Aug 22, 2016

Ruthless by Lexi Blake


Let's talk about sex, baby. It's time to get Ruthless

Synopsis The Lawless kids are all grown up and seeking revenge on the people who murdered their parents and tried to kill them in a fire. Riley Lang changed his name from Lawless in order to move about the world inconspicuously. His brother Drew Lawless, reclusive tech billionaire, is kind of famous. Both Drew's fame and Riley's low profile are part of a plot to take down the people who framed their father with a murder-suicide that was supposed to kill the entire family. A plot that is finally ready to be put into motion--enter Ellie Stratton. Daughter of the late CEO of StratCast, the company founded by the people who killed Riley's parents including Ellie's father. Riley is sent to StratCast to go after the only other founder, Mr. Castalano, of the company still there due to his involvement in the deaths of Riley's parents. Meanwhile, Ellie is trying to buy out Mr. Castalano and become CEO, Riley comes in as her attorney. While Riley is on his secret mission; Ellie has some secrets about her father's death she is keeping to herself. Little do these two know that while they are playing out their parts, a larger chess game is being played out. By the end, everyone will know the definition of Ruthless.

Characters Ellie is pretty good, but has the typical fat girl insecurities. Just because someone is fat doesn't mean they should think they are ugly and unlovable. Without that she's almost too perfect. Riley is model handsome, and so boring in the beginning that it makes my teeth hurt. He doesn't get real until right around the climax of the plot. He's too perfect and his brothers hold my interest more. Drew has a darkness and drive that I'd go gaga over, and Bran is cute but has anger issues. Mia is kinky and uses talk of her sex life to terrorize her brothers which is hilarious. Hatch is flawed in the extreme, and because of that less charismatic. Hatch is all about beating himself up for being a drunk, drinking, and strippers. The villains were given away early.

World Modern New York but could be anywhere. There was only one conversation that gave it any depth of place. There wasn't even an indication of season. The company and company products were well thought out. But I couldn't help wondering was it winter with skaters at Rockefeller Center and the giant tree, was it spring when Central park is in bloom, was it summer with everyone trying to beat the heat or was it fall with the parades and football season. Every city has it's own flavor and if a story is set there I'd like some of that to spill over in the story.

Pacing The setting up for the subsequent books can be forgiven it is the first in the series after all, but the tie ins and hints at other series were a little heavy handed. Pacing could have been a bit more slick and was the minor failing of the novel. The inciting incident was a little slow in coming.

Writing The word "cock" was used a lot. And it was a bit racy for a traditional romance novel, but for a modern adult romance novel I prefer this style. Sex is thought about and talked about by most adults in explicit terms, so why not be accurate. Some of the talk during sex was clichéd, but hey it's a sex scene there is accurate then there's writeable. Some facts and scenes were repeated like the scene with Hatch and Riley, but I get that she didn't want to give Hatch away till Drew's book.

Plot Basic revenge plot line. The twist is the villain is smarter than they give him credit for--loved that part. I liked that they stepped into a long game that started when Ellie's father was alive. I didn't particularly like the villain's flunkies, because it was obvious to me that if the heroes had been paying attention they would have unraveled the villainous plot before it blew up in their faces. Instead they play catch up, and the villain is done in by his greed rather than any plan on the part of the good guys

The Good I've read Lexi Blake, and I love her erotica. Just to be clear this book isn't erotica, it's a romance novel. There has been some debate over whether a book is erotica or a romance, and some companies have even given these books a category of their own. But the way to tell the difference is to remove the sex scenes, if it's erotica then there isn't much of a book left. You may have character sketches and a semblance of a plot but it will be like a porn if you remove the sex stuff. If it's a romance novel then the sex is just a bonus you still have the establishment of the relationship, the obstacle, the overcoming of the obstacle and the happily ever after. This book is a modern romance with some dirty words and explicit scenes--my favorite.

The Bad I'm not going to be too critical because I know Lexi will get better the more she goes along this path. My feelings on the perfection of characters is something I expound on regularly. I just don't believe in perfect characters, there's something innately non-human about them, a disconnectedness from reality that I find disconcerting. I'd like for the slight pacing problem to be fixed, a focus on what the inciting incident actually was would probably have helped. Hint, it wasn't the beginning of the physical relationship.

