Donna Reads: Sin & Chocolate (Demigod of San Francisco #1) by K. F. Breene

Alexis is magical, but she thinks her magical skill is nothing special. She lives in the area between magical and non-magical people, and she’s raising two teenagers she’s taken in. She can see dead people, and she helps them cross over when they are stuck between worlds. She attracts the attention of the demigod, Kieran, and he asks for her help with his recently deceased mother who is one of the souls who is stuck. 

This one was just okay for me. The story wasn’t particularly interesting. Alexis was not likable, and sadly she did not grow on me over the course of the book. She was sarcastic and rude, and although the hero repeatedly expressed interest in her, she wanted no part of him. There was little to no romance here. They kissed a few times. There was no heat, no banter, and no charming back and forth. It was just boring to me. 

The best parts were when Alexis spoke to ghosts. I had to backtrack several times, though, and re-read because it wasn’t always obvious to me that people she saw or spoke to were deceased. There was no indication that they were dead until I realized no one else was interacting with them. This brings up another peeve – the writing style. It wasn’t always clear. 

Had I known this book wasn’t really a stand alone, complete story, I probably wouldn’t have read it. It seemed to ramble and not really get anywhere. I’m not sure I’m going to bother with the second book as I think the author intends to drag this on and on. 

Donna Reads: Written in Red (The Others, #1) by Anne Bishop

3.5 of 5 Goodreads stars. This was a hard book for me to get into. In this series humans are not important and initially there is a lot of world-building (and not much else) going on. In this story, the world is run by Others, and the humans are actually a source of food.

Meg Corbyn is human, but she’s also a blood prophet or a cassandra sangue. Meg’s kind are kept captive by controllers, and they are raised in an environment where they only learn by watching training videos or images. They are not allowed contact with the outside world. Their skin is very valuable, and customers pay to use their prophesizing abilities. When a cassandra sangue is cut, they see visions or prophesies.

The Others in the story are shifters (wolves, bears, hawks, owls, crows, coyotes, etc.), vampires and other dangerous beings. These beings are highly intelligent and although they can look and act civilized, they are not human and do not understand human behavior. The larger settlements are run by the Others. Simon Wolfgard is a wolf shifter and the leader of the Lakeside District. He owns and runs a bookstore among other things.

There is also a human police presence, determined to keep relations between humans and the Others cordial. The police in the story are for the most part good guys although there is corruption within the human government, too. There is history between the species, and when the humans overstep, the Others are swift to mete out justice. Entire populations and cities are wiped out in a flash. There are many areas where human law does not apply, and humans are not allowed to go.

In our story, Meg has managed to escape from her controller, and she is on the run. She ends up in the Lakeside District where she sees a job posting in the window of the bookstore for a Human Liaison. The Liaison receives and sorts the mail, taking deliveries from humans and making sure packages are delivered to Others. Against his better judgment, Simon hires her. He senses that Meg is different somehow and “not prey”.

I had many starts and stops with this book. I wanted to like it, but I kept putting it aside. It starts slowly. I wanted more of a romance, and there is only a slight warming between Meg and Simon. He doesn’t trust her at the beginning, and he is wise not to trust most humans. Meg is childlike and innocent, though, and she gradually wins over all the Others she comes into contact with. No one seems to hate Meg, and they all want to protect her once they get to know her. That seemed a little unrealistic.

I found the animal shifters for the most part charming and sometimes amusing. For such dangerous beings, should they have been more awe-inspiring or frightening? They weren’t. I especially liked the ponies and the crows. I also liked the Sanguinati (the vampires).

I stayed up late to finish the book because all the action takes place at the end. The bad guys were easily overcome, and each of the Others has a hand in defeating them/saving Meg. I have started the second book in the series, and I do recommend this one. Just don’t let the slow start put you off.

Donna Reads: Destined for an Early Grave

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

DFEGIn Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost, the fourth book in the Night Huntress series, Cat and her vampire lover/husband, Bones are on vacation. Cat has retired from her job, working for the government fighting the rogue undead. Cat and Bones are trying to relax when Cat begins to have nightmares about another vampire. Gregor is a Dreamsnatcher and he attempts to abduct Cat out of her dreams. Gregor believes that Cat belongs to him. As Gregor invades her dreams more and more, Cat must find a way to stop him.

