Blood Vow: A half-assed review of a half-assed story

imagesBlood Vow: Black Dagger Legacy #2 by J.R. Ward

I am going to put as much effort in reviewing this book as Ward seems to have put into writing it…which isn’t much, so here’s my list of thoughts:

The MCs aren’t bad, and they’re not original either. She’s a Glymera chick with an overprotective asshole dad, and he’s a badass fighter with loads of issues. Where have we seen this before? Oh right, in just about every freaking BDB book Ward has written.

Really Ward? An Iron Bowl is playing in the background and it’s the one damn bowl game where those war chickens managed to beat the Crimson Tide? There’s a lot of garbage in your books that makes me cuss a blue streak, but that bullshit ices the profanity cake. ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Oh, Manny went to Auburn? That explains why I have always hated him! Aside from the fact that he is a pointless, unnecessary character.

When did Rhage become such a bad fighter? He gets shot, stabbed, and almost-killed as often as most people inhale and exhale.

If Lessers are getting harder and harder to find and easier to kill because they are all new recruits, then why the hell are there so many of them in this book, and how do these so-called newbies come so close to almost killing a Brother and two BDB-trained fighters?

The brothers v. Lassister banter is still ridiculous and pointless.

Why is Boone the only trainee we know nothing about? It’s like Ward just occasionally throws his name in the mix just to remind us that there are six trainees.

Well, knock me over with a feather. Z not only had speaking lines, but an actual poignant scene in this book.

I miss the Brothers. You know, those badass fighters from the first six books. Where the hell are they?

I really don’t care about Bitty or the whole adoption story line at all.

And I still find Bitty creepy and off-putting.

I really want to nut-punch Rhage and tell him to man the fuck up now!

Not a single speaking line for Blay or Qhuinn. That makes me an angry reader!

Manny’s mobile operating/medical vehicle is ridiculous.

What is Peyton’s deal? He can’t be this effed up just from the whole Allishon thing (or however the hell her name is spelled).

Oh, so that’s who Saxton is going to end up with.

I guess anyone, ANYONE, can just move into the mansion and live with the King and the Brotherhood. Next thing you know, lessers will be living there.

And just how freaking big is this place? I know it’s called a mansion, but there must be 40 people living there now.

Okay, I just did a tally, and I came up with 33 people living in the mansion. And that only includes two doggen because who knows how many servants it takes to run that place.

I don’t know what half these fucking acronyms mean, and I am not wasting my time looking them up!

The next BDB book is about Xcor? Oh crap, I hate him and Layla, but their story will have to include Qhuinn and Blay, so I am going to have to read it. I see a lot of skimming in my future.

 

J.R. Ward’s The Declawed Kitten, oops, I mean The Beast

Pardon the profanity….

I can’t even be arsed to write a review about Ward’s latest disappointment of a BDB novel, so I’ll just share some thoughts I had while reading The Beast:

If this is how Rhage feels about humans, why in the hell did he marry one of them?

Why does Ward use three phrases in one sentence to describe the same damn thing (hello, redundancy) yet won’t use three words to spell out FFS – which means For Fuck’s Sake for those who haven’t yet unraveled all of Ward’s stupid acronyms.

FFS, Ward, stop using acronyms.

One more idiotic and unnecessary pop culture reference and I am chucking this book at a wall.

THUNK!

Shit, I am going to have patch that wall.

Why am I still reading this series?

Who the fuck are these cellphone-recording humans and why should I care?

Okay, ten pages so far that don’t include the brothers, Rhage, or Mary i.e. ten pages that I don’t have to read.

FFS, die already Xcor. No one fucking cares about you. Except Layla, and she can die too.

OMG, Z has speaking lines in this book!!!

Qhuinn and Blay better have some lines too!

What the hell kind of name is Bitty?

“She’s a special little girl.” Is she? Because, frankly, I find Bitty to be creepy. I just keep envisioning a porcelain doll from a horror movie!

Who the fuck is Assail and why is he taking up so much ink this book? Oh wait, didn’t he try to assassinate Wrath? Or play some part in the assassination? Whatevs.

Well, at least Blay got a line of dialogue, lame as it was.