As I mentioned earlier there are two ways to handle sex in modern romance books. You can lean more to the erotica side of things which means lots of sex and a little bit of action or sex breaks in between the action. Or you can lean more to the romance side with relationship building and in depth character studies as well as good sex scenes.

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

The Riley Jensen Guardian series is erotica with sex breaks between the action. Riley Jensen is a vampire/werewolf hybrid with a twin brother, they both work for the government and when her brother goes missing Riley must do everything she can to find him. It sounds a little off putting but it's well written and Riley is a kick ass character.

Yes, Please by Willow Summers

Yes, Please falls more towards a modern romance novel. Olivia finds herself desperately seeking work after college. Her friend turns her on to a job with some special requirements it seems a CEO needs an assistant to satisfy him in the boardroom and in the bedroom. She's unlike anything Hunter has ever seen she's real, funny, and amazing. And he offers her the job, just one catch she doesn't want to sign the contract. Olivia just wants him, not all the rules and boundaries that go with being his personal sex slave. He gives her one month to entice her into taking the job, all of it. Too bad at the end of the month she's got him hooked, what's next? Will she get him to say yes and please to an emotional commitment. Don't know that part is in book number two or maybe three.

Sex is a part of life. People arrive on this planet via sex; sex is used to sell everything from a hamburger to a fragrance. Yet, people don't like to discuss it, but I would hope that's changing. There are so many issues related to sex that are hold overs from another era, myths, and idiocy that we need to talk about them. Riley deals with the double standard of sex that women have been dealing with since ancient times. A male is never vilified or ostracized for taking multiple partners, yet when a woman does it she's a slut or a whore. From a historical context, I can defend this by saying men can't get pregnant and society wanted to make sure who the father was. But it's the twenty first century, there's birth control and DNA testing, so the slut shaming either has to work both ways or stop all together.

Yes, Please and Ruthless deal with emotional commitment and sex. They both support the myth that males can have sex without emotional attachment while females can not. The truth is much more complex and beautiful. Anyone can have emotional sex and anyone can have emotionless sex. Emotions have nothing to do with sex, sure we confuse the two when we are starting out. I love having sex with him/her so, I must love him/her. But the truth is the myth isn't that guys and girls are different when it comes to sex it's that sex is the physical expression of love. This myth has ruined more lives than any natural disaster. Sex is a biological function, it is a physical activity that traditionally created offspring. Sex is about reproduction, love is love. Now, loving someone may mean showing them and enjoying all aspects of your nature from the animal to the divine, but it may not and that's perfectly okay. Being in a relationship and loving someone has more to do with open and honest communication than the mating rituals of homo sapiens.

So, let's talk about sex versus intimacy. Sex can be intimate or clinical or anywhere in between. But intimacy is a state of mind where you allow your vulnerabilities to be shared with another person. Intimacy is all about emotions and establishing an emotional connection whereas sex is just sex. Sex can be fabulous or disappointing, but it can't replace true intimacy and that's what romance is all about.

Jul 31, 2016

Frey by Melissa Wright


What's my name again, what's my age again.

Synopsis Frey feels like an elephant in a world of gazelles. She can't do magic, is clumsy and her ears are short and stumpy. Her aunt beats her and is a bitter woman. Her life is miserable until she does one small spell. But even that doesn't go as planned; her world is turned upside down. She's hunted for practicing dark magic, her only friend keeps secrets, and a new stranger makes her question her very existence. And it doesn't help that something big seems to be riding on her, but no one will tell her what it is. She is clueless until she finds a book that holds the key to regaining all that was taken from her. Will Frey find her destiny or will she die in the process?

Characters Everyone is realistic, but don't really come off as likeable. There are no heroes just people looking out for their own self interests and acting on their own impulses. Maybe later in the saga Frey beomes likeable, but in this book she's playing catch up and is regaining her memories. Because of the nature of Frey's amnesia, most the characters in this book are playing roles and are secretive so, that makes it hard to get a true sense of them as a person.

World Fantasy where elves are the dominate species, humans are mythic and primitive, long dresses and castles are the norm. It was established enough to further the story, but none of the characters were interested in academics--history, culture, botany, mythology, politics, religion, or anything that would give the reader fun facts about the world. The reader learns about magic, a bit about Frey's personal history and that's about it.

