Review: Night Shift (Night Tales, No. 1)

Night Shift
Night Shift by Nora Roberts
Genre: Romance – Suspense, Series
Received: Used copy (omnibus edition), have owned for years
Read: June 23, 2013
Reviewed: July 5, 2013
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Short synopsis: A deejay, Cilla O’Roarke, in Denver starts getting calls from some creepazoid whose threats intensify with every phone call. The police enter the scene, one of which is Boyd Fletcher, who immediately falls for Cilla. So begins the romance.

Written for Silhouette’s Intimate Moments line, Night Shift is an early Nora Roberts’ romance and the first in the Night Tales series. While I didn’t expect to be blown away by the story, I was hoping to be passably entertained. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed fairly early on. I got a little taste of what was to come in the second paragraph of the first page:

“Her voice was like hot whiskey, smooth and potent. Rich, throaty, touched with the barest whisper of the South, it might have been fashioned for the airwaves. Any man in Denver who was tuned in to her frequency would believe she was speaking only to him.”

Commence internal groaning and eye-rolling. So yeah, that didn’t bode well. Still, I surged on, believing that Nora Roberts could make something out of the formulaic plot. Again, I was disappointed. If the focus had been more on the suspense part and less on the “romance,” it could have been an okay read. Instead I had to suffer through Cilla’s lame hang-ups and excuses for why she can’t be in a relationship. All of which could be remedied if she’d just take the time to see a therapist. The only thing that bothered me more was her utter stupidity. She continually left out much-needed information that could help the cops figure out who was behind the threats to her life. Instead, her constant excuses were, “I didn’t think of it” or “I didn’t think it was important” or other such bullcrap that made me want to slap her silly (if she wasn’t already that way). Boyd wasn’t bad but he didn’t really make a lasting impression either. From the physical description, it sounds like he might have been molded after Clint Eastwood in an homage to Play Misty for Me, but maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there.

Needless to say, the romance wasn’t very interesting and bored me more often than not. Boyd pursues and Cilla wiffle-waffles throughout the whole book. She’s healed after one night in Boyd’s bed and then remembers her “reasons” for not getting serious. He’s in love with her after one day (I exaggerate, but only slightly), when they hadn’t even had very many conversations to get to know each other, which I suppose isn’t very important if, I don’t know, you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Not to mention, I never got the impression that Cilla was ever in love with him, even at the end. So much tell and no show. The only thing of note were two secondary characters, Althea Grayson and Natalie Fletcher, partner and sister of Boyd, respectively. I’m hoping, if I decide to read them, that their books will be better. Otherwise, this is wholly forgettable and makes me wish for my time back.

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Review: Sara’s Song

Sara's SongSara’s Song by Fern Michaels

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Short synopsis:

Rock star falls for doctor. Rock star writes song for doctor. Rock star then is in plane crash and is claimed dead. Rock star’s brother enters picture. A love triangle and drama ensues as the rock star’s sleazy former girlfriend slash back-up singer tries to claim song as her own and does everything she can to get her evil mitts on it. Duh duh DUH….

I first read Sara’s Song as a young teen and found the story so romantic that its basic plot has stuck with me since. Being so young, I was able to look past, or more likely didn’t notice, the writing, specifically the stilted dialogue. It’s so clunky and awkward sounding, everybody talks as if they have the dread virus Verbal Diarrhea where they ramble from one topic to the next and back again using short, choppy sentences. Rather akin to riding a random thought roller coaster, I’d say. After a while the dialogue either became better or I became used to how it was written. There’s also some odd adjectives used a couple times (loose-limbed for one) and other words and phrases used too often. One phrase in particular that I’ve always hated: “It is what it is.” Shameful language ahead. No shit, Sherlock. This is surely one the stupidest expressions I’ve ever heard and want to punch anyone in the face who uses it (anger issues? Me?! Never!). Of course it is what it is, what the fuck else would it be?! Okay, calming down now. Anyway, seeing as the plot is rather implausible, I’m willing to forgive a lot, it is fantasy after all. Although, I find it very hard to believe a nurse can go from working at a hospital to working at a veterinarian’s office. Humans and animals may have similarities but they are different species. There’s no way I’d want her to touch my cat without first going back to school and studying to become a veterinary technician. I came across some typos and mistakes while reading the Kindle edition, such as incorrect word usage and random periods thrown into the middle of a sentence. I assume the latter came about through the transfer from paper to digital, but not too sure about the others.

