Friday, October 30, 2009

Review - The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Title: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Publishing Date: May 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: This is Shameless Amyless's Book Club pick for October and I checked it out from the library.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is the first book in a new series, Highland Pleasures by Jennifer Ashley. Ian Mackenzie spent most of his childhood locked up in an asylum until his brother, the Duke of Kilmorgan came to his rescue. Since then, he has been living his life as normal as he can. Up until he meets Beth Ackerley, that is. Mrs. Ackerley is engaged to a broke playboy, Lyndon Mather. Ian is an expert at appraising treasure and once he lays eyes on Beth he is certain she is a rare and very valuable treasure, one that would certainly be waisted on Mather. He proceeds to break up their engagement and is determined to make Beth his wife.

Wow, what a treat! I might as well jump on the bandwagon along with everybody else who has written a glowing review of this book. I really enjoyed it. Ian was such an unusual character in that he is depicted as being mad. He isn't really mad. He's quite brilliant actually. I loved how when he focuses on something, he really, really focuses on it. He gets tunnel vision. Everything else fades into he background. So, imagine the intensity when Beth becomes his focus. I can sum it up in one word - Yum!

This is the first time I have ever had the pleasure of reading something by Jennifer Ashley. I am honestly shaking my head in wonderment at how this can be, because she is a wonderful writer. This book had all the things I love in a romance. She has great dialogue between her characters, great pacing and the characters are very vivid. Even the secondary characters who have enticed me to keep coming back for more.

If I had to have one complaint it would be how Beth handles a few things. There is a murder mystery part of the plot and Beth gets it into her head that she needs to solve this murder or Ian will be forever hunted down my the dastardly inspector. She has a few TSTL (To Stupid To Live) moments where her safety and judgement are in question. Other than that, I loved it! I can't wait to read more!

Here is what others had to say:

Rambling about Romance, etc.
I Just Finished Reading
Racy Romance Reviews
My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All
Breezing Through
Musings of a Bibliophile
Randi Romance Reader
Smexy Books
Dear Author
Tracy's Place
Good Books, Bad Books and Everything in Between
Rosario's Reading Journal
Gossamer Obsessions

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Consumer Survey - Prompted by Super Librarian

Wendy, the Super Librarian wrote up a post specifically asking the question "What are the book buying habits of other readers?" She goes on to specifically list her buying habits and encourages others to answer the question too.

I am definitely not the typical reader. I read about 150 - 180 books a year. Most people only read 1 - 10 books a year. That is quite a bit of difference between the two. So far this year I have read a total of 129 books.

Being the super statistics queen that I am, I keep a spreadsheet of all the books I read along with a few key notes such as genre, rating, etc. I haven't ever kept track of where my books come from in the past, but I wondered if I could go back and list this data.

Sure enough, I was able to piece the puzzle together to get an accurate idea of what percentage of books I buy new vs used. Keep in mind that these are only the books that I have READ this year. I have a huge pile of books WAITING to be read that are not included in these numbers. However, I do feel that graph below is fairly telling in how I acquire my books.

Here I have divided my books into five different groupings:

NEW 15% - These are books that I purchased new including ebooks, hardbacks, paperbacks and trade-size paperbacks. I know off the top of my head that I bought three hardback books this year - Burn by Linda Howard, Lover Revhenged by J. R. Ward and Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning.

USED 16% - These are books that I either bought used from a bookstore, or traded through paperbackswap.

LIBRARY 33% - These are books I get from the library

PAPERSPINE 18% - Paperspine is a book rental service, sort of like what Netflix is to movies. I pay $14.99 a month and they send me three books at a time.

FREE/ARC 18% - These are books that I get for free. The majority of these books are those that I got this past spring from the RT convention. I also receive some books from publicists and occasionally from authors themselves requesting reviews. I also have a friend who works for Barnes and Noble and she sends me books called "strips". These are books that have the cover torn off. I have no idea why anyone would deface a book, but it just goes to show that I'll read anything.

I am not surprised that the library is my highest category. My local librarians know me by name and face. However, I am surprised at how high the percentage is for books that I get for free. If you would have asked me to guess, I would have said maybe 5%. Same with books that I buy new. I don't feel like I buy that many new books, but I guess it adds up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review - Dark Lover

Title: Dark Lover
Author: Brenda Joyce
Publishing Date: October 2009
Genre: Time Travel
Rating: D
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Rented from Paperspine

Dark Lover is the fifth book in Brenda Joyce's Masters of Time series. Ian Maclean spent 66 years imprisoned by a powerful demon suffering from unspeakable torture as a nine year old boy. His father eventually freed him from this demon, but Ian carries horrible emotional scars. He has spent the last twenty five years building up his wealth and power in the hopes that nothing like that will ever happen to him again. Samantha Rose works for a secret government agency which keeps track of demonic activity. They hear that Ian Maclean has acquired a page from an ancient text, one that has a very powerful spell attached to it. Sam is assigned to get the page back from Ian before it falls into enemy hands.

