Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: My One and Only by Kristan Higgins

Genre: Romance
Publish Date: March 29, 2011
I received a copy for review from Netgalley

Just when she thought she had life and love all figured out…

Divorce attorney Harper James can’t catch a break. Bad enough that she runs into her ex-hubby, Nick, at her sister’s destination wedding, but now, by a cruel twist of fate, she’s being forced to make a cross-country road trip with him. And her almost-fiancé back at home is not likely to be sympathetic.

Harper can’t help that Nick has come blazing back into her life in all of his frustratingly appealing, gorgeous architect glory. But in Nick’s eyes, Harper’s always been the one. If they can only get it right this time, forever might be waiting—just around the bend.

After reading the first few pages of this book, I was seriously crushin' on Harper James. So much so that I felt I could have read an entire book from her point of view and I didn't need the hero for me to enjoy it. I hadn't met Nick yet and I was concerned that he could not possibly be awesome enough to deserve my new book bff, Harper.

Harper James was abandoned by her mother when she was 13. Her father had the emotional range of a log with her and now she's a successful divorce attorney so she's pretty used to people just leaving, or at least, not being there when you need them. Harper could have so easily been bitchy or cold, but instead she was funny as hell, honest with herself, knew her hangups and loved her dysfunctional family and few friends with all her heart. When her stepsister, Willa, who she's always felt very protective of, calls to say she's marrying Harper's ex-husband's brother, Harper knows things are going to go south from there. Harper's inner dialogue was so great and her snippy fighting with Nick was hilarious. She kinda reminded me of KC. Which made me love her even more.

Add into this her mother issues, her ticking biological clock, worry for her sister, her stepmother confiding in her that there might be trouble with her and her dad's marriage, her intense love and hate feelings for her ex and a boyfriend that she's trying hard to get to walk down the aisle and Harper has her hands and heart full trying to navigate one potential land mine at a time.

I did enjoy the hero, Nick. He was very intense and could also be funny and tender. I loved that he knew what he wanted and had no fear about expressing his feelings. His feelings for Harper are so intense that I think I got flushed a few times while reading. The one issue I had about Nick and Harper's relationship is that Nick was a bit demanding of her. There were times I wanted to yell at him to give her a freakin' second to breathe, but by the end I felt that he had learned to make some concessions for her and that helped a lot.

My final grade: A. This book had me laughing out loud and tearing up and rooting for everyone from Harper and Nick to Willa and Chris to Harper's dad and stepmom.

Author's Website

Buy from book depository

I highly recommend! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Falling Under Giveaway Winner

Hi all! Thanks for entering in the giveaway for Falling Under and checking out my interview with the cool Gwen Hayes. Without further ado, the winner of a copy of Falling Under is....Melanie with the comment:

"My first time hearing about this book and author. Looks great! I love the cover!

Thanks for the interview!"

Congrats Melanie! I will email you soon.

Cover: Crossed (sequel to Matched) by Ally Condie

I just saw this cover posted on goodreads and the author's site and I got all excited! I love these covers. I think they are very evocative of the story itself and more beautiful for their simplicity. I read Matched awhile back and liked it. I'm hoping that the second has a little more action and is just as well written. I can't wait til Nov.

What do you think? Have you read Matched? Are you anxiously awaiting the sequel?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Early Review: The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason

Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member of the Dracule—a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls—the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral…until Angelica.

Angelica Woodmore possesses the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger—for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him—to protect her.

Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica…but this vampire never backs down from a fight.

I received a copy from Netgalley for review.

Note: Mild spoilers

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Pub Date: 3/29/11 according to Netgalley and 3/22 according to author's website
Format: Paperback and e-book

I've never read Ms. Gleason, but I've always heard good things about her books, so I didn't know what to expect. I did hope for a good solid and entertaining read. The Vampire Voss started out strong, but quickly went a way that left me less than enthralled with the story.

Voss himself is a rather fascinating character. He's an opportunistic mercenary that revels in his existence as a vampire. He loves feeding, loves debauching women and he loves procuring and selling information about his fellow Dracule. He's not overly tall or physically impressive, but is instead almost pretty, very into the latest fashions and lives by his wits as well as the edge his vampiric powers give him. I appreciated that Ms. Gleason showed how much of a vampire he really is. How much he enjoyed being one, but after a time it began to feel a bit much. More on that later.

Angelica started out as a great character. She has the ability to see a specific event in the future, people's deaths, and she knows about and accepts her gift for what it is. She even has a little side gig going on where she sells the information to interested parties in the ton. She's very forthright and open. Not a withering belle, this one. I really appreciated this about her. However, as the story progresses and events unfold, I couldn't help but be disappointed in her singular ability to be oblivious to the obvious. They are attacked by Vampires. She comes to terms with the fact that vamps exist, but when it becomes painfully obvious that Voss is, indeed, a vampire, she just doesn't see and is therefore absolutely shocked and betrayed when the truth comes out. This was irksome to me.

As for the romance between Voss and Angelica, again, I loved how it started. Voss is so very hedonistic and Angelica is brazen and wiser than many, but still very much an innocent. Voss wants nothing to do with the attraction he feels for her, he's a look out for number one kinda guy and he only wants the information he can get from her, but he cannot fight the pull between them. Their first kiss and the dialogue surrounding it was unbelievably heated. The way he always asked her to use his name and not his title, the way he couldn't fight the protective feelings she brought out in him, this all made me hope for a passionate romance, but that seemed to go flat about halfway through the book. I won't go into details, and again, I appreciate the realism of Voss being a vampire and needing blood and desiring sex to survive, however, I find it less than romantic when the hero does every available body but the heroine for most of the book. Aside from romantic and character issues that I had with the story, the ending was, in my opinion, a complete cop out. I was not left satisfied.

In the end, there were great moments, but it just wasn't enough to make me happy. And aside from my issues with the main characters, I really didn't like many of the other characters in The Vampire Voss, either.

Final Grade: C-

This book is the beginning of a trilogy. The next book features the annoying and unreasonable older sister of Angelica and the dour Dimitri. While the third, by my guess, features the bitchy (although I sympathize with her) female vamp, Narcise, and Angelica's and Maia's vampire hunter brother. I'm hoping the characters are better in their own books.

The Vampire Voss

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview and Giveaway with Gwen Hayes, Author of Falling Under

ETA: Contest is closed and winner notified.

Today I would like to welcome the lovely and funny Gwen Hayes to the blog. She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions, though I tried to spare her from all my needy demands for WHAT HAPPENS IN THE NEXT BOOK?!?! ::clears throat:: I'm mature like that.

Anyway, read on for the interview with Gwen Hayes and a chance to win a copy of Falling Under, which I reviewed here, thanks to her lovely publisher.

1. Are there going to be more books after Falling Under, and if so, how many?

I’m getting ready to turn in book 2 this right now!

2. “Madame Varnie” is one of my new favorite characters of the year. Where did you come up with the inspiration for this very layered and awesome character? Are we going to find out more about Varnie in the future?

Amelia is so special that she needed someone extraordinary to fall for her. Varnie certainly is off-center from normal. He is in book 2—whether or not he gets what he wants is something you’ll have to read to find out.

3. I loved the secondary characters in this book, especially Theia’s group of friends. They each had such vivid personalities and their bonds were so strong and real. Were their personalities and relationships something you’d always envisioned or did they develop more organically?

The friendships were one of my favorite surprises when writing this book. I loved how different the girls were from each other but it still worked. When I set out to write a book, everything happens organically. I don’t know anything until the character finds out most of the time. It’s fun—but a stressful way to write.

4. Who was the easiest character to write?

Haden. For some reason, I know him very well.

5. Who was the hardest?

THEIA. Oh my God. She’s still difficult. She refuses to listen to reason. I think part of the problem is that she struggles so hard to be something she’s not, so sometimes she does things so out of character—but not really—that I just have to shrug and go along with it. There were times I tried to persuade Haden to go for Amelia instead, believe me. (Queen B says: While I adore Amelia, I'm glad Haden didn't listen to you :P)

6. Haden is a very intense guy. Did he ever surprise you with his intensity?

I adore Haden. That said, I would never have dated him myself…but he’s been a dream to write. I love getting to dig in to his angst and splatter it on page.

7. Theia goes through a pretty hard time while coming into her own in the last half or so of the story, did the story ever take turns that you weren’t expecting? Was it ever hard to write?

I really never know what is going to happen, so everything is a big *surprise*. It was hard to write some of the things she did—I really didn’t like the lengths she went to for love sometimes. She’s not exactly a feminist. (Queen B says: There is something to be said for going after what you want, though :D)

8. Haden’s mom is a pretty scary person. Will we be seeing more of her?


9. Will we learn more about Haden’s dad?

The absence of Haden’s father and Theia’s mother drive the characters in so many ways. I feel bad for Haden, but no….his father’s legacy to Haden is that he isn’t there.

10. This is my first time interviewing a YA author and I’m very curious about the genre. How much sexual content and darker subject matter is allowable in YA? Also, given the nature of who and what Haden and Theia are, will there be sex at some point?

The genre doesn’t dictate the subject matter in this case. What’s allowable is what works in the story, I think. But, when you put sex and drugs or what have you in a YA, you have to know you are going to alienate a big chunk of your audience—so it’s a fine line. We all know some teens have sex. Some swear. Some drink or smoke or do drugs—and I’m not writing public service announcements, I’m writing about teenagers. Some books broach those subjects better than others.

As for my books, I tend to write very evocative, romantic scenes, but at this point in my career—at least with the characters I’ve worked with so far—if they have sex, it won’t be on the page.

11. Are we going to see more of the relationship between Theia and her father?

Yes and no. Ha! Don’t you hate that? I don’t want to give too much away. (Queen B says: Yes. Yes I do hate that. LOL)

12. What was the inspiration for some of the more colorful and macabre settings and characters?

I think I channeled a little bit of Tim Burton when I was writing the scenes in Under. Wouldn’t that be cool if he did the movie? (Queen B says: That would be squeetastic!)

13. Can you give us any hints for any upcoming books?

Darkness had a taste of Theia…and it comes back for more. (Queen B says: Yeah, you're not a tease or anything. I can't complain though, I like it too much :P)

I want to thank Gwen for answering my questions and for being such a delightful tease today. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book ::rubs said hands together in anticipation::

Now on to the giveaway!!! Thanks to the publisher I have one copy of Falling Under for a lucky commenter. To enter you must leave a comment on this post and be sure to leave your email address in the comment. One entry per person. Open to US and Canada only. Giveaway ends Monday March 14, 2011 at 11:59 pm PST. I will announce the winner on Tuesday the 15th. Winner will have until Thursday the 17th to respond or I will redraw.

Good luck and happy reading!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wilder's Mate by Moira Rogers

Genre: Steampunk Western Paranormal Romance
Pub Date: 3/8/11
Format: E-book
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Note: I won a copy of the book from the author on twitter

Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America's frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.

Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication--keeping his hands off the man's pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.

At odds with polite society, Satira's only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn't going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel's life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn't worth saving. Besides, if there's one thing she's learned, it's that brains are more important than brawn.

As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they're fighting to save.

Wilder's Mate is the fist in Moira Rogers' new Bloodhound series. At around a hundred pages it's a pretty fast and easy read. The story is a lovely mix of steampunk fun and paranormal romance, so fans of either should enjoy it.

Wilder is a great hero. He's alpha, but he's actually very tender and caring and very observant. He realizes early on what Satira needs on an emotional level in order to be satisfied on a physical level and he strives to give it to her. He's insightful, brave and noble. He was actually a very different character than I had assumed just based on the summary and it was a bit refreshing.

