The Week: 9th – 15th April

Ukrainian Easter Queanbeyan Catholic Church Australia 8th April 2018

Easter (8th April) at the Ukrainian Catholic church in Queanbeyan

This week seems to have gone fast. I’ve spent most of it being frustrated with the Commonwealth Games coverage (a hint, TV networks: very few people in the world find lawn bowls fascinating!), while trying to get work done around it.

Of course, the week began with Ukrainian Easter celebrations, and this weekend is when the processions around the cemeteries take place (I said before: Ukrainian Easter is HUGE!). We’re still having summer temperatures in Canberra, which is just weird, because other years all these traditions take place in weather that is very definitely autumn-themed.

However, we had a freak windstorm yesterday. Here is the state border:

One thing that has suffered a lot the past fortnight is my reading. I have been focused on other things, and have not had time to finish a single book – even though some of them are books I’ve been looking forward to for ages.

The Commonwealth Games

Lauren+Mitchell+19th+Commonwealth+Games+Day+pIDIDa3K6h5l19th Commonwealth Games - Day 2 Artistic Gymnastics

Reread: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed #2) by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Harlequin Artist Honoured on Canadian Stamp

Harlequin is so proud of our legendary cover artist, Will Davies! #CanadaPost is issuing a stamp in his honor in recognition of the over 500 book covers he designed.

It’s Christmastime… Again?

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Travel in Regency Britain

stagec-coach-travel 19th century.

National Library Week

National Library Week United States

Reread: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed #2) by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

I’d recently been thinking about the paranormal genre, and realised it had been a long time since I’d read anything in it. Because it was late at night I decided to do a reread rather than finding anything new.

Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed vampire series is a “guilty pleasure” sort of thing. The early books are from a decade or so ago, when vampires were the height of fashion, and dark, warrior vampires were much more preferable to many adult readers than sparkly high school vampires ever were.

Kiss of Crimson is the one I keep going back to for some reason. It’s an easy read, happens over a short space of time, and involves the *ultimate* vampire stereotype: dark, Italian Dante!

Here’s what it’s about:

He comes to her more dead than alive, a towering black-clad stranger riddled with bullets and rapidly losing blood. As she struggles to save him, veterinarian Tess Culver is unaware that the man calling himself Dante is no man at all, but one of the Breed, vampire warriors engaged in a desperate battle. In a single erotically charged moment Tess is plunged into his world—a shifting, shadowed place where bands of Rogue vampires stalk the night, cutting a swath of terror.

Haunted by visions of a dark future, Dante lives and fights like there is no tomorrow. Tess is a complication he does not need—but now, with his brethren under attack, he must shield Tess from a growing threat that includes Dante himself. For with one reckless, irresistible kiss, she has become an inextricable part of his underworld realm . . . and his touch awakens her to hidden gifts, desires, and hungers she never knew she possessed. Bonded by blood, Dante and Tess must work together to thwart deadly enemies, even as they discover a passion that transcends the boundaries of life itself . . . .

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

I have an Irish surname, so…

For St Patrick’s Day, here are some books I can think of with an Irish main character, or are actually set in Ireland:

The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

IGNORE the AWFUL cover and trashy title! It’s a very good book.

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

Secrets in Scarlet (Rookery Rogues Book 2) Erica Monroe

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

Finally: If you want a book with a hero who came from Ireland centuries ago, you could always try this very popular vampire read!

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Coming Up for Lara Adrian

Defy the Dawn (Midnight Breed #14) by Lara Adrian

I haven’t read all of the books in Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series, but I have read the first half dozen, and the one that comes before this one.

Book #14: Defy the Dawn is due to be released next month.

An immortal warrior must decide between loyalty to his people and desire for a beautiful Breed female determined to bring a powerful enemy to justice at any cost, in this new novel in the “steamy and intense” (Publishers Weekly) Midnight Breed vampire romance series from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian.

The Week: 1st – 7th February

Rex the Burmese Cat Sleeping in Summer

Rex’s tough week!

I’m lazy this week, (and it’s my birthday – after my mother’s, and ANOTHER lunch with Ukrainian embassy staff on Wednesday), so here are some links instead:

Let the ironic male tears fall The “make rape legal” guys cancel meetups because they don't feel safe

Let the ironic male tears fall: The “make rape legal” guys cancel meetups because they don’t feel safe

Aurélie Dupont in Don Quixote

Aurélie Dupont Is Named Director of Paris Opera Ballet

(This makes me very happy, because Natalie Portman’s husband was given the job, and he was totally wrong for it! He lasted fifteen months!)

Need some drama in my book? I’ll rape the heroine (or hero)!

