Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Lover At Last" by J.R. Ward

I first came across the Black Dagger Brotherhood series while reading a book review on the first book in the series in one of my mom's First magazines.  It was during the "Twilight" phenomena and was coined as vampires for adults.  I ordered it from the library and have read every book since.

Please note:  These books are not for the uptight.  They're from the romance category and the author doesn't shy away from sex or sexy topics.  She also doesn't discriminate against same sex relationships, of which this installment covers.

Summary:  The Black Dagger Brotherhood returns!  The latest alpha-male, ass-kicking vampire romance installment showcases the first homosexual romance story I've come across.  Baylock and Qhuinn grew up as BFFs...or at least, that's what Qhuinn thought.  Blay, on the other hand, found himself hopelessly in love with Qhuinn and watched in agony as Qhuinn used sex and danger to counter his emotionally damaged heart.  As the guys grow up, Qhuinn's emotional distance and occasional downright obliviousness finally breaks Blay's heart and forces him to cut Qhuinn out of his life...and himself into the arms of Qhuinn's debonair cousin Saxton.  Except Blay can't stop loving Qhuinn, no matter how hard he tries.

What Blay doesn't know is that Qhuinn has a soft spot for Blay, even thought he knows in his (damaged) heart that he's not worthy of such a male.  Qhuinn tries to let Blay go.  But then Qhuinn is slammed with personal tragedy after personal tragedy that forces his heart to finally open.  But will bygones be bygones?  Will Blay unlock his own wounded heart to accept what Qhuinn is finally offering?

What I Liked:  The author pays respect to the long history Blay and Qhuinn have.  Their love drama has unfolded across several books, and I was afraid that one character would weaken and "give in" to other.  This didn't happen and I was so glad each character stood their ground.

I also enjoyed how Ward dug into the feelings of the supporting characters as Blay and Qhuinn's relationship unfolds.  She doesn't sugar coat the coming out process and she is honest about the characters feelings as they make their big step into being their true selves.  Brava, Ms. Ward.

I also really enjoy how the author touches on past characters from the series to move the plot forward (instead of just checking in) as well as introducing future characters for the next book in the series.  There are a few couples I'm speculating on!

What Drove Me Nuts:  The dialogue is sort of hip-hop fabulous (which I secretly like) and full of acronyms that I have to pause and think about or google to decipher.  I admit that this could be due to my own lack of coolness.  I also think the names of the main characters are a little ridiculous.  Qhuinn?  Zsadist?  Phury?  Vishious?  I totally get that each brother has a Warrior name, but do they have to have to be spelled like that?  My post is full of red lines and I'm pretty sure my spell check is going to revolt.

Rating:  If you like romance and vampires, this series could be for you.  If you're homophobic, you should read this so you can get over it.  But that's just my opinion.

Also Read by This Author:  I've read them all.  For a complete listing, go here.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Monster Hunter Legion" by Larry Correia

I found this book in a used bookstore. I had already read the first three books of the series and decided to grab this one based on that. This one happens to be a signed copy from a book signing I never knew about. Every copy was signed, which was something I've never seen before.

Summary: Monsters are real and governments know all about them. In the US the Monster Control Bureau issues out secret PUFF bounties on paranormal creatures deemed dangerous to the human race. Private contractors compete to clean up these horrors in order to cash in on the huge bounties. In this series you follow Owen Zastava Pitt (aka: Z), a gun-loving accountant who survived a werewolf attack years ago. Like other surviviors, Z was recruited by Monster Hunters International, a private firm. A lot happens in the first three books, ranging from minor outbreaks to game-changing near-apocalypse. The consistent theme from all the books is that the rate of outbreaks is increasing in number and intensity. The MCB is having trouble keeping it off the front pages and private hunters are fearing a world ending event. Z has a unique heritage and subsequently plays a unique role in the monster hunting world. Each book reveals a little more. 

In this fourth installment a wealthy and mysterious benefactor has organized the first annual International Conference of Monster Hunting Professionals. Hunters from all over the world gathered to share trade secrets and brag to their peers. After putting all the hunters in one place, all we need is a monster! Enter the Nachtmar. The rest of the book is trying to find a way to defeat the Nachtmar while government agents play internal politics.

What I Liked: This is a fun action thriller with a variety of monsters and interesting plots and backstories. There are a lot of funny lines and satisfying resolutions. The characters are badass heroes and the villains are scum. It's a good classic framework with modern places, ideas and tools folded in. I also like how the monsters strike the right balance of terrifying, but killable. Guns work, if you use them right.

What I Didn't Like:  Correia's range of dialogue is lacking. All the characters speak with the same voice and slang which is awkward considering the variety of backgrounds. 

Rating: Solid monster action, worth the read, just read them in order. 

Also Read By This Author: Monster Hunter International,  Monster Hunter Vendetta, Monster Hunter Alpha.

