WordBound: Wed, Feb 8

WEEK 6: This #wordbound prompt is due on 2/15! Ready to cause some destruction?

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“Okay, okay, but listen to me,” Ilaeth scooted closer to Kali, a mischievous smile played on his lips. “We can surprise her. Get her something nice, have a little celebration going on,” he said.
“She won’t like it. She said she wants nothing,” Kali said, and folded her arms.
“She says she doesn’t want anything, that doesn’t mean she actually doesn’t,” Ilaeth said. “You know how much she likes surprises.”
Kali put her hands on her hips. “Look, you’ll just get us in trouble. Actually, no. You won’t be in trouble, I’ll be. So no. Just stay put,” she said.
“You are no fun. I’ll go by myself,” Ilaeth said.
The younger elf threw her arms up in the air, with a pleading look at the sky. “You go by yourself, you end up in a ditch somehow, and then I’m in trouble again.”
Ilaeth grinned and flicked one of her horns. “Then come with me. I could use a woman’s perspective.”
“What are you even getting her?” Kali asked and walked behind him. “Flowers? Feathers? Pretty rocks?”
He put a hand over his heart. “I feel like you are mocking me.”
“Oh my. That was never my intention. How could this happen?”
“I’ll ignore that,” he said. “We can make her a pretty flower crown, or you know how she likes to decorate her spear with lil things… so I got her spear.”
“You got her spear?”
“Yes. So we can make it pretty,” Ilaeth said, and grinned at her.
“We should give it back,” Kali said, and her eyes went wide with terror when he pulled the spear from behind a tree. “We should definitely give it back. Like now. This isn’t smart.”
“Oh come on. It’ll be fine,” he said, and felt the weight of the spear in his hand.
Kali reached out to snatch it, but he held it up, out of her reach. She kicked his leg, and jumped high enough to grab it. Ilaeth didn’t let go, and she didn’t surrender. She yanked as hard as she could, and when she couldn’t take it from him, she kicked him again.
“Stop that!” he shouted at her.
“Then give me the spear!”
“No. I need it,” he said.
“You’ll just get us in trouble,” she shouted at him, as the two pulled the spear back and forth.
There was a loud crack as the wood gave way and broke in two. Kali and Ilaeth dropped back and landed hard on the ground.
“Oh… fuck…” Ilaeth said, staring at his half of the spear.
“I told you!” Kali shouted, and threw the other half at his head. “I told you! Now I’m gonna be in trouble!”
“Well yeah, you broke it.”
“No, you did.”
“You did.”
“How did I break it? Huh?” Kali snapped.
“I’m not the one who grabbed it,” Ilaeth pointed out.
Kali huffed and folded her arms. “You are stupid,” she muttered and threw a pebble at him. “You always get me in trouble.”

 

Book Review: Lover Awakened by J. R. Ward

The third book in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series follows the story of Bella and Zsadist.
We’ve seen Zsadist in the two previous books, and Bella in “Lover Eternal”, but they had minor roles in the story. In this story, we get to see more of Zsadist’s trauma and the kind of life he’s gone through that resulted in how he is at the beginning of the story.
This book is easy one of my favourite in the series. The pair has to learn and grow and change through progress of the story, both of them have to overcome abuse in many levels, and face the prejudice that society throws their way. For Bella, that is her status as a female from a good family that has slept around, and for Zsadist is his scarred visage that marks him as a monster in the eyes of many people.
It is a story that contains strong language, sexual abuse and its aftermath. That makes it for a very emotional ride for the reader.

Zsadist is one of those ‘tortured hero’ kind of characters. His own twin calls him ruined and warns Bella to stay away from him.
And rightfully so.
Zsadist has been through so much since the day he was born, is so broken that it takes the whole length of the story for him to get himself back together piece by piece. Trauma doesn’t just go away overnight, and that’s highlighted in the book. The whole topic of Zsadist’s backstory, his growth, and his eventual redemption and salvation are earned and fought for, even when Zsadist himself is resisting it every step of the way.
A shell of the male he could be, Zsadist has every right to be afraid of contact, both physical and emotional, but by the end of the story, he has grown into a protective and caring male, especially when it comes to his shellan.
Also, Zsadist has a loyalty in him that most people don’t expect, or even believe. He’s loyal to Wrath as his king, to his Brothers, his twin, his shellan.

