Tuesday, October 20, 2015

RIP Joyce Lavene

So sad that the world lost another author today. Joyce Lavene, co-author of the fabulous Renaissance Cozy mystery series, passed earlier today. When an author passes it tends to hit me harder than, let's say, an actor's passing. Not to say that both are not tragic because they are, however, my thoughts always dwell on all the untold stories that will never get a chance to be told. I find this devastating. My heart goes out to Jim, her partner in writing and in life. However I may feel about the loss it pales in comparison to what he is going through.

In honor of Joyce the only thing I can think to do is to share her work with someone. Through her stories she lives on.

I want to give an ebook of Joyce's work to at least one of the people who read my blog. I don't consider this a giveaway in the sense that I don't want it to feel like a contest. This is more of a memorial. I would love for the person(s) who ends up getting the ebook to pay it forward by offering the same thing on their book blog, facebook, twitter, etc. Depending on the number of people interested in reading a book penned by Joyce and Jim Lavene will determine how many copies I give away.

You can find a list of all books written by the Lavene team on their website Here

In the comment section I'd love to hear if you've read anything by Joyce and Jim and your thoughts on it. I'll also need your email address so I can contact the one(s) I'm gifting a book to. I really do want this idea of passing it forward to catch on but I know that not everyone will be able to do this. For those who cannot, it will not prevent you from being gifted as I'll be using Random.org to pick my winner(s) from all who comment. I'll give everyone 2 weeks (November 4th) to post a comment at which time I'll plug everyone's name into Random.org's randomizer. I'll contact those receiving gifts by email.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Title: How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf
Author: Molly Harper

Series: #1 in the Naked Werewolf series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books (February 22, 2011)

Source: Scribd ebook
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Northern Exposure

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . .

My Thoughts: A fun book that took me way longer to read than it really should have.

The Good, The Bad, and the Other stuff: Molly Harper writes such great quirky heroines. Her humor is spot on with what I enjoy and this book was full of chuckles and it is was a perfect fit for my need for fluff. The cast of characters were well balanced. Mo, who I expected to be more of a Dharma character from her upbringing (but wasn't), was delightful and as this book is told from her point of view (in the first person narrative) it helped that she wasn't a ditz. I really wish I'd had the foresight to read one of my GoodReads friends' review prior to reading this book because she had Joe Manganiello pictured as Cooper. I can tell you that my experience with this book would have been even better with a side of Joe!

The mystery aspect of this book was also an added bonus and I liked that despite the fact that Mo truly knew that Cooper couldn't have been the culprit I thought his concern about himself and lack of memories when in wolf form added more depth to his character and the plot.

Anyway, my one and only issue that still stands out since reading this book (which I finished months ago and am just now getting to my review), is the insta-love feel to the book. Mo and Cooper fall in lust immediately (no issues with that to tell the truth....lust is usually an immediate response to meeting someone...especially a hot naked man on your doorstep). But I didn't like that they succumbed to an I Love You stage a bit prematurely for my taste.

In a Nutshell: If it weren't for some insta-love and a slight feeling of being overly long this book might have been a contender for favorite of the year. As it stands, it definitely was a fun ride and I'm looking forward to my next visit to Grundy, Alaska. Oh and don't let the terrible cartoony cover keep you away...I did and I wish I hadn't.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Being Amber by Sylvia Ryan

Title: Being Amber
Author: Sylvia Ryan

Series: #1 in the New Atlanta series
Genre: Romance/Erotica
Publisher: Lyrical Press (March 27, 2013)

Source: Purchased/Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕1/2

Synopsis: Jaci Harmon was born a Sapphire, but after she’s summoned to receive her final designation, the testing reveals she carries a gene slated for eradication. Within a day, she’s sterilized and dumped in the Amber Zone, where the damaged are corralled away from the rest of New Atlanta. Scared and alone, Jaci would rather die than face her future as an Amber.

Born in the Amber Zone, Xander Dimos is a product of a lifetime spent under the oppression of the Repopulation Laws. Decades of suffering have taught the Ambers to make the zone a place where touch, sex, and unconditional acceptance ease the pain of their fate. Jaci has a lot to learn about her new home, and it’s Xander's responsibility to guide her through the differences and the dangers safely.

With the simmering undercurrents of sexual chemistry growing between them, and in the midst of discovering the Gov’s true motives, Jaci and Xander must overcome his secret and accept their love as undeniable...even if the time allotted to share it is short.

My Thoughts: The Dystopian theme of this book really spoke to me. The world building was interesting and kept my interest throughout the book.

