[514]: The Shadows by JR Ward

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GOODEADS SUMMARY | New American Library | Hardcover, 576 pp. | March 31st, 2015 | Black Dagger Brotherhood, #13 | Adult Fiction | Paranormal | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


I think I have come to a certain point of my JR Ward fangirl life, where I could no longer tolerate the lack of movement with the overall plot of this series as a whole. The last couple of books has been quite a disappointment, to be honest. JR Ward may have a particular knack for dangling the proverbial carrot in our faces, but she is nothing but a big tease. It’s a brilliant marketing ploy. Every instalment brings about a certain excitement for things to come. Albeit, most of the time, it’s the pounding beat of doom ringing ominously loud. Unfortunately, she hasn’t come through for me. Slowly, and as the years passed, my malcontent grows at a steady pace. So much so that I could no longer ignore it.

Standstill

Book number 13 may prove to be the one that pushes that “it’s over” button. As once again, none of the plot conflicts was resolved here: the Band of Bastards is still on the lam. Xcor and Layla are still circling/sniffing around each other. The only thing that have shown a glimmer of life is the resurgence of the Brothers’ original enemy, the Lessers. This is saying a lot, as I used to skip/skim parts where the lessers are mentioned. At this point, I’ll take anything that could get my heart rate pumping.

Wallowing in Suburbia

I don’t know about you, but just because the Brothers have found their respective shellans shouldn’t mean they go on to live in a suburban bliss. Come on now. It shouldn’t be allowed. Boring lives are for real people, not fictional characters. Not especially for powerful vampires who are supposed to be as bad as they come. I was bored. I miss the days when they go out on a slaying spree. When Rhage’s beast does a cameo (though, I think The Beast did for a blink or two here); when Vishous’ heritage as Bloodletter’s son comes out and play. I especially miss Zsadist’s growls and well, sadistic way of killing.

Written in stars

The Shadows is Trez and iAm’s book. I can’t recall which book they first showed up, but the short of it all is that they are Shadows. Beings that aside from being able to keep their invisible form, they are pretty much like vampires themselves. This book is about Trez’s destiny to mate with the heir to the S’Hisbe throne. Nothing is ever easy with these people, so of course, he goes and falls in love with the Chosen Selena – who in turn has a secret of her own that could devastate them both in the end.

In the meantime, iAm, in an attempt to help his brother, goes and gets himself imprisoned again. This time, though, with fruitful consequences. He meets maichen; a servant in the court of the Queen of Shadows. Everybody has secrets. And maichen has one of her own.

I will go down with this ship

As much as I’ve bemoaned the fact that I was bored with this book, I don’t think I see myself quitting. There are still good things to be had, I believe. I want to see what becomes of Xcor and Layla. I want to see what kind of evil plans Throe has up his sleeves. I want to see what’s doing with Rhage as he was a bit out of sorts in this book. And since they’ve found the lessers’ nest, I see a lot of bloodshed in the next book.

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[513]: Revenge of the Kremlin by Gérard deVilliers

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Vintage Canada | Paperback, 240 pp. | October 2nd, 2013 | Adult Fiction | Suspense | Rating 4 out of 5 Stars


There are 200 of these Malko  Linge novels, but only three of them have been translated to English so far. Often compared to Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, deVilliers’ Linge features a freelancer CIA agent with hardly the advance technological weaponry of MI5, but has all the suave of a debonaire secret agent. DeVillier has been known to jump ahead of the news. Meaning, he seemed to have the premonition for current world affairs even before it happens. You can tell his journalist roots by reading his stories, and this book gave me the chills simply because it seems so oddly relevant.

The Resurgence of Cold War

In this speculative world, Vladimir Putin is well on his way to reunite USSR. For the last eight years, he’s been quietly working his magic behind the scenes. He rules the country with an iron fist, and have slowly been eliminating organizations and people that could potentially be his enemies (including, Pussy Riot).