Woah, look at the lines Qhuinn got. Knock me over with a feather.

So over this ridiculous overprotective male bullshit. Every one of these “warriors” needs to grow a pair.

Huh, I guess Assail’s GF died in a past book? Must have skimmed over that.

Lassiter has become an even more pointless character. I didn’t think that was possible.

I am humming that Mary Poppin’s tune in my head except instead of Chim chiminey, chim chiminey Chim chim cheree, I am singing Skim Skiminey skim skiminey, skim skim skim-meeeeee…

And Ward still hasn’t learned how to use a question mark. Isn’t that first-grade level grammar? See what I did there, Ward? I asked a question and followed it with the correct punctuation. Give it a try sometime.

Some of this dialogue is so unbelievably stupid.

Why does she refuse to acknowledge who is speaking whenever the Brothers are in a group? Dialogue tags that don’t identify the speaker are just author laziness.

Oh, what’s this? Possibly setting up another book about Z? Finally a bit of intrigue….

Assail just became interesting.

All of these stupid flooded bathtub scenes read like author self-indulgence. Ward needs a cutthroat editor. And by that, I mean me!

New York has Zaxby’s??? We don’t even have those here. I bet they don’t have fried pickles at a NY Zaxby’s.

Funny how Rhage’s list of must eat places are all chain restaurants. Does Caldwell not have independently-owned restaurants?

I don’t care how big Rhage is. He would totally be morbidly obese if he actually ate all that.

Vampires will never see a rainbow. (Okay, this life-changing epiphany actually occurred when I saw a rainbow while I was driving around after a rainstorm with The Beast on the front seat of my car)

I would be so on board with that, V, because you and Butch need some bromance scenes.

I was probably wrong about that Z book.

And wrong about Assail’s GF.

Xcor equals snore. Don’t care that he’s the bro of Tohr. Oh look who’s a poet and don’t know it. (Wow, some of my thoughts are as lame as this book’s dialogue!)

This scene would have had more impact from Qhuinn’s POV.

Or Blay’s.

WOAH! That is a hardcore way to attempt suicide.

Z to the rescue!

I’m kind of getting tired of Rhage and Mary.

I feel like this book will never end.

It finally ended.

Managed to be better than The King. That was not much of a compliment!

Riders preview is a tantalizing tease

ridersArgh!!!!! Tor Teen Books, you tease! You cruel, coy, infuriating tease. You give me the first 19 gripping, enthralling, can’t-get-enough chapters of Riders and then the preview just ends?!?!?!?! No matter how many times I swipe my finger across my Kindle screen I can’t get another word, can’t turn another page, and now I have to wait until February to find out what happens to Gideon, Sebastian, and Daryn???? Evil! You, Tor Teen Books, are as evil as Samrael and his creepy cronies!

Okay, deep, calming breath.

So, Netgalley (and I can happily say the slump is over) granted me access to a preview of Veronica Rossi’s soon-to-be-published Riders, about a young Army Ranger in training who plummets to his death during a parachute jump and comes back as one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And that’s when things really get weird, and intriguing, and page turning, and agonizing when the pages no longer turn!

I usually avoid previews because I don’t like waiting. I want the whole book, and I want it now, but I knew what I was possibly setting myself up for when I clicked the request button on the Netgalley page, and despite the waiting and the cliff-hanger of going from Chapter 19 to no chapter 20, I am happy I put in this request because this is gonna be good. I immediately liked Gideon, Army Ranger turned confused Horseman of the Apocalypse. He has a great voice and manages to be strong, self-depreciating, and funny all while being confused, angry, and capable of kicking some ass even when he isn’t sure why and who’s ass it is exactly that he is intending to kick. And to add to his stress, he and his other recently reincarnated friends are tasked with saving the world from an ancient evil…and they fail. Yup. Though it hasn’t been revealed how and why by the end of Chapter 19, Gideon wakes up in the custody of some very unhappy government officials. Now, he’s got to talk his way out of this mess, find his comrades, and somehow manage to save the world before it’s too late.

And we’ve all got to wait until February 16th to find out how it turns out. One month, 4 days. Time cannot move fast enough!

Full review to come.

Kemmerer’s Thicker Than Water is a tension-fueled stand-alone that could easily have a sequel

My thoughts, like my emotions while reading Thicker Than Water, are all over the place, so bear with me.ttw

The loss in this book is so gripping and so present that it’s like its very own character. My heart broke for Thomas. Can you imagine being in such a horrible situation? Accused of murdering your mother in a new town surrounded by strangers who all think you did it? And then to have to live with your dead mother’s new husband because you have nowhere else to go? No one else to turn to? Trapped. If I had to choose one word to describe Thomas, that’s the one I’d use. Trapped by his situation, his emotions, his loneliness and other people’s isolating perceptions of him.

I liked Thomas from the start but even as I was sympathizing with him and wanting to defend him against all the jerks in that small-minded town, as the story advanced, doubts kept popping into my head until I felt as if I were playing Whack-a-Mole with my own brain.

“Did he…”

“No, he couldn’t.”

“But…”

“He wouldn’t.”

“But what if…”

“Shut up, brain! Just shut up and read!”

I enjoy it when I can’t predict what’s going to happen in a book, and I definitely felt like I was on shaky ground with each turn of the page. Even the paranormal element of the story was a total surprise to me. I knew there was something going on, but I never guessed what. The uncertainty was a driving force throughout the story and really ratcheted up the tension.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I hate spoilers, so I’ll just say that in the end, there are some resolutions, some remaining mysteries, and enough unanswered questions for a potential sequel, and I certainly hope so because I am not ready to leave the lives of these characters. I often have a hard time liking female leads in YA Fiction. So many come off as needy or silly or just plain dumb, but not Charlotte. I loved how Kemmerer wrote this hormonal teenager who makes really questionable decisions without ever seeming stupid or naïve. How many times does a girl sneak off to meet an alleged killer and not seem like an idiot? Not very often, but Charlotte is not like that. She is brave and compassionate and ready to defend herself. She has doubts and fears and overcomes both to do what she feels is right. Teen lit needs more characters like her.

And more authors like Kemmerer. I really enjoyed how she kept so much tension throughout the story while still making me laugh out loud. I mean, this is a heavy, weighted situation and yet, “Princess Sparklepants?” Hahahaha! And I loved, loved, loved Nicole. She’s funny and quick-witted and everything a BFF should be. Which leads to another strength of this author: secondary characters. I hesitate to use the term secondary because they are too developed to fall into that category. Kemmerer has a knack for letting us know instantly who these minor characters are despite the lesser amount of ink they get. Charlotte’s brothers are a prime example of this as well as Stan, who not only doesn’t get a lot of ink but also says very little, but even his small scenes and few words tell us readers so much about him. I would have liked to see more of him. What’s his life like after Marie? I wanted more of Charlotte’s brothers and Nicole as well. So, while I am very satisfied with this stand-alone novel, I will still be crossing my fingers for a sequel.

Whether it’s the Thicker Than Water cast or a whole new group of characters, I can’t wait to see what Kemmerer brings us next.

Black Dagger Brotherhood’s The Shadows. Why am I still reading this series?

shad**MAJOR SPOLIERS**

Well, I did something I swore I wouldn’t. I read another damned Black Dagger Brotherhood book. Why would I do such a thing you may be asking yourself (or you may be yawning and wondering why you follow this blog). Good question because after the suckfest that was The King, I planned to not read anything else from Ward, and I can honestly and completely blame my BFF for making me read The Shadows because she read it and then she dropped the mother of all spoiler bombs on me. Ward kills off a main character. The female lead dies, and not in a fake Jane-died-and-was-brought-back-as-a-ghost kind of death. Nope, she totally kills Selena. Well, isn’t that just a juicy tidbit? I was intrigued….and bored. Most importantly, I was bored, so I figured what the hell?

