romance

Will we be Blest with a sequel?

Blest by Blaise Lucey started off slow, but boy, it is take off in the end.  After the first half, I found I had trouble putting it down.  I love stories about angels and demons falling in love – and this one was no exception.  While I had some little issues with the beginning, specifically pace (insta-love) and world-building (background for it), by the time I was half-way through I was so very sucked-in I was sitting on the edge of my chair while reading because I was desperate to know what happened next.

Since the book begins with the first half, however, let me address a few of the short-comings.  First, there was a lot of love between two character who merely spent a few minutes, and one afternoon, together.  Even for the PNR stuff that I read, which is usually all about insta-love, that is giving the relationship development shot-shrift.  There is no reason why the characters couldn’t have developed the feelings over a little bit of time, a month or two for example.  Then, frankly, some of the vitriol towards Jim by the demon kids would have been more on display and a deeper connection to Claire and Jim would have been easier to feel.  There was no need for their birthdays to be quite so early in the school year – or the story – a little more of the suspense as to why the two characters were this books version of Romeo and Juliet would have only added to the plot. The acceptance of why they were different was also a little quick (and this is the second book I’ve finished in the last 3 days that treated this the same) – way too quick  – like, the Flash might as well be moving in slow motion compared to the speed at which they all accept the supernatural and paranormal and that angels and demons are real.  It was just too quick.  It didn’t give me time as a reader to adjust and again, I think a little more page time spent on that would have added to the overall plot and pace of the story.  Once things got going though, there were a bunch of reveals – and that was great as I felt much more involved in the story and it was easier to stay engaged.  I am just a little curious – as I don’t see this being billed as the start of a series, and lots of loose ends were tied up, but there is still certainly loose ends that aren’t tied up, including the events of the epilogue, so I hope there is at least one more coming.

Despite the need to pay attention to some of the terminology, lest you get lost, this reminded me much of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments – and some of the hints that were dropped had me holding my breath that the reveals weren’t going to be the same as with City of Bones, and thank goodness, they weren’t.  But to me, Blest had tones of City of Bones with the love between our main protagonists and the good vs evil nature of things.  Unlike Mortal Instruments, however, I have enough details to hold me to book 2 (assuming there is one **fingers crossed**) and enough to make at least another good book or two out of the things that aren’t solved and the stuff we don’t know.  And some of what we don’t know has such potential – like the back stories to the parents of all our teenage cast, the mythology of the Tribunal and how the demons were originally banished, exactly what the feathers that each of Claire and Jim have that are “opposite” the rest of their respective wings… there quite a bit of fodder to serve as the basis for some excellent follow-up books.

Even out the pace a little with the second, balance the relationship building and world building to give me more, and we may have a new favorite YA/Angel and demon series!  At least, I really hope there will be a second!

p.s. LOVE the cover!!

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Twice in a row… and two for the price of one…

I am getting behind on my reviews.  Again.  Yikes!  So, while I hate to do this, I am doing it anyway.  I am giving you all another multi-book review.  At least I am sticking to the same author/series though… and it is only 2 books…!

I read a number of books by Setta Jay (thanks Netgalley for the ability to read a bunch of them all at once!).  The two in question here are Binding Ecstasy and Piercing Ecstasy.  And these two didn’t disappoint.  Picking up right where the story has left us, we see Bastian and then Jax respectively  find their mates.  And a few others too, but the primary stories are about these two Guardians and their mates.

The series seems to improve with each installment.  It was wonderful how seemless the world-building now seems to be.  The character development is on full display and we get much more of the characters with each book.  It was easy to find pure joy in the stories here – and the caveman behavior has toned down a little – not much mind you, but I guess that is part of what I get for reading this genre.