First on his agenda is to reestablished a defunct agency within the KGB. So clandestine, in fact, that it does not exist. Wink. Wink. SMERSH is the organization that used to assassinate regime opponents. And the first on the “hit list” is the former kingmaker, Boris Berezovsky. To cut the long story short, Berezovsky made Putin king, but got in his way as he was trying to be, a Russian god. Eight long years later, Putin ordered his assassination.

Matryoshka dolls, Stolichnaya, and radioactive poisons.

The Russian style of assassination is very sophisticated nowadays. Also, very discreet and potently effective. However, they didn’t account for an Austrian-born secret agent to unearth the deep-seated roots of their plans. And just how far Putin’s infiltration has come within the UK. In this world, Putin is in cahoots with England’s Prime Minister. Thus, gaining the protection of MI5 and Scotland Yard. While the assassination of an ogli arch bears no importance with the CIA, it still garnered their attention simply because an alliance with Russia and the UK could change the dynamics of the civilized world as we know it.

Follow Malko as he figure out how exactly did the Russians manage to make the assassination look like suicide. Or how they poison people with substances that leave no evidence or trace in a person’s body.

Why you should read this.

When was the last time you’ve enjoyed an honest-to-goodness, edge-of-your seat, sophisticated spy novel? If you’re like me, probably never.

And what’s a spy novel without a sexy woman in the wings? Much as I hate that Gwyneth Robertson used her sexuality as a tool for gaining information, the former CIA handler was also very cunning. However, aside from the fact that she’s using her feminine whiles to gain Malko’s affection, no one really knows what her game plans are. She’s very successful in what she does, so we know she’s not using her femininity to gain power.

When Random House sent this to me, I had no idea what kind of novel I was in for. It’s quite an experience reading this book. Everything is so garishly new and exciting. I enjoyed learning the insides of cloak and dagger organizations such as CIA, MI5 and even, FSB.  I really am excited to read the rest of the novels in this series. 

Other Books in this Series (in English):

22522728 21481547

AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY | CHAPTERS INDIGO

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[509]: Give a Little by Kate Perry

23173387 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Phoenix Rising Enterprises | E-book from author
January 12th, 2015
Series: Summerhill, #7
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Beatrice Summerhill lives for the thrill of seeking out cutting edge investments and risking it all. But when it comes to the matters of the heart, she only knows how to run. Run away, and keep her sanity intact. They say you always compare every man that comes your way from your own father. And with the late, Reginal Summerhill as the ideal, it’s no wonder Beatrice would run for the hills from every man that knocks on her door. Some are easy to shake off. But Luca is the exception.

Luca may be a successful Formula One race car driver; one who lives for the thrill of speed. But nothing can compare to the thrill of chasing one, Beatrice Summerhill. The woman is as slippery as an eel.  When he’s given the opportunity to give her the world, he asks for a week to convince her that he’s the only one she would ever need.

my thoughts

I am a huge fan of this author. It’s not often that I get the opportunity to read and review her books. When I was contacted by her publicist to  read this, I grabbed the chance even though I’ve not read any of the books from this series. Which is primarily why I didn’t really enjoy this. I didn’t have a rapport with Beatrice. None whatsoever. That’s not to say reading the rest of the books would’ve improved this rating drastically. Not even one bit.

My major misgiving with this book, is the fact that the story moved at a break-neck speed. It was almost like Kate rushed the plot, and couldn’t wait to get out of the Summerhill’s respective lives. I was also frustrated with Beatrice, and felt sorry for Luca. The man was persistent and irresistible, but Bea’s fear of trusting anyone was her downfall. Sometimes, her hang-ups didn’t even make sense anymore.  But I suppose it’s how it is when you’re finding ways to tuck tail and run.

Even if this book was a bit of a disappointment, it at least whet my appetite for everybody else’s stories. I just know that this series will be the source of a brand-new addiction, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of the Summerhills.