Dark Lover is one of those books that I should have just given up on and stopped reading after I realized it wasn't for me. Instead, I managed to keep reading (after all I am a fan of Brenda Joyce's work) but it just never got any better. It seemed like there were many things about this book that hit my hot buttons. I am going to focus on the two main issues.

First, I didn't like the characters. Ian had two personalities, neither of which were appealing a.) he would act like an arrogant jerk or b.) a scared little boy. I understand that he was tortured, but Ian's behavior just didn't sit right with me. Sam's personality wasn't all that great either. She keeps herself at an emotional distance from everyone. She likes meaningless sex and will have it with anyone. She starts to feel, *gasp* compassion for Ian when she learns what he went through. But there is a lot of mental head hopping which explains the emotions of these characters, but not enough action with them working through these issues and they are very heavy issues. They are not something that can be glossed over, which is what I felt happened.

The second major complaint I had with the story was the plot/world building. First of all, the evil bad guy from a previous book comes back to play in this story. I'm sorry, but if the characters already took the time to battle with him in the last book you can't just resurrect him and have him show up again. I mean, who's to say the guy doesn't just keep showing up again and again. Enough is enough. The author does take the time to explain it, but seriously it all just seemed way to flimsy to me. There are still a few characters who could get their stories, but at this point I have no desire to read them. This series is on the outs with me.

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Review - Frostbitten

Title: Frostbitten
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: October 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Checked it out from the library.

Frostbitten is the eleventh book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. Elena Michaels finds herself chasing down a mutt across the wilds of the Alaskan wilderness. What seems a simple mission at first, takes a deadly turn when Elena discovers half eaten dead bodies. Not only is she dealing with these grizzly murders, but she is also dealing with ghosts from her past and Jeremy's choice for new Pack leader, her. I strongly recommend reading this series in order and you can find more information about the series reading order from this post.

Just when I begin to wonder if there could be more to Clay and Elena's story, Kelley Armstrong is able to prove that indeed there is. Clay and Elena have been together for years now. Followers of this series have seen these two come a long way in terms of their relationship, which definitely started out on rocky terms. Clay and Elena got their "happily ever after" and are living it, but fortunately for fans their story didn't end there.

Elena has issues from her past which come to light in Frostbitten. Elena is back to narrating the story just like she did in Bitten and Stolen. Fans of those first two books will also really enjoy this one. Armstrong does a wonderful job of adding angst to the story while tying it into the mystery portion of the book. Elena works through these problems in her own way and this only showcases just how strong Elena truly is. I think readers are going to see a new side to Elena. One that they will like.

Frostbitten adds a new dimension to the supernatural world. New creatures are discovered, more mysteries are solved. There are some very suspenseful moments that had my heart pounding. I must say I found the Wendigo quite interesting and wonder if they will appear in any future books. All in all, I would say this is another excellent addition to the series.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Pushers Anonymous
Book Chick City
Love Romances and More
My Favorite Books
The Book Sanctuary

This book can be purchases in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

November Upcoming Releases!

This month there are only four releases that I am looking forward to. I think that is a record for the least amount of books I have been looking forward to in one month. I'll take it because my TBR pile is OUT OF CONTROL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anthology with Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter. I am interested mainly in the novella by Cole, which is part of her Immortals After Dark series.
In stores now

Book 4 of Tairen Soul Series
Romantic Fantasy
Releases 10/27

Book 4 in Legend of the Four Soldiers Series
European Historical
Releases 10/27

Originally published in 1974 being rereleased by Sourcebooks.
Epic Western
Releases 11/01

Thursday, October 22, 2009

TBR Challenge - Dark Paradise

Title: Dark Paradise
Author: Tami Hoag
Publication Date: 1994
Genre: Suspense (with romantic elements)
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I bought this book from a used book store several years ago. I am just now finally reading it for Keishon's TBR Challenge.

Marilee Jennings is fed up with trying to please everyone but herself. She was a court reporter for several years and she just recently quit her job and broke up with her boyfriend. She wants to take some time to decompress and find out what direction she wants to go with her new life. Her friend Lucy moved out to the small town of New Eden, Montana. Marilee knows Lucy will be supportive of this decision and she leaves California behind with high hopes. When she gets to Montana she discovers that Lucy was killed in a hunting accident and Marilee is her heir. Marilee is shocked by this change of events, to say the least. The longer Mari stays in New Eden, the longer she believes that Lucy was involved with something illegal. Mari is determined to get to the bottom of things.

