PNR

As the online community has so lovingly dubbed this genre – this is the place for all those PNR series. That’s right, the Paranormal Romance. Or as my husband calls it, Vampire Porn.

Now, don’t let the Vampire Porn tag mislead you. This is where I keep track of all things supernatural, and adult enough to have a steaminess rating in my reviews (which are available on goodreads and hopefully, eventually, they will move here – if I can figure out this whole blogging thing, since this is new to me, obviously).

Werewolves, Fay, Vamps, Demons, Aliens (although typically they appear as vamps who originated from outerspace like in Lara Adrian’s books), Witches, and the like.

A book, a blurb, and a victim

The book:  Devil’s Daughter (Lucinda’s Pawnshop, Book 1) by Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

The blurb (from netgalley, that got me interested in the book):

“Lucinda is as old as humanity itself, yet perpetually young, beautiful, and endowed with supernatural powers. She lives a double life—human and immortal. Born out of a betrayal of trust between the first woman, Eve, and father, Lucifer, Lucinda has worked covertly and subtly for millennia to be true to her mother’s love by subverting her father’s schemes. In her human guise, she manages Lucinda’s Pawnshop & Antiquary, the doors of which can open to any street anywhere in the world at any time. Mortals who have arrived at a moral or spiritual crossroads are drawn into the mysterious shop. If they acquire one of its cursed artifacts, they may find themselves drafted into Lucifer’s service. And if the Devil’s daughter will not love a man he can control, can Lucifer control the man she loves?”

The victim: Me.

BUT… it’s ok.  Because while I was suckered by the blurb and requested the book because of it, while it was so very different than what I expected, it is ok.  Because I really enjoyed it!  I won’t bother with a synopsis, because, well, the blurb.  But, I will say that I expected some paranormal romance it was more like Tom Clancy or Brad Meltzer meets, well anyone that I read that is paranormal but working the Devil/fallen angel angle (like Larissa Ione’s Demonica), but minus any of the sex.

What I mean is that this is a plot driven story, with a number of threads of the plot all scattered, but coming together.  It is fairly easy to find the common thread of an object from the pawn shop for most of the folks involved, there are places where the link is tenuous at first.  And there are a lot of plot threads to keep track of to get to the whole story.

I am pleased that this seems to be the start of a series, since when I realized I was at the end of the book I was disappointed that it ended and it felt like there was still so much story left to tell, with respect to a number of the individual threads, and with respect to the entire tapestry as well.  I don’t know how many installments are planned, but I think it will be wonderful to read more of this world.

The world building was decent, decent enough to make sure I wasn’t more confused than I think the author intended (for which side is Nathaniel really on?).  And the character development was enough, especially with the player’s in the Devil’s game, that I felt like I really wanted to know where the story was going to take them.  There was action, and some romance (although not as much as I expected from the blurb) and definitely paranormal workings.  The idea of a pawn shop selling talismans that have actual powers is a pretty cool idea too, that leaves room for so many things.

So, the real issue is that I expected more JR Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood, Larissa Ione – Demonica, you name the author – sexy paranormal book title here!  But got some woo’ing of Lucinda by a super religious guy who wouldn’t mess around (no judgment, that’s ok with me, just not what I expected) with her casually.  And a pervert who pretended to be someone else to try to get into Lucinda’s pants, plus a succubus who implied she was getting action, but there was no page time for any of it.  Again, that’s ok – I read plenty like that, but with the emphasis on Lucinda’s love for a man her father can’t control, that isn’t where my brain was expecting to go.

So, kudos on the story – I thought it was a unique and fresh take on this aspect of paranormal, maybe I’ve now even been introduced to a new little sub-genre that I wasn’t aware of.  I look forward to reading more.  I would just like to have my expectations properly set by the book blurb with the next installment.  Sometimes the blurbs set things up for disappointment, here it didn’t, but improper blurb writing runs the risk of leaving unhappy victims behind.  And this was a good enough book, I would hate to see it fall prey to that.

 

A Little About a Lot

While my reading has suffered, my posting has suffered worse.  I just realized that I have read about a baker’s dozen books, across 4 series, and haven’t added a page or post or review on any!  So, this little “data dump” will be to give a few little tidbits on each (by no means am I catching up and reviewing 15 or so books all in one shot – that post would be epically long and take forever to finish, only exacerbating the lack of posts problem).

Here’s what I have read:

  • The Jolie Wilkins Series – all 5 – by HP Mallory
  • The Bryn and Sinjin Series – both (although I would argue these really are just an extension of the Jolie Wilkins Series) – HP Mallory
  • The Hot Damned Series – 5 of the 6 published so far – by Robyn Peterman
  • The second in the Lynburn Legacy – Untold – by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • The first two in the Magisterium Series – The Iron Trial and The Copper Gauntlet – by Holly Black

And I think I am missing something….

Anyway, let’s have a little fun with all that.  Here’s the quick and dirty on each series.  Bryn and Sinjin are hot, Hot Damned is much hotter, Jolie Wilkins has its moments, the Lynburn Legacy is a YA and therefore pretty cold but not completely as there is a love story to it, and the Magisterium The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)books are also YA and colder than Lynburn.   Jolie Wilkins is Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins, #1)your typical girl didn’t know she was a witch, man comes to rescue her from that boring normal non-magical life.  She is destined to be queen or something like that and save the world.  Cue the sexual tension, love story, bad guys wanting to take over the world, blah blah blah.  Not terribly unique or original, but a fun little escape just the same.

