Archives for posts with tag: Adventure

Genre: YA Dystopia

Notes: Book 16/50.  YA Dystopia is my bread and freaking butter.  I’m slightly ashamed that my reading tastes will never grow up, but then again, I don’t care.

Review: First of all, I need to stop starting trilogies.  I went to the library and this book looked interesting and, lo and behold, it is a dystopic trilogy.  This novel is set in a different world where you can hear everyone’s thoughts. Even animals.  Well, technically not everyone.  No one can hear women’s thoughts.

We follow Todd, the last boy who is not a man in Prentisstown.  Boys become men at age 13 through a ceremony that does not get revealed until much later in the book, and Todd only has a month to go. Except Prentisstown isn’t what it seems and Todd meets Viola Eades, a settler from Earth with her family (who is now dead) to get ready for the rest of their ship to land.

I really, really, really wanted to love this book.  I like it, I will read the other two, but it didn’t draw me in like most other novels of its kind do.  The writing (intentional misspellings, the Noise in a different font, Todd himself) took some getting used to, and I found it slightly annoying. Also, I don’t think Todd’s importance is explained well enough for me.  In the novel, Todd is chased by an entire army made up of thousands of men from Prentisstown and other towns along the way, and they never let up.  Ever.  But why?  Just ignore Todd and carry out your plan.  I don’t see how he makes you stronger.  It doesn’t make any sense!  Perchance I am too old to be reading these types of novels, but I still demand a well-written story.

This book did, however, give me a lot to think about.  I found it interesting that what seems to be the most religious, fanatic town (Prentisstown) is the cursed town and as Todd and Viola run to Haven (which sounds an awful lot like Heaven) with only Hope.  Hope that Haven will be able to protect them.  Hope that Haven actually exists.  Hope that they can finally stop running.  However, they are disappointed with what they find there.  (Disappointed is an understatement, but I don’t want to give anything away)  Maybe I’m reading too into this book, but Ness doesn’t seem to be a fan of religion and how far off track it can get.  People can do anything in the name of religion and call it right – even if they are committing murder.  And Haven’s lack of a Haven for Todd and Viola crushes any hope you have for this fictional world.  Frankly, quite a few YA books have this similar theme.  A theme of balance and thinking for yourself instead of letting other people make decisions for you – even if it is in the name of religion.  It’s an interesting and sticky subject, especially with the political battles going on today.

Bottom Line: Ness likes to give you hope and then stab you through the heart.  Can’t we all just get along?

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Genre: Spy novel, mystery, international intrigue

Notes: 6/50 books for the year.  I usually don’t read spy novels, and I remember why.  Not that this book isn’t good, but I am constantly shuffling back and forth between pages trying to remember why I am supposed to hate one person, who screwed who, and who is a double agent who double crossed his double crosser.

Review: Good god, can Hugh Laurie do no wrong? He is an actor, hot to boot, and now an author? For all of you who live under a rock, Hugh Laurie plays Dr. House, but is actually a British actor with a ridiculously sexy British accent and played on some British comedy shows like Black Adder. I read this entire novel in a British accent.  Sometimes out loud.  To my cat.

However, I will admit that this book did not blow my socks off.  Yes, Hugh Laurie did a great job.  Yes, the book was entertaining.  But on the whole, if i just took this book off of the shelf without knowing Hugh Laurie’s name?  Mehhhhh.  It’s a solid 3 of a novel.  Not bad, not great, nothing to write home about.  I think the hype surrounding this novel has more to do with Hugh Laurie (because it’s Hugh Laurie for god sakes) than the actual caliber of the novel.  It’s kinda like Archer mixed with James Bond mixed with bad puns.  The cover even sort of looks like Archer.

I will be the first to say that I am not much of a spy novel reader. I lose track of who is who and why I’m supposed to be flabbergasted by a realization and discovery.  And while reading it on my Kindle, it was difficult  to flip back to an earlier conversation to figure out who that person was.  Although I totally discovered a find function on the Kindle.  Like it would give me a listing of the word I searched for and where I could find it in the novel.  But I only figured that out like 3/4 of the way through the book.  I’m still not 100% clear on what actually happened in the novel other than it involved arms dealers, Americans, government contractors (shocked he didn’t call out Lockheed or SAIC on this one), and some terrorists.  But, again, understand that I don’t do spy novels. I don’t pay enough attention when I read to really get into them.