Dark Paradise is so much more than just a suspense story. It is a story about people learning to deal with the crap life throws at you. To learn how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. Hoag knows how to pen realistic and sympathetic characters. She grabs the reader and hooks them into the story with these characters. At certain times the reader is going to be so frustrated and want to throw something at J.D's stubborn head or roll their eyes at Will's childish antics. Great connection with the characters, whether it's a positive or negative reaction is what makes this book such a strong read.

Even though this is a straight suspense, there is quite a bit of romance to it and I was surprised. I wasn't expecting that. Mari and J.D.'s romance unfolds slowly. At first, J.D. is more like an anti-hero. He tries to scare Mari off, mainly because he is attracted to her and doesn't like that he feels attracted to her. Mari stands her ground and doesn't let him bully her. She is the right mixture of spit-fire and vulnerability. I really liked her character. J.D. was harder to like because he is so angry about everything.

Where the story falters a little bit for me is this book comes in at 528 pages. It was a long book with a lot of characters narrating the story. Mari and J.D. spend some time contemplating their feelings for one another and some of it seemed repetitive. Also, there is a secondary romance between Will and Samantha, which I liked very much. After the conclusion to the suspense portion of the story, I wish Hoag would have come back and cleared up a few things with Will and Samantha. Something big happened to them, but their reunion happens off page and it would have been nice for the reader to experience this directly through the characters themselves. Other than that, for fans of suspense, I would definitely recommend Dark Paradise.

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review - A Perfect Darkness

Title: A Perfect Darkness
Author: Jaime Rush
Publication Date: 2009
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: The book was given away at RT 2009 and I got my copy signed.

A Perfect Darkness is the first book in a new Offspring series by Jaime Rush. Twenty years ago the government had a classified program involving people who had some form of psychic skills. They were given a special shot thought to enhance these psychic abilities, but there were unfortunate side effects, such as an enhanced sex drive and mental instability. Most of these individuals either died in accidents or committed suicide. They left behind families and more importantly children who also had psychic gifts. The man who first started the experiment years ago is now collecting the offspring and trying to use them in another experiment, regardless of whether or not they want to participate.

Amy Shane is one of these offspring. She has always known she is different from other people. She mainly keeps to herself, repairing peoples' computers. She is able to detect a person's mood based on the color of their aura. One night a man breaks into her apartment and tells her that she is in danger. A few minutes later men in black arrest and detain the man, who she later learns is Lucas. Amy begins an investigation into who Lucas is and she discovers a group of other people like herself, each with a different psychic ability. The more she learns the more she is convinced they must rescue Lucas from the men in black.

A Perfect Darkness is off and running in the first chapter and never lets up. Even though this book is marketed as paranormal romance, it could easily be marketed as romantic suspense, as well. There is a lot of action and suspense threaded throughout the story. Rush takes her time establishing just exactly what is going on. As Amy is thrown into this conspiracy theory, so is the reader. As Amy puts the pieces together some questions are answered and new ones crop up. The plot sort of reminded me of the television show Heroes. It is easy to see that there will be multiple plots interwoven between books in the series. The romance between Amy and Lucas was wrapped up by the end of this book.

This brings me to my major quibble with this book. Amy and Lucas spend about three-quarters of the book apart. Lucas is able to visit Amy in her dreams, but this leads me to another issue I had. Most of Lucas and Amy's relationship was established off page prior to them meeting officially face to face. Because it was off page, the reader doesn't get a chance to see them discover each other. I like it when there is time to see the relationship unfold. That was bypassed and instead, instantly Lucas and Amy are thrown together and the reader is just supposed to believe that these two are in love. The romance didn't work for me.

My favorite character by far was the morally ambiguous, Eric. He stole the show right from the beginning for me. The reader is never really certain if he is a good guy or a bad guy and I loved it. Rush has a lot of potential with this character and I can't wait to see what she does with him. A Perfect Darkness is a strong start for this new exciting series, but the romance was less than stellar. I am looking forward to see how the second book measures up.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
Darque Reviews

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging at Access Romance today

Hey! Come visit me over at Access Romance. I am airing my dirty laundry and posting a few of my pet peeves in romance novels. Come and join me!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Series Sunday - The Offspring by Jaime Rush

Jaime Rush aka Tina Wainscott has a new paranormal series out. It sort of reminded me a little of the TV show Heroes. Twenty years ago the US government had a confidential experiment involving people with psychic abilities. They were given a special injection that would enhance these abilities. Unfortunately, it came with some nasty side effects, such as mental instability and revved-up sex drives. All of them eventually ended up dead. The government shut down the program but kept tabs on the children of those first test subjects.

These children are now adults, each with different psychic abilities. A few of the Offspring grew up together, but others are scattered all around the states. The head scientist from the first experiment wants to start a second experiment using the Offspring. One by one he is hunting them down and planning on using them for his own nefarious purposes.

