Monday, April 14, 2014

Falling Light by Thea Harrison

Troubled by dreams of creatures, and unfamiliar voices echoing in her head, Mary has always felt a disconnect in this world—until she met the enigmatic stranger, Michael. He knew about Mary’s past. He was in it. Searching for her. His soul mate. And it’s taken centuries to find her, to re-engage her in an ancient, celestial cause: find the Deceiver before he destroys the world.

Haunted by scores of deaths—their own—Mary and Michael have drawn on the wisdom of the ages, and the power it has given them to fight the most malevolent force known to man. Joining a select band of warriors, Mary and Michael are nearer to understanding the Deceiver and all he stands for. It’s a terrifying reality that also brings them closer to realizing their own destiny and purpose. And that love—like evil—is eternal.

~~

Rising Darkness, the first novel of the Games of Shadows series, was enough of an emotional roller coaster that I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into with book two.  I also didn't realize before I started that this book was going to conclude Mary and Michael's arc with The Deceiver and I just may have done a little happy dance when I did! Urban Fantasies can often be open ended series, and while I love the way Harrison writes and the world she's created here is so different that it deserves as many books as it can hold, I can't always cry when I pick up a book ok?! It gets to be too much for me, lol.

And this series is definitely more Urban Fantasy than romance because while there is romance in the story the focus is much more on how Mary and Michael are going to defeat the big bad. And the big bad here is REALLY big and bad, as he jumps bodies and kills people indiscriminately with no sign of remorse.  Combined with unexpected moral questions about possession and trust issues amongst allies and the end result is a fast paced, enthralling read with a satisfying ending. I'm not sure where Harrison intends to take the world, as in I can't find online if there are going to be more books or not, but with at least one main supporting character still remaining who has a journey of his own to finish, I can only hope so!

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Rising Darkness 2) Falling Light

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots.  When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.

That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge…
~~

Considering the fact that I have reread this approximately 10 times since finishing it the day it came out, I think it's safe to assume that this book is a keeper. Like the other stories in this series, Laurenston keeps the tempo up with smart dialogue and fierce action, whether it's between two bored shifters or between a honey badger and the idiot trying to lie to her.

I've read some other reviews that referred to the romance between Livvy and Vic as a bit of a slow burn, but I kind of think that's part of its charm. Even Livvy has to admit that the grizzly bear in Viv makes him prone to startling, so she has to take things slower than usual. But slower definitely doesn't translate to boring or less ridiculously hilarious, especially once Livvy is hired to be the photographer for Blaine's double wedding.

On the plot front things with Whitlan finally get wrapped up, in part because Laurenston doesn't plan to write any more Pride books for a while, and boy does he get what's coming to him. All in all this is a fantastically entertaining book that has the main characters from previous books come back for at least a little (if not a lot) screen time.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 7) Bear Meets Girl 8) Wolf With Benefits 9) Bite Me
 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they're a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And they both agree their one night together is all about fun, not forever.

Now, years later, Seth remains a favorite memory. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because he's still sinfully attractive, and she likes the man he is. When he suddenly becomes a full-time dad to his newborn daughter, Vivian falls hard. Yet despite the responsibilities, he's not a good bet for commitment. And she needs to guard her heart before she gets into trouble!
~~

I haven't read a contemporary romance like this in a while. When Vivian and Seth first get together, happily ever after isn't in the cards at all. In fact, both of them would probably rather cut off a limb then be tied down to another person. The resulting sexcapades are made all the more real by the fact that when these two say they don't want a future, they actually mean it. It takes another 10 years before circumstances have these two breathing the same air again, and when Mayberry means to have life hit a person hard, it does.

Seth doesn't have to just deal with his brother and sister-in-law asking him to be guardian of their children in case of their passing, but he suddenly has his own daughter to think about when one of his past flings finds out she's pregnant. Even though this was never his plan for himself, Mayberry doesn't turn his ex-girlfriend into the villain, instead writing her to be as human and fallible as the rest of us are. An unfortunate accident leaves him with primary care and leads him to rely on the help of his family, and as it turns out, Vivian. Neither of them can avoid confronting the misconceptions they have about each other, and the burgeoning realization that each one has wants and needs they never faced before. Their HEA in the end is satisfying and sweet, even if the location where they finally admit to their feelings might not have been my favorite (or the most appropriate).

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - None

**Title requested from NetGalley**

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March in Review

I've actually been having a lot of fun with my reading this month. I still haven't come up that far on my "new and noteworthy" list but reacquainting myself with the oldies but goodies on bookshelves is an adventure all on its own. I  can't wait to play catchup this month though, because the latest Anne Bishop is calling my name!

I also did some "burnt newspaper" nails last weekend 
during the unending rain in DC.

Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis (C)
Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens
The Winning Hand by Nora Roberts
The MacGregor Grooms by Nora Roberts
Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire (A+)
The MacGregor Brides by Nora Roberts
The Calender Girls: Flavor of the Month by Madison Hayes
The MacGregors: Alan ~ Grant by Nora Roberts
The Perfect Neighbor by Nora Roberts
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry
Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton (A)
Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

My favorite this month has to go to Seanan McGuire. It might have taken me many many moons to finally read Chimes at Midnight, but it was awesome!



And now on to other random/cool things I found on the internet!


