Monthly Archives: December 2013

Review Claudy Conn’s ShadowHeart Slayer (Shadow Vampires, #2)

ShadowHeart SlayerSeveral months ago I reviewed Shadow Love: Stalkers, book one of Claudy Conn‘s Shadow Vampires series. I later found the sequel, ShadowHeart Slayer, on the free amazon list.

Her name is Nikki Walker, and she is a vampire slayer. She never thought she would have to use her slayer powers…but she does.

She is on the trail of an ancient and secretive vampire called Deadly Moon, and Nikki wants to destroy her. She has her reasons.

His name is Damon Drummond who some of you have met before, and already know that he is a hunk of an unusual vampire. He is bent on keeping Nikki away from Deadly Moon.

The sociopath vampire, WB, who had been Pentim Rawley’s right hand man has taken over the Pentim clan, and is turning out to be even more of a problem than his predecessor had been. In fact, if someone doesn’t do something soon…Dublin will go dark under his power, and other cities will follow.

Damon and Nikki are on opposite sides. He is a potent vampire–she is a skilled and powerful vampire slayer. Problem right there…but, when they look at each other, sparks of all kinds fly. Too much stands between them. He will live forever…she will not…and yet…

Hmmm…From the blurb and the precedent set in book one (Shadow Love: Stalkers) I expected this book to have (or at least aim for) a deep, brooding vampire and a kick-ass slayer/heroine. Certainly Damon was just so in the last book. For a little while, in the beginning, that’s what I got too.

Then everything took a turn for the Twilight Zone. Suddenly there were, not only vampires, but demons, hybrids, and inter-dimensional monsters in an enchanted wood, which just happened to surround a magical castle. It was, however, when I reached the kindly, white bearded wizard a la Fantasia, in the blue, sparkly, conical hat, silken robes and Harry-Potter-like wand that I had a fairly serious WTF moment. I only became more confused as witches, warlocks and fae were later thrown into the fray.

It was like the book completely lost focus for a little while, drifted and then simply picked up in some quixotic fairytale instead of a PNR vampire novel when it reestablished itself. I was left dazed and confused, until I shifted into irritated and disappointed. I didn’t set out to read a fairytale and there was no warning that it was what I was getting into.

What’s more, Nikki went from the hard-nosed, independent slayer of the first couple chapters to a sweet, polite, girl next door with a propensity to hug people and kiss the cheeks of affable old men. Talk about a personality 180°. I wanted to drop the book right there at 50%, but I forced myself on so I wouldn’t have to DNF.

I try really hard to find at least a few good things to say about a book and I see from other reviews that people like it. So, I’ll happily admit that this was perhaps a mismatch of reader and book. But I was seriously disappointed. Both because the story I ended up reading in no way resembled the one I set out for and because I thought it wasn’t particularly well put together. *cringe*sorry**

The narrative was repetitive. For example, WB’s feelings and thoughts about Clara were related just about every time they were in the same room. The same kind of thing can be said for both Nikki and Damon. We’re told what they think of the other again and again and again without it changing much until the end. Then it just becomes rather staid, rushed sex scenes. 

The narrative felt quite stiff, with characters too often using names and endearments in conversation and even frequently using full names where one would suffice. At first I thought this was a certain character’s habit, but then others did it too. There were also periods where people seemed to stop using contractions, leaving everyone sounding oddly formal all of the time. 

Plus, I just found myself cringing over some things. For example, I found the whole “shifted into vampire speed” or “put on the slayer speed” cheesy beyond imagination. Maybe because it was used so often, but mostly because I imagined them shifting gears, like in a car.

My main complaint, however, was that like in the previous book, the author set up one primary plot (in this case hunting down the killer of her brother) and then completely ignored it for most of the book, while unrelated distractions were thrown at the main character and reader. This left the whole thing feeling fragmented. 

I don’t want to be mean here. I truly appreciate how hard writing a book is and for a different reader maybe this one will be a winner. It was, after all, very creative and imaginative, but I’ve finished it now and am still kinda reeling in a state of perpetual WTF. I had such high hopes for the dark and mysterious Damon too. They didn’t pan out. 

Review of Daughter Of Darkness (The Darkness Series #1), by Mandy M. Roth

Daughter of DarknessI picked up a used copy of Mandy M. Roth‘s Daughter of Darkness at the second hand shop. (I was totally curious about what book would have such an obvious Angelina Jolie look-alike on the cover.)

Description from Goodreads:
Good or Evil? How’s a girl to choose?

Gwyneth Stevens, born of magical descent and raised by humans, fully understands that creatures of the night exist outside of books and movies. When her job leads her to Necro’s Magik World & Supernatural Theme Park, she meets Pallo, an Italian vampire so captivating, so perfect and so familiar. Before she can fully explore her feelings for him, fate steps in, bringing with it a sexy bounty hunter who makes Gwen’s insides tighten and her body burn. Caleb instantly lays claim to her heart.

Torn between her love for two men, Gwen finds herself caught in a triangle shrouded in passion, lust and immortality. In a world where humans live in ignorance and supernaturals are a sub-culture, anything is possible.

I give this a good, solid erotic 3 star rating; keeping in mind that, while not a wholly different rating system, I do generally have far lower plot/character development expectations for an erotic novel.

For the most part, I enjoyed the book. The men were kind and sexy, while Gwen had a wonderful sarcastic streak. Unfortunately she also slowly crept into the ‘too stupid to live’ category. She constantly ran out on her own, despite knowing she was being hunted. She seemed to be unable to look beyond even the simplest deception, to see the obvious truth of a situation and she was then painfully stubborn about it.

