The Thief – Black Dagger Brotherhood # 16 – J.R. Ward

You know that feeling after you step off of a giant roller coaster? That’s how I feel right now. It was a hell of a ride!

This was my favorite book that has come out lately. I have been waiting for Assail and Sola’s story for a long time. I have always adored his character and have been tortured by the glimpses we’ve been getting of him in the previous books. He was screaming in the background. We knew if he didn’t come out of his psychosis, he would have to die.

There was also the story of Vishous and Jane in this book. I wanted to strangle him as my heart was breaking for Jane and his relationship.

There is a new threat to the species from Throe and his shadow creatures. I once liked Throw but he’s turned into a total psycho. He’s become the quintessential comic book villain who wants to take over the world. Cue the maniacal laughing.

I think there are a lot more stories to be told. I’m interested in where the Jo Early story will go. I’ve always wanted to see Murhder again and what about Xcor’s Band of Bastards? Will they be getting a story?

Now, we just have to wait and see.

Onyx – Lux #2 – Jennifer L Armentrout

What I like most about this series is that Katy has a book review boig like I do. It makes me have something in common with her. That’s not all I like though. I like the entire plot. It’s different and it keeps me interested.

In the last book, Daemon was a big jerk to Katy but I could understand why since his family and some of the town are aliens, closely monitored by the DOD. His brother had gotten close to a human and they ended up dead. He just didn’t want any more trouble.

In this book, Daemon is trying to make up for the way he treated her but Katy isn’t going to make it easy on him.

There’s a new boy in town and he’s made it clear that he’s interested in her. Daemon doesn’t trust him but that may be just jealousy.
When Katy sees the girl who was supposed to have been killed in a DOD vehicle, she gets hopeful that maybe Daemon’s brother is alive too. She and Daemon start looking for answers.

This author makes the Department of Defense seem cold and brutal in this series. There are some terrifying agents working for them.

I liked this book better than the first book. I’m going to continue with the series.

Obsidian – Lux #1 – Jennifer Armentrout

I didn’t expect to like this book so much because I tend to set my expectations pretty low when I start a new author and series. Plus, it’s geared toward young adults which sometimes can get all high schooly and mean girlish. But this book mostly stayed away from that sort of immature drama. It surprised me.

Katy moves from Florida to a small town in West Virginia with her mom. She meets the neighbors and loves the sister but the brother is a total jerk.

She starts noticing weird things and thinks it’s all in her head but soon her life gets some unwelcome excitement.

The plot was interesting but I think the tension between Damaen and Katy went on way too long. There comes a point when I just tire of things being dragged out. Also, if a guy continues to be a jerk, it becomes a dysfunctional relationship…maybe even abusive.

I went ahead and downloaded the next book in the series.

High Voltage – Fever #11 – Karen Marie Moning

As always, KMM brought it. Dani was as badass as ever but she’s evolving and growing…literally. She’s not as reckless as she used to be but she’s not as robotic and cold as her alter-personality, Jada, either.

Everybody thought the Song of Making would fix everything but it caused a whole set of new problems. The Fae are stronger and the old gods are awake. Neither are fond of humans but they hate each other more.

Mac and Barrons have left to deal with the Fae and Ryodan, along with the rest of The Nine have left too. Dani is left alone to keep her beloved Dublin safe.

This book had a different feel to it than the other books in the series. I think it was slowed down a bit to allow the reader to feel more and not be so disconnected from the characters. Not that I didn’t connect but I’ve always felt they were a little too cold. I found myself crying in several spots of this book. I don’t think any of the previous books made me so emotional. They mostly went too fast and had me more shocked than sad like when Mac ate Jo. Even though I really liked Jo,I was too shocked–and a lot grossed out–to be sad. Plus, there was a lot happening really fast so I wasn’t able to mourn for more than a second before I had to move on to the next peril.

I’m excited to see where the story will go from here if it is going anywhere.

