Four: A Divergent Collection – Veronica Roth

four

starstarstar

Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #0.1-0.4

Pages: 304

youngscifidystopiaanthologyfirst_person

Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as Four in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton’s life.

The first three pieces in this volume The Transfer, The Initiate, and The Son follow Tobias’s transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions.

The fourth story, The Traitor, runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty and love that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

I think I have made it pretty clear with my previous reviews of the last two books of the Divergent saga that those books are not among my favourite. Not by a really long shot. Like so long you can’t see the end of it. I bought a book box with the four books of the saga, so I kind of trapped myself there. Once bought, my obligation as a reader (and as a guy who doesn’t like to waste money) was to read them. Even the last one, which is actually a prequel from the point of view of Tobias, a.k.a Four. I’m going to keep this review short and simple, because I have little to say about the book.

This book is a collection of short stories following the character Tobias. From his final days in the Abnegation faction to a retelling of the book Divergent. Followed by some delete scenes of the first book to delight the faithful readers and to remind the ones like me why this saga is not for us.

The best part of the book is that most of it is free of that horrendous character called Tris. Yes, it’s no secret that I don’t like her at all. My dislike towards Four is not so strong (even though by the end of Allegiant I was ready to set him on fire…), so I knew I was going to be able to stomach the first short stories: The Trannsfer, The Initiate and The Son. My standars for this book were so low, that those first stories came as a surpise. I liked them. I liked to get to witness from the point of view of Tobias the action that we were merely told in previous books.

They are intesresting, fast paced, linking beautifully with the plot of the saga and with characters more enjoyable than I was expecting. Were was that Zeke or Shauna when we needed them the most? I can’t actually remember. I know they are present in the other books at some point, but I can’t remember their role in the story. Possibly, interpolating the fate of good characters in the hands of this author, their role was just to be killed leaving them totally underdeveloped. But the past is the past, I will focus on this book which is actually the past of the characters… Man, prequels… They always mess my internal timeline!

Before getting totally derailed, what I wanted to say is that the first three stories are good. Really good. No buts. But the fourth (The Traitor) and those deleted scenes… Someone wants to make an educated guess who is in those stories? Yeah, Tris. I’m not going to be too cruel with that character, because she is not the only reason why I didn’t like them. I didn’t like those stories because they were mostly a retelling of the Divergent book. I’m not fan of reading a book more than once and it would be out of the question for a book I didn’t enjoy. So, being “forced” to re-read some parts of it was hard. And I can only say that I’m glad it is over.

So, the book as a whole is just ok. Although, if I’m being honest, I think is the book of the saga I have enjoyed the most.

paragraph1

2019 – Book Gallery

Advertisements

All The Right Moves – Becca Taylor

rightmoves

starstarstar

Author: Becca Taylor
Pages: 233

contemporary_romfriendstoloversfirst_persontearshotweak

Being called the worst boyfriend can do a number on a man’s ego.
But I handled it the way any full-grown adult male would—by eating copious amounts of carbs and wallowing over whether I was good enough.
I admit, it wasn’t the best of moments, but it made me realize I needed answers to the question, what are women looking for inside and out of the bedroom?
After I researched the subject, I compiled my data into a solution.

Thirty days.
Thirty right moves.

But I needed to test out my newfound theories, and my best friend, Tenley, was going to help.
It was a foolproof plan.
We would date and act like a real couple, all in the name of research. And when the thirty days were up, we would go back to being just friends.
Piece of cake, right?
Only, I forgot to take into consideration the multiple outcomes. Specifically, the one where it left me wanting more and refusing to go back to what we were… ever again.

What is the main thing I expect from a Romantic Comedy novel? To have some good laughs along the romance. Witty banter and funny situations. Some belly ache due to a really bad joke. Sense of humor in general. So, let me be disappointed if a so-called Romantic Comedy is anything except comedic. It’s harsh, but it is the truth. Nonetheless, it’s a nice reading that I have enjoyed.

