Thursday, May 30, 2013

REVIEW: And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

And All the Stars And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The plot was interesting, the protagonist was decent, and that’s virtually all the compliments I can give because I didn’t care much for the book. For a book that took place during an apocalypse, the mood was oddly sedated. I blamed the writing.

+ the writing

Superfluous details made the story dull. For example, the book began with Madeleine trying to free herself from a disaster which readers later learned was due to an alien attack, and these attacks were happening all around the world. Sounds like an exciting start, right? But it wasn’t when I read it. I didn’t even blink when Madeleine found herself literally turning Blue and manifesting powers, narrowly avoiding death because very few survived the mutation upon which readers also learn those attacks were biological. I should have felt EMOTIONS, but I didn’t. The first few chapters were dull.

The writing did become more streamlined when characters arrived on the scene and Madeleine was no longer by her lonesome self, but it was never enough to my liking. Throughout my reading, I picked through dialogue and action, trying to filter out extraneous details. I was at least blessed by the fact that the characters were not a frustration and had common sense.

+ the characters

I liked Madeleine. She could have been stronger and less aloof, but she strived whenever there was an obstacle and she never stupidly refused help. I liked how towards the end when the going got tough, the tough got going, Madeleine was tough. I only wish it didn’t took till the end for her to assert herself.

I can’t say I liked the other characters because I never connected with any of them. Everyone read like a blur to the extent that I didn’t even know if character so-and-so was a girl or boy, and honestly couldn’t care less. I didn’t know how many were in the group. The only character I ever got a good grasp on was Emily only because she was the youngest of the group, a fact frequently pointed out, and Fisher only because he was Madeleine’s love interest.

In addition to the writing, the characterization left a lot to be desired.

+ the plot

I didn’t like the way the plot dished its answers. Several questions were raised in the beginning of the book but very little answers were given, and in the times they were given it was by piecemeal. For example, it took a couple pages before readers learn the attack was because of aliens, and a couple chapters more to learn, yup, it was for certain, the world was being invaded by aliens. When the climax hit, the plot dumped its entire load of answers. The plot development was clumsy to say the least but finally I was no longer in the dark and allowed to see the big picture the plot stubbornly kept secret. However, one thing that continued to bemuse me through the ending was the lack of government presence, that is its trivial almost nonexistent role, because civilization in Australia hadn’t collapsed completely to the extend of anarchy and everyone was on their own.

I didn’t like how the ending was when the book finally started to shine. The plot took much time to build up the suspense and couldn’t seem to sustain suspense beyond a few scenes. It didn’t feel like much of an apocalyptic fiction. The twists reminded me of The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Go figure that it was the romance that grabbed most of my attention.

In Conclusion

I rate And All the Stars 2-stars for it was okay. Honestly, I think the book would have been better off if the twists were revealed in the beginning and accept the fact that the book was like the indie version of The Host. In other words, it would have been more interesting as a YA science fiction romance than a YA apocalyptic fiction.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen

Fighting Gravity (Physics of Falling, #1) Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The world building fell flat on its ass. The romance shovelled me crap. The protagonist tripped into a vexing stereotype.

+ the world building

Classism was a central theme in the world building, and it took no effort for me to believe in the fictional world. The bad news was that after the world building in the first few chapters there was no more world building thereafter. It was like building a house but stopping short of putting the plumbing.

The world building boiled down to the following: rich people were evil, poor people were perpetual victims, and the smart people were pawns of the rich people and indifferent to society ills. I understood that the book was trying to shine a light on the plight of the poor, but it did no service by offhandedly demonizing everyone but the poor.

What bothered me the most was the Imperial Intellectual Complex where the Empire segregated all their smart people. While it was believable as an academia, I didn’t like the disassociation between intellectualism and humanity.

+ the romance

If the romance was D/s, then I wouldn’t have minded the severe imbalance of power in the couple’s relationship, but it was not D/s. Peter’s treatment of Jacob pissed me off. Things were not a disaster in the beginning of their relationship, but they got very messy towards the end of the book, especially when Peter threw Jacob in jail and sentenced him to death but changed his mind at the last minute (because Reasons) and exiled him instead. That was just drama for drama’s sake, furthered by the matter that Peter was not a fully fleshed out character so his actions brought a sense of contrivance to the story.

The romance wasn’t romantic and endearing. Far from it. It was dysfunctional and abusive. There wasn’t even smut as a consolation; all the sex scenes happened off-page. I was expected to take the romance seriously. So seriously I did, and I did not like it one bit.

The couple had too many issues. None of them were resolved and very little were even addressed. I wouldn’t exactly label the romance as insta-love but it might as well have been given how I was led to believe that love will somehow, like fucking magic, conquer everything for the couple to be together.

Also, the glaring issue of heirs was never brought up. WTF. It was great that same sex relationships was a non-issue in the story but what about heirs? The book world-built how the royal family was uber important and how Peter was one the last few members. Thus, it seemed natural that the issue of heirs would have been addressed down the road. It never was, and it amounted to a plot hole.

In sum, this was not a romance of two people in love. This was a romance of a selfish, power-tripped Emperor and his naive, idealist scientist in an unbearably angsty relationship where they happened to feel moments of love.

+ the protagonist

I didn’t like how Jacob was stereotyped as a naive, idealist scientist. A prodigy? Yes. But smart? No. It was so pathetic how it took very little effort for the bad guys to bring Jacob down because all Jacob have to do was be himself. The story was strictly told in Jacob’s 1st person POV which meant I was supposed to be sympathetic, and I was in the beginning. After all, the story started with him as a child being forcibly taken away from his family in the slums. However, I quickly got disillusioned when Jacob grew into a reckless and thoughtless person with passing chapters.

Jacob never once seriously considered the consequences of being involved with Peter. FFS, his love interest was the Emperor, the most important guy in the story’s universe, the guy who can send him to prison if he’s displeased. Jacob didn’t think with his head, he thought with his dick.

Furthermore, Jacob treated his girlfriend like shit. I didn’t particularly see it as cheating but I could definitely understand if people did. Jacob should have firmly ended things with Kirti before he left the Imperial Intellectual Complex to be with Jacob. Instead, he let his relationship with Kirti remain ambiguous and took the coward's way out of letting the long distance disconnect their relationship. It was shitty of Jacob to leave things hanging with Kirti. Seriously shitty because previously Kirti and Jacob were childhood friends, like brother and sister, long before Peter ever came into the scene.

Later on, when he and Peter were on a break (if you can called your boyfriend almost killing you and then changing his mind and exiling you to a cesspool of a prison instead AND putting a restraining order against you a “break”) he used Kirti as a convenient bedmate. Though Kirti was willing, it was a bad move because their relationship was frayed and it didn’t need sex to complicate things. When he got back with Peter, once again Jacob failed to tell Kirti face-to-face. Even though they weren’t officially boyfriend and girlfriend the second time around, it was still shitty of Jacob, leveled up from seriously shitty to abysmally shitty. Jacob deserved a kick in the groin.