Bottom Line: On the whole, bravo, Hugh Laurie.  You are truly a gift not only to women, but to the world.  Don’t hide your genius. Why are British comedians/actors so much more brilliant than their American counterparts?  I’m not sure I’d read a novel penned by Brad Pitt or George Cloony, but bring on John Cleese, Hugh Laurie, or anyone from the Monty Python!

In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Paranormal, Action, Romance, Historical-Fiction and Contemporary
  • Notes: Made me see much more into the Mencheres character who, when I realized this book was about him, I was skeptical to see if he could be a good romantic hero.
  • Recommended For: Fans of Frost and the Night Huntress Series, Fans of Twilight, Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

I know what you’re thinking, “Another great cover for the Nighthuntress World series!” . . . It’s once again an interesting choice. But I have to atleast commend them on making it look like a physically imaginable pose. Although the guy on the cover makes me think of the actor that plays Jasper in The Twilight Movies.

Am I right? Anyway, that isn’t how I pictured Mencheres at all, but you know, whatever. Let’s get to the premise, shall we?

SYNOPSIS

An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness . . .

And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears—this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

So when I first read the two spin-off of the Night Huntress Novels, I found this one to be my favorite of the two, but after more re-readings I find I like them an equal amount. I think the reason I found this one more attractive in the beginning was because it fits in more generically with my every-day romance novels. Not that it doesn’t include the wonderful world of Cat and Bones, but the characters remind me very much of my romance novel run-of-the-mill hero and heroine. That’s not a bad thing, in my opinion, I like the comfort in that. I mean, why would I read all these if I didn’t find the norm of this genre to be exciting?

Kira’s a good character if a little predictable, but she’s got some spunk and doesn’t let Mencheres push her around. And I liked her back-story concerning her not-so-great drug-addict brother and her little sister who’s sick that she calls “Tiny-T”. I found that as her back story was revealed the character grew – no surprise there. But it would be hard to compete with the plotline of Mencheres, a centuries old vampire who became a vampire in Ancient Egypt.

I have to say I completely geeked out over the Ancient Egyptian references. As a Art History minor I loved learning about Ancient Egyptian artwork and culture. I also like Frost’s explanation of the acceptance of Vampire’s in ancient egypt and how their existence relates to the building of the pyramids. All very interesting.

This book like The First Drop of Crimson are in their own category from the rest of the Cat & Bones novels as they feature the inner musings of the male lead. Something that, as I mentioned in my last review, we never get from Bones. It was very interesting to finally see behing Mencheres’ stoic expressions and learn more about his past. That’s another reason I really recommend these spin-offs to the fans of the Night Huntress Series, as I feel we can appreciate the entire plot lines more and it helps to enrich our experience of the Cat/Bone-centric books.

Something that stuck out to me in this, that I didn’t truly acknowledge until I read it this time, was a pattern that I begin to find a little redundant in Frost’s writings. Most especially in tFDoC and this book: the two leads really bond over a significant life event that is entirely relatable and has to do with a past significant other. To translate, *SPOILERS* When Spade and Denise bond over the fact that their significant others died horrible deaths that they weren’t able to prevent because of a miscommunication, and in this we learn that Kira can really relate to Patra, Mencheres first wife, and that relationship. *SPOILERS OVER* I’m not saying that couples shouldn’t be able to relate to eachother from past experiences. I’m saying it becomes a little too predictable when it’s always such a similar event that is relatable. It’s almost too much of a coincidence. I prefer the fact that Bones and Cat really relate to eachother because while they are completely different, they relate to eachother by similar feelings and their understanding of doing what needs to be done for the greater good even if it’s not always the good way to go about it.

That actually leads me to my favorite aspect about Kira. Kira is one of those people who tries always to do good. She knows she won’t all the time, but she goes out of her way to do what is just and right. Her modo being Save one life. This entire thread throughout the novel made her more dynamic.

One thing that made me chuckle early on in the book is the fact that Kira has a natural aversion to Vampire influence. She can’t be mind-controlled and as a direct effect, Mencheres can’t read her mind. The moment I read that I was like, “Oh hel-lo Edward Cullen.” That plot technique has clearly already been used, but I don’t blame Frost. This whole book could have been written in 5 chapters if Mencheres could read her mind. So while you also may notice this similarity. If it turns you off, just keep reading it’s still a good book.

