Hour of the Lion – a review

Does it ever feel like time just gets away from you?

As previously announced, my favourite author Ms Cherise Sinclair is releasing a new book in her erotic-fantasy series, The Wild Hunt Legacy, on January 26th. I wanted to review the first two books prior to the release of the third so that I had the whole series reviewed … here we are two days before and I’m just starting. Gosh dang it!

Nonetheless, it is time to push on, so here is my review for the fantabulous (yes, that’s a word) novel, Hour of the Lion.

were 1

Blurb:

As a dedicated covert ops agent, Victoria Morgan follows two rules: accomplish the mission and protect the innocent. When bitten by a werecat—yeah, that was a sucky day—she must investigate beings that shouldn’t exist and are hard as hell to identify. Just how can she tell if a person is human–or an animal-shifter who enjoys Bambi-sized snacks?

During her investigation, she finds a real home and friends for the first time. Sweet, right? But there’s a flip-side: the bad guys are waiting for her to turn into something four-legged with a tail, the shifters suspect her of spying, and she has fallen in love with a pair of Thumper-eating werecougar brothers.

Her duty is to expose their existence. Or she could follow her heart and protect them with all of her deadly skills.

—                     —                     —

The first time I heard that Sinclair’s new release was going to be a menage romance,  I was a little wary. You can read a lot of things that wouldn’t actually appeal to you in real-life, but this was one of those topics I didn’t think I could get past. But I love her writing and she has helped me through some tough spots in the past so I gave it a try anyway. There is something to be said for having an author who is an automatic buy!

I loved Hour of the lion!!!

The world that she created is so magical and much more complete than I was expecting. Instead of just the were-creatures that are the focus of the series, the author also builds her world with brownies, pixies, fire salamanders, et al, all in the background but contributing to the feel of this otherworldly community hidden in a remote mountain town.

Victoria was an incredibly spunky and vivid character, a really inspirational role model for any woman. I find that when I read many books in a row whose female protagonists exhibit the same major characteristics, I tend to unconsciously take on some of those attitudes. “Vic” attacks life with a take no prisoners approach and doesn’t let fear stand in the way of anything, so she is a great role model to be reading about.

This is one of my favourite quotes:

Okay, she was braver than this. She wasn’t a little girl unable to fess up to her actions. She’d done the deed – deeds – and not it was time to pay the piper. She stared into the fire and confessed …

Victoria isn’t afraid to do a lot of things that I am. Like stand up to a mean guy who stole a waitress’ tips, or break up a barroom brawl. Of course she is a marine and CIA agent with lots of training behind her. I’m certainly not. And she is a book lover to boot! What’s not to love?!

Calum and Alec, the two male leads in Hour of the Lion, are entirely drool-worthy. Both are strong, protective, thoughtful males who aren’t afraid to stand up to their mistakes when they get it completely wrong. And boy do they get it wrong sometimes! I like that both are patient and slow to pass judgement, even if they have quick tempers. I love heroes who have an edge of danger to them, something both Calum and Alec have in spades. De. Lic. Ious.

I loved Hour of the Lion and encourage everyone not just to check it out, but also all of Cherise Sinclair’s books. Here website is: cherisesinclair.com or her author page on goodreads can be found here.

I can’t wait to read Eventide of the Bear this week, but I will try to review the second in the series before I get to it. The OCD perfectionist in me will grump if I review out of order ; )

* * * * *

xx

Advertisements

Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid

As promised, here is my review for the first and second books in the Broken Love Series by B.B. Reid. They are new adult novels that feature a strong, anti-hero male protagonist who really isn’t that nice of a guy, especially in the first book. Be warned that it is a “dark romance”, not as full of the fuzzies as most contemporary romances are.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00037]

Blurb:

I don’t believe in fairy tales and Prince Charming.

I believe in fear.

He taught me how to be afraid.

We first met on a playground on a wonderful summer day. It was the first time he hurt me and it wouldn’t be the last. For ten years, he’s been my tormentor and I’ve been his forbidden. But then he went away, and yet I was still afraid.