My thoughts:

It didn’t suck as much as The King. At least, I don’t think it did. I can’t be too sure because I skimmed 80% of it. For me, that is the only way to get through these bloated tomes. With The Shadows, Ward was juggling too many storylines (what else is new?), and she failed to fully address/wrap up a few of them. For example, Rhage’s meltdown. Our tougher than nails dragon-boy spends most of the book completely freaking out about Selena’s illness and Trey’s pending loss with hardly any introspection or discussion. Just when he is finally confessing his emotions about all of the death and injury and panic attacks, he gets interrupted and the conversation is never finished but it needed to be. No resolution. No continuation after the interruption. Nothing.  Nothing but my steaming annoyance at another forgotten thread in this tangled mess of a book.

And the Luchas/Qhuinn situation. Luchas has somehow jumped from rescued and recovering bro of Qhuinn to a guy with a serious deathwish. After attempting suicide by not feeding and praying for death-by-sepsis, his leg gets amputated (a Qhuinn decision), he disowns his brother (again), and then gets a serious smackdown from death-pending Selena. There needed to be a discussion between Luchas and Qhuinn after the whole “you took my leg instead of letting me die and then Selena put me in my place” ordeal. Maybe it will come in the next book, maybe not. Ward isn’t exactly known for her follow through. Now, this is a tangent, but bear with me. Why does it seem like Qhuinn and Blay always get shafted when it comes to their story? First, their book completely sucked. They spend 570 pages fighting and only become a couple in the last, what, 20 pages? And then every time they need some ink, every time it would make total sense for them to have a scene together, Blay and Qhuinn get nada and so do us readers. It is so irritating and one of the many reasons I swore I wouldn’t keep reading this series. Clearly, I have no willpower or I am a masochist. Tangent over. Back to Ward’s latest disappointment.

Did anyone else want to slap Layla? Could she have made dumber decisions? Probably, but what’s one more bad decision when you’re risking your baby’s health – Oh, I’m sorry that should be babies’ health (that twin thing came out of nowhere, WTH?) – to hook up with the guy who tried to kill your baby daddy. I do not see the connection with her and WhatsHisFace at all. And I hate that she is in this semi-love triangle with QB just so they can have a kid. Frankly, I hope she dies in child birth because she is such a pointless character. Other than being a baby factory what purpose does she serve? None, nada, zip. And what was with Qhuinn just offering Blay’s vein up to Layla? Is he Blay’s mate or his pimp? That really annoyed me.

And I guess my commentary so far in this review on the main couple speaks for my interest level in them. Nothing against the Shadows, but much like Rehv, I don’t see the need for them to have their own book. And as for Selena? She’s been a brotherhood blood bag and nothing else so far. Making her yet another Chosen who falls in love with a fighter is, YAWN, nothing new. Her only interesting feature was her pending death and even that got old after 80 something chapters.

I heard that Ward might start a new series or a spin-off that involves the original brothers and reopening the training center. I am slightly intrigued by that, but at the same time I lost all hope for BDB after The King, so why even bother? Maybe if I get bored again….

Stiefvater keeps readers guessing in Blue Lily, Lily Blue

BLLBOh my! Piper, you are a very selfish, stupid woman.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third book in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series, is quite the whirlwind of plot twists, surprises, deaths, and intrigue.

So much was going on in this third installment that I am not even sure where or how to begin this review, so I’ll start with my favorite part: Malory’s abhorrence of American-made tea. It’s true that Americans cannot make a proper cup of tea. In fact, the way we make tea is absolutely criminal. Heating a mug of water in the microwave and then dropping a tea bag into it is not in any way, shape, or form an acceptable means of making tea. It’s no wonder Malory was so appalled.

Kind of how I am appalled by Steifvater’s English use of Glendower. Owain Glyndwr was a Welsh prince, a man who spent his life fighting the English. He’s probably turning over in his sleepy grave at every use of the English spelling of his name. Seriously, use the Welsh and correct spelling. Anything else is just disrespectful!

In BLLB, the characters find themselves questioning who they are, how well they really know themselves, and how well they know their friends. It’s an interesting study on how Cabeswater has changed them all into someone they don’t recognize while simultaneously coming to better understand the persons they have morphed into. This is especially true of Adam, who can feel the ley line thrumming through his veins. He’s coming to understand the power and the danger of the deal he made with Cabeswater, and he’s discovered a part of himself that is dark and cunning and ruthless. He has a moment where he finally comprehends that he is not the poor boy from the wrong side of the trailer park. It was a moment that I’ve been waiting for it, and in typical Stiefvater fashion, it was succinct and perfect:

For so long he’d wanted Gansey to see him as an equal, but it was possible that all this time, the only person who needed to see that was Adam. Now he could see that it wasn’t charity Gansey was offering. It was just truth.

