Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spider's Revenge by Jennifer Estep

Synopsis: Old habits die hard for assassins.
And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very, very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen. Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters Mab hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. Good thing I’ve got my powerful Ice and Stone magic—and my irresistible lover, Owen Grayson—to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a good chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me . . . no matter what I have to do to make that happen.

My Thoughts:The fifth book in the Gin Blanco series finally puts to bed the underlying story arc of the Spider vs. Mab Monroe. Although I didn't mind this particular continuing plot I am glad that it is finally at a close and am looking forward to what is in the future for a retired (semi-retired?) assassin.

The romance is minimal in this book but well played out as Gin and Owen's relationship continues to build. To tell the truth the relationships between Gin and her entire makeshift family moved forward in this book which I enjoyed.

My only complaints are the unnecessary repetitions. Estep does a remarkable job of recapping what has happened in previous books for those just jumping on the Gin bandwagon (why would you do this? Go back and start at the beginning!) However, for those of us who are extremely familiar with the series reading that Mab Monroe super heated Gin's metal rune melting it into the palms of her hands, oh, 5 a bit much.

Overall this book was an exciting addition to the series and at this point I hope they remain this good because I look forward to many many more Elemental Assassin books. Plus I can't get enough of Owen.

Deliver Me From Darkness by Tes Hilaire

Synopsis: Roland once was a Paladin, a warrior gifted with special powers to protect mankind in its earliest days. For hundreds of years he fought alongside his kinsmen against underworld fiends until the unthinkable happened: he was turned by a vampire. Forsaken by his brothers and fighting new violent instincts, Roland believes his soul lost. But then his best friend Logan delivers a young woman for protection. She turns out to be a Lost Paladin -- and the only female Paladin left alive. She’s also Roland’s bond-mate.

Karissa Donovan knows the difference between good and evil, and the sexy-as-hell vampire holding her prisoner is certainly not good. Sure, he might not have sucked her dry—yet, but that doesn’t mean she trusts him. But circumstances force Karissa to put her life in Roland’s hands. With each new danger they face, and each subsequent sacrifice he makes for her, she realizes that the question was never a matter of her trusting him, but of convincing him to trust in the integrity of a soul that he’d never truly lost.

My Thoughts:A different (read this as being good)take on the tired Vampire/demon/other paranormal sub-genre but one that could have been executed a bit better.

The Not So Good Stuff:....At the half way mark I was still a bit confused what a Paladin was and what they could do. It seems that each of them have unique gifts but why one would have the gift of vampire frying God's grace (aka: High voltage Holy Light) and another would have the ability to become shadowy mist is still beyond my comprehension.

In addition to my confusion the idea of a 24 year old virgin heroine grates on my nerves. Yes it is possible yet the reasoning behind it was never explained. No she wasn't F'ugly. No she didn't HeeHaw when she laughed. She wasn't Queen of the Looney Bin either. Yet in this day and age this attractive, single, intelligent woman was mysteriously still a virgin (which the hero could smell by the way....TANGENT UP AHEAD~~~~does anyone else find it a bit yucky that the hero could smell her hymen?~~TANGENT OVER). Karissa not only was a virgin but she went from hating and being scared of our hero, Roland (who spoke terms of endearments in French for no apparent reason other than all vampires should speak French...thank you for that BS Ann Rice), to the Newest Member of Slutsville in a millisecond (or less). Her remarkable attitude adjustment from hatred and fear to acceptance of Roland being her mate was jarring and left me wondering how in the world it happened.

Now for the good stuff....The last 1/3 of the book was pretty awesome. Epic battles between good and evil. Tough decisions were made by several people. The lines were blurred a bit between good and evil. Not to mention some characters separated themselves from the backdrop to become intriguing and totally piqued my interest to where I will totally go on to read books 2 and 3 even though the first 2/3s of the book could have been better.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson

Synopsis: It's no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn't exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it's put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?
But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn't enough to contend with, Betsy's best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she's been pregnant for eighteen months, she's become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you're expecting. Oh, the horror…
And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair's adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he's headed is anyone's guess.

Disclaimer: Typically in one of my reviews you'll see sections highlighting the good things and also highlighting the bad. In this review, however, you'll only see the bad as that is my entire opinion of this book and I refuse to waste any more of my precious time on this book to even write a decent review. So without further ado....

What I Think: I  finally finished Undead and Unsure by MaryJanice Davidson after slogging through it for ages! Horrible horrible. Scattered vague plot....actually not really a plot but more of a day in the life of an idiot that is Queen Betsy. Add in an author's rant about backyard chicken raising and beekeeping, insulting the entire Mormon religion and flipping around at the end to include bible scriptures in a book that neeeeeeeever should have them and you've got one irritated Christina! Not to mention she took a brooding, part time douche-canoe named Sink-lair (who I actually kind of liked) and turned him into a flower frolicking Forest Gump! AAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNDDDDDD FIIIIIIIIINALLY we get to the part where we know what the plot the last TWO FREAKING CHAPTERS! A waste of time. A waste of natural resources to print it. A waste of a series that was once fun and and fresh. UGH!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How To Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks

Synopsis: So what if he's a bit older and usually regards a human female as dinner, not a dinner date? Yes, Roman Draganesti is a vampire, but a vampire who lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop–sided eater for all eternity.

Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan either...After witnessing a gruesome murder by the Russian mafia, she's next on their hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her...

My Thoughts: A nice piece of paranormal fluff. Not too taxing to read and chock full of humorous dialogue makes this book just plain fun.

What I Liked: The dialogue between the characters was highly amusing. Like this quote between Shanna and Roman about the sex doll in the trunk (Shanna doesn't realize it's a doll. She thinks it's a murder victim.)
Shanna: "I bet that poor girl in the trunk could say a lot about your special talents."
Roman: “She’s incapable of speech.”
Shanna:“Well, duh! Once you kill someone, they tend to be lousy conversationalists.”

and this one which is right after Shanna discovers that as coven master he has a harem full of vampire women, which is tradition.

Shanna: “Oh, poor baby! Trapped in an evil custom against your will. Wait a minute, I think my eyes are tearing up. Oh no. False alarm. Probably allergies.”
Roman: He scowled at her. “More likely indigestion from your acidic wit.”

The introduction of a whole lot of kilt wearing Highlanders was a thumbs up from me also in addition to the Malcontent (evil vampires) plot thread.

What I Didn't Like: I didn't care for Roman's harem. They were whiny, unable to make their own decisions and self centered ("but what about us? Whiiiiiiiiine" ARG!!!!) . Essentially almost everything I hate in a female character. I also thought the "special" vampire sex was weird. The whole idea of it is just preposterous and...well....weird. Pretty much it's mind manipulation where one partner projects the ideas of them having sex into the other persons mind without physical contact.

In a Nutshell: A great introduction to the series. Fun to read and also quick. There were a couple things that could have been done differently but overall a book I really enjoyed reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Escape by Mary Balogh

Synopsis: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.  
Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

My Thoughts: While having the sense of being overly long, The Escape ended up being a lovely romance between two fascinating characters.

What I Liked: The meeting of the hero and heroine really set the feeling of the book. That first contact can make or break a book and I really thought it set the stage. It showed that Samantha's character would not be some simpering milquetoast victim and it also showed Ben to be more than a handicapped man.

As a matter of fact I really enjoyed the entire first half of the book. The first part had conflict and a bit of humor, a nasty piece of work called a sister-in-law and a really ugly dog. It also had the building of a fabulous friendship. Some might not enjoy Friends to Lovers themes but I really adore them. I love to see exactly why a couple falls in love without relying on an author to say "Poof...they're in love." I also very much enjoyed the time when our hero and heroine "escaped" to Wales. Historical romances are chock full of London settings but I've never read one set in Wales!

What I Didn't Like: Unfortunately, once they got to Wales the book seemed to take a different tone. Yes Ben and Samantha continued their friendship and even moved to the next step into being lovers but the humor and the conflict seemed to be missing from the story. As a matter of fact the only conflict was my feelings towards the double standards the heroine had about her long lost relatives. She was quick too forgive a great aunt who she never met but held a grudge against her grandfather for doing almost the same thing.

In addition to the lack of humor the last half of the book adds virtually nothing to help push the story forward. Despite the characters moving into lovers situation I just couldn't see much passion. The sex scenes were quite uninspiring. As for the ending I think it could have been done better. All the dangly parts were wrapped up but not to my satisfaction. It felt just too fairytale ending-ish.

Because I'm a little nit-picky there were a couple things that grated on my nerves but probably won't bother most people. The cover is just a terrible representation of Ben and Samantha. Sure that might be Samantha....maybe.... but that is in no way Ben on the cover. Mary Balogh has no control over her covers, I'm sure, but COME ON! Benedict can barely walk. He cannot stand without the assistance of his 2 canes/crutches. One more thing is that the author has habit of repeating herself (as in a character would reflect upon a piece of dialogue that was just spoken where we readers would then read the dialogue over again but in italicized print just in case we wouldn't get it)...

In a Nut Shell: Despite all the negative things this book was really quite lovely. I know, now I'm being contradictory. It ended up a pretty average read but Balogh did a wonderful job of showing our H/h falling in love. Their romance was a delight to read. No insta-love at all and their conversations were well done. The setting was interesting also as was the fact that our heroine was a recent widow and our hero could barely walk due to an injury to both of his legs. This is my first book in this series but I thought it was able to standalone but will go back and read the other 2 books in the series.

(I received an eARC courtesy of the published via NetGalley for an honest review)