To A Place Without Fear (Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward)

Review of 
Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

Rehvenge is used to living in the shadows and dealing with the roughest nightwalkers around - including the Black Dagger Brotherhood. His fearless reputation is why he's approached to kill the race's king, and his bad side is dying to rise to the occasion. 

As his secret identity as a symphath is threatened, he turns to the only light in his ever darkening world - a female vampire untouched by corruption and and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

The cover and the summary aren't my favorites. They both focus on Rehvenge only: the covers where we have the shoulder and neck combo of the main couple are better. They aren't the best by any means and even those do focus more on the males, but at least the females are in the picture.  
And the summary. I think it focuses on the story from a weird angle and it, too, forgets Ehlena completely. 

I have to admit, Rehvenge’s book always surprises me and not necessarily in a good way. It’s pretty obviously important for the Big Plot of the series, but it does feel like some of the events in it are just tiny pawns moved in the boring middle of a long chess game. 

Also, Rehvenge? He seriously comes from behind a corner as the next main character - everyone else is a Brother or so and then we have him? What with all our earlier heroes and heroines, we’ve met them - even briefly - before, maybe a POV scene or two. With Rehvenge we’ve got that too, but he’s always been a distant character for me, somehow apart from everyone else. I think I would have liked more from his story - because his story in this book does feel a little like a basic redemption story with a happily ever after - and then we barely see him in the next books! Hate to say it, but this really feels a little like a filler book.

Elehna. I have no idea what to say about her. She gets a little (not that little) overshadowed by Rehvenge’s tragic story and what she goes through is mostly the aftermaths of other peoples’ stories or as someone’s sidekick. She’s a nurse and rather obviously it’s a part of her to want to take care of others before herself. 
When I started thinking about her, I realized that she really reminds me of Mary and Doc Jane. Their overall storylines are frighteningly similar, but Elehna doesn’t have Mary’s raw toughness or Doc Jane’s cutting edge brain. 
So, Elehna’s someone who cares for others and it’s what we see of her the most. She’s a good person who really tries to see the best in people and help them - but she won’t be played, she isn’t stupid or naive. She’s been kicked by life and has had to really fight to survive. But I feel like we’re a little glossed over that. It’s a little “She’s had to count her money carefully and care for others! Oh, look shiny!”
And then her relationship with the glymera reminds me of Marissa and Bella. Am I a horrible person? 

Rehvenge is pretty much I think, the anti-hero. He’s selfish, cares only about those he’s chosen to care about and will play things so that he’ll come at the top. But then again, I don’t see him as completely ruthless, as he tries not to become cold-blooded and stop caring about others in a way that’ll have him hurting people just because he can. He might not care about random people, but he won’t hurt them just because - he avoids that at all costs. Well, I think he avoids people and cares about them only when he deems them worthy of his time and interesting enough. 
His relationship with Elehna does reveal a softer side to him: we see the male he’d like to be and it’s interesting how he sort of fights between who he wants to be and what he is.
There’s of course, a tragic backstory and I kind of like what it reveals about him and it’s twisted and everything. But then again, some parts of it include the “women need protection” tagline of the series. The more I reread the series with a seriously critical eye, I’m losing some of that glamour it first had for me and I’m talking mostly about the world building. 

They are, to be honest, really cute together. Rehvenge is a little pushy in the beginning, but I do like how he’s vulnerable in the relationship, too. He reveals more to Elehna that he’s voluntarily revealed to anyone before (his crew does not count) and I like that he completely (well, almost) lets go of his masks. And by that I really mean that of course it’s going to take something more than something simple to make him him drop all of his masks. 
With Rehvenge I think Elehna finds someone to be comfortable with. Even with all the lies I feel like they’re pretty much equal in where they stand in their relationship. 

I liked how we got to see Rehvenge together with his crew, if we hadn’t  gotten the small moments we did, I would have been so very disappointed. Same thing with his scenes with Bella! If those had been missing, it could have ruined the book. 

