This reads like bad Supernatural Wincest fan-fic (and if you don’t know what that is, please please don’t go looking; the fact that I know what it is is attributable to friends who find it funny to send me the most appalling writing they can find on-line). The plot is thin, and the sex is constant, sometimes out-of-place and sometimes gratuitous. *****WARNING--MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW--WARNING***** Do not read further if you do not want to know the plot and resolution!!!!
From here on out, I will be using “frak” (ala Battlestar Galactica) instead of the word that it is an obvious replacement for. Here is the sum total of this book:
As it opens, Hero #1 (hereafter H1) is getting a blow job from someone who has spelled himself to look like Hero #2 (hereafter H2) at H1’s request because H1 just misses H2 soooo much. Note that H1 is Ice King’s Vassal, and the Ice King has taken his soul.
H1 goes out to fight big bad bug. H2 runs across big bad bug on his way home and pursues it to fight it. Short flashback to younger H1 and H2. H1 finds bug, knocks it out, and is preparing to kill it just as H2 shows up. H1 and H2 frak against a wall, while big bad bug wakes up and runs off. Nice job, guys.
H1 and H2 go to bar to see if anyone knows anything about big bad bug. Annoying chick casts horny spell and H1 and H2 have to frak to get it to stop. Seriously??
Short flashback to younger H1 and H2.
H1 and H2 go to church (H2 is Church Champion) to see if priest knows anything about big bad bug. H1 makes deal with Ice King to get his soul back he kills the big bad bug. Short flashback to younger H1 and H2. H2 gets cool dagger from priest. No leads on big bad bug.
Short flashback with fraking.
H1 and H2 go to Madame Jiri, a lizard-in-human-skin fortune-teller. Madame Reptile wants to procreate and apparently human DNA is compatible with lizard DNA (who knew, right?). H1 and H2 frak so that they can trade semen for a lead on the big bad bug. Yes, really. Semen. In exchange for news on the bug. Turns out big bad bug is at Ice King’s court. H1 knocks out H2 and runs home to the court alone.
H1 talks to Fire Queen on the way, offers her help. H1 rejects it, confronts Ice King. Ice King is a mite upset, strips H1’s power, and what follows is a long graphic non-consensual fraking scene (in other words: rape).
Short flashback to younger H1 and H2.
H2 wakes up, goes to the Ice King’s court, and fights his way in. H1 and H2 fight Ice King and kill him. H1 gets his soul back in the process. They go home and...you guessed it, frak (H1 apparently having no problem with this despite what JUST happened to him at the Ice King’s court).
Ok, so not much in the way of a plot, and may too much sex, much of which is not romantic but just simply fraking. It didn’t even come across as erotic--more like porn. I was also put off by the two calling each other “baby”. It is a far too effeminate and trivializing nickname for a man.
I would absolutely shocked if this book did not start life as a fanfic somewhere that later got pulled to publish. It just has that feel. This book only gets two stars (instead of one) because it was readable and entertaining, although in a bad train-wreck way.
This book has such potential, and I am sad that it didn’t live up to it. The beginning of the book is great. Colleen Mitchell flies to remote Lawton, ND, to search for her missing son, Paul, who has been working for one of the oil companies in the area, Hunter-Cole Energy. She immediately hooks up with Shay Capparelli, the mother of Taylor, Paul’s best friend, who is also missing. The two women start investigating the disappearance, taking on the local police, the oil workers and higher-ups, and even the folks on the nearby Indian reservation.
This part of the book is great. The writing is evocative. You really get a sense of the place, the people, and can appreciate the two women’s franticness to find their sons. The relationship between the women is complicated but interesting to watch develop. I loved this part of the book and the story.
Then, at about 70% of the way into the book, the fate of the two young men is discovered. And the book takes a hard left turn into WTF territory. Not WTF as in an implausible plot, actions, resolution, etc, but WTF as in “what the heck happened to the gritty mystery I was reading and why am I suddenly in a dull family drama?” All of the interesting elements of the problems surrounding Hunter-Cole, local tensions with the Native Americans, etc., are simply jettisoned, and the final 30% of the book meanders around (mostly) Colleen’s life in Boston in the aftermath, and the two women coming to terms with what happened. If felt like a huge bait-and-switch.
The first 70% of the book gets a hearty five stars. However, because of the side tracked, meandering ending, the final overall rating is 3-stars.
Boring is the best way to describe this book. Let me count the reasons:
It is told in alternating first-person chapters from Hunter’s and Anna’s point-of-view, but the “voice” of both characters sounds EXACTLY the same. And they both sound female.
