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.


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!


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


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….

J.R. Ward’s The King is bloated with POVs and pointless side stories

kingAfter the colossal disappointment of Lover at Last, I severely lowered my expectations for The King and when I say “lowered” I mean I dug a hole roughly the same depth as the Grand Canyon, placed my expectations on the bottom along with a little plaque that read R.I.P. BDB and then I filled that hole with all the lackluster, contradictory, poorly executed tomes that Ward has churned out lately.

And after finishing The King, I can honestly say I should have dug a deeper hole and added any hope that this series would return to the great storytelling and awesome potential it once had. I should have shoveled dirt over my dream that Ward would return to our original Brothers (plus John, Qhuinn, and Blay, of course) instead of adding more unnecessary, unwanted characters. But alas, hopes were unfulfilled and dreams died with every turn of the page. The King is every bit as bloated with POVs and pointless characters as Lover at Last and Lover Reborn were.

Remember the good old days when the books were simple and easy to follow? Remember Dark Lover? It started with a scene with Darius and the rest of it was from the POV of Wrath, Beth, Butch, and whatever lesser idiot was leading the baby powder brigade.  This latest BDB book should have been called The King and a Dozen Others Weighing in with Their Points of View. We hear from Wrath, Beth, Xcor, Layla, Saxton, Trey, Selena, Sola, Assail, Rhevenge, Abalone (why is a character named after a sea snail?), and so many others that I have lost track. Next, I guess we’ll get POVs from the pizza delivery boy. Again, I ask, why do we have to hear about these inferior characters? What is so damned important about Sola and Assail? No, seriously. I am really asking because I have skipped their story lines in the last two books. I do not care about them at all. What purpose do they serve?

And the Shadows? I have nothing against Trey and iAm. I find them interesting, but why are they being shuffled into other characters’ books? Surely there is enough material with the two of them to get their very own book. That would make a lot more sense than having them slapped in between pages about Xcor, Layla, Wrath, Beth, and a dozen others.

Truthfully, though the book is 500+ pages, I probably only read about 250 pages because I have no interest in these side characters. I read a chapter, skipped two, read two chapters, skipped a few. You see the pattern.


For once, I am holding nothing back, so if you haven’t read The King yet, don’t read any further.


This was the wishy-washy-est Brotherhood book yet. Characters who had always been strong and brave and levelheaded behaved as if they’d become bipolar through most of The King. Beth, who I had always liked, made me want to reach through the pages and slap her. The Queen has served as Wrath’s rock, his biggest supporter through the last eleven books, but suddenly, she is sneaking around behind his back, trying to jump start her needing because she wants a young, knowing full well Wrath doesn’t want one. The old Beth would have talked this out with Wrath. Instead, she becomes such a basket case that I started to wonder if she was having a hysterical pregnancy. The old Beth would have considered the burden she was placing on any young she brought into the world, which is the whole point Wrath was making. This Beth has a one track mind and wants a kid no matter what the cost. Let’s recap. Her husband is the blind king of a dying race who was almost assassinated by another vampire. He is completely isolated from his people, the rich bitches of his society are trying to dethrone him, and the next attempt on his life could come at any moment. Any young he has will be born into this same set of circumstances. What wife and mother would want that for her child???? Who would willingly, purposefully, and deceptively bring a child into that environment and saddle that child with that fate? Not the Beth we readers had come to know.

Ward contributes Beth’s behavior to hormones. I say that is a load of BS. Furthermore, Beth’s yearning for a child was apparently cemented when she babysat Nalla for Zsadist and Bella. Okay, fine, but it would have been nice to have witnessed that scene and experienced Beth’s reaction to caring for an infant instead of being told about it after the fact. Perhaps then her instant, intense need to be a mother would have been a little more believable.

And her pregnancy? Wow, that took five seconds and about three pages to occur. Fastest pregnancy ever. Four months along and she and everyone else missed the signs? Funny how everyone could smell/sense Layla’s pregnancy the minute they walked into the room with her, but Wrath can’t tell when his own shellan is knocked up? And don’t blink or you’ll miss the remaining five months of the pregnancy.

Speaking of Wrath, that was quite the 180 he pulled. He has such good reasons for not wanting a young, and then when Beth goes into her needing and he has the option (at least, we readers think he does) to not service her, he does it anyway. I found that hard to swallow. He was so vehemently opposed to becoming a father that I just didn’t buy his instant decision to service her and risk having a young. I think I might have been convinced had Ward actually written the conversation about pregnancy that Wrath supposedly had with Tohr, but she totally copped out and only mentions one line from it. Disappointing. Considering what an ass Tohr was in Lover Reborn, it would have been nice to have a scene with him that showed a good side of him again. And when Beth’s pregnancy is confirmed, Wrath pulls another 180. He goes from not wanting kids with a vengeance to being a daddy-to-be cheerleader with one glimpse of an ultrasound photo. Again, I could have used a little more convincing.