Satira is an interesting character. She's brave but not too stupid to live with it. She does admit to herself and Wilder that she's desperate enough to save her mentor that she would indeed be willing to do some stupid things, but I could understand what drove her and that she was always aware of what she was doing. Satira was a bit of a contradiction. In some ways she is far from innocent and in others she is very naive which I think is one of the things Wilder liked about her. She's a good heroine but her neediness and constant inner doubts did annoy me after awhile.

Overall the story is a good one. There's adventure and sex and a wild west meets steampunk feel going on that made for fun reading. The romance was good and felt real enough. My one complaint on that end is that Satira was so needy. It was a bit hard to believe she wouldn't have fallen hard for any man that didn't treat her bad and made her feel needed. Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters and interesting twists.

Final Grade: B

Wilder's Mate: Bloodhounds, Book 1

Author's Website

Monday, March 7, 2011

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...

Note: Review may contain spoilers

I love the Mercy Thompson series. I have since the first book. And I've been to two signings with Patricia Briggs and I can honestly say that she is a lovely person who is very gracious and has a wonderful sense of humor and I think the books reflect that.

Having said that, I have some mixed feelings about River Marked.

The first half or so of the book is especially mixed for me. I really did enjoy that we were able to spend more time with just Mercy and Adam, because frankly, they really needed to spend time without the demands of pack and family. So that was really great. However, it also felt rather slow and didn't hold my attention as well as the books usually do and I hate to say that. I really do. I did love the small bit of Stefan and Bran and Sam that we got. ::sigh:: I do love Bran and his relationship with Mercy and it's so great to see her finally recognizing and accepting his fatherly love for her. And I loved that we learned a bit about Charles and how he's protective of Mercy even when she didn't realize it. So fab.

The Native American mythology was fascinating and handled well, to my ignorant mind, but it still dragged for me. Also, I felt like Mercy was being deliberately obtuse for half the story. It bothered me that she was so blind to things. Mercy has always been smart and a fast thinker so this obliviousness really bothered me.
Some of the relationship issues annoyed me a bit as well. But as usual, Mercy and Adam worked through them with honesty and a courage that does their relationship credit.

The second part of the story really got interesting. The new characters that were introduced were great and revelations about Mercy's dad just felt right and made the story very interesting. I loved the character of Coyote. He is so much trouble and yet, he seems to care a lot about what happens to the world of man. Mercy learns a lot about herself, her heritage and her relationship with Adam in this book. Her devotion to those she loves is always wonderful to read. It's also great to see her growing into her skin more and more. Many of the revelations in this entry leads to more questions but that was great for me because it makes for plenty of material for more books in this series which continues to be one of my favorite in the Urban Fantasy genre.

Overall, River Marked is a solid entry in the Mercy Thompson series. A bit of a slower start than the previous books, perhaps, but the second half and the ending more than make up for it.

Final Grade: B+

As a side note, I went to the Patricia Briggs signing in SD this weekend, 3/6, and someone asked her about the writing of the traumatic events in Iron Kissed. I have to write a paraphrasing of what Ms Briggs said because it was such a great answer and really touched me.

Basically she said she really struggled with writing that part of the book and that she was unsure is she should do it, knowing that it would probably alienate a lot of people. In the end though, she didn't want to send the message that if something bad happens to you, that you are no longer worth being the heroine. That that character can no longer carry a UF series. Also, she didn't want to send a message that if you're smart enough and strong enough, you can keep bad things from happening to you and that only weak people have these things happen to them. She wanted to show that you can face really horrible things and come out on the other side. And be worthy of love. She also said that even though things may not end perfectly for Mercy at the ending of each book, she likes to leave the reader in a better place. She never wants to end on a note of despair. And as a reader, I really have to say that I appreciate that. I also appreciate that she took a chance and wrote something that not everyone liked, but that was true to the characters and the events happening in the book. I appreciate that she took the stance that even the strongest people go through bad shit and that they can triumph and it doesn't lessen their worth. Thank you for that, Patty. I think that's ultimately a wonderful message.

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)

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