Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine spotlighting upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Today's selection will release on February 23, 2016.

RUNAWAY VAMPIRE
Argeneau #23
by Lynsay Sands

Buckle up - the Argeneaus are back in a sexy, witty new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands!

Dante Notte has heard it said that love hurts. He just wasn't expecting it to run him over in an RV. Still, a punctured lung and broken ribs are nothing compared to the full-body shock he feels whenever he's near the vehicle's driver, Mary Winslow. He needs to keep her safe from their pursuers while he rescues his brother. Most challenging of all, he needs to claim this smart, stubborn woman as his life mate.

The naked, injured, insanely gorgeous younger man who clambered into her RV insists they belong together. If Mary wasn't feeling their incredible connection in every inch of her being, she wouldn't believe it. But now that the men who took Dante's twin are after her too, trusting her gut means risking her life for an immortal who's the very definition of a perfect stranger.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY

It's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful ladies of The Broke and the Bookish! This week's topic: Top Ten Books That Would Be on My Syllabus If I Taught X 101

The hardest part of this one is deciding what class I would teach! I love so many different types of books that choosing one is like trying to get a parent to choose a favorite child. I am basing my choice on a genre that I feel is under-appreciated: science fiction romance. These selections are listed in publication order so as to demonstrate the evolution of the genre over the span of almost thirty years.

Sweet Starfire (Lost Colony, # 1)Freedom's LandingAll's FairAfter Dark (Harmony #1)Naked in Death (In Death, #1)
Gabriel's Ghost (Dock Five Universe, #1)Awaken Me Darkly (Alien Huntress, #1)Your Planet or Mine? (Otherworldly Men #1)Born of Night (The League, #1)Touched by an Alien (Katherine "Kitty" Katt, #1)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

review: MAGIC POSSESSED by Jaime Rush

MAGIC POSSESSED by Jaime Rush
The Hidden #2
Hachette: Forever
released January 28, 2014
source: bookstore
312 pages

Rating: Liked it

They are the Hidden.
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe . . .

Her brother was mysteriously murdered with no witnesses, clues - or motives. Yet Violet Castanega knows he won't be the last to die unless she seeks help. But the Hidden's law enforcement won't come to the aid of her rowdy dragon clan, and the only person who will listen to her is one tough cop. Violet has tangled with him before, and it got rough. This time, it's getting hot . . .

Powerful Guard member Kade Kavanaugh has been ordered to take out Violet Castanega. While assassination orders don't come with explanations, his instincts scream that killing the fiesty beauty is wrong. Now Kade must put his career, not to mention his life, on the line to save her. But as the passion - and the danger - heat up between Kade and Violet, can they survive the darkest magick of all?

My Thoughts

When Violet's brother is brutally murdered, she risks the wrath of her family to enlist the aid of the Guard in investigating his death. She is told in no uncertain terms that the Fringers need to police their own and is thrown out of the building. Kade follows her back home with orders to assassinate her but finds that he can't go through with it. A friend recently told him to trust his gut . . . and the more he looks into things, the fishier this situation seems.

I definitely liked this one more than the first book in the series, Dragon Awakened... at least until the halfway mark. The plot was already a little sketchy before then, but somewhere around the middle it just all fell apart for me. Sometimes simplicity just ends up making characters look like fools.

I did like that big bad Kade is actually a submissive man at heart. While it's not personally my cup of tea, I do still like to see male romantic leads who aren't entirely stereotypical alpha douchebags. Men who enjoy sexual submission are very under-represented in women's literature these days.

At the end of the day, though, you can definitely feel how short this book is. Another forty pages of plot and character development could have made a world of difference for this story.

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine spotlighting upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Today's selection will release on February 16, 2016.

RIDERS (Riders #1)
by Veronica Rossi
Tor Teen

For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does. Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death nas brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen - Conquest, Famine, and Death - are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now - bound, bloodied, and drugged - Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for - not to mention all of humankind - he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger. But will anyone believe him?

I will read anything written by Veronica Rossi! Cannot wait for this!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bout of Books 14.0: Day 2 Recap

Yeah . . . big ol' fail for me today. I read the first chapter of my book today - a whole 11 pages! Ah, well. I did go see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with my mom and then binge the first two High School Musical movies on Netflix. At least I was successful at something. LOL

BOOKS READ: 1
-- Magic Possessed by Jaime Rush
-- (started) Angel Seduced by Jaime Rush
PAGES READ: 321

manga review: Nurse Hitomi's Monster Infirmary #1 by Shake-O

NURSE HITOMI'S MONSTER INFIRMARY #1
story & art by Shake-O
Macmillan: Seven Seas Entertainment
released February 17, 2015
source: bookstore
180 pages

Rating: Liked it

"COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME!"

