships are still a major part of the books, but it’s not just about romance, the relationships have gotten as complex as the world just about. Everyone is so damaged and powerful.

Zaira and Aden were a great power couple. We’ve seen them in a few books at this point but it was nice to get a deeper look. Both are fairly damaged, though, Zaira is the most. Aden’s parents suck but not like hers. They complimented each other very well and I enjoyed watching Zaira realize she couldn’t run from him.

The world, holy cow, the amount of detail and politics and just everything that Singh has put into it at this point is mind boggling. I have to actually stop myself from trying to figure out how to fix societal issues going on in the world because it’s a freaking fictional universe and Singh clearly needs no one’s help. It’s staggering and amazing and I’ve seen only a few series this complex outside of epic fantasy. Never am I bored or skimming, though. It’s interesting and intriguing and makes you think of the real world.

I think with the last book I was wondering where she was going to go from there. She’d done so much that with Shield of Winter she could have stopped and things would have been fine, now I really just want to know more. Will they be able to break down barriers and work together? Of course they will, but people will always try and stop it.

5/5

Side note: I’d love to have a human love interest in the next one, see their perspective. At this point I can’t really remember, but I’m not even sure that’s been done yet.