Thus, in addition to being a naive intellectual stereotype, Jacob was a dipshit. Admittedly, Jacob did try to improve himself and make amends, but it was far, far from enough. He never truly learned from his mistakes, and they were dumbass mistakes. I didn’t care how many things Jacob invented and how many times he revolutionized science, the dude was thoroughly a fuckwit.

I also did not like that the story positioned Jacob as a Jesus who would bring salvation to the poor. Suffice to say, instead of challenging classism as it intended, the book made things horrendously classist.

In Conclusion

I rate Fighting Gravity 2-stars for it was okay, and I’m being lenient. The book pushed my anger button more times than I care for.

Goodreads | Amazon

Sunday, May 26, 2013

REVIEW: Glen & Tyler's Honeymoon Adventure by J.B. Sanders

Glen & Tyler's Honeymoon Adventure Glen & Tyler's Honeymoon Adventure by J.B. Sanders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Over the top and gratuitous — I love it!

+ the characters

Glen and Tyler rocked. I liked how the book practically took no time in making the two knobheads realize they loved each other. The couple was adorable. I liked how Tyler quickly revealed himself as a secret genius. I liked how Glen balanced Tyler out by keeping Tyler down to earth, nice, and essentially from becoming into the evil lunatic stereotype that runs in Tyler’s dysfunctional family.

I liked how not all of Tyler’s dysfunctional family were evil and even though they were not evil they were still a shade of lunatic. As for Tyler’s exes, it was heartening to see that not all of them were evil exes; I wished Stacey stayed throughout the book. There weren’t enough strong female characters in the story for my liking among the supporting characters which largely consisted of dudes and their guns.

+ the plot

The plot also rocked. It was a long book, but things were happening so fast that I never felt it was long and after I finished the book I wanted to read the sequel immediately. The plot didn’t start till halfway, which sounds like a bad thing and usually it is but in this book it was not. I enjoyed the couple’s little adventures as they slay random homophobes, save the world of hockey, and use their money to make the world a better place. I loved the enchilada of revenge fantasies and wish-fulfillment.

When the plot finally started, the thriller kicked in. I loved how Glen and Tyler always faced the danger together with — this is greatly important — open communications unlike in the other mm-romantic suspenses I usually read where the couple are apart, whether it be physical or mental distance or both, and they don’t share feelings and plans. In those romances, the suspense serves as the vehicle for the couple to reach a place of trust and love — not in this book. I liked the fact that book began with the two guys knowing each other for years and thus had a solid foundation of trust already built.

I loved how the good guys were on top of the danger with the planning, doing, and, most important, succeeding. It was a constant pleasure watching the bad guys get their comeuppance. It almost read like a video game where the warrior goes on a quest, collects allies along the way, defeats monsters, finds treasures to gets better equipment and magic, and ultimately rescues the princess or saves the kingdom or whatever the mission of the greater good is. However, in this story, the couple were together and rich — obscenely rich — and powerful from the start so it was more like a video game with cheats activated, and all that was needed of me was to sit back and enjoy the ride as they “PWN” one enemy after the next.

Only once did the plot’s over the top-ness got too over the top for me, and that was when couple and their bodyguards flew coach. During that scene, the plot paused for a couple pages and went out of its way to spotlight a political issue in the form of a random, woe-is-them gay couple. While I couldn’t agree more about the political commentary, I didn’t appreciate it. The airplane scene was cringe-worthy preachy and hideously contrived.

Other than that, the only thing would I have changed about the plot was the smut, to be specific its lack thereof, being the incorrigible smut fan that I am. The series spin-off the smut as erotica short stories. However, the short stories are illustrated which I am 100% on board.

+ the editing

But unlike smut, editing is not optional. The book, or at least its Smashwords edition, required another round of editing. I spotted several typos:

10.66% into the book: “Looks like Tyler fantasies are a Merriwether pass-time.” should be pastime.

11.69%: Glen’s Dad rolled back a little on his heals. should be heels

43.40%: It began to dawn on the reports that Tyler knew all their names. should be reporters

51.96%: Two instances of the name “Maureen” when it should be “Mary”

59.41%: “I surrender,” he said in a think accent. should be thick

67.32%: They never dock there, and probably haven’t ever seen it’s shores should be its

69.95%: The he raised his hands over his head. should be Then

And there's probably a few more I didn't notice. But what irked me was not the typos, it was the formatting. Paragraph indentations were haywire. The ebook was rendered readable only because of my magical reading app which super-thankfully allowed me to read annoyance-free and with undiminished enjoyment.

In Conclusion

I rate Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure 4-stars for I really liked it, bumped up to a star for its re-readability. The book was a huge cheer booster. A big grin forcibly took over my face as I read it.

Update: 29 May 2013. Formatting issue is fixed.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

REVIEW: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Witchstruck Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I vacillated between 3-stars and 2-stars for this book.

+ why 3-stars

The book deserves 3-stars because the plot was always in motion and awash with political intrigue. I was pleasantly surprised that the book began in media res where Meg, her witchy aunt, and the imprisoned Elizabeth were conducting haruspex to divine Elizabeth’s future, specifically whether or not she would become queen one day. Right off the bat, readers immediately encounter the first of many conspiracies. I liked that the first few chapters were fast-forward telling of how Meg met and became part of Elizabeth’s inner circle instead of pause-the-present flashbacks. I liked it because it kept the focus on the present and not on the past which would have otherwise sluggish the story.

I liked that part of the suspense was always the fear that Meg would be discovered as a witch because then she would be burned at the stake. I was surprised when it actually happened and that it happened in the middle of the story as opposed to near the end. It was just one of the many examples of how the plot did not dilly dally moving towards important, crossroad scenes. The book never failed to convince me that the stakes were high and that it only takes one oopsy for everything to crash and burn (puns intended).

The book executed the political intrigue very well in the sense that things were in shades of gray, barring the few outright bad guys. I empathized with Elizabeth’s plight but I also empathized with her opponents’. I liked the fact the book kept things neutral, e.g. the Spanish and Catholic were not all invaders/bad guys and the English were not all pitiful oppressed citizens/good guys. The book left readers to decide for themselves. I also liked the fact that even Elizabeth’s family were split on the political issues because it added another level of realism to the book. Suffice to say, the book was no fluffy YA historical with a paranormal twist. The danger was real, the issues presented were serious.