The only real conflict in this story is with Anna’s former boyfriend showing up to cause some trouble. But even that, and a bit of Anna over-reacting to Hunter not telling her sooner about his daughter (even though Anna kept it a secret from him for quite some time that she couldn’t have kids) is about it. Other than that, Anna comes back to LA, sees Hunter, she’s hot for him, he’s hot for her, and they pick up where they left off nine years before. They start seeing each other and eventually Hunter proposes. And they live happily ever after.
Neither character really has any flaws, beyond Anna’s bit of over-reaction as noted above, but even that is dealt with in a page or two.
The writing was also pretty basic and sometimes amateurish. For example, there is a large info-dump from Anna’s perspective in the very beginning. Page after page--or rather, screen after screen since I was reading this on my Kindle--of why Anna had left LA before and gone to Australia and what had happened.... A good writer would have found a way to incorporate this into the narrative.
As a final note, I really wish that people who chose to write about MMA fighting actually knew something about MMA fighting. *sigh*
This was a quick, fun, if predictable, read. I chose it because I like stories about music and musicians, even though it was YA, which I don’t read all that much of. What made the book for me was the voice of the narrator, Reagan, who was delightfully sarcastic and feisty--in a good way, though, that didn’t make her unlikable--and a bit of a loner trying to find her way. It was a refreshing change of pace. The other two main characters, Lilah (the best friend) and Matt Finch (the boyfriend-by-the-end-of-the-book), were fairly stereotypical but still pleasant characters. The plot was, as I said above, fairly predictable. I did enjoy the characters interactions and the growth and change in the relationships throughout the book.
My main problem with this book is the hypocrisy of the narrator, Kiera Graves. She, along with her little group of friends, is an outsider at her high school because of her music choices, manner of dress, etc. She rails against being judged for being different, and says, “we don’t think that being closed-minded about people, ideas, or music is very smart.” Yet throughout the whole book, she makes harsh judgement of others and is essentially “closed-minded” about them. She mocks both students and teachers. The other students are judged as either shallow, stuck-up jocks and cheerleaders or as outcasts such as herself. There was no middle ground. There were very few authentic-seeming characters.
Even worse, near the end of the book, Kiera turns her judgement on two guys who have been part of their little group, by criticizing their restaurant manners and claiming “you can’t take them anywhere” and “maybe they’ll get girlfriends who can help train them a bit”. While such a judgement could be made in a more supportive way, Kiera’s internal voicing of these thoughts came across as petty. So, I wanted to like Kiera, but I really struggled with her.
The music references also got a bit old. We get it: she and her friends are into music. But we don’t need to hear about it over and over and over and over...what posters are on the walls or that she is wearing her “Skinny Puppy” t-shirt, etc. (And come on, Ms.LeDonne, trashing Bon Jovi? Really. :) )
I have been reading this series from the very beginning and the latest installment certainly does not disappoint. Other reviewers have summarized the plot, so I won’t repeat that; I’ll just mention some of the things that I liked about this book:
1. The Everheart’s are back. I really like Molly, Evan, and the kids. In this book, Molly is in trouble, and Evan is suitably worried and angry and protective. The kids are adorable, although, in what I assume is foreshadowing future books, Angie is starting to exhibit scary-strange powers.
2. Jane’s relationships with two of the key men in her life change. Leo admits something to Jane that surprises her, and Ricky may not be available as Jane’s on-again-off-again fling after this book (sorry for the vagueness, trying avoid spoilers here). Both incidents set up interesting possibilities for future books.
3. I like that Jane gets to be “girly” sometimes, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. She gets to dress up in fancy clothes, but she is still tough and capable. She shows moments of emotion over men and her changing relationships. She has doubts about things she has done in the past, even when she was a child, and what that means about her character in the present. I also like that Jane can now let Beast come to the surface in front of others (her nature was exposed in the previous book); she seems more comfortable with what she is.
4. Beast. What’s more to say. I’ve really enjoyed the evolution of Beast over the series, and the development of Beast’s “verbal” and intellectual ability that no doubt comes from having been bonded with Jane. Beast’s visceral emotional response to the Everheat kids and to Jane’s various men never grows old.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to fans of the series.
