Thursday, April 25, 2013

REVIEW: Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster

Echo Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite an arresting premise, the book failed to dazzle me.

+ the heroine

I found Ashara lacking. I don’t expect YA heroines to be kickass straight out of the box, but I do expect them to exhibit a trait that would make me root for them. The book dressed up her as the Chosen One, but she acted more like a supporting character than anything else. Ashara was underwhelmingly ordinary. I understood her. I connected with her. I did not hold her issues, feelings, and limits against her. Nonetheless, I couldn’t bring myself to think her of as a heroine despite the fact that the story was told in 1st person POV from her side.

It took two-third of the story for her fierceness to finally gain teeth. Alas, it was her super magic that made Ashara fierce. Her super magic served as a crutch because without it Ashara was impotent. She did have moments of awesomeness, moments when she finally shined as a heroine, but those moments were very fleeting. Loken, Ashara’s love interest, was more interesting than her.

+ the romance

I greatly appreciated the paucity of angst. I think this the first time I read a YA where the couple were previously each other’s ex; it was rather refreshing. It took almost no effort for me to believe the two loved each other and would do anything to save the other. I thought the romance, second to the battle scenes, was one of the best things about the book. (The third best thing would be the time magic used to manipulate timelines.)

+ the issues

I didn’t care for the fact that the religious characters, barring a few exceptions, were portrayed as violent, hypocritical extremists. It reeks of lazy world building when an entire group of people is brushed as evil.

In the middle of the story, Ashara got imprisoned. Before her imprisonment, Ashara was a girl who always kept her family in her thoughts in spite of whatever was going on. However, after her imprisonment, she never once thought about her family, e.g. sending word to her family that she was (relatively) fine. Worse, Ashara started being reckless with her life in spite of her promise to her family and herself to be cautious and not make them go through the pain of suffering the loss of another loved one. Ashara was pretty reckless before, but she always kept that side in check and kept her promise. In short, Ashara was not consistently characterized throughout the story.

Third issue, I did not care for the high body count. So many characters died. On one hand, it was realistic because it was the Apocalypse. On the other hand, it started to get ridiculous. The first few deaths had an impact, but the ones afterward, I couldn’t bother to give a shit. The deaths were becoming meaningless.

Fourth issue, I didn’t receive clear cut answers for what caused the Apocalypse. The book focused so much on the evil Mages and Ashara that it forgot that they didn’t directly cause it. They contributed to the Apocalypse, but they didn’t directly cause it. The plot essentially left the answers in the dust as it ran furiously towards the climax.

In Conclusion

I rate Echo 3-stars for I liked it. Despite the myriad of issues, for what it was worth the story entertained me. I was never actively irked or bored. The issues never pushed me to the point of frustration, the plot engaged me, and the ending satisfied me. The book was good sci-fi fluff. Sometime a bag of roasted potato chips can be fulfilling.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

REVIEW: Endgame by Nenia Campbell

Endgame (Voluntary Eradicators, #1) Endgame by Nenia Campbell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: minor spoiler

The book boasted ingredients for a fantastic thriller. The ingredients included virtual reality, hacking, corruption, and conspiracy. However, to my great disappointment, the book turned out to be one of those cases where just because the ingredients were awesome it doesn’t necessary mean the result would be awesome too.

+ the plot

A fine line demarcates between cryptic and confusing; the book treaded on the latter territory. The dream sequences/flashbacks were too many and too long for my liking. Instead of cluing me in or building up suspense like the scenes were supposed to do, they befuddled me, bored me, and disengaged me from the story. The flashbacks bogged the already sluggish pacing. The plot didn’t seem to go anywhere. How could it when the heroine reacted to problems as they occurred and did little to prevent them.

+ the characters

Vol was a passive heroine, which is why I didn’t care for her. Well, I did pity her to an extent but only about a centimeter. Vol did show some spunkiness but it was offset by moments of TSTL-ness. For example, she decided to meet her sexually harassing stalker alone, unarmed, and at the time he dictated in a place she was not familiar with. TSTL, Vol. TSTL!

I would haven’t minded it much if she at least showed me that she was capable of handling danger, but she didn’t. In all the virtual reality video game sessions, Vol got her ass kicked. It happened so many times that I didn’t understand why she was hired in the first place or why she hadn't been fired because the girl seriously stunk.

Vol also made the poor choice to take a love interest in Catan. Almost every time they met, he sexually harassed her. I eventually learned why he acted that way and understood where he was coming from, but it didn’t fully excuse his distasteful behavior. At the very least, he needed a good bitch slap, at least five bitch slaps.

It wasn’t just Catan who needed to be bitch slapped; about all the dudes in the story needed to be bitch slapped. Douchebags the lot of them. I did not care for the misandric undertone whatsoever. I also did not care for the casual sexual violence, either, even if it was simply verbal. I felt it was edgy in a very shallow, contemptible way and essentially lazy writing.

Spoiler ahead.

Frankly, the only character I liked was Tash. Tash was fierce and friendly. Out of all the characters, she alone made a strong positive impression on me. Of course, the story went and off-ed her at the end because we can’t have nice things can we.

+ the ending

It was not till end of the book, around the climax, that the book finally began to deliver a simulacrum of the things the blurb boasted. Answers were finally given, fucking better late than never. Still, ennui had settled in; it was way too late to save the book. Worse, the book had the disgrace to end openly on a horror note with a stupid twist.

Imagine a ship sinking and suddenly fire erupts because, hey, why not.

+ the writing

I love the video game theme, but the book could have done better at explaining the lingo. It took me a long time before I finally understood what “Marks” meant. I understood the word in the general sense (I watch TV), but I didn’t understand the context behind the word. Vol wasn’t a con artist or thief or anything similar, and the VR tourists weren’t being ripped off. So why did Vol hold such high contempt for them? I was unable to discern an answer.

Though I can make an educated guess, I still don’t really understand what Weavers and Spinners are. In short, a glossary at the end of the book would have done some good.

In Conclusion

I rate Endgame 2-stars for it was okay. The book boasted braggadocio. Thankfully, it was a relatively quick and easy read, and the splash of befuddlement was tolerable.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

REVIEW: A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang

A Trace of Moonlight (Abby Sinclair, #3) A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: minor spoiler

Book 3 concluded the Abby Sinclair series, and it disappointed me — big time.

+ the plot

I was very relieved that the story allowed Abby to quickly regain her memory because the book would have been an insufferable read otherwise. In her amnesiac state, Abby was stupid and whiny. I thought after the memory-gain things would get better. I thought wrong. Things slowed down considerably, so slow that the the plot virtually went nowhere. I thought war was imminent because of what happened in book 2 and the resulting state of affairs in book 3, but apparently not. For two-third of the book, ennui smushed me.

The plot eventually picked up pace at the last third of the book, but it rolled off a cliff. The sense of urgency was dreadfully weak. The story tried to recuperate by slapping on a bunch of twists and turns, but it slapped on so much that it convoluted the plot and birthed ridiculous drama.

+ the romance

The romance was no better. It was an irritating mess. I expected book 3, as the final book of the series, to quickly resolve the love triangle, but no. The story was bent on stretching the stupid romance as long it could to the point that I just wanted to kick all the parties involved in the shin. I didn’t care who she picked; I just wanted the love triangle to end already. It should have ended in book fucking 2!

Abby finally picked a guy at the end of book 3, but much to my frustration the door was left open so that she could easily dump that guy and pick the other one later on. Or someone else entirely never introduced in the series because who knows. Damn girl was flaky. But oh no, this shit called romance got shittier!

Spoiler ahead.

Surprise! Abby got pregnant! I should have seen that coming because neither she nor her lover used protection. The story never told us who the father was because she had intercourse with both romance interests separately throughout the book. Dumbasses the three of them. It aggravated me that the story left the reader to imagine who the father could be.

I despise loose ends at the end of series; I despise it a lot when the story purposely and unnecessarily introduces a loose end at the end of a series because, hey, tightly wrapped-up endings are for losers, right? Fuck you, book!

+ the characters

Abby was an unremarkable heroine to say the very least. I really don’t see anything about her that earned her the romantic interest from a smoking hot incubus and a charming dutiful elf prince. *cough* Mary Sue! *cough*

Her perverted miniature unicorn sidekick was only funny in one scene; the rest of the time he was bland. His character no longer excited me as it did in book 1.

Frankly speaking, Abby, her unicorn sidekick, and her romantic interests were not compelling enough for their story to last a trilogy. The cast shilled me.

In Conclusion

I begrudgingly rate A Trace of Moonlight 2 stars for it was okay. Book 1 was the best of the series, book 3 was the worst. Overall, the series was painfully mediocre. For a story that involved the race of humans, elves, and daemons and threatened their fate and all the worlds, it was utterly UN-fucking-epic. I do not recommend the series.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, April 22, 2013

REVIEW: Poison by Bridget Zinn

Poison Poison by Bridget Zinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poison delivered on its promise. It delivered a kickass heroine, a charming love interest, a cute pet pig, and an exciting plot. I devoured the book in less than 3 hours.

+ the characters

Kyra was everything I hope for in a heroine. She was resourceful, quick thinking, resilient, determined, selfless, noble, kind, etc. She deserved all the superlatives. I liked how she didn’t hesitate to kick ass, I liked that she fought smart, and even better I liked that she won most of the times. I liked how she knew when to not fight but hide instead; I liked that she recognized her own limits. I liked how she came to adore her new pet pig, Rose. I liked how she eventually opened her heart to love, to Fred, in spite of the risks and her mission. The book constantly gave me reasons to love Kyra more. I was happy that the entire story was told in her 1st person POV so that I could receive her full awesomeness.

Fred, the love interest, was charming, patient, and best of all nice. I thought YA had ruined me with its bad boy cliche because the few times I encountered good boy love interests I found them boring. I thought boys acting like jerks was the only way they, as love interests, could ever be interesting. Fred proved me wrong, and I was grateful for it. He proved that it was perfectly possible for a love interest to be both nice and interesting. I loved how patient he was with Kyra because Kyra didn’t have the time and couldn’t afford the time for romance. It would have been understandable if he was curt to her, but I was very glad he never was. Fred was seriously and thoroughly a nice boy.

Rose, Kyra’s pet, was cute. She could have easily come off as annoying and a burden, but she didn’t.

+ the plot

Even though there were flashbacks, one of which was particularly long, i.e. the entire chapter two, the pacing moved fast, and it was mainly due to the writing. The writing emphasized action and dialogue and painted imagery only when it was relevant. The plot always moved towards Kyra’s goal.

I did not expect the amount of twists the plot had. Just when I thought the big twist was done and over, the plot pulled a few twists that were no less shocking. The ending pleased me.

+ negligible issues

I did have a few issues with the book, but they were in the way of “this is good, but it could have slightly better.” I wished I learned more about the hermit, Ellie, and how he got into the conspiracy and what ultimately happened to him at the end of the story. It was easy to fill in the blanks but I preferred to know outright. Even though he was a bad guy, he was just so pitiful.

Second issue was about Fred. I wanted to know how Fred got a wolf for a pet and learned how to steal like an experienced thief.

Third issue was about the romance. I’m glad it wasn’t a love triangle, that Fred and Kyra mutually liked each other, and that the other girl was nice and not made out to be evil so she could be easily bumped off. However, I wished Kyra and Fred came together earlier and not at the very last minute. I wished they fought for each other and communicated with each other about how they really felt.

Fourth issue was about the bad guy who was responsible for the main conflict. He was a caricature. The main conflict could have been avoided had the guy been disposed of in the first place when he got captured. In chapter 11, Kyra suggested people can be throw into prison for life for trivial reasons. If not executing him outright, he could have stayed in prison for life. On one hand, I’m glad the justice system had integrity. On the other hand, it seemed too good and simple to be real because what kingdom would willfully release a bad guy who will certainly return for vengeance. Anyway, once all was revealed and Kyra confronted him, he hit on her. WTF.

In Conclusion

I rate Poison 4-stars for I really liked it. The book was fun and exciting. Both the plot and the protagonist were strong. While the book wasn’t without issues, I found them negligible. Frankly, the biggest issue I had was that the book was a standalone. I strongly felt there were more adventures in Kyra’s future to be told.

If you like Poison, I recommend The False Princess, which I rated 4-stars too.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, April 19, 2013

REVIEW: 50 Shades of Gay by Jeffery Self

50 Shades of Gay 50 Shades of Gay by Jeffery Self
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The romance surprised me. I expected a BDSM PWP, and while I did get my smut, the romance also presented relationship shit one would normally see in a serious romance. Unfortunately, one issue stopped me from enjoying the book.

+ the protagonist

Alex narrated the story in 1st person POV, and I didn’t like it initially. The dude had too many thoughts going on his head. No, it was not a stream of consciousness (thank hell); he simply had many thoughts going on. Alex’s narration impeded the plot to the extent that it took several pages before the plot finally started and Alex met Grayson (in chapter 3). Afterward, Alex kept extolling how hot Grayson was. Yes, I get it, Alex. You’re horny and hot for Grayson, can we please move the plot along?

Eventually, the plot did move along. The narration rewarded me for my patience with character growth. Slowly but surely, Alex grew as he demanded more from Grayson and entertained the idea that maybe he (Alex) shouldn’t have to settle. Alex started off as naive but he grew out of it by the end.

I liked the fact that just because he was naive it didn’t mean he was stupid. In spite of his horniness, Alex recognized that Grayson was a mental case.

+ the love interest

I found Grayson lacking as a character. I never really understood his issues. For example, I learned how he got into the BDSM lifestyle but not why he liked BDSM or why he chose to be a dom instead of staying as a sub because he entered the BDSM lifestyle as a sub. The book focused so much on Alex that it forgot about developing Grayson as a dimensional character. Grayson came off like an unfinished sculpture, the Greek marble kind where a piece of block remained on the person.

I didn’t like Grayson. I liked his sexy, kinky times with Alex, but not Grayson as a person. Not until the end when Grayson changed and chose love that I finally (and mildly) liked Grayson.

+ the romance

The smut was hot and plenty to my satisfaction. While the smut did breach dub-con territory a few times, the sexual practice remained tamed. The BDSM consisted of nothing more than rough sex, spanking and whipping, and restraint of movement. I really liked that Alex sensibly researched BDSM once he learned about Grayson’s kink.

The romance was surprisingly decent. Alex and Grayson did more than fuck, they actually talked about their desires and what they desired from each other. Contracts were waved around. Consent was discussed. Relationship shit was happening.

One thing I didn’t like was how the story tried to introduce Josh, a nice and free-of-issues guy in contrast to not-that-nice and full-of issues Grayson, as a rival for Alex’s love. Poor Josh. He never had a chance. The Josh thing didn’t add anything to the story overall. It also made Alex looked a bit like a Gary Stu because I found it hard to believe someone who had no dating or sexual experience whatsoever would suddenly have the attention of two hot guys.

+ the issue

The biggest issue I had with the story was how near the end in the last sex scene, Alex and Grayson switched roles in the middle of sex. Alex became the dom and Grayson became the sub. It didn’t make sense to me; it came out of nowhere. Grayson may have entered the BDSM lifestyle as a sub, but afterward he established himself as dom. He made that very clear upon the start of his relationship with Alex and continued to make it clear throughout their relationship. So how come he allowed Alex to take charge and what compelled to Alex to take charge?

Alex and Grayson broke character for no reason, and it left me flabbergasted.

In Conclusion

I rate 50 Shades of Gay 2-stars for it was okay. The book had smut and a believable HFN, but when the couple broke character, it ruined the tepid enjoyment I got from the book. That said, the book was not bad as I half-expected for a 50 Shades knockoff.

If you’re looking to pass the time and want to jump on the 50 Shades bandwagon but prefer mm smut, 50 Shades of Gay is a good fit.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thursday, April 18, 2013

REVIEW: Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Dead Things Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What luck! Dead Things was pretty much everything I could ever want in an Urban Fantasy. The hero kicked ass, the pacing was fast, and the story was devoid of cliches (the ones that annoy me anyway).

+ the hero

Eric Carter was my ideal Urban Fantasy hero. He embraced his power, and even better, he didn't hesitate killing bad guys with it. With great power comes great responsibility to kick ass and make them stay down — permanently.

I loved how he owned up to his bad decisions and personality flaws. Say what? I couldn't believe it. Eric was trying make things right and become a better person. *knock, knock* Who's there? Character Growth? OMG! Welcome! I hardly ever see you, especially in book 1 of a series. Please, stay as long as you want.

I liked that it wasn’t part of his character growth for Eric to begin as a weak magical player. Dude was not an underdog cliche, which was very atypical of an Urban Fantasy. Dude was a power player and I loved it! I loved how by the end of the book, he got more powerful. None of this “let’s wait till book 3 or fucking 12 for magic leveling up” crap.

The only things I didn’t like about Eric were how a few times low level bad guys got the upper hand and how Eric lost conscious multiple times even though it was for various reasons. Eric and near-death experiences seemed to be quite the close friends, too close for my liking. Lady Luck must also be Eric’s friend, too. On the other hand, powerful doesn’t mean invincible or infallible.

+ the plot

The pacing was fast, which was rare for an Urban Fantasy, even rarer for book 1 of a series. It was fast in the way that things were progressing steadily and a small level of suspense was sustained. I was not bored! Not bored at all!

I loved how Eric didn't waste time doing what was needed to be done. It would have been in character and understandable for Eric to have some emo me-times; dude literally watched his sister being murdered in a flashback/ghost echo. Woah. I was very glad he plowed through his issues and resolved to get vengeance.

+ the plot hole

Unfortunately, there was a Chekhov's Gun-based plot hole. In chapter 8, Eric made a deal with a goddess of death in which she would provide a clue about his sister's murderer if Eric successfully kill this evil mage lord/mafia boss, Griffin, in town. The deal was quickly forgotten about; Eric never made it a priority or even thought about it. If I made an unbreakable magical deal with the goddess of death, you bet your ass I would be thinking about it 24/7 till I completed it.

Eric eventually faced Griffin, but he didn't kill Griffin on the first confrontation, nor on multiple confrontations thereafter. Eric finally dealt with the guy towards the end but only because it fit in his “kill two birds with one stone” plan to take out this second evil guy. It was not because Eric remembered that he had to kill Griffin anyway because of his deal with the goddess.

Eric never received that divinely promised clue, the goddess never mentioned the deal again, and the story proceeded as if the deal never happened.

+ the plot, part 2

Barring that plot hole, everything went fine and dandy and non-holey. One of the things I loved about the story was the absence of damsel in distress. Urban Fantasies are flooded with damsels in distress, but the book stayed on dry ground.

One of my favorite scenes was when Eric and Vivian took out their gun as they entered a dangerous place in chapter 15. Eric casually asked, possibly to inject levity to the situation, if the gun Vivian was holding her boyfriend's gun. Vivian immediately scolded Eric and said it was hers and that her boyfriend actually hated guns as a matter of fact.