The Shadows – The Black Dagger Brotherhood #13 – J.R. Ward

The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 13)

A magnificent, heart wrenching and mind-blowing book! I finished this book just as the sun was coming up this morning and was at a loss for words at how it ended. Well, not really how it ended so much as the events that led up to the ending. I felt somewhat better at the end but I still had an overwhelmingly heavy heart.

I’m going to try to explain the book but some things are hard to explain if you haven’t followed the series. There are so many characters and different plotlines and paths and roles that each person plays that everything has become a maze and to explain it would take a very long time. The author does an excellent job of writing these books to where a reader can just pick up any of them without reading the previous books in the series but I would recommend starting from the beginning and I am definitely not J.R. Ward or have 1/1000th of her talent so my explanation may be lacking. It is also a long story with a lot going on in it.

This book was mainly about the two Shadow brother’s, Trez and iAm, who are a breed of vampire called the s’Hisbe whose people believe in astrology and every decision they make is based off how the stars and planets align themselves. Trez and iAm are twins and Trez had the misfortune to be born at the exact moment when the stars aligned to make him the Anointed One which meant he was basically a glorified stud to breed with the Princess of the race. They escaped the Shadow compound years ago but always live in fear of being dragged back so Trez can do his duty.

I’m not sure in which book of the series the two brothers were introduced but I know that they have always been honorable and helpful when it came to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Xhex, the only female member, works for Trez in his nightclubs. I think it was the last book where the brothers moved into the Brotherhood’s mansion to hide from the s’Hisbe Queen who wants Trez back.

Whether it was to make himself unclean in the eyes of the s’Hisbe or something else, Trez became a sex addict throughout the years, sleeping with thousands of human women, usually the prostitutes who work for him at his clubs. iAm has always been at his side and has taken on the caretaker role and never really has done anything for himself except for his cooking. He owns his own Italian restaurant where he is the chef. iAm is a virgin even though he is hundreds of years old. He’s seen what sex has done to his brother and he just hasn’t had the urge to go down that road.

In the last book, Trez met Selena, a Chosen and they slept together. I’m not sure what happened because I can’t remember everything from a book I read a year ago and I’m too lazy to go back and read it but for some reason they stopped seeing each other even though both have strong feelings for the other. Since then, Trez has not touched another woman. In this book, they re-discover each other and fall in love.

Selena has a secret. She has been suffering from something the Chosen call the Arrest. It’s a disease that the Chosen have had that may have happened because of the limited breeding pools being that…in the past only one male was the father of so many of them. The disease starts out with little episodes of the joints locking up from time to time and then progresses to the whole body locking up. These episodes become more frequent and more severe until finally the Chosen becomes locked into one position and never returns to normal. They are aware of their surroundings but die when the whole body calcifies. She knows she has very little time left.

During one of her episodes, she went up to the Sanctuary, a place where the Chosen used to live and the Scribe Virgin (the mother of the race of vampires) still lives. She was looking at the cemetery with stone statues that turned out not to be stone statues but other Chosen who had suffered her same disease. She had an episode there. The Scribe Virgin found her and summoned Trez to the Sanctuary where he found her on the ground with her body stiff. He rushed her to the clinic at the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s mansion where Doc Jane tried to save her. She went into cardiac arrest and was barely brought back. Her body went back to normal but after speaking to the other Chosen and Doc Jane, everyone knows she has very little time left.

“Of course,” I say to myself, “this is a romance book where things always turn out for the best…Right??” But then again, this isn’t just any romance series, this is a J.R. Ward book and anything can happen just like in a George R.R. Martin book because J.R. Ward has killed off beloved characters before. It usually works out for the best but the death is still painful and has lasting effects on the characters and readers.