I have only read the first book in the series. I will post my review soon, but I was very impressed with the concept of this series. It was filled with thrilling suspense and interesting characters. I would highly suggest reading this series in order. Each book contains a stand alone romance, but there is a story arc that evolves from book to book. The first book was released in February 2009 and the second book just released this month.

Series Reading Order:

1. A Perfect Darkness (Lucas and Amy)
2. Out of the Darkness (Zoe and Rand)
3. Bitten by Cupid (Anthology) release date: January 2010
4. Touching Darkness (Nicholas and Olivia)
5. Burning Darkness (Raine and Eric) February 2011

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review - Tempt Me at Twilight

Title: Tempt Me at Twilight
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publishing Date: 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Rented this one from Paperspine

Tempt Me at Twilight is the third book in Lisa Kleypas' Hathaway series. Poppy Hathaway is almost finished with her third season. She feels confident that she and Michael Bayning are going to marry, just as soon as he tells his father. Michael is afraid his father won't approved of Poppy because of her less than normal family and less than blue blood. To complicate matters, Harry Rutledge the owner of the famous Rutledge Hotel wants Poppy for his own. Poppy has a way about her which Harry finds refreshing and surprising and not much surprises Harry anymore. What Harry wants Harry gets and he proceeds to come between Poppy and Michael.

It's no secret that I love Lisa Kleypas. She is easily one of my top five favorite authors. I didn't really have any big expectations going into this book, other than the fact it is written by Kleypas and was hoping for a good story. When I first started reading about Harry, I was worried that he wasn't good hero material. He is a ruthless man, cold and calculating, willing to do whatever is necessary to get what he wants. Even though I didn't like several underhanded things that he does to Poppy, I liked that he was upfront about who he was and doesn't apologize for his behavior.

The true beauty is that Harry slowly evolves from a villain to hero, all through his love for Poppy. Poppy really surprised me. In the previous books in this series, she hovered in the background and really didn't leave an impression on me. In this book she shines, though. She is sweet natured and wants nothing more than to live a peaceful and simple life. Her life is anything but that with the Hathaway's as her family. Then once Harry barges in and takes control she realizes that she is going to have to assert herself or Harry will walk all over her. She does this with grace and compassion.

Tempt Me at Twilight really is a lovely story. I love the family dynamics between the Hathaway's. This time we get more snippets between Leo and Ms. Marks, Leo with Poppy and Poppy with Beatrix. Kleypas truly give the reader a sense of kinship with these characters. This is a great series and is one that should reside on your keeper shelf.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
The Book Smugglers
Dear Author
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Happily Forever After
Lurv a la Mode
Impressions of a Reader
Book Pushers Anonymous
Romance Book Heaven

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kathleen Winsor Tribute - Top 16 Romances

Maili and Jessica are paying tribute to Kathleen Winsor, author of the infamous novel Forever Amber by creating their top 16 romance novels. If still alive Winsor would have been 90 today. I have actually read Forever Amber. I think it was about five or six years ago. It was one of those books that has been talked about with lots of controversy surrounding it, so naturally I was intrigued. It was second to only Gone with the Wind for shocking popularity during the 1940s. I could see why it was a shocking story, especially during that time period. It was written in 1945.

Amber, the main character was a very promiscuous woman willing to do what she thought was necessary in order to survive. I have to admit I didn't like her very much, nor the man she loved Bruce. Both were extremely selfish individuals. If was to review the book it would have been a difficult one to rate. I would have given it a "D" just based on the characters personalities and their shameless behavior. More than once I wanted to throw the book at the wall. The story itself is a sweeping saga that, if I remember correctly spans something like 15 years. It's not even really a romance because there is no happy ending and Amber sleeps with so many men, I lost count. I guess I am glad I can say I read it. Was it worth it? Absolutely not, LOL.

So this is turning out to be some tribute! Now for the fun stuff. It was difficult to do, but some how I managed to come up with a list of my top 16 romances. These are not in any particular order. That would be impossible.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. Annie's Song by Catherine Andersen
3. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
4. Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu
5. Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
6. Heaven Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
7. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
8. Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole
9. The Shadow and The Star by Laura Kinsale
10. Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockman
11. Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarty
12. Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas
13. Cry No More by Linda Howard
14. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
15. The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review - Wild Sweet Ecstasy

Title: Wild Sweet Ecstasy
Author: Jo Goodman
Publishing Date: 1992
Genre: Western
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Received from Paperbackswap. I am on a Jo Goodman kick and wanted to read something old skool.