To be fair, she wasn’t the only one showing evidence of stupidity though. I mean, come on, if you were trying to hide a woman from someone you know to be dangerous and who will obviously want her, would you then take her dancing in HIS club? Seriously, would you? Stupid! Honestly, some of these bonehead moves felt very much like needed plot devices. They irritated me as much for being too stupid to credit as for their obvious mechanical necessity to the plot.

When I picked this book up I was unsure how it would go over. I generally hate love triangles, but I really enjoy ménage fiction. From the blurb I could have seen this going either way. It’s a bit of both…or rather, there is one mild ménage  scene and a love pentagon (Gwen and four male pursuers). Since it wasn’t an angsty read I could handle the triangle/pentagon aspect of it, but there were just too many men after Gwen. This is especially true since it wasn’t really THIS Gwen they all fell in love with. (That will make sense if you read the book.) There was absolutely no way for this to have a satisfactory conclusion. Someone important was going to get hurt or left out and I’m not thrilled at how it ended. Since this is the first in a series maybe there will be a better ending in a future book.


Review of Gena D. Lutz’s Ember’s Curse (Prime Wolf, #1)

Ember's CurseI grabbed Gena D. Lutz‘s Ember’s Curse (Prime Wolf, #1) from the Amazon KDP free list.

Description from Goodreads:
For Prime-Werewolf Ember Stilwell, life has been far from normal. Decades ago, a vengeful Witch cursed her Pack, leaving the women of her line incapable of feeling love. When an organized group of immortal killers begin to stalk and capture wolves from her pack, she sets out on a path fraught with danger. Just when it seems the world as she knows it will be changed forever, she meets Collin, an Alpha Werewolf with a body built for sin. As her heart begins to heal, she comes to find that the demons of her past are not nearly as dangerous as the nightmares she will be forced to face in her future. Can finding her true love conquer all? Or will the ability to feel for the first time be overshadowed by losing everything else she holds dear?

Review: ** Mild Spoilers**
This book had an interesting story behind it. Unfortunately, it seemed to start in the middle somewhere, with the main character, Ember, being mentally molested by a pervy vampire who never reappeared or played any role in the book. (WTF was that about? I’m still wondering.) It didn’t get any better after that. There was absolutely no world building, no character development, and no time between events to allow tension to build.

At one point a character was using a semi-automatic gun to shoot out the tires of a passing motorcycle and I thought to myself, “that’s what this book it like.” It’s literary automatic fire, with action as ammunition. There was no time between occurrences to rest or figure things out or get to know anyone. Further, there didn’t seem to be any real aim. Not to stretch the analogy too far, but like bullets shot in such quantity, there was no need for accuracy. The idea seeming to be if the author sprayed enough ammo at the reader something would hit eventually.

It would be one thing if I could have fobbed this off as erotica, where I wouldn’t expect much plot or character development. But there wasn’t even that much sex and what there was was pretty bland. So I can’t even give it that excuse. 

Now, there was quite a lot of humour in the book. Especially in the way the main group of characters ragged at each other. For example, the bitchy vampire regularly referred to her werewolf counterpart as “mongrel” and he quipped back by calling her “Vampire Barbie.” I liked that. Humour can go a long way toward redeeming a weak plot for me, but in this case, it wasn’t enough. Nor was the fact that the strongest character was a gothtastic female side character. She saved everyones butt on numerous occasions and pretty much rocked my world. I really liked her, but my complaints still continued to pile up the longer I read. I probably would have been better off to DNF this one. But I hate doing that. 

First (or second if you count the Indie-500 pace of the plotting), Insta-love doesn’t accurately depict the speed at which these two main characters fell into ‘true love.’ Seriously, they hadn’t even seen each other’s faces. They shook hands and fell to it. Seriously, 15 seconds, tops! They then instantly exchanged a lifetime of memories. While this neatly negated the pesky need to spend time letting the characters get to know one another, it also denied the reader this same opportunity. I rather like knowing the characters I’m dedicating my time to.

Further, you end up with passages like this, “You’ve been in my head. You know how important my mother is to me.” Really? Maybe he’s been in her head, but I haven’t. It was the first time her mother had been mentioned. I had no idea how she felt about her. So, all that importance she claimed, held absolutely no emotional resonance for me, except maybe a vague resentment for the presumption that I knew something I’d not been entitled to. I simply couldn’t care less as a result.

Next, time didn’t seem to mean anything. People were said to have been off doing things that took numerous hours when they only had one or two available to them. Collin had time to go buy an engagement ring to surprise Ember with, when they had spent the last several days held hostage and or fighting their way to freedom. When did this stuff happen? I’m all for a little suspension of reality for the enjoyment of fantasy, but I still need the bounds of logic to apply. 

Lastly, someone tell me why EVERY single PNR baddie seems to have to be a sexual sadist too. When he started taunting Ember with rape and using Donna, I just groaned. Really, was there no other way to show how bad he was? It’s not that I have any general problem with the use of sexual subjugation in a story, but I feel like I’ve read this same scene in hundreds of books this year and made this same comment over and over again. Do women really enjoy this? I sure don’t. I didn’t used to notice it, but it’s becoming so common it’s now hard to ignore.

The writing itself seemed to be ok and, like I said, it’s an interesting idea. Plus, a large chunk of the middle was dedicated to setting up what will obviously be a sequel (since the arranged event will be three months from this book’s happenings and it wasn’t concluded here) so there is room to grow. And there weren’t too many editorial mistakes. So, if the book had been given another 100 pages or so, spaced out among the action, to bulk up the world and character building it could have been pretty good. As it stands I won’t be looking for book two.