I am taking a turn now, from the YA to the more mature side of things. That is, into what is probably classified as erotica - if the warning at the beI am taking a turn now, from the YA to the more mature side of things. That is, into what is probably classified as erotica - if the warning at the beginning of the book is the authority anyway. I picked up (through Netgalley, free in exchange for an honest review) Ecstasy Unbound by Setta Jay last week. And darn it, it was a roller coaster ride. Getting up that first hill was rough - all that anticipation of what was to come - followed by some fear as the car hesitates before plunging far and fast over the precipice into the heart of the ride... to be followed by an end that came all to fast, and a little (or a lot) flush in the face and sweat on the brow from all the excitement and heart pounding moments. There were also peaks and valleys, twists and turns, and moments when I felt I was hanging upside down and not sure which direction things were headed to next. So, yep, I felt like I had just stepped off Griffon (one of my favorite roller coasters, which is located in Busch Gardens Williamsburg). And I loved it!
25797414 The warning in the beginning was well warranted and deserved - there are definitely a large number of extremely explicit scenes, so if that kind of stuff isn't your slice of pie, then this series probably isn't for you. There is story around all the sex, but I'd say the book is split about 50/50 between actual plot moving "stuff" and sex. Since both of that "stuff" doesn't scare me off I dove right in, despite the warning, and plowed through from cover to cover. And, when I got to the end, I was desperate for the next. (By the way, after book 2 I was even more desperate for the next. This is a review of the first book, however.) And desperate in a good way.
The first hill, the tough part, was tough because it was a fair bit of world building that was a little too complicated and the mythology mixing felt a little like migraine inducing strobe lights. It was hard to keep it all straight and the variety with respect to the different types of beings was overwhelming. This portion of the book, especially the prologue, set my expectations poorly as the rest of the story wasn't so hard to keep track of. Don't get me wrong, the world building is a must have. And, it needs the right amount of details so the readers understand the rules of the universe we are diving into. But all the Greek Gods, Hellbeasts, half man-half animals/shifters, demi-gods, children of who-ever, Guardians who aren't related really but call each other siblings, different magical powers for each type of being, curses, exceptions to the curses, weird names... (and I am probably forgetting at least 2 or 3 elements here in this laundry list) well, it was all just a little overwhelming. The good news though? Hang on to your hats, the ride gets better. My advice - skip to the back where there is a glossary, when ever needed (I didn't realize it was there until I finished the book, dang nab-it!) and don't stress over learning too much of the mythology at first. Seems that the more time on the ride, the easier it is to be familiar with the rules of the universe we have.
Know that there are Immortals, Guardians, Magiea (magicians, essentially), humans and others. The Guardians are watch-dogs, good guys, and males (generally - there are a few female guardians too, but so far the males are the focus through book 3) in line to be mated throughout the series. There is a bad guy, Cyril, and he has a few minions too. And I swear, I pictured them as minions (yes, Despicable Me minions) from the start and it made things even more entertaining! Here, we get the first guardian to find his mate, Uri, and his mate is a demi-god, Alex. The pair come together and have to battle Cyril. I'll leave the rest for the book's page.
As the pair come together as a couple, things get awful steamy. Quite often. So, if you like that kind of reading it is quite enjoyable. Just be prepared to have a fan handy, or a cold beverage, or run the cold water for a cold shower...! Note, I thought it was a good enough read (and overall story arc) that I needed to get right back on the ride and picked up book two immediately. Boy, was I glad there wasn't a long line (aka, wait for it to be published... yes, I am sticking with the metaphor!).
Ok... now for the low points. The "Island Temple of Consummation, Tetartos Realm"? Really? Yes, that is the bold line under the chapter 31 title. Cheese-y. Way too corny. Couldn't there have been another name for the temple? I mean at this point in the story, we all know what the main couple is going to be doing. If the author intended that to be concupiscent or titillating, that was a fail.
And could we not have found a different word than preternatural? There are only, like, 50 synonyms.
The final thing I will note is that there were a few moments when the author should have used names instead of pronouns (and I wish some of the names for places especially were easier to "pronounce" in my head) as there were a number of sentences that dealt with multiple subjects and the use of "he" or "she" didn't make it easy to decipher who the "he" or "she" was when used in the next sentence or paragraph.
Like all roller coasters, there we have one most important thing to deal with - did it get juices flowing and riders excited and wanting more? Absolutely! This was one of the with some of the most sexy-steamy bits I have read in a while. The author didn't shy away from explicit scenes. And they were some of the more well done scenes I have read in a while. They were tasteful, even though racy. They were not given short shrift as their page time was well balanced with the rest of the story. And they were just dirty enough to be salacious yet totally readable without feeling like they were too much of a fantasy. Add to that the fact that the characters and story line were enjoyable and it was a roller coaster well worth the ride!...more
Dangerous Dream: A Beautiful Creatures Story by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is the "0.5" in the newest series by Garcia and Stohl, Dangerous CreatuDangerous Dream: A Beautiful Creatures Story by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is the "0.5" in the newest series by Garcia and Stohl, Dangerous Creatures. A spin-off of the Caster Chronicles, this seems to be the start of a series following at least Ridley and probably Link from the Chronicles. I knew it was a short story going in (kind of had to know it by the full title) so at least I wasn't disappointed by a misconception as to the length of the story.
The good news is you didn't need to read the Caster Chronicles to really follow what was going on here. This is clearly the short that sets up a new series and it is a very brief and short set-up. We do get introduced to some new players that I expect we will also see – Lennox and Sampson. It also looks like will be moving to New York City. At least New York City should be more exciting and provide more opportunities for all kinds of craziness and then Gaitlin South Carolina did. We also get to see a few minutes of Lena, Liv, John and Ethan. And we're reminded about the status of things with the rest of the characters we had come to know in the Caster Chronicles.
To be honest though this is another one of those it's so short it's hard to write a review installments. I get that this is designed to drum up or keep excitement up while waiting for the next series, but it's hard for me to be really excited about these little tiny stories that don't really do much and aren't really necessary (although I guess it's better than the tiny little stories between installments that are necessary and never get actually addressed so if you miss them you're screwed). At least this was one of the better written shorts. I can't complain about the same plot issues, lack of character development or anything since it recognizes itself for the purpose it serves - it is really just an into. It doesn't try to solve much and it just reminds us that there are characters we have grown to know and like and we will get to see more of (at least some of) them again soon.