The Good Stuff: In the near future, when an influenza pandemic breaks out killing over 90% of the world's population our governments decided it was imperative they repopulate with only "perfect" specimens. Why is this good? Well, it's not but the world building surrounding this fact was actually really good. The government tests all humans as they become of age and determine if their genetic makeup is good enough to breed. If so they are designated an upper class. However, if they find a defective genetic marker the citizen is sterilized and designated Amber. This idea is truly terrifying. In addition to the Gov looking for potential unwanted genes, if you're IQ is low, you also get the boot to Amber. I have to really hand it to the author, she sucked me in to her world and I enjoyed learning about it. I also liked how she incorporated touching and comforting into the Amber world.

The Bad Stuff: Being an erotic romance there is quite a bit of sex. Now, erotica is not a favorite genre of mine and I don't read much of it but I didn't hate the sexual aspect of this book. However, the first sex scene happens rather quickly after we learn about Jaci's testing and subsequential fall to Amber so it feels completely out of place and it felt like I ran head long into a brick wall. Just a note, Jaci is not involved in the scene. In addition, the scene was a ménages à trois m/f/m and the author makes it a point to say that both men were for the female's pleasure as being gay and having gay sex were against the law. However, this apparently doesn't include sex between two women as this happens later in the book. This inconsistency really bugged me. Jaci's character was also not a great aspect of this book as she pulls several TSTL moments in a world she really knew nothing about.

The Stuff That Could Have Been Better: The mystery surrounding who was killing the fallows (those who were sterilized by the government) could have been fantastic. Unfortunately it took a back seat to an unbelievable romance that happened over an extremely short time. When the murderer was unveiled it was interesting but felt sudden and the reasons behind the murders are never fully explained. In addition, the fact that the Amber Zone is full of genetically unacceptable people and those with lowered IQs it made it seem really weird that the apartment building Jaci was assigned to was full of open door orgies. Where's all the creepy mutants? Wish this would have been explained better.

In a Nutshell: Despite the less than satisfying stuff I really did like the world Sylvia Ryan created and will probably read more in this series.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

Title: Desire Unchained
Author: Larissa Ione

Series: #2 in the Demonica series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Forever  (March 1, 2009)

Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Pleasure is their ultimate weapon . . . 

Runa Wagner never meant to fall in love with the sexy stranger who seemed to know her every deepest desire. But she couldn't resist the unbelievable passion that burned between them, a passion that died when she discovered his betrayal and found herself forever changed. Now, determined to make Shade pay for the transformation that haunts her, Runa searches for him, only to be taken prisoner by his darkest enemy. 

A Seminus Demon with a love-curse that threatens him with eternal torment, Shade hoped he'd seen the last of Runa and her irresistible charm. But when he wakes up in a dank dungeon chained next to an enraged and mysteriously powerful Runa, he realizes that her effect on him is more dangerous than ever. As their captor casts a spell that bonds them as lifemates, Shade and Runa must fight for their lives and their hearts-or succumb to a madman's evil plans.

My Thoughts: Wow! I loved this book. After finding the first one good but not great I didn't have high expectations for this one but since so many of my bookie friends love this series I was looking forward to reading it. So glad I did!

The Good Stuff: Sometimes a book and it's characters speak to you. This book did that for me. I liked Shade and worried over him as if he were real. I appreciated Runa and the strong woman she was. I'm not sure if I'd have liked her as much if I "met" her prior to her becoming a warg because she sounded a bit like milquetoast but I'm so glad I got to know the person she became. Not only did Ione do an amazing job at fleshing out her MCs, her supporting characters were great too. I'm really looking forward to reading their books as well. As far as the plot goes, I was so engrossed in it I read far later into the night to make sure my H/h were going to be OK.  Oh and Larissa does an amazing job of continuing her world building. I love the setting of the demon hospital!

The Bad Stuff: While I didn't mind any of these things I think others might so I feel I should include them as more of a warning to other readers. Runa runs hot and cold and then hot again in regards to Shade. She hates him. She loves him. She wants to rip his clothes off of him. You get the picture. Shade has a "torture chamber" in his bedroom. That's right folks. Shade is way into BDSM. Not a deal breaker for many but some might have issues with the punishing of women who "need" it even if they leave his lair completely satisfied. Some people might find this bordering on abusive. Speaking of Shade, since he has no plans to ever fall in love he has a history of lovin' and leavin' and cheating isn't beneath him. 

In a Nutshell: Despite some obvious issues with the characters I still loved this book. I will definitely move on to book 3 in the series. Thanks to all my bookie friends who "forced" me to read this series.

Before Midnight: A Romantic Retelling of Cinderella by Jennifer Blackstream

Title: Before Midnight: A Romantic Retelling of Cinderella
Author: Jennifer Blackstream

Series: #1 in the Blood Prince series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Skeleton Key Publishing (November 30, 2013)

Source: Purchased/Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Loupe always dreamed of getting married. She yearned for a caring husband who would take her away from her servant-like existence at home with her stepmother and two stepsisters, a man who would love her forever. Those dreams ended the day she was bitten by a werewolf. Now she’s a mindless beast on the night of the full moon—a condition that forever prevents her from sharing a marriage bed. Not even the attentions of a handsome and endearingly strong prince can convince her that the life she wants is still possible.

