Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Review - Dangerous Secrets

Title: Dangerous Secrets
Author: Lisa Marie Rice
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot

Nicholas Ireland is an undercover operative. His mission is to get close to Charity Prewitt, Parker Ridge’s local librarian. Unbeknown to Charity, her close friend Vassily Worontzoff is actually the head of the Russian mafia. The hope is that by Nick getting close to Charity he might be able to wrangle an invitation into Worontzoff’s compound. Of course what Nick, the “Iceman” doesn’t plan on is his attraction to Charity. She completely blows him off track with her beautiful looks and sweet demeanor.

Dangerous Secrets has a lot going for it; a great hero who is a complete badass when it comes to protecting his lady love, a smart heroine that readers can relate too and sexy love scenes that steam up the pages. It also has a decent suspense plot with a villain who was very vividly drawn. So why didn’t I like the book more?

Well, I think the main reason was the constant barrage of monologues from the characters, most especially Nick. It seemed to me that he kept continuously repeating the same thing over and over again. The book could have been written minus a 100 pages and it wouldn’t have been lacking at all. Being privy to the constant head talk made the story drag out unnecessarily, making the pacing of the book seem to slow. I wanted more action. When the characters were actually doing and not thinking, the book was really good. I am on the fence about this one. I guess I’ll give it a grade somewhere in the middle.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread

Monday, October 27, 2008

Review - The Laughter of Dead Kings

Title: The Laughter of Dead Kings
Author: Elizabeth Peters
Publishing Date: August 2008
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Kisses

Vicky Bliss is back. The Laughter of Dead Kings is the sixth book in the Vicky Bliss series. Vicky and her beau John Tregarth find themselves swept back into another mystery involving the theft of Tutankhamon’s mummy. Their good friend Feisel, whom readers met in Night Train to Memphis (book 5), comes to John because he suspects that John had something to do with the theft or knows the persons that did. Feisel wants to keep the news of the missing mummy quiet and out of the public eye. He enlists the help of John and Vicky to help him find the mummy.

The first Vicky Bliss book was written in present day 1973. The laughter of Dead Kings is written in present day 2008. As you can see 35 years has past between these books and yet Vicky has aged only a few years. This is the problem with books spanning such a wide range of time. Not only does technology change, but attitudes and ideas do as well. Vicky in the first book came across as a modern woman who was a bit of a feminist. Now immerse that same woman in modern day 2008 and she comes across as a little old fashioned. Now, I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. It’s just that the speech and mannerisms of the characters are more suited for a book written 30 years ago than today.

After taking into consideration the differences of time, I felt like I was revisiting with old friends. It was nice to see the whole gang again, most notably Vicky, John and Schmidt. The mystery was in typical Elizabeth Peter’s style. It wasn’t too terrible intricate, but it was enough to hold my attention. It seems to me this book was written for fans as closure to Vicky and John’s relationship and also to appease those fans who were clamoring for one more story. I think Peters accomplished those goals with mediocre aplomb. For those readers who haven’t read a Vicky Bliss mystery before, I don’t recommend starting with this one. Instead try Borrower of the Night, the first Vicky Bliss book.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
A Hoyden's Look at Literature

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Series Sunday - Guardians, Meljean Brook

The Guardian Series by Meljean Brook is an awesome addition to paranormal romance. Ms. Brook has built a fantastic alternate reality incorporating religious nuances into her mythology. It's fresh and new and very well written. According to her website, you do not have to read the books in order and each book stands on its own, with a self contained plot. Characters do frequently reappear in all books and there are overlaying events between books. She has a Guardian Primer that answers series questions. For those readers who would like to jump into the series with the new release Demon Bound due out November 4th, this Primer is your ticket to staying current with the series.

1. Falling for Anthony (Story in "Hot Spell", Anthony Ramsdell & Emily Ames-Beaumont)
2. Demon Angel (Hugh Castleford & Lilith)
3. Paradise (Story in "Wild Thing", Lucas Marsden & Selah)
4. Demon Moon (Colin Ames-Beaumont & Savitri Murray)
5. Demon Night (Ethan "Drifter" McCabe & Charlie Newcomb)
6. Thicker Than Blood (Story in "First Blood", Jack Harrington & Annie Gallagher)
7. Demon Bound (Jake Hawkins & Alice Grey)
8. Demon Forged (Alejandro and Irena)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review - Annie’s Song

Title: Annie’s Song
Author: Catherine Anderson
Publishing Date: 1996
Genre: Western
Rating: A
Sensuality: Hot

Oh my goodness! This book was absolutely fantastic. I was completely touched and enthralled with Annie’s Song. I could not turn the pages fast enough with this amazing story.

Annie Tremble is thought of as the “local idiot”. When she was six years old she suffered a fever and was never the same after it. What people mistake for madness is actually a loss of hearing. Annie is out in the woods when a group of young men come across her. The leader of the group Douglas Montgomery is drunk at the time. He is a mean son of a bitch and he rapes her. One of men in the group rats out Douglas to his brother Alex. Alex is completely shocked and appalled at his brother’s despicable behavior and kicks his brother out of the house. Alex then proceeds to go to Annie’s father and make amends. It comes to light a few months later that Annie is pregnant. Alex decides that the right thing to do is for him to marry Annie and claim the child as his own.

