Generally, when I give up on a book at thirty pages, it's typically for the exact same reason, regardless t...morePages survived: 30 Yeah. This book sucked.
Generally, when I give up on a book at thirty pages, it's typically for the exact same reason, regardless the particular novel; the characters bored me.
This is pretty pathetic, too, when considering the scope Warren had with which to work. To me, somehow, someway, the characters just were flat, and didn't jump off the page to me as being real people.(less)
When considering my reaction to this book, in general, overall, I'd have to say enjoyment was found. At the end of the story, I admit freely I was fas...moreWhen considering my reaction to this book, in general, overall, I'd have to say enjoyment was found. At the end of the story, I admit freely I was fascinated by the characters. I found the plot to be readable. The dialogue was believable. The external drama was interesting, and well written. But, there were some issues.
From the beginning of the novel, to the end, I found the leading characters in the story to be very much grounded in reality. One of my biggest criticisms of a book forms itself when the people within a story are flat and without life. In Secrets of a Proper Countess, while I have other criticisms, this is not one of such. Both Blackwood and Isobel are given distinct personalities which form themselves very well, and allow for the sense that these two are real people, with real feelings.
However, with compliment comes criticism. Firstly, while the above holds true for the hero and heroine, it does not hold so for the secondary characters. Along with the two antagonists of the book, whose on screen viciousness is only truly depicted at the end of the book, thereby making them seem less of a threat throughout the story, I likewise found the secondary protagonists, Adam and Marianne, to be TSTL. The Too Stupid To Live designation holds more for Marianne, considering her actions and out-of-place reactions to her predicament with Isobel at the story's close made her seem vapid, which drastically contradicted the tone of the story the author was so obviously trying to create. Adam, though, was more of a placeholder character for Blackwood, seeming to play the External Doubt for him in a very awkward and spastic way.
The plot of Secrets of a Proper Countess holds as much merit as criticism. The story did fascinate me, however, since the high drama finality of the book was unexpected. Largely, Isobel's struggles throughout the story focuses on her internal conflict in coping with the role she plays in her family, specifically with her in-laws. The danger she courts by dallying with Blackwood plays out more like suspense, rather than true conflict, since it is largely emotionally based.
All changes dramatically by the end of the story, the nature of the story transforming from internal to a very hard-hitting external conflict. Which, sadly, didn't lend itself well to the story. This is so because, frankly, the author handled such transformation by not handling it. Instead of threading the transformation throughout the story, providing intrigue with drama and suspense, Cornwall instead decided to slap the reader with this change by giving us an 89 page climax!
Yep, that's right. Very, very heavy grit-your-teeth, squint-your-face-because-you're-kept-in-a-constant-state-of-Holy-Shit-What-Now?! is elongated over an absurd amount of time. Starting on page 274, and not ceasing until page 363, the fate of the primary characters are unknown for a ridiculous amount of time. While high-drama is okay for a climax, and almost expected, really, it is not okay when it is used simultaneously for a story's turning point, as well as its closing Final Problem. Big, big no-no for me.
Aside from drawing out the drama to an unnecessary degree, Cornwall also disappointed me in another big area; the romance. Fundamentally, I am reading a romance, and with that fundamental reality comes the fact that while I enjoy danger, intrigue and mystery as much as the next reader, I still want my romance. One of my biggest criticisms of this book is the fact that the hero and heroine go from Lusty Pants to Love-Lovey with no emotional framework in between.
Frankly, there was so much plot to this book that such rudely shoved itself in between the romantic development Isobel and Blackwood needed in order to make their romance and HEA believable. Such development was so nonexistent that, by the time the couple was proclaiming Love-Lovey-Loveness, I was excessively irritated because it came across as painfully dull, and fake. What's more, the hero considered Isobel to be a traitor and murderer not a few pages prior to deciding that he loved her! Our gallant hero instead claimed it was Adam's fault for making him doubt Isobel!!! (Yes, three exclamation marks were indeed necessary.) So, yeah, big problem, there.
