Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lover At Last ~ JR Ward

Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11)Lover At Last by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

6 Happily Ever After stars!


Like many fans of the BDB series, I feel like I have been waiting for Blay & Qhuinn's story forever. To say that the anticipation and expectations for this book were through the roof would be putting it mildly. And having said that, it is ridiculous to think that all of the fans would feel happy and satisfied with how this book played out.

Thankfully, I am firmly in the camp that was beyond thrilled with how Qhuay's story unfolded.

Let's just get this out of the way. Things about the book I *didn't* love:
1. Too many side stories...especially the one involving Assail and Sora. Honestly, their story wasn't very interesting and while I can see potential with Assail, Sora got on my last nerve.
2. Havers. Why is he even still a part of this series?! Doesn't Jane, and Manny pretty much have the medical aspect of the Brotherhood covered?! The way he treated Layla was beyond infuriating and I really wanted Qhuinn (or even Phury) to drag him outside and leave him to the sun.
3. And speaking of Jane...has everyone forgotten that she's a ghost?! I mean, no one ever mentions it anymore and I find that kind of...weird. Maybe it's intentional on Ward's part since so many people gave her shit about it in the first place. I have never been a huge fan of the Ghost Jane aspect so maybe that is just more on my mind than other readers, but every time she popped up in this book I found it odd that there was no mention of it this time around. I mean, they always mention Z's scar. Rhage's beast...but no mention that you can sometimes walk through Jane?

Now, on to what I loved (without being too spoilery).

Layla. a badass this female has turned out to be!!! I started to like her a lot in Lover Reborn, but here she has totally become one of my favorite females in the series. I loved that she stepped out of her role as a Chosen and stood up for herself.

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But, the thing that really made me love her was how she stood up for Qhuinn. <3 I can't wait for her to have her own book and her own chance at a HEA.

Trez & iAm
It was about time that we got to know the Shadows. I loved getting a peak inside their world.

I have loved this character since he first appeared in the series, but he totally came alive in this book. He has always considered himself to be somehow unworthy of love, and I can't express how wonderful it was to see him open himself up. Not only to Blay, but to the rest of the Brotherhood. Plus - he is responsible for saving the life of my all time favorite BDB character, Z. For that I will adore him for the rest of my life. From the beginning Qhuinn has been a badass and fiercely devoted to his friends. But, in LaL, Qhuinn was vulnerable and...that was just lovely to see.

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The sex scenes
I am no stranger to M/M fiction, so I wasn't scared to go into this book worrying that i might not be able to handle the love scenes between two men. However...can I just say that i was....amazed, and in a good way, by how intense the love scenes were. I know a lot of people were worried that Ward would feel the need to water them down in order to not freak out a certain portion of her audience. Well, i am happy to say that was not the case. At. All. Blay & Qhuinn's first love scene was quite possibly the hottest thing I have ever read. EVER. In my entire life. They pretty much destroyed all the furniture in Qhuinn's room. It was raw, and frenzied and desperate, and unbelievably well done.

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I for one, am extremely proud of Ward for how she handled the scenes. Blay & Qhuinn's story is intense and the buildup to the two of them finally being together was insane. So, the sex had to be smoking hot. And trust was. Every...time.

The Epilogue
How perfect was the last chapter? Although I was wondering where the hell was John Matthew? Everyone else that are close to Blay & Qhuinn were at that party...with the glaring exception of JM. He's their best friend, and the first person to truly accept how they felt about each other (even before either of them did themselves), so the fact that he wasn't there was sad for me. Otherwise, the scene was perfection. How amazing are Blay's parents? And the love and unconditional support of the Brotherhood....GUH. Makes me all teary eyed just thinking about it.

That last sentence of the book...meant so much to me.
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Was this book perfect? No. Were there things that i would have liked to see handled differently? Yes. So why, you may ask, am I giving this my highest rating? Two words: Blay and Qhuinn. Their story deserved to be told, and Ward handled that aspect of the book in as nearly a perfect way as I could have hoped for. And in the end, that was the aspect of the book that mattered most. Their love story deserves nothing less than 6 stars, so that's what it's getting. I have chosen to overlook the things that I wasn't thrilled about in favor of focusing on the things that made me happy. And so many things about this book made me happy. Insanely, fangirl happy.

So, thank you Ms Ward. Thank you for delivering the story you promised you would. Thank you for giving my boys the HEA they deserved.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Thoughtless ~ S C Stephens

Thoughtless (Thoughtless, #1)Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book...

This book was emotionally exhausting. I mean, I feel like I need a week in Hawaii to recover from reading it.

I had made several attempts at reading this book, before it finally took hold of my brain and refused to let go. For the longest time I just could not get past my true and abiding hatred of Kiera. Now, I know that sounds rather harsh...and truly, I very rarely use the word 'hate', but if ever there was a fictional character that deserved that's Kiera Allen.

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But, despite my attitude towards one of the main around the 25-30% mark...some kind of switch finally flipped for me. I couldn't get enough of this book. I was completely sucked into the story and became emotionally invested in this love triangle from the bowels of hell.

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I felt a lot of emotions while reading this book. Possibly too many. There were times when I had to force myself to put the book down because I was getting so frustrated by what was going on that I actually gave myself a headache brooding over it all. How ridiculous is that?!