Bryn and Sinjin is a shift from the perspective.  What I mean is that instead of Jolie’s destiny being the primary focus, Bryn (Jolie’s twin sister) and Sinjin (the loveable handsome ancient Vampire who was previously in love with Jolie but lost to Rand) and their developing relationship are the focus.  Another fun little outing, a little more steam.  But a cliff hanger big enough to leave me pretty annoyed if there isn’t another.  There are only 2 listed on goodreads but I swear I saw something on facebook or somewhere about at least one more coming.  And heaven forbid, it looks like they will be from Sinjin’s perspective.  Yikes.  I personally am not a fan of the romance novel from the guy’s perspective.  Even worse, the statement on HP Mallory’s facebook page says:  “…decided to make this book (and maybe the next one.  Not sure but going to switch back and forth, I think) in Sinjin’s perspective!”  There are very few novels I have read where the flip-flop in perspective works.  So, fingers crossed that is not what we get next.

The Hot Damned series is… well… in a word: weird.  Out of the first 4, 2 is more about Dixie, the cousin of Astrid our main protagonist from 1, 3 and 4.  I 1 Astrid gets turned into a Vampire.  And kills her wack-job of a mother and her demon father.  And she meets her Hell on Heels (Hot Damned #3)destined mate, a Vampire prince.  In 2 she finds herself in Hell with a cast of characters too weird to do justice to: Mother Nature (her Grandmother), Satan (her Uncle), God (another Uncle), Dixie (cousin), Seven Deadly Sins (all more cousins), Mister Rogers, Hemingway, and others.  And we discover **spoiler alert** she is “Compassion”, a True Immortal.  In 3 Dixie is sent to Earth to find herself of something like that.  And she meets and falls in love with the Angel of Death.  In 4, Astrid’s baby with crazy growing power and all sorts of magic turns out to be the most powerful Immortal ever.  And there are Fairies with names like The Kevin (with “The” being the mark of an old fairy), trolls, demons, and all sorts of other craziness going on.  Another fun little romp, with some steam, if you can get past that there are moments when it felt like the author was trying to do too much with the vampire, demons, family tree thing.  And don’t, like I did, be expecting the Rogues that were such an issue in book 1 to really mean anything in 2 through 4, they just don’t really ever turn into anything that matters.

The second in the Lynburn Legacy, which while I am dealing with before the Holly Black books, I read after and just finished.  About 20 minutes ago.  And I am furious.  Furious at some of the characters. Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2) It is a little hard to consider some of the “good guys” good.  Lillian, while on the same side as our young adult Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)protagonists is such a snotty bitch, who has delusions of grandeur, and wants to rule the town is just not quite as loathsome as Rob who wants a sacrifice of blood but otherwise feels exactly the same way. And, some of the plot holes were hard for me to deal with.  That said, I love the relationship between Kami and the other young folks the story is really about.  And the connection between Jared and Kami and the complication that Ash becomes was great.  There are really some sad moments on the pages of Untold.  And there are a TON of unanswered questions, that I hope get answered in the final book, Unmade (which I will be starting tonight). I will note that of all the 15 books I have neglected to write reviews on, this one, to me had the highest “can’t-put-it-down” rating.  I will note, however, that I liked the cover for the first book, Unspoken (seen on the left), better and like the cover of Unmade even less.  And, the short stories for this series – get them free or don’t bother.  They don’t really add to the story and they, in some cases, are super short.

And the last Image result for magicians syfyseries to get some reading time was the Magisterium by Holly Black. I admit to thinking of these books when I saw the first few episodes of the new show on SyFy – The Magicians – which I understand is based on a book of the same name by Lev Grossman.  Especially the part about the testing and kids not succeeding and getting dumped back to their old lives seemed, in so many ways,  so similar to the scenes in the Magisterium’s testing scene.  These are a little like Harry Potter (kids away at school, sorted into groups, learning magic) meets Seeker (who knows which is really the good side, which is the bad) meets a number of other things.  Biggest twist in the beginning is that the main protagonist wasn’t the big deal magician that the school’s staff was looking for.   But, there’s a big bad guy attacking children and there were some really creepy things in this book.  Not spooky ghost story creepy.  But adults praying on and using children and other stuff like that creepy.  But, interesting and Holly Black is magical herself in her ability to write something that I can conjure in my head in great detail and it is like watching a movie as I read.  It is so easy to get lost in her worlds, emersed in the characters and the story, and to become so invested that I am desperate to read what is next.  So… my message to her and her publisher:  let’s get on with it and release #3!!

I am going to try to add pages for all of these – in some form or another.  But I ask that you be patent and I will try to write more reviews and pages.  Goodness knows I need the pages as a lot of this is all swirling together into a big mixed up mess.

p.s. – to any worpress folks paying attention to my tiny little site:  I F’ing HATE, HATE, HATE, DESPISE, LOATHE, ABHOR, DETEST, [add your own synonym here] the “new posting experience”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Give me back the old way, without all the extra steps.  I beg of you.

