Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Endless Knight by Kresley Cole (Book #2 - Arcana Chronicles)

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Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole does it again! Although Endless Knight is part of a YA series, it will not disappoint those how have learned to love her Immortals After Dark series or anyone who is just starting with her books. This is the second installment of her Arcana Series and should be read after Poison Princess (Book #1 of the Arcana Series) as it picks up directly after the last chapter of the book.

Personally, I found the pace a little slow, mainly because this is an on-going series where one event directly leads to the next, so there are no real endings to each of the books until the entire series ends. However, once you reach the end of the book, you will always wish for more. Kresley Cole leaves you in the worse type of cliffhanger (in a very good way) you can imagine. I, myself, almost screamed in frustration when I finished the last chapter in Endless Knight as I realized I will have to wait another year for the Book #3 in the series to find out what will happen to our sexy Cajun, Jack, as it is scheduled to publish in Fall 2014.

Summary:
The rain that the Fool has been warning Evie, the Empress, about had started to pour after her encounter with the Hermit and acquired his icon. Finally, she realized her powers and was no longer the helpless girl that she had been ever since the Flash, the apocalypse that killed most of the living and turn many into Bagmans - thoughtless zombies. Allying with the Fool, Huntress and Magician she finally remember the game, where there will be only one winner, one survivor.

Jack, her sexy Cajun, had seen her using her powers to control plants and her appearance turning into that of a red witch and was horrified at what he saw, but there were little time to adjust as they are immediately chased down by Bagmans, other arcana cards and cannibals. When they finally had the time to talk things over, Jack decided he was more upset with her keeping secrets from him.

Death had been taunting her in her head through the Fool since the beginning of the game. Now he appears before her and threatens her friends and allies. Her only choice was to go with him. His words are menacing, but he brings her back to his castle and let her roam free. He wouldn't let her near him, but when she was not looking, he couldn't take his eyes off of her. There were history between them, things he would never forget... things she forgot over and over and she must figure these things out before history repeats itself.

What I liked:
I know I haven't written a review for Poison Princess, but one of my biggest problem with that book was that I didn't like Evie, the female protagonist, in the first half of that book. I generally have no issues with main female characters who does not possess strong personalities (I actually prefer them a little mellow rather than having too strong a personality), but her attitude in the first half of the first book of the series was "princess" like... in a bad way. She was a bit snobby, imo, and had nothing to contribute while on the run after the apocalypse. But things have started to change in the second half of that book and by the beginning of Endless Knight, she was much more likable.

Something that I really like about Kresley Cole's books is that she has a way of writing about changes in characters that are logical and believable. Some authors attempt to write about a change in the way a character thinks and acts and end up making it awkward or the change was so sudden that it doesn't make sense. KC has the talent to write about these changes and make the transitions smooth and realistic, which enhances the story reading rather than ruining it. Evie was put into a leadership role in this book and was able to contribute some good ideas and save the day several times. She definitely held her own throughout the majority of this second installment rather than entirely depending on Jack like in the first installment.

Jack was as sexy as ever and there was almost nothing that I don't like about him... ok, maybe his only flaw is that he drinks a bit much. He is protective and, although he is a mortal and does not wield any magic, he more than holds his own. Even after he saw Evie with all her power (and she could easily kill him with one thought) he still wants to protect her and does his best to do so.

Death received the most character development in this installment of the series as it was his first real appearance half way through this book. In the Poison Princess, he appeared only in dreams through what the Fool wants Evie to see and what the Empress saw in her past life.

Overall, I love the character development in this book. How Evie seems to have a bit of a split personality, between herself and the red witch Empress, is interesting and certainly explains a lot about her past encounters with Death.

Character interactions were also wonderful. There is so much chemistry between Evie and Jack and Evie and Death. Both Jack and Death are absolutely adorable in very different ways... ummm... not the way you say "awww, cute!!" though.