The story is mostly told from the point of view of Preston, a 25-yearl-old guy whose girlfriend has just dumped him. That same girlfriend wrote a list about the worst attributes of Preston and that made the guy to apply his statistical skills to forge his own list with the steps to become the perfect date. On the other hand we have Tenñey, the best friend forever of said guy who has always been in love with him but has neves got the guts to say something fearing it could destroy their friendship. Lucky for her, Preston decides that she would be the perfect guinea pig for his recently minted list to become a mind-blowing lover.

When I read the blurb I was so down for this. I thought that Preston was going to be kind of a crappy guy whose cockiness would let him believe he could make a list to be irresistible to any girl. I was expecting the sweet erosion of the macho male realizing little by little that what he has is not what women want. The typical case of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. A path that should be ridden with lots of funny situations and banter. But the truth is far from that and it’s the main issue I have with this book. All the plot is based on Chanel breaking up with Preston because he sucks at everything surrounding a romantic couple. But since the beginning we take notice that Chanel’s opinion doesn’t hold any weight. She is stuck in her teenage years and all her comments in the book are petty and utterly immature. So… why the hell Preston takes it so seriously??? He makes the list to become a better boyfriend, but he doesn’t really need one and he barely uses it during the book. What I was sold as the foundation of the story is just a passing moment that doesn’t make any sense…

For the sake of the story, I tried to believe that Preston needed the list and I was ready to enjoy his application of said ways to improve himself. Here comes the second issue. He picks his best friend, Tenley, to test it out. I don’t know if it was meant to be a funny situation, but for me was very awkward and not enjoyable at all. So yes, the beginning of this book wasn’t working for me. I had too many issues with it and none of the humor I was promised. Thankfully, once the first barrier is passed; it is pretty easy to start getting along with the main characters.

The main strength, and I dare to say the only one, is the cast of the book. Alone, Preston and Tenley are nothing out of the extraordinary, but together… There is nothing better in a Romance book that a couple you totally believe in. The author sold me the purest love she could come up with and I bought it!! They are so sweet together that the sex scenes, even when falling in the light espectrum, are really hot. I also have to thank the author for using Preston point of view during some of those scenes. In many M/F books with dual point of view, the sexy times are always related from the woman point of view; so this has been a welcome change.

The peak moment is almost at the end, when their love story is beautifully summarized with just one word: right. That is how it felt and I approve that the author didn’t try to overexplain their feelings. It wasn’t needed. It’s one of those cases where the love is so obvious that trying to rationalize it would ruin it. I even cried a little bit, becasue I felt truly happy for them. Yes, the couple won me over and I was totally invested.

It’s an uneventful book that I would never label it as Romantic Comedy with a misleading blurb and really sloppy beginning, but it compensates some of those weaknesses with a great couple. This is a standalone book, but it seems the author has created a Universe where all her books take place; so the characters could appear in other works. I’m curious. I’m a sucker for interconnected stories. I wasn’t impressed with the book, but learning about that has made me check more of Becca’s books.

paragraph1

2019 – Book Gallery

Ante Up – Charlie Cochet

anteup

starstarstar

Author: Charlie Cochet
Series: Four Kings Security #2.5

Pages: 41

contemporary_rommm

Look but don’t touch. That’s the rule concerning dancers at Sapphire Sands, the prestigious members-only nightclub where Seth works at as a bartender. Seth has never had a problem following the rules until the day one of the dancers falls into his lap. Literally.

Kit loves his job dancing at Sapphire Sands. Every day his job brings him closer to his dream of opening his own dance studio, so risking it all on the hot bartender is not an option. Or is it?

My last book of the year 2018. I’ve been busy this last days, so the review comes a bit later than planned, but… here I am!! Trying to write something about a short story that won’t leave a mark in my life.

In this story we follow Seth, a bartender in the Sapphire Sands club, and Kit, one of the dancers (the kind of dancer who uses few pieces of clothing…). There is a really strict rule about working not dating dancers, so they found themselves in a tight situation with the boss…

The story is plain. It seemed the main characters were going to have a bigger problem for breaking the golden rule about not dating. Frank is even presented as kind of an ogre that would eat them alive if they show any kind of personal relationship. But in the end… it wasn’t that bad. The boss even comes up with a solution without making a big fuss of the situation, so in the end the story feels a bit hollow.