This story is full of emotion. Annie is completely misunderstood by everyone. She is the epitome of loneliness, unable to communicate with others and shunned by society at large. The only interaction she has had with people in her life is her immediate family. Even her own mother, at times, comes across as cruel and ignorant of Annie’s needs. It’s not until halfway into the story that the reader is given a reason for this. All the characters are multifaceted. It would have been very easy to hate Annie’s mom, but she is a complicated woman who made mistakes. She is after all only human and did what she thought was best at the time. I felt compelled to forgive her right along with Alex.

Annie is very innocent and child-like. Anderson does a very good job of showing Annie’s evolution from a scared young girl to a mature woman who knows what she wants out of life. Annie’s changes stem from her involvement with Alex Montgomery. Alex is an absolutely amazing man. Oh, wow. I just loved him. At first he stumbles with Annie. He is not really sure how to deal with her or how to handle the situation he finds himself in. Slowly though, he begins to see that Annie is smart and understands cognitive reasoning. When he discovers that Annie is deaf, I was moved to tears. That was just an absolutely amazing scene in the book; one of many. Then what he does for her, well, I can’t tell you. You will have to read it for yourself. But trust me, he just blew me away.

This book was just freaking fabulous. The depth of emotion Anderson was able to convey was bone deep. I can’t say enough about this book. I don’t know why I haven’t ever read anything by Catherine Anderson before. I will definitely be remedying that situation.

Here is what others had to say:

World According to Books

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting to know you...

I have decided to do a post about myself. I can’t believe I didn’t think to do this before now. I should have done this when I first started this blog. Oh well, better late than never. My goal is to let people know a little bit about who I am and the kind of books I like to read. That way they can decide whether or not my book reviews will be pertinent to their own tastes. I actually got this idea from the website All About Romance. They have a section that lists their reviewers and it tells a little bit about them and their book preferences. So without further ado, here is my own attempt:

About Me: I am 32 years old. I have been married to my husband Jeff for 9 years now. We met at Elon College, NC where we both graduated, me with a degree in Environmental Studies, Jeff with a degree in Sociology. I work for the University of Florida doing research on orange and grapefruit trees. I test the tree’s physiological responses to different types of stress ie, flooding, drought, salinity or insects etc. I have two lovely children: Annabelle (7 years old) and Jake (2 years old).

For as long as I can remember I have always loved to read. When I was in grade school, I read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. In my pre-teenage years some of my favorite authors included Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and Lois Duncan. Then I was introduced to Barbara Michaels and Victoria Holt. I read VC Andrews and Sydney Sheldon. The underlying thing that all these books seemed to have in common was a mystery of some sort and romance.

Then when I went away to college I stopped reading. Caught up in my studies and my own romance with my husband, reading seemed to fall to the wayside. It wasn’t until well after my daughter was born that I decided to take up reading again. When I did, I was clueless as to where to start. I began reading some of my favorites over again. I also stuck to well known books on the New York Times list, like The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter books. Then, I had a friend recommend Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I was totally blown away by this book. Jamie and Claire’s relationship was so intense I couldn’t stop thinking about the book weeks after I had put it down.

I decided that what I clearly enjoyed reading about was about the ups and downs of relationships and the journey two people take to reach their happy ending. After reading Outlander, I didn’t have a clue where to go for more like it. I knew what I didn’t want and that was a surprise death of a lead character (shame on you Nicholas Sparks). I just wanted a happy ending. Was that too much to ask for? I started searching the internet for recommendations and to my delight I discovered that romance books had exactly what I was looking for. I started with books that were recommended from internet sites such as Romantic Times and All About Romance and the rest is history. Three years and 500 books later, here I am with more book recommendations than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime.

I just can’t get enough of: Friends to lovers theme, especially when the characters first fall in love as children. There is just nothing sweeter. Time-travel – there is something about the juxtaposition of an old fashioned hero with a modern heroine. Ambitious men who are overly protective; good girls paired up with bad boys; opposites attract with lots of witty banter. Mail order brides; marriage of convenience; epic historicals that allow the character to develop over the course of the story and lots of drama.

Pet peeves: Too much mental lusting or heady internal monologues; evil villains, just for the sake of being evil; big misunderstandings that keep the heroine and hero apart for a large part of the story; overuse of pet names; silly or goofy characters in a paranormal or historical.

Favorite Romance Authors
Karen Marie Moning
Linda Howard
Lisa Kleypas
Suzanne Brockmann

Authors most Glommed
Linda Howard
Anne Stuart
Lisa Kleypas

Best Author Discovery
LaVyrle Spencer
Catherine Andersen
Katherine Sutcliffe

Absolute Favorites
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Guilty Pleasure
Spell of the Highlander – Karen Marie Moning
Devil’s Bride – Stephanie Laurens

Favorite Contemporary
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarty
MacKenzie’s Mountain – Linda Howard

Favorite Historical
A Kingdom of Dreams – Judith McNaught
Prince of Dreams – Lisa Kleypas

Favorite Alternate Reality
Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan

Favorite Series
The Troubleshooter series by Suzanne Brockmann
Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole

Favorite Non Romance
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

Author Others Love that I don’t
Lara Adrian
Lora Leigh

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Review - No Humans Involved

Title: No Humans Involved
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

No Humans Involved is book seven in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Underworld series. The book is narrated by Jamie Vegas, whom readers have met in previous books. She is starring in a new reality TV series that will be attempting to raise the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. While most people might believe Jamie to be a fraud, she is in truth a necromancer. This means that she can see and hear the dead. But something strange is occurring in the garden on the set of the new TV show. She can feel hands touching her and hear whispers of sound, but can’t seem to make out any actual ghosts. It seems this entity wants something from her. She just isn’t sure what it is. Jeremy an Alpha werewolf whom Jamie has had a mad crush on for several years now is visiting her while she is filming the show.

It’s nice to see Jamie finally get to play a major role a mystery of her own. She has always felt like a burden to others when helping them with their cases. She half jokes about how she always ends up being kidnapped, or knocked unconscious. She doesn’t have super human strength or is capable of spell casting. Her special power is being able to see and hear ghosts. As the story progresses and the plot thicken, Jamie comes to understand that there are more to her powers than she originally thought.

Jamie is very easy for the reader to like. She comes across as being isolated from others. We see glimpses into her background as to the reason for this and it makes the reader easily sympathize with her. With Jamie’s sense of humor, it never comes across as whiney either.

The relationship between Jamie and Jeremy was very sweet too. I loved getting glimpses into who Jeremy is and what makes him tick. Jamie was quite adept at knowing how to get under Jeremy’s skin. It was quite enjoyable to read Jamie’s attempts to get Jeremy to lose that iron control of his.

The mystery part of the plot was tightly written. Hope and Karl were part of the team, although Karl, not so much until up at the end. All the characters were well fleshed out. Even the villain managed to stay far away from being cartoonish. I must say I loved how Jamie dished out just desserts at the end. It couldn’t have been more appropriate. I hope Jamie and Jeremy will be appearing in later books in the series. Their relationship seemed to end more on a happy for now, than a happily ever after, although, this might be up for interpretation. No Humans Involved is a great addition to this wonderful series.

Here is what others had to say:

A Bookaholic's Review
Reading Adventures
Rhinoa's Ramblings
Riley's Reviews
Books, Books and More Books
Jennie's B(ook)log
LesleyW's Book Nook

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review - Smart and Sexy

Title: Smart and Sexy
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: D
Sensuality: Hot

Noah Fisher is one of the co-owners of a private airline that caters to the filthy rich. After six months of taking a hiatus from flying, he has decided to get behind the wheel again. Only unfortunately for him, this day wasn’t the best day to pick. Bailey Sinclair’s husband died in a ski accident six months ago. After his death, it comes to light that some of his investments went bad and that he was in fact broke, not rich. To make matters worse the investors want their money back and swear that Bailey knows where it is hidden. So Bailey hijacks Noah Fisher to have him fly her to one of her husband’s resorts where she hopes the money is hidden.

Oh dear. I wanted to like this one. I really did. But alas, I just can’t, in all honesty, give it a higher grade. Bailey and Noah were nice enough, but they were completely superficial. If I had to read one more time about how broad his shoulders were, or how nice of an ass she had, I’d scream. On top of that, the whole book takes place over two days (possibly three) and they are on the run from these goons the whole time. But somehow in the middle of running for their lives, they have plenty of time to stop and do the horizontal mambo. I mean priorities people! Then to make matters worse, at the end of it they are completely in luuvvvvve. Only it is just not believable because it was lust, not love that brought these two together. Actually, the whole book takes an inordinate amount of suspension of disbelief, from their headlong fast fall into love, to the silly decisions that the characters kept making.

I will admit to enjoying Brody and Maddie. Brody is one of Noah’s partners and Maddie is their secretary. Maddie stole the show with her candor in telling the boys like it is. She has a secret though and it’s that she has feelings for Brody. I think Brody does too, but it will take a lot of pushing to make him admit it. I have a feeling that they have a book with their name on it. I am such a sucker that I will probably even read it.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Laurie's Laudanum
Stacy's Place on Earth

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Series Sunday - McCloud Brothers, Shannon McKenna

This week, the series I am featuring isn't actually an "official" series. Instead it is probably more appropriately described as a series of related books. These books, which I am going to dub the "McCloud" books, revolve around a family of four brothers and their friends. I feel that each book is able to completely stand on its own. The characters appear in multiple books, but a reader would not be lost to read any book in any order.

McKenna's romantic suspense writing is not for the faint of heart. She does not shy away from crude language or graphic violence. Her heroes are very alpha and can be best described as cavemen. Her heroines are usually the girl-next-door type but somehow they manage to reel in their man hook, line and sinker. For those readers who like their romance a little darker, on the edgy side, I would recommend McKenna. My personal favorites happen to be the first book Behind Closed Doors, followed closely by Standing in the Shadows.