 

How to categorize the Grim Reaper?

I don’t often review a series at a time, instead of reviewing each individual installment.  But, in the case of the Lana Harvey series (at least as of the end of book 4), Graveyard Shift (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc., #1)I am going to make an exception.  Not because each book doesn’t deserve its own review, but purely as a matter of efficiency and because I read them each over the course of a day or two (tops) and back-to-back so they really felt like one big book to me.  And, well, this is my little blog and I set the rules.  Ok, I feel like my 2 year old now and feel that I should be sticking my tongue out at somebody in an act of pure juvenile defiance!

The Lana Harvey series, by Angela Roquet, stands at four books so far: (1) Graveyard Shift, (2) Pocket Full of Posies, (3) For the Birds, and (4) Psychopomp.  The fifth is coming soon – Death Wish.

first things first, let’s explain what this series is all about.  It’s about a Reaper (yes, as in Grim) who is charged with transporting souls right after death to their particular after life.  And each soul’s particular  afterlife is determined by their faith while living.  So, the Christian’s version of things is right beside the Muslim, right beside the Jewish, right beside the Egyptian… (you get the idea).  Pocket Full of Posies (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. #2)That makes for a vast and interesting well of deities and beliefs to draw from and to build a world around.  Pretty clever, and the world building was pretty well done.  Now, this series isn’t just about the escapades around the transport of random souls in each installment.  There is an overall story arc that drives Lana and Grim and all the others, while transporting souls of course.  And it has to do with keeping Eternity from collapsing into War.  It’s pretty original.

I realize that I think I need to add another category to this little blog of mine, as this was “billed” as a horror, but it certainly didn’t meet my standards of horror.  I thinFor the Birds (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc. #3)k of Michael Scott’s Reflection or Steven King when I think horror.  This never had the fear factor or the blood and guts spewing that I think requisite for books in the horror category.  And while one might thing that a story about a bunch of grim reapers would naturally fit into the horror category, the little bit of death and danger is no where near significant enough to justify the horror categorization.  Instead, I found myself chuckling more than cowering and smiling more than nail biting.  It wouldn’t exactly call it a dark comedy (not quite enough chuckling or LOLs for that) but there were funny moments.  And, with the exception of a few scenes in Posies, even with the “romance” that goes with the main protagonist dating I am not sure I would classify this as PNR either.  So where does that leave me?  I’m going to categorize them in the PNR category because of the second book and because it seems after four books that Lana’s love life is at least semi-important to the plot of the overall series.

Despite the fact that I really enjoyed the stories, some of the installments have much sloppier editing than others and some of them were littered with grammatical issues and typos. That was kind of frustrating. I really do credit (or I guess really it should be discredit) the self-publishing trend for that.  I don’t know if these are self published books (goodreads doesn’t note the publisher but says “Kindle”) but the ability to turn out books by anybody without a professional editor is really making things hard for readers. It’s not just limited to grammatical mistakes and typos either.  No, it perpetuates much deeper issues such as keeping track of overall plot points and issues around story editing too.  I will note here, however, while there are a few blips on the radar Psychopomp (Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc., #4)from a story perspective the bulk of the issues I have with this series seem to be around the grammatical mistakes and typos.  But they weren’t big enough issues to keep me from reading all four that are currently published, and they definitely weren’t bad enough to keep me from looking forward to the fifth book.

I do wonder what’s with the quote at the beginning of each chapter? Is it an attempt by the author to show how well read she is? An attempt to show off and show the readers how well educated she is? A way to rub it in your face the fact that some of those quotes and people are unfamiliar? Frankly it feels a little… well annoying is the best word I can think of at the moment.  Again this isn’t enough to prevent me from looking forward to the next book however.

The author clearly was well researched and spent a lot of time learning what she needed to to create a detailed and fairly complicated world for our characters to be living and working in.  And the best part is, most of it works.  There are few places where I am left scratching my head thinking that there might have been an easier way to do something and something felt a little convoluted.  But overall, it worked.  The characters worked.
The story worked.  And I am happy to say that when you put all of the different faiths together there was a way to make that work. It feels mostly like the author took a very complicated puzzle and somehow managed to get all of the pieces put them together and give me a great and complete overall picture. There are funny moments and there are sad moments. There are characters you can root for and characters you can root against. And there some real human emotion coming from characters who aren’t even close to human. I have been enjoying this series very much.  I will say, one of the funniest things, throughout the series, has been the mental picture of Lana donning her “reapers robe”….  but again, it works!

So, I am not sure what else there is to ask for.  Except to hurry up and get Death Wish published!

Caveman Guardian?

The second installment of the Guardians of the Realm series presented an interesting dichotomy.  The caveman nature of the primary male protagonist, Gregoire, was pitted against the independent nature of his mate Alyssa.  And it left me with mixed feelings.  I will preface things with the following:  I really enjoyed this book.  More that the first.  But boy, was I torn between loving the couple and thinking Gregoire was just too over the top possessive.  It was a struggle to not picture him all caveman “me Tarzan, you Jane”, fists banging his chest and being so chauvinistic that when I read the scene where he storms into a room and flings Alyssa over his shoulder it was just too caveman.  And it dulled a little of the romance for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, books of this nature are more sex than romance.  But there is usually some, and we did get a little of it shining through so that we get to know the characters a little.  But that kind of behavior in such extreme quantities and intensity just isn’t appealing to me, so it dulled things a little. 

There was a remarkable improvement in the balance between the mythology of this universe and the story.  We got what we needed to follow the protagonists through the plot, as well as all the collateral characters, and yet it wasn’t so much that my head was spinning in confusion because I was getting an unnecessary information dump of way too many details.  It was much better that the first installment.  And, what a twist at the end!!!!  25797438Holy cow!!!  Didn’t see that coming!  And it was a delight to see that the author isn’t stretching out a villain into a caricature just to ensure that there are obstacles and tension for more books in the series.  It was refreshing and made me look even more forward to the following installments.

So, we see the antics of Cyril continue while the Guardians continue to try to protect the Realms and their respective inhabitants.  Meanwhile Sam and Erik need to complete their mating but Gregoire and Alyssa and their mating are the primary focus.  The battles continue and our family of Guardians continues to grow as they find mates.

Like with the first book, there is steam galore!  The explicit warning is again well deserved and there are plenty of steamy scenes to make up for the shift of a number of (formerly) beloved series’ shifts into “urban fiction” – what that really means is that they lose virtually all of their steam, unfortunately.  So, like with the first, if you are a fan of the paranormal and the steamy paranormal at that, then this is a must read!  Just prepared for some troglodyte type behavior to be fully on display.

What a Roller Coaster Ride!

I am taking a turn now, from the YA to the more mature side of things.  That is, into what is probably classified as erotica – if the warning at the beginning of the book is the authority anyway.  I picked up (through Netgalley, free in exchange for an honest review) Ecstasy Unbound by Setta Jay last week.  And darn it, it was a roller coaster ride.  Getting up that first hill was rough – all that anticipation of what was to come – followed by some fear as the car hesitates before plunging far and fast over the precipice into the heart of the ride… to be followed by an end that came all to fast, and a little (or a lot) flush in the face and sweat on the brow from all the excitement and heart pounding moments.  There were also peaks and valleys, twists and turns, and moments when I felt I was hanging upside down and not sure which direction things were headed to next.  So, yep, I felt like I had just stepped off Griffon (one of my favorite roller coasters, which is located in Busch Gardens Williamsburg).  And I loved it!

25797414 The warning in the beginning was well warranted and deserved – there are definitely a large number of extremely explicit scenes, so if that kind of stuff isn’t your slice of pie, then this series probably isn’t for you.  There is story around all the sex, but I’d say the book is split about 50/50 between actual plot moving “stuff” and sex.  Since both of that “stuff” doesn’t scare me off I dove right in, despite the warning, and plowed through from cover to cover.  And, when I got to the end, I was desperate for the next.  (By the way, after book 2 I was even more desperate for the next. This is a review of the first book, however.)  And desperate in a good way.

The first hill, the tough part, was tough because it was a fair bit of world building that was a little too complicated and the mythology mixing felt a little like migraine inducing strobe lights.  It was hard to keep it all straight and the variety with respect to the different types of beings was overwhelming.  This portion of the book, especially the prologue, set my expectations poorly as the rest of the story wasn’t so hard to keep track of.  Don’t get me wrong, the world building is a must have.  And, it needs the right amount of details so the readers understand the rules of the universe we are diving into. But all the Greek Gods, Hellbeasts, half man-half animals/shifters, demi-gods, children of who-ever, Guardians who aren’t related really but call each other siblings, different magical powers for each type of being, curses, exceptions to the curses, weird names… (and I am probably forgetting at least 2 or 3 elements here in this laundry list) well, it was all just a little overwhelming.  The good news though?  Hang on to your hats, the ride gets better.  My advice – skip to the back where there is a glossary, when ever needed (I didn’t realize it was there until I finished the book, dang nab-it!) and don’t stress over learning too much of the mythology at first.  Seems that the more time on the ride, the easier it is to be familiar with the rules of the universe we have.

Know that there are Immortals, Guardians, Magiea (magicians, essentially), humans and others.  The Guardians are watch-dogs, good guys, and males (generally – there are a few female guardians too, but so far the males are the focus through book 3) in line to be mated throughout the series.  There is a bad guy, Cyril, and he has a few minions too.  And I swear, I pictured them as minions (yes, Despicable Me minions) from the start and it made things even more entertaining!    Here, we get the first guardian to find his mate, Uri, and his mate is a demi-god, Alex.  The pair come together and have to battle Cyril.  I’ll leave the rest for the book’s page.

As the pair come together as a couple, things get awful steamy.  Quite often.  So, if you like that kind of reading it is quite enjoyable.  Just be prepared to have a fan handy, or a cold beverage, or run the cold water for a cold shower…!  Note, I thought it was a good enough read (and overall story arc) that I needed to get right back on the ride and picked up book two immediately.  Boy, was I glad there wasn’t a long line (aka, wait for it to be published… yes, I am sticking with the metaphor!).

Ok… now for the low points.  The “Island Temple of Consummation, Tetartos Realm”?  Really?  Yes, that is the bold line under the chapter 31 title.  Cheese-y.  Way too corny.  Couldn’t there have been another name for the temple?  I mean at this point in the story, we all know what the main couple is going to be doing.  If the author intended that to be concupiscent or titillating, that was a fail.

