Friday, July 31, 2009

My Serial Challenge Listing

So I decided that I really needed to actually start listing some of the books I have or am reading for this challenge so I can link them to CarPoolQueen's blog and get credit for them. So here is my current list as of January 1, 2009. If the title is listed it means that I have read them this year. If I didn't read them this year I will just list a generic title like "books 1-4 read previously".

The Buchanans--Susan Mallery
Delicious #1
Tempting #4

The Bakery Sisters--Susan Mallery (fully completed in 09)
Sweet Talk #1
Sweet Spot #2
Sweet Trouble #3

The Marcelli Sisters of Pleasure Road--Susan Mallery

The Marcelli Princess #5

The Mackenzies--Linda Howard
Game of Chance #5

Love At Stake--Kerrilyn Sparks
books 3 and 4 read previously

All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire#6
Secret Life of a Vampire #7

Forbidden Nights With a Vampire #8


The Argeneau Family--Lynsay Sands
books 1-10 read previously
The Immortal Hunter #11

The Chandler Brothers--Carly Phillips
The Playboy #2

Sign of the Seven trilogy--Nora Roberts
Blood Brothers #1

The Bridgerton Family--Julia Quinn (completed)
books 1-5 read previously
When He Was Wicked #6
It's In His Kiss #7
On the Way to the Wedding #8

Prince trilogy--Elizabeth Hoyt
The Leopard Prince #2

Night Huntress--Jeaniene Frost
Halfway to the Grave #1
One Foot in the Grave #2

Chicago Stars--Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Natural Born Charmer #7

Sex, Lies and Online Dating series--Rachel Gibson
Sex, Lies and Online Dating#1
Not Another Bad Date #4

The Murray Family--Hannah Howell
Highland Knight #5

Highland Bride #6

Mercy Thompson--Patricia Briggs
Moon Called #1

Malory Family--Johanna Lindsey (completed)
books 1-8 read previously
No Choice But Seduction #9

Buchanan/Renard--Julie Garwood
books 1-5 read previously
Shadow Dance #6

Psy/changelings--Naline Singh
Slave to Sensation #1

Mageverse--Angela Knight (completed)

book 3 read previously
Master of the Night #1
Master of the Moon #2

Master of Swords #4

Dirk & Steele--Marjorie M. Liu
books 2 and 4 read previously
Tiger Eye #1

Westmoreland--Judith McNaught
A Kingdom of Dreams #1

Bow Street Runners--Lisa Kleypas
Someone to Watch Over Me #1

The Others--Christine Warren
Wolf at the Door #1

Darkyn--Lynn Viehl
books 1 and 2 read previously
Dark Need #3
Night Lost #4

McKettrick--Linda Lael Miller
book 1 read previously
McKettrick's Pride #7

The MacCarrick Brothers--Kresley Cole
If You Dare #1

Nerd Series--Vicki Lewis Thompson
Nerd in Shining Armor #1

De Piaget series--Lynn Kurland
Dreams of Stardust #3


The Concannon Sisters -- Nora Roberts(fully completed in 09)
Born in Fire #1
Born in Ice #2
Born in Shame #3

SBC Fighters --Lori Foster
My Man Michael #4

Akoran series--Josie Litton
Fountain of Dreams #1

Drakon series--Shana Abe
The Smoke Thief #1

Travis series--Lisa Kleypas
Sugar Daddy #1

Wallflower series--Lisa Kleypas
Scandal in Spring #4

Taggert Family--Jude Deveraux
Holly #6

The Vanza series--Amanda Quick
Lie By Moonlight #4

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge 2009


So I found another reading challenge and thought I would participate. It is a Harlequin/Silhoutte reading challenge. Although I would have liked to have this challenge be a little longer it does have 5 prompts to read 5 different Harlequin/Silhouette books for the year. Since I am not starting this until probably August I guess 5 isn't so bad. The following is what appears on Yvonne's blog here on blogspot.


