Book Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

10803619StarStarStar

Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #9)

Payne, twin sister of the Black Dagger Brother Vishous, suffers a devastating injury, and brilliant human surgeon Manuel Manello is called in to save her. Their attraction is instant, and as powerful as it is dangerous. But as human and vampire worlds collide, a centuries- old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in jeopardy.

Book 1: Dark Lover review

Book 2: Lover Eternal review        Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review     Book 5: Lover Unbound review

Book 6: Lover Enshrined review   Book 7: Lover Avenged review

Book 8: Lover Mine review

x-x-x

“And I say to you now, I killed my father, not yours.” Lifting her palm, she peeled back and slapped him across the face. “And do not insult my blood.”

Heh. Payne is badass. :))

Lover Unleashed featured more of Vishous than Payne. Why is that? I mean, I did not like Lover Unbound‘s ending, so I don’t want anything to do with V and Doc Jane anymore. *huffs* (Although it was here that I only realized that they were not formally mated in their book installment.)

Fine. Good thing I have patience to sustain me so I can continue reading this series.

Manello, I like. He’s funny, can stand toe-to-toe with V or Butch, and he’s undeterred by a strong female like Payne. She, on the other hand, has no inkling on worldly desires, and it’s kind of funny (for me) that she can trash Wrath, beat him to bits during their sparring sessions, and then not know what kissing was. 😀 But she’s cool. Her loyalty to her twin is scary, despite being separated for more than a hundred years.

The back story of the Bloodletter is the intriguing part. Imagine Payne who is not afraid to kill him, and now she is being hunted by the Band of Bastards that stayed loyal to him.

I was anticipating the showdown between Payne and Xcor… then nothing happens. WTH.

Lover Unleashed is all about Payne being introduced to the world other than what she was used to with the Virgin’s Scribe spiritual abode. It’s about her romance with the human surgeon, V’s drama, and a lot of non-action.

But… I feel for Qhuinn. 😦

x-x-x

LOVER UNLEASHED by J.R. Ward

Paperback, 537 pages

Published November 1st 2011 by Signet

3/5 stars

Advertisements

Book Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

17428641StarStarStarStarStar

Young Adult > Fantasy

(Seven Realms #4)

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. 

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it? 

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

Book 1: The Demon King review

Book 2: The Exiled Queen review

Book 3: The Gray Wolf Throne review

x-x-x

After closing my copy, I hugged it tight. I had stars in my eyes, the biggest smile in my mouth. My husband stared at me, asking, “What is wrong with you?” and I just murmured (without looking at him) that the ending of The Crimson Crown was sooo beautiful…! Of course, he doesn’t know what I’m saying. I kept on smiling. What a fantastic way to conclude one of the best fantasy series in YA!

I would not have it any other way. 🙂 There are little questions in my head, but I didn’t mind them much. I am delighted with how everything fell into place, whether for better or for worse. I am utterly delighted!

The strength of the Seven Realms series lies in the tremendous amount of development that Cinda Williams Chima put into her characters. Han and Raisa were spectacular, but unbridled praise must also be given to Fire DancerNight Bird, even Micah Bayar! There is no good or bad, just the resolve to prove something or someone that they are worthy – of respect, service, and love. Woot!

The maturity of Raisa as a queen, and as Han’s partner was incredible. She’s out to get what she wants. She thereby complimented Han‘s determination to be the best person he can be. After The Gray Wolf Throne, Han now lives with conviction. He’s no longer a thief, he said. He’s resolute to make things work between him and Raisa, stands up to the challenge, just for the slimmest chance that they can be together. *happy sigh* Han was magnificent! He still have trust issues, and I loved that this is consistent with his character. He struggled with his secrets, and sharing them to people he cared the most.

Dancer‘s transformation was amazing! He was the epitome of the hope between jinxflingers and copperheads. And Night Bird was a pretty surprise. I did not like her in previous books, but now? Wow. Lord Bayar‘s fate was unsatisfying, but neatly done. Averill Lightfoot and Elena Cennestre are two of my least favorite characters. Such sneaky and insensitive Demonai warriors!

More than the superb plot, these character developments drove The Crimson Crown to the top of my favorites list. Han, Han, Han. I don’t think I will ever forget you. Swoon!!!