Links I Love
 //D.C. Launches First Ever Transgender Respect Ad Campaign - I have my feelings about the city I live in (good and bad) but this is just fantastic.

//Someone Give Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart a Late Night Talk Show - Yes, please. All the yeses in the world should go to this idea.

//This print is adorable! And exactly how I feel about my friends. 


//I'm becoming more and more a broach person as time goes on, and these classic book ones are adorable!

//Guys I want to see Boxtrolls so badly! Give it to me now!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton

Logan McCormack likes his isolated life on the ranch, until a movie crew starts filming there. When actress Desiree Jenkins blows into his life, she wrecks it harder than the Oklahoma winds with her brutal honesty and soft touch. Des knows this is a temporary stay, but she loves the open freedom of the land, and for the first time in her life, Des feels like she might have found a place she can call home, with a man she might be falling in love with. But Logan’s heart is tougher than the soil beneath them—can she convince him that they belong together?
~~

In my reading life lately, I've been loving the well written contemporary romance. Even though I didn't absolutely love Jill Shalvis' latest effort, the romance between the leads and the small town setting had me semi-satisfied. This new "Hope" series book by Jaci Burton however I enjoyed from start to finish, as Logan and Des not only turned out to be completely likeable on their own, but were fantastic together too. 

I kind of feel like this book read and as updated Diana Palmer, with Logan as the gruff cynical cowboy and Des as the young - but not too young - heroine. Luckily Logan wasn't an asshole for 90% of the book and Des wasn't the innocent virgin, ignorant of any feelings "down there". Instead we have two people in seemingly very different places in their lives, who happen upon each other and a relationship they never expected. You always know in a romance that the couple are going to find their HEA in the end, so even when Logan was at his most stubborn things had to work out, but instead of any grand emotional gestures without explanation, Des and Logan spent a lot of time talking out their problems. It was incredibly refreshing to have them work through the pasts that had shaped them as people and the issues that made them hesitant to commit. Combined with a fun and unique supporting cast I really loved Hope Ignites and I can't wait for Hope Burns!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 1) Hope Flames 2) Hope Ignites 3) Hope Burns (Sept 2014)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Things are starting to look up for October "Toby" Daye. She's training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down...at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby's efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets--and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there's the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne....

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists--and they'll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

~~

So it may have taken me about a jillion years (aka 7 months) but I finally finished Chimes at Midnight and it was freaking awesome. As usual really, which makes me kick myself for waiting so long to read it. But sadly, when the brain decides its not ready for something horrible to happen to one of its favorite characters, its not ready. Happily somewhere between Tuesday and Wednesday things worked itself out and instead of getting the sleep I kind of desperately need, I finished this.

McGuire writes incredible urban fantasy adventures. Filled with the kind of characters and world building you dream of, and seven books in things are still going strong. Despite the hint of a happy ending between Toby and Tybalt, the world of Faerie isn't done with them, and the royal machinations spill out once again to send our intrepid hero out to save the day. Or at least save a few people and not get herself killed. 

I loved everything about this book honestly, it's one of those reads that manages to be both full of plot and quick to grasp/entertaining, but the relationship between Toby and Tybalt was off the charts. They've finally embraced the feelings they have for each other and spend a lot of the book balancing those with their goals - the things they have to do protect what is meaningful to them or the people who can't protect themselves. Watching (reading) them navigate the tricky waters of respect and understanding of each others needs is beautiful and believable; I think that no matter the people involved, couples meant to last have to be able to communicate and listen to each other. Toby and Tybalt might stumble at times but when pushed to confront their own biases they're able to think through problems and come to a solution that works for everyone.

So, uh, yeah. I loved this book. While it's not really great as a stand alone, it's a wonderful continuation of a series that doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon (YAY!).

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - ... 6) Ashes of Honor 7) Chimes at Midnight

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Sometimes wrong is oh-so-right…

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniels tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he’s back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she’s not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben …even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s done…

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

~~

Ok so I don't want get rotten fruit thrown at me or anything, but this book annoyed the crap out of me. Like 100%, I want to kill someone, annoyed me. And honestly, I'd have to lay this whole at Ms. Shalvis's feet since it's because she's such a great writer that I ended up so annoyed.

Aubrey is back in Lucky Harbor trying to find a new place for herself and working to "make amends" for her past. It's a pretty basic premise but what didn't work for me were all the things that Aubrey is trying to make amends for had some pretty extreme extenuating circumstances, not the least of which being that she was in HIGH SCHOOL when they happened. Now I get that some of the way things snowballed from her actions was a little unprecedented, but in each situation it seemed to me that the individual harmed had been a huge asshole first. Almost every instance involved people in positions of authority who used their power to disparage, insult, and pretty much just beat down Aubrey because of things outside her control. How is it then her responsibility to make amends when things spiraled out of control? Or maybe didn't spiral out of control because honestly I can't feel bad for any of these people.

In the end I'm glad that Ben had a pretty big groveling session before the HEA because without it I probably would have been dissatisfied every which way with this book. And none of this is because Ms. Shalvis is a bad writer. It's the exact opposite in fact, because she was so good at her job of getting me to empathize with Aubrey that I couldn't understand why anything she'd done actually deserved atoning for. Go figure.

Overall Feeling - C

Series - ...8) Always On My Mind 9) Once In A Lifetime

*Title won on Twitter*