There is also not enough time to make me a fan of any of the characters. I guess I prefer Seth. He looks like a good guy and, well, I’m not going to deny that the descriptions of his body also helps to put him on top of the list… It’s such a short story that I won’t apologize for being a bit shallow. I’ll alawys save whatever I can of a book to grant it higher marks.

This story is included in the Four Kings Security saga. Do not expect any mention of the previous books or any appearance of the guys (no Ace, no fun :_( ). The only point in common is the club itself that was mentioned in the first book. Yes, that weird club for elite gay men. Waaay to peculiar for my taste, if you ask me.

I wanted to cramp another book before the end of the year, but the crazy Christmas schedule at home has kept me from fulfilling that goal. But that also means that I’m starting the year with a book by the fabulous Teagan Hunter, so… :).

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

King Consort – J.R. Gray

king

starstarstar

Author: J.R. Gray
Pages: 279

contemporary_rommmroyalsfirst_personzzzlove

Avoiding sleeping with women was my specialty, an art form even. As the future King of England I couldn’t be caught sleeping with men. My whole life played out in front of the paparazzi, and they didn’t miss a thing.

I had a carefully crafted womanizing persona to maintain. My life came with rules, all of which I broke when I couldn’t resist a one night stand with the enemy: A beautiful paparazzo with a heart of gold. He may be the only person who doesn’t want me for my title, and he can never be anything more than my secret.

But secrets have a way of coming out and not only will they scare him away, but they’ll lose me the crown.

I was away from Romance books (and books in general) for several years and when I came back (2018) romance novels with Royals had become a huge deal. One of the current trends for a genre liable to have new ones every single year. Back then stepbrothers were all the rage!! This is my first taste of this flavour of the hour and I must say it wasn’t tasty enough…

In this book we meet Prince Louis of Britain, a womanizer who is going to inherit the Crown sooner or later. His misadventures with multiple women are well recorded in the media, but the truth is he is not the kind of guy who goes through female after female to quench his thirst. Actually, he doesn’t like women at all, but his hmosexuality must be a well kept secret due to the out of date rules of the monarchy. On the other hand; we have Xavier, a paparazzi who is not comfortable at all in his own skin. The attraction among them is very strong, but the relationship seems doomed before starting. Will they be able to make it work?

I’m going to focus first on the good part: the characters. Well, not all of them, but most. Louis has been a nice surprised. He seemed pompous with a stick through his… uuuhm… noble back parts? You get my meaning ;). But in reallity he is a really good guy who wants to make right to everyone surrounded him, especially his sister. The struggle of the Prince is the best part of the book and it makes the reader fall in love with the character quite easily. The guy has to deal with his secret, his troublemaker of a sister and the weight of the Crown. It’s a wonder he is able to keep a good humor most of the time.

With such a co-star, Xavier falls in the short side. It’s not a bad character, per se; but his constant insecurity bores me a little too much. I guess it can’t be easy to handle with the special life of Louis, but Xavier has too many demons that make him blind to what he has in front of him. It’s not all bad, though. His sense of honor and morals is remarkable in a profession that usually works in simple terms of prey and hunter. So, kudos for him!!

Too bad the rather good character are paired with a boring story that goes in circles over and over again and doesn’t even end. Yes, we knew since the beginning the difficult situation for their relationship. That’s chaprter 1. By charpetr 10 I expected the plot to have gone forward, but it was totally stuck. My hope gets renew when they travel to London, but it’s totally crushed with the most unemotional and sloppy ending I have read in a long time. The way everything ends makes me believe that the realtionship has no real future, just wishful thinking…

I can’t finish the review without mentioning the real star of the book and the main reason this book has got one more point in its mark than what it deserves: Doug. The bodyguards steals all the scenes when he has an appearance. His brotherly relationship with Louis and his peculiar way of dealing with Xavier bring always a simle to my face.