The overall story potential for this new series seems just as interesting as it did in the first place, when I picked up the Caster Chronicles. So it's not like this adds or detracts from my desire to read the first full-size installment when it does come out. But at least it's better as prequels go then something like the Sisters Grimoire which I read not too long ago – if you miss this I doubt it'll make much of a difference, but if you manage to catch it and you enjoy the world that these two have built, then you're likely to enjoy this as a great way to occupy 15-20 minutes before reading Dangerous Creatures....more
For such a small book (it's actually one of those stupid e novellas) The Sister's Grimoire by Suza Kates really was quite a big disaster. I had been wFor such a small book (it's actually one of those stupid e novellas) The Sister's Grimoire by Suza Kates really was quite a big disaster. I had been working on trying to get through this for a number of months. And for something that should have been done in an afternoon that's saying something. The problem is a lack of development. It is so lacking, that I was surprised to learn this author has written a number of other books. I expected to discover that this was a new author. But, apparently, the curse of the e-book strikes again.
I'm guessing this is a prequel to a series. On the author's website this is listed under the title series. CaptureBut is is the only book listed. I am just going to assume, however, that there is more to come since you know, the word series indicated more than one....
The premise itself is fairly generic. Three sisters (Tate, Fiona and Sami) all of a sudden discover that they have magical powers. They discover they have powers because one night they get a visitor from "a servant of the dea matrona" and their grandfather owes a debt to Emuirdane. Why? Not developed. What exactly must the girls do to repay the debt? Not developed. The girls are given three days to figure out their powers and blah blah blah. Why three days? Not developed. Why the bad guys are after them, what they really can do with their powers, who the heck Hellena and Emuirdane (and what) are? Not developed. We are really only introduced to each of the girls and without a lot of background history (can't get to much background in a book that's barely over 100 pages long) they are off finding powers and a spell book and all sorts of things.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to provide this prologue of a book, confusion found a foothold. It was really hard to read that the girls one night had to run out of the house, Grandpa doesn't have time to tell them anything - they just need to follow their instincts - and then they find the book and then Grandpa has time to explain just enough to let the girls know they need to go shopping for magical items. And then, they attempt to learn about their powers and all of a sudden everything falls in place for them and within three days they've mastered everything. I spend a lot of time scratching my head. Bottom line - it all just felt fairly haphazard.
I am not sure enough time was spend by the author on this one. When I came across a glaring gap in the narration style (another one of those reasons why I expected to learn this was the first time author) I was really shocked. The story is told in third person almost all of the book, when out of the blue there is a sudden and stray random line written in first person. Can't figure out what that was all about – poor editing?
There were a few lines that pulled me right out of the book. I hate it when that happens. And in this case, the line "The Source" and the follow-up "The letter told us we had to free the source" cause me to think of first Point Break ("surfing's the source man... swear to God"Bocxx5FIMAAQy0n (1)) and then 2 sentences later I was thinking of Cole and Phoebe and Charmed. Image result for charmed coleNeither distraction is a good sign. To have those stray and random thoughts enter my head while reading was proof that this book just didn't grab my attention well enough to hold it.
Finally, a pet peeve. "Magick" was annoying to read constantly. I really would have preferred to read it the way it is spelled in English. I don't like it when authors don't just use the normal English spellings for words (and I am not picky - British English or American English is fine; I just want ENGLISH!!!). Or when they create their own slang. Or text speak on. It's annoying and should, frankly, be embarrassing for the author to not just write better. The occasional dip into that, fine. Slang expressions which are in use, fine. But intentional misspellings to do this, NOT FINE. And when the author just let the characters sound like idiots because he/she thinks it's cool to use extra "z"s and thinks he/she is superior for using foreign language (and not translating or not using it consistently or writing the accents), well, it's NOT FINE. Ok. Rant over.
If this really was just the prequel to the series, despite the issues, I expect that I will give at least the first book a chance. Since this seems to be the set-up for the first full length novel and I expect (hope) that the book will spend much more time developing what was missing here - and I assume that the editing issues will be corrected. After all, despite my reluctance to admit it, I really did enjoy the Charmed TV series and this book felt a lot like that (even has a Charmed fan-fiction thing going, not to mention the aforementioned source references). But I hope that we see some improvements with things mentioned.
This installment was… frustrating. Yes, that’s probably the best description for about three-quarters of this Dulcie adventure. Downright stupid fitsThis installment was… frustrating. Yes, that’s probably the best description for about three-quarters of this Dulcie adventure. Downright stupid fits not quite the other quarter. Because there is a dash of revolting thrown in that absolutely must be accounted for. Revolting. Yes, that is correct. You aren’t reading a typo or a misstatement. But I will get to that in a few.
First, the frustrating. The bad writing is starting to surface. I am not paying attention to things like the active vs passive voice switches, the run-on sentences, the bad grammar (because while bad, it feels like natural speech versus a well written book so it actually, to me, reads ok if I think of these as little plays in my mind and all the words are just part of a natural conversation). No, I am talking about the characters. Dulcie seemed like a pretty cool girl in the first book. And she was even better in the second. The third book didn’t add to her coolness factor, but it didn’t detract either. This one, however? Oh my goodness is she a blubbering idiot. She is delusional, whiny, self-contradictory (at one point she thinks that she never gave up fighting to get out of her situation, but caving to each and every demand and command isn’t exactly fighting) and she becomes so irritating. Not to mention the story itself – her lies and that Knight knew but was lying too and all the manufactured drama/stress because both characters are liars… well, I can only take so much of that internal struggle from our “heroine” before it gets old. Really, really old. Like ancient Babylonian times, Noah’s Ark kind of old.
The stupid. Dulcie went from being a pretty with-it law enforcement agent to a complete moron. Zero to stupid in less than 10 seconds, flat. The Flash has nothing on her. That’s not great character development. That’s exactly the opposite of what I want to read. Had she started out a walking talking potato it would be one thing. But she is supposed to be this kick-ass regulator and she was smart enough to eventually figure out the deal with Quill in the first book. While here, Johhny Bravo is an Einstein in comparison. When characters don’t learn from their mistakes, it can be frustrating. When they are as idiotic as Dulcie is in the book… stupid is too smart. How can she not think of any options - none, zero, zilch. I thought of 15 within seconds and I am really not all that creative. I know that there needs to be some sort of tension or obstacle, but we could have gotten to the same end point in a number of other, totally valid and less moronic ways. The character didn't need to become a walking lobotomy.