Etienne is a prince in need of a werewolf. A werewolf himself from birth, Etienne and his family have protected their kingdom with tooth and claw—literally—for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the spell of a well-meaning witch is slowly turning him human. Only the bite of a cursed werewolf, one who was not born with the beast inside, can save him from becoming human. He has no time for anything that will not lead him to a cure for the curse. Not even the beautiful maiden whose gentle nature soothes his soul can take his mind from his goal.

Love cares little for the best laid plans or the impossible. A grand ball. The stroke of twelve. A magic “slipper.” All kinds of things can happen when you don’t leave the ball…Before Midnight.

My Thoughts: While not a one of kind story I appreciated the paranormal aspect it brought to the table immensely
The Good and Bad of it All: For the most part this book was an OK read. Because it was so short it didn't have as developed characters as I would have liked and the plot was fairly thin with very few twists. I thought Loupe's character was the least likable and contradictory to her very nature. She's nothing more than an abused child yet Etienne seems to see more strength in her than I did. In the end she did get a backbone but it's because of her undying love for Etienne that she did a 180 and not some inner enlightenment that would have made her a strong female presence in the book. Oh and I think her name was silly. She was a bitten werewolf yet had the name from birth....how convenient.

The book sounds bad but it truly wasn't. Despite some repetitiveness in the writing, Blackstream entertained me with her retelling. The prologue was really good and even though it set up the series and had little to nothing to do with this particular book it has intrigued me too continue with the series.

In a Nutshell: Will I continue on with the series? You betcha. There are still 4 princes to read about. A vampire, a demon, an angel, and a god to be exact!

Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire

Title: Deliver Me From Temptation
Author: Tes Hilaire

Series: #2 in the Paladin Warrior series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 4, 2012)

Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Logan Screwed Up... Big Time

When things go bump in the night, Logan bumps back. Vampires, demons, succubi-you name it, he's fought it. His job as Paladin angel warrior is to protect humans. Not fall for one.

She Never Believed in Divine Intervention... Until Now

Detective Jessica Waters protects humans too-with her Glock and a good set of handcuffs. She doesn't believe in fate. But if anyone looks like a gift from the gods, it's Logan. And he clearly knows more about her case than he's letting on...

My Thoughts: While I liked this book better than the first one I find a month after reading it that the book just didn't stay with me.

The Good Stuff: For the most part the cast of characters are really interesting ones. I liked Logan from the first book and liked him even more in the second. However, Valin really stole the show for me. Is he good or is he bad? I don't know but I want more of him. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of Jess investigating the murder that Roland (from the first book) was accused of.

The Bad Stuff: For a cop, Jessica is truly TSTL. I couldn't get over her lack of common sense. She's a detective for Pete's sake! She continually made poor decisions that put her into harms way and when she was almost killed she never reported it. I really can't stand when a character doesn't follow certain specifics that the author had already established. Like, calling for backup which would be standard procedure for a cop. She bugged the crap outta me.

In a Nutshell: As I mentioned before, I read this book about a month ago. Some of the book stuck with me (my obsession with Valin and my anti-girl crush with Jess). However, I have already forgotten the ending. I honestly don't remember if Jess and Logan got their HEA. I'm gonna assume they did as this is a PNR and all but what does that say about a book when the reader lost the entire ending? Despite that issue I'm still going to continue with the series. Valin's story is next up for me. Wooohoooo!

The Boss's Double Trouble Twins by Raye Morgan

Title: The Boss's Double Trouble Twins
Author: Raye Morgan

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Books (November 6, 2007)

Source: Scribd
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Having the boss's twins!The last person Mitch Carver expects to walk into his office is Darcy--the woman who haunted his sleep for months. Despite the attraction, he knows they are just too different. She's happily ever after and he's here today, gone tomorrow.

Darcy Connors can't believe it! It's been hard enough trying to track Mitch down, but now she must tell her new boss that their weekend in Paris has turned into a lifetime commitment...and it's double trouble!

Mitch is about to trade in his playboy past for fatherhood and family!

My Thoughts: A typical category romance from Harlequin that I read for a team challenge I was doing. 

