Affliction is book 22 in the Anita Blake series, and it’s a series I have a love to hate relatReviewed by Laura for www.bookchickcity.com - 3.5 Stars.
Affliction is book 22 in the Anita Blake series, and it’s a series I have a love to hate relationship with. I’ve nearly given up on it a couple of times, but there is something quite compelling about Hamilton’s writing. The last couple of books before this one have been an improvement, I really enjoyed Hit List, then felt that Kiss the Dead took a bit of a step backwards. But, the good news is that Affliction is undoubtedly one of the best books in the series in a long time.
Hamilton seems to really have made an effort to refocus the writing, we see a lot less pages on Anita’s love life and a lot more on the police investigation and bad guys. The lovers are still there, and still reasonably irritating, I do like some of them, but I just find that there are too many, it’s ridiculous. The first 100 pages or so of the novel was quite slow going and could have really done with some editing, but once the story got going, it really got going.
The best way I can describe Affliction is Anita Blake does the zombie apocalypse. Yes, think multiple, crazy, flesh eating madness versus Anita and Edward with a serious amount of fire power. The action scenes were utterly compelling, this is where Hamilton really knows how to write. I couldn’t get enough of them and looked forward to the next zombie killing fest with macabre glee.
The action was well paced, and the police investigation was thoroughly enjoyable. As the scenes got darker and darker you just knew they were going to need Anita to save the day and zombies are what Anita does best. In these sections the was less focus on Anita’s personal life and she also had a lot fewer bodyguards to hide behind too, so we get to enjoy plenty of scenes where Anita gets to kick arse all by herself. Hurrah! More please Ms Hamilton, more!
The parts I found rather irritating were the sections were Anita seemed to demand that everyone accept who she is. How many people discuss their personal/sex lives at work? Very few surely? But every time Anita is on a new job it’s like she has to force it down their throats. Why not be mature and refuse to discuss it and move on to the job at hand? Instead there are numerous tedious conversations about how many lovers Anita has and how everyone is prejudiced against her, ugh. I don’t mind so much people being nervous of Anita’s supernatural abilities and close relationship with the vampires, that suspicion is understandable. But it’s when she forces everyone to accept and discuss openly in a professional setting that she has multiple lovers that I find myself losing patience.
My last criticism is one I’ve had of several of Hamilton’s recent books in this series and it’s the ending. At 567 pages, this was by no means a small book, there was plenty of time for the story to be fully explored, but I felt like the final climax was all over disappointingly too quickly. I wanted a bit more bloodshed, more of a battle and yes more injuries! Overall the beginning needed cutting and the finale expanding.
It does feel in this review that I am whinging a lot. There are still plenty of frustrations, but please if you take away anything, take away that this is the best book in the series for a long, long time. We see lots of police work, lots of action, guns, battles and Anita doing what she does best. I think on my rough count there are only 4 sex scenes and Hamilton has most definitely pulled back on the sex and relationships and reverted back to what she does best.
If you’re an Anita fan who has been like me, losing heart with this series, then give Affliction a go and it will remind you why you fell in love with Anita in the first place. There are still issues with the writing, yes far too many ridiculous lovers, but it’s good. It’s about time we saw Anita versus the zombie apocalypse and Hamilton gives us plenty of gory action scenes to revel in. I hope Hamilton continues along this line of the focus and brings this series back to its heartland....more
Her Ghost Wears Kilts had everything that should have made for a great paranormal romance. Kilts, ghosts and a Scottish hunk for a hero. The beginning gets off to a spooky start, Baillie begins to suspect that her bookstore is haunted and I enjoyed the the slightly eerie set up, combined with the light hearted moments with her and her friend and shop assistant. This sets up the story as Baillie begins to learn of her ancestry and inheritance leading us to Scotland and a fabulous castle setting. I do love castles (I even got married in one!).