1. Behind Closed Doors - Seth Mackey
2. Standing in the Shadows - Connor McCloud
3. Out of Control - Davy McCloud
4. Edge of Midnight - Sean McCloud
5. Extreme Danger - Nick Ward
6. Ultimate Weapon - Tamara
7. Fade to Midnight - Kev McCloud

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Guess the Book - #2

"They drink it with milk." The man with the bright blue eyes had moved up next to me, walking, matching my pace. He'd apparently lost interest in a purchase. "Would you like some help?"

The market was filling up. I would find it difficult to avoid the market-goers with my bulky bundles. I felt my face flush a little when he took the sack and satchel. His gaze was steady and very disconcerting. It was rare for anyone to pay attention to me like that. I told myself not to be foolish.

"I am L---."

The man smiled. "I am K---." We started back up the street. "The liquid is drunk with milk and honey." The phrasing was awkward, and that faint accent was there again. I couldn't place it.

I nodded, thinking. I had money remaining, and the cost of those items would be small. I smiled at K---. "Then I must get some. It will be a treat for my patients." I looked at him. "You learned this in the fighting?"

He gave me an intent look. "One must always know the enemy." K--- shifted his burdens. "You are treating the prisoners, are you not?" He continued. "Are you treating one named S---?"

My feet slowed, wiser then my head. It took my head a minute longer to realize the implication. And before either could react, I was pushed into the alleyway off to the side, pressed up against the wall by a large body, and a large hand was covering my mouth. The packages lay at our feet, scattered.

I'd been warned, oh yes A--- and E--- and R--- and the others. That if I wasn't careful I'd be assaulted in the market, alone and helpless. I'd never believed them. I'd always thought that I'd be able to scream or fight or get away from any foolish enough to try anything. But the body pressed against mine was strong and hard and held me effortlessly as I fought, trying to kick, struggling to get my hands free, anything to win my release.

"Be still. I will not hurt you." The voice rumbled, and his warm breath on my ear made me shiver. I forced myself to relax, glaring at the man, since it was all for naught anyway. I wasn't moving anywhere until he was ready to let me go.

Given the location of where we were and what he was doing, there was no reason to believe his words and every reason to believe that he would hurt me. And yet...

I believed him. I was not scared. In fact, I had never felt more alive. My whole body seemed newly aware of itself. It was like my skin had taken on a life of its own. He had pressed himself up against me, holding me to the wall, his mouth a scant inch from my ear. The power of his body warmed me even through my clothing. Was this what it was like to--

His voice cut through my shameful thoughts, his eyes focused intently on mine. "All I want is information. How is S---?" He pulled his hand back slightly, enough for me to talk. I could still feel the warmth of his hand on my face.

"He is well." I darted a glance off to the sides, but there was no one near.

"When could he travel?"

I could see where this was headed. "Days. Even then, he would have to be carried."

He locked his eyes on mine for a moment, then seemed satisfied with the truth of my answer. "You will carry a message to him."


He looked at me sharply. "You heal the enemy..."

I cut him off. "No. I don't know who you are, or what you hope to do, but I will not help you."

His blue eyes gleamed. His hand moved down to my throat and rested lightly on it. "I could kill you now."

What book did this passage come from? Take your best guess and post it in the comments section.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Review - The Price of Desire

Title: The Price of Desire
Author: Jo Goodman
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Olivia Cole has been given to Griffin Wright-Jones, Viscount Breckenridge as a marker from her brother. Olivia’s younger brother Alistair was gambling in Breckenridge’s establishment and lost a large sum of money. While Alistair is trying to find the money, he gives his sister over to Cole to show his good intensions. Olivia, being the stoic character that she is, resigns herself to do her duty to her brother and accepts her situation.

Olivia is estranged from her family except for her brother. The reader does not know the reason for the estrangement at the beginning of the story. It is also obvious to the reader that she has suffered some form of abuse in her past. Griffin quickly catches on that there is more to Olivia than meets the eye. Olivia is as tight lipped as can be, but Griffin is persistent and wants to get to the bottom of her secrets. Griffin is highly intrigued by Olivia. His past relationships with women have been less than stellar and he has secrets of his own. Eventually, Griffin lays enough trust in Olivia to share his past and slowly Olivia reveals glimpses into hers.

Griffin is a great hero. Olivia arouses all of his protective instincts. Even though he has had bad relationships with women he never once doubts Olivia’s sincerity. That was one of the things I liked most. Even when other people were trying to twist the truth around he never once believed them. He knew Olivia was exactly was what she said she was and there was never any "big misunderstanding". I will say though, that there was still quite a bit of drama to this story. Of course, I enjoy that sort of thing, but whoa, there were quite a number of villains to protect Olivia from. Griffin had his hands full with that, but he was quite the MAN and could handle it!

