I had to read this one twice because I let too much time elapse before writing the review and I couldn't really rem...moreSnagged from NetGalley. 3.5 stars.
I had to read this one twice because I let too much time elapse before writing the review and I couldn't really remember it. Therein also lies the main problem with this book. Perhaps, due to an effort to make Jagged more speedily paced, it lacks any real conflict. Everything has been established off screen. Graham and Zara fall for each other before the book begins and so does the initial conflict over her nephew.
I would have rather the book been divided into two sections. The first section would've been a series of vignettes on how they met, her sister's accident, all of that. End it with her getting married to the other guy. Then the second section, I would've scaled back considerably on the ex-husband plotline and focused more on them reconnecting.
What we're left with here, though, is a serviceable contemporary, but it lacks the emotional resonance of my favorites, Law Man and Games of the Heart. I can tell, based on Jagged, how much Ashley loves writing. Her joy at her craft radiates off the page. I can see it, but I can't connect with it and that was disappointing. (less)
I'd given this 3 stars when I first read it in May, but having re-read it in July, I think I may bump it up to four. I think I got a little overloaded...moreI'd given this 3 stars when I first read it in May, but having re-read it in July, I think I may bump it up to four. I think I got a little overloaded, having mainlined the majority of Ashley's backlist in April, and Tack is not what one would call a 'nice' man. If you look the other way on certain things, you could call him a 'good' man, but definitely not nice. Still, I read something on Ashley's blog, an interview she did, where the comment was made that "Tack was imperfect, but perfect for Tyra." I hadn't really thought of that before and when I re-read Motorcycle Man with it in mind, I could totally see it. I certainly wouldn't want to be in a relationship with Tack, given "his world," but I can understand why Tyra chooses to do so.
I first read this back in April 2012 and now, in July 2013, I'm trying to decide if I want to raise this a star or not. I think I'm going to keep it a...moreI first read this back in April 2012 and now, in July 2013, I'm trying to decide if I want to raise this a star or not. I think I'm going to keep it at three stars. This is one of the most, how to put this, overflowing of Ashley's books. There's a lot going on and the writing gets very verbose. In addition, the hero is always right and never admits fault, and the heroine always capitulates too easily. However, the mystery was good and I liked the supporting characters. It was also very easy for me to visualize the town.
The characters in Sweet Dreams feature heavily in the next two books, especially Breathe, so I don't recommend skipping this one, but definitely start with The Gamble to kinda ease your way into this series. (less)
September 2012: Screw it, I'm bumping it up to four stars. Rocky's character still annoys me a bit, but I love Layne and his sons.
June 2012: I don't...moreSeptember 2012: Screw it, I'm bumping it up to four stars. Rocky's character still annoys me a bit, but I love Layne and his sons.
June 2012: I don't know why I gave it three stars instead of four. I think the repetitive use of the phrase "golden trail" and the non-stop shit-storm affecting the characters knocked it down a peg. (less)
I've now read most of Ashley's books twice or more. I have to say that, while it sounds counter-intuitive, one of my favorite scenes in this book is w...moreI've now read most of Ashley's books twice or more. I have to say that, while it sounds counter-intuitive, one of my favorite scenes in this book is when (view spoiler)[Sadie shows up at Nightingale Investigations after she's been raped. The reaction of Hector and the rest of the men, how fiercely self-protective Sadie is, I think Ashley demonstrates who these characters are with just a few pages. (hide spoiler)]
Just a warning, rape is a re-occurring theme in this book and, while I (thank God) don't have any firsthand experience with it, I think the aftermath is glossed over a bit.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was really...sweet. Bennett's virginity was basically the one unique thing about this because otherwise, it's very similar...moreSnagged from NetGalley.
This was really...sweet. Bennett's virginity was basically the one unique thing about this because otherwise, it's very similar to Samantha Young's Down London Road. Like London Road, the characters make it a point to emphasize honesty, which means the angst factor, while still present, is manageable. However, the heroines are a bit different, as Lee's heroine, Avery, is a lot harder and jaded than Young's Jo.
All of You only got four stars while Down London Road got five because All of You does have (view spoiler)[a Big Bad looming throughout the book. The reader learns early on that Avery was nearly raped as a teenager by one of her mother's boyfriends. The incident is at the root of Avery's issues and the near-rapist does make a return appearance. (hide spoiler)] Because of that, All of You is more of an 'issue' book than London Road.
All of You is shorter than London Road (216 pages vs 375 pages), but it's also half the price. There is a sequel slated to come in 2014, but All of You is the first book while London Road is an indirect sequel to On Dublin Street. London Road is also available in paperback while All of You is e only. So I'd say buy All of You and library Down London Road, but if you like one, you'll like the other. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This seems to be my week for the almost-greats. Y'know what I mean. I'm referring to those books that inch along the tightrope between 'Eh. It was goo...moreThis seems to be my week for the almost-greats. Y'know what I mean. I'm referring to those books that inch along the tightrope between 'Eh. It was good,' and 'This was awesome,' and they invariably fall off the wire somewhere in between. Chaos Tryst took the plunge closer to the 'Eh' side, which was disappointing.