The book deals with the issue of terminal illness and the processes that go along with it. Trez and Salina decide to live life to the fullest while waiting for the inevitable but also hope to find a miracle. Trez takes Salina to a restaurant that rotated around a huge skyscraper to show the view of the city and he takes her to a carnival with high-up rides even though he has a fear of heights. The moments were beautiful. They also had frank discussions on her death. She was resolved while Trez tried not to talk about it. As someone who has recently had a close call with the possibility of breast cancer, I can relate to these conversations where she is telling him that he has to go on without her and that he can’t kill himself and she hopes he’ll be happy but then at the same time she is feeling bad because she does want him to mourn and not forget her. I ran out of Kleenex and had to start using my shirt to mop up the tears. It was just so very sad and so real.

reading and crying

What makes it harder for a vampire, s’Hisbe or Sympath to lose a mate is the fact that they bond to their mates. Once they are bonded, it is physically impossible to mate with another person…at least for a male. A female would have no desire to mate but they could be forced. Finding a mate is a once in a lifetime opportunity in most cases. Some find mates hundreds of years later if they live through their mate dying but most never do.

Not only was this book about Trez and iAm and Selena but it had a ton of side stories going on and a boatload of different Points of View from all kinds of characters. There was even a POV from one of the lessers. For those who don’t know…lessors (the word seems to always be in italics and never capitalized) are the enemies to the vampires. Where the Scribe Virgin is the mother of the race as God would be the father of the human race, the Omega is the opposite, kind of like what the devil would be for the humans or at least the ones who believe in religion. The Omega creates lessers by some horrible process of removing their soul and over time, they lose their coloring in their hair and bodies and become bleached out looking. They live to kill vampires and the purpose of the Black Dagger Brotherhood was originally to fight and kill lessers. There were POVs from Rhage, Assail, Xcor, Layla, Throe, someone new named Paradise and a few others so there were a lot of storylines going on in the book that need to be resolved in future books. It’s one of the reasons that I didn’t want the book to end. I’m just so curious to know what will happen.

Rhage was having anxiety attacks because he feels guilty that when his shellan died or almost died, he got a second chance but other’s like his brother Tohr did not. As he watched Trez and Selena go through their personal hell, he had trouble dealing with it and needed his shellan near him for comfort but she has been having to stay at the safe house where she works with abused females of the vampire race on some emergency situation so she can’t be with him all of the time.

Assail has been dealing drugs to the lessers. He’s a business man and thinks of profit before anything else. Plus, I think he likes the dangerous life. He’s has gotten really addicted to Cocaine. I remember his book where he fell in love with the human woman, Sola. I knew she moved away but I didn’t realize they had completely broken up. He obviously misses her and thinks of her all of the time. He dials her number that he has memorized but never hits the send button to actually call her. It was sad. The King has told him that he needs to stop dealing with the lessers because they are using the proceeds to buy weapons.

Layla has been sneaking to meet Xcor almost every night because he blackmailed her into it. She gave him blood and because of their strange bond, he was able to find her at the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s mansion and now he knows where it is. He made a deal with her that he wouldn’t attack them there if she would meet him and she have sex with him one time but since she is pregnant and pregnancies tend to last about 18 months for vampires, he has not had sex with her. They usually just talk. They both have deep feelings for each other and Xcor may even be bonding with her. Layla is feeling guilty that she actually cares for him and wants to see him because he is and enemy who tried to kill Wrath, the King.

I want to dislike Xcor but I can’t. I actually like him. Despite his cleft pallet that has never been corrected, he seems extremely hot with a ripped body and beautiful eyes. Here’s a man who was raised with the utmost cruelty and has had to survive by being cruel and violent yet he still lives by an honor code. He seems to really care of Layla and though he has a hard time with the fact that she is pregnant with one of members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s child, he has never hurt her and always treated her respectfully. Even when she wanted to do sexual things with him, he refused because of her pregnancy, telling her he is not an animal. His men, the Band of Bastards, are getting worried about him because his focus and hatred of the Black Dagger Brotherhood has changed and he has not gone after them. When Layla asks him to pleasure himself in front of her and then sees him naked, he barely controls himself and demands that she leave before he hurts her. Right before that, she had basically called him on the fact that she thinks he has changed and doesn’t want to hurt Wrath anymore. It makes Xcor worried so he tells Layla he never wants to see her again. I feels so bad for both of them and it is one of the storylines that I can’t get enough of.