Reviewed By: Nick

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"The Bride Wore Size 12" by Meg Cabot

I added this book to my library reserve list when I was planning my wedding.  At the time I was dying to get my hands on a lighthearted wedding story I could read to get away from the stresses of seating charts and RSVPs.

Summary:  Former teen pop star and current assistant housing director Heather Wells is planning her upcoming wedding at New York's epic Plaza Hotel all while welcoming this year's batch of freshmen to New York College when everything falls apart.  A VIR and his bodyguards cause drama in the dorm, her money stealing mama makes a dramatic reappearance on her doorstep and the curse of Death Dorm strikes again.  Will Heather be able to solve this years mysterious death and still make it to the altar?

What I Liked:  While I love a good and gruesome murder mystery, I also enjoy the more lighthearted (am I really saying this) murder mysteries.  "The Bride Wore Size 12" didn't disappoint.  The plot was downright cute, the dialog was entertaining and the over-the-top characters toed the line at almost unbelievable...but in a way that was so charming it only added to the fun feeling of the book.

What Drove Me Nuts:  There were two things that drove me a little batty, but they were really minor:
  1. The plot and characters really did toe the line between hilarious and completely unbelievable.
  2. This was clearly a recent installment in a series.  And now I have to go back and read the rest!

Rating:  Go into this story with a light heart and you'll enjoy it!

Also Read by This Author:  Abandon, Underworld

Reviewed By:  Tami

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

This book showed up on my goodreads recommendation page so I decided to pick it up at the library.  It sat on my nightstand for a week before I cracked the cover.  But once I did...I couldn't put it down!

Summary:  Sixteen year old Hazel meets seventeen year old Augusts in the basement of a church.  Almost immediately Hazel and Augustus feel a connection that bonds the two strangers into best friends and eventually soul mates.  Unfortunately Augustus has cancer.  As does Hazel.  And it's terminal.  "The Fault in Our Stars" is a breathtaking love story about two teens who are wise beyond their years due to the tragic circumstances of their illnesses.

What I Liked:  I thoroughly enjoyed this short, easy read.  The dialog was witty and well written, feeling entirely realistic for kids that illness matured a bit too early.  Almost every character was likeable.  Hazel and Augustus are clearly underdogs in the rough game of life, but you never pity them even during the most heartbreaking scenes.  The story was romantic yet tragic.  The author doesn't cheapen the love story because the characters are teens.

What Drove Me Nuts:  As much as I enjoyed this book, there was one huge plot point that made me sick to my stomach:  Hazel and Augustus, two sweet, likable, fantastic characters have cancer.  Cancer!  The reader knows that Hazel's illness is terminal almost from the beginning of the story, so when she meets and falls in love with Augustus, it's with a somewhat sick feeling that we turn the page.

And don't even get me started on the ending.

Rating:  Read this book.

Also Read:  Nothing yet, but I'll definitely pick up other books by John Green.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Priests of Mars" by Graham McNeill

This book was lent to me by a good friend. He and I both really enjoy the Warhammer 40,000 universe and so he thought I would like it.

Summary: Thousands of years ago, Archmagos Telok built an Explorator fleet to cross the Halo Scar and bear witness to what lay beyond its destructive and obscuring gravity disruptions. No one has heard from him since, but recently a fragment was found. It came from a savior pod launched from Telok's flagship. Also, a message was received that he had found the "Breath of the Gods". These two discoveries were enough to inspire a down and out Archmagos Kotov to follow in Telok's path. After loosing prestige, Kotov knew he would need a big victory to come out on top, so he assembled his own fleet and set out to solve the mystery of Telok's disappearance and bring back the knowledge Telok failed to deliver.

In this book you follow a variety of people in the fleet, the mighty warriors of the Black Templar Space Marines, the mysterious geniuses of the tech-cult Adeptus Mechanicus, the towering Titan war-machines, the lowly bondsmen slaves of the engine room, and the rogue trader who found the fragment. You get see the lives of all these different people and watch them interact as they approach the Halo Scar, an enormous collection of deformed stars clustered together such that they distort gravity in violent and confusing ways. Trying to look at anything beyond the Halo Scar is nearly impossible and navigating through it is a near suicidal task, but the evidence that Telok may have done it and been rewarded is too much to ignore.

What I Liked: McNeill really lets you get to know all the characters in a way that you experience just how big of an adventure they have found themselves embarking on. It is easy to get invested in their story and become concerned that they make it through all their trials. 

What I Didn't Like: All the character development meant that the actual plot was a bit slow. I had assumed the book would include their entire journey, but about halfway through I realized there weren't enough pages to accomplish that. There are at least two sequels, which I intend to read, Lords of Mars being next. I would not be surprised if there end up being several more. 

Rating: I recommend this book for anyone who likes to imagine a futuristic universe well beyond anything we have experienced on Earth. I really do love the Warhammer 40k universe!

Also Read By This Author: None.

Reviewed By: Nick