Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Forged by Fire (Dragon Temple Saga #3) by Janine Cross


4 stars for Forged by Fire (Dragon Temple Saga book 3) by Janine Cross.

Forged by Fire is a resolute finale to a dystopian fantasy trilogy that spans challenging themes of slavery, prostitution, oppression, venom addiction, graphic sexuality and bestiality.

This third and final instalment of the Dragon Template Saga series tells of how the poor and oppressed finally come together to plot against the rich and the aristocrats, how they fight to end the Emperor’s theocratic dictatorship of Malacar and their struggle to break out of the rigid confinement of the Temple’s patriarchal regimen. Most notably, the story centres on how our narrator, Zarg having suffered the horrors of Arena and survived, continues with her quest to end slavery, poverty and starvation in every Clutch, all across the land.

The author does a neat job wrapping up the trilogy by divulging the ancient dragon secret to breeding bull dragons in captivity, a much sought-after answer to a riddle by all power hungry men. And it is to Zarg to whom the mystery is unravelled after her participation in an unexpected ritual. With this revelation in hand, Zarg becomes the catalyst that unleashes the Great Uprising.

In summary, the Dragon Temple Saga is an impressive trilogy with great storyline. It may on certain level be disturbing to some due to the unusual themes involved. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed reading all three books in continuous succession.

Publisher: Roc, Reprint edition
Publication date: 5 Aug 2008

@}--->>--->>-----

In the explosive climax of the Dragon Temple saga, Zarq Darquel has secured a dragon estate for herself, in violation of every law which forbids women to own property. She had not seen herself as a revolutionary, but her enemies have given her no choice in her fight for freedom.

Abandoning the estate where she thought she would be safe, Zarq journeys deep into the jungle in search of an ancient dragon secret that would give her the power to overthrow both Kratt and the corrupt Dragon Temple. She has taken with her some of the female dragons from her own estate, and in the jungle she will once again risk the dragons' highly addictive, hallucinogenic venom-renewing a craving that is becoming an obsession.

*Blurb from FantasticFiction*

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Shadowed by Wings (Dragon Temple Saga #2) by Janine Cross


4.5 stars for Shadowed by Wings (Dragon Temple Saga book 2) by Janine Cross.

Shadowed by Wing is a seamless follow-up to book 1 Touched by Venom. Eight years have passed since the very beginning of Zarg’s narration. The nine-year-old child who has watched her father murdered, who has been evicted by her clan, and who has been abandoned by her mother over a mad obsession has grown up. Now, at seventeen years of age, Zarg continues to recount her life happenings and weeps for want of a welcoming home.

In this book 2, there are many forces at work, to each his own yet all congregating against Zarg: the rage of the Temple, the resentment and hostility of her fellow apprentices, Clutch Re overseer’s determination to learn the dragons’ secret, and the dragonmaster’s plan to free the Djimbi. With much oppression and inequality directed at Zarg and the weaker gender, I read bulk of the story with a clenched fist. However, it is also through this harsh reality that I learn to appreciate the author’s story spinning skills which paint life-like scenarios with no window dressing.

In her bid to join the dragonmaster’s apprenticeship, Zarg crosses path again with Dono, her milk brother who is also a playmate of her youth. The author does a terrific job on devising the revisit of Dono as his presence always manages to stir up a turbulence of emotions within me: a sense of longing, joy, sadness, guilt, fury, betrayal, courage, hope.

Just when I believe that Zarg, as the dragonmaster’s apprentice, is hard at work and well on her way to learning the necessary skills required for survival in the Arena, the story takes on an unexpected turn of events. The sudden change in plot only serves to make me hold my breath and keeps the pages turning.

All in all, Shadowed by Wings is remarkably well written with well-developed and defined characters. A heart-felt story about a girl’s struggle for love and acceptance in a world where there is no place for the feminine.

Publisher: Roc
Publication date: 3 Apr 2007

@}--->>--->>-----

The Dragon Temple Saga continues as Zarq Darquel embarks on a trial by fire, defying Dragon Temple scripture by undergoing the rigorous training of an apprentice dragonmaster, while desperately searching for the doctrine that allows women permission to participate in the battles at Arena.

