Saturday, January 31, 2009

Review - To Die For

Title: To Die For
Author: Linda Howard
Publishing Date: 1995
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot

Blair Mallory had been on three dates with Wyatt Bloodsworth when he leaves and never calls her back. He doesn't explain why he walked away, from what was turning into a very serious relationship. For two years Blair hadn't had nary a word from him until she witnesses a murder in the parking lot of the gym she owns. Wyatt is a lieutenant on the police force. After fearing that it was Blair who has been shot, he narrows his focus to one thing, and that is to get Blair back. Blair however is having none of it. If Wyatt hurt her once than he is definitely capable of hurting her again.

To Die For is told in the first person from Blair's point of view. I found Blair's narration of the story to be very funny and personable. It seems as if Blair is your close friend and she is retelling the story of how she and Wyatt fell in love.

Wyatt and Blair's courtship is a battle of wills. Wyatt wants Blair and Blair wants Wyatt to suffer for walking away two years ago without a backward glance or an explanation. She is going to make sure Wyatt works hard to get her back. Wyatt is a former football player and to say he loves a challenge is an understatement. What Wyatt wants Wyatt gets and most of the time he doesn't play fair. That's okay because Blair can be just as sneaky and underhanded as him. This leads to some of the most memorable scenes in any book I've read.

The conversations between Wyatt and Blair are very well done. They are what make this book so great. Wyatt is your typical manly man and not one to talk about his feelings. These conversations are essential and give insight into what Wyatt is thinking and feeling. This is really important since the book is told from Blair's point of view.

The mystery portion of this book was very weak. It didn't bother me so much because I was much more focused on the romance, but it might really bother readers who are mystery buffs. When I read the book the first time I didn't even notice the ridiculousness of the killers identity. Even with the new awareness of To Die For's weakness, I still found it a very enjoyable read and it still remains a favorite.

Friday, January 30, 2009

RT - Here I come!!!

I am very excited because I just registered for the first time for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Romantic Times is a magazine devoted specifically to romance and all of its sub genres. They usually have reviews (more like book summaries) of over 250 books each month, along with author interviews and writing tips for aspiring authors. Each year they host an amazing event in April where authors from all different publishing houses come and offer workshops for readers, writers and booksellers.

This year it is being held in Orlando, Florida. This is about 45 minutes from where I live. When I found this out, I began saving up because this might be my one opportunity to attend. With the way the economy has been I wasn't sure if I could save enough money, but at least I didn't have to worry about travel costs. I was very diligent and I reached my goal this month. So, yay for me!!

I am very excited because I will get to meet other fellow romance readers. Nobody where I live reads, let alone romance. I am hoping that I will make lots of friends and meet some of my favorite authors. Get this, after looking at the agenda, fellow bloggers Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches will be hosting a workshop on the ins and outs of blogging. How awesome is that? I hope I get the chance to meet them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review - Bad Blood

Title: Bad Blood
Author: L. A. Banks
Publishing Date: April 2008
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

L. A. Banks is best known for her Vampire Huntress Legend series. I haven't ever had the pleasure of reading those books but a friend of mine who likes Kelley Armstrong recommended her. After going to Ms. Banks's website I came across her newer series, Crimson Moon. Bad Blood is the first book in this series and focuses on werewolves instead of vampires (although, vampires do exist in this world).

Sasha Trudeau is part of an elite military team made up of a handful of people who have been infected with the werewolf virus. They have enhanced speed, strength, sight and smell, but they take medicine to keep them from changing fully into werewolves. They get assigned to missions that are aimed at keeping this technology out of enemy hands who are trying to make super soldiers. When Sasha comes back from one such mission she finds that one of her teammates completed the change and has gone rogue and her other teammates are missing. She is learning that there is more going on than what she has been told and now she has to try and find out what this virus is exactly that she has her blood.

I was pleasantly surprised with this story. I found it started off a little slow because the author had a lot to explain in the beginning. Things are complicated with all the different types of wolves and demons in the story. Plus, there are several different factions that Sasha has to be weary of and she, like the reader, are not sure what is going on and who she can trust. Once she meets up with Max Hunter though, I was thoroughly hooked. Wow!

Now, I don't believe that this is considered a romance. At least at my library they had it shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section. On the spine it is labeled as dark fantasy. I don't know the rules for how a book is classified, but romance readers would definitely be satisfied with Sasha and Hunter's relationship. Both Sasha and Hunter have something about them that sets them apart from others and they have always felt like outsiders among their peers. It is very easy to empathise with them.