Now he’s back and wants more than just my tears. You see…he thinks I sent him away so now he wants revenge…and he knows just how to get it.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00037]

Blurb:

What happens when she’s had enough?

Lake Monroe has given in to her childhood tormentor too many times. She knows it, he knows it, and even their enemies know it. When he returned after being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit—a crime he thought she set him up for, he returned darker than ever, demanding her body and her submission. To survive him, she knew she had to give in to fear once more or suffer the deadly consequences…

But Lake experienced what it was like to submit to the dark and demanding boy who invaded her dreams. Now she’ll experience what it’s like to fight him.

What happens when he wants more?

Keiran Masters has a past that is both shocking and dark. Once enslaved, he now has demons he can’t escape—demons that have followed him for ten years, demons he blames his beautiful obsession for. He promised to make her pay. He promised to make her break…

But after Keiran had conquered her body and tasted her submission, he found a new addiction instead—one he has no intention of giving up.

As secrets unfold,
Identities are revealed,
Danger closes in,
And they both discover what it really means to fear…

*** Please note, these books are new adult and contain rough elements such as harsh language, mild violence, strong sexual content, alpha male, antihero, blackmail, and dubious consent. These books, Fear Me in particular, contain sensitive themes many people aren’t able to swallow.

—                  —                 —

What I liked about these books:

Keiran is one of the darkest protagonists that I have read in awhile, which was exactly what I was looking for when I picked up this book. It is difficult to balance a truly dark character and still have him be redeemable to some extent, because at the end of the day, the genre is still romance. He was downright evil at times and I found myself wondering why I was continuing to read the Fear You, half way through, because I thought there was no way Reid could soften my opinion of Keiran, but she did it.

Even though he is so dark and does awful things to Lake, he never read like an insufferable asshole to me. He didn’t become annoying, because he wasn’t being a prick just to be a prick, most of the time. Even before the reader learns the backstories and subtext in the second half of the novel, you have the sense that Keiran is that way for a reason … a very sinister reason.

I liked his counterpart as well, Lake, though not as much. I am a very dramatic person and I found it difficult to imagine her continuing to “just take it”, with everything Keiran was dishing out. There was some seriously dubious consent going on in multiple instances and I am waaaay too dramatic of a person to let that stand. If I had been in Lake’s shoes, I would have to taken (most likely drastic) action because I am the type of person who doesn’t care if she makes it worse, as long as she make it different, and takes back a little bit of control. She balances him though and perhaps that why is why have their happily ever after.

If she had been like be, it probably would have been a funeral instead.

I also liked that there was a lot of secondary characters who will be coming up and having their own books pretty soon. Keenan, Desh, Q and others… I like when there is interaction between more than just the romantic leads, something you have probably already picked up on if you regularly read my blogs.

What I wasn’t as fond of:

Q needed more page time. I actually forgot who he was completely and thought it was a new character introduction, because of how he seems to disappear for half the book, while the other main characters are still present.

I didn’t like that this story took place with the characters in high school, twelfth grade. The content was very adult and it is supposed to be a new adult novel. Based on the violence and the amount of power and connections Kieran has, I felt that it would have been better suited to characters a little older, perhaps twenty rather than eighteen. Two years extra in age may not be a lot of difference, but it would have been enough to make the story feel more authentic to me. Also, new adult generally applies to characters 18-26, but I do believe going to the youngest in that range was a mistake in this case. I’m glad that book three reportedly takes place several years later.

Another thing I didn’t love was how the Keenan’s chapter closed in the second novel. I can’t expand on that without spoilers, but I was not a happy camper. I don’t like when things like that happen to the male protagonist (even if it happened in a book where he is a secondary character). It’s too real, like when an author gives their heroine cancer. Romance is escapism reading, so that plot-line just didn’t jive for me.

