Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer


Title: Storm
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #1
Genre: YA
Publisher: Kensington Books 2012
Source: Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕☕

Synopsis: Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water - just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.
And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.
When Hunter, the mysterious new kid in town, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all...

My Thoughts: A decent spot of entertainment with a bit too much snide teenage angsty stuff for my taste.

The Good Stuff: Brigid Kemmerer put to bed the lack of closure questions I had after reading the novella, Elemental. Now I see why things were left completely open ended. Not sure I liked those conclusions but I'm glad they were there. I love the paranormal aspect of people who pull power from nature. Although, as I've said before, elemental magic isn't new but I like Kemmerer's take on it. The Merrick brothers are really interesting and I think the author did a nice job of explaining their background (why their parents aren't around). The book was paced well and there were quite a few exciting scenes that helped propel the plot forward too.

The Bad Stuff: Becca. She drove me bat-shit crazy. Her attitude towards her father is horrible. So her parents are divorced and her dad is away on business a lot. Get over it. She was a total snot to him and I wanted to punch her in the throat. She also exhibited some great back bone (breaking up a really bad fight between several boys against one) but doesn't stand up for herself. Ever. People talk about her and she just lets them. She also has questionable decision making. So, a boy who has started devastating rumors about her wants to talk to her. Privately. Outside. At Night. In the dark. Becca says sure. Really?

In addition to Becca, the Guide who was sent to town to eliminate the Merricks has issues. The guide causes a huge weather situation that flooded out a bridge putting dozens of people in danger, Becca included. His reasoning is stupid and in no way could be construed as appropriate. In addition to the huge safety issue the Guide causes, he also kidnapped half the Merrick clan and instead of destroying the boys he bought them McDonald's. Really?

Lastly, beware of the love triangle. 'Nuff said.

In a Nutshell: Despite some really questionable decisions (some coming from an adult), I am intrigued by the Merricks. I am mostly looking forward to Michael's full story but will read Nick and Gabriel's books in the mean time.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer


Title: Elemental
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #0.5
Genre: YA
Publisher: Kensington Books 2012
Source: Scribd ebook
Rating: ☕☕

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they are more than you dream.
As an air Elemental, 17-year-old Emily Morgan doesn’t have much power. That’s okay—she knows what happens to kids who do.
Like Michael Merrick. He’s an earth Elemental, one with enough power to level cities. Which makes him sexy, dangerous, and completely off limits. At least according to Emily’s family.
But her summer job puts her in close contact with Michael, and neither of them can help the attraction they feel. When forces of nature like theirs collide, one misstep could get someone killed. Because Emily’s family doesn’t just want her to stay away from him.
They want him dead.

My Thoughts: What started out as an exciting introduction to a new to me series ended with disappointment.

The Good Stuff: Having the power of an element is not a new concept but one I enjoy a lot. I liked that there were varying levels of power amongst the Elementals and the idea that the more powerful they are the more they are ostracized by their own kind. I liked that this short story explained enough of this but didn't waste too many of the precious pages over explaining it which would make it more info dump than part of a story. It was also a sweet boy meets girl story and a  potential star crossed lovers story that was developing nicely.

The Bad Stuff: Not being a fan of novellas it's hard for me to be completely open to them without having preconceived notions that every novella will disappoint me by not being developed enough. I'd love to say this one proved me wrong but it didn't. It, unfortunately, reiterated that point loudly. While happily reading through an exciting scene where our boy and girl have become friends and find themselves running from a bad group of kids the story just stops. Literally. Stops. One minute the two are clasping hands and jumping into the water while the bad gang of kids are almost upon them and then.....nothing. The End. WHAT!?!? You can't end a story that way! Well, Brigid Kemmerer certainly did and I hated it. It was a cliffhanger.......on steroids. 

In a Nutshell: Despite the abrupt ending I didn't throw my hands up and discard the notion of this series. Instead I had the need to move onto the first book in the series. I suppose this was the entire point of this novella. Mission: To suck unsuspecting readers in and brainwash them into continuing on no matter how pissed they are. Well played Kemmerer. Well played.