More stupid. The title. A play on Wuthering Heights, I get that. But where, oh where, is the relationship? Other than a play on the title just to play with the title. I was wondering this with the prior installments, but here it was too much to continue to ignore. There were also a number of book-to-book inconsistencies that I picked up here. For example, she had returned from the Netherworld a day after meeting her father, which was mere hours after being at Gabe's where she took a shower. But here, her return, she says she hadn't taken a shower in Hades knows how long. Ok, this isn't exactly plot risking inconsistency, but there were a fair number of them here and I wonder if the author and/or editor just fell asleep at the helm. Lazy and... you guessed it... stupid!
Even more stupid. While we needed to see how the “relationship” between Dulcie and her father was going to impact things – and they were for sure going to impact things – was there a race going on that someone failed to mention? The speed with which this story takes place, from Dulcie getting home to getting her job back to ending the way it did, remember the Flash? This element of the pace makes him look like a tortoise. A man who is supposed to have been a master criminal and all around tyrant for at least a hundred years can’t take a few days or weeks to give his new plant time to get settled and work through a workable solution? Tosh! Poor planning on the author’s part if you ask me.
Then Dulcie’s libido needs some help. Sure, in the PNR genre the libido is the elephant in the room and characters are often overcome by it, unable to silence their inner voice telling them how bad they want to jump bones and eventually the fail to control their urges, heating up pages (or chapters depending on how good the author is). And often, characters think the coupling isn’t smart (ok, always not just often – but this is where the couple’s struggle to be together, the he’s too good for me, I am too damaged, I can’t… comes from) and that tension or obstacle is necessary to the plot. When done right, it makes the steamy scenes steamier and the happy endings happier. When done right, the reader gets to sigh a sigh of relief that the characters have coupled and beaten what-ever was keeping them apart. But when done wrong, the characters are stupid, whiny, self-centered annoying reflections, with the emotional range of a teaspoon. But the teaspoon is Nicky Ferrante compared to Dulcie. While her libido puts Charlie Harper to shame – as absolutely all reason and any teeny tiny sense of intelligence disappears instantly every time Dulcie gets too close to Knight since she automatically stops thinking even semi-coherent thoughts about anything other than lust. Dulcie is the poster child for Lust. And it became really tedious and boring in this installment. Especially given the revolting - and unfortunately, her inability to do anything other than lust after Knight, while being self contradictory in the same thoughts doesn't appear solved even at the end of book 5.
The revolting. This was the worst part of this book. By far. The cliffhangers in this and the last book sucked. The fact that I idea I might get a slightly more sexy version of the cozy mystery was burst worse than on over-inflated balloon sucked. All of the stupidity and frustration noted above sucked. But what sucked the worst was **spoiler ahead** the scene towards the end between our 2 main characters – Knight, who I was really starting to like, and Idiot. Where they are fighting and he goes from being a good guy to a rapist. Yep. He does. Just like that. He is all over Dulcie, she is telling him no repeatedly, and he reads her body language and decides that she doesn’t mean no when she says it, she really means yes. So he forces himself on her. It doesn’t matter that she eventually says ok – it never should have gotten that far with these characters. I have read books with rape elements or scenes. And typically there is a reason for the scene. Here – I think the author just flipped her lid. And, the way the characters handled the situation subsequently, made me ill. I had to put the book down and re-read a number of times to make sure I really read what I thought I did. (Compounding this is the fact that in the following book, which I will review in the next few days, the author even does some victim shaming. That too was revolting.) And the larger lesson of it’s not the victim’s fault and no means no, no matter what (I counted 6 times she explicitly said no or stop or don’t do this and a number of others where she had that thought) and that rape isn’t the same as passionate sex (which is one of the explanations for the whole thing later) and that no man can read the mind or in this case body of another to change no to consent. Never mind that she eventually, begrudgingly, says she wants to have sex – since it is after he has already penetrated her. His response at one point to why he is forcing himself on her is “because I can.” WTF??? Let that sink in. Is my revulsion misplaced? The more I think about it, the more revolted I am. And the more disappointed in the author I am (especially after reading Malice in Wonderland, by the way… but I won’t spoil that one in this review).
This is NOT ok. Glossing over this by the characters, is NOT ok. Ending the book on this note, between these characters, is NOT ok. Turning the hero into a monster like this, for no apparent reason, is NOT ok.
So where do I stand? I definitely need to reclassify these from the mystery to the PNR. I am terribly disappointed that the individual mystery per book is not the way this series went and it took this ugly dark twisty turn. And I read book 5 (Malice in Wonderland). Not because I was really psyched to after the way 4 ended (and that is such a shame because I was really enjoying the series up until this point) but because I was curious as to how the author would handle things and I felt like I couldn’t let it end on such a sour note. We’ll talk about my disappointment and more of the frustrating and the stupid in the next Dulcie review.
I've said it before and I will say it again, books are like food in a lot of ways. The creator can possess all the requisite technical skills that wouI've said it before and I will say it again, books are like food in a lot of ways. The creator can possess all the requisite technical skills that would, in theory, make for a great creation but there is always room for failure because the creator is still human and can make mistakes. Or, the execution might also be flawless, and the consumer hates it because we each have our own personal tastes. This is true with food, music, art and yes, books. I sometimes gander at reviews by others when deciding what to read next. While I tend to take suggestions from friends or folks I know share my tastes more seriously, I sometimes just need some third-party sources. I knew I was going to read Great Hexpectations but when, and if I read something else first, was totally influenced by reading a few reviews of the books on the top of my "to-be-read" stacks (since I have a number of them). I realized when looking through the goodreads reviews that there is such a huge disparity out there when it came to this book and its quality. It has happened plenty of times: I totally fall for a book (or series) and others think it is less appetizing than Hilly finds Minnie's chocolate pie (if you've seen the movie, you know which pie I am talking about...). And it happens with books in all sorts of genres and those written by a range of authors - both established and new - critically acclaimed and not. Although critically acclaimed is also relative since critics too are people whose views are subjective and influenced by all sorts of things - so I don't put too much stock in "critically acclaimed" as a result. This book, of this series, struck me as a particularly good example of this duality - tons of 5 stars and tons of 1 stars. It was such a love-it-or-hate-it response.
