Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Dark Lover b y J.R. Ward

*This is not YA

Since I haven't been able to write (stupid wrist!) I've had lots of time to read. My Kindle is really great for that. Now, Dark Lover is a book I actually bought last year. It's a book I started and failed to finish. But since the Black Dagger Brotherhood is an extremely popular paranormal romance series, and I want to understand how well written PNR works, I decided to give the book another go.

I'm glad I did.

Here's the thing: since I read both YA and NA / adult books, I can have trouble switching gears. I can struggle to remember that there are things I will accept from an adult book that I would not tolerate in a YA book for reasons of logic, credibility, etc. When I got back to the point where I DNFd Dark Lover my first go around, I could see exactly why I had, and I still didn't appreciate what was there. However, I decided to continue and on the whole I really did have a good time. Want my full thoughts? Read on.
(Summary from GoodReads)
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
First, I bet you wanna know what made me DNF my first go around. The sex. It's not that it was poorly written! Rather, it's that after being traumatized by another guy a few chapters earlier (and only by a day or so in time) the heroine then has UNPROTECTED sex with the hero. Yes, she thinks its a fantasy! Yes, he can't give her an STD, etc. But it was the principle of the thing. Remember, I jumped into this on the heels of 5-10 YA books. It felt off to me, and no wonder.

Fast forward to the present? I still wasn't a big fan of this plot development, nor of the fact that there was not really enough reaction to it as the book went on. I found the connection between Beth and Wrath really, *really*, shallow. I didn't really care about them the way I *should* have. It was all too on the surface for me to really get invested.

That doesn't mean I hated the book though! On the contrary, I'm about to start book 4! Why? Because despite the fact that this romance here was not my favorite, the world building, lore, and overall cast in this book--which all carry on as the series progresses--are FABULOUS! J.R. Ward has a real talent for developing a group of characters who really do feel like family, and who felt very real to me. I wasn't crazy about how Wrath and Beth got together, but I was *glad* they did. I also knew I'd want to come back to find out more about other characters I liked, such as Rhage, Butch, Phury and Vishous. (Sorry, people--I'm not a Zsadist fan. Nothing against him, he just didn't grab me.)

As a writer, one thing I really like about this series are the variety of POVs. As someone who uses quite a few, and has characters in her own novels whose lives continue to grow, I found how J.R. Ward juggled this very interesting--and I am thrilled with how it is progressing with each book I read. As I hope I made clear above, it makes the whole series feel like a long term investment emotionally, even though the h/h in this book weren't necessarily my favorite couple ever.
Here's how I see it: Dark Lover is a 'good' book in what is shaping up to be a great series. If you are just looking for *a* romance to win your heart, I don't think this is where I wound point you. *But* if you are looking for a world to invest in and become obsessed with, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and be extension Dark Lover, are highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon 2014

The Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. I've been taking part in these read-a-thons for years now, but what are the odds that one would be happening right when I decided to get back to blogging? The timing could not be more perfect. :)

This is probably the longest read-a-thon I've participated in, and I think it will be interesting to see how that turns out. At the same time, I need to get back into the habit of blogging, and I have a novella rough draft and novel revisions going on, so I'm not trying to win any awards with the number of books vs. number of days here.

What I'm Reading: 

The next few days will likely be all about contemporary YA and NA. Why? First off, books in these genres tend to be quick and are likely to easily grab my attention. Second, I have a ton of paranormal and fantasy reviews to write and these will complement them. And third, contemporary tends to be what I want to read when I am drafting, which is what I'm doing with the Sealer's Promise prequel, To Grant A Dark Gift. With all that in mind, here's what I hope to devour during the read-a-thon:


1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry --  I've promised to read this book a zillion times and have made a thousand excuses why I haven't. I finally got it for Kindle, so my days of excuses are over. It's time I see what all the fuss is about. I'm very interested in the premise of Katie McGarry's latest book, but I like reading things in order, so let's do this!

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell -- I bought a print copy of this and the print was too small. So now I've got it for Kindle and will finally be able to enjoy it. Yay! I've been excited to read this for a while, as part of my own writing history is being involved in several fandoms. I haven't written for one in years, but that + the whole college thing should meld together in interesting ways.

3. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally -- I'm sure you've all heard my thousand and one excuses for not getting this one done. And I'm sure you know none of them were that I disliked the part I read. So again--let's ditch the excuses and get this done. It's long overdue and a book I've wanted to get back to for a while.