Ariana (aka Ari) is a returner, a person who retrieves stolen artifacts and returns them to their rightful owners. She's also the daughter of two trickster gods, Anasai and Inari, and she's inherited a large chunk of their chaos magic. Maks's origin is somewhat fuzzier. He's a Bear shifter, the middle of three brothers, and he's the only one who got chaos magic from their mother. Maks makes a big deal out of being half Russian and half Gypsy, but since I'm not really up on Russian or Gypsy mythology, I couldn't really tell you where his parents fall on the the power scale or what Maks really is. Maks's characterization is where the book started to lose its balance. Ari is very clearly defined. She is a tricksy girl who tries to use her powers for good. When she's being tricksy, her kitsune spirit overlays itself on her physical body, but she doesn't actually turn into a fox. Maks literally turns in a bear and the bear seems to have its own consciousness because the bear knows it wants Ari while the man is still reluctant. Maks the man is also sulky as several of characters call him and he is largely inscrutable. You don't really see him fall in love with Ari. He goes from being murderously pissed off to I guess I'll help her out to We shall be wed!. I raised my eyebrows at that.
Furthermore, the world Dubbin has created bears the potential to be fascinating. It's like a cross between the comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham and Wen Spencer's Tinker (I need Spencer to write faster. Like seriously). However, the reader is never given any framework for understanding it. It's like there's a refugee camp crammed full of every mythological being ever created, regardless of ethnic origin, and inhabitants refer to themselves as Faebles. To make things more confusing, the implication is, Ari aside, that the characters' first language is of the country their myth originated from. For example, Inari's dialogue reads like a native Japanese speaker translating her thoughts into English. Maks's dialogue has a Russian flair. So it begs the question: why are they here and not there, and why is English the common-use language?
It sounds nitpicky when I re-read it, but I firmly believe that if an author is going to create an elaborate fantasy world, they need to establish a logical framework within it. When Maks and Ari touch, their chaos magics spiral together and create havoc. Okay, I can buy that, but why? Is it because they are meant to be together? Did their magic ever spring out of control when they were children? Can they manipulate events to kill someone? Is chaos magic only passed down trickster bloodlines? Why did Maks inherit the magic, but not his brothers?
Also, after some chaos incidents, Dubbin throws in a section, '2 minutes prior' or whatever, where the reader is told how the chaos incident happened. I don't understand why this wasn't just part of the story. Why do I need a flashback for this? Why can't it be in the linear narrative?
I can keep asking question after question about various aspects of the story, which is basically my point. A story can have a good foundation and be crappy (see the vast majority of fanfiction), but if the foundation is riddled with cracks, the story is going to collapse within itself.
I'm keeping this at three stars because I would read a sequel. The flaws within Chaos Tryst are definitely fixable so another story set in this world has the potential to be very good, if it can just keep its balance long enough!(less)
I bought this solely on Thea Harrison's recommendation so I haven't read the first book and I really don't feel I was missing anything. I enjoyed it,...moreI bought this solely on Thea Harrison's recommendation so I haven't read the first book and I really don't feel I was missing anything. I enjoyed it, it was an unique spin on the military romance subgenre and it was in Andrews's usual style. I paid $2.99 at Amazon because I was feeling lazy and I don't regret spending that much, but there are a handful of typos that were distracting, i.e. except instead of expect, missing periods, etc. Fan-people for Ilona Andrews should check it out if you have the extra cash; otherwise, save your money for the next Edge or Kate Daniels book. (less)
I tend to forget that even though this is book thirty-one for the reader, Eve has dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of cases that we haven't seen. I remi...moreI tend to forget that even though this is book thirty-one for the reader, Eve has dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of cases that we haven't seen. I reminded myself of this because they were all 'the nature of man' and I was, like, remember Seduction in Death? The only thing that really differentiates Indulgence from Seduction is the (view spoiler)[Clue angle and even that's just kinda spin. (hide spoiler)]
I think this is a good mystery on its own, but the quality drops when you compare it to the other books in the series, just because it's something we've seen already. While you should read the in Death series in order from the beginning, if you want to dip your toe in the water, Indulgence in Death would give you a pretty good idea of what the series is like. ["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Okay, so when the buzz about Fifty Shades of Grey started, I attempted to read the first book. I got up to Chapter 4 and became disgusted with the her...moreOkay, so when the buzz about Fifty Shades of Grey started, I attempted to read the first book. I got up to Chapter 4 and became disgusted with the heroine. I thought she was very passive and a classic doormat. So I stopped reading and was rather dismissive of the whole trilogy.
