[personal profile] savage_midnight
This journal has been so much about my personal life these days, I thought I’d get back to the basics. I used to write reviews all the time, post fanfic and memes, and comment on fandoms. I don’t seem to be doing that anymore, partly because I’m not as involved in fandom as I used to be. I haven’t written fanfic in a very long time because nothing seems to be inspiring me lately. I’ve shifted more towards original works, which I’m not currently ready to share yet.

So let’s get back to reviews. They’re not as eloquent as a lot of reviews out there, mostly because I just tend to spew random thoughts out and hope they make sense. But I still want to get back to doing it, so here are a few thoughts on the books I’ve been reading lately.

I reviewed the first two books of this series over at Goodreads, mostly in an attempt to understand why I still continued to read them even though I find their format tiring. There’s also something about the character of Dante that almost makes me feel like I’m watching Queen of the Damned. Sullen, youthful, vampire goth rocker spouting cringe-worthy lyrics at adoring fans, screaming anarchy and flipping authority the bird? Hmmm. He takes man pain to a whole new level and I grew out of that stage around the age of sixteen.

But Phoenix never gives up. It was through his relationships with the other characters in the books that I really learned to love him. His sweet, uncomplicated affection for Gina and Jay in the first book, his tender friendship with Simone, his fierce, adoring love for Lucian, his genuine, steady feelings for Von, and last, but not least, his easy, respectful, undemanding and constant love for Heather.

I readily admit that I originally found Heather to be far too clean-cut to be interesting, but after re-reading the first two books and this one, I found Phoenix was just a little more subtle with her character than most. Most of the other characters are larger than life in this series, intriguing simply because there’s so many stories behind them. It took me a while to realise that it had been a while since I’ve read a book with a capable, strong, well-rounded heroine who didn’t need “fixing” in any way, and so I’d spent two books waiting for other shoe to drop.

This is one of the first series I’ve read in which a female character has been older, wiser and more grounded than their male counterpart, and I think that’s why I thoroughly enjoy Heather’s relationship with Dante. It’s not about dependency or forced intimacy. Heather is the rescuer in this series, in more ways than one, but it stirs clear of being a victim-saviour story, which I’m thankful for. Heather does what she does because it’s simply who she is, and there’s very little that is tragic about her relationship with Dante. Dante’s story in itself is tragic, but not self-pitying, and I appreciate that.

One of the few problems I have with this series is the way Phoenix handles her plots. She fits a lot into her novels and the story in itself is fascinating and compelling enough to carry on reading. I like the concepts she works with, Dante as the first vampire/angel Maker, the Bad Seed project, the myths and legends that meld beautifully with the rock-goth background.

But the plots always seem a tad too long, a little too loose, which is strange considering how action-packed the books are. The third book suffers from the same problem and for the life of me I can’t figure out why the plots don’t feel tighter. It may be that Phoenix uses far too many different POVs for my tastes, but that might just be my own preferences interfering.

Phoenix really ups the ante in her latest book, though. The story shifts into new territory. New worlds are opening up and the novels are now moving more quickly into fantasy. The first two books had a very “human” feel to them. Despite the various supernatural characters, the plots thus far have read like murder mysteries/crime dramas, but after the events of the second book, which began to slide into the truly weird and wonderful near the end, things are beginning to escalate.

It’s clear that Phoenix knows where she wants to go with this particular story and that gives me faith that the plots will continue to be well-executed, no matter my problems with their length. I certainly want to see this series through to the end, even if it’s just to see Heather continue to be awesome book after book.

I read Angel’s Blood and Archangel’s Kiss after reading [profile] sheigra‘s post. I was intrigued to say the least, mostly because I’m getting a little tired of the usual vampire/shape shifter novels. I wanted something a little bit fresher to wake me up from my book-reading slump.

The first book was, in my opinion, an excellent read. Entertaining, exciting, well-paced and just plan fun to read. By the first few chapters, I realised I would be more than happy to read entire books of Elena and Sara simply kicking ass and being awesome. Seriously, there needs to be more books out there where the female characters aren’t so allergic to having friendships with other women. A lot of heroines these days are so damn solitary that it’s sometimes depressing.