One of the things that really stood out in this book was how well the pack nuances and wolf behaviors of the characters were expressed. I think out of all the werewolf books I have read, this one felt the most realistic and true to how an animal would behave. At times, because of this, the book could be considered very gruesome. I felt it was in keeping with the mood and tone of the book and gave a more realistic feel to the characters.

The plot of the book is complicated and there are a lot of questions that go unanswered with its conclusion. There was one little thing that annoyed me at the end of the story. One of the characters that Sasha meets early on in the story, who is not in the rest of the book, just randomly pops up during the culmination of a very important scene and it was completely a WTF moment for me. I believe it was a way for the author to set up the next book and get readers hooked, but it annoyed me all the same. The next book, Bite the Bullet is already in stores and continues Sasha's story.

Here is what others had to say:
Suburban Trash

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This just in... New Anya Bast Novel

I am a member of Anya Bast's yahoo group and she sent an email informing fans of her latest release due out Feb 3. It is a futuristic menage a trois. Sounds pretty steamy! I love the idea of two men an one woman as a fantasy. Maybe in real life this wouldn't be so great, but in a book, yeah, I'll go for it. At least, I can almost believe that this would be possible, especially since the planet the men are from are seriously lacking in women. Any how, be sure to check it out if you like this sort of thing. Anya is one of the better erotic authors I have come across.

Here is the book summary:

Sometimes love knocks softly…and sometimes it breaks down your door.

Anne’s morning starts like any other normal day—and ends in a race for
her life. The surprise that interrupts her regular date with a latte looks a lot
like Frankenstein, except this monster is for real. And it chases her straight
into the arms of two mouthwatering hunks who whisk her away from everything she
knows. That would be Earth.

Suddenly life isn’t so normal anymore.

Caleb and Van have been watching Anne for several weeks. Women are
scarce in their world, a situation that sometimes forces two or more males to
share one wife between them. Anne is their perfect match. Now all they have to
do is convince her of that—while trying desperately not to let their intense
desire for her scare her away.

Then there’s the little matter of
protecting her from the Guardians, who want to make sure no match is ever made

If this strikes your fancy, you can read an excerpt here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review - The Vampire Queen's Servant

Title: The Vampire Queen's Servant
Author: Joey W. Hill
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Paranormal (Erotic)
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Burning

Lady Lyssa is the last remaining vampire Royal Queen. Even though she is immortal her health has been failing because of a mysterious disease. She is currently without a human servant to protect and manage her estates. She does not want to find another servant because of her close relationship that she had with Thomas who was her previous one. He recently died and she still isn't quite over his death. When Lyssa goes to her favorite salon to have a manicure, her usual manicurist is replaced with a delicious specimen of a man, Jacob. He has a letter explaining to her that Thomas spent his last dying days training this man to become her servant.

I found the The Vampire Queen's Servant to be a very interesting mix of components. On the one hand, it is a very sensual and dark book. Vampires like to dominate when they are having sex. The sex is more pleasurable when they can have a person submit willingly to them. Lyssa is drawn to Jacob because he is so virile and masculine. For him to submit willingly to her is like the taming of a great beast. It goes against Jacob's instincts to allow Lyssa to dominate him and for him to submit to her shows her how much he trusts and loves her. It was really interesting so see this dynamic between these two characters. Definitely, never a dull moment in the bedroom and just a warning; some of the sex might be too much for some readers.

Even though the book has its darker moments, there were also times when I felt there was an innocence to Lyssa and Jacob. It was as if they held a child's curiosity or a child's ability to live in the moment and just appreciate it for what it is. There is one scene in particular that takes place in a fountain at the mall. The way it was described in the book had me read it as if the characters were in slow motion. I could picture so clearly the drops of water suspended in the air before splashing down. That scene made an impact and I know I am not doing it justice. Let's just say that this book, definitely, had atmosphere.

The Vampire Queen's Servant does end with a few unresolved issues. Nothing that would qualify as a cliff-hanger to frustrate the reader. Instead, Lyssa and Jacob's story will continue in The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just Because...

I went shopping this weekend at our local mall. I live in a relatively small town, maybe 35,000 people, and most of the shops in the mall are closing. The economy totally sucks right now and we are not immune. (But let's not get into that.) I had to buy some clothing for my 7 year old for school. While I was there I stopped in the book store B. Dalton because I just could't pass up the opportunity. I ended up purchasing Kiss of a Demon King. I have really been wanting this book. So many other bloggers have already read and reviewed it. I always seem to be the last one to the party. Hey, at least I'm consistant. Right?