There were so many personal discoveries like that throughout the book (don’t worry, I won’t spoil any more of them), which is what I loved so much about this book. While the whole group is on a journey to discover Glydwr (see, proper name usage), each individual is on a journey to discover him or herself, and Stiefvater fed us these little clues and tidbits throughout, but never gave away the whole person. I can honestly say that after finishing BLLB, I still have absolutely no idea what to expect in the next book, and I am rather glad because I enjoy being completely gobsmacked at developments I never saw coming!

The only thing I can say is that I will be surprised if this story can be finished in a mere four books, and if it takes more than that I will be delighted because I’m not ready to let go of these incredible characters or Cabeswater or Henrietta.

Sacrifice, the end of Kemmerer’s Elementals Series is Here…Or is it?

The USA cover for Sacrifice

The USA cover for Sacrifice

I always thought authors were supposed to love their characters but I am beginning to think that Brigid Kemmerer hates her characters with a vicious vengeance because she doesn’t hesitate to hurt, injure, and damn near kill them. And then when they don’t die, she hurts them some more. In this (maybe) final installment of The Elementals series, the target for all this hurt is poor Michael Merrick.

Sacrifice is like no other book in this series – which is as it should be because this is Michael’s book, and Michael isn’t just a Merrick brother. He’s the guardian, the quasi-parent, and the one faced with trying to keep his loved ones alive. And with the events unfolding in Sacrifice, that job has never been more difficult. From the first page, the tension, suspense, and danger are ramped up so high readers will be on the edge of their seats before the first chapter is finished. The Merricks have never been in so much danger, and it just intensifies as the story unfolds.

Kemmerer has very cleverly written this book with a lack of presence of the cast we readers are used to. The younger Merricks and their significant others get very little page time in this book, which enhances the divide and separation that Michael feels as a brother who is a parent/guardian. On the other hand, as a reader, I missed the crew. I missed the banter between brothers and the sweet moments between couples. This book is so dark and so intense that I craved some lighter moments.

What I got instead was some absolutely shocking events. I’m not saying what they were because I hate spoilers, and I would want to maim someone if they spoiled this book for me, but I will say this. The book is called Sacrifice for a reason.

If there was one major letdown for me, it’s that it didn’t all come down to a massive, all-out battle between the guides and the elementals. I was expecting that. Waiting for it. Anticipating it since Book One. But it never happens. Not having a showdown between the elementals and the guides is like not having Harry battle it out with Voldemort and they just go on co-existing in the same world. It’s like the Fellowship of the Ring saying, “Nah, we’re good not battling that funky glowing eyeball thing. Let’s just have some mead instead.” Call me bloodthirsty, but I wanted my battle, dammit! I wanted the peace of mind that comes with knowing there has been a clear resolution. I wanted to know if the Merricks get a happily ever after or if the guides win in the end. I wanted to know a lot of things that I won’t discuss here because of spoilers.

I don’t think we fans are completely without hope, though. Kemmerer left Sacrifice open-ended. She left room for more, so I think what really needs to happen is we fans need to swamp Kensington Teen with demands for more Merricks. We need to inundate them with requests for more books in this series. We need to flood Kensington’s email until they are so sick of hearing from us that they contract Kemmerer for at least one more Elementals book, and then we can have our epic, world-changing battle (as long as all the Merricks survive, of course). You know, on second thought, considering what happens in this book and what I said about Kemmerer in my opening sentence, maybe asking for an all-out battle from her is a big mistake. She could easily go the route of George A.A. Martin and just start killing our favorites left and right. Maybe this series is better left alone…

No, nope, nah. I still want more, so I am ending this review so I can go petition Kensington Teen for more Merricks! Who’s with me?

Sacrifice, Kensington Teen, 9/30/14