Bella is a perfect counterpart for Zsadist. A strong, intelligent woman, who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind and shake him up whenever he needs to be so.
She is also a survivor herself, and she has to overcome her own trauma.
She possesses great courage and she’s a very good example of a female character who isn’t a warrior and yet she can be strong and protective of her male.
And yet, she’s a rounded character. Through the story, she gets frustrated and angry, and she knows to walk away when she needs to walk away for her own sake.

It’s hard to talk about Zsadist without bring up his twin, Phury. Zsadist’s twin has spent the majority of his life either looking for, protecting, or taking care of Zsadist. He carries a lot of guilt over what happened to Zsadist, what he had to go through, always thinking that things would have been better if he had been the one to endure these things.
His guilt shows in the story, as he goes out of his way to do everything his twin needs him to do, even if those are things that break him inside. He’s even willing to sacrifice himself, if that will give Zsadist a well-deserved shot at happiness.

We see more of the reappearing characters, in bigger or smaller roles, and I’m a fan of that, as I get the feeling that I learn more and more about the world and its people.
This is, for me, one of the best – if not the best – books in the series, and Zsadist remains one of my favourite characters even in later books, with other things that happen to his character (no spoilers).

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

“Dark Lover” is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward. When I first read this book, I looked high and low to get it, and I still had to wait some time before it was finally shipped to me.
*makes grabby hands*

The book starts off with a very interest premise: The black dagger brotherhood is a band of vampire warriors and they are the only thing that stands between their race and the Lessening Society.
Wrath, is the only pure vampire left, an unwilling King to his race, as he refuses to assume the role.

The book kicks off with a murder, and a death wish. It all boils down to Wrath’s loyalty to one of his closest friends.
As the story goes on, as Wrath and Beth interact more and more, Wrath changes from a cold, unbending warrior, to a King. It is a fascinating change to see.

“Your language is beautiful,” she said.
“There are no words worthy of you.”

Beth is a half human/half vampire, who has lived in the human world all her life, unaware of what goings bump in the night. Until she bumps on Wrath that is. She was a strong, well-rounded female character, curious and headstrong. I love her. Sometimes, in books like this, the male or the female character will be lacking, but not this time. Wrath and Beth are a very good match for each other.

We are also introduced to many more characters, but we only get little hints of them, as they show up as the main couples in later books. And those little hints are enough to spark interest and curiosity.
The world J. R. Ward has created is alive, breathing, and slapping his chest like some King Kong and I want to get more of it.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

Fantasy has truth in it.

Fantasy is not easy to write. There are so many things that can go wrong, so few things that can go right.

Fantasy isn’t just epic quests, an adventure to save the world, or kingdoms at war. Fantasy comes alive in the little details that the writer weaves into the story, the fine threads that make up the world and the people.

It’s that kid who goes on a quest because he wants to make something of himself, because he wants to grow and explore the world around him. It’s that mother who lost her children in the war, it’s the burden that weighs down on the hero’s shoulders every time they have to make an important decision.

Because they can save the world, or they can be the reason why it crumbles and burns.

Things are not black and white in fantasy. At least they are not for me. Magic isn’t bad, the same way a gun doesn’t kill people. But the abuse of power, the misuse of a tool, that’s what’s bad. It’s a king that can be good and benevolent to his people, or turn into a tyrant after the loss of someone he loved. It’s the grief, the pain, but also the joy and happiness that people experience.

Does it matter that they experience those things in a land with dragons and sword-fights? Does it make any real difference if the protagonist is not human, but an elf?

For me, fantasy gets to explore every day things like friendships, discrimination, racism, but in a bigger, larger, and more magical environment. It gets to present things that people don’t usually want to talk about, things they want to hide away, because people expect things in a fantasy story to go crazy.

But it’s not going crazy.

It’s being honest.

Book Review: Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

The second book in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series follows the story of Mary and Rhage.
We still get a glimpse of Beth and Wrath as the story goes on and we are also introduced to some new characters, or see more from characters we’ve already met.
The author doesn’t need to set up so much of the world anymore, which gives her plenty of time to focus on the relationship between Rhage and Mary, a relationship that seems doomed from the start for too many issues. Both protagonists are saddled with their own personal problems and issues, that are enough to tear any normal couple to pieces.
But not them. They have their ups and downs, but they power through it.

Rhage is a character that is described as drop-dead-gorgeious, and he carries a beast inside that bursts out whenever he hits a low point, whether that is due to anger, or pain.
He is also though, a funny character. With no filter between his mouth and his brain, Rhage gives the reader some of the best lines in the book. He is also romantic and lovable, and he wants nothing more than to ditch all the casual sex he has to do to keep the beast at bay, for a meaningful relationship.

Mary on the other hand is a character who has had nothing but hardships in her life, and those hardships have left her on the floor, a mess.
She has no self-esteem, she sees nothing good in her, and she can’t even comprehend how a man like Rhage can have any short of interest in her.
She is though, a deeply compassionate character, a strong, independent character that reaches out to help the other people around her, whether that is John Mathew, Zsadist, or Rhage himself.
She has an incredible inner strength and she is a very relatable character. Even when she does the sometimes typical heroine thing, where she pushes the hero away, she has a valid reason for it, and a reason I can relate with and understand.
Nobody wants to be a burden or pitied after all.

It’s a very good story, albeit a sad story. Some points get heavy and depressing, but I can’t see how the story could be any different, with how many issues the protagonists have.
It’s a worthy continuation of the BDB series, a book that makes you want to read more, and get to know the characters and the world better.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

Dark Lover | Lover Eternal | Lover Awakened |

Book Review: Slave to Sensation

Nalini Singh has written a wonderful book. “Slave to Sensation” has everything you’d expect and want in a paranormal romance book. The Alpha male, the interesting female protagonist, the angst. Emotions run high in the story, especially between the two protagonists, Sascha Duncan and Lucas Hunter.

Sascha is a Psy – a creature of immense telepathic abilities – and her people have long ago decided that they will have no emotions, because they get in the way. Driven only by logic and cold calculations, the Psy have made themselves the rules of the world.
But Sascha isn’t like that. Sascha feels and even though she can conceal her ‘defect’, she knows it won’t be long before they find out and she’s rehabilitated. Everything she is will be gone just like that.

Sascha is an interesting character, complex, relatable, and throughout the story, the reader sees her grow, mature and overcome all her handicaps and perceived flaws. She is smart and sassy, which I always like.

Then there is Lucas Hunter, a leopard changeling. His race is complete opposite from the Psy, they embrace emotions and sensations. But now their two races – who have managed to co-exist somewhat peacefully – are on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women at the hand of a Psy serial killer.
I won’t lie, his name is a bit on the nose. A predator named Hunter? Nalini Singh could have gone for a more subtle name. Overall, Lucas is an enjoyable character, though he doesn’t break the mold of the Alpha male in paranormal stories. He’s not anything I haven’t read before, and for the majority of the story, it felt like he was taking a second seat to Sascha. The descriptions in the book, make him a bit of a cookie-cutter paranormal character: he’s sex on legs, he’s the hottest thing she has ever seen, he’s protective and possessive, and with a dark, bloody past.
Not much mold-breaking there.
Still, he works as a character, for the story he is in, and he and Sascha get some very heart-breaking moments between them, as they fall in love and the world pulls them apart.
I’ll admit, it brought a tear to this fool’s eye, and I’m not one who cries easily.

The world that Nalini created is lively, intricate, and immersive. It breathes and pulses, it feels organic. There is the inevitable info dump here and there, given the nature of the book, but that doesn’t affect the story, the pacing, or the entertainment factor. If you are into the genre, you should definitely pick it up and give it a try!

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

 

Book Review: Countdown to killing Kurtis

“Countdown to killing Kurtis” by Lauren Rowe is – simply put – a phenomenal book. I loved it from the beginning to the very end. This is also a book you don’t want spoiled, so I will try and refrain from as many spoilers as I can.

I do love my husband. To death. I love him so much that I’ve waited a whole year (minus one day) for Killing Kurtis Day to arrive. Tomorrow it will finally be here and I’m giddy with anticipation.

Don’t judge me, you don’t know the whole story. I reckon if you were in my shoes, you’d kill your husband, too.

The blurb of the book alone got me intrigued from the get go, though usually I do no like books that start off with a prologue chapter. A prologue chapter that ends up being a just regular chapter at some point in the book. But for this one, it works. It keeps the questions and the whys bouncing around in the readers head as the mystery unfolds and as the reader is trying to figure out why Buttercup wants to kill her poor husband so much.

The writing style is animated, engaging and buzzes with Buttercups personality, something that works perfectly with the 1st person writing.

One of the most important things for me was that I could understand where Buttercup was coming from, why she acted the way she did, why she was as she was. She felt real to me, as did the rest of the characters. She made sense even when I did not agree with the things she did or how she was thinking.

There is a big plot twist at the end. A plot twist that makes sense. Now, I pride myself in the fact that I see plot twists coming a mile away. As a writer and as a reader, after a while, you just know stories. It’s always nice when a book comes along with a twist that still manages to surprise you. Something you didn’t see coming.
It’s also better if that twist has been foreshadowed from the beginning of the book, and when it happens, all the pieces fall in place, everything makes sense.

I will stop here, because I really don’t want to step into spoiler territory with this one. Read it. It’s a very good book, entertaining throughout. I couldn’t put it down.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

Book Review Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night

“Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s night” is the third book in the “Immortals After Dark” series by Kresley Cole. This series gets better and better with each book.

This story picks up exactly where “No rest for the wicked” ended, and it follows Bowen MacRieve and Mariketa the Awaited after the Hie, an immortal treasure hunt that takes place every 250 years.

Bowe wanted the trophy more than anyone else. The Key that could take him to the past, meant that he could return and saved the love of his life. But he lost the Hie to Kaderin and Sebastian.

Mariketa the Awaited joined the Hie before even freezing in her immortality. She has always been told that she has had great power and it is true. But it is power that she can’t control or summon at will. And a volatile power is no good. At the end of the Hie, she finds herself trapped in a temple alongside some other participants, because of Bowen.

The story starts when Bowen is made to go back and free her, or face the wrath of the witches he so loathes. The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood are strong, especially in the beginning, when Mari has her cape. Their story is more balanced thant he two before it, between the action and the romance. The story has good pacing that keeps the reader engaged and interested.

The expanded universe and the reappearing characters give the story a familiarity, and we get glimpses of what characters we’ve already met are up to, like Lachlain.

Bowen is an old werewolf, set in his ways and in his hatred for witches. Mariketa is a young, passionate witch. A very well-rounded character as well, especially when compared to Emma and Kaderin. She’s sassy, smart, with insecurities that do not make her a push-over in any kind of way.
I was glad at the end of the story to see that Bowen didn’t demand that she change and be less than she is, but instead he accepted her with everything she was. As he should.

Now, on to the things that I didn’t like. Also spoilery stuff.

The ending. I didn’t like it. Let’s put it as simply as that. The resolution was out of the blue. Suddenly Bowen’s dead girlfriend wasn’t really the girl he was meant to be with, suddenly there is an all-powerful Goddess after Mariketa and she’s going to use Bowen to get to her.
It was all so very sudden. I would have accepted it better if there was some kind of foreshadowing or hint. But the only thing we got was that Bowen’s friends didn’t like Maria. The end.
I didn’t feel the last battle either. It was just a few pages long, and Mariketa had somehow learned everything she needed to know in a couple of days. I didn’t fear for her life at the end. Neither hers, nor Bowen’s. Everything was wrapped up in a nice bow, very quickly for my liking.

Also, Nyx. She is getting tiring after a little while. One would think that by now, the other characters would know not to trust her. They would know to be more careful of the riddles she gives them. But no. Everyone takes her words to heart and they don’t think more on them.

Overall, it was a very interesting story, ending aside. But it was also a story that I enjoyed more the second time I read it. The first time, I wasn’t that impressed.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

A hunger like no other | No rest for the wicked | Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night |

Nanowrimo

What to do when the month of Nanowrimo comes around.

Nanowrimo is almost here!

It’s that time of the month again when everything is painted in the colours of the Autumn and everyone is getting cosy in their sweaters and their fuzzy shocks with a mug of hot chocolate or tea.

And then there are the crazy people who get their laptops out, lock the doors, forsake any kind of social life and buckle down for a whole month of writerly abandon.