Ditto with his sudden shift from King of Total Indifference to King Who Must Meet Every Commoner. Sure, I see the point of a king connecting with his people, I just didn’t get a strong sense of Wrath coming to that decision. This guy hasn’t given a hoot about anyone but his brothers and the Glymera for the entire series. Now, one email from the Mollusk (i.e. Abalone) and suddenly he’s Mr. Meet and Greet? It’s like Ward got bored with developing the plot and just slapped whatever she felt like into the storyline. Oh wait, that is basically SOP for her. And just in case you are sick of deciphering vague abbreviations, SOP means Standard Operating Procedure. You know what else I am sick of? All her stupid celebrity name dropping. How many times is a pack of vampires really going to bring up Miley Cyrus? We get it, Ward, you’re up to date on your pop culture references. Now, please shut up about Miley and Beiber and start writing a plot that makes some sense.

I felt like this book was all over the place and major plot changes that should have been developed were completely glossed over. Examples: the abolishing of the monarchy. Kind of a huge deal, but it’s explained as an afterthought to Beth; and the election of Wrath as King by the now democratic race of vampires. Um, okay. Like Beth’s pregnancy, that was the fastest election in history. And, if you abolish a monarchy, how the hell do you elect someone as King? President, maybe, but I don’t think King would apply in that situation; and the biggest example of all: the end of the Council and, by extension, the Glymera. Um, taking the power away from his biggest opponents and it’s summed up in a sentence?

Then there’s Xcor’s 180. After his lovesick deal with Layla, he is no longer going after Wrath or the throne, thus making his useless character even more pointless. Seriously, other than a tool who comes between Layla, Qhuinn, and their unborn child, what purpose does he now serve? He’ll probably join the brotherhood eventually, at which point, I will start hurling Ward books at the wall (if I am even reading this series by that point).

Which brings us to the Brothers. Warriors. Or at least they used to be. Remember the good old days, when the Black Dagger Brotherhood actually used their daggers? Seriously, all these threats to the king and they sit around playing pool or hitting the gym. How about hitting an enemy instead? Or here’s a thought? If the Band of Bastards is such a thorn in their sides, why don’t the brothers try putting a dagger in the bastards’ sides? In book 11, V proves Xcor was behind Wrath’s assassination attempt, so why not go after the jerk and kill him? That is what warriors are supposed to do. And didn’t Tohr call dibs on killing Xcor after the assassination attempt? Maybe he should get on that!

But it’s like they’ve all become harmless little puppy dogs. Seriously, there was so much sugar-sweet in this book that I checked my blood sugar levels just in case I was about to slip into a sugar coma. Ugh. I mean, how many times can the brothers tear up when something happens between Beth and Wrath? It’s like Beth so much as sneezes and they all start crying.

Okay, so I usually review with PQP (praise-question-polish), and all I’ve done so far is CQC (criticize-question-criticize some more), so good things about this book? Ward remembered that she has this great character named Zsadist, and she gave him actual speaking lines! Yes, Z actually has a scene in this book and he didn’t even have to get shot or wounded to be a part of the story. Woohoo! Um, other good stuff? Um, um, um….oh yeah, sweet John Matthew has returned. Not the jerk who finally got the girl of his dreams and then went all alpha-male on her and ruined it. No, this John has his shit together, is happily mated, and acts like one hell of a great little brother to Beth. Though they still didn’t resolve those pesky seizures.

And that pretty much does it for the good stuff. There was definitely not enough Qhuinn and Blay in this book. I mean, since half of their book was dedicated to a supporting cast of blah characters, it seems only fair that they should get half of someone else’s book, but life isn’t fair and that did not happen in The King. So, I guess along with all my other dreams about this series, I should bury my desire for more of my favorite BDB couple.

Blah, yeah that word pretty much sums up how I felt about this latest Ward installment. I am over this series. So, into that hole I dug goes my wishes that the series will improve and become what it once was: fresh, clever, and well-written. Goodbye, Brotherhood. You have overstayed your welcome.

Black Dagger Brotherhood: a brotherhood of contradictions

In my heyday of loving The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward, one thing always irked me. Granted, I spent way too much time thinking about the books and the characters, but I could never quite get over all the contradictions from one book to another. At first, I thought, how can this author not know her own series better? But as the contradictions piled up and the books continued to be published, I came to the conclusion that Ward does know the books, she just doesn’t care about the contradictions. She changes her backstory to match whatever she is currently writing with a half-assed (if any) attempt to cover up the changes. It drives me absolutely crazy. We readers aren’t stupid, but she just expects us to swallow the incongruities without question. And I did, again and again because I liked the characters so much that I just had to know what was happening to them, so I persevered….until I couldn’t.

My breaking point came in Lover at Last, which easily has the most glaring contradiction of all the Brotherhood books: the death/non-death of Qhuinn’s brother Luchas in book six, Lover Enshrined. To give the old memory a jog, that is the book where the lesser raids intensify and they start taking the Glymera right out of their homes. At this point, Qhuinn has been kicked out of his home for attacking Lash, and he and John are camped out waiting for lessers when Blay shows up with some bad news:

Blay’s eyes flicked to John before returning to their friend. “Your mother, father, and sister are dead. Your brother is missing.” (Lover Enshrined p. 378)

And in books 7 – 10, Luchas is never mentioned. The Brotherhood isn’t looking for him. His body was never found, so it goes to reason that he is still considered missing. But then along comes book 11, Lover at Last, and this eye-popping gem:

Then again, as far as anyone had known, the male [Luchas] had been killed in the raids along with Qhuinn’s mother, father, and sister…. There had been four bodies at the house – and Luchas had been among them. (Lover at Last 72%)

What the hell, Ward??? No attempt to explain the original “missing” status of Luchas; no explanation of Blay being the one who went into the home of Qhuinn’s family and identified the bodies (which comes up in book 11 but was never mentioned in previous books). Are we supposed to just pretend Luchas wasn’t missing all this time? Are we supposed to ignore this complete change of backstory and go along with whatever whim Ward is following now? It’s ridiculous!

After this unforgiveable contradiction, I decided to unearth my list of inconsistencies and publish it here in honor of The King, which will no doubt have plenty of contradictions as well.

Book 9 Lover Unleashed (Manny/Payne’s book)

Butch’s ability to dematerialize:

“Although vampires could…dematerialize, that was not in Butch’s repertoire.” Lover Unleashed page 109

But in book 6:

“When they both shook their heads, the king dematerialized along with Vishous, Butch, and Zsadist” Lover Enshrined pg. 473

Butch’s Size:

Vishous borrows clothes/turtleneck from Butch, and they are too small. V calls Butch a “midget,” (Lover Unleashed 129) but in Book 4 right after Butch is changed, Phury and Z made a huge deal to V about how huge Butch was.

Z stared at the door. “That cop’s big, V. That cop is really big.” Lover Revealed p. 370

Uh, did he shrink in the last 5 books or something?

Butch’s drink of choice:

On page 154, Jose de la Cruz recalls walking into Butch’s apartment after he disappeared and seeing empty bottles of Lagavulin everywhere, but Butch didn’t start drinking that until he lived with the Brotherhood. And when de la Cruz walks into Butch’s apartment in Book 1, it is beer cans everywhere.

“There were empty beer cans on the table. In the kitchen, there were dishes in the sink. More empties on the counter.” (Dark Lover, page 384)

V’s partial castration:

On page 344, V states that all he’d said to Jane about his damaged body was “My father didn’t want me to reproduce.” However, if you read book 5, V actually tells her more than that.

Book 8 – Lover Mine (John/Xhex’s book)

John (to Xhex) names all those who know he was raped, except he never mentions Wrath who was told about it in book 6 (page 267) in order to save Qhuinn’s ass after he kills Lash.

Book 11 – Lover at Last (Qhuinn/Blay’s book

Ward has always made a big deal out of the fact that the vampires have no body hair (i.e. arms, legs are hairless). Even Butch loses body hair after his transition in book 4, yet in book 11, Blay is apparently the exception to this rule:

The pain that wafted out of Qhuinn’s body was so great, it changed the air temperature around him, lowering things until the hair on Blay’s forearms pricked from the chill. (Lover at Last [sorry, I don’t have a page number for this one, but it comes in Chapter 81, during the bar scene].

Am I being petty with that one? You’re damn right I am. I have an even pettier one too that has to do with the grammatical properness of Blay’s text messages, but I won’t even bother listing that one here. I just want some consistency in the rules that were established for this series, but I guess that is asking way too much!