Another thing I thought was very nicely executed by KC was how she handled Evie's feelings toward the later of the book. She genuinely loves Jack, despite she realize he had kept some very important secrets from her, but she was also wildly attracted to Death. I like how it was not a sudden change of heart thing for Evie and neither was she just latching on another guy as one had hurt her badly. I also like the fact that after the initial shock of knowing the secret Jack had kept from her, she could see reason, although she was not yet able to face him yet.

As much as I love reading love triangle themed stories, some just didn't feel right, especially when the girl ends up having feeling for both guys. So far, I have not yet felt that Evie was playing the guys, as I have felt in other similar story plots before. I certainly hopes KC keeps it up.

What I didn't like:
Like I mentioned before, I found the story to be a bit slow moving. It was the same problem with the first book. To be honest, if I would have picked up Poison Princess or Endless Knight without having read and loved KC's other works, I might have stopped within a couple of chapters. One can certainly argue that it is natural for these types of stories. It is meant for a series where things happen over several volumes, but I would have like the pace to be a little quicker.

There is also a decent portion of the story where they are running from the bagmans, cannibals and other psycho beings and I found those chapters to be a little lacking. Now, I'm not saying it is bad and I want to skip the pages, but they, unfortunately, were not page turners.

Although this is a continuing series and much of the story is to be revealed over several books, I felt like it didn't have a big theme and a big event. I mean, yes, many things happened, Death and his relationship with Evie was introduced and, temporarily solved, but the big climax didn't feel like something that was built since chapter 1 of the book. Rather, the book read like two separate sections. Section I - Jack, Section II - Death. It worked for Poison Princess, because it was Section I - Pre-Flash (apocalypse), Section II - Post-Flash, but it didn't work quite well for me in Endless Knight.

The cliffhanger was also something that was annoying. Now don't get me wrong, it's not bad! It's just that all of a sudden something new and pressing was introduced and then boom, TO BE CONTINUED! And you're like dafuq, as Jack would say. This is especially frustrating when she's only publishing one installment a year... Can somebody invent a time machine so I can skip to Fall 2014, day of publishing of the next installment?

Conclusion:
Although not as much of a page turner like her Immortals After Dark Series, the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole are not to be missed. Both Jack and Death in Endless Knight are to die for! This series can certainly hold its own. KC weaved a world and a game that is believable and the reader is invited to learn and experience it along with Evie. I cannot wait for the next installment... I just hope that the next 12 months can pass by quickly enough...

Read my reviews for other novels by Kresley Cole

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (Psy/Changelings Series)

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Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh


I haven't posted for a long time again, but I have been doing a lot of reading during this time. One of the series that I'm very much addicted to right now is called the Psy/Changelings Series by Nalini Singh. The first installment of the series, Slave to Sensation, is a wonderful page-turner written in a convincing original alternative universe (with very yummy male characters, of course).

Summary:

As the alpha of one of the most powerful leopard packs in the country, Lucas is committed to protecting his pack at all cost. When a brutal murder descended upon his pack, DarkRiver, he was determined to find and bring Changeling justice to the serial killer. But to do so, he must extract information from someone of a race devoid of all emotions.

Where the Changelings depends heavily on their emotions and the bond of pack, the Psy denies all emotions, considering it as a weakness. Sascha Duncan was the daughter of a Councilor of the Psy race and was taught to become the perfect Psy from a young age, but she was flawed. Fascinated and attracted to her new Changeling business partner, Lucas, she must hide her emotions to avoid the horror of a "rehabilitation", a fate worse than death, even as he temps her otherwise.

What I liked:

I must admit, I never really liked shape-shifters with the exception of the ones in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark Series (see my reviews here), and those Lykae weren't even real shape-shifters. I like animals, but having a lover who'll go all furry on you wasn't exactly the sexist thing to imagine. I already have my cat, Kuhla, who snuggles up to me when he's in a good mood, thank you very much, lol. But, I must say, Nalini Singh managed to make her Changelings beyond sexy. What I really love about the Changelings is that their animal is very much a part of them even when they are in human form. This is not something I see all the time in other shape-shifter stories. Throughout the series, you see their human-side battling with their animal-side, which wants to act on instinct. This made their race very interesting and real, which brings me to my next point.

Another reason I was so hooked on this book and, subsequently, the series, is how well and convincing the world was developed. The story takes place in an alternative universe with three different races, Human, Changeling and Psy. Introducing new races and an original alternative universe is very difficult. What was great about the author's approach is how she took ideas we are familiar with and expanded on it to make it her own. We are familiar with the idea of shape-shifters, so she took that as a base and added her own elements to it to make the Changelings. We are familiar with the idea of psychic powers, she took that and added her own twist to make the Psy. What's even better is that we get to discover the ways of the unfamiliar Psy race along with the Changelings, as they are almost as equally clueless about this "emotionless" race as the readers are.

Of course, the hero of the story, Lucas, was super yummy and I can never resist a dominant male (not in a chauvinist pig way) who cherishes females. I loved how he is so protective of Sascha even as he still saw her as an enemy and wanted to extract information from her to get to the serial killer. I also liked Sascha's character development and her struggles to hold on to what is "right", as was taught to her from childhood, even though it goes against everything in her nature. Again, I think that is certainly very real. Most of us are afraid to be different because we know we will become an outcast, so often we do everything in our power to fit it. And that's exactly what Sascha was doing in the earlier parts of the story, until love conquers all, so to say. :)

What I didn't like:

There isn't really anything I didn't like about Slave to Sensation. But there were a few minor things that bothered me a little. For example, at one point in the story, it was said that one of Sascha's favorite memory exercises she does on the computers involved a list of different sex positions. It just seemed odd to me that as a race that views emotions as a weakness, promotes reproduction through the use of sperm banks instead of sex and a governing body that erased information they don't want their people to know would allow the use of sex positions as part of a memory exercise. However, as I said, the things I found odd are only minor things that did not really affect the rest of the story.

Some reader found it unrealistic that once Sascha decided to let go of Silence, the practice of getting rid of all emotions, she was able to transition right away and became like everyone else. Although, I would have liked to see her struggle just a little more on adjusting to her new life with emotions, I wasn't too bothered by it. How I see it, was that she was not able to be herself before, and now that she let go of Silence, she was just being herself - a normal person with emotions. But then I guess it all depends on how you see it.

Conclusion:

If you haven't seen Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, then you're missing out. I highly recommend this book, and the series to shape-shifter-lovers and non-shape-shifter-lovers alike. The world created in this story is highly believable and intriguing that you'll find yourself immediately hooked. Right now, the Psy/Changeling series is almost at the end of the first arc, with Kiss of Snow coming out in June, so it's getting super exciting to see how things will turn out.

Let me know what you think of this book or series. Did you like it?

All reviews for the Psy/Changeling series by Nalini Singh

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movie Review: Twilight Saga - New Moon

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I know I haven't posted in a long time, and this post isn't even a novel post. But I figured I should do a little update on the paranormal romance world.

So! After a long wait, I was finally able to see the New Moon Movie from the Twilight Saga today. I've already written a book review here so I'm just going to be commenting mainly on the movie. And to get to the bottom line without wasting people's time, the movie was slightly disappointing, but not so much as an absolute don't-watch-it-category movie, mainly because Taylor Lautner had his shirt off for a lot of the scenes.

So first of all, I was so glad that the movie wasn't as disappointing as the last one. I really think that having a higher budget and a different director worked in its favor. And Taylor Lautner was definitely smoking HOT when he took his shirt off.

You know, I admire Taylor Lautner, as he added 30 lbs (or whatever) of muscle on himself so that he could keep his role. And I believe it was a good choice. New Moon portrayed him well, and I bet that a lot of Edward-fans or non-Twilight readers will be joining Team Jacob after this.

