Andrew Bennett evil brings to mind Angelus from Buffy. Absolutely hateful. I didn't enjoy seeing him that way. I think the world is a much better placAndrew Bennett evil brings to mind Angelus from Buffy. Absolutely hateful. I didn't enjoy seeing him that way. I think the world is a much better place without an evil Andrew Bennett!
This is definitely dark Vampire-themed horror. The storyline is twisty and it's not in any way predictable. Villains become heroic and vice versa. We get a little backstory on how human Andrew Bennett became a vampire long ago, and why Mary, his eternal bride, hates humans so much.
Throw in some Biblical lore, such as Cain and Lilith, and some shocking losses, plus a few cameos, and I had to give this four stars. It was very good for what it is. Don't go into this expecting sweetness and light. This is for vampire fiction readers who like their vampires dark and depraved.
So, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's aSo, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's a big part of why I enjoy this series so much.
Sorry, but this is a really long review. I had a lot to say!
Possible Spoiler Disclaimer: I will warn readers that while I really tried not to use overt spoilers, you will see that there is an emotional shock that comes in this book, but I don’t reveal exactly what it was. Readers beware!
The Shadows is the telling of the story of the two s’Hisbe brothers who have become unofficial members of the Brotherhood’s growing family. Trez is running away from his destiny, written in the stars, as the future mate of the Princess of the s’Hisbe. He’s done everything he could to disqualify himself, but the time is growing short and he can run no longer. iAm has stood in the gap for his brother for many years, trying to keep his brother from going over the edge of oblivion to the exclusion of having his own life. But the time is coming when he won’t be able to save his brother. Trez is stone cold in love with the Chosen, Selena, but for many reasons, a happy ending doesn’t seem to be written in their destinies. Will iAm ever get the chance to build his own life, and to make decisions that aren’t dictated by his sacrificial love for his brother?
With a storyline that like, you know there’s going to be major drama.
Drama is JR Ward’s calling card. When I read one of her books, I automatically expect it. It’s hard, at the same time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it often does, very hard. I deliberately took my time reading this, preparing myself for the emotional blows sure to come. Not at all sure that there would be a happy end by the last page. I know a lot of people weren’t happy with this book, and I was prepared that I might not be, or that I might like it and find myself an outlier in saying why I liked it. So, it was emotionally stressful for me to read it. Another reason to take my time.
Some have argued that Ward has moved away from her initial writing of romance. I’m not sure I agree. Even in her earlier book, there was always a sense that not everything was settled, and while there were committed and happily mated couples, troubles could be lurking around the corner. Yes, the books were shorter and they focused more on the romance, but there was always something more, and plenty of drama. As the series has progress, the books have expanded, and with them, the storylines. And yes, the drama quotient. At times, it’s wearying how the storylines get dragged out and she introduces yet another set of new characters instead of giving more resolution on current storylines. This book was not different in that regard. And there were parts of this book that ripped my guts out and gave me a headache that was just a shade below a migraine. I wanted to slap one particular character super-duper silly. And I wanted to shake another one. I wanted to rail at the capriciousness of life, and ask the whys. But at the same time, I was satisfied at the end of the story. Hence my rating.
My opinion won’t be popular on this book amongst many of my friends. Largely, I really enjoyed this book. While there were some parts that were terribly sad and that made me sob like a big old baby, I felt that JR Ward delivered the quality of storytelling I appreciate about her writing. I’m not the one to tell you if she messed up specific details. I love this books a lot, but I don’t always remember which hand of Vishous glows or which eye of Qhuinn’s is blue versus green. To me, I don’t find that terribly important. I do care about the stories and the emotional journey. I don’t care if she rewrites some aspects of the storyline, because that’s to be expected in a long-running series. As an artist, one’s creation will evolve, and Ward views these people as real, probably as real as they seem to me, but probably even more real. And real people do change.
I will say this as well, I believe in eternal life. I believe that life doesn’t end on this plane. I believe that death is an enemy in that it steals love ones away from their beloveds, hopefully not forever, but sometimes it is forever. Our mortal bodies fail us and we leave this life and go to another place. I’m a Christian, so I believe that Heaven and Hell are real. For the Brothers, it’s the Fade. But I think the pain is the same, knowing that you won’t see a beloved again in this life. And when one is dying, it’s facing one’s mortality, and the question of whether what you’ve believed that whole time was real or not.
