This was definitely a unique Harlequin Presents. Aiesha really is a bad girl. She's not a very nice person, and while I felt sympathy for her, at firsThis was definitely a unique Harlequin Presents. Aiesha really is a bad girl. She's not a very nice person, and while I felt sympathy for her, at first, she was not easy to like. As time went along, it was clear that her outrageous behavior and caustic personality was a defense mechanism against the deprived nature of her childhood and all its attendant disappointments. She used sex as a weapon, and I'm not ever a fan of that kind of behavior. At the same time, it was refreshing to have a bad heroine and a nice hero. Milburne flipped the usual HP script around, giving Aiesha many of the HP hero traits. I think it would have been cooler if she was independently wealthy so that 'gold digger' aspect was not part of the equation.
The sexuality was a lot more blatant in this book, probably because Aiesha is quite sexually experienced and rather callused about sex. James tends to be more circumspect about sex, although he definitely knows what he's doing in the bed. I would have loved to see him as an inexperienced hero, which would have made the role reversal more thorough. Although James does have a condemning attitude towards Aiesha initially, I really did respect and like him. He was seriously harmed emotionally by Aiesha's antics ten years ago, and had a reason to be angry. I liked that he was able to put that behind him and evaluate Aiesha more thoroughly and he had learned to see past her offensive behavior and sex kitten armor to the wounded woman underneath.
The ending was pretty cool. Aiesha gets her dream come true and her man, and realizes that she doesn't have to be ashamed of her childhood, because none of that is her fault. At the same time, I think she did learn that treating people badly because of what she'd been deprived of wasn't good behavior either.
By the end of this book, I did believe that Aiesha and James truly loved each other, and were more than willing to take a risk and go after a life together, regardless of what had taken place in the past. James showed that he was for her and she showed that she loved him in a very demonstrative way.
I would give this four stars. It was well written and thoughtful. Despite the way it seemed, this is a very angsty and rather pathos-inducing. It made me feel a bit melancholy after I finished it, so that's why I didn't rate it higher....more
This was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enThis was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enjoy this series, but at times, I feel as though the writer/artists are deliberately trying to be shockingly gratuitous with their subject matter. The violence is quite graphic and there are at least two borderline pornographic scenes on top of the sexual content that I feel is acceptable in a mature-themed graphic novel. I didn't even understand the point of showing the porny images, honestly. I took a double take, and I felt like I had to look again to make sure I saw what I thought I was. One was so gross I had to show my aunt. I couldn't even see what the point of that was.
After all my ranting, I guess I have to explain what appeals to me about this graphic novel. What wins me over with this series is the fact that at its heart, this is a story about the purest forms of love. It's a story about a family that is committed to stay together and fight for a life for their young daughter. Even the cold, amoral bounty hunter turns out to have an altruistic side for a child who is in a very bad situation. I am a sappy, diehard romantic, and I can't help but love a story where enemies fall in love and are willing to face any obstacle for their family, where people sacrifice and fight for love. I enjoyed meeting Marko's parents, and I can see why Marko fell so hard for Alana. She reminds me of his mother in the best ways. Similarly, Marko reminds me of his father, the more gentle, but steady as a rock member of the partnership.
As before, I loved the narrative of Hazel, the young daughter of Marko and Alana. I have a feeling she will be the best of both of her parents, and she will be tough as nails for all she has gone through in her short life. The way this story is written, they are in almost constant danger, and you know that it's only going to get worse, considering that they have the rulers of both planets on their tails, and a very determined bounty hunter.
I just plain love the setting and the out there science fiction/adventure tone. If they toned down some of the violence and sexual content, I could see this is a fun series for basic cable. Of course, they could go in the direction of the HBO/Cinemax and Showtime series and keep the over the top stuff as well. I'd probably end up watching it, but I admit I would cringe or cover my eyes on some parts. That's how I roll.
Anyway, despite the porny parts, I really enjoyed this second book. I'm looking forward to the next installment....more
I can't believe Goodreads ate another review of mine! This sucks! I guess this is an opportunity to better clarify my thoughts this time.
I was very exI can't believe Goodreads ate another review of mine! This sucks! I guess this is an opportunity to better clarify my thoughts this time.
I was very excited about reading this book, and I snatched it off the library shelf. I have a fixation on assassin main characters (don't you judge me!). I also liked the idea that the heroine might fall in love with her would be assassin and vice versa (no judging!). Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this book. I'll try to start with the positives and then go to the negatives, because that seems fitting.