My only complaint was that the book became so male-centric so fast and I just… I admit I’m very tired of reading the same “it’s a man’s world, we women just fight in” stories. I’m not against strong, fascinating male characters becoming integral to the plot, but I just feel that Elena had to stand up to more male egos than was necessary. The way she’s treated by these male characters, especially in the second book, just made me plain angry.

I had my problems with the second book. At times I was sold on Elena’s relationship with Raphael, but other times I just found him to be too much of an overbearing, abusive jackass. I wasn’t ever convinced that he was truly “trying” to adjust his ways for Elena and I found the second book to be an uphill struggle because of it. I did enjoy following her development as a new angel. The concept itself was interesting and I fast became immersed in her journey. I was so thoroughly invested in her character that I felt I was learning to fly right along with her.

I think that’s where Singh’s strength lies -- introducing readers to beautiful new experiences and creating gorgeous new landscapes. I loved the imagery of these books -- Archangel Towers surrounded by angels winging their way through the skies and the homes specially crafted for angels, Elena stalking the night with blinding white hair buried beneath a black knit hat, the description of her divine apartment. Small things, but what I love most about novels such as this are the finer details. Raphael’s demanding and plainly abusive behaviour in their first scene together aside, the image of them having breakfast on the roof of the Tower, surrounded by angels and angel dust, made an impression.

I hope the third book doesn’t feature such a distasteful power struggle between Elena and Raphael this time around. I think it would spoil the series for me, mostly because I feel that there’s no valid reason that Elena should have to make compromises for Raphael’s behaviour, or be expected to be patient in regards to his development. I also demand more Sara for my buck.

After reading the Guild Hunter series, I discovered Singh had written a previous series. Though categorised as a paranormal romance (a genre I’m fast growing bored with), I decided to give it a chance.

Singh is, without a doubt, fairly original in her story ideas (in comparison to what I usually read) and I found the idea of the Psy compelling enough to overcome my reluctance to read another series in which the prominent premise is that of the featured hero/heroine meeting their soulmate and finally getting that happily ever after they originally thought unattainable.

What I liked about this series was the way Singh was able to find the right balance of capability, strength, power, vulnerability and naiveté for her characters, both male and female. Though I found some novels lackluster in comparison to others, overall I found I genuinely liked a lot of the characters. The main arc of the entire series also kept me reading. It’s nicely developed, well-paced and ties all the novels together quite nicely. The series doesn’t read like a jumbled mess; Singh seems to relish the journey she takes her characters through and she seems quite confident in her destination, which, as some of you know, I appreciate in lengthy series likes these.

The downside to this series is the action never seems quite suspenseful enough. The problem with having every novel you write end in a happily ever after is that your readers know that nothing truly bad is ever going to happen. The good guys will always win and the bad guys will eventually get their comeuppance. It drains the tension out of what should otherwise be thoroughly dramatic scenes. Whatever challenges face the fated soulmates will undoubtedly be overcome, so rooting for them becomes a pretty pointless exercise.

Still, the series, while not as compelling or as gritty and visually-refreshing as the Guild Hunter series, is still a warm, undemanding read that always leaves me smiling.

This series has been on my To Read pile for a while now. I put off reading it, mostly because I’ve become far too jaded of the urban fantasy genre of late. Maybe I was picking the wrong books to read, but nothing seemed to hold my attention for long enough.

While by no reasons original, Monk’s series does hold a few refreshing concepts that were definitely interesting to follow. I liked her take on magic, the way it has been industrialised, so to speak, and the way she has attached a hefty price to its use. The series has a grittier edge than most magical novels because the consequences of magic are higher in this regard. It isn’t used as a plot device to solve each and every problem that crops up. In fact, within this series, magic often causes more problems than it solves.

As a main character, Allie is very easily likeable. Unassuming, determined and fairly well-rounded considering her history, I found her extremely relatable within a matter of pages. That’s something I appreciate in first person novels such as this. When an author knows she’s working with a solid character, she lets that character do the work for her. I often underestimate how difficult it is to create a strong lead character, one readers are willing to stick with through several novels, and Allie rates up there with Rachel Morgan, Dante Valentine and Elena Michaels.

My only problem with the heroine is that in a genre chock full of kickass women, very little about her stands out. This makes her character sound fairly flat and one-dimensional, and that isn’t true. But after reading so many urban fantasies written from the POV of strong, powerful, adventurous heroines, I’m finding it harder and harder to distinguish one from the next, much as I find it hard to keep track of the bad boys and the sexy, laid-back heroes that frequent this genre.