This book was tough to rate, but ultimately, for me, it fell between a 2 and 2.5 star. Technically the writing is clean. The language was direct, not complicated, and the story was easy to follow. I was initially drawn into the story as I thought it had an interesting premise--a little bit like “The King and I” but in space, and I love sci-fi romance--but as I read further and further, it worked less and less for me. Following is a discussion of why:
1. The world-building was weak and often implausible:
The book includes one typical problem with weak world-building, and that is that everyone on the planet looks the same--”skin color, hair color, Tolari are all the same”. This is simply not scientifically plausible (and a pet peeve of mine). As an aside, I also find it a bit offensive--and I am really really not a PC person so something has to be pretty egregious for me to be bothered by it--that a race that has coppery skin and black hair considers a white woman with blue eyes to be “quite a beauty by our standards”. Wouldn’t they find their own women the most attractive?
The planet also has “no land animals larger than a flutter” (a “flutter” is a small bird-like creature). This lack of diversity of species is not plausible. How did the Tolari come to be by “parallel evolution” when the intermediate species do not exist? And without natural predators, why would the Tolari evolve the ability to camouflage themselves? Not well thought out. On top of that, this society is apparently agricultural, without mechanized transport or animals similar to cows or horses to plow field, haul crops, etc. That stretches credulity, in my opinion.
Scientifically, I didn’t find it plausible that a society that had once had the ability to travel in space (and all the other medical and technical advances that go hand-in-hand with that) would ALL voluntarily forgo using that ability/technology and return to a life equivalent to the Earth’s Middle Ages simply because they tired of “petty rivalries”. I am also skeptical of one of the character’s claims that “a Tolari and a human could produce fertile offspring”. This can only occur if they are the same species, which is (yet again) not plausible because even if humans and Tolari have common ancestors--and I don’t know if that is where the series is headed--the populations have been separated for thousands of years. Plenty of time for the species to evolve separately.
Politically, I am bored with the tired trope of a sole planetary leader, as opposed to a more complex and realistic political system with multiple factions.
I could give more examples or expound on the above, but I think that’s enough for one review. It seems like the author has thrown together some world-building elements that sound nice, but in a closer analysis, don’t work together. Now before someone says, “But wait, the Tolari are an alien culture; you can’t evaluate them by any human standards”, remember that the author has depicted the Tolari as very human-like--in appearance, in emotions (love, fear, etc), in socio-political structure, etc.
Finally, and more generally, the immediate setting of a scene and other characters were often left undescribed or only partly described. For example, I don’t think the reader was told any Tolari character names other than the Sular and Kyza until more than a third of the way into the book; characters were simply a servant, a guard, etc. It didn’t feel to me like the world was fully realized at times.
2. The romance is practically non-existent:
I have a note that reads “64% and no romance yet”. Actually, I don’t think the romance really came out at all until even later. In the story, the Sular and Marianne are together in his household for the equivalent of something like eight Earth years before anything happens, and even then, it just sort of...happens. I also never felt any chemistry between the characters.
3. The random WTF moments occur:
Such as Marianne saying that suicide is a crime on Earth. How exactly are the perpetrators punished? They’re dead.
Such as the Tolari referring to feet as “peds”. This is a classic sci-fi blunder, described in more detail in the SFWA’s Turkey City Lexicon “Call a Rabbit a Smeerp” section.
Such as the Sular telling Marianne, after she has raised the issue of the ruler of planet courting a “nobody”, that “such distinctions mean nothing to us” then forcing her to become Tolari because otherwise she cannot continue to tutor his daughter because his daughter was a “high one” like the Sular and Marianne was not.
Overall, if you can overlook the flawed world-building and don’t mind a very very slow-paced book, you might enjoy this. If you are looking for well-built worlds or a vibrant romance, this is probably not the book for you.
I picked this up because it was free and I was curious. Now I want the 30 minutes back that I spent reading this. I tried. I really did. But this book is written so poorly that I had to stop at about 20% into it. I have read better writing from sixth graders (seriously! I'm not exaggerating). The verb tenses alternate seemingly at random between present and past tense. Commas are omitted from dialogue tags and direct address in dialogue. Dialogue tags, such as they are, are incorrectly punctuated and capitalized. In one paragraph, there is "were" instead of "we're" and "distance" instead of "distant". The prologue is misnamed an epilogue. Etc. Etc.
On top of the massive grammar problems, the dialogue was often stilted, contained "as you know, Bob" passages, and lacked the normal contractions that people use when speaking. It very rarely sounded natural. The narrative was similarly clunky.