Another aspect of the story that I liked is that Griffin and Olivia spend a lot of time together talking about things. I enjoyed that the lead characters spent so much time together and that the plot centered around them, instead of the characters supporting the plot. Because they spent so much time together I could believe in their love for each other and that they have a relationship that will last.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Have a Winner!!

Congratulations to Jenny Girl!

You have won a copy of The Darcys and the Bingleys.

Thanks to everyone for participating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reminder - Book Contest

For those of you who forgot or haven't heard yet you still have until midnight tonight to win a copy of The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post or my previous one. You can read the review for it here. Good luck!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Review - Cry Wolf

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publication Date: 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Cry Wolf is the first novel in Patrica Briggs new werewolf series. She released the short story Alpha and the Omega in the anthology On the Prowl earlier this year, which first introduces readers to Anna. Charles however first appeared on the paper in Brigg’s well known Mercy Thompson series. Charles is the son of Bran who is the North American merek. This means that Bran is in charge of all the wolves in North America. Charles is his hitman. He was sent to Chicago to deal with some problems that arose in that pack. On his assignment he meets Anna. Right away his brother wolf accepts Anna for his mate. Anna, however, is less trusting of Charles because she was turned against her will and has been abused by her former packmates. To say she has trust issues is an understatement. Charles convinces Anna to return with him to his home in the mountains in Montana.

I think it is essential for readers to read the short story before reading Cry Wolf. I felt that Alpha and Omega was nothing more than the first couple of chapters from Cry Wolf. Fortunately for readers who do not want to buy the anthology, Patricia Briggs is selling her short story online in electronic format. You can visit her website for more information.

The major strength of Cry Wolf is in the characters. All of them were well developed and had likable personalities. I think the reader will gravitate toward Anna who is struggling with coming into her own again after suffering for so long. She has to learn a whole new way of life and learn what being an Omega means. She has to learn that her new pack has completely different expectations from her than her former one did. Charles was true hero material. He was patient and protective and just completely cherished Anna. Who wouldn’t want this type of man to call their own?

I just found the pack dynamics fascinating. I loved how all the wolves interacted with one another and seeing how they all fit together. Briggs does a nice job of introducing new members of the pack without overloading the reader. All of them were distinct and interesting to read about.

The main issue I had with the book was I wanted more romance between Charles and Anna and less of the mystery portion of the book. I didn’t feel like Charles and Anna had fully worked out all the problems they were facing with their relationship. Those problems were mainly Anna’s past abuse at the hands of her former pack and her coming to trust Charles. It makes me wonder if later books in the series will still be dealing with Charles and Anna or if they will be about other pack members. Either way, I will be anxious to read more.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Books and Other Thoughts
LesleyW's Book Nook
Romance Novel TV
Scooper Speaks

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Series Sunday

Today, so many romance books are part of a series. I don't know about you, but I am currently following several series and most of the books I read are part of a series. To help me keep track of them I have decided to do a weekly post featuring one of the series I am following. This first week I am featuring Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. If you follow my blog I am sure you will recognize this series. I am currently playing catch-up having read up to the novel Broken.

This series is categorized as paranormal suspense. The books so far have been written in first person from the heroine's point of view. In this series there are many different supernatural beings the most prominent being werewolves, witches, vampires, necromancers and demons. Not all the books have been narrated by the same person. Here is a list of the books in publication order and the narrator. According to the author you do not have to read the books in order, however if you skip books you might be mildly confused or feel like you missed something. For the most part there shouldn't be total confusion and each book ends with a definite conclusion.

1. Bitten (narrator: Elena - werewolf)
2. Stolen (narrator: Elena)
3. Dime Store Magic (narrator: Paige - witch)
4. Industrial Magic (narrator: Paige)
5. Haunted (narrator: Eve - witch)
6. Chaotic (novella in "Dates from Hell", narrator: Hope - half demon)
7. Broken (narrator: Elena)
8. No Humans Involved (narrator: Jaime - necromancer)
9. Twilight (story in "Many Bloody Returns", narrator: Cassandra - vampire)
10. Stalked (story in "My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon", narrator: Clay - werewolf)
11. Personal Demon (narrators: Hope & Lucas)
12. Living with the Dead
13. Men of the Otherworld
14. Frostbitten
15. Tales of the Otherworld
16. Waking the Witch (releases August 2010) Savannah's story

Ms. Armstrong has a nice website with lots of information about her series including FAQ about this series and upcoming releases.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Challenge!

I have come across a very interesting book challenge from Nikki’s blog Romance Book Crazy. She hasn’t been posting lately, but recently she posted about this challenge. It doesn't have a name (and because I am anal retentive) I decided to call it Fall Romance Book Challenge. Since I went ahead and made up my own title, I decided to go ahead and make up my own picture to go with it. (I know - I am a total dork!)

Anyway, the contest first originated on Shelfari and it sounds like a lot of fun for romance readers. The rule is you need to read 15 books between October 1st, 2008- December 31st, 2008. Each book has a different criteria and they are listed as follows. Here are the books I am going to read, but you can change them to fit your own taste. This contest will help motivate me to whittle down my TBR pile. Most of the books I have chosen are ones that I have been meaning to read but haven’t got around to it yet.