For me, it was a solid 4 stars (remember, goodreads 4 means "really liked it"). Sure, it has some issues. But I am not reading F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was entertaining, fun, cute, a little steamy and filled with lots of the things I like when reading. Not to mention, it did the job. It was an escape from the day-to-day of reality. As a lawyer by day, mother by day and night, martial artist/instructor by hobby, there is so much seriousness in my life already. I often find my colleagues look down at my reading choices because they aren't haughty enough. You know, I am not reading the so-and-so non-fiction NY Times #1 book about the most depressing human rights whatever.... zzzzzzzzzzzz....... I read enough big words in my day job. I handle enough serious issues every day at work that when I read, I want to escape reality and laugh and smile and not have to think too hard or much about what I have just read. Great Hexpectations, like the first two Dulcie books, squarely fit that purpose. And I am enormously grateful for that.
This installment was "more serious" (relatively speaking) since there wasn't really much of a mystery to solve but we find Dulcie off to rescue Knight after he has disappeared. But it was still a cute little escape. I mean how serious can it really be when we are talking about a drunk goblin, a fairy who doesn't know how to use her wings, and a vampire that tries to get sex through a contract? It was nice to see Dulcie and Knight consummate their relationship - and admit to loving each other. And, it had a funny little twist at the end, with a hell of a cliffhanger. I am just glad that the next installments (books 5 and 6 anyway) are already published so I can pick them right up and I don't need to wait for what happens next. Yes, the twist/cliffhanger didn't require a CIA analyst to figure it out or predict it. But, it didn't feel like a sure thing either. Marvin's failure to blow up Earth with his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator was a guaranteed. Everyone knows that Bugs will spoil his plans - we know that from the moment we first see Marvin. But the only thing I felt was as inevitable as Bug's saving of Earth was that Knight would someone end up freed. So, it was enough suspense for me to keep things interesting. My biggest issue with this one is the name. I followed and go the references in the first two installments. Here, "Great Hexpectations".... not so much. Anyone who knows the genesis of the title (besides what appears to be the author's attempt to use "Literature" titles and twist them for this series) or the explanation/relation to the story, please feel free to let me know. And that's a tiny issue. Regardless, me and my tastes are looking forward to Wuthering Frights.
Not a review - but a note. There was a little sex in this story. Wouldn't you know it - right after I go and declare that it fits more with a cozy since innuendo and threats is as much action as we actually see... the author goes and gives us two pretty good hook-up scenes. First is steamier than the second, but they are definitely there. And the mirror is definitely foggy after them. I may re-classify, I may not. We'll see after I finish the next one....more
Crap on a cracker. There are 3 (and a half) more of this stinking series. I just finished Shattered Promises (the first in the Shattered Promises series) by Jessica Sorensen. shattered promisesAnd there are more in this series - more than I think I can deal with. At least based on the first three-quarters of the first book.
Let me start of by saying that the Fallen Angel series by Jessica Sorensen has been on my "to be read" book shelf for a long while. I have never gotten around to it. And now, I may never bother. I didn't realize at first that this is an "adulating" of the YA series. But if this is any indication as to the quality of the YA series, I cringe.
I also am going to note that while reading books is like eating or watching movies in that one person's favorite can be another person's most despised, it is still funny to see how diametrically opposed some people can be about the same book. Goodreads has this book sitting at an average 4 stars and the reviews are polarizing. People gush over it with enough sugar, hearts and flowers to make Willy Wonka stroke out and other people despise it like it came from the depths of the worst circle of Hell. It's kind of amusing.
Me, I am somewhere in the middle. The idea is pretty good, the execution... for most of the book I was amused by how awful the writing style is. I often felt like I was reading a telegraph. You know, the way they get read out loud: "Joe not coming STOP Mother ill STOP Will send word soon STOP". i6-20bThen, all of a sudden, things got significantly less awful (note I didn't say they got good - just merely not awful). I am wondering how close to the YA this adult adaption is. Did the author take the YA and merely adjust setting and some dialogue to make it more adult (which wouldn't surprise me since some of the writing is so clunky it reminds me of the way a high school student will take something out of an encyclopedia and just use synonyms to recreate almost the exact same sentence in substance even though they are technically using different words)? Or did some of the plot get reworked too? I can't say since I haven't read the YA version, but I have my suspicions. Here's an example of some of the odd word choices that has caused me to think these things, the text reads "I'm conquered with the compulsion" but I wonder if it the YA version didn't basically say "I was overwhelmed by the desire to". The "conquered compulsion" is clumsy and clunky and not fun to read. Not to mention, I am not entirely convinced that grammatically it means what I think the author intended it to mean. There were a number of other examples like this: "conclusively reside on my eyes"; "my vision resurfaces"; "attention is magnetized toward me". Interestingly, I didn't notice as many towards the end. Maybe I just became immune by then though.
Believe it or not, the writing style isn't the biggest issue for me. I think it is the hot-and-cold of both characters. Alex seems that way (maybe he's a long lost cousin of Edward Cullen?) but Gemma does too. They seem to both be easily pissed off, they throw temper tantrums like a 5-year old, and they are generally annoying characters. Then, two seconds later they are fawning for each other. Never mind the fact that Gemma talks like a robot (although Mr. Data, a robot with no feelings didn't even talk this way) and is super inconsistent. I thought she had never felt any emotion, at least we are hammered over the head with this again and again - but at the beginning of chapter 2 she talks about feeling happiness for the first time. So which is it? And giving me, as an explanation, that simply never having any human contact with her grandparent's kept her from having emotion? Like she never bumped into anyone at school (Mr. Data had more human contact apparently)?Crusher_Data_dancing The explanation of the spell makes much more sense, but then why would she need to never have contact with her grandparents? It's weird and feels like a stretch. Things like this were just hard to take.