I wish that there was more interaction between the secondary characters that didn’t depend on them fighting with each other. It became a little much, especially when those relationships will not be resolved until they get their own books. I would have rather seen them interact more with each other, even if it wasn’t with their better half since all the couples seem to be fighting at some point.

Finally, Lake had her lightbulb – I understand him – I completely forgive him moment just a little too easily in book 1. Even if she did forgive him that easily, I wanted her to have more trouble with it. That was rectified a bit in the second novel, but I would have liked to have seen her struggle with it more in the first.

* * * *

xx

Favourite Author Series – Cherise Sinclair

This is the second in a series of three blogs discussing my favourite authors. They are written to help readers who may be looking for new books, and to thank my favourite authors for their efforts by publicizing their works.

(By the way, the spacing is messed up in this post and the next couple and I have no idea why. I tried to fix it like twenty times. Please forgive)

Cherise Sinclair is an erotica author who writes stories about relationships that incorporate aspects of bdsm. Many of her books feature heroines who are just discovering bdsm which makes them excellent for any reader who is also new to the sub-genre. I love how the characters in her books are dealing with real-life shit, but still get their happily ever afters, while always practicing safe, sane and consensual kinky play.

I’m going to start off by mentioning two books that are stand-alones, at least so far.

Starlight Rite is the only science-fiction novel written by the author. It takes place on a planet that believes in slavery, including sexual servitude. They are a very sexy race, considering Terrans like us to be rather puritanical. It was, admittedly, one of my least favourite books from this author, but I don’t like sci-fi, so this could be way more your thing than mine. A lot of other fans are begging for a sequel.

starlite

The other stand-alone by Ms. Sinclair is The Dom’s Dungeon. It follows a recent transplant to Seattle, Mackenzie, and her beau, Alex.

I absolutely love this book and really wish there was a sequel in the works. In a recent poll on her facebook page, requests for books about Dom’s Dungeon secondary characters Steel and Drake topped the poll. Hopefully that means we get to travel back to Chains soon!

dom's dungeon

Now, the main series this author writes is called Club Shadowlands, also the title of the first book in it. There are currently ten in the series, and each provides updates on some of the past couples, so you see ‘old friends’ get married and start having babies, theirs ups as well as their downs.

1-6

This is my favourite series that Sinclair writes, and despite a ‘mind-reader’ in the first novel, it’s entirely contemporary from then on out. Most of the men and some of the women are current or former military/LEOs and ousting the bad guy to rescue the girl is a common theme.

I love these types of books, and the author does a great job of making each one seem different. One of the ways she does this is by exploring different relationship styles in some books. Book 6 is about a couple who enter a master-slave relationship, book 7 features a male sadist, 8 is a menage relationship (M-f-M), and the newest novel (#10) features her first female dominant-male submissive relationship.

Book 1

Book 1

Book 10, releasing July 28, 2015

Book 10, releasing July 28, 2015

Club Shadowlands (book #1) is actually available as a free ebook on amazon. The author changed the pricing sometime after the fifth book in the series came out in the hopes it would encourage readers unfamiliar with the genre to try a new book. See what a sweetie she is?! Makes it a great way to try out the author and see if you like her style.

The second series that Ms.Sinclair writes is called the Wild Hunt series. This is a paranormal romance, featuring the Daonain, semi-human shapeshifters who descend from the fey, who lived on Earth before people. These books have fewer elements of bdsm than the Club Shadowlands series and no public play. In my opinion though, they are kinkier because they feature menage relationships of two men and one woman. There is no direct action between the men but they do have playtime with the woman together.

Book 1 is about were-cats and book 2 is about were-wolves (just not the monster full-moon kind). Big Wolf on Campus this is not.

Book 1

Book 1

Book 2

Book 2

Book 3 is currently a WIP and will likely be available early 2016. It features werebears.

The final series (at the moment) is another contemporary, no-magic world set in Northern California and San Fran. It is the most confusing to explain.

