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What John’s Been Reading, Week of August 30th

What John’s Been Reading, Week of August 30th

This past week was a blur of family vacationing and getting ready for school.  I just had my first day today as well, so my reading is already taking a toll with my energy.  High school throws punches like that.  My reading is going to hopefully continue at a semi-similar pace, and I’m going to be attempting to keep up more with reviews once I get organized.  These were the books I read during the last week or two of summer.

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

This was one of those books that I’ve picked up in my yard-sale searches (which are the main way I find romances anymore.)  I heard good things, and the author blurbed Ernessa T. Carter’s 32 Candles, which I loved.  It ended up being a read that I really enjoyed.  It’s set in the 90′s, so it deals with a lot of current issues of the time, and the commentary on male/female relationships and black male/black female relationships in particular was interesting.

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Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohen

Love David Levithan.  Love his first collaboration with Cohen, which is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  Was disappointed in this book.  There was some nice usage of complex relationships and fluid teen sexuality, but it all got bogged down by a lot of narrator hopping that made all of the problems (Ely and Naomi’s friendship, Naomi’s love for the gay Ely, Ely’s boyfriend’s image issues, ect.) feel like they were resolved too quickly.  Not to mention it strained credibility when it wasn’t just two but six or more protagonists that were speaking in incredibly observant narration for a teen mind.

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Guily Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

I shouldn’t have read this one, but I did.  It was fun, but there was some repetitive language that was noticeable and a lack of focus in the middle.  I have made it a goal to see how far I can go into Hamilton’s series without throwing in the towel.  Anita was already sexually charged in a subtle way, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that changes.  Even if it’s for the worst.

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Arise by Tara Hudson

A sequel to the YA PNR Hereafter that came out this summer.  I was asked to look over the manuscript.  I enjoyed the first book but felt it had a lack of oomph to the drama it would realistically show.  This one had some pacing problems in the first third, but it showed a lot more of the drama that would go on.  Not for everyone, but if you like YA PNR like I do, you’d find the series pleasant.

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Vixen by Jillian Larkin

This one felt like a meeting of the Private series with the 1920′s flapper fad.  It totally worked, too.  There’s a lot of drama and angst involved, but I love this setting.  All of the flapper outfits and attitude is fun to read about.  The pacing was a little slow for my taste.  It satisfied my historical fiction urge and gave me some brain candy to work with.

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Vacations from Hell – anthology

This I picked up as another breather book.  Five short stories of amusing but limited entertainment.  Claudia Gray and Sarah Mylnowski balanced out the best.  Libba Bray and Maureen Johnson had good ideas but needed more room to work with them.  Cassandra Clare pretty much wrote a whole lot of nothing.  I’ve found Clare’s short stories cannot even go into amusing territory for me, and I was annoyed by some factual errors.  About video games.  From the past few years!  Kingdom Hearts 2 is primarily if not completely a signal player game, and it is not on the Xbox.  (I am a gamer on the side, if you couldn’t tell.)

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Safe Harbor by Christine Feehan

Feehan is a guilty pleasure.  I forget about her books soon after I read them, and the romance is primarily the same thing over and over again.  Her males border on far-too-alpha at times, and her females always end up retiring to be alone with the kiddies.  I find her writing fun if overly descriptive, and Safe Harbor was at least a fun addition to the series.  I’d read Dangerous Tides and hated the hero and his romance with the heroine.  I think I’ll have better luck with the Carpathians in the future.

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His Wife for One Night by Molly O’Keefe

The author sent this when I mentioned I was looking into trying Harlequin Superromance.  I found the main couple to have a good chemistry, and I liked the idea behind it quite well.  The lack of interaction between them in the first half and the lack of clarity on some issues from their past and present made it difficult for me to love the book, but I read through it quickly and enjoyed it.

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I also read a few books for school like O Pioneers!, Ethan Frome, and The Awakening.  I found them good reads, but I had problems fundamentally with The Awakening and O Pioneers.  I have a few books I’m going to read over the next few days as well, or that I’m reading right now.

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

This is one that is fun to read, but the fundamentals of the text are ridunkulous.  The book starts out that way without easing you in, and it has yet to stop.  I’m on page fifty and can already tell it’s pretty similar to Twilight and the BDB books.  (Seriously.  The group of guys/warriors called the Lumina all wear leather and have mated-trope things with this other race and it’s…yeah.)

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Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

I’m going to be reading this while I read Mephisto.  It seems to be pretty short, and I have an essay on it that is due in a few days.  Yes, I procrastinated over the summer.  At least I picked the play for last.

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Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong

Picked this up hearing mixed things.  I’m a sucker for angel books (see Mephisto), so I’m hoping that I’ll like the read.  If not the romance.  My experience with MIRA books has been conflicted, but I will deal with a lot of crap to read about angels.  Probably too much crap, but it’s worth a shot.

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan

Dear Ms. Feehan:

I haven’t read one of your books for some time despite being an earlier devotee of your pioneering Carpathian series. The blurb for Dark Slayer sounded fascinating and the cover was quite evocative. Ivory Malinov is the vampire boogie man (or woman as the case may be). There is not a vampire alive that has not heard that there is a slayer who travels with a wolf pack and is impossible to kill.

Ivory was sent to Xavier’s school to train but was given to Draven, another madman who wanted her as his lifemate. When she would not bend to the madman’s demands, she was cut into tiny pieces and thrown out to die. Her will to live and exact revenge was too powerful to be denied and her body knit itself back together, piece by tiny piece; and she arose, strong, dangerous and full of bloodlust. She hunts with a physical pack of wolves and her own pack that is born of her body.

After one bloody kill, she finds a man near her hideout. He is nearly a corpse. Immediately she recognizes that he is her lifemate. Ivory is a true Carpathian and through her blood has tremendous power but also this weakness – to be tied to one person her entire immortal life.

Razvan and Ivory discovery that not only have they been fated to be together but they share a common enemy: Xavier. If you can think of a cruel, inhuman action, Xavier has done it ten times. Perhaps his worst crime has been against Razvan whom Xavier controls against Razvan’s will. Razvan has been made to kill and torture his relatives, betray those closest to him. He has, apparently, been the scourge of the Carpathians, inflicting all sorts of cruelty upon them.

Not having read a number of books preceding this, I had not realized that Razvan played the villain in many books. I think my response to Razvan would have been different but given that the only signs of evil are the memories, I simply viewed Razvan as a victim, something akin to a rape victim, repeatedly abused.

The conflict focuses mainly on Razvan and Ivory’s quest to take down Xavier. There is little conflict between the two of them as their mating is predestined. Ivory easily accepts that Razvan has been a victim of Xavier. After all, she experienced first hand Xavier’s madness.

Part of the problem that I had with Dark Slayer is that it seemed that much of the worldbuilding relied on the reader’s knowledge of previous Carpathian books. My own memory of these books is slight. It seemed convenient that Mikhail could enter the mind of Ivory and Razvan to determine their “goodness” (oh if only it were that easy!). It seemed like a story that wrapped up several plot lines and set the stage for a new era of the Carpathians (perhaps trying to connect to your other series?).

I thought some of the most poignant moments were Ivory’s encounters with her brothers who had protected her, trained her, betrayed her, and now fight her. Razvan had his own demons to put to rest including coming to grips with the people he had hurt and dealing with their forgiveness.

While I did believe that Razvan and Ivory belonged together, the story lacked a connection for me. I wonder how different I would feel had I followed the entire series. I’m giving this a plus grade, though, because Ivory is such a strong female character who maintains her persona throughout the entire book. C+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.