Now, this book officially went on sale January 20th. But I know for a fact, that some stores were selling it before the official release date. This messes with the author's selling statistics. I try to buy the books after the release date to make sure the author gets credit for the sale. In the past my purchasing habits were not this way. I usually bought books whenever the mood struck me. Now, after it being brought to my attention that buying a book before the release date can hurt the author, I try to buy after the release date. I am curious to know if any other readers feel this way. I have created a poll over in my sidebar, if you care to participate, about this very thing. Feel free to give your opinion.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

And we have a winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my one year anniversary contest. I had asked the participants to guess which author I read the most books from in 2008. It turns out I read a total of eleven books by Suzanne Brockmann. Kelley Armstrong came in second with eight. Those who guessed Brockmann where correct! The number chosen from was 466 and Wonderings was the closest with 445.

Congratulations to Wonderings!!!

Please email me with your mailing address and choose one book from my Books I Own shelf at Shelfari by Jan 30th.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review - Two for the Dough

Title: Two for the Dough
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publishing Date: 1996
Genre: Mystery
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Kisses

Two for the Dough is book two of the Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie is a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie. She teams up with Joe Morelli, a local vice cop to bring in Kenny Mancuso. Kenny shot his friend Moogy Bues in the knee and had the poor luck to do it in front of an off duty cop. Stephanie thinks this will be an easy job. Unfortunately, things turn complicated rather quickly. Caskets are missing, body parts start turning up and the more Stephanie learns about Kenny the more she wants to stay as far away from him as possible.

Two for the Dough is a quick, easy read and Stephanie is a fun character to ride along with. This case has her working closely with Joe Morelli. Stephanie is still uncertain what her feelings towards Joe are. The reader can tell that Joe and Stephanie are starting to care about each other. She is still attracted to him, but doesn't want to get involved with him for fear of getting hurt. She basically avoids dealing with these feelings and focuses on her job.

Stephanie is still new to the bounty hunter world and continually makes mistakes, but she is the type to learn from them. There are plenty of high-jinks and silly antics to keep the pages turning. Stephanie's jeep gets stolen and her Granny gives her a 1950s something Buick that is practically a character all on its own. Stephanie's Granny plays a significant role in this book as well and she sure is a hoot. Readers will either love her or hate her. I happened to love it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review - Angels Wings

Title: Angels Wings
Author: Anne Stuart
Publishing Date: 1990
Genre: Historical
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Angela Hogan's flight business isn't doing so well. Ever since her parents died in a fire she has been looking out for herself and her half-sister Constance. Angela has made a fairly decently life for herself through flying. She has a small shipping/flight school business. She has been having trouble recently with the local competition. Enter Jack Clancy, a loner and a drifter, but a damned fine pilot. Jack and Angela are like oil and water - they don't mix. If Angela wants her business to succeed she will need his help.

Angels Wings has a very unique setting. It takes place after the Great Depression in the 1930s. I liked how the slang of the the period came through in the writing. Also, historic events and songs and movies were referenced and that helped to set the background.

I liked Angela more than Jack. Jack was a definite jerk. He is basically a male chauvinist pig. They are both pilots, but Jack along with most of the other men in the book, think she should stay at home and just look pretty while the boys handle the business. Angela, of course is having none of it and does what ever she damn well pleases. She was an interesting heroine in that she is capable of handling a lot of responsibility running her flight school and business, but when it comes to men and her own sexuality she is completely clueless. Towards the end of the book Jack's character starts to come around but not enough to truly endear me to him, but enough that I found the ending satisfying.

One thing that bothered me with this story is the mysterious plot involving Angela's mechanic. He isn't who he says he is, but everyone but Angela figures out his real identity pretty quickly. It didn't make sense that Angela is the last one to figure it out, when logically she should have been the first person to do so. It just didn't fit with Angela's intelligence, or the reader's for that matter. It is just a little thing that irked me.

This review was part of Avid Book Reader's 2009 TBR Challenge. January's theme was category or series romance. You can view a list of other participants here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review - Flat-Out Sexy

Title: Flat-Out Sexy
Author: Erin McCarthy
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Tamara Briggs is a widowed mother of two. Her husband Pete was a race car driver and died two years in a car crash. She has just started dating again and it trying to play it safe with a man who has a nice steady risk free job. The only problem is he is boring as dirt and she is not attracted to him at all. At a party she accidentally spills her wine all down Elec's front shirt and she can't help but notice how he fills out his shirt. The attraction between them sizzles immediately.

I have read one other book by Erin McCarthy, Heiress for Hire and I absolutely loved it. While I didn't like Flat-Out Sexy as much as Heiress for Hire it was still a satisfying read. Ms. McCarthy is a good storyteller. Her stories have a nice flow, good dialogue, enjoyable characters. Flat-Out Sexy is no exception. Elec (what kind of name is that) is a wonderful man. He is caring, thoughtful and completely focused on Tamara. Even though his is a race car driver and comes with high risk, Tamara would have to be an idiot to pass him up.