1. Read a book listed on RT’s All-Time Favorites List.
Courting Miss Hattie - Pamela Morsi

2. Read a New (to you) Author.
Pleasure Unbound – Larissa Ione

3. For Autumn, choose an author whose first or last name begins with “A”.
Twilight – Kelley Armstrong

4. Read a book with a one-word title.
Tempted – Megan Hart

5. For Halloween, read a book with a scary theme. (ex. Ghost, Vampire, Witch, etc.)
No Humans Involved – Kelley Armstrong

6. Read a book that is part of a series.
Into the Fire – Suzanne Brockmann

7. For November, choose a book that has an “N” word in the title.
Nightkeepers – Jessica Andersen

8. Read a category romance (ex. Harlequin, Loveswept, etc.)
Heat Lightning – Anne Stuart

9. Read a Christmas/Holiday themed book.
The Wallflower Christmas – Lisa Kleypas

10. Read a book published before the year 2000.
Chance the Winds of Fortune – Laurie McBain

11. Read a book that contains an aristocratic title. (ex. Duke, Lord, Baron, Viscount, etc.)
The Lost Duke of Wyndham – Julia Quinn

12. Read a book with a number in the title. (ex. Fearless Fourteen, Three Little Sins)
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich

13. Choose a book where the heroine is an heiress.
Bedding the Heiress – Cathy Maxwell

14. Choose a book where the hero is a cop or lawman.
Sometimes a Lady – Linda Randall Wisdom

15. Read a book with “baby” in the title.
Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Friday, October 10, 2008

Review - Tempted

Title: Tempted
Author: Megan Hart
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Contemporary (Erotic)
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Burning

I feel that Tempted is not classically a romance. I am going to let it fall in the category of women’s fiction, because this is not a book just about Anne’s relationship with her husband and best friend, but also her relationship with her parents and her three sisters, and also Anne’s own emotional growth throughout the story.

Anne has been happily married to her husband James for six years now. She has heard stories from her husband about his best friend Alex, but never met him. Out of the blue Alex calls up James. His company in Singapore has been bought out and he is moving back to the states. He asks James if he can stay with him until he gets things settled. So Alex moves in for the summer. James, Alex and Anne form a relationship triangle. What starts out as a summer fling begins to have consequences no one predicted. It becomes complicated and tangled.

I was really surprised at the depth to this book. The author was not afraid to delve into the dark side of relationships. She was not afraid of making the reader uncomfortable with the choices the characters faced in her book. She did not shy away from it and that is what made this book so great. She touches on subjects that make most people uncomfortable such as jealousy, alcoholism, adultery and failure. But she was able to do it in a way that never felt preachy. She made the characters feel so genuine. People who you could relate to and empathize with; or at least I could.

There are no easy answers for these characters and things don’t exactly fall magically into place. I do wish that there would have been more resolution between James, Anne and Alex at the end of the story. I wanted more confrontation and therefore a more definitive solution to every ones’ problems. I guess I wanted everyone to have a happy ending, but it just can’t work out that way and it doesn’t. I really like Megan Hart’s writing. I love that she broaches subjects that take the reader out of their comfort zone. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Here is what others had to say:

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Yay!! People like my site!

I have recently been the recipient of a little ol' award that has been circulating around the blogisphere. I am sure many of you will recognize it. I have been honored by Amy of Amy's Corner of the World and Nath of Books Books and more Books. I have to say a couple days prior to winning this award I was having some doubts as to whether or not people like my blog and if I should continue doing it. I tend to wonder if I am just talking to myself. Are people really interested in what I, Joe Schmoe, have to say? I am sure fellow newbie bloggers can relate to this issue. Then a reader comes along and lets you know that they do like your blog and appreciate your candor. So Amy and Nath, thank you very much, you have made my day!

The rules for this award are that you need to:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

I would like to nominate:

KristieJ and Katiebabs for Ramblings on Romance etc. This was one of the very first blogs I ever started reading. I remember being glued to the computer when was at RWA in Dallas. She made me feel like I was sharing the experience with her. Kristie and Katie's' personalities really shine through in all their posts and they have come to feel like close friends.

I would also like to nominate the ladies over at The Book Binge. Each lady has different tastes and they review tons of books in all the different genres of romance. Plus they hold tons of contests and who wouldn't love that? I have even won a few of them myself. Although, now that their popularity has gone through the roof, I have more competition!

Jessica at Racy Romance Reviews is a new blogger. She just started blogging back in August. I really like her thoughtful commentary on romance. She tends to make me stop and think and she poses very intriguing questions about books. Bravo Jessica! Keep up the good work!

Keishon from Avid Book Reader is also another blogger who has been around a while. Keishon is very thorough in her reviews and she reviews more than just romance. She and I have very similar tastes in books. As a matter of fact, every time I have read a book on her recommendation I have never been let down.

I also want to nominate Christine from The Happily Ever After... Christine and I also share a similar taste in books. Her reviews - when she gets around to writing them :) - are very thought provoking and insightful. Not only does she review books, but she tells stories about what is going on in her life as well. I feel like I know Christine as a good friend.