I loved doing the Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge last year and now it's time to get ready for 2009. This challenge will begin on January 1, 2009 and run through December 31, 2009. The rules are a bit different this year, but not by much. Here are the rules...All of the books have to be from either the Harlequin or Silhouette imprint. It doesn't matter which one. The challenge is...

1) Read 1 book with a holiday theme. Holly and Mistletoe--Susan Mallery

2) Read 1 book by an author you never read before. The Christmas Husband--Mary Anne Wilson
3) Read 1 book with one of these words in the title - wedding, marriage, husband or wife The Dream Wedding--MJ Rodgers

4) Read 1 book set in a place you've never been before. Lost Calling--Evelyn Vaughn (france)

5) Read 1 book with a body of water in the title (i.e. water, lake, river, island, etc.) Shadows on the Lake--Leona Karr


That's a total of 5 books for the year.

A few additional things...

1) You can change books in the middle of the year, nothing is written in stone!

2) Books used in this challenge may be used in other challenges.

3) Books can be in any format - paper, audio, ebook.

4) Please sign up by commenting to this post.

5) Please come back and post your reviews as you read the books for the challenge.

6) Please link us to your blog using one of these buttons...There will be a prize at the end of the challenge. I don't know what it will be yet, but everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into the contest!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1) by Patricia Briggs


I loved this book. Mercy Thompson is an excellent heroine. Her strengths are not defined by her mystical powers as a walker but as an adaptable person with special abilities. Raised by werewolves she understands the inner workings of being part of a pack without the bother of actually having to conform and be pack. It is the readers priviledge to get an inside look at Mercy's knowledge of "others" and things that go bump in the night.


Mercy is an auto mechanic who finds herself deep into a mystery which involves newbie werewolves invading the local alpha's territory, kidnapping, and a handful of vampires (everyone knows vampires cannot be trusted.) So what is a young headstrong woman to do? Get involved. Of course.


What I found completely fasinating about this book was that Briggs created a world that ties together basic "knowledge" of werewolves and vampires and her vision of the otherworld seemlessly. As a reader we get history 101 on werewolves without feeling like we just sat through a boring 8 hour lecture.


The other characters in the book are just as wonderful as Mercy. I can't wait to read more about them in future books.

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


This book is part of the Chicago Stars series made popular by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and to date the only one I have read of this series. The book is about an extremely good looking football player who finds a down on her luck woman wearing a beaver costume on the side of the road and offers her a lift. From there a relationship blooms but don't call it a relationship because neither character are the settle down with a house, white picket fence, dog and 2.5 children type.


I really wanted to love this book. I just could't. I didn't fall in love with either Dean or Blue Bailey (the beaver costume wearing woman). I liked them but couldn't love them. I did like that both Dean and Blue had massive baggage concerning family and Phillips did a great job weaving the ins and outs and whys of it all.


The characters (including the secondary characters) were completely flawed and I liked them all. Together they made themselves into a disfunctional family that was fun to read about but the family interaction was not necessarily what I was supposed to enjoy the most about this book. I suppose I was to be more interested in the romance of Blue and Dean but it really took a back burner to in your face characters like Nita (a beyond cranky woman who bullied herself into Blue's life).


So what started out as a funny opening sequence of events didn't quite pan out to be a humorous emotion producing rollercoaster that one would expect from a great book. Overall, this was an OK book. Nothing specatular but not bad either. I would recommend that you borrow this one from the library or get it from a used book store.


My Rating 3 Stars.

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1) by Jeaniene Frost


I loved this book. I have no idea why it took me so long to pick it up. Thankfully I have the next one in the series sitting waiting for me to dive into it.


What I enjoyed so much about this book was the two main characters Cat and Bones. Cat is a 22 year old half vampire/half human. She is one of a kind. No one has ever heard of someone who is technically half dead. When at age 16 she finds out how she came about she takes matters in her own hands and decided to take out as many blood suckers as she can.


