I've read a lot of poetry over the years, including in poetry workshops and critique sessions, and I have to say...the poems in this book are among th...moreI've read a lot of poetry over the years, including in poetry workshops and critique sessions, and I have to say...the poems in this book are among the worst I've experienced. They are overwritten, pretentious, full of abstractions and nonsensical phrases/pairings of words. There is no attempt to dig beneath the surface, explore relationships in new ways, or work with words in images in new and engaging manner. I can't recommend this book to anyone, except as an example of how not to write. If I could give it zero stars, I would. (less)
The previous book I read by Mari Carr – Covert Lessons, published by Ellora’s Cave – was terrible, so I didn’t go into this one with very high expecta...moreThe previous book I read by Mari Carr – Covert Lessons, published by Ellora’s Cave – was terrible, so I didn’t go into this one with very high expectations. However, this book was put out by a different publisher and therefore had a different editor. I found this book to be a great improvement over Covert Lessons.
Gwen Preston has written a popular book of sex-themed short stories called Evening Songs. One of the stories, The Darkest Night, contained scenes of BDSM and Gwen, ashamed of her real-life interest in BDSM because (in part) of a previous relationship that went bad, used a pen name for that story.
Ty Ransome is a Hollywood action star who wants to turn over a new leaf and do “serious” films. He has read Evening Songs and thinks the book would make a good basis for a movie. He has also discovered that Gwen was the true author of *all* of the stories in the book. This intrigues him because he is secretly a sexual dominant. He offers to purchase the movie rights to the stories with the requirement that Gwen help him write the screenplay.
Gwen comes to Hollywood, and Ty puts her up in his guest house. He begins to visit her late every night, after she is in bed, and they talk for hours. Ty makes it clear that he is interested in her in more than a platonic way. Gwen initially keeps him at bay, but he eventually convinces her that he is sincere and also that they should reenact the scenes in her short stories as a way to help them develop the screenplay. Gwen agrees. During the course of this reenactment, Gwen and Ty discover each others secrets – that she is a submissive who craves (some) pain with sex and that he is a dominant who enjoys dishing out what she needs.
I liked the chemistry between the main characters and the fact that the relationship didn’t start out with sex right away. I do wish that we had gotten to experience a little more of that initial phase of the relationship rather than simply being told that it happened. I also liked that Gwen has a spine. She doesn’t immediately cave to Ty’s desires, and she’s got a few good zippy comebacks for him. Ty is good hero; he is patient when Gwen seems to need it and later forceful in way that doesn’t make him seem like an ass.
However, this book still suffers from some of the same basic writing problems as Covert Lessons – avoiding “said” as a dialogue tag (my biggest pet peeve); characters inferring the thoughts of other characters and telling the readers that, rather than the author *showing* the reader, occasional bits of stilted dialogue. The flaws are not as prevalent, though, so I don’t know if it’s result of the different editor, or if the author is improving her craft on her own.
I would try another of Ms. Carr’s books, as long as it wasn’t from EC. (less)
Turned is the third book in the Blood Lily Chronicles. It is impossible to review this book without including spoilers for the previous two books. The...moreTurned is the third book in the Blood Lily Chronicles. It is impossible to review this book without including spoilers for the previous two books. The plot summary will also make a lot more sense if the reader is familiar with the first two books.
At the opening of this book, Lily Carlyle has obtained the Oris Clef and now faces an agonizing decision about the coming convergence. Should she wield the Oris Clef and become the demon queen (and thereby attempt to avert the apocalypse even though giving herself over to evil) or should she sacrifice herself to an eternity of suffering by throwing herself into the portal to Hell when it opens, which according to the angel Gabriel will permanently seal the portal? Instead, in the days leading up to the portal opening, Lily and Deacon, a demon seeking redemption, search for another legendary key – one that can lock all nine of the portals to Hell.