And could we not have found a different word than preternatural?  There are only, like, 50 synonyms.

The final thing I will note is that there were a few moments when the author should have used names instead of pronouns (and I wish some of the names for places especially were easier to “pronounce” in my head) as there were a number of sentences that dealt with multiple subjects and the use of “he” or “she” didn’t make it easy to decipher who the “he” or “she” was when used in the next sentence or paragraph.

Like all roller coasters, there we have one most important thing to deal with – did it get juices flowing and riders excited and wanting more?  Absolutely!  This was one of the with some of the most sexy-steamy bits I have read in a while.  The author didn’t shy away from explicit scenes.  And they were some of the more well done scenes I have read in a while.  They were tasteful, even though racy.  They were not given short shrift as their page time was well balanced with the rest of the story.  And they were just dirty enough to be salacious yet totally readable without feeling like they were too much of a fantasy.  Add to that the fact that the characters and story line were enjoyable and it was a roller coaster well worth the ride!

The End of the (Demonica) World as We Know It!

Oh no!!!!! It’s the end of the Demonica, Lords of Deliverance World!  I had no idea.  I am so totally bummed!  I loved the Demonica7970070_f496 books when I read them.  That is, I loved the first 5 books because I was reading them as they were published since I found Pleasure Unbound when it was brand new, and the first 5 were really written so that they looked like a single series.  I was bummed when I hit Sin Undone and at the end, was thinking that it was the end of a great series.  Then, I was totally excited when I heard about the Lords of Deliverance series, starting with Eternal Rider.  At first, it didn’t seem that they were the same series, but that quickly changed and we were seeing loads of Underworld General and all my favorite characters.  So, I was happily just reading away, picking up the next installment when ever I could and devouring each one of them.  I wasn’t paying attention to anything that would give me any clue that with Revenant, that would be it.  The end of the world.  **sniff sniff**

Jeez, the snippet could at least clue us addicted readers into the fact that this is the last full length installment.  Instead, it felt like getting hit by a bus coming out of nowhere.  I wasn’t prepared.  The end and the message from the author directing us to her website for the scoop on the whole thing… well… I was blindsided.  I was totally flattened.  And it hurt.  Especially since I think that Revenant was the best book yet.  It was smart, captivating, sexy, fun, creative and a total joy to read.  To it is painful to say that this is really the end.  Now, I know that the author said the world will be continued in some sort of series about the Horsemans’ and Sem demons’ kids.  But I don’t know how I feel about that.  As Black Dagger Brotherhood started to move to the next generation of members, the series lost a lot for me.  I don’t want to see the same thing happen here.  I know these are different series and different authors, but I have yet to see a successful transition like that – or at least one that was as captivating as the original books.  And I know there are a bunch of “novellas”, but my regular readers know I have a hard time with them.  I would prefer longer, more well written, better plotted, full length novels.  I won’t rule out reading them, but I will probably read other stuff first.  That, and I need time to mourn this story arc.  Because it was so very good.  And it was such a shocker to have it so abruptly, although so artfully and perfectly, come to an end.

Revenant is, despite the fact that this is the last book, absolutely amazing!  If a series is going to end, this is how it should be done.  There wasn’t a moment of disappointment (other than the general mourning I will now need to do over the series as a whole) with the story.  And the use of the characters other than just the two that make up our main couple, was wonderful.  It was a great way to pull everything together.  Better, it didn’t feel like a rush to tie up loose ends just to tie them up.  Neither did we see a whole lot of things not addressed.  It was perfect.  I haven’t read a perfect ending to a series since Deathly Hallows.  It reminds me a little of when an athlete (or athletic team) is heading into a tournament, you want to peak at the right time – do well enough to get you to the finals and then peak there so you win.  This book did just that.  It was the absolute best I have seen of the series.  That is part of what made it so hard to stomach that this is the end.  **tears**

If you are a fan of the series – this is a must read.  If you haven’t read the other stories first, you will probably be pretty lost and the rest of the series is good – so go back and read those first then read this!  For fans of the PNR genre looking for a little steam, it’s here.  A great couple, a great story, an ending that didn’t feel contrived yet had twists that were satisfying and a surprise, all here.   It is everything I could have asked for out of this series.  Well done!  Even though we really a bidding a sad goodbye to this world.  For now anyway.

And unlike what REM would like us to believe, this end of the world does not leave me feeling fine.

NOTE:  I am ignoring the Azagoth novellas, the ones in the 1001 Dark Nights… I haven’t read them, and while I might, even if they play into the overall story arc of the Demonica/Lords of  Deliverance, the arc that started all the way back in Pleasure Unbound ended with Revenant.

Small book, big disaster

For such a small book (it’s actually one of those stupid e novellas) The Sister’s Grimoire by Suza Kates really was quite a big disaster. I had been working on trying to get through this for a number of months. And for something that should have been done in an afternoon that’s saying something.  The problem is a lack of development. It is so lacking,  that I was surprised to learn this author has written a number of other books. I expected to discover that this was a new author. But, apparently, the curse of the e-book strikes again.

I’m guessing this is a prequel to a series. On the author’s website this is listed under the title series. CaptureBut is is the only book listed.  I am just going to assume, however, that there is more to come since you know, the word series indicated more than one….