Finally, I liked that there was no real love triangle. The book did flirt with the trope, to the extent that there were 2 love triangles by the end, but it was an obvious plot device to force Meg and Alejandro to face the fact that the dopes love each other and should stop kidding themselves. There was never any serious rival that could throw their burgeoning relationship off track.

+ why 2-stars

While there were many reasons to like the book, there were many other reasons that kept the book a few steps short of the goal. The biggest reason was Meg, who can be frustrating at times. The girl had a tendency to let her emotions get the better of her and make poor decisions. I liked that she’s aware of it, but I didn’t like that she didn’t do anything to prevent it. Admittedly, Meg does try to fix her mistakes but had she simply set aside a couple minutes and think things through she wouldn’t have made the mistakes in the first place. It was not as if Meg was a stupid girl. In fact, she was bright which was why she disappointed me so much. Meg was not a weak heroine, but she was not a particularly strong heroine either. The only thing that managed to somewhat redeem her in my eyes, that stopped me from being indifferent to her, was that she at least accepted help when she sought to fix her mistakes and that she didn’t take long to realize her true feelings for Alejandro.

Speaking of Alejandro, I also had an issue with him. His characterization was slippery. I could never get a firm grasp of Alejandro’s reasons for doing things even though he revealed them at the end. His reasons raised more questions than they answered. He was such an odd character to the extent that he didn’t felt like a character; he felt more like a vehicle of the plot.

I also didn’t care for Meg and Alejandro as a couple. He’s a priest-in-training and Spanish. She’s a witch and English. He’s cursed by a witch. Her blessing as a witch can be a curse. The couple reminded me of Romeo and Juliet; I despise such romance.

Finally, there was a deus ex machina near the end of the plot. Meg almost got killed and but by chance saved herself at the end with her peerless witchy power. However, there were witnesses, of which she made enemies. What did she do to fix things? She cast a wide-area amnesia spell. Now, I wouldn’t have minded the deus ex machina had Meg simply cast the spell a couple chapters ago because then she would have fixed the problems sooner and NOT almost got herself kill and rely on chance to save herself at the last minute. Not to mention saving the people she wanted to save which was why she almost got herself killed. FFS.

In Conclusion

I rate Witchstruck 2-stars for it was okay. It was good book, but here’s the thing — it could have easily been a great book. That said, I still recommend the book because it’s one of the better Young Adult books I have read.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

REVIEW: The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator (Dire Earth Cycle, #1) The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: minor spoilers

The only thing that kept me invested in the book was the plot. The one character I rooted for died at the end. The other two characters that I liked were purely supporting characters; combined they contributed to less than 10% of the book. Everyone else was unremarkable and nettling. Let’s just say I was a little surprised and greatly disappointed that a few of those characters were still alive by the end of the book.

+ the world building

Good news first, the science fiction was accessible. It didn’t take but a few chapters for me to understand the world building, and I was only passively reading. Whenever the book introduced a new thing, it immediately and succinctly explained what that thing was.

Now for the bad news: I found part of the world building shaky. To be specific, I found it very hard to believe that the immunes were near the bottom of society hierarchy and not at the top. As the very few, lucky people who were immune against the apocalyptic alien disease, hence the name, they could live, travel, and, most importantly, scavenge outside of the bubble city. The normal people, a.k.a. the non-immunes, needed the immunes way more than the immunes needed them. However, the immunes were greatly and inexplicably more underprivileged than the wealthy and powerful who were non-immunes. It made little sense. The immunes had all the potential to be the wealthy and the powerful, yet they were only a little better off than the masses.

In short, the world building positioned immunes as the underdogs, and I couldn’t accept that bullshit.

+ the characters

I also couldn’t accept Skyler as a protagonist. He was utterly lacking. The book tried to portray him as self-deprecating but it just came off as low self-esteem to me. It vexed me that for someone who was an immune and a natural leader, he was not a person of power and couldn’t be more disinterested. I didn’t like how Blackfield pushed Skylar around when in my belief it should have been the other way around.

Blackfield was a one-note villain, a thug boss whose ambitions greatly surpassed his wits. I don’t know how the dude stayed alive for such a long time. Hell, I was very surprised that he survived at the end because indications led me to believe that the dude would perish by middle of the story or, if he was lucky, by the last quarter of the story. Lo and behold, he turned out to be the main villain, and I was greatly disappointed that our heroes didn’t successfully eliminate the dirtbag.

Neil was my favorite character, the one I rooted for, because he was a person of power and didn’t hesitate to do what needed to be done, even if some of those things were ethically sketchy and for his own interests. There were times when it looked like the old dude was the main villain but I was never convinced that he was because the things that he did sat right with me. He was the only one who realized that the apocalypse was perhaps the beginning and part of something bigger, and goddamn it he would prepare for it, even if he had to start a civil war, though in his defense it was bound to happen anyway because of Blackfield and Russell. I was very surprised that at the end it was Neil, the manipulative mastermind, who died and not Blackfield.

Another thing that surprised me was how Tania remained wholesomely intact and stepped up to fill Neil’s place at the end after he died because for near entirety of the story the woman was a complete damsel in distress. Tania was a beautiful smart scientist and one of the few people that Neil trusted and allowed in the know. However, the woman was head-banging fragile and gullible. It was as if she was walking around with a paper stuck on her back that say “Manipulate me. Victimize me. Make me your pawn!” Oh look, here comes Skyler taking an interest and becoming her white knight in shining armor. Suffice to say, I didn’t like Tania. By the time character growth decided to wave its wand on her like a fairy godmother, it was too late for me to care, that is I couldn’t care less about her fate. If anything, the story would have done me a favor if Tania was done away and Kelly or Samantha would step in as the leading lady of the story.

Kelly was Neil’s right-hand woman, his go-to fixer, while Samantha was Skyler’s. The two ladies were the definition of kickass bitches, and I love them! I was disappointed that they were not given a greater role and not part of the multiple third person POVs the story was told in. No, those POVs, except Neil’s, went to weak ass characters.

+ the plot

The plot was told in multiple 3rd person POVs, limited to less than a handful of characters with Skyler as the predominant POV. While I strongly prefer exclusive 1st person POV, the shifting 3rd person POVs worked to the story’s favor because it minimized my vexation against the characters I didn’t like.

Due the shifting 3rd person POVs, I expected to suffer disjointed plot lines for a chunk of the book but to my pleasure I was wrong. The plot lines from each of the characters started to converge from the get-go. It took me almost no time to discern the relationship between the characters and their relevancy.

The plot was always in motion, and more importantly it ran with a clear goal. I did skim a few pages towards the end but it was only because I ran out of patience with certain characters and not because I was bored. The plot regularly tossed action scenes and in its down time, clandestine scenes were afoot.