Mary Michael Dennehy who goes by the name of Michael, is a woman in a man's world. She dreams of being a reporter for a big newspaper. She is one of the few women with a college education, but most men still view her as inferior and she is bound and determined to change their opinions. Ethan Stone is working undercover infiltrating a gang of thieves who have managed to rob a series of trains. On one train heist he recognizes Michael as the stubborn woman in the newsroom. He can't have her blowing his cover, in order to save her life and his own he has to take her hostage and claims she is his estranged wife. Michael doesn't recognize him and is determined to escape.

Personalities clash in Wild Sweet Ecstasy. Michael is one stubborn cookie and lives by a set of very high moral standards. One might think it would be easy to dislike her, but the good thing about Michael is she can easily admit when she is wrong. Ethan Stone hovers over the line drawn between hero and anti-hero. He has to believably portray that he is a criminal for the other thieves to trust him. He is willing to do what it takes and if that means shooting a man, or kidnapping a woman he will and does.

On the one hand Wild Sweet Ecstasy is classic bodice ripper. Ethan is at times very cruel and mean to Michael. Michael, while captive starts to feel attracted to Ethan despite his behavior and after a certain revelation she begins to believe he didn't really kill anyone, that maybe he is a good man after all. There is a very interesting scene between the two of them when Ethan is trying to dismiss her notion that he is a good man and for her to accept that she is attracted to him. He emphasizes that not only is she attracted to him, but that she is attracted to him as a bad man. And if she is going to come to him, she will only come to him after she has accepted him as he is now, and not as the man she thinks he could be. I found this all very interesting, that Ethan does not allow her to hide behind an illusion of her own making, even though it eventually turns out to be true.

This is the kind of character development and thought provoking writing that Jo Goodman is known for. I feel that Wild Sweet Ecstasy is a mixed bag. On the one hand the writing is excellent, as is the dialogue and character development. On the other hand the storyline felt cliched and dated. I expected this when reading this story, so I may have been more lenient than another reader. Also, I should mention that Wild Sweet Ecstasy is the first book in the Dennehy Sisters series. Unfortunately, this book is out of print.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why I Started Blogging

Wendy the Super Librarian had an interesting post a while back that got me thinking. The part of that post I am going to focus on is where Wendy talks about how blogging has changed over the last five years and not necessarily in a good way. With the explosion of the blogging community and blogs playing a more important role in book marketing, more and more blogs have taken a more businesslike approach to blogging. Things like "page visits", "ARC reviews" and "author interviews" are becoming more and more prevalent.

At the end of the rant post, Wendy asks the question: Just step back and think for a moment. Think back to why you started blogging. Think back to a time when blogging and the online romance community made you happy. Think back and remember. Hold on to it.

So Wendy, this one is for you. I liked the question you posed and I chose to ponder it. Why DID I start blogging?

My discovery of the romance community went a little something like this:

Romantic Times - reviews and message board
All About Romance - reviews and message board
From the message boards found bloggers - Sybil, KristiJ, Jace
Those bloggers led to other bloggers - Wendy, Lori, Nath, etc.

The online romance community fills a void in my life. No one I know spends a lot of time reading books, let alone romance books. So when I discovered message boards that had literally hundreds of people who read the same kind of books I did, I was in sheer heaven. Problem was, when someone recommended a book, if you weren't aware of their taste in reading, you might end up with a less than stellar book. That was where blogs were helpful. After reading an individual person's blog, you could get a feel for the type of books they liked and know if you would like the same books they liked based on their past reviews.

Many times if a blogger recommended a book, I would look back in their archives to see how they felt about a book that I really loved. If they gave it a good grade, then I knew we would have similar tastes. If they hated everything I loved, then I would know which recommendations to steer clear of. Sometimes, I would look up a book in the bloggers archives only to see that the book hadn't been reviewed.

Eventually, this led me to want to start my own blog. I wanted to be able to do for others what these bloggers were doing for me, giving me a place to recommend and talk about romance books. When I started my blog, my goal was to review every book I read. Yes, you read that right. I did say EVERY book I read. So far, for close to two years I have been able to achieve my goal. The main goal for my blog was to be a review database so romance readers would be able to decided for themselves which of my recommendations would work for them, based on my own preferences and dislikes. Hopefully, they would have enough background information to make an informed decision.

That in a nutshell was the reason why I started blogging and until I get tired of it or run out of things to say, I will continue to do it. I love statistics and numbers and seeing my database of reviews growing every week makes me giddy. I am a complete dork that way. Believe me, it is very easy to get side-tracked when other bloggers start talking about ARC's and site traffic. I start getting worried that maybe I am not as exciting as other blogs. Maybe people want to read author interviews or maybe I should be giving away books left and right. Then I slap myself around and tell myself, "Stop it, damn it! You don't have to do what everybody else is doing. Just stick to what you know, and what you wanted to do. Don't worry about everybody else!" I usually come to my senses after that.