My two cats (that I had for pretty much their whole, long lives) died this past fall, and it broke my heart to pieces. They were older and I should have been prepared. I work in animal medicine, and I lost my dad about ten years ago, so death is not new to me. But it still wrenched my soul to lose them. It’s funny what people say and don’t say to you when you lose someone. I had people say some things that were quite ugly even though they didn’t mean it that way, and that didn’t help my emotional healing. I also had people who ministered to me in my grief, and understood exactly how I felt. They can’t know how much they helped me, but I say a prayer of thanks that God put them in my path at the right time.
I think this book touched me because I saw one of the characters go on that journey. The stages of grief were so tangible to me because of my recent loss (and quite honestly, I also lost a church friend recently, so I was dealing with that as well). I could feel what it was like for this character and the pain of losing a person, but also the fact that they could not ever have regrets about having loved that person, for however short that time was. It’s real for me. I don’t know, but I’m thinking that Ward went through a loss recently, and she wrote this from her heart. I connected with that, and I can see why she didn’t change the ending to a “happy, joy, joy” one that would be expected.
Sometimes, that’s not the way life works. Sometimes, you lose people and you have to get out of bed the next day. You have to attend to the ceremonies that come along with the loss and keep one foot in front of the other until you can walk without falling. Sometimes you have to be strong so you can be strong for another person who needs that strength, and put your own needs aside. That was all so real to me, and very well-written.
Others may not like how that was done. I respect that. While it sucked that this person died, it was also valuable in the terms of the story. I can’t fault Ward for that decision. I’ve seen her make others in her stories that I was more angry about. I think she handled the situation with grace, even in the most ugly and emotionally wrenching parts. I think she knows that people are going to be angry with her, and she owns it. I respect her for that.
Speaking of things that made me angry, Xcor was a real tool in this book. I had started seeing more potential for him as a future hero in the past few books, but now I’m just annoyed at him and I question his value as a future love interest for a certain person. I really disliked what he did, for numerous reasons. Those who know my tastes can probably pinpoint why, and can understand why I wanted to bitchslap him. It’s not that I don’t understand his character or the whys but it was a jerk move. At some point you have to stop being a whiny baby and say no to the past and declare a better future. I hold out hope that he’ll get a clue, but he’ll need to get a cleansing deep inside and outside before everything will be okay with me.
I continue to like Layla’s character. She’s really growing as a three-dimensional character in her own right. I wasn’t happy about that storyline with Qhuinn at first, but now I’m okay with it. I think it’s an interesting dynamic, and I want to see where things lead with her and her ancillary relationship with Qhuinn and Blay. I just want her to have a Hellren who is worthy of her. She deserves it! I hope the male she’s in love with gets his head out of his rear end sometime soon.
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the relationship between iAm and Trez, and how things turned around, and the one who always made sacrifices got to be the one who was put first in a crucial way. iAm is a really classy guy, a worthy male, and while Trez did have some jerk moments in the past few books, I really liked him in this book and felt for him. He proves to be a very worthy male (although I don’t agree with his view of prostitution being okay as long as the women get the lion’s share of their earnings). Yes, they don’t consider themselves black or African American, but I liked that they do represent people of color in this book so well. I also found the s’Hisbe culture fascinating. In some ways, it’s not super well-defined, but it’s intriguing to me. An interesting compare and contrast to the Vampire and Sympath cultures. ‘s’Ex is some kind of dude. On the real! He has swagger like my beloved Rehvenge, and that is a very nice comparision from a reader who is stone cold in love with Rehv! I hope we see more of him. I like one of the new characters introduced very much, which I cannot reveal as a spoiler. Thumbs up for her. That was super-sweet too what happens with her and another character.
A few things I was indifferent about as well. I am indifferent about the Lesser storyline. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We’ll see what happens in the next book. I can’t make up my mind how I feel about Assail. I hate drug abuse/activity, so he’s got a major strike against him. At the same time, I do appreciate the pragmatism of his character. I think he truly is amoral, and he sticks true to that. I’m not sure if he’ll turn out to be an antihero or a full on villain. I have this sick appreciation for a good antihero, I freely admit.
I feel like the Band of Brothers storyline was underrepresented in this book, but I think Ward is saving it for the next book and chose to focus on other aspects. It will be interesting to see what happens between Xcor and Throe (and I’m glad that Wrath ain’t nobody’s fool when it comes to that situation). I wish she’d spent more time on the BoB instead of developing the new storyline with Paradise. I don’t hate her, but I can’t say I really care that much about her right now. Having said that, I’ll definitely be reading the spinoff series, even though I think it’s Ward’s bid for the New Adult niche (and I’m not interested in that genre).