I also don't find several of the plot points very plausible:
(1) that a fifteen year old girl manages to conceal her pregnancy from her family while living with them
(2) that a hospital would discharge a fifteen year old immediately after giving birth and take her baby and put it up for adoption. No signing paper work? No talking to a social worker? No talking to her parents? Would she even be in any condition to *be* released right after giving birth? (Nope).
(3) that a fifteen year old girl could run off to a college that her parents didn't know about and then disappear. Her parents didn't take her to college and get her situated? Apparently not. Who just sticks a fifteen year old on a bus to college (or however else she got these without her parents)? Further, unless she had a full ride scholarship, her parents had to fill out financial aid forms for her. She's too young to work, so how did she support herself outside of the scholarship money? Sorry, there are just too many things that don't ring true here.
So overall, a very poor attempt at fiction writing. I would suggest that this writer hire an editor before she publishes anything else, as this is just awful.
Edited to add: I just looked at the book description on Amazon and it says that she is married to a "Seargant" (yes, that IS misspelled), but in the book, he is described as a "Major". So which is it? *sigh*
I really enjoyed Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series and was sad when that series was over. Then I found out about this book, which picks up about three years after the final events in "Magic For a Price" and has Shamus Flynn for a narrator instead of Allie. Shamus was always on of my favorite characters from the series; I liked the bad-boy thing when I was younger (and still have a fondness for it now even though I've outgrown that phase), and I still quite enjoy sarcasm. Shame is full of sarcasm.
Other reviewers here have summarized the plot, so I won't rehash it in detail. Generally, magic is now a pale shadow of what it was before it was "healed" in "Magic for a Price". The only people who can wield magic with much power are Soul Complements. Shame and Terric are Soul Complements, much to Shame's dismay, and government may be coming after them and other Soul Complements to use as weapons.
Shame and Terric are still going at it again in this one; Shame is still struggling with his connection to Terric, and we get to see a little more of Terric's personal life. A new character named Dessa is introduced part way through, and it was good to see Shame get a bit of a comeuppance (although Allie never took any flack from him either).
For fans of the Allie Beckstrom series, this one is a must-read. However, if you haven't read the earlier series, the world-building may be a bit thin and you may miss some of the subtleties or inside jokes or subtext or whatever you want to call it. This is the first book in duology. The second book, "Stone Cold", is due out in about a week.
I had mixed feelings about this book. Mia has survived some horrible abuse and because of that is prickly and slow to trust. Despite that, I did like her and accepted her prickliness because of her past. She still clearly loves her sister and wants the best for her. Mia is working hard to make a better life for them both—hence the asinine plot point about Mia trying to set up a fight with Tray "Fox" Knox (more on the asinine-ness of that in a bit).
Tray is a good enough hero—a rich kid trying to make it on his own because his parents disapprove of his life choices to date—and he and Mia definitely have chemistry. But his actions and internal thoughts struck me as those of someone older and more mature than a 23-year-old.
My major beef with this book, though, was the handling of the MMA-related issues. First, Mia is supposedly this awesome almost-unbeatable fighter and expert in several different disciplines, yet she couldn't have been training for more than about 3 years given her age. This is not realistic. And Tray goes on and on about how he's getting too old for MMA, and he's only 23. Many MMA fighters are older than that. If both these characters had been 5 years older even, the story would have felt more realistic.
Also, it simply wasn’t believable that Mia would think that she had a chance against Tray and, later, the other fighter, unless she was willfully in denial (and she wasn’t presented as that type of person in the rest of the story). Even though she was described as tall, she was far lighter than Tray. And it’s not just weight. Strength makes an even bigger difference. A skilled female fighter against an untrained guy has a chance (as long as weight difference isn’t too great), but a trained female fighter is going to be at a SEVERE disadvantage against a trained male fighter. I’ve done jiujitsu; I speak from experience. A 200 lb body falling onto a 120 lb body with force can do serious damage–so can a single well-landed punch or kick at full power–and once those two are on the ground, the heavier stronger fighter will almost always win (assuming roughly equal skill levels otherwise).
Still I would recommend this book for the two characters and the arc of the relationship between them.
Well, crap. I've been away for awhile, and not I can't remember how to post a review of a book. I added the book to my shelf but there is NO PLACE when rating a book that says "write a review". *sigh* Can anyone tell me what mysterious process one has to go through to add a review of a book?
Test blog post! New user here. I'm still getting used to the site and trying to find my way around. Hopefully, all of my books will finishing importing soon...
One thing I do like about this site better than Goodreads is that it is easy to add self-published books by pulling the data in from Amazon. I'll be adding some reviews that I currently have only at Amazon and not at Goodreads.