Last but not least I want to give a shout out to Jace, Brie and Nath. When I first started my blog they were a few of the first people to start leaving comments. They made me feel welcome in the blogging community and I will never forget that. We don't always see eye to eye when it comes to our book preferences but that doesn't seem to matter. I love that we can respectfully disagree and don't have to worry about hurt feelings! Thank you ladies for letting me just be me.

*updated* Jace just nominated me too! Thanks Jace and right back at you babe!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Win a book!

It's my first book give away on my blog! I am so excited to offer readers Marsha Altman's latest release The Darcys and The Bingleys. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment on this post. I will leave the contest open for a week. I will annouce the winner Wednesday, October 15.

I have reviewed the book here

Good luck, everybody!!!

The Darcys and the Bingleys

Title: The Darcys and the Bingleys
Author: Marsha Altman
Publishing Date: September 2008
Genre: Historical
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Kisses

The Darcys and the Bingleys picks up where Pride and Prejudice left off. It is divided into two parts. Part one basically reads like one long epilogue of Pride and Prejudice beginning with a dual wedding of Darcy to Elizabeth and Bingley to Jane. Part two is another story that centers around Caroline Bingley’s engagement and the Darcys’ and the Bingleys’ involvement in it. I feel that readers who haven’t read Pride and Prejudice will feel lost without having read it first. Ms. Altman assumes that the reader is already familiar with these characters. I, myself, read Pride and Prejudice a couple of years ago and at times I found myself racking my brain trying to remember a certain character and how they were related to whom.

The first part of the book was a little boring. Not because it was bad writing, quite the contrary actually, it’s just that there was very little conflict. It was almost too sweet and therefore little to hold my interest. Also, quite frequently a character would have a “remember when” moment and then the character would recount an event from the past. When book two began, things started to pick up speed and I found myself turning the pages faster. Actually, if it wasn’t for the second part of the book, I would have found myself grading the story much lower.

For the most part I enjoyed Ms. Altman’s writing style, most especially the conversations between characters. Darcy and Bingley’s relationship is explored further in this book and it was definitely welcome. I liked the competition they had between each other. Ms. Altman also weaves subtle humor throughout the story that would leave me smiling at something Darcy or Elizabeth said. I felt like Ms Altman remained true to the characters as I remembered them. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Jane Austin who are clamoring for more.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Review - Dead until Dark

Title: Dead until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publishing Date: 2001
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Dead until Dark is the first book in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series. It is narrated by Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress in a small Louisiana town, Bon Temps. Sookie is blonde and blue-eyed – a very pretty girl, but what really makes her stand out from the crowd is that she can hear others peoples thoughts. All her life she has struggled with this disability. She has never done well in school because she couldn’t concentrate with the background noise of different thoughts coming from her schoolmates. She has never dated or had a physical relationship with the opposite sex because she can’t keep up her guards when touching someone else.

Then one night, she meets a vampire, Bill and the strangest thing happens. She discovers that she can’t hear his thoughts. It is breathtakingly quiet, even when she touches him and tries to listen intently to his mind. Sookie and Bill form a friendship when she saves him in the parking lot of the bar where she works. Then a local girl is found strangled and Sookie asks for Bill’s help in finding the murderer.

I was really looking forward to starting this series. I had heard a lot of really good things about it. When I first started reading the book, I almost didn’t like Sookie. It took me a few chapters to warm up to her narration. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason for my dislike. I really shouldn’t call it dislike, because that’s not accurate either. Maybe it’s was more of a feeling that I couldn’t relate to her. As the story unfolded this changed though and Sookie really began to grow on me.

One of the strengths of this book was the way in which Harris slowly provides the reader with background information on the vampires and their culture. There are never any large info dumps. The reader gets their information right along with Sookie as she discovers it. I think that is the advantage to stories told in the first person narrative. I enjoyed the mystery and the slow unveiling of how things work with the vampires. I enjoyed Bill and Sookie’s relationship, especially when Bill would come across as “Old World”. There is one scene in particular when he tries to explain to Sookie why he wants to protect her. I thought that was quite sweet. Although, I was surprised how quickly Bill and Sookie exchanged I love yous. That felt a little rushed and not quite sincere.

There is also a large cast of characters and they are all interesting and add to the charm of the story. I especially liked Sam, Sookie's boss at the bar and her Grandmother.

One minor gripe I had with the story is Sookie always crying. It makes her human and vulnerable, but it seemed like it happened a little too often. I can understand why though. I was a little shocked at all the bad stuff that Sookie went through. I definitely like the world Harris has created. I can’t wait to continue on with this series.

Here is what others had to say:

The Book Smugglers
Avid Book Reader

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review - Into the Flame

Title: Into the Flame
Author: Christina Dodd
Publishing Date: August 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C
Sensuality: Hot

Into the Flame is the fourth and final book in Christina Dodd’s Darkness Chosen series. This is the story of Firebird Wilder and the conclusion to the war between the Varinskis and the Wilders. There are four Wilder children, three sons and one daughter, Firebird. The sons’ stories are the first three books and Firebird’s is the fourth. Firebird met Doug Black when she was in college. He was employed as a campus security man. He develops a relationship with Firebird and they fall in love with each other. She gets pregnant. The night she was going to tell him about the baby she sees him change from a cougar to a man. Instantly she suspects the worst. Without ever seeing him again she runs home to her family.