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[507]: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø

DSC00035 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | Hardcover, 208 pp. | April 7th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Thriller | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Jo Nesbø is a household name in the suspense/thriller genre. And since I’ve rarely venture out into that aisle of my bookstore, I’ve yet to discover all the hows and the whys he’s so popular. At 208 pages, this book did its damnest to convince me that he is as prolific in the genre as everyone claims him to be.

I get it. I get his style. I get his characters and the brutal violence that he could very well be known for. This man has written a number of books; including a couple of stand-alones that are critically acclaimed. As an inexperienced reader of noir fiction, I’m hardly an expert. But I hope you’ll give me some leeway when I say that Scandinavian thrillers are a different beast altogether. I think did him a disservice when I tagged this book as pulp fiction during the first few chapters of my reading. Truth is, it really is not.

It’s difficult to develop a rapport with a character whose line of work dealt with the murder of suspect characters. But Olav is what you would consider as an assassin with a heart. Depending on the assignment, the chances of him saving a kill is more than likely to happen. He does his research well; he finds anything worth saving before he goes for the kill. It’s a deterrent to success in his line of work. After all, he can’t save everyone. And while he is a killer with a kind heart, he could be also be as cold as a trained assassin could be.

His latest assignment led him to a whole world of trouble. He was to kill the wife of the man who give his assignments. During his usual surveillance, he found out that she was, indeed, cheating. But the circumstances can’t be as black and white. He sees the man beats her before they have sex. He concludes that he was blackmailing her, hence the forced sex. He didn’t anticipate how badly things will turn out when he decided to kill the man instead of his boss’ wife, however.

For such a short novel, Nesbø was able to give Olav depth in characterization: he’s not a very smart man; he’s naive. He killed his father. He can’t rob a bank, or be a pimp. He doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He compares himself to his version of Hugo’s Jean Valjean. He adores his mother. In one of his assignments, he decided to save a deaf-mute girl who was forced into prostitution to pay off a debt. He’s been writing her an unsent letters ever since.

Amidst the violence, blood, and gore, there is something romantic about Olav’s line of work. Or perhaps, it’s Olav himself. Nesbø gave his readers a larger than life character that’s neither good or bad; hero nor villain; a saint, as much as he was a sinner.

Jo Nesbø’s latest work is good enough for inexperienced noir readers. It’s not as evolved as perhaps his Harry Hole series, but highly recommended if you’ve ever thought of trudging through an unexplored genre.

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[506]: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

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While some readers would find this instalment a bit sluggish and non-consequential to the overall plot of the novel, I would argue that this book, at least, remains consistently addictive. I don’t know what it is about the world Ms. Bishop has created, but for me, it’s the major draw of this book. In fact, I’ll say in all honesty, that she keeps building the world even though we’re three books into the series. I feel that the more we get into the series, the more expansive our knowledge is of this make-believe Earth.

I like seeing the Others win time and again against humans who think they’re the superior race. I like seeing Simon Wolfgard and the human police of Lakeside Courtyard try and coexist in harmony, respecting each other’s boundaries and maintaining how destructive not cooperating with the Others can become. The human police here at least are a smart people. I can’t say the same for the rest of the world though. In fact, HFL movement continues to challenge the Others by creating more problems for themselves. Humans think they’re beyond these creatures; and that they can push without retaliation, when in fact, they’d been given clear evidence as to what will happen if they continue to succumb to their greed. My favourite parts of these novels are the instances when the humans fail.

The Cassandra Sangue that were freed from the Controller are learning to live in a world where they’re not oppressed. While Meg Corbyn was triumphant in her liberation, the rest frightfully struggle. It didn’t take a while for the Others to figure out that their razors were their crutches. That without them, the unspoken visions can lead the sweet bloods to deaths by their own hands. In the meantime, the arrival of one Lizzie Boyden will be the catalyst to discovering another threat to the humans/Others coexistence. Layer by agonizing layer, they discover a plot that can bring food shortages   that are human-made and one step closer towards human extinction. Seriously. When will you people learn?

