Where have I been?

Hello Phooka Pals,

I wanted to give an explanation for my absence this last month. I took my dream vacation to Scotland toward the end of May (I will post a few pictures this week.)

Shortly after returning home, I found out that my ex-husband (my Son’s father), who has been fighting brain cancer for the last couple years, had taken a drastic turn for the worst while I was gone. Everything seemed to happen very quickly after that, and I’m very sorry to say that he has since passed away.

It has been a tough month, especially for my son, and my attention has been needed elsewhere.

I will get back in the swing of things in the near

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future, and I hope to start posting reviews again later this week. Thank you for your patience!

Sincerely,

Holjo

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Review: Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind

  • Title: Wizard’s First Rule
  • Author: Terry Goodkind
  • Series: Sword of Truth #1
  • Genre: Adult, Fantasy
  • Category: Magic, Wizardry
  • Website: www.terrygoodkind.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

I read this book because this is my best friend’s favorite series. I expected to love it but was completely disappointed instead. The characters were interesting and the story line had great

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potential, but it was soooo slow. There were points in this book that I think I may have completely tuned out, but still didn’t miss anything important. Perhaps that was because the same inner and outer dialog was repeated over and over and over. So if you miss it the first 5 times, you’ll be forced to catch it eventually.

There really isn’t anything that bothers me more in fiction writing than wasting a perfectly fantastic creative concept by over-telling the story to death. There were ideas and characters in this story that I thought were brilliant. If it weren’t for the long stretches of excessive and repetitive babble in between the good parts, it could have grabbed my interest. However, people do not generally talk to each other or themselves in long repetitive preachy-sounding speaches. We got it the first time.

Notice how I repeated my opinions a couple times in my review above? I bet you understood my opinion in the first paragraph and didn’t require further explantion. Imagine a really long book like that.

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Review: Lover Enshrined, by JR Ward

  • Title: Lover Enshrined
  • Author: JR Ward
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #6
  • Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
  • Category: Vampires
  • Website: www.jrward.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, betterworldbooks.com

I’d probably give this book 3.5 stars if that was an option. It was better than book 5 (still can’t get past the ghost thing) but it wasn’t as good for me as some of the earlier books in the series.

Most of this book was a surprise to me. I knew it was meant to be Phury’s story with his chosen one, but there was a ton of other stuff going on that seemed to come out of left field. First of all, Phury has a “wizard” with a british accent who lives in his head and talks to him throughout the book. If this was mentioned in any of the earlier books in the series, I must have totally missed it. I didn’t like the wizard parts. I know it was his self doubt speaking to him and beating him up, but the reference to the wizard seemed contrived.

Second, there is FAR more about Phury’s addictions than there is a love

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story. I wanted more of a love story, so this surprise wasn’t a good one for me. The dialog between the two main characters was minimal and with very little depth. They spend very little time together at all, and it always ends badly. It totally irritated me that every steamy love scene was interrupted right at the good part. Darn you Phury for being such a tease to us readers! He goes through quite an exhausting struggle to get his happily ever after, but thankfully he eventually steps up to the plate.

This book definitely steps up the war storyline with the addition of a new character I’m mentioning below the spoiler line. There is a big death toll this time – and not only on the lesser side.

********************spoiler alert**********************

I had some mixed feelings about the Omega having fathered a son. I liked the idea because it adds an element other than a constant stream of forlessers to battle against, and it turns the battle around to the advantage of the bad guys. My hesitation is just that this was never mentioned anywhere in previous books, and considering that they live by their prophecies, it seems to me that it would have been introduced earlier.

I liked the return of Tohrment, but have mixed feelings about the addition of the fallen angel who rescued him. He seems like he is going to be a dark and powerful addition to the brotherhood, but I’m not crazy about adding new paranormal elements outside of the vamp world. I might be holding too much of a grudge over the ghostly addition of Jane in book 5 still, so I’ll give this one a chance and see where it leads in future books.

I liked the gay story line between John’s friends. Although it doesn’t progress into anything yet, it was sweet and sensitive and I’m holding out hope for this to grow in the future. I also liked John’s attraction to the sympath bouncer at the club, but am a little leary about the subplot because we still don’t know exactly what a sympath is.

I still really love this series and I’m committed to seeing it through it’s duration, but I haven’t had the same great connection that I had in the earlier books. Hopefully that will change with book 7.