Bones is a two hundred something master vampire who finds himself at the wrong end of Cat's stake. As kick butt as Cat is...she is still fairly new at killing vampires and is no match for a Master one like Bones. When Bones figures out what she is he decides to use her to his advantage...which is also killing vampires. Cat has no idea why a vampire would kill other vampires. In Cat's book all vampires are evil. What takes her by surprise is that not all vampires are bad.


This is a basic summary of the plot but don't think that is all there is to this book. It is also a very good love story. Cat must come to terms with who and what she is in addition to understanding her complex feelings towards Bones who she should hate but finds herself unable to. How can she have feelings for someone she has sworn to kill first and ask questions later?

One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 2) by Jeaniene Frost


After reading the first book in the series and loving it I couldn't wait to pick up the second to continue my adventures with Cat. This book is a continuation of Cat's life where the first book stopped almost 4 years later. She is still using all of what Bones taught her to kill vampires but now she gets paid for it. She still has daddy issues and longs for the time she can meet him and stake him.


Honestly through the book I was thinking this was rather good book but not necessarily a 5 Cup of Coffee kind of book until the end. The end was what put the book into that category for me. I won't give anything away but just know that if you enjoy PNR/UF you absolutely have to pick these books up. Be warned that although many might tell you that you can read series books out of order you will want to read these in the order that Frost published them. There are a few things that might become spoilers should you read them backwards.

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn


This is the 6th book in Julia Quinn's beloved Bridgerton series and a decent addition to the series it is. I really liked Michael Stirling's character. He finds himself completely and totally in love with Francesca from their first meeting. Unfortunately for him, the meeting took place at the festivities of Francesca's marriage to Michael's cousin John. I thought this approach to a romance book was very interesting. First off, it seems the pattern for romances is that the women fall first then the man follows when it comes to love. It was a nice change of pace that in this book it was the other way around. Secondly, the reader has to wonder how can a man fall in love with his cousin's wife and the book have a happy ending. This approach keeps the reader (at least this one) reading full into the dark of night to find the happy ending.


I have to admit that as far as likability, Francesca, is just OK. I didn't find her nearly as interesting as her sisters Daphne or Eloise. However, if you have read the Bridgerton books in order you will know how Francesca becomes available to Michael even after being married to John which the back blurb of the book also hints about.


This part will contain some spoilers so for those who have yet to read the Bridgerton books you might want to discontinue reading at this point.


Spoilers..........................................


What I found so compelling about this book was that I could identify with Francesca and Michael's struggles to thier attraction and the memory of John. If you have ever lost love, finding the courage to move on is a difficult task and Quinn did an excellent job of portraying the heartbreak of it all. I was glad that although she did introduce the reader to all the characters in the beginning she didn't make us fall in love with John and then take him away from us. I think that would have been difficult to write and even more difficult for a reader to read. It would have made the love of Michael and Francesca somewhat tainted I think.


Although I couldn't give this book an honest 5 star rating (I firmly believe that it isn't nearly as good as her first couple Bridgerton books) it is a strong 4 stars. It sends a little message out to those who have found love and lost it. When a loved one dies, love really doesn't die with them. It can and will find you again if you just open yourself up and let it.

After the Night by Linda Howard


Faith Devlin is the daughter of the town tramp and a drunk. She learns at an early age that despite who she is or might become a town as small as Prescott, Louisianna lables you based on what family you come from. For Faith, this means the people of the parish treat her as if she were a tramp like her mom and sister, a drunk like her father or a thief like her brothers. This is not who or what Faith is but to everyone in the town it doesn't matter.


Gray Rouillard is the son of the wealthiest man in Prescott, possibly even in half the state. He is also the golden boy football player from LSU. To Faith he is the idol she has loved from afar for as long as she could remember.


Faith and Gray's paths rarely crossed. Faith being dirt poor and taking care of her special needs little brother and Gray being groomed to take over his father's business one day. One night their paths did cross. Faith's mother was Gray's father's mistress and on this one night both she and Gray's father left Prescott never to be seen again. On that night Gray and Faith's worlds collided. He called her trash and she was forced to leave the only home she ever knew.