Welcome to the nurse's office! Nurse Hitomi is more than happy to help you with any health concerns you might have. Whether you're dealing with growing pains or shrinking spurts, body parts that won't stay attached, or a pesky invisibility problem, Nurse Hitomi can provide a fresh look at the problem with her giant, all-seeing eye. So come on in! The nurse is ready to see you!

Manga Rating: Older Teen. An "OT" rated book contains material that some parents or guardians may consider inappropriate for readers under the age of 16.

My Thoughts

Hitomi-Sensei is a school nurse . . . which doesn't sound all that strange until you realize that she's also a cyclops and most of her patients are monster girls! Hitomi is very clumsy because the cyclops eye means she has no depth perception. Her monster girl patients all have their own unique problems, and Hitomi and her assistant are there to save the day.

I picked up this title because it was advertised as perfect for fans of the manga series Monster Musume, which I adore. Monster Infirmary, however, feels like a bit of a disjointed mess. It has its cute moments, and I like the way that Hitomi manages to see her students' true problems and give them advice, which is really the only reason that this made it to three stars instead of just two. But this doesn't feel like it ties together like that other manga I have read - it just comes off as individual stories all strung together by the shared character of Hitomi. 

I'm still planning to grab the second book in the near future, but if the style and pacing remain the same then I don't know if I'll continue with the series. This just isn't my favorite style.

TOP TEN TUESDAY

It's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful ladies of The Broke and the Bookish! This week's topic: Top Ten of Your Auto-Buy Authors





A couple of these are genre-specific...
01. Sherrilyn Kenyon
02. Beth Revis
03. Sarah J. Maas
04. Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz's futuristic pen name)
05. Tahereh Mafi
06. Rachel Hawkins
07. Katie Reus
08. Vicki Lewis Thompson (just her paranormal romances)
09. Lynsay Sands (just the paranormal romances, although I do like her historicals on occasion)
10. Melissa Landers

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14.0: Day 1 Recap

Today was a surprisingly busy day. Between regular life and a friend coming over to watch Rent (which we made Hubster watch, too!), I only got one book read today.

BOOKS READ: 1 
-- Magic Possessed by Jaime Rush
PAGES READ: 312

review: THE IMMORTAL WHO LOVED ME by Lynsay Sands

THE IMMORTAL WHO LOVED ME by Lynsay Sands
Argeneau #21
HarperCollins: Avon
released February 24, 2015
source: bookstore
357 pages

Rating: Really liked it!

A few years ago, Sherry Carne would have sworn that vampires didn't exist. That's before rogue immortals rampage through her store, leaving bloody chaos (literally) in their wake. The kicker comes when Sherry learns that one of the vamps on the bad guys' trail may be her life mate. Her head says it's impossible. The rest of her takes one look at Basileios Argeneau and has much more interesting ideas.

Whatever Basil expected in a life mate, funny outspoken Sherry isn't it. But mind-blowing chemistry and instinct don't lie. They tell him something else, too - that Sherry's connection to the immortal world goes deeper than she knows. And that she's in the kind of danger only Basil can save her from - if she'll just trust him, now and forever . . .

My Thoughts

Sherry is just going about her everyday life and trying to get her taxes done when a teenage girl runs into her office and all hell breaks loose down below in her shop. She soon finds herself on the run from an immortal madman, learning about the immortal world, and meeting her supposed life mate . . . all while trying to convince herself that this is just a drug-induced dream. There's no way vampires are real . . . right? Right?

In many ways, this was the perfect book for me to read after a long break in the series. I have trouble with remembering details, and Sherry's introduction to the world of immortals also served as my reintroduction to the series. Of course, there were some characters that I would have liked to revisit as well, but with so many books there are just too many characters to try to give all of them a decent plotline in each installment.

As some other reviewers have noted, it would be nice to get back to the other style of Argeneau books in which the main couple is able to spend some time alone together to allow the romance to develop rather than being forced into family time with no privacy.