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Review: Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison

  • Title: Pale Demon
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Series: The Hollows #9
  • Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
  • Category: Witch, Demon, Vampire, Other
  • Website: www.KimHarrison.net
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

After Book 8 I said that I wasn’t going to continue reading this series, and obviously I broke down and read Book 9 anyway. I’m glad I did. This book took me back to some of the key points, plotlines, and characters in the series that have been missing in some more recent books.

The basic concept of this book is that Rachel has to make the trip to San Fran in order to have a trial with the Coven and get her shunning removed. Jenks and Ivy are along for the ride as part of her team. Trent is in the car because he needs to get to the west coast as well (Portland for him) and Rachel is his protection on the trip because Quen will not leave Ceri. Pierce is part of the group after they run into a new demon along the way. And lastly, Vivian from the Coven joins the trip after tailing the team

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for long enough that they finally put her in their car.

I liked to whole concept of the roadtrip. It made sense to me that Rachel would be blocked from getting to the Coven trial easily, so a roadtrip was the most reasonable alternative. Trent’s story for needing to make this a road trip due to it being an Elf Quest for him was a little more of a stretch, but I didn’t mind because I was glad to see him be a big part of the story.

What I liked the best about this book was that it made good progress in the primary storyline of Rachel’s demon bloodline, as well as Rachel’s relationships with both Trent and Al. We did see another new character in Ku’Sox (a day walking demon), but this character thankfully didn’t take the story off course like new characters have in previous books.

***************spoiler alert*******************

I was thrilled NOT to have to read any more struggles between Ivy and Rachel in this book. They actually have a goodbye scene at one point, but its hard to say if it really meant anything since they all wound up together again at the church at the end. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ivy depart the series even though she has been a key character from the beginning. I just don’t see what more she can contribute to the books anymore with her character’s limitations from the bloodlust.

Al remains one of my favorite characters. He’s obviously dark, but he has a clever mind and a witty sense of humor that make me want to like the bad guy. There is a nice cliffhanger at the end of this book because Al thinks Rachel is dead. She has a choice as to whether she’ll embrace the demon side of her from that point on, and I’m sure we’ll find out in the next book if she decides to or not. In the mean time, Al is off in the ever-after punishing Pierce for letting her die. I’m anxious to read how this turns out.

Bis is an interesting character, and I’m curious to see how he will develop now that he and Rachel are bonded. Although Rachel feels a little strange about the connection between them, I think it is important to have a character that can follow her into the ever after and through the lines (where Ivy and Jenks can not.)

There were only a couple things I didn’t like about this book. First, we weren’t given any insight at all into what happened when Trent and Jenks went to kidnap Trent’s daughter Lucy in Portland. They left and then came back with a baby. I really liked the twist of Trent being a father, but I would have liked to read about their adventure after having read all of it up to that point.

Second, I didn’t like how a few things were left unexplained. For example, how did Trent find out about Ku’Sox and where he was imprisoned? That seems like info that he would only be able to get from a demon. How was Trent able to release a demon from a prison that took a team of demons to lock him into? And, how did the Coven get Rachel’s summoning name? She guesses that it was Pierce who discovered it while he was a ghost, but I remember when she chose the name in a previous book but she did not say it out loud. There were a few odds and ends like this in the book that I didn’t think were explained very well, but perhaps we’ll get answers in the next book.

All in all, I’m happy I read this book and I like the direction it took the series. I hope KH remains on this path and continues to focus on the demon connection & relationships between Rachel, Trent and Al.

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Review: Dreamfever, by Karen Marie Moning

I am still smitten with this Fever series. I still have the last book left to read, but so far this series has surpassed all of my previous paranormal favorites.

When I reviewed the first book, I said that it was a little slow in the first half because it was setting the story. This book was somewhat similar. There was a paradigm shift in the world at the end of the 3rd book, which means that Dreamfever had to spend some time rebuilding the story within the new normal. There was a lot of little details, which I assume were intentional. I have a feeling that these are foreshadowing some

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of the answers we’ll be looking for in the last book. If I’m right, this could be the most important book in the series in terms of helping us solve the puzzles at the end.

I do have one minor critique in this book, and I’m not really sure if this would qualify as a spoiler or not, so I’m going to throw in a spoiler line just in case.