12 years later Faith Devlin returned to Prescott to get answers. Answers to where Renee Devlin and Guy Rouillard went that night and perhaps to show the town of Prescott that she was not like the rest of her family.


I very much enjoyed this book. My heart went out to Faith's struggles when she was a young girl. As a woman my heart went out to her even more when she went back to the town that labled her to show them that she was a successful woman and not a product of a horrible family.


The mystery aspect of this book was great. It captivated me and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering who the bad person was and what exactly happened on the night that Renee and Guy disappeared.


If you have never read a book by Linda Howard this book is a good introduction to her writing. This isn't my first book by her and it definitely won't be my last.


My Rating 5 Stars.

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: A funny thing happened... — Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. — Except... She wasn't the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory!

Except... Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar.


My Thoughts: The 8th and last installment of the Bridgerton books written by Julia Quinn was a wonderful story of Gregory who always knew true love existed. A romantic at heart he has watched all 7 of his siblings fall in love and marry knowing that he too would one day fall in love. And he did. While attending a week of festivities that his sister-in-law puts together. With the help of beautiful Hermoine Watson's best friend she will soon be his. Only love doesn't quite work out the way Gregory expects it to. It appears that when love comes calling it tends to make things quite difficult actually.

Overall I very much enjoyed this book. It felt a tad bit long especially through the middle when both hero and heroine profess their love for one another. I mean, once I love Yous are in place it is only a matter of pages before the happily ever afters get there. But this book was different. It shows that some times what you think you long for isn't always what you actually want.

This is definitely a book you should read if you have enjoyed the other Bridgerton books.

Drop Dead Gorgeous: A Novel (Blair Mallory) by Linda Howard

Synopsis: Blair Mallory has already survived one murder attempt. Now, while planning her wedding and dealing with holiday season madness, she once again dodges a bullet. Or, more precisely, a Buick. And although the driver's identity remains a mystery, his or her murderous intentions are all too clear.— Or are they? After all, Blair's homicidal ex-husband and his partner in crime/wife are safely behind bars. And even Wyatt Bloodworth, Blair's police detective groom-to-be, isn't inclined to believe she's being targeted again. All of which makes Blair wonder if her close call was simply a mishap. But the wondering stops when she narrowly cheats death again in another seemingly innocent accident. Two strikes is all it takes to convince Blair that she's back in someone's cross-hairs. And the only thing more frightening is that Wyatt still doubts her. That means this time no one will be watching Blair's back when she sets out to get the drop on her would-be killer -- before whoever it is finally drops her.

My Thoughts: Another looking into Blair Mallory's life is the premise for this book. As sequels go this one was good. After reading some of the other reviews I would have to say that yes, this book was kind of a rehash of the first book but as I read To Die For quite a few years ago it wasn't fresh in my mind. I might suggest that a reader might space these two books out a bit unless you really don't mind repetition.

Blair loves her boyfriend Wyatt and is thrilled with the thought of marrying him. She also loves tormenting him and trying to get the upper hand in their verbal battles. With a cop as a boyfriend this is often difficult but she loves the sport of trying anyway. In one of these attempts she fails to be the victor and finds her wedding date decided by Wyatt. Either plan a wedding of her liking to take place in 30 days or off to Vegas they go. For a high maintenance gal like Blair Vegas is so "Out". After all Britney did it and who wants to follow her crazy example.

I loved reading about Blair again. I get her. Yes she is pretty high maintenance but she maintains herself thank you very much and doesn't expect anyone else to do it. She has a quirky habit of listing Wyatt's current transgressions which she leaves on the kitchen counter for him to read at a later time. After all, he is a man and really doesn't have a clue as to what he does wrong most of the time. She also has a tendency to list all tasks she needs to do starting with the ones she feels she can easily do and then working her way to the heavy stuff that she doesn't feel ready to handle. So her lists tend to say thins like...