In Conclusion

I rate The Darwin Elevator 2-stars for it was okay. I liked the plot but I prefer strong characters over a strong plot, though honestly a good book should have both. The book did excite me enough to read the sequel.

If you’re looking for a post-apocalyptic fiction that is heavy on the science fiction part, rather than the survival part, and takes place outside of America, try The Darwin Elevator, which takes place half in Australia and half in space for its main settings.

Goodreads | Amazon

Saturday, May 18, 2013

REVIEW: The Prince of Galerir by Anna Lee

The Prince of Galerir (The Galerir Saga, #1) The Prince of Galerir by Anna Lee
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

With an appealing blurb, I was sure this book would be a shoo-in for an enjoyable read. It was not. By the last third of the book, I skimmed in a rush to get it over with.

I didn’t mind the cheesiness because it caged the angst. I didn’t even mind — much — the ridiculous melodrama that rolled in halfway through the story and flooded it through the ending. What I did mind — strongly — was the preachiness, which became the straw that broke the camel’s back. While I couldn’t agree more about what the story preached, I didn’t appreciate it. The moral messages were anvilicious and unwanted.

I felt uneasy with the fact that the all the bad guys were only bad guys because they were homophobes and, on the opposite end, all the good guys were only good guys because they were not. The story was so troublingly black and white that I couldn’t swallow it. I wanted a fluffy fantasy, not something that was the equivalent of a bible fable. It was the equivalent of a bible fable. *gag*

In Conclusion

I rate The Prince of Galerir 1-star for I didn’t like it. What a shame. Excise the preachiness and there was a great chance I would have liked it.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, May 17, 2013

REVIEW: Dragon Run by Patrick Matthews

Dragon Run Dragon Run by Patrick Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dragon Run was exciting and fun!

+ the plot

The first half was good. I liked how exposition was conveyed without tipping into info-dumping territory. Never once did the story feel slow going. In fact, there was always suspense which surprised and thrilled me.

Once the plot hit the half mark, it ran faster. There was CONSPIRACY. It appeared Al’s induction as a rank zero triggered converging schemes into motion. Hot damn!

When the plot reached last quarter mark, it ran furiously. Revelations struck, bam! War against the evil dragons began, bam! The hero rushed to accomplish his mission before all hope was lost, bam, bam, bam! Action, action, action. I loved it!

+ the characters

I liked Al a lot. He had a lot of anxieties and insecurities in the beginning but near halfway in the book he began to discover courage, resourcefulness, and this thing called thinking on your own. He began to grow into the hero I hoped he would become. I liked how what made him a hero was his inner strength, not his status as a rank zero which thankfully never devolved into a special snowflake.

What I loved most about Al was the fact that he learned from his mistakes, in particular how he continued to practice his sword skill — on his own, without anyone’s provocation — because he knew it was survival skill he must learn. A hero learning from his mistakes and trying to be smart and practical? Say what? Hell yes! The kid rocked the story in the last half with his awesomeness. I never felt like he was out of his depth or too young for the task. Hot damn, Al put a lot of the adult heroes I read in my adult books to shame. A lot, a lot. Ocean wide.

I also liked Al’s friends. I loved that Trillia and Wisp reappeared by the half mark and teamed up with Al to save him which quickly turned into save the world from the evil dragons. Two boys, one girl, one mission to the save world; it’s a true and tried formula.

I liked Al, and Wisp was okay, but I loved Trillia the most! She was a lady, but she was no damsel in distress. If anything, she would be the knight in shining armor on a white horse who would ride to rescue her dudes in distress, Al and Wisp. I would not have been surprised if that happen in some form. She was so awesome but fortunately for Al she never shone so much that she took the spotlight away him, although to be honest I wouldn’t have minded it much.

I pitied Wisp. He was just pitifully average in comparison to his heroic friends, but I’m glad he turned out to be a true friend and a helpful person (read: not a burden) in the mission. I quickly forgave Wisp for his single act of betrayal against Al.

+ niggles

The characters were great but there some niggles with the supporting characters, besides the one with Wisp for being pitifully average. Readers never learn who Lady Sapphire truly was or what specific role Al’s father played in regard to the Third, a clandestine militia who went anti-Dragons because their Dragon lord betrayed them. It was not as if there was a lack of opportunities because there were many. Then there was Al’s sister who was always mentioned but never in-depth as if she was insignificant which struck me as odd. I liked that the plot always kept things moving, but it did to an extent where I felt like an inch of depth was sacrificed in the process.

My last niggle was the ending. It was great, but I wished there was an epilogue to extend the celebratory mood and allow me to see the aftermath.

In Conclusion

I rate Dragon Run 4-stars for I really liked it. I decided to bump it a star because it was a fun read which I don’t get enough of lately, especially when one of the last books I recently read had a protagonist who was only a year older than Al but it was a brutal read. Dragon Run was a great followup after that book.

I recommend Dragon Run if you’re looking for a fun read. Don’t let the fact that it’s a Middle Grade book deter you if you don’t usually read Middle Grade like me. If you love the movie How To Train Your Dragon and desire a similar entertainment, try Dragon Run.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

REVIEW: Passion's Storm by A.J. Marcus

Passion's Storm (Elemental Passions #1) Passion's Storm by A.J. Marcus
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story didn’t meet my expectations.

+ what I liked

I did like the characters to a small extent. I liked how Daniel, aka Torrent, wasn’t a complete pity party after his breakup with Burt as I feared. I liked Corran, aka Redwood, for his patience and persistence with Daniel. The smut, one lengthy scene in the middle and a short one at the end totaling two scenes, was hot. That was about the extent of my like for the story.

+ what I didn’t like

What didn’t work for me was the writing. It was easy to read and competently edited, but it didn’t suit the action-filled, superheroes-packed plot. A consistent strong sense of action was terribly lacking despite the shit that hit the fan.

My biggest issue with the story was the setting. I didn’t like the superhero organization. I thought they should have cut Daniel more slack for his brutality against supervillain Blaze. They shouldn’t even have put him on the front line when they knew he was an emotional wreck.

Hell, his breakup wouldn’t have happened in the first place if the organization provided protection details for the superheroes and their lovers whose identities got leaked and made public to everyone, especially the bad guys. What kind of superhero organization is it when loved ones of identity compromised superheroes keep getting kidnapped, held hostage, tortured, etc.? Bad enough that they suffered a security leak, worse that they implemented no contingencies after the fact. Management should have been fired across the board.

Later, the story revealed that one of the management may have colluded with a supervillain. It was not an outright betrayal, but enough to warrant an investigation and suspension. Unfortunately, it never happened, and the issue was never addressed after the revelation. I understood that Daniel and Corran getting together was focus of the story, not the conspiracy plot line, but it would have been nice if the plot line had small steps towards a resolution.