Deacon saves Lily and Rose, who is now in Kiera’s body, from Penemue, his former master, although he has to retake his demon form to do so. Lily is able to talk Deacon back to his human form, and together they go to Father Carleton’s (he was a character in the first book) church to see if one of his colleagues has any knowledge of the key. Lily does get a lead from an old monk, and in the days that follow, Lily finds out some shocking information about both Alice’s mother and her own father. In the end, she and Deacon face the opening of the portal and overcome the forces of Hell (that shouldn’t qualify as a spoiler; it was kind of a given that they would succeed).
I like that facts and elements of the story that were included/revealed in earlier books were relevant to the overall story and were tied into the action in this one. It made for a nice overall cohesive story, that was clearly well-thought out and well-plotted.
I also liked that all three of the female characters – Lily, Rose, and Rachel – faced their personal issues and overcame them during the course of the books. I find strong female characters very appealing.
I did have a slight problem with the consequences of Lily’s actions during the final battle; a very similar combination of action/consequence occurred on a popular TV show. While reading up to the final battle, I was really hoping that this book would not take the same route, and unfortunately it did.
I also wish that demon possession was better explained. How can they possess people? Is there any way to resist? There were times when having a demon possess one of the characters (if they could) would have been the smart thing for the demons to do, and yet they didn’t do it. They possessed others instead.
Overall, though, I very much enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking for other books by Julie Kenner. (less)
Disclaimer: This review is based upon the 13,000 word free excerpt posted on the author’s web site. However, this was a DNF for me, so I wouldn’t have...moreDisclaimer: This review is based upon the 13,000 word free excerpt posted on the author’s web site. However, this was a DNF for me, so I wouldn’t have finished the entire novel even it were available.
I’m sorry to have to give this such a low rating, but I really wasn’t impressed by this excerpt.
The mechanics of the writing are poor. The story is written in the present tense, which made it a chore to read. I’ve only read one novel ("The House of Sand and Fog" by Andre Dubus) that used the present tense well, but in all the others, including this one, I found it awkward and distracting. The story is also written in the first person, and “I” and “my” are grossly overused (a common pitfall for beginning writers).
The dialogue is a particular weak point. The author very rarely uses “said’ – or in this case “say” – as a dialogue tag. Instead we get “comment”, “confirm”, “add”, “purr”, "direct", "observe", etc., and also non-dialogue tags misused as tags, such as “smile”, “snigger”, and “clears his throat”. Avoiding “said” is another beginner mistake and a *major* pet peeve of mine. The dialogue also oftens sound stiff and forced, and “as you know, Bob…” statements crop up from time to time.
Finally, the story is without context or setting. All we are told is that it’s a hotel, it’s in Alaska, and it’s shaped like a T. The hotel room in the opening scene is barely described at all. The overall lack of description makes it impossible for me to connect with the world in the story. The world doesn't seem concrete or real.
Beyond the simple mechanics listed above, other things bothered me as well.
For instance: some “Huh?” moments occurred. A murder victim with a “dent” in his head and no other obvious injuries loses half his body’s blood volume? How does that happen without any open wound? It’s supposedly dark twenty hours a day at the time of the story, but that means there’s about the same amount of daylight in the summer months; so this really isn’t the best place to have resort for vampires. At one point, Dria (the narrator) has to lean in close to determine that someone is human even though his blood is saturating the room, and another time, she can tell from many feet away that a (non-bleeding) person standing in a group of vampires is human by her scent.
Dria also comes across as shallow and unlikeable to me. For instance, she tapes her visitors in their bedrooms without their knowledge to indulge her voyuerism. Yuck. I also think my dislike for her has to do with the overall tone of the writing, which is inconsistent. Sometimes it's light-hearted wise-cracking, then it's erotic, then it's... I think the story would be vastly improved if the writing was more focused.
In summary, I made it to the end of the excerpt, but I was glad when I got to the last word. I can’t recommend this to anyone. The concept for the story might be interesting, but the execution is quite poor. (less)
I remember being excited when Tor announced (several years ago) it had a paranormal romance line, so I looked for something from it. I found this book...moreI remember being excited when Tor announced (several years ago) it had a paranormal romance line, so I looked for something from it. I found this book. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I had read another book by this author and hated it. This one is better, but it still has some big flaws, in my opinion.