So, yes, I think I could go on about this book, but I’ve already written such a long review. It won’t change anything. I’m pretty set on how I rated the book. I own it. I liked this book a whole lot. I enjoy Ward’s writing. I love the elegance of the old races she writes about, juxtaposed to the gritty modern world. I even like the thug slang and urban ways of the Brothers (as odd as some find it). I know a lot of folks hate that, but I feel that it’s characteristic of her writing, and I smile every year when I get to hang out with the Brothers and their ever-growing circle of acquaintances. I think that Ward really loves writing about these characters and that joy is infectious to me as a reader. I wish that some of my favorites were more front and center, but most of them had their day in the sun and it’s time to let someone else take the center focus. I will say it was nice to see more of Rhage and Mary in this book.
I guess I’m always going to enjoy Ward’s book for what they are. I don’t expect her to be a perfect writer. She has her quirks like any other artist, but I think she’s a darn good writer, and I love this world she’s created, even more with each book. I added The Shadows to my BDB hardcover shelf with a feeling of proprietary pride. Enough Said! ...more
How can a vampire insurrection get any worse? Add zombies to the equation. I like vampire fiction. Zombie fiction? Not so much. Well, it depends on hoHow can a vampire insurrection get any worse? Add zombies to the equation. I like vampire fiction. Zombie fiction? Not so much. Well, it depends on how it's done. This, well it was creepy and exciting and freaky. Add in some fundamentalist vampire hunters, then it's a party.
On the downside, the Gothic atmosphere I enjoyed so much in the first book isn't as evident. I missed it. On the good side, lots of action and some serious plot twists. Enemies become friends and friends become enemies. And bad guys become good guys (sort of), and maybe vice versa.
Stormwatch comes to lend a hand in the situation. Andrew could honestly use the help. But let's remember the cardinal rule: Andrew Barnett is not to be underestimated.
I'm going to take a break on this series, but I'll be back eventually.
This series is definitely for fans of Gothic vampire stories. Andrew is the reluctant monster, a morally good vampire fighting the dark aspect of hisThis series is definitely for fans of Gothic vampire stories. Andrew is the reluctant monster, a morally good vampire fighting the dark aspect of his nature and using the power it gives him to do good. There is no question of his power and his determination, and the force of his love. Yet, his fatal flaw is his love for Mary, self-titled the Queen of Blood. She embraces all the darkness that becoming a vampire has created in her, and wants her vampire species to rise up and decimate humanity, while Andrew wants to protect them. Andrew travels in her wake, seeing to derail Mary's plans. Along the way, he gains allies in his fight against the bloody vampire uprising.
I enjoyed this book a lot. The artwork is dark and not very colorful, other than the red tones of blood. I think the art is a bit murky for my tastes, but I understand that author wanted to add to the dark, Gothic feel of the storyline. One real advantage of this art is it captures motions so effortlessly. The writing is excellent, and I appreciate the shifting POVs between Andrew, Mary, and other pivotal character.
While I wouldn't exactly call this scary, it definitely has sense of suspense and thrills to the storyline. The ending is quite a cliffhanger that makes the reader want to run for the next volume. I'll definitely keep following this series....more
I enjoyed this latest volume in the antics of Marnie Baranuik, one unusual paranormal investigator. I did miss having more interactions between MarnieI enjoyed this latest volume in the antics of Marnie Baranuik, one unusual paranormal investigator. I did miss having more interactions between Marnie and Harry and Marnie and Batten, but I really liked Schenk. He's a good foil for Marnie, and they formed a genuine bond of friendship. Fans of this series should enjoy it!
This is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the charactersThis is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters are pretty out there. But I really enjoy this series and this book. There is some really disturbing content, so be warned.
Confession takes the Astro City series to the next level with this story of a young man who comes to the big city to make his name and becomes the sidConfession takes the Astro City series to the next level with this story of a young man who comes to the big city to make his name and becomes the sidekick of the mysterious superhero Confessor. The drawing and coloring was gorgeous and vivid. It seemed to almost leap off the page at me. I think this volume was more emotional and much darker than Life in the Big City.