One of the best points in favor of this book was the realness to Elec and Tamara's relationship. Tamara and Elec's could be my next door neighbors and this book is the story of how they met. It's basically a simple story. No one needs protection from a stalker or psycho "bad guy". It is a story about two very normal people falling in love under completely normal circumstances. "Well, this sounds boring," you might say. Let me assure you that is not the case. The story flows beautifully and the cast of characters keeps things interesting.

There is a brief introduction into Suzanne and Ryder's story. Suzanne is Tamara's best friend and Ryder is another race car driver. They have a lot of baggage. They used to be married, but for whatever reason it didn't work out. I for one would like to find out. The secondary plots didn't distract, but instead only helped to enhance Elec and Tamara's relationship.

Here is what others had to say:

Romance Reviews Today Blog
Stacy's Place on Earth
Book Binge
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Romance Novel TV
Ramblings on Romance etc.
Dear Author

Monday, January 19, 2009

Everybody's doing it - Year End Summary (part 1)

Yes, I do believe I am the last person in blogland to post their 2008 year end summary. I know some of you have been patiently waiting for this post and without further ado, here it goes. I am going to do this in two posts. The first post will encompass all the books I read this year, with statistics. The second post I will only talk about the books published in 2008 and pick my top reads. I probably won't post the second part until AAR holds it's Annual Reader Poll.

First, I will start off with some statistics. Yeah, I am a total nerd. I love numbers and lists and graphs and what have you. Work with me people!

Total books read = 159

By Publishing Date
published in 2008 = 57
published in 2007 = 40
published 2000 - 2006 = 34
published 1990 - 1999 = 22
published 1980 - 1989 = 3
published 1965 - 1979 = 3

As you can see the largest percentage of books read was 36% and were published in 2008. I wish this percentage was higher, maybe 50%. But seeing as how I only started reading romance a few years ago, I have a lot of catching up to do. With there being so many great books already published that I haven't had the pleasure of reading.

By Review Rating
Grade A = 14
Grade A- = 14
Grade B+ = 40
Grade B = 29
Grade B- = 27
Grade C+ = 4
Grade C = 16
Grade C- = 5
Grade D = 8
Grade F = 0
DNF = 1

I guess it is no surprise that the largest percentage of books received a B rating. What I am surprised with is the number of A grades that I gave. I thought I was pretty stingy with my A rating. Apparently, I read some really good books this year.

By Genre
Contemporary = 21
Erotic = 15
Fantasy = 4
Futuristic = 4
Historical = 33
Medieval = 6
Mystery = 4
Paranormal = 33
Romantic Suspense = 23
Urban Fantasy = 11
Western = 5

I think the most disappointing realization for me is the low number of medieval books I read. That is my favorite genre and I only read 6 books and one of those was a DNF. None of them rated an A. A pleasant surprise though, is urban fantasy. A new-to-me genre, but one that is quickly moving up to a favorite. I think it is interesting to note that historical and paranormal are tied. If you asked me, I would have thought I read more paranormal than historical.

I have more to come in my next post. (thanks for being so patient!)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review - The Courage To Love

Title: The Courage To Love
Author: Samantha Kane
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Historical/Erotic
Rating: D
Sensuality: Burning

The Courage To Love is the first book in Samantha Kane's Brothers in Arms series. Jason Randall and Tony Richards return from their sojourn on the continent to claim the woman they love. Kate has been living as a mistress to several men. Jason and Randal received a letter from one of Kate's friends suggesting that Kate needed their help and would be ready to settle down with them and start a new life as their wife. When Jason and Tony, go to see Kate, they know immediately that something is not right. She is not her usually happy self. She seems jumpy and frightened by them. They need to find out what happened to Kate while they were away.

I had quite a few problems with this book. The biggest problem I had with the book was the believability factor. I just couldn't grasp how open these men were with their unusual relationship with each other and Kate. In no way could I suspend disbelief to believe that two men, in this time period would be that open about their homosexual feelings. Back in this time period sodomy was a hanging offence. I don't think these men would have been as flagrant about it as they were in the book. Nor, do I think Lord Randall's mother would be as accepting as she was.

I also felt like the dialogue was very weak. The men would say things that no man would ever be caught dead saying, or think thoughts no man would be likely to think. One other minor detail that left me grinding my teeth, was that Jason is a titled Lord, but it is never specified to exactly what title he holds. Little details like this would have gone along way into beefing up the story.

