Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender
With a title like "Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer", how can you **not** read this book?
Colette Iselin is going on the trip of a lifetime - Paris with her fellow French class francophiles. After her folks go through a nasty divorce, Colette is struggling to keep her social standing up to par by making nice with the popular (if mean) girls in the class. When the class arrives in France, Colette is confronted with the sticky dynamics of doing what she wants to do (doing the tourist-y things and making eyes at the charming French tourguide, Jules) and what her popular friends want to do (go to all the en vogue night clubs and attempt to snag a sexy, French hunk). Oh, and to make the situation all that much more complicated, the ghost of Marie Antoinette has been killing off wealthy French socialites and it looks like Colette may be next on her list.
I thought this was a delightful read! Light and fluffy with a good dash of the murderous paranormal as well. This book fits solidly within the realm of YA - there's plenty of teenage angst/boy drama to go around. With the understanding that it's a young adult book, I found it to be well-written and entertaining, if slightly predictable.
I refuse to think any deeper on the book (I was a history major/French language minor in college) lest I focus on the ridiculous...Marie Antoinette as a serial killer? A secret order of French nobles sworn to protect the throne? Um...lol.
Understanding that this is a light and fun read and going into the story with that mentality will help a lot in how enjoyable one finds the story. At the end of the book, it's a good piece of escapist Young Adult paranormal fiction.
I enjoyed the book and now must bid it adieu.
[Read Oct. 2013]
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
I don't even know how to begin writing a review of this book. Let's just say that it was not my cup of tea...but I knew it probably wouldn't be when I picked up the book.
In this first installment of the Immortals After Dark series, Kresley Cole introduces us to Emmaline - a half Valkyrie/half vampire young woman who is trying to break free from her sheltered past and learn more about her mysterious parentage. We also meet Lachlain - the uber macho king of the Lykae (werewolves) who has just recently escaped his own personal hell created for him by the king of the vampires. When Lachlain "scents" Emma and recognizes her as his mate, he swoops in and kidnaps her to his Scottish castle and attempts to woo her. Emma is not so easily swayed, however, and with the king of the vampires hunting them both down, things start to get interesting.
Or not interesting. Depends on what you're into, I guess?
Let me be frank - I only read the book because I spotted a book further down the Immortals After Dark reading list that I wanted to read and I *hate* jumping into a series in the middle. So, I picked up this installment which I think is the first in the series (there may be a novella that gives a prelude to the series? I don't know - Haven't read that one...) simply because it was the first story. I read the back...read some reviews on the book...and determined pretty quickly that this would not be one of my faves.
I was right.
Attempted rape? Yeah...SO not into that.
Caveman-ish Alpha Male? Yeah...not into that either.
More rape? Still not ok with that.
Annoying heroine? Yeah...not into that.
How about some more rape/rape attempts? ...........
I just felt uncomfortable reading this book. Lachlain was a little to dominant male for me and he definitely attempted some sexual acts without Emma's permission or consent. That's not ok...even if she "eventually gives in" or if he overpowers her and she "discovers" that she likes it...I would still argue that's rape since she initially said NO. The big sexy scene in the story starts with Emma trying to run AWAY from Lachlain...to escape her kidnapper...and then he catches her, overpowers her, and off they go like bunnies. She ends up having a grand ol' time...but to start out with her trying to flee her kidnapper and then just being like, "Well...the Instinct has kicked in so now it's ok to have sex" - yeah, not ok for me.
Because of the over-playing of the caveman alpha male and the weak, submissive female, I felt the characters were rather two-dimensional. (spoiler alert...you've been warned...) Even when Emma has a pretty kick-ass moment toward the end of the story, it fell kind of flat. I was more intrigued with some of the side characters which I think will get their own books...so maybe there's still hope that I'll make it to that book later in the series I wanted to read.
I am going to give the next few books a try in the hopes that things get better. We shall see...
[Read Oct. 2013]
Assassins In Love by Kris DeLake
So...I read this.
This book is an example of why an author should always choose their book's title with care. When this was picked for a book club selection, I almost didn't touch it with a nine-foot pole. Assassins in Love? Seriously? Plus the guy on the cover with his shirt off while posing with his gun ('cause shirtless gun handling is useful?) was like cheesewhiz icing on an already cheesy cake.
Then I looked at the author and discovered Kris DeLake is actually a pen name for Kristine Kathryn Rusch who happens to be a Hugo award winning author.
The longer I stared at the book, the more I decided "Assassins in Love" wasn't cheesy...it was clever/funny/whatever.
So, I bought it.
And you know what? It wasn't that bad. It was actually pretty good. And I knew exactly what I was going to get with the book -- what's the plot synopsis, you ask? Well, let me tell you. There are two assassins. And they fall in love. Ok, you good? Well, there may be a few more twists and turns to the story than just boy meets girl, but the title is pretty straightforward. DeLake's writing style is very engaging and makes for a quick read. Lots of sexy bits as well...(what did I expect? They're Assassins...and they're In Love...).
So, what did I learn from my Assassins in Love foray? Don't judge a book by its title.
[Read Oct. 2013]
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
You know that moment when you're reading a book and you can feel it sink its claws into you to the point where you are just compelled to read it?
Yeah...totally had that moment with this book. And what's sad is I could have read it last year...but instead it just sat on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up. It's time finally came, however, and now I wish I had picked it up back when I initially bought it.
What a wonderful read! The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is labeled "fantasy", but I might argue it's actually more of a mythology. The story follows Yeine Darr who, after living among her father's people for her whole life, is forced to travel to her mother's homeland to take her place in the succession of the nation's crown. Yeine travels reluctantly as there is no love lost between her and her Grandfather, the ruler of the Arameri nation. Once within the Arameri palace, Sky, Yeine meets Lord Nahadoth (the Dark Lord) and several of his godling children who are all enslaved as weapons to be used by the full-blooded Arameri. As Yeine cultivates complicated relationships with the personified deities and muddles through her newfound world of politics, she discovers that the path to her inheritance is much more complicated than she ever would have thought.
I found the story to be utterly absorbing. Could it have been more complex and intricate? Definitely. But, for the amount of plot within the story, I thought the amount of politics to be in good proportion. It seems that several fantasy authors tend to put TOO much politics into their writing in an attempt to further develop the world. I'm not saying that approach is bad...I'm just saying that I don't prefer a lot of politics - it can bog the story down.
The world building was a little weak as well and I want to know so much more about this world. I wish there was a map in the front of the book... I take comfort in the fact that this is the first in a trilogy and based on the description of the next installment, I think the world building will be expanded upon.
I loved this book.
[Read Oct. 2013]
Have you ever read a book that you enjoyed so much you didn't want it to end? Or how about reading a book that was so big and in-depth that you weren't sure what to do when it was over? That's kind of how I feel post-Styxx. Incredible book...incredible story...so where do I go from here?
Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon
About a third of the way through this beast of a book an earworm of a song just started playing over and over in my head. Ever heard Don Henley's song "Dirty Laundry"? The chorus goes like this:
"Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em all around"
So yeah - that's what this book was. Kick Styxx while he's up...kick Styxx while he's down...kick Styxx all around. For about 800 of the 836 pages that's pretty much the gist of it.
I was so excited to see this book because a) whenever Kenyon writes a huge novel like this I know I'm probably going to like it because she can take her time developing the characters and plot and b) she finally went back to the "normal" Dark Hunter world (ie. Acheron/New Orleans/ect...) and I was craving that after the last few novels being set in Las Vegas/the West with a different pantheon of gods.
And a word of warning right here --> there's a lot (and I mean a LOT) of rape in this book. It's brutal. I was prepared for Styxx to go through crap because all Kenyon's male characters go through crap...but Styxx goes through a whole new level of crap that I wasn't prepared for the brutality of it all. Just a warning.
Also - I would not read this book out of order...at the very least read Acheron's book first. If you read some of the other DH books about "big" characters (ie. Katra/Sin, Talon, etc...) I think it will help in understanding the over-arching picture.
Sherrilyn Kenyon and I have a hit or miss relationship - I enjoy the Dark Hunter world and I want to enjoy *all* of her books. The problem is that some of the books just seem like something she fired off to her publisher with nary a second thought. The writing can be spotty and the characters a little "meh". Kenyon's writing style isn't my favorite either as some of her word/phrase choices often throw me out of the story. Then came the book about Acheron which I just really loved. I loved Acheron - it was an in-depth book about a complex character and Kenyon really spelled out his entire story and didn't skimp on the details. Acheron was a good mix of romance and plot - I loved it.
She has done the same thing with Acheron's brother, Styxx. When you read Acheron's book, you leave with a hatred of Styxx. When you read Styxx's story you realize just how wrong about everything you really were. You thought Acheron had it bad? Honey, you ain't heard nothin' yet.
Kenyon takes the time to make sure you know each and every injustice that Styxx suffered through. And when you thought you heard it all...he went through more crap. I mean, it never ended. I had to take a break midway through just because the story was so heavy...and yet I felt compelled to return to the story quickly. I had to know what happened with Styxx and if the brothers would reconcile (and how they ever could reconcile).
The only thing that knocked it down from 5 to 4 gnomes was that some of the story seemed a bit repetitive. Styxx goes through crap...then he goes through more...then some more...then some more...oh wait - there's more crap to wade through...then more...aaannndd we have more crap. This seriously goes on for 800 pages. While all the crap was crucial to the plot, it almost (and I emphasis the word "almost") became a slog. I don't know how Kenyon could have reduced the amount of crap and still made the points she needed to make with Styxx...but the almost-slog through all the crap knocked it down a gnome in my book.
But now...some 830 pages later...I am glad I know Styxx's story. I'm more curious than ever as to how the DH series will conclude (I feel like we are reaching the end-ish of the story arc? I may be wrong...) and I definitely have a renewed interest in the DH lore.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you -- but, fans of Kenyon: read this book!
[finished Oct. 2013]