Tessa Camen is a Secret Service agent who throws herself in front of a bullet meant for the (female) President of the United States and is whisked out of time and into the future just before the bullet's lethal impact. She wakes up naked in the arms of Kahn, an alien hunk who tells her that she has been selected to be Earth's representative in something called the Challenge. He can't tell her anything about the Challenge--neither what she has to do nor when it will take place.
Tessa meets the qualifications of a candidate for the Challenge: she has no living family, she has no scientific background, and she is a virgin. *snort* OK, the first two I could buy with a little more salesmanship from the author. But virginity? Good grief. No explanation for this is ever given, and to make this requirement even more inane, it is later revealed that Tessa only has to be a virgin when she is chosen, not when she actually performs the Challenge. You can see where this is going, right?
Needless to say, Tessa and Kahn have sex quite a few times before the Challenge begins.
Kahn tells Tessa that if she wins the Challenge, Earth gets a trial membership in the Federation of Planets, and Kahn's people, the Rystanis, get permanent membership because of his assistance. Kahn tells Tessa that to win the Challenge, she must discover and master her innate psi ability--something Tessa swears she doesn't have.
Kahn decides that the best way for Tessa to discover her psi powers is by making her sexually frustrated. [At this point, this book sustained its first damage after colliding with my bedroom wall.] When Tessa was transported through time, Kahn took her clothes and replaced them with a psi-powered "suit" like all inhabitants of this future Federation of Planets wear (it's one the big benefits of membership--along with ...) . The suit is never removed. It can be made to appear as any type of clothing, and it automatically recycles human waste. It can also be warmed (or cooled) by psi-powers, allowing the user to to run about in the snow without additional clothes. How does miracle of conception take place, I wonder? Too bad the book never tells me.
Anyway, Kahn instructs Tessa's suit to stimulate her by "touching" her in inappropriate places. A kiss here, a fondle there. Oh goody, high-tech sexual abuse. [More damage to the book occurs. This seems to be a recurring theme in Ms. Kearney's books.]
In the time between Tessa's selection and the actual Challenge, the couple has time to travel to the home world of the Federation of Planets and then to Kahn's planet. Along the way, the couple gets married and has sex and has more sex. By the time the Challenge occurs, it is almost an afterthought to the story. One of the more ridiculous sequences involving Kahn and the group use of psi powers occurs during this part of the story.
Kahn is a jerk with a arrogant and backward attitude towards women. He treats Tessa like a child, and when she does something (which made a lot of sense to me) that doesn't fit with his plans (which he didn't tell her), he retaliates by not letting her speak for a day. When she can speak again, what does she do? Tell him off? Hit him with a clue-by-four? No, she seduces him. [More damage to both the book and my wall.]
This relationship is dysfunctional from start to finish. And that is too bad, because when Tessa isn't caving in to Kahn's macho demands, she is rather likeable. The non-romance subplots--which include an AI that has sex on the brain and Tessa's business dealings with an octpus-like alien--are far more engaging.
This was a story that could have been so much more than it was. If you like caveman alpha heroes, you'll like this one. If you like men who respect women, this one should be a pass.
I have read the other books in the series, and I liked subsequent ones much better, mostly because the heroes were more likeable and less control freaks.(less)
**spoiler alert** Warning: this review contains comments that could be construed as spoliers.
I haven't summarized the entire plot here, because it wou...more**spoiler alert** Warning: this review contains comments that could be construed as spoliers.
I haven't summarized the entire plot here, because it would just depress me. The synopsis in the product description is good enough for a basic idea of who is who. That said...
Oh. My. God. This book was going along decently – despite Ms. Carr’s typical reliance on amatuer writing techniques such as using a lot of dialogue tags besides “said”, telling intead of showing, and stilted dialogue – until about halfway through when Carly gets it into her head that she absolutely must go undercover at the “Retreat”. From there the plot dissolves into a series of appalling and/or laughable events. To wit:
1. Carly insists on going undercover and risking Jon and Night having to “rape” her to prove their loyalty to Cassandra; she rationalizes it by thinking that if they do it right, it’ll be pleasurable. Huh? It’ll be pleasurable?
2. Night and Jon attempt to dissuade her by showing her how bad BDSM-style (emphasis on SM) sex can be. This is their girlfriend, remember, and they think that using sex to hurt her is a reasonable way to make the point that what Carly wants to do is dangerous. They think that this is the only way to prevent Carly from putting herself in danger. I guess having the UIA (the super-secret law enforcement agency that Night works for) simply put her in protective custody until the investigation was over would have made for a pretty boring story.
3. They then think about how brave she is to do this. Brave? Try ridiculously fool-hardy.
4. Cassandra explains all her plans to the Jon and Night on their first visit. And she is supposed to be this great criminal mastermind?
5. After Cassandra figures out that Jon and Night are spying for the UIA, Carly offers to give up herself if Cassandra will let them go free. Because, of course, Cassandra’s word is to be trusted. Not. And now Carly has revealed both her feelings for them and their feelings for her. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The girl doesn’t have a shred of common sense.
6. Night and Jon, despite their supposed super training with the UIA, think they can’t take on one rather large and strong opponent. Must have been some pretty mediocre training… Night can, however, pull chains set into concrete out of said concrete with his bare hands.
7. Cassandra sneaks up on Night, Jon, and Carly while they are outside on the grounds, having paused in their escape from the Retreat, and grabs Carly. And they never heard her coming. Not very good agents, were they?
8. Cassandra – BDSM dominatrix, cult leader, psychotic chick – also just happens to be an expert knife thrower when the situation warrants it. I actually laughed out loud at this point.
There is more silliness, as well. Overall, I can’t recommend this book unless you have a few hours and want a really good laugh. (less)
I haven't read all of the other books in this series, and I was initially worried that I would be lost - but that wasn't the case at all. I could tell...moreI haven't read all of the other books in this series, and I was initially worried that I would be lost - but that wasn't the case at all. I could tell that some of the characters were clearly from previous books, but this still worked fine for me as a standalone.
I'm pretty picky in my PNR reading because I don't like doormat and/or TSTL heroines and heros who behave like jerks and order the heroine around. This book avoided those cliches. I liked Lore and Idess very much. Lore - a half-breeed demon - is the ultimate bad-boy (an assassin), but still redeemable, and Idess - an angel - is a heroine that it is easy to root for. The conflict driving them apart was very real; Lore wants to save his sister and Idess wants to be reunited with her brother. They initially fight their feelings for one another, but in the end, they have the courage to take a chance on love. I could say good things about the world-building, the plot, etc, but really, the love story is the crux of the book and what I enjoyed so much about it. (less)
I've loved this series from the start. This is the final book in the series, and as such it answers all the questions about the black crystal that has...moreI've loved this series from the start. This is the final book in the series, and as such it answers all the questions about the black crystal that has been plaguing the protagonists since the first or second book. I generally enjoyed this book, although as it got closer to the end, a lot of action was packed into few pages. And I'm still not sure I quite *got* everything (I'll have to go back and reread)
The ending? I won't spoil it, but let's just say I'm torn. I like certain aspects of the ending, others seem too...hm, saying anything more would be a spoiler.
I do recommend this book. It's a must read if you've been following the series.(less)
I liked this book better than the first book in the series, although that's not saying much.
The Good: The characters were less cardboard cut-outs and...moreI liked this book better than the first book in the series, although that's not saying much.
The Good: The characters were less cardboard cut-outs and more developed. The ubiquitous name-brand-dropping that was so irritating in the first book is also, thankfully, gone.
The Bad: The book was fairly predictable. Also - and the big stumbling block for me - was that the villain(s) did one incredibly inept and stupid thing that allowed the good guys to find them. The good guys finding them happened fairly early on in the story, so the rest of the story essentially happened because of the TSTL moment. (less)