In Conclusion

I rate Passion’s Storm 2-stars for it was okay. It was solid superhero story and a nice romance, but it just didn’t excite me. Bummer.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

REVIEW: The Narrowing Path by David J. Normoyle

The Narrowing Path The Narrowing Path by David J. Normoyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did not expect how violent and gruesome the book was going to be, especially not one where the protagonist is a 13 years old. I read many YA dystopian books, but The Narrowing Path was certainly one of the most violent I’ve ever read.

The book echoed Lord of the Flies and, for a more contemporary example, The Hunger Games. Case in point, the prologue showcased a macabre scene of dead kids. Fortunately, the imagery was brief and not as graphic as it could have been. However, it was only the beginning of the horrors to come because more kids would die throughout the story. If I was a bleeding heart kind of reader, I would have bled to death and beyond because so many died.

I was disgusted. I was horrified. I was depressed. Dark emotions swirled in me as I witnessed the survival game the boys of noble birth, cleped Greens, were forced to participate in. A part of me wished I remained as confused as I was in the beginning so I did not have to face the cruelty in crystal clear vision.

The Writing

It was a dizzying experience in the beginning because the story had a learning curve due to the lack of exposition. It expected readers to learn what was going on and what the made-up words mean by piecing context. Eventually I understood things, and part of the things I understood was the “life’s an unfair bitch” full of insurmountable shit that Bowe faced.

The Characters

+ the protagonist

I really felt for Bowe. I pitied him so much that I felt like I have used up every piece of my body and soul to do so because by the end I felt hollow.

Nonetheless, sometimes the kid frustrated me. I admit I could cut him further slack because anyone else in his situation would have committed suicide because, hell, his family, the Bellangers, did and his adopted mother, Chalori, did too. Bowe had been brainwashed, excuse me, socialized to think the noble’s way, a.k.a. the Green Path, was the only way to live, and to undo harmful socialization, to challenge everything he had been taught was right, is a long process demanding patience. Not to mention that he was only 13 years old and each day could be his last day of being alive. Talk about PRESSURE. Nevertheless, the wait tired me and I did not enjoy how he was forced to learn his lessons the hard way, the bloody way, the “friend dies on you and allies betrays you” way. The book practically gave the concept of childhood innocence a big “Fuck You.”

I did like how he managed to keep his compassion and learned empathy despite the betrayals and bloody deaths that regularly, regularly splattered him. I liked how these things were viewed as weaknesses by everyone else yet they turned out to be his strengths and his way to survive. I liked that Bowe fought against the idea that survival meant conquering people, killing enemies, and walking a path of blood.

+ everyone else

Regarding the other characters, the cast was so large I still had a little trouble keeping track who was who by the end of the book. Nonetheless, I did not fail to recognize how diverse the cast was and how dimensional each character was. Hell, I even had sympathy for a few of the antagonists, including the ones who ended up betraying Bowe, coming from a reader who abhor betrayals and typically wishes for a quickly realized, painful and lasting comeuppance. It spoke volumes about the story’s ability to make me empathize the characters.

+ the love interests

However, I did not particularly like how the female characters were portrayed, in particular Bowe’s love interests. Bad enough there was a love triangle and Bowe haven’t fully understood what it means to take an interest in girls and to be in love because he was still a growing boy. I hated how Bowe fought with Iyra every time they met even though she had been nothing but helpful to him, saving his damn ass many times. I hated how he threw elitism in her face because he could not face his own true feelings for her, reminiscent of a boy harassing a girl in his fucked up way to show his like for her. While it indicated how Bowe still had great room to mature, when I juxtaposed his treatment of Iyra against his treatment of Zofila, I discovered a small but noticeable current of sexism in the nascent romance and I worried for what the future could hold.

While I like that Bowe was at least nice to Zofila, here’s the thing: she was a fucking damsel in distress as opposed to Iyra who was fucking kickass. Through Zofila, readers learn that while the boys of noble birth were forced in a survival game, the girls of noble birth were forced in one of their own. The only way girls of noble birth could survive was by whoring themselves out to ascors, the officially recognized nobles, who would care enough for them that when the time comes for the sexennial apocalypse the ascors would remember to take the girls to the Refuge with them.

Meanwhile, Iyra needed no help from anybody despite being an escay, a.k.a. a proletariat, who was supposed to be more disadvantaged than her upper class peers. In fact, immediately upon her introduction in the story and to Bowe, readers learn she was a member of The Guild, a secret society made up of escays in which to mention their name was to invite death.

Thus, on the table, what we have is a protagonist who was a jerk to a girl who had agency and needed no rescuing, Iyra, but a gentleman to a girl who did not and needed to be rescued at the end, Zofila. See my worries, now? I strongly hope that Zofila will take control of her destiny in the sequel, Bowe to make amends to Iyra, and Iyra to keep on being her kickass self and teach him to be a gentleman to all girls, no matter their class.

The Plot

The story felt long but it was sure as fuck never boring. I really appreciated that the plot spaced out its dark scenes because the story made me easily heavy hearted. I also appreciated that even when shit hits the fan, things never dropped down to a depressing as shit level where I thought it was better for Bowe to commit suicide and save himself enormous suffering.

The thing I didn’t particularly like was the lackluster ending. Success was attained at very the last minute but it wasn’t due to anything ingenious on Bowe’s part as it was pure luck and it wasn’t truly a success as much as it was a case of delaying the inevitable. There was no celebratory scene afterward, either. It was like “he’s still alive,” the end, and now we wait for the sequel. *blink* *blink*

In Conclusion

I rate The Narrowing Path 3-stars for I liked it. Despite a dizzying beginning and lackluster ending, the story engrossed me. What I love best was the marrying of the survival game and the political machination. The quality, the complexity of the story, was easily on par of an adult fantasy.

I totally would recommend it for readers who want a hardcore, read brutal, YA dystopian. I also recommend that if you do pick up the series, go ahead and connect to the characters but avoid forming attachments.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, May 13, 2013

REVIEW: Taming the Bander by Summer Devon

Taming the Bander Taming the Bander by Summer Devon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Despite being an atypical shapeshifter romance and the absence of insta-love, the book was uninspiring. I cared little for the couple. Their relationship lacked that indescribable quality that makes me believe they belong together.

As individuals, the characters were dull. Jake was aloof to the extent of obliviousness; dude was a dope. I found it somewhat difficult scrounging up pity for him when he and his cousin got betrayed, embezzled, and lost their wealth. Vaughn was supposed to be this grouchy, hurting guy, but I found him rude and a shade of selfish. He was also a shade of flaky; dude keep oscillating between like and dislike/distrust/avoidance for Jake.