It is never really explained as to why these men love Kate. The beginning of the story starts with them already having an established past together. While this helps the believability of the characters being able to jump into the sex right away, it also weakens the plot. I think the story could have been strengthened with flash backs, or something to give the reader insight into how they fell in love. As far as I am concerned that the author could have inserted any woman into Kate's role and it would have read the same.

Here is what others had to say:

Nose in a Book
The Tyranny of Reading
Lurv A la Mode
The Reading Spot

Friday, January 16, 2009

One Year Anniversary!!!

Happy one year anniversary to me!!! I have officially been blogging for a year now. As a great big thank you to all of you who have supported me in my new endeavor, I am holding a contest for one of my books. Anyone is eligible to enter the contest. All you have to do is answer this question correctly in the comments section of this post before the end of January 23, midnight eastern time. Also, pick a number between 1 and 500, who ever comes closest to the number generated at random will win.

Out of all the books I read over the past year, which author did I read the most?

The winner will get to pick a book of their choice from my books I own shelf at Shelfari.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review - Lord of the Fading Lands

Title: Lord of the Fading Lands
Author: C. L. Wilson
Publishing Date: October 2007
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Ellysetta Baristani, the adopted daughter in a humble woodcutter's family, has suffered from nightmares ever since she was a child. Now, even as an adult she still has nightmares, but keeps them hidden from her parents. She has always felt different from them, but she tries so hard to fit in, wanting please them.

Rain Tairen Soul, King of the Fey has a vision in the Tairen Eye and sees that Ellie is his Truemate. She will be the savior of his dying people and therefore seeks her out immediately to claim her for his Queen. All this is much easier said than done, because a darkness has been building. What exactly, Rain doesn't know. Rain senses that the Mages or Eld are biding their time and waiting for the right moment to strike. He can't sense them, but deep down he knows something is wrong.

Even though Rain and Ellie are fated as truemates, their love and trust of one another slowly builds over the course of the story. I know many readers dislike this plot device, but Ms. Wilson makes it work within the context of this story. Because Rain has the Tairen inside him he sometimes comes across as more beast than man. He has to have iron control over himself and the Tairen inside so that he doesn't frighten Ellie. She has to come to trust him for them to complete their soul bond. He can't coerce her into trusting him, he has to win it the old fashioned way, by courting her. They spend a lot of time over the course of the story getting to know one another. In the mean time, the boarder disputes are getting bad. Mages are starting to take power and an attack is made on Ellie. This book does not have a conclusive ending. The next book Lady of Light and Shadows picks up where this book leaves off.

Lord of the Fading Lands had an incredible amount of world building and characterization. There are many different characters and the reader is introduced slowly to them. This makes it easy to keep track of who's, who in the zoo. Some are more fully drawn than others. Readers may come to have a soft spot for Bel, the captain of the quintet who is plagued with sorrow. I hope later on in the series he finds his own truemate.

One thing I found confusing was the different races of beings. Sometimes there were two names for same faction. The reader just has to get used to it and let the story unfold. Everything becomes clear about halfway through the story. Also, Ellie came across as very pure and sweet. Almost too sweet for my taste. I saw this as a weakness, but I am curious to see if she grows more throughout the series. Going from a woodcutter's daughter to a Queen is sure to challenge anyone.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Minx
Dear Author
Sula's Space
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Aneca's World

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 TBR Challenge

The second challenge I am participating in this year is TBR Challenge 2009 hosted by Avid Book Reader. The rules are as follows:

1. Read one book a month from your TBR pile that was published in 2007 or later.

2. Post your review on the third wednesday of every month.

That's it! Pretty simple, huh? This year Keishon has added a monthly theme to help you select your reading material. It is just a guide to spice things up a bit. If you don't have a book in that particular category, no sweat. You can pick anything else you want.

For those of you who know me, it should come as no surprise that I have already picked out my books for this challenge. I know. I am such an organized dork! I tried to stay as close to the themes as possible, but for some of them I didn't have a book (Thanksgiving and Christmas theme), so I picked something else. I am hoping that by picking out the books I will be more inclined to finish the challenge and not slack off.