If i had to describe Kiera in one would be selfish. From the very beginning Kiera is only interested in herself. She may pretend to be tortured by the thought of hurting both her boyfriend Denny and her 'lover in the nighttime' Kellan. But her narcissistic need to be the center of both men's lives proved otherwise. It is amazing to me that the girl was able to figure out how to drag herself out of bed in the morning on her own, since she seemed incapable of accomplishing the simplest tasks without either Denny or Kellan holding her hand.
My biggest pet peeve with Kiera is how blatantly she used both men. I mean...having wild monkey sex with Denny...knowing that Kallen can more than likely hear them going at it...and then acting hurt and confused when she realizes Kellan might be bothered by it? Not understanding why Kellan ran away when she and Denny got back together after the world's shortest break up? And yet...being highly indignant about Kellan having some wild monkey sex of his own when she had shoved the fact that she 'just wants to be friends' with him down his throat repeatedly? Yes...Kellan's manwhoring was over the top....way over the top TBH, but still... The way she continually played with Kellan's emotions only to end up pushing him away and running back to 'safe' Denny....made me sick. And here's where my headaches come in. GAH!!!!
I have a real problem with weak female characters in books. And Kiera is just about the most insufferable twit I have ever come across. Both Kellan and Denny deserved far better than her ass. So much heartache and pain could have been avoided if Kiera had just pulled on her big girl panties and PICKED A PENIS instead of stubbornly holding on to both for as long as she could.

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Now...after having said all that, you may be wondering why the hell I gave this book a 5 star rating. It's simple. The story...made me feel. It made me feel waaaaay too much, but damn if it didn't stir up all kinds of intense emotions in me. Which, in the end, is the sign of a helluva good read. Which this...despite all my ranting and raving...definitely was.

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This booke made me groan, it made me curse, it made me want to punch Kiera in the vagina...several times.

But despite all of my issues with a certain character who I still consider to be Too Stupid To Live (I named a new shelf on here in her honor), I was completely swept up and riveted by this story. How I managed to survive the overwhelmingly torturous level of angst in this book boils down to two words: Kellan Kyle.

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Kellan is the insane cross between a bad-boy rocker and a sweet & lost little boy. He has the swagger of a rock star... but he's also incredibly vulnerable and insecure. He has manwhorish tendencies, but not because he's gorgeous and has women throwing themselves at him left and right...which is true on both counts. He allows himself to seek comfort in sex because it's the only time he feels like someone might actually care about him. And if that fact right there doesn't at once make you fall for this character and break your heart at the same time...well then you are a stronger person than I, that's for damn sure.

He captured my heart and then ripped it to shreds, made my pulse race and finally in the end...he made suffering through this roller coaster of emotions that this book brought out in me, soooo worth it.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Knight ~ Kristen Ashley

Knight (Unfinished Hero, #1)Knight by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 Stars

I really wanted to love this book. Unfortunately, I didn't. I wish I knew what was going on with me and KA books, because this is the third one I have attempted to read lately that left me more than a little disappointed.

This was actually the very first Kristen Ashley book I ever picked up. I only made it about 30% in the first time, but I figured I would give it another try now that I am more comfortable with her writing style. But, I ended up finding many of the same issues that bothered me the first time, still bugged the crap out of me now.

KA is the queen of writing stories centered around intense, brooding Alpha males. And while I'm usually first on the Alpha train, this time around...i just couldn't force myself to love Knight. He was just too...brash. Too over the top. The amount of times that his Alpha protectiveness crossed over into bullying asshat-ness, were just too many for me to over look.

Many of her fans know and accept the fact that there are many repeating themes throughout KA's books...there is usually a psycho ex wife/gf that lives to make the leading lady/leading man's lives miserable. There's usually a best friend or close family member that has "The Talk" with the heroine about following her heart and taking a chance on the hero...and while I was able to ignore the repetitiveness in the past, it now seems that I need to take a longer break between her books in order for me to really enjoy the experience again.

And then...there was the whole "Daddy" issue. I'm not gonna lie, that was probably the main reason I gave up reading the book the first time. Now, I am all for terms of endearment and especially dirty talk in bed, but there is just something incredibly unsettling about a line like 'My baby loves the way her Daddy makes her feel'. I'm sorry...I just do not find anything about that sexy. It just comes across as very sleazy and every time I read stuff like that it made me feel uncomfortable. Which sucks, because otherwise the sex scenes were pretty damn hot. I know this didn't bother everyone, but it was just a huge turn off for me, which made me enjoy the reading experience that much less.

It always sucks when you don't really enjoy a book by one of your favorite authors. Hopefully the next time I step into KA's world it will be another one of her usually addictive reading experiences.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Eleanor and Park ~ Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a sweet but heartbreaking story about first love. Not exactly what I expected or hoped for, but still enjoyable.

Eleanor & Park takes place over the course of one school year in 1986. Our two main characters meet on the school bus and don't initially like each other. But over time, the two bond over comic books, music and their individual but similar quirkiness. I loved Eleanor and Park as characters and especially loved how their love story blossomed throughout the book. Both are dealing with difficult issues, more so in the case of Eleanor...but they take care of each other in a way that no one else in their lives ever bothered to. Park is open about his intense feelings for Eleanor, while she continually (and understandably) holds herself back. The author really did a great job of showing just how powerful...and scary...first love can be.
The back story involving Eleanor and her family is quite dark, and only made me want her to find some amount of happiness with Park in the end.
Unfortunately, this book does not offer a HEA, which was a disappointment for me. And just to be clear....I realize a HEA is not always possible. Yes, this is a tale of first love and typically first loves tend to fade as people grow up and evolve...but I truly felt the connection that Park & Eleanor had was the kind that could have overcome most challenges. The actual ending of the book hinted at a possible future for our two man characters, but the lack of closure really bothered me.

There were just so many loose ends. I kind of felt like this was book one of a series and that I was waiting for the other part of their story to be told. I realize that to some this book was perfect, and while i enjoyed the writing, and the relationship between Eleanor & Park, the lack of a satisfying conclusion to their story was the main reason why I can't give this book a higher rating.