I breezed through the book without ever once connecting to any character or concern for what would happen. The most I ever felt was that I wanted the crook to be caught and the money be returned to the victims, and that’s only because I dislike the idea of unresolved betrayals.

The world building was a little puzzling. It never gave a clear cut answer as to whether the existence of shapeshifters was this secret everyone knows but doesn’t speak of or if it was truly a secret and would change the entire world if people found out. I tried to grasp Vaughn's concern about hiding his secret but it was hard when he didn’t particularly do much to keep it as a secret. Who the hell shapeshifts in an area that anybody can easily wander across?

In Conclusion

I rate Taming the Bander 2-stars for it was okay. The book was a forgettable read.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, May 10, 2013

REVIEW: Rogue Descendant by Jenna Black

Rogue Descendant (Nikki Glass #3) Rogue Descendant by Jenna Black
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

With book 3, the series continues to disappoint me. Characters showed little growth, especially the heroine, Nikki Glass. Despite a steady pace, the plot never rose beyond the level of mildly interesting. Excitement was very few and far and fleeting.

The Characters

+ Nikki

I liked how Nikki was aware of herself. She recognized she was a “bleeding heart,” had abandonment issues, and who she loved (in spite of what she may say to her sister) to name a few examples. What I didn’t like is how she never made an attempt to improve herself, or at the very least her abilities as a descendant, and it’s book fucking 3.

Nikki continued to remain a victim, never the kickass heroine of a huntress I had hoped for since book 1. She continued to depend on the Liberi to protect her and her family and the words of the Olympians to do no harm against her or, in proxy, her family. Unlike in other Urban Fantasies where promises hold weight, in Nikki’s world, in this particular book, Nikki learned the hard way how empty those promises were. I would have pitied her but she had many opportunities to learn the lesson in book 1 through 2.

Nikki should have already learned that these immortals were not humans and didn’t subscribe to things like compassion, honor, morals, and whatnot. I was astounded by how Nikki continued to be astounded at how callously and cruelly descendants acted. I would have thought her job as a private investigator would have taught her how cruel people can be, and when you give them immortality and magic and shits, they can be much, much crueler. Plus, no matter if that person is human or a descendant, when they have previously deceived you, experience dictates that you should never trust them or their words again. Guess what Nikki did?

In regard to Nikki’s abilities, she continued to rely on luck and chance for them to work. Presently, the only thing she seems to have mastered is her shooting accuracy. You would think she would carry a gun at all times, including her home at the Liberi manor where she can’t even be safe because of a tiger named Sita, but no. *facepalm* As a huntress and a descendant overall, Nikki remained an amateur. If she wasn’t the star of the series but instead a supporting character, she would be near the top of my list of characters that would eventually get permanently killed.

Two fucking books; Nikki had the time span of two fucking books to learn her lessons. She also had been warned by Anderson immediately in chapter 1. I felt sorry for her family, but I didn’t feel sorry for Nikki herself, not even when she got assaulted and died another death in a violent scene in the middle of the book. This is how far my unsympathy for Nikki extends.

+ the Liberi

As for the Liberi, Nikki’s supposed allies, they sucked. Anderson was an outright bully, and I literally said “ew” when I learned in the middle the story that he was potential love interest... to Nikki, that badshit crazy Emma, Anderson’s wife, was not completely delusional and wrong in her accusation. Ew. Ew. Ew.

Then there was Jamal, the only love interest Nikki cared about. The progress they made in their relationship from book 2 disappeared in book 3. While not as bad as he was in book 1, Jamal remained emo and self-tortuous. Jamal may have not been as bad as Anderson, I still wanted the dude to die a perma-death already. I hated how Nikki persisted trying to connect with Jamal because he told her many times he didn’t want to, that he didn’t need fixing, he didn’t need anyone, etc.

I was tired of Nikki’s personal issues getting in the way of her forming healthy relationships. She kept interacting mostly with hostile Liberi instead of the friendly ones.

+ the Olympians

They were easy to hate. Their evil machination was admirable, yet instead of leading to me believe how evil smart they were, it led me to believe how incompetent our good guys were. I don’t expect our good guys to get things right every time, but I do expect them to think things through, PLAN, and proceed with the PLAN. Compared to book 2, the good guys regressed to fools in book 3.

The Plot

The only good thing the plot had going for it was that it managed to keep my undivided attention. I felt only a couple steps higher than boredom, which is not really a compliment. I liked the red herrings at first, but at the end I hated them because the good guys didn’t learn about them till it was too late. Fortunately, only because Anderson and his secret and Nikki and her convenient luck did they manage to survive. However, I was disappointed that they didn’t kill this one hateful bad guy and be done with him already.

The cliffhanger of an epilogue didn’t surprise me because, unlike our witless good guys, the bad guys had contingencies in place. I hope book 4 will be a game changer as the cliffhanger led me to believe.

I also hope everyone will reconsider the fact that Blake’s power as a descendant of Eros, god of love, may not be limited to women, specifically the ability where whoever he sleeps with will always be left desiring him forever because no one will ever sexually satisfy them like Blake does. What happened with Cyrus at the end was extreme and out of character.

The World Building

The world building didn’t bother me as much as the aforementioned issues, but it still need to be said. I was disappointed by how unimaginative and limiting the world building stayed since book 1. There’s so much from mythology the series could use yet it restricts itself to a few banal things.

For example, as a descendant of Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, Nikki can shoot and throw things with magical accuracy, hunt with a magical instinct (think spider sense from Spiderman), and get ambiguously (and unreliably) stronger when the moon blazes the sky. I was disappointed by how that is all Nikki could do when the series could allow her to do so much more. Artemis was also a goddess of wild animals; thus, Nikki could have communicated with Sita, Jamal’s tiger. Artemis could bring diseases and sudden death, if only to females, which meant she, and Nikki by extension, had the making of a death deity. It would have allowed Nikki to connect with Jamal as a descendant of a death god to another.

For a series based on an epic premise, the world described in book 3 felt quite provincial. It lost its mystique.

In Conclusion

I rate Rogue Descendant 2-stars for it was okay. I’m not sure if book 2 or book 3 was the worst, but either way, this series has been a letdown.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

REVIEW: Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane

Promises Made Under Fire Promises Made Under Fire by Charlie Cochrane
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book was a solid historical, but it didn’t have qualities that appeal to me. There was smut but only briefly and at the end.

I didn’t care much for the protagonist because he was slow on the uptake. I wanted to smack the back of his head and make him gain some smarts. His love interest, however, was interesting, and it was not until the story physically introduced him that my attention finally perked up.

The beginning was rough going because of the writing. Too many sentences were disjointed. Fortunately, the writing smoothed out after a few chapters. The pacing was steady. What I liked best was how, after the middle of the story, the sad undertone eventually dispersed and the romance descended on-page.