So, overall, this book? Yep. Its got issues, big issues. However, at no time was I so disgusted with the story that my hands ever itched to throw it against the nearest wall. Likewise, regardless of the Big No-Nos within, the novel was entirely readable. I did connect with the characters, despite wishing they'd connect more with one another. I did enjoy the plot, despite feeling as though it's conclusion was longer the President Bush's presidential term. And, overall, I did like this book, Big No-Nos aside. But, as with any novel, if it's written well enough, it can endure in spite of itself.(less)
Okay, so technically I've not 'actually' finished reading this book - I just read the first story, Turn Up The Heat by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Which was AWE...moreOkay, so technically I've not 'actually' finished reading this book - I just read the first story, Turn Up The Heat by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Which was AWESOME!
I adored the story, and just plain loved the chemistry between Vince and Allison! The conclusion of the story was so heartfelt, beautiful, and euphoric that I fell in love with this short story! I felt the characters to be very real and believable, and the plot was just plain fun!(less)
The eight toughest questions and objections against Christianity? Answered.
1. If there's a loving God, why does this pain-wracked world groan under so...moreThe eight toughest questions and objections against Christianity? Answered.
1. If there's a loving God, why does this pain-wracked world groan under so much suffering? 2. If the miracles of God contradict science, then how can any rational person believe that they're true? 3. If God really created the universe, why does the persuasive evidence of science compel so many to conclude that the unguided process of evolution accounts for life? 4. If God is morally pure, how can he sanction the slaughter of innocent children as the Old Testament says he did? 5. If Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what about the millions of people who have never heard of him? 6. If God cares about the people he created, how could he consign so many of them to an eternity of torture in hell just because they didn't believe the right things about him? 7. If God is the ultimate overseer of the church, why has it been rife with hypocrisy and brutality throughout the ages? 8. If I'm still plagued by doubts, then is it still possible to be a Christian?
The superb evidence, cohesive and fluent writing, astounding revelations and moving points noted in this amazing work are utterly profound. The above, in point of fact, are the eight most common objections to the Christian faith which this book endeavors to answer. Lee Strobel has done yet another phenomenal job of taking the matter straight to the intellectual experts in the various fields of science, philosophy, and true biblical doctrine. A remarkable and insightful read! (less)
Well...okay, this book is great! Yet, it's also not, BUT IT'S ALSO SO DAMN GOOD! And, at the same time, it's not good. Makes sense, right?
Basically what I'm trying to say, and failing shittastically at doing so, is that a book can be awesome in one respect, and downright homicidal-inducing in another. At the end of the day, when the final chapter of this particular shindig closes, do I recommend this book in the general sense that it's a great read? Abso-fucking-lutely! Do I consider this to be a genuinely good romance novel, paranormal or otherwise?
Suffice it to say that, as a romance with believable chemistry and genuine emotional undertones between its couple, Immortal Rider really deserves an iron skillet to the keyboard. Why? Well, a lot of reasons, all of which link right the hell back to some of this book's biggest problems. The first; the lead characters.
Limos, our heroine. Bad ass? Check. Immortal warrior? Check. Horsewoman/brigger of the Apocalypse? Check. All are ingredients in her characterization manifesto...and all are complete and utter bullshit. Of the worst craptastic realities within this book, Limos takes top billing. She is unquestionably our novel's weakest link in that she serves as a lot of emotional fodder, but not much else. Limos is almost entirely pointless in the way of being actively ineffective within the book. She's just kind of there, which is admittedly the biggest effing joke considering she's a friggin' Horsewoman of the Apocalypse. Um, hello? HORSEWOMAN! Can we not do more with her, please? *Cue sigh.* But, to be fair, this ball-dropping probably isn't her fault. So, where does the fault lay, you ask?
Yep, you guessed right...it's the plot's fault. Immortal Rider has that in spades; the book plots out the ever lovin' ass. So much story is EVERYWHERE! And, even though the secondary conflicts run amok like an ADHD kid crackin' out on a sugar rush, surprisingly the chaos and drama work. There's torture scenes, and hardcore evil antagonists, and freaky-creepy monsters and demons, and betrayal and subterfuge and smexy times. Lots of things happening in lots of places, and shockingly pretty damn entertaining! The pacing of this book is quick, constantly dramatic, and makes for some hella fun enjoyment.