4. Finding It by Cora Carmack -- This is pretty much guaranteed to be great. I've read and loved other books by Cora, so I figure, why not read this one as part of the read-a-thon? I'm taking a few chances on new authors, so I may as well have a couple books in here that are by people whose stories I already know I enjoy. :)

5. Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker -- I have heard so much good about this book and I want to know why. The premise sounds promising, the cover is gorgeous, and it's under 300 pages. What have I got to lose?

6. Played by Liz Fichera -- I absolutely loved Liz's first book, Hooked. So reading Played is an absolute no brainer for me. I liked Sam and Riley in book #1, so finding out how they get together should be a fun journey to take.


N/A ... for now.

Daily Updates:

Tuesday, July 15th

Wednesday, July 16th

Thursday, July 17th

Friday, July 18th

Saturday, July 19th

Sunday, July 20th

Monday, July 21st

Tuesday, July 22nd

Wednesday, July 23rd

Are you taking part in this year's Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon? Feel free to tell me what you're reading or to link me to your post. :) 

My Top Ten TV Shows / Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, a (usually book related) topic is selected and we list our top ten choices relating to it.

This week's topic is:
My Top Ten TV Shows / Movies

I'm going to lump TV and movies together to keep things simple. If it's a dull, rainy day these are all shows or movies I might turn to.

10. Beauty and the Beast

Yes, there is a lot of criticism that can be leveled at this movie. It's definitely a film where someone can 'touch your Disney' and really pick it apart. But while I did enjoy Frozen (bought it last month) and appreciate it's message, I still feel very strongly that classic fairytales like Beauty and the Beast have their place. The Disney film is the adaptation that made Beauty and the Beast my favorite fairytale, so I feel this list would be incomplete without it.

09. The 10th Kingdom

This is a TV mini-series that is about ten hours long, and it bridges the gap between 'TV' and 'Movie" about as much as it does the gap between our world and a realm made up of fairytale kingdoms. This is one of the first works I saw that blended our world with one full of fantasy elements. This means it was probably one of the first things I saw that did this, and that it likely influenced my enjoyment of other stories that take place in multiple worlds.

08. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Great music, an interesting and quirky plot, and lots of Tim Curry. What's not to love?

07. Sailor Moon

The show that started my love of anime. This is important since when I am writing I envision most of what I am working on as if it is done in an anime style. I don't know *why*, I just *do*.

06. The Princess Bride

C'mon, who doesn't love this movie?

05. Desperate Housewives

I usually don't go for contemporary styled TV, but the characters in Desperate Housewives are so compelling, and the plotlines get so shockingly twisted, that I can't look away. This is also a personal favorite (and I'm sure I'll say this about other shows) because the characters actually grow.

04. 10 Things I Hate About You

Ah, the movie that defined my own teen years. I wanted to be Katerina Strafford so bad. *laughs, shakes head* I had a heck of a time choosing between this, She's All That, Bring It On and Save The Last Dance. Legally Blonde was also a contender, though that wasn't a thing until my first year of University.

03. Avatar: The Last Airbender 

I think what makes Avatar stand out for me is the fact that it has such fantastic depth of character while using animation rather than live action. I mean, seriously... Zoko has more depth than most antagonists in any artistic medium--he even receives redemption. If Sailor Moon fostered my love of animated entertainment that can tell an awesome story, Avatar proves that me aging has not taken away from the fact that it is possible for animation to do this time and again.

02. Mortal Kombat

I saw this movie for the first time when I was in 7th grade, and it has fueled my imagination as a writer ever since. I love the balance between various things like action, exploration, romance, and even humor. I was already invested in the characters and their plight since I played the games. And this, to me, is one of the (extremely rare!) video game movies that does not suck. In fact, (again, to me) this is one of my favorite movies of all time.

01. Farscape

If you like science fiction, fantasy and romance you owe it to yourself to check out Farscape. I've praised other things on this list for character development and continuity, but Farscape takes things one step further. Farscape is, of all TV series I've watched, the only one I've seen that truly feel like it has book quality storytelling. Plus (get this!) if Farscape was a book, it would likely be classified as romantic science fiction. (The only other thing I can think of that comes close is Lexx, and that gets all buggered up.) Science fiction and romance generally do not mix in the TV world, so for those who would like to watch some, and watch it done well, Farscape is a true gem.
So, what are your favorite movies and TV shows? Feel free to leave a comment or link me to your top ten Tuesday post. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

If We Were Having Coffee (2)

Well, *you* can have coffee--I want tea. :D But that's beside the point, no? Hello, people! :)

It's been a long while, but I'm back. And since it's been a while, it seems like it would make the most sense to start by filling you guys in on some of what I've been up to in the last couple months. I'm going to talk EVERYTHING here, since it's not like you know what I've been reading, writing, etc. anyway. Here we go!