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Lord of the Fading Lands by CL Wilson


Title: Lord of the Fading Lands
Author: CL Wilson (Read by Stephanie Riggio)
Series: Tairen Soul #1
Genre: Romantic Fantasy 
Publisher: Audio Realms, Inc. 2010 
Source: Library
Rating:


Once he had scorched the world.
Once he had driven back overwhelming darkness.
Once he had loved with such passion, his name was legend...
Tairen Soul
Now a thousand years later, a new threat calls him from the Fading Lands, back into the world that had cost him so dearly. Now an ancient, familiar evil is regaining its strength, and a new voice beckons him--more compelling, more seductive, more maddening than any before.
As the power of his most bitter enemy grows and ancient alliances crumble, the wildness in his blood will not be denied. The tairen must claim his truemate and embrace the destiny woven for him in the mists of time.

My Thoughts: This book/series has come highly recommended by multiple people over the years and when I saw that my library had it on digital audio I thought I'd take the chance with it.

The Good Stuff: Wilson's world building, I believe, is first class in this book. I never felt bombarded with a giant info dump issue because she incorporated it so well into the story that it felt natural. The romance, although relying on a take on the "Fated Mate" trope, was well played out and has an Urban Fantasy feel to it as this is only the beginning of the H/h's story. Their love should develop nicely over the course of several books and we weren't completely whammied by insta-love.

The Good stuff about Listening vs. Reading: Being more of a Fantasy than I'm used to, I liked the fact that someone else was reading the potentially difficult names of the characters and places. I know for sure I'd have stumbled and bumbled my way through them and it would have pulled me out of the story continuously.

The Bad Stuff: No conclusions. Absolutely nothing was concluded. Everything from their courtship to who is trying to harm Ellie is left dangling at the end of the book. To be truthful, the ending felt so abrupt I double checked my kindle to see if I missed downloading one of the audio files. But nope, it really does end with no closure on anything. Another thing that was a bit of a downer was that after finishing the book, I'm still am not sure what a Tairen Soul looks like. It's some sort of shapeshifter and as near as I can tell it's a huge animal with a cat like head, deadly snake venom, giant bat wings with a sharp claw at the joint of the wings, and a long dragon like spiked tail. At least that is what I think it said.

The Bad Stuff about the Audio: Although Stephanie Riggio did an adequate job, I hated her voice for Ellysetta. She sounded like a whiny child and I had a hard time accepting her as a love interest for a Fey King who is well over a millennia old.

In a Nutshell: I would rate the book itself a 4 but the unfortunate voice of Ellie on audio brought the rating down to 3. My library has the next book in audio also but read by a different narrator so I'm going to pick it up soon because I have issues with all those dangly bits mocking me.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Scent of Darkness by Christina Dodd


Title: Scent of Darkness
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: Darkness Chosen #1
Publisher: 2007 by Signet
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating: ☕1/2

Ann Smith loves her handsome, dynamic boss, Jasha Wilder, but her daring plan to seduce him goes awry when she encounters a powerful wolf who-before her horrified eyes-changes into the man she adores. She soon discovers she can't escape her destiny, for she is the woman fated to break the curse that binds his soul. 

My Thoughts: Highlights--points to Dodd for making a tired shifter trope into one of demons and deal making with the devil. A different take and one I found interesting. The clues surrounding Ann and her birthmark were also very compelling which kept me reading late into the night. The Wilders are an interesting bunch...two wolf shifters, a seer, a hawk shifter, a missing brother and an introduction to a man who is nothing more than a mystery...woohooo!

The negative stuff--the first sex scene is practically rape, after which I couldn't see Jasha as a hero. His subsequent seduction attempts toward Ann had me cringing. Ann's reasons for seeking out Jasha at his getaway home felt weak and screamed "I'm a pathetic lonely woman" which made it difficult to see her as a strong woman. Ann's ability to injure an evil shifter towards the end didn't quite seem clear to me and left me scratching my head. And the "Others" and "The Chosen" weren't very well explained in this book. I was thankful I read Dodd's spin off series first because I knew exactly what Ann was saying when she kept thinking that she brings the bad people.

