Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fire and Ash by Allie Gail

Sophomore books often don't live up to the promises of their predecessors. This isn't the case with Fire and Ash. Ms. Gail brought us to a dark but fascinating place with the relationship of Ash and Sami. I enjoyed Sami and I loved the inclusion of Jules and Eva from book one. (I adored the Rio scenes!) The story was as satisfying as the first with one exception...Ash. He's a despotic ruler. His light side is darker than most people's good sides. Look up sociopath and you'll be directed to psychopath where you'll find his picture...with a warning label. He tormented Sami to the brink of madness and, from the ending, perhaps beyond. I was hoping that he would redeem himself but it never happened. Which I can see as a good thing because every good series needs a villain and Ash will be good at this. Jules needs to keep that knife around... I gave this book three stars not because there was anything wrong with the plot or writing. No, I had to take a star away because I absolutely, completely, loathed Ash. I've only loathed one book character more...the chick from She's Come Undone. Ash turns my stomach. Reminds me too much of the alpha male "heroes" from 70s bodice rippers..."let me rape you until you love me". But Ash is the perfect villain, you root for his death like you root for the home team on Homecoming. Perhaps I should go back and change it to four stars, but I won't. Ash deserves to be punished. 3 out of 5 berries only because Ash is a dick.

Winter's Touch by Allie Gail

I liked this book more than I thought I would when I first started it. Found it refreshingly different with a plot that was simply enjoyable to sink into. Julian might not be my favorite vampire heroes, but he quickly climbed to good standing. The legend that author used as a plot point is intriguing, I'm looking forward to delving into research on it. I also enjoyed the slow build from anger to love that the characters exhibited. Too often, in romance novels at least, lust and attraction are utilized to invoke true love. The meandering trail Julian and Eva take on their way to love everlasting is satisfying in its realism. They aren't instantly "in love"; indeed there's a fair amount of hatred on either side before attraction pokes its head out and the couple slowly realize it's there. While the writing is not superstar quality, the book is a truly satisfying read. Don't hesitate to pick this one up. 4 out of 5 berries

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

Xandra is a top Royal Guard in a world where Queen Victoria is celebrating her 175th year on the throne, Winston Churchill is an elite forces trainer and The Plague means people are born Aristocrats, werewolves, vampires, or goblins, Halvies (half blooded like Xandra) or Huies. (Humans)

The book started a bit slowly, world building I'm sure. Xandra's half sister, Dede, reportedly committed suicide in Bedlam Hospital but Xandra doesn't believe the reports. During the investigation that follows, Xandra learns that things are never as they seem.

I really enjoyed the book and I'm frustrated that the second isn't out yet. Xandra is engaging enough to make you sympathetic but not so sappy as to make you want to throttle her.

4 1/2 berries for this romp in an alternate London.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades Trilogy book 1) E L James

Anastasia Steele is getting ready to graduate from college when, on an interview for her best friend/roommate who is too sick to conduct the interview, she meets the enigmatic, beautiful, commanding and brilliant Christian Grey, CEO of Grey Enterprises and benefactor of her college. From the first, Christian is intrigued by the innocent Miss Steele and pursues her with a single mindedness that stuns not only Ana, but also Christian's staff, family and associates. He offers Ana a contract to become his submissive...a twist that Ana both can not accept and can't help but accept. The books have been called "Mommy Porn" and, yes, they are VERY graphic and erotic. I think that the reason they are getting so much press is because the sex focuses on BDSM, non traditional and taboo. The Fifty Shades of Grey books are, in my opinion, no more or less sensual, graphic or erotic than contemporary romances of today. Heck, the romances of the late 70s and early 80s, with their Alpha male "I will rape you into submission and you're going to fall in love with me in spite of me treating you like crap" focus should, in my view, be more taboo than consensual adults behaving in a manner that is less than traditional. That being said, these books are GRAPHIC in the details of sex. At one point, Christian tells Ana "I don't make love, I fuck...hard." Ana's initiation into sex is not the hearts and flowers "I love you" deflowering scenes of most romance novels. It's quick, hard and quite simply, brutal in a sense. Don't get me wrong, there is quite a bit of romance in these books. There's also a fascinating look into the psyche of Christian, is he a sadist? Is he just a Dominant? What has brought him to the place where he believes he has no heart? And what of Ana? What ticks inside of her that brings her to be so intrigued by the world Christian so desperately, and he is desperate, wants to introduce her to? Can Ana bring herself to give Christian what he needs, total submission even when he wants to discipline her? Or will the pain and fear be enough to send Ana running? I loved this book. I read it in 5 hours because I could not put it down. I had a love/hate relationship with Christian and I could empathize and sympathize with Ana. I did wish that Ms. James would have removed the "characters" of Ana's Subconscious and her "Inner Goddess". They just smacked a bit too much like Lizzy McGuire or Herman's Head and often would pull me from the story. Other than that, I recommend this book even if you're squicked out by the thought of BDSM. There's WAY more to the book than the sex and I took quite a bit from it. 5 out of 5 berries for this one. I can't wait to review Fifty Shades Darker.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Goblin Trilogy, by Jim C. Hines