As I read Dead Things, I got a Dresden Files feel, especially how similar the goddess of death was to Mab and the deal Eric made with the goddess to the deal Harry made with Mab among several other things. Dead Things was like Dresden Files but without the issues I had with Dresden Files. No dilly dallying in progression of story arc, no damsels in distress, no underdogs, no stupid moral qualms that stop the protagonist from doing what must be done, no martyr complex, etc.

In Conclusion

I rate Dead Things 4-stars I really liked it. Book 1 started with a bang and it ended on a bang. The series is fast to becoming one of my favorites. (Oh Mother of all Tentacle Aliens, please let the sequels continue the awesome!)

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

REVIEW: Built 4 It by Daisy Harris

Built 4 It Built 4 It by Daisy Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The romance was nice but I wanted it to be longer. Because of the disturbing premise, it took me nearly half the of the story before I got comfortable and allowed myself to focus on the romance. Once I did, it was almost over.

+ the world building

The premise was a hurdle because it was about dead people being reanimated back to life as lab rats for experiments. Whether or not the steins, which the book called the zombies, became lab rats, they were quickly disposed of after a few months, treated fully like equipment. The story was not outright violent or anything like that, but it showed a side of human cruelty that I couldn’t fully stomach. I wasn’t surprised to learn later on from Shani’s POV, a minor character, that steins were also used for sex slavery.

While the world was easy to imagine, parts of it remained a mystery to me. For example, where did the bad guys get these dead people to make steins? What place did steins have in society? Were they openly oppressed or were they a secret of a hidden world? I didn’t read the prequels so I didn’t know. The book worked sufficiently as a standalone, but it was apparent to me the book was best read as a part of the series.

+ the characters

I didn’t have any delay connecting to the characters. The story was dominated by the couple’s POVs, and even though it was in 3rd person POV I felt no distance between the characters and myself. In other words, the character felt palpable, and their thoughts were like an open book to me.

Thus, I immediately felt sad for the couple because of what they were facing. Thankfully, it wasn’t all sad. I liked how Ben overcame the stereotype of a meek geek and summoned his courage to do what was right. I liked how Kee was a nice alpha who respected boundaries and put Ben’s happiness as a priority; I loved his attempts to reach out to Ben and be with Ben.

The characters were refreshing; they weren’t cardboard characters as I expected. I wouldn’t have minded if they were, but I’m glad they were not and that there was a perceptible standard the book was aiming for.

+ the romance

I also wouldn’t have minded if the romance had turned out to be nothing more than a fuckfest; smut fan in your presence. However, nothing like that happened. The romance turned out to be developmental and sweet. That said, I appreciated that there was still some smut. Incorrigible smut fan is incorrigible. Holla!

In Conclusion

I rate Built 4 It 2-stars for it was okay. By all rights, it would have been a star higher but the story left me wanting at the end. I wasn’t satisfied how the story came off more as an appetizer than as an entree. Not that the ending wasn’t a HEA — it was, but I felt like Ben and Kee have more adventures to be told, that this book was just the beginning. I wished Ben and Kee’s story continued on in a series of their own instead as a part of a typical romance series where each book focused on a different couple.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

REVIEW: The Victories, Volume 1: Touched by Michael Avon Oeming

The Victories Volume 1: Touched The Victories, Volume 1: Touched by Michael Avon Oeming
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked the premise and that’s about all I liked about the comic book.

Confusion shaded the plot. I didn’t understand what was going on till two-third of the book. The plot relied on info-dumpy flashbacks, and a few times it took me a couple seconds to realize those pages I just read were flashbacks. So much for being info-dumpy, and that’s not even the worst issue.

It took me half of the story to realize which character was the protagonist, i.e. what Faustus looked like without his superhero costume, the face behind the mask. For a while, I thought it was the white dude because there was so much focus on the white dude and his unhidden face was one of the few I could see clearly. The artwork exacerbated the confusion. Only later did I figured out it was black dude who was Faustus and the reason for the focus on the white dude was because he was Faustus’s BFF and Faustus was angsting about him.

The story was full angst and action. The action was alright, violent but not gratuitously so. The angst, I didn’t give a fuck about. Nothing appealed to me, especially as a reader who detests angst. There was also nudity and adult situations, and I went meh over those too. I get that the story was noir, but there was nothing groundbreaking or, at the very least, even entertaining about it.

Beside the premise, I did like Faustus’ fellow superheroes in The Victories group. They continued to be nice and loyal after Faustus broke down; they could have easily stamped “supervillain” on Faustus and turned their back on him.

In Conclusion

I rate The Victories Volume 1: Touched 2-stars for it was okay. The storyboard left a lot to be desired.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, April 15, 2013

REVIEW: Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron

Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn, #1) Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A typical thriller dressed as an urban fantasy, Seven Kinds of Hell had several kinds of issues. The heroine was inconsistently characterized. Because of that, at least two crucial events that could have been avoided were not, which I blamed the heroine for. Last but not least, the plot was chaotic.

+ the heroine

The beginning was slow and dense with exposition and flashbacks, some of which could have been saved for later in the story. However, what I minded more was the great discrepancy between the heroine’s actions and her past, specifically how she was raised.

Zoe was supposed to skedaddle out of the city the moment the people who she and her mother had been hiding from since forever discovered her. Instead, Zoe stayed in the city and led them to her loved ones who predictably got hurt along the way, not once but multiple fucking times. I knew one of them was going to be kidnapped because the blurb said it beforehand, but I didn’t realize it was going to happen as an avoidable event. Yup, I blamed Danny’s kidnapping on Zoe.

For the first couple chapters, Zoe forced me to be a backseat driver. “Zoe, why are you still in the city.” “Zoe, don’t lead the supernatural bad guys to your human friends.” “Zoe, why are you ignoring everything your mother has you taught you?” “Zoe, FFS, get your dumb ass self out of the city and run away! Stop with the delay, already!” Thankfully, I didn’t get as mad at Zoe as I could have been because I had to waddle through the exposition and flashbacks, which to reiterate was another issue.

+ the plot

After a couple of chapters, the plot finally hit thriller speed. The heroine hopped from one country to another and discovered artifacts. Sometimes she fled, sometimes she fought. Think Indiana Jones. Zoe still made mistakes but they were the kinds that couldn’t be helped. Zoe was finally acting like a decent heroine, and I stopped having issues with her — for the most part. However, I still couldn’t enjoy the book.