Pacing The pacing was stutter stop, the story would get going and be interesting then something would happen and it would grind to a sudden painful halt, something would almost happen, and then the story would resume as if nothing happened.

Writing Written in the first person with a change in view points closer to the climax. Everything was very skewed towards the narrators, but they weren't particularly insightful or engaging. I felt sorry for minor characters, and was intrigued and frustrated by how limited the story was. There was a major problem with tell not show, but that was mainly due to the constraints the author put on the vehicles she used to tell her story.

Plot Amnesia turns into lost heir. The story cut off at the climax so, it was all about the process of Frey learning who she is, and not showing what she does with that knowledge or how that changes her. All the reader knows at the end is that she knows who she is, but not what it means to the story.

The GoodIt's free on Amazon for Kindle right now. It was an unusual take on an elven world, the main character wasn't human and it made for a refreshing change. There were aspects that could have been delved into deeper: dark magic, castle life, elven political system, elven aristocracy, and what happened before Frey was born. All of these topics could have made the story richer and were forgone in favor of diving into the head of two teenagers.

The Bad It doesn't state outright that Frey is a "teenager", but she still lives with her aunt and is undertaking lessons. It doesn't state outright that the other perspective is also young but she is unmarried, lives with her father, and has to sneak out of the castle. An argument could be made for an adult's perspective versus a child's. Adults have responsibilities even if they don't have an occupation, whereas, a child can get away with blowing off adult expectations and constraints. Adults have interests and knowledge that they have developed over the years, or at least as characters they should. Children can be very learned as well, but it more acceptable if they are ignorant and oblivious. An adult should be emotionally stable and balanced enough to keep perspective, while a teenager is a massive cauldron of hormones. Teenage drama is interesting to some people, but the rest of us just want a good story. I would much rather drop a romance that never goes anywhere in favor of learning more about the world or the characters that the author has created.


Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and recommend a book that I've reviewed recently and a book series that I've already scheduled for review.

The Iron Sword by Jocelyn Fox

Tess O'Connor and Molly must journey to the Fae realm to save the world of dreams. I couldn't help comparing The Iron Sword and Frey as I was reading them because they are both YA, written in the first person, and have other similarities that would spoil Frey if I shared. However, every fault I found in Frey was answered by the Iron Sword. There was no blanked out history and, the narrator was likeable and inquisitive, but not pouty. However, both books introduced a large cast of characters very well, and made me want to read more. And sadly, both cut off at the climax of the plot.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

If you have never heard of this book series or this author duo then, please take my advice and read this book. Magic Bites is the first book in the Kate Daniels series. Kate's guardian is killed and she does what she has to in order to find his killer even confronting the Beast Lord, leader of the local shifters. This book has absolutely nothing in common with Frey, except it's written in first person. The reason I am recommending it is because the Kate Daniels series is what all first person books should aspire to be. The world is detailed with the backstory strong enough to be an intriguing read all on it's own. The characters are hilarious, not just likeable but loveable. The pacing sucks you in and doesn't let go. The plot for each book is simple but the arc for Kate is spellbinding. The writing is sharp and slick with tons of quotable one liners.

I ranted about the flaws of young adult versus adult novels earlier, but I want to be clear all young adult novels aren't bad. I love Harry Potter, Morganville, House of Night, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. But I don't think that characters and books should get a pass because of the innate handicaps of writing from a teenage perspective. Kids are people too, and so many authors forget that. Hermione uses her intelligence to intimidate and shield herself from being bullied. She can be ruthless and fierce, but she puts her whole heart into everything she does. And that's established from the first book when she's eleven.

Most children aren't just bubble headed idiots, they love and hate things all on their own. So why not make a whole person with interests and opinions in things that have nothing to do with the story? She can love music but be a calamity when it comes to actually playing an instrument or singing. He can hate nature and then have to trek across the country. Interests and opinions add flavor, give a chance for conflict, and can be another way to add detail to a character trait already established. With just a little more thought characters can go from sketches with nothing to do but repeat the action and rehash things that have already happened in the book, to unique knowledgeable experts. It doesn't have to be knowledge of backstory, all of areas of expertise can lead to a richer story.

Were my recommendations too far off the mark? How do you feel about young adult? Please comment below; I'd love to hear from you.

Jul 27, 2016

What Might Have Been by Lynn Steward


Let's do the time warp, again. This book was provided to me for free as part of a blogging tour.