Some of the twists and turns in these two installments were pure delights!  And it was wonderful to see some ass-kicking being done by some of the females too.  Both of these books moved their own plots, as well as the plot of the overall series, nicely along.  It was such a relief to see the overall story arc be moved forward too.  To often series like these fall into the trap where the overall story arc is barely moved forward and a reader could skip most of the non-sex chapters and still not miss much.  I find it super refreshing that the characters continue to plot ahead and so does the story here.  We see some changes to the players, real reprucissions, the author isn’t afraid to take out the bad guys, and the steaminess is super steamy!  It is also pretty amazing that seven books in and there is still real plot that doesn’t feel all stretched out to just be a platform for the author to churn out books.  Series like these tend to take that wrong turn, typically about book 7 and these haven’t so far.  I can’t wait to read Divine Ecstasy!  True to their titles, both of these books were ecstasy!

And the score is…

Sometimes when sitting down to write a review I find myself thinking like I am preparing the box score for last night’s baseball game.  But instead of ERA, base hits, errors, etc., I am thinking in terms of (1) plot development (or furtherance, depending on whether the book is the 1st or 5th or last in a series), (2) character development (ditto on the “or furtherance” part), (3) dialogue, (4) plot holes, (5) world building, (6) reality scale (to me, this is akin to the difference between animation, like Zootopia, and Tomorrowland – both fiction with fantastical elements but one is clearly trying to emulate reality in at least some aspects (Tomorrowland) whereas the other is a cartoon), (7) action (both pace and excitement levels), (8) pace of the story, and (9) if I read an “adult book” – steaminess or if I read a YA book – teenage angst.

So, how exactly did Faelorehn by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson fare?  If this were a baseball game, I would say that we are in extra innings, waiting to see how things end up.  (And we would be waiting for a little while, because while it looks like I could get at least the next book right away, I have a number of other things I need to read first)!  If it were soccer, in a non-playoff sense, I would say it was a 0-0 draw.  Why?  Well, if I were rating all 9 items (you know, like innings) above on a scale of 1-10 (worst to best) then the score would look a little like the chart below.  Which isn’t terrible, it wold be extra innings after all, where there is still a chance to add a notch to the “W” column (for the reader, since I see this as author vs reader and if the reader wins, its because they were able to enjoy a truly excellent book and if the author wins, then it was just about getting words on pages).  But, it’s close enough that there is still risk of loosing too.  It all depends on the next book, or more at bats.

Pregame (what you need to know):  Meghan is a foster child, in a big family, who all love her.  She is different though.  For as long as she can remember she sees things, thing the trees can talk to her, stuff like that.  She is a teenager, going to school, and has a small group of close friends who are all the non-popular kids.  A few of the popular kids really hate her though.  A mysterious “hobo” starts hanging around school.  She spends some time in the swamp near her house one Halloween and she starts seeing and hearing things again.  He reoccurring dream starts to change.  She gets attacked.  And that’s when she finds out she is really from a different world – she is Fae.

  Plot Dev. Character Dev. Dialogue Plot Holes World Building Reality Action Pace of Story Genre Specific
Score 5 7 7 7 7 8 4 3 3

See?  Looks a little like a score board.

Plot Development:  Book 1 was really more set up than plot development; the real “plot” could be summarized in about 3 sentences and didn’t need the whole book to flush out.  The entire plot really was:  Megahn is different and discovers why from a mystery man.  Turns out she is Fae and she needs to stay away from her real home or she will be in danger.  In the end, she is tricked into stepping into her homeland, looses her protection, and is now going to be hunted.  Oh, and she falls for the mystery man.  Ok – so that took 4 sentences.  It was missing something, something that makes even a set-up book more compelling.  It wasn’t awful, just wasn’t a thrilling enough set-up and plot to leave me starving for more and what ever comes next.

Character Development: Meghan – pretty well developed.  Cade, not so much.  But that was ok since Cade is the dark, strange, handsome mystery guy.

Dialogue:   It was decent.  I wasn’t rolling my eyes as I read stuff, an most of it felt pretty natural.  There is a “but” though.  Some of the word choices were a little… off… to have Cade say her kind has a character “flaw” or defect, when really , it’s just that they are a little different, bothered me.