Over all, I love this instalment. I mean, I haven’t given these books ratings less than five stars. I’m completely vested in the stories, which is shocking to me at times, because some readers found the dumping of information a bit too much. Me? I’m savouring each and every sentence, continuing to be amazed by this woman’s incredible writing.

GOODREADS SUMMARY | ROC | Hardcover, 400 pp. | March 3rd, 2015 | Adult Fiction | Paranormal | Rating: 5 Stars
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[503]: Feed by Mira Grant

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Audio | Orbit | May 1st, 2010 | Adult Horror | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


This book was not what I expected at all. It’s not the typical zombies apocalypse I’ve read and enjoyed in the past. I’m sure most of you have read this series already, but me being late in the game is not really news. 2015 is turning out to be the year when I finally get on some bandwagons. I’ve always felt like this series was out of my reach, somehow. I’m glad I finally discovered what the hoopla was all about.

Unlike its contemporaries, Feed offers a different perspective. The world still has a semi-functioning way of life. It’s hard to imagine a zombie book where bloggers make up a sizeable share of the media; and where technology is not completely obsolete; where you can still travel and fly, and Coke is still something that people can easily avail of. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that the world was changed. That somewhere close to where life was still being lived, are the undead looking for their next meal.

While some books focuses on how terrible life had been since the contagion, Feed focuses in the political arena. Particularly, a Republican senator’s bid for presidency. Along the way, the Mason siblings will uncover conspiracy that will lead to massacre and deaths. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. In some ways, it reminds me of the ingenuity of World War Z. While it tends to be dry, there was no denying how well constructed this novel is. The world may be confusing at times, and some readers may find the necessary info-dumping a bit daunting. I thought this book was better listened to than read. Regardless, this book is a little bundle of suspenseful terror.

As far as characters go, I’m a little weirded out by this siblings’ relationship. They have such a closeness that easily be misconstrued/misinterpreted. It doesn’t help that they’re not really blood-related. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But I think George said it best when people quirked their eyebrows at the thought of them sharing a hotel room (two beds): screw social norms!

I’m glad I finally found this novel out. While it bears repeating that it’s every bit as great as everyone proclaims it to be, I think this is the kind of book that works for certain types of readers. If you don’t mind long narratives, and a proliferation of technical argot, Feed will sate your hunger for a different take on the tired zombies lore.

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[500]: Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

17832871 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Self-Published | Kindle, 300 pages
Series: La Vie en Roses, #1
January 26th, 2015
Adult Contemporary Romance


If there’s ever an environment conducive to falling in love, there is no other place more perfect than the South of France. Surrounded by roses, and big, burly, specimens of the  male persuasion, you can pretty much forget about real life.  I mean, why wouldn’t anyone want to stay there forever? I know, I would. Even though I don’t know a lick of French.

That’s where Layla Dubois found herself stranded in the middle of the night. On a quest to get away from the spotlight, she decided to check out the cottage she inherited from an “aunt” she’d never met before. When she stumbled upon a celebration of sorts, she was unprepared for the flirty Frenchman who introduced her to everyone as his girlfriend. The bear of a man was Matt; owner of Rosier Valley where her inherited cottage was on. The next day, however, she’ll find out that Matt is a tad bit possessive of his land. When he sobers up, he’ll hate himself for being attracted to the intruder who inherited a piece of his valley.

It wasn’t hard not to fall in love with the setting and the collection of quirky characters in this book. Here, you’ll meet Layla and Matt. And their meet-cute was hilariously sweet. Matt was drunk, so he was irresistibly funny. This man was just too adorable for words. He was a bumbling fool when confronted by Layla’s presence, and unable to put on/take off his shirt (you kinda had to be there, I guess).