The biggest issue I had with the book was its excessive bedlam. I liked that plot was moving fast, but it didn’t give me any rest. Too many supporting characters were dropping in and out of the story that by the middle of the book I simply stopped caring. Too many sides were switched; one scene they’re enemies, the next they’re allies, then they’re enemies again... maybe? I don’t know. Oh hey look, there’s Zoe’s ex-boyfriend, Will, all the sudden. Wait, what? Is he friend or foe?

On one hand, the plot was unpredictable and action-packed. On the other hand, I got tired and gradually divested from the story. Towards the end I only got the gist of what was happening because too much had happened to fully digest and I couldn’t give a fuck. On the silver lining side, I was grateful that the story was told in 1st person POV from the protagonist’s side, my preferred POV, because it limited the bedlam.

+ the ending

I didn’t care for the ending. A loved one of Zoe died at the climax, and it could have been avoided. It could have been avoided way back in the middle of the book. I could not believe Zoe had the nerve to ditch that person who eventually died after discovering what was happening to him. Did Zoe think Danny was the only loved one that was in danger? People do not have to be physically held hostage to be a hostage. That dude who died was held hostage in another way. I got to say it again; I could not believe Zoe ditched him. Zoe was on a crazy-ass mission to save a loved one only to ditch another loved one in the middle of the story instead of saving him too. In short, Zoe broke character... Again.

Beyond the climax was the issue of the resolution. The resolution was half-assed. The book could have ended on a satisfactory note, but instead chose to extend for a few more scenes to set up for the next book by introducing a new conflict. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

+ the world building

I liked that it revolved around the Pandora’s Box myth because I rarely encounter it in my reading. Other than that, the world building as a whole was bland. I didn’t expect originality, but dang. These vampires and werewolves were some of the blandest I have read about. Hell, Twilight’s world building was more interesting.

Also, why is the US Senator always the bad guy? Anyway, the urban fantasy part of the book was underwhelming. It didn’t do much to push the story towards epicness. Revelations were weak in impact. The conspiracy was one dimensional. I yawned.

In Conclusion

I rate Seven Kinds of Hell 2-stars for it was okay. The book was plot-driven and pretty entertaining. However, it had too many flaws similar to a typical action movie. If you don’t mind reading a book that is like a typical action movie, then try it out.

Goodreads | Amazon

Saturday, April 13, 2013

REVIEW: Like It or Not edited by S.L. Armstrong

Like It or Not Like It or Not edited by S.L. Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like It Or Not had 2 short stories I liked and 4 I did not.

#1: Out of Options by Angelia Sparrow & Naomi Brooks

The first half of the short story lured me into a false sense of peace such that I forgot I was reading an anthology of non-con smut. I liked the first half even though it was kind of sad because Connor was destitute.

The second half where the non-con hit, I didn't care for. The writing lacked emotion and made me feel detached from Connor, which keep in mind the story was told strictly from Connor's POV. I tried getting into the kinkiness, but no success. The smut leaned towards more pain and humiliation than pleasure. Thankfully, the pain and humiliation weren’t too far-out for my taste. Nevertheless, I remained disinterested. The ending fizzled out and left me feeling dejected.

I rate the short story 2-stars for it was okay. I think I would have liked the story if it was presented in comic form.

#2: Obedience Classes by Sean Michael

Imagine shapeshifter romance stories as junk foods, a donut for example. Now imagine distilling the sugar from the donut and condensing it into a cube, a sugar cube to be specific. This short story was like a sugar cube; it condensed all the ingredients that make shapeshifter romance popular and indulgent to read.

I loved Trevor's feistiness and his unwillingness to be dominated and how it contrasted with Dirk's alpha maleness and his urge to dominate. The story alternated between Trevor and Dirk's POV, and the chemistry between the couple was just riveting. The sex scenes were hot and unabashedly numerous. I went "yay" as if I was frolicking on a sunny field of flowers, swirling around with my arms extended outward. *sings* The hills are alive with smut! Hahahaha!

Second to smut in goodiness was the dialogue. The dialogue was cheesy with its "Mine" and "Mate" coming from Dirk and profane with its "Fuck you" and "Asshole! Leave me alone!" coming from Trevor. It was unabashedly sex-centric, none of this "let's get to know each other" crap.

I rate the short story 4-stars for I really liked it. It aced its way into my smutty pick-up-me pile.

#3: What it's Worth by Gryvon

Ian was a hard character to connect with even though the story was told strictly from his side. He was one of those grumpy people who see imperfections in everything and everybody, including himself. It was as if the concept of fun was foreign to him in spite of the guy's worldly knowledge as a nonfiction writer.

The story bored me until Ian was sent to a secret sex club. My boredom changed into (mild) irritation when Ian saw the danger in the sex club but proceeded anyway with his plan and predictably got himself entrapped. I couldn't see Ian as a sexual creature and his rapist, Vincenzo, as anything more than a faceless hung top. Once the non-con smut was over and they parted, my irritation picked up again. By the end, I was left feeling dissatisfied.

I rate the short story 2-stars for it was okay. The short story impressed me as a pointless vignette.

#4: Blindside by Stella Harris

The pacing was slow. The couple were both closet cases. The smut took its time and occurred in limited amount. But guess what? I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed it a lot.

I liked how Matt was blindsided with his dream of Dylan coming to fruition. I liked that Dylan persevered against Matt's shyness and confusion. The breadth of Matt's reactions to Dylan was enchanting to read.The premise was executed perfectly to my liking.

I rate the short story 4-stars I really liked it. This short short was the most romantic (and least non-con) in the anthology.

#5: Unnatural Means by T.C Mill

The story's premise didn't appeal to me. Thankfully, it wasn't as dark or preachy as I feared. The story was told strictly from Isak's side, and I found him dull. What little non-con smut was there in the story was fleeting in its titillation. I couldn't be any less interested in Isak's horniness for Sain.

His interaction with Sain was pedantic and subdued, which was odd and disappointing given the setting of the story. Injustice is one of the quickest ways to get a rise out of me, but in this story I couldn't be bothered to feel anything for Sain. All I felt for Sain was curiosity of his supposed crimes and then mere disinterest once I learned what those crimes were.

I rate the short story 2-stars for it was okay. I liked the nice ending, but that's mostly all I liked about the story. Well, beside that one smut scene.

#6: Salting the Earth by Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane

The writing was dreadful. It had too many incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, and tangent descriptions. This story was the most difficult to read out of all the stories in the anthology. I was glad at the least that the storytelling was kept strictly from Ronan's side, because otherwise my exasperation would have quickened.

As for the plot, it was ho hum. Because of the writing, I couldn't keep track of the Sidhe cast. The gist I got was that there some sort of challenge and an orgy was forced upon Ronan. I was glad Ronan managed to prevail by the end. Still, just like in those other short stories in the anthology the ending left me dissatisfied.

I rate the short story 2-stars for it was okay. This short story was definitely the worst one of the anthology.

In Conclusion

I rate the anthology 3-stars for I liked it. The anthology was a mixed bag, but I'm very glad to encounter two gems of a short story, which was much more than I expected given my experience with anthologies.

Obedience Classes and Blindside felt like they were specifically written just for me. They hit on all my kinks. Hell, yes!

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

REVIEW: The Long Con by Lori Toland

The Long Con (Dangerous Affairs, #1) The Long Con by Lori Toland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Long Con had smut, and I love smut. I liked its BDSM-lightness, meaning there was one BDSM-y sex scene. I liked the dirty talk; it’s a small shame there wasn’t more of it. I liked how insatiable of a bottom Tony was and how eager Nate was to satisfy Tony. On top of the yummy smut, the book actually had a decent plot and a good twist so it wasn't just a PWP. I should have been a happy camper, but I wasn't. I couldn't bring myself to fully enjoy the story, and I felt annoyingly nitpicky.

When it comes to smut, I can tolerate insta-love a great deal, a very great deal. However, I couldn't tolerated it in this book. I was okay with the fact that the couple lusted for each other on first sight. Nothing about that was unrealistic. I was not okay with how that lust magically developed into love, and it bugged me.

My issue was that the couple got too intimate too quickly to be believable considering who they were, especially who they were. Nate was an undercover agent, one that is on an unofficial international mission. Tony was a Mafia kid, and not just any kid but the heir to a major Mafia family. They should have been on their guard. Instead, they slept together overnight and ended up cohabiting for the length of Nate's mission.

During the cohabitation period, neither of them was carrying a gun or throwing looks of suspicion at each other or anything that openly suggested distrust. They acted more like they were a regular, lovey-dovey couple instead of the dangerous, suspicious people that they were supposed to be. The insta-love brought on an unnatural level of trust between the couple, which made the romance surreal.

I expected a high level of anxiety as both try to come to term with their love against who they were and what they were supposed to be doing; I didn't get that. Don't get me wrong; I don't want angst. I just thought the characters were not believable in their role. Because of that, piling on the emotions being rather subdued, I couldn't connect to the romance.

In Conclusion

I rate The Long Con 2-stars for it was okay. Trust was a theme in this book, and it was not properly played. The issue eclipsed the smut. Ay. I want to slap my brain.

For what it's worth, I liked the twist about Tony. I think it would have been a better story if it was told from his POV instead of exclusively from Nate's 1st person POV. Nate wasn't boring per se; Tony was just way more interesting.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

REVIEW: Wild Card by Steven Lochran

Wild Card (Vanguard Prime, #2)Wild Card by Steven Lochran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 2, Wild Card, surpassed book 1. (Read my review for book 1 here.)

+ the protagonist

Sam was no longer Mister Mopey, which was my biggest issue in book 1. This time he was eager for action and ready to kick ass. I went "yay" and "thank goodness" that the character growth, which occurred in book 1, was kept in book 2.

However, Sam still has much growing to do because a new issue arose. I was irked by how naive he sounded. Sam was having a hard time digesting the fact that superhero-ing sometimes means putting down the villains — permanently. I tried making concessions for his age, but no success. He's a teenager, not a complete kid. If the military and superhero adults think he's old enough to fight face to face with supervillains, then he's old enough to realize the casualties of war and face reality. Fortunately, the new issue only showed up 2-3 times and never long enough for me to be seriously irked.

+ the other major character

Even though Sam was the star of the series, book 2 was about The Knight of Wands, the series' version of Batman. His character improved a lot since book 1. In book 2, he opened up about his past, thoughts, and feelings; he no longer felt like a cardboard character.

+ everyone else

Book 2 introduced a new ally and a new cast of villains. Solitaire was great; I liked her cleverness, her persistence, and positive attitude. Once again, the series showed that its strength lay in strong female characters.

I couldn't say the same for the cast of villains, particularly the men. Just like the evil dudes in book 1, the new evil dudes in book 2 were all cliché and a shade of ridiculousness, especially the last two villains the heroes faced. The Magician and the Emperor were both know-it-all megalomaniacs, the same as half of the villains in book 1; try to show a little variety at least. Oh well, watching them receive their comeuppance was no less satisfying so the issue was not a big deal or anything. One thing I did wish for was an explanation for why the evil organization structured itself after tarot cards.

+ the plot

Compared to book 1, the action started a lot earlier and the plot shifted POVs less often, both things I appreciated. The book read like a novella, which I'm still unsure of how to feel about that. On one hand, I liked that things were moving fast because it was a seek and destroy mission; time was of the essence. The suspense was palpable. On the other hand, I hoped for more "meat" because while action was great, it alone didn't satiate me. The experience was akin to drinking a smoothie; it fills your stomach but you still want to eat.

+ the writing

Unlike book 1 where the writing made the story a movie-like experience, in book 2 it felt “normal.” In other words, it took me a couple pages before I finally noticed the writing was in present tense, not in past tense. The writing never made me aware that it was in present tense unless I focused hard. I never thought the writing was an issue in book 1, but I got to say I like the change in book 2.

In Conclusion

I rate Wild Card 3-stars for I liked it. Book 2 was entertaining from start to finish. I look forward to the foreshadowing from Sam's nightmares to come into fruition.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, April 8, 2013

REVIEW: Plaza Place by Erin Shaw

Plaza PlacePlaza Place by Erin Shaw
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The mm-romance was about two silly idiots who were hot for each other but each thought the other was uninterested. It was a nice story but nothing specifically appealed to me and nothing connected with me.

The plot alternated between the two guys, Nate and Jordan, more on Nate than on Jordan. I didn't care for either guy, to be honest. I didn't like how obsessive they were about each other; it made me antsy. It didn't help that the writing felt neurotic overall, which exacerbated my cranky mood.

The smut was hot, but it was heavy on the foreplay/oral sex, which I honestly didn’t care for either. The chapters after the consummation didn't add anything substantial to the plot as they should have and, worse, they ended inappropriately like the end of the story rather than end of a chapter. Seriously, each time I finished the chapter I thought the story was over.

The only part I truly like was in the middle of the story when the office ladies, collectively known as the Coven, decided it was time for their co-workers Nate and Jordan to get together and forced Nate to play accomplice in the ladies’ scheme. Rock on, ladies.

In Conclusion

I rate Plaza Place 2-stars for it was okay. If you like the kink of a hung twink top, this free short story may be your cup of tea, smut-wise.

Goodreads | Read it for Free

Saturday, April 6, 2013

REVIEW: From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders

From the Ashes (Fires of Redemption, #1)From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Spoilers

I so much wanted to like this book, but couldn’t because of this one issue.

+ the protagonist

The story was told in 1st person POV exclusively from the Tobias’s side, and he was everything I could have hoped for. He was crafty, cynical and merciless. Okay, I admit it; he was a wee more merciless than I was comfortable with. I didn’t like that he disposed his dim-witted, ex-boyfriend who got easily manipulated by the hero’s suspicious, keen classmate. Okay, fine, kill the classmate, but did you have to kill your BF? Dude was dim-witted; lies would have sufficed. FYI, this was not an actual scene but like a brief flashback embedded in the hero’s internal monologue. Still, it bothered me. A wee bit too merciless.

The dude was an assassin, a believable, honest-to-hell assassin, so I dealt. I like assassin characters. I really felt for the guy.

+ the ending, a.k.a. that one issue

Spoilers ahoy.

The climax was great, but then it got ruined by the entrance of the love interest which caused the hero to turn his back on everything to grab true love. It’s not the true love that bothered me, I’m all for that. It’s how abruptly and unbelievably the hero had his change of heart, from being a villain to a hero, from disbelieving to believing in true love.

I love HEA, assassins, a redeemed protagonist, true love but come on. It needed to be believable. It needed to be properly developed. One does not drop their evil life like *fingersnap* that.

In Conclusion

I rate From the Ashes 2-stars for it was okay, and I am sad for rating it so. The unconvincing climax-to-HEA was a mood killer. Honestly, I really did want to like this book. It had everything I hoped for. It’s just... that ending. Humbug.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, April 5, 2013

REVIEW: The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon

The Last Grand Master (Champion of the Gods, #1) The Last Grand Master by Andrew Q. Gordon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story began with a blast of urgency. In the first couple chapters, our hero rode a unicorn, teleported while riding a unicorn to get there faster, swung killer magic to get through an army of bad guys, kicked some asses, — *takes a deep breathe* — rescued a surrounded party of allies leading to more ass kicking, discovered his soul mate, more magic, contributed majorly to the evacuation of a doomed kingdom, accepted his soul mate, more magic, more ass kicking, and finally when they finished evacuating, bombed the entire place to kill the bad guys who were rushing in. Bam! *exhales*

In short, the beginning = awesomesauce.

I was reluctant to read The Last Grand Master because it didn't have anything that specifically appeals to me other than the fact that it's a fantasy with a mm-romance subplot. I expected the book being fantasy that the "good parts" weren't going to kick in till late in the story. The book proved me wrong, obviously.

+ the plot

The plot eventually slowed down, and things were going well. That is till around the second quarter of the book when it took a sharp turn for melodrama. The good news was that the plot limited the melodrama within a chapter. The bad news was that every and now then there would be a chapter reeking of melodrama. The writing seriously needed to apply the art of subtext; the dialogue can be stilted and maudlin sometime.

The plot was long winded and lost some of my attention, especially towards the end where most of the melodrama resided. Not until the climax in the last quarter did my attention was regained and held at the level it was in the beginning.

+ the hero

The main reason for the melodrama was Farrell, the hero. Every time he talked about his sad past, he did it an overly emotional, drawn out, info-dumping way. It always felt contrived and absurd instead of heartbreaking as intended. Other than that, I had no problem with Farrell and his other flaws, which included a handful of insecurities.

Farrell was unabashedly a Gary Stu, and I loved it. He was a prince, a king (dual-titled if you will), a hero, a chosen one, and a grand master-level wizard (one out of the living two, the other being Meglar). He has a bond with a unicorn, and not just any unicorn, but with Nerti, queen of the unicorn. He has a soul mate, and not just any soul mate, but with Miceral, warrior prince of the Munchari race. You get the point. I really liked that the hero never hesitated to unleash his abilities to the fullest unlike so many countless, countless Urban Fantasy protagonists I have read about.

Farrell was not the bad kind of Gary Stu because he was actually competent and he did have limits, believe it or not. His Gary Stu-ness also doubled as an issue because the poor guy tried to do everything because people looked to him to fix their problems, which usually led him to overextend himself and acquire injuries and take perceived failures, especially where deaths were concerned, hard in the heart.

I liked that in spite of being a super wizard Farrell still had a lot to learn and wanted to learn. I liked that he didn't completely depend on magic for everything and realized magic had its limits; dude took martial art training. What I loved best about Farrell was that he was smart and sensible, how self-aware he was of his status and limits, which he sometime ignored so he could help people.

In short, hero = Gary Stu, but not stupid.

+ the romance

Despite being insta-love and rather cheesy, I thought the romance was good. What I liked best was how uncomplicated it was, how easily and quickly the two adjusted to each other. I didn't doubt their love. Speaking as a fan of smut, I was a little disappointed that the sex happened off page. But hey, the story was a fantasy, not a romance, so I got the point.

Anyway, I really liked that in this fantasy world same-sex relationships were a non-issue/normal, barring that odd chapters-length subplot of a minor character coming out. Speaking of which, while that subplot ended happily, the heir issue remained unresolved. It also pulled the issue of heirs from the back of my mind to the front. It was already in the back of mind because Farrell and Miceral were princes. Shouldn't the issue of heirs come up, particularly when each, as far I know, didn’t have any siblings or relatives to be backups...?

Thankfully, the issue was not a glaring kind because the two have an abnormally long life expectancy so there is more than enough time to figure it out.

+ the world building

The world was developed in many places, but where it concerned Haven, the Big Bad, and the gods it tripped. I like that Farrell welcomed every refugee to his kingdom, Haven, but I found it hard to believe that Haven would have enough resources to house and feed everyone. Not to mention jobs; idle hands are the devil's playground. I also found it hard to believe that every refugee from many different kingdoms of many different cultures would get along easily, especially when some of those refugees were nobles and surviving royals. Yeah, right. Haven was treated like it was fucking heaven and everyone kumbaya-ing.

The Big Bad was Meglar, your Evil Wizard Lord stock villain who is bent on world domination. Meglar's character development was shallow, but I didn't take issue — yet — because in book 1 he haven’t make an appearance, so far only by quick-to-be-defeated faceless proxies. In the next book, I hope there will be answer as to why the gods, six of them in total, can't simply throw a lightning bolt at the dude and kill him already.

Speaking of the gods, I didn't like how much trust Farrell placed in them even though in book 1 everything they had done had been good and timely. Farrell was asking for a world of hurt if he thought the gods always planned with his best interest in mind, or for any mortal for that matter; the thing about pursuing the greater good is that it always demands sacrifices. Anyway, the gods weren't any more developed than Meglar. They were good guys because they were good guys.

In Conclusion

I rate The Last Grand Master 3-stars for I liked it. The book lost some steam in the middle of the book, but I still enjoyed the story. If you're in the mood for a non-thinking, linear fantasy and want a hero who can already kick ass and succeed instead of waiting for book X of series Blah for the hero to attain competency, try out the book. If only some of the qualities of this book would transfer to the Urban Fantasies I read...

My favorite part was the fact that the Farrell and Miceral each bonded with a unicorn. Gay guys riding on unicorns, there should be more of that. Just saying.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

REVIEW: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

The Fire Horse Girl The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fire Horse captured my attention, and this come from a reader who doesn’t like to read historical. Unless it’s part fantasy or mm-romance, neither of which this book was, I pass. What persuaded me was the plot of an Asian-American immigrant’s experience, which immediately made me think of myself. Very rarely do I encounter a book with that sort of thing.

+ the heroine and a rant

The writing was accessible, and thus great. Still, the beginning was like a ride on a country road. The blurb advertised a feisty heroine, and I love feisty heroine, but Jade Moon’s kind of feistiness exasperated me. I pretty much agree, especially with Sterling Promise, with all the bad things the other characters said about her. There’s outspoken and then there’s saying everything that come across your mind; Jade Moon did the latter. She’s rude, wild, quick to be mad and pick a fight. She’s not a mean person but she’s just thoughtless and inconsiderate, completely egocentric. I can go on....and I’m going to.

The Fire Horse “curse” was a self-fulling prophecy. Worse, it was a frequently used excuse every time Jade Moon committed a social blunder. She didn’t do anything to improve herself or her situation. All she did was whine about her curse as a Fire Horse girl, her lack of freedom, her personality flaws, etc. Keep in mind, this book was told in 1st person POV exclusively from her side so I’m supposed to pity her at least. I didn’t.

I didn’t warm up to the heroine till about a third of the book, and even then it was a simmering kind of warm.

As I read about her journey to and in America, I piled naivety onto the list of things I didn’t like about the heroine. The naivety was the kind that shows how sheltered and spoiled Jade Moon was, how limited her thinking and worldview was. The characters were accurate in their assessment of the heroine; she was dangerous.

What mitigated my irritation with Jade Moon was when she joined a gang in the middle of the book. Apparently, she was more suited to a life of thug-hood. LOL. If she was born a boy and in a rough and tough environment, she would have excelled.

+ the love interest and the romance

While there was a romance plot line, it was in the form of heroine wishing for love, trying to avoid arranged marriage, girl talk about marriageability, and so on. Jade Moon may have been thug-like, but she was also a hopeless romantic.

The romance was an important part, but it didn’t dominate the plot like so many YA to the extent that the book would be better classified as a YA Romance. In fact, for a large portion of the book, I didn’t think Sterling Promise was a love interest despite what the blurb said. Even when the book revealed the reason for why Jade Moon was allowed to go to America with Sterling Promise, I still didn’t think so.

There was no insta-love whatsoever. Sterling Promise and Jade Moon loathed each other. He thought she was a burden, she thought he was a prat. It took them a long time to warm up to each other, a near-the-end long time. It may have been slow, but it was believable and refreshing.

I liked Sterling Promise. He was smooth talker who didn’t let his “curse” get to him. I admired his ambition and sensibility. I liked him more than Jade Moon. At one point, specifically when they were on the boat to America, I wanted to read his side of the story instead of enduring hers. Yes, I can see how they would be a good match.

+ the plot

The book was heroine-driven. Jade Moon may have exasperated me, but I have to admit she was sure as hell not boring. With a dangerous heroine like Jade Moon, I couldn’t believe how fast I was reading the book, no skimming involved. The plot had emotions, actions, and twists, especially the twists. Usually, the twists happens to the character, but in this book, most of the twists were of her own making.

Everything about the book, from the culture to the history felt authentic. The book contained themes — belonging, freedom, love, etc. The plot didn’t shy away from the dark parts of history; there were suicides, racism, prostitution, gangsters, etc. I especially like that the mood remained bright despite the dark and depressing things.

My favorite scene was when Jade Moon revealed to Neil, her fighting teacher, who she was in chapter 28. However, the best part of the book overall was at the end when Jade Moon chose to help quash the sex trafficking. She was brave and smart. Finally, those awful traits of hers were polished to greatness. I was on the edge of my seat as I read how she finally put those lessons learned from mistakes (there were a lot) and her character growth (better late than never) into action.

In Conclusion

I rate The Fire Horse 3-stars for I liked it. The ending was nice, but it would have been nicer if it was a little longer, i.e. an epilogue, because I wasn’t ready for the story to end. If you’re in the mood for something entertaining and easy to read but still substantial and unafraid to have dark subjects *and* willing to put up with a flawed protagonist, I recommend The Fire Horse.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, April 1, 2013

NEWS: chicklits or classics, don't quit day job, top 10 self-publishing mistakes, of friends and judgement

Chicklits or Classics? It can be BOTH. (2013 February 7)
"On Monday, author Maureen Johnson challenged the Twitter hive-mind to chick lit-ify the classics."
Insightful and hilarious!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job – Traditional Publishing by the Numbers (2013 February 7)
" can take many authors a decade or more to graduate to becoming full-time writer."
Great analysis. On a related note...

The Top Ten Mistakes Writers Make When Self-Publishing a Book (2013 February 1)
"Writing for the wrong reason. The most common wrong reason to write a book is to make a lot of money. Statistically, you’re heading for disappointment."
Write for the love of it. Also, editing is important too, see reason #2. Respect your consumers.

Quote of the Day

Picture of the Day
source: Lenore