Midnight Predator by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Midnight Predator by Amelia Atwater-RhodesRating: 7 out of 10
Summary 1: Though she was once a happy teenager with a wonderful family and a full life, Turquoise Draka is now a hunter, committed to no higher purpose than making money and staying alive. In a deadly world of vampires, shape-shifters, and powerful mercenaries, she’ll track any prey if the price is right. Her current assignment: to assassinate Jeshikah, one of the cruelest vampires in history. Her employer: an unknown contact who wants the job done fast. Her major obstacle: she’ll have to mask her strength and enter Midnight, a fabled Vampire realm, as a human slave. Vulnerable and defenseless, she faces her greatest challenge ever. 

Summary 2: An up-and-coming star mercenary in a world of shadowy creatures and naive humans, Turquoise has been offered the task of eliminating a bloodthirsty vampiress named Jeshickah. As a bounty hunter, Turquoise is ready to accept any challenge for the right price, especially when Ravyn — her competition for the leadership of an important Bruja guild — is given the same offer. To accomplish the job, Turquoise and Ravyn must do something unheard of: enter Midnight, a treacherous domain where vampires rule over human slaves, and act as servants until one of them can finish the job. When the two are sold into Midnight, Turquoise is given to the realm’s protective master, Jaguar. But while Turquoise moves closer to him and looks for the right time to complete her assignment, she unexpectedly comes face-to-face with a horrific part of her past — Lord Daryl, an evil vampire who killed her family and was once her master. Now, as Turquoise faces the dark creatures before her, she must deal with the ghosts in her own mind and make a decision that could change her life.

Commentary: It sucks that when you become older and re-read a novel you loved as a younger child, you find so many more flaws and mistakes and it distracts from the magic that made you like that book so much when you were little.

That’s what happened with Midnight Predator when I re-read it yesterday, but I was kind of expecting that. I wasn’t as pulled in by Atwater-Rhodes’ writing this time around (in fact, I was distracted by her purple prose and awkward writing in several spots) but it was still a good read. There’s a lot of new contemporary and urban fantasy out there right now that follows this basic plotline, but what usually turns me off from urban/vampire fantasy is the “kick-ass, snarky, sarcastic, sexy, smart, and clever!” heroine type that is so popular right now–I’m not saying that’s a totally bad thing, but it seems like very single urban/vampire fantasy novel out there has that female protagonist personality, and often it’s not done very well.

What I do like about Predator is that Turquoise is nothing like that–she’s much more grounded, real, and she doesn’t piss me off or annoy me like the aforementioned character stereotype does. I really like her as a heroine. Atwater-Rhodes also focuses less on the steamy, hot, passionate sex scenes (which actually aren’t so steamy, hot, or passionate) that a lot of recent urban/vampire fantasy features, and I like the way she dealt with the attraction between Jaguar and Turquoise. Kind of there but not there, more intriguing.

I thought it had quite a mature ending and I liked where Turquoise ended up.

Anyway, good read. I haven’t liked her recent stuff as much (Wolfcry) and I’ve stopped reading her except for the old stuff.

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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: Last book in the Twilight Saga.
Rating: 6 out of 10

My Thoughts: You’re going to expect one of two things from me–either an “EDWARD CULLEN IS MY SOUUULLL MAAATE” kind of review, or a “DIE, STEPHENIE MEYER, DIE YOU UNHOLY WITCH OF A BAD WRITER” type of thing. I almost kind of expect it of myself, because that’s basically all I’ve heard from the two camps that so vehemently defend their positions on the famed Twilight Saga.

Okay, I don’t like it. But before the next preteen girl that reads this tracks me down and tears me to shreds, I’m going to admit that it’s not a bad way to spend a couple hours. It’s entertaining and intriguing enough to hold my attention. Meyer’s got a good hand on the English language, and there were a couple spots that had me laughing out loud.

Bella’s world is much, much too perfect. I know I’m at risk of sounding whiny myself, but Miss Swan gets everything she wants, when she wants it, without having to lift a single little pinky finger. There’s no loss, or triumph, no hardships or tough spots. She’s got it all, immediately. I don’t think she learns anything, and as a result, the target audience of adolescent girls doesn’t learn anything either.

I’m not saying that it’s a golden rule that you have to learn A Big Moral Lesson from everything you read, god no, otherwise I wouldn’t have read half the books that I have. At least learn something. And by something, I don’t mean the stuff you learn from Bella’s book, “How To Turn Immortal While Avoiding All Usual Nasty Side Effects Because You’re Perfect!” It was all just a little anticlimatic, disappointing… unfulfilling.

Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

from jrward.comRating: 6 out of 10
Summary: Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself- she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood’s mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love. Summary from jrward.com

Commentary: This is the 6th book in the series by J.R. Ward, and not one of the better ones. I have to admit that Ward’s books are an exception from the usual dark fantasy, vampire romance, erotica junk that’s usually out there and that I have reviewed before–majority of what Ward’s written has been entertaining, with a real plot and real characters.

I think part of what makes it better is its quirky premise. There are the usual super-good-looking, super-powered, super-sexy, cliche “male vampire”; but in Ward’s books, they talk and act like gangsters? And not gangsters like the Italian Mob gangsters–perhaps a more accurate word would be gangstas. Yes. They talk like bad-asses. I don’t have the book by my side right now, otherwise I’d probably be able to pull out some quote like, “True dat, brotha” or “He was straight-up wicked!”

Once you get over the urge to laugh and shake your head at the idea, the series flows along generally well. As the sixth one in the series, Lover Enshrined is probably hitting some developmental chinks–yeah, yeah, we get you’re trying to fight the vampire slayres, we get that there’s deep emotional conflict between leading lady and leading man, we’ve been through this in all 5 books that came before you. But Ward does a passable job of building up a longer, overreaching arc dealing with a final war, a final climax even that all the books seem to be leading up to, and hasn’t yet happened.

The romance was lukewarm. There were several plotlines happening at the same time, which made the book interesting. I think many of the supporting characters actually grew a lot more than the protagonist and his lady-friend, and I was significantly more interested in what was happening on the sidelines with John Matthew & his friends than Phury and Cormia.

Decent. Start with the first novel to really get it.

Dark Magic by Christine Feehan

from bn.comRating: 4 out of 10
Summary: Young Savannah Durbrinski was a mistress of illusion, a world-famous magician capable of mesmerizing millions. But there was one–Gregori, the Dark One–who held her in terrifying thrall. Whose cold silver eyes and heated sensuality sent shivers of danger, of desire, down her slender spine.

With a dark magic all his own, Gregori–the implacable hunter, the legendary healder, the most powerful of Carpathian males–whispered in Savannah’s mind that he was her destiny. That she had been born to save his immortal soul. And now, her in New Orleans, the hour had finally come to claim her. To make her completely his. In a ritual as old as time… and as inescapable as eternity (from book jacket).

Commentary: Quintessential, typical “dark fantasy romance” book. Beautiful young woman fatally attracted to T, D, and H male with domination tendencies. He loves her! He wants to protect her and bring her back to his various mansions and palaces scattered around the world! But she resists! Because she is beautiful, and young, and determined to hang on to her independence, because by god, she is an Independent Woman! A Super Strong Heroine! And did I mention Young And Beautiful?

I think my strongest memory of this book is remarking mentally how many times the author used the words “small rib cage” and “tiny waist” to describe the heroine. Probably like once every 20 or 30 pages.

Just another one vampire/fantasy/erotic romance trend. I pick these up on the off chance that one day I might find a passably decent one that’ll change my opinion about the genre. Sadly, nothing’s really worked out sof ar.