Once Burned (Night Prince, #1)

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A vampire romance for extra violent

I must say I was a little surprised no actually enjoy this book, partially because I was expecting another cheesy oversexualised super-hot-vampire-and-damsel-in-distress ‘female fantasy’ kind of story, and partially because I kind of hated “Halfway to the Grave“. (Though I didn’t even realise this was by the same author and belonged to the same universe until I was already reading.)

This book has an interesting heroine, who is neither the ‘innocent saint’ nor the ‘sassy bitch in miniskirt’ type of the usual vampire novel heroine, and this is one of the things I like about this book the most. She doesn’t lie to herself much, she deals with the shit that falls on her, she does what she needs to. Also, I have a tendency to prefer characters who maybe a little too fearless in a way that they stand up for the things they believe in, even in the circumstances where normal human instinct would tell them not to dig their own grave. She also has morals.
I haven’t read any “Night Huntress” books after DNFing the first one, so this feels like an impressive improvement from a clueless-serial-killer(psycho)-playing-at-dress-up type of main character I saw there.
I did, however, see the similar love for unnecessary over-the-top violence and torture. Not a fan. Especially because of the fact that its senselessness (unnecessary-ness) is so very glaring. I mean, could you actually explain to me what is the point of all the torture when you 1)can read minds and 2) actually have a person who can touch someone and tell you what they’ve done and where they’ve been better than anyone can torture out? I don’t know if the author is just so in love with all the gore, but it’s nothing but gore for the sake of gore, and we have a main hero and ‘love interest’ who continues to torture other vampires with no reasonable justification.
Now, speaking of Vlad, I didn’t actually mind that this is another book about the Vlad. Though I do suppose it is a bit of a tired idea.
What I did mind is the fact that it feels like the only aspect in which the fact that Vlad is a centuries old vampire is in any way reflected is his tendency for violent resolutions of everything. I can’t really explain what exactly I’m expecting to see, but I think that the fact that these ‘people’ have been around for a very long time and have ‘seen it all’ should have been made a little more believable. This Vlad only reads like some sort of modern businessmen, just an abnormally bloodthirsty one.

Also, I hate when people translate Voivode (Wojewoda) as ‘prince’, or use them as synonyms. That’s not what it means at all. Yes, you can be both, but inherent meanings in the titles are very different.



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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What I like about this book is that it’s like a big thick juicy steak. That you can chew and chew on. With some sauce. Maybe even some mashed potatoes on the side.
I don’t think it’s a book everyone would like (and not just because things like that don’t exist). This is not an action-packed book. In fact, a remarkably small percentage of these 690 pages is devolved to ‘exciting action’, as one may call it. And, admittingly, when it is, it tends to be of a somewhat frustrating/irritating variety, the kind where very strong people suddenly lose fights for no logical reason, or just make careless mistakes you would expect them to avoid.
Don’t get me wrong, there is enough of action and intrigues in here, but I don’t think this book will appeal to anyone who likes their fiction fast-paced or jaw-gripping.
This book will only appear to readers who will find themselves quite content to read through looong looong discussions of books, history, science, magic, wine, food, and a very slowly developing relationship on top of it all, with some more sinister events unfolding from time to time.
I’m also a bit biased because this book took me back to missing the good things about my days in Oxford.
I think a great deal of thought and effort went into creating this, and I think that the result turned out as big and delicious meal for the brain.
I can’t say there were’t any things I questioned in terms or believability and logic (or necessity), but I can say that they weren’t significant enough to spoil the experience or leave as lasting of an impression as the good things did.
It’s an ideal book to hide behind to have yourself a couple of long quite evenings of reading and tea. It’s also a perfect ‘first book’, a book where all the good stuff before the ‘shit hits the fan’ is, to re-read multiple times, regardless of how the rest of the series will unfold.



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Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1)

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


First, I’d like to say that there isn’t really anything negative to say about the quality of the book, writing and imagination. It’s a very well-written book.
The problem that I have with this book is that it’s a big gorey mess of malice and misery. I don’t think I’ve seen a single positive thing in the whole book. Rape, murder, manipulation, torture, control and humiliation, and children mixed into all of that. I’m sure there are people to whom it would appeal. I’m not one of them. In the end I had to force myself to finish this book just so that I would see its horrors be over and it wouldn’t haunt me. I also felt like I needed to wash my brain with gentle soap and warm water afterwards.

… It also occurred to me that a lot of people could be mislead by the title in combination with ‘vampire novel’ and buy this thinking it would be another half-silly paranormal romance… they’re in for a nasty surprise.



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Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


DNFed at about 70%. Not really because this was very bad, maybe I’ll even finish it some day… but I just couldn’t keep myself interested after certain point. The main character is a young woman who was brainwashed and psychologically abused into becoming a serial killer (of vampires… but try replacing ‘vampire’ with any ethnicity or race and you’ll get a criminology textbook sample). Enter a handsome gentleman vampire bounty hunter who, of course, falls in love at first sight, decides he’ll first teach her how to be a more proficient killer and then maybe hope that she’ll realize she was wrong to go around murdering indiscriminately. To be honest, the whole ‘vampire’ aspect didn’t seem very central or integrated. Like the story would’ve worked without problems without it. And the main theme of this book is ‘rape’. It’s in the back stories of the both main characters, it is the driving force, the main villain. There’s just too much. I dropped the story around the time some sort of supernatural law enforcement was about to show up, because that part just seem tedious.



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Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I’m not usually a fan of ‘dark’ and ‘vampires’, but I picked this book up because I saw “fans of Black Dagger Brotherhood will love this” on another book’s cover. Admittedly, I mistakenly thought that 1) reverse should be true as well; 2) if publishers bothered to put something on the front cover it should actually make sense. (The two books had absolutely nothing in common.)
I gave this three stars because there were a few points and moments (like the blindness and cat communication) that I actually liked, but overall this was not a very pleasant experience.
First, I made up this book to be scarier than it was for about 60% of it. This would be because it started very low. Murder, rape, prostitution, psychopaths, a thick layer of immorality on every side, and a gathering of tortured souls with very disturbing pasts. From the very beginning it is filled with too much malice and violence.
Second, there is something very unsavory and ‘underdone’ about this book’s writing and language. The extra ‘kind of’s in descriptions, the fact that Darius’s name is the only one that didn’t fit into the pattern of the Brotherhood like he didn’t belong from the beginning, the cheesiest ‘Mr. X’, the ‘awesome responsibility’, the dialogs that felt like they needed a few more edits… I kept stumbling over these, and the reading didn’t feel smooth or nice, especially in the beginning.
And then also the ‘street/gang’ talk cops and Brotherhood kept using and the whole rap music and ‘we’re so bad and badass’ tone done in a way that just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Then we get an unappreciated-as-an-individual extremely beautiful heroine and a super-strong, super-inhumanly-hot main hero. Skip the insta-romance and jump into insta-lust. And ‘You’re a vampire, Harry.’ cherry on top.
I’m not sure if my perception is screwed by the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to read through the ‘Mr. X’ parts because of whole cliché-ism and distastefulness of them and skipped most of them, but I also felt like the main character suddenly lost most of her personality and just turned into ‘perfect wife and queen that says and does only the right things’.
About the same time, the book lost most of its scarinesses and it became clear that nothing as terrible as I imagined was actually going to happen. Which is actually a plus, because I liked the ending more that the beginning. Just still not enough to like the book overall.



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