********************Spoiler Alert*********************

The Hall of All Days becomes a big part of this book, and I was a little disappointed that it felt vaguely familiar to me. For those of you who have read “The Magician’s Nephew” by CS Lewis, I think you’ll understand this point. In the CS Lewis version, the changing station between worlds had pools of water to step into versus the mirrors in the Hall of All Days, but the concept was the same.

It wasn’t a big deal, and certainly not something that caused me to reduce my rating of the book. The only reason I point it out is because this whole series has felt like a fantastically unique idea to me – and for the first time since starting to read it, I connected a dot between a key point in this book and a key point in a different series. I really really hope it doesn’t happen again in the last book. I’m so enjoying this series that I would love for it to remain in a class of it’s own through the end.

Posted in Celtic, Highlander, Druid, Fae, Top Rated Books - 5 Cups | Comments Off

Review: Lover Unleashed, by JR Ward

  • Title: Lover Unleashed
  • Author: JR Ward
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
  • Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
  • Category: Vampires
  • Website: www.jrward.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

This book gave me the impression that JR Ward had run out of interesting characters to pair up, and therefore had to throw some uninteresting characters together. I suppose that is the danger of having a long series about a small group of men.

*************spoiler alert***************

The primary romance in this book is supposed to be Payne and Manny. Unfortunately, I didn’t find Manny all that interesting when he made his first appearance in Lover Unbound, so Ward may as well have paired Payne up with a random stranger. Besides that, there is something about his sudden “mine” moment with Payne that made me feel a little insulted as a reader. I’ll do my best to explain: In Lover Unbound, as well as early in this book, Manny is mourning Jane and unable to recover from the loss of her. But, the moment he meets Payne, Jane may as well have been a nobody to him. So either I was an absolute fool to ever feel pity or sadness for him, or else I should totally not trust his ability to identify is own feelings. If the first is true, then I feel like I wasted time reading about his sorrow. If the second is true, then why should I have any faith or interest in his feelings for Payne? Even without this irritant, I really just thought their whole relationship was a snooze.

The more interesting story was actually about Vishious and Jane. These two lovebirds are having marital problems, so we get to reconnect

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to them while they get back on track. In a way I was glad they had a chance to redeem themselves from the ridiculous ending of Lover Unbound. Jane becomming a ghost (who can be solid whenever she wants and can do anything a human can do) was the low point in this series for me. But in this book, we get

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to be back in Vishous’s head for a while, and that is interesting. Vishious is having a tough time dealing with emotions again, so he starts to fall back into his sadomasochistic ways of using pain for emotional and sexual release. Through his struggles, we get to see some tough moments between him and Jane. We also get several touching moments between V and Butch. I thought this part was done well. Unfortunately, I still can’t stand the ghost part and I’m not sure I’ll ever get past that completely.

My other criticisms of this book are related to the repeat storylines. First, the addition of Manny to the Brotherhood camp means that we have yet another medical professional in the clan. That makes 2 surgeons, a nurse, and therapist, and the sister of a doctor who lived in a hospital. I don’t know why they just don’t all start to assume that any time there is a medical emergency in the house, someone is going to get mated. Manny being a doctor felt repetitive, like I’ve read this all before.

Second, the fact that Manny turns out being a blood relative of Wrath’s – just like Butch, making them related too – feels so much like a “been there done that” moment that it didn’t even feel like the slightest bit of a surprise. It isn’t okay with me to read recycled storylines. I know that JR Ward is capable of far more creativity than this, so I don’t understand the how or why of the repeats. I expect more from her.

Lastly, I’m hanging by a thread with Qhuinn and Blay’s relationship. Qhuinn makes good personal progress in this book, but I desperately wanted a fulfilling resolution to their story and it did not happen. There were very few excerpts about them at all, and while it was all good, there just wasn’t enough. Also regarding Qhuinn, the epiphany he has about he and Layla’s future at the end of this book made me want to gag. I can’t stand that girl or her martyr syndrome.

Obviously this is a less than stellar book review, so you may wonder why I gave the book 3 stars despite finding very few positive things to say. Well, the truth is that I have become so invested in the BDB world that I’ve come to enjoy reading anything about these characters, even if I hate what I’m reading. I know it makes very little sense. But I do know that everything that was introduced in this book will eventually have a further explantion in another. So I’m in this series to the end no matter what happens next.

Highly recommended series for fans of Paranormal Romance and/or Paranormal Thrillers. Not recommended for teens due to strong sexual content and violence.

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