...Except sadly it all kind of falls flat on its face. The novel is a lot like a roller coaster. Both are exciting all throughout one's experience with them, both never inspire boredom, both have serious heart-pounding dramatic high points, and both kind of just suddenly stop at a screeching hault. While the book's plot doesn't have one centralized conflict, and sort of merely meanders about from point to point, it's still very readable, even though it does end somewhat abruptly with no real resolution.
As I noted, there's a LOT of plot, which sadly shoves itself in between Limos and our hero, Arik, in a hugely rude-ass way. As a result, we're given zero time for emotional or believable romantic development between these two characters. Thusly, as a romance, Immortal Rider sucks ass in that department, and as a standalone novel it kind of fails pretty hard, too. So, you might be asking yourself with all these criticisms I've lodged against the novel, why did I rank the novel so high? Or, more succinctly, you might wondering...
I'm not a whackadoodle, I swear. I really did genuinely enjoy this book, just for reasons I probably shouldn't as a standard rule. What the hell am I talking about? Simple; the secondary cast of characters.
Holy baby Jesus, guys; the supporting cast in this book is all of the amazing! The amount of detail, characterization, time and attention paid to our not-main-book-people is the reason your face needs to be eyeball-deep in this novel, PDQ. Even though my brain totally recognizes that all the on-page effort given to Regan, the badass human female warrior, Harvester, the hella fascinating evil angel, Reaver, the bad-boy-turned-good, and Than, the seriously emo-tastic Death-on-a-cracker...even though I recognize that all said effort proves Immortal Rider is really nothing but a prequel novel to Book 3, I DON'T CARE!
Yes Limos and Arik's romance feels hella rushed, yes the story of this book feels limited and unresolved, yes there's a metric shit-ton happening within the universe, and yes, Immoral Rider is indeed nothing more than series fodder, but read this thing anyway, dammit! As bland as Limos is, that's how fascinatingly dynamic Regan's character is, as lackluster as the chemistry between our lead couple might be, that's how explosive Reaver and Harvester's scenes read, and as dull as the "will our heroine's secret be revealed/is our lead hero gonna die" leading plot point might be, that's how epic the secondary End Of The World evil master plan culminating in the background scenes is, seriously!
Basically the takeaway is just do this book; do it right now!
So, a virgin and a rogue walk into a romance novel's plot...and blow the expectations of win into complete and total Dark Matter of amazingness! This...more
So, a virgin and a rogue walk into a romance novel's plot...and blow the expectations of win into complete and total Dark Matter of amazingness! This book is just, yes! So much yes, to the point that within five hours I read 348 pages of this book, and finished it. The degree of awesome this novel entails is, let's face it, beyond articulation. So, to keep this boring introduction shorter and less painful for you, you non-existent reader, here's a GIF...
...And that about sums up my wholehearted approval for this novel, and all of its impressive components. But, firstly, there are tropes, and okay, I admit it; I'm a trope fan. Tropes, like Darth Vader, get a bad rep, but when used in the non-eye-bleach-level-of-pain way, they're valuable. This value skyrockets to just plain fun-fun when said tropes are inverted on their ass and consequently jumble the whole kitten kaboodle, which must have been Milan's genius plan for Unclaimed, all along. Herein, we've got the classic inexperienced virgin, which let's face it, is quinte-damn-ssential to the romance novel...except here, Ms. Milan flips that reality on its head and paints the role with a penis, rather than a vigina!
Yep! You indeed read that correctly, dear reader, but here's the awesome catch; Mark and Jessica hook you with their role reversal, but morph from trope to character immediately upon reader introduction. There is such a chasm of depth to both hero and heroine, as well as their starting points with each other, and their own internal realities and tribulations. While Jessica is the tortured soul, she does not cower from her role in life, and yet still experiences consequences, both internally and externally. Our heroine is a fascinating tower of resilience and survival while simultaneously deeply troubled. In a word, she's amazing.
In a pretty cool book-world-reality, Mark, our hero, is tortured to a lesser, but no less significant, extent. He is the very antithesis to the cliched, over written Me Man, You Woman, Me Brood romance guy so prolific in historicals today. While his virginity does slightly play a role in this reality, his personality, his determination, his drive, his past, his intelligence, his morality in regards to his fellow human beings, and his passion (oh boy-howdy, dat passion!) are far more elemental to his role of Smexy As Hell Hero Dude than just his non-bonking bedplay. His love for life and his family are just icing on the man cake (harhar), and prove that the overused Man-Slut-Pigeon-Hole is not a vital recipe element in order to write one smokin' fine male lead. (GIF "metaphorically" relative, of course. Yeah. We'll go with that.)
