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review 2017-07-16 18:20
The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward - My Thoughts
The Bourbon Kings - J.R. Ward

Holy potboiler, Batman!  The combination of  insomnia and a book that was written to be breezed through made this book a quick read.  J.R. Ward is known for her Dark Brotherhood books that people have been raving about for years.  (I have the first one and yet to read it - but it's in paperback, not ebook, so I'm less inclined to just pick it up.)  This book is the first in a family dynasty epic, romance, mystery, soap opera trilogy.  Well, unless she decides it needs to go further.

For me, the most interesting character in this saga is the eldest brother, Edward.  He's had terrible things happen to him and he's really mostly a shell of a man when we meet him, but I couldn't tear my reading eyes from him.  Broken, beaten and more, scarred and ill - the man is a conundrum. :)

The heroine of this tale, Lizzie King, is the head horticulturist at the estate of the uber-wealthy bourbon barons, the Bradfords.  And she has history with the youngest son, Lane.  I alternated between enjoying her independent self and rolling my eyes at her silliness.  I wanted to pinch her, hard, more than once. 

Much of the book, the characters, the setting, the feel of the thing is cliché, but it's enjoyable!  The writing is okay - Ward writes for the present, lots of pop culture references that will be out of date in another 10 or less years and those inner dialogue asides that almost but not quite break the fourth wall.

I'm going to read the next book, but I will most definitely wait until it goes on sale.  I may even check out that Dark Brotherhood book I have up in the bookcase. 

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review 2017-02-27 19:29
Black Boy Review
Black Boy - Richard Wright,Jerry W. Ward Jr.

“Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness”


― Richard Wright, Black Boy

 

In an attempt to further my literary education, I am taking this course: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

Black Boy is the first book on the syllabus (I love that word, "syllabus", it's so silly for a serious, college word, but I digress). I burned through Richard Wright's much fictionalized autobiography in four days. I didn't want to put it down until the final 60-or-so odd pages. Up until those last 60 pages, the novel was beautifully written. The prose was in perfect harmony with the subject matter. And then, in those last 60, the text became dry and political. I didn't expect the shift and was thus jarred out of the story.

Interestingly enough, back in June of 1944, the Book of the Month Club seems to have thought the same thing. They wrote Wright and asked him to cleave off the second half, "The Horror and the Glory", and rewrite the ending of the first part, Southern Night, before they would select it as one of their club picks. I gotta say, other than some great paragraphs on the state of America at the time, I could've easily skipped Part Two. Nothing wrong with what's there. It just bored this reader to the point I wanted to put it down.

Slightly off topic: I highly suggest you follow the link above to the Yale Course and check it out, as well as their other free YouTube courses. There are dozens of them. For free. Did I mention they were free courses?

In summation: Highly recommended first half, but the second part can easily be skipped without losing much. Unless you like reading about communism, then by all means, dive right in. The topic simply does not interest me whatsoever and Wright goes on and on and on about it.

Final Judgment: Race relations and communism in equal parts.

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review 2017-02-08 16:34
The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward Review
The Beast: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood - J.R. Ward

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…
 
For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…
 
And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...  

 

Review

Mary and Rhage are my favorite BDB couple so it is wonderful to spend time with them.

 

This book is charming and achey. The whole book thinks about the desire or not for childern in good and complicated ways.

 

It is a bit of a love story with the girl they wish to adopt and a healing journey.

 

This is a pleasure read for fans of the series as the cast is here and lots of secondary love stories and plots. I would not recommend it if you haven't read the series but if you have prepare to enjoy yourself.

 

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text 2017-01-19 17:08
Best Paranormal Romances of 2016
The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series) - J.R. Ward
Moonshadow - Thea Harrison
The Pages of the Mind (The Uncharted Realms) - Jeffe Kennedy
The Leopard King (Ars Numina) (Volume 1) - Ann Aguirre
Wild Embrace: A Psy-Changeling (A Psy/Changeling Novel) - Nalini Singh
The Undoing (Call Of Crows) by Shelly Laurenston (2016-03-29) - Shelly Laurenston
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon
Defying Eternity (An Obscure Magic) (Volume 5) - Viola Grace
Horse (Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club Book 6) - Candace Blevins

I am slow this year but I am getting my Best of List done.

 

I read less Paranormal this year but what I read was very good! Fantasy Romance is making a come back which is wonderful.

 

Here is my list of the best Paranormal Romance published in 2016 in no particular order. 

 

1. The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward 

 

Wonderful to spend time with my favorite BDB couple, Rhage and Mary. A must read for fans of the series.

 

2. Horse  by Candace Blevins

 

A bear shifter and a rabbit shifter with a great mythos system and a good address of different kinds of sexuality. Loving and tender as well. 

 

3. Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

 

A great start to a new series with a clever witch heroine who takes no guff. 

 

4. The Pages of the Mind  by Jeffe Kennedy

 

A new to me series with a book loving heroine and a language barrier. A really fun fantasy romance. 

 

5. The Leopard King  by Ann Aguirre

 

A tortured hero meets his match in a heroine who never gives up. Sexy and a great start to a new series. 

 

6. Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

 

A really nice collection of stories in the Psy-Changling World with my favorite being the love of a beta hero for an alpha heroine. So good!

 

7. The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

 

A great heroine that gets her own back in this great entry into the Crow world. Great hero too. 

 

8.  Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

 

Everyone is raving about this book for a reason. A super action packed fully realized world of magic fun with serious heat between the hero and heroine. 

 

9. The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

 

Lyrical with great fantasy world building I loved this book with the heroine taking the lead as a favorite character this year. 

 

10.  Defying Eternity by Viola Grace

 

Kick Ass Heroine and a Vampire King. Such a blast! 

 

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review 2016-06-25 04:55
The Tender Beast
The Beast: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood - J.R. Ward

I am so late reading this for me. I usually read these when they first come out. I couldn't afford the hardcover, so I was glad that it was at the library and available. I still plan to pick up my copy when I can afford it, but at least I had the trusty loner copy to read. God bless you, Round Rock Public Library!

This book was fantastic. I am an unashamed Black Dagger Brotherhood fan, I would never dissemble about that. I truly enjoy each book in the series. The last book didn't make five stars for me, but this one does. I felt like this book was almost like a status update for the Brotherhood, as odd as that sounds. And when I say that, I don't mean that the book was phoned in. I just mean that Ward doesn't go overboard with trying to introduce major plotlines, but instead explores threads that have been ongoing in the series. She does introduce a few intriguing new characters, but it's not done invasively where you get annoyed because she isn't following up with the ones you are so assiduously following.

I recently reread Lover Eternal, and that was a good move. I first read Lover Eternal many years ago, probably like eight, and it was so nice to revisit the early books and go back to the basics of the storyline. Unlike some of the BDB fans, I do really love the later books (including the much maligned Lover Enshrined. But one of the things I really appreciated about rereading Lover Eternal was the more pared down storyline before so many characters got introduced and the world became so complex. In the process, I realized what a sweet guy Rhage really is. He's drop dead gorgeous, and he's been with a whole lot of women. My guards go up with that kind of hero because life seems so easy for them. But that's the really interesting thing about Rhage. His life is so not easy. Some parts of his life frankly suck. So when he and Mary got their happy ending, that was very satisfying. I worried that Ward would go for the drama and do something to make trouble for this couple, but thankfully she doesn't do that at all. instead, their relationship is cemented in the most vital of ways. They deal with the issue that neither has wanted to focus on, knowing they got their very own miracle in being together. That is dealt with beautifully. One might argue that things come together a bit too conveniently, but I don't think so. I loved it. The Beast plays a major role is a very satisfying way. I think of him like a very big, rowdy pet. Is that wrong of me? Anyway, I think Mary/Rhage fans will be very satisfied with this book. They are one of the most unqualified romantic couples in this series, and I say that sincerely, since everyone knows my favorite couple is Xhex and JM.

When I look at other aspects of this book, I felt they were also well done, although Xcor and the BoB storyline is rather sidelined. Assail has a very forward plotline in this book, and I wasn't sure where it was going. I'm still not sure, but it promises to be interesting. While Assail is quite the anti-hero, I can't help liking him. But then, I do like my antiheroes. :)

Layla's storyline is very focused on two aspects of her current situation. I still hope that she will somehow gain the opportunity to be more developed in other ways. While her complex relationship with Qhuinn and Blay did grow on me, we don't really get to see her interact with Xcor, which I was disappointed about. Now that a major source of angst for her is resolved, I hope to see something else with her narrative. I like Layla a lot.

Vishous seemed to have a very prominent role in this book. I'm convinced that Ward is very partial to him. I was talking to my sister about Vishous and I really nailed his character in a way that surprised me. I feel that his relationship with Jane is disappointing to many readers, but while they blame Jane for not being the right person, I think the reality is, Vishous is just not an easy guy to be in a relationship or be mated to. I don't think that he would do any better with Butch, although I know there are some hardcore Vutch fans out there. Don't get me wrong, I love him, his big hairy warts and all. But he's not an easy guy to be around. I liked the developing friendship shall we say, with Assail. That was different and kind of unexpected. His relationship (or not) with the Scribe Virgin was explored and I am ambivalent about that. I wonder where Ward is going with it.

I have to say that I can't get enough of these characters. I always feel like I want more of of them than what Ward gives me in each book. In my secret heart of hearts, I hope that HBO does a show for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, just so I can look forward to weekly episodes with the Brotherhood and Co. instead of having to wait a year to read more about them. I trust HBO to do a good job after how wonderful they have done with the Game of Thrones series. Maybe one day....

This is probably one of my shortest BDB reviews in a long time. I think it's a combination of my reviewing just becoming more concise because of life and also because this book is really back to basics. Even though it was as long as her other books, I feel that Ward trimmed a lot of the fat and she keeps her focus on the main storylines that need exploration. She does drop some breadcrumbs to intrigue the fans to keep reading, but it's not as audacious as typical. I am intrigued with the new female character and what role she will play in the series. And I am still wondering where the heck is Murdher? I'm having a Murdher deficiency here.

This was a great book. It helped me through a difficult situation I had to face this week and kept my mind off some of the ramifications of that. That's the power of great fiction. Thanks for that!

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