Plot Holes: There weren’t too many, but the ones that existed were pretty big.

Example 1: Meghan really goes with the strange crow woman (doesn’t take a genius to figure out who she really is, by the way) after less than 30 seconds of convincing?  Nope, don’t believe it.

Example 2: Her best, closest friends don’t know her well enough, see her often enough, hang with her enough, so that she can hide/create a mysterious made up boyfriend?  Nope, don’t believe it.

World Building: This installment was mostly set up.  But it only gets a seven because the “world” was not really all that different from the real world.  And we don’t get many rules of the Fae world until the end, and even then, we get very few.  I adored the spirit guide dog though!  Need more!

Reality: Almost a little too real – very little paranormal/fairy in it.  At least until the end.  Needed more fantasy.  Although, it was nicely set up with the  real world elements, including down to the information about Meghan being placed with her family.

Action:  Lots of non-action action.  Sure, Meghan get attacked, and followed by some crows.  But she spends too much time reading, and like I said about the plot, not enough time getting into situations where I felt pulled into the world and the action and the plot.  I will read the next, but I am not yearning with every breath to see what happens to Meghan and Cade next.  Just not enough to it all for that.  Wish I could say otherwise.

Pace of Story: Super, duper, extra, awfully and tremendously ssssssslllllllooooowwww.  See all the previous items for details on this!

Genre Specific:   There’s a little bit of romance (although it is mostly implied and the reader has to infer it from the minimal actual page time Meghan and Cade have together).  Not tremendously consistent with the genre, the parents are not absentee parents.  Instead, they are present, and so are all of Meghan’s adoptive siblings.  The story is just built so that the parent’s don’t need to be absentee to move the (little bit of) plot along.  Seems that actual Celtic mythology influences the story, and that is great!  As an add, there are teenage bullies here and they are pretty awful.  But it is clear that they are bullies and their actions are not glorified, so I am ok with their presence (as well as a little bit of ass-kicking with them, since I think most bullies eventually need a whopping or they don’t learn).

There’s also the standard miscellaneous items that tend to go with a box score – in this case, the grammar wasn’t terrible and the bottom line, what isn’t evident from a perusal of just the numbers, is that I will read at least the next installment.  I just hop it has a little more plot depth, so that when the game is over, there is a clear winner.  But at the end of the 1st, score is tied, and I can’t tell which way the game is going to go!

Scared $*%&less by The Spirit Chaser

Wow.  It’s been a long time since I read something that scared the ever-livin’ you know what out of me as I read it.  The anxiety, the butterflies in my stomach, finding myself literally-sitting-on-the-edge-of-my-seat as I read, the pure hatred that I can’t speed read 1,000 words a minute because I have to know what happens next, and the creepy goosebumps because the story is scary and – like while watching any horror movie – the feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just know that things aren’t going to end well…. well The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor had it all in spades.  OMG.  It was Awe.Some!  And I so hope there is a sequel of some sort!  I haven’t had a book run me through this particular gamut of emotions since Michael Scott’s Image (and sequel, Reflection).  Creepy!   I would say Anna Dressed in Blood did this too, but Anna was YA (aka PG-rated) and this one had the added bonus of being adult (between all the blood-draining-from-my-face scary as crap scenes there were some rushing-blood-to-my-face steamy as crap scenes between Austin and Casey), so if you are looking for something totally scary but a little steamy too, this is where it lives!

Austin Cole is the star of a TV show called SCI – Spirit Chaser Investigations – where he and his team investigate homes and other places, looking for ghosts.  When an investigation goes wrong at a warehouse and his best psychic (and best friend) ends up injured and refuses to be part of the team anymore, Austin needs to find a replacement.  Enter Casey, a tough psychic who steps into place and becomes part of the team.  But, the warehouse was just the beginning of a terrifying story.  Two more super creepy places are tainted by so much evil that Austin, Casey and the rest of the SCI team have a huge battle to face.  There are ghosts, demons, and terrifying exorcisms between the pages.  Need to be convinced as to how creepy this book is?  All you need to do is look at the cover picture as it sets the perfect tone.