On saying that, I do find Zavion to be a compelling and fascinating character in his own right. I also really enjoy his relationship with Allie. There’s no forced intimacy, no overbearing gestures, no patronizing “heroics”, and its development seems quite natural.

The series on a whole is not one of my all-time favourites, but it’s still a fun ride. There’s very little to complain about with these books. Each one is beautifully written, paced and cast, which is why I know I will be in for a good, solid read when I pick up the next installment.

Wow. It’s actually been a very long time since I’ve read something light-hearted, fun and comical. I readily admit that I’m a stickler when it comes to my reading tastes. I don’t often stray out of my preferred genres and when I do, it’s usually because the books have been highly praised by those who have never steered me wrong with their recommendations.

I found this wonderful review blog here through [personal profile] shiegra, and after a little digging, it was soon obvious that the reviewer held similar opinions when it came to the books I loved and loathed. So when I saw this book had been reviewed and raved about, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I haven’t laughed out loud at a book in a good while, and while this novel didn’t tickle my funny bone quite as much as it did the reviewer’s, I still guffawed quite regularly.

While the premise of the book was by no means original – small town girl gets turned into a vampire and must learn the ropes from her sexy sire, while at the same time fighting against a murder charge that could very well result in her death – Harper’s approach is refreshing, fun and witty.

The leading lady, Jane Jameson, makes for a great heroine. While she’s not particularly adventurous, she doesn’t flinch in the face of conflict. She steps right up to the plate with a healthy dose of spunk and daredevil bravado, which I couldn’t help but find admirable. Jane’s own belief in her invincibility – and really, wouldn’t you believe you were invincible if you rose from the dead to find that you can leap off the roof of your own house and suffer nothing more than a headache – makes her antics all the more amusing.

I like the fact that this book doesn’t dwell on the dark drama of being a vampire. Jane rarely has chance to mourn what she’s lost, although it’s hinted at throughout the novel, and throws herself full-force into her new life, taking full advantage of the benefits granted to the newly-undead.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs never takes itself too seriously and the result is a fun frolic on the dark side. There’s plenty of novelty moments in the book, too. You can’t help but be amused by the imagery of Jane perusing the vampire aisle at Walmart in the middle of the night, tailing her vampire peers in an effort to learn what brand of vampire products to buy.

The book is also filled with diverse characters, most of them fluffy but entertaining. And while the plot itself was flimsy (anything heavier would have dragged down the overall light tone of the book), coupled with a loveable, hilarious heroine and a great cast, this first installment had enough to whet my appetite for the second book.

I started reading Carlyle after I saw a review of Wicked All Day over at Lurv a la Mode and figured it was about time I stepped out of my comfort zone genre-wise. So, I began, reading each one ridiculously out of order (I read them as I found them).

The first one I read was Zoe’s story in Wicked All Day, which is, despite being Carlyle’s latest book in the series, a good place to start if one were trying this author for the first time. I found Zoe to be utterly entertaining; good fun, spunky, a little self-centered, but charming and earnest in character.

I’m a complete sucker for childhood crushes that blossom into intense, mutual attraction hidden beneath genuine affection and playfulness. I thought Mercer a great foil for Zoe’s exuberance. Both were intense in their own ways and I was immediately sold on the chemistry between them.

Being an historical romance, the story itself wasn’t as action-packed and adventurous as I’m used to, but it was still very easy to settle into the drama and watch it unfold. Unlike a few of Carlyle’s other books, there’s no subplot at work here, no murder to solve or conspiracy to unravel. This is pure romance and the will-they-won’t-they plot is very fitting for the era its set in and the people within it.

There are some great, loveable characters in this book. I especially loved Zoe’s stepmother and Mercer’s mother. You can tell within the space of one novel that Carlyle has a deep love for quirky, outspoken genteel women who rebel against society in the smallest and biggest of ways.

After Zoe’s story I started reading backwards. The Devil You Know was next, and though the plot was very similar to the first and the characters just as likeable, I found I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. I didn’t like to see Freddie and Bentley becoming less than they were throughout their somewhat forced marriage. It wasn’t pleasant to read, even knowing the ending would be a happy one. After reading the first chapter or so, I was hoping these two would simply spend the whole novel having adventure after adventure and being snarky with each other. Alas, most of it was doom and gloom and there seemed very little relief.