Now you know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Review - Club Dead

Title: Club Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publishing Date: 2003
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Mystery)
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Received as a gift from a co-worker for my birthday

Club Dead is the third book in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mystery Series featuring Sookie Stackhouse. Bill is working on a secret project. He is required by his Queen to take a trip and ends up kidnapped by the King of Mississippi. Eric comes to Sookie with a plan to rescue Bill, but Sookie will have to go undercover and see what she can learn by reading the minds of humans working with the Mississippi vampires. Alcide, a werewolf who owes the vampires a favor is tasked with keeping Sookie safe. He also provides a way for Sookie to get close to the Mississippi vampires.

In Club Dead I was slightly frustrated with Sookie and Bill. Sookie was quick to believe the worst in Bill. I was surprised that she took what Eric told her at face value instead of waiting until she had the facts straight from Bill. And then there is Bill. I was a fan of Bill, but now I am not so sure. His behavior in this book was very strange. Since the story is told from Sookie's point of view the reader doesn't really know why Bill acted the way he did. It was touched on very briefly, but I would have liked an in depth explanation from Bill. It could have been just a way for Harris to further Sookie's relationship with Eric. At this point, I might be rooting for Sookie to hook up with someone more "alive".

What I really enjoy about Sookie is she is just such a refreshing character to read. She has a really big heart, and is very loving and soft, but cross her or show bad manners and be prepared to be knocked down a peg or two. When backed into a corner she comes out fighting.

Ms. Harris does a great job of creating diverse and very intriguing characters. Her writing is vivid and descriptive. My personal favorite was Bubba. I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't read the book. Let's just say he is a famous character. Readers will love immersing themselves in the world she has created. I for one, easily finished this book in a day. I can't wait to see where Sookie is headed for her next adventure.

Here is what others had to say:

Avid Book Reader
J. Kaye's Book Blog
Thrifty Reader
The Book Smugglers

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format at Amazon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review - Highland Dragon

Title: Highland Dragon
Author: Kimberly Killion
Publishing Date: October 2009
Genre: Medieval
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Received an ebook from the author

Calin is the Lard of Clan MacLeod and has been engaged to the daughter of the rival clan Kinnon since he was ten years old. The match was made to bring peace between the two clans, but on the night Akira was born things went terribly wrong. Calin's father was murdered right before his very eyes and Akira would have been killed too if it wasn't for Calin's quick thinking. He secreted Akira away, to grow into a young woman and when the time was right, Calin would come back for her and make her his wife.

Akira had always known she was different. She didn't look like any of her family. She also was sent to school through her benefactor and she knew that one day she would marry him. She hoped he would be kind to her and give her the babies she longs for. At eighteen, her family believed that her betrothed had come for her, but instead she is kidnapped. Calin finds this out when he comes for Akira himself. Along with Akira's foster brother, Calin rides to get back his bonny bride.

Akira is an interesting combination of a forthrightness, but she is also inexperienced in the ways of the world. Yet for only being eighteen, which I think is young for a heroine (I am showing my age here) she comes across as older. Although, she does have her moments of immaturity, but for the most part she is a thoughtful individual. I found the exchanges between Akira and Calin, especially in the beginning of the story when they first meet, to be a lot of fun to read. There are some really good conversations between the two of them. Calin likes to tease Akira for her naivete.

Calin has a lot of secrets he is keeping from Akira and this eventually drives a rift between the two. Readers know early on that this is going to happen because there is plenty of foreshadowing. That is the one drawback to big misunderstandings. They tend to leave a black cloud over the romance, because the reader knows that eventually the secrets will come out. They just don't know when.

There are also some complicated politics between the clans. I felt like I followed along fine, but there were a few shaky moments. I got a little confused when the English were brought into it. Fortunately, I felt like everything was clearly wrapped up at the end. One interesting secondary character Catriona, Calin's former mistress was a surprise. Her character starts out as a vindictive woman, but later on changes her tune due to Akira's forgiveness. I always enjoy reading about a villain who is redeemable. Some villains aren't redeemable and there is one of those in this story too.

Here is what others had to say:

Leontine's Book Realm
Book Junkie
Heather's Reading Romance
The Good, The Bad, The Unread

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format at Amazon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

RT Book Challenge

I have officially decided to attend RT 2010 this year. For those of you who aren't aware, RT Magazine (formerly Romantic Times Magazine) holds an annual convention for readers, authors and booksellers. I went last year and had a fabulous time. This year it is in Columbus, Ohio April 28 - May 2, 2010. It just so happens that my 10th anniversary falls during the convention and I figured it was a lost cause. But wait... my very flexible and understanding husband agreed that we could celebrate our anniversary the weekend before. Whoo hooo! Is he a great guy or what?! I know - total romance hero material!

So, on with the story. I met a plethora of authors. Some of these authors I had read and others I had never even heard of (and I consider myself something of an expert on the subject of romance authors). Shame, shame on me, eh. After meeting some of the authors, who were all very nice people and had interesting backstories, I really wanted to read their books. Some of them I have been able to read and others have sat on my TBR shelf patiently, waiting for me to get to them.

To give myself an extra push I have decided to devise an RT Reading Challenge. I have seven months with which to run this challenge. The rules as I see them are this:

1. The author has to be attending RT 2010. A list of authors participating can be found here. The list is constantly being updated, so check back frequently. Also, let me know if the link stops working.

2. It has to be an author you haven't read before.

3. Pick a number to read each month. For me, my goal is to read two books a month for a total of 14 books until I attend RT in April.

Anyone else going to RT and interested in participating? Anyone, not going to RT and interested in participating? Please, anyone is welcome to join the challenge. Feel free to steal use the challenge logo on your own blogs.

What I'll do is have an open post at the beginning of each month. When you complete a book and post your review, leave a comment with the link. I'll have a link to the post in my sidebar that you can easily access at anytime during the month. I'll update the post regularly to include your review link. Sound easy enough? I hope so. This is my first time hosting a challenge :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review - A Marquis To Marry

Title: A Marquis To Marry
Author: Amelia Grey
Publication Date: October 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Received an ARC from Sourcebook's publicist

A Marquis To Marry is the second book in Amelia Grey's The Rogues Dynasty Series. Ever since the announcement of his inheritance from his grandmother of the famous Talbot Pearls, the Marquis of Raceworth, known by his friends as Race, has been getting bombarded with all kinds of inquiries. The most surprising is when he gets a visit from the Dowager Duchess of Brookfield. He has never met the Duchess and is surprised to learn that she is not old at all, but beautiful and about the same age as himself. As he meets with her in one of his sitting rooms he discovers that she believes him to be the wrongful owner of her mother's famous Talbot Pearls. She all but accuses him of stealing them from her family.

This series focuses on three cousins Lucien the Duke of Blackwell, Alexander the Marquis of Raceworth and Lucas the Earl of Morgandale. I didn't read the first book, which was about the Duke. There were a few times he and his duchess or past events were alluded too in A Marquis to Marry. I didn't feel lost, but I knew there was more to the story than I was given.

The biggest issue I had with this book was that it was boring. There was a lot of internalizing done by both Race and Susannah which slowed the momentum of the story down. I would have rather had the characters act than think. Race seemed to be more impulsive with his judgement and behavior than Susannah, who was much more refined with expressing her passion. The characters where enjoyable, I just would have liked to have seen more action.

A Marquis To Marry also had a screwball comedic feel to it. There is a secondary plot involving Race's good friend Gibby. Gibby is an older gentleman in his sixties who is called out to a duel for dishonoring another man's spinster sister. When asked his choice of weapon, Gibby chooses fists. So, two men who are not in their prime are going to have a boxing match. Seemed a little silly to me and I am sure this was the point. While I enjoyed Gibby's character, I am not really a fan of silliness. From what I could garner, Gibby has a habit of getting into scrapes and the cousins have to bale him out. I believe something similar happens in all the books. At least that was my impression.

Here is what others had to say:

The Book Girl
Love Romance Passion
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Maymay's Memos
Anna's Book Blog

This book can be purchased in print format from Amazon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Making A Change

The book reviewing/blogging world has gotten their panties all in a twist over new regulations being put into place by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) This is a United States government run agency devoted to protecting the consumer. They recently posted an article about consumer endorsements through blogs or celebrities. Apparently, this will affect book bloggers as well. Those of us who receive payment for endorsing a book (through Amazon Associates program) or receive a book from an author or publisher and keep the book have to disclose this to the public.

Personally, I don't see what everybody is so worked up about. I seriously doubt the government is going to have time to see what little o'l me is doing in my neck of the woods. Seriously, I am small potatoes. I know. They know it. Why would they waste their time?

But, I am a born rule follower. Yep. I like to dot my "i's" and cross my "t's". So, to play it safe I will be adding a new addition to my blog. I will now disclose to you, the consumer, where I got my book from. You are used to the format I use when I set up a review, where I list the title, author etc. Here is an example of what the new format will look like using the book Shadow Touch:

Title: Shadow Touch
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Publishing Date: 2006
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Checked this one out at the library.

Consider yourself disclosed. May you make an informed decision!

