Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: Covet

Book 95 for the year was the latest JR Ward book, Covet. Its the story of a former special ops solider who is drafted to be the deciding factor in the war between Heaven's Angels and Hell's Demons and the first person he has to help in his quest to settle the score. If that makes no sense, I'm not surprised, because I was unclear on what exactly the concept meant at first too. Apparently, the prologue explains it, but me and my college education were confused anyway.

Basically, over the course of the series, Jim is supposed to come into contact with 7 people who are at a crossroads in their lives and help them make a decision, one way is the way Hell wants them to go and one way is the way Heaven wants them to go. Whichever side gets the most people to go their way is the winner and the other side has to get out of Dodge for good. Got it? Good, you're ahead of where I was halfway through the book.

Now, lets tackle that cover and in doing so, expose my biggest problem with this book. This is a romance novel. Generally, they have a male protagonist and a female protagonist and those two are the focus of the story. Ward, to be fair, has set precedent in her other series for having multiple protagonists and telling multiple stories, which is fine. However, as with Lover Enshrined, she doesn't, in my opinion, pull it off here, as the romance takes quite a backseat to the drama with Jim and his Angels and Demons issues.

The reason this is relevant to the cover is that the man on the cover is certainly intended to be Jim. Who rides a motorcycle like once in the whole book. And to me, if a character is so important to go on the cover, they ought to be the one getting a damn HEA in the book. Maybe I'm a romance novel purist, but this just didn't work for me in this book. Perhaps the problem is that this is the first book in a series and Ward had to do a lot of plot heavy lifting to establish the rules of the Demon/Angel agreement and establish Jim and what his journey is supposed to be.

I can't help but compare this book to the other first book in a series Ward wrote, Dark Lover, the first BDB book. In that book, Ward used the female protagonist's introduction to the vampire world to also introduce the reader, and it worked remarkably well. However, in Covet, Ward is introducing the world through a character outside the couple (Jim) and also trying to depict a believable romance for two people who often seem on the edges of the story due to the time she's spending on Jim. There's really just too much going on.

I know it sounds like I hated the book, but really, I enjoyed it for the most part, though certainly not as much as I have other Ward books. As usual, Ward's tone is quick and dirty and she pulls no punches, having her heroine be a prostitute and her hero (Vin, not Jim) be a businessman who is greedy and reckless with the environment. This book isn't as littered with street slang as her BDB series is and nobody has any extra H's in their names, so its got that going for it. I've kind of gotten used to the H's though, so what I do I know.

In short, it was alright, but I'll still pick up the second book when it comes out, as I find the concept interesting and hopefully, now that Ward has fleshed out the universe, the sequel will be easier to follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Schizo Status Update

So I promised to revive the blog, but of course, I haven't taken any pictures of what I'm currently knitting and I'm trying to finish a dang book, so I can't review it yet, so that leaves me spouting off nonsense about whatever is occupying the space between my ears this week, so here's my current hot topics, in no particular order:

Glee: My current pop culture obsession. If you haven't heard of it, please to be removing the rock from above your head. Its a show, with music numbers and a little character named Sue Sylvester, who is scary and awesome. The fall finale was this week, thanks to that damned American Idol crap, and we don't get any new episodes til April. So I'll just have to content myself with rewatching the first half of the season and dancing like an idiot to the two (yes two!) soundtracks. You can watch it on Hulu here.

Covet: The JR Ward book I'm currently reading. Its the first book in a new series about fallen angels that's set in the same universe as her vampire crack series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I'm halfway through, and though its honestly not her best work, I have no resistance when it comes to Ward. I'll review it when I finish, but its got a muddled plot and way too much going on. Here's hoping it gets tighter in the second half.

Themed Playlists: What I've been making with my free time not spent knitting or reading. I spent way too much time compiling all the best classic rock songs featured in Supernatural episodes. I won't tell you how much time, cause that's embarrassing, but I have to say I dig the results. AC/DC, Bad Company, ZZ Top, Metallica. Its great stuff. I made an abbreviated version of the playlist on YouTube here. Now that the SPN playlist is done, I'm working on a new Qhuinn and Blay playlist with Charlote (more JR Ward BDB crack). Expect Epicness.

LotR: What I've been watching. I got on a LotR kick over the last week and watched all three extended editions with the Cast commentary. I now need to marry one of the hobbits which isn't Sean Astin, STAT. I've also started knitting the Arwen cardigan as a KAL with my friend V, and its been consuming a lot of my time, even though I'm only a few rows in. The original construction of the pattern was very confusing (and it needn't be, IMO) so we spent some time trying to figure out modifications to make it easier. We finally found instructions from a very nice knitter who modified it into a one piece bottom up raglan, and we saw that it was good.

See, I told you it was schizo, but hey, such is the mind of Holly. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and Festivus!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Ill Wind

I'm well past 52 books read for this year, but I just love the graphic that my friend Julie made that I'm going to keep using it. Instead of recounting every book I've read this year, I just wanted to review the ones I found to be memorable or interesting. I love romance novels as much as anyone, but some of them fade from memory as soon as I close the book.

*slight spoilers ahead*

I read Rachel Caine's Ill Wind during Thanksgiving week, while I was trying to finish up my first attempt at writing a novel. Its an interesting experience to be simultaneously trying to read a book and write one. It makes you hyper aware not only of the flaws in your writing, but also ones you might find in the published work. I found both of these things to be true while reading Ill Wind, the first in Rachel Caine's Weather Wardens series.

The basic plot involves the protagonist, Joanne, who is a Weather Warden (they work secretly to control Earth's weather) on the run from both the other wardens who think she murdered someone and a mysterious antagonist who is trying to kill her. Joanne has received a Demon Mark from another warden (who everyone thinks she murdered) and is trying to stay alive while tracking down the one person she thinks is powerful enough to help her, a rogue Weather Warden named Lewis.

One thing that I loved about this book was how clearly developed the mythology of Caine's world is. She sets very transparent rules for how the powers of the wardens work and manages to make the intricacies of meteorology interesting and fairly easy to understand, which is quite a feat. I didn't anticipate being so engrossed by how characters used weather against each other when the writer includes detailed descriptions of how its being done scientifically.

The part I didn't like about this book ventures deeply into the area of personal preference. This book is very well reviewed on Amazon and most of the reviews seem to adore the character of David and his romance with Joanne. However, for me, it fell flat. I just didn't find him interesting and couldn't make myself believe in their attraction to one another. I spent most of the book hoping that Joanne would hook up with Lewis Levander Orwell (great name!). The flashback scene where Joanne hooks up with Lewis in college had more spark than the entirety of the time she spent with David for me. And because the series seems to continue with Joanne and David as a couple, I'm not sure when or if I'll continue with it, unless someone promises me more Lewis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blog Revival

Really, I'm gonna try to do this blogging thing on a more regular basis. Now that I've finished National Novel Writing Month, I suddenly feel like I've got more free time! I'd really like to review more books (I'm up to 90+ read for the year) and I want to do some posts on my current knitting projects.

Coming soon (if I don't flake again)!