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

Dragonmark – Sherrilyn Kenyon

dragonmark

starstarstar

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #25

Pages: 344

paranormal_romshiftersdemonsmagicboomweakangry

Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn…

Twenty-five main books is a really big number and Kenyon is not stopping anytime soon. But so many books and so many on-going sagas are paying a toll. The price has been paid with Dragonmark, one of the weakest Dark-Hunter books I have ever read

This story is supposedly to be Illarion’s book (more on that later). He is one of the oldest dragons, a solitary creature until he met Edilyn, a human daughter of a demon. As it is very common with shapesifters, Illarion knew she was her mate. This book tries to tell the love story between the two of them…

I say try, because the plot of the book is developed in a pretty wierd fashion. We start in the past, with Illarion meeting Edilyn and her brother Virag. They fall in love and, as any normal couple, go to a demonic realm to fight The Morrigan. It goes pretty bad, pretty fast… Edilyn dies behind the scenes. One chapter she was there, the next she wasn’t. The book had barely begun and, suddenly, Illarion’s book mutates into Cadegan’s book (again!!). A huge chunk of this book is a retelling of Son of No One, where Illarion is mere supporting character.

But the travesty doesn’t end there. Illarion is rescued from the demonic plane and the plot travels to the present. I could barely believe what happened then… Kenyon retells us Max’s book, Dragonbane!! That was the previous one… I don’t have a great memory, but it is not so bad!! Almost 80% of Illarion’s book is not about Illarion. I think this story was just meant to fill some contractual obligation with the editorial, because I don’t understand why the author would do something like this on purpose. I hope this doesn’t happen again…

Is Illarion’s short story any good? The part in the past is pretty basic. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl’s jerk of a brother steals from boy and all hell is set loose… It looked pretty interesting, actually. Virag (the brother) is a nice character that I want to meet again in the future. After the huge retellings, Illarion takes again the spotlight. If you remember, in Max’s book he joins Apollo’s gang to save his mate (yes, she didn’t really die). What happens after that is very short, but good; so, overall, the story is decent. The final revelation is SOOO sweet. I’m savouring it!!

Kenyon is lucky to have such an amazing (and huge) cast of characters. Thanks to them, even a poor book like this one can be enjoyable. Any other author would have got a strike on my chart, but I can’t really be that tough with her. I like her books too much. Let’s hope the next one makes me forget this book (another way to say I don’t want more retellings!!).

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

Homecoming – Kass Morgan

home100

starstarstar

Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100 #3
Pages: 340

youngscifiapocalypticweakbad_cover

Weeks after landing on Earth, the Hundred have managed to create a sense of order amidst their wild, chaotic surroundings. But their delicate balance comes crashing down with the arrival of new dropships from space.

These new arrivals are the lucky ones—back on the Colony, the oxygen is almost gone—but after making it safely to Earth, GLASS’s luck seems to be running out. CLARKE leads a rescue party to the crash site, ready to treat the wounded, but she can’t stop thinking about her parents, who may still be alive. Meanwhile, WELLS struggles to maintain his authority despite the presence of the Vice Chancellor and his armed guards, and BELLAMY must decide whether to face or flee the crimes he thought he’d left behind.

It’s time for the Hundred to come together and fight for the freedom they’ve found on Earth, or risk losing everything—and everyone—they love.

One fun fact about me… well, just a fact: I love The 100 TV Show!! I can’t get enough of their never-ending drama. I must be a really bad guy for wishing them a hard time so I can get my enjoyment. As you may know, the series is based on a series of books written by Kass Morgan. The first book was published almost at the same time the first season was aired, so the CW bought the rights waaaay before the book were on bookshops. That channel bought the rights of a book written by a totally unkown author. I’ve been always curious about how that happened. No idea if that story has been made public. Anyway… I had to read the books, because I love the show. I read the first two a long time ago and I have recently decided that 2018 is my year to finish what I started.

In this third book we follow Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass during the promising events of more colonists crashing on Earth. The new arrivals must face the reality that they are not alone on the planet and they must share with the Earthborns. Rhodes doesn’t want to accept that and tries to keep the unfair Gaia doctrine to rule the colonists and the hundred. He also declares Bellamy an enemy of the state, so he is in a tight spot. Meanwhile, the evil Earthborns are planning something… well, evil.