Throe left the Band of Bastards because he is ambitious and still wants to see Wrath removed as King. Xcor tells him that it is over since they became a sort of democracy and the King is now voted for rather than decreed because of bloodlines. The people have spoken and voted in Wrath but Throe disagrees and says that if Wrath is dead, things will change. He tries to get the rest of the Band of Bastards to agree but they stand behind Xcor. I’m really disappointed in Throe. I really liked him at one time and hated Xcor but now the roles are reversing as Throe’s ambitions rise. I don’t know what he wants exactly but he is out to kill Wrath.

Paradise is a new character. Her name sucks but all of their names are strange. Her father, Abalone, is the King’s advisor and totally loyal to the King. Paradise and her family are part of the glymera who are the aristocracy of the vampires. She has reached the age where she should marry which is expected of her but she has other plans. She wants to do something with her life and doesn’t believe that females are just for marrying, having babies and throwing fancy parties for the aristocracy.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood sent out an email to everyone that they are having open try-outs to train to be a warrior and females are welcome also. She wants to try-out even if it is just to learn how to defend herself but her friend thinks she is crazy and her father is not on board with the idea but he does allow her to work with him for the King at the audience house where the King receives and gives council to his subjects. She meets a stranger who calls himself Craeg who tells her he thinks it would be a good idea for her to try-out. There’s something off about Craeg. He comes into the audience house with a baseball cap riding low over his forehead as if to disguise himself and asks Paradise for an application for the training. When she asks him for his email address so she can forward it to him, he tells her he doesn’t have email. At first, I thought he might be one of the Band of Bastards or one of Assail’s twin cousins but he didn’t have an Old World accent like they all do. Of course, he could be disguising his voice but I doubt it. It’s killing me to find out who it is.

In another storyline but following the main plot, iAm is desperate to find a cure for Selena. He makes a deal with s’Ex (I have no idea how to pronounce that so I just call him Sex), the executioner for the Queen of the s’Hisbe and the man who has been coming after Trez for years, to sneak him into the s’Hisbe compound so he can look through their library to see if they have a cure in exchange for women to have sex with s’Ex. s’Ex sneaks him in but iAm gets caught or so he thinks and a maid helps him sneak into the library. The maid is actually the Princess who Trez is supposed to mate with but she doesn’t tell iAm who she is. iAm and the Princess/maid start falling for each other. iAm meets with her outside of the compound when s’Ex frees him.

I have no idea what to think of s’Ex. He’s scary as hell and with tattoos covering his body and him being the executioner of the Queen and all is just creepy. He seems to believe in the ways of the s’Hisbe but seems to waver after the queen gave birth to his daughter who had to be ritually killed when the stars didn’t align correctly to declare her the new Princess. The Queen can have many but children if they aren’t born when the stars declare they will be the new Princess, they will be killed. There can only be one Princess at a time. If a daughter is born who is declared the new Princess, the reigning Princess will be killed. The Queen is a cold-hearted bitch who has never even spoken to or visited with the reigning Princess. s’Ex has seemed to helpful but he’s also a by-the-book type of person so it’s hard to know what he’ll do. The only rule that he has ever broken is having sex with humans when he is to only have sex with the Queen.

I think I covered most of the book while basically writing one of my own. I may have missed something and I hope there are no major spoilers in my review.

By far, this has been the best book of the series. I hope the next book comes out soon…like tomorrow. Please, J.R. Ward and publisher, don’t make us wait a whole year!

The Darkest Touch – Lords of the Underworld – Gena Showalter

The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld)

Who wrote this? Gena Showalter or Kresley Cole?

I know it sounds like a weird thing to ask but I felt like I was reading a Kresley Cole novel because of the writing style; the quick witted repartee between the lead characters, the badass female lead who is super powerful and a little off her rocker and the hilarious modern lingo. Yes, some of the female characters in Gena Showalter’s books have similar characteristics which I believe were influenced by Kresley Cole characters but The Darkest Touch had a lot of things missing that are typical to Gena’s writing style. I only noticed that the lead female character lifted her chin once or twice in a show of defiance during the book but in almost all of her previous books she uses the chin lifting so much that it gets annoying. There wasn’t a lot of over explaining emotions and situations like Gena tends to do. Then there is the Christianity factor involved. Before Gena Showalter found Christianity, she wrote sizzling, hot, almost raunchy sex scenes but after she found Christianity, the love scenes were limited and almost non-existent unless the couple was married or promised to be married. She seemed to be having a moral dilemma about writing sex scenes and seemed to be a little preachy in the books. In this book, the sex scenes were definitely hot.

