Monthly Archives: April 2013

Review of The Weight of Blood, by David Dalglish

Weight of Blood

I chose David Dalglish‘s dark fantasy, The Weight of Blood from the Amazon KDP list. At the time of posting it was still free.

Description from Goodreads:
When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to the death prophet Velixar, they sought only escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead.

While they prepare, Harruq trains with an elf named Aurelia, to whom he owes his life. She is a window into a better world, but as war spreads between the races their friendship takes a dire turn.

Velixar orders them to fight alongside the humans, changing Aurelia from friend to foe. To protect her, Harruq must turn against his brother and fight the killing nature of his orcish heritage.

To side with one means to turn on another. No matter Harruq’s decision, someone he loves will die.

Review:
The Weight of Blood is some serious Dark Fantasy. I mean dark with a capital ‘D’, maybe even dark with a capital D.A.R.K.. It isn’t a comfortable read. There isn’t a lot of joy in it and bad things happen to a lot of good people. I generally like dark fiction, but this one was almost too much for me.

The two main characters, Harruq and Qurrah, can hardly even be called anti-heroes. There wasn’t enough hero in them, Qurrah especially. The only humanity [for lack of a more appropriate term] left in him seemed to be his affection for his brother and even that was contaminated by manipulating Harruq for his own nefarious ends. But still, I could at least relate to Harruq. I could see that in other circumstances he would have been a kind soul, might even have still had one despite his HORRIBLE, CRUEL, VILE actions. He killed children for goodness sake!

Relate to him as I might, I had a really hard time reconciling his personality with his actions. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that this dichotomy between his natural inclinations and the reality of his circumstances was in large part one of the themes of the book. But his willingness to simply do as told by Qurrah was hard to accept.

The book was well written, though I was left with some very basic questions unanswered. I had a lot of trouble deciding what age H & Q were supposed to be, for example. In the beginning I thought they might be children. Their brotherly attachment was so strong that they felt young, since as people age their social circle tends to broaden and those familiar bonds dilute. Their actions and thoughts quickly made it clear that they weren’t children however, but an age was never given. Somewhere between 15-25 maybe. They may even have been twins since their father was only said to have slept with their mother once, but again, this was never clarified.

This isn’t a book I enjoyed, but this isn’t the type of book one reads to enjoy. Enduring the tragedy of it all is part of the experience, part of removing yourself from your comfortable life to remind yourself what another’s life might be like. Having done that, I think I need to go read something light and fluffy, with an unquestionable HEA.

Review of Kiersten Fay’s Demon Possession

Demon Possession

I nabbed Kiersten Fay‘s sci-fi romance, Demon Possession from the Amazon KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
After being enslaved on the spaceship Extarga for most of her life Analia has no memory of her life before, and has lost all knowledge of her people. Her mysterious gift and pointed ears are the only indication that she is different.

Analia is alone, and for all she knows, she’s the last of her kind. By chance Analia escapes her captors, and hides herself on the merchant ship Marada, planning to get off at the very next stop.

Unfortunately for her, there is no next stop. The crew is planning a delivery that could take months, and according to a stipulation in the newly signed contract, no one is allowed on or off the ship until the package is delivered. 

When Analia is found by a handsome demon, and captain of the Marada, she must adapt to her new role on the ship, and try to control her newly awakened desire for the brutal, and devastatingly erotic demon.

Review:
Demon Possession was an enjoyable read. I liked Sebastian’s tortured self-restraint, the way Anya came out of her shell and the interaction of all of the demons. Calic was a particular joy. There was a pretty little twist at the end and even though it wasn’t all that hard to see coming, it was still fun getting there.

I feel compelled to mention that I thought the way Sonya (and by extension Anya) dressed was cheesy, for two reasons. One, it was a little cliché that a ‘demon’ dressed in short, black, leather skirts, corsets and stiletto heals. Second, how is it that we could be millennia in the future, galaxies away and stripper/hooker outfits are still considered the ultimate in sexy? Really, you couldn’t come up with anything better than that? It also clashed with Anya’s innocent persona.

The ending seemed a little rushed. It felt almost like the author wrote the romance between Anya and Bastian, then wrote the lead-in for the second book and then stitched them together. There was noticeable change in pacing, and a lesser change in tone.

A number of other reviewers have made mention of poor editing. I did notice some errors, more prevalent in the last half. Oh, and if I have to read the word ‘chit’ one more time I might scream! Seriously, it’s not flattering and was used a lot. But the editing wasn’t as bad as I expected from the reviews. I have definitely read worse. Maybe I have a later edition.