But note that I will not be one of those, because my love were for the characters from the books and not the movies. But I do like Taylor a lot, and have no love for Robert Pattinson at all.

Anyway, off topic.

The reason I liked this movie more than the last one was because it was obvious that the director tried hard to stay true to the book for as much as possible. Unlike the first one, no super major scenes were cut, and nothing, at least to me, screamed WRONG like the kiss scene in the first movie. However, I think it stayed a little TOO true on some lines. You know how somethings sounds perfectly fine when it's written, but when spoken, it would just sound cheesy? There were quite a few moments of those in there. >_<

It was nice to see the CGs in this movie were very well done, and I absolutely adore Jacob's wolf form. I was quite worried about seeing some ugly wolves running around until I saw the trailer, but was still worried that they didn't portray the wolves correctly. Luckily they did. THANK GOD!!

Now what's wrong was the Vampires... Ok, I never considered them Vampires, really. I'm sorry to say, but I just kind of treated them as a different species that drinks blood when I read the book. Vampires are supposed to have FANGS!!! If you're a vampire and have no fangs, you're like... handicapped or something. You've got to have fangs to be vampires... But, off topic again.

I don't really blame this movie for how the vampires look. It was set in the first movie, and you can't really change it drastically. So I guess they were forced to "go-along-with-it." But still... >_<

My BIGGEST problem with this movie is Edward though. OMG, he was so hot and so great in the books, but he's just a lame ass ugly white... THING in this movie. I'm going to apologize in advance for people who likes Robert Pattison, but he's terrible!!! He can't act, and every time he speaks, he acts like he's a ventriloquist by not moving his lips at all. I could barely understand him on many occasions!!

Another thing is, and I think Jacob fans would definitely disagree with me, that I believe although Edward wasn't present most of the time in the novel New Moon, I still think that it is a story about Bella and Edward, not Bella and Jacob. It's about how much Bella really loves Edward and for him to realize that leaving her for "her own good" is just not an option. However, this movie did not capture the essence of it. So, it was quite disappointing in that way.

Don't get me wrong though, I still enjoyed the movie on some level, just not the way I was supposed to enjoy it. Oh... Did I mention that Taylor without a shirt on was HOT? Yah, he was HOT!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Book Review: One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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One Silent Night is one of the best stories in the Dark Hunter series. It was a fast-paced, page turner, where Sherrilyn Kenyon turned the all-time villain into the hero of his HEA romance novel.

Summary:

Stryker, the all-time villain of the Dark-Hunter series, the Daimon who's ultimate goal is to destroy Acheron and mankind, was once in love eleven thousand years ago. Forced to divorce his ex-wife only after a year of marriage by his father Apollo, he thought that she was long dead when his father cursed his whole race to die at the age of twenty-seven. After loosing his sister to his eternal enemies Acheron and Nick, he unleashed the uncontrollable War to make his revenge, only to find his ex-wife sent to kill him by Artemis.

Zephyra was surprised when Artemis sent her to kill Stryker, her ex-husband, and she was more than willing to do the goddess' bidding. It wasn't only because Artemis had saved her life so long ago and that she was forever in the goddess' debt, but also because she can finally take her revenge against the one person she had once loved. Eleven thousand years ago, she was young, and she had fallen in love with Stryker and believed in him, only to be divorced by him a year after so that he could go marry another women. But even after so many years and all those hatred towards him, she could still feel their attraction deep inside her.

What I liked:

I think it's very difficult to write a romance story about a villain. It must be sympathetic to a degree, and yet, the characters cannot have a sudden personality change. And I really think that Sherrilyn Kenyon did a great job in this book on those aspects. I did not all of a sudden fall in love with Stryker, but the story that was told about his past and his point of view of things did make me sympathize with him to a degree that I accepted him being able to love another. And I'm also very glad that he remained a villain throughout the story, and not all of a sudden wanted love and peace (ok, love yes, peace, no).

What I didn't like:

The story was way too short. It was a much thinner book, with huge fonts. In a way, I felt somewhat cheated when I first started reading. Did Sherrilyn Kenyon put too many words in her book Acheron that she's sacrificing word count on this book? Luckily, the story made it up for me, so that by the end of the book, it didn't bother me anymore.

Conclusion:

Although there are mixed reaction to One Silent Night, the 13th installment of the Dark Hunter series, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, I thoroughly enjoyed it very much. Although the story was short, I was able to see things on Stryker's side for once, and thought him worthy of his HEA story. I'm very glad that he remained as a villain though, so I do suggest those who are contemplating on whether to read this book or not to keep an open mind, and I believe you will appreciate the HEA of a villain all the more.

All reviews for the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review: Dark Challenge by Christine Feehan (Carpathian/Dark Series)

Your Book Rating: 

Dark Challenge, the fifth installment of Christine Feehan's Carpathian/Dark series, was a novel with a decent storyline, less than satisfactory flow, and too many distractions. Hence, my rating of a 3.5 Pink Hearts.

Summary:

Julian Savage was a Carpathian male who was tainted by a vampire at a young age, forcing him to live a solitary life away from his kind and his twin for centuries. The time has come for him to greet the dawn and end his bleak existence, but not before he performs one last task for his Prince, to protect the singer, Desari, targeted by human "Vampire Hunters." But the instant he heard her beautiful voice, he knew he had found his true lifemate.

Desari was a singer with a mesmerizing voice and a talent unmatched by any others. An ancient Carpathian female herself, she traveled for centuries with her family unit of her brother, a couple other Carpathian males, and another Carpathian female, and for centuries she thought they were the only survivors of their kind. Meeting the solitary Carpathian, Julian Savage, she found herself helplessly drawn to him, but now, she must find a balance between being with her lifemate and staying with her family.

What I liked:

Of all the Carpathian/Dark series novels up to this particular book, this story was the only one that deeply explored the changes within a Carpathian male when they finally found their emotions again upon finding their lifemate. In the previous novels, the heroes seemed to have adjusted to their newfound emotions quite easily, which didn't make too much sense to me. However, Julian's story was full of mistakes made due to his new distractions of emotions, and they way he coped with it. I genuinely felt that this book did a great job in tapping deep into the difficulty of the transition for the hero, which made it all the more realistic and believable.

What I didn't like:

While the storyline was decent, Christine Feehan failed to make it flow properly. There were so many sex scenes in this book that made the flow awkward. It was almost as if she was using those scenes to make it so that she could reach the proper word count for her publisher or something. For example, there would be a fight between Julian and the ancient vampire, and then when the vampire retreats because dawn was coming, you would naturally want to know the results of the next battle ASAP. But then, there will be a sex scene right there. And I'd be like, "what???"

And what was worse, was that no matter what the situation was, Desari would always tempt Julian to have sex with her. I mean, it doesn't matter if they were within hearing range of her family, out in the open where it could be dangerous, or when Julian should rest and prepare for a battle. All she wanted was sex, sex and sex. It was almost as if she was a nymphomania. And she didn't even think it's wrong to distract her lifemate when it meant that she could put both of them in danger... that was rather selfish of her, I think.

Another thing about this story was that there was a little too much focus on Desari's brother, Darius. It was almost as if he was the hero of the book rather than Julian. I'm not quite sure about other readers, but when I'm reading a romance novel, I'd like to stay focused on the hero and heroine. I might fall in love with another character, but I would never want him to distract me too much from the main hero of the story.

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, Dark Challenge by Christine Feehan, had the potential to be a much better paranormal romance novel than it really was. The storyline was good, but, unfortunately, delivered rather poorly. If the number of sex scenes could have been cut in half, and not occur in the middle of a suspense buildup, it would have been a much much better book.

Read my reviews of the other novels in the Carpathian/Dark series by Christine Feehan