Overall a decent book and I'm definitely going to read the next book. I'm actually more interested in the missing brother's book (#3) as he has essentially been "kicked out" of the family for embracing evil.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene frost



Title: This Side of the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress
Published: 2011 by Avon
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating:

Danger waits on both sides of the grave.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance . . .
With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous "ally"; the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war . . . to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.
My Thoughts:While I love spending time with Cat and Bones I have to admit that I've lost a little bit of love for this series only because Vlad is so much hotter (literally) than Bones. There I said it. I'm superficial. I love Vlad. Luckily he was in this book a lot. As was Mencheres with special appearances by Spade. How could I not love love love this book? Well, I'm not sure, to be honest.

Cat continues to be intriguing and her ability to absorb powers from those she drinks from is interesting. I just wasn't absorbed into this story. The power play between the ghouls and vampires, although...dare I say interesting, failed to capture my undivided attention because it felt too political to me (which I hate in my reading). The big bad baddy failed to provide me with heart stopping nail biting suspense and the final battle crested to a disappointing conclusion. No head explosions or anything. Bummer.

Despite my complaints the rest of the book was solid. It was nice to see so many of my favorite characters again and the relationship between Cat and Bones continues to stride towards something most people can only dream about. Granted some of it was a bit sappy but thankfully Vlad was there to point out their lovey dovey ways were pukey.
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Talk Dirty To Me by Dakota Cassidy


Title: Talk Dirty to Me
Author: Dakota Cassidy
Series: Plum Orchard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley eArc
Rating:
 
Plum Orchard, Georgia, is about to get even juicier…
Notorious mean girl Dixie Davis is back in town and it's payback time. Literally. Dixie is flat broke and her best—make that only—friend, Landon, is throwing her a lifeline from the Great Beyond. Dixie stands to inherit his business…if she meets a few conditions:
She's got to live in Landon's mansion.
With her gorgeous ex-fiancé, Caine Donovan.
Who could also inherit the business.
Which is a phone sex empire.
Wait, what?
Landon's will lays it out: whoever gets the most new clients becomes the owner of Call Girls. Dixie has always been in it to win it, especially when it comes to Caine, who's made it clear he's not going down easy. (Oh, mercy.) Can Dixie really talk dirty and prove that she's cleaned up her act? Game on!
 
My Thoughts: This book took me an extraordinarily long time to read. The reason? The heroine was very difficult to like. She was a mean girl while in high school. Once out of high school she still bullied her way through life. Although this book started a decade after high school it was hard to see her as anything other than mean when every encounter or self musings was a reminder of her past. I find it hard to believe that someone can change so drastically from a horrible person to a kind one. At one point she had already claimed she had a change of heart in her early 20s but ended up the same horrible girl she was as a child. It wasn't until the last 1/4 of the book where I really jumped on the Dixie bandwagon and found I actually grew to like her.

In addition to the hard to like heroine, the book has so many pop culture references that it will not stand the test of time and the hero's "talent" for voices got to be annoying. Sure Jean-Luc Picard's voice may be identifiable as is Sean Connery's but talking like Darryl in The Walking Dead? Um ok.

What helped the book from being only average were the interesting secondary characters and the lovely message from the H/h's deceased best friend (via a DVD made prior to his death.) I found the last 1/4 of the book tied the book up very nicely and whetted my appetite for the next book in the series, which I had decided against reading during the first half but found by the end I changed my mind.

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Duchess in Love by Eloisa James

Title: Duchess in Love
Author: Eloisa James
Series: Duchess Quartet
Published: 2002 by Avon
Source: Purchased Paperback
Rating: 


Disclaimer: I finished this book Oct 29, 2008 at which time I wrote this review. I originally posted it on the Shelfari website but am now transferring all of those reviews to my blog just in case Shelfari ceases to exist.