The Good Stuff and the Bad Stuff: While this was a short and sweet book I wish more of it could have involved the twins as the title would suggest. Although they are talked about frequently their actual presence in the book is pretty minimal which is a shame. The plot of the book appears to only be about reuniting two people and the setting could be anywhere. Darcy and Mitch spend a lot of time working but for most of the book I was clueless as to what they did for a living. The setting and the character's backgrounds (mostly Darcy's) could have been elaborated upon a lot more. I would have given this book another star if it weren't for Darcy's character. She puts a lot of expectations on Mitch and gets mad at him all the time because he doesn't express his love for the twins within a day of finding out about them. Completely unreasonable in my eyes which made it difficult for me to be happy for her when everything was wrapped up in a nice bow at the end. Mitch wasn't a whole lot better though. He went from being a wandering soul to professing his love, devotion, and his promise to never leave Texas in a matter of 2 weeks. 

In a Nutshell: My expectations weren't all that high when starting this book but the beginning was good and the ending came quickly. I might read another book by the author if I found a free copy somewhere.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stalemate by Iris Johansen

Title: Stalemate
Author: Iris Johansen

Narrator: Jennifer Van Dyck
Series: #7 in the Eve Duncan series
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Random House Audio (November 30, 2006)

Source: Library Find
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: (from GoodReads) Eve Duncan has turned down the job twice already. Her skill and devotion in identifying murder victims and helping bring their killers to justice may be world-renowned. But Eve works exclusively for law enforcement and the families of the innocent, and the man on the other end of the phone is many things-none of them law-abiding or innocent.

One of the world's most wanted men, little is really known about Luis Montalvo except that he is extraordinarily dangerous and that he never takes no for an answer. Now he wants Eve's help in the worst way. For he believes they have something in common-and he's about to prove it with a grisly warning.

Eve will leave everything and everyone behind, even the man she trusts and loves the most, Atlanta detective Joe Quinn, to travel to Montalvo's luxurious armed compound in the Colombian jungle to identify the skull he has recovered. She has agreed to this devil's bargain to save an innocent family, but also for a reason she can't admit to Joe, to the CIA, to anyone. For the man in the jungle has promised to be able to give Eve what she wants most of all-the key to unlocking the darkest and most painful mystery of her past.

But Eve is in more danger than she can imagine. As she gets closer to identifying the skull, she finds herself caught between two ruthless killers with no way out. Now, with everything on the line, Eve Duncan must make the most chilling choice of all. And if she's wrong-she's dead.

My Thoughts: I found this book to be overall a decent read. Listening to it rather than physically reading it myself made for some enjoyable housework and drive time. 

The Good Stuff: It was nice to get an Eve Duncan book that actually featured Eve Duncan. I do like her adopted daughter, Jane, but this series is not the Jane series and I was getting tired of having Jane be front and center. The suspense was really good as was the setting. For the most part the plot was solid...too bad the characters were not.

The Bad Stuff: At this juncture I'm over and done with Eve's obsession with her long dead Bonnie. I know one doesn't just get over the loss of a child but by this point Eve is making terrible judgement calls and putting herself in danger constantly in order to find that closure. This is not the Eve Duncan that I remember. Also Joe, an ex-FBI agent, makes some TSTL decisions and almost dies...twice. WTH?!? The combo of Eve and Joe was disastrous also. After this many years together why is Eve constantly shutting Joe out? Even the most independent and strong willed person, after being with someone for a decade or more, learns to lean on someone to make important life altering decisions. Not Eve. She pretty much lies and manipulates her way then sneaks off into the night like a thief. I almost hate her. Oh and the introduction of a potential "love interest" in the form of a Colombian drug lord for Eve...Give me a Break! So frustrating.

On the Audio: While I think Jennifer Van Dyck did an ok job narrating the book, her accents, in my opinion, were off. The Colombians almost sounded European. In addition a reoccurring character named Galen had an Irish brogue yet at one point I could have sworn the book said that he spoke in a British accent.

In a Nutshell: I'll probably continue with the series but only because I really want to read the whole Bonnie closure but honestly, I feel this series has just about run it's course.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

Title: The Unleashing
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: #1 in the Call of Crows series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington (March 31, 2015)

Source: Publisher Via NetGalleyPublic Online Library
Rating: ☕☕

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

My Thoughts: While I admit to be thoroughly intrigued by the idea behind this book I am not completely in love the with the final result.

The Good: Among the over played vampire and werewolf themed paranormal worlds this was such an an interesting and fresh concept (if one overlooks the fact that this author wrote another book featuring the Crow/Raven world called Hunting Season in 2009). I love mythology and factor in that it is Norse mythology at that I could have seriously loved this book. The book starts out so good. Kera starts the book out with a bang and I just knew I was in for a treat. A truly Kick-Ass heroine, add a dashing hot viking of a man, stir in Norse mythology, throw in some snark and viola! A concoction of fabulousness! Not so much....