Jan - Angels Wings, Stuart (category romance)
Feb - Contact, Grant (Desert Isle Keeper)
Mar - The Heart Queen, Potter (Historical)
Apr - Out of the Night, Popp (Paranormal)
May - Curveball, Angell (Friends to Lovers)
Jun - Prince of Magic, Stuart (Tortured Hero/Heroine)
Jul - Alias Grace, Atwood (Wrongfully accused)
Aug - Angels Fall, Roberts (Popular author haven't read in a while)
Sep - Promise Me Forever, Heath (Popular author haven't yet read)
Oct - Dark Paradise, Hoag (Horror/Suspense)
Nov - A Most Unusual Courtship, Allen (Thanksgiving - didn't have)
Dec - You Can't Hide, Rose (Christmas - didn't have)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review - Personal Demon

Title: Personal Demon
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: April 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot

Personal Demon is book 8 in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. The narration switches first person point of view between Hope Adams and Lucas Cortez. Hope is a half chaos demon. She was raised by her human mother but discovered in her teens that she was not like everyone else. She would have gruesome visions of death or accidents. It turns out her biological father was a demon. She can sense chaos and it becomes almost like the equivalent of drugs to an addict.

Coming to terms with who she is, Hope takes a job as a tabloid writer. It is a guilt-free way for her to use her powers to detect unusual stories. She has been in a relationship with Karl, a member of the New England Werewolf pack. Their relationship has been going south. After having sex, Karl all but told her thanks for the good time and left her, telling her she was free to date other guys. He hurt her very badly and she wants nothing more than to put him out of her life and out of her heart.

Hope is approached by Benicio Cortez, the head of the Cortez Cabal. He calls in his favor from Hope. He needs help infiltrating a gang of sorcerers that are causing trouble in his jurisdiction. Hope, unable to resist the chance to prove herself, jumps at the opportunity. Soon though, Hope is in over her head and Lucas, with the help of his wife Paige come to her aid. Lucas and Paige have appeared in previous books in the series, Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic.

The first part of the book started out slow. Hope is infiltrating a gang of rogue sorcerers and the reader meets a new cast of characters. I kept wondering when Karl was going to put in an appearance and he actually doesn't show up until later on in the book. The second half of Personal Demon was super intense. I didn't want to put the book down. It was a little weird at first how the book switches back in forth between Hope and Lucas's point of view. Occasionally, I wouldn't realize that there had been a change in narration and would have to go and check the chapter to see who was narrating.

At first, I didn't like Karl. He seemed selfish and was basically described as a jerk through Hope's point of view. Then slowly a different, caring side of him is revealed as he takes care of Hope. I really liked Hope's character too. She struggles with her need for chaos and wants so badly to over come it. I like the fact that even though Hope is far from average, she still comes across as a normal woman, who wants to belong and be normal herself. I found it to be very touching how Karl knows this and does what he can to support her. He is able to give her a safe, guilt free outlet for her chaos cravings.

My initial impression after finishing this book is, "Wow". Kelley Armstrong has completely blown me away. I really like the direction this series is heading, especially the part involving the Cabal and Lucas. Lucas never ceases to amaze me and he plays a huge role in the second part of the book. More light is shed on the Cabal and Lucas has no choice but to become more involved in Cabal doings. I really enjoyed seeing this "take charge" side of Lucas.

Breezing Through
Library Girl Reads
Book Spot Central
Reading Adventures

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Series Sunday - The Tairen Soul

The Tairen Soul series by C. L. Wilson is new to me. I have been hearing quite a bit around blogland about this series. I had the first book Lord of the Fading Lands in my TBR pile and so being the good girl that I am, I decided to read it. This series is romantic fantasy. It is four books that span the relationship between Ellysetta Baristani, a woodcutter's daughter and Rain Tairen Soul, King of the Fey.

The setting for this series is set somewhere in medieval times and four different races of beings exist in this world: humans, Fey, Elds and Tairens. The Tairen are great huge beasts that look like lions with wings. Rain is both Fey and Tairen, which means he can change into a Tairen and the beast lives in his soul. The Fey and Eld can weave magic. The Fey wield it for good, the Eld for evil.

A thousand years ago, the Eld and the Fey had a great war and the Eld were all but banished from the Earth. Those that did survive hid and have been plotting and planning all these years. The Fey and Tairen are on the brink of extinction. It has been foretold that if Rain claims Ellie as his truemate he will save his people.

These books must be read in order. Ellie and Rain's story continues over the course of the series and the books are left open ended, continuing where the last one left off.

Series Reading Order:
1. Lord of the Fading Lands
2. Lady of Light and Shadows
3. King of Sword and Sky
4. Queen of Song and Souls

Friday, January 9, 2009

Review - Mail Order Bride

Title: Mail Order Bride
Author: Maureen McKade
Publishing Date: 2000
Genre: Western
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Kate Murphy, after her father passes away, leaves her home town to become a mail-order bride. When she arrives in Orion, Colorado she soon discovers that her intended is dead from a mining accident. Without any money she takes a job as a nanny to Trev Trevelyan’s two children. Trev is the local mine’s superintendent who was recently widowed. Trev has vowed never to marry again but soon Trev and Kate are fighting a passion that neither was expecting to occur between them. Kate herself has dreams of studying astrology and is not looking for marriage either, but when she comes to care for the Trevelyan’s she begins to doubt her dreams.