And that Epilogue? Oh my goodness! So uplifting, and sweet, and undoubtedly kind. =)

Similar to Lumatere Chronicles of Melina Marchetta and The Queen’s Thief series of Megan Whalen Turner in terms of epic love stories and intriguing politics, Seven Realms series is a must read for every fantasy lover. So Read. It. Now!

x-x-x

THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima

Paperback, 624 pages

Published October 1st 2013 by Disney Hyperion
.
5/5 stars

Book Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

17883441StarStar

Young Adult > Paranormal > Post-Apocalyptic

(Blood of Eden #3)

Vengeance will be hers.

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.

Monster.

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions – her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost – the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. 

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

THE FINAL HUNT IS ON.

Book 1: The Immortal Rules review

Book 2: The Eternity Cure review

x-x-x

This finale was such a letdown, as I loved the first two books.

The first time I picked up The Forever Song to read, I put it down upon reaching Chapter 4. It would be weeks before I dared to continue. It was soo boring. And flat. Did I already mention boring? Julie Kagawa‘s storytelling might be growing out on me.

Allison was repetitive. Always with the hunger, the snarling, the promise of revenge against Sarren (but when the showdown was revealed, how pitiful Allie was). It was a never-ending lament on how she will destroy the lunatic vampire, and constant bickering with Jackal in-between. It really took forever to get the story into shape!

And there’s a lot of walking going on. Gah.

I asked myself: Am I getting used to JKagawa writing already? Because I found The Forever Song to be very predictable.

Zeke is still an emo boy. How come I cannot connect with him? There was no swoon factor. Kanin is the ever-efficient killing vampire, Allie is almost always fangirling about her Master. And Jackal missing the best fight of his existence? Oh, come on! Not fair! 😦

I liked The Immortal Rules, loved The Eternity Cure. I only finished The Forever Song for the sake of reading the whole series until its weary ending.

Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin for granting my galley request.

x-x-x

THE FOREVER SONG by Julie Kagawa

Kindle Edition, 416 pages

Published April 15th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

2/5 stars

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

21401181StarStarStarStar

Young Adult > Fantasy

Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

x-x-x

I cannot stop reading Half Bad. Brutal, hateful, but (that ending was) hopeful. Really good stuff.

The POV in Part I was very interesting. Using “you” instead of “I”, it made my reading experience unpleasantly real. It’s as if I was the one losing a hand because of some nasty acid, instead of Nathan. =) I easily adopted to Sally Green‘s cruel, magical world. A little subdued on the “magic” element, but it still worked for me.

Amidst persecution from the White Witches, Nathan persevered to live day by day. With the help of his brother Arran (I want a devoted sibling like him!), his sister Deborah, and his Gran, the Council’s oppression for a wild card like him was a bit bearable. When Nathan’s birthday draws near, and he awaits the Three Gifts that his bloodline will bestow upon him, the noose held by the Council grows tighter. Should he bear the unreasonable suffering, or should he run for his life?

I love, love Half Bad. It’s so simple – you’re different, so they fear you. But they will bully you into submission to disguise their fear into strength. But we all know that even good witches need to lose some damn steam.. like Nathan. 😀 Sally Green knows how to rile me up. I hated Kieran. I loathed Nathan’s sister, Jessica. I did not think of Mercury as a threat, though. Celia was a surprise, but a good one. And high five to Rose!

The value of a family and the strength that comes from its members are encouraged in this book. Nathan never gave up hoping that his father wants him as a child, and for an orphan like him, it’s all he has. 

The ending was good enough, the meeting between two characters in the midst of the battle was so cool, and so heartwarming!

*whispers* I haven’t read an absorbing magic-themed book like Half Bad in a while. The thrill of it!

P.S. Team Gabriel, anyone? 😀

(Attention to Jessica, Kieran, Hunters, Members of the Council… here’s me making a gesture of slashing your throats.)

x-x-x

HALF BAD by Sally Green

Ebook, 416 pages

Published March 4th 2014 by Viking Children’s

4/5 stars

Book Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

6520929StarStar

General Fiction > Literature | Historical Fiction

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (2009)Orange Prize Nominee for Fiction Shortlist (2010)James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominee for Fiction (2009),Costa Book Award Nominee for Novel (2009)Magnesia Litera Nominee for Translation (Litera za překladovou knihu) (2011), National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (2009), The Rooster – The Morning News Tournament of Books (2010), Walter Scott Prize (2010)

x-x-x

No comment. Hmph. Where do I start?

Chapter one opened with violence (and yes, it immediately appealed to my bloodthirsty side), but that’s pretty much it. I didn’t mind, for I was not expecting action scenes in Wolf Hall. But as the parts dragged on, it stayed flat for me for the rest of the novel. How laborious it was to finish this! Such an accomplishment-slash-disappointment rolled into one.

Frustration surfaced when Hilary Mantel‘s writing confused the hell out of me. It’s always started with a he, and given that there are many Thomases in this book, it was all so confusing. Man, the rereading I had to do (in order to secure my understanding where I’m at with the story) was not fun.

Thomas Cromwell is no hero, I get that. To each his own, knowing how Henry VIII can quickly change his mind to those who surrounds him, so Cromwell made sure he did everything to secure his household, and everyone in it. But when he started to lose his connection with his family (he went into arranging marriages for his sons as a political strategy, with no thought of how they would feel about it), I resented him until the end.

Let credit make its due to Hilary Mantel, as she did make my emotions rise – hatred for Anne Boleyn (and her family), disgust over Henry (and how he treats women), and disappointment for Cromwell. But that’s all I am giving Wolf Hall.

The idea that Thomas More as the key piece of how things will go down – I simply did not buy it. (Before you react, yes, I read this part of Tudor History, and I’m still not buying it as the height of conflict for Wolf Hall.)

Bring Up the Bodies? No, thank you. I’d rather read about Anne Boleyn’s downfall in Wikipedia.

x-x-x

WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel

Kindle Edition, 559 pages

Published April 1st 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.

2/5 stars

Book Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

331070StarStar

General Fiction > Literature | Classics

Set in Camus’ native Algeria, this story centers around Meursault. The young French-Algerian leads an apparently unremarkable bachelor life until his involvement in a violent incident calls into question the fundamental values of society.

x-x-x

Hmph. This classic is an epic fail for me.

I don’t like how Meursault thinks, much less act. It’s like everything for him is happening to someone else, and he is but a mere spectator. There were bits and pieces of philosophy that caught my attention, but Meursault is such a loser in his pathetic life.

The Stranger is less than 200 pages, and yet it got annoying after each turn of the page. I cannot find myself sympathizing with the miserable situation Meursault found himself in, because he has no regard with whatever happens to him.. until he faced his mortality as it draws near.

That one thing I remotely liked? The story about the Czech (?) and his mother/sister. Other than that, good riddance.

Stranger started out good, but ended up sucking IMO.

x-x-x

THE STRANGER by Albert Camus

Paperback, 123 pages

Published March 13th 1989 by Vintage International

2/5 stars

Book Review: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

7046495StarStarStar

Genre: General Fiction > Adult Paranormal Romance

(Black Dagger Brotherhood #8)

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

Book 1: Dark Lover review

Book 2: Lover Eternal review

Book 3: Lover Awakened review

Book 4: Lover Revealed review

Book 5: Lover Unbound review

Book 6: Lover Enshrined review

Book 7: Lover Avenged review

x-x-x

Wish I could skip the next books and go straight to Lover at Last. 😀 Qhuinn!

I am more tuned in to the story of John Matthew’s best friends, Blaylock and Qhuinn. Imagine me looking at each chapter, expecting to read more, only to see that it will take me 5-6 chapters before I see them again after the last chapter they had. No wonder I finished Lover Mine in no time! Blay’s full of longing, Qhuinn is full of ghosts inside his head.

Xhex does not need John to save her, and when she escaped from hell out of her own resources, I was electrified with her success. A true female of worth, as the brothers would say. She’s one of the strongest female characters in this series.

John has a lot of baggage from his past life as a human. His blindness perfectly complimented Xhex’s symphath nature, and wasn’t that something for me smile about. He’s not intimidated by Xhex’s strength, so plus points for him. Although his connection with his best friends went out the window when Xhex stepped into his life.

Darius‘ and Tohrment‘s back stories are some of the best parts, I think (after Blay & Qhuinn, of course). Not all Brothers are good to their offspring, or doomed to a life of loneliness.

I’m thinking, have I seen the last of Lash? I like Payne, too.

x-x-x

LOVER MINE by J.R. Ward

Hardcover, 512 pages

Published April 27th 2010 by NAL

3/5 stars

Book Review: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

18133StarStarStarStar

General Fiction > Literature | Classics

When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause celebre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov’s wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century’s novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author’s use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness. Awe and exhilaration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love–love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

x-x-x

Madness. Nabokov’s writing was exquisite.

Reading Lolita was a gruelling experience, because of my warring emotions. I should be disgusted, but I was not. I became entranced with Humbert’s absurdity that he calls his life. The idea of enjoyability despite the controversy of Vladimir Nabokov‘s story made my reading experience all the more compelling.

Lolita. Manipulative, shrewd, beguiling. She won’t get any pity from me. She’s clever enough to understand the situation she’s in with Humbert (and get out of it). Should I hate Humbert for his perversions? I am more inclined to hate Lolita for her falseness.

Humbert‘s portrayal of his love for Lolita is thought-provoking. Was he self-serving, struggling against the norms of society, or downright sick to be attracted to nymphets like Lolita? Those scenes where Humbert defends, justifies his actions to readers as simple acts o f a man in love, it was amusing. Crazy talk from him yes, but still engaging.

In the end, despair clung to Humbert like leech to one’s skin.

Lolita is riveting, once you see past Humbert’s sick mind. Temptation to fall for his machinations is great, given that Vladimir Nabokov wrote so tantalizingly, you would question the rightness to judge him.

*thumbs up*

x-x-x

LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

Paperback, 50th Anniversary Edition317 pages

Published March 13th 1989 by Vintage International (first published 1955)

4/5 stars

Book Review: Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

753452StarStarStarStar

General Fiction > Literature | Contemporary

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of eccentrics live in houseboats. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they belong to one another. There is Maurice, a homosexual prostitute; Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man; but most of all there’s Nenna, the struggling mother of two wild little girls. How each of their lives complicates the others is the stuff of this perfect little novel.

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (1979)

x-x-x

Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing appealed to me: witty and direct, with a touch of dry humor. =)

The key to enjoy reading Offshore is to read it at a slow pace. I did it by reading 20 pages a day. Fortunately, it worked for me. It was a surprise to even like this book, but to love it? It was close to unreal (at least for me, since I am a YA reader most of the time).

I did not try to connect to the characters, but I like Nenna. And her wise-beyond-their-ages children. I found Penelope Fitzgerald‘s writing funny, if you know when to laugh. Her style made me think that there are things happening other than what I am reading from her words.

I found the marital conflict between Nenna and Edward entertaining. I mean, it was absurd (some things they fight about), but it happens in real life. And how they respond to each other because of those issues, it was funny in a sarcastic way. =)

I peg Offshore as one of those books I will read offhandedly (just to say that I read a Man Booker Prize). But when one character managed to creep into the pages at the last minute… well, well. That was a hopeful turn to an otherwise typical open-ended story.

x-x-x

OFFSHORE by Penelope Fitzgerald

Paperback, 141 pages

Published April 3rd 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1979)

4/5 stars

Challenge: 2014 Off-the-Shelf Challenge

I PLEDGE TO READ THE PRINTED WORD.

offtheshelf2014

MAKING A DENT: Choose 30 books to read

Forgive me if I will utter just a few words in this post. As OC as I am, I just need to see where I’m at with this challenge to push me into completing it.

(Aside from writing reviews, looks to me I am still in a blogging slump.)

*sigh*

HERE WE GO!

  1. A Feast for CrowsGeorge R.R. Martin [4/5]
  2. Red DragonThomas Harris [3/5]
  3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman [5/5]
  4. The Gray Wolf ThroneCinda Williams Chima [4/5]
  5. Lover AvengedJ.R. Ward [3/5]
  6. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn [4/5]
  7. Evil at Heart, Chelsea Cain [3/5]
  8. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust, George R.R. Martin [4/5]
  9. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast, George R.R. Martin [4/5]
  10. The Stranger, Albert Camus [2/5]
  11. Lover Mine, J.R. Ward [3/5]
  12. The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey [5/5]

x-x-x

I am currently reading my copies of Lover Unleashed and The Night Season. So including those two, I am almost halfway through this challenge. *fist pump*

I still have a book shelf full of TBR books, but at least, I am no longer hoarding. It’s been 2 months since I last bought a book. See, progress!

maria