The only issue I had with this book - although it is a big one - is the author's view on rape. It comes up in the storyline, and one character's comment rubbed me the wrong way:
He didn't rape her... at least not in the violent, violated way. She was attracted to him and he just mentally veiled her reasons for not sleeping with him, and subdued her conscience.
This is on page 308 in my copy. There's a bit more to that quote that's also relevant, but it would be giving away key plot information, so I won't share it here. My general reaction was WTF followed by a feeling of disbelief that this attitude could still be published in this era. I'm trying to separate out this section from the rest of the book in my memory so I can move on to the next book without the pall of this viewpoint hanging over the series. After 21 books, I'm fairly invested in the world. Why, Lynsay, why would you do this to me? Argh.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bout of Books 14.0

I'm so excited to have jumped back into book blogging just in time for the next Bout of Books read-a-thon! I never, ever read as much as I'd like to during these events, but they're still super fun. If anyone needs me this week, I'll be curled up on the comfy chair with my ever-vigilant dog and a big ol' stack of books! (:

Want more info? Check out this blurb below and go visit the Bout of Books Blog to sign up!
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

STACKING THE SHELVES


Stacking the Shelves is an alternative to In My Mailbox hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This week, I got one new book
Alice 

one new manga
Nurse Hitomi's Monster Infirmary Vol. 1

and two new comic books!
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: CrushedThe Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium

Saturday, August 15, 2015

BiblioNews

Penguin Teen has a list of 10 creepy YA books for those of you planning for Halloween now! [link]

Penguin Teen also has 10 YA books to help you hold on to summer! [link]

Buzzfeed published yet another on-point list of 23 things everyone who grew up a book nerd will understand. [link]

Rae Carson's fall tour schedule has been released. [link]

Friday, August 14, 2015

review: DRAGON AWAKENED by Jaime Rush

DRAGON AWAKENED by Jaime Rush
The Hidden #1
Hachette: Forever
released December 17, 2013
source: bookstore
318 pages

Rating: It was okay

They are the Hidden.
Not quite human. Far from normal.
And never, ever safe . . .

Ruby Salazaar wants answers . . . and revenge. Her uncle has just been murdered before her eyes, and the name he utters with his final breath - Cyntag - leads Ruby into a world beyond her wildest imaginings. She soon learns that the dark, sexy Cyntag Valeron knows more about her than she does herself.

Ruby changed Cyn's life before she even knew who he was. Now she charges into his life, a beautiful woman full of fire and questions. Cyn knew this day would come, yet he couldn't foresee the danger - and desires - Ruby would bring with her. He can teach her how to harness her newly awakened powers. But there is one force neither of them can control . . .

My Thoughts

Ruby is a strong and independent woman who is thrown headlong into a dangerous new world after her uncle's murder. Cyn, a dark and sexy stranger, can help her . . . but he's also hiding a dangerous secret.

Interspersed throughout the main story are passages from a fairytale book written for Ruby by her uncle. They felt a bit cumbersome at times, and sometimes the parallels between the passages and the plot were a bit contrived. I was actually excited to come to the end of a chapter and not have to read another excerpt.

I wanted to like this book so much more than I actually did. I loved Rush's Offspring series and was hoping to fall for this trilogy in the same way. Unfortunately, it just never clicked for me. The writing was a bit dull, and the characters just didn't work for me. Some plot points were rushed, others were glossed over, some characters were there for seemingly no reason, and there was a general lack of world-building. Alas, I just discovered that there were a couple of prequel stories, and maybe reading those will help me to enjoy the world a bit more. At this point, though, the only reason I will read the other two books is that I've already purchased them. Hopefully they will save the series!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

review: EARTH BOUND by Christine Feehan

EARTH BOUND by Christine Feehan
Sisters of the Heart #4 / Sea Haven #11
Penguin: Jove
released July 7, 2015
source: bookstore
371 pages

Rating: Really liked it!

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Air Bound returns to the mysterious coastal town of Sea Haven where six sisters of the heart are bound by the elements, and one is stalked by an inescapable past . . .

After escaping from a cult, Lesi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body - it nurtured her soul as well. But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her. Then her nightmare came true.

Lexi was discovered and threatened - only to be suddenly saved by a stranger. He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he's awestruck by the woman he has rescued. She is destined for him. He can feel it in his soul. But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

My Thoughts

This is another one of those series that I read compulsively and love to an unhealthy degree. The stories are formulaic and sort of blur together - especially when you read them back-to-back like I did with the original seven Sea Haven books - but I don't care because I love the characters.