Next, plot a'hoy! But, interestingly enough, a common and VERY likable thread I've noticed in Milan's writing style is that her plots can't be noted without hauling in the wagon of emotionalism. Frankly, I wish more authors would start carting this stuff in by the truck-fulls! In Unclaimed, while there are a few elements of external conflict, almost all of the driving force behind this story are character driven, and internally fascinating. Jessica's actions affect the story, Mark's reactions drive the climax, but fundamentally both those acts are spurned by their identities as people independently of each other, and dependently on one another. Translation? Sure!...
The pacing and quality of writing within this story impressed me almost as much as the realism embodied by Smexy Mark and Kick-Ass Jessica. The initial chapters of the book have perfectly calm rhythm to their plot points, while the climax and resolution of the book cascade with activity that is steady, but well executed. That fancy-schmancy description-ing basically just means, ERMAHGERD THIS BOOK KEPT ME RIVETED! As noted, I spent less than five hours reading almost the entire book in one sitting and it was totally un-put-down-able!
The emotion of Unclaimed's plot, the degree of realism the whole thing felt just astounds me! The conflict aspects of the novel were real; they were tangible in their difficulty. Jessica's past was not just painted over with an, "Eh, it's all cool beans, whateves!" attitude by the author, or her characters. The resolutions were cemented in plausibility, and hot-damn if I wasn't in love with how Mark's chastity and beliefs were not a trope, but a driving aspect to his character and personal identity! Basically, I just...I am so...
...I just need to shut up, really! Shutting up, now, because my inner fan-girl for this book is overtaking the part of my brain that can logically, cohesively and intelligently define everything that is frackin' impressively cool and great about this story! Put simply, Ms. Milan, if you're reading this (because YEAH...like that's even a remote possibility!), just know the following GIF sums up everything I feel about your amazing talent, and the gift your books simply ARE...
This book is a great big ball of NOPE. Seriously, literally, and honestly, I'm a tad baffled at the utter oh-humanity-why failings...more
Pages Survived: 290
This book is a great big ball of NOPE. Seriously, literally, and honestly, I'm a tad baffled at the utter oh-humanity-why failings Maya Rodale achieved in the entirety of A Tale Of Two Lovers. And, I can say, with absolute certainty, confidence, and "Bitch, I ain't lying!" this book was a bomb-face; when one is only 80 pages away from completing a book, and it's a Wall Banger, you can trust that it sucks.
So, here's the low-down; there's this chick, there's this dude, shenanigans and misunderstandings pop out all over themselves, they get married...and some other crap happens. That, in one very specific nutshell, is the entirety of the frakkin' plot. Abso-friggin-lutely, I'm not lying. I'm roughly sixty seven percent sure Rodale did zip-zap-zero outlining with this story, because if she had then she'd have quickly realized there is truly no driving element to the novel. Instead, Julianna and What's His Face are constantly thrown together like atoms in a large Hadron Collider, and stuff "subsequently" ensues.
If abhorrently terrible scene progression with no story drive isn't enough to prompt immediate throat-slitting via dead-tree-book paper cuts, then surely to Yoda's chin-hair the unbelievably dry-dead-dead-dead characters must be, they must! Julianna literally has zero personality, while So Unimpressive Hero I Can't Even Recall His Name-guy barely registered as sawdust. While I found Julianna to be weak as a character (her motivations are told, not shown, she has zero focus on other life activities outside her article, and she comes off as raw Salmon even in the presence of her supposed close friends!) in comparison to the Hero Dude, she's practically Heidi Fleiss or Mother Teresa. Male Lead never once demonstrates identity, personality, or even effing character expression!
*Breathes* Okay, sorry for that rant; I know it was painful. Alas, I digress; let's recap. No plot, bad characters...what else we got? Well, those issues are Mommy and Daddy, with their offspring quickly being bored, boredom, Boredom City, boring, and kill-me-now bore! The book's pacing moves like a decapitated snail recovering from an Opium addiction, but that's not even the worst part, oh no! The bad story progression, lackluster characters, and absent plot, I could handle...if the romance was hot. Alas, ladies and ladies...here exists a romance novel with no romance!