I got goosebumps more than once while reading this.  And shivered from the chills plenty of times.  The temperature in the rooms with the ghosts was not the only chilling going on while reading this.  The settings were downright disturbing and the action while trying to chase the ghosts and/or demons away was excellent.  The character building was great, and the scenes with Austin and Casey’s families made their characters so much more real and likeable.  Austin, for the most part, is a dream.  Ok, maybe he’s a little over the top in a few areas, but really he’s pretty innocent and looking to to make sure Casey is happy.  Casey and all the other characters were easy to like and despite the ghostly elements, it was also pretty easy to feel like this was grounded in enough reality to make the story that much scarier.  I loved that I was able to picture it all in my mind so easily while reading.  This would make a phenomenal scary movie!

Only criticism, in the very first chapter, the first few pages, referring to Austin as “the Spirit Chaser” instead of simply identifying him in that way and then using his name, was a little confusing and lead me to re-reading the first 5 or 6 pages twice.  That could have been avoided with a slightly more discerning editor/editing job to those few pages.  But, once I caught on to who was who, it was smooth, albeit spooky, sailing.

**spoiler alert** One of the most tragic yet brilliant parts of the story?  The heartbreak at the end.  This was also part of how I knew I found a book that I loved.  The fact that I felt so attached to the characters that the last 10 (or so) chapters were so hard to read as they were so heartbreaking, drove home the fact that I had become invested in the story and the characters.  To be honest, I don’t mind sad endings, but the “closure” here, I could have done without as it took things from sad and a little unknown to downright cruel.  I think I would have preferred the loose end of not knowing what happened to Austin than the heartbreak when I read the last chapter.  It felt like a sucker punch to the gut.  Conversely, it again was a win for the overall book because I was able to feel that strongly about the characters and story.

Bottom line, The Spirit Chaser is filled with all the frights, spookiness, sexiness, and wonder of an excellent ghost story.  I’m just glad I wasn’t sitting around a campfire having this read to me right before bed, or I might never have gotten to sleep.  I loved it!!!

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

Hope for Hope

Dark Rising, by Monica McGurk is the second installment in the Archangel Prophecies trilogy.

I finished it over two weeks ago and this is the first moment I am “putting pen to paper” to write the review.  There is significance in that.  Typically, I have strong feelings one way or another and I just have to get it out.  I have to get the review done so I can move on to the next book.  Here, I couldn’t even start another book I am so conflicted.  I didn’t want another story to muddy the waters that are my thoughts on this book – or at least not muddy them any more than they already are.

Even as I write this, I find myself (already) pausing at my keyboard trying to decide what to say next.  Or at this very moment, really, what to say first.  The angel story – has potential a-plenty.  The characters are developing nicely, for the most part.  There’s still too much of the YA bull *$%@ that for some reasons authors think creates great tension or relationship building when all it really does is annoy the reader.  There were some great plot twists.  But there were some great big grand canyon size plot holes too.  There was some really great story telling and yet there was still a fair bit of trouble within the narration when it comes to switching the verb tense used to tell the story.  There was much less focus on the human trafficking element and it pains me to say (because I know the author is super passionate about that) that I found that a positive with this installment.  There was a slight imbalance in the amount of description given to things – some of the more well done scene building, in terms of imagery, seems to be throw-away (or red herring or maybe set up for the final installment, but too soon to tell that.  And because the first book suffered from this a little too, and I didn’t see any pay off, I have to assume that it is just not well enough balanced story telling) while others could have used more of what was well done.  Because if that imagery found the right balance, then this would go from a solid 3 stars (note:  I am using the descriptors for the goodreads star convention for this statement; if I were using the amazon I would say solid 4 with a potential solid 5) to at least a solid 4 in my opinion.  The overall story arc, which seemed to conclude in this installment was interesting and I loved that it was dragged out.  The action was paced well and a few of the twists I didn’t see coming – now, part of that is because there were what seemed to be humongous plot holes associated with, or rather that facilitated, the twists.  But, none of these issues were insurmountable as I still found the book enjoyable.