I hate to say this about any book, but I have to say while I didn't hate Her Ghost Wears Kilts, I didn't really gel with it either. At first I thought it was because Baillie was in her 50s and so more my Mum's age than my own. But as I got to know her, it didn't matter at all, other than the fact she regularly referred to herself as old. There were just a few things that didn't work for me.
Firstly, as a British reader, it was quite evident that this was an American writer, writing a book set in England and Scotland, and unfortunately there were some glaring research errors. For example, when in London the heroine paid with £1 notes, while you do still get these in Scotland, they have been out of circulation in England since the 80s. Then there was the fact that the tube did not have a lift or elevator (it does). When in Scotland and they are gathering information for the police they say they are going to give the information to Scotland Yard. Scotland Yard is the head quarters for the Metropolitan Police who cover greater London. They have no jurisdiction in Scotland. The taxi driver asks a bizarre question about Mickey Mouse as if we've never seen him in the UK before. These sound bit picky, but they bothered me. It really needed a British beta reader to pick up on these errors. Oh and don't get me started on the fact all the staff referred to Bailie as 'Mum' or the fact her first name was Catharine after Wuthering Heights, but in Wuthering Heights it's spelt Catherine.
So ok, British writing errors aside. And maybe I do sound a little pernickety there were others things too that I just didn't connect with. While I rather enjoyed 'the girls' Baillie's drag queen friends, at times I found Gillian, Baillie's gay best friend, a bit of a cliché not as rounded a character as he could have been. I would have like to have seen a bit more depth beneath the typical 'gay man' exterior.
On a positive note, the book definitely picked up pace in the second half of the story when it moved to Scotland and particularly with the introduction of Kai - the hero. Who was deliciously sexy and just what I wanted from a hero. Tortured and haunting (literally). There are some fab funny scenes between him and Baillie.
My other main criticism of the book was that it didn't truly feel like it had a 'happy ever after', it had a happy ending, but not the perfect happy ever after I perhaps usually expect from a romance. Romance, in my opinion anyway, is a grown up fairy tale in many ways. I'm also, surprisingly going to complain about the lack of sex scene in a romance for the second time this year. And I'm often one to complain that there are too many! But if you want sex, find another story. There's not a single one in Her Ghost Wears Kilts - sorry if that makes me shallow, but I just wanted one itty bitty sex scene.
Her Ghost Wears Kilts was light hearted and fun, but it also could have been better. It needed a little more research and some slightly more rounded characterisation and the ending while happy, could have been a bit happier, but perhaps the author is planning on writing a sequel to satisfy this need?
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Her Ghost Wears Kilts by Kathleen Shaputis Paranormal Romance Crimson Romance (26 Aug 2013) Ebook: 219 pages
Crystal Cove is book four in Lisa Kleypas's contemporary romance series that each have a paranormal twist. Crystal Cove is perhaps the most paranormal of the series so far and Justine our heroine is a witch. We've met Justine before in books two and three of the series, in the books she had a biker boyfriend who she had broken up with in Crystal Cove. The previous three books have followed the love stories of the brothers and Crystal Cove breaks out from this opening the story to other characters in Friday Harbour.
Hotel owner Justine leaves a busy life and runs a successful business with her cousin Zoë (the heroine of Dream Lake), the one regret she has in life is that she's never been in love. One night she places a spell to find out what is blocking her and realises that someone has places a geas on her to prevent her from ever falling in love. Breaking the geas isn't easy and Justine knows there will be consequences.
Wealthy entrepreneur and games creator Jason Black has booked out the entirety of Justine's hotel for business. As soon as Justine meets him she feels the instant attraction. But Justin has his own secret and he's been looking for someone with Justine's skills to help him resolve them.
Kleypas really portrays the chemistry between Justine and Jason, it sparks as soon as they meet each other and you immediately feel compelled to see where it is going. Crystal Cove is a hell of a lot sexier than the previous books of the series, a hell of a lot. Put it this way, I have lent the first three to my mother-in-law and I will deliberately not be mentioning I have this one! ;-) It even contains some mild BDSM, quite unusual Japanese BDSM actually.