I enjoyed this book more than the last one in the series, but I had a few issues with it. Gregor’s prior claim on Cat is from his previous kidnapping of her at age 16. Did Gregor manipulate her mother’s mind? Why else would her Mother have thought he was a nice man and sent her 16-year-old daughter off to Paris with him? Where was Cat’s uncle at the time? He was supposedly keeping watch over her throughout the years, having known all along who she was. I also don’t understand Mencheres’ involvement when Cat was a teenager. I found the whole ‘he saw it in a vision’, ‘he erased her memories of Gregor’ and ‘he sent Bones to the bar to meet her that first night they met’ to be a little far-fetched. Perhaps more will be explained in the book where Mencheres is the lead character. I got irritated quickly in this book with Cat’s stupidity. She refused to trust Bones even though he’s a mega-Master vampire. She won’t do as he asks, she speaks without thinking, she’s impulsive, and she practically runs right into Gregor’s arms.

There are so many things I like about these books – the strong lead characters, the dialogue and interplay between them, the sense of humor, the romance and the danger. As the books have gone on, I find myself liking Bones more and more and Cat not so much. She’s stupid, she says annoying, obnoxious things and most of the time she deserves the trouble she gets herself into. Many times I find myself thinking that Bones could do better. Of all the women he’s known over 200+ years of existence, I have a hard time believing that her bold, brashness was what he fell in love with. The fact that he’s never loved anyone before her seems a little weird to me.

I love the series, and I have been reading the books and novellas in the order that Ms. Frost recommends. I’m hoping the reason why Cat is the only woman for Bones becomes clearer to me. She may be the lead character, but she’s not why I read the series.



In Search of A Hero

This August will mark three years that I’ve been blogging. The recent break that I’ve taken from my blogs has been the longest non-posting period for me in all that time. I’m still writing, but I’m writing outside of the blogging forum.

As most know, I decided to continue the story and some of the characters that I began in my short stories that I wrote for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I enjoyed writing about Annelise so much that I wanted to write more about her life. When my story opens, she’s 17 years old, and she’s still hanging out with her best friend, Zoe.

It’s weird when someone asks me what I’m writing that I have a hard time articulating the concept. I’m almost afraid to tell for fear that I’ll spoil it or lose what I’m writing. I have 31 chapters and 92,438 words so far. The story hasn’t really come to its end so I’m letting it meander where it will. I plan to just go with it and write, write, write and worry about editing and shaping it later. There is a lot that will be edited out and possibly be used in another book some day. I don’t consider any of it a waste of time. It will get used somewhere. Even if it doesn’t, I had the joy of getting it out onto the page.

baseballWhat began as a story with a teenaged girl as the protagonist has somehow changed along the way. She’s still the main character, but the hero is the character who keeps me writing. How about that picture, huh?  No, he’s not exactly what my hero looks like, but he’s certainly inspirational! Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s obvious pretty early on that he’s in love with her and has been for a while. It’s a young adult type story, but it’s not all that either. It has a ghost in it, but I haven’t really decided where I’m going with that part of the story either.

One of my biggest concerns is that what I’ve got so far isn’t G-rated. There’s swearing and sex, and while I’m not embarrassed about what I’ve written, I worry about how it might be taken by some who are not as open-minded as I am. It remains to be seen what might get edited or softened in the final version. I could always use a penname, I suppose, but I can decide that later, too. It’s not ready for anyone else to read it yet, but I look forward to that day.

I am a member of a writer’s group and they do regular critique sessions. For the recent critique they had they were asking that the writer give up the rights to the written piece so that it could be published in a group anthology. I don’t have that much written work ready yet, and I’m certainly not surrendering any parts of my “baby” and losing my hold over it.

I haven’t felt this alive in quite some time. I love writing. Even if it never goes anywhere at all, it’s been good for my confidence level and good for me. I hope this feeling never ends.