Review: This was my first Eloisa James book and was a little unsure if I liked her writing style or not. I thought it was interesting that instead of just dancing at a ball she was specific as to what type of dances that were done and even mentioned a few steps involved in one. I didn't know what any of the dances were (except the waltz) so the names read like foreign words to me.

The Duchess Gina and her friends are all married women without husbands. They all live separately from their husbands and tend to cause the ton talking with their actions. Gina was forced to marry Cam when she was 11 by his father to "protect" the family name from the scandal of her birth. Cam was 18 and as soon as the vows were taken he snuck out the window and fled to Greece. 12 years later Gina has grown weary of being a married innocent woman and has met someone else and petitions Cam to grant her an annulment. Cam comes to England to do so but realizes little Gina has grown into a stunning woman.

This book was interesting in the aspect that I really was not sure I was enjoying reading it for the first half of the book. I thought it fell into the "OK" "middle of the road" range as far as books go. Then it got really good. You find that not only are Gina and Cam having their story told but you also see her friends get theirs told too. Esme and Carola find love too. To tell the truth, it was their part of the story that really made me emotional. It is their stories within Gina's that brought my opinion of this book from an average 3 star rating to a 4.

Another thing...any writer who can take a man that you really don't care much for and turn him into a tasty muffin is a great writer. Case in point. Gina plans on marrying Sebastian. He spends most of the book talking about the proper way to act and although marrying Gina he displays no passion for her (that wouldn't be proper). Somehow, Eloisa James turns this stuck up, pompous jerk into a serious morsel. No kidding.



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Conquered by a Highlander by Paula Quinn


Title: Conquered By a Highlander
Author: Paula Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Published: 2012 by Forever publishing company
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
☕☕☕1/2

BOUND BY DUTY

Colin MacGregor was born to fight-for his beliefs, his king, and his family's honor. After years away from his beloved Scotland, he yearns to return to its lush, green hills-and he can, after he completes one final mission for the king. Sent to infiltrate a traitor's home, Colin is determined to expose the treasonous plot and triumph on the battlefield . . . until he meets a sensual lass who tempts him towards other pursuits . . . .

BETRAYED BY PASSION

Lady Gillian Dearly is no stranger to temptation. Cast out of her family for bearing an illegitimate child, she's now the ward of a barbarian conspiring against the king. Her only desire: freedom for her son and for herself at any cost, even if it means making a deal with the devil. Yet when a mysterious Highlander appears in their midst, his braw strength and smoldering gaze give her hope for a future beyond the castle walls-and promise a desire unlike any she's ever known. But passion comes at a price . . . 

My Thoughts: While reading this book I unintentionally kept comparing Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series to this book. Comparing the two series was actually not fair to either author. Although both series are about warring Highlanders this particular series is set some 300 years later than McCarty's. This book in particular, set in 1688, focuses on the characters more than the historic setting. For someone like me, who is more character driven, it should have been a home run. So why after several weeks of thinking about did I lower my rating from 4 cups of coffee to 3.5?

For multiple reasons actually...

1) Although I do not like insta-love I don't care for the flip side either. The slow progression towards the lovey dovey outcome made for an equally slow progressing book. As a reader I was moving from chapter to chapter waiting for something to happen being a bit disappointed each time. In addition to the slow romance, the promised fighting action took forever to reach it's climax also. A big battle was hinted at throughout the book and, unfortunately, happened off camera, so to speak.

2) When the I Love Yous were admitted the book continued for another 700 pages. A bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea. There were misunderstandings to resolve, a battle (we didn't witness) to fight, and a reunion to happen. Yet, when all was said and done, I felt I missed something. Some sort of epic momentous declaration in front of God and Scotland about how Gillian was the only woman Colin would ever want and maybe a wedding. I kind of feel that since I had to read another 1200 pages after the I Love Yous I should have got a wedding out of the deal.

3) Why didn't Colin have any issue with Gillian having a baby out of wedlock? In 1688 I'm not sure any man would have taken a fallen woman and her child in as their beloved. Maybe that is why there was no wedding. Perhaps, Colin made Gillian his mistress! Probably not as this is a romance and those things don't smack of HEAs.

The good stuff: I know I said a few things that could be deal breakers for some I do have to say that over all I did like this book. I liked Gillian and her precarious position. I liked her champion/guard George. I thought Geoffry made for an excellent villain (one which proved to be quite smart). And Gillian's son Edmond is precious.  I enjoyed the women from Colin's homeland.  I liked that this book works well as a standalone even though it is book 4 in Children of the Mist series. But I think what I loved best about this book was not the characters nor the plot but the dedication at the beginning of the book...

"To my beloved... Until we meet again in the sweet hereafter. I love you."

In a Nutshell: Despite the issues I had with this book I still found it to be a decent historical read. Heavy on the character, light on the plot. I'd not recommend this book to just anyone but those who are character driven, like myself. Do not compare this series to the Highland Guard series. Read it and enjoy it based strictly on it's own merits.  Oh and I also think that Paula Quinn is grossly over looked when it comes to historical romances. I don't think this particular book is a good one to recommend but I totally recommend her as an author and implore y'all to pick one of her books up.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Feature and Follow

The Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

The Feature part of the week is...

Book Merchandise – show off some of your stuff – posters, t-shirts. Whatever you got!


Unfortunately, I'm laid up with a pulled muscle in my back this week so I'm not able to gather up anything cool to photo for y'all. Not that there is a whole lot of cool things for me to gather. I've received some swag from a few authors in the form of book marks and pens but I think the coolest thing I got was this little tiny backpack (key chain) that had various things inside (like a stick of gum) from Alex Kava back in 2004 when One False Move came out. The backpack and the things inside it tied into the book. I still have it and I wish that I was able to dig through my box of treasures to take a pic for you all.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

HeartThrob by Suzanne Brockmann

Title: HeartThrob
Author: Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published:1999 by The Ballantine Publishing Group
Source: Purchased
☕ ☕ ☕ 1/2

NO WOMAN COULD RESIST HIM . . . Once voted the "Sexiest Man Alive," Jericho Beaumont had dominated the box office before his fall from grace. Now poised for a comeback, he wants the role of Laramie bad enough to sign an outrageous contract with top producer Kate O'Laughlin--one that gives her the authority to supervise JB's every move, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
ESPECIALLY THE ONE WITH THE MOST AT STAKE . . . The last thing Kate wants to do is baby-sit her leading man, and Jericho Beaumont may be more than she can handle. A player in every sense of the word, he is an actor of incredible talent--and a man with a darkly haunted past. Despite her better judgment, Kate's attraction flares into explosive passion, and she is falling fast. But is she being charmed by the real Jericho or the superstar who dazzles the world?

My Thoughts: I've had this book in my TBR forever and despite my past (excellent) experiences with Brockmann I was very hesitant to read this.  I'd love to say that I was totally wrong to keep this book waiting for so long but I just can't. I just couldn't get into Kate's and Jericho's romance. It was hard to believe the sincerity of Jericho when bombarded on every other page what a good actor he was, that his speechy stories were part of a coping mechanism for him. His heartfelt lines felt, well, like lines, just part of a movie he was doing. Kate was just as impossible to like. Flip-flopping from a vulnerable lost little girl to a high powered Frau Ballbreakistein over and over again I ended up doubting her sincerity in addition to her mental health. Heck at least Jericho fully admitted he would probably need therapy for the rest of his life. Kate? She didn't echo those words, unfortunately.

Despite my issues with the characters I did very much enjoy seeing the making of a Hollywood movie. It made me want to see the movie and I'm pretty disappointed that it doesn't exist. Although I didn't believe in the characters' abilities to fall in love I did find that Jericho, Jamaal and Suzie made excellent actors and that movie would have been epic. In addition, Brockmann's writing is consistently pleasant to read and the dialogue flows well.

In a Nutshell: A great backdrop minus a disappointing romance equals a very average read. Not nearly as good as her books with SEALs and one I won't read a second time.

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