Synopsis Dana McGarry is estranged from her cheating husband, and seeking a way to go on with her life. Everyone has advice: her mother, family friends, and co-workers. She finds motivation and solace after meeting an English priest. His advice is soon validated by the beginning of a new romance. Life seems to be going exactly as Dana would like. Until, a tragic accident reveals a secret that shakes the very foundation of her new love. Dana must learn where she fits and that somethings just aren't meant to be.

Characters Dana is as relatable to me as chalk to cheese. She comes from a very privileged background--a family friend owns his own fashion house for pete's sake. She is ambitious, but doesn't want things handed to her. She's smart and trendy. But she's not stuck up or a Stepford wife in the way her husband's mistress wants her to be. She's very human and likable. The rest of the New York characters not so much, especially Jack. But I loved the priest, he rocked.

World The world is very detailed as far as the map is concerned but, the 1970's flavor is covered in two conversations and a disco. There's a lack of vibe in every place from London to B.Altman. The only one that has a definite atmosphere is the stables and that's an air that hasn't changed.

Pacing The pacing was one the least successful aspects of the novel. It was more real life pacing rather than story pacing. The homosexual subplot was better paced, but lacked any emotional payoff.

Writing It was very well written. There was a consistent use of sensory input and show not tell. Ugly cries, symptoms of depression and jealousy abound. A real sense of everyone as a person was established. Backstories were established without being told outright.

Plot I'll be honest the plot was the major failing point of this novel, there were too many stories being told. Dana's work and person problems are so intertwined that neither takes center stage in the plot department, so every part of the plot seems rushed.

The Good This book takes place during a time period very important to America. Divorce was a stigma until the seventies, this period allowed society to say that sometimes marriages just don't work. And divorce is not a fault on the woman's part for not keeping her man, no matter his behavior. Women had learned they had a voice in the sixties and they used it to change the world in the seventies. Homosexuality was still treated as deviant behavior, but the subculture of acceptance was growing in the seventies. Without women like Dana and men like Andrew the world would be a very different place. And we need to be reminded of that now more than ever.

The Bad This story was a bridge from one book to another, nothing major was resolved. And that's a shame. I think Dana should have made a different decision, but that's just what I would do in her place. But even that door was not closed.


I'm not really a fan of a woman finding her way plot line or the inspirational genre. And I like modern romances with lots of sex, but I've read a few so I'll try to recommend something similar.

Prelude to Enchantment by Anne Mather

Read this many moons ago, written in 1974. Sancha is a career girl who is sent to interview a conte. Very much a harlequin presents from that time period. Harlequin now offers it in digital print for those of us who want to take a trip down memory lane.

Little Miss Matchmaker by Dana Corbit

If you like Christian novels, then you might want to check out Harlequin publishing's Love Inspired label. Like Harlequin Presents, Blaze, and Historical there are new books every month. I like this particular book because of the kid, I'm a sucker for them.

Even though I was born with a wooden spoon rather than a silver one I can relate to Dana. Most modern women can. It's all about having to balance ambition at work with a want for a balanced life. Dana's ultimate lessons are ones everyone can use: one must do what is right for one's self; a balanced life leads to a balanced individual; and keep learning and experiencing new things. What do you think?

Jul 21, 2016

Magic of Thieves by C. Greenwood

Well, it ain't Robin Hood.
Synopsis Ilan must hide from the Praetor's soldiers, that's what she remembers about her parents and the rush to leave the province. Upon detection, her mother passed a memento into Ilan's possession and she has kept it throughout her young life. She kept it from guardians who didn't know what to do with her, a greedy peddler, and fierce brigands. But while the thieves are fierce, she has made her home with them. In the Dimwood, she found a name and a purpose only to have those tested by a priest boy and the threat of her childhood.
Characters Ilan is a selfish, spoiled brat who does kindness only to use that single act of kindness as a club to beat her only friend down. The man who protects and guides her receives nothing but defiance, jeers, and pain for his trouble. She's impulsive and headstrong with misplaced loyalties and priorities--in other words she's a teenager. Because the book is written in first person point of view, Ilan is the only character worth talking about because she focuses on herself. The priest boy she saves is the next most fleshed out character, unfortunately, he is seen through her eyes so his characteristics may or may not be exaggerated.
World The world is traditional fantasy, with magic being outlawed and cutthroats living in the woods. There may or may not be another race besides humans, there's not enough detail given to know for sure. In fact, the entire story lacks in world detail. An example even though Ilan lives in the woods and knows the names of all the trees, she can't be bothered to give the reader the names.
Pacing Pacing was real life, in other words molehills become mountains that a reader has to trek right along with Ilan. All events are given the same importance from building a shelter to save a young priest's life to pouting in the woods for three days while significant events take place elsewhere.
Writing First person point of view, focus was on how the character felt not on actual details. The actual significant events were lost in a sea of every days life and teen angst. Characters, events and surroundings were filtered and reduced to what the main character deemed important. There was no sensory input other than what was seen, as the internal landscape took cardinal focus.
Plot There may be a small plot, but it's three events in a sea of minor events that are treated as major ones. Subplots and unanswered questions that are driving the real plot are unresolved and left to the next book. This book introduced and established characters, contained an inciting incident and started the ascending actions. The rest of the ascending action, climax, descending action, and the denouement are hopefully in the next book, but will probably be chopped up as well. There is a difference between arcs and plot. Arcs usually involve minor characters, or if involving the main character create a dynamic shift in circumstances and character growth. Plot: Chosen One defeats the villain and saves the world. Arc: Chosen One goes from gawky farm boy to wise, powerful, rich world changing wizard.
The Good Not much, it's free on Amazon for Kindle.
The Bad I don't know if it's greed or apathy that leads publishers, mass market or self, to cut up a plotline and shove it into several books, but it has to stop. Books that get turned into movies are fine to be cut up. A movie is maximum two hours and change long. So it's either chop it up and show the entire book in two films, or edit out details and minor plot points to fit the book into one movie. But a book can be filled with detail galore that showcase the author's world, subplots, minor character's details, and all the glorious input that make a book come alive for the reader. So when a publisher decides to cut off a book just as it's getting good, they are either saying to me that they don't care that I'm involved in the author's world and story line. Or they are saying they want to squeeze as much money out of me as they possibly can. Either way, this publishing strategy backfires on me. If the publisher doesn't care enough about me to give me a complete book, then I don't care enough about them to read books that they have published or continue the series. Readers can read thousands of other books why are publishers handicapping themselves. And if it's greed that is the motivation, then be smart about it. Don't chop a book series up at the beginning chop it up at the end. Recommendations
My recommendations are both young adult and written in the first person by the female main character, and if you haven't read them then you really should.
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Being a college freshman sucks especially when you stumble on the fact that the town is ran by vampires. This book is a little nutty like all of Caine's writing, but that's what makes it unique and awesome. All the characters are likeable or completely unlikeable there is no in between. And the book ends on a cliffhanger set up for the next book.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I know how dare I recommend The Hunger Games, as if everyone hasn't either read the book or seen the movie. Maybe, but if you've only see the movies then you'll not like my next comments. Katniss is like Ilan, a completely selfish person. But the difference is Collins makes the world and everything around Katniss awesome so, you don't care that you don't like Katniss. Katniss cares only about Prim. She only befriended Rue because she reminded her of Prim. She likes Gales, maybe romantically but only likes him. She's not a hero; she's a survivor. Want to know the difference? Read the book.
I'm not saying Magic of Thieves was a waste of paper, but it wasn't a complete novel. There were too many beginnings and not enough resolution. This entire novel could have been backstory, and I'm guessing that if I were to continue to read the rest of the series it will probably be treated as such. But nothing in this book made me want to continue on, so I gave it a two. Want to debate plot versus arc? Want to defend Katniss? Then comment below.

Jul 19, 2016

The Iron Sword by Jocelyn Fox


No, Dean we aren't fighting the fairies in this one.

Synopsis The Fae must be saved, and only the bearer of the Iron Sword can do it. The Iron Sword can save and curse by the same means--iron is poison to all fae, no matter how powerful. However, there is a half mortal/half fae child bound in the mortal realm that was prophesied to bring salvation to her people. Queen Mab send a letter and a Knight to retrieve the one chosen to wield the Iron Sword. And then there is Tess O'Connor, a full mortal, who is vacationing with her friend, Molly, and her family while her beloved brother is fighting overseas. Molly ignores the letter, but when a wisp o' the willows visits Tess in her dreams. Tess urges Molly to answer the summons. Tess promises her best friend that she will be with her every step of the way. So the deal laid before the Named Knight is where Molly goes so does Tess. After almost dying on the way, Tess learns why it so important for the Sidhe to be saved. While Molly's destiny takes her down another path.