The premise itself is fairly generic. Three sisters (Tate, Fiona and Sami) all of a sudden discover that they have magical powers.  They discover they have powers because one night they get a visitor from “a servant of the dea matrona” and their grandfather owes a debt to Emuirdane.  Why?  Not developed.  What exactly must the girls do to repay the debt?  Not developed.  The girls are given three days to figure out their powers and blah blah blah.  Why three days?  Not developed.  Why the bad guys are after them, what they really can do with their powers, who the heck Hellena and Emuirdane (and what) are?  Not developed.  We are really only introduced to each of the girls and without a lot of background history (can’t get to much background in a book that’s barely over 100 pages long) they are off finding powers and a spell book and all sorts of things.

Unfortunately, in an attempt to provide this prologue of a book, confusion found a foothold.  It was really hard to read that the girls one night had to run out of the house, Grandpa doesn’t have time to tell them anything – they just need to follow their instincts – and then they find the book and then Grandpa has time to explain just enough to let the girls know they need to go shopping for magical items.  And then, they attempt to learn about their powers and all of a sudden everything falls in place for them and within three days they’ve mastered everything.   I spend a lot of time scratching my head. Bottom line – it all just felt fairly haphazard.

I am not sure enough time was spend by the author on this one.  When I came across a glaring gap in the narration style (another one of those reasons why I expected to learn this was the first time author) I was really shocked.  The story is told in third person almost all of the book, when out of the blue there is a sudden and stray random line written in first person. Can’t figure out what that was all about – poor editing?

There were a few lines that pulled me right out of the book.  I hate it when that happens.  And in this case, the line “The Source” and the follow-up “The letter told us we had to free the source” cause me to think of first Point Break (“surfing’s the source man… swear to God”Bocxx5FIMAAQy0n (1)) and then 2 sentences later I was thinking of Cole and Phoebe and Charmed.  Image result for charmed coleNeither distraction is a good sign.  To have those stray and random thoughts enter my head while reading was proof that this book just didn’t grab my attention well enough to hold it.

Finally, a pet peeve.  “Magick” was annoying to read constantly.  I really would have preferred to read it the way it is spelled in English.  I don’t like it when authors don’t just use the normal English spellings for words (and I am not picky – British English or American English is fine; I just want ENGLISH!!!).  Or when they create their own slang.  Or text speak on.  It’s annoying and should, frankly, be embarrassing for the author to not just write better.  The occasional dip into that, fine.  Slang expressions which are in use, fine.  But intentional misspellings to do this, NOT FINE.  And when the author just let the characters sound like idiots because he/she thinks it’s cool to use extra “z”s and thinks he/she is superior for using foreign language (and not translating or not using it consistently or writing the accents), well, it’s NOT FINE.   Ok.  Rant over.

If this really was just the prequel to the series, despite the issues, I expect that I will give at least the first book a chance.  Since this seems to be the set-up for the first full length novel and I expect (hope) that the book will spend much more time developing what was missing here – and I assume that the editing issues will be corrected.  After all, despite my reluctance to admit it, I really did enjoy the Charmed TV series and this book felt a lot like that (even has a Charmed fan-fiction thing going, not to mention the aforementioned source references). But I hope that we see some improvements with things mentioned.

 

The Frustrating and the Stupid. (Oh, and let’s not forget the Revolting.)

This installment 13629951was… frustrating.  Yes, that’s probably the best description for about three-quarters of this Dulcie adventure.  Downright stupid fits not quite the other quarter.  Because there is a dash of revolting thrown in that absolutely must be accounted for.  Revolting.  Yes, that is correct.  You aren’t reading a typo or a misstatement.  But I will get to that in a few.

First, the frustrating.  The bad writing is starting to surface.  I am not paying attention to things like the active vs passive voice switches, the run-on sentences, the bad grammar (because while bad, it feels like natural speech versus a well written book so it actually, to me, reads ok if I think of these as little plays in my mind and all the words are just part of a natural conversation).  No, I am talking about the characters.  Dulcie seemed like a pretty cool girl in the first book.  And she was even better in the second.  The third book didn’t add to her coolness factor, but it didn’t detract either.  This one, however? Oh my goodness is she a blubbering idiot.  She is delusional, whiney, self-contradictory (at one point she thinks that she never gave up fighting to get out of her situation, but caving to each and every demand and command isn’t exactly fighting) and she becomes so irritating.  Not to mention the story itself – her lies and that Knight knew but was lying too and all the manufactured drama/stress because both characters are liars… well, I can only take so much of that internal struggle from our “heroine” before it gets old.  Really, really old.  Like ancient Babylonian times, Noah’s Ark kind of old.

The stupid.  Dulcie went from being a pretty with-it law enforcement agent to a complete moron.  Zero to stupid in less than 10 seconds, flat.  The Flash has nothing on her.  That’s not great character development.  That’s exactly the opposite of jbravowhat I want to read.  Had she started out a walking talking potato it would be one thing.  But she is supposed to be this kick-ass regulator and she was smart enough to eventually figure out the deal with Quill in the first book.  While here, Johhny Bravo is an Einstein in comparison.  When characters don’t learn from their mistakes, it can be frustrating.  When they are as idiotic as Dulcie is in the book… stupid is too smart.  How can she not think of any options – none, zero, zilch.  I thought of 15 within seconds and I am really not all that creative.  I know that there needs to be some sort of tension or obstacle, but we could have gotten to the same end point in a number of other, totally valid and less moronic ways.  The character didn’t need to become a walking lobotomy.

More stupid.  The title.  A play on Wuthering Heights, I get that.  But where, oh where, is the relationship?  Other than a play on the title just to play with the title.  I was wondering this with the prior installments, but here it was too much to continue to ignore. There were also a number of book-to-book inconsistencies that I picked up here.  For example, she had returned from the Netherworld a day after meeting her father, which was mere hours after being at Gabe’s where she took a shower.  But here, her return, she says she hadn’t taken a shower in Hades knows how long.  Ok, this isn’t exactly plot risking inconsistency, but there were a fair number of them here and I wonder if the author and/or editor just fell asleep at the helm.  Lazy and… you guessed it… stupid!

Even more stupid.  While we needed to see how the “relationship” between Dulcie and her father was going to impact things – and they were for sure going to impact things – was there a race going on that someone failed to mention?  The speed with which this story takes place, from Dulcie getting home to getting her job back to ending the way it did, remember the Flash?   flashThis element of the pace makes him look like a tortoise.  A man who is supposed to have been a master criminal and all around tyrant for at least a hundred years can’t take a few days or weeks to give his new plant time to get settled and work through a workable solution?  Tosh!  Poor planning on the author’s part if you ask me.

Then Dulcie’s libido needs some help.  Sure, in the PNR genre the libido is the elephant in the room and characters are often overcome by it, unable to silence their inner voice telling them how bad they want to jump bones and eventually the fail to control their urges, heating up pages (or chapters depending on how good the author is).  And often, characters think the coupling nikki Fisn’t smart (ok, always not just often – but this is where the couple’s struggle to be together, the he’s too good for me, I am too damaged, I can’t… comes from) and that tension or obstacle is necessary to the plot.  When done right, it makes the steamy scenes steamier and the happy endings happier.  When done right, the reader gets to sigh a sigh of relief that the characters have coupled and beaten what-ever was keeping them apart.  But when done wrong, the characters are stupid, whiny, self-centered annoying reflections, with the emotional range of a teaspoon.    But the teaspoon is Nicky Ferrante compared to Dulcie.  While her libido puts Charlie Harper tocharlie shame – as absolutely all reason and any teeny tiny sense of intelligence disappears instantly every time Dulcie gets too close to Knight since she automatically stops thinking even semi-coherent thoughts about anything other than lust.  Dulcie is the poster child for Lust.  And it became really tedious and boring in this installment.  Especially given the revolting – and unfortunately, her inability to do anything other than lust after Knight, while being self contradictory in the same thoughts doesn’t appear solved even at the end of book 5.

The revolting.  This was the worst part of this book.  By far.  The cliffhangers in this and the last book sucked.  The fact that I idea I might get a slightly more sexy version of the cozy mystery was burst worse than on over-inflated balloon sucked.  All of the stupidity and frustration noted above sucked.  But what sucked the worst was **spoiler ahead**  the scene towards the end between our 2 main characters – Knight, who I was really starting to like, and Idiot.  Where they are fighting and he goes from being a good guy to a rapist.  Yep.  He does.  Just like that.  He is all over Dulcie, she is telling him no repeatedly, and he reads her body language and decides that she doesn’t mean no when she says it, she really means yes.  So he forces himself on her.  It doesn’t matter that she eventually says ok – it never should have gotten that far with these characters.    I have read books with rape elements or scenes.  And typically there is a reason for the scene.  Here – I think the author just flipped her lid.  And, the way the characters handled the situation subsequently, made me ill.  I had to put the book down and re-read a number of times to make sure I really read what I thought I did.  (Compounding this is the fact that in the following book, which I will review in the next few days, the author even does some victim shaming.  That too was revolting.)  And the larger lesson of it’s not the victim’s fault and no means no, no matter what (I counted 6 times she explicitly said no or stop or don’t do this and a number of others where she had that thought) and that rape isn’t the same as passionate sex (which is one of the explanations for the whole thing later) and that no man can read the mind or in this case body of another to change no to consent.  Never mind that she eventually, begrudgingly, says she wants to have sex – since it is after he has already penetrated her.  His response at one point to why he is forcing himself on her is “because I can.”  WTF???  Let that sink in.  Is my revulsion misplaced?  The more I think about it, the more revolted I am.  And the more disappointed in the author I am (especially after reading Malice in Wonderland, by the way… but I won’t spoil that one in this review).

This is NOT ok.  Glossing over this by the characters, is NOT ok.  Ending the book on this note, between these characters, is NOT ok.  Turning the hero into a monster like this, for no apparent reason, is NOT ok.

So where do I stand?  I definitely need to reclassify these from the mystery to the PNR.  I am terribly disappointed that the individual mystery per book is not the way this series went and it took this ugly dark twisty turn.  And I read book 5 (Malice in Wonderland).  Not because I was really psyched to after the way 4 ended (and that is such a shame because I was really enjoying the series up until this point) but because I was curious as to how the author would handle things and I felt like I couldn’t let it end on such a sour note.  We’ll talk about my disappointment and more of the frustrating and the stupid in the next Dulcie review.