With all that said, I still managed to become charmed by the story, flaws and all (and there are many), and had a hard time putting down the book. That tells a lot, seeing I have the attention span of a fruit fly. Even though this is technically a romance, not a lot of time is spent on developing much of a romance between Sara and Dallas or Sara and Adam, but there’s enough that I didn’t have a problem. However, what I did have an issue with was timing; I never knew how much time had passed in the book to gauge exactly where Sara and Dallas were in their relationship or how long the duration was between Dallas’ “death” and Sara and Adam’s attraction, mostly everything appeared to happen far too soon, but it’s hard to tell for certain. I liked the characters, they’re not anything spectacular or deep for that matter, but basically regular people who talk in an inhuman way. Dallas made some odd decisions that might rile or confound some people but I think that’s because (minor SPOILER, but nothing integral to the book’s plot) he obviously suffered a traumatic brain injury when he fell out of the tree at age eight. While the book makes no claim of the kind and just waives it off as dyslexia, poor eyesight, and being half-deaf. None of those would explain some of his choices like a brain injury would. END SPOILER But that’s just my hypotheses.

While this technically doesn’t deserve more than three stars and most aspects could have been stronger and employed more depth, I enjoyed reading the book and was able to get lost in the story of love, loss and happily ever after.

Originally Reviewed: November 9, 2012
Received: Digital copy borrowed from library
Buy @ Amazon: ebookpaperback

50 Shades of Asparagus, a bizarre book blurb

In response to this contest, where the name of the game was to create a book blurb based on Crayola crayon colors, this is the twisted thing I submitted (note: I edited a bit). Unfortunately I didn’t come close to winning (see winners here), but I did actually get some likes, which is more than I thought this blurb would get due to how warped my imagination is. And no, I don’t plan to write a short story or book based on this cockamamie idea. I have no interest in writing what-so-ever. I’m a reader, not a writer.

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Fifty Shades of Asparagus

Of all the book stores in the world, he had to wander into mine….

Book shop proprietor Lemon is tired of all the same boring men she’s been going out with: jocks, geeks, freaks, drummers, your average joe, they’re all the same after a while. She wants someone different, something different….

Asparagus, or Gus as he’s known, wants a woman, but not just any woman. She has to be smart and funny and kind, but more than that, she has blend well with him. Finding someone like that is an insurmountable feat. It’s not easy being green after all. Or a six-foot tall walking, talking vegetable. Trying to get someone to look past his appearance to the person, so to speak, he is inside has been impossible. It doesn’t help that after Gus’ buds open, his shoot quickly become woody. Talk about embarrassing!

On a miserably rainy evening, feeling down in the dumps after a blind date that ended before it ever began, Gus wanders into Lemon’s bookstore in the hopes of finding a book to take his mind off his troubles. What he finds instead is the zesty morsel he’s been dreaming of all his life. Although he mills between the bookshelves, he can’t keep his mind off the lady of his dreams and wonders futilely what he can do to make her his. Luckily for the morose Gus, he has nothing to worry about, he doesn’t have to do a thing. Yet. When Lemon catches sight of her lone customer, she doesn’t believe what she’s seeing! Her secret fantasy has come to life! She’ll stop at nothing to have….

Fifty Shades of Asparagus

©satilanna
Cross-posted to Repo! The Genetic Blog.

ARC Review: Fury of Fire

Fury of Fire

Fury of Fire by Coreene Callahan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
February 18, 2012

Book Description

A clandestine race of half-dragon, half-humans known as dragon-shifters lives among us. Bastian, leader of the Nightfury dragon clan, is sworn to protect humankind at all costs. For him, honor and duty always come first. When the clan dictates he take a human mate to sire a son, he falters, aware that for a human to birth a dragon-shifter she must die. Myst, the woman given into his care, is the most extraordinary he’s ever met, and though he can’t bear the thought of harming her he is bound by duty.

Myst loves her life in the human world, but Bastian has captured her heart in an instant of electric connection. But Bastian and his warriors are in the middle of a deadly battle with the Razorback dragon-shifters, intent on killing every Nightfury clan member—and the humans they protect—the fate of their world and ours hangs in the balance.

An extraordinary blend of action, fantasy, and steamy romance, Fury of Fire brings to life a dangerous new world intertwined with the survival of humanity, all while exploring the meaning of honor and the nature of true love.

My Review

NOTE: I did not finish Fury of Fire. I reached page 207, out of 412, before I called it quits. My review reflects on what I read and no more, which is more than enough to be indicative to how the author creates her book.

During the course of reading, everyone comes across a book that just doesn’t connect with them. That doesn’t mean the book is bad or that others shouldn’t read it, it just means the it isn’t a good fit that particular person. This is that book for me. I had a very difficult time getting through what I read, mostly due to a bunch of little things that stood out and were what I consider oddities, especially in context to situations in the book. If I had to describe this book in one word, it’d be abrasive. The characters, the dialogue, and most importantly, the writing felt like rubbing sandpaper over a wound. Over and over again.