This reminded me a lot of Batman, which may or may not be intentional. I felt like the young boy was both a Batman in the making and Robin at the same time. He has his share of anger at this father's passing and the way he feels that his dad failed him. And an anger at bullies and the unjust. While Bruce Wayne was more angry at the criminal who murdered his parents, I think he also resented his parents for leaving him, for putting their philanthropy before him. In the Robin parallel, he takes on a mentor who is mysterious and driven, who inspires his loyalty the hard way. And from whom, he takes on a mantle and continues his legacy.
Some aspects of this novel hit home very closely. It deals with suspicion and prejudice, and the injustice that seems so intrinsic to a society. How people use ridiculous reasons to hate each other, and that allows deep injustice to occur in the world, often right under their prejudiced noses. The fact that being a hero rarely pays off materially, but requires an unflinching commitment, often at the risk of personal endangerment, and dealing with the fact that your work is often goes uncongratulated and the public opinion can change in an instant.
While Life in the Big City is a more upbeat, bright view of superheroes, this is superheroes in the dark. There are moments that hit me hard, and I had to go back and double check that I had read the former panel right. And I was sad to see my understanding was correct.
I think this is a seminal graphic novel work for superhero fans. Maybe I don't get an opinion (because I haven't read as many GNs as others), but that's how I feel. It shows the truth of the nitty gritty of being a superhero, and the narrator (the young man) is like a stand-in for all of us readers who were in awe of the various superheroes growing up (and even now as grown up geeks). We can see that it's not all it's cracked up to be. The first volume also showed this, but I still think it was more of a 50s style, everything is bright version of that. This is the version in which all the illusions are ripped away and you see the unvarnished truth.
This is a strong graphic novel and it deserves a high rating. I think if I wasn't in such a persistent reading slump, it might have been a five star book. It caught me at a less than ideal time, so I'm going to give it a 4.25/5.0 stars. ...more
It was great to read the story of how Gideon and Savannah met. I must say that they are one of my favorite Breed couples, and I always wondered how thIt was great to read the story of how Gideon and Savannah met. I must say that they are one of my favorite Breed couples, and I always wondered how they got together. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn't like it quite as much as I wanted to though. I think that was because Gideon is so sex-bombalicious nerdtastic in the other books, I wanted to see more of his oh-so alluring geekiness. Instead, he was much like the other Breed males in his demeanor although there was a cool part about him creating a precursor to the laptop we know and love today (cause guess what I'm typing this review on right now?). Thus, this book didn't really stand out that much from the other books. That was probably my biggest issue and why this wasn't higher rated. Also, I didn't like (view spoiler)[how Gideon promised not to fight in the field because of Savannah's fear of it. To me, it makes her into the bad guy to take that away from him. Fact is, they live in a world with a lot of violence, and I think that Gideon's status as a warrior is honorable and something to be proud of. Yes, there is risk, but he's very good at what he does. I wouldn't want to take that away from him. It does answer why he doesn't fight, but since he had a bullet stuck in his head, that was just as good a reason for him not to fight (hide spoiler)]. Even though Gideon wasn't as geeky, I still liked him a lot. I love his typical British colloquialisms, which we see in this novella as well.
What I loved was getting to know Savannah. I really, really like her. She's very young, but she has a maturity that I respected about her. She's a very intellectual person with a keen mind, and I could see part of why they were drawn to each other. Also her strong sense of right and wrong, and that traditional heroic urge, which is addressed in the novella. When she gets a vision of Gideon by touching his sword, you could instantly feel that bond begin between them, and when they meet, the rest is inevitable.
One thing that stood out to me was that Adrian stays grounded in the 70s setting throughout this book. The scene when Gideon tells her to call the Order, she has to grab coins out of her purse and run outside to a pay phone. That was really well done. At first, I expected her to pull out her cell phone, and I would imagine that would be Adrian's gut instinct to write that, but she remembers that they don't have cell phones at that time. I was instantly reminded that this is set about thirty-odd years in the past. She didn't have to keep hitting me over the head with descriptions of bell-bottoms and stuff like that either.
Ultimately, if you're a fan of the Breed series, I don't see why you wouldn't like this. It has the same feel and intensity of the other books. I think the biggest draw was getting to see Gideon and Savannah's backstory on paper, and although it was a short novella, it was well done and I believe in their love, past, present and future. Of course, it was awesome to see more of Tegan, 'cause I just love him!
And I'm really happy to see a popular paranormal romance novelist who is upfront and comfortable with depicting a loving, committed interracial relationship in her books. Kudos for that, Ms. Adrian.