There are plenty more contradictions where those come from, but frankly, at this point, I just can’t be bothered to look them all up. Perhaps I’ll do a follow up after The King is published and if I bother to read it. I’m sure that will have its share of contradictions as well, and I am sick of them. Does anyone else feel this way or am I just crazy? Feel free to share your thoughts or inconsistencies in the comments, and thanks for reading this ranting post.

From BDB to Dead To Me

kingThe Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward has become the Black Void Brotherhood. As in my interest in it has been sucked into a black void of bad writing, unbearable characters, and terrible plot lines, and there’s little hope of my interest ever seeing the light again.

This series started out so well. A fresh take on the boring, clichéd vampire genre. Strong, interesting characters, both male and female, vampire and human. The first five books in the series were excellent, and even though I have never particularly liked Phury, even his book (#6 in the series) was good and advanced the storyline.

Then came Lover Avenged, and I thought to myself, “Why are we getting a book about Rehvenge?” Especially at that point because we were deeply embedded in the storyline of John, Qhuinn, and Blay. It wasn’t like Rehvenge was going to become a brother. Yet, Lover Avenged did advance the storyline for Wrath and Beth and for Qhuinn and Blay and John and Xhex. So, despite my questioning the main character and the introduction of his love interest who seemed generic and dull, the book fit with the series and was followed by John’s book, Lover Mine, which was good though a tad lengthy.

After that, things started to roll downhill quite rapidly with Lover Unleashed and the story of Payne or as I like to call her Pain because she is painfully annoying, and I hate reading about her. Even worse is Manny. Oh, I cannot stand that character. I think I made it halfway through the book before I started skimming the Manny/Payne scenes. And as if those two weren’t enough to make me want to hurl the book across the room, we were introduced to Xcor and his Band of Unnecessaries. The only reason I even made it through book 9 was because of the Butch/Vishous and Qhuinn/Blay storylines.

Book 10 focused on Tohr, you know that guy so dedicated to Wellsie that after her death he disappeared, abandoning his newly adopted son and leaving his brothers in limbo about his fate while wanting nothing more than to die and join her in the Fade? Well, he certainly got over Wellsie quickly. Lover Reborn bogged down in poor storylines and boring characters. No One was just about the dullest character ever put on a page. Total waste of ink. I did not understand Tohr’s attraction to her at all, and she was certainly not a strong enough woman to help him overcome the loss of his shellan. I also thought Tohr transformed into a major ass in this book, and I really lost any interest I had in him. Again, I soldiered on because I knew that reading Lover Reborn would get me closer to what I really wanted.

Which was Lover At Last! At last (and, yes, the Ella James song is playing in my head right now), my favorite guys were getting their own book. A love story about Qhuinn and Blay. Their suffering makes Romeo and Juliet look like a Disney movie, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their book. I “liked” J.R. Ward on Facebook just to read all the pre-release quotes. I saw the word count and squealed, foolishly  thinking I was about to read 696 pages about my favorite Ward characters. And was I right? NOPE. Big fat no. Instead, I had to wade through pages about Assail and Sola. Who the hell are these people? Oh right, didn’t Assail have something to do with the assassination attempt on Wrath in book 10? Right, so what is he doing in Qhuinn and Blay’s book and why do I care? Oh right, I DON’T! Skipped those pages only to encounter chapters about Trey. I have nothing against the Shadows, but do I really need to read about Trey’s sex addiction problem or whatever the hell it was? Do I care about Xcor? No. So much of this book was dedicated to other characters that Qhuinn and Blay’s story took a backseat to everything else that was going on. It was such a letdown that I couldn’t even write a proper review about. Lover at Last was probably the most anticipated book ever for me, and all it left me was wanting a rewrite of the entire thing. (In fact, if you go to goodreads.com and search for Lover at Last, check out the review by Mel posted Dec. 4, 2013. It is the most spot-on review, and I agree with 99% of it).

So with my interest in The Black Dagger Brotherhood on life support, I kept hope alive and pre-ordered book 12, The King, which is supposed to be about Wrath and Beth. Yet, according to Ward’s daily and downright annoying posts on Facebook, the book is instead about Sola, Assail, Xcor, Lassiter, and probably a bunch of other characters I don’t give a damn about. So, I have canceled my pre-order of The King and stopped hoping for the series to become as good as it once was. I am tired of the parade of new and boring characters, tired of the constant contradictions in the plot, tired of the changes in backstory just to accommodate some new plot twist, and tired of missing the original characters while having these lackluster filler characters taking up way too much ink.

Stick a dagger in me, I’m done.