Characters The characters are realistic in their emotional reactions, even if they are alien in appearance. The introduction to the cast of characters is gradual, so that unique scenes can be created for each one. Most are likeable in their own way and all show that they are fully formed people not just character sketches.

World This book contains the best explanation of why the Fae exist that I have ever come across. The narrator wouldn't know the names of plants, but she would know how her body felt on this alien world. While not as detailed as some world masters, from the perspective of a first person narrator the world was established enough to be unique, but didn't hamper the pacing by being described down to the nth degree.

Pacing Pacing is my favorite thing to judge a book by--it's either there or it's not. Pacing turns the book into a movie in your head. The movie might be six hours or more long but with the right pacing you don't even feel it. The pacing was excellent in this book, nothing gets bogged down. The developing friendships, backstory reveals, and action are balanced and lead seamlessly into one another.

Writing The writing was detailed, but kept the story going. No time was wasted and the tension was created and maintained expertly. The history of the Fae was touched on but not fully revealed. What was used was used for a purpose and brilliantly woven into the story. Even the downtime in the plot was used to reveal character traits.

Plot The Chosen one with a twist. I shall not spoil it, but it was really well done. There was the now required love story that's in every YA, but it wasn't overly drawn out. The story was cut off before the climax of the plotline.

The GoodIt's free for Kindle on Amazon. And as I mentioned the writing, the world building, characters, pacing and the plot twist.
The Bad They chopped up the book. I'm an impatient person I want a complete plot when I open a book not a serial. So I had to give it a four star, instead of five.

Both my recommendations on the surface have a lot in common with The Iron Sword: they are young adult and feature the Sidhe.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

I recommend this series if for kids and adults alike. I love these books, the first is definitely the best but the way Eoin tackled the Elves is unique. The Elves live underground and, instead of a medieval society, are technologically advanced. The characters are well thought out and lovable even the antagonist.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely is an older young adult novel than Artemis Fowl, but not as old as The Iron Sword. It features a love story, but my favorite part is the descriptions of the Unseelie and Seelie, very old school and very not human. They almost have an alien quality--but they aren't humans are more alien to the natural world than the Fae. The Sidhe are human looking, but are alien in other ways.

I ♥ the Tuatha da Danann, whether they are called Elves, Sidhe, Fae, Fairies, or the Fair Folk. They aren't sweetness and light in fact, they are more cautionary tales of not allowing yourself to be seduced by the pretty. I like when the old tales are given new life and introduced to a new generation, or when someone takes the mythos and turns it completely on it's head. I guarantee you will love all three of these books, at least I did. If not please tell me why?

Jun 28, 2016

Daugher of the Sun by Zoe Kalo


Young Adult novels have absolutely flooded the paranormal romance, fantasy, and scifi genres. So, a novel has to be innovative and outstanding to differentiate itself from the seething masses of teen angst. This one is average.

Synopsis: Trinity was an orphan or so she thought, but an enigmatic visitor arrives just before her 17th birthday to whisk her away to an exotic island and a grandmother she's never met. While she was never ordinary at the convent where she grew up she had no idea of the secrets she inherited. An occult mystery of Egyptian Gods and monsters soon places her life and the lives of her brand new family at risk. Her life is thrown into turmoil as her best friend disappears and new love blooms. Will she discover the key to her existence and figure out what she is becoming? The answers are 5,000 years in the making find out in Daughter of the Sun.

Characters: It's pretty bad when the antagonist is a more complete person than either person on the protagonist side. I understand that Trinity and Ara are teenagers, but that doesn't mean they should be character sketches. Trinity has no idea what wants to do with her life, and never even wonders about it even though she's seventeen. I don't know how it works in England, but here in America wards of the state are no longer taken care of by the state after they reach 18. I was a wreck at 17 applying to colleges, and trying to do the best I could on my SAT, Standard Academic Testing, to make up for my less than stellar grades. I can't imagine adding stress of having to come up with an off campus living situation as well. Trinity is a complete and utter juvenile, immature in her actions and thoughts, and she's supposed to be the hero. I don't even buy that she's seventeen. While Ara is definitely seventeen, but suffers from being a character sketch as well. It's as Zoe decided to give her one good quality and one bad quality and call it a day. Her good quality is she's smart and has great recall, and her bad quality is she's a party girl. Neither girl has any hobbies or accomplishments. While on the other hand, Dr. Nassri can speak several languages, draws exceptionally well, is dedicated to her work and is extremely well put together. Yep, in my book the bad guy wins.

