Wednesday, 4 January 2012

"Afterlight" review & "Whatcha Reading?" Wednesday!

I hope that everyone has had loads of time to read, read, read over the holidays!  Luckily I have had a fair bit of time, especially in the evenings, to dive into several new books.  Sadly, my last couple of books of 2011 weren't stellar in my opinion but I have high hopes for 2012!

Here's what I've been up to:
Over the Christmas break I read "Heart of Ice" by Gregg Olsen.  Olsen is a new author for me but I wasn't captivated by this book. 

Next, I read "Afterlight" (review to follow this blathering) and again, not my favourite read.  Not even close.  Book Mojo, have thou forsaken me?!? 

Early this morning, OK after my coffee at 8am that Brad made for me {Hello, I'm spoiled!} I finished the sixth book in the Mary O'Reilly series by Terri Reid.  This set of ebooks are available on the Kindle site and I've quite enjoyed reading them.  They're a supernatural mystery series that has strong personal storylines between the characters.  I'll post this review as soon as possible.

As of this afternoon, I started another ebook on my Kindle called "True of Blood" (1st book in the Witch Fairy series) by Bonnie Lamer.  So far I'm 14% into the book and I'm really enjoying it. 

What's next on my bookshelf? I have no idea which way my literary tastes will take me.  Perhaps a mystery or suspense read to balance out the supernatural I've been reading. 

What are you all reading??  Did you get any awesome books for Christmas??  Share, share!!  Here's hoping 2012 is a year of amazing reads for all of us!


Author: Elle Jasper
Genre: Supernatural
Type: Paperback
Pages: 316
Series: Dark Ink Chronicles
Series Order: "Afterlight" (2010), "Everdark" (2011), "Eventide" (2012)
First Line: "Afterlight."

Synopsis:  Riley Poe is a tattoo artist in Savannah, Georgia who has a dark past.  She has turned her back on the wild and reckless ways of her youth in order to raise her teenage brother, Seth.  After a wild night out with his friends in a grave yard Seth returns home and almost instantly Riley notices changes in his behaviour and attitude.  When Seth is abducted by a group working for centuries-old vampires Riley discovers a whole new world that she never knew existed. 

Even with her tough exterior Riley knows that she cannot save her brother by herself.  She is allied with Eli Dupre, a vampire from an old, yet trusted vampire family from Savannah.  At first Eli is not eager to help Riley because he doesn't trust himself due to his attraction to her beauty ... and her very unique and intoxicating blood type.  Riley is willing to do anything to save the only family member she has left in the world.  But will that be enough?

My Thoughts:  This was not a great way to finish off 2011.  I had picked up this book at the library hoping to find a new supernatural author.  The front cover was cool and the write up on the back cover had me envisioning a "Miami Ink meets Vampires" kind of read.   Sadly, the supernatural element wasn't the focus of this book.  I'll get into that more later.  I think this book suffered from poorly developed characters,  a very slow pace and an almost non-existent plot.  Doesn't leave much of a glimmer of hope that I loved this book, does it?

Let's start with the characters, shall we?   The reader is told that Riley is this tough girl with a very nasty past but what we're shown is a rather meek and kind of dull main character.  For a girl who grew up on the streets she really isn't as tough as you'd expect her to be. 

Then there's the leading man, Eli Dupre.  Need a dark, brooding, slightly dangerous leading man who skulks in corners??  Eli's the guy for you!  Being dark, brooding and giving off sexual energy are his thing ... and that's about all he brings to the story.  He's utterly one-dimensional and didn't seem worthy of leading man status to me.  One issue that bothered me with Eli was that he could read minds, even Riley's mind.  How can that benefit the story when he knows exactly what she's thinking at all times?  It's like they became one character.  There's no way Riley can get away with anything around Eli.  If she's kidnapped he'd find her, if she hates the tie he's wearing he'll know etc.  It really bothered me that the author went there.