PS. I haven't decided if I am going to go back through all my previous posts and include this information. It is going to depend on my time and how seriously I take the rule following issue :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Review - Beloved Vampire

Title: Beloved Vampire
Author: Joey W. Hill
Publishing Date: August 2009
Genre: Paranormal (Erotic)
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Hot

Jessica Tyson was taken against her will and forced to become a vampire's servant. After five years of servitude she was given the opportunity to end the vampire's life and she took it. Only she was partially third-marked which means she didn't die right away like she should have. Instead she is slowly wasting away. Her will to live has exceeded her body's need to parish. Before she leaves this earth she is determined to find the grave of Farida whose diary kept her sane all those years. Once she finds Farida's tomb she is discovered by Lord Mason, Farida's lover who also happens to be a vampire. Lord Mason saves Farida's life the only way he knows how by marking her as his servant.

I had a hard time with Beloved Vampire. Jessica suffered horrible, indescribable torture at the hands of the sadistic vampire, Raithe. I was very disgusted by the things Raithe did to Jessica. She has HUGE baggage that she needs to deal with in order to gain some semblance of control over her life. She doesn't trust any vampires or anyone associated with vampires. To top things off she is a natural submissive and is confused by her desire to submit to someone stronger than her. She feels the need to please, yet feels guilty or ashamed by these submissive feelings.

Lord Mason is also tortured by his past. He had loved in the past and that love ended very tragically. Both he and Jessica need to overcome HUGE amounts of baggage before they can heal and move on with their lives. Here in lies the crutch of the problem for me. I felt that Mason and Jessica's relationship was overshadowed by each of their own individual problems that I did not believe in their romance. It was almost as if it was too much for me to comprehend and be able to relate too. I hate to say it be I was also bored on a certain level because the story became stagnant. Before Jessica could move forward she had to work through her issues and it seemed to stall the movement of the relationship between her and Mason.

Beloved Vampire is part of the Vampire Queen series. I don't feel that the other books need to be read in order to read this book. It is not the best of the series in my opinion. Although, other characters from previous books to play a small role in this story. I am sorry to say, I can not recommend this book.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author (who really liked it)
Darque Reviews
Tour's Books Blog
The Geeky Bookworm

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review - Sliding Home

Title: Sliding Home
Author: Kate Angell
Publishing Date: September 2009
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Sliding Home is one of Kate Angell's Richmond Rogues books. Kason Rhodes plays left field for the Richmond Rogues, a professional baseball team based in Richmond Virginia. For the last six weeks he has been down in Florida spring training. He comes back to his trailer to find that someone, a woman has invaded his home and been living in it. Dayne Sheridan is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after being dumped on air by her former DJ boyfriend. With hardly anything to her name, the abandoned mobile home seems like the perfect place for her to heal and rebuild her life.

Kate Angell's writing is very breezy and light and Sliding Home is no exception. It is what I would call the quintessential beach read. There are no heavy conflicts needing to be resolved. The characters are normal, down-to-earth people and are fun to read about. Their situations mirror real life and they deal with common problems most of us face in our own lives.

I really enjoyed reading about Kason and Dayne. Kason is a loner and most people at first glance would think him a bruiser or criminal. He really is stand-offish with most people but for some reason Dayne has the gift to get under his skin. She has a quiet strength that draws Kason to her like bees to honey. There is a secondary romance between the Rogues' publicist and first baseman Rayden Dunn. Theirs is a cute story and it doesn't take away from Kason and Dayne.

This book is not breaking any new ground, but it's fun and entertaining. If you are looking for something to really sink your teeth in, this book is not it. If you want to pick up something light for a quick escape, then I recommend it.

Here is what others had to say:

Another Book on the Stack

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September Book Summary

Wow, can you believe that September is over already? Jeez, this year is flying by and now there are only three more months left! I just squeaked by this month with a total of twelve books read this month. The thing I am really pleased about is that 10 of the books managed to be published this year, which is a good thing because I am behind in my reading pile for books published this year. I hope I can keep this pace for the rest of the year.

I had a mixture of duds and studs. I was disappointed in two authors I usually enjoy (Shannon McKenna and Joey W. Hill) and found a few new authors (Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kimberly Killion and Eva Gordon) who I will be revisiting at some point. I even managed to complete both the TBR Challenge and Re-Read Challenge.

1. Werewolf Sanctuary, Gordon (Paranormal) Rating: B-
2. Prime Time, Ryan (Mystery) Rating: B
3. On a Wicked Dawn, Laurens (Historical) Rating: C+
4. Hunting Ground, Briggs (Paranormal) Rating: A-
5. Never Love a Lawman, Goodman (Western) Rating: B
6. Tasting Fear, McKenna (Rom. Suspense) Rating: D
7. At Grave's End, Frost (Paranormal) Rating: B+
8. The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, Angelini (Contemporary) Rating: C+
9. Sliding Home, Angell (Contemporary) Rating: B
10. Beloved Vampire, Hill (Paranormal/Erotic) Rating: C-
11. Highland Dragon, Killion (Medieval) Rating: B+
12. Shadow Touch, Liu (Paranormal) Rating: A