First I must point out what Kass does well: she finally drops the constant flashbacks that only drag the story unnecessarily. Sadly, that is not the cure for a really weak story. The book is not boring. The pace is OK. But almost nothing happens. So many new possibilities in those drop ships, but we only get to follow the same group as before. Too much teen love and too little battle, survival and fun. I know Bellamy, Clarke, Wells and Glass are pretty awesome; but deep down are very similar characters. I would have love to read the point of view of Rhodes to get something different. It’s a character that I hate, but we would have got a peek to the campsite of the hundred and the colonists; which would have made the book a lot richer.

The worst part of the book are the chapters with Glass and Luke. They are my favourite couple in this series, but their role in this third book is useless. I’m not a skipper, but I was tempted to jump a chapter every time I saw Glass in the header… I thought in the end their part would be relevant against the battle with the evil Earthborns, but nope. A waste of ink if you ask me. The chapters with Bellamy and Clarke are fine. It doesn’t happen anything worth mentioning (except some parent return), but at least they have a purpose.

The final battle was the moment to redeem itself, but the author rushes over it and the ending is way too happy. Even Rhodes seems to gain some kind of brain and starts making sense!! Too easy… I know there are some deaths along the way, but I haven’t been affected by any of them. I hope the fourth book packs more emotion than this one.

And the cover… I hate the cover… Yes, it is a good promotional pic for the show; but the book is too different from it. One of the characters of the cover doesn’t even exist in the book!! And Octavia is barely a cameo… The first two books of The 100 had much better covers.

Even though I’ve been a bit harsh, the book is enjoyable. Yes, it’s totally uneventful, but at least you won’t fall asleep while reading it. The fourth book is the last one of this series (I have no idea if more are on the oven…) and I hope to read it soon. Fingers crossed for a better story, though!!

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

More the Merrier – Jayne Rylon

moremerrier

starstarstar

Author: Jayne Rylon
Series: Powertools #7
Pages: 99

eroticamenagemmhot

Everyone’s favorite five-man, one-woman construction crew is back in action. This time they’re celebrating the holidays together, Powertools style.

Though they’re each on the hunt for the perfect presents for their loved ones, they soon realize that the gifts they give each other day in and day out are the most valuable sort. Spending time together and sharing their passions—not only for sexy menages in every variation—has helped them thrive despite life’s ups and downs.

The first book of Powertools was my first story with an orgy. I have always pride myself about being an explorer in a library, so I picked it with an open mind. Seven books later I must admit this is not what I was expecting. Yes, those books are mostly about sex, but the characters have grown up on me quite a lot.

This time we meet the infamous crew while they are preparing for Christmas. After realizing that they haven’t partaken in groupal fun for a long time, the guys decide to get busy while their wifes are shopping. And they keep at it once they come back home… After that encunter, the book focus on the individual couples for a glimpse at their lives and more sex.

And that’s all about it. I do enjoy the sex scenes with these guys, even though sometimes I think there is no room for so many skin in some of the positions the author likes to describe. I especially appreciate the importance of respect everytime they get together. Nothing is done without the explicit consent of everyone involved. That, sadly, is usually a rara avis in the Erotica genre, so kudos for the crew!!

The crazy dynamics with the Powertools crew is what makes these books special. It’s hard to explain. The scenes of all of them together, even though there is a lot of naked time, are also a master piece of human tolerance. They are all such good friends with solid principles. They never judge and let everyone be themselves. Actually, a world with more Powertools would be a better world. Jayne Ryon has spoiled me badly. Now I’m incapable of reading a ménage book if the group doesn’t have the same rulebook as the crew of Powertools.

Even though the book is cramped with sex, there is also time for some cute and emotional moments. My favourite is by far Dave’s tattoo. His accident was a huge surprise on a previous book, because I wasn’t expecting such a crude moment in this saga. Now I’m kind of glad it happened (I’m a monster!!). The description of the tattoo has been heartwarming and that would have never happened without the car accident. The tattoo covering the scars of his leg displays the perfect summarization of what the crew members represent to each other.

No idea if Rylon is going to keep writing Powertools books, but I have already added to my TBR list the spin-off: Hot Rods. It seems they are pretty similar, so I guess I will enjoy them as well.

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery