Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winner for signed copy of Kindling the Moon

And the winner is..... Jennifer with the comment:

Please enter me.

Congrats, Jennifer!! I have your email addy and will be contacting you shortly for your shipping address.

Thanks all for playing and even if you didn't win, there are more contests coming and this book is awesome enough that y'all need to go buy it. It has the Queen B Stamp of Approval ;)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

Where there's smoke there's fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. The bail bonds office has burned to the ground, and bodies are turning up in the empty construction lot. To make matters worse, Stephanie is working out of a motor home she shares with a dancing bear, and Joe Morelli's old world grandmother has declared a vendetta against her. And just when Stephanie decides it might be time to choose between the two men in her life, Morelli and Ranger, a third man from Stephanie's past moves back to Trenton...

Break out a cold drink and slap on some sunscreen, this summer is sure to be a scorcher with Smokin' Seventeen.

The last few books from 13 on have really lost all charm and appeal for me. Recycled lines, plots, jokes, sexual tension that's not even a ping on the radar and less than no character development. I honestly felt like after 12, Ms Evanovich reached a point where she might actually have to go forward with the characters and series, so she backed off. Unfortunately, she took it so far that she basically put it in reverse.

These books are not supposed to be taken overly seriously. They're supposed to be ridiculous and funny and larger than life and zany with some action, suspense and smexy times thrown in. Unfortunately since 12 she hasn't delivered on most of that.
However, this book was worlds better than the last 4. I actually laughed hysterically at a few parts and she definitely stepped up the steaminess which felt like overdrive considering the absolute desert we'd been wading through for several books, but you won't hear me complain. At this point I felt like I needed it as bad as Steph did.
I do believe that there will be something happening with the relationship choice soon, unfortunately because of the awful way it's been written this far, if it isn't handled right in the next couple books, either way she goes is just going to feel off for me.
I honestly feel that at this point the relationship with Morelli has been so very destroyed, plus the character of Morelli has been cut up pretty bad, that she really needs to make a clean break with that relationship at least for a few books while she and Ranger try to make an honest go of it. If, in the end, the Ranger thing doesn't work she can run back into Joe and they can start fresh with her and Ranger as friends and allies. Or, she and Ranger might really shock themselves and work and she and Joe can be good friends and she'll have an in at the police station. Either way, something that makes sense needs to happen at some point, but that's just my two cents.

All in all a much stronger and sexier and funnier addition (though the mystery and the third love interest was basically nonstarters)that will leave fans hopeful that we're getting our Stephanie Plum back.

Final Grade: B

As an aside, a big gripe I have is that in order for dumb luck to save Steph and not Ranger, she constantly runs to Morelli with all her concerns and possible leads which he never is able to do anything about instead of going to Ranger who is the only one to ever be effective at protecting her, and then she gets almost killed. Every time. Just saying.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Sabine and The Beast by Moira Rogers (and the beast #1)

A curse can erase her from his mind, but never from his heart.

…and the Beast, Book 1

After three years at war, the High Lord of the Forest returns to his lands, a victorious wolf leader intent on claiming his mate. Instead Ciar finds an empty bed and a court with no recollection of the woman he loved. Following her long-cold trail proves far easier than facing what awaits him at the end.

Sabine’s first instinct is to beg her beloved to leave. The High Lord’s mother hired a witch to curse Sabine, desperate to wipe the lowborn wolf from her son’s mind. But the spell worked too well, and Sabine has vanished from the thoughts of everyone who sees her. Including her own family.

The edges of his memory already blurring, Ciar and Sabine must race to find a way to reverse the spell. Yet every searing moment together is not enough to stop the curse’s inexorable progress. His only chance is to bind Sabine to him too tightly to be forgotten, before she disappears once and for all.

Product Warnings
This story contains cruel betrayal, destined love, vile curses, smoldering reunions, wicked deeds between wanton shapeshifters and a happily-ever-after worthy of any fairy tale.

Buy link: Sabine
Author's Website

Sabine and The Beast was a very enjoyable read. There is definitely a fairy tale feel, but updated and made sexier. The romance between Ciar and Sabine is very sweet. Right from the beginning, the reader knows they have a strong history and their commitment to each other and desire to be together forever is never in doubt. The story was very poignant as Ciar struggles not to forget the woman he loves and Sabine wonders if she has the strength to carry on if he does. Even her own mother forgot her and this last forgetting may be too much for her to bear.

There is sex and it is hot, but it's always more tender and emotional which suited the story and the characters well.

Speaking of characters, the reader isn't introduced to too many since this is a shorter story and it's dedicated to Sabine and Ciar and their plight, but the few that are met are very interesting. I loved the bit with the First Warlord and how gruff, but loyal and fair he is. The world is shown well and it's easy to feel that you're there and watching the drama and romance unfold.

My one gripe with the story was that I personally felt Ciar didn't deal strongly enough with hs mother. I know she's his mom and all, but she showed no remorse when all was said and done. I mean, she could have been like, "Dude, I wanted my son to forget you, but I didn't realize EVERYONE would. That was a bit harsh and I'm kinda sorry about that." Instead, she was like, she's not noble, whatev, don't care. In that case, I think I would have sentenced her to three years living with the common people. Take that, snotty wench. But that's just me...

We hear a lot about the lions in this one and so it's a good thing that the second book is featuring them. I'll be off to get that one next.

All in all, a sweet, sexy and emotionally satisfying read that leaves you wanting to visit this world again.

Final Grade: B

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quick and Dirty Review: Something Secret This Way Comes by Sierra Dean

Some secrets are dangerous. This Secret is deadly.

Secret McQueen, Book 1

For Secret McQueen, her life feels like the punch line for a terrible joke. Abandoned at birth by her werewolf mother, hired as a teen by the vampire council of New York City to kill rogues, Secret is a part of both worlds, but belongs to neither. At twenty-two, she has carved out as close to a normal life as a bounty hunter can.

When an enemy from her past returns with her death on his mind, she is forced to call on every ounce of her mixed heritage to save herself—and everyone else in the city she calls home. As if the fate of the world wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s Lucas Rain, King of the East Coast werewolves, who seems to believe he and Secret are fated to be together. Too bad Secret also feels a connection with Desmond, Lucas’s second-in-command…

Warning: This book contains a sarcastic, kick-ass bounty hunter; a metaphysical love triangle with two sexy werewolves; a demanding vampire council; and a spicy seasoning of sex and violence.

Something Secret This Way Comes
Author's Website

This book didn't make sense to me. The protag is supposed to be tough and smart and feared and independent. Then she meets this random stranger who's all, "We're meant to be" and she just kinda goes with it. She doesn't really question things she should and nothing gets explained to her very well. I absolutely did not feel the romance between her and Lucas and Desmond. Of the two, I thought she had a better emotional connection with Lucas, which was tenuous at best, and yet the only sex she ever had was with Desmond.
Here she is contemplating a life with one or both of these men and she never finds out if she can actually have both or if she has to choose, she lets them parade a well guarded secret out in public which made no sense, she won't tell them what she really is which kind of negated the whole possible true love angle for me and she became utterly weak around them. Also, when she was with one, she kinda forgot all her gooey feelings for the other.
The vampire part was honestly the most interesting and it was made so very obvious that she'll have at least one love interest from that quarter which would be welcome for me if she could even handle the love interests she has now.
The story was an interesting premise and it has a lot of potential for future stories to grow on, but I felt like the author tried to jam too much in to too short of a space and so everything suffered. The plot, the action, the romance, the character development.
I would read more from this author and I'm sure I'll try the next one in the series, but if the romance and characters don't get explored better in the next, I won't be reading any more in this particular series.

Final Grade: D

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Early Review of Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft #2) and a giveaway!!

After a month of down time, Grave Witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But when her new case forces her to overuse her magic, it might be the last mystery the Grave Witch ever gets to solve...

Buy links
book depository
barnes and noble
Grave Dance: An Alex Craft Novel
Author's Website

Contest is now closed.

I fell in love with this author and this series with the first book, Grave Witch, and I've been anxious to jump back into this world in the second book, Grave Dance. You can check out my review for Grave Witch right here. So, you may well imagine my delight when my copy arrived. There may or may not have been a happy dance. My motto: If it doesn't show up on YouTube, it didn't actually happen.

In Grave Dance, Alex is facing a new threat as well as still dealing with the repercussions of the events that took place in Grave Witch. I like that this book, while standing alone in plot, builds very well on the story arc that was introduced in the first book. There's a great feeling of continuity and it is very easy to sink back into the world and to reconnect with the characters. Now we find that Alex is dealing with her growing fey powers and also weaknesses that are affecting her life. Business has taken off since the events in Grave Witch and the enigmatic Death has stepped up the heat in their flirtatious relationship. However, one person is noticeably absent: Falin, the man that shoved his way into her life and made her care and then disappeared without so much as a word or warning.

I love that Alex has no problem loving her friends, but when it comes to romantic relationships, she's like a fish out of water. She doesn't want to care for Falin and she knows that a real relationship with Death, a soul collector, is less than realistic, but these two dynamic and secretive men have gotten under her skin and they have no intention of stepping aside and making it easy for her.

I like Death. I love the parts with him and the other soul collectors and I'm enjoying what we've been slowly learning about them. Having said that, for me it's Falin all the way. He's such a fascinating mix of strong and dangerous alpha male and yet he's vulnerable and not ashamed or afraid to submit to a powerful female. He's so tough and dominant in his interactions with other people, but from very early on in the first book he has worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to Alex. The explanation for his absence as well as the complications from his divided loyalties really brings a great and realistic conflict to the story. I know there's no easy fix, but I couldn't help rooting for Falin and Alex to find a way.

I have to confess that I'm not a huge fan of the fey and I usually don't enjoy stories that take place in whole or part in faery, with a few notable exceptions. This series is one of those exceptions. I really enjoy the fey in this world and the glimpses of faery that we get are fascinating and well developed. The author conveys well the fact that faery is both beautiful and deadly and filled with a magic all its own. I was very happy that we get to see more of it in Grave Dance and I can't wait to see what happens with the discoveries that Alex made there.

We meet some new characters in this installment and my mind is already abuzz with where these introductions will lead in later books, but I also enjoyed the interactions with already established characters. I enjoy Alex's relationship with her three best friends and it was great (and terrible) to see how the events that take place in her life really affect the lives of those closest to her. Something that made me very happy was seeing Alex's dad again. I can't wait to learn more about this man and see what's really going on with him. He's a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in bacon...or well, he's fun to read about and I want to know all his secrets.

In the end, I think Grave Dance is a solid entry that continues the development of the story and characters very nicely. I didn't love it as madly as I did Grave Witch, but the truth is I am so very in love with this series because of the wonderful world building and fabulous characters that I'm hooked and there's no turning back for me.

Final Grade: A

Now, because I'm awesome and because I enjoy these books so much, I want to share the love with all of you. Therefore, I am giving away a copy of both Grave Witch and Grave Dance to one lucky winner. I am shipping out of Book Depository so this giveaway will be international as long as you are in a country that they ship to. You can check for your country here.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your email addy to enter. Contest will run from now until July 5, 2011 at 11:59 pm PST. I will announce the winner on the blog and I will contact him/her by email. If I do not hear back from the winner by Friday, July 8, I will redraw for a new winner.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett (Arcadia Bell #1)

Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.

But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.

Note: I received a copy from the author for review

Pub Date: June 28, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon $ Schuster
Format: Available as e-book as well as paperback

Buy links
Amazon: Kindling the Moon: An Arcadia Bell Novel
book depository
Author's Website

Edited to add: Contest is now closed and winner notified.

Kindling the Moon is a wonderful debut novel by author Jenn Bennett. I really enjoyed her take on demons and magicians and the mythos of the world she has created. The characters were fascinating and dynamic and very relatable considering that they tend to be anything but ordinary humans. We have a good mix of mystery, action, love, lust, betrayal and family dynamics to keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next.

Arcadia is a good protagonist. She's powerful, smart, sassy and honest with herself about her strengths and weaknesses and she owns when she screws up. She tries to be a good person and has compassion for others, but she's also not afraid to do what has to be done to survive and to protect the people she cares about. I like that in a main character. I don't enjoy wishy-washy characters and their forced angst because you know that in most cases, it's just so the reader doesn't feel that the MC is a sociopath. For me, if you show just cause and you're billing the character as tough and a badass, I don't need a bunch of faux angst and rehashing things while we cruise the guilt trip highway. I'm good, thanks.

I really enjoyed the supporting cast of characters as well. Father Carrow was one of my faves. In my opinion, he's a great example of a subtly layered character that doesn't fit in a box and I give the author props for not trying to put him in one. All the characters had layers and depth. They all had strengths and weaknesses and flaws and so they were very intriguing to read about. At one point I wanted to smack Lon, our enigmatic love interest and father to the exuberant and lovable Jupe, but I had to give the author and Lon credit because it was worked out promptly in the next chapter where he called himself on his crap and apologized. I liked that it didn't drag into "the thing that keeps them apart until the next book" scenario. It made it more believable. Parents aren't always rational when it comes to their kids' safety and if they already blame themselves for past parental mistakes, they are likely to lash out, but at least he didn't paint himself firmly into unreasonable asshole corner by not being able to admit that he was being a bit hypocritical. I had to learn to go with the flow in this story because the characters would do something that irritated me and I was so used to those types of things not being addressed in other books/series that I wasn't expecting it to happen here. Well, for the most part I was wrong. I really enjoyed that a lot of questions that popped in my head were admitted to and possibly answered by the characters as well.

My one honest issue with this story was that for a generally smart cookie, Arcadia (or Cady) came off as almost deliberately obtuse about a few of the most obvious things in the book. If you follow my reviews at all, you'll know that that is a big pet peeve of mine. There was one part where something that I felt Cady should obviously be concerned about or at least attempt to research she was completely blase about and naturally that came back to bite her in a big way. Instances of this popped up here and there in the story, but it wasn't enough to make me want to stop reading and the characters were likable enough that I wanted to see where the story led them.

Something else that I enjoyed about Ms. Bennett's writing style is her descriptions of characters and setting. I often times have a hard time visualizing these things, but the descriptions were so concise and clear that I had absolutely no trouble getting great mental images that really enhanced the reading experience for me.

I recommend this book to fans of UF and even Paranormal Romance. A fun, fast and highly entertaining read that left me more than willing to take another ride with Arcadia in whatever new adventure awaits her.

Final Grade: B+

Now, thanks to the very gracious author I am able to offer up one signed copy of Kindling the Moon for one lucky winner. Contest is only open to the Continental United States and is going to be open until Tuesday, June 28 at 11:59 pm PST. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. That's it!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

ETA: I will announce the winner here on the blog on June 29. If I don't hear from the winner by July 2, I will redraw for a new winner.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Visions of Magic by Regan Hastings

In the ten years since magic has reemerged in the world, witches have become feared and hunted. For weeks Shea Jameson has been haunted by visions of fire. When she unintentionally performs a spell in public, she becomes one of the hunted. Her only hope is Torin, a dangerously sensual man who claims to be her eternal mate.

So, I'm going to borrow a bit from my goodreads review of this one and say this: The premise of the book could be interesting. Maybe. The writing was not good. It certainly wasn't the worst writing I've ever read, but it was by no means the best. It was slightly below average. The whole book was slightly below average. It never pissed me off enough to want to throw it across the room, it never incited any extreme emotion in me at all, it was just...meh. The author tried so hard to be mysterious, but it just turned into annoying and unnecessary vagueness that caused very predictable conflict and eye rolling moments. Also, there were holes in the story that I don't remember being explained well enough.

I enjoyed the idea of the romance: this guy who has stood by his woman for generations and countless incarnations. He takes the whole "for better or worse" thing to a new level. He loves her sweet and sassy and he loves her bitchy, cruel and power hungry. That's sweet and should have hit all my turn on buttons, but while I was able to appreciate it, it never really did much for me.

I liked the concept of women of power banding together to right their own wrongs and this brotherhood of powerful men that have to stick together not just to protect their women but because to deal with these chicks the men need a whole emotional support system. Ha! Awesome.

Honestly, Visions of Magic had promise, and while it was at times enjoyable, it was ultimately very forgettable.

Final Grade: D+

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Negligee Behavior by Shelli Stevens

When lingerie heiress Brandy Summer gets cold feet and runs out on her Vegas wedding, she has nowhere to turn—so she hijacks a hunky biker waiting for a red light and begs him for help. What she doesn’ t know is that her instincts are right: the groom has a hidden agenda. He needs her money to pay off his gambling debts and she’ s his ticket to the good life.
Marco Vargas isn’ t sure what he’ s getting himself into when he rescues Brandy, but figures he’ ll do the chivalrous thing. He offers her a job in his bar and the chance to sort out her feelings. But it seems that keeping Brandy hidden is easier than keeping his hands off her—and what will happen when Brandy discovers that Marco has secrets of his own?

Note: I received a copy for review from Netgalley
Buy link: Negligee Behavior

Negligee Behavior was a disappointing read for me. There were awesome supporting characters so I know the author is capable of writing nonirritating players. Unfortunately, I found the lead pair to be very cliched and very often aggravating. However, when they (especially the heroine) were not being ridiculous, the story was an entertaining one.

Our heroine, Brandy, is such a goody girl that it drove me kinda crazy at times, especially since she made a lot of judgments about others. As the story progress, though, and she was in the company of a wider range of personalities, she began to relax and become more enjoyable.

The hero, Marco, was sexy and hot, but his "dark secret" was a bit lame. He was a very nice character most of the time, but occasionally he would make absolutely ridiculous assumptions that had me rolling my eyes. I really did enjoy watching Brandy push his buttons, though. It was one of the most entertaining parts of the book.

The sexual tension was combustible and the love scenes were steamy and the ending was satisfying. Overall, I have to say my favorite characters were Sebastian and Val and not the lead pair. Brandy's parents were pretty cool, too. I wish my mom was that fun and supportive. Ha!

Final Grade: C-

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: The Rake and The Recluse by Jenn LeBlanc

Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.
How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

Note: I received a copy from the author for review.

Buy links:
Available as Nookbook from Barnes and Noble
The Rake and the Recluse
The Rake and the Recluse

Author's Website
Author's twitter

The Rake and the Recluse was a bit of a different experience for me because I've never read an illustrated romance before. I found that because of Ms. LeBlanc's skill at photography that I actually really enjoyed it.

The story itself is a time travel: modern woman lands in the 1800s plot. So, it's a contemporary woman stuck in a historical romance. I do have to give the author credit for coming up with a more unique way to explain how the heroine, Francine, ends up in the past, but it also led to other inevitable questions and concerns that were better off shoved to the back of my mind, otherwise I wasn't going to enjoy the story.

I will say that I was a bit surprised by the length of the book. It's a good solid story with lovely pictures, but I admit that it felt as if it could have still been a good story and been a bit shorter. For me, a romance really needs a reason to be that long.

As far as the characters go, I really vacillated in my feelings for Francine. I get that she had damage from being an orphan and obviously waking up in an entirely different time would freak anyone out, but she's supposed to be this modern woman and she seemed to only have two gears, meek and mild and clingy for fear of being tossed on her rump or a shrieking and inappropriately unreasonable hoyden in the name of being an independent female. It grated a bit. And quite honestly, the only reason she won any measure of independence was because her doting husband and his equally doting brother allowed her to be eccentric. This is not feminism, it's lucking out with not having complete assholes as family. However, I did enjoy her interaction with the characters around her and when she wasn't being ridiculous, she was actually quite enjoyable.

Now our hero, Gideon, was delightful. He started off so starched and stuffy and damaged and reserved, but once he gave over to love, he held nothing back. He seemed to love as fearlessly as any warrior fights a battle. His interactions with his little brother were just fabulous to read. I loved them both. They may bicker and not see eye to eye but they are always a united front against the world and they always have each other's best interests at heart. It was so much fun to watch Gideon be felled as well as healed and strengthened by love. He really came alive right before my eyes. His brother's story is supposed to be next and it looks very intriguing. It would be so much fun to watch that silver tongued devil succumb to the power of love and fidelity. Nothing like a reformed rake...

Overall this was an entertaining read filled with vibrant characters and a sweet romance. The photos are lovely and suit the story very well. I could tell that a lot of thought and work went into the making of this finished product.

This book is available as an e-book or as a physical book. Buy links for both are provided at the beginning of the post.

Final Grade: C+

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quick and Dirty Review: Shimmerlight by Jill Myles

Chloe Sorenson's just started a brand new job at Ms. Muffet's art gallery. However, no one told her that the latest auction piece - a sculpture of a handsome Roman soldier - comes to life. Think it's hard to explain to your boss why you're fondling a statue? Try explaining to the statue why you're holding his, uh, fig leaf. Chloe never thought that touching the statue would turn him into a sexy, aroused man, but she's not saying no to this delicious Roman soldier. The curse requires that she touch him at all times? Such a hardship...

But there's a problem in their lust-fueled relationship; she's falling dangerously in love with a guy that cursed to be hard as a rock - literally - unless she can somehow free him. And the statue of Titus just went up for auction. If she doesn't do something, he's going to be out of her life and trapped for all eternity...

This novella (16,000 words - about 70 pages) contains explicit scenes, including some backdoor play.

Buy link
Shimmerlight (An Erotic Time Travel Romance)
Author's Website

Shimmerlight is a short erotic story that is sweet and sexy. We have our heroine Chloe who is a young widow that is just finished with school and entering the workforce. This is her first real job in her chosen career and she's very nervous about doing a good job and pleasing her employer, Ms. Muffet (yes, that's her name). She's lonely and in need of some TLC.

Enter the hero, Titus. He, too, is lonely and in need of TLC. He's been trapped as a statue for centuries and for a virile young warrior, that's a tough punishment. The two of them come together well. They bring new life and joy to each other in a very sexy and fun way. The hitch in the happy proceedings is that Titus' statue self is going to be sold soon and they have little hope of being able to free him in time. How can these two star-crossed lovers find their Happily Ever After?

This is a very short and fast read. It has lots of sex for the length (ha!) and is able to pack in emotion and a plot at the same time, which is no easy feat in a short story, in my humble opinion.

Final Grade: B-

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wherein Life is Messy

So, I had some great content (or at least in my own my mind it seemed great) planned for this week, but then BAM! family emergency strikes. Le sigh. Everyone is ok, but here it is Thursday already and I feel like it should be Tuesday and I'm so behind, I think I'm backwards, and I'm still dealing with the family fall out. Good times.

I am planning (knock on wood, cross fingers, whatever) on resuming my posting on Monday. If I can, I'll try to pop in with something short and sweet before then, but no promises.

I apologize for the delay and hope to catch y'all next week.