The Bad: As a romance I thought it fell flat. I think the book focused on Kera getting used to her new life rather than a substantial romance. They had quite a bit of sex but romance, not so sure about that.  I really think that there was enough conflict surrounding Kera that spreading her romance over the course of several books would have made for a stronger sense of commitment between the H/h. 

Speaking of her new life as a Crow...ugh! The crows reminded me of a bunch of bubble brained sorority girls rather than the intelligent adults they were supposed to be. Their sink or swim mentality on welcoming a new sister was seriously flawed and didn't endear them to me at all.

Let's talk characters! There is an extraordinary amount of characters in this book. I know in a first book there is an introduction phase where the author tries to establish their world and characters. However, it's important to not overwhelm the reader with dozens of people to remember. In this book, not only do we have to keep track of their first names but their last names too because the author will refer to them by first and then a paragraph later by their last name. This is further complicated by changing POVs throughout the book. It was sometimes difficult to know whose point of view we were now reading from one paragraph to another.

In a Nut Shell: Very little is ultimately resolved at the end of the book but I'm not sure I'm wanting to read another. I hate when a book has so much potential and fails so miserably. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

Title: Eternal Kiss of Darkness
Author: Jeaniene Frost (narrated by Tavia Gilbert)
Series: #2 in the Night Huntress World spin off series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (August 23, 2010)

Source: Public Online Library
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.
At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he's seen it all. Then Kira appears - this fearless, beautiful....human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.
But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing hte darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction. 

My Thoughts: I love Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress and her Night Prince books but I just wasn't wowed by this one.

The Good Stuff: I think getting more information on Mencheres' first wife's obsession of revenge and demise was such a good thing. Although it was touched on in the Night Huntress series the history wasn't as in depth as it could have been. The strength of Kira's character was nice also. She is no victim no matter what is stacked against her. Particularly the last 100 pages or so. She's kind of bad ass!

The Bad Stuff: It was nice to see more information on how vampires police themselves but it seems ridiculous that beings who are thousands of years old, all with various levels of power, could be taken in by one bad vampire "cop". Because he is in enforcer, Radje, appears to be judge and jury when it comes to accusing Mencheres of nefarious acts against the vampire community. Wouldn't Mencheres' past speak more for his character with the governing vampires? I mean he is over 4000 years old, if he was a bad seed it would have appeared way before now, right? Which leads me to Radje who really is a bad seed. That sure didn't happen over night. WTH vamp people! Have you been drinking Abby Normal blood or what?

I hate to add the entire romance between Mencheres and Kira into the Bad  Stuff but I had a hard time seeing their connection. Mencheres liked Kira because he'd never met anyone like her before. Really? In 4 millennia? No one? Kira seemed to like Mencheres because he was hot. It was not a lot to base an "I'd die for you" relationship especially since their actions felt more obsessive and stalkerish than loving.

The Even Worse Than Bad Stuff: What's worse than a whining 4500 year old vampire? One that is supposed to be the hero in my paranormal romance book, that's what. Ugh! I got really tired of Mencheres' woe is me attitude. He spends most of the book complaining that he is tired of life and his special ability to see the future is gone. Gone you say? Really, yet we are to believe that he can still see his future (which is nothing but darkness). I don't get it. So, he thinks he has no future as the darkness must mean death. Ok, so does he make the best of it? Nope he decides to kill himself first. WHAT???? I'm sorry but I like my heroes, um, heroic, not suicidal. But his visions are NEVER wrong and you can't change fate (according to him). Yet in the Night Huntress series he actively intervened between Cat and another vampire so her and Bones could be together. If his visions are never wrong he shouldn't have been able to intervene....oh, unless he saw himself intervening therefore fulfilling the original vision. Whatever. 

My Thoughts on the Audio: While I think Tavia Gilbert did a good job with the pacing and the different voices I was stunned by the horrible Cockney voice of Bones. I'm so glad I physically read all the books in the Night Huntress series and the Night Prince series. If I'd listened to them Bones would have never made it into my all male harem. Trust me, it's not a sexy voice. It's better if you go into it with James Marsters' Spike from Buffy/Angel in mind. True Story.

In a Nutshell: While I really wanted to love this book I just didn't. I feel as if I'm a bit of a lone ranger in my rating as most people love it. I thought it was just OK but was only able to come to that conclusion after I suspended my disbelief of everything other than the lovey dovey parts. Even knowing many of my bookie friends adored this book I wouldn't recommend it but to those who love Frost and have to read everything she wrote. However, I would absolutely encourage everyone to read the Night Prince books....Vlad is more worthy of your adoration than Mencheres. Seriously. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

COVER REVEAL! Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh revealed the cover for her next installment of the Guild Hunter series and I LOVE IT! I'm currently working my way through this series and so far I really like it. Archangel's Enigma is book #8 and is projected to be released September 1st of this year. So, what do you think of the cover?


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Dead Irons by James Kuhoric

Title: Dead Irons
Author: James Kuhoric (author), Jason Shawn Alexander and Jae Lee (artists)
Series: Dead Irons
Genre: Horror Graphic Novel
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment (September 15, 2009)
Source: Scribd ebook
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Three undead bounty hunter siblings blaze a path of death and destruction across the Old West as a lone tortured soul tracks them, hoping to put an end to the curse upon his family. Written by James Kuhoric (Freddy vs Jason vs Ash), illustrated by Jason Alexander (BPRD), and based on character designs and covers by Jae Lee (The Dark Tower).

On the Storyline: While I can appreciate the idea behind 4 siblings all with a different type of curse (one a vampire, one a werewolf, one possessed by a demon, and one a zombie) it would have been nice had we seen them actually cursed. The author used flashbacks several times to establish the background dynamics of the Irons family yet we never actually saw the pivotal moment that each of them was changed. In addition if it weren't for the rundown of each chapter at the end of the ebook I wouldn't have had any clue what curse plagued Annie Belle. It isn't clear from the art work. I thought she was a vampire through most of the book to tell the truth.

On the Art Work: I usually love graphic novel art work but in this case the horror aspect of this book is portrayed in the art by making virtually every person look like a monster. There is a messy feel to the pictures that made some of them indistinguishable too.

In a Nutshell: From the synopsis I was expecting a family of bad-ass bounty hunters. I knew they were not good people but I expected them to have some sort of bounty hunter decree. Similar to Dexter Morgan's...sure he's a serial killer but he only kills other killers. However, this graphic novel is about a family who pretty much just kills whoever they want just because they can. It was a bit of a disappointment.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Title: Written in Red
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: The Others
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Roc; 1 edition (March 5, 2013)
Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕☕☕☕

Synopsis: As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

My Thoughts: Going into this book I had high expectations because so many of my trusted bookie friends loved it and recommended it. They were so right! I not only loved this book but I found myself unable to rush through it. I took my time to savor it and I don't regret it one bit.

The Good Stuff: The world building was top notch. Bishop has created a world beyond the typical Urban Fantasy world. In most UF books werewolves, vampires, etc live in our world. A world the humans created. One where the bump in the night beings are "allowed" to live in. In this book the Others created the world. The humans are allowed to be in the world...mostly to be food...but also to create things the Others never felt necessary (like technology). Because the Others are in control of everything it does make for extremely interesting dynamics when it comes to the characters.

The Really Good Stuff: The characters are amazeballs. Bishop did a fantastic job of creating them. Meg is complex and Beta enough that I never expected her to be able to stand up for herself but was pleasantly surprised to see her growth through the book. Simon is pure Alpha Wolf. His confusion on how to deal with a human he actually liked was comical and endearing. I could gush on and on about the characters but just know that even the secondary characters made an impact on me.

In a Nutshell: I cannot wait to see where the author takes us next. The main storyline was wrapped up nicely with several underlying plots left open for future books. Normally this would annoy me but in this case it excites me. I seriously am excited to see what happens next to "The Meg".


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Title: Cold Cold Heart
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery
Dutton; First Edition first Printing edition (January 13, 2015)
Source: NetGalley eArc
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: (compliments of GoodReads.com) Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims.  Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep.  Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together.  But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school.  Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past.  Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies.  Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

My Thoughts: While this book is marketed as a standalone it does loosely tie in to her Kovac/Liska series whereas the main character, Dana Nolan, makes an appearance in the 4th book of that series The 9th Girl. I've not read that series and can state that you do not have to read any other Hoag book to understand what is going on in this one. However, if you do not like spoilers, this book gives the name of the killer in The 9th Girl. Just an FYI.

The Good Stuff: I think what really shines in this book is the character development. I've never read a book of fiction that portrays the struggles of a person with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with such accuracy. In addition to TBI, Dana also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is also handled exceptionally well. From Dana's struggles to relearn everything from talking to walking to realizing her day would now consist of various Post It notes to remind her to do things like brush her teeth. In addition to Dana's struggles to return to a somewhat normal existence we see how her family struggles with the "After Dana." This is the term Dana came up with to separate who she was before the TBI (Before Dana) to who she is now (After Dana). Not only does she have to learn the basics all over again she has to define who she is again. A person takes years to develop their personalities and likes/dislikes. In Dana's case she didn't know if she liked, let's say, broccoli so she'd have to experience it again for the first time to make that kind of determination. Yet her mom would make a meal because it was "Dana's Favorite" only to get upset that it no longer appealed to the After Dana. Dana's frustrations, her confusion, and her anger were all just so spot on. It amazed me.

The Not so Good Stuff: I think for me, the stuff that wasn't quite as good (not bad, mind you...just not as impacting as the good stuff) was the suspense behind the cold case that Dana happened to help solve while trying to remember certain aspects of her past. In all actuality 2 cold cases were solved but neither really garnered as much appreciation as the TBI part did. Because I wasn't fully invested in the plot of the book (essentially the what happened to Dana's high school best friend) I really didn't care if it was solved or not other than it was interesting to see how the After Dana kept pushing for answers when the Before Dana really didn't.

In a Nutshell: The author's notes after the conclusion of the book was enlightening. To know that Tami Hoag suffered a TBI early in her life really solidified Dana's struggles to me. I think character driven people will appreciate Dana and enjoy this book. However, plot driven people may find the pace very slow once the hard impacting prologue ends. In addition, those who enjoy Hoag's romances will be disappointed that there is no romance whatsoever here. Despite my love of romances I'm glad there wasn't one to muddy the rest of the story.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Title: Mean Streak
Author: Sandra Brown
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Grand Central Publishing (August 19, 2014)
Source: Library eBook
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis:(from Amazon.com) Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion.

As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead - and from heartbreak.

My Thoughts on The Good Stuff: Sandra Brown does a great job of filling this book with multiple layers. Sure you get  suspenseful story and a romance but you also get a multifaceted view of right and wrong. Sometimes it's not all black and white. A killer can actually be a hero and a mass murder can also be a victim. I really think this concept was delivered exceptionally well in the book. In addition to this I really liked Brown's way of slowly revealing bits and pieces to promote suspense. Oh and I think her addition of the ramifications (PTSD) of police officer involved shootings was brilliant. Very few rom/susp books even mention this even though in many of them someone is usually shot and killed by someone in one agency or another.

My Thoughts on the Bad Stuff: The romance could have been much better. Because Emory's savior is also her captor (by design or circumstance...it doesn't really matter) her attraction to him feels way to much like"Stockholm Syndrome" and he comes across as a creepy stalker which compromises any tender moments the characters have together. She is attracted to a man she suspects of bashing her in the head and kidnapping her. He has collected a trinket that he finds with her unconscious body on the running trail, so he can have a piece of her forever after knowing her, like, a day. Um....not quite romantic is it? In addition to this, there are so many silly reasons for things to have happened. For example: The reason the FBI has spent 4 years hunting Mystery Man down, the reason Mystery Man's sister goes into hiding with an alias, how someone could sneak up behind a runner (who is running) to hit them on the head multiple times and the reason Mystery Man had to hang around Emory after delivering her to safety to name a few.

In a Nutshell: Overall the bad stuff could have easily overshadowed the good stuff but I don't think it did. The suspense was delivered very well and Sandra Brown does pull of some good twists which makes this a decent thriller. However, if you are looking for more romance in your books this would not be a good direction to go.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wicked Ways by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush

Title: Wicked Ways
Author: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush
Series: The Colony #4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Kensington Pub Corp  (October 7, 2014)
Source: NetGalley eArc
Rating: ☕☕

Elizabeth Gaines Ellis is an ordinary suburban wife and mother. That's what she tells herself as she flits between her realtor job, yoga class, and caring for her daughter, Chloe. But for months now, Elizabeth has worried that she's far from normal…that she's somehow the cause of a series of brutal, horrible deaths.
Her mean-spirited boss. A bullying traffic cop. Her cheating husband. Elizabeth had reason to be angry with them all. She didn't mean for them to die. No one will take her fears seriously—except the private investigator prying into her past.…
The more scared and angry Elizabeth becomes, the higher the death toll grows. But those who wrong her aren't the only ones in danger. Because others have secrets too, and a relentless urge to kill without mercy or remorse.

My Thoughts: This is my first book by both Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush and I am wondering whose writing style this book falls under. To me it was long and tedious. So many pages with nothing happening!

Let's start with the biggest issue in the book. Elizabeth. We spent so much time in her head I really wanted to gouge my eyes out with a dull pencil. #1)This woman apparently spends a lot of time wishing bad things to happen to a lot of people. Not just bad things but death. What kind of person wishes evil things onto people? Not a good one in my eyes. Which leads us to #2) She thinks she has a psychic ability to actually make people die if she wishes it so we spend a lot of time reading about how guilty she feels because she made it happen. What kind of person truly believes they can wish someone to death? Oh wait...she believes it because #3)When she was a child she could see bad things happen before they actually did. Oh wait...she really didn't remember that for the most part so I guess she's just a nutball. #4) After a week trying to get used to her husband being dead she falls in lust with someone else. #5) Her well meaning friends worked hard to engage Elizabeth to get out of the house and have some fun. Once Elizabeth accepted the invites we then had to read her internal musing on how much she hated it and couldn't wait to ditch her friends. Yes I hated Elizabeth.