Why is it a good book? Well the action in it is actually pretty exciting. Mencheres is warring with his evil Uncle who is out to steal his great power, but Mencheres is a pretty decent BAMF and won’t go out without a fight. Once again in this book, Frost continues exposition by introducing us more thoroughly to the Guardians. The Judges and Executioners of Vampire laws. She delves somewhat into the character of Veritas, who almost kills Cat in a previous novel and we learn that this is not the last we will hear of the Guardians.

It may arguably be Frost’s best talent as a writer to wield the pen so easily between multiple books’ plots as well as characters old and new while introducing new concepts and settings. If you’ve enjoyed the other books so far, what are you waiting for on this one?

★★★★

In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Horror, Gore
  • Notes: The first of the spin-off series from the Night Huntress Novels. Not my favorite one, but I do really like this one. As far as the cover art goes: WTF?!
  • Recommended For: Fans of Frost, The Night Huntress Novels, Vampire Novels, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fans of The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series.

A book that continues the plot and adds to the Night Huntress canon while also being a pretty good book in of itself . . . This is the first of Frost’s spin-offs that delves into the relationship of Spade, Bones’ closest friend, and Denise, Cat’s best friend.

SYNOPSIS

The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows—her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield—and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness—and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human—even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together . . .

Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.

So being the first spin-off, I was of course skeptical, but I really ended up liking this book. It falls after the fourth Night Huntress novel, Destined For An Early Grave, and afterwards comes the second spin-off titled, Eternal Kiss of Darkness.

There were several things I enjoyed about this book and overall I had a fine time reading it. I wouldn’t call it my favorite as it didn’t fully stand-out to me, but if you enjoy the rest of the series you’ll enjoy this.

As for what I liked: All the things I love about Frost are in this book. Her humor, her ability to introduce new exposition while keeping the current story moving, and her well-written characters. One thing I loved about this book that is completely different from any of her previous books in the series: You get to read from the hero’s perspective. Spade tells half the story and Denise tells the other half. I found that to be so new and different in this series, as we never read from Bones’ perspective. Oh how I wish we did.

The last we’d read about Denise, she was pulling away from the paranormal world after losing her husband to a zombie attack, and then seeing Spade kill a would-be rapist infront of her. Here Frost expands the paranormal world to introduce Demons. Which she previously had not included in her Night Huntress universe.

Overall I found this read fun, entertaining, and quick if a little underwhelming. Spade and Denise aren’t my romance-couple type. They’re more mushy, less bad ass. But that’s fine and it gets the job done. I think my only true critcism comes in the form of design.

cover artWhat the hell was Frost thinking allowing that to be the cover?! I have to admit, a little bit before I started this series and knew anything about Jeaniene Frost, I found this cover and joked about it. Literally pulled it off the shelf and had a huge laugh with my friend about this.

What’s wrong with this cover, you might ask?

1) Why does his head pull away from his neck at that awkward similar-to-a-giraffe angle?

2) Why does that girl look bored and tired, when there is a silk shirted, spineless, lothario glaring over her shoulder?

3) A silk shirt? Really?

4) She looks more vampiric than he does, she’s whiter than Edward Cullen!

5) Why does he have two black-eyes?

6) That is, maybe, the most unattractive and creepy face I’ve ever seen on a romance novel cover.

There’s just so many things wrong with this cover, that I can’t imagine it was even checked before they sent it to print. I mean I can’t imagine that no one tried to say anything about this. Even as simple as, “I mean, this is Frost’s first spin-off novel. Maybe we should try and market this a little better?”

We know Frost has a great sense of humor, but you think maybe she’d be like – “Who’s the freak on the cover of my novel? And why is he creepily gripping the heroine whilst trying to Tyra-Smieyes the reader?”

My friend and I laughed about this so much, I made a spoof of it later:

 Yes, indeed, I made “First Drop of Creeper” featuring my creeped-out friend, before ever reading a single Night Huntress Novel. I regret nothing. I also understand that romance novels, bodice-rippers, chick-lit all have their own sort of theme when it comes to cover design. I’m thinking about doing a post solely on RomNov cover designs. But this takes the cake. It’s like a blog post from GoFugYourself.com – A silk shirt, and no spinal cord? What more can a woman want?!

Clearly I could talk about this all day, but I’ll end simply by saying. Aside from the horrific cover art, the book is a nice read that I recommend, especially if you want to continue with the series as it introduces a plot-line for the next Cat-Bones book.

