Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review–Night Pleasures (Dark Hunter #1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Night Pleasures (Dark Hunter #1)
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Summary: The Dark-Hunters are ancient warriors who have sworn to protect mankind and the fate of the world is in their hands. . .
He is solitude. He is darkness. He is the ruler of the night. Yet Kyrian of Thrace has just woken up handcuffed to his worst nightmare: An accountant. Worse, she's being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there. And if Amanda Devereaux goes down, then he does too. But it's not just their lives that are hanging in the balance.  Kyrian and Amanda are all that stands between humanity and oblivion. Let's hope they win.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.  Add to Goodreads  Review:  Night Pleasures was pretty good. I liked the typical paranormal romance pattern with the added elements of greek mythology on top of the darker mythologies I was already vaguely familiar with. I don’t think this series was the best of the genre by any means, but it was fun to read and I plowed through it in just a couple of hours. What I did like about the book that other paranormal romances sometimes mess up for me were the characters. While Kyrian was the obvious alpha brooding male lead, Amanda was kind of spunky and strong. He didn’t overpower her very much at all and it was Amanda who took the lead most times. I hate when paranormal romances pull the controlling alpha male thing and then treat the heroines as breakable dolls, little ones, or weaklings and I was glad that Night Pleasures did not do this.  As a first book, it gave me just enough of the world to keep me interested, but I still have tons of questions about how things work. I think I’d read the other books in the series, especially because it seems as if people prefer the later books anyway. I liked the side characters and I imagine they’ll be the main characters in future installments, so that’s a good sign for me.  Of course, like any paranormal romance with that kind of title, it is less of a Paranormal and more of a Romance, but I knew what to expect. Obviously, if you prefer paranormals that are more plot based like urban fantasies and just peppered with romance, Night Pleasures will be a bit over the top for you. But I think anyone who picks this up will know what tropes will be there, what to expect, and just how many times the characters will be sidetracked by their lust.  4%2520star

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review–The One by Belle Ami

The One
by Belle Ami
Summary: How well do you really know the one you love? An erotic novel full of obsessive love, dark secrets, and unquenchable lust, Belle Ami’s The One proves that no one is quite who they seem.
Adelia, a rising star in the equestrian world, is still reeling from her parents’ deaths in a tragic car accident when she meets green energy investment banker Miles Bremen and his charming yet inscrutable twin sister, Karolin. With his insatiable lust, Miles ignites a passion within Adelia she never knew existed, and the two quickly find themselves entwined in a torrid affair that knows no bounds. Little does Adelia know, however, that her meeting of the Bremen twins was no accident. Carefully selected as “the one” for her unsettling resemblance to the emotionally and physically damaged Karolin, Adelia is targeted to marry Miles and bear the children that Karolin cannot have.
The One is a razor edge mystery that enfolds on the playgrounds of the super rich, from Trump Tower to the Hamptons and Palm Beach; to the Amalfi Coast aboard Miles’s mega-yacht Green Way, The One is irresistible as the reader is drawn into Adelia’s journey through a suspenseful – and erotic world. An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave readers breathless in more ways than one, The One is an irresistible journey through—new territory that fans of romantic fiction are bound to love.

Source: I received a copy from Netgalley

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It’s not often that I read a book and have absolutely nothing but terrible things to say about it. It always makes me feel guilty and sad when it’s a review book, but I promised to always be honest in a review and so I am. The One had an intriguing synopsis. It appealed to me when I was skimming the Read Now books available on Netgalley and I figured it would be an erotic novel with a lot of plot and mystery rather than just short bursts of random sex scenes like so many in it’s genre. Unfortunately, the synopsis was a bit misleading.

The book wasn’t very well written and didn’t do a very good job of building up the characters or the motivations of anyone. I was bombarded by so much bland detail. Everything was laid out as simply as possible and there was no mystery, vivid descriptions, or very good imagery. The synopsis contains more descriptive and mysterious words than the book did, though it tells the reader way too much, as that is the entire plot of the novel and there’s nothing else that happens.

The novel was written in third person, which wouldn’t have been terrible if the characters weren’t revealing their motivations from the very beginning. Instead of getting a thriller where a woman distrusts her husband, I got a poorly written explanation of how a naive girl is swayed by an obviously suspicious guy who mapped out some plans with his sister. Their love story happened so quickly and it was obvious to me that Miles was overbearing, pushy, and suspicious. The author never gave me a moment where I fell for it or started to like him and he never warmed me over, which was disappointing because he supposedly did fall for Adelia on accident and I would have liked to see those emotions play out better on the pages. The dialogue was perhaps the most frustrating part of the book. The overuse of exclamation points made otherwise normal dialogue seem forced and cheesy. There were entirely too many exclamation points in normal conversation.

The One could have been a pretty interesting and suspenseful story if it was better written, but it was not at all enjoyable to read. I hate to bash the writing that much, but I think it’s a very big problem that so many “books” end up on the shelves when they read like a first draft/outline of ideas and never tie the themes together, build characters, or show the reader how something came to be instead of just telling us. I’m still not sure how or why the beginning of the book exists in the same story. I read the entire book and even the preview for The One and More and I was still a bit lost about that part.

I do not recommend this book at all. I’m normally optimistic and try to think of someone a book I don’t like might appeal to, but I don’t think it’s fair to any readers to speak highly of a poorly written book.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review–Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

Mud Vein
by Tarryn Fisher
Summary: When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat... and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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I read this book because I saw an author I love mention the sale and that it was one of her favorite books ever. The reviews were stellar, the plot seemed interesting, and I figured it would be something I would like. Sometimes, things don’t happen like we expect them to.

For the majority of the novel, I was rapidly turning the pages in anticipation of the reveal. Senna woke up in a cabin, trapped in the middle of nowhere with no way out. Inside the cabin was Isaac, who was someone that she was familiar with, but I didn’t know why. The writing in Mud Vein was superb because I really didn’t know what was happening until it was revealed and the way it was laid out made it interesting to read.

A lot of reviews focus on how disappointing the reveal was, which I agree with, but that’s not where my disappointment began. It began with the rapid deterioration of the plausibility of the situation and the characters. Once power went out and characters were doing lots of crazy things to injure or otherwise hurt themselves to save themselves or others, things kind of got too crazy for me. As I got to know the characters, I realized I didn’t care for them much, either. Bits of the past were revealed and we finally figured out how Senna and Isaac knew each other and why they weren’t very friendly at that point.

I just.. I don’t like books like this with destructive and destroyed heroines who are dark just to be dark. I don’t believe that Senna could ever be real. And if she was, she’s certainly not anyone I’d ever want to know. She’s selfish, depressing, she cut herself off from the world and was dull and numb in general. The entire situation with Isaac didn’t seem very believable or healthy. And then she went from one tragedy to the next and thinks she’s tough because she does it alone and doesn’t need anyone. While I believe that pain demands to be felt, I don’t think choosing to forgo surgery that would make your leg more comfortable and easier to manage in favor of living with pain to remind yourself of what you’ve done is a healthy decision to make. It’s overdramatic and doesn’t really do anything.

I love dark books. Gritty, raw, terrifying, depressing, etc. Those elements don’t bother me. So that’s not why I didn’t like Mud Vein. I guess I just didn’t really thing it was interesting. I wasn’t impressed with the overall message, the characters, or the events. The reveal about the whole kidnapper thing was underwhelming and I felt like the book was full of unbelievable grit just to be different instead of telling a story that made sense.

I must have missed something because Mud Vein has really awesome reviews and the majority of people seemed to like it. I would not recommend it myself, but I think it’s one of those books that might work for some people. Maybe there was something about the characters that didn’t work for me.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review–The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People
by Jennifer McMahon
Summary: The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Don’t Breathe A Word by the same author is definitely one of the creepiest novels I’ve ever read that wasn’t really a horror novel. When I saw The Winter People on a list of spooky books to read in October, I knew I had to grab it. I’m a huge fan of the author because of her ability to write and combine a spellbinding creepy tale with a literary feel to it and I knew The Winter People wouldn’t disappoint.

I liked The Winter People and it definitely had a ton of magical and scary elements because of the setting. Something strange was happening at Devil’s Hand and the residents of the small town had their own legends about it. People went missing, legends arose, and the journal from Sarah Harrison Shea in 1908 added to the mystery.

I loved the legend and history in The Winter People and the way it read like a true story. It was believable while also being incredibly unbelievable at the same time and I think that’s what makes a creepy idea work. However, if you’ve ever read or seen Pet Sematary and you’re familiar with any rising from the dead types of legends, it’s a tad predictable and it’s definitely something we’ve all seem before. Basically, it’s never a good idea to bring people back from the dead or attempt to delve into legends where such a thing was deemed possible. But it’s always a bit interesting to see what happens to people who don’t know that!

Despite the predictable nature of the otherworldliness in The Winter People, the tale was captivating and I found myself wondering what would happen to the characters, both in 1908 and in the present. It pales in comparison to Don’t Breathe A Word, but the quality of the writing is sound and I definitely recommend reading it. Part of the reason I think it didn’t resonate as much with me is because I’m over walking dead, white walkers, zombies, and ghosts because current television entertainment is just oversaturated with it.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review–The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3)
by Michelle Hodkin
Summary: Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.
She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.
She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.
Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

Source: I purchased a hardcover. (I preordered it and it came to my house SIGNED!)
Review:  Oh. My. God. The Retribution of Mara Dyer was AMAZING. It was such an awesome and action packed ending to the trilogy. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, never knowing what would happen or who Mara could trust. It was such a great book.  
I felt like each book got crazier, more terrifying, and the stakes were higher as the story went on. And the whole time, while I knew something was happening to Mara that was beyond her control, I wondered how much, if any of it, was really in her head. I loved not knowing and not knowing just how far the author would take any of Mara’s supposedly crazy suspicions.  
The trilogy is a perfect blend of mystery, psychological thriller, romance, and the paranormal, which is a blend that I don’t find often at all. Mara was an unreliable narrator who lost time and and did some seriously disturbing things, but was also clearly being set up by someone at least some of the time.  
The Retribution of Mara Dyer answered a ton of questions and linked a lot of the different ideas, characters, and flashbacks together. But it also left enough of the mystery open even at the end. I love when endings are both satisfying and leave some threads open and some questions unanswered. I thought the entire book was absolutely perfect.  
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Mara Dyer trilogy is how it feels like it’s not YA. The writing is superb, the themes are dark and twisted, and the characters aren’t afraid to use profanity in their situations. I mean, when your entire life is unraveling before you, I think a little bit of profanity is perfect. I loved that it kind of pushes the limits of what kind of language and themes should be in a YA book and it makes it a perfect read for adults.  
I highly recommend the trilogy and thought The Retribution of Mara Dyer may be the best book. It was definitely not a disappointing third book like so many trilogies we’ve all read and loved.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review–Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne

Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2)
by Kevin Hearne
Summary: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.
With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Hexed was awesome. I love this series. Atticus is a such a fun character. His narration is fun and witty, with a bunch of awesome references and phrases that keep me turning the pages, not only to find out what happens next, but to find out how he’ll describe it.

Oberon is definitely one of my favorite characters because he is the comic relief and is always begging for treats, but I also love how loyal of a friend and companion he is to Atticus. The Druid had a ton of enemies in Hexed, as a lot of attention was drawn to him after the death of Aengus Og.
I was interested in the plot, the relationship between Atticus and the witches, and I liked finding out more about the various gods and goddesses assisting him. There was never a dull moment and I’m excited to read more books in the series. I don’t know how anyone could not like these books.
I will warn readers that (so far) there isn’t much in the way of romance. While fans of other urban fantasies would love the series, the lack of romance may be discouraging to those who generally prefer it in their fantasy novels.

Atticus isn’t short of female admirers, but he can be a tad shallow and their interactions typically consist of just physical encounters. I’ve seen some reviews that talk about how Atticus is sexist and only views women as sex objects. That’s definitely true, but unless you’re super sensitive about that, I can’t see how it’s that offensive. I think it fits with his personality and world view. While Atticus can be mature and he is quite old, for all intents and purposes he’s no different from other 21 year olds and he’s quite immature in many ways. I think that’s kind of the point. But it is a cause for concern for many reviewers, so it’s worth mentioning. The attitude towards women combined with the lack of real romance can be alienating to a female audience.

I love the series so far and definitely plan on continuing. It’s unique and it’s so much fun. The genre can be heavy and exhausting, so it’s nice to pick up a fantasy that’s a little more fun without turning into a paranormal romance.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Review–Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1)

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1)
by Kevin Hearne
Summary: The first novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles--introducing a cool, new, funny urban fantasy hero.
Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old--when in actuality, he's twenty-one "centuries" old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.
Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he's hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power--plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish--to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Hounded was awesome. It was full of action, humor, fantasy, and mythology that was insanely fun to read. I devoured it in a short amount of time, raving about it to others the entire time. It was such a cool mixture of old mythology and lore with modern times. Atticus, a 2100 year old Druid, had such a good grip on today’s world. His sense of humor was awesome and his narration kept me turning the pages.

Hounded had all sorts of mythological elements. Atticus was a Druid, lived in a town with witches, had a Viking vampire for a lawyer, and was friendly with a werewolf pack. He was visited by the Morrigan, an old Celtic goddess (but the sort of goddess who would NOT appreciate being called old!) and just about every other legend, god, or creature existed in this world. Demons, faeries (the terrifying kind), even Mary. I loved how the author created such a universe. It never would have occurred to me to have a world where every religion was true to some degree.

Atticus definitely made the story. He could communicate with his Irish wolfhound, which was hilarious because his dog was awesome. He fit in with college kids, but his insight and narration had me cracking up. He made the best references ever. “These are not the Druids you’re looking for” came out of his mouth at one point, which is basically awesome. As Atticus fought a powerful Celtic god, his dog was commenting on the action and made South Park references that had me laughing.
Overall, Hounded was one of the most fun books I’ve read all year. It’s definitely a must read for any geek and any lover of a fun fantasy book.