Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Dead by Bianca D'Arc

The most adequate way to describe how I felt about A Darker Shade of Dead is, “Meh...” It certainly wasn’t an awful book, but I found myself feeling rather apathetic about the plot and the characters. This book is actually the third installment in a paranormal romance series, which came as a surprise when I won it on Goodread’s Giveaways because nowhere in the description or on the cover/spine does it indicate that there are two books prior to this one. Perhaps if I had read books one and two before attempting this story, I would have enjoyed it more, but A Darker Shade of Dead gives me only a brief glimpse of the events that lead to the world’s current state before thrusting me into the middle of a zombie war.

The main character, Dr. Sandra McCormick is responsible for unleashing a bunch of zombies into the world when her experiment on improving healing and endurance goes horribly wrong. Overcome with guilt and a need to make things right, she joins a military program hoping that their many resources will provide her with the materials necessary to develop an antidote for the virus. Commander Matt Sykes, leader of this top secret project, proves to be quite the distraction for Sandra with is enticing physique and killer smile. It’s too bad that I didn’t swoon quite like the protagonist did every time Sykes entered the room. I’m sorry to say that the sexual tension between the two was practically nonexistent because the readers spent more time in the character’s heads than witnessing their heated encounters. Even when the two were intimate it just sort of fell flat.

One of the things I found most disappointing about this novel was the massive information dump in the first 100 pages. Between introducing all the characters from the earlier novels, highlighting previous events, describing the evolution of zombies and what measures the military took to keep the situation contained, I’m surprised that there was any page space left for romance. I just kept thinking, “When am I going to get to the good stuff?” A looming zombie apocalypse isn’t exactly a very romantic setting for two strangers hoping to find love, yet if Joss Whedon can somehow manage to make it work, I’d like to think that other writers can too. 

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Textual Healing by Eric Smith

I have never had a pet sugar glider, nor have I ever known any one with such an exotic pet. I wouldn’t even know where to buy one! Can you even get a sugar glider at a regular pet store? When the main character, Ace aka Andrew makes the impulsive decision to buy a sugar glider in order to impress a girl that he is smitten with, I learned that one should never leave such an unusual animal unattended. Ace’s adventure with his psychotic pet that he dubbed Ditto is just one of many scenes where the readers witness the lengths to which Ace will go to in order to impress a girl. However, it takes the right girl to show him that the best that anyone can hope for is that someone will love you for who you truly are and not the persona that you project onto others. This is a major theme in the book and is reinforced often with many of the secondary characters. Brian, the OCD vegetarian that works in Ace’s bookstore has an alter ego called Pantera that is half man, half panther with exotic moves and inexhaustible stamina. Brian, however, is just a quirky kid who lacks the confidence and sexual prowess to just be himself around women, hence the need for Pantera. We even learn that the flower-shop-owning ninja dons a disguise and speaks in haiku because she has difficulty expressing herself, especially when it comes to the pirate that she secretly yearns for.

You’re probably wondering what this story is even about. Well, Ace is a writer who had one extremely successful book that was turned into a movie. With the money that he made he bought a bookstore and spent all of his time keeping it afloat while trying to maintain his superficial relationship with his girlfriend. He never once noticed the rut that he had fallen into or that he had accomplished very little in the three years since his big success. It is only after his girlfriend breaks up with him that he realizes that he needs to piece back together the parts of himself that he lost along the way. One can’t help but love this goofy protagonist who is determined to get his life back and find true love. The crazy assortment of characters that he surrounds himself with on his journey only makes this book that much more enjoyable to read. I’ve already mentioned Brian and the ninja, but there is also Hannah from Montana who he falls in love with, as well as all of the emotionally unstable writers that attend the self-help group Textual Healing.     

As much as I enjoyed Textual Healing, I had some issues with the writing. While there are some genuinely funny moments in this book that had me laughing out loud and going back to reread some of my favorite scenes, there were also moments that were intended to be funny, but came off as rather ludicrous instead. One example of this is when the ninja sees Hannah walk into the bookstore while Ace is asleep and decides that she must protect Ace and his store by capturing the intruder and tying her to a beanbag chair. Typically this type of behavior would be considered assault and possibly even kidnapping, but rather than be horrified by what has just happened, both Ace and Hannah find the situation humorous. Unfortunately, I did not. I was too distracted by how silly and unrealistic this scenario seemed. The other issue I had with Textual Healing was the many spelling and grammatical errors. One glaring mistake that really bugged me was when Ace was describing Hannah’s outfit and he mentions that she is wearing platform boots with heels and then a few pages later remarks on how her sneakers snap against the hard floor of the church steps. If I can spot this mistake while reading this book for the first time, I don’t see how so many others could have missed it during the editing process. Despite these minor issues I had, I found Textual Healing to be a fun read and I will be keeping an eye out for future books from this author!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In My Mailbox #7


In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store.

Borrowed from the library:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"What are you reading now and why are you reading it?"

I'm currently reading Textual Healing by Eric Smith. I received this book from the author for review and so far I'm really enjoying it! I don't read a lot of adult contemporary fiction, but thus far this book has proved to be very entertaining and hilarious!

Summary taken from Goodreads:
 Few people have to deal with a haiku-speaking flower-shop-owning ninja every day on their way to work. Unfortunately for Andrew Connor, he is one of those people. Poor Andrew, his week has been a rough one. His former bestseller, Chasing Fireflies, is on clearance at Barnes & Noble for $1.37, his girlfriend left him for a corporate America action figure, and he's been tricked into joining Textual Healing, a support group for writers who can't seem to write anymore. Dealing with his employees at his failing used bookshop, a strange new love interest from the Midwest, and a pet sugar-glider that has somehow managed to destroy his entire apartment... when will he ever find the time to put pen to paper again?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

For me, Personal Demons was a bit of a train wreck. This book is a classic example of what not to do when featuring a love triangle in a story. No one wants to read about a protagonist that every good looking male is obsessed with. Having many men vie for her affections and compete with one another to assume the role of boyfriend is not a terribly realistic concept or even an enjoyable one to read. With this type of scenario the protagonist almost never knows who to choose and often agonizes over which boy she likes and which boy she ‘like likes.’ In Personal Demons the main character, Frannie, has the gift of sight and both Heaven and Hell want to tag her soul. The demon Lucifer and the angel Gabriel are using everything in their arsenal to woo Frannie to their side. It’s bad enough that they have to race one another to be the first one to nab her soul, but they also have to deal with the human men in Frannie’s life that are desperate to prove to her that they are boyfriend material.

In terms of plot, Personal Demons doesn’t really have one. I read more than halfway through the book and skimmed the rest, but the story never went beyond which boy Frannie should choose. As the plot sluggishly plods forward, we learn a bit more about Frannie’s special abilities and why it is so vital that either side claim her for their own, but that’s about it. Aside from a few minor revelations, this was nothing more than a soap opera with a supernatural spin. Watching Gabriel and Lucifer play tug-of-war with Frannie and try to outdo the other by upping the amount of heavy petting with each encounter was not sexy or flirtatious so much as it was painful to read. There were times when I had to set the book down because I just couldn’t deal with Lucifer’s and Gabriel’s methods of seduction. It was so forced and hokey that every time Frannie claimed that she would melt from their attentions I wanted to roll my eyes and toss the book away.

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews lately where readers are voicing how unsatisfied they are with the emergence of so many love triangles in YA books. I’m one of the few that will probably never tire of the love triangle, but I have to insist that if authors are going to write a love triangle into a story they need to follow a few short pointers!

  1. Maintain the tension between the protagonist and the two love interests to keep the readers engrossed in the story.
  2. Each love interest should have attributes that the readers finds both appealing and unappealing. One shouldn’t immediately be able to dismiss one character or the other. Make it tough on us.
  3. Keep the characters down to earth and relatable. The interaction between the characters should be natural and slow building. Don’t rush!
  4. Once you’ve decided who you want the protagonist to end up with, stick to your decision! Don’t torture your readers by having the main character go back and forth between the two.
  5. Two love interests are more than enough! Adding any more into the mix is going overboard! 

If there is one thing I really liked about the book it was the cover. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something about the cover that really appealed to me and made me want to pick up the book again and again. It’s just a shame that the story didn’t live up to the tantalizing image on the front.

Rating: 1.5/5 Stars

In My Mailbox #6

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Every Sunday you post what books you've received that week, whether it was through the mail, at your local library, or purchased at the store. 

Book I won from Goodread's Giveaways
(Won back in November and it finally) came!

Summaries taken from Goodreads:

Trapped for a classified military program, Dr. Eileen McCormick has nothing left to lose. Bad enough her genetic experiments were used to turn innocent victims into zombies; worse still, a ruthless ex-colleague is threatening to expose her unless she joins his sinister research project. Now the only way she can set things right is to develop an antidote under the watchful blue eyes of Commander Matt Sykes. And the last thing Eileen needs is Matt's penetrating gaze, easy understanding, and compelling kiss uncovering all her deepest secrets.

 Borrowed from the Library:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Borrowed ARC from a Friend:

The story of two very different women, one mortal, one mermaid, and the clash between worlds best kept apart... It is a cold day at the end of the world when a young woman, a princess in hiding, looks out across a Northern sea and sees something she could not have seen. It looks...it can't be. It looks like a mermaid's tail. And, as she looks more closely, she sees that the mermaid is dragging a drowning sailor in her arms. Because, only hours before, another princess, the daughter of the sea queen, has decided to risk everything and take a look at the world above the sea: the world of mortals. And there she finds a storm, a shipwreck, a sailor, and sets in train events which will change both women's worlds forever.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop!

Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new book blog! Reading YA, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance is a passion of mine and on this blog I will post my reviews and hopefully discuss books with all of you! Happy hopping!

"What was your favorite subject in school?"

Well, it definitely wasn't math because I'm terrible with numbers! I always enjoyed English, which is why I majored in it in college, but if I had to pick a favorite subject it would definitely have to be either creative writing or Fantasy in Literature. I learned a lot from the creative writing classes I took in college and the Fantasy in Literature course was a blast! 

"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?"

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins! I need to know what happens next! It such a great new series! I'm also really looking forward to reading Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews!