Thursday, July 3, 2014

June in Review

And now it's July! The world continues to move at super speed so I'll refrain from complaining about it, ok? But maybe you can pretend I did so we can all feel the catharsis that only comes from complaining about things we can't change and that seem to get worse as we get older, lol. I didn't read a lot of new books this month but I reread Shield of Winter possibly 8-10 times so I think I'm going to just call it a draw.

Lady Wild by Máire Claremont (B)
Count on Me by Lauren Dane (B)
Never Enough by Lauren Dane
Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh
Pia Saves the Day by Thea Harrison (A)
Peanut Goes to School by Thea Harrison

My favorite of the month is actually a tie, despite the many times I read SoW, because Pia Saves the Day was just so good! 



Links I Love
//"D.I.Y. Book Clutch" - so cool! And surprisingly easy? Well it looks that way anyway so I think I want to give it a try.

//No should be surprised that I want one of these Scarves Printed With Pages From Your Favorite Books. What a perfectly apropos fashion statement!

//"First Trailer For The New Sailor Moon Anime Shows Off Her New Look"

//"Photos: The Jazz Age Lawn Party Takes Governors Island Back In Time" - I always say I'm going to do this one year and so far that just hasn't happened. But look at these outfits - I want to fit in there!


//"One of America's Favorite Comics Just Took a Huge Step Forward for Diversity" - I never read Archie but I love the fact that they're taking steps to become more inclusive and welcome of the diversity that actually exists in the world.

//Whoa Disney, watch out, cause I think these Rejected Princesses might be coming after your thrown.

//It's not nearly cold enough for me to pretend I need a hoody from Rarity's Boutique but this Totoro one is calling my name!


//I've already got some outfits in mind for DragonCon this year but next year I may have to convince my friends that Retro Sailor Moon is the way to go.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pia Saves the Day by Thea Harrison

Pia and Dragos’s magical young son Liam (the Peanut), is growing at an unprecedented rate, and if that isn’t enough, he is also exhibiting new, and unpredictable, magical gifts. To protect him, the concerned parents decide to move to upstate New York.

Both Dragos and Pia relish the idea of leaving behind the city. They finally have the space to indulge their Wyr side, and Liam can grow in safety. It’s a breath of fresh air—literally—but their idyllic situation is shattered when Dragos is injured in a freak accident.

Stripped of his memory and bereft of Pia’s taming influence, there’s nothing holding back Dragos’s darkest side. And in order to restore her family and save her mate, Pia must confront the most powerful menace in Elder Races history.

It’s going to take more than a penny to fix this

~~

Since Pia and Dragos are and have consistently always been my favorite couple in the Elder Races universe, I knew I would enjoy Pia Saves the Day. What I didn't expect was for Harrison to take a (comparative to her other novels) short story and use it to introduce a huge bump in the road to her entire series.

And it's a bump only sort of related to the couple themselves. Pia might have to work to reconnect with Dragos, but for a paranormal romance series, you knew they were going to find their way. Now, navigating the relationship between a unicorn and a millennia old dragon who doesn't remember anything isn't the easiest thing to accomplish I grant you, but hey - that' the fun of the story. My heart broke a little for Pia at the end when she was reunited with Liam, because it was yet another unexpected change to their circumstances instigated by a horrible accident. But in the en,d the actions in this story will have an immeasurable effect on the Wyr world in future books. I can't wait to find out what happens next in Peanut Goes to School (July 2014)!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 5) Lord's Fall 6) Kinked 6.5) Dragos Takes a Holiday 6.6) Pia Saves the Day
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Count on Me by Lauren Dane

Petal is the last place Caroline Mendoza thought she’d end up. Sixteen years ago she lost both parents there—her mother to murder and her father to prison for the crime. Since then she’s built a successful life, but she’s never let go of the belief her father is innocent.

Now she’s back in Petal to find the truth. With a new job and a mystery to solve, she’s got plenty on her plate. But when she bumps into Royal Watson, the sparks fly hard and fast.

When the whipsmart, opinionated lawyer blows into town like a beautiful storm, Royal has a reason to make the time to get off his organic farm and pursue her. And soon their intense attraction is tipping into something more.

As Caroline’s dogged investigation digs up ghosts of the past, there’s not much time for basking in love’s glow. The closer she gets to the truth, the more threatened the real killer gets…and the greater the danger that all her digging could lead to her own grave.
~~

Petal,GA has been a solidly good but perhaps not my very favorite of series from Lauren Dane. I think this particular installment shows both why her romances work very well and what some of the pitfalls are with small town mentalities.

First, the good- Royal is a terrific hero. I never felt like I got to know him in previous books, when he was just Anne's boyfriend, but on his own he proves himself to be a smart, strong, and reliable human being, who's experienced enough emotionally to be able to empathize with a variety of people. It's been over a year since his breakup when he meets Caroline again, and the two of them enter in their relationship with one of the cutest grocery store scenes I've ever read (when I do I get to stumble upon a cowboy hottie in the cereal aisle?).

Their relationship is the highlight throughout the story, deservedly so, but I do admit to getting a little distracted by the small town politics that were much more prominent in this book. I couldn't understand or believe that all these different people would be angry with Caroline for moving away from Petal. Really? Even without the extenuating circumstances with her parents, it has to mean that she's a bad egg, or that she thinks something derogatory about the town? Shrug. I couldn't be completely on board with that, though I do think Dane did a phenomenal job painting the complicated layers that exist between family members, especially when there are generations of institutionalized racism not being recognized as such. 

And I could write an entire paragraph about Anne and her duplicity and how there's no way in HELL I'd be a big enough woman to get over that and befriend her. But that's me.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Once and Again 2) Lost in You 3) Count on Me

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lady Wild by Máire Claremont

Victorian England is about to go wild…

Lady Ophelia longs to be independent, daring and bold, but her mother’s illness has stolen the last of her creative fire. Condemned to an isolated country cottage after the death of her idealistic father, she and her mother are forsaken by family and all of society. Disappointed by those she once trusted, Lady Ophelia lovingly nurses her dying mother knowing that her own dreams of being an artist will never be realized. That is until she meets a devilish aristocrat who reawakens her desire to be wild.

Viscount Stark has never known love. Reputed to be a rebel and a rake by all, at heart he is anything but. When he meets Lady Ophelia, he is struck by her haunting presence, dignity, and honor. Will he continue to play his wicked games and risk ruining the last of Lady Ophelia’s wounded heart? Or will he dare to be the gentleman he always wanted to be and unveil a love he never thought possible?

~~

Despite the fact that I've been following Máire on Twitter for a while, Lady Wild is the first story of hers that I've read. She released this title with a special price of $.99 with the goal of raising $10,000 for hospice care in honor of her parents who she lost to cancer. With such a worthy goal and a book summary that seemed right up my alley, I had to give this a try.

Lady Wild is a short but satisfactory love story, that has enough emotional angst to make the simple plot work really well. Andrew (Viscount Stark) may have lived an outwardly privileged life, but the loveless family he grew up in has left him scarred and doubtful that there's anything else out there. Ophelia has suffered too many betrayals by those she trusted, losing loved ones to death and rejection, that acting as her mother's caretaker in her final days threatens to crush her spirit along with her dreams.

I didn't dwell much on how realistic their coupling actually was because honestly, it didn't matter. Andrew and Ophelia found in each other the missing parts of their hearts, which sounds corny but in a good romance is exactly what you're looking for. The fact that Andrew and Lady Darlington (Ophelia's mother) were also able to make a connection, even for the short time they knew each other, helped make what could have been a bittersweet ending more peaceful. 

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Lady Wild

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

May in Review

So let's discuss about how part of the reason this monthly look-back is late was my belief that at home I had some long detailed list of all the books I'd read this past month. 

False.

At home I had exactly three things on my damn spreadsheet, even though I'm convinced that I had to have read something else, because whenever I have a free moment I'm always reading or re-reading. Sheesh brain, get it together. And I'm sure you're all super interested in finding out what the "three books" I read this month are right?  

Hard Time by Cara McKenna (B)
Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
The Last Bride in Ballymuir by Dorien Kelly

Since only two of those books were actually knew, I'm going to call this month's favorite Half-Off Ragnarok, which I'll get around to reviewing before I forget about it again, because it's a really great book. 


I did manage to collect quite a few awesome links though so don't forget to check out the copious bounty below!

Links I love 
 
//"These Pop Culture Icons Are Carved Entirely Out of Crayons". I can't imagine what it must feel like to be so talented. Amazing!

//"LeVar Burton is Kickstarting the Return of Reading Rainbow" (& made his goal in less than a day! Much less!)

//"Can a Comic Con Approach Work for the Book Industry?" - I've dabbled in Armchair BEA and generally consider myself a Con goer solely for the opportunity to listen to respected voices speak on a number of issues. Would a BookCon appeal to me? Definitely. Is BEA going to be my BookCon? Hmmm....

//These #YesAllWomen posters are depressingly spot on. But so is the whole hash tag so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. 

//Chipotle makes everything better. This article just makes that even more obvious to those who doubted ;).

//I didn't know you get could get Out of Print shirts at Pinup Girl Clothing! I love seeing the pieces on different body types.

//"It Took 30 Artists To Redo Ghost In The Shell's Opening In Live Action" - Ghost in the Shell is one of those movies I will never forget. Watched early in my anime life it's incredibly visuals and thought provoking story stuck with me. This live action take is so interesting!

//I have to admit, I'm not sure I'd use any of these Literary Cookie Cutters but that's mostly because I like my cookies of the break and back variety!

//"Sailor Moon Meets Kill La Kill In This Amazing Samurai Senshi Fan Art" - I've never watched Kill La Kill but these beautiful (& deadly) renditions of the Sailor Scouts has me intrigued...

//"Home Improvement Shows, Ranked" - WHERE IS KITCHEN CRASHERS LINDY?! Rehab Addict and Kitchen Crashers are possibly the two best shows on HGTV!


Friday, May 30, 2014

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.
~~

Despite what the looong silence here on the ol' blog might lead you to believe, I haven't stopped reviewing. I just got a new job that suddenly requires me to actually do work during the day (can you imagine?!) and I haven't found my groove in the evenings/weekends yet to balance that out. I love the people I work with but honestly, I'd forgotten what it was like to not know everything about what I was doing.

But anyway...

As a re-introductory of sorts I decided that there was not a better thing to talk about then the book I saved for Puerto Rico (and have read a billion times since then), Anne Bishop's Murder of Crows. The second book in her Others series, Murder of Crows focuses even more on the mystery of the cassandra sangue, and what their existence means to the Others. It's a phenomenal balancing act of mystery, action, and a tiny bit of romance. The relationships between the somewhat large cast of characters are layered and changing all the time - human, Other, what have you. Politics and self-preservation even come into play as some of the human employees of the Courtyard have defend their feelings (or loyalty) to the Others to other humans.

Nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface and Bishop is a master as making you think; what could happen if these people do this? If these two people feel this? They're tough questions with sometimes deadly consequences, but unlike some of her past work (Black Jewel Trilogy anyone?) nothing's terribly heartbreaking. At least not yet.

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - 1) Written in Red 2) Murder of Crows

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hard Time by Cara McKenna

In this all-new novel from the author of Unbound, a woman with a rocky past finds romance in the last place she’d ever expect...

Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.

Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.

When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.
~~

I rarely choose to pick a book where I know at least some of the plot is going to end up making me feel uncomfortable, but after all the hype on Twitter and the wonderful reviews going around about Hard Time I knew I had to at least try it for myself. And I have to say I don't regret reading it.

Cara McKenna doesn't downplay or put rose colored glasses over the realities of prison time for the inmates Annie works with. They're interested in her presence solely because of what she is: a woman. Her connection with Eric is completely unexpected and while I've never believed sparks can really just, you know, spark like that, the letters they write each other were enough to keep me invested in how important their relationship was to them. When it finally evolved to the point that they could be together nothing was an easy fix; dynamics had to be renegotiated and each person's comfort zones and turn-ons became topics of conversation that brought them closer together.

In the end, despite the fact that dealing with Eric's family was enough drama for any one person, I was almost sad not to learn more about how their relationship was accepted by Annie's father. The happy ending was almost unexpected after all the hurdles and difficult emotional barriers, but it turned out all the more satisfying because of them.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - None

**Title requested from NetGalley*