This was an entertaining quickie read for a Saturday night. The writing was not exceptional, but not the worst, either; I enjoyed a few chuckles at th...moreThis was an entertaining quickie read for a Saturday night. The writing was not exceptional, but not the worst, either; I enjoyed a few chuckles at the vernacular narrative. The author hit the ground running right of the bat, providing action and intensity without much character or world building, and for a quick read in a zombie horror setting, that was ok for me. I'd say that this story is essentially the literary equivalent of a fun weekend afternoon tv movie--not super high quality, but fun and an enjoyable distraction. (less)
I will start this review off by saying that I am a lover of poetic narrative. If you are not a fan of poetic narrative, this book likely would not be...more I will start this review off by saying that I am a lover of poetic narrative. If you are not a fan of poetic narrative, this book likely would not be up your alley.
Bless Me, Ultima is a coming-of-age tale that chronicles the familial and spiritual struggles of a young Hispanic boy trying to come to terms with the demands of his family, community, and culture. Set in New Mexico, frequently deemed the Land of Enchantment, the boy is assisted in his journey of the spirit by Ultima, an old woman regarded by many as a witch and a healer. The author's words flow and weave across the page, making the most mundane occurrences seem magical.
Admittedly, this caused the book to drag at certain points, and the author's frequent use of Spanish dialogue without some form of translation for Non-Spanish speakers worked in became tedious and frustrating from time to time; I had to have some of my Spanish speaking friends translate sections of dialogue for me, which broke up the flow of the story (thankfully, I live in Southern California, so asking a friend to translate the Spanish that I did not already know was not too difficult for me). This use of Spanish dialogue without translation made me feel at times that the author was strictly writing for his own people, rather than any reader worldwide who would like to enjoy his work. Hence a four star review from me rather than a five.
I did, however, manage to get past these difficult points and still enjoy the author's writing style immensely. His descriptions of the rich New Mexican culture, beauty of the land, and magic of the old woman named Ultima wove a fantastic spell. This book proved to be a beautiful escape from the mundane world.(less)
Definitly NOT for the faint of heart, this book is chock full of graphic and insanely disturbing scenes involving rape, torture, and horrific humiliat...moreDefinitly NOT for the faint of heart, this book is chock full of graphic and insanely disturbing scenes involving rape, torture, and horrific humiliation, but thankfully not edgy in the sense that it felt to me like the author was aiming for a "shock value" effect, or that she was celebrating or embracing such horrors in some way.
Ultimately an interesting concept, and a book that is shocking in a manner that has real artistic merit, which is my big requirement for books, films, etc. that feature such mind-blowing gruesomeness.
My big gripe would be that I felt little to no real "connection" to the characters, including the unfortunate heroine. The characters felt a bit paper-thin, as if they were placed as "props" within the groteque world Ms. O'Rourke created. Better character development would have made this a 4 Star book for me.(less)
I beta read this for Aaron, just as he has for me so many times. These stories are completely unique...not like anything I have read in Paranormal, Ro...moreI beta read this for Aaron, just as he has for me so many times. These stories are completely unique...not like anything I have read in Paranormal, Romance or Horror. These are like Edgar Allan Poe's short stories mated with Cormac McCarthy's stripped down yet haunting writing style. Aaron's academic background in History and Mythology really shines here. Definitely outside the mainstream...something that I gratefully applaud in today's boiler-plate plotline publishing world.
A big thing I would say is DO NOT expect heavy duty sex scenes in any of Aaron's work. It is simply not his style. Things are lusciously--if briefly--hinted at, but not fleshed out as in erotica or romance novels...he likes to leave sex to the reader's imagination. I can appreciate that, though I do like a little more steam in my PNR... but that is simply subjective and not a reflection on the quality of these stories.
SIREN'S LAMENT, the first story in the anthology, reads exactly like the fabulous Classical myths of old. PERFECT touches on some fairly relevant themes, including the need for supermodel-like perfection and a gold digger's attempt at landing the "big fish", and the dark road one might travel down in pursuit of those ideals. And the final story in the book, the piece de resistance, makes one believe that love can transcend death through remarkable creativity. Each story is short enough to be read in an hour (or less), and the entire book could be finished in an afternoon...all without losing momentum or feeling too "trimmed down".
When this book is released in November 2011, I will highly recommend it to a unisex group of readers who really enjoy dark fantasy written in the style of the great old myths.(less)
Before I start my review, may I just say that Ms. Frost is a class act. She is one of the most humble and genuinely sweet authors out there to both fa...moreBefore I start my review, may I just say that Ms. Frost is a class act. She is one of the most humble and genuinely sweet authors out there to both fans and fellow writers, and I am thrilled that an author who has not risen onto the high horse has been blessed with such good karma in the form of her work being on the top bestseller's lists, whether or not her work is specifically to my taste.
Now, on to the review...
I had truthfully never heard of this series, or this author, until several of my own fans and readers began comparing one of my more popular heroes to Bones. Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. Mind you, I am quite weary of the vampire trend in paranormal and urban fantasy books, so I initially held off. I began to peruse reviews all over the net, and finding the overall consensus to be remarkably positive (even foaming-at-the-mouth at times) I bit the bullet and purchased the Kindle edition.
