Monthly Archives: September 2014

It’s “Bound by Blood” week

challenge

I admittedly have a rather large library. Between my bought books, freebie books, gifted books, review request books and won books (both physical and e-book, but mostly e-book) I have almost 3,500 books on my TBR.

Now, like most people, some of those are reference books, some are classics I swore to myself I’d read someday, some are gifts or requests that I’m not really interested in reading but can’t bring myself to toss, some are sequels in series I’m not interested in finishing, etc. My point is that I have almost 3,500 books listed as To Be Read, but we all know I won’t and never intended to read all ~3,500.

But when your library start to reach those sorts of numbers you expect to  find titles repeating. And here we get to the crux of this challenge. I happened to notice recently that I have five books titled Bound By Blood on my ebook shelf and I joked that it would be fun to read them all at once. Then, I stopped and decided that wasn’t so much a joke, as something I could actually do. They all happen to be either stand alone books or first in a series. So, why not?

For the next week or so, that’s what I’m doing. I’m challenging myself to read all five of them back to back.* They are (in alphabetical order):

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It’s tempting to expand on this idea. I have another whole series titled Bonded by Blood, at least two books called Blood Bound, and M.F. Soriano’s Blood Brothers (Bound by Blood, #1). But I’m sticking to my guns here and maintaining the exact phrasing of Bound by Blood. Pending none end up on the Did Not Finish pile, each will have a review-post in the coming week and if there is anything of interest in the similarities/differenced (for example, I think they are all vampire books) I’ll write a concluding post. Look forward to it.

*I’m not OCD, but I have a few OCD-like moments. That there are 5, not 6 books on this list and therefore the last row is incomplete, leaving the whole thing looking staggered was almost enough to force me to buy another book by this title just to fill the spot. I resisted, but just barely. 

 

 

Review of For The Bite Of It, by Viki Lyn & Vina Grey

For the Bite Of ItI bought a copy of For The Bite Of It, by Viki Lyn & Vina Grey.

Description from Goodreads:
A vampire, a cupcake, plus one sexy cop, is a recipe for trouble.

VINCENT KAMATEROS is an exiled vampire making a routine living as the owner of a cupcake bakery in Arizona. Until a car with a dead driver crashes through the wall of his shop, bringing after it, All-American, closeted cop, JOHN REEDER. Smitten the instant he sees John, but bound to silence by the Vampire High Council, he can never reveal his true self to John. 

John Reeder can’t control his attraction to the sexy Italian baker. But as addictive as the sex is, John can’t overcome his fear of rejection for being gay, and open his heart to a man with so many secrets.

Review:
A note before I begin: There are apparently two versions of this book, one from 2011 and one from 2014. I read the newest one, which is said to have a different ending than the first. 

This book was at best OK. It wasn’t quite bad, but I can’t call it particularly good either. The vast majority of it is about two men who fall in lust/love at first sight and then spend 180+ pages fantasising about one another, while fighting in real life. Thus, they don’t get together for a long time and the reader just gets more fantasies. This is not a format that works for me. In fact, I got quite annoyed with it after a while.

This was only one of several problems, however. The men are said to feel things for one another that they’ve never felt before. But the connection is instant and there isn’t any reason given for it. The vampires don’t find destined mates or anything like that, which could excuse the mysterious rise of feeling between the two of them, but not previous lovers. If something out of the ordinary happens, I like to know how or why.

Then there are the inconsistencies. For example, Angelo encourages Vincent to “scratch the itch’ with John, then he repeatedly tells Vincent he can’t have John, then he’s daring Vincent to tell John the truth (breaking rules he previously said were the reason Vincent couldn’t have John), then he’s telling Vincent he’s crazy for trying to make a relationship work and refusing to help. Back and forwards. Similarly, John and Vincent are wishy-washy-wishy-washy, changing their minds about each-other constantly.

