Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review - Simon Says

Title: Simon Says
Author: Lori Foster
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the library. I chose to read it because Lori Foster will be at the RT convention this year.

When Dakota Dream walked into Simon's life he felt the first stirrings of lust in six months. That was when he walked out on his girlfriend after finding out she had cheated on him. Training for hs comeback match in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Simon does not need this complication in his life. Dakota has her own set of problems, too. She has been blackmailed by her stepfather to find Simon, his lost son. What Dakota didn't anticipate was ending up caring for Simon more than the hold her stepfather has on her.

Simon Says has a lot going for it. The hero Simon is quite delectable with his hot body and protective, alpha personality. Simon might be Alpha, but he's never over bearing about it. He and Dakota hit it off fairly early on in the story. They communicate well and there is a lot of good dialogue. Simon has a slew of fighter buddies and they all add interest and personality to the story. So, why was my overall impression of this book just okay?

Well, one thing in particular was that the heroine came across as a little immature. Not in the way that she was childish in a brat sort of way, but more like she felt like a young character and I couldn't relate to her being an old biddy, myself. I don't really know how to explain it. Dakota just felt like she had growing to do. The other thing is that the characters walked a fine line between being developed and being cookie-cutter. I felt like there was development, but maybe it just wasn't quite completed. I enjoyed Simon Says while reading it, but it just didn't have that WOW factor.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author
Book Pimping One Review at a Time
Enchanting Reviews
Tracy's Place

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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Loot and Links

I figure it's that time again to announce what books I have been receiving these last few weeks. As if you really care, but hey... you just might. I had a coupon from Borders for 33% off of one book. I get these every week, but I finally decided to put it to good use. I chose Tortured by Amanda McIntyre. She is one of the authors who will be appearing at the RT Convention in Columbus Ohio. She writes for Harlequin's Spice line, which is a line I really enjoy - hello, Megan Hart - so I thought why not give it a try.

I also am a huge fan of Madeline Hunter. I bought Ravishing in Red, which is her latest release from her new series The Rarest Blooms. Kristie J has a fabulous review already posted here. Last but not least I bought Jennifer Ashley's Pride Mates. It is a new shifter series. Although, it hasn't gotten the greatest reviews, I still want to try it out for myself.

This week my turn finally came up for a few of the books on my wait list. I received the second book in Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet, Bed of Roses and A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. I didn't have designs on Balogh's book but after reading Hilcia's review, I couldn't resist. Even though it's short, Hilcia says it still delivers.

Next up would be freebies! Whoot. Gotta love those! I received a copy of Truly, Madly by Heather Webber. This book is releasing February 2010 and is a debut novel. I read a review of it a month ago by Kris at The Reading Spot. It sparked my interest and a friend of mine sent me the book. I also had the good fortune to win Viking in Love by Sandra Hill from Book Binge. They had this crazy affair called the "Twelve Days of Christmas" offering contests each day. I was lucky enough to be the winner on one of the days. I love a good Viking book and they are few and far between, so here's to hoping this is a good one.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review - Dead to the World

Title: Dead to the World
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: 2004
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: A friend bought me this book for my birthday.

Dead to the World is book four in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Mystery Series. In this book, as Sookie is driving home from Merlotte's bar, where she waitresses she finds the vampire Eric on the side of the road, naked. Eric has no recollection of who he is so Sookie being the sweet southern girl that she is, takes him to her home and calls his vampire friends. It turns out Sookie will need to hide Eric because a Witch Coven has come to town. These aren't just any ordinary witches either. These are very powerful shifter witches who happen to be addicted to vampire blood.

Dead to the World is another fine addition to the Sookie series. I personally find Sookie to be a nice, practical girl. Though, she will let her claws show if provoked enough. In this story, she has broken up with Bill and Bill has gone off to South America to work more on his vampire directory. Sookie finds herself in the middle of vampires, witches and shifters when she is tasked with hiding Eric. Eric is not the same since he can't remember his past. He is much nicer and Sookie can't help but be drawn to this new personality.

Personally, I missed the old Eric with his sense of humor. Although, I did like how the new Eric treated Sookie, with much more respect and as an equal. There are new shifter characters, most notable were Calvin Norris and his clan. There has been too much inbreeding amongst Calvin's clan and he'd like Sookie to mate with him to add new genes. Alcide and his group also show up to help defeat the witches. There is quite a lot going on, but it all comes to an exciting conclusion. The book definitely leaves this reader ready for more.

Here is what others had to say:

Reading with Tequila
Bailey's and Books
Mindful Musings
Well-Read Reviews
I'm Booking It
My Reading Room

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Central Florida Blogger Meet Up!

Kris, from The Reading Spot and I are organizing a Central FL book blogger get together. On February 13th, we will be meeting in Orlando for lunch and then heading out for (what else)- book shopping! Please email either Kris at (froggykm at gmail dot com) or I (email is under my profile) if you are interested in joining us. We plan on doing this regularly, so be sure to send us an email if you are interested, even if the 13th doesn't work for you. We want to make sure you are on the list for next time. Details will go out via email as soon as everything is nailed down. It is sure to be a fabulous time!! I think we can give those So. Cal. bloggers a run for their money!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review - Fault Line

Title: Fault Line
Author: Barry Eisler
Publication Date: March 2009
Genre: Mainstream Fiction/Thriller
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Received a signed copy from Mr. Eisler at the Romantic Times Convention 2009.

Alex Trevan is a patent lawyer and when one of his clients, the creator of a new encryption software is found dead in a parking lot, Alex has a feeling this is not just a random shooting. After more bodies start turning up - all of them involved with this patent - Alex knows he is next. He is also worried for the safety of his assistant, Sara. With nowhere else to turn he calls in his brother Ben, a black ops military soldier, for help.

I must say that the whole reason why I moved Fault Line to the top of the TBR pile was because of Caroline Jewel's positive review that I read over at Dear Author. She really had me curious about this book. It's not a romance, yet she did point out that there was romance in it. Low and behold, I was pleasantly surprised with my reaction to Fault Line.

The main plot of the story has to do with Alex trying to figure out why someone would want to kill for this computer program. But, that is not the reason why the book held my attention. What really intrigued me was the relationship between Alex and Ben. The two brothers have a lot of animosity towards each other. At first, you get Alex's perspective and immediately begin to empathize with him and take his side. But slowly, over the course of the story Ben's perspective comes into play and you realize that nothing is cut and dry and that both men have a point. That to me is the real beauty of this story.

There is romance in this story, not a lot, but enough to satisfy me. I don't want to say too much about the romance, mainly because what I thought was going to happen didn't. I am actually glad it didn't because I think things worked out better the way Eisler wrote them. Hah! That's why he is the writer and I'm the reader. Also, there is quite a little twist to the ending involving who was after the computer program. I love how the ethics in this book are outlined in different shades of grey, instead the boring black and white we are normally familiar with. It makes for very interesting reading. However, the beginning of the book is a little slow. If you can hold out until Ben gets into town you are in for a treat. I definitely recommend this thriller for when you are in the mood for something different from the stereotypical romance books, especially if you are a fan of suspense.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author guest reviewer Carolyn Jewel
Dear Author guest reviewer Phyl
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Series Sunday - The Rarest Blooms

Madeline Hunter is one of my favorite authors. Originally, she began writing medievals and then moved on to regencies. Her writing is well balanced by strong characters and good plots, with plenty of action. Her other regency series, The Rothwells is another favorite of mine.

Currently, she has back to back releases of a new regency historical quartet, The Rarest Blooms. The first book Ravishing in Red is set to release in a couple of days, followed by Provocative in Pearls in late February. Here is a little information about the first two books.

The Rarest Blooms #1
Jove Books
February 2010 (On Sale January 26th)


Armed with her cousin’s pistol, Audrianna travels to a coaching inn, to meet with a man who may have information that will clear her dead father’s name. She does not realize that the handsome man of commanding sensuality who shows up is not the person she expected, but instead Lord Sebastian Summerhays, one of her father’s persecutors, lured to the inn by the same advertisement that brought her there.

When the pistol accidentally fires, the situation becomes mortifyingly public, and thoroughly misunderstood. Audrianna is prepared to live with the scandal. Lord Sebastian has other ideas. . . Excerpt

The Rarest Blooms #2
Jove Books
March 2010 (On Sale February 23rd)


When Verity’s past abruptly finds her, her recent behavior promises to unleash the scandal of the decade. Of more concern to her, she now has to outwit fate or be forced back into a marriage to a lord whom she never freely accepted. She never expects for the stranger who is her husband to create so much sensual excitement, however, or for her quest for the life she was supposed to live instead to reveal a conspiracy that endangers them both. Excerpt

Series Reading Order:
1. Ravishing in Red
2. Provocative in Pearls
3. Sinful in Satin (fall 2010)
4. Dangerous in Diamonds (spring 2011)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review - A Duke of Her Own

Title: A Duke of Her Own
Author: Eloisa James
Publishing Date: July 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: A
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

A Duke of Her Own is the 6th book in Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses series. Lady Eleanor finds herself as one of the two women the Duke of Villiers is considering for his bride. The Duke has six illegitimate children who he plans to openly accept into society and he needs an appropriate Duchess who would be able to ease their way. Eleanor had her heart broken when her childhood love, The Duke of Astley was forced to wed another. Eleanor hasn't been able get over him and deep within her heart believed that he would come back to her. The Duke of Villiers awakens a part of Eleanor she never knew about herself and she finds herself most intrigued by his outrageous ways.

This was my first, ever book by Eloisa James and I absolutely adored it! I don't know how she has managed to give me the slip all this time, but I must remedy this situation immediately. James' writing is oh so very smart. The characters are just down-right bold and clever, but it is all held within the historical time period. Also, the pacing of the book is sublime. The balance between internal characterization and external action is perfect. The secondary characters were all just wonderful too. I mean really, I was just blown away by this book!

Here is a small snippet of the writing. This little scene in the beginning of the book between Eleanor and Villiers had me chuckling.

He looked her directly in the face. "I have six illegitimate children."

Eleanor felt her mouth slip open, and snapped her teeth together. Was she supposed to congratulate him? "Oh," she ventured.

"I wish to marry someone who will not only mother my bastards, but launch them into proper society when the appropriate time comes. The Beaumonts have assured me that no woman below your rank will be able to cow the ton to the extent that I demand. You needn't look so surprised. I assure you that many men at this ball have a bastard or two being raised in the country."

There was something extraordinarily annoying about the way he paused after that, as if expecting her to scream and faint. "One or two... versus six," she said musingly. "I gather you have led a life of rather extraordinary dissipation."

"I'm not as young as I look."

"You don't look very young," she observed.

"I see you're not expecting to charm your way into a title."

Essentially, the Duke was a careless and selfish man who made bad choices. Something happened to him in a previous book and on his deathbed he made a promise to God that he would take care of his children. Now the Duke is trying to turn over a new leaf and has plans to become a family man. The beauty of this story is that his transformation is very believable because he still does outrageous things. Plus with Eleanor he has finally met his match. She's not ever going to just fall at his feet and worship him. She matches wits with him and keeps him comfortably challenged. A Duke of Her Own is a true gem and I highly recommend it!

Here is what others had to say:

Musings of a Bibliophile
Medieval Bookworm
Monkey Bear Reviews
Bookishly Attentive
The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Love, Romances and More

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review - Deep Kiss of Winter

Title: "Untouchable" in the duology Deep Kiss of Winter
Author: Kresley Cole
Publication Date: October 2009
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

"Untouchable" is part of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. Murdoch Wroth is a Vampire who has been fighting for centuries against the Horde, rogue vampires who have killed from feeding. Murdoch has taken a vow never to take blood from a live source and has spent his immortality trying to bring down those that have. As a vampire until he meets his bride his heart doesn't beat and he has no need to breathe. His mission leads him to New Orleans where he discovers his Bride is half Valkyrie, half Ice Maiden. Murdoch has to get very creative in wooing his little Bride because Daniela cannot be touched by anyone else. Her skin literally burns. How then will Daniela and Murdoch consummate their growing passion?

"Untouchable" wasn't a bad read by any means, but compared to the other stories in this series something appeared to be missing. It was like it just didn't have that spark of magic to make it a favorite. Part of the problem was Murdoch. He was sort of an ass. He is terribly clueless about relationships and more importantly romance. Luckily for Murdoch and this book, Daniela is determined to teach him how to win his Valkyrie Bride.

Kresley Cole's signature style was evident with quick and quirky dialogue between Daniela and Murdoch. There were also a few clever and imaginative sex scenes since Murdoch and Daniela can't touch. I wondered how Cole was going to get around that issue. One interesting thing about Murdoch and Daniela's story was the timeline. Their romance overlaps the same time frame that romances from previous books took place. It's hard for me to say if this story would stand on its own or not. I am sure it could, but the comings and goings of other characters might get confusing. In summary, it was an okay addition to the series, but not my favorite.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
The Book Smugglers
Smexy Books
Smokin Hot Books
The Geeky Bookworm
Book Junkie
I'm Booking It
Mindful Musings
All About {n}
The Book Lush
Single Titles
My Reading Addiction
What Book is That

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review - Breathless

Title: Breathless
Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Publishing Date: 1999
Genre: Historical
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Obtained a used copy from Paperbackswap.

Lily Morgan's reputation was ruined when her husband divorced her under grounds for adultery. Lily never cheated on her husband, if anything it was the other way around. But when Lily was put on the stand, Daniel Walker the hot shot lawyer twisted and turned her testimony until she did look guilty and the jury agreed. Every year on the anniversary of her divorce Lily goes down to the courthouse and makes an appeal to shut down the cathouse, which she believes was responsible for her husband's wandering ways. Daniel Walker a big time lawyer in Atlanta, soon to be senator, has been asked to get the house reopened. He heads back to his hometown to once again match wits with the infamous Lily Morgan.

I love a good romance where the heroine and hero are at odds with each other in the beginning of the story. Then as the story progresses they begin to realize that there is an awfully thin line between love and hate and the next thing they know instead of arguing they are kissing. Breathless is one such story and Lily and Daniel battle against one another - Lily to keep prostitution out of her town and Daniel to keep it in. Lily and Daniel are both clever people and the fight is a brutal one.

What I really enjoyed about this story were Lily and Daniel's characterizations. Both were richly drawn and the reader is easily sympathetic to both of them. It is hard to take sides and eventually the outcome the reader is rooting for will be to see both win. I love the dynamics of the town's people. It really brings the story and the setting to life. It plays a major role in the book. As a matter of fact, the whole town at one point is women vs. men.

There is a side plot involving an unsolved murder. Eventually, Daniel represents the boy who is on trial. This is where the book slowed for me some. The middle sags when Daniel and Lily's relationship doesn't move forward because of the trial. Also, facts about the murder aren't revealed until the trial happens, so those few chapters adding up to the big reveal seem slow in comparison to the rest of the story. That is why I gave this book a B instead of an A. Breathless is definitely worth a read if you enjoy a clever hero and heroine at odds with each other in the beginning.

Here is what others had to say:

Renee Reads Romance
Book Binge
Thrifty Reader
Dev's Good Reads

This book can be purchased in print format from Amazon

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review - Switch

Title: Switch
Author: Megan Hart
Publishing Date: January 2010
Genre: Erotic Fiction
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Burning
Book Disclosure: Bought new

Paige finds an anonymous note in her mailbox. It's not meant for her, but instead it’s meant for her neighbor. She can't help but be intrigued by the strange command on the expensive paper. The anonymous notes keep coming, getting bolder and bolder. They take Paige on a journey of self discovery.

I am being sort of vague with my summary of the plot because I think one of the strengths of Switch is the unusual method through which it's told. Paige narrates in first person point of view in present time, but there are little clips of her past seen though her memories especially her past relationship with Austin. The twists and turns the story takes and the fact that the reader has no idea where the story is going leads to a very fun and intriguing journey.

At first, I didn't completely like Paige. She seemed cold, emotionally distancing herself from others and her own perception on life. Eventually, I realized that her faults are what make her a great character and seem truly genuine. This is what I love about Hart's writing. Her characters always seem so real, as if they aren't characters in a book acting out their lives for the enjoyment of the reader, but real people with problems they have to work through.

My one quibble would have been to expand more on Paige and Austin's relationship. I felt like I was just given a glimpse of what went on in their relationship and I would have loved to have been shown more. I think Switch was much more focused on Paige's own self discovery, rather than her relationship with Austin. However, Paige’s self discovery is what made this book work for me. Megan Hart has another winner on her hands with Switch!

Here is what others had to say:

Fiction Vixen
The Book Girl
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Cheeky Reads
Reading with Tequila

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's My Turn - Readers Gab

It's my turn over at Access Romance Reader's Gab. Join me in discussing what makes a book a favorite. For me it's all about characterization. Care to agree or disagree?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Review - Shattered

Title: Shattered
Author: Joan Johnston
Publishing Date: Jan 2010
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Received a free copy from publicist.

Shattered is book 8 in Joan Johnston's Bitter Creek series. Usually, I am a stickler for reading a series in order, but I broke my own rules with this book. This is my first time ever reading Joan Johnston and believe me when I say I was annoyed to find that I was starting with book 8. But I did promise I would review this book and I wasn't about to read all 7 previous books, just to catch up. Then I saw Casee's review over at Book Binge. She had been waiting years for Jack's story. She was also majorly disappointed in the book. (Her review has spoilers, so be careful if you read it). Now, I believe that I have an advantage in not having read the previous books.

Kate Grayhawk Pendleton had a one night stand 9 years ago that resulted in the creation of her twin boys. She was married at the time and remained married to JD until he faked his death in Afghanistan. Kate never knew the identity of the twin's father until a recent DNA test showed that Wyatt Shaw, a brilliant business man and the illegitimate son of a powerful mob boss is the man Kate could never forget. But Kate is finally ready to settle down with Jack McKinley, a man she has had a crush on since she was nineteen. Jack is in the process of divorcing his wife Holly. Some complications arise when Jack finds out Holly is pregnant with his second child.

Does this sound like a soap opera to you? That's exactly like what I felt like I was reading. Johnston does a good job of catching the reader up to speed on what has happened in the past. Though, people who have already read the previous Bitter Creek novels might be annoyed at the recap. For me, it served to peak my curiosity as to just what exactly happened in the previous novels.

This book has two couples coming together. The couple I preferred to read about was Kate and Wyatt. Wyatt reminds me of the heroes from Judith McNaught's or Linda Howard's older books. He basically barges into Kate’s house and tells her she and the twins are in danger and she has to come and live with him. When they get to his house he tells her she is to share his bed. He goes all kind of alpha on her and won’t take no for an answer. Of course outwardly Kate is outraged, but inside she is glad for his intense desire.

Jack and Holly's relationship was much more emotionally draining. A tragedy befalls their 6 year old son which, as a parent was tough to read. Don't worry it does have a happy ending, but it wasn't as fun to read as Wyatt and Kate butting heads. I like the drama and the high handed actions of the men. But, the bad guys in the book are over the top. All in all, I really enjoyed Joan Johnston's writing style.

Here is what others had to say:

Fiction Vixen
Love Romance Passion
Book Binge
Book Junkie
Dark Diva Reviews
Book Addict
Lovin Me Some Romance

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cleaning House and Making Room for the New Year

Like my home, my blog also needed some updating. I have finally taken the time to clean up my sidebar. Notice there are quite a few things missing. Yes, I have decided not to join any challenges this year. I made this decision after realizing that by forcing myself read a book, just to complete a challenge felt like homework. Let's face it. If it feels like homework then it is homework and who wants to do homework in their downtime? Hell no, not me. I don't want that!

With that thought in mind, my New Year's resolution is to ONLY READ BOOKS THAT I AM IN THE MOOD TO READ. Yes, that's right. From here on out, there will be no more reading books that I feel OBLIGATED to read. You heard it here first, folks!

It's so funny to me that something so simple as making that declaration makes me feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel like this is going to be the best year ever for my reading and my blog. I am not even going to set a reading goal. I am just going to let the wind carry me where it will. Maybe I will read 100 books, maybe I will read 150. I don't know and I don't care. I'll read what I read and be happy with it.

Cheers! Here's to the new me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review - Earth Guys are Easy

Title: Earth Guys are Easy
Author: Karen Kelley
Publication Date: 2008
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: Purchased new

Kia is an alien from the planet Nerak. She goes on a mission to retrieve her cousin Mala from Earth. She crashes her spaceship in a tree. With her DNA finder broken, how is she going to find her cousin? Within her first few hours on Earth Kia lands herself in the middle of a fight in a seedy trucker bar and is rescued by a hunky cop, Nick. Nick has a nose for trouble and it seems it always finds him. Now, he has a woman he can't shake who claims she is from another planet.

Earth Guys are Easy is a light-hearted, futuristic romp. I felt that the beginning of the story was weak. Kia and Nick jump right into bed after they meet and it felt forced and false. There also is some mental lusting in the story that didn't really interest me and weakened the romance. But once the story focused on Kia's discovery of Earth and its differences from her planet, the story picks up.

My favorite parts of this book were Kia's immersion into Earth's culture. She is unfamiliar with food, clothing, money and how babies are made. Kia's discoveries were fun to read. Kia's planet is a lot different from Earth; the most notable is that only women make up the population. First thing on Kia's mind is testing out a real man because on Nerak there are only robots. Kia is a bit of a cliché, but it works in this story because it's just a fun, campy read. If you pick this one up, don't expect anything heavy.

Here is what others had to say:

Ramblings on Romance, Etc.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review - Blue Diablo

Title: Blue Diablo
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publishing Date: April 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Subtle
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the Library

Blue Diablo is the first book in a new urban fantasy series by Ann Aguirre. Corine Solomon narrates the story from the first person point of view. She is what is known as a handler, someone who can read a story by touching an object. Her gift does not come naturally to her, as she inherited the gift upon her mother's death. Corrine is currently living in Mexico running a little antique shop. Her life is peaceful until an old flame shows up on her doorstep. Chance needs her to help track down his missing mother. Corine wants to refuse Chance since their past relationship didn't end so well, but Corine was close to Chance's mother. The trail to Chance's mother leads them into the dangerous world of black magic and witchcraft.

This was my first Ann Aguirre book and I was pleasantly surprised with Blue Diablo. Corine is a great leading character. She is smart, with a great sense of humor. She is capable of making fun of herself and the situations she gets herself into. She is really more of a normal girl, in that she doesn't want to be out there fighting bad guys. She wants to work in her little antique store, drink good tequila and relax in a nice bath. But when called upon to help a friend in need she will do whatever is necessary to help. I think Corine will appeal to a lot of readers.

The setting plays a large role in Blue Diablo. Corine and Chance are trying to locate his mother and they travel all around the bordering towns of Mexico and Texas. The culture and lifestyle in the area really sets the mood and tone for much of the book. The reader gets a sense of the seedy Mexican underground and how the people hold on to superstitions.

As far as romance goes, Corine still has feelings for Chance. They still have issues they need to work through. Corine also meets Jesse Saldana, a cop who is an empath. He introduces her to other people like her that have unique gifts. Corine and Jesse are attracted to each other, as well. There is a slight love triangle issue, but it is subtle. The romance is not the focus and is more in the background. I am definitely, liking this series. I can't wait to read more and it turns out the next release, Hell Fire is in April.

Here is what others had to say:

Babbling About Books, and more
Book Love Affair
Darque Reviews
Lusty Reader

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Loot & Links

First up are the books I bought new. I have had my eye on a couple of releases I was looking forward to for January. I purchased the new Megan Hart. Can I just say the cover for Switch is scrum-diddily-umptious? Megan Hart has some mighty fine book covers, lucky gal!

Susan Crandall is another one of those authors who I love but never read. I thought I'd change that and get her latest romantic suspense release. Although, Jane from Dear Author reviewed it and had few issues with it. I'll be curious to see how my feelings match up with Jane's.

I had reserved popular hardcover books at my library a while back and finally my name was at the top of the wait list for Deep Kiss of Winter, the duology featuring Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter. Other books I didn't have to wait for were Don't Tempt me by Loretta Chase and A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James. Sarah of Monkeybear Reviews had written a lovely review of A Duke of Her Own and had it listed as one of her favorite reads for 2009.

Kristi J from Ramblings On Romance just recently posted a review of Cash, an Out of Print (OOP) western which she enthusiastically pimped. Upon reading her review (which was Saturday morning), and finding out that Cash was the sixth book of the Rock Creek series and all the books are fabulous and are all OOP - I immediately tried to see if I could locate the books. So off to my local used book store I went to see if they had any. Sadly, they did not.

On the bright side, I was able to pick up a few other books that managed to catch my eye. Two were old Jo Goodman books and the third was Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts which Ames reviewed recently. Her review was fresh in my mind and so I had to get the book.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Taking Care of Business

Title: Taking Care of Business
Author: Lauren Dane and Megan Hart
Publishing Date: April 2009
Genre: Contemporary/Erotic
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot
Book Disclosure: I purchased this book new.

Taking Care of Business is one story with two heroines. Leah and Kathrine are two women who have been friends since they were young girls. Over the years they have gone their separate ways but have managed to maintain their friendship. They are attending a business conference. Leah has just broken up with her boyfriend and finds herself drawn to the hotel manager, who happens to be younger than her. She begins to explore new facets of her sexuality by dominating him. Katherine is a lawyer who has been having a secret affair with Dix who works at the company which she is providing legal advice. She has recently moved from the West coast to the East coast bringing her much closer to Dix. She is worried by moving closer she might push him farther away.

Both relationships get equal time on the page and blend together seamlessly. I found myself more interested in Katherine and Dix's relationship. Dix is an appealing hero in that whenever Katherine would push him, instead of withdrawing he would push back. I love it when couples work through their problems and don't run away.

I am not a big fan of women playing the dominant role in the sexual relationship, nor do I tend to like older women with younger men. It's my own personal bias. However, Leah and Brandon's relationship was a pleasant surprise. At first it was slow moving, but in the middle it heated up quite nicely.

I was hoping for more relationship building between the two women. According to the back story they had been friends forever. But they didn't have a lot of bonding going on during the story between them. Nothing really stood out about their friendship. I guess I was expecting more girl time with laughs and fun conversation, but it was notably lacking. I don't know if it was more evident because I read this right after I read Vision in White by Nora Roberts which had it in spades. Who knows? I try not to be biased, but this is my review site and I can do what I want!

Here is what others had to say:

Thrifty Reader
The Book Girl
I do not want to wait, I want the book now
Aztek Lady

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

Friday, January 8, 2010

Review - Ice

Title: Ice
Author: Linda Howard
Publishing Date: November 2009
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the library.

Gabriel McQueen is home for the holidays visiting his family in a small town in Maine. His father is the Sherriff and he is concerned for one of his citizens, Lolly Helton. A very dangerous ice storm is hours away from rolling in and Lolly might possibly be stuck in her cabin on a mountain. Gabe's father wants him to go check on Lolly and make sure she is safe. Gabe would rather do anything than that at the moment, as he and Lolly haven't always gotten along in the past. Yet, Gabe could never refuse his father anything, especially something as important as a person's safety and therefore heads off on this fool's errand.

Ice is classic Linda Howard with a military hero, who is tough as nails and competent and cool in the worst of situations. The heroine is a no-nonsense, capable woman willing to do whatever is necessary to survive. Lolly and Gabe have a history of rubbing each other the wrong way, but now they must work together if they are going to survive.

