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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-08 13:00
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night - Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Joanna Archer, representing the Light-side Sagittarius sign in the Zodiac troupe of Las Vegas, continues to juggle her new-found life in her sister's body. Not only does she have to keep up appearances of being the sole progeny to the richest man in the city, she also has to protect society from the Shadow organisation hellbent on terrorising the innocent. Finding herself in a rather peculiar predicament, Joanna reluctantly makes a deal with a Shadow initiate; one that she might come to regret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I've always been fond of the good ol' fight between good and evil, so the aspect of superheroes was definitely refreshing to return to. Whilst finding The Scent of Shadows to be rather average as a whole, I believed this instalment (Signs of the Zodiac series is six instalments long) to be a large decline - primarily because of the heroine herself, Joanna Archer. I personally love the first-person perspectives that dominate the genre; it gives an in-depth and intimate picture of the character, however it can be especially unforgiving if that character happens to be someone you dislike.

And boy, did I dislike her.

I'm a firm believer that characters should be flawed, because people are flawed, however there's only so much I can take when I can find very little redeeming qualities. Joanna repeatedly made the exact same error and refused to learn from it, instead putting herself and her troupe at risk over and over. I'm legitimately shocked how anyone could find her actions reasonable, and how anyone could consider her a good protagonist. Being vengeful is one thing, but being stupidly selfish is another thing entirely.

Let me give a rundown of her transgressions; the ones that bothered me the most. 1: She kept going off alone after the bad guy, with the knowledge that her enemy was stronger. Thus, he would obviously get the better of her and she would need rescuing by her team. This happened three times, if I remember correctly. 2: The gateway to the Light side's secret hideout, she compromised it twice (the second time she was well aware of her actions), and so put the safety of her group, not to mention children, at risk. 3: Due to jealously, she couldn't allow her ex-boyfriend to move on, so she forced herself back into his life, when he was just beginning to be happy again. And she spent a night with him, then disappeared again.

The third one bothered me the most, I think. This is a woman whose identity needs to be kept a secret, yet as soon as she caught a whiff of a new woman in Ben's life, she didn't waste any time to metaphorically urinate all over him. The fact is, she can't have any sort of relationship with him, she can't even allow him to see her physical appearance unless she uses a prepubescent's shield-mould-thing. Am I the only one that found it creepy, that she had sex with Ben whilst using that little girls essence or whatever it was?

I'm going to end the rant about our dear Joanna there, if I can bring myself to it.

I can't say I favoured any of the other characters either, except maybe Regan. She really did play her role expertly, and I daresay she'll be one hell of a villain for the team to battle in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has in store for the Light side. Sometimes you just have to root for evil, because in this case, the Light doesn't exactly offer anything substantial. I mean, what do we have? Hunter? Well, he took a page from Joanna's book; his selfishness actually resulting in someones death. I'm not a fan of love triangles anyway; I'd much rather he or Ben be removed from the equation altogether. Warren and Tekla's frustration throughout was understandable - they were definitely the adults of the situation.

The plot itself could've been better. I honestly expected the plague to have more of an impact, but it didn't even occur until a hundred plus pages. The focal point seemed to be Joaquin, and because of such the tone of the book was needlessly dark. Joaquin was portrayed badly; his entire thought process being about rape, despite him apparently being an avid collector of the comics. It was basically telling us he had depth, yet every time he was on-page he was constantly sexually abusing and / or harassing women. At one point he even yelled: "I will rape you, Joanna!", which in itself summed up his character perfectly.

I like the premise of this series, I do, but I got pretty sick and tired of Joanna's mess. I dearly hope she'll develop into something better.

The Touch of Twilight is the third book in this series, and was first published in 2008.

Notable Scene:

"Uh... good doggie?" I said, taking in the sight of an animal with the muscle of a bear and the angular ferocity of a wolf. He let a warning rumble loose in his throat, and the deep reverberation jarred through my immobile bones like a jackhammer through concrete.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/08/the-taste-of-night-by-vicki-pettersson
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-27 13:00
Blood Song by Cat Adams
Blood Song - Cat Adams
Blood Song by Cat Adams
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Celia Graves, bodyguard for hire, takes on a job to protect the Prince of Rusland (which in this world is a small kingdom located in western Ukraine), but little does she know the chaos about to befall her and change her life forever. Nothing could prepare her for a group of rampaging vampires, especially when one attempts to turn her, yet is interrupted. Thus Celia is stuck - an abomination - neither belonging, nor accepted, in human society, or amongst the shadows with the monsters.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never thought I'd question my love of this genre (UF is what, after all, got me into reading at a relatively young age), but lo and behold, it actually happened throughout this excruciatingly long drag of a book. It wasn't even the typical cliches that bothered me; you know the type, the not-so-special protagonist turned special, the not-so-attractive woman that every man just happened to want. I can deal with the common urban fantasy tropes, because in the end it's ultimately how it's executed that deems how much enjoyment I get out of it. However, this one just didn't miss the mark, the mark was nowhere to be seen. I don't particularly like getting such a bad impression of the first in a series (Blood Singer is seven instalments long), but I can't exactly force myself to like it, either.

So, let's get into why I thought this book was rather poor. For starters, the blurb of the book gives reason to believe that the plot is centred around Celia's transformation, yet whilst it played a prominent role in the beginning - be it the looming threat of the mysterious vampire that semi-turned her - it's utterly dismissed when he's killed in the background by a character that has very little time on-page. As a result of this, not only was it misleading, but the story itself jumped all over the place and didn't seem to settle down.

I mean, for the love of God, don't intermingle plotlines if you can't do it well.

Next, there's the characters; the individuals we're supposed to connect with and therefore get attached to. There's nothing worse than feeling nothing for them, but sadly that happens when each and every one are written without depth. Sure, there were quite a few; the ex-boyfriend that was sort of the current boyfriend(?), the other male friend that sent tingles to her loins, the one heterosexual female friend, the older mentor-type that died within a few pages and the best friend that held a significant presence, yet wasn't even in it to begin with. Character death should be impactful, it should elicit an emotional response, but these people were lifeless; we weren't given time to even remotely acquaint ourselves with them before they hit the bucket. It's why I believe this to be a weak series debut - it's as if it was already several books ahead, and I'd somehow missed out on prior instalments.

Characters also had a tendency to disappear and offer no further relevance. There were multiple hints at a love triangle, however Kevin (the werewolf), played such a minor part, I quickly forgot about him. "John Jones" also could've been interesting, but he vanished early on and was never seen again.

Another thing that didn't sit quite right with me, was the whole Siren revelation. Why it needed to even be a thing, I have no clue. It added very little - basically, straight women will automatically dislike Celia, whilst men will want her and be inclined to do things for her. It's almost laughable. I'm not saying that Celia was a terrible heroine; in fact she didn't do much at all to either endear me to her, or to incur my disapproval. She had the normal attitude the majority of women have in these types of books, and moaned often about her situation - again, the usual traits.

There was one thing I appreciated, however. The dysfunctional family dynamic added an aspect I could grasp onto. It was nice, and true enough is a quote from a brief note at the beginning of the book:

"... for the most part, happy families do not make for interesting reading."

Anyway, in conclusion - I didn't enjoy this one. A part of me wants to give the series a second chance, that maybe it gets better over time, and that other part of me just wants to forget its existence. Initially I rated this two stars, because I wanted to be generous, but after a lot of thought, I'm subtracting one and leaving it at what I feel is appropriate.

Siren Song is the second instalment of this series, and was first published in 2010.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/01/blood-song-by-cat-adams
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review 2015-06-14 00:00
The Gray Wolf Throne
The Gray Wolf Throne - Cinda Williams Chima

The Seven Realms series continues in this third installment, however this has to be my least favourite so far. A major plot point was revealed in the blurb and it really took away from the reading experience and the moment it happened. It is true that you could see it was going to happen anyway, but I still would have preferred to go in blind. I recommend that you avoid reading the blurb when going into this one. All you need to know is that the story picks up right where The Exiled Queen left off. Raisa is on the run, Han is searching for her, and there are enemies everywhere.

 

The dual point of view is still in effect here, but this book focuses more on Raisa than Han, an aspect I thought I would enjoy as I greatly prefer her character. But it turned out Han’s struggles were much more interesting than Raisa’s so I was left unsatisfied. The Gray Wolf Throne is very character driven, even more so than The Exiled Queen.

 

It was sad to see the end of Oden’s Ford, as I really enjoyed the setting, and there wasn’t really any firm setting here. They moved around a lot and unlike in The Demon King, it didn’t work.

 

The first half of the novel was the best. It was pretty intense, with both Han and Raisa on the same path, yet separated. It was action packed, and I felt it had a good balance with the slower scenes. The plot was engaging and constantly moving forward (although pretty slowly it seemed) yet it didn’t have any strong build up or climax. This definitely was more of a bridge book to set up for the sequel. While I enjoyed the read, it was disappointing. There are still some fantastic moments, and if you have liked the first two books then you should definitely pick this one up. I’m hoping that this is all build up to an explosive finale! And if you haven’t tried this series yet, go ahead and give The Demon King a chance. It’s an excellent, refreshing young adult fantasy!

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review 2015-05-31 00:00
Fairest
Fairest - Marissa Meyer

I loved this insight into Levana's character. I feel like now I fully understand where she's coming from and how twisted her mind actually is. I was often full on cringing reading this, because her idea of what was happening was so wrong. She really does think she is a good queen, although she is incredibly selfish and vain. Seeing the horrible things she had to go through as a young girl doesn't redeem her, but it does give her great development as a character and a villain. Before this book, she was just a faceless evil, not an actual person. This book has added much needed layers to the character, which I hope will come into play in the final installment of the series.

As for the plot of this book, it wasn't very exciting. This was more of a character study then anything. It had a nice build up to Winter, and I loved the inclusion of characters who will play an important role in that book.

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review 2015-05-06 00:00
The Final Empire
The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson

I feel very conflicted about this book.
I think Brandon Sanderson is an excellent writer but there was just some things missing in The Final Empire.
First of all, it took me waaaay to long to finish it. It was due back at the library so I had to wait a while to pick it up again.
Sanderson is obviously very good at writing action scenes - the climax was just. Wow. Leading up to it, I found the plot very slow moving. The world building and character development were pretty on point but it just felt...stale. Maybe because I've also read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and a lot of aspects were the same.
I finished the book feeling confused, mind-blown, and relieved that I was finally done.
All in all - I liked this book...?
I'm not sure I've ever felt so conflicted. I like the way it wrapped up, but I am curious about those loose threads. I think I'll have to give the next book a chance.

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