July 21, 2012

Book Review: DIE FOR ME and UNTIL I DIE by Amy Plum

Books:  Die For Me and Until I Die
Author:  Amy Plum
Publisher:  HarperTEEN
Category:  YA Paranormal Romance

2 books in 2 days.. That's how fast i went through Amy Plum's Die For Me and Until I Die.  Here are the official book descriptions:


".........thank you for being here, my beauty. Mon ange..."- Vince

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.


"Kate, I've spent a lifetime waiting for you. Before i saw you, I hadn't cared for anyone for the good part of a century and it felt like my heart had been permanently disconnected.  I wasn't even looking anymore.  And without expecting anything...without any hope at all, suddenly you were here.....I don't know what i'd do if i lost you now.  i love you too much."- Vince

Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

Via Wikipedia:  A revenant is a visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living. The word "revenant" is derived from the Latin word, revenans, "returning"

***********SPOILER ALErt ***********SPOILER ALERT************

This is refreshing in that Amy plum created another world, a different creature from the usual vampires, ghosts and werewolves that have become so popular this past decade.  

Author Amy Plum
In her book, Revenants are former human beings who die trying to save other people.  They reanimate after three days and can live forever as long as their bodies do not get consumed by fire.  These revenants live like normal people in that they look alive, they are able to eat real food and do everything else except to sleep.  They also age like normal people, however once they sacrifice themselves for another (which is often since they get strong urges to do so), no matter how old they have gotten, they reanimate the same age as when they first died. In between sacrifices, they lie dormant for three days every month. And so goes the cycle.

In Die For Me, Kate is devastated and depressed.  She just lost her parents in a car accident and has moved to Paris, France with her sister Georgia to stay with their grandparents.  

In one of her few sojourns outside their apartment, she sees a gorgeous young man with whom she feels an immediate connection. He is Vincent Delacroix, a revenant.
Vincent and Kate fall in love and she learns all about his life...or lack thereof since technically, he is an undead.  Despite his monthly "death", Kate forges on simply because she loves Him.  Though Kate is supposedly plainly human, they find out that she can hear Vincent when he is Volant or a roving spirit while his body is in the process of reanimation.

On one of his dormant nights, Lucien, the head of the Numa (the revenants’ ancient enemy), Forcibly enters the home of the revenants by using Georgia as bait. He attempts to destroy both Kate and Vincent's still dead body.  But Vincent's volant enters Kate's body as host and destroys Lucien.

(2nd book, Until I Die)
Months later, Vince is in search of a miracle.  Something that will stop, or at least control, his natural urge to die for humans, thereby letting him go through a natural aging process and in effect, he will be with Kate for as long as she is alive looking the same as her.  

Kate is also searching on her own for hope.  And she finds it in the healer whose existence the Numa did not know until Kate. 

Meanwhile two very old revenants, Arthur and Violette, have transferred to Vince’s group after Lucien’s attack. Though Violette goes out of her way to be friendly with Kate, Arthur is the exact opposite. 

Kate finds out about an old prophecy that says one among the revenants will become The Champion who will spell the end for the Numa.  However if killed, his power will be transferred to his murderer.  And it is believed among them that Vince is the champion since he can communicate with Kate and is stronger than the average revenant. And his life is in danger.

I like the way the book was written.  It did not drag nor get too sappy with declarations of undying love. The pace was just right with enough action to kick it back up after the “love” parts.

Kate and Vince are fine characters with just the right amount of sweetness between them.  Among the supporting characters, the one that stood out for me was Jules, Vince’s friend and fellow revenant.  His quips and non-stop flirting with Kate are funny.  It’s like a subtle love triangle that isn’t. I also like Georgia for her loyalty and willingness to support Kate no matter what.

Amy Plum has a winner in this trilogy.  The last book is supposed to come out early next year and that’s months too long.  The suspense, the cliffhanger, particularly at the end of Until I Die is an absolute killer.  So if you’re into YA romances, you will definitely like this. Read it! 

July 08, 2012

Book Review: FIFTY SHADES TRILOGY by E.L. James

Book: Fifty Shades Trilogy
Author:  EL James
Publisher:  The Writer’s Coffee Shop
Category:  Erotic Fiction

I finished reading all three books a few days back but have been procrastinating in writing a review.  Mostly because I am torn.  I don’t know if I like, love or hate this trilogy.  But that’s what I appreciate about Fifty Shades, it brings out a gamut of emotions that you can’t help but read them again for clarification.  I know millions have read these and more are considering to.  So before you do, read this review.  To start, here are the book descriptions:

Fifty Shades of Grey

“Anastasia, you should steer clear of me.  I’m not the man for you.”-Christian Grey

“I have rules and I want you to comply with them.  They are for your benefit and for my pleasure.  If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you.  if you don’t, I shall punish you and you will learn.”- Christian Grey

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Fifty Shades Darker

 “This is me Ana. All of me and I’m all yours.  what do I have to do to make you realize that? To make you see that I want you any way I can get you.  that I love you.”- Christian Grey

“You are so precious to me Ana. I was serious about marrying you. we can get to know each other then. I can look after you. you can look after me. We can have kids if you want. I will lay my world at your feet, Anastasia. I want you, body and soul, forever.”- Christian Grey

Daunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. 
But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.
While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

Fifty Shades Freed

“I want everyone to know that you’re mine.”- Christian
“I am yours. look.”- Anastasia
“It’s not enough.”-Christian
“What do you mean?”- Anastasia
“I want your world to begin and end with me.”- Christian

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.
Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.
Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

**********SPOILER ALERT**********SPOILER ALERT**********

I have heard Fifty Shades of Grey being called Mommy Porn and even Twilight with BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism).  Both are very apt descriptions as the book and its 2 sequels are full of kinky sex.  In fact every few pages have the two protagonists Anastasia and Christian going at it like rabbits.  Reading it, I felt like a kid peeking through my fingers while watching a horror movie. The sex scenes in these books are such that an ordinary person will either be fascinated or disgusted. 

Of the three, Fifty Shades of Grey was the hardest to read.  it took me a total of 3 days to finish the book.  It’s not that the writing was bad.  On the contrary, E.L. James’ reference to different books and use of uncommon words (hoplophobe, priapic…) shows that she is well read and highly informed. Her descriptions though border on repetitive: nose touching, Christian’s hard body, his happy trail blah blah blah… it does get ridiculous, especially since these are recurrent in all three books.
Author E.L. James
Another point I didn’t like are Anastasia’s Inner Goddess and Subconscious.  They are referred to so many times it seems like they are the 3rd and 4th main characters in the story and It made Ana look like she had multiple personalities. it was disturbing.

The characters of Christian and Anastasia are so similar to Twilight’s Edward and Bella in everything except for the BDSM.  Both Christian and Edward are over protective, jealous, possessive, rich and extremely gorgeous. Ana and Bella are both awkward, from a middle class family, insecure, hard headed and constantly in awe of being the object of the irresistible man’s affections.  Sometimes I just want to bang her head against the wall for being so weak….or both of them.

Now, on to the positive.
Yes there is a reason why these have become a phenomenon with millions of copies sold all over the world.
Believe it or not, it is surprisingly sweet. 

In trying to assess my reaction to both Twilight and Fifty Shades, I see that it’s not just the characters that are similar.  It is its core, which is TRUE LOVE against all odds.  In both series, the protagonists are very open and vocal about their emotions.  I can’t even count how many times “I love you so much, you are my life…” and the like are scattered all over the books.  So naturally women swoon because it is every woman’s fantasy (or at least the majority) for a man such as Christian (without the kinky stuff) to be in love with her.  He is almost the perfect man.  And to be the object of such intense protectiveness and love just doesn’t happen in real life.  So yes this tickles women’s imagination. Plus it grips on women’s natural inclination to help and heal those who are wounded and needy, which is exactly what Christian is. Add to that the very graphic description of their sex life. WOW.  Most of the time I didn’t know if I was supposed to close my eyes or just skip the “good” part. Fifty Shades is like Twilight on steroids.

This is a Feel-good trilogy (double meaning? Um…yeah!) because every single thing just works out in the end.  Including the other characters’ lives like Kate (Ana’s Best friend) with Elliot (Christian’s brother), also Mia (Christian’s sister) and Ethan (Kate’s brother).  Plus the ending of Fifty Shades Freed has complete closure so no questions need be asked. Everyone is happy and healed.  Again, this touches on women’s need for a happy ending, or at least my wish for it.

So do I recommend Fifty Shades?  Depends.  If you have the stomach for Kinky F*****y, why not.  Once you survive the first book, chances are you will be desensitized enough to like and even appreciate Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.  But do beware, read this at your own risk…. And away from kids. You REALLY do not want them to peek into the world of Ana and Christian.

The Fifty Shades trilogy is an assault on your senses so think hard and deep (pardon the pun) before buying. Fair Point Well Made? Yes Sir Christian, I think so.
Laters baby....