This book really breaks the series in to two, the Before and the After. This book has a different style as the first six do. Ward gets a little more deeply into her own style and if the way she writes things bothered you before, the dialogue or how things are built? It’s just going to get bigger and rougher. It isn’t quite as obvious, her style getting stronger, as it is in the next books (mainly the two latest ones, LR and LatL) 

And this is the point where it starts to feel like there are too many things going on and too many tiny details to keep up with. We get remotely little of the main couple, which is sad, since after all they’re rather new. 
I kind of wish that Ward would just cut some things. Because yes, there are interesting things happening with other characters and what the villain is doing and what other previous main couples are doing and also future couples. But do we need so long and repeated POV scenes with them? Many of my favorite scenes are sort of extra scenes, I adore them. But in the end, when you have a lot of those scenes, the book is heavy, moves slowly and it diminishes the main couple.

Final thoughts: It is really hard to find something simple to say about Lover Avenged. The title feels a little off, there are a lot of players in this book and the main couple is more about Rehvenge and sidekick Elehna; though she is sweet, she gets sidelined. We get a closer look at Rehvenge, but is he really a main character in a series that has so many main characters that I’m not sure if I want to count so high. 
With LA, Ward moves her writing onto a new level and it’s either a good thing or a very bad thing. 


Interlude: BOOKS

I actually had another post planned for today, but when I started looking at it, I was just so bored. The text is too long and repeats itself and I just couldn’t fix it. I’m just not in the mood for something that A) makes sense or B) goes in to detail about this or that. 

I’m sorry; two interludes in a row as a regular update must be a little tedious, but. I wanted to give you something and these two interludes are two of the things that have been on top of my mind for a long time. So instead doing a normal review, I went back to this piece and well, here you go! 

If you’ve followed this blog after the start of the new year, you may have noticed a decline in the quality of reviews or that my poor updating habits have gotten poorer. (You haven’t? Oh yay!) 
This is mostly because I’m just not feeling it. Sounds horrible, but I find it harder and harder to get excited about books - for some reason I just feel like every summary I read sounds the same. It’s become weirdly difficult for me to get excited about books. It’s as if I’ve had to force myself to stare at the pages and actually think about the words. Which sucks, because when I’m down or bored or want something fun, the first thing I think about is, what shall I read? And then, when I go for a book, it’s just a big fat “Let’s not do this.” 

This may be because my current situation is also in a... well, not looking so good. I really have to focus on saving money, which means there are few books I can buy - especially difficult when you look at the prices. So I do think I’ll get out of this situation, but it’s a little depressing: to want to read desperately and to have nothing to read. (Or so it seems.) I guess that’s how everyone feels once in a while, but it’s just this huge fight between me wanting to spend on books and then another me going NO.

And I know that other book bloggers also sometimes have the same problem, but I am just a horrible shopper: you have to keep me in a tight leash or else I will spend all my money. As a contrast, during last summer and the beginning of the fall, I spent a lot of money on books. I mean, a lot. I was just going for all the books and yes, that means that there are books that I haven’t reviewed yet, though I have notes on them ready. (But how do you do words?)  

And that’s how we get to the previous problem of just not feeling the books. Everything’s blah.
Right now the only ones that I’m remotely excited about are a part of a series and that feels like cheating? I don’t know either. And I also feel like I only read the same kind of books over and over again. I need to branch out! Start reading some new genres and more different ranges. Not just about vampires and demons. Though I doubt how that’ll actually work. I just love these fantasy elements so much. I’ve never really liked those books with a young girl just moving in to a new city and trying to find new friends. If one of the people she meets isn’t at least a vampire, you might not catch my attention. 

Maybe it would help if I started following more book blogs? I am following only fifty on a regular basis. But maybe that would boost my love up again. I do feel like I read less and less things about books, if we’re not counting twitter. (And when it comes to blogging...) 

Though at this point, I have to remind myself that a few years back I almost didn’t read at all, I was, well, just was. And then, suddenly I was buying one book in a week at least! But that would be before the prices went up. (Before I’d get a paperback for 8-10 euros, now the same books are 12-17 euros. I feel cheated and the need to shake my fist at someone.) 

And that’s the post. Not a very exciting one, but maybe you’ll get a more clear picture about what the hell’s going on in my end. 


Interlude: WHY

Today is Mother's day here and I was caught by surprise how busy I was the whole day.  

So, have an interlude, where I lament about two books.

Let me tell you about two books I've been struggling with. STRUGGLING I SAY. But for very, very different reasons. 

Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes. You may have heard of this one. I think the internet has pretty much fallen in love with it, as they should have. (If I'm wrong well, get on it.) 
I was only vaguely curious about this one and I bought it for two reasons only: it was four euros on bookdepository and I pretty much fell in love Alex, the narrator/main character.