I even give this book ★★★★ because I believe it to be well set-up, a good, interesting plot, and a overall fun jaunt back into the Night Huntress universe. Enjoy with a bottle of gin. Just make sure you don’t make eye-contact with the creeper on the cover.

★★★★

In A Nutshell

    • Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Gore, Horror, Drama, Angst.
    • Notes: Weakest premise of all the series so far, but also some of the strongest moments of character development.
    • Recommended For: Fans of Frost, Fans of The Night Huntress Series, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If only Frost had laid more ground work for this books premise, it would have been the strongest in the entire series . . . This books plot line has so much to do with my critique that I’m going to put it first:

SYNOPSIS

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

Before I start to say what I found failing in the book I want to preface it by saying, that although I found the journey weak, the destinations were monumental. That being said, the entire plot line rides on the belief that Cat met a man name Gregor at the age of 15 and was whisked away conveniently to Paris all before she met Bones. But she doesn’t remember any of this because for some reason Mencheres was able to wipe her memories using strong green-eyedness and magic.

OK. Wait- what? The first time I read the beginning of this book I wondered if I could hire Sassy Gay Friend to go have a chat with Frost. I had that similar SGF thought at Frost, “What- What- What are you doing?!”

I can go along with a lot of plot lines – I mean I’m reading about a vampire-human hybrid that hunts vampires with her vampire husband and works for the government. Clearly I’m on board to stretch the realm of possibilities. But when you start to go so far off your own developed storyline to create a fresh villian, I have some problems.

It’s not that I don’t think the premise is a good one – It’s actually pretty interesting. The problem is it’s weak hold onto the rest of the canon. How can I believe that all of this back story happened when in earlier books Frost has gone out of her way to show that Cat can’t be “green-eyed”. The only hint Frost gives that there was any ground work for this exposition is that Cat has always disliked and distrusted Mencheres. So I’m not saying it’s completely impossible in canon, I’m saying that it seems a little too convenient. Like a sewed patch on a pair of jeans. It fits, kind of, but you know it’s patched on after the fact.

The first time I read this it took me awhile to get into the story. I couldn’t get over the critiques I’m mentioned, but let me say I am glad I did.

While I don’t applaud Frost’s method of getting to where she does in this book, I do applaud her outcome. This book has one of the most, if not the most important character development scenes in the Cat & Bones relationship. Many of their underlying issues, some of which as a reader I didn’t notice until they were named, are addressed in the way I like them to be – ANGST ANGST ANGST.

I’m an angst fan, I’ll admit. And I don’t mean Harry Potter Book 5 whiney-angst. I mean betrayal and heartbreak and what-ifs. That is the angst I find dramatic. Pre-pubescent bitching isn’t angst.

This book delivers in the angst category, but it also defends the purpose. While I am a fan of angst, I’m not a fan of poorly written, meaningless angst. There is nothing meaningless in the drama between Cat & Bones in this story. This may be the darkest their relationship gets – atleast so far in the series.

Beyond the wonderful angst there is also a sub-plot that Frost develops in preparation for the next book. I’m not going to say what as it is a spoiler, but I wanted to bring it up to point out another amazing thing Frost does as a series writer. Frost is able to fully develop and maintain a rising action, while introducing a new exposition or introduction for the next book. Which is why I criticize so harshly the exposition for this book. She doesn’t introduce it at all or even hint at it in any of the previous novels. The reader is truly blind-sided by it, making it even more noticeably awkward in the scheme of the whole series.

Overall, my only complaint is the weak justification of the exposition, but I absolutely love reading this book after you get over the initial “WTF?!”

After all that I wonder – did anyone else feel it was shoddily constructed in the beginning? I’d love to know what you thought.

★★★1/2

In A Nutshell

  • Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Gore, Adventure, Fiction.
  • Notes: I love the plots in this but it feels a little like 2 books in one.
  • Recommended For:Fans of The Night Huntress Novels and Frost, People who loved Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fans of The Sookie Stackhouse Novels.

Cat and Bones are back and they are going after everyone who’s come after them and again . . .You can’t go into this book thinking that you’re going to read a slow paced and emotion-centric novel. There’s plenty of emotion, but it goes quickly. I don’t want to give any spoilers away so here’s the synopsis.

SYNOPSIS
Some things won’t stay buried . . . at grave’s end

It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield’s life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she’s successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat’s worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover’s finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn’t enough, a woman from Bones’s past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat’s about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she’s learned as a special agent won’t help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.

