Review: The Red

tl;dr: completely insane but satisfying erotica fantasy

The Story:

If you are unfamiliar with Tiffany Reisz, you may want to mentally prepare yourself. This book is bananas, but in the best possible way. The Red is about a young woman named Mona, who comes from scandalous beginnings (her mother was a free love kinda gal, and invited a man to impregnate her without any strings because she wanted a child) and is now faced with a arduous task of saving her late mother’s gallery from financial ruin. She’s gone over the books, and the prognosis in grim. Right at the moment she decides she can’t fight it any longer and needs to sell it, a mysterious man shows up, and offers her the money it will take to bring the gallery back from its debts IF she agrees to submit to his sexual appetites with a carte blanche¬†agreement.

Mona is intrigued by the man, and really doesn’t want to sell the gallery, so she agrees. They embark on a year-long steamy affair, where she is given hints about their encounters from a variety of paintings. He shows up every few months for many hours of debauchery, which begin to become strange and twisted, and nearly unbelievable. She wonders if her imagination is that good, or if he’s drugging her somehow.

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Review: You’ve Been Warned

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When I set out to find a badly reviewed book for this challenge, I was anticipating a doozy. I have to admit, it could have been worse. Probably an unpopular opinion, but this isn’t any worse than Twilight. In fact, in this book’s defense, I actually finished it in about 3 days. So, it at least intrigued me enough to keep going at a fairly rapid pace.

But make no mistake, this is not a good book. Apparently Mr. Patterson churned out 6 other books the same year this one came out (2007), so his mind wasn’t exactly on crafting a work of art. And it’s not clear who actually wrote it, or how the work was otherwise divided by two authors.

The basic plot is that Kristin Burns is a photographer who has apparently made some bad choices and had a lot of trauma in her life. She takes some photos of a police scene outside of a hotel and notices that her photos are developing weirdly. Specifically, certain portions have a translucent quality. After awhile, strange people start interacting with her, including people she knows are dead. They keep trying to warn her to stay away from the married man she is sleeping with. But it turns out she’s been dead too this whole time … I think. Maybe. She might be dead. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell.

There are a lot of problems with this book. Let’s start with superficial nitpicks.¬†The author is constantly name-dropping brands in a way that make it sound like product placement. The phrasing is rough. Sometimes I needed to re-read sentences a few times to understand the meaning. Kristin’s decent into madness seems bizarre and hard to follow. If she was dead the whole time, the book didn’t do a good job of explaining that. Kristin’s interior monologue is ridiculous. When the other woman is introduced, she is given a mafia nickname – Penley “the Pencil”. All the chapters (which are all about 3-4 pages) end on a cliffhanger.

But my biggest problem is how the book seems to blame Kristin for being a scared teenager, giving birth in a hotel, and losing her baby. The book could have gone into some interesting territory. She was molested as a child by her pediatrician. Her father committed suicide after her mother told him he was worthless. Then she gets pregnant and gives birth without assistance in a hotel, after which the baby dies? (I kinda want to know what happened to the boyfriend there, it’s never clear if they break up or he just disappears.) By this point, Kristin is probably all kinds of messed up. Maybe she thinks she is a garbage person and only deserves a married man. But the book never addresses those interesting threads it could have taken. The character of Kristin instead seems like a master of completely distancing herself from her past, and acting like since Michael and Penley don’t have a perfect marriage, then the affair is completely justified. She even admonishes herself for “cheating” by going on a blind date. How’s that for cognitive dissonance? You are already cheating lady, by sleeping with a married man.

This book would have been way better if it was completely dismantled and rewritten. I felt like I was reading it that I couldn’t really get at the character of Kristin, and my initial thought is that two men just don’t know how to write the experience of a woman convincingly. Maybe that’s not totally fair, but it does seem to not really encapsulate the female experience. Poor writing is poor writing, however, so maybe it would have been less noticeable in a better crafted book.

1 star

This book fulfills the book with bad reviews requirement for the challenge.