The magical backdrop to this story was really quite interesting, I enjoyed the secret magical underground hidden in the little village. Justine's friends that live in a lighthouse and how the elements reacted to magic. There were two different curses that affected Justine and a third that impacted Jason, and they certainly added a new twist to the romance.
While I did really like Jason as a hero and completely engaged with the love story. There was one betrayal in the story which I found very hard to take. Just like Justine, I did forgive Jason and it says something for the character and charisma that Kleypas had written. But quite frankly, he could be a total selfish arse at times.
Justine is one independent tough lady with a great work ethic and a really kind friend. We have scenes with her and Zoë in, but if you're looking for flashes of characters from the rest of the series you'll be disappointed. As I have mentioned I really like Kleypas's writing style, it makes for easy reading and the romances are always satisfying. Crystal Cove was no exception and I will definitely be continuing with the series.
A really engaging romance, definitely sexier than the previous instalments and the hero and heroine have quite a bit of spark. It's more of a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist, rather than a paranormal romance. A great series about friendships, love and a little bit of magic.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor #4) Paranormal / Contemporary Romance Piatkus Books (5 Feb 2013) Paperback: 320 pages
You know when you pick up a book with lots of high expectations and realise too soon that it isn't quite going to make it? Sadly, Flirting Under a Full Moon was just like that. I've read some of Chase's Strange Neighbours series and enjoyed them and this new trilogy is set in the same world, with guest appearances from characters from the Strange Neighbours books.
Our hero is Nick, ex-policeman, turned private detective who also happens to be a werewolf. Our heroine, Brandee, is a waitress and photographer who unbeknownst to her is working in a supernatural bar, run by a vampire.
Let's start with what I really enjoyed about the book. I really liked Chase's world building. She has created a fun and vivid world of supernatural creatures living hidden in the world that we know. Mother Nature is a super interesting character, I'm not quite sure that I liked her, but I did smile at her different characterisation. I got a strong vision of the characters, their interactions and although I have only read a couple of the Strange Neighbours books, I also liked meeting couples from previous stories.
But, and unfortunately it is quite a big but, I seriously struggled to get on board with the love story. I understood that Nick fell in love immediately, he's a werewolf and Brandee is his mate. That was fine. But when Brandee declared her love for Nick, nothing had happened in the story to justify that love or make it believable. I was actually quite taken aback. It was from this point I really struggled to engage. Up to this point Nick had really done nothing but lie to her, and even snuck into her apartment to check things out behind her back. She had every reason to be furious with him, I was waiting for some time for their feelings to develop, for her to forgive him, but it just didn't seem to happen. Then she was like oh I love him... Erm.
I found that I kept putting the book down and skimming the pages, I just couldn't get into it after this at all. I didn't find the story sexy and I found myself rolling my eyes as the rest of the love story unravelled. It was such a major flaw in the writing. Then there was a separate part of the storyline with Brandee revealing a secret to someone she shouldn't and then there had to be a mass mind wiping of the human population, and it kind of felt like the final straw for me. I was quite far into the book at this point so I did read it to the end.
I didn't hate this book, there were some bits that I thought Chase did well, but I did feel immensely disappointed by it. There were also some mystery elements I haven't yet mentioned that added a nice backdrop to the story, but I just couldn't get over the lack of connection with the love story.
Flirting Under a Full Moon wasn't an awful book and there were quite a few elements I did really enjoy, but the lack of believability in the love story meant that as a book written for the romance genre it was a bit of a let down. I have read books by Ashlyn Chase which I have enjoyed much more. This one I could take or leave.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Flirting Under a Full Moon by Ashlyn Chase (Flirting with Fangs #1) Paranormal Romance Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 2013) Paperback: 352 pages