The women of the Sisters of the Heart series are especially close to my heart. As an adoptee, the whole "blood is thicker than water" argument makes my blood boil. Seeing these women freely refer to themselves as sisters despite any actual blood relations makes me happy, because I strongly believe that your chosen family is your real family, regardless of what your genealogy says. The people who are there for you, who have your back no matter what, whom you know you can lean on through the tough times, those are your real family. To see that reflected in this series has been a powerful experience.

Gavriil Prakenskii has come to see his brothers one last time before leading danger away from their door. Unfortunately for him, life had other plans, throwing Lexi into his path just when she most needed him. He can feel that she is the woman he is destined to be with and finds himself unable to leave her side. Together they face the new threat to her life.

Sure, there's instalove, a rather thin plot, and some seriously ridiculous glossing over the amount of work that would need to go into a victim like Lexi establishing her first sexual relationship. But there's also hot Russian assassins and a bunch of talented, badass women. Just let it go and enjoy the ride.

Probably my favorite thing about this particular installment is that we are finally starting to see the Prakenskii brothers interact more. We met Ilya in Turbulent Sea, Lev in Water Bound, Stefan in Spirit Bound, Maxim in Air Bound, and now Gavriil in Earth Bound. That's a lot of Prakenskiis in one little town! It was lovely to watch them finally start to learn to interact as family again rather than as just one killer to another.

Two more brothers to go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

review: SIREN'S CALL by Jayne Castle

SIREN'S CALL by Jayne Castle
aka Jayne Ann Krentz
Rainshadow #4 / Harmony #12
Penguin: Jove
released July 28, 2015
source: bookstore
323 pages

Rating: Really liked it!

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn't about to give up its secrets . . .

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their deaths. That's why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn't want anything to do with him . . .

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months . . . and he's not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She's not just a music talent, she's a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep - or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn't come without risks - and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame . . .

My Thoughts

I must admit that I have a ridiculous soft spot for this series. Really, I love all of the many, many Arcane titles under the Krentz and Quick lines too, but the Castle titles will always hold the bulk of this affection. (Scifi romance FTW!) For that reason, I am not the most impartial judge of quality here. I am more than willing to overlook the book's deficiencies in order to have my yearly romp through this world once more. Siren's Call is not a perfect book, but if you love Arcane as much as I do then you will likely be willing to do the same and just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Soon after Ella Morgan opens her new dream consulting business, she comes across a very insistent dust bunny. Following it down into the catacombs, she manages to help the dust bunny and its friends before landing herself in a very dangerous situation . . . and has to use her talent to save herself. Rafe Coppersmith covers for her and her secret talent with the local investigator, asks her out for coffee . . . and never shows.

Fast forward three months, and Rafe shows up at Ella's new office requesting her help as a music talent and Siren on a project for his family's Coppersmith Mining company. She has no desire to see him again, considering he never showed up to claim that coffee date she was so anticipating, but eventually agrees to go for the sake of her company. Having Coppersmith Mining as a client would do wonders for its reputation. Besides, who can say no to saving people from dinosaurs in Wonderland over on Rainshadow Island?

Yes, I said dinosaurs. Seriously.

I love the beautiful mind of Jayne Ann Krentz!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

review: THE HEIR by Kiera Cass

THE HEIR by Kiera Cass
Selection #4
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
released May 5, 2015
source: bookstore
342 pages

Rating: It was okay

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon - and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. if it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection - no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as shes always thought.

My Thoughts

I wanted to like this book. After feeling a bit underwhelmed by The One, despite finally getting America and Maxon's HEA ending, I was hoping that The Heir would continue the story in a more fulfilling way.

Alas, Princess Eadlyn is a terrible character. This was disappointing on multiple levels - not only is she horrible to read about on her own, but it also means that America and Maxon failed as parents. One would think that America's upbringing would have informed her own parenting style and that she would in no way allow her children to become so spoiled. She certainly made Maxon expand his horizons to think more about those outside the palace walls. Someone on Goodreads has already done the work of pointing out examples of Eadlyn's selfishness and general horrible-ness, so go check out this review for specifics.

It's difficult to talk about The Heir without bringing up the original Selection trilogy. Maxon, for all of his faults, is a gracious host who makes a sincere effort to get to know each of the women competing for his heart. Eadlyn, on the other hands, acts like she has never had guests before and can't even handle basics, like walking around a room to converse with guests who are all there to get to know her. I find it difficult to believe that, even without America and Maxon as her parents, any princess would be allowed to get to Eadlyn's age without being taught etiquette, hosting skills, how to make small talk, etc.

Even accepting that Eadlyn was somehow raised to be a terrible person, it's also difficult to believe that Maxon, master of publicity, would allow his daughter to go into her own Selection without proper preparation. He had to know going in that her inability to act like a normal human being with, you know, empathy, would be a publicity nightmare. Using Eadlyn's Selection to distract people who want to dismantle the monarchy is a stupid idea, as they will get an up close and personal view of just how out of touch she is with her people.

The only bright points in this book are a handful of the guys competing in the Selection. Kile was interesting, although it was a bit difficult to swallow that he and Eadlyn would so easily get past their dislike of each other. Henri and Erik were both sweet, although it seems as though Cass is using them solely as love triangle fodder. To be honest, there were a couple of other guys I liked but am having trouble remembering their names. So many names!

This was a quick read, so most of the time I would just ignore it if I couldn't remember someone's name. It's pretty clear who Eadlyn is going to end up with, so the other guys, while sometimes interesting, were essentially expendable.

I'm running out of things to say here, so let's end with this: Read The Heir if you are a superfan of The Selection and want to know more about Maxon and America's life. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

review: REBORN by Jennifer Rush

REBORN by Jennifer Rush
Altered #3
Hachette: Little, Brown
released January 6, 2015
source: bookstore
323 pages

Rating: Liked it

NO ONE INVOLVED WITH THE BRANCH WAS EVER INNOCENT. ME INCLUDED.

The Branch is in shambles, but Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick can't rest easy. Remnants of the organization lurk unseen, and the flashbacks of their old lives are only getting stronger - especially Nick's.

Following scattered memories and clues from his Branch file, Nick sets off alone in search of answers - and the girl who haunts his dreams. But the sleepy town where she lives is full of secrets, and Nick soon learns that uncovering their shared past may have deadly consequences.

Experience the Branch through Nick's eyes in this action-packed finale to the Altered saga.

My Thoughts

I absolutely LOVED the first book in this series, Altered. It was one of the first books shoved into my hands at BEA 2012, and I read it while waiting in lines for other books and signings. Several people asked me what I thought, and their answer was me not being able to formulate a decent answer while obviously trying to get back to reading. Anna and Sam's story drew me in completely, and Erased continued it. For the last year, I've been looking forward to reading about how Anna, Sam, and the boys take down the Branch.

Reborn is not that story, which is a total bummer.

On its own, Reborn is a good story featuring Nick, letting us get to know him better while simultaneously giving him a happy ending. It turns out Nick's been having flashbacks featuring an unknown girl who's been shot in the chest, which is understandably disturbing. Nick and Anna do some digging and eventually scare up some information on Elizabeth, who lives a few hours away in Illinois. Elizabeth has secrets and a scarred past of her own. Nick and Elizabeth work to piece together the entwined mysteries of their pasts.

Had there been any build-up to this in the first two books, I would have absolutely loved Reborn. However, since Anna and Sam dominated the first two books and the overall story was about taking on the Branch, Reborn felt more like a companion book than the finale of the series. Not to mention that - much like the show that this has always reminded me of, The Pretender - there is no real resolution with the Branch. That is left wide open.

I really hope that Rush manages to add more books to this series! This can't be the end!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

review: BORN OF NIGHT by Sherrilyn Kenyon

BORN OF NIGHT by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: The League #1
Macmillan: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Released: September 29, 2009
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 539

Rating: Really liked it!

In the Ichidian Universe, The League and their ruthless assassins rule all. Expertly trained and highly valued, the League Assassins are the backbone of the government. But not even the League is immune to corruption . . .

Command Assassin Nykyrian Quikiades once turned his back on the League - and has been hunted by them ever since. Though many have tried, none can kill him or stop him from completing his current mission: to protect Kiara Zamir, a woman whose father's political alliance has made her a target.

As her world becomes even deadlier, Kiara must entrust her life to the same kind of beast who once killed her mother and left her for dead. Old enemies and new threaten them both and the only way they can survive is to overcome their suspicions and learn to trust in the very ones who threaten them the most: each other.