The Goblin Trilogy, Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, and Goblin War tell the story of Jig the Goblin and his pet fire spider Smudge. It's a humorous look at the Goblins of Middle-Earth and the world from their perspective.
Hines is an excellent storyteller, and you'll find many sly references to other Goblin / Middle Earth / Ogre / etc. stories, including Shrek and (of course) Lord of the Rings.
Jig is a reluctant adventurer, hero, and warrior who appears to more or less get dragged along by events -- and later, by expectations -- who really doesn't want to do anything except be comfortable and at home. Along the way he decides to select a mostly-forgotten god to worship (for the benefits) and somehow manages to blunder to victory.

This trilogy was an excellent read, well-told and the storyline keeps moving along. 5 of 5 bones.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

River Marked, by Patricia Briggs

The latest installment in the Mercedes Thompson series, this is another excellent book by Ms. Briggs. Mercedes and Adam finally get married (and how that happens is an entertaining romp, which I absolutely won't spoil.)

For their honeymoon, they take a huge RV (borrowed from...Uncle Mike...eeps) and go someplace recommended by another one of the fae. Huh. Of course their honeymoon doesn't go quite as planned, and they wind up taking care of another "Mythical" monster.

Along the way we get to see a lot more of Mercedes' heritage and background, which is also very interesting - and explains some things.

The thing I most liked about it -- and about this series in general -- is that Ms. Briggs continues to write interesting stories about Mercedes doing a lot of Monster Fighting without making her "Level Up" every book. It's not a treatise in "gee, what scary new power will she get this time", it's not showing us how she defeats New Scary Monster by developing New Scary Power -- she defeats them by being herself, using her brains and courage and doing her very best. Ms. Briggs is having Mercedes "Level Out" by developing a network of friends and acquaintances (yes, some of whom do have Scary Powers) that help her, but not even they are always available, and not always certain that their Scary Powers will work.

Excellent job. 5 of 5 bones.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Where There's a Witch, by Madelyn Alt

Summary: This book is #5 in Ms. Alt's "Bewitching Mystery" series. The series protagonist is "Maggie" who is a Sensitive (apparently she can sense supernatural beings, as well as being Empathic). The series is set in a small town in Indiana, called Stony Mill. This book takes place in the summer, and Stony Mill's local Baptist Church is having a carnival to celebrate their expansion. The Groundbreaking ceremony is brought to a halt when a hidden room is discovered. A ghost that was in the room also escapes. The next day or so, the body of a young woman is found in the location of the groundbreaking. One of the construction workers, her (former?) boyfriend, is immediately suspected. The rest of the book revolves around Maggie and her fellow Sensitives trying to Solve the Mystery of The Murdered Woman as well as the Mystery of the Hidden Room.

Review: I picked this up mainly for the mystery, but also because it looked whimsical. It failed, unfortunately, on both counts. The Mystery takes a far, far distant second to the Main Issue - which is essentially Witchery. How the local Witches / Sensitives / Psychics / Whatever get along with the rest of the locals. Obviously the locals in Small-Town Indiana aren't real happy about Witches, etc. in their town. The mystery itself is given bare lip service and definitely takes a back seat to the Spooky Stuff. Oh, and Maggie's personal life.
Given the way the mystery was treated, (and since i knew from reading the back that someone would be murdered somewhere in the book) I had a pretty good idea who was the murderer even before there was a murder. Within a chapter of the murder I'd figured out who was the murderer, what was up with the Mystery Room, who the Ghost was, and why the Ghost Existed - along with What The Ghost Was Trying To Tell Them. I finished the book hoping there would be a twist at the end, but alas, no twist. I'd really figured it out halfway through the book. Had this been Ms. Alt's first or second attempt, it would've been forgiveable and I would've tried again, but since it's #5 in the series, I'm going to give it a miss. Don't get me wrong - I finished the book because it's got good characterization, and I was interested in the characters, but for me, that's not enough to carry a really weak, half-baked mystery.

If you like characterization and storyline and don't care whether the mystery is weak or not, then this is the book and series for you. For me, I give it 2.5 out of 5 bones.