The thing that really frustrates me with this story is the length. It's so dang short, only 198 pages. It's a good story. I enjoyed reading what I was able to, but I soooo wanted more - more back story, more banter between Gabe and Lolly and most importantly more sexual tension. A lot of the romantic development played second fiddle to the suspense. I wanted it to be the other way around.

I can't really recommend this book to readers who haven't ever read Howard before. It's just not up to par with her previous work. I do think that fans of Linda Howard, who can't seem to give her up (I am really talking about myself here), might want to rent this book from their library. I think it took me a couple of hours to read and I was entertained, albeit very briefly.

Here is what others had to say:

Leslie's Psyche
Romance Reading Mom
Flirting With Romance Books
Nobody Asked Me
Dear Author

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

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Best Books of 2009

This is my favorite time of year for reading and blogging. I love to see the results of the many "best of" or "top ten" lists that are popping up all over the blogosphere. 2009 was an excellent year for the number of quality books published. I had a record number of A-rated reads and coming up with this "best of" list was hair pulling, indeed. I have broken it up into categories choosing the winner and an honorable mention. The titles have links to my reviews.

Winner: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Honorable Mention: Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

Winner: Destined For an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Honorable Mention: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Winner: Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy
Honorable Mention: SEALed with a Promise by Mary Margaret Daughtridge
Honorable Mention: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

Winner: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Honorable Mention: Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Winner: Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann

Winner: The Conqueror by Kris Kennedy

Winner: Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

Winner: Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman

Winner: A Vampire's Claim by Joey W. Hill

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review - Vision in White

Title: Vision in White
Author: Nora Roberts
Publishing Date: May 2009
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Warm
Book Disclosure: Borrowed from the library.

Vision in white is the first book in Nora Robert's Bride Quartet. Four women as little girls used to hold "play weddings" in their backyard. Eventually those four girls grew up and now own the business Vows, a company that produces beautiful weddings. Mac is the photographer and she meets the brother of one of the brides of the wedding they are planning. It turns out Carter Maguire and Mac went to school briefly together as teenagers. Carter had a crush on Mac but Mac never knew he existed. Carter has a way of getting under Mac's skin now and she can't seem to get him out of her head. Mac has commitment issues, but will she be able to make it work?

The first thing that really stands out in Vision in White is the cohesive unit of friendship which four little girls formed and maintained over the years, all based on their love of weddings and each other. Mac and her friends come alive on the page based on their lively interaction and conversations with one another. Each woman brings a unique talent to their business. Mac's is photography. Much of the descriptions and interaction revolve around Mac's perspective and her photography.

Mac has problems with intimacy and commentment. She finds the perfect match for her in Carter. He is more Beta in his behavior, allowing Mac time to come to terms with her feelings. He is very patient and understanding - a true gem of a man. I found Vision in White to be a very good balance of romance and friendship. I loved the symmetry between the business and the friendship with the four women and I can't wait to read more in this series. Roberts makes it all seem so effortless.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
Thrifty Reader
Renee Reads Romance
My Thoughts... your thoughts?
The Book Bag
Enchanting Reviews
Heather's Books
Julia's Book Corner
Dear Author

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 Year in Review

Drum roll please......

I have read a total of 158 books this year. If you can believe it, that is only one book less than last year. That's totally crazy, I know! Let's get to the good stuff - the statistical breakdown.

My goal was to try and read at least half of the books published in 2009. I came close with 46% - 72 books, which was better than I did last year. You can click on the graph to get a bigger one. (I didn't realize it was so hard to see.)

Yes, most of the books I grade fall somewhere in the "B zone", which makes up over 50% of my grades. I would expect this because I try and only read books that have been recommended by other readers. I am pretty stingy with my A grades, but 17% isn't too shabby. Again, I believe this is due to following great recommendations! As for my lower grades, most of those were due to favorite authors who had let me down.

I have lumped paranormal, urban fantasy, fantasy and time-travel all together in one category - alternate reality, making it the most popular genre at 29%. I also lumped together medieval and westerns in the historical category. Sadly, I only managed to read one western. I did read 7 medieval books, though.