Yet Zarq's difficulties pale in comparison to her craving for the hallucinogenic dragon venom, and her desire to understand the dragons themselves-both of which make her a vessel to receive the ancestral memories of the great beasts. And now, eager for the knowledge only Zarq can uncover, Temple has her imprisoned and subjected to starvation and torture-all to make her reveal the dragons' deepest secrets...

*Blurb from FantasticFiction*

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Touched by Venom (Dragon Temple Saga #1) by Janine Cross


4.5 stars for Touched by Venom (Dragon Temple Saga book 1) by Janine Cross.

My first brush with book 1 of Dragon Temple Saga took place more than 1 year ago in a library during one of my hunts for books written in first person account. I was then deeply entranced by the prologue. Nonetheless, I did not borrow the book to finish what I have started at that time, simply because I was looking to read a book more skewed towards paranormal romance than fantasy. Regardless of the passage of time, the prologue still holds the same riveting pull it has on me, second time in reading. Thus, I have included the prologue I so love below, after the blurb.

Touched by Venom is not your run-of-the-mill fantasy to be read with a laid-back carefree mood. It is one that invokes a maelstrom of feelings that swirled within me as I read along. Love, fear, anxiety, dread, relief, anger, guilt, remorse, compassion, need, and hope all come into play, all in the name of upholding tradition and honorability in the story. The tale, a first person narration, is a look back in time by Zarg, on how a nine-year old her views and looks upon the world and how the world in return regards her, a female belonging to a gender that is wholly oppressed by the masculine. In the account, Zarg tells of her first encounter with the dragon's venom and the events leading to her subsequent addiction and obsession with it.

More often than not, we take for granted people around us and instead yearn for those out of reach. It is with much sympathy and empathy for Zarg as I read along, for she falls exactly to the former category. In her attempts to get back her first born, Zarg’s mother resorts to whatever ways she can think of, even at the expense of her younger daughter, Zarg who craves badly for her mother’s attention and affection. The mother so intent on her schemes that she treats her only daughter left as a tool rather than the girl she should love and cherish more. But obviously in time, Zarg learns that her mother does love her, but just in a different way, in an unusually eerie obsessive way that Zarg later asserts that to sleep is to be embalmed alive by her mother’s haunt.

The realm where Zarg lives in, is very much dominated by man, to the extent that there is even convention to naming of a holy woman. The author very skilfully informs readers that the women are deficient for two reasons, the first being that they are human and not dragon, the second simply because they are female. Despite the oppression she is submitted to, Zarg harbours a secret ambition, a fantasy dream which she thinks is an impossible goal. However, when the slightest opportunity presents itself one day, she wastes no time latching onto it and puts into motion the start of her plan for vengeance.

While the plot is richly detailed and set in a well imagined world of dragons and dragonlore, the same cannot be said of the grammar and sentence construction. However I am not one who is quick to judge and penalise for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poor sentence construction as my focus is more on the essence of the story content. All the same, I still hope to see improvements in the later books.

All in all, Touched by Venom is a flavourful story, one which tastes very much of mysterious magic trapped in a brutal yet alluring world where dragons and their yearlings exist, created wholly by the author.

Publisher: Roc
Publication date: 1 Aug 2006

*** Favourite quote 1 ***

Tradition is not something to be followed without question, Zarq. It's rarely as pure and correct as it's made out to be. All tradition means is that something has become accepted over time. That's all. It's good to question such things.

*** Favourite quote 2 ***

According to convention, the name of a holy woman has to be comprised of two syllables, each formed by a three-stroke hieratic character. That number in our names—six—reminds us we are deficient on two counts, not worthy even in our written names to approach the sacred number 8. Firstly, we're deficient because we are human and not dragon. Secondly, we are female.

~ Touched by Venom
Janine Cross

@}--->>--->>-----

On a large dragon estate in Malacar, young Zarq Darquel's rebellious ways go unnoticed by the watchful eye of the Dragon Temple-until she accidentally captures the attention of an eccentric and dangerous dragonmaster and unleashes a storm of tragedy. Zarq and her delirious half-breed mother flee through the underworld of their land-from The Zone of the Dead to a sanctuary for outcast dragons, through discovery and persecution.

Consumed with the desire for revenge, Zarq develops a taste for the highly addictive venom drawn from the dragons she has been taught to revere, and sinks into a realm of bizarre magics. Here, influenced by the divine grace of dragon memories, Zarq glimpses possibilities of revenge and social revolution; but to achieve such, she must defy not just the sexual taboos and patriarchal conventions of her society, but the Emperor who rules her nation.

*Blurb from FantasticFiction*

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PROLOGUE

They came into the yard on a cloud of red dust, four young aristocrats burning with indignation and wine, and they went into the potters' work shed and hauled the woman out by her hair. They dragged her along the floor, through shards of shattered statues, out into the yard, where the smoke from the kilns was only just beginning to turn the air chalky. One man broke her jaw beneath his boot heel, then stood her against the wall of a mud-brick hut. Her knees sagged, so he dropped her. They began searching for her man.

They mistook Twisted Foot Ryn for the one they wanted, and it wasn't until Ryn's flock of children, all shrieks and small, balled fists, threw themselves upon the four that the aristocrats realized they'd erred. Weeping, Ryn's woman told them where to find the man they wanted.

He was in the men's ceramic studio. Blue powder covered the hairs on his brawny arms and filled the mortar on the table before him. He said nothing. Slowly, he placed his pestle down in the mortar. Just so.

They dragged him into the courtyard even though they needn't have, for he put up no resistance. With the leather laces from his own sandals, they bound his hands and ankles, then gagged him with a clot of clay and chaff, but one of the four said, No, take it out. She needs to hear him scream.

When they were ready, they led a yearling over, man height and twice as long, wings a-tremble and scales contracted, its claws fully intact: one of the warrior-lord's own dragons. They lashed the man upright against a water-filled barrel, then stacked an empty one atop it and ordered it filled with stones to prevent it from tipping. They cracked bullwhips against the yearling's hide and hurled platters at its head to drive it into a frenzy. It attacked the bound man.

Between drawing one breath and another, the man was disemboweled. But the aristocrats had difficulty bringing the yearling under control, and by the time they managed to subdue the beast with muzzle poles and blow darts, the ribbons of white sinew and meat strewn across the courtyard came not just from the once-bound man, but from a potter's child and one of the aristocrats.

Let this be a lesson to you, roared the blue-eyed, blond- haired aristocrat, as blood from a woman's mouth dried upon his boot heels. Let this be a lesson none of you forget!

I can assure you, blue-eyed, blond-haired one, no one forgot. Not the pottery clan men, who ever after were the most brutally devout upon Clutch Re. Not the women, who suffered blows for misdemeanors imagined and real. And certainly not the potters' children, who witnessed the horror of that day. They, most of all, lived lives haunted by the only two screams the bound man had time to utter, a man who'd been a master potter, a claimer, and a father.

My father.

The woman with the broken jaw, my mother.

No, I can assure you, blueeyed, blond-haired one, that was a lesson no one ever forgot. Least of all I, Zarq Kavarria Darquel. That lesson made me all that I am today.

I write this so the people of my new land—these gruff, impulsive foreigners—will understand and learn without ever witnessing such as I and the rest of the potters' children did, so many mountains, so many scars, and so many years ago.

*Prologue by Janine Cross*

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Sharp (Mindspace Investigation #2) by Alex Hughes


5 stars for Sharp (Mindspace Investigation book 2) by Alex Hughes.

Sharp pretty much continues from where book 1 Clean left off. The story opens with our hero drawing a blank on his attempts to read telepathically, a major side effect of burning out his mind from the last homicide case. It is with much trepidation as I read on on how our hero struggles to come to terms with his loss, and his efforts to recover his telepathy, an Ability that makes him what he is. Then, my fear and anxiety for our hero increase by tenfold when he is told to produce a paper qualification for his talent, without which his job, his only means of livelihood, will be on the line, because how is he going to get his certification when he is teetering on the borderline of Mindspace.

Sometimes doing the right thing may not be the right thing to do, as is the case for our protagonist. Due to his assistance to Cherabino for the last murder case in book 1 Clean, he has attracted unwanted attention to himself in book 2 Sharp. Our lead man has clearly done the right thing and made something of himself, yet he cannot be made an example of thanks to his past wrongdoings. And for the reason that he is a Level Eight telepath, the people who assume he will quietly fade into the background are suddenly very aware of the kind of strength he is displaying and extremely uncomfortable with it. For these, I feel so awfully sorry for our hero, that things are not going his way, that no matter what he has done, are all for naught, and life keeps throwing it back at him. It is no longer about being himself any more than it is about survival, it is about chance and luck, both of which he needs aplenty.

To add salt to wounds, the ghosts of Adam’s past come back to haunt him, not for the first time but the severity hit its peak as the story progresses. As is very Adam, he procrastinates the idea of approaching the very people whom he has done wrong in his early days, to apologise and to make amends. I can almost taste our hero’s pain and feel his sense of loss, and understand where he is coming from because it takes more than an apology to right a wrong, and no amount of right doing can truly smooth his guilt. Then again, because of Adam’s procrastination in seeking restitution, it results in a far more serious outcome, one which I am not sure Adam can ever live it up.

All through Sharp, the story is wholly narrated by Adam, and in my opinion, a humble, down-to-earth, straightforward narration. So, it is pretty interesting to see how other cops perceive Adam as a rude person who sulks most of the time. In truth, I would very much like to see Adam from Cherabino’s point of view. And I wonder when the two of them will upgrade to first name basis, that is, if it ever materialises.

Once again, I applaud the author’s ingenious way of presenting our hero. For a second time, it is done so subtly that I only realise upon flipping to the last page and reading it. Yes, Alex Hughes’ creative way of introducing Adam slowly but surely, certainly leaves a lasting impression on me. One that hints of yet more on Adam’s past to be uncovered in later instalments.

Overall, the author does an exceptionally thorough job of sending my emotions high on a rollercoaster ride. It is indeed very challenging and at times, even depressing to be in the shoes of our narrator owing to issues beyond his control, but strangely, it basically only makes me look forward to more.

Publisher: Roc
Publication date: 2 Apr 2013

*** Favourite quote 1 ***

The dream wasn’t a dream; it smelled of truth before it began, truth of what could be, or would be, a vision of the future from the stupid stubborn precognition.

*** Favourite quote 2 ***

I am a telepath.
The Guild has jurisdiction over me, over some things, and neither you nor me nor anybody else can change that without an act of Congress.

*** Favourite quote 3 ***

Yeah, I can read minds, but so what?
I’ve read your mind and you’re still you and your secrets are still secret.
I don’t know what’s going on, but whatever it is doesn’t change crap.

~ Sharp
Alex Hughes

@}--->>--->>-----

HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF, EVEN FOR TELEPATHS.…

As a Level Eight telepath, I am the best police interrogator in the department. But I’m not a cop—I never will be—and my only friend on the force, Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino, is avoiding me because of a telepathic link I created by accident.

And I might not even be an interrogator for much longer. Our boss says unless I pull out a miracle, I’ll be gone before Christmas. I need this job, damn it. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

Parts for illegal Tech—the same parts used to bring the world to its knees in the Tech Wars sixty years ago—are being hijacked all over the city. Plus Cherbino’s longtime nemesis, a cop killer, has resurfaced with a vengeance. If I can stay alive long enough, I just might be able to prove my worth, once and for all…

*Blurb from author's website*

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum #2) by Janet Evanovich


4 stars for Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum book 2) by Janet Evanovich.

Two for the Dough sees our heroine, Stephanie Plum continuing to star in the role of a skip tracer, or in simpler terms, bond agent, after having previously failed in her job as a lingerie buyer. It is a delight to join Stephanie again, in her thrilling adventures to comprehend the perpetrators regardless of the severity of the crimes committed, because Stephanie almost always assures a good laugh somewhere along the way. The reappearance of Joe Morelli, one who used to charm Stephanie’s pants off in her younger days and now her bane, adds further doses of welcoming light humor to the plot.

In this book 2, readers also learn more about Stephanie’s family, mainly her parents and grandma Mazur, and to a smaller extent, some mention of her sister, Valerie, in passing. In my opinion, Stephanie has a wonderful family. Though her family is not rich or well-connected with the rich, there is no lack of warmth from either their spoken-aloud actions or silent support to Stephanie. Her mother may give the impression of constantly nagging at her, but at the end of the day, she still shows support to Stephanie in as heartwarming a way as most mothers do, by ensuring her daughter is fed well. It is very heartening that Stephanie often leaves for her own home with packed food after visiting her family. And Grandma Mazur, an old lady with an interesting personality, plays a very meaty role here, one which leads to laughter and more laughter.

One thing of note that I would like to point out is that if you are one who prefer not to know about the plot goings prior to reading a book, then by all means, skip the blurb from the author’s website (after the rose of a flower). For my part, I find said blurb a spoiler and very much regret reading it before I commence my reading.

Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 15 Jul 1999

*** Favourite quote 1 ***

Grandma Mazur reads the obituary columns like they're part of the paper's entertainment section.
Other communities have country clubs and fraternal orders. The burg has funeral parlors.
If people stopped dying, the social life of the burg would come to a grinding halt.

~ Two for the Dough
Janet Evanovich

@}--->>--->>-----

Killer Kenny Mancuso’s on the run and Stephanie Plum needs to bring him in for a big payday. Combining forces with Trenton’s hottest detective, Joe Morelli, might just give her a considerable advantage since Morelli and Mancuso are cousins.

When embalmed body parts start showing up on Stephanie’s doorstep, she arms herself with stun guns, defense spray, and killer flashlights. Soon she’s spending the day staking out the local funeral parlor with her Grandma Mazur, and spending the nights staking out the streets of Trenton with Morelli. It’s hard to say whose going to lead Stephanie to trouble first.

*Blurb from author's website*

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1) by Janet Evanovich


4 stars for One for the Money (Stephanie Plum book 1) by Janet Evanovich.

One for the Money is an easy read that starts out relatively ok, or in fact I would say, a wee bit tending on the bland side but it keeps getting better and better as the story develops, and the plot thickens to navigate the account from an allegedly normal murder case to one with more than meets the eye.

The author does a fantastic job giving the female lead character, Stephanie Plum, a girl born and raised in a blue-collar chunk of Trenton called the burg, a voice that narrates with zesty humor. Bulk of the conversations in which Stephanie is engaged in, start off as seemingly normal and plain, but in a wink of the eye, can turn to being exceedingly hilarious narration that literally make me laugh until I cry.

What I like a lot about Stephanie Plum is that she is a character who is as normal as can be. There is nothing fanciful or extraordinary about her. She does not possess super powers or the specialized skills required for skip tracing, yet she is brave enough to take up the challenge for this job because she recognizes the need to do so and goes all the way for it. While she aims to earn her keep on her very first big case, she is also very aware that she needs to accomplish some other smaller easier cases to bring bread home. This pragmatic attitude is what I like most about our heroine.

It is relatively easy to predict Stephanie’s actions from her thought processes. But just when I think I got the happenings figured out, the author throws me off-balance with a twist in events and what follows thereafter. This is reason why I give myself a pat on the back for being able to guess successfully, the true murderer before the story runs out. As it is, the story wraps up nicely and logically with a heartwarming sense of closure.

Overall, book 1 of the Stephanie Plum series is a captivating read, especially so from second half of the book onwards. I am very happy to have found a long run series (21 books to date) written from first person point of view, more significantly, one which I enjoy reading. The pleasant, humor-induced writing style not only suits my reading taste but also promises of more wonderful instalments to come.

Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 24 Feb 1999

*** Favorite quote 1 ***

Food is important in the burg. The moon revolves around the earth, the earth revolves around the sun, and the burg revolves around pot roast.
For as long as I can remember, my parents' lives have been controlled by five-pound pieces of rolled rump, done to perfection at six o'clock.

~ One for the Money
Janet Evanovich

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Stephanie Plum has lost her job, her car, her marriage and is about to lose her apartment if she doesn’t raise some cash quick. What’s a girl to do? Bond enforcement, of course. No experience necessary, especially since her sleazy cousin Vinnie owns the bail bonds company and can easily be blackmailed.

Plum’s first case is to bring in former boyfriend (it ended very badly) and current police detective Joe Morelli. Morelli is wanted for murder and is going to be hard to find. Plum will need help from expert bond enforcement agent Ranger, a hooker named Lula, and her Grandma Mazur, who is always on top of the latest Burg gossip.

*Blurb from author's website*

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich


3 stars for Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich.

I come upon this book by sheer chance and almost give it a miss because the title kind of puts me off. Big Girl Panties. The first thought that comes to my mind is who in the world will grace the book they have painstakingly written with such an old-style repelling name. Obviously there is. The book in my possession is proof enough. Fortunately, the book cover make up for the lack of a nice title. And I am intrigued enough to read it. Big Girl Panties that is.

Two chapters later, I am hooked to the story. As much as the title suggests, Big Girl Panties is not about old grannies and their oversized knickers. It is about the life of Holly, a widow in this case and a fat one at that, in a convincingly realistic, down-to-earth story setting that I believe can possibly happen in real life.

No romance story is complete without the hero. So enters Logan, a personal trainer who on the pretence of offering an attractive low-priced fitness deal to coach Holly, is actually making personal amends for looking down on Holly. Though what is to eventually materialise between Holly and Logan is easily predictable, it is the emotional and poignant dynamics between the two that keeps me glued to the story. A man who has not the ability to commit readily to any long-term relationship is finally learning to love more than himself. A woman born to a life-in-change family with issues that stretch beyond her obesity is finally coming to terms with the demise of her husband and learning to give another go at life. The story moves fluidly from scene to scene and where appropriate takes the intricacy of relationships a step further to explore not only romantic love but platonic as well.

I very much enjoy reading the first half of Big Girl Panties as I can totally relate Logan's no-strings-attached philosophy to someone I know personally, someone who used to indulge in a friends-with-benefits lifestyle. I also love the the smart and witty exchanges flying around Holly and Logan which help to lighten up an otherwise somber story involving overweight people. However, the same cannot be said for the second half of the book. Not only has the quick-witted banter lessens much, there is the discomfort of reading about the likes of some side characters. While I am fine with introduction of Logan's best friend, Chase and his wife, I certainly do not enjoy reading about Chase's kinky penchant to spank.

All in all, this is an enjoyable read. And I still stick to my original stand on the book title. Perhaps a nicer title will do an even better job of casting the net to reach a wider audience?

Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: 9 Jul 2013

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Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich is a rollicking and poignant romantic comedy about a young widow who decides to get in shape...and winds up getting her groove back--and a whole lot more! Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband's illness and death. Now she's alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she's met her goals--and other men are noticing?

*Blurb from Goodreads*

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson #1) by Darynda Jones


3.5 stars for First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson book 1) by Darynda Jones.

Apparently there is a mood for every occasion; either that or my perception on story content evolves over time. Lately, I find myself revisiting books chucked under my keep-in-view stash, mainly books I read more than a year ago but due to one reason or another, unable to proceed further than 2 or 4 chapters. Come to think of it, I am still very much the same person, but what I used to deem as giving me reading block turns out to be enjoyable stories now. And book 1 of Charley Davidson series falls fittingly into this category.

First Grave on the Right is a delightfully pleasant and lighthearted read. Though the story centers on things that go bump in the night, reading First Grave does not give me the creeps nor chills due to the relaxed and upbeat style of writing by the author.

The story as told through the eyes of lead character, Emily, flows adequately well with reasonably developed background history. As the story progresses, I find myself liking Emily more and more, what with her good sense of humor and fluid ability to view things brightly and turn dire situations into something cheerful and hilarious. Some cleverly thought out scenes that amuse me to no end are those involving Emily and her cell phone tricks.

Besides solving mysteries for the dead or rather undead, Emily has some secrets of her own to unravel, questions that no one is able to give her answers to, except perhaps herself. It is interesting to read on how Emily takes things into her own hands and tries solving the puzzles by her own reasoning and investigation. Equally noteworthy is the entertaining way the author presents some of the other characters that keep me guessing which of which may possibly rub off the right way with Emily and lead to development of something further.

Notwithstanding the above, I do have a grievance or two about what I feel as shortcomings which hopefully can be improved upon in later books in the series. The first being parts of the narration tending on the side of long-windedness and bored me out. The second being introduction of a tad too many minor characters. While I understand that Emily has got the third eye to see things that normal people do not, it does get confusing with the breezing of names that come and go; names that I am not sure if the characters they portray are of importance and will stay for good or are just a passing cloud. Third and lastly, certain segments of the story do not gel quite so well. Read on its own, the individual section is probably fine, but when combined to make out the whole story, some parts just do not go well enough to attest the natural flow. In any case, it is still a fun experience reading First Grave on the Right.

All in all, a jolly interesting story with likable characters, both lead and side. I will be looking forward to more, hopefully improved account, in the subsequent instalments.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 29 Nov 2011

@}--->>--->>-----

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

*Blurb from author's website*

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Kithra (Kithran Regenesis #1) by Dani Worth


1 star for Kithra (Kithran Regenesis book 1) by Dani Worth.

Why I read Kithra is because book 2 Replicant of the Kithran Regenesis series receives a very high rating from one of the review websites which I follow intermittently. As a zealous fan of the sci-fic romance genre, I waste no time in checking out the excerpts of Kithra since I always favour starting a new series from its book one. Kithra’s excerpt has my complete attention that I immediately sign up a new account with the publisher so that I can proceed to purchase the ebook and download it in the various formats to suit my different reading platforms.

Reality check! While a well written excerpt is definitive of a good start out and offers the prospects of an equally good story to follow, it does not necessarily guarantee the promise of an enjoyable tale right to the end.

Reading Kithra feels like reading a porn story that masquerades as a science fiction novel. With the exception of the first couple of chapters where the female lead character accepts the order to head out and live on an uninhabitable planet flying supply missions, I do not see actions or storyline enough to detail it as a science fiction novel. In its place, the plot emphasizes time and again, on an extremely big bed and well, copious amount of copulation on said big bed. That is to say, the story is not short on lust or passion. In fact, these make up bulk of the story telling as there is much hunger for touch, desire for caress, and craving for fornication.

While I enjoy and even adore stories involving love triangle, my appreciation of a romance triangle story is one involving three people, with two independently romantically linked with a third, such as two men falling in love with the same girl or two girls vying for the attention and affection of the same gorgeous man; absolutely in no uncertain terms, do I revel in stories involving Ménage à trois. And that is exactly what Kithra is all about. The romance is sick and twisted as it involves all three lead characters, two men and one woman, having sexual relations (Ménage à trois). There is absolutely nothing redeeming about one woman encouraging two men to have a go at nookie just so to resolve their squabbles and reconcile their differences. That is just so warped.

Because of the well-crafted first few chapters, I clung to the hope of reading something constructive along the way and persist in finishing the story. Upon flipping to the last page of the book, I ask myself “Is that it?!?!”…

I have not the courage to try reading book 2 Replicant. Perhaps it is really that good or put simply, people’s taste for a good story is just vastly different. For that, I have no clue. The only clue I have and for sure, is my regret on impulsively spending money on Kithra’s ebook version, because then, I cannot even recycle it as toilet paper.

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication date: 8 Nov 2011

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Spaceship captain Lux Moyans is currently piloting missions for The Company–exploring new galaxies, searching for the next precious metal. When her second-in-command, Kol Frega, informs her they’ve been ordered to Kithra, she’s furious. A year on an uninhabitable planet? She’ll only be flying on supply missions! But the ship–the one Kol designed–is the only one that can withstand the planet’s gases…and Lux is one of the few pilots who can navigate the debris fields caused by the explosions that killed most of the planet’s Gwinarian race.

Kol is the engineer who originally learned to manipulate the indestructible metal on Kithra, so he and a surviving Gwinarian will be her only company on planet. When they pick up Egan Lothbrun, Lux knows there will be trouble. Already something is brewing with Kol and her attraction to both men would be a problem with anyone else. But Lux doesn’t do exclusives. Yet, when she learns Kol and Egan share a painful past, she realizes getting Kithra livable won’t be her only challenge. Keeping her heart intact might be harder.

*Blurb from author's website*

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