In Conclusion

I rate Promises Made Under Fire 2-stars for it was okay. The romance was a decent read, nothing more, nothing less.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

REVIEW: The Stolen Luck by Shawna Reppert

The Stolen Luck The Stolen Luck by Shawna Reppert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Do not mistake this for a BDSM romance. When the story said slavery, it meant actual slavery. Despite the dark premise, the story was actually not that dark. The couple, however, were fuckwits.

I spent the first 2/3 of the story vexed with Loren. Once Loren stopped vexing me, I thought it was over but then James picked up where Loren left off.The story was told in an irregularly alternating 3rd person POV between James and Loren. I thought I could get some relief by reading from the POV from a character who wasn’t vexing me at the moment. Unfortunately, while one was vexing the other was unimpressive and didn’t compensate with any exemplary character quality.

+ Loren, the love interest

Loren was a fuckwit because for someone who constantly protested his enslavement to James he sure didn’t try hard to get out of it. I understood his hesitance and fear of failure, but it was quickly if not immediately obvious that James made empty threats, that he was conflicted about being a slave owner and disrespecting his ancestors and principles for owning an elf slave, the race who granted his family their Luck. Loren had plenty of opportunities to leave, especially when he was at James’ family manor surrounded by good people who would have helped Loren if he simply asked, no exaggeration whatsoever.

At that point, it ceased to be protesting and rightful challenging of slavery. It became whining and unproductive. I detest whiny characters. FFS, Loren. The funny thing is that he could have simply asked James for a contract where once James willfully set Loren free then Loren would help James recover the Luck. A contract would have resolved the damn slavery issue once and for all! All James needed was a fucking promise set in paper! There would have been no issue of Loren reneging on the promise because he was an elf and elves, unlike humans, take their promises seriously.

Aside from the whining issue, I hated how Loren kept antagonizing James and being easily offended. There are these things called words and Loren should have used them. Loren should have directly communicated his reasons for his feelings instead of throwing bitchfits that baffled James. For example, I’m pretty sure if Loren said point blank that James’ friend was a sexual offender James would have believed him. Pretty sure as the grass is green.

Also, what kind of a slave antagonizes their new slave owner upon their first conversation? A stupid one that’s what. Of course, when James reacted non-violently and instead considered Loren’s physical and emotional injuries it should have instantly clued Loren in that James was a softie... and easily escapable. Not to mention that Loren had the ability to read mind, emotions specifically, which I suspected would have been useful in determining truthfulness.

In sum, Loren was whiny and bitchy and a shade of stupid. He did grow as a character towards the end, but not as much I would have liked.

+ James, the protagonist

I would have liked James to show more resolve and less guilt. He suffered too much internal conflict; I think the story overdid it trying to humanize James for his offense as a slave owner. Dude didn’t need to be humanized. Desperate times call for desperate measures so I totally got what he was going through. His loved ones were on the line. Anyway, I also blamed James for not thinking of making a contract with Loren and setting Loren free. It would have cut back one issue James had to deal with.

For the first 2/3 of the story, James was unimpressive in spite of his card sharp and sword skills. If the guy exercised his brain cells and came up with a strategy, then the bad guys wouldn’t have made such big trouble for Loren and him and almost got the two killed on so many occasions that it was getting idiotic on James’ side. And then there was the last 1/3 of the story.

Instead of growing a character in the last 1/3 of the story, he regressed, much to my annoyance. A couple chapters ago in the middle of the story, Loren revealed how he became a slave, and then James said that Thorne, Loren’s cousin, could have been responsible for it to which Loren refused to believe because elves are always good guys. (Yeah, I sniggered.) So what happened when James finally meet the suspicious Thorne? He allowed himself to be seduced and turned against Loren, the guy who previously, a few chapters ago, saved his life. *facepalm* Admittedly, James did wake up to the truth before things became irreparably wrecked, but he should haven’t been hoodwinked by Thorne in the first place.

So beside Loren, the stupid was also strong in James.

+ the plot

The good news was that there was no instant love and that sexual consent was a priority in the romance due to the slavery premise. There was also a HEA and smut as an ending. The bad news was that the story, as a romance, was not that very romantic. The couple were constantly challenging each other and challenging feelings for each other. Their bickering suppressed any sexual tension the story tried to manufacture.

In Conclusion

I rate The Stolen Luck 2-stars for it was okay. It was a nice romance, it was just not very romantic. The couple’s lack of smart stood in the way. The silver lining side was I did like how same sex relationship in the fantasy was a complete non-issue.

Goodreads | Amazon

Monday, May 6, 2013

REVIEW: Scratch & Sniff by J.L. O'Faolain

Scratch & Sniff Scratch & Sniff by J.L. O'Faolain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 2 Scratch & Sniff was a mixed bag; the same as book 1.

+ the characters

The first half of the story moved lackadaisically, which I wouldn’t mind if I wasn’t busy trying not to be annoyed by the characters. The story began with a vulgar scene that intended to drive home the fact that Sloth was an evil mastermind and that it would take great deal of luck to catch him. Instead, it ended up serving as another example of the superheroes’ lack of competence. Their plan sucked. All the things I have seen Sloth do have been things that anyone with normal intelligence could execute; there was nothing super about his villainy.

In sum, the story failed to convince me that Sloth was a supervillain and that our good guys, Push, Scratch, and even Wrath, were capable superheroes. I gave the characters the benefit of doubt in book 1, but now in book 2 they have not showed any improvement. What irked me more was Push, the protagonist.

Because of his insecurities, Push refused to believe Scratch’s love confession. I sympathized with Push’s insecurities, but it was frustrating to watch him push away Scratch and ultimately push away the possibility of true love and happiness. It took a lot of effort from Scratch to make Push accept him. I was very grateful for Scratch’s patience with Push for the entire story because mine ran out by the third of the story.

While I waited for Push to accept Scratch’s love, I really liked that it didn’t stop the two from having sexy times. Huzzah for smut! The scenes were graphic, ample, and lengthy. They abated my annoyance with Push and his angst. Once Push finally accepted Scratch, the romance was a sweet ride from there on out.

Regarding the other characters, in book 2, Wrath remained stagnant in character development. I wished the story would stop piling on pity for Wrath. He had a bad childhood and made bad decisions because of bad influence. Alright already. I got the point.

The new superheroes were a breathe of fresh air. I loved Professor Trixter, Scarlet Queen, and Wiccan Witch. I loved that the former defied stereotypes for being a black, brawny scientist and the latter two were sweet, loyal, and best of all fangirls. The gals were responsible for my favorite scene in the story. It was the scene when they accidentally (which seconds later turned into intentionally) interrupted Push and Scatch’s sexy time, and I learned bets were made.