The last few Lords of the Underworld Books had a different feel from the previous books in the series and it was obvious that Gena was warring with her spiritual beliefs and satisfying her fans. I was thinking she may need to change her audience and start writing young adult books or Christian literature. I was reading her Angels of the Dark series also and those were definitely written with an intended moral message but then all of the sudden, the 3rd book, Burning Dawn, came out and it was written like pre-Christian Gena. It was strange. I have a conspiracy theory; I think Gena Showalter had a prior commitment with her publisher for a certain amount of books in her Lords of the Underworld series but when she became a Christian, she struggled with writing the books because, let’s face it, mythology, magic, demons and sex go against what is taught in Christianity. So, after writing a few books and pissing off most of her fans, she asked her friend, Kresley Cole to ghost write the remaining books in the series. I’m probably totally wrong but it is what I really think.

Like most of the Lords of the Underworld fans, I’ve been waiting for Torin’s story. Torin is the keeper of the demon Disease. He is unable to touch anyone with his bare skin or the person will become ill and die. If the person lives, he will become a carrier and spread the disease to others, diseases like the black plague that wipe out thousands. His deepest desire is to be able to touch and be touched. Cronus, the King of the Titans, tricks Torin into touching a human who is supposed to be immune to disease but the human gets sick. It turns out that the woman, Mari, made a deal with Cronus and agreed to be touched by Torin in order to save her friend who has been locked in a prison in another realm for centuries. When Mari is flashed back to the prison, Torin grabs onto her and ends up in the prison. He begs the woman not to die but she does anyway. Cronus is dead so he can’t fulfill his promises, not that he would have anyway.

Mari’s friend, Keelycael or the Red Queen, vows to kill Torin for taking her friend away from her. Keely is a powerful being who was imprisoned by Cronus centuries ago. After Mari dies, she demolishes the prison with her powers and escapes. At first, she tries to kill Torin but teams up with him in order to escape the realm. Torin and Keeley start falling for each other. Keeley thinks she can overcome any sickness caused by Torin’s demon and makes a deal with Torin to help him find his lost friends and Pandora’s box if he agrees to touch her. The first time he touches her, she almost dies so he tells her the deal is off but she agrees to help him anyway. Torin wants Keeley but doesn’t know how a relationship could ever work if he cannot touch her.

I thought this book was the last in the series and everything would be wrapped up so I was a bit surprised when some things were left unfinished and seemed to hint to at least one more book in the series. Cameo and Lazarus are attracted to each even though they don’t want to admit it. Lazarus is missing so she wants to find him. Pandora’s box needs to be found which has been the whole point of the series and now the Morning Star needs to be found also.

I was reading another series when this book came out. I was in the middle of one of the books but stopped reading it to read this book. The beginning of the book was fast paced but then it got a little tedious as Keely and Torin traveled through realm after realm and fought enemy after enemy. It seemed like filler make the book longer. I found myself wanting to go back to the other book that I was reading but I knew if I did, I would never finish this one so I kept trudging through it. I liked it but I think it could have done without the filler. I will probably read any future Lord of the Underworld books that come out but I won’t interrupt any book that I am reading to read it. I think it is time to put an end to the series.

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Bloody Bones – Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter – Laurell K. Hamilton

Bloody Bones (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Book 5)

There were some really graphic and gross detailed scenes in this book. I felt like gagging in a few places. Of course, all of Laurel K. Hamilton’s books in this series have been very descriptive when it comes to blood and gore but this one just seemed a little more barf-a-rific. There was one scene where two vampires were having sex with someone and they began to rot and fall apart. It was written in such detail that I was squirming, trying not to gag and hoping the scene would end but I read through it just in case something important happened during the scene that was vital to the plot. I could really do without such detail but it takes a mighty skilled writer to write such graphic scenes.