The main story here is that Hope and Michael are on their way to prevent the fallen angels from getting the key and opening the gates of heaven.  They are traveling around Europe and Asia to find it.  And, in the end, the prophecy is dealt with.

One of the elements that was particularly well done is hard for me to talk about in just the review – as it would create a huge spoiler.  While spoilers are totally ok in my book on the page for a book I try not to let too big a spoiler out in the review.  So… how to say this… often authors create super complicated and contrived sections of the plot so as to avoid a tragedy which impacts to permanently a main protagonist.  Here, it seems that the author embraced letting some things happen to each of Hope and Michael and I question the ability to have the happily-ever-after that most YA books see as the absolute requirement for this type of story.  At least as it stands at the end of this book.  I know there is still a third installment to follow, but the preview that I got at the end of the second leaves me wondering and very curious.  So, that’s super good because it means that I am very motivated to read the third – so I can see how it all ends!

I just hope that a couple of books written means that the author is learning a little of the balancing so that the potential for this series can be fully realized.  The first two books are good but I really hope the third time we seem Hope will be great!

Awesome, and not by Accident!

Insert multiple squeals of joy here! Not only did I get more of my favorite OOPs ladies, but it seems that there will be at least one more installment coming!  Accidentally Aphrodite by Dakota Cassidy25739683 is the latest in the Accidental Friends series.  It was filled with mayhem, mystery, danger, cranky vampires, color wheel toting werewolves, sexy Greek gods, and one poor unwitting accident victim.  And that’s not all – the biggest thing this was full of was hilarity! Reading the books in this series is nothing but an exercise in pure joy. I can’t get enough of them.

I must admit, there isn’t anything phenomenally unique about this series. Each book follows the same basic pattern: there’s an innocent and unknowing human who accidentally turns into a supernatural being of some sort through some crazy weird accident. The OOPS ladies come to the rescue (although in the 1st three, they weren’t “OOPS” yet, but that is a distinction without a difference since they were all involved in the first three as Nina, Wanda and Marty all each had their accidents), to help the victim go through the stages of turning, coping with all of her (or his, but I, for ease, am going to use her since that is the gender of our victim in this case) new abilities or powers, helping her become or get through whatever mystery/danger awaits, and then bringing her into the fold of the family that is the Accidental Friends. like I said nothing tremendously unique; they all follow that exact pattern.  Being of the PNR genre also sets up some rules that the series is governed by and those rules require the reluctant coupling of a pair and a happily-ever-after ending.   And yet, every time I pick one of this series up I find myself smiling, laughing and enjoying the latest installment even more than the previous.

In this installment we get Greek gods and goddesses. It’s a kooky little story. The author admits in a note at the beginning to twisting Greek mythology a little but I don’t mind.  Frankly, I don’t remember enough of my Greek mythology to have noticed.  The important part really was just remembering that Aphrodite is the goddess of love.  Everything else is fluff.  Quinn, our lovely lady who turns into Aphrodite, is on a trip to Greece with a friend (who happens to work at OOPS headquarters) when she finds a golden apple that is holding Aphrodite’s powers (don’t stress over why), she accidentally knicks the apple with her tea and POOF, she’s the new Aphrodite. She has some interesting powers including the ability – or rather responsibility – to work with Cupid to make matches. The previous Aphrodite’s son Kristos was supposed to be watching the Apple but got distracted and that’s how this accident happens.  Then, of course, he’s the hunk that Quinn falls for.  Let’s not forget the required  little mystery/danger which in this case is that someone’s after Quinn because she wanted to be the next Aphrodite and doesn’t want Quinn to be Aphrodite.