I just mentioned that Eli brought a sexual energy to the book.  Going into this book I was thinking it was a supernatural/romance type read but I was quickly reminded that this was not so.  Assuming the genre was my mistake.  This book rapidly went from a supernatural read to a raunchy romance novel -- and quite frankly I was more than a little disappointed. I think there is a place for romance and sex scenes in a book but they have to be balanced with the storyline and be relevant.  Both were totally missing from this book.

I think the author used the sex scenes to cement the relationship between Riley and Eli.  These two people were thrown together, there was tension between them then all of a sudden they can't live without each other and are soul mates.  Um, no.  Honestly, I didn't ever get the feeling that they cared about each other.  It was more like they were hot for each other and totally obsessed with each other and the reader was supposed to assume that meant they had a big connection on an emotional level.  Attention everyone - romance has left the building.

There are a few unanswered things in the book that bothered me too.  While I started to like Riley's surrogate grandfather, an older Gullah man named Preacher, he wasn't used a lot in the book.  If you're not sure what a Gullah is you'll have to Google it like I did because Ms Jasper doesn't provide the information in the book.  The reader is given a vague sense of what a Gullah is but that's about it.  Frustrating to say the least.  {Note:  brief Gullah definition -- African Americans who live in the low country regions of South Carolina and Georgia who have maintained a lot of their African linguistic and cultural heritage.  They speak an English-based Creole language that also uses some African words.}  I thought the Gullah aspect was really interesting and I was intrigued to learn more about that culture.  Sadly, that didn't happen.

Another item that isn't delved into is WHY Riley has such a rare and intoxicating blood type that makes vampires go ca-razy.  Why introduce this element of the book if it isn't going to be explained.  Again, frustrating. 

Then there's the question of why Eli and Riley skulked around the city following her brother and his group of creepy men for three weeks (taking up many pages of the book).  Was it to give the author time to build the 'romance' between Eli and Riley? That's my guess.  Otherwise, just save the brother and be done with it. 

And what of the big final fight scene?  Well, there isn't one because the book is told via
Riley's viewpoint and she's hit over the head at the beginning of the scene and wakes up when it's all over.  So I just read 300 pages and don't even get some vampire fighting?  C'mon! {hitting head against wall}

So now in our journey through "Afterlight"  we go from not being given enough information to being given too much verbose language.  "Afterlight" is a book filled with all tell and no action.  The reader is beaten over the head with verbiage about Riley's tough childhood, how she has turned her life around, how much she adores her brother.  It's repetitive. 

The author kept telling me how 'bad ass' Riley is but after awhile either show me that she's a bad ass or stop talking about it already! What's that saying "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck. It's a duck."?? Well, Riley didn't walk like a tough chick from the streets, she didn't talk like a tough chick so, ergo, she isn't a tough chick.  This excess of words could have been used to progress the plot which was in need of some oomph.
Also, as a reader I don't need overly verbose descriptions of scenery or daily routines that aren't really relevant to the plot.  This book is filled with a lot of flowery long-winded descriptions of the flora of Savannah as well as Riley's daily routine.  After a couple of chapters and descriptions of the moss covered trees that are all around the city and her numerous dog walking trips I had had enough.  I get it - moss on tree, dog pee on tree.  Move on.

Finally, I'm sorry but it cannot be helped.  There are a lot of similarities to the Twilight series.  A little too many for my liking.  First of all,  the titles are similar, there's bad vampires and a nice family of vampires who have a contract not to munch on the locals.  The contract is with the First Nations in Twilight and the Gullah in this book.  The human girl has some intoxicating quality that vamps love about her (readers are not privy to why this is).  The human girl is kind of wimpy and spends her time daydreaming about her cute vamp guy.  The only differences between Afterlight and Twilight is that Twilight's vampires sparkle and it skips the raunchy sex scenes while Afterlight is filled with them.

As you may have guessed, I didn't like this book and wouldn't recommend it.  Perhaps if more time was spent building character relationships,  more descriptions of the Gullah community and its beliefs and a much stronger plot this book would have gotten a better review.  This is the author's first foray into the wonderful world of vampire writing but this reader won't be reading the second and third books of this series.

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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