There is also major conflict with the mines in the town. Benny, another miner, is stirring up trouble trying to get the other miners to strike. Trev has seen this kind of thing happen before and knows that a strike will only succeed in getting people hurt. Trev knows that there is something more going on than what Benny is doing on the surface. The outside conflict with the miners seemed pretty desperate at times. I think the story could have benefitted from a few funny or light-hearted moments.

Kate knows absolutely nothing about children. She was an only child herself and at first is absolutely terrified of Trev’s six month old. She immediately bonds with Annie, his mute four year old daughter. Eventually, Kate and Trev get into a routine and depict such a picture perfect family. Kate shows Trev that marriage to the right woman can bring joy to a marriage instead of the misery he found with his first wife. Kate also sees how lonely she has been without the Trevelyan’s in her life. Kate and Trev have a lot of baggage, but each still remain good, compassionate people. I enjoyed how their relationship slowly unfolded over the course of the book. Overall, I thought this was a very sweet story.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January Releases

There are a crazy, insane amount of books coming out in January that I can't wait to get my grubby little hands on. Usually, I mention a little bit about the book and why I want to read it. I also post the back blurb and a link for an excerpt if there is one. Since I am so behind in my posts for this month, I am skipping that part and just listing the books and their release date. (I know, I know, I'm sooooo lazy!)


3rd book in Elemental Witch series

2nd book in Final Prophecy series

6th book in Immortals After Dark series

14th book in Troubleshooter series

Collection of Short stories part of Underworld series

4th book in Rothwell series

Don't these look good? I can't wait!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Title: Nightkeepers
Author: Jessica Andersen
Publishing Date: June 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

Nightkeepers are the warriors who are destined to keep the demons known as the Banol Kax from destroying the Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar in the year 2012. Striking Jaguar, known as Strike, needs to accept his crown and lead his motley crew of Nightkeepers, what is left of them, into battle against a makol who is already trying to free the demons. Leah Daniels is a detective for the Miami police force who is trying to find out who killed her brother. There have been a series of deaths that look like sacrifices. She becomes the killers next intended sacrifice until Strike finds her and saves her life. Now, they are inexplicably drawn to one another and form an alliance to defeat the makol, Zipacna.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Ms. Andersen’s debut novel. Nightkeepers has a very well developed synopsis and the world building is terrific. There is a lot for the reader to take in and understand in this story, with lots of characters to keep track of. The majority of the characters all have back stories and for the most part Ms. Andersen did a good job of introducing these characters. Occasionally, in the middle of the story after they all came together, I would have to flip back to be reminded of exactly who was who. This is to be expected though, with the elaborate cast of characters.

The main weakness to this book was the actual romance. I really liked the characters Strike and Leah, but I didn’t feel like their relationship was given enough screen time in the book. Their relationship is described more or less as a fated one and so therefore the reader has to take the authors word for it that they are meant to be together. The reader does not get to see these two characters fall in love. However, both Leah and Strike’s characters grew and changed over the length of the story. I just would have liked to have seen more growth with them as a couple instead of individually. I am very interested in what Ms. Andersen has created and will definitely be watching for the next book in the series.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Review Center
Deep Thoughts
Book Binge
Terra's Book Blog
CA Reviews
Lady Caella's Dream World
Babbling Book Reviews
Alpha Heroes
Musings of the Romantics
The Good, The Bad, The Unread

Monday, January 5, 2009

Re-Read Challenge 2009

Nath from over at Books, Books and more Books has started a new reading challenge and I think it is a wonderful idea, so I am on board. It is Re-Read Challenge 2009. The rules are very simple. All you have to do is re-read a book from your keeper shelf once a month and post your review on the last day of the month. You can go to Nath's website and check out the details of the contest here.

Personally, I think this a great challenge because there are many of my favorite books that I don't have reviews for and it seems to me like it would be a good idea to have reviews of my favorite books. Of course, the other aspect of this challenge after re-reading an old favorite is to see if it stood the test of time. My reading tastes have changed over the years and it would be interesting to see if what I once loved is still as great as I first thought it to be.