Fast forward two years to the present day, when now time is running out for the Wilder family. Firebird’s father, Konstantine comes from a long line of men (Varinskis) who made a pact with the devil. His ancestor sold his soul to the devil in exchange for longevity, power and money. Firebird’s father is dying and unless the curse is broken, he will suffer in hell for all eternity. To break the curse each of his son’s true loves have to find one of the four pieces of his family’s ancient icon. Three icons have been found and a fourth one remains hidden.

I didn’t really care for Into the Flame. I wouldn’t say it was bad. It just wasn’t good either. Of all the books, I felt it was the weakest as far as the romance of the book was concerned. There is a lot going on in this book. On top of the complicated plot, the author chose to add in a big misunderstanding between Doug and Firebird. At this point, these two have enough to worry about without adding fuel to the fire. Instead of adding angst and conflict for the characters, it distracted from the relationship. I found it frustrating. Firebird annoyed me in the fact that she would so quickly jump to conclusions about Doug. She continued to do this throughout the whole book, even up to the very end.

I found the conversations between the characters to sometimes be stilted and unrealistic, especially from the men. When one of Firebird’s brothers would talk, not for one minute did I ever believe that a man would ever really talk like that. Even some of the things Doug said felt off. I just couldn’t get into Doug and Firebird’s relationship. I was much more interested in getting rid of the curse. Into the Flame is a satisfying conclusion to the series, but the ending is ridiculously sappy.

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Lady Caella's Dream World

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Review - Broken

Title: Broken
Author: Megan Hart
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Contemporary (Erotic)
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Burning

Sadie Danning meets Joe for lunch the first Friday of every month. During their lunch Joe tells Sadie a story, an erotic story, about his encounter from his long list of his many one night stands. Sadie’s husband is a quadriplegic and she hasn’t had someone touch her for four years. When Sadie listens to Joe’s stories, she imagines that it’s her in the story with Joe. She is the one being caressed and held.

Sadie’s marriage is broken and she doesn’t know how to fix it. Ever since the accident that left her husband Adam paralyzed from the neck down, she has felt closed off from him and he from her. There is a wall between them that they can’t seem to get around. Sadie is a very lonely woman who doesn’t seem to know who she is anymore.

I find it very hard to give this book a grade. It is definitely not your typical romance since the heroine of the story is married and although, not physically cheating on her husband, she has inappropriate feelings for Joe. She still loves her husband, but it’s obvious to the reader that their marriage is not working. Sadie and Adam are not the same people they were when they were first married.

What I really liked about this book was how different it is from other romance novels. Each erotic story Joes tells, slowly reveals little pieces of who he is. This is the only way Sadie and the reader get information about Joe. The true strength is also how much emotion the author is able to convey to the reader. I really feel this book deserves a high grade because of the range of emotions and the strength of these emotions that the reader is forced to experience right along with the characters. Each character was portrayed realistically and no one character was singled out or vilified. The story itself is sad and poignant. Yet it does have a happy ending. I don’t know if it’s the happy ending I was looking for because someone does have to lose in the end, but I would still consider it a happy ending. This is not a light fluffy read. Ms. Hart has written a dark book but it is definitely worth a chance and I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

September Book Summary

September was a very good month for me. I am very happy about this since August was such a disappointment. I read a total of 3 books that I felt deserved an A rating! The highlight for me, of course, was that the long awaited Faefever finally hit the shelves. Luckily for me it lived up to the high expectations I had for it. Unfortunately, another series I was following didn't. But hey, you win some you lose some.

1. Warrior, Knight (Futuristic/Time travel) Rating: C-
2. My Lord and Spymaster, Bourne (Historical) Rating: A-
3. Mr. Fix-it, Hubbard (Contemporary) Rating: B-
4. Faefever, Moning (Urban Fantasy) Rating: A
5. Broken, Armstrong (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B-
6. Date with the Devil, Rupprecht (Contemporary) Rating: C+
7. Dark Embrace, Joyce (Time-Travel) Rating: C
8. Chaotic*, Armstrong (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B
9. Unmasqued, Gale (Historical/Erotic) Rating: C+
10. All Through the Night, Brockmann (Rom. Suspense) Rating: B
11. Years, Spencer (Western) Rating: B+
12. Broken, Hart (Contemporary/Erotic) Rating: A-
13. Into the Flame, Dodd (Paranormal) Rating: C
14. Dead Until Dark, Harris (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B

*Chaotic was a story in the anthology Dates From Hell. I haven't reviewed it because Chaotic was the only story I read in the anthology. I might go back and read the others and when I do then I will review it. What did I think of Chaotic, you ask? Well, I liked it. It was short though and it left me clammoring for more of Hope and Karl.