I chose the two star rating very carefully, and in the end, I would rate the book as a 2.5 star read at its strongest points. One star should be reserved for books one could not even finish, and three stars would imply I liked the book more than I did. Essentially the final verdict for me was a "Meh, this was ok...not terrible, but not great read". It is my opinion as an author AND a reader that a review should be rated based upon the quality of the work (overall writing, world/character building, use of literary tools, how well the plot is conceived and organized, how original the story and concept is, etc), rather than "personal tastes". So the fact that vampires are old hat and not up my alley will have no merit on this review.
What I didn't care for:
1.) The author's writing style seemed very watered-down and at times very rushed. There was little usage of rich description; I found myself wishing that the author had slowed down and taken a little more time to create atmosphere. Not to say that I need all the books I read to be flowery, nor that I'm looking for purple prose (which I can't stand), but I like to feel "transported" into a good fiction story, and I felt the author's writing did not do that successfully. Such weak descriptors would have felt more acceptable in a short story or novella, where brevity in description is more acceptable and necessary...in a full-length novel, more time should be taken to craft and build.
2.) I'm going to say the same thing many other lower-scoring readers have said: Night Huntress is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", rehashed and poorly veiled. It felt very much that, when planning this book, the author sat down and watched a ton of "Buffy" and perhaps "Angel" episodes on DVD and took notes, including lifting some of the dialogue. It felt at times that Halfway to the Grave was the equivalent of a heartbroken "Buffy" fan creating her own Spike fantasy and simply adding a bit more of an adult edge. Throughout the story, in all truth, I found myself rolling my eyes at all of the painful similarities between Bones and Spike, right down to the badly stereotyped "Brit" accent and use of perceived British slang. I have heard that Ms. Frost has said that Bones was partially based on Billy Idol...and I find it to be a funny coincidence that Spike was also based on Billy Idol, if this is coincidence at all. I really like to read books where the characters are unique and truly the author's own. If I am wrong about this, I ask forgiveness...but it just seemed waaaay too obvious to ignore.
3.) I have become really weary of books written from the First Person POV. This POV seems to be used by writers who are not up to the challenge of having to juggle the perspectives of more than one character, and so we are left with only one person's thoughts, motivations, and opinions throughout. If you do not find that character likeable, you are screwed. And, naturally, I did not like Cat much at all. She came off as the cardboard cutout, over-the-top, "badass" heroine that is so overly-used in paranormal fiction nowadays. Too gorgeous, too perfect, too...well, "badass", with little character development and few flaws. Her ability to dispatch an outrageous number of bad guys on her own read like something out of a bad action flick from the 70s. Her personality was not likeable; she came off as spoiled, arrogant, and immature, and while that is ok to start off with, I saw no deepening of her character beyond those points at any time through the story.
4.) This book was billed by the author and publisher as "Urban Fantasy"...I cannot disagree more. This was Paranormal Romance and not much else. Nothing wrong with that (*wink*), but if I am told that I am going to be reading UF and instead it is undeniably PNR, I'm going to be a tad frustrated. I admit that I like my Urban Fantasy to BE Urban Fantasy, my Horror to be Horror, Fantasy to be Fantasy, etc. if that is how it is presented in advertising from the pub and the author.
What I did enjoy:
1.) There was some great dialogue in this story (where it did not seem lifted from the television series mentioned above). Snarky, edgy, and overall very enjoyable. I did have some great chuckles, and that kept things alive for me. The author does obviously have a gunshot-quick wit when it comes to most of her dialogue...I only wish that she had relied solely on her own abilities and created something that was entirely original and "hers".
2.) The sex scenes were definitely HOT and most certainly entertaining for a mainstream work. I always enjoy a well-crafted love scene and Ms. Frost was outrageously successful in this area. Can I get a BOOOYAHHH! ;-)
Overall, I feel that this book (and probably this series) is ideal for readers who like a more mainstream paranormal tale with all of the comforting, familiar, "boilerplate" aspects that can be found in almost every book put out by one of the bigger publishers...some fun action and dialogue, a storyline that is billed as edgy but in reality isn't "too" edgy, and characters that fill a little bit of that hole that was left when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was cancelled. Going by the rave reviews, it looks like Ms. Frost has found her audience, and I say power to her. :-)(less)
I was lucky enough to score an advance copy of SLEEPING WITH THE JERSEY DEVIL, and I found it to be a fabulously well-written and very entertaining er...moreI was lucky enough to score an advance copy of SLEEPING WITH THE JERSEY DEVIL, and I found it to be a fabulously well-written and very entertaining erotica read. The hero, Leeds, is most certainly the best thing about this book and is meltingly sexy with his long black hair, startling amber eyes and, of course, lovely scaly wings. Perhaps I'm a freak, but wings are SUCH a turn on! The chemistry between Leeds and his lovely Asian squeeze, Mya, was definitely of the sizzling kind; the sex scenes were luscious and oh so explicit. The only downside of this story for me was the whole Chinese Mafia and Mya stealing the "world's largest diamond" scenario--for me personally, this seemed kind of cheesy, somewhat like aspects of a bad action flick plot injected into a good paranormal romance. However, this story was a refreshing change admidst the "same old" vampire and werewolf fare that I find so tawdry and overdone nowadays--such outside-the-mainstream writing is welcome in my library, especially with a hero as luscious as Leeds.
This is a fun quick read...some nice guilty escapism. Kudos!