Essentially, it began as two series, Mountain Masters (written exclusively by Cherise Sinclair) and Dark Haven (a series written by several authors, though predominantly by Sinclair at this point). Personally, I only liked the novels and novellas penned by Sinclair, I wouldn’t recommend the parts written by other authors. You don’t miss anything pertinent to the series by skipping them either.

In the early days, characters occasionally wandered through both series but at this point there have been cross-overs so often (virtually every full-length novel and some novellas) that it is considered one giant series, just enough to drive those unfamiliar with the works crazy while they figure out what order to read them in.

Here is what I would suggest.

 #1 Master of the Mountain

#1.5 Doms of Dark Haven 1 (three novellas published in one edition)

or

Simon Says Mine (Sinclair’s novella is being republished on its own)

#2 Master of the Abyss

#2.5 Doms of Dark Haven 2: western night

#3 My Liege of Dark Haven

#4 Edge of the Enforcer

#5 Master of Freedom

The author has declared her intention to consider the series, but as of yet, nothing has been announced officially. Have I confused you yet?

 —       —       —

I don’t have a favourite book by Cherise Sinclair. But I love that her writing is laugh-out-loud funny at times. Here are a couple of the best quotes.

‘“Those [gold armbands] identify the Shadowlands Masters.”

“And that’s different from a dom how?”

Sally rested her tray on her hip and thought for a second. “Okay, you know how some doms are just a little dominating like maybe a one-scoop ice cream, and others have a lot more—maybe two scoops of domination?”

Gabi nodded.

“Well, with the Masters, think supersized hot fudge sundae.” Sally giggled. “And that’s only the domination part. Add in beaucoup experience and control and all that. They’re voted Master status by the members, and it’s sure not a popularity contest.”’

– Make Me Sir, by Cherise Sinclair

‘“Rat bastard,” she huffed. She knelt, and just when he thought she’d lost her touch, she glanced up at him and said loudly, “I can’t believe that out of one hundred thousand sperm, you were the fastest.”’

– Make Me Sir, by Cherise Sinclair

xx

Into the woods – a review

I watched Into the Woods a little while ago and have been meaning to review it ever since. Problem is, every time I go to start, I get that song stuck in my head! It’s almost annoyingly catchy.

Disney did a decent job of adapting a very adult musical into a movie for older children and adults to enjoy together.  The first half was excellent, catchy, fast-paced and Johnny Depp did a credible job as the Wolf.  I wasn’t thrilled with his appointment to the role, but it worked out in the end.

Where the trouble started, was the second act, which fell to pieces. This is an example of watering down great content to fit the length of a film, and most pointedly, to pacify all the parents bringing young kids to a movie that was never written for a PG audience.

From themes of pedophilia between the Wolf and Red, to cheating between spouses to murder, it would have been better for Disney to keep true to the musical and slap at 14A rating on that film.  Instead, it tried to make a PG version that would appeal to everyone and it didn’t quite work, despite the many accomplishments of the actors.

While I did enjoy Into the Woods, I noticed a lot of reviews online and social media, mainly from fans of the original musical who resented the adaptations in the second half (I concur), and parents of young kids who didn’t realize that this particular Disney movie was based on the darker Grimms’ fairy-tales, rather than the G-rated Disney version.  To the latter, I say do your research.  Maybe the trailer should have been a little darker, to convey that message more clearly, but I had never heard of the musical before the film came out and I knew it wasn’t meant for young children.  I wouldn’t take a child to something either, if I had no idea what it was about.  Disney has been moving away from the old school G-rated family films that it was synonymous with in the past.  Those are still their bread and butter, but Disney owns and produces the Lucasfilms (Star Wars) and Marvel productions too, which are clearly marketed towards adults, even if their ratings are not child-averse.

woods < Really, does that look it was meant for kids under 10?!

As to the failures of the adaptation, well, that is always hit and miss.  One of the most common sayings in the movie business, is that, the movie is never as good as the book. Well, in this case, we would have to change that to the movie is never as good as the musical.