 

Tale of Multiple Genres

A 10896701Tale of Two Goblins by H.P. Mallory presents me with quite a dilemma : how to classify this series.  Some call the series urban fantasy (I hate that genre by the way… a lot of the stuff lumped in there was PNR, and nice and steamy PNR at that, until this new “urban fantasy” classification came along and spoiled all that good fun and turned off the hot water.  Like the stories and authors are too good for those scenes.  I blame Fifty Shades of Crap for that – good authors don’t want their stuff thought of as the same type of crap.  That’s just my guess.  Anyone know of a better reason, let me know and I will happily retract what I just said.  But for now, that’s my conspiracy theory du jour).  Some call it paranormal romance.  Some, urban fantasy paranormal.  I kind of like the goodreads list called is Magical Chick Lit.  Personally, it reminds me of the cozy mystery.

Cozy mysteries usually have even less steam than this (and it’s pretty scarce here, a few references, scenes that never lead anywhere, and a few rare curse words).  So, not really sure it belongs there.  And not PNR, well, because despite the burgeoning relationship between Dulcie and Knight, there really isn’t much “R” in that.  Well, there’s some.  But not too much.  And if that sort of thing makes you squeamish, the one scene to avoid is near the end and you can see it coming and if it’s skipped, it won’t hurt a readers ability to follow the story.  Not to mention, the formula is more like the cozy.  You know, we have a mystery and watch it trying to be solved, only to have the culprit be someone that we never ever could have guessed – because only the author knows (there were not hints, no foreshadowing, and often the character makes its first appearance when the cuff are about to come out).  But, there are definitely fantasy elements too – fairies, werewolves, loki (still don’t have a great explanation of what this means in this world yet), witches, demons, etc.  And a fair amount of magic.  We have fairy dust that lets the user do pretty much anything, vampires with super speed, witches who can cast spells, potions and travel across dimensions.  So, what to do; how to classify this series.  I am sticking with the previous decision to let these sit in mysteries because to me, they feel much more like cozy mysteries than anything.  But… I reserve the right to totally change my mind, for any reason whatsoever, at any time.  I can do that because this is my blog.  🙂

I didn’t review the first installment, To Kill a Warlock (time wasn’t my friend when I finished it).  But I really enjoyed it.  I finished that and immediately bought a whole13608100 bunch of H.P. Mallory’s other stuff (including Dulcie #2).  With fingers crossed that they would all be as cute and as much fun.  I am so glad I did – this didn’t disappoint.  In fact, I think this was probably even an improvement over the first.

We have a little mystery here – someone is after Dulcie and they are going through people in her life to get to her.  We have a little paranormal – as vamps go, Bram is pretty cool and Dulcie’s fairy powers are fun too.  We have a little romance – Knight is really into Dulcie and she is probably falling for him too.  We get more time with our main character and get to see her in action, the lines she is wiling to cross to save a friend and who she really is.  We see what, in my opinion, is the appropriate amount of crass from her too when she refers to the a*hole after her and her friends.  These aren’t huge novels nor do I think there’s any danger of them being considered great literature like Wuthering Heights or anything, but they are fun little reads and a good way to occupy time while on line at the grocery store and they made me chuckle.  So despite not knowing what the heck to call their genre, the Dulcie O’Neil books are enjoyable and I will be reading Great Hexpectations very soon!

A little more Southern Witch

Despite the fact that Slightly Spellbound, by Kimberly Frost, has been published, I haven’t gotten to it yet.  I enjoyed the first installments of the series, but my “to read list” is so long, I am not sure when I will get to it.  Not to mention, I need to re-read some of the first 3 since I totally fell down on updating the pages for those books and I don’t remember enough!!!!

Meanwhile, I read two really short stories in this series.  One was shorter than the other, and I am not sure I can even qualify it as a short-story.  3 pages?  Really?  That’s what things have come to?  I have ranted before about these fractional installments, but as Bart Simpson would say: “Ay Caramba!” tumblr_mhy704lIcZ1s1vt4mo1_500Tammy’s First Kiss is cute, about 8 year old Tammy.  Magic Ingredient is about (about) 16 year old Tammy.  They are numbered 0.4 and 0.5, respectively, by goodreads, so I guess there are more of these shorts.  Although I don’t see them listed.

What you need to know from them – Tammy decided when she was younger that she loved Zach.  And, she felt the pull of Bryn instantly.  He came back to town after law school to gather power.  When he saw Tammy, he also felt an instant attraction/pull towards her.  I am not sure there is much else with these two little stories.  The first is a little story about Zach giving Tammy a helmet for her eighth birthday, the other Tammy backing some cupcakes for her friends while they are staying at a hotel and Bryn helps her get into the locked kitchen.

As far as a review of them is concerned, any real review would risk being longer than the one story.  So, I will note they are cute little stories that provide a little background color.  If you don’t have a to be read pile the size of mine, or you have just a few minutes you need to fill, these are a nice way to spend 15 minutes.  Otherwise, don’t worry about putting them at the top of the TBR pile.  They really are just a little bit, a tiny glimpse, of a few characters at younger ages.