World: The world building is the only thing that gives this book a pass. The place descriptions read like a travel guide, you can definitely tell that Ms. Kalo went on a research trip. And the Egyptian mythology and research make a heck of a lot more sense than Gods of Egypt. The decision to focus on Egyptian mythology instead of the more conventional Greek or Roman was a smart one. The island of Cats and setting it off the cost of Turkey was unique. It made me want to visit. I wanted to swim in the crystal clear water, and be more of a beach bum than Seth.

Pacing: This was the worst part of the book by far. The book drifted for days on end with nothing major happening. I'm sure someone thought it was a build up to a reveal, but after the first scene I didn't care about the old woman and I really didn't need two more scenes to enhance my apathy. I could care less about Trinity's romance, I would have liked to know more about her parents romance. All the important stuff happened in the last half of the book, and it didn't have to. Her curiosity could have been alleviated the exact same way it was, but earlier. The drawing out and slowly revealing that Trinity isn't typical was unnecessary--Ara could have not believed Trinity's reveal if it needed to be reinforced, or Trinity could have stated the fact early rather than hint at her transformation over and over again. Readers don't have to spoon fed; we can take a sudden shock. In fact, we life for those sudden shocks. There was no twist, no sense of tension, and no urgency even in the scenes where urgency was key. The pacing decisions made no sense to me at all, I hate when something is just dropped in at the end, and not even introduced before the next book. This book had several of bombs that had one paragraph and then won't be addressed again till the next book.

Plot: This plot has it's own following on Tumblr, it's called the Chosen One plotline. There is absolutely nothing that makes it remotely unique or interesting. In this plot are the Sidekick, Chosen One, Love Interest, and Bad Guy. There's no giant cast of characters, no red herrings, and no spin that remakes the traditional ragged out fantasy cliché that would make it new and exciting. But the same could be said for many a Chosen One book.

Writing: There were synonyms, proper nouns for flora and fauna, explanations of a new concepts likes sponge diving and Egyptian mythology, and a glimpse into the world of an archaeologist. Better than "he made me feel like something that could fly." or "it was alive with creatures and green things." I hold writers to a higher standard my favorites are Adams, Pratchett, and Green so, when I say it lacked personality and flavor that's not saying it was boring--it just wasn't brilliant or quote worthy.

The Good: Did I mention it's free right now on Kindle at Amazon? No, well it is. Kalo paints a gorgeous picture that makes me want to jet off to Turkey for vacation. The mythology is interesting and clear.

The Bad: Characters are a complete wash, plot needed some jazzing up, and there was a majorly awesome incident that could have been introduced in the first half of this book and would have made it much more interesting reading if it had been added as a key problem instead of introducing it and then ignoring it in the last part. It could have put a new spin on "Are you my mummy?" But as they say thems the breaks.


Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

The Chosen One plot line mixed with a little Highlander. It starts out promising, then lags in the middle and then picks up to awesomeness at the very end. Also a YA, young adult, with a love interest and uses a mythology to base the story off of except Cole uses the Major Arcana of Tarot Cards.

Marked by P. C. Cast

This one comes with a warning. Warning: contains explicit language and sex. House of Night features real teenagers being teenagers. There is cussing and sex, and I'm not recommending it for the age bracket it was supposedly written for. Also a Chosen One plotline with a predictable Bad Guy. But I copied down whole pages because the writing was so beautiful. Cast takes several mythologies and works it into a world of her own.

This Review is a part of the Blogger Outreach Program by b00k r3vi3w Tours
Like the author? Want to know about her latest works? Please visit her website, Zoe Kalo, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Purchase here
I know I'm late to the party. I'm not a big fan of political books or traditional fantasy, but Game of Thrones is so much more than the sum of it's parts. I got addicted to the show, and then had to read the books.
Synopsis In the Game of Thrones, power can change hands in the blink of an eye. Robert Baratheon is king of Westeros married to Cersei, the only daughter of Tywin Lanaster, and content in his heir apparent Joffery. He travels from the Southern Kingdoms to the North to enlist his boyhood friend's aid. The Seven Kingdoms are at peace but, "Winter is coming" as Lord Eddard, Ned, Stark is quick to point out. Danger seethes both within the Kingdoms and without: to the North the Others, along with Mance Rayder and the Wildling horde; to the East the last of the Targaryen house, the previous royal house Robert rebelled against and won; as well as the sudden death of the King's Hand, Jon Arryn. Ned decides to accept being the King's Hand and travels south with his two daughters. A decision that has lasting consequences for everyone in the Seven Kingdoms. Characters The cast is massive. Everyone is a complete character with motivations, parts to play, but also interests of their own. Tyrion Lanaster is my favorite character both in the book and on the show. He's smart, a master of the sarcastic arts, and has all the makings of a proper villain. Most characters are victims of their own making; their virtues or vices lead them into dire consequences. The houses that are important are the Lanaster, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, and to a lesser extent Tully. But there are important characters that aren't in houses, and Castle Black where house loyalties are supposed to be left behind when the person takes the Black.
World Martin is in the top bracket when it comes to world building. Like Tolkien and Rowlings, he could write textbooks on the history, myths, religions, and science of his world. In fact, he could probably create a large series of factual textbooks. No question, Tolkien is king of world building--fantasy didn't exist before him. But Martin masters world building in a way most authors don't bother with. There are hints of a larger world than the story that is being told in every aspect of this book. An author once called these clues "red shoes", and I love that image of a tantalizing hint of a past or story untold. Red shoes: Andels, the Children, the Old Gods, the New Gods, The Wall, the Kings of the North, and the Dothraki garden of fallen gods are just a few of the things never delved into that I would find interesting reading. Pacing Pacing was the downfall of this book. Because there is so much world building and establishment of place, the immediacy and tension in the story suffers. Minor characters and places are described ad nauseum, the mystery of John Arryn's death takes way too long to solve, and the daily lives of Arya and Sansa are largely unimportant but are well established in this book. But since this a first book it can be a slower pace as world takes precedence.
Writing The writing itself was a let down, from the detailed scene descriptions I thought sex and body descriptions would be more graphic. But other than three sex scenes, a bathing scene and a post coital scene the novel is surprisingly tame when it comes to sexual content. And the scenes themselves weren't overtly erotic. I realize this is a first book, so I'll let the emphasis on world building and character introduction go, but the lack of emotional connection was unnecessary. The conflicts between characters are more vivid and finely wrought than the positive emotional connections. Dani and her husband's building connection is barely touched it's sacrificed for the conflict between her and her brother. John and Sam's friendship is two scenes, but the conflict between John and Thorne is reinforced in several scenes. The book focuses more on the hate than the love, except between John and Aria. I actually liked that relationship. Plot The plot is a big part of the story so, I'll not give it away. I will say the main plot for the entire series is about Who controls the Iron Throne, and with it the Seven Kingdoms. The subplot for this book focuses on Castle Black and the dangers winter brings.
The Good The world building is epic and detailed. The plot full of twists and sufficiently grand for a saga. The characters are very realistic, even the minor ones. Dialogue is very quotable.
The Bad Pacing was inconsistent with some relationships glossed over or barely touched for the sake of brevity, but some scenes were left in and described in utter detail that took way too long for the action that took place. The writing was very factual, the minute details described in the tourney for example made it extremely vivid, but emotional scenes lacked depth.
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
Yes, if I was late talking about Game of Thrones, then recommending Harry Potter to a post Potter world is even more timely. However hear me out, if you haven't read the books, i.e. only watched the movies, then you are missing out. Rowling builds a world brick by brick that is filled with depth, history, and magic. She takes an entire page to describe the contents of the sweets shop. That's why I picked them to recommend in addition to Game of Thrones. Because she doesn't just tell you Harry's story, she makes you live in the Wizzarding World without having to go to Universal theme park.
Kushiel's Dart
This book is more in line with Game of Thrones as it is dark, adult themed and political. It is also a very decent series. The world is full of plots and subplots that Phedre has to navigate.