Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #4 – Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After is the last instalment in the Sookie Stackhouse book saga. The novel begins with Sookie fretting about her relationship with Eric. He’s been incommunicado after the events of Deadlocked. She is abruptly summoned to Fangtasia where they have a vampire divorce ceremony because Eric has to marry that new vampire Queen of Oklahoma. Before Sookie can descend into a puddle of sadness, she is accused of the murder of a local woman (& ex-friend) who is dumped behind Merlotte’s bar. Turns out, the devil is in town bringing together Sookie’s enemies from books past to string her up with a murder wrap. In a predictable turn, Sookie makes bail and aims to solve the case with the Bon Temps Scooby Gang.

Read rest of the review on my blog.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 59: Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

“Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who’ve been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It’s kill or be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalyptic storms, and cannibals.

When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she’s drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history, one that Evie can’t remember—but Death can’t forget.”

Despite kind of hating a lot of Poison Princess, the first book in this series, I decided to read the sequel, since PP ended with a bang and gave me enough confidence to soldier on. I’m glad I did, because this book had a lot more of the parts of the first that I liked: action, expansion of the cool Tarot concept, Evie not being a complete muppet. Oh, also, there are probably spoilers for PP in this review, so tread with caution. Despite it being a slight stretch of the imagination that Evie went from having literally no idea what she was capable of to suddenly displaying a massive show of power, it was kind of fun that we didn’t have to trudge through a literary training montage. In a fluffy book like this, sometimes it’s just more fun to accept that her magic is natural to her and she just needed to unlock it.

I was also curious to meet Death (the guy doing his best Spike impression up there on the cover) since I wasn’t a huge fan of Jackson, the first point of the love triangle. Kresley Cole, having quite a formidable background in PNR (just ask Malin and Mrs. Julien!) draws on traditional archetypes to set these guys up against each other. Jackson is definitely a rogueish Protector, while Death is a romantic Tortured Soul who initially lashes out at Evie because he’s all Damaged like that. It’s an interesting study in contrast, because while both have moments with her where they alternatively treat her like dirt then do something intended to be completely swoon-worthy, their actions come from decidedly different places. I guess it’s just up to readers to pick their favorite type of hero, because neither one is obviously a better choice in my opinion.

This series is meant to be Cole’s foray into YA, by virtue of having younger protagonists and fewer love scenes that are also slightly less explicit. More interestingly, writing for the YA set gave Cole an opportunity to really flex her high-concept plot muscles, which is something I think she’s done well at. She may even be better at this than traditional PNR, since in that area she comes across as having creative ideas that are weighed down with genre tropes like weird gender issues and gratuitous rough sex. And I’m not saying gratuitous rough sex doesn’t have a place in PNR, but I’ve gotten the sense from her that she almost enjoys building new worlds more than writing love scenes (see as evidence: her many sprawling high concept series for which she seems to never run out of ideas, but sex scenes that are mostly the same when you really get down to it. SEE WHAT I DID THERE) Anyway, read if you’re curious, a fan of Cole, the genre, etc.

Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #73: Attracting Anthony by Amber Kell

Key elements in Attracting Anthony, a novella by Amber Kell:

  1. The new-to-me word “werekin” for members of the human-to-animal shape-shifter kingdom.
  2. The werekin have their own nightclub.
  3. The club is owned by a man named Silver. He is the most powerful wolf shifter in North America.
  4. The hero, Anthony Carrow, is so extravagantly gorgeous that he casts a pulchritude diminishing “glamour” over himself so he won’t steal attention from his friend when at the club.
  5. It bears repeating that the characters use “glamours”.
  6. If the novella had been longer, I suspect they would have used “magicks”, as well.
  7. Silver is so rampagingly Alpha Male that he does everything but pee in a circle around Anthony.
  8. An ensemble consisting of black leather pants and a silver mesh shirt is “elegant”.
  9. Vampires are metro-sexual real estate professionals.
  10. Silver thinks Anthony is a fae-witch hybrid, but what he doesn’t know yet is…
  11. “My grandfather is Zeus,” he mumbled.
  12. As an added bonus to being a fae-witch with a godhead grandpappy, Anthony can teleport.
  13. Anthony is “claimed” when Silver puts an ancient Egyptian bejeweled gold collar around his neck.
  14. While Anthony and Silver’s large age difference wasn’t creepy, the parent/child undertone of their submission and domination relationship was super creepy.
  15. Yes, it was free.
  16. No, they did not get it on as animals.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 54: Warrior by Zoe Archer

Goodreads: “To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for Capt. Gabriel Huntley, it’s become quite real and quite dangerous…

The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond—where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn’t be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress—just what he needs.

Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley’s assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn’t easy to deceive…”

This was a fun book. It could be that I don’t delve into steampunk much, so I’m not fatigued by it, but Warrior rose above a lot of the other romance I’ve read recently. The characters themselves weren’t especially unique to historical romance; Huntley is a fairly standard Protector and Thalia is the woman who never learned her place, which of course dazzles Huntley because a docile lady is never an interesting one. They’re both also White Saviors, but that’s another story.