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is a yearly worldwide event where people commit to writing fifty thousand words in a month, or just 1.666 words per day. It doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? It doesn’t sound so difficult for one thing. And it’s not. What is difficult is setting yourself a daily habit that you have to follow through.

Why should you do Nanowrimo?

Why not? Everyone has a story to tell, then why not tell it? That aside, Nanowrimo is a great way to connect with people who are also writers, that also love stories and characters and maybe they are just a bit too invested on fictional situations.

But remember, Nanowrimo is not for everyone and that is alright. Different strokes for different folks. It’s okay if Nanowrimo isn’t for you. Maybe you can only write every few days, or you have work or school or university. Maybe your life just decided to flip upside down or the crazy pace of Nanowrimo just doesn’t float your boat. Or as I like to say, it doesn’t float your goat**.

What to do to succeed in Nanowrimo:

a. Don’t lose your sanity: You have multiple people in your head. Just make sure to safeguard whatever is left of your brain.

b. Put together a writer’s survival kit: this is the time to buy that notebook and those fancy pens you wanted. Nanowrimo gives you the perfect excuse! You need all these things just so you can survive the month. Whether it is snacks, or coffee or a USB to back up your work, everything is essential.
For more ideas, just follow the link above.

c. Warm your pet humans about November: You are invested, you’ve decided you ARE doing this. The only thing that is getting between you and your goal are all those normal people who just don’t get it. Just warn them in advance. Make sure they know what you want to do and how important this is for you.

d. Join a writing community: Nanowrimo is all about that community and the internet is full of groups that can help you and keep you motivated throughout the month. Whether that is on the official Nanowrimo site, or it’s in a facebook writing group, find people who are like you and watch your imagination grow.

e. Have fun: Last but not least, remember that this is something that had you all excited, something that should warm your insides like a sip from your favourite hot coffee. This is you expressing your creativity and giving your ideas form, this your making a story out of nothing. Having characters that hardly ever listen to you is tough enough, so do not forget to have fun!

~ Harris

**( Disclaimer: no actual goats were harmed in the writing of this sentence)

A hunger like no other

Book Review: A hunger like no other by Kresley Cole

“A hunger like no other” is the first book in the “Immortals after dark” series. An adult, paranormal series of books about everything that can go bump in the night and kill you. And immortal love.

What’s not to like?

Kresley Cole creates a very interesting, fast-paced world, with many fantasy creatures. Vampires and werewolves, but even demons, angels, witches and Valkyries come out at night in New Orleans.

“A hunger like no other” is very much like your typical story of ‘beauty and the beast’ to me. He’s tortured and with anger problems, she is cowardly and meek. But through the course of the story, they change and they evolve.

Emmaline Troy is a half Valkyrie/half vampire who has been sheltered all her life, not only from the outside world, but from her own nature. By the end of the book, she’s the fighter she was meant to be, confident and freed. Emma even finds out the answers she was seeking at the beginning of the book, before she bumped into Lachlain MacRieve.

Meanwhile, Lachlain has been captured by the vampire Horde for years. He’s been sentenced to burn for centuries, just to have his immortality bring him back to life. He finds his soul-mate in Emmaline. The young vampire is able to calm down the rage inside of him and give him a more open-minded perspective.

Just because she’s half vampire, doesn’t mean she’s vile or evil.

But that’s what he thinks – understandably so with what he’s been through  – in the beginning and it takes him a while to come to terms with the reality and accept how things are. Emmaline is his fated mate. She’s half vampire. She’s not evil.

Though, not one of my favourite in the series, it is still an enjoyable read, that is not without its issues of course.

There are many dark undertones and many of them are in Emmaline’s and Lachlain’s relationship that starts off on the wrong foot. He’s controlling, wrathful and he lies to her whenever it suits him. Their relationship is seen as abusive and their interactions to the point of being sexual assault, as Lachlain kidnaps Emmaline and repeatedly ignores every time she tells him no.

It didn’t bother me a lot, but it took out of the story and it is something he regrets afterwards and he tries to make it up to her. Still, it doesn’t much change his actions.

What did you think about this book? Have you read it? 🙂 I’m continuing with the rest of the series, as I want to catch up to the new books that I haven’t read.

If you want to find the book, and support me, you can find it in Book Depository.

~ Harris

A hunger like no other | No rest for the wicked | Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night |