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 thI'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. ...more
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. TheTurned 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. ...more
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 expectaThe 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. ...more
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 haveDisclaimer: 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. ...more
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 hasI'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....more
**spoiler alert** Warning: this review contains comments that could be construed as spoliers.
I haven't summarized the entire plot here, because it wou**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. ...more
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 andI 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. ...more
I found this to be an average read overall. This is a short story as others have mentioned; however, since the Kindle app for PC doesn't display pageI found this to be an average read overall. This is a short story as others have mentioned; however, since the Kindle app for PC doesn't display page numbers (what the heck is up with that? that's one of the reasons I will never buy a Kindle), I can't offer any estimate of how many pages/words the story actually comprises. But it's not a very long read.
Alise and Mac have known each other and been friends for fifteen months; they each have the hots for the other but haven't revealed that to the other person - Mac for a silly reason, and Alise for no reason at all (at least not one given in the story). As the story begins, they are in Mac's office having a conversation about Alise planning to have sex with her current boyfriend when the power goes out. They decide they are stuck there "with no power and it being pitch black outside..." (Mac's words to a friend via cell phone). OK, what? I've been in a lot of power outages, and there's no reason the two of them couldn't have simply gotten in their cars and driven home. Seriously. This is a really, really stupid set up for the sex that follows.
The sex itself is decently written, and there was enough character back story presented prior to the sex that it felt like a natural development. And the characters are likable. This was the good part of the story.
The other reason that this story doesn't get a higher rating is that the author abuses dialogue tags throughout the story. She uses almost any tag but "said" (a classic beginning writer fault is to avoid "said") and even uses some tags which are not valid tags at all, such as "scowled" and "sighed". Where is the editor fixing this? I could never read a whole book written this way. This (amatuerish writing) has become a serious problem with Ellora's Cave books IMO, and I very rarely buy books from them any more. I am always looking for new authors, so I'll try their free stories. Unfortunately, this author will be a pass for me.
I hesitate to call this erotica; of all the books, I’ve read recently, this one strays the furthest across the line from erotica to porn.
Elizabeth “LiI hesitate to call this erotica; of all the books, I’ve read recently, this one strays the furthest across the line from erotica to porn.
Elizabeth “Libby” Wild, 28, is a world famous photographer who hails from the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming. She hasn’t been home in years because, in part, of the way she was treated by Ty and Bodie Cade, identical twins who apparently tormented her in high school. She also has a strained relationship with her sister, Alex, who has remained in Wyoming to run the family ranch.
Libby gets sent back to Wyoming to take photos for a spread in the magazine she works for. She reluctantly agrees. Once back, Libby runs into Ty and Bodie (of course) and after they force the guy whom she had hired to be her guide into the Yellowstone backcountry to cancel, they take over her trip. This is also after running into her at their class reunion and telling her all they ways they are going to f&*^ her and how much she’s going to enjoy it because they are oh so sorry that they treated her badly in high school. Um, yeah. So saying “we’re really sorry we were such jackasses” wouldn’t have sufficed?
Why did they torment her in high school? The book itself never says, so the reader has only the publisher-provided synopsis for guidance – the twins “lived with a secret shame”. I won’t reveal what that “secret shame” is (it’s a minor spoiler, and more on that later), but only their twisted father would have called it a “shame”. The other 99.999% percent of the population would have either shrugged or said. “oh, how interesting” and left it at that. So…it’s a contrived and stupid plot device.
I can’t forget to mention the cow horse that Libby is riding that spooks, bucks, rears and dumps Libby when it is challenged by a bull. A cow horse? Really? A horse that has been trained to herd cut and herd cattle? I don’t think so. But it does give Ty and Bodie a chance to act like heroes.
Then the trip into Yellowstone takes place. Over three days, the three of them screw like bunny rabbits on crack and realize they are in luuuurrrvee.
Er, hold on…
Ty and Bodie know nothing about the person that Libby is now, and Libby knows nothing about Ty and Bodie except that the sex is great. Sorry, great sex does not equal love in my book.
On this trip, Libby also makes a great leap of logic – of the “What you do not smell is iocane powder” type of leap – and figures out what the brothers’ “shame” is. The reader is told at one point that the brothers changed their opinion of Libby when they saw some pictures she had taken. Turns out she was standing up for some kids that had the same “shame” as them. Again, since their “shame” wasn’t really anything shameful, this revelation falls flat. Yes, what she did was brave, but the attitude that she displayed – acceptance – wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Libby isn’t a bad heroine, when she isn’t falling in love with Type A overbearing cowboys. Ty and Bodie, however, need an attitude adjustment. But overall, the “great sex over three days with virtual strangers = true love” was what did this book in for me. ...more