However, the Romantic Writers of America conference is in less than two weeks and I knew the Fifty Shades trilogy was going to be a topic of discussion. So I decided to give the first book another shot, but I skipped ahead a couple of chapters.
I'm glad I gave it another shot because I completely had the wrong idea. From the beginning and other bits & pieces I heard, I thought this was going to be a full-fledged d/s relationship, like Maya Banks's Sweet Addiction, and I'm not entirely comfortable reading about that. Fifty Shades of Grey mostly rejects the d/s lifestyle. At its core, it's mainly a romance novel with some kinky trappings. It's certainly not as controversial, sexually speaking, as it seems to be portrayed in the media.
I still think Bared to You is a better read, but Fifty Shades actually wasn't that bad. It did need some better editing and the flow was very uneven, but I can see why James was a well known fanfic author. I'd be interested to see if James will write another romance novel or go the Stephenie Meyer route and stick with what she's got.
Also, I have no idea how they are going to make this into a movie that's not going to be soft-core porn. (less)
I have a wicked headache and an irritating sore throat. Clearly, I am on board the train to Sickly, but I can't seem to find somewhere to get off. It...moreI have a wicked headache and an irritating sore throat. Clearly, I am on board the train to Sickly, but I can't seem to find somewhere to get off. It distresses me.
In any case, I really enjoyed Chasin' Eight. It was full of the hot steamy action James is known for, but it also had a great story. I was disappointed when it ended. I've read most, if not all, of the other Rough Rider books, but Chasin' Eight stands alone quite well.
Chase isn't your traditional hero. Not only is he on the short side (5'5"), he's self-centered with a propensity for alcohol and women. The heroine, Ava, comes off a little like a saint in comparison. However, Chase's flaws make him seem very 'real.' There were several points when I expected the book to lapse into various tropes & cliches, but James successfully navigated her way around those pitfalls.
There was also the slightest hint at who could be the next hero and I hope it's Ben. He seems right up my alley. I'd rec Chasin' Eight for anyone who's looking to give Lorelei James a try. I think this is the perfect intro to her work. (less)
Still aboard the Sickly train. Gonna be reading a LOT this weekend. Yesterday, when I saw a tweet from RT_Magazine, I investigated Abigail Barnette ak...moreStill aboard the Sickly train. Gonna be reading a LOT this weekend. Yesterday, when I saw a tweet from RT_Magazine, I investigated Abigail Barnette aka Jennifer Armintrout and bought three stories from her.
This one, Giant, is a twist on the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. The hero, Andras, is a bean farmer who happened to inherit gigantism from his father. Jacqueline is the heroine, a princess who fled the Court and her boorish fiancee under the guise of being a tax collector for the realm. She and Andras meet when she attempts to collect his back taxes.
This is not a happy story. There's a happy ending, of sorts, but Barnette doesn't whitewash what life was like in medieval times or what Andras faces in life. He is completely alone, living in poverty, and he always must fear that the neighboring village will rise against him for some imagined evil. At the end of the book, Andras is forced to leave his home and the last mementoes of his parents. He consoles himself that the loss is worth it to be with Jacqueline, but I didn't really buy it. Unfortunately, Barnette didn't really answer the question of why Jacqueline. An argument could be presented that Andras falls in "love" with Jacqueline, simply because she is the first woman he's ever really known and the first woman he's slept with. There's also the fact that if Jacqueline had revealed her true identity to Andras when she chose to stay with him, perhaps they could have made plans, could have circumvented what happened next. To me, Jacqueline is the reason this story is at three stars rather than four.
One detail that I did like is that Barnette didn't assign ages to Andras and Jacqueline. The condition of gigantism is usually accompanied by a host of other medical problems and these people rarely live beyond middle aged. Andre the Giant, of The Princess Bride fame, died when he was 47 from congestive heart failure. Given the medieval setting and lack of advanced medical care, it is likely Andras would probably not even reach 40. Since no contradicting evidence is given by the author, the reader can pretend Andras is 18 and will be able to watch any future offspring grow up. (less)
There's no description up yet so I shall attempt to cobble one together.
Okay, so there's this chick, Forebearance (that's her name, swear ta God), wh...moreThere's no description up yet so I shall attempt to cobble one together.
Okay, so there's this chick, Forebearance (that's her name, swear ta God), who works for this professor, Simon. Feebee, as she's commonly called, has been into Simon pretty much since she met him. Simon treats her very professionally, however, which majorly bums her out. She decides to go for it one day and kisses him. Their first kiss evolves into their first nekkid session, which is interrupted by the daughter of Simon's patroness. So now Simon has to choose between Feebee and the money that keeps his lab running.
That's the basic story. Sex, Lies, and Inventions is billed as steampunk and the invention that Feebee & Simon are working on does sound steampunky, but I've always felt like steampunk should be a descriptor of an entire alternate universe, not just technology. Barnette tells us very little about the world Feebee and Simon are living in. Emma Holly's 'Demon' series and Meljean Brook's Iron Duke spring to mind as examples of how to create steampunk worlds that are very different.
What really bugged me about the story is the age thing. I personally like the 'half your age, plus 7' rule. Here, the professor is described 48 and, while Feebee's age is never given, she comes off as very young. It was a bit skeevy. That perception may have biased me because I found the sex scenes a little...odd. Something about the language choices made the sexual interactions seem very...not passionate.
I'm kinda questioning now why I gave it three stars instead of two, but it's not like the story sucked. It read more like Armintrout was experimenting and playing around with new-to-her concepts. Instead of locking it away in a drawer, she decided to sell the results for .99. I think out of the three Barnette books, I preferred Giant the most.(less)
To put it quite bluntly, I didn't love this book, but I respected the hell of out it. It actually reminded me of a cross between Jean Auel's Clan of t...moreTo put it quite bluntly, I didn't love this book, but I respected the hell of out it. It actually reminded me of a cross between Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear and Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize series.
Altered Destiny is your classic 'two races divided by racial prejudice/historical malfeasance are now at war over land/resources' story. Neither side is blameless nor 'good.' What really intrigued me about this book is the world Thomas created. She gives us just enough of the back story that the reader can make certain assumptions, but doesn't provide anything concrete. It appears that Altered Destiny is set on our world after a nuclear event that destroyed most of the existing civilizations and altered or mutated what remained. However, it could just as easily been some alien world where there was some kind of solar event. Thomas makes reference to animals and plant life that fit what currently exists, but they are different enough to indicate we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Except for horses. Horses don't seem to be any different, which I'm guessing was a convenience thing, because they are the main mode of transportation. This world seems to be at the technology equivalent of the 1700s.
Despite the skillful world building, this is a four star book for me because of two related reasons. First off, this is a book about war. It may be a war fought with bows and arrows, but it is a war nonetheless. Hard decisions must be made and there is collateral damage. This leads into the second reason: Thomas kills off a significant secondary character. It was a death that meant something and did help the story advance, but damn, it was heavy. This is not a book to be read as stress relief.
I do recommend this book, but know what you're getting into. There are a few sex scenes, but I feel like this would be a good rec for older high school students. It's got that apocalypse feel, a dash of vampirism, and an ending that offers a measure of realistic hope for the future.(less)
I bought this on Carolyn Crane's recommendation and, well, it was disappointing. Not disappointing in the 'Why did I spend money on this?' way, but mo...moreI bought this on Carolyn Crane's recommendation and, well, it was disappointing. Not disappointing in the 'Why did I spend money on this?' way, but more in the 'God, there's so much squandered potential' way.
It's a really interesting premise. To describe it in a nutshell, Santa has five sons and Sweet Inspiration is the story of the oldest. Nicholas Klaus is in line to be the next 'Santa Claus,' but his passion is baking. While on vacation before the Christmas rush, he comes across Lucy's bakery and her delicious cookies. There's an immediate attraction between them, one thing leads to another, and Lucy, without her express consent, gets whisked to the North Pole. At this point, she still doesn't know that the whole Santa Claus thing is real (except for the flying reindeer, apparently). She's in for a rude awakening when she wakes up and, as punishment for bringing Lucy to the North Pole without permission, Nicholas has to give up baking and step into Santa's boots.
The elves were hysterical. I could totally buy how Watson set up the North Pole and how she integrates it into our reality. I really liked the other brothers and I would read their stories if I came across them. Santa and Mrs. Klaus were a little two-dimensional. The only thing I can remember about them right now is that Mrs. Klaus can't cook and Santa is buff. The main problem for me was Lucy and Nicholas. Nicholas was a borderline ass most of the time and Lucy had that Disney princess feel to her. She accepts her changed circumstances with equanimity and barely gives two thoughts to what it will be like to leave her life behind. The elves all love her, of course, much like the Seven Dwarfs fawned over Snow White. I guess I wanted her to be more 'real.' I wanted her to react like any sane person would react after finding themselves in a fairy tale: lots of deep breathing and kicking Nicholas out of his kitchen so she can bake. I don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but I'm not even sure if we really find out with Mrs. Klaus does. I think there was a throwaway line about how she keeps everything running, like she liaisons between all the different departments, but it's not like anyone gave Lucy enough information to make an informed choice.
It was just frustrating to read because this could have been really, really great and instead it falls squarely into the 'meh' category. I have a feeling that this is Watson's debut and with a good beta reader or editor, her writing would have sparkled. Here's hoping the next book in the series, Sweet Magik, lives up to Watson's potential. (less)