Here are the books I have chosen:

January - Die for You, Linda Howard
February - Historical (choice based on poll winner)
March - Weekend, Christopher Pike
April - Spell of the Highlander, Karen Marie Moning
May - A Kingdom of Dreams, Judith McNaught
June - Trust Me, Jayne Ann Krentz
July - Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
August - contemporary (choice based on poll winner)
September - Shadow Touch, Marjorie M. Liu
October - Lucky's Lady, Tami Hoag
November - Rage of Angels, Sydney Sheldon
December - Nightfall, Anne Stuart

You'll notice that February and August don't have an actual book chosen. I had several books I wanted to read, but alas not enough months in which to read them all. I came up with (what I thought was a clever solution) to have a poll and let you readers decide on which book you would like for me to review.

In February, I have decided on a historical theme and the book contenders are as follows:

The Duke, Gaelen Foley
The Bride, Julie Garwood
The Promise of Jenny Jones, Maggie Osborne
The Viscount Who Loved Me, Julia Quinn

In August, the theme is contemporary and the book contenders are:

Baby I'm Yours, Susan Andersen
Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie
Men in Kilts, Katie MacAlister
Heiress for Hire, Erin McCarty

I will hold the historical poll in January and the contemporary poll in July.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Series Sunday - Elemental Witches

Anya Bast's Elemental Witch series is set in the contemporary world. There are four types of witches, fire, earth, air and water. Each of these witches, both male and female, have special powers that coincide with their element. The witches operate under The Coven. This is the governing authority over the witches.

There are witches, now called warlocks, that broke away from The Coven and they are the "bad guys". The overall series arc has a good vs. evil vibe. Each book stands alone as far as romance between the main characters, but there is a connecting overall story thread between books. So far there have been two books published in the series, with a third to release this week. I think Ms. Bast has created a solid paranormal world and steamed up the pages of her books with compelling love stories.

Series Reading Order:

1. Witch Fire (Mira and Jack)
2. Witch Blood (Isabelle and Thomas)
3. Witch Heart (Claire and Adam)

Review - Heat Lightning

Title: Heat Lightning
Author: Anne Stuart
Publishing Date: 1992
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Caleb Spencer has come to the town of Turner's Landing to get revenge on Harrison Turner. Caleb was sent to prison for a murder he didn't commit because of Harrison and while nursing his grudge in jail he vowed to get his revenge. Jassy, Harrison's sister is Caleb's target. One thing Caleb has always excelled at is seducing women. Sweet, sheltered Jassy Turner won't know how to resist bad boy Caleb Spencer.

For a short book the characters were well developed. I liked how the weather and bayou came across as characters all on their own. I also thought it was very creative how Ms. Stuart was able to slowly unravel clues about Harrison and Caleb's past. Jassy slowly discovers her brother's true nature that she tries to deny. Events built up to a climax that coincided with the weather.

Ms. Stuart has a tendency to write anti-heroes and Caleb is no exception as he sets out to get revenge on Harrison by seducing his sister. This leaves the believability of the romance on shaky ground. Both Jassy and Caleb are likable and the relationship developed at a reasonable pace so it works out well. Jassy is a good combination of spit-fire and tenderness, so it's easy for the reader to like her. I tend to like stories were the heroine comes in and waltzes all over the hero and he doesn't know what hit him. But only when the hero thinks he is so macho and invincible. I love the irony of a little weak female bringing a strong willed man to his knees.

As for what I didn't like. The story felt a little dated, with the clothing and hair descriptions. I think the picture on the cover didn't help at all. It's one of those covers that the Smart Bitches would have a hay-day with. There are a few secondary characters that come across as cliched; Jassy's mother and sister-in-law and even the sheriff.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

December Book Summary

Here are the books I read in December. With all the excitement of the holidays this month, I just barely made my reading goal. I did make it however, and I was also able to complete my fall reading challenge as well. I am certainly looking forward to the new year all the wonderful releases I have been anticipating. I also plan on participating in new reading challenges in 2009. I plan on posting more on that at a later date. Here are my following December reads:

1. Sometimes a Lady, Wisdom (Contemporary) Rating: B
2. Ultimate Weapon, McKenna (Romantic Suspense) Rating: A-
3. Heaven, Texas, Phillips (Contemporary) Rating: A
4. Bedding the Heiress, Maxwell (Historical) Rating: B
5. Into the Fire, Brockmann (Romantic Suspense) Rating: A
6. Nobody's Baby but Mine, Phillips (Contemporary) Rating: B+
7. Courting Miss Hattie, Morsi (Western) Rating: B+
8. One For the Money, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: B+
9. Mine to Possess, Singh (Paranormal) Rating: C
10. The Secret Pearl, Balogh (Historical) Rating: B+
11. Heat Lightning, Stuart (Contemporary) Rating: B-
12. Nightkeepers, Andersen (Paranormal) Rating: B