I did noticed a few linguistic inconsistencies written into the story though. Anya seemed able to converse with ease, for example, but then wouldn’t know the meaning of some very simple word. (A word that would allow for a the development of a plot progressing event. They felt very much like convenient omissions.) I also wondered how Anaya knew how to read and write? I can’t imagine Darius taking the time to teach her that.

I would have happily continued the series to see how Marik fairs, even looked into buying the sequel, Demon Slave. But it was $7.99! That’s just too much for an ebook in my world. Anyone have a Kindle copy to lend?

Review of S.B. Alexander’s On the Edge of Humanity

On the Edge of Humanity

I grabbed S.B. Alexander‘s Vampire SEAL novel On the Edge of Humanity from the Amazon KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Jo Mason is lost in a world where traipsing from one foster home to another is normal. She hates her life, she hates school and on most days, she hates living. If it weren’t for her twin brother Sam, she may already be dead. 

Her normal world shifts one hundred and eighty degrees when she discovers her own blood tastes like candy and her eyes change colors like a mood ring. On top of that, her eyesight seems to be failing when she spies an otherworldly man sporting bloodstained canines trying to strangle a cop. The developments are shrouded when Sam goes missing between Anger Management class and History class. 

She’s called to the principal’s office to meet Lieutenant Webb London, a Navy SEAL who is part of a secret team of natural-born vampires. His mission is to protect the twins from an evil cartel, but he’s too late. With Jo now under his protection, his team searches for Sam. 

However, finding and rescuing Sam from the evil cartel may be the easy part. Jo learns she carries a dormant vampire gene that, if activated, could save him. As her normal world fades even more, pushing her closer to the edge of humanity, Jo must decide if her human life is more important than her twin brother. 

With time as her enemy, she struggles to make a life-changing decision for both her and Sam.

Review:
I have to be honest. Even though I can’t really fault the writing of this book I didn’t like it. I lost count of how many aspects of it I just personally didn’t like. That’s not to say others wouldn’t, or that it isn’t actually a good book, but I didn’t like it. Lets start and I’ll explain why.

First off, given the series title, Vampire SEALs, I was expecting at least a little vampire/military badassness. I read the description and knew that wasn’t going to be the main focus, but I expected some. There wasn’t any. This is a YA book about one scared little girl’s attempt come to terms with her situation. Major disappointment right there.

Next, Jo simply didn’t DO anything of substance. She asked a lot of ineffectual questions, whined, and vomited a lot. That’s about it. The realm of action was left entirely to the males. Even Ben, the token human, feeble as his attempts might have been, came out fighting. Jo just stood around and waited to be told what to do. This extended even as far as her own feelings. As an example, when she showed any anger toward her father he responded as such: “I lost both of you once and I don’t want to screw this up again. I have a chance to get to know my daughter and possibly my son. So call me selfish if you want to, but don’t ever, ever disrespect me again.” However, when Sam woke up equally as angry with dear old dad he was allowed to have a fist fight with him. People actually stood back and let them hash it out.

Sam was allowed expression and possession of his own emotions. Like a child, Jo was chastised or physically restrained anytime she expressed anything but compliance. This paternalistic infantilization was further enhanced by the constant act of putting a finger under her chin to force her to look up at someone. I think every male character in the book did it to her at least once. Everyone of them apparently has more control over where she looks than she does. I wanted to vomit myself.

I mentioned ineffectual questions. Jo asked questions constantly, good ones too a lot of times. But was almost never answered. Yea, I get it. She was dealing with a top secret organisation so some things would remain secretive, but I got seriously sick of being denied information. Because, of course, as a reader I was left without the information just as often as Jo was. (As a side note, Sam got all of his answers almost without having to ask and Ben seemed to often have things explained to him.) On the flip side, Jo also constantly asked herself questions along the lines of, ‘How did my life get here?’ There were so many of them I wanted to scream. Add the rhetorical questions, which are of course unanswered, to the ones the SEALs didn’t answer and you probably have half the book right there. It didn’t leave me feeling particularly satisfied.

Then there is the fact that the book started with an attempted rape. I wasn’t yet invested enough in the book to sit comfortably through that. I obviously made it through, but barely. It seemed to be a running theme that Jo attracted creeps and that Sam was constantly having to protect her from them. (Notice the continued helpless theme there?) But Jo somehow managed to hang tenaciously to her “I’m ugly” mantra, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

So to conclude, I disliked the book. I didn’t enjoy it, but those things that irked me so badly are almost all personal preference kind of things. I hate seeing female characters patronised. It almost always rubs me the wrong way. That may not be the case for someone else, so I’ll still give the book three stars.