A respectable four star read for me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal bThe Plague Ships is bonafide horror. Not only does our intrepid hero battle vampires, but he also battles Hessian zombies infected from nasty fungal blossoms! Baltimore is a relentlessly driven man with a soul full of vengeance and hurt. An act driven out of fear leads to his whole life being destroyed and the subsequent quest for vengeance against all vampires, and in particular one with a vicious scar on his face.
Mignola is an auto-read for me. His imagination is expansive and he plumbs the nightmares and dreams of the collective consciousness, offering up his resulting creations for the reader's enjoyment and consideration. This graphic novel is actually more true horror than his Hellboy stories, which straddle the dark fantasy line as much as horror. But the visions in this novel are right from the darkest depths of horror. The horror is of the more overt kind: vampires, plague and zombies, but also emotional. The endless quest of Baltimore and his non-healing heart wound from the loss of his family through his own well-meaning actions. The fact that he can never go home again, either emotionally or physically.
As much as the writing is a strength, so are the illustrations. They have a clarity and a concreteness, even though they are all almost monotonal (blacks, tans, reds). They convey action beautifully, making this graphic novel as much an action work as a horror work. The dialogue is rather spare, but the pictures give you the whole picture even when there is no narrative.
For readers who enjoy the enigmatic, dark loner on a quest for justice, knowing that he can no longer call any place his home, this is worth reading. I also recommend it to readers who enjoy the more traditional brand of horror, where the monsters aren't human, and where good fights against evil, even though man often struggles against the evil in his own heart.
It doesn't feel like a five star book, but it's definitely close.
I am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's pI am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's present to me for my birthday! That said, let's get to my review:
**Disclaimer: This review is as spoiler-free as I could make it!
Wrath, Son of Wrath and Beth Randall have come a long way since Dark Lover, and it's been my pleasure to accompany them on the ride!
When I first read Dark Lover (about eight years ago), I will be honest in saying that my biggest draw was not Wrath or Beth, but the world and the storyline of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the strange world within a world of Caldwell, New York. While I enjoyed their relationship, it didn’t blow me away, and neither character is my favorite in this series. However, I knew I was going to keep reading the series, and boy am I glad.
With The King, I feel that an immensely important chapter has been closed in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it makes me happy because I feel that all the Brothers and their Shellans have found peace and the close bond of family, drawing close friends into their net. I also feel a sense of excitement in knowing that the storyline can continue and branch off in different ways and directions, and the waters seem uncharted. While there are tendrils that Ms. Ward has planted in this novel, I honestly don't feel I can predict too much about what is coming next. It's going to be fun to see where the story leads, and I am in no way ready for this series to end.
I feel we got to see some added depth to Wrath that was very good for expanding my view and appreciation of the King. He came to terms with some major hurts and issues he was facing, and I felt the flashbacks were a crucial aspect of the storyline. Wrath always regretted that he could not save his parents and he divorced himself from the concept of family and his legacy so long out of a sense of fear and guilt. In this book, he came to terms with his past and how his future did not have to be governed or hemmed in by fear. I loved his evolution as a King and what that responsibility came to mean for him. It was joyous for him to get everything he needed, but didn't even realize he wanted. Even though I know things didn't end well for his parents, their powerful love for each other and their son was still inspiring to me.
Beth's storyline was thought-provoking. She was all over the place emotionally, and I understand why. I feel that she was at some of her deepest lows and her highest highs both in this book. While the story is about her, as Wrath's shellen, I think that more of the story was about Wrath. Her role seems more peripheral, but in a pivotal way. I still enjoyed reading about her character journey in this book. Beth is the best Queen for the race, and I can think of no other shellan to stand at Wrath's side.
Beth and John Matthew
I think this book explored their relationship in a more satisfactory fashion than any of the proceeding books. They know they have each other's backs, and the readers as well. Also, it shows that although you may have your desired life partner, you also need the connection of family (blood and found). I almost thought the thing Ward said would never happen was going to happen, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. I like the way the story unfolds instead. That John Matthew remains his own person, and his relationships with others aren’t hinged on his secret heritage.
Xcor remains a complicated male, not quite likable in many moments, and captivating and deeply sympathetic in others. Since I like my characters complex, he definitely has my interest, and he may turn out to be a new favorite of mine in this series. He remains a wild card in this new series arc, his behavior not the slightest bit predictable. To his great surprise, his feelings for a certain Chosen have opened closed off parts of his psyche, and this cannot be a bad thing at all. I think he will have a potential enemy in his own nest, but he’s not unaware of that.