Spoiler Alert

The weakest points in the film were due to Disney making the film more child-friendly. I didn’t like the portrayal of the witch (I’m shocked to say) or the changes to her story-line. In particular, re-writing Rapunzel’s ending, from a tragic death to a happily ever after with her Prince, effectively destroyed the entire meaning behind the story and necessitated the removal or alterations of several songs, which no longer made sense. Rapunzel and Prince disappear from the rest of the movie, as does Jack’s mother, because God forbid we see someone die on-screen.  The Baker’s Wife also falls behind a rock, insinuating she fell off a cliff.  I would have much preferred an Alice-style fall a la The Last of the Mohicans.

Up until the wedding scene, I was giving the film five golden stars.  Unfortunately, from that point on the movie lacked focus, meaning and depth, dropping it down to three and a half.  A good effort, and enjoyable … but still, I wish Disney had had more conviction to make a twenty-first century fairy-tale for grown-ups

* * *

xx

Furious 7 – a review

Furious 7 is the seventh movie in the fast and the furious franchise (I know, who could have guessed?) and seeing as this is one of my favourite series, I knew that I had to see it opening weekend.  Today being Good Friday, I invited along my oldest niece and made the 40 minute drive to a Cineplex big screen.

Since I don’t feel the need to recap something readers probably already know, and am too lazy to write it myself, here is a synopsis I *borrowed*.

From imdb…

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their separate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.

I was anxious going into this one.  I’m a passionate fan and between not loving Fast 6 and dreading having to say goodbye to Brian O’Connor, after the actor who played him died last year, ya, I was anxious.

I am pleased to say that I loved it!  This is a series that runs on high-octane fuel, and you can count on long car chases, crazy stunts and witty quips.  For me, the undercurrent holding this franchise together is the importance of family and the ‘believability’ of it.  That’s why the fifth movie dropped out for me. That looooong runway from the airplane scene? Ruined the movie.

runway

Someone smarter than me did the math. I love google.

math

Thankfully the airplane scene in Furious 7 is completely realistic, from my point of view. These guys (and Letty) are the best drivers in the world, they could totally pull it off.

The rest of this post is more spoilery, so continue reading or bail, it’s your choice.

Weakest points in the movie:

Ronda Rousey’s performance as a cyborg-bodyguard. Ok, I love the UFC and she is so inspirational, but the girl needs to keep it to the octagon because she can’t act. At all.

The fact that Leon (from the original The Fast and the Furious, back in 2001) wasn’t in it. Now that the team is ‘all’ back together and living in their old L.A. home, I really hoped Leon would be back.  He is the only living OG except for the main characters, but he wasn’t, and isn’t signed on for Furious 8 either. I went searching for facts and the actor Johnny Strong, said in an interview that he doesn’t want to return to the role.  Well, that sucks! He just returned to acting in the last couple of years though, after nearly a decade long hiatus, so hopefully his tune will change and old Leon is back for the 8th installment.

Mia Torreto was barely in the movie.  Perhaps it is the actress’ preference, but she was barely in 6, and not in 2 or 3 at all.  In the first, fourth and fifth films, she has a solid supporting role, but you will see just as little Mia in this one as the last.  From the send-off given to Paul Walker, it sounds like actress Jordana Brewster might not be back again. Hopefully they work her back in somehow, because I love Mia, and after Giselle’s death, we need more women than just Letty.

The crew has ‘retired’ so many times now, they might as well be ready for nursing homes. Re-grouping the team for one last hijinks was behind Fast Five, Fast 6, Furious 7, and presumably Furious 8, which Vin Diesal has confirmed is in development. I fervently pray that Furious 8 puts a lot more work into plot development, and goes back to some of the original movies for its motivation, rather than contriving another Shaw brothers manhunt.

High points of the film?  There were a ton.  Mainly that the storyline was generally better and the stunts semi-believable in this film, especially compared to the previous one.

I also loved the send-off the cast and crew gave to the character of Brian O’Connor.  It made me really emotional to watch, and I was impressed with how much love and respect they showed in handling this tragedy on-screen.  It was intricately woven into the plot, and yet, you can tell that they are really saying goodbye to Paul.  The love they had for him was incredible, and I hope that somehow, he was able to feel that in the great beyond.

I was expecting Brian to be killed off in the action, probably taking a bullet or explosion meant for Dom, but “retiring” his character and sending him off with his family to bliss, that was so much sweeter.

* * * *

The fourth and fifth films remain my favourites, but 7 now ties the OG for 2nd place in my heart.

xx

Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase – A review

16143323

This is my least favourite book type of book to review.

One that is ok… but left me feeling less than passionate afterwards. I don’t want to hate on the book because it honestly wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t what I expected.  And maybe my expectations were the problem, the fact that I had the story planned out in my head, instead of letting it unfold as directed by the author.

Suddenly Royal is essential the new adult version of the Princess Diaries series. Instead of an American teenager finding out she is the Crown Princess of Genovia, the protagonist is a mid-twenties Minnesotan grad student (Samantha) who finds out she is the long lost Duchess in a small European country, and immediately falls for the Crown Prince (Alex) of said country.

I did like the book, and I loved the fact that it was a more grown up version of the Princess Diaries, because those movies rock but I was just a little too old when they came out.  I mean, Samantha actually gets laid!

But in the end, most of the story was entirely predictable, the characters too nice and Samantha’s path too easy.  She has suffered a lot of loss in her young life, but there is no strife in the book.  She adapts to her new life without debacle and seems to leave the old one behind even easier.

(potential spoiler ahead)

Chase essentially ended the otherwise light, happy book with the main character’s father dying from cancer very suddenly.  I am an emotional reader and did not appreciate spending the last few pages bawling my eyes out, in a book that was in no way marketed as being sad.  Gayle Forman or John Green, ok I expect that, but not in a princessy pink-covered book.

I would have liked to see the characters develop more, in fewer pages. At the end of the day, I felt the author could have taken out a good 100 pages.

* * * (and a half, maybe)

xx

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a 2014 blockbuster film telling the story of Bletchley Park’s code-breaking team, which was charged with cracking the “unbreakable” German code Enigma, during WWII. It follows the efforts of Alan Turing and co, as well as telling us of Alan’s heartbreaking personal story, from childhood to his death in 1951.

Alan Turing and his team solved the Enigma Code, and it is estimated that their doing so ended the war two years earlier and saved 14 million lives.  That fact that the Enigma Code was broken remained a state secret for 50 years.

If this had not been a historical film, I would have said that the writers needed to go back to the drawing board.  Despite not knowing much about this topic, I was able to foretell many aspects of the plot, including Christopher’s fate, the identity of the Soviet spy and “the sacrifice”.

Clearly, this film is based on historical fact though and somehow, that makes it all forgiven. At the base of it, this wasn’t a spy thriller; being able to see the outcome did not ruin the movie. It was a dramatic retelling of some of England’s best – and worst – moments in the 1940s and 50s.

One thing that struck me throughout the film, was how different things were then, from now. A 25 year old woman was almost barred from being a member of the team, based upon her gender, and then further prevented from joining because of her parents’ objections.  It was indecent for her to work on a project with five men, and to work for the war effort instead of hunting for a suitable husband. Likewise, I had no idea that in the 1950s, homosexuality in Great Britain was punishable by custodial sentence or chemical castration.

I had wanted to watch The Imitation Game when it was released last year but I never got around to it.  I have always been interested in history, and took multiple classes in secondary school and uni, but somehow missed ever learning about Turing or the Enigma Code.  The Eric Walters book, Enigma, which I just read about was also based on war efforts occurring a Bletchley Park, so it was an interesting parallel to finish both this weekend.  I definitely want to go and learn more.

The movie was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture of the Year, and ultimately won for Best Writing (adapted screenplay). Not surprising, considering it starred fantastic fan-favourite actors including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Charles Dance.

It was a remarkable film that I am so thankful I made the time to watch this weekend. I highly recommend it.

* * * * *

xx