Hope you all are having a much less drama filled week than mine. :P

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1) by Amanda Stevens

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims— lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

Disclaimer: I received a copy for review from Netgalley

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mystery
Pub Date: 4/19/11
Buy link: The Restorer (Graveyard Queen)
Author's Website

The Restorer took me by surprise. This was a much darker, sexier and sinister read than I had been expecting. At first I had some trouble with the mythos of this world. I didn't completely understand why things were the way they were, but as the story unfolded it became a bit clearer. Quite honestly, the dark, eerie and sexy quality of the story put me into a place where I didn't really care if it all made sense or it all my questions were answered. It was like a warm, sultry Southern night where you wake the next morning and wonder if it was all dreams or....if it was real and you're not sure which answer you'd prefer.

There was so much going on in this story, so many undercurrents. We had Devlin and his ghosts (both real and emotional) and we had the mystery surrounding him, we had the mystery of the murders and several characters that may or may not be tied to it, then we have the mystery of the supernatural and what is going on with that world and ours and why the rules that Amelia have lived by for so long no longer seem to be enough to protect her. Amelia's family seems to have their own secrets as well and Amelia needs to know the truth. It was like she was wading through a world of dreams and nightmares of lies and half-truths and I was hooked wanting to know just what was going on. In some ways this story could seem convoluted and confusing, but it was written well enough and the threads were all woven together to make it a cohesive and rather fascinating story.

The Restorer really didn't read like a romance to me, in that there was very little romantic interaction between Devlin and Amelia, but the interaction they did have was so full of tension and yearning that mixed with an all around intriguing story, I was hooked. The ending left me on pins and needles to find out what is going to happen next. I can't wait to revisit this world and these characters and discover all of their secrets.

Final Grade: B+

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub Date: May 2011

Buy links:
Dragon Bound (A Novel of the Elder Races)
Barnes and Noble
book depository

Dragon Bound is a great start to a new series by Thea Harrison, whom you can find on twitter here. She's loads of fun and really nice which doubles my fangirl love.

Dragon Bound was a really fun read. The world is so well established that I had no trouble picturing it and all its inhabitants. The story was easy to follow and the characters were very likable.

Dragos is a typical alpha male in a lot of ways. What I did love is that he is unapologetic about it. He tries to compromise a bit, in deference to Pia's feelings and to show her that her thoughts and feelings do matter, but he also admits that his instincts are strong and he can only bend so far. That was nice. I like strong characters that stay strong. Yes, I think there should be compromise and give as well as evolution of the character, but I hate to see a Protag completely neutered or assassinated to make them more palatable. It also doesn't hurt that Dragos is a hottie with all the fiery passion one would expect of an eons old dragon. I loved that Dragos was both raw and rough but also civilized and intelligent. Nice juxtaposition of the two.

Pia is also typical for a heroine in some ways. She's nurturing and giving and all about life and love and softness. However, what made her stand out and made me really like her is that she's all of those things, but she's also tough, logical, willing to do what she has to do to survive or protect the ones she loves and she's not bad in a fight. This made her a bit more layered and kept her from being so perfect that she was unrelatable. She stands up to Dragos and at times is frightened by him, but she knows when to stand firm and when to be cajoling and yielding. She's not manipulative, but she knows her guy and how to keep him in line and behaved. Which I would imagine would be a necessity if you were mated to a friggin' dragon.

Overall, there's action and romance, humor and great characters that I can't wait to read more about. Which is very convenient since there are several more books planned in the series. For excerpts of the second book, due out in August and titled Storm's Heart, and information about the series, please visit the author's website here.

Final Grade: B

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ummm....That's not actually a hard question. The answer is Kirk. Duh.

I love me some Weird Al. What? I'm not ashamed. Anyways, love this song and vid and since it's stuck in my head, I'm gonna torture you with it. I'm nice like that ;)

Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance (Cassie Palmer #5)

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pub Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Note: Received review copy from publisher.

Buy links:
Hunt the Moon: A Cassie Palmer Novel
Hunt the Moon at Book Depository
Author's Site

In the fifth entry in Karen Chance's Cassandra Palmer series, Cassie is busier than ever preparing for her upcoming coronation as Pythia, the world's chief clairvoyant. But someone doesn't want Cassie to become Pythia---and will go to any lengths to make sure the coronation ceremony never happens.

I've been a fan of this series since book one, but I do have to admit that often times I find the books are so fast paced and action packed with so much going on that I end up feeling lost, confused and frustrated. Also, in previous books I've found Cassie to be a bit of an irritating protagonist. Now, one has to stop and remember that even though there were four previous books, they only take place over the span of a couple months whereas by this time in most series we would have had at least a year go by, so I really do have to consider that it's not reasonable or realistic for me to expect Cassie to morph into super butt kicking, uber hero chick in that amount of time. Especially considering that most of that time she's been flying by the seat of her pants, jumping from one crisis to the next and basically just trying to keep herself and the ones she loves, alive. Enter Hunt the Moon.

This book has to be my favorite in the series so far. As L. Blanchard from Dangerous Romance said on my goodreads review, this book is a game changer. It was much easier to follow. Still action packed (with some of the best action scenes yet, in my humblest of opinions) as ever and fast paced, full of twists and turns and new developments that will knock one's socks off, but I didn't feel as lost. There was a cohesiveness and engaging quality that made me pay attention better and keep up. Not to mention that I just really enjoyed Cassie as a character in this one. She really shines. She goes on an emotional roller coaster and finds her footing fast. She's more decisive, and the reader can see her starting to know her own mind and heart better. She's getting comfortable in her skin and owning her powers and the world is on notice: Cassandra Palmer is no one's pawn and she's getting ready to play with the big boys, and quite possibly make them cry.

The secondary characters were fabulous in this one. Not only has there been definite character development in Cassie, but it's noticeable in the supporting cast as well. We learn more about Pritkin and Mircea as well as the Circle and the Vampire Consul. I feel like the world is beginning to expand a bit and I can't wait to see more of it and Cassie's dealings with it instead of her just having to react to assassination attempts and Armageddon on the daily.

Now, for the part where I lose my cool and show my true colors.... PRITKIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so I like Mircea. I do. I believe he honestly loves Cassie and does his best by her. I also believe she loves him in a layered way of him always meaning comfort, security and safety for a girl that knew of none for a large part of her formative years. Also, he's a father figure (which really doesn't squick me out, just sayin) and he's always been around. Now, that admiration and security turned into attraction (also based heavily on the geis) and desire and I think it's all valid and he's a fascinating character that I don't want to completely lose in the series, BUT the dynamic that Cassie and Pritkin has just blows all else right out the water. I love that she really doesn't come out and define her relationship with Pritkin nor does he ever really lay out all he feels for her, but their actions and Cassie's inner dialog speak volumes my friends. I'm not saying it's cut and dry, and I really don't want it to be; however, when two people are as committed to each other and have the combustible chemistry of Cassie and Pritkin, you must forgive this reader for her absolute and unfettered delight. For fans of Mircea, don't fret, he gets some great scenes in this one and I think he's much more likable in this one as well. For fans of Pritkin, well, honestly he just steals the show for me.

And the ending? Wow. I have read two UF's in a row now where the endings have just been EPIC and left me frothing at the mouth (accurate but perhaps unflattering) for the next installment. That would be Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews and Hunt the Moon. It was so satisfying and yet so damned teasing as Cassie is catapulted on to another adventure that is sure to be one hell of a ride (excuse the pun for those who've read it) and I wanted to jump straight into it with her. I was so bummed and yet so keyed up and happy when the I turned to the last page. I cannot wait for the next book. This series has picked up momentum, which doesn't seem possible considering its already crazy pace, and it's getting stronger with each new entry.

For those new to the series, I really recommend you start with book 1. So much happens in each book that I think it would be really hard to start in the middle and really understand what's going on and who's who. Also, in my own personal opinion, the books really start picking up around book 3 and then 4 was a much stronger installment and now 5 is just killin it, so give the books a chance to unfold and take you on a wild and crazy journey.

Final Grade: A-

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