1. Why Did I Decide To Take A Break?

It did totally start out with the issue with my left hand / wrist. But it was long past due, if I'm being really honest. I needed some time away from my blog to sort out my priorities and figure out where I was going and where I wanted to be. Fortunately, that is definitely "here". But regardless of that, I think it was the right thing taking some time and recharging my batteries.

2. What Am I Going To Do Now That I'm Back?

I'm still going to talk about books and writing, but I'm also going to take about other things I love: music, gaming, movies / tv shows... They won't become the focus, but I'm not going to let myself feel so boxed in anymore. Sometimes I'm reading, sometimes I'm not. It may sound weird to say that since I'm a writer, but writing can actually juggle my mood on reading for some reason.

3. What Have I Been Reading?

Expect to see reviews for more of Larissa Ione's Riders of the Apocalypse quartet--and likely some for her actual Demonica novels once I get to them; also expect to see more reviews for J.R. Ward's Dark Brotherhood series. On the YA front, I should have reviews for Pushing The Limits (I know, I am so far behind here!), Stolen Songbird (one of my most anticipated new releases this year, which I just bought for my Kindle last night), Played (very excited to be reading the sequel to Hooked) and After The Storm (which I can already tell you I loved--I just couldn't review because my hands had started acting up.) Last, but not least, let's talk NA. Most importantly, let's talk Until We Fly by Courtney Cole... Well, let's talk about that *soon*, anyway. ;)

4. When Tragedy Strikes, It Strikes Hard...

Six days shy of his tenth birthday, my beloved Schnoodle, D'Argo, went missing. He slipped off the collar attached to his leash while he was in the backyard, and must have bolted since a storm had started. We have tried everything to find him--posters, ads in the paper, online pet search networks--to no avail. We have not given up hope, but being without my little buddy is hard. (And it effects my Mother even worse than me; she was his favorite and they were extremely close.)

5. TV and Games...

I've been doing a full watch of Buffy The Vampire Slayer since the start of July. I've never seen the full series, and my Aunt purchased the entire set so we are cycling through them. I am nearly at the end of Season 2. I will be doing seasonal reviews for Buffy and other shows I watch from now on since I'm kind of a DVD addict.

As for gaming, I got a Wii U in May and have been playing loads of Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World since my hands stopped flaring near the end of the month. I also got Tomodachi Life for 3DS, and Final Fantasy X / X2 Remastered, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, and Dragon Age: Awakening for my PS3. I should be writing about some or all of these this summer, as well as sharing my thoughts on PS4 when I get it in August or September. (Can't decide whether I want the normal black one, or the glacier white one that comes with the Destiny bundle.)

6. Writing and Revisions...

Sealer's Promise is STILL not ready. Part of this is because of the flare-up. Part of it was taking a pause the same as with my blog (I used that to game, spend time with family and just try to untangle basically) and part of that was sorting out a major decision to do with the story--which I finally know the answer to and totally love.

I'm also working on a prequel novella, To Grant A Dark Gift, which should be coming out a month before the book. I wanted people to be able to get a more fleshed out version of Sarena's past and her initial meeting with Kyden, Kesyl, Avish and Cait. It's going quite well and since it's a smaller piece than Sealer's Promise, it's a bit more manageable.

I'm going to be giving weekly updates on how my writing is going to try and get things accomplished. We'll see how that goes!

7. Jay Came To Visit...

We got to spend time together from the 17--25 of June. Highlights included dinner with my mother and brother at the Loaf & Ale (right), defeating Bowser in Super Mario 3D World, three trips to Kingston, and beating Beyond Two Souls (which is totally amazing--gamer or not, you want to play that for the story!)

Now that he is home, I am actually working on designing a Photobook of our visit. I'll be doing a video about that and sharing my thoughts on Shutterfly's service sometime in the next few weeks.
So, what have you been up to? Read anything amazing lately? Let's talk! 

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