Shades of Gray by Maya Banks

Book Adaptation: Bitten 1×01 to 1×04

Bitten - Season 1

My review of Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

My review of Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

My review of The Best Laid Wedding Plans (Magnolia Brides #1) by Lynnette Austin

The Best Laid Wedding Plans (Magnolia Brides #1) by Lynnette Austin 

 

Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

Carys Chase is accustomed to making her own rules and letting her heart lead the way–no matter what anyone else has to say about it. A rare Breed female and a daywalker as well, headstrong, beautiful Carys is one of the most powerful of her kind. She lives passionately and loves without limits, especially when it comes to the lethal cage-fighting Breed warrior called Rune.

Unbeatable in the ring, Rune exists in a brutal world of blood and bone and death. He’s made his share of enemies both in and out of the arena, and his secrets run as deep and turbulent as his past. A dangerous loner who has survived by his fists and fangs, Rune has never allowed anyone to get too close to him…until Carys. But when the bodies buried in his past rise up to threaten his present, Rune must choose between betraying Carys’ trust or putting her in the crosshairs of a battle neither of them can hope to win on their own.

Bound to Darkness (Midnight Breed #13) by Lara Adrian

The Midnight Breed series was my guilty pleasure series for a while, and I still go back and reread the first few every so often. In fact, I reread book two, Kiss of Crimson, right alongside reading Bound to Darkness, and boy did it ever illustrate how different the series is now.

And not in a particularly good way.

I really wanted to like this one, and was excited to hear that my favourites, Dante and Tess, were in it (turns out they were only there for a couple of pages!). I used to prefer this series to the similar Black Dagger Brotherhood, because the BDB had a tendency to go insane (men turning into dragons and heroines who are ghosts, for example), but now I’m not so sure…

Unfortunately, this book is boring; the lead characters are already in an established relationship, so basically they just have sex; and there’s very little about their story that has anything to do with you know, VAMPIRES.

Additionally, all the established rules about the vampire world the characters inhabit have been thrown out the window, which leaves us with a generation of GI Jane heroines (in this world, women could not be vampires – well that’s certainly changed!), and I rarely enjoy reading about that sort of character.

In fact, this could be just another addition to the current non-paranormal fad of emotionally-stunted cage/MMA fighting heroes with daddy issues who may or may not hang out at BDSM clubs. I avoid these books on purpose; I wanted vampiric things, not New Adult things!

Which leads me to another problem: these characters are babies! The author has jumped ahead to the next generation, but the earlier books only happened some twenty years in the past, which makes this new generation Young Adult characters! The original heroes were so appealing because they were ancient and powerful. These characters are kids!

And because hero and heroine had so little plot to work with (which meant the sex scenes were a hell of a lot lengthier and more pornographic than they used to be), much of the book is just the author trotting out all the past characters and devoting FOR EVER to relating their backstories. Oh, and to giving us pregnancy announcements; the number one reason authors put past heroines on the page.

To illustrate the lack of plot or anything to do with vampires, I jotted down the themes of the first chapters of the book:

Chapter One: Cage fighting.

Chapter Two: A whole chapter updating us on the hero and heroine of book one and on past plotlines.

Chapter Three: Hero and heroine have sex.

Chapter Four: A chapter about the heroine’s parents, also a past romantic pairing in the series.

Chapter Five: The heroine talking to her friends, and long and detailed passages giving these friends’ backstories.

Chapter Six: A chapter about the heroine’s parents and the heroine’s aunt.

Chapter Seven: The hero hanging out at his BDSM/cage fighting club.

Chapter Eight: Another chapter about the hero of book one.

Chapter Nine: The heroine at work at a museum.

Chapter Ten: More sex and cage fighting.

Chapter Eleven: More sex.

Chapter Twelve: The heroine hanging out with her family again.

Chapter Thirteen: Hanging out at the BDSM/cage fighting club. And then arguing about the BDSM/cage fighting club.

Chapter Fourteen: Yet ANOTHER chapter about the heroine’s parents.

Chapter Fifteen: The heroine hangs out with family members, and eats ice cream and watches soap operas because she’s depressed.

This series used to be about vampire warriors fighting an underground war!

The blandness extends to the characters themselves: we weren’t even given a physical description of the hero until the 39% mark, and it was only a few pages earlier that we were told the basics of the heroine, like the colour of her hair. It’s too late by then, because I’ve already formed a totally different image in my mind!

I’m sorry to say this about a series I loved (and one whose earlier books I still enjoy), but this book was pretty much unreadable. Try or reread the first few in the series instead!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Fan Longevity

Bared to You by Sylvia DayA Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Now, clearly there are books that stand the test of time. There have to be, because otherwise my literature degree was a waste of time!

However, with genre fiction things seem to move fast and date fast and then you look back and wonder what you were thinking a few years ago when you loved a book.