This book has a different air than Florand’s Chocolate series. I mean, it was just as romantic, but it was somehow lighter. More fun, but it hits you when you least expect it. Like the part where Matt’s aunt talks about why she decided to give Layla the cottage. It will break your heart, I swear.

Matt is a huge barrel of a man. But somehow just a little bit more intimidating than a kitten. There is something about the way he kept kicking himself for things that he should’ve done and should’ve said. He was perpetually contrite, awkward, sweet, and kind.  He’s had a very bad experience with a former love interest who happened to be a celebrity. So when he finds out that Layla hid that fact from him, I expected an an explosion of sort. I’m always surprised when I read about two calm, level-headed adults talk their issues out. It’s a novelty in romance, for sure. So when Layla and Matt actually found a common ground, I was refreshingly surprised.

I’m glad Florand is giving her fans more books from this world. I think I speak for some when I say, thank you. Because if I can’t get to France myself, Florand’s books are the next best thing!

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[498]: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

burn for me GOODREADS SUMMARY
Avon | Kindle, 400 pp.
October 28th, 2015
Series: Hidden Legacy, #1
Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I’m sure many of you have read this book already and might have even shared the same opinions about it. I, on the other hand, as per usual, am late in the game – not just with this series, but with these authors in general. Nowadays, I follow so many readers of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I knew it was only a matter of time before I’m convinced to try their cookies. 🙂

Before this book, I’ve only ever read one of Andrews’ books. It’s the first Kate Daniels series. I liked it well enough, but at the time, I wasn’t all that interested to continue. After an overwhelming fantastic feedbacks for this book, however, I just had to see what the big whoop was about. Well, this book was everything that everyone claimed it to be plus a bag of chips.

In a way, the world reminds me of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series. The characters has abilities like that of superheroes. But while the powers in Reckoners were extraterrestrial by origin, the powers in this book come from a combination of magic and genetics.  Societal hierarchy is also dictated by a caste system dependent on your power.

Mad Rogan reminds me of Victor Vale. He is the type of hero who straddles the fine line between good and evil. I feel like he can go either way. Not to be outdone, Nevada Baylor gives credence to strong female characters usually found in this writing tandem’s books. She uses what she has to go toe to toe with the lot of them. She is witty and funny and fear is not in her vocabulary. I adore her! This is my new favourite couple. Though the romance in this book was not really the forefront of the plot, I’m looking forward to seeing how Mad Rogan will convince Nevada of his er, intentions. Whatever that may be. Either way, I’m chomping at the bits.

This introduction to a brand new series left me a little out of breath. A well-imagined world, immortalized through this duo’s writing prowess, topped off with a couple of unforgettable characters. For someone who’s not a reader of this genre, Burn for Me was the perfect bait and hook to get me visiting the UF/PNR aisle more at my bookstore!

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Morsels [#15]: Beautiful Bastard Novellas by Christina Lauren

bombshell GOODREADS SUMMARY
Gallery Books | Kindle Edition, 160 pp.
September 3rd, 2013
Series: Beautiful Bastard, #2.5
Adult Fiction | Romance | Erotica
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Bachelor party.
Vegas.
Three hot men in Sin City out to give the Beautiful Bastard a send off before he gets tied to his Beautiful Bitch.
Copious amount of sex ensues.

You don’t have to worry if you haven’t read Beautiful Bastard. I don’t think you will get lost in this little novella even if you’re not too familiar with the characters. All you need to know is that there will be great amount of sex involve;  also that you’ll probably get suckered into buying the full-lenght novels. I was too much of a weakling to resist because this writing duo knows how to bait potential unsuspecting readers. Those who perhaps, has a weakness for mindless fun, gorgeous men, and explicit sex.