I am also perplexed by the super bold warning about the content on goodreads. Is this because the author tends to write YA stuff? Because I have read plenty that is way steamier than this and there are no such warnings on those book entires. And, for the most part, this wasn't the steamiest or sexiest. It was borderline - twelve chapters in and the "adult" was nothing more than a few trips to second base. There is a single scene later on that is a little more racy, but it is tame compared to others of this genre. So, if you are looking for that kind of excitement, this isn't the place, despite the indication to the contrary from goodreads' synopsis.
Then there is the fact that this book has so many pieces that seem like copies of other books - Mr. Gaiman might be flattered that someone read his stuff and likes it enough to be inspired (stardusthmmm... people after a fallen star for its power... can we say Stardust, anyone? Which I absolutely adore by the way, so there are really big shoes to fill and very high standards to live up to by drawing inspiration from Mr. Neil Gaiman), but as a reader, it made it feel stale. The Death Walkers and the cold - can we say dementors? c05--the-dementorAlex's behavior - again, Edward Cullen? Jocelyn and Stephan - and reminders of Joeclyn and Valentine Morgenstern? There are more, but I think you can see my point.
The redeeming qualities came at the end. The twists were predictable, but at least some action started and it felt like the plot was moving forward. The writing got less choppy and easier to read. The Leyland character seems to be interesting and the mystery of Jocelyn is still out there and there is promise that this could be intriguing.
The other redeeming quality - as of the moment - amazon had it offered as an ebook for FREE. Yep. So I didn't waste a dime on it. Although, I am curious as to what happens next so I will be spending money on the next one (but I guess that is part of the point of the free first installments...!).
All in all, this could have been a lot better, but I guess it could have been worse too. I know, isn't that a glowing review for a book about something as bright as a fallen star?...more
The latest installment of the Mephisto Covenant series by Trinity Faegen, the Mephisto Mark, only you mephisto 3seems to be setting some records for me. Often, by book three there are a number of problems that are starting to surface. I begin to anticipate the "jump the shark" moment. The cracks in the overall story arc start to be visible. The characters and their "oh poor me" start to become whiney annoying people. The bad guys start to loose any trait that makes them nothing more than mindless bores who are aiming to end the world. The gals in these stories become mindless bores, weaklings who couldn't spend a night in bed with the lights off, let alone do anything that takes even the smallest iota of courage (ironically, its these heroines that are often called "strong women" in reviews and that makes me want to scream). We start to see action where we could skip entire chapters because nothing interesting, new or different happens. So often we start to see the same plot points with bad guys who get away for the sake of stretching the plot further than it should be stretched, and dialogue – in the characters head or out loud – where the same stuff is told to me over and over and over. That gets old and take the joy out of a series fast. jumpthesharkBook three is so often the jump the shark moment because of all these things. However, I am happy to say, I didn't see any sharks in the water here!
The third installment takes a very unique approach to series progression: the events in this book take place simultaneously with the events in the last book. I have never seen this done quite so extensively or quite so well. I have seen books with some overlap, or where you know there are other events taking place and the characters who are in the other books are nothing more than references. Here, it was like the botched Twilight from edwards POV - we get to see exact events that we saw in the first book, just from other characters perspectives and we see those other characters throughout the book with the interactions mirroring what happened in the last book (Oh, and I should say, unlike the botched Edward POV, this was finished and really well done, so the similarities are limited!). It was a great accomplishment and must have taken quite a bit of planning on the author's part. As a reader, I would like to thank the author for the effort put into doing that. I loved this installment and was so thoroughly entertained. It was done well enough that even though I just finished the last book, when I came to text that I knew was identical and I had read it before, when I re-read it, it still felt new! Kudos!!
This story is about Phoenix and Mariah. Mariah is Jordan's birth sister. Key found her in the last book and brought her to the mountain. Phoenix is who she is meant for. But she was abused when she was younger and Phoenix is battling the guilt over and memories of Jane. But, as with all in this genre, we watch as the two main protagonists fall for one another and how they get deal with the baggage they bring to the relationship.
The books in this series just get better and better. Each installment of the Mephisto Covenant series is better than the last. Which means that I can't wait until #4 comes out!
The author does a wonderful job of giving us enough information to recap the big items yet giving us new information and story lines at the same time. You don't feel like you are being bogged down by too much background. She creates a world where there is a wonderful balance of new and old information. And this is a huge accomplishment given the timing of this book. This was a first for me - reading a book where the timeline is concurrent with another book in the series. I have seen a little overlap, but to have the entire book take place during the exact same time as the last installment that is new. And it was great because I could see it being easy to forget a detail or two and have some inconsistencies between the books, but I didn't see that here.
This book did seem to travel a little further with a few things than its predecessors. It was a little more religious. I still didn't feel preached to, but some of the religious tenants were much more important to the characters and faith therefore seemed to play a much more important role in this book. The author, however, seems to know how to balance the presentation of characters with faith, even characters talking about their faith, without it feeling like the author is trying to bean you over the head until you relent and believe in what the author believes. It is a hard balance; there are many authors who try to present EOW scenarios or do the angel/demon/god/lucifer thing and they can not find the balance. Ms. Faegen has managed to present the perfect balance.
Part of this balance may come from the origins of the Mephistopheles story in that he isn't really a demon from church teachings but from other literature. So there is an inherent limitation on the amount of scripture surrounding him, making him easier to balance. And while it is clear that there is a message about not loosing faith and redemption, it seems that part of this message is that love is redeeming, not just faith.
This installment brings on some additional imagery and misery. I won't talk about the elements of abuse - I am grateful that I can't identify I can only sympathize. As a result of the fact that I can't say what it is like to be a victim or surviver of this kind of abuse, I will leave that alone. Readers should be warned, however, that there is some talk of what happened to Mariah and the author warns of triggers in this regards. There is other imagery at work here that I don't recall in the other 2 books - we see the place "Hell on Earth" and get a little background on it. It is descriptive and disturbing. It was well done as it felt like the author was trying to make sure we understood this place but it didn't feel like the caricature that one often finds in this genre. It was also an interesting take to see the difference in the descriptions (and the mythology in this world) between Hell and Hell on Earth.