Layla is on shaky ground, but she is making her own choices and defining herself as a female. In her own way, she may have helped to avert a war that wasn’t going to end well, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy about that. I’m very excited to see where the story leads her next.
Assail and Sola
Assail is probably the most amoral of the lead characters in this series to date. His behavior chilled me at times, but he was also very sweet in others to Sola and her grandmother. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I hope we see more of his viewpoint. I can’t believe their road ends here. Sola’s in a place where she has to deny the desires of the heart. How long will she be able to tune out the siren call of her unwise feelings for Assail, who logically seems like a ‘very bad man?'
The Shadows: Trez and iAm
I am jubilant at the expansion of their storyline. These two promise to be a gamechanger in the series. We will finally explore the world of the s’Hisbe, and what a fascinating world it is. Trez has been running from his past for a long, long time, dragging his brother iAm along for the bumpy ride, as iAm has ever been his self-appointed guardian. iAm will soon step out of his brother’s shadow and find his own destiny, since Trez must soon face the music. Trez’s character is both repellant and alluring. He breaks my heart in many ways, but I feel hope for his future. I am drawn into this exploration of the dark path he has walked. The Shadows, once merely loyal allies of the Sympath King, have their own grand tale to be told.
I didn’t expect her secret struggle at all. Another case of ‘keep reading’ to see how she will get her happy ending. And she had better!
The Usual Suspects
It's always a pleasure to see the various characters who have had their books, and at the same time, I want more of them. I don't think the WARDen could ever sate my desire for enough of each character, honestly.
JR Ward, like every other author, has her own distinctive voice. There are aspects to her storytelling that turn off some readers. While I can see where she can overdo some of her affectations (like the brand name dropping and the copious use of slang), I love reading her writing. I feel that her depiction of the ancient culture of the vampires and their various subspecies is very poetic and dramatic, like an epic in its own way. Her romantic exposition lushly romantic and deeply sensual. It wraps around me like the dark spices her bonded males exude for their mates. Her tendency to adapt an urban vibe doesn’t bother me, because I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the very antiquated rituals of the vampires. While I can’t deny that the Black Dagger Brotherhood is at its heart a soap opera (not a bad thing in itself), it’s an enthralling one that draws me in and doesn’t let go of me until I read the last page (although the stories and characters continue to linger deep in the recesses of my imagination long after I finish the books). I feel like the Brothers, their shellans, and their friends/associations are part of my family, and each book release is like a yearly family reunion that I don’t dare miss. If only I was as excited to go to my real life family reunions!
I’m sure that I could nitpick about the things I felt could have been better written, but I don’t want to. It won’t make me feel I wrote a better review, and I’m not sure it would change my rating at all. I just want to bask in the glow of a new release of one of my top three series. I don’t drink JR Ward Kool-Aid, but I certainly enjoy her fine literary comestibles.
**The countdown has begun until next year’s release.**
Sealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first asSealed With a Curse starts out in medias res, and that pace pretty much matches what is found throughout this novel. I was a bit clueless at first as to what was going on, but I got sucked into the narrative and the Wird sisters' story almost immediately. There is more or less nonstop action, and the cool thing, is the heroine and her sisters are the main ones kicking butt and taking names. Along with laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful sisterly bonding, with a touch of romance, that adds up to a very enjoyable book.
Celia and her sisters were cursed before birth, but the curse backfired into a blessing. They are all gifted with unusual abilities. Despite the strangeness of the four Wird sisters' abilities, three of them manage to have busy dating lives and all four fulfilling careers as a nurse. Celia had a big issue that precluded dating a lot. She has an inner tigress that makes her one tough woman. Most men can't handle that. Celia fears that she never will meet that guy. Until she sees a hunky werewolf running with his pack. Their gazes connect, but that doesn't mean that they will "connect". And there is an epidemic of vampires turning into feral, bloodthirsty killers, so they might not get the chance to 'connect' anyway. Aric Connor might be the man of Celia's dreams, but as a purebred werewolf, she might not be a good partner to settle down with on his end. However, master vampire, Misha Aleksandr thinks Celia is pretty awesome, wooing her with expensive gifts and his supernatural vampire allure, which Celia is a lot more immune to it than she would have thought. Instead, her heart beats for Aric.