Something I think Archer did nicely here was that she had a good instinct for detail: she included enough to make the world in Warrior vivid and engaging, but not so much as to overwhelm the reader. I also thought she built great romantic tension between the two leads and paced their “union” really well. Theirs was a partnership that benefited both of them and made them better together than either of them would have been on their own, which speaks to a human companionship that doesn’t always leap out of a lot of PNR. (As an aside — since I’ve called it both in this review, is magic/steampunk romance “historical” romance or “paranormal” romance?) In any case, this one is recommended.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 49: Born of the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Goodreads summary: “Awakened from a drugged sleep in a cold cell, the Princess Kiara finds herself a prisoner of the merciless marauders who threaten her father’s planetary kingdom. Miraculously, a rescuer appears, but behind his fearsome mask is the handsome face of a dark avenger whose outlaw touch sets her very soul aflame.”

The last time I reviewed Kenyon, I somewhat flinchingly (really though — I did NOT like them, but lots of other women do and I am not generally contrary just to prove a point) bashed the first few books of her Dark-Hunter series. Perhaps a bit of healthy distance did us well, because I was able to more-or-less enjoy this book despite it being, seemingly, the original template she used to create her other popular series. She even likes to reuse names a bit. Here, our hero is Nykyrian; the second Dark-Hunter hero is Kyrian of Thrace.

The tortured and broken hero is not a uniquely Kenyon device, but she has a particular brand that was unmistakably born here: self-loathing, forsaken by his parents and would-be peers, but with one or two loyal and fiercely protective friends, this hero has no love to give any woman because he can’t even love himself. But lo! He then encounters THE ONE WOMAN who re-ignites his soul and his erection, and the province of Sadland slowly transforms into Gladland after much turmoil and upheaval.

Other than healthy distance, I think the thing that allowed me to enjoy this one a bit more was a fairly interesting sci-fi universe. It’s built on classic tropes of the genre, but I liked Kenyon’s version of shadowy assassins and who-watches-the-watchmen?-isms. Kiara was a fairly standard heroine: she’s stubborn and snarky (read as: “different” from other princesses who probably just want to stay home and knit space petticoats and drink intergalactic tea, or something), but more importantly, she somehow has the capacity to fix our broken hero, and that’s really all we need from our romance heroines anyway (HINT I’M CHOKING ON MY SARCASM. How’s that for a sarcasm font?)

Anyway, I’m talking more smack than not, again, but really this one wasn’t so bad. It was fun, even! If you’ve read Kenyon, it’s probably an interesting experiment to read this one if you haven’t already, just so you can keep tracking her tendencies backward.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 47: At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost

At Grave’s End is the 3rd book in the Night Huntress series, which is currently at 7 books and counting. Be aware that the following description (from Goodreads) kind of spoils the first two since it’s a series:

“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.”

As the series progresses, Frost has found ways to keep making her heroes (Cat and Bones) more and more perfect and awesome, so there never really feels like there is any tension during any of the would-be fatal conflicts. This is basically because she writes vampires like omnipotent wizards and mages, rather than vampires. By that I mean, these vampires aren’t just stronger and faster with enhanced eyesight and hearing like we typically expect from vampires; they can also fly, and read minds, and be pyrokinetic, and… it goes on. Cat, for her part, is only half vampire, but she somehow has the speed and skill to take on “Master” vampires without breaking much of a sweat. And if she does sustain an injury, she only needs to drink vampire blood before it kills her, and in a matter of seconds she’ll be healed. That applies to any human, but because Cat is a half-breed, she can sustain an absurd amount of injuries before she has to worry about dying. For instance, in one battle in this book, she has her entire left arm chewed off by zombies, and not only does she not die from blood loss, but she doesn’t even notice it’s gone until Bones carries her inside and makes sure she gets blood. I understand that part of the point of a paranormal universe is that you get to make shit up, but the shit Frost is making up means that there aren’t any stakes in the conflict (SEE WHAT I DID THERE).

As for the romance, it was pretty boring in this installment. Very few “love” scenes (there was, like, one? maybe?) and this book saw the tortured inclusion of a would-be love triangle, except it can hardly be called that because it was really just one guy being really inappropriate and overbearing while Cat rebuffs him and insists, quite truthfully, that yes, she really is in love with her husband. Really, it’s not even suggested that the other guy has any chance at all, so it’s just embarrassing to read any parts regarding his unrequited love.

Overall, these books aren’t very good. I probably should have stopped after the 2nd book in the series, but I currently have up to 6 downloaded from the library so I’ll probably end up finishing those so I have some books to bitch about in my Cannonball reviews. So far, neither 2 nor 3 lived up to the intrigue and suspense of the first book in the series, and I doubt the rest will.

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 45: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

The second book in the Night Huntress series contains easily the most unintentionally hilarious sex scene I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something considering the shit I’ve read. I’m going to put “the infamous Chapter 32” under a cut in case anyone would rather experience the wonder of the scene for the first time in the author’s own words. Before I do that though, I’ll just quickly mention that the “plot” of this sequel was even flimsier and the conflicts even cheesier than the first, and that I didn’t really like this book much at all except that it made me laugh, so it wasn’t irredeemable. I’ll say with credit where it’s due to Frost that this series doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the only standard I’m really holding it to is that set by its predecessor in the series, and it does fall short of that. Anyway, onto the fun part:

Continue reading