Anita Blake and her apprentice, Larry, are hired by a rich firm and flown by helicopter to Branson, Missouri to raise the dead. She is an animator who raises the dead for a living. The firm had started construction on a hill but while digging, dug up skeletal remains and bodies. There are no tombstones and the construction equipment made a mess of the bones. A family named Bouvier is claiming it is their ancestral burial ground which means the land is actually theirs but in order to prove it, Anita has to raise the dead and speak with them to ask who they are. If the remains turn out to be Bouvier ancestors, the company will have to either repurchase the land or return it to the Bouvier family. The Bouvier family does not want to sell the land for some reason. Mr. Stirling, one of the owners of the firm, asks Anita to lie for them if any of the zombies turn out to be Bouviers. She refuses but said she will still raise the dead.

While inspecting the burial site, Anita receives a page from the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team or Ripit which is a special division of the police who specialize in murder crimes involving supernatural beings like vampires or werewolves. Anita is not a police woman but she is part of the team because she is one of the only experts in the field. Three dead teenagers were found near Branson and the police need her expertise to find out what happened. Anita goes to the grisly scene and discovers the boys were killed by vampires.

Anita wants to talk to the Bouvier family so she drives to their restaurant and bar, Bloody Bones and discovers the two remaining adults in the Bouvier family are fae. Dorcas and Magnus Bouvier own the bar and seem to be hiding something. The ‘something’ turns out to be a biggy.

Another murder happens near Branson so Anita goes to the house to investigate. A vampire has killed a seventeen year old girl but the girl will rise as a vampire in three nights. The parents insist the girl was unwilling but the evidence is clear that the girl wanted to become a vampire. Things get scary when the police and Anita along with Larry go in search of the vampire who did this and are attacked by a group of vampires that have powers like Anita has never seen before. The vampires end up kidnapping the younger brother of the dead girl along with her body.

Anita knows she needs help with the case to find the boy. She needs to talk to the area master vampire but has no idea how to contact them so she calls Jean-Claude. He flies his private jet out immediately to Branson to help her. Jean-Claude is the master of the city of St. Louis. He used to be the master of Branson also but let another take over so he could concentrate solely on St. Louis. He is in love with Anita but she claims she wants nothing to do with him because he is a vampire and she thinks all vampires are monsters. She is dating a werewolf named Richard and Jean-Claude at the same time because Jean-Claude wants a chance to win her over and he agreed not to kill Richard if she gives him a chance also. Jean-Claude has always been good to Anita and always helps her when she needs it and she seems to need his help a lot but she is always rude and disrespectful to him. She makes sure he knows that she thinks he is a disgusting monster all of the time. Finally, he asks her, “Why do I put up with you? You insult me at every turn. There are many who would give their souls for what I offer you.”

I’ve made it clear in my past reviews that I do not like Anita Blake. She is arrogant and prejudice and super rude to almost everyone she meets. She believes she is a good guy but she has no problem killing people. At one point, she orders the zombies to kill someone which is an automatic death sentence for an animator. The person was trying to kill her but the law doesn’t differentiate. Another bad guy is a witness to it and just so he doesn’t tell on her she wants to kill him to shut him up. Throughout this book and the previous books, she kills people even though she could subdue them in other ways. Sometimes, she kills them for revenge. Larry is appalled and tells her so. She also routinely kills chickens and goats as sacrifices to raise the dead. To me, she is just as monstrous as the monsters if not more.

Despite the fact that I think Anita needs bitch-slapped, I like the books because of the ongoing storyline and plot. I think the author is purposely writing Anita as a hardcore bitch and slowly making her realize that not everything is black and white and just because someone is a vampire, doesn’t make them a monster…at least, I hope that is what the author is doing. Laurel K. Hamilton cannot seriously be so clueless as to think anyone likes Anita Blake as she currently is. Can she? Naw!

I have started on the next book, The Killing Dance.

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