I loved the sister camaraderie the most in this book. They really had each others' backs. I liked how each sister had a distinct personality. They were individuals, but they worked and lived together in harmony. I also enjoyed the humor a lot (although it is sometimes of the raunchy, foul-mouthed variety). At first, I thought that would book would be too silly for me, but Robson proved she could hang with the Grade A Kickbutt Action Writers crew with her seriously intense action scenes. Readers who don't like gory description should be warned, because the author doesn't skimp on these. But seeing the Wird sisters kick butt and hold their own against a slew of powerful immortals makes up for some icktastic moments.
I thought it was cute how Celia's sisters all found romance with other weres associated with Aric. Although I didn't like the assumption that sleeping with them that fast was 'normal' whereas Celia was weird because she didn't get physical with guys like her sisters did. Sort of an inherent value judgment against people who choose a celibate lifestyle, for whatever reason. Granted, Celia did tend to be very self-pitying about her lack of a love life. I do think she could have dated more if she wanted to. And it's perfectly fine if she didn't date much, if she was okay with it. The fact that Misha definitely found her sexy and appealing from the beginning of the book (even before she met Aric) was proof that there was nothing wrong with Celia. Misha thought she was better than sliced bread, and he could have any woman he wanted. A man who couldn't handle her wasn't worth it anyway. I think deep down, Celia didn't want to settle for a Mr. Now when she could have Mr. Right.
Overall, this was a very good book. Lots of action, hilarious humor, great sister bonding. I liked that there is good ethnic diversity in this novel. The Wird sisters have Latin descent on their mother's side, and numerous characters are of different ethnic/racial backgrounds. The world-building was good, with some interesting takes on vampires, werewolves, witches, and other paranormals. Personally, the romance wasn't the biggest draw for me, although it was good. I liked the sister bond the most and the action, but the romance is pretty good (for an urban fantasy book). But there is definitely good chemistry and romantic promise for those who want that in the urban fantasy. This is a series I look forward to continuing....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.
The terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel tThe terribly unlikable heroine killed this book for me. The Greek Mythology is interesting, but otherwise, this didn't have much of an original feel to me, and wasn't groundbreaking as far as female-lead urban fantasy.
This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down.This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down. Readers who like dark vampire horror might enjoy this. But be warned. Not for the faint of heart.
The history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamousThe history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamous Lord Byron, and this work of fiction was conceived on that famous holiday event in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin (who would later become Mary Shelley) issued a challenge to each other to write Gothic stories. This was Mr. Polidori's result.
I have little doubt that Lord Ruthven was inspired by Lord Byron. Polidori's feelings towards his debauched past employer are quite clear. In this case, Lord Ruthven has a supernatural ability to ruin, damage, and destroy anything he lays his hands on, and enjoys doing so in the process. This does not speak well of Lord Byron, and based of what I have read of him, I can see some echoes of him in this character. Lord Caroline Lamb, the incredibly outrageous for her times, cast-off mistress of Byron is immortalized in a character who appears briefly in the beginning of the story, at least in my opinion.
As far as the writing, I didn't feel that it was particularly inspired or brilliant. This short story is all telling and little showing. This created a distance between the characters in this story and myself. It was hard to feel much sympathy for Aubrey, his sister Miss Aubrey, Ianthe, or anyone else because the narrative was too much like a bland newspaper article, with little connection to the intense emotions of the persons involved. I had a distant feeling of dislike and disgust for Lord Ruthven, which with more active, vivid writing could have been outright disgust. That is a sadly wasted opportunity for a writer, in my opinion.
It's hard to say much overall about this story. It wasn't bad. I can't say I was disappointed, because I didn't have high expectations. Regardless of the issues as far as the writing, Mr. Polidori has earned his place in the vampire fiction canon. Sadly, he lived a short, disappointing (to himself) life. Although he could not be aware of the famous status of this story, it is some comfort to me that he has created something that endured two hundred years later. For that I will respect and appreciate The Vampyre. And also for its commentary of Lord Byron, a man whose antics pretty much created its own character archetype in literature, the Byronic hero. Admittedly in this case, there is nothing at all to recommend Lord Ruthven. Lord Byron himself, I cannot say yay or nay to that question.
End verdict: Any vampire fiction aficionado should take the opportunity to read this story at least for its historical value....more
Three Parts Dead is a fantasy novel that teases at the senses and perceptions of the reader. Gladstone takes some fantasy concepts and weaves them intThree Parts Dead is a fantasy novel that teases at the senses and perceptions of the reader. Gladstone takes some fantasy concepts and weaves them into a creation that has its own flavor and feel. It's not urban fantasy in the common sense. It's not epic fantasy, either. It's a novel that forges its own path.
Gladstone takes the sticky territory of faith and belief in a deity and asks the reader to trust him and to follow where he's going. For those readers who are believers in God and who consider themselves religious, it will take some trust not to assume that Gladstone is attacking the system of belief and devaluing it. In fact, he gives the reader something to ponder and does not do this at all. While I don't believe that my God needs my faith to keep him alive, I did like how Gladstone examines the intrinsic relationship aspect of faith. Faith requires trust in your God. Faith requires a commitment to keep believing despite what circumstances may show. In the case of this book, the character of Abelard acts as a stand-in for a person who lives a life of faith. The struggle that is inherent in living in a world in which belief in God is steadily becoming an oddity and many have rejected such an idea and consider it irrelevant. With Abelard, he faces that crisis of faith and that anguish of being confronted with the idea that his god doesn't live anymore, and the hole within that comes from that lack of communion with him. At the crux of faith is that understanding that what one believes does benefit that person, even when others lack an understanding of how this happens.
Tara represents the skeptic. The person who has trained herself not to subscribe to a faith-based way of life. Tara feels that she has it together, and has all the power within to make prescribing to faith in God unnecessary to her life. She feels with her education and her life, she is above having faith in a deity, and almost has a smug way of looking at Abelard because she sees things on a higher intellectual level and outside of his faith-based worldview. While Tara treats Abelard kindly, underneath there is a smug attitude that she'll show him that he doesn't need God. That the concept of a deity is just something that can be used to achieve some sort of end-goal. Look how well she's done. I'm not picking on Tara here. I'm just commenting on how her character acts initially in this book.
Both Abelard and Tara are younger people, who have a ways to go in their life experiences, although what they have experienced is not to be dismissed. Both have a lot to bring to the table, and I feel they learn a lot from each other, and working together, they can achieve an important purpose in this novel.
And then there is Cat. Cat's character is not as well developed as Abelard and Tara. I felt that she is in transition and hasn't learned who she is as a person, what her identity is. But in that, she is a stand-in for that person who is searching for something to ground them in their lives. Who they are and what they stand for in this life. How does faith or lack thereof tie into this?
The world-building is its own character. Gladstone doesn't give much of a frame of reference, because Alt Coulomb, the home of Kos The Everburning feels modern and ancient. The city's very machinery is powered by the god they pay homage to. You have touches of modernity, and even with Tara's agrarian origins, it feels as though the story is set in the present, but in a different world. The idea of Justice and the Blacksuits was another concept that was both alluring and unsettling. I have to say that with the teasing touches that I get in this book, I end up with more questions and wanting more of this world-building. This world that Gladstone created could easily sustain several books.
I absolutely loved the idea of the gargoyles. How they had made their mark both literally and figuratively on the city. The buildings were scarred by their talons. The descriptions of their unworldly and intimidating beauty spoke to me as a visual artist.
The concept of craft and magic was also alluring in this story. The manner in which Tara used her powers. The concept of altering reality through the use of craft. The idea of the God Wars, a background piece of history which proves integral to the plot, but is not described in great detail. This is another area that could easily be picked up if the author chooses to write more stories in this world.
It's so hard to condense my thoughts into a review because this book had my mind running. Some aspects lost me a bit and I would find my mind wondering. But then another scene or concept would grab my attention and refuse to let go of it. I guess that's why I couldn't give this five stars. Part of me wasn't fully satisfied with the story. I felt like there were two many goals with this story and the author wasn't sure what kind of novel he wanted to write. Part mythical fiction, part occult detective novel, with some probing insights into human psychology and the power of belief. What I was glad about was that he didn't take this opportunity to attack organized religion. That just gets old. I think that there is so much more to probe into when it comes to matters of faith than just beating the drum about how the church manipulates and takes advantage of believers. I think we know that this is possible and happens more than any believer would like. Let's put that aside and explore other aspects of belief and how this can clash with other worldviews, or how belief is not as foreign and unfruitful as we might assume. While Gladstone only scratches the surface here (since this book isn't 1000 pages), he delivers something thought-provoking that I could appreciate.
Three Parts Dead has something to offer the genre of Fantasy. I would recommend it....more