Friday, May 8, 2009

Review: 52 pt. 1

52 - Part 1 (DC Comics) (DC Comics) 52 - Part 1 by Greg Cox

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, the first part of this was not as engaging as Infinite Crisis, but it has an appeal all its own. It is much easier to keep up with all the characters, and there seems to be more drama than Infinite Crisis had, but not as much action. Normally that is good, but you really have to pay attention to this one or you might miss something other than just another fight sequence.

It isn't just no Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, though. Where is Green Lantern? Martian Manhunter? Aquaman? MIA. Nightwing? Teen Titans? Nope. I love The Question, don't get me wrong. Black Adam is a little much, but okay. Green Arrow? Nada. If you're not giving me Batman, throw me something, right?

The time travel angle is a good one, but there wasn't enough of it in part 1. It was good enough that I want to get to the next part and find out what happens, but not so great that I want to keep driving until I reach the end.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: Lover Avenged

Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #7) Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was better than Lover Enshrined, even though I gave it a 4 star review as well. But, it just didn't reach the five stars for me.

What I love about Ward's writing is also what I hate about Ward's writing. When I read her prose, it isn't just filler. The narrative voice in this book is almost another character. An omnipotent one, to be sure, but still a separate character. I don't like how this character adds "ilies" to everything. Is it really that hard to say Stilettos, Mr. or Ms. Omnipotent? And I REALLY wish the word "shitkicker" was permanently deleted from your vocabulary. But, you do have a way with words and I appreciate how you could turn something very dry and boring into a fast, page turning adventure.

This whole series reminds me of how easy it was for me to make the leap from Fantasy to Romance lit. The world building is good and I love huge casts of characters. The more pages the merrier, and I love series. I can also see how this would be disturbing to those who started this series expecting one thing, and find themselves in this new place. It is dishonest to market this as a romance series with a hero/heroine focused plot. That is not where the plot is focused. The world does not revolve around the hero/heroine finding their happily ever after. They do find it, don't get me wrong, but I don't think anyone can say that is where the focus is. It seems to be something that happens along the way in the larger story. To me, that is absolutely fantastic. To people who are expecting the beginning, middle and end to be about Rehv and Elena, your set may need to be slightly adjusted.

I'm not sure what the endgame is here with the whole Lessers/Vampire war, and I'm not sure I care. I assume Ward wants me to care, so this may not be a good thing. I enjoy the characters, and I tune in to see what is going to happen next with them. I am more than a little caught up in how the war is affecting Wrath. But, other than that, it's background noise to me. It's a little like North and South. You know there is a war going on in the background, but the battle scenes are not the reason why you're watching. It's what goes on because of the war, during the war, before and after the war, that holds your interest.

Very hard to do this without spoilers, by the way.

Ward also has a style of writing, and dropping hints of future plot lines, that means if you have an interest in this series and where it might be going, you have to pay pretty close attention. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here, and I'm hoping that what looks like a recycled plot isn't going to be a recycled plot. I'm crazy about Xhex, John-Matthew, Blay and Qhuinn so the next book will be wonderful for me. I'm hoping that Bella gets a rest because she had a hell of a book this time around. She deserves some R & R. She had like, five scenes and all of them were drama? Come on.

I hate Lassiter. Just had to get that out.

And a word about the "gangsta": I wonder why people get so bent out of shape that some of Ward's characters don't act or talk like run of the mill white bread. Each of these characters has a distinct voice and, contrary to popular internet opinion, they don't all embrace the street talk. But the ones that do, seems completely consistent with the other characteristics they have. Is it so unusual? To me, the bigger question is why so many people have a problem with it?

And I hate Lassiter.

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Review: Hard as Nails

Hard As Nails Hard As Nails by M.A. Ellis

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the first book from Ellora's Cave that I can say, unequivocally, that I loved. That isn't to say I've read everything they published and hated it all, obviously that isn't the case. But everything I had read before was not good. Maybe I was picking the wrong ones. It had gotten so bad, that I didn't even want to pick up anything published by them. So why did I pick up this one? Your guess is as good as mine. But, I absolutely LOVED EVERY BIT of this book.

All four stories was fantastic. The sex was hot, as you'd expect, but there was much more to these stories than the hot sex. The characters had emotion and depth. My favorite story was "Twisted Steel and Sex Appeal" which made me laugh out loud and swoon in equal measure. Shelly and Luke were a fabulous couple, and I wish their story could have been a full length book instead of just a short story.

The weakest story, for me, was the first one. The Cake Babe. I thought there was a little too much serendipity in how the two of them got together. I didn't believe it. And, even though the sex was hot, I bought the idea of hot sex for the sake of hot sex much more than I bought longlasting love. That story needed more time to, bake (as it were) and I would have thought it better if they had started as a couple and worked their way up through the other three stories. Even though the other three brothers met their matches (ha!) in similarly short periods of time, Jason and Marissa just didn't work for me. But, even that wasn't enough to knock off a star. It was really that good. I look forward to reading more from Ellis.

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Review: Hittin' It

Hittin' It Hittin' It by Amie Stuart

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
If it weren't for the first person confusion in "Screwed" this would have been a five star review. That bit threw me off and, even though I eventually got used to it, I think there may have been a more effective way of pulling it off. Maybe putting names at the beginning of the chapter when the voice changed? I mean, I could see that the voice changed, of course, but...I don't know. I'm not opposed to first person on general principle, it just seem to stall the story each time the voice flipped and the reader had to re-adjust how they were seeing the world. That's all. Purely personal preference, I suppose.

None of that did anything to dull the excitement of the characters, though. Stuart populated her world with fascinating people who you wanted to follow. I wanted Will to read more of Sabrina's diaries so I could learn more about her too! I wanted to hear more about Will's family, hear more about his background with the bitchy exes. I loved the world that was built around a family of assassins and how they make their way in the world. Worldbuilding only works if you care enough about the people who populate that world. Stuart succeeded in making me care about them. Of course, making me care about the main characters is really a basic characteristic of a good writer. I know it may seem like it is complex, but that is because so many writers can't make that happen. A truer sign of a complex writer, however, makes you care about the secondary and tangential characters as well. They aren't just props for the main characters to move around, but they have three dimensional thoughts and motivations of their own. I got that from the secondary characters in both "Screwed" and "Hooked". The characters weren't just there as roadblocks (cockblocks?) but could easily be turned into heroes and/or heroines in their own right. Well, maybe not Mark Green. I really don't like that one.

Even though I liked all four of the main characters, I think I preferred "Hooked". Don't get me wrong, I loved Will and Sabrina (and Will....did I say that already?). But, I really thought John and Tish had more chemistry. And while I really liked Tish, she seemed to irritate me in a way that made me wonder why I cared so much. That isn't to say that Will and Sabrina weren't good, because they most definitely were. There was a real depth there, definitely more serious, and not just because of the circumstances that led to them being on the run. Each of them had (or seemed to have)lived more life, had more to overcome which made it nicer when they found each other. John and Tish seemed to be more fun. I was equally happy that they found each other. And, even though there was the drama in John's past that made him commit to the non-lying, it still seemed more light hearted and fun.

Overall, very good book with two very strong stories. I can't wait to read more from her.

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Review: Body Chemistry

Body Chemistry (Kimani Romance) Body Chemistry by Dara Girard

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I should tell you, up front, that I did not finish this book. So, take that into consideration if you plan to keep reading.

Girard had a few good things going on in this book. I like the idea of the Black Stockings Society, and it could have been a very interesting plot point. Who doesn't get all excited at the thought of a secret society? And I absolutely love a plot line with exes. Yep, I sure do. But this was a book where the ideas were good and the execution just didn't do it for me.

First of all, all of the characters were problematic. Brenda had her moments where she was extremely likeable. But, there were more moments when she seemed defensive and angry and condescending. I didn't see why anyone would want to be with her at all, quite frankly. Dominic was boring. There was no conflict in him. He had everything (except the girl) but that made him kind of blah. Where was the excitement? The only character that showed some spark was the resident jerk, Dr. Franklin. I was looking for more in the way of character development (or even interest) and it wasn't there. There were glimmers of it (which is why the book gets 2 stars from me) but I was hoping for more.

The real problem I had with this book, however, was the writing style. I realize this is a personal preference, but it really did bother me. There was much "telling" in this book instead of showing. The book started with a letter, which sets the plot into motion. But, immediately after that, things are slowed down my the way Girard puts too many words between the reader and the characters.
Brenda Everton calmly put the letter down on her desk. She had no urge to crumple or throw it but accepted it for what it was: a rejection.
Well, does the reader need to be told what she had the urge NOT to do? I know she didn't have the urge to do that. Why? Because she didn't do it.
She swung around in her chair and stared out her office window. She placed her hands on the arm rest. "Damn" she said in a soft whisper that quickly disappeared in the empty room. She listned to the sound of the clock, which seemed to keep time with the light drizzle of rain outside and the footsteps walking past her office door.
That last sentence was the best in a paragraph that was desperately in need of an editor.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I read through the cumbersome writing, hoping that when hero and heroine finally met up it would be worth it. Unfortunately, there was very little magic between the main characters. They didn't spark with me individually or together. At that point, I gave up. I would try another book by Girard, but this one was a wash for me.

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