What I liked:
Ananna was an interesting lead character. I loved how distinctive her background as the daughter of pirates was. The author kept her characterization true to her origins. Her narration was uneducated sounding and her actions and beliefs showed the ethics of a person who was raised on a pirate ship. She was believably down to earth, and I liked that while she could hold her own and was a capable fighter, she wasn't amorally bloodthirsty.
The background on the pirate factions was intriguing. I also liked the magical aspects of this book, although they could have been better described.
What I didn't like:
Naji's characterization palled in comparison to Ananna. While this was a 1st person point of view, that didn't necessarily have to result in such an obvious lack in definition that his character had. He felt more like a background character, which doesn't work for this story, due to the intimate connection they share.
Speaking of, I think the curse could have been better described. I understand the author was trying to keep some suspense about why Naji had to protect Ananna, but it wasn't very well explained. Also Naji's magic was cool enough for me to want more explication.
I think the plotting could have been better. The beginning was catchy and I was sucked in, but around the last third of the book, I started losing interest. I couldn't decide where she was going with the story, but I didn't really care after a point. I just wanted to finish the book.
The magical aspects had a lot of potential, but after a while the different magical factions sort of ran together and lost distinction for me. I couldn't understand where she was going with the story overall.
Speaking off, I am heartily sick of cliffhangers. I think it's a dirty cheat to write a story that ends abruptly, just so people will keep reading. There are rare circumstances where a cliffhanger makes sense, or if the book is just really long. This was not the case in either way with this book. I truly believe the book could have been longer and the story could have been wrapped up to a satisfying conclusion without sacrificing tension for a series. When it ended, I was like, "What the What?!" like Finn on Adventure Time. Not cool! I don't want to turn this into a rantview, so I'll leave it at that.
While I don't regret reading this book, I wasn't satisfied with it overall. There were enough things I liked to propel me to read the second book in the series from my library. I hope that the character and story development are improved in the forthcoming books, since it has a lot of potential.
I am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local lI am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local library had this! I had heard about it and was recommended this book, but graphic novels aren't in my budget. And look how the Lord does provide!
Saga is a fun, fast-paced, visually appealing graphic novel. The art is beautiful and subtle, possessing a clarity I appreciated despite the simplicity of the drawings. The lettering keeps the prose equally clear. I loved the fact that Hazel (the infant that Marko and Alana make together)'s POV is rendered in a different style/font. It threw me at first, but then I realized what was going on. That not only are we seeing this intriguing couple's story play out, but we're seeing there is a future for them, since Hazel must have made it to a certain age in order to narrate. That gave me some hope, since things feel pretty dire for Marko and Alana.
I was recommended this graphic novel on the Fans of Interracial Romance group, which is awesome, and I do have to say the romance is a good driver of this story. I think it shows how fundamental a love story is in many settings. Love and the force it exerts on us and how it drives our actions. Love is not a conflict so much as a precipitator and a facilitator for the movement within a story. In the case of this young married couple, their love for each other drove them to escape from their respective, although reluctant roles in a senseless war, and their love for their baby they made together, drives them to fight for a new life and a safe haven for their family. So it's very organic to the story. Also, there is a strong theme about the foolishness of conflicts and wars and our reasons for hating people who are different from us. This story is practically begging for an interracial/cross-cultural romance. Although Alana looks black and Marko looks white, the color difference is secondary in this novel (and they have strikingly different morphological touches--Marko has ram's horns and Alana has vestigial (underdeveloped) wings). Instead, the bigger disparity is the fact that Alana and Marko are from different planets at war with each other. I really appreciated how these very different people came together and decided to commit to their love for each other, regardless of the obstacles in the way. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other perfectly, and I can see the respect they have for each other, and their commitment to stand together no matter what.
As far as the conflict and the action, it was well done. I would consider this rustic sci-fi, along the lines of the tv show, Firefly. It also had shades of the original Star Wars films (which is in my mind sort of rustic sci-fi as well). The story keeps active, and the writing doesn't bog the narrative down with going in depth with the sci-fi world-building. This book is quite gory and violent. There is a very explicit scene that I know would be really gross if this was a live action movie, (along with a few others that are pretty in your face) although I can understand what motivated the act. Along with violence, there is a fair amount of profanity and sexual content, including full frontal nudity, and frank sexual situations. Even a disturbing part in which the readers are confronted with the vileness of child prostitution (thankfully no scenes depicting it).
Yeah, so I'm not being very coherent. What I'm trying to say is that I was impressed with this book. It is the beginning of a series I can see myself eagerly following. Yes, it's quite out there as far as sex, language and violence, but the story is good and it gives us two leads that you really like and root for, and of course, their daughter, who is all sorts of intriguing.
How much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would caHow much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would cause her to lose the intrinsic element to her nature. She goes from being a normal teenager who has nothing more to worry about than whether her epic crush on Ben Parrish will be returned, to losing nearly everything, and living in a earth decimated by an alien invasion that is nothing like the ones showcased in movies and books thus far.
The aliens want the earth, and view humans as pests, much like we view cockroaches. Their solution, to kill off the majority with cataclysms and world-wide pestilence, and let hysteria and suspicion do the rest of the work.
What happens when humans can't trust each other and start viewing each other as the enemy? It's not much longer before humanity becomes extinct.
Cassie learns the hard way that she is safer alone, trusting no one, but she made a vow to her brother, and she will do anything to keep that vow. When her life is saved by Evan Walker, every hard lesson she learned to stay alive in the earth devastated by the alien invasion will be tested. Can she trust, when trust has led to betrayal?
This is a bleak and heartbreaking read. I listened to the audio, and I would highly recommend this medium because it makes the story that much more personal. The narrators, Phoebe Stohl and Brandon Espinoza allow us to view the story through their eyes, and feel their pain. Their voices portray the passion and pain, the angst and longing, and the violated innocence of young people who are in a horrible situation that they cannot escape.
While this is okay for the older end of the young adult audience, I don't feel that subject matter is appropriate to kids younger than 14. The atmosphere is dark and desperate, and people die in this book. Lots of them, and many in horrible ways. Not only that, but people are forced to kill others to survive or as part of the consequences of the invasion. But don't misconstrue me to be saying this is full of gratuitous violence. Many who have read Yancey's Monstrumologist series know that Yancey is not afraid of gore, but he doesn't take that tactic in this book. Instead, his tone is frighteningly realistic. Don't think that just because the majority of the characters are children, that he will take it easy on them. You'd be lying to yourself.
As a reader, I was sucked into this world, and I asked myself how I would adapt or deal with the circumstances that our characters faced. I am amazed at the resilience of the young. That Cassie could stay strong in heart and her mind whole after seeing what she's seen and being forced to make decisions she never would have faced before. That Ben could find the strength to keep living under his burden of guilt for surviving when his family and many others didn't. That they both could deal with the massive betrayals they suffered.
While clearly science fiction, the use of technology is minimal, but it feels credible. Enough that the presence of the alien invaders is undeniable. But not so much to blunt the realism of the novel.
The tension is neck-breaking, sustained until the last words of the book. I honestly had to take my time listening to this. It's so bleak and depressing at times, it doesn't make for 'fun' reading. But at the same time, I can say this was a fantastic and moving book. I think this book shows what can be achieved in young adult literature. Showing teenagers and young people in a scenario where as much is demanded of the reader as is of the characters. Not lightening the subject matter just to get a YA rating, or fantasizing or sensationalizing the story either to get more readers. From the beginning, I was engaged in this novel, and even when things got harrowing and I feared for what would happened next, I couldn't turn off the CD player and refuse to finish the book. I had to know what Cassie would do next, how she would handle the next situation. If she would find her brother and save him.
Yancey made me care about these people. He made me rage that children had to make these kinds of decisions, but at the same time, he didn't give me a convenient villain, not in the easy way that can happen in fiction. Instead, I was continually forced to reevaluate the situation and my hypotheses, along with the characters. There were times, I just gave up on making a guess on what was going to happen and I just kept listening and decided to let the chips fall where they may.
You wonder what an author feels when he puts his characters through the depredations seen in this book. Does it hurt like he's hacking off a limb? Does he smile gleefully at the computer screen? Or does he feel the grim determination of a surgeon who is cutting into their patient to save its life? This is a question that books like this make me ask. In a strange way, I feel more connected to the writer of a book like this, because I can imagine that the creative process was a demanding one. The they sweated and shed their own blood to write a book just for me to read.
I recommend this book fully to readers who are prepared to face the bleak, upsetting content of this novel. To walk in the shoes of these young people who have to face the end of the world head on, and can't close the book and read something else when it gets too painful for them....more
This was my favorite so far in the series. The idea was interesting, and I liked the leads, Erion and Hellen, and I really felt their love for each otThis was my favorite so far in the series. The idea was interesting, and I liked the leads, Erion and Hellen, and I really felt their love for each other. Ladd is adorable. This was almost a four star book. But I think I have a high standard for paranormal romance now, so I felt more world-building and some clarity in the storyline would have added to this novel's appeal.
At least there was no butt stuff and she toned down the use of the dreaded c word for the ladyparts. I was relieved on both fronts.
This was a pretty intense read. One of those romances where extreme hate between the main couple is really suppressed longing and desire. In real lifeThis was a pretty intense read. One of those romances where extreme hate between the main couple is really suppressed longing and desire. In real life, I don't know if I think that suppressed love translates into hate, but "Hope deferred does make the heart sick." My goodness, Andreas and Sienna are super-duper mean to each other. And Andreas is a hypocrite. He's the kind of guy who calls a woman a whore because she doesn't do what he wants her to do and she doesn't fit his mold for what he wants a woman to be. I didn't like that about him at all. I did like the fact that Sienna could easily trade insults with him. It took me a while to think that I even wanted these two to be together. There were times when I didn't particularly like either character. Sienna says and thinks some really mercenary and selfish things, and I didn't like that about her. However, I could understand why she was so prickly and thick-skinned, considering her tough life and living with an arrested development mother with terrible morals and being rejected by her married father. I wish that Andreas had shown more sympathy and empathy for Sienna. When he finally starts acting like a decent man, it was almost too late for me to feel I wanted him to be with Sienna. I did like that he went after her when she left him.
I thought that despite the meanness between them, there was good chemistry and I did see their relationship change, develop and blossom. With the conclusion of the book, I had hopes that they would not take each other for granted any longer, and that love had changed both of their hearts and lives.
I don't know if this book will work for everyone. The leads are at times unlikable and mean-spirited. However, I did see a change in both characters and that their feelings for each other weren't just reluctant lust, but real love. For that reason, I gave it four stars....more
I really, really liked this book. The main characters were real and three-dimensional and very likable. The romance is sweet and nicely sexy. Ms. HartI really, really liked this book. The main characters were real and three-dimensional and very likable. The romance is sweet and nicely sexy. Ms. Hart's depiction of the members of the basketball team added another layer of flavor to this story. I found myself cheering on the game scenes. I will definitely read more by this author. This is supposed to be a mini-review, so I better stop now.
Grave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in tGrave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in the role of victim, until she is delivered to the Convent of St. Mortain, the God of Death who masquerades as a saint to appease the newer Christian church. Now she is the wolf instead of the prey. Ismae is believed to be the daughter of this god, since she even survived being poisoned in her mother's womb, although she is forever physically scarred by that poison. She seems to be resistant to poisons and heals faster. While Ismae never felt special so much as rejected, when the choice is a life away from an abusive husband, and some agency in her life, she chooses to become a novice in the convent, learning all the many skills of bringing death to those marked by her god.
Not long after her first mission, Ismae is sent to masquerade as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, the bastard brother of the young Duchess of Brittany. Her Mother Superior has tasked her with spying on Duval to see if he is faithful to the Duchy. If Mortain marks him for death, she is free to kill him. Instead of growing sure that Duval needs to die, she falls in love with him, one of the few men she has met who is decent and caring to women, when her own father hated and abused her. But love won't be easy when Ismae is surrounded by intrigue and treachery in the young Duchess's court. Will her father guide her aim true in these tortuous waters?
I enjoyed this book a lot. While the author doesn't describe every detail of the setting and appearance of the characters, I obtained a very clear picture of what was going on. Better yet, the story simmers with atmosphere, quite Gothic. While this book establishes itself as a historical fiction novel, the paranormal/supernatural vibe teases at the senses. The manner in which Ismae knows that her god has selected a target is quite eerie but doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, because the story fits so naturally in both categories, paranormal and historical fiction.
As far as Ismae's character, she is quite admirable. She's incredibly lethal, and I think a large part of her lethality is her quick mind and her observant nature. She makes a very good spy but also a bodyguard because of those skills. I liked seeing the mystery unfold through her eyes. You see that she isn't always unbiased, especially when it comes to men, considering her past painful experiences with men. I did like that her view changes as she comes to realize that not all men are bad and women aren't the superior sex, because they are just as flawed. She also comes to realize that people can use religion of any kind as a tool for power and control, but that doesn't invalidate one's personal faith in their god. While Ismae is very skilled at killing, she's not a killing machine. She has a respect for life and no desire to torture or cause suffering in others. This was necessary for the story to feel right. This reader is fascinated with assassins in literature, but she hates cruel, sadistic acts, and a good assassin should always show self control (or so this fictional assassin connoisseur believes).
Grave Mercy is a successful book, in my opinion. While this is slated as a young adult novel, it doesn't feel as though it's trying to talk down or dumb down the story. If anything, it aims for a clean feel, meaning no graphic sexuality or depictions of violence. But this book doesn't need that. The storytelling gives the reader what they would want for a story of this type. The author writes about themes that affect women, especially women in the past. How their lives and choices are restricted due to their sex, and how that impacts nearly every decision they make, even if they are allowed to have that much control over their lives.
Ismae is a heroine that a reader can cheer for. A lethal assassin with a supernatural ability who realizes the world is a lot bigger, less cut and dried place than she first assumed. And that love is definitely a possibility for the daughter of death, but her life and her choices are ultimately her own....more
Revenge is a dish best served cold, but what's a man to do when he feels irresistible passion for the instrument of his revenge?
Rafe sees Antonia andRevenge is a dish best served cold, but what's a man to do when he feels irresistible passion for the instrument of his revenge?
Rafe sees Antonia and he wants her instantly. He believes that's mainly because his deadbeat dad is sniffing around her, and he wants to take away his lowlife father's would-be sex toy. However, Rafe has some intense feelings for Antonia that complicate things. Is he cold-blooded enough to go through with his plan to make her his mistress for six months and use her to bring down not-so-dear old dad?
Antonia is reeling from her father's death when drop-dead gorgeous Australian Rafe Benton approaches her with a business offer. He will pay off all her debts if she'll be his mistress for six months. Antonia's appalled. She doesn't even know this man, and she'd never sell herself for money. However, money turns up missing from her father's foundation for cancer research in honor of his beloved deceased wife. Fingers will point towards her father. She can't bear the thought of her father's reputation being tarnished. She agrees to Rafe's proposition, asking for an immediate cash bonus, money that she'll put back into the foundation's accounts. Rafe just takes that as a sign that she's just the gold digger he pegged her for. But there's no reason why he can't enjoy their time together. He doesn't realize that she's going to steal his most closely guarded treasure, his heart.
I'm not a big fan of the mistress storyline in general. I admit that the drama-hound in me does like the themes of blackmail sex, revenge and enemies becoming lovers that come with this theme in some books. (I can be honest in my reviews!) And I love Annie West's writing. It was intriguing to see what she could do with it. She does a good job. She gives Rafe some heart and depth that make him more than the sexy bully he appears to be. I can see his vulnerability and understand why vengeance dug its claws deep in him and wouldn't let go. I like that he had to fight to keep Antonia out of his heart from the beginning, and she continually amazed and charmed him with her complexity and generous heart. He saw that she was a good woman, with a lot more integrity that he thought possible when he first saw her. He didn't understand the relationship (or lack thereof) she had with his father, his perceptions flawed as he viewed the situation through the rage at a father who abandoned him and his mother instead of meeting his responsibilities, and the subsequent slow decline in his mother's life until she died prematurely. On top of that were the feelings he had for Antonia, something he'd never experienced in the past with his lovers.
Annie West writes a passionate, involving romance that made for a quick, satisfying read. I liked seeing the evolution of Antonia and Rafe's relationship, and I admired Antonia. She's a principled, strong, loving woman. I had no troubling believing that Rafe would fall hard and fast for her. And I could see why Rafe appealed to Antonia and why she fell in love with him, despite fighting so hard against it, in light of the circumstances of their relationship.
This isn't my favorite book by Annie West, but I really enjoyed it. I'm glad I didn't kick it to the side because of my typical distaste for this theme, because she did it very well. She had all the emotional complexity that takes the typical Harlequin Presents storylines to the next level. I'd recommend it to Harlequin Presents readers. ...more