What I will say is that I really like this book. It’s full of action, the characters are true-to-form, the plot makes sense, and it keeps the books themes moving. It is honestly everything you want out of a Night Huntress Novel, and in that way it is extremely successful. That’s not to say I’m not critical about any of it.

There’s a major plot line that is introduced from the first moment and when that comes to a head it’s rather abrupt and unexpected. Not that I like long and drawn out, but I felt like after the first plot line is concluded (in a manner of speaking) I felt like I’d finished the book, but there were still like 200 pages left. Then it leads into a completely new plot line and, if you’ll excuse the BTVS reference, an even bigger baddie.

Amidst all this adventure, Frost is able not only to continue Cat & Bones relationship, but to investigate and revel in the inner workings that are a struggle for any normal couple: trust, honesty, having a past, etc. That was a huge plus for this book. It’s really rare to find a novelist who can continue working her characters while maintaining a steady, strong, and detailed plot line.

As for supporting characters, Frost does an excellent job of giving us insight into Bones relationship with his comrades Ian and Charles as well as his grandsire, Mencheres. This all comes in handy later when/if you read the 2 spin-off novels involving Charles (First Drop of Crimson) and Mencheres (Eternal Kiss of Darkness.)

This book embellishes the angst in the series and as I’m usually a fan of angst in my RomNovs, I really liked that part. The only issue was, there is a certain, defining, event that takes place and as a result Cat makes a choice. Which is then never discussed between Cat & Bones again. I don’t mean to confuse those of you who haven’t read this book, but this applies to you as well. It wasn’t until much later that I found, on Jeaniene Frost’s website, deleted scenes from this novel and this particular scene I think should have been included. Edited, but included. If when you read you want to see what I mean, she suggests reading it at the end of Chapter 25. If you have trouble opening that go to her page here and go to the ninth link down.

I enjoy this book a lot. I think it’s a great addition to the series, if a little rushed in the beginning and ends, but it gives way more than that takes away. You really should check out the series if you love vampires and romance and kick-ass heroines and supernatural fun.

★★★★

In A Nutshell

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Action

Notes: I almost count this as #1.5 since I rushed right form #1 to read this and devoured it almost in the same day as the first book.

Recommended For: People who enjoyed the first book. Seriously read the first book first! People who like vampire romance (i.e, True Blood aka The Sookie Stackhouse Novels)

Cat is back but she’s now got some government backing . . . If you haven’t read the first book in this series, Halfway To The Grave, you should. This book and all the subsequent novels in the series are meant to be read in order and as I reader and lover of these books, I can assure you that it would be confusing to read them out of order. It also could spoil you for some great twists and reveals.

SYNOPSIS

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head – wanted: dead or half-alive – means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever … and Bones won’t let her get away again.

I found this book to be a fast-paced, action packed, sexy sequel to it’s predecessor. I read it in a single day (mostly because I shirked all other responsibilities and curled up in a chair with a blanket and this book.)

This was a great sequel for a number of reasons, in my opinion. First, it quickly gets to the plot that was left as a cliff-hanger from the first novel. Second, it introduces new characters subtly but with strength while re-introducing old characters and maintaining our attention the whole time. Third, Frost picks up this new plot line while setting up the next plot line seamlessly. As far as structure goes, this might be my favorite novel in the series. It’s not hard to see why. Frost set up all the exposition in the first novel, while still having a great plot, but in this novel she really picks up from where she left off and you get right into the action.

Another reason I devour these books is because it’s a singular and unique adaptation of an over-used premise. A book series about a girl who fights vampires. Been there – a lot – done that. Right? Well when was the last time this girl had government backing? If you respond Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 4 you would still be wrong. Riley has the government backing and they just try to use the slayer. In this version, the entire program is essential built around Cat. And she thrives as a leader.

I have to admit, my biggest weakness in novels is characters and Frost knows how to write good, interesting, lovable, hatable, annoying, sympathetic, you-get-the-idea characters. I mean, I usually hate spin-off novels, but when it gets to her two spin-off novels about the characters “Spade” and “Mencheres” I read those too and liked one and loved the other.

If I had to give a criticism to this book? . . . I’d say it went too quickly. But that’s just because I glutton myself on this series.

If you haven’t read this series but you love paranormal (especially vampire) romance? You must read this series. “It’s a moral imperative.” If you found this review intriguing but you want to know more about the first novel, go ahead and click the title here: Halfway to the Grave

★★★★★