Worst of all is the attempt to bring a bigger story into the book. Again, the vast majority of the book is John and Vincent lusting over one another, pushing each-other away, and then pulling each-other back again. But slipped in between all of this are little bits of Vincent’s pedigree, history and future responsibilities. And this looked to be an interesting story…that isn’t developed AT ALL. In fact, every time there was a chapter dedicated to it, it literally (and I’m careful of my use of that word) feels like someone has dropped a chapter from a different book in by mistake. This was both a waste of a good storyline and an annoyance. (I wonder if Viki wrote the romance and Vina wrote the fantasy parts, or visa versa. That might explain it.)

Then there were a number of smallish irritants. For example, John and Vincent repeatedly stated to one another how good the sex between them was. However, they’d never had actual sex. (They finally did at about 98%, but this annoying habit crept in very early in the book.) If the BJ or hand-job, or fingering is good, that’s great, and maybe I’m being pedantic, but it’s not sex (at least not by erotica standards) and I found the repeated reference to it as such grating.

The editing also seemed to really fall apart for the last 15 or so percent of the book. Both inconsistencies in the plot and missing/misused words increased. (I wonder if this is about the place where the additional ending was added in the new addition.)

Anyhow, a passable read. I’m not sorry to have read it, but I’m not rushing out for more either.

Review of The Prince’s Boy, by Paul Bailey

The Prince's BoyI won an ARC of Paul Bailey‘s novel, The Prince’s Boy from Goodreads.

Description:
In May 1927, nineteen-year-old Dinu Grigorescu, a skinny boy with literary ambitions, is newly arrived in Paris. He has been sent from Bucharest, the city of his childhood, by his wealthy father to embark upon a bohemian adventure and relish the unique pleasures of Parisian life. 

An innocent in a new city, still grieving the sudden loss of his beloved mother Elena seven years earlier, Dinu is encouraged to enjoy la vie de Bohème by his distant cousin, Eduard. But tentatively, secretly, Dinu is drawn to the Bains du Ballon d’Alsace, a notorious establishment rumoured to offer the men of Paris, married or otherwise, who enjoy something different, everything they crave. It is here that he meets Razvan, a fellow Romanian, the adopted child of a man of refinement – a prince’s boy – whose stories of Proust and other artists entrance Dinu, and who will become the young man’s teacher in the ways of the world. 

At a distance of forty years, and written in London, his refuge from the horrors of Europe’s early twentieth-century history, Dinu’s memoir of his brief spell in Paris is one of exploration and rediscovery. The love that blossomed that sunlit day in such inauspicious and unromantic surroundings would transcend lust, separation, despair and even death to endure a lifetime.

Review:
In some ways this was a wonderful book, in others it was pompous—trying far too hard to be what it is. In the wonderful column are a host of colourful characters, a strong, abiding love and some great writing.

However, I struggled to really get into the narrative. I found the dialogue almost unbearably stiff. It was purposefully so, for sure, since the characters are mostly of the upper-crust and thus constrained by the dictates and decorum of polite society. But I still found it unnatural to read.

The whole thing felt very much like a poorly done costume drama, set in the mid twenties. It tries so hard to be Paris in the 20s that it just comes off as an archetype of that time and place, rather than a believable story set there. Everyone is fashionably morose, maudlin and mawkish, voguishly liberated, libatious, and lascivious (or not), etc. Alternatively, perhaps it was striving to mimic the gravitas of the literary greats Dinu is so found of reading. But, again, it just felt forced.

I did appreciate that, while there are small joys here, this is an incredibly sad story and Bailey has allowed his characters the freedom to wallow in it. He never gives in to the popular pressure to provide everyone a sacrosanct happy ending. I also found something immensely gratifying in considering how The Prince’s gift to his boy was also so very cruel, though Razvan could never regret receiving it. It’s a testament to the duplicity of human nature, for sure.

I think that there is a lot to recommend this book to the right reader. I just don’t know if I was that reader.