THE BAD

The constant bombardment of internalizing that both Myst and Bastian provide in this book was like a splinter under my fingernail. The more I dug, the more painful it became, and I started to dislike the book and main characters more and more as I read on. Admittedly, it was pretty easy to loathe Bastian and Myst when it became apparent that they are both boring and stupid, and I didn’t find Bastian all that likeable in the first place. Call me crazy, but I just feel uneasy when a character wants to immediately jump the bones of a person he just met in horrific situation while she is frightened beyond belief. But apparently that’s okay because he acknowledges his creepiness in a fit of mental self-flagellation. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly with me. Maybe if that had been mentioned only once, I would have let it slide, but it keeps on like that for way too long. Apparently he’s all alpha on the outside and emo on the inside. What a winning combination! Not. Myst herself starts off, uh, decent enough but then quickly becomes the nitwit I was hoping to avoid. She gets the fastest case of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve ever come across. For all intents and purposes, Bastian kidnapped her. Sure, we the readers know it’s for Myst and the baby’s safety from the evil Razorbacks, but she certainly doesn’t know that, therefore I found her reactions extremely unrealistic and bizarre to the situations she was in. One minute she’s fighting, and by fighting I mean being stubbornly spunky, or somewhat thinking of escape, the next she’s imagining wild, hot monkey sex with Bastian. I’m sorry but if some big, six-foot-six (apparently every male is 6’6 in this book, even the human cop. Obviously, if a guy is under that height, he’s not really a man.), scary dude who can turn into a dragon kidnaps me, I am so not going to be thinking about how hot they are or what they’re like in the sack. Yeah, uh-huh, that makes perfect sense. Oy! Anyway, they end up making out that night due to Bastian’s alpha going crazy and some supernatural roofie that dragons put out to females. God, this is not romantic at all. And it’s only been a few hours since they “met”! The morning after Myst is kidnapped, she wakes up naked and finds out Bastian bathed her, can you say mondo creepy? So after she dresses, she goes meandering through the Nightfury’s lair, admiring his artwork and crap, then ends up in the kitchen with the rest of the freaky-tall Nightfuries. I’d be high-tailing it out of there, in fact, I would have been plotting escape long before this point. It appears she only thinks of escape once a day. While she’s in the kitchen, Bastian has her sit at the table so she can eat her breakfast. He sets down a plate in front of her and as she goes to have a bite, she notices he cut her waffles into little, perfect, bite-size pieces and she’s apparently overcome by this act. How weird is that?! All feminist angles aside, who cuts up someone else’s food unless: A, it’s for a small child, two, their arms and hands are broken, or D, they’re handicapped in some way that prevents them from feeding themselves? W.T.F.? Frankly, I think it’s just odd. And then she gets misty-eyed (Myst is all misty, how cute. *gag*) when he asks her to help name the baby he kidnapped. I’ve already doubted her sanity before but now it’s gone to even more ridiculous heights by this point.

The magical Rohypnol I mentioned before creeped me the heck out. So when a dragon guy needs his energy fix, he picks out a woman, roofies her, feeds off her energy, sleeps with her, and then wipes her memory! Say what? That’s too close to rape for my liking. This wasn’t just the bad guys doing this, but the next book’s “hero” did that to a woman in a hospital (note: she wasn’t a patient, I think she was a researcher or something, I don’t remember). How sweet.

The excessive swearing needed edited down. Normally I don’t mind a little cursing here and there, but so much of it didn’t need to be added to the dialogue or characters and showed a lack of creativity.

The “dragons” are really shape-shifting vampires. They have to feed off women, only it’s energy instead of blood, they can’t be out in the sun, they heal quickly, live a long time, are super-strong, amongst other attributes. If you’re going to have shape-shifting dragons, don’t make them so similar to other paranormal species. Differentiate them so they’re unique, not a near-clone.

I didn’t like the whole reading of minds thing. If it was something that happened when mated, fine, but I don’t like the thought of someone just arbitrarily getting into someone else’s brain whenever they want. It’s a violation. Bastian did this to Myst way too often.

The characters sound a lot like each other. They don’t all have individual voices so there isn’t much beyond a name separating one from the other.

THE GOOD

The first fight scene was actually quite well-done, although it was very early on in the book so it might not hold up on a second reading. The next fight scene wasn’t too bad, maybe a little confusing at times.

The other characters in the Dragonfury series have the potential to be more interesting if they can be given some individuality, but since I didn’t connect with the author’s writing style and don’t like most of the ideas, I won’t be looking for any sequels to this oh-so-romantic series. I wouldn’t recommend this book, but hey, if it sounds right up your alley or you have masochistic tendencies, by all means try it out for yourself.

As a final note, I just wanted to thank Buzz McCallister for his mad counting/alphabetizing skillz in writing this review. I couldn’t have done it without you, buddy.

Received through Amazon Vine.

(Clicking on the book cover image or title take you to the book’s product page on Amazon)