While this is the review and not the spoiler, as I said earlier this follows the exact same pattern as all the other books in the series so I don’t really think it’s giving anything away to say that our couple (and the mystery) works out and we get a happily ever after epilogue at the end. those epilogues are awesome.  Keep ’em coming!  And the bonus, it was followed by a little note that the next installment will be title Accidentally Ever After. Yippee!

It is getting a little harder as I continue to read the series for me to review these books however.  That is because they are so formulaic that there’s not a lot of difference between installments. However, the good part about all this consistency is that we get decent character development, we get to see the characters that we love so much already and a decent amount of them, we get a steamy scene or two (although I know I wouldn’t argue if we saw more – the last few books have felt a little stingy in that department), and we a great happily ever after. The only thing I would love to see handled a tiny bit differently, just for the sake of a little variety, is the way Nina reacts – I don’t mean the brash, bossy, foul mouthed, trash talking, bully (who is really all talk), crazy lady that is the Nina I know and love – I mean the fact that she so tough on the outside and so threatening to the newest character but then ends up being such a huge softy and becoming like a guardian angel to the new character. That’s exactly the same formula we’ve seen for the last at-least-a-few books.  Wouldn’t it be a nice change to see Nina really not like the person so so much after all and have Marty or Wanda have to make sure Nina eventually comes around or to have Marty or Wanda be the mother bear who gets more page time?  A tiny bit of variety in a few additional places wouldn’t be unwelcome. Just a thought.  Because no matter how much I love and adore this series, I don’t want it to feel tired or too repetitious. Because that’s when I will stop being as excited about the next book and I don’t want that to happen here – I adore these books!

The new title for the next installment leads me to believe there some sort of fairy-tale shenanigans going on.  I’m super excited.  An accidental prince charming?  An accidental Snow White?  An accidental Red Riding Hood?  Ooooohhhhh….  there’s so many ideas.  And, I still think there’s plenty of room for this series to grow – as I said in my review for accidental Dragon we have yet to see an accidental fairy, angel, witch, ghost, phoenix or any number of other paranormal type creatures that seem like they be really fun to write about – the notion of an accidental fairy especially, given all the mythology around what kind of troublemakers they can be and the vast expanse of powers they often have. **Hint hint.**  It had just better not be an indicator that this is the last in the series – since the “ever after” often means the end of the story/line.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again there’s nothing accidental about how awesome the Accidental Friends series is and Accidentally Aphrodite is no exception!

On a total side note – I started this review by dictating it to Siri on my iPhone.  And the first few sentences – at least of the original draft – were phenomenally amusing to see how Siri initially transcribed them. Mental note to be careful when trying to dictate words that are really sounds!

 

Author’s Website

It couldn’t get more superficial than this

And I thought that Bella’s love was superficial and grounded in nothing other than what the boy looks like.  This book makes that love story look like the deepest, soul reaching, romantic and well developed love story ever.  **Shudder**  I know that so many books, Para-YA and PNR especially, don’t exactly do the whole getting-to-know-you thing between the characters before they declare themselves madly in love, but here, it made even the fastest move at a snail’s pace in comparison.  And, unfortunately, it’s not smart enough or well enough written to be love-at-first sight.  Instead, it’s love at first “OMG isn’t he the most gorgeous person ever”.

I am talking about the first installment in the Guardians series, titled The Girl by Lola St.Vil.  It is not all that original a story as we are looking at a good vs evil, balance needs to be kept or the world will end, a human and an angel relationship, and a quest plus a prophecy of some sort.  Not that I need it to be that original – look at what I read for goodness sakes, mostly clones of one of a few stories with subtle differences.  Here, the difference is the idiocy and angst of some of the characters is off the charts.  Also, the inconsistent grammar, character development, and detail vomit that happen from time to time just get to be a little too much.

Believe it or not though, I am reading the next book.  Because despite all the issues I had with the first, and there were plenty (I will share just a few), I still thought it was a fun little read.  It was a great little distraction and I am interested enough in a few of the collateral characters that I want to see where the overall story takes us.  How can I have so many issues with the series after just one book yet keep reading?  It’s like watching a soap opera – the terrible acting, terrible scripts and story lines, pregnant pauses for the sake of it taking three weeks to get out a single sentence – and yet you keep watching anyway because it is still fun.  So, this is a review after all so I will share a few of the things that were (more than) a little eye roll inducing.  eye roll animated GIF Before I do that, though, let me give a 10 second synopsis.  We have angels who are trying to prevent the devil (and her minions) from letting evil take over the world.  Marcus, the leader of the angels trying to do the saving is dating another angel on his team.  His team meets Emmy, who is important because she is a clue that can lead to how to either let evil win or how to stop evil.  And Emmy falls for Marcus.  Chaos ensues.  Fights break out (not just the physical kind either) and characters die and others make-out.  And the angels have some cool powers but there are rules to the game that is being played and mostly the good guys have rules while the bad guys have very few.  Ok, I think that’s enough for the review.

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First, and worst of all, the life-changing insta-love that Marcus and Emmy, the two main protagonists, feel for each other – because the kicker is that even though I see this all the time in the stuff I read (I readily admit that I am not a great literature addict – I love Dumas, Bronte, Shelley, Dickens, Carroll, Tolstoy and more but I am addicted to the… hmmm… crap, for lack of a better word), readers typically at least see that semi-developed over the course of the protagonists encounter – they spend time together, talk to each other, get to know each other (a little)…. The point is, it becomes something that is easier to understand and substantiate.  Here, does that happen?  Nope.   They spend no time together (I am ignoring the one car ride they take, because it is so insignificant) and yet they are turning their lives upside down because of this love that they feel.  I will lump in the awful amount of immaturity and jealousy that Emmy displays into this problem as well.  It’s almost comical it is so extreme.  And since there is no real relationship to back it up, the awfulness is magnified.  Honestly, it makes me really dislike Emmy as a character.  I know she is merely 15/16, but she is really hard to stomach.  Instead, it is all about how drop-dead gorgeous he is and he’s soooo handsome **swoon** so that means I luuuuurve him.  Lust at first site is love at first sight for Emmy.  And all Emmy really cares about is what everyone else looks like.  It’s really pretty pathetic and disgusting.  Marcus has the personality of a cardboard box, but he’s pretty, so she’s in love.  Ugghhh.  You know it’s pathetic when I am comparing this to Twilight and saying that Twilight is so deep in comparison.  Because even if you adore Twilight, you have to admit, the relationship wasn’t exactly built on mutual adoration, friendship, trust… you know all those things that make for a good relationship.  Instead, it was “he’s smokin’ hot, I am in love.”  Again:  Ugghhh.

Problem two is the information vomit that the author does.  I can’t believe I am saying this – because recently my complaint has been lack of enough to keep me interested.  But clearly, I am looking for that perfect balance of enough information to understand what is going on and not too much that I have little desire to read more.  Here, we get (what appears to be anyway, although maybe I am wrong and I will have to eat my words after reading the next books) all but one of the mysteries solved in the first book.    Too much.  There’s no sense of suspense left really, at least not with respect to the world building.

Problem three is the grammar.  I am no grammar queen, I admit.  I have problems with tense sometimes and pronouns, dangling participles, etc.  But, I don’t write novels for a living.  If I did, the first thing I would do is get a book or take an English grammar class.  Come on people, learn the language you are writing!!!!!!   Better yet, HIRE AN EDITOR.  Because, you know, the best idea ever it to have your friend who thinks s/he is good at it to do it.  Pay a professional, who does it for a living!  Because they really are good at it, they don’t just think they are good at it.  While the ability to self-publish has lead to some great stories it has also lead to some really terribly written ones.  Even worse are the great stories that are written very poorly.  Because they are even more of a let down.  And don’t even get me started on the typos.  They were everywhere.  When I realize I have typos on this blog I am embarrassed and pissed off at myself.  But I write, then proof-read right away.  And it is easy to miss typos and misspellings when that is the process – my brain reads what I knew I wrote (or meant to write).  If I were attempting to put a book out in the public or if I made my living writing this little blog (gee, don’t I wish!) I would have someone who is good at proof-reading do just that before publishing.  But I guess that makes me crazy and abnormal, for thinking logically like that and thinking that I would care about the quality of my work.

Problem four is one particular scene.  That’s right.  One scene is bad enough that it is a significant enough problem to mention it by itself.  Marcus meets with the Sage and is told that he needs to use Emmy, he doesn’t need to be Image result for overdonenice to her. Then Marcus takes his girlfriend to spend time together and convince her that he loves her.   And they do all sorts of angel adrenaline junkie things (their version of sky diving and stuff).  Then, he heads off to Emmy.  And, given the sequence and what the Sage said, I assume that when in the very next scene  Marcus is confessing his undying love, that he is just going to use Emmy.  But apparently that wasn’t the case.  The melodrama, the unintentional (I assume) sap that virtually flows off the page giving the reader sticky finger, is so overdone, it’s turned a hunk of meat into a lump of charcoal.  He really does a 180, and in the most unrealistic so over the top kind of love confession it was stupid.  Not romantic but idiotic. Here’s a passage:  “Since I met you I have been unable to count in days.  I can only count your eyes.  How long until I see your eyes again?  That’s the only clock I have in my head.”  When Emmy calls him on that, he say’s it is all true.  So, here I am thinking the whole time that he is going to really turn out to be just using her.  But nope.  And, not to mention the confession about taking all the invisibility snaps so he can be a peeping tom and not be seen – that’s just creepy.  Like EL James, 50 Shades stalker creepy.  That whole scene, the dialogue, the way it came about… yikes.  Just yikes.  

Problem five is that the author completely disregards certain elements of Emmy’s home life.  Emmy end up grounded, but goes out anyway and gets beaten up and no mention of the fact that she had been punished.  Since a big deal was made about the punishment and Emmy’s not being able to read or listen to music, I thought, great, some realism.  Them two months of grounding turns into like one day and then going to West Africa and no repercussions – not even a passing mention of one.  It’s a failure to plot out (or outline) the story well enough.  It’s an oversight that felt amateur.

Problem six is the cover.  So, I got this book because it was a suggested on goodreads in the YA category.  But the cover implies something definitely other than YA.  And while the writing style and actions of Emmy are juvenile enough to justify the YA category, at least at the moment, that is not the impression I got from the cover.  And, ok, there are other version of the cover.  But the one I have is the cover shown above.  the other two cover options in goodreads are certainly more aligned with the whole YA category.

Is there anything redeeming here?  The story is just interesting enough, that despite its lack of originality, it isn’t wholly without value.  And Miku, Rio, Reese and Jay are great characters.  In fact, in many ways they are the characters that I feel I know better after finishing.  Emmy is too superficial and so green with jealousy that it is beyond annoying.  Scratching my own eyes out would probably be more pleasant than reading one more word of her jealous inner monologue.  Miku, Reese, Rio and Jay?  Like the fantastic four though.  We learn more about them, including things about some of their lives and deaths, then we do about Marcus or Mimi.  And we learn a little about what motivates them, how they think and feel.  Where the heck is that character development for Marcus and Emmy?  It’s just poorly balanced.  But, I want to see more of the wonder twins and if they ever join their powers, I want to know what happens to Jay.  So, I am already  into book two, and think unless it gets much worse (although not sure how it can) intend on riding this out until the end.   Although I do think that is a sad commentary on the series – that I am saying this has to be rock bottom so I will read because it has to get better….