My Thoughts

Science fiction books work best when they are long enough to show you the universe (without going overboard with info dumps, of course). Born of Night's length works to its advantage in worldbuilding as well as the development of the romance between Nykyrian and Kiara. I never felt confused about the rules of the Ichidian Universe.

In true Kenyon fashion, Nykyrian is has been tormented and abused his entire life. His backstory is not Acheron or Styxx level bleak, but it's still pretty dark. Kiara meets him while manacled on a spaceship after being kidnapped due to her father's political position. She is immediately afraid of him, which is not entirely unreasonable considering he's a gigantic ex-League assassin. Nykyrian is immediately attracted to Kiara, but she's a princess and therefore off limits romantically. They circle around each other for a good portion of the book. I liked seeing them get to know each other, even if they did screw up quite a bit along the way.

While I appreciated the amount of time spent on the romance and the characters getting to know each other (aka instalove is bad), you have to keep in mind that Born of Night was Kenyon's first book. Her writing style has gotten better since then, and the book was rewritten for republication, but there's only so much you can do with a rewrite vs. a rework. The general framework of the book was not going to change, and the too-stupid-to-live characters who contributed to the plot (I'm looking at you, Kiara's father) could not evolve. Here's the takeaway: it's not perfect, but it's still really good!

And remember: sometimes you just don't have a story if your characters actually talk to people or only deal with intelligent people.

Normally I don't mention much about the narrator for audiobooks, but in this case I really did NOT like the narration. The voices for most of the characters were oddly stylized, as though different stereotypical ethnic and socioeconomic groups were being represented rather than just different voices, and several random words stuck out when they were mispronounced. The narrator is listed as Kelly Fish, but this link says that it's actually Tavia Gilbert working under a pseudonym. If that's the case, I'm surprised by how much I didn't like the voices considering I have listen to several titles narrated by Gilbert and was mostly okay with them. The good news is that Fred Berman and Holter Graham take over narration for the rest of the series. They also did most of Kenyon's other books, and their voices are so sexy and gravelly. Yum.

There's a little part of me that still loves the original cover, pictured right. It was originally published sometime around 1996. Anyone who's seen my library knows that I have a bit of a collecting problem. It took ages, but I finally tracked it down in a little used bookstore near Saint Louis!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

review: PRIVATE PARTY by Jami Alden

PRIVATE PARTY by Jami Alden
Series: Private #1
Kensington: Aphrodisia Books
Released: November 1, 2007
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 248

TURN UP THE HEAT

Finding her brand-new husband in flagrante delicto with another woman wasn't part of Julie Driscoll's plan for her lavish wedding reception. Now she's a bride without a groom - but she's determined to have a wedding night with someone. Her cheating husband's gorgeous brother will do just fine. Chris Dennison is everything hsi brother isn't, and his hard body is the stuff the steamiest sexual fantasies are made of . . .

LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED

Chris isn't about to turn her down. After give years of dreaming about her, the chance to touch Julie's delectable luscious body is too tempting to resist. And when she follows him to the tropical resort he's built from the ground up, she insists hot, wet, skin-to-skin pleasure is all he wants. Now he just has to convince her that he wants more . . .

Rating: Really liked it!

My Thoughts

I've owned this book for ages, but somehow it got packed away in my old apartment, never saw the light of day at our old house, and was only just unearthed a few months ago while unpacking books at the new house. This was a happy turn of events, as I have been looking for light reads to help me ease back into reading physical books. (I've been reading mostly audiobooks or e-books lately, and not nearly as many as in years past.)

Private Party is a quick, light read with some very hot sex. Nothing kinky, just straight-up vanilla hot. There was a review on Goodreads that mentions size, which cracked me up but is also definitely worth mentioning. Hey, it's erotica, right? Chris is big without being laughably big. Every time I read about a 12-incher, I roll my eyes. 9 is nothing to scoff at, to be sure, but not unrealistic either.

Unlike some of the erotica that I have read recently - I'm lookin' at you, Fifty Shades! - this one actually has a decent story. Poor Julie discovers her brand-new husband banging his secretary at their wedding reception, and she decides to throw off the shackles of her old life and go after what she truly wants for once. This lands her in the hotel room of Chris, her husband's brother and an old crush. Needless to say, this get steamy fast. Chris leaves in the morning to get back to his regularly scheduled life, but Julie hasn't quite had enough. She follows him back to his resort on St. Thomas - not as stalkerish as it sounds, I promise - in hopes of enticing him back into her bed. Sexy hijinks ensue. Chris is a little macho but not IN YOUR FACE ALPHA DOUCHEBAG so it totally works.