1-Find Dress For Wedding (going shopping in 10 minutes)

2-Get Jazz and Sally back together (arrange meeting with Jazz later)

3-Figure out who tried to run me over with a Buick (maybe tomorrow)

As a list maker I highly approve of her ways. I enjoyed her taking me on a journey through on crisis after another and then, finally, her wedding day.

As a romance book I would say that this might not satisfy some readers. It isn't about boy meets girl and falls in love. It starts with the couple already there. It is now the journey to their happily ever after. Also this book is written in the first person. This can be off putting to some. I had forgotten that her first book was in the first person so it took me a bit to get use to it but after a chapter or two I really enjoyed seeing the world through Blair's eyes again.

Dark Need: A Novel of the Darkyn by Lynn Viehl



Synopsis: AN ACHING EMPTINESS... — Homicide detective Samantha Brown is a tough, highly decorated cop.  But for the past twelve lonely years, since she nearly died of a gunshot wound, she has felt a deep inner longing. — A LONG-LOST LOVE... — The mysterious Lucan, with his timeless ability to seduce women, is focusing on the emotionally battered Samantha, who has awakened his wild memories of a long-ago love.

A PASSION THAT WILL BE FULFILLED...

As Samantha pursues a deranged killer, her only clue is a medieval cross inscribed "Lucan" -- the name of a man who owns a nightclub near the murder scene.  Drawn into a seamy underworld, Samantha falls for Lucan, who believes that he's a vampire and that Samantha is his reincarnated first love.  Now she must save this man who seems beyond redemption -- and who fulfills her deepest, darkest desires....


My Thoughts: After reading 2 other books in this series I am seriously thinking they just aren't for me. Not very much romance and the mentality of the Kyn and their view points on humans are a little crass to me. There doesn't seem to be a HEA ending in any of the three books I read. No love and marriage. After 3 books the guy from the first book finally told the woman from the first book that he loved her. I guess they don't get married but she becomes something of a most loved mistress or something. Like I said maybe these just aren't for me.

As for this book I didn't like Lucan, who was supposed to be the "hero", at all. He kept doing things that made him appear hard and uncaring but as any good romance reader would know that these acts are just a front for what the hero is really feeling. Unfortunately, he still just came across as a user who only did thing that would benefit himself and didn't really care who he had to walk on in order to achieve his goals.

Also the book spent many paragraphs throughout the book on the sexual orientation of Samantha. It referenced that many secondary characters questioned if she really liked men or not. I didn't feel that this was that important of an issue to keep re-hashing the same thing over and over again as it had no bearing on the story at all. So now that I finished this book after almost 6 months of reading it (having to restart it 3 times) I don't know why the 4th book is in my TBR still. I am a glutton for punishment for sure.
 

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts


The first in the latest formulaic trilogies from Nora Roberts. I for one am a fan of her trilogies, however, I felt this one was not as good as the others. I enjoy that she has men once again as her leading characters and I find all three men facinating. I thought the build up towards the climactic end was very good but then found the ending to be a little disappointing.


After 21 years of battling this big bad evil Cal and his blood brothers know this is the last year for the battle. They either will finish off the evil or die trying. This time is a little different because now they are not alone. 3 women have wandered into their town of Hawkins Hallow and are somehow involved in the fight.


The romance part of the story was, well, not very romantic. There was very little time for romance as the two main characters Cal and Quinn are trying to research the history of the big bad evil. The history of The Hallow and the battle between the good and the evil is very interesting. The setting of the town, The Pegan Stone and Hester's Pool are some place I would like to visit.


I thought Roberts could have done a little better with making a complete book with this first installment. Typically her trilogies are made of 3 books with complete stories that, although, when read together make one large story, each book can stand alone making the reader want to read the other books but not feel they have to read them. I was disappointed in the left hanging feeling I got when I finished this book. Don't get me wrong there was a minor to-do at the end but the confrontation of the 6 characters with the big bad evil was almost humorous and not as suspenseful as I think it was supposed to be.


Overall I would have given this book 2.5 stars but as Nora Roberts is one of my favorites I bumped it up to a 3. I will read the rest of the trilogy.