No, no, you read that correctly, rest assured; A Tale of Two Lovers should be retitled to A Meandering Collection Of Words With No Lovers. Julianna and Him were the most painfully awkward, painfully painful couple I've ever read about, and that's saying something since I'm a card-carrying Edward-Bella hater. Stalin and Hitler had a more passionate love-nest reality than these two leads. I never once felt a spark of intimacy, a suggestion of interest, even a flare of "Hey, you with the face!" Julianna and her dude had no chemistry whatsoever of which to speak, and what supposed fire they did have, I wasn't buying. When Male Hero was all, "Hey, I love her!" by page 200-something, I was done; they knew virtually nothing about each other, and thus his realization was rushed, and without reason. I had to physically restrain myself from punching the words on page.
Here's the progression of this book, in short: Interesting, good, getting better, even better, fun, best, wow, wow-wow-WOW, HOLY-COOL-PEAK, rushed sce...moreHere's the progression of this book, in short: Interesting, good, getting better, even better, fun, best, wow, wow-wow-WOW, HOLY-COOL-PEAK, rushed scenes, resolved ending, The End. Yep, that about covers it.
Laura Lee Guhrke has a weird talent for making books oddly unique and different. She's a writer who creates interesting plots that either start off wonderful, get better, and end awesomely, or instead she creates wonderful buildup with too-hurried endings. Sadly, Trouble At The Wedding was just such a book; excellent exposition and a great first act, but an epic Dropped Ball in the final chapters.
The start of the novel was unquestionably interesting, opening with the Prologue of the heroine, Annabel, smack dab in the middle of getting married to someone Not-the-Hero. What made this book such a grab for me, personally, was the shocker that Chapter One didn't jump ahead in time to a single-heroine-zone, but rather, reversed course and retreated seven days prior to the wedding ceremony of the Prologue. Essentially Annabel and our hero, Christian, are juxtaposed in an interesting dynamic for the first half of the novel, and every page of this plot-part is a phenomenal read.
...Until Part One is resolved. As Annabel and Christian enter a new scenario, the feel of the book seems as if the author suddenly realized she was running short on pages and had to rush a bunch of scenes together. While such writing device previously went unused in the story, all of a sudden major time-jumps are occurring, almost within every chapter. The emotions and realism of the characters were seemingly sacrificed on the alter of Spliced Editing, and as the reader sees less "real time" scenes, the story almost appears to fall apart.
Ironically, despite this big-time Let Down, I still found myself desiring to see the outcome of the plot. Even while watered-down, I did care enough about the characters to reach the HEA, and enjoyed the wry humor of the fact that the novel opens with a wedding, and ends with a wedding. Overall, I enjoyed the uniquely refreshing qualities to this book, its timeline and plot-time construction, its initial on-the-seas setting and so forth, but realistically, the story was as much a let down as it was entertaining. Likable, though not remarkable. (less)
Definitely one of my high ranking favorites in the series, this book really was amazing. Both the romantic plot...moreDark Side of the Moon was exceptional!
Definitely one of my high ranking favorites in the series, this book really was amazing. Both the romantic plot between Ravyn and Susan and the "active plot" within the book were astounding. I found the idea of using Stryker's desire for a home base in Seattle and being temporarily in league with the humans an amazing idea for the book. Not only was the action and drama amazing in the story line, but as part of the series one got to see much more of the Squire's side of life, another facet to Stryker's complicated character, an introduction of Satara, and see a tad bit more of Savitar as a character as well as the beginning formation of Nick's life as a vengeful Dark-Hunter against Acheron.
The amount of relevance Dark Side of the Moon had to the series is phenomenal, with a truly action-packed plot. Not one second of the book houses any "dead space," or anything that can be seen as such.