There were some delightful little twists. They weren't the Game of Thrones type twists (Red Wedding, yikes! joffrey chokingIt's Just Wine, double yikes! And if you haven't guessed, I am talking the HBO GOT-game-of-thrones--ep because I haven't read the books yet), but just small enough things to keep the story feeling fresh and the plots feeling unique. Learning the truth about Phoenix and Jane - it just wasn't something I expected. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was also a great little surprise to see the way the brothers dealt with some of the other twists that presented themselves. All in all, they each moved the plot forward in pleasant ways, yet managed to make sure I didn't get a sense of deja vu which happens a lot in the genre - I often find myself mixing up plot points and characters because it's hard to find new ways to do things and a lot of the same stuff gets recycled through the genre.
Like with the previous installments, this isn't the steamiest series. If you are looking for heat (other than from Hell on Earth), you won't find a lot of it here. Just so you know....
The one thing that started to get a little annoying was a subtle shift in the way "Anabo" and "Mephisto" are referenced. In the first installment those two things were types of people. The ladies were Anabo and the guys Mephisto and the ladies could become Mephisto. In the second book there were references to it that way as well as references to being something one could "lose". To me, those are two very different types of nouns. Here, there are more references to Mephisto and Anabo as a thing that could be lost. For example: "If she had Mephisto" or "lost Anabo". But its really been that they are Mephisto or Anabo, not they have Mephisto or Anabo which could be a thing to be won or lost.
Regardless of that little itsy bitsy nit, I am thoroughly enjoying these wonderful books. The author has built an interesting world, the mythology is fresh and the characters are wonderful. I hope we get to see a lot more of Mephisto Mountain and the folks who call it home.
p.s. still think the covers should be better......more
I miss Gena Showalter. I mean the old Gena Showalter!!! The one who wrote heart pounding, flushed-cheek inducing, graphically detailed steamy scene writer, Gena Showalter. Does anyone know? Can we find her and bring her back? Please?
Some say she has found religion and that is why her books have lost that steamy goodness, and you can certainly see more theology in the books, but I am not sure I buy it. Why would someone drift from the steam into violence because of religion? Ok. I just wrote than and then realized that maybe that’s a stupid question given how often the “love thy neighbor” religion really is a facade for violence, discrimination, and all sorts of other bad things that have lead to more wars on earth than anything… but, leaving politics aside – I miss the author I used to love to read!!!
Which book brought me to the brink, asking these questions? Last Kiss Goodnight, by Gena Showalter. LKG OA1Everything I have read, and the cover of LKG itself, proclaim this to be the first in a sizzling new series (the Otherworld Assassin series and it seems this is some sort of spin-off or something from her Alien Huntress series, but I’ve never read any of the AH). But, like with many of the other folks who have read and reviewed this book, I think sizzling is a little misleading. The author has every right to write what she wants and not write what she doesn’t. But I think the publishers shouldn’t try to sell me something – when this book is clearly not what they claim it to be. As a result, I really struggled with where to even categorize this series’ pages here on this site. It’s certainly romance, because we are faced with the love stories. And it’s alien, and I don’t usually separate out alien into another category, instead they usually sit in the PNR category too. But, the steam, spice, sizzle, what ever you want to call all that juicy blush inducing stuff that is typically in the PNR books, and was in the start of Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series (and not so much now – see my latest reviews) is not here. Neither is her wit and dark sense of humor.
This book is missing so much of what made me read the first few Lords of the Underworld book without putting them down. Sure, there’s some kissing and we know that eventually the characters have sex but it’s just not what it used to be. And I don’t mean we need to have them together in the first 5 chapters. But when I wait until the last ten percent of the book to finally see the couple in fact couple, I want more than one line and the inference of what happens. And that’s really all we get here.
I will also note that there is significant violence. We see Solo ripping a man’s throat out, we see Vika get repeatedly beaten, we see animals being senselessly tortured and we see emotional abuse galore (forcing a child to kill her prized lion). And yet, the good, the love, is limited. It’s a shame.
I read a few other reviews that talked about being hit over the head with the theology. I admit, five chapters in I started skipping the bible verses at the beginning of each chapter. So maybe that’s what helped limit the feeling of being preached to (and I have read a fair share of those – and hate them – so I would be honest if I felt that way here). Don’t get me wrong, its obvious that X and Dr E are the little angel and little devil, feeding Solo with choices always trying to show Solo to be good or to convince him to embrace evil. And good does prevail – as it usually does in these books. But I didn’t feel like I was having religion shoved down my throat. Although I can see where that perspective comes from. I guess I just tried to continue to remember that Dr E and X were aliens, from Solo’s home planet too, and purposefully tried not to think of them as an exercise in religious theory. The once or twice I felt like I was sitting in the pew at Sunday mass, I skipped to the end of the paragraph and intentionally moved on. It worked for me. Although, if this keeps up, it doesn’t bode well for my desire to purchase more of Showalter’s books.
What bothered me most about this book was the female lead. I saw a review that pointed out Vika’s courage and strength – but I am not sure I see it that way. Sure, she seems to be planning an escape. And she seems to be willing to eventually follow through with doing it, but she is a doormat the rest of the book. She gets abused over and over. The dialogue is crappy – the pleading Vika does with her father… the conversations between Mata and Vika… the way her being deaf is convenient but so unrealistic – I know deaf people can “hear” music and sounds because of vibrations, but to actually be able to understand a conversation that you cant see because you are underneath a trailer through the vibrations… please that’s just too much – none of this lives up to the standards I have set for Showalter based on previous books.
We had some good plot holes too – why Vika doesn’t feel the effect of a vow with Solo the way others do; why X knows from the start they are meant to be together; Vika’s ability to hide that she is deaf is way too perfect; how and why did the whole switching eye color thing work, and Solo becoming deaf and them then “sharing the ability to hear” at the end; what the heck to solar flares have to do with traveling and how the heck is that tied to black magic and the no lands; were those supposed to be zombies in the no lands… the list could go on.
I miss the author who wrote all the great dialogue, characters, plot, sex scenes and stories that were the start of the Lords of the Underworld series. Can someone figure out how to get her back, please, even if we need to use solar flares?...more
What a wonderful second installment! Deep in Crimson by Sarah Gilman was a great read! This series is a unique take on the idea of a world full of fallen angels and demons and it is void of so many if the little traps and failures which seem to be more and more abundant in this genre. While still not the steamiest, the storyline more than makes up for that.
We return to the world Sanctuary where fallen Archangels are hunted by humans for their feathers. In one of the best twists I recall seeing in this genre, the demons protect the angels and both angels and demons have fallen from heaven. There is an acknowledgment of traditional religion (wight he nod to church and the one child learning about things in church) but this isn't an apocalyptic end of the world scenario. Instead this is about angels being hunted and their quest for a life with no poachers. It is also about a few bad guys who, in a twisted sort of way, are doing what they believe is right.
One of the things I love about this book is that the romance develops over the course of months. We don't see every day of that (otherwise the book would be way too long to read) but we do get to see time progressing – this isn't a fall madly for each other in three days type of thing. It's refreshing. It's nice to see something that is more real, even if set in a very fictional or imaginary setting.
There were lots of little great things and great little things. We know that Lexi has prophetic dreams – and the suspense where the reader knows that Jett is the subject of her dreams and she doesn't doesn't last long. I was so worried at first that there would be a lot of time spent by Lexi stressing over knowing that Jett was the subject of her dreams but it was wonderful that this wasn't stretched out unnecessarily. It was a treat that even the little bit of stress about the fact that the subject of the dream was a poacher had a short lifespan - we learned it was really Jett because of the scratches on the tattoos dry early on. It was also great that while Jett had some feelings of not wanting to be trapped we didn't hear from him that that was going to cause problems letting the couple form over and over again either. The biggest hurdle would be his training and both characters were fairly smart about it and didn't let it cause too much drama. Instead of the drama being manufactured by the respective halves of our couple it was manufactured by the plot of the story. Awesome. It was an awesome change of pace!
The couple was allowed to try to couple and the crippling doubt that is so prevalent in this genre never found a home with either half. The woman being strong - there are lots of PNR where reviewers think the woman is strong and where I totally disagree - here is a strong and capable heroine. Finally. She fights. She trains. She totally is not a victim. She doesn't hesitate to find a way to get what she wants - and in not in a pushy of noxious kind of away either!
The drama with the big bad guy is handled swiftly without being too convoluted and, in what is in a lot of ways, a totally believable manner.
I didn't have religious theories hitting me over the head. And there was actually a little bit of gray about the awful big bad guy too. His motivations were noble even though his actions were not; the ends don't justify the means and its easy for the reader to see this but also easy to see that while he his twisted logic for thinking he is doing what is for the greater good. I couldn't route for a baby stealer but I could see why he thought he was right.
And it was really nice to see the little bit of mystery about Jett's past in large part solved again without too much drama and without being dragged out across six books. I was totally satisfied the way every element of the plot and subplot progressed and and tied up. It felt like there were very few loose ends. The unfortunate part? The downside? It's hard to tell if there will be (many) more books in this series. Although it seems to me like we are ripe to find a partner for Lark. I think it would be a tremendous shame if we didn't find a way to return to sanctuary to get to know more characters and the wonderful world this author built better....more
This didn't get more starts due to the length. It was a great little novella, but there there was so much potential for more. I would love to have seeThis didn't get more starts due to the length. It was a great little novella, but there there was so much potential for more. I would love to have seen this be a full length novel. And I am guessing if it was, I would have been inclined to give more stars. Great little quick read - a good way to stay invested the world that the author has built. ...more
Happens so fast it's easy to have it stay in Vegas. Werewolf in Las Vegas by Vicki Lewis Thompson is the latest (and perhaps final, based on the letter to the reader in at the end) in the Wild About You series. It was a quick, amusing, sexy little read. But it is set over the course of three days and feels rushed. It feels a little half done. It feels like a companion novel instead of an installment of a series. It felt like if I blinked I would have missed the entire story. Even for this genre, the love story moves at light speed, and that is just a little too fast for my tastes.
The last few novels in this series have made fleeting references to other things from the predecessor novels but really all of my "Other Important Things to Remember for Later" don't really matter; if you didn't remember them you wouldn't be missing anything. There were a few mentions of some of the organizations, events and characters but if you weren't familiar with them it really wouldn't have mattered. There wasn't enough tie in, and there was enough background, that you could read this book first and it wouldn't matter.
I am not saying that is bad. But if this is the last book in the series, it is a little bit of a disappointment. I hate series that just sort of stop. With no big event, no bang, no climax that leaves me feeling like the series has reached a natural conclusion. To finish off a series with a book like this is so anti-climatic. Unfortunately, it isn't all that uncommon in this genre, especially with books that fit in the sub-genre that isn't dealing with an EOW scenario. Other series that have done this include Erin McCarthy's Vegas Vamps and Ashlyn Chase's Strange Neighbors. It is truly a shame, however, since these are really great reads.
The scenario presented in this book is similar to the last few: a were who doesn't believe in were-human matches falling for a human. There were some other ancillary plot lines to provide the backdrop for getting the two protagonists together, but this boils down to that first sentence. Here's the high level synopsis: Bryce Landry has run away from home, looking to escape his responsibilities as the next Landry alpha. He meets up with Cynthia Dalton, who wants to be a dancer, but her older brother isn’t allowing it. Bryce and Cynthia send siblings Giselle and Luke on a chase to try to convince Luke and Giselle to think differently. Meanwhile Luke and Giselle fall for each other. Cynthia wants to be a dancer and Luke doesn’t want to permit it. Giselle doesn’t believe in were-human mating. Giselle also wants Bryce to go home and be alpha. Luke won a bar in a poker game that used to be a were playground and the Cartwrights would like to get it back (and they do thanks to Giselle, Bryce and Cynthia – mainly Bryce and Cynthia).
So my issues with this installment are four: (1) they totally fall head over heals after one night of sex; (2) this feels very much like a re-hashing of the same plot from the last (at least) two installments; (3) it is a unexciting conclusion to the series (assuming that letter at the end from the author was a forever-goodbye letter); and (4) there was no real conflict.
I talked a little about two of those already. The other, well, it's not uncommon in this genre to have characters fall totally, madly, head-over-heels for each other after a very brief time. But this too that to a new level. The reader must suspend all belief in reality when taking the romance and course of the relationship into consideration. Although, even then, it felt a little too fast. As a result, it felt rushed. Warp 9 was slow in comparison. The little adventure that the siblings of our main pair set in motion had potential to last at least a few days which could have stretched the events out a little and made it feel a little more realistic. And I think this could have been done without making the book too much longer.
The lack of conflict stems a little from the fact that this feels like the same story as from other books in this series. There was no real fresh plot point. There was no real conflict between the two protagonists. And this is so often where that great sexual tension between characters comes from. To say this existed because Giselle was anti-human puts too much stock in that particular plot point [spoiler alert] since it takes 48 hours for her to get over it and reveal herself. The plot line that moved us through time in the book wasn't about the main two and so the story felt a little empty. Acceptance came too easily. It was like the author just couldn't be bothered to put the characters through anything that would be difficult to cause them to come together. This is an element that is, I think, integral to a successful PNR story. And it is missing here. Needlessly, I might add. The whole thing about loosing the Cartwright property could was ripe to be exploited and it was merely an aside, an after thought. I am not asking that they be put through any huge trials or some of the things I have seen that approach the opposite extreme (some stories might as well strand main characters in Antarctica without a way to get home and ask us to believe in a miraculous event that saves them - like with Scully and Mulder), but something to make the characters work for it would be nice. The conflict here lasted a page and a half. If that. One glass of whiskey and Luke is cool with everything? Too easy. Too lazy. Too boring.
Now the good. And there was quite a bit of good. This is a nice and tastefully sexy little book. The characters are funny. There were a number of moments where I was chuckling because of what was going on. The female character was a well written woman, who wasn't a push over and she wasn't a damsel in distress in need of a big strong hero to rescue her. There were some extended steamy scenes too (including a bathroom jaunt that makes the steamy reference a literal one). It had so many of the things that got me interested in this series to begin with. And it was super easy to read.
I just wish that the super fast trip to Vegas isn't the last we see from the Wild About You series. I would like to visit a few other cities. I mean we even have a pack in England that was referenced we could go visit now... ...more
The third installment of the Naked Werewolf series by Molly Harper, How to Run With a Naked Werewolf, is hopefully not the last. I have grown fond of Grundy Alaska and the pack. There is still a lot of room for more stories coming out of Grundy.
Full of interesting dialogue, funny and realistic characters, a decent story line and just enough action and steam, this was a great read. I love the books like the ones in this series. They are fun little books. Even with a dark undertow like here (the spousal abuse that our main character Anna is running from) they manage to stay light and fun.
NW#3While there were definitely aspects that were predictable – as soon as the reader finds out what Anna is running from, it’s clear that she will be caught at some point – we can live with it. Because we know that there is joy and happiness coming for our characters. Unlike the PNR with the EOW scenarios, there is no under current of evil that we know will cause trouble for the entire series and be so bad and ugly that the fate of civilization hangs in the balance. That dark cloud isn’t there, and so these books are more lighthearted and easier to enjoy. They are chuckle-out-loud amusing and there isn’t the dreaded feeling about what might come in the next chapter and worry about where the series will be when this installment is done. Instead, the joy with these books is that it is also clear from page one that our main lady (here, Anna) and guy (Caleb) will prevail. I mean, that’s why we read these books right? The romance and the happily-ever-after fairly tale ending that we all know is coming before turning that last page. It keeps us buying these books.
My reading habits are pretty predictable. I read an EOW scenario (like BDB or Lords or Demonica) and then need a book or three to lighten the mood. And I mix in the YA story too to make sure all seems right with the world before diving back into a world where there is such evil the author is literally talking about demons and hell. For all the supernatural reading I do, across genres, I love these light-hearted fun PNR books best. They are the perfect mix of chuckles and steam. Even if they have a subtle “moral of the story” somewhere in there. For me, the Naked Werewolf series ranks right up there with some of my favorites – Erin McCarthy’s Vegas Vamps, Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Wild About You and Ashlyn’s Chase’s Strange Neighbors (aside: I want more of those series!!!!!! 3 was not nearly enough from the Strange Neighbors and the Vegas Vamps needs more too!!!!)
The more serious side, that is a subtle message of what a too controlling relationship looks like, can be found if that’s what you want to get out of this book. I will note it is a message that is judgment free. Women who end up in relationships where they think everything is fine and slowly is turns ugly can be smart, well educated and right in front of anyone. And they may not know it at first, or even when it’s too late. It’s like boiling a lobster; when the lobster is in cold water and you slowly turn the heat up, they don’t realize they are being cooked. Sometimes, like with the Anna character, something gradually turns up the heat. Luckily, Anna finds a way out. And we only get this story as back story. We don’t really see the ugliness until the very end when Glenn shows up to take back what he thinks is his. And it’s once that this is backstory. The author doesn’t make it her mission to hit the reader over the head with the lesson. It’s there, but a reader can also just choose to enjoy the relationship that is Anna and Caleb.
I will note, I do like my gals of the ass kickin’ variety. And while here Anna is a little more clumsily lucky than ass kicking’ I do like that she is strong. The whiney I-can’-be-with-him-becasue-blah-blah-blah and I-need-to-be-rescued crap is only readable by me in small doses. While some might argue that Anna isn’t very strong, I think when you look at who she is, what she accomplishes, and pay a little attention to the moral of the (back) story you can see she is. Sarcasm in female characters is also always the recipient of bonus points in my book too.
Hope I get to visit Grundy and the NW pack again soon!
**Glossary (and mental note as to what these mean, since I don’t want to include these footnotes on every review/post/page):
BDB – Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward EOW – End of the World NW – Naked Werewolf PNR – Paranormal Romance...more
I am baffled by all the excellent reviews. Are there 2 versions of this book out there and I have the version intended to bewilder and confuse? An angI am baffled by all the excellent reviews. Are there 2 versions of this book out there and I have the version intended to bewilder and confuse? An angel I am told was male, but later that he/she/it is pregnant? A fairie is an angel? Angela is the Archon but not? She houses Raziel's soul but doesn't? And I still don't know what the Ruin is...! It was a sign when I realized I was two weeks into this book and still only about 60% through it that I was not going to agree with all the positive reviews this book has been getting. I found myself re-reading entire chapters because I was so very totally confused. And unfortunately, there is no wiki page out there summarizing it in a coherent manner, with spoilers, so I can understand what I have read. I normally do that here on my blog, but i don't even know where to start... I am confounded. More of the review, and spoilers, to be found on seriestracker.wordpress.com, for those who are as lost and confused as I was on this one!...more