I find this a bit sad, and I was thinking back on books that have lasted for me. I’m talking about books about a decade old here, not from many decades ago. Perhaps the mid-2000s was a stellar era for genre fiction, but whatever it is I still have plenty of books from that time that I can still call favourites.

The reason I started thinking about this was because I was checking out Sylvia Day’s Pinterest account, and she has a board dedicated to pictures of fan tattoos. It reminded me of other Big Name series where readers went and got permanent markings because they enjoyed a book so much.

For example, Lara Adrian’s heroines in her Midnight Breed series all have a crescent moon and teardrop birthmark, and fans now have that tattooed all over themselves.

And surely nothing beats the infamous Twilight tattoos, the most infamous of all perhaps being this one:

 twilight-tattoo-edward-cullen

However, fads are fads for a reason. Beards can be shaved off, but all those stretched ears young men are sporting these days are probably not going to be considered great few years down the track. Permanent changes probably aren’t always the best idea!

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa KleypasTo the Brink by Cindy Gerard

Secrets of a Summer Night (2004) is still a precious historical romance for me. To the Brink (2005) still remains my idea of the perfect romantic suspense. I didn’t catch any sleep flying from India to Sri Lanka to Australia in 2005 because I was so engrossed in The Tea Rose, a book I still love. I’m lucky I passed my final university exams because I was so caught up in Into the Wilderness, and I still love that book so much.

However, series I can still look back on fondly – the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for example – are no longer on my OMG Squee! list of books, and I’m certain I’d have regretted getting a tattoo about them.

Remember that infamous Twilight Moms group with their super-active site? I visited there a couple of times out of sheer curiosity, and there were women my age and older saying there will never be a day in their life where they won’t pick up and read part of a Twilight book, and how depressed they feel knowing there will be no more of Bella and Edward. Now the message board doesn’t even exist, and I’m quite sure those women have got on with their lives just fine.

I have no idea what I’m trying to say here. Maybe wait a decade before you get a tattoo declaring your love for a fictional man?

I suppose most people have that select group of long-standing favourites. I suppose they also have a long list of books they were crazy about once, and now can’t remember why that was.

A Taste of Midnight (Midnight Breed #9.5) by Lara Adrian

A Taste of Midnight (Midnight Breed #9.5) by Lara Adrian

In this spellbinding eBook novella of otherworldly desire, a woman whose destiny was born from a blood kiss discover that second chances do come… even for immortals.A shimmering holiday gala lights up an ancient castle in the Scottish Highlands, but beautiful widowed Breedmate Danika MacConn feels alone in the crowd. Even, among the friends and festivity of the Darkhaven celebration, she can’t forget her lost love, a fallen warrior of the Order. Her brief return to her mate’s homeland has become treacherous after rejecting the advances of a dangerous Edinburgh crime boss with a taste for blood sport. As Danika seeks to expose the vampire and his dark trade , she discovers an unexpected ally in his forbidding, enigmatic henchman, Brannoc, a man who exudes heat, danger, and dark menace…

A Taste of Midnight (Midnight Breed #9.5) by Lara Adrian

If someone could explain to me why the woman on the cover has fangs when she’s not the vampire…!! In fact, women in this world cannot be vampires.

I love the vampire world created by Lara Adrian, but this novella unfortunately shows the faults in her storytelling. I wish this had been a full-length book because neither main character was done justice here.

What I do enjoy about the Midnight Breed series is that no matter whether it’s a full book or a novella, there’s a complete story beyond the romance, and that there’s action and adventure. However, A Taste of Midnight packed in a story that should have taken much more time and covered it all in a couple of days.

Danika was mated for centuries. Centuries. One and half years earlier her mate was killed and she was left pregnant (and I think the author messed with the pregnancy timeline a bit here – she was more pregnant when she was widowed in the first book than she claims to have been in this one). Now she has a young son.

Malcolm lost his pregnant mate seven months ago. Seven months.

So how these ancient people could go from mourning for such a short period of time in their existence, to one night together, to immediately committing to mating for eternity was beyond me. The biggest flaw in Adrian’s books is that we never get a reason for this great love her heroes and heroines have together. They meet, have sex a few hours later, and then they’re mated for eternity. In the scheme of things, this novella had the least believable relationship of any so far.

The story with the human trafficking would have been a good one if it had been drawn out. As it was there just wasn’t the page space for the plot the author wanted to use.

I do keep reading these books because there’s something about them I really enjoy, but this wasn’t the best example of the Midnight Breed series.

The Week: 19th – 25th January

Canberra Australia Sunset 22nd January 2015

Canberra sunset on Thursday.

My father’s birthday today! And Australia Day tomorrow. This time of year is a never-ending mess for us. Two Christmases. Two New Years. My grandmother’s, aunt’s, father’s, mother’s and my birthdays. The amount of money that goes into the start of the year…

For Ukraine, what a horrible, horrible week this was. Some 300 Ukrainians were killed by Russian terrorists. CafePress is now selling merchandise with the symbol of the Russian terrorist organisation responsible for the war. Many of us have reported their products. MORE people should report this. It’s sickening to see.

It’s no different to selling Nazi-themed merchandise. Or Al Qaeda t-shirts. Or ISIS-pride things!

Also, I was offered a review copy of Kresley Cole’s latest Russian mafia romance. Because that’s totally something to romanticise.

Shame on you, Kresley Cole. Shame on you.

It has been hot and muggy in Canberra this week. And our cat – that isn’t actually our cat – just keeps coming for visits!

What I want to see in 2015: Historical Romance

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

Defending the Indefensible

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Book Sale Stuff

Customers in the Book Department at Selfridge's department store in London during 1942.

My review of The Rogue’s Folly by Donna Lea Simpson

The Rogue's Folly by Donna Lea Simpson

My review of The Midnight Rake by Anabelle Bryant

The Midnight Rake by Anabelle Bryant

My review of A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian

A Touch of Midnight (Midnight Breed #0.5) by Lara Adrian

My review of Ace’s Wild by Sarah McCarty

Ace's Wild by Sarah McCarty

A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian

This book is currently free.

A Touch of Midnight (Midnight Breed #0.5) by Lara Adrian

Savannah Dupree is halfway across the country from her Louisiana bayou hometown, a freshman studying at Boston University on a full scholarship. But academic excellence is only one of Savannah’s gifts. She possesses something even more remarkable than her quick mind and insatiable curiosity for learning. With a simple touch, Savannah can see an object’s past—a skill that puts her life in danger, when her studies bring her into contact with a centuries-old English sword and the secret hidden within the blade’s history: the vicious murders of twin boys by a group of fanged creatures borne of the worst kind of nightmare.

In all his three hundred years of living as one of the Breed, vampire warrior Gideon never dreamed he’d see the blade again that spilled his young brothers’ lives ages ago on that blood-soaked night in London. Ever since the boys’ deaths, Gideon’s been on a personal quest to rid the world of Rogue vampires, but now he can’t help wondering if the brutal slayings of his only kin was something more sinister—an act perpetrated by an unknown enemy. An enemy who is apparently living in hiding somewhere in Boston. There’s one certain way to prove Gideon’s suspicion, but it will mean using innocent, gifted Savannah to help uncover the full truth—a truth that will shatter everything she knows about herself and the world around her. And with danger closing in from all sides, the passion that ignites between Gideon and Savannah will tempt them to risk their hearts and lives for a love that might just last an eternity…

A Touch of Midnight (Midnight Breed #0.5) by Lara Adrian

Once Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed vampire series became popular she gave us this flashback to the 1970s to tell the story of how two secondary characters got together. Despite the fact the author’s books tend to all seem similar after you’ve read a few, and once again the relationship happens almost instantaneously, there was a lot to enjoy in this one.

Other than Patricia Briggs’ books, I have practically stopped reading paranormal books, so I’ve made a decision to force myself to read more again! I had this novella (which is actually quite a long and fulfilling story) on my Kindle for a long, long time and figured it was time to read it!

A Touch of Midnight takes us back to when tech geek Gideon was one of the powerful Breed warriors and when his mate Savannah was a student and knew nothing of this other world. I liked the little nods to the past: Oh, no, an emergency! I have to find change and run down the street to the payphone!

I also loved that there was talk of Gideon fiddling around with futuristic (for the time) devices, like desktop computers. One major criticism of the similar Black Dagger Brotherhood series is that the vampires never invented anything and only used human technology (even though humans aren’t supposed to be as great). So I appreciated that.

However, I found it a bit amusing that the author wasn’t brave enough to change her warrior heroes’ clothing or speech. Still the fatigues and the black leather – no bell bottoms and disco for our Seventies superheroes!

The sameness to Adrian’s writing is a good argument to not read lots of her books one after the other.

Eighteen-year-old, African-American, Seventies Savannah was really no different to mid-twenties, blonde, professional, 2000s heroines from some of the other books. No matter whether the Breed warrior in question is English, Italian, Spanish or otherwise, they’re all identical in speech and behaviour.

The characters once again fall in love and change their whole lives after only a few days. I never really buy the happy endings, especially as the men involved are many centuries old!

The plot, while fun, bears resemblance to many of the author’s other books.

However, I’m glad I forced myself to pick up a paranormal book for a change. It was fun.