+ the setting

I didn’t mind the small town stereotype in book 1, but I began to in book 2. Almost every towney was hostile to the superheroes. Sheriff Black in particular was a caricature and a convenient antagonist. I could not think of one towney who was thoroughly a good guy.

+ the plot

The pace picked up halfway through the story upon the arrival of new superheroes. Finally, there was some humor, much needed backup, great battles, and a gleam of the story arc. Speaking of the story arc, I liked the conspiracy and how it foreshadowed a superhero apocalypse.

Unfortunately, the execution of the story arc was cumbersome, and I developed doubts as to whether the series could pull the apocalyptic climax off. My gut instinct told me to keep low expectations.

The worst part of the plot was the nonsensical epilogue. Just like what happened with book 1, book 2 tacked on a different story as its epilogue, meaning it took place in the same world, but it had a different cast of characters, conflict, etc. However, unlike the epilogue in book 1, I actually saw the relevancy of book 2’s epilogue, i.e. how it related to what Push and company were going through. The epilogue further developed the conspiracy.

Nevertheless, just the same as book 1’s epilogue, I was pissed off with book 2’s epilogue. The series’ epilogues continued to be a WTF. There I was enjoying the nice romance between Push and Scratch after a long wait and then at the end the story rudely switched to another couple and threw angst and infidelity at me. Talk about a mood killer. It looks like I’m going to have pretend those epilogues never happened in order to maintain a simulacrum of enjoyment.

In Conclusion

I rate Scratch & Sniff 3-stars for I liked it. I only recommend the series if you’re into smut and superheroes and don’t mind a serial style of pacing. If you do read the series, I recommend you don’t read the epilogues, or at the very least skim them to minimize your confusion and anger.

Goodreads | Amazon

Friday, May 3, 2013

NEWS: futuristic male underwear, 12 GoT House Sigils of Internet, BDSM-looking guy on cover, brokeback burgers


The Male Underwear of the Future (NSFW) (12 April 2013)

12 Game of Thrones House Sigils for the Internet (29 March 2013)
Someone should do one for Goodreads

Book Covers: The Good, the Bad, and the WTF (15 March 2013)
Oh my. Look at the 3rd cover. WTF is right... Where can I buy the outfit? :p

Picture of the Day

Me Want!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

REVIEW: Game by Barry Lyga

Game (Jasper Dent #2) Game by Barry Lyga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

CAUTION: major spoilers

I really thought book 2, Game, would surpass its predecessor, but alas my feelings were virtually the same. In other words, for both book 1 and 2, I was entertained but I was not particularly wowed.

In book 2, too many little things tugged my suspension of my disbelief. Also, the ending disappointed me, and it was not because all the plot lines ended on a cliffhanger, although that sucked too.

The Characters

+ Jasper, the protagonist

Book 2 constantly told the reader how much of a genius Jasper was. The telling was tactless and amateurish. The story needed to let the subtext speak for itself. I also found it a little hard to believe that Jasper could have so much knowledge about forensic science. Despite all the tellings, the book didn’t do a very good job of building his character as a genius.

To elaborate, Jasper’s forte lay in profiling and psychology, specifically “prospecting” and manipulating people so he can do his serial killer shit on them and successfully get away with it... if he wanted to. It was what his father taught him. In book 2, Jasper spouted off things that included bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction, things that I don’t ever recall his father teaching Jasper or Jasper teaching himself. Somehow, I was expected to believe that he would obviously know those things because the book said Jasper was a genius, i.e. “Jasper is a genius because I said so.”

+ Howie, the best friend

Jasper’s sidekicks were worse. They amused me in the beginning but at the end they turned into a three-car pileup wreck. Jasper’s hemophiliac best (and only) friend, Howie, appeared only a few times, which saddened me because I liked the dude... so much that I wanted to ship him and Jasper because my friends’ fangirlism infected me. Anyway, every time Howie appeared he was portrayed as a one-track mind pervert. I get that he served as the comic relief (I do love dick jokes), but there was no substance to his character. It was like the book said “he’s not really important in book 2 so let’s not do character development.”

Also, Howie always appeared conveniently. I find it very hard to believe his parents would let him out their sight after what happened in book 1 because he almost died and his parents were the definition of overprotectiveness. In book 2, Howie was there to help babysit Jasper’s grandma while Jasper was out of town and to chauffeur Connie on her ill advised quest to help Jasper. Where the hell was the parental supervision?!

+ Connie, the girlfriend

Connie, I had to say, took the trophy for the most astounding character in book 2, which is not a compliment. The good news was that she was believable as a teenage girl. She obsessed over Jasper like any teenage girl would with her boyfriend, especially a boyfriend who is the ultimate bad boy. What can be more badass than the son of the worst serial killer in history? Nevertheless, her obsession perturbed me. A gut instinct told me that if Jasper were to snap and go serial killer, Connie would totally acquiesce to play as accomplice. Forget Jasper and his “I must not become a serial killer” mental shit, Connie was the real headcase.

Here’s the bad news: Connie willfully involved herself with the serial killers, plural. Not only was Connie wack, she was TSTL. Initially, I cut her some slack because I related to her feelings of being left out and wanting to help. However, that was because I thought she would eventually come to her senses. Color me foolish but the damn girl never did and in fact walked directly and willfully into a trap. Because, hey, being kidnapped and held hostage is so passe, let’s make it easier on the bad guys and step into their trap because it’s cool. *facedesk*

The Plot

The plot was engaging. It always maintained a minimum level of suspense. However, the ending was disappointing... as a three-cars pileup wreck can be, one car for each character.

Major Spoilers Ahoy.

The same thing happened last time in book 1. Once again Jasper found himself in a weak and helpless situation and needed to be rescued. For someone who the book spent an entirety building the character as a BAMF, Jasper once again donned the Dude in Distress role. The dude tattooed “I Hunt Killers” on his chest, but he should have tattooed “Killers Hunt Me” instead. It’s more appropriate.

Also, Howie may or may not have killed Jasper’s grandma in the process of taking down an alleged — ALLEGED — serial killer/serial killer accomplice. Seriously! Where the hell is the parental supervision?!! It’s not Jasper who needs CPS because his grandma is demented and thus incompetent as a guardian, it’s Howie.

Connie walked directly, knowingly, and willingly — WILLINGLY — into Jasper’s father’s hands. The girl walked into the worst serial killer of history’s hands.The stupid was strong in the girl.

*facewall* When facedesk is just not enough.

In Conclusion

I rate Game 3-stars for liked it. Surprised? Despite the issues and the facewall-inducing ending, the book entertained me, which compensated a lot. It was the equivalent of watching a great episode of a TV crime series.

Goodreads | Amazon