Honestly? I wanted to read these because I just finished reading a very long, very exhausting novel, and I was looking to read something light. Well, I ended up downloading the novellas and the third full-length title.  Well done, Christina Lauren. Well done.


beautiful belovedGOODREADS SUMMARY
Gallery Books | Kindle Edition, 80 pp.
Series: Beautiful Bastard, #3.6
Adult Fiction | Romance |Erotica
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


My favourite couple in this series has always been Max and Sara. If you must know, I have a weakness for tall, built guys because I’m a shortie, myself. As superficial as that may sound, it is what it is. Max and Sara is like your middle finger and your pinkie finger. Also, he’s a Brit. Another weakness of mine. Ultimately, it’s why I will read any novellas written with them as the featured couple.

In this installment, we find them with a precious little bundle. Of course being new parents, they’re going through the same challenges new parents face: trying to find the time to be intimate again. You must also know that this couple likes to er, put on a show. So imagine how awkward that may seem to new parents alike.

This thing is also pure sex, and an introduction to Max’s brother, Niall. Incidentally, the next book is about him, which I’ll more than likely download as well.

You will get what you pay for with both books. If you’re looking for mindless fun, then this series is exactly that. 

 

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[495]: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

DSC_1006 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Simon & Schuster | Hardcover, 620 pages | August 19th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Have you ever witnessed a brilliant mind go to waste?
A slow leaking sludge that muddles what once looked like a beautiful landscape?
Have you ever seen fireworks in the deluge of rain?
Colourful sparks lost in their watery grave.

– Joyousreads

I’ve read books about cancer. I’ve read books about depression. I’ve read people suffer depression brought on by cancer. I’ve read books about deaths and suicide. Each one remarkably  heartbreaking than the last. But there is nothing sadder than witnessing a person slowly diminish into someone unrecognizable. Someone who was once full of life and wit and intelligence until all that’s left of him is a glazed look punctuated by unknowing blinks. Alive, but barely; conscious, but hardly responsive. Edward Leary was once a brilliant scientist. A man who could’ve taught at Columbia or Brown, but have decided – against his wife’s wishes, no less – that he would rather teach at a Bronx Community College. Before his life-long career of teaching, he did extensive research in – ironically enough – Neurology.

Majority of this book was about his life as seen through the eyes of his wife, Eileen and his son, Connell.  The practical, insouciant husband and the doting, devoted father. Until he was no longer.

Halfway through the book, I started to question why I was slogging through chapters upon chapters of a woman’s boring life. I’ve even entertained stopping altogether. There is nothing worse than reading long narratives about someone’s nuanced life; until it slowly dawned on me why Thomas felt the need to divulge gratuitously. Because it was the only way the readers would see how a person’s mind disintegrate into a wasteland. What started out as a man who seemed to have lost his zest for life; someone depressed, or going through a mid-life crisis, was actually a preamble to something more permanent and incurable.

It is a languid account of their lives; a biographical narration spanning years of banalities until the encroachment of a disease steers the novel on to darker routes.

Aptly enough, this book was told in a morosely calm manner. Even more so as the author show Edward’s slow submission to the disease.  It also shows Eileen’s hardships as she tries to anticipate all of Edward’s needs while financially trying to provide for the family’s livelihood. The readers would not be able to resist looking at Connell with judgmental eyes as he failed to support  his struggling mother. Conversely, we see Eileen take up a brief affair with a man she hired as Ed’s caregiver, but you’ll be hard pressed to look at her with the same judgement as you would, Connell. Because her life had become endless days of lonely wariness. There will be a large part of you that couldn’t help but sympathize. And you will end up forgiving her, no matter what. Because for all the sacrifices she’d done, she still deserved happiness, even temporary.

This is the type of novel that doesn’t show its true goodness straightaway. You have to be patient. Heck, this book took 10 years to write. It is only fair to give it a chance. Matthew Thomas showed incredible restraints in not rushing through years of stilted narrative. And it shows. We Are Not Ourselves is a labor of love; one that paints a heartbreaking picture of what it’s like to slowly lose the very foundation of who you are.

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