Let's talk plot: Well, the secondary storyline with Elizabeth's cousin Ravinia going on a journey to find Elizabeth was actually better than the one with Elizabeth, herself. The hunt for Elizabeth (who had been adopted as a baby) was faster paced than the primary mystery. Not a whole lot faster but some. However, the addition of a romantic interest for Elizabeth 2/3 into the book was a mistake as there wasn't enough time to see a relationship form let alone something as complex as love. Especially since Rex and Elizabeth do not spend more than a few minutes together over the course of several days. The ending seemed rushed as it finally wrapped up the plot thread introduced in the prologue in what felt like an afterthought. Seriously, the beginning is not mentioned in any way for over 400 pages other then we readers could speculate if Elizabeth was that stolen baby or not. Who the stolen baby was seemed a total stretch even factoring in the paranormal psychic stuff into the equation.

In a Nutshell: I didn't like this book at all. I'm character driven and I just didn't like many of the enormous cast of characters in this book. To tell the truth the only character I was intrigued by was more of a ghost of a character as they are mentioned within the book but no one is really sure if they were actually there or not. When coming up with my 2 star/cup of coffee rating I factored in whether or not this book could be read as a standalone or not. This is the only book I have read to date in this series. I do not think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd read the first three. To tell the truth if the first 3 are similar to this one I probably would have quit the series after book 2 and never got to book 4 to begin with. I think there probably is some background on the Colony and the women who live there that may be of interest to readers, in addition to some plot details of earlier books that had been mentioned in this one briefly but I'm really not interested in going back and reading the first three. Except I also have the 3rd book (Something Wicked) from NetGalley which I feel obligated to read and review, which I will do....someday.

Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake

Title: Angel's Ink
Author: Jocelynn Drake (narrated by Michael Urie)
Series: The Asylum Tales #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HarperAudio (November 13, 2012)
Source: Scribd Audio
Rating: ☕☕
Buyer beware....
Looking for a tattoo - and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions - a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks - to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart's desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment - execution - will be swift.
Though he's tried to fly under the radar, Gage can't hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead - or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive. 

My Thoughts:  This is my first attempt at Jocelynn Drake's writing and I'm not sure she pulled it off. She wrote this from Gage's perspective but his internal musings were a bit too soft for me. He mentioned several times how much he adored Trixie because she was just so wonderful. I had issue with this because we didn't know why Trixie was just wonderful other than Gage telling us she had a kind heart amongst other things. I like to come to my own conclusions about the characters in the book rather than being told how I should feel. Another issue with this is that it was hard for me to see Gage as an Alpha type character since he one step from writing poetry about Trixie. Overall, the romance fell flat because it wasn't believable since we never saw the characters fall in love.

The action was decent but there was also an issue with believability. I had problems believing that Gage's life was bombarded with one life changing event after another all within a day. There was way too much happening in this book. His old mentor (the warlock mentor not the tattoo artist mentor) wanted to kill him forever and finally made his move to do so. This would have been sufficient plot device in addition to a believable romance to carry the book forward. But noooooo Drake threw in a scary mob boss, a faerie king who complicated Trixie's life, the betrayal of a friend, a talking magical cat, a dying woman whose last request is to be tattooed with angel wings, a hall monitor type warlock keeping Gage in check and a past tattoo client who keeps popping into the book like a bad penny. Throw in a 3 day time limit and you've got just too much going on.

If those had been my only issues this book would have been worth 3 stars but I actually listened to this book and absolutely hated it. The narration for Gage was ok. The narrator (Michael Urie) was able to have many different voices for the plethora of men in this book. Unfortunately some of them sounded a bit too alike because when I say plethora, I mean PLETHORA. OK maybe there were only 9 or 10 men who had dialogue but to come up with voices for all of them had to be hard and Urie just didn't pull all of them off. In addition his voice for the female characters was not pleasing to the ears. Trixie came across sounding like a drag queen. This in itself wouldn't be horrible if this were a romance between two men but as romance between a man and woman it made it a bit awkward to listen to.

On the upside, Urie's voice for Gideon was kind of hot. Think Christian Bale in The Dark Knight hot. Unfortunately this was not Gideon's story but Gage's. Urie's voice for the talking cat, Sophia, was pretty decent too but it didn't save me from hating the narration aspect of this book.

In a Nutshell: An interesting idea for an Urban Fantasy series as Warlocks are generally not front and center in a series...except for that particular idea came to Jim Butcher's mind over a decade before Drake thought it up. Well, at least there is that tattooing part to help with some originality. Despite my issues with the book I'll put the second one on my BOLO list. Meaning if I happen to see it for a quarter at a  thrift store I will pick it up but for sure I'll not be listening to any more of these unless there is a different narrator.