I know a few people will have problems with how much Julie allows her family's expectations to rule her life, but let me just say this: When you come from a family that has traditionally made these decisions for everyone, high society or not, it's tough to realize that you are actually allowed to make your own decisions. So long as you can live with the consequences, of course. I was proud of her for finally taking her own path.

Quick plug for St. Thomas: it's absolutely beautiful! My family went there on a cruise back in 2002. Search for pictures of Magen's Bay for some beautiful beach photos. Go if you have the opportunity!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

review: DARKNESS RISING by Keri Arthur

DARKNESS RISING by Keri Arthur
Series: Dark Angels #2
Random House: Dell
Released: October 25, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 341

Rating: Liked it

SPOILER ALERT FOR DARKNESS UNBOUND!

Risa will go to any lengths to avenge her mother's murder - even if it means making a pact with the most evil vampire she's ever met. Lethal and powerful Madeline Hunter is leader of the vampire council, and will put her resources behind finding the killer - for a price. The venerable vampire requires the assistance of Risa's psychic powers. Quid pro quo.

Someone - or something - is cursing the elders of the local council, causing the immortal vampires to rapidly age, sink into madness, and die. Risa must track down the vengeful being responsible. But Risa's father, a rogue Aedh priest, also enlists her in a dangerous mission. And not even the great Madeline Hunter may be able to protect her from the shadowy forces that desire nothing less than Risa's destruction.

My Thoughts

Darkness Rising opens with Risa's father forcefully ordering her to find the keys that he created to open the gates to hell. Nice guy, yeah? Then Risa is essentially blackmailed by the head of the Directorate, Madeline Hunter, into doing Hunter's dirty work in exchange for help solving Dia's murder. Considering that's all crammed into the first chapter, you'd think that the action would be nonstop . . . and yet, not so much. At least it felt slow to me.

It may have been because I listened to this one in audio, but I found myself oddly unable to focus on the story and probably missed a good quarter of it from zoning out on the narration. The big things that I was worried about while reading the first book came to pass: (1) Risa continued to trust the wrong guy, Lucian. He reminds me of a certain snakelike character from the Riley Jensen, Guardian series, and I don't much like him. (2) Risa failed to see what her reaper, Azrael, was thinking. He clearly has a thing for her, but she is only seeing her own perception of his actions and beliefs and not understanding why he is perpetually frustrated with her. Come on, girl, get it together!

It's a little frustrating to see Risa repeating so many of Riley's mistakes, especially while she notes that Riley had spoken to her about these things. Risa trusts the wrong people, is ill-prepared because she lets people rush her and boss her around, and doesn't ask the right people for help because she is too worried about them getting hurt, even if their expertise means that they are more likely to not be hurt than she is. I wanted to shake her a few times.

You know what else is frustrating? The lack of sex. Heh. There are a couple of scenes, but I was really hoping that this series would be a bit hotter than it's turning out to be.

Here's what did work: Risa is clearly starting to come into her own. In Darkness Unbound, Risa is constantly turning to others for help because she doesn't have the skills or knowledge to do it on her own. That's not necessarily a bad idea, true, but it was nice to see her take a more prominent role in her investigation. The sword she acquires doesn't hurt her new badass image, either.

Given my love of the prequel series, it's fairly obvious that I'm not going to give up after one lackluster installment. Really, it's not bad, it's just not quite up to par with expectations. Here's hoping that the rest of the series takes us on a sexy, fast-paced ride!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

review: DARKNESS UNBOUND by Keri Arthur

DARKNESS UNBOUND by Keri Arthur
Series: Dark Angels #1
Random House: Dell
Released: September 27, 2011
Page Count: 364

Rating: Really liked it!

The fight against darkness rages on for the next generation - in New York Times bestselling author Keri Arthur's exciting new series set in the world of the Guardians.

Being half werewolf and half Aedh, Risa Jones can enter the twilight realms between life and death and see the reapers, supernatural beings that collect the souls of the dead. But she soon makes a terrifying discovery: some sinister force is stealing souls, preventing the dead from ever knowing the afterlife.

Reapers escort souls - not snatch them - but Risa is still unnerved when a reaper shadows her in search of someone Risa has never met: her own father, an Aedh, priest, who is rumored to be tampering with the gates of hell for a dark purpose. With the help of her "aunt" - half-werewolf, half-vampire Riley Jensen - and an Aedh named Lucian who may have lost his wings but none of his sex appeal, Risa must pursue whatever shadowy practitioner of blood magic is siezing souls, and somehow stop her father . . . before all hell breaks loose.

My Thoughts

I nabbed this on a whim on Audible, because it was on sale and HELLO IT'S KERI ARTHUR, started listening while driving to my friend's house for our annual sometime-around-Christmas gift exchange, and almost didn't get out of the car because I was already hooked. There was a mention of Riley Jensen being Risa's aunt sometime in the first chapter or so, and that would have been enough on its own had the writing not been up to par (which of course it was!). Also, I love an Aussie accent. This narrator is fabulous. But anyway . . .

Welcome (again) to Keri Arthur's Guardian-verse. Risa is the "niece" of Riley Jensen, main character of the Guardian series, and a badass in her own right. Being half-Aedh, she can walk the gray fields and see spirits. Her mother, a famous psychic, asks her to consult on a case, and Risa's discovery leads to the disturbing revelation that someone is stealing souls . . . and her unknown father may be responsible. Darkness Unbound is full of cameos from characters from the Guardian series, yet without it being overwhelming. Total fangirl moment here.

Of course, you can't talk about an Arthur book without mentioning the sex. There is your basic one-on-one, gettin' good and sweaty-type sex, and there's also a quasi-threesome at a club involving Risa, her partner, Lucian, taking her from behind, and an unnamed third party taking her mouth. I thought it was pretty hot, but if you're at all prudish then this world may not be for you. Sex in this world is fairly open, with no social constructs in place to make it - or any kinks involved - at all shameful. This was one of my favorite parts of the Guardian series, to be honest, and I am quite happy to see it continued here with the next generation.

Risa's love interest is Lucian, a disgraced Aedh. He's . . . just meh. I'm not a huge fan, and he's probably going to turn out to be a bad guy at some point. I do, however, have high hopes that Risa and her reaper stalker / protector, Azriel, will hook up. Azrial is SEXY, and I always dig a man with a sword.

The one thing that is driving me nuts is that I can't remember much of Risa's mother's backstory. I know that Dia and Riley were friends, at least eventually, in the Guardian series, and it's probably at least somewhat relevant here. But it has completely slipped out of my brain, and there's no telling where those books are packed right now! Bummer.

As I write this review, I am already listening to Darkness Rising. Hop to it, people! This series is flippin' fabulous! And if you haven't read the Riley Jensen, Guardian series, you should really read that first. Seriously. Go read it now.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Hello from ALA Midwinter!

I just wanted to leave a quick note here for anyone that received one of my business cards. Hello, and thanks for checking out my site! Please note that my second job did not leave me enough time to get all of my regular posts scheduled for last week and this week, so please excuse my dust! It will be remedied sometime this week, after I make the drive back to Detroit.

- Amanda

Sunday, January 25, 2015

STACKING THE SHELVES

Stacking the Shelves is an alternative to In My Mailbox hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I preordered one book this week:

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)


Bought some good books:

Survival Colony  NineHalf Bad (Half Bad, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Heart Fire (Celta's Heartmates, #13)The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

And some picture books:

The Otter Who Loved to Hold Hands (Storytime)The Three Little PigsA Day with the Animal Doctors. by Sharon RenttaThe Adventures of the Owl and the PussycatThe Diggers

Managed to discover and subsequently sink way too much money into some amazing new comic book bind-ups (although, to be fair, there were gift cards involved):

100 Bullets Book OneAlpha and Omega: Cry Wolf  Volume 1Bad Blood (Bad Blood #1)Black Science, Vol.1: How to Fall ForeverMarvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - PreludeGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic AvengersGuardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: AngelaInhuman, Vol. 1: GenesisSix Feet Under and Rising (iZombie #3)Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalRat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & SorcerySaga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6)Saga, Volume 2 (Saga #7-12)Saga, Volume 4 (Saga #19-24)Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick Y: The Last Man, Vol. 2: Cycles (Y: The Last Man, #2)


And got this lovely from HMH on NetGalley:

Unmade (Entangled #2)