To be honest, I have a weird and complex relationship with zombie books. I’ll probably go in to more detail about that with the Ashes review, but I just can’t always take the bloodshed and constant looking over your shoulder -deal. It makes me anxious and I’ve noticed that the more I read books that are all doom-and-gloom, I get all doom-and-gloom. Also I just don’t like that hopelessness - I’d like some false hope, thank you. I know it’s a little childish and so on, but fuck it, I’ll rather read about another really special girl getting the attention of the hottest boy at the school and discovering she has magical abilities. 

But so far I can tell that Ashes is amazing, it’s becoming one of the best books I’ve read. But it’s just so very sad that I keep screaming how unfair things are and wanting to just hug the characters. I’ve only got something 150 pages left, which is ridiculous, but I can’t bring myself to open it and continue reading!

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow. I’d heard about this from somewhere on the internet and went crazy about it. It was, I think, too expensive when I first went to look for it, but I kept it on my must-get -list. I mean, it sounds pretty damn awesome and the cover isn’t half as bad as some other ones in the genre (I suck at photoshop and sometimes I think I could do better.)

So when I got a gift card to a bookshop and then stumbled onto this (ridiculously overpriced), I think I squealed and bought it right away. Oh was I so wrong. I’m not quite sure yet what is it about the book that makes me grind my teeth every time I consider reading it, but I can’t get past the first fifty pages! And then I get really mad because I wasted that gift card on this piece of crap! 

But then again, I feel like I’m being too harsh and judging it too easily. I don’t really want to say anything too bad about it. The first draft of this was really well, mean, so I rewrote those parts. Because what can the first fifty pages say about the whole book? But then again, a book should catch one’s attention right away and not start on the good bits somewhere around page 256. 

It is the first time in a while that I’ve had to actually struggle with a book - if we’re not counting my trials against that damn swedish book (I’ll tell you later) - so it’s kind of exciting. But then again, the latter has been quite the disappointment so far so that takes away the fun. 

So, that’s two books that keep glaring at me from my shelf, where I’ve left them unread. I keep re-reading other books and ignoring them. And I’m really bad when it comes re-reading books so that should say something. 
I can’t bring myself to just start reading either one, but I desperately want to search my feelings why I can’t. It’s a never-ending loop of should-but-won’t and yeah. 

I know I’ll write a review of Ashes - it’s already half-written because hello feelings! - but I don’t really know if I’ll write one about the other one. I want to stay away from a completely negative review, but I have complex feelings about it that I might want to get out in the open? We’ll see when/if I finish it. 


We Are Shining (Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward)

Review of 
Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward

In this "frighteningly addictive" paranormal romance saga, there's a war raging between vampires and their slayers. Here are the stories of a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now a dutiful twin must choose between two lives... 

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 obligated 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 is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, and Phury must decide  between duty and love... 

When I started thinking that hey, I should review the Black Dagger BRotherhood - the books can be so different and I have a lot to say! - I knew, in the back of my mind, that Phury’s book was going to be a pain in the ass to write. It was. 

Now, don’t start throwing tomatoes yet - I have nothing against Phury or his special storyline. His struggles with his issues are not the problem. On paper, just the idea, that you’d sacrifice everything for a twin you’ve never met and that you’ve heard countless stories of and then even after all that you’re both messed up and there’s no obvious happy ending? I adore the twins, their interactions are so bittersweet - they care so much about each other, but life’s broken them and they don’t know how to express their love but they need each other so much even though they don’t want to. 
I just... reading the books before, I never really wanted to get so much inside Phury’s head - or Cormia’s. There was no excitement for me in this book. 

But, partly, that is what makes it so awesome. The book is really rather bittersweet - the people here are caught up in the past and their mistakes and despite wanting to move on, something holds them back. And the hardcore emotions that Ward throws around? This is one of the most emotional books, with the whole ups-and-downs, we’re-getting-there, no-we-aren’t. YOu can taste the hope, but it’s still too far away. I do think this is a good book, written amazingly. 

Phury, the sweet, handsome Phury. He dresses perfectly, his hair is perfect and family is everything to him. I think, after Darius he’s the one who first started thinking of all the BRothers (and their lovers) as family, the others needed to get over that other shit first. 
But then, he’s all broken inside. For Phury, protecting others is the most important thing - especially Z -  and he quite often forgets himself on purpose when he tries to take care of them. And when he tries to care for Cormia, it becomes pretty damn obvious that he’s all disconnected with himself and just puts all the bad shit on her, too and not the good stuff. (Does that make sense?) 
When you think about it, his life before Zsadist was... not as bad Z’s but he was nothing without his brother. The bond the two have, is heartbreaking, when you think how long it’s taken to build that. And with how Phury’s life has been all about Z. Z lives, Phury does. 

Cormia, sweet, sweet Cormia. Personally, I just want to gather all the Chosen and feed them lots of chocolate and hiss at the Scribe Virgin. It’s interesting, how we first meet this a little scared, tame young woman and even when we see more of her, all we really get to see is that she’s gentle and caring. But then, she has this vicious independency that she can take care of herself thank you very much. She’ll even decide how she’ll be under someone’s thumb and I think what she’s afraid of is losing her self. And she’s smart for someone who has never gone through any education or learning. (Rituals and rules do not count here.) 
I think she’s self-sacrificing, too, but she knows when it’s good for and when it’s not - most of the time. She’s far more calm and sensible than Phury and so when she loses control, it really shakes her to the core. 
What I always sort of forget is that, when she sees something that she can do or has to be done, she’ll go and do it. “That has to be done? Well, let’s do it!” That’s basically what she says to Phury when he can’t see a way out. 

They are very sweet together. But they just might work together the best out of all the couples - at least that I can think of. It would be foolish to think that even after the biggest problems have been solved, that these two would never fight. But in the end I think they have enough humility and in them to come and admit that maybe it was a stupid fight. Without weeks of no communication unlike some people. 
They support each other more obviously then other couples, though their falling in love in this book is more like taking the stairs in big leaps. 
I feel like these two are leaning on each other in turns and then just smiling at each other, as if to say it’s okay. They give each other freedom and will catch the other when needed. They do that both, it’s not just what Cormia or Phury does. It seems they just trust each other and enjoy the other’s company completely. 

Ward could have done something really horrible with the Phury-Bella and his and Cormia’s sort-of-arranged-marriage. She skirts the line there, I think, terribly close to horrible and gross with taking it too far. Some of the scenes that Cormia and Phury have make me cringe a little, but mainly because we’re talking at that point about people who can’t think past their own problems, let alone discuss them. And that leads to shit. 
But Wards maneuvers beyond that, hitting the notes of shit-people-talk-about-it-already more than gross-gross-stop. But again, trying not to spoil anything, this is my personal issues with stuff. 

Besides Phury and Cormia, the other characters also have similar problems. The whole theme of the book seems to bittersweet, because most of the people are feeling blue with sweet moments thrown in. There’s almost a visible dark storm cloud hanging over this book, because dangerous stuff happens and it gets pretty bad. The plot gets one of its most darkest points started and well on its way. And then again, we have a few sweet moments though they are tightly entwined with the bad. 

Lover Enshrined is the what, sixth book in the series? And to me it feels like it ends something. With the next books, we’re moving on to something else, the plots gets a little more complicated, the world is expanded on, more and more characters and their own stories are introduced. 
I also think that Ward’s writing style starts changing from here on. It isn’t that obvious in the very next book or the one after that, but then when we get to Lover at Last, it’s more bold and cuts more corners. I’ll mention that later with those books’ reviews. But these first six books are to me the golden era and I re-read these the most. I think Ward is at her best here and doesn’t really match the awesomeness in whole books but in small scenes in the rest of the series. Excepting one book, which I’ll tell you when its time is here. 

Final thoughts: Lover Enshrined may not be my favorite, but it is a good book in the series. It completes the first six, making them somehow a complete package. When starting to read this, you might prepare yourself for a gloomy backdrop, storm clouds above and bittersweet action. 


Interlude! ..kind of?

I think there might still be people who read this blog, so to those lovely people, today's update will be up tomorrow, Monday. 

This Sunday has been filled with stressing and worrying and since I start tomorrow by driving somewhere I've never driven to before, I'm really nervous about that and can't quite concentrate. 

So the time that I would have spent checking out today's post for the fourth final time, I'm trying to find things on google maps. (It's not as easy as it sounds.) 

These last few months have been filled with a lot of surprises and so the posts have suffered a little. So I don't want to give you a half-done post and will instead post it tomorrow. 

Just wanted to let you know. You know. If someone still reads this blog....