On a side note, I also truly loved how Sherri decided to end this book. Aside from the development of Stryker with Nick, unlike other DH novels this book does not end with Ravyn being released from Artemis' service. The reasoning was sound and interesting, and was just another aspect as to why Dark Side of the Moon truly kicked ass.(less)
Very rarely do I read a book wherein I'm 73 pages away from completion, and only THEN my interest and enjoyment of the story is queued and revved. Qui...moreVery rarely do I read a book wherein I'm 73 pages away from completion, and only THEN my interest and enjoyment of the story is queued and revved. Quite frankly, while I've typically enjoyed Tessa Dare in the past, A Night To Surrender doesn't even start marginally "getting good" until page 297. I harbor plenty of theories as to why this book is, at best, shrug-worthy, and at worst, a colossal waste of time, but for the sake of staying "brief," I'll name just three.
Problem Number One: Character, specifically, a lack thereof.
Frankly, this book functions more, to me, as an entire work of "series bait" than actual story. I understand that a popular method for creating a series is by peppering Book One with future, potential would-be couples and singles. I understand that many scenes, in such a kick-starter, take the goal of introducing the reader to interesting, likable people that may or may not one day have their own story. However, when an entire book functions as this goal, I'm so not happy.
While it is true Suzanne and Bram are "characters," I'd argue vehemently they're characters lacking character. Instead of being a person, Suzanne came across more as an inventory of specific "things that happened" to her in the past. What's more, Bram, likewise, functioned more a an "I had things happen to me before you meet me" hero than as an actual presence. Despite the fact both hero and heroine were tortured souls, their personal hells were both overly emphasized, as well as frequently dismissed. Horrendous life-events and tragedies befell both Suzanne and Bram before arriving on Page One, and even though novel's entire premise lies in one BIG problem, (ie Bram "getting back his field commission) we, the reader, never see a smidgen of on-page emotion regarding this issue from Bram. The reader is told of this struggle, both through the narrator's voice, as well as Bram's own words and actions. However, as far as witnessing his personal abhorrence for "non-battlefield" life? Nada.
Suzanne, too, functions in the same vein, enduring childhood trauma which was both physical as well as emotional. This hell is clearly established to be the driving force in her situation and personal goals, and yet gets no more development or believable cultivation than a half-hearted glossing over.
I found myself so disgusted by the "hi-I'm-So-and-So-and-I-Want-Access-To-Your-Happy-Place" activity from both characters that I about lost my lunch a zillion times throughout this book. This issue, paired with the above problems, honestly made me care far more about the secondary characters than I ever could for the primary leads.
Problem Number Two: Conflict, specifically, a lack thereof.
I find it pretty sad, honestly, that absolutely no conflict exists in this book until the last 73 pages. While some might argue internal conflict is present in both leads, I would argue that's crap. As noted above, all the "conflicts" or "issues" each character held on a personal level were so thinly done that the whole book became a joke. Suzanne was the "I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar-But-Give-Me-Your-Hot-Man-Lovin'" while Bram countered with "Me-Want-In-Your-Petticoats" and "Grrrr-Me-Military-Dude."
While the only enjoyable aspect to this book was it's ending sequences, there is a sad irony to this fact. The amount of drama, conflict, and suspense Ms. Dare crammed into the final 72 pages could have made for a much better story if even a few of the climax-plot-points had been sprinkled throughout the entire story as a whole. Rather than haphazardly tacking on some High Drama to the end of the book, Suzanne and Bram would have been much better served as characters, and as a couple, if these dramatic elements were met earlier in the story, allowing for better character and plot development.
Problem Number Three: Resolutions, specifically, a lack thereof.
Last, but certainly not least, comes the most IRRITATING (yes, the capitalization was necessary) reality that Dare had this irksome habit of creating minor, but notable, plot threads that went absolutely nowhere. These incidents were admittedly infantile in scope and number, but they glaringly stood out when realizing the total lack of conflict throughout the book. Without delving into spoilers, offhand I can think of at least three plot points that fizzled out to nothing, including one that started, and ended, with the book's climax.
In conclusion, I'm entirely not certain why it was that A Night To Surrender failed to make the DNF list. It could be, possibly, that while neither the characters, the plot, nor the writing fell into the "bang-my-head-against-a-brick-wall" bad, they were terribly unimpressive. I think I trudged along through this novel for the sole purpose in praying, hoping, and believing the book would improve. Ironically, I was correct, for the final pages were action-drama packed...but such was not my expectation. Since I did, in truth, find interest and spark within the secondary characters of the book, I'll probably continue this series. But, as for a kickoff novel, A Night To Surrender sucked, it's as simple as that.(less)