Things got a little worse when I started A Deal With The Devil and I cop to the fact right now that I didn’t finish this book. I was just far, far too uncomfortable with the power imbalance evident in Aubrey and Walrafen’s relationship. Even though Carlyle tries to comfort the reader that Aubrey does have some kind of feelings for her employer, the fact that Aubrey isn’t certain of them and the fact that Walrafen ignores the obvious truth, that she doesn’t have the power or the authority or the means to say no to him, I still couldn’t read their scenes together without cringing. I felt tense throughout every single one and the more Walrafen waxed poetry about how he couldn’t resist her and how he knew it would be a mistake, the more I got angry.

I simply couldn’t finish the book, so I can’t say how it turned out or whether the balance of power ever changed. Some books are meant to be uncomfortable, but not this kind of uncomfortable, not when the author is clearly trying to sell it as a romance.

Because I’d enjoyed the first two books I’d read, I decided on another because I didn’t want to leave Carlyle behind without being sure.

The latest I read was Tempted All Night the story of the straight-laced Phae and the incorrigible rake, Tristan.

What I liked about this novel was the mystery plot interwoven with the romance. It meant that the whole weight of the book didn’t rest just on the shoulders of the romance itself, even though such a plot obviously plays second fiddle in a romance novel. Still, I found it provided a great opportunity for Phae and Tristan to work together and as a result I found the chemistry and affection between them to be both believable and intense.

This novel is a little more daring than Carlyle’s others. I won’t spoil you too much, but there are certain things that Phae learns about herself that makes the character that much more interesting and vivid. The way that Tristan helps her to come to this understanding, encouraging her to embrace it, is why Tristan became one of my favourite Carlyle “heroes” instantaneously.

So, while I’ve moved on to other authors and other books in the meantime, Carlyle is definitely one of those I will return to one day, probably when winter sets in and I’m ready to snuggle up in bed with a warm, easy read.

I read the first two of Rardin’s Jaz Park’s books a long time ago but never reviewed them. I guess I must have read them when I found myself saturated in quite a few awesome urban fantasies, because I soon forgot to look out for the third book upon its release.

It wasn’t until I heard the news of Rardin’s sudden death last month that I started re-reading this series. To be honest, the author’s name didn’t ring a bell and it wasn’t until I looked up the blurbs for each book that I realized I had read them.

That makes it sound like Rardin’s books are easily forgettable, which isn’t so. But I readily admit they did get buried beneath my ever-growing pile of urban fantasies, mostly because, while a good, solid read, they didn’t quite stand out enough.

I’ve just finished re-reading the first book and I will say this, Jaz Parks is a strong, likeable heroine. She’s actually pretty funny, too. Like most heroines in this genre, she has a complicated, mysterious past, and her almost-but-not-quite-suicidal-tendencies give her a nice edge. What I like about Jaz is that while it’s clear she’s miserable, she makes sure that the reader doesn’t drown in her misery along the way.

Vayl, while a nice foil for Jaz, isn’t quite as fascinating for me. I think as characters they complement each other very well. I like the fact that Jaz makes it obvious from the get-go that she enjoys working with Vayl, that she benefits from it and vice versa. While it’s sometimes fun to read about two characters who loathe each other having to learn to work together, I think Rardin made a good choice in establishing their strong relationship before she got to the meat of the story. It was nice to slip into the comfort and stability of a pre-established partnership, mostly because it provided steady ground for Jaz’s shaky emotional state.

For now Vayl still stands firmly in the love interest category, and I think I need a little bit more in the way of character development to truly invest. But considering I’ve only read the first two books, I’m not quite ready to give up on him just yet.

By the end of the first book I felt Rardin had created a solid team I would quite happily while away a few hours with. I’m not particularly a Bergman fangirl; I remember reading the second book and finding his bigotry almost too much to swallow. But Cassandra intrigues me (now there’s a backstory I want to know) and Cole’s penchant for mischief and mayhem will no doubt make for a few adventures. After refreshing myself with book two I think I’ll be more than ready to devour the rest of the series.



November 2010

14 151617181920
212223 24252627

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags