Donna Reads: A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #2) by Kresley Cole 

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Maybe I just don’t know enough about mythology, but this book felt disjointed at times like I’d missed something or had actually started the series several books in. This installment of the author’s Immortals After Dark series is actually billed as #2 now, but when I bought it, it said #1 (it says #1 in my Kindle). There is a story before this one, and it’s part of an anthology and billed as ‘the remastered 10 year anniversary edition’. Had I known it existed, I would have read that story first. 

There were a lot of characters in this book, and they were all otherworldly immortals or mythical beings. It got confusing, and I found myself re-reading often, hoping for clarification. Perhaps this is just the author’s style, but I found myself wishing for either less going on or more backstory to explain the chaotic storyline. There was a glossary of sorts at the beginning to explain the creatures and the lore, but it didn’t explain the individuals and why they did what they did. I note that the author’s website does include a character descriptions page that does give a little more detail but only for some of the characters.

This one opens with Lachlain MacRieve, King of the Lykae (werewolves), having been held imprisoned and tortured by the vampires for centuries. His hatred of the vampires and his desire for revenge has kept him sane. He finally escapes when he senses his one and only mate is near. He is surprised when he discovers his mate is the half-vampire/half-Valkyrie Emmaline Troy. He kidnaps her to take her home to his kingdom in Scotland.

I found the Valkyries (Emma’s family) to be particularly annoying. They didn’t think Emma was strong enough or brave enough, and they seemed to hate everyone who wasn’t Valkyrie, too. I didn’t feel sorry for Emma. She proved that she was more than a match for anyone she went up against. I did like Lachlain and the Lykae (a Celtic people with a wolf spirit) a lot. I kept reading trying to decipher the characters and the storyline because of him and all that he’d suffered.

I do hope the series gets easier to understand as it goes on. 

Donna Reads: Fated (Dark Protectors #1) by Rebecca Zanetti

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Cara Paulsen is a scientist and single mother. She has empathic abilities; her four year old daughter, Janie is psychic. Janie has a nightmare, predicting that evil is coming. She wakes Cara telling her that bad men are on their way and they must run. Barely awake, Cara is terrified to hear someone breaking down their front door. 

Talen Kayrs is a three hundred year old vampire. He’s come to protect Cara and Janie and take them to safety away from the evil Kurjans vampires. He wasn’t expecting to find his mate in the feisty scientist. Before leading her to safety at one of his family’s hideouts, he marries Cara to protect her from the evil race intent on abducting her and Janie. 

This first book in the Dark Protectors series was interesting. A fast read, I found it difficult to put down. I liked that the vampires of the Realm were different from most fictional vampires. They were the good guys. They seemed more human than monster. There were shifters in the story, and they were good guys, too, and they worked with the vampires against the Kurjans. 

For all that I liked about the book, I really disliked how stupid the heroine was. For a scientist there was no logic in half the dumb messes she got herself into. She repeatedly did exactly the opposite of what she was told to do and had to be rescued more than once. At times she was TSTL. 

Overall, this was a promising start to the series, and other than the heroine, I liked this cast of characters. I will definitely read more. 

A Hoppy Tail

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Commander Bun-Bun and Earl the Squirrel met every morning at the tree in front of the gray house to share a kernel of corn and a sunflower seed or two. They’d been meeting every day, and although they each thought the other looked a bit strange, they’d gotten used to one another and didn’t mind the company. The squirrel was good at knowing when the truly good stuff had been put out, and his presence always meant that it was time to put the feedbag on. The rabbit was good at sensing danger. One sweep of his gigantic, twitchy ears, and he instantly knew if that darned black and white cat, the evil hawk or the rowdy brats from across the street were approaching. When he gave the signal, they both ran for cover.

Breakfast went on as usual, with the occasional mumbled comment about happenings in the neighborhood. Other than the new bluejay offspring which everyone already knew about because of their horrendous squawking and screeching when they wanted to be fed, there wasn’t much new going on. All was well. When Earl received a message from his sister, Pearl, that his wife was looking for him, he said his goodbyes and scampered off. Bun-Bun, who secretly envied Earl’s domestic bliss, ate quietly by himself for several minutes. He was concentrating on the seed when he suddenly heard soft footfalls in front of him.

Who was this creature? Could it be? Why, yes, it was a female rabbit. “Um, hi, hello? I’m Commander Bun-Bun,” he addressed the vision in loveliness in front of him. He was almost afraid to blink she was so beautiful. Her coat was glossy, her black eyes shiny, her gaze direct, her whiskers softly twitching, and her ears turned with just the sweetest curve.

“Hi, yourself,” she said. “My name is Hope, but everyone calls me Hoppy. Is this seed for everyone?”

“Yes, yes, it is,” he said, hardly daring to believe his good luck. She wanted to eat with him!

They ate in companionable silence, and slowly but surely, she crept closer.

‘Oh, my Gosh!’ thought Commander Bun-Bun.

She stretched closer, her whiskers twitching in that cute way that made Bun-Bun’s tummy feel all queer and twirly.

Just when it seemed like she was really going to kiss him, he panicked. Was his breath fresh enough? What if he tried to kiss her back, and he missed? Oh, no!!!!!

He was just too excited to stand still. He took off in a wild spin around the tree. He ran faster than he’d ever run before! He dashed a mad dash around and around. As he sped around, he could hear soft chuckles and snickers. She… she was laughing! She thought he was cute, too!

He screeched to a halt, near to his original spot.

“Hey, how you doin’?” he asked, in his best cool bunny voice, trying not to breathe too heavily and trying to appear much calmer than he felt inside. His nose twitched in excitement.

“Ah, Bun-Bun,” she sighed, twitching her nose back at him. “Would you teach me how to dash like that? You have some mad skills. Maybe when we’re through, you could walk me home? And maybe when we get to my door, I might try to kiss you again, and maybe you’ll stand still this time.”

Bun-Bun blushed, not believing his good fortune. He couldn’t wait to tell Earl.

Reclaiming the Wild Child

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My hubby recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Yes, I’m married to a sexagenarian. Makes him sound like a pervert, doesn’t it? LOL. In our case, I think the pervert label fits me better than it does him, but I’ll never tell.

I’m sure everyone sees it anyway. I’m the one with the ink, the pink hair, the foul mouth, the preference for metal music, and the penchant for smutty romance novels. Hubby is so normal I often wonder just what it is he sees in me. He’s a trucker, and he’s the kinder, gentler half of this couple. I’m not sure even he knows what to make of me half the time, but this is who I really am. I stifled this for years; it had to come out sometime.

Hubby was the catalyst for releasing the inner wild child I hid so well for a quarter of a century. In my mid-20’s, I was attending metal concerts on a regular basis, and I had long, curly, blue-black hair. Then my cousin moved away and I lost my wild best friend, the one who attended concerts with me, and the one I laughed the longest and loudest with. I’d always been shy, but with her I was louder and more alive. I grieved her moving from New York to Texas to join the rest of her family. A short time after she moved, my father suddenly got sick and he passed away, and I suffered another crippling blow. I was twenty-eight, single, and still living at home.

Knowing I could lose my mother, too, at any time, I decided I needed to meet someone with whom I could possibly share a future so I dialed back who I was. I settled into normalcy. I cut my hair; I went back to my normal, boring brown. In essence, I grew up. I had a steady, decent paying job, and I was ready to settle down. Unfortunately, I altered who I was to fit in at work, as a partner and wife, as a mother, and in life. Giving up my wild side, I hated who I was, and I didn’t even know it. I thought it was just my natural reserve that always made me feel so damned inadequate.

I met hubby when I was twenty-nine. We married when I was thirty, and we had our first son when I was thirty-one. Life moved on fairly quickly.

Together hubby and I raised two wonderful, young men. We had our challenges with ADHD, Autism, Diabetes, Celiac disease, Asperger’s syndrome and way too much time spent with doctors, specialists, administrators, teachers and others who all thought they knew what was best for my sons. I stifled a lot over the years to see two young men through the nightmare and quagmire that was the public school system. I bit my tongue so many times when all I wanted to do was swear and lash out. As their advocate, I thought I had to hold my anger inside. I tried to put my boys first at all times. Having to deal with all these strangers who knew nothing about my sons but passed judgment anyway made me more outgoing but it also made me bury all that fury and anger deep inside.

I lost my mother when I was forty-six. Shortly after that my aged pets began to leave me, one by one; not their fault, of course. Everything dies. To get by, I buried my hurt and grief deep along with all that anger. I was probably clinically depressed and didn’t even know it at the time. I was hurting so badly I was barely functioning inside, but I made it through each day.

Something about turning fifty changed things. I hadn’t even realized that my sweet hubby knew deep down inside that I wasn’t a happy person. I was just going through the motions. He pushed. He pushed at me some more. Then he pushed even harder. Over the course of a year, he kept pushing at me. I had thought that we were happy and that we were complete. Being the saner, smarter half of this couple he knew differently. He knew I wasn’t happy, and since I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t either.

Hubby pushed hard, and he told me things needed to change. When it finally occurred to me that something was in fact “broken”, I began to get scared that maybe it was our marriage. He was the one who suggested I needed to do something really different to break out of this funk that I was stuck inside, a mid life crisis sort of gesture. So at age 51, I went back to school to start on my first college degree, and I got my first tattoo. The ink actually came first. It was something I’d always wanted to do but hadn’t because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother.

Gradually, the wild child began to find her way back. I finally opened my eyes and realized I no longer cared what others thought, and I didn’t have to fit into any molds of what I should be. I only have to do what makes me happy. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

My marriage? It was never broken. I was. My sexagenarian hubby? He loves the wild child. Me? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pink hair, ink, loud music, bad language and all. I wish I’d realized what was missing years ago. Me.

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