 

Review: Soulmates

The final story in the original trilogy of the Kissed by an Angel series was good, although I have qualms. I’ll get to those.

First, the actual story was still good, in my opinion. The action ramps up very well, and it definitely gets to that white knuckled suspenseful climax. I felt like the motivation for Gregory was believable. Ivy reacts to the threats around her in very believable ways. For instance, near the end she finds some evidence that is very damning. She immediately brings it to the police station instead of hiding it somewhere in the house or in her pocket, where it could be snatched away at the last minute, putting her in even more peril. The threats were scary and well conceived. 

I do have a few nitpicks. I thought the love story between Ivy and Will was contrived. They start hinting at it very early on, possibly in the first book, but it feels so rushed. The 3rd book takes place somewhere in the vicinity of October, just a few months after the accident which killed Tristan. Ivy and Tristan were only dating a few months but were in L-O-V-E, and then before he’s even been gone 6 months she is already in love with someone else, all the while Tristan as an angel is still around? Much too fast, even for flaky teenagers.

I also didn’t like how insane Gregory became in the big scene on the railroad tracks at the climax. A couple lines about possible drug use could have explained it away, but he seemed really unhinged despite being a calm sociopath before that. I could also have done without the screaming demons in the background. It was a little over the top, even for a supernatural romance.

Otherwise, this was a great story, and I’m really excited about reading the next three books. I think it held up pretty well over the last 20 years. The second set of three were written in 2011 so it might have an entirely different feel to it, considering how technology has changed so much.

4 stars.

This book completes the mystery/thriller requirement for the challenge.

Review: The Power of Love

The second installment of the Kissed By An Angel trilogy was another quick read. The suspense begins to accelerate during this book as more of the pieces begin to come together.

The first book leaves off with Tristan remembering something weird about the brakes in his car, and how he wasn’t able to stop the car accident from happening. So this whole book deals with him learning how to utilize his angel powers in order to make contact with Ivy in order to warn her that her life may be in danger. The paranormal aspects were okay, nothing too bizarre. I was able to suspend my belief enough to accept them in the story, although there were things that I wondered about. For example, Tristan learns to harness his energy enough to materialize fingertips. But he doesn’t lock the door when Ivy forgets to, or go and read the police report he sees on Andrew’s (Ivy’s stepfather) desk. Minor complaints.

We begin to see a connection between the suicide of Gregory’s mother (Andrew’s first wife) and the car accident. Gregory’s friend Eric had some sort of drug addiction (although no specific drugs or types of drugs are ever named – just “pills”. Maybe pharmaceuticals?) and this is causing an issue between Eric, Gregory, Andrew, and Gregory’s late mother. 

Tristan attempts all kinds of ways to reach Ivy which mostly succeed only in freaking her out, as he speaks through her brother, her friend Beth, and new guy Will. He is able to push Will towards Ivy’s house when he suspects that she is in danger, and some unknown assailant has broken into the house and apparently cocked a gun to her head, and stop the attack.

Ivy still has no idea what is going on or that there is some sort of conspiracy, when, after a recurring nightmare, Gregory dopes her up with spiked tea and drags her off to train tracks, just in time to get bulldozed by the 2am train. Tristan is able to propel Phillip, Ivy’s 9 year old brother, out of bed and towards the train tracks to stop he tragedy from occurring. 

And then it ends. Stay tuned for the last book, suckers! 

It seems like the middle book in a trilogy always ends at a key point in the action, probably to get you hooked so you read the last book. I feel like these books are all so short, it really should be all in one. I wonder if there was some sort of page limit on young adult books in the mid-nineties. It doesn’t really work as a trilogy. 

I am both anticipating and dreading the final book because I know what happens to the cat (sad face), and I honestly can’t remember the motivations for the murders. I imagine I will complete it in a day or two.

I also discovered that the author has written THREE MORE INSTALLMENTS of this series and I’m kind of excited.

This book fulfills no requirements for the book challenge.