Monday, July 27, 2009

eBook Top 10 - not as fun as Letterman's, but still good!

169. I own ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY NINE eBooks. I'm sure that's indicative of some kind of emotional or psychological problem. I mean come on, does that sound normal to you? Well I thought that I could do some kind of quick little review for most of my books and give everyone a glimpse of the types of stories that are out there. But that number is too intimidating even for me, thus I'm going to have think of another way to do this. I could try charts. Or.... maybe diagrams? There's just so much material to cover (hypothetically, thinking I wanted to cover them all) that's it's probably impossible to do everything justice. OK - I got it! We're gonna do a Top 10 eBooks, ranging from really good to REALLY bad. That way I can talk a bit about a few different titles and you can take the time to make your own decisions.

10. Descendants of Darkness

This one was so bad I didn't even FINISH it! You probably can't imagine how bad something has to be for that to happen. I didn't even bother to skip to the end to see what happened - I didn't care. Either way, this one is supposed to follow the tales of these 4 vampires and the women who 'save them from the darkness' or whatever. You want to know what these are? The worst written imitations of Christine Feehan in creation. I'm surprised she didn't sue them! They even call the women 'life mates'. Not worth your time or money, just walk away and find a book by Feehan to fill your time.

9. Date With Destiny
I wrote about this book in a previous review, so I'm not gonna repeat myself too much. Let me just say that this book is filled with the most unconvincing romance/erotica tale ever. I understand that for some authors fun sex is the whole point of the story, but this is trying to take the whole 'opposites attract' thing way too far. The characters don't seem to make any kind of personal connection before saying they're going to be with each other forever, and even for shape shifters. And I didn't learn enough or feel emotionally attached to either of the characters to care if they were happy or not.

8. Laila's Bargain
When I was younger and used to read more Harlequin Presents romances, it didn't take me long to notice how often the books were centered around jack-ass guys and the
women who forgave them in the end and took them back. I've definitely grown out of tolerating that genre, so this book tripped quite a few triggers for me. Laila goes back to her ex to get help finding her kidnapped brother, but instead of just helping with only a few snide comments, Matthew proceeds to do the generic 'sleep with me and I'll help'. Strange sexual antics ensue and it works on my nerve about what's consensual and what's not - what Laila wants to do and what she feels forced to do. Maybe this was supposed to more of an exploration of BDSM and the varieties of how dominance/submission shows up in the bedroom, but it just was not my cup of tea and I do not recommend it.

7. Stalked
Stalked was just creepy. It's one of Ellora's Cav
e's quickies, and I just wasn't ready for it. It starts off being what you think is a rape story, with a woman who eventually gives in and enjoys it. Which is weird enough as it is but then you get to the end and it's the woman and her husband playing sex games. Ugh. Better than Laila's Bargain because the husband isn't actually being a jerk rapist, but weird because that's what the readers are confronted with at first glance.

6. Not in Kansas
I put Not in Kansas in the middle because it is only mediocre. Not a great story - not a horrible one either- it's a homosexual re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz. Kansas (the main character) get's swept up in a twister and lands in Oz, a land filled with slightly sex-obsessed, but amusing, characters. He goes to the castle, meets the King and through some actually pretty tame sex ends up falling in love. Yeah I decided the whole thing was not that exciting but I've reread it because it's still cute!

5. Bakra Bride
This is the second book in a series that I think is actually surprisingly good. It takes place in another land, one that the heroines reach through a magic tapestry, where lack of women has
changed the culture so each woman is involved with two men. But instead of it being a place where women are kidnapped and held hostage until they agree, in this one the women are wooed by 1 or 2 sets of men and she picks who she wants to be with or if she'd rather go home. It's the thoroughness of the characters themselves that sets this book apart from the others I think. The reader sympathizes with Jane and her honest desire to do the right thing, and after she's transported you root for Zaren and his brother, because you can really feel how much they need her. Definitely recommended and if you're inclined, I would buy the whole series!

4. Fairy Dust
I thin
k I loved this one so much because it's just such fun. Who hasn't thought about what happens after the 'happily ever after'? Marlena is a fairy godmother with an attitude, one who wants her charges to feel more than just true love's kiss - she wants them to feel every bump and grind, every real and dirty touch and emotion that comes from being in love. Then it gets even better when Marlena is sent into the fairy tales themselves to try and remember why the innocent and more 'pure' endings are important. Of course chaos ensues and the whole thing is a wild ride - Highly Recommended!

3. Fur Factor
Christine Warren is always a great read! The second book in her Fantasy Fix stories (which actually have a different series name in print) it follows Missy and Graham on the road to relationship bliss. I love a good alpha male werewolf story, and the chemistry between these two jump off the page, so combining that with a bit of mystery and horror? I was set! It's a fun book, and I think if you're willing to suspend reality a bit and just go with the flow of the story it makes a great tale and one I've reread a million times. Unfortunately, since Warren is making the jump from eBook to print, this title is no longer available from Ellora's Cave but look for it in your local book store soon!

2. Making Chase

This the last and my favorite of Lauren Dane's Chase brother stories. It's just such a great, honest, down-to-earth love story. Tate is a women with a complicated past and family history, and the type of body image issues that everyone can identify with. Yes it's very much the romance story when she falls in love with the hottest guy in town, but the ups an downs of their emotions is what makes it believable. They don't just fall into their happily ever after, they have to work on it and each person has to get past their own issues. I think that, along with an incredible family that you just love reading about, is what makes this such a great story to me. It's real and you feel like so many things are possible after reading it that you can't help but be happy.

1. Here Kitty Kitty

What kind of romance story has a heroine that hits the hero in the face with a toilet seat? A Shelly Laurenston kind of romance, that's what! The reason I put this as my number one eBook is that
there's nothing like a kick ass heroine and the alpha male who ends up loving her. Laurenston always seems to write the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability into her heroines, and the antics in this one are ridiculous. Angelina starts off being kidnapped by a couple of were-tigers in this one and it's after she wakes up at their house in NC that things get really crazy. Nikolai (hero, also were-tiger) is just so hot! Maybe I have a thing for Southern boys, who knows, I just know that he is so cool and so perfect for Angelina. Again the sparks fly and the whole book is just them pushing at(really knocking down) each other's boundaries to get what they want. I've reread it a billion times and it's like my go to story for when I don't know what I want. JUST READ IT! GO! READ NOW!
Side Note - Laurenston is also making the jump from eBook to print so look for this title in local bookstores soon!

Addendum - Places to buy eBooks. I primarily purchase romance books, so these websites have to be taken with a grain of salt. Always check out where an author's website says you can get the books and don't forget to check out the main pages for your local library system because sometimes they have eBooks for free!

1) Ellora's Cave
2) Changeling Press
3) Diesal eBooks
4) Samhain Publishing
5) My Bookstore and More
4) Your Local Library!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

A summer at his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch is not eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan’s idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he’s discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Even horseback riding isn’t as awful as Coop thought it would be. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker’s body.

As the seasons change and the years roll, Lil stays steadfast to her dreams of becoming a wildlife biologist and protecting her family land, while Coop struggles with his father’s demand that he attend law school and join the family firm. Twelve years after they last walked together hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold most dear need them most.

An investigator in New York, Coop recently left his fast paced life to care for his aging grandparents and the ranch he has come to call home. Though the memory of his touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening the Chance Wildlife Refuge, but something . . . or someone . . . has been keeping a close watch. When small pranks and acts of destruction escalate into the heartless killing of Lil’s beloved cougar, recollections of an unsolved murder in these very hills have Coop springing to action to keep Lil safe.
Lil and Coop both know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. But now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey.

I don't know people, I've loved Nora Roberts forever but her latest offerings are just not thrilling me the way they used to. I liked this hardcover a lot more than her first Wedding Quartet book, but that's not saying a whole lot in my opinion. I did enjoy this story though, but I just can't put my finger on why I didn't love it. Hmph. Lil and Coop are too pretty good characters and I think the best part of this story is watching them reconnecting. Maybe that's why it irked me - the mystery elements might be superfluous to watching these two character try to trust their feelings for each again. Thinking about it that way helps to remind me that essentially Nora Roberts is a romance writer and if you're not reading her as JD Robb, everything takes a back seat to the connection between those two main characters - it has to in a way. Lil is very disillusioned because of the way she and Coop separated in the past, making it almost impossible for her to envision a future with the two of them together. Coop might have regrets that he had to leave her, but he has no regrets about the fact that it had to be done. It leaves the them both in intriguing positiona, because Lil belives that Coop disregarded her ability to make a decision about her own life and future, and Coop knows that the way he left her was really the only possible option.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. It might have taken me writing this review to fully realize the ups and downs of this book, but it's a good romance and you're rooting for their love and the bad guy's downfall in the end - and what's more fun than that?

Series - None

Breaking Midnight by Emma Holly

Made vulnerable by his love for a human female, powerful vampire Edmund Fitz Clare has been kidnapped by a rival faction of shapechangers. For weeks now, he’s been shackled in a dungeon far from his London home, a pawn in a deadly game to control the world.

From the terrible hour Edmund disappeared, Estelle has welcomed him in her dreams—tantalizing visions of ecstasy and fear. Each dreamwalk brings her closer to finding him, but also puts her in the psychic sights of their enemy. She’ll have to draw on every drop of courage she has: to save her lover, to help his family, to keep her very world from falling into dangerous hands.

As I said about the last one, you mostly need to be in a mood to read Emma Holly, but this sequel does a good job of making you want to read it as soon as you get it. It continues with the adventure of Edmund Fitz Clare, who after being kidnapped by some rival vampires, is being earnestly hunted for by his fiance Estelle and the rest of his family. Holly writes with her usual zest, and the result is a book filled with lust and love and a little bit of adventure. Because come on, even with torture, this is a romance novel and so you knew they were going to get him back in the end - I'm just happy that I didn't have to wait for another book for that to happen. Though truthfully I could probably just have combined this second and third book and been happy. Either way, the book is good, I can add it to my collection of Holly's books and know that I have one more to look forward too!

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. It's a fun read, and typical of Holly, filled with sex and historical adventure.

Series - 1) Kissing Midnight 2) Breaking Midnight 3) Saving Midnight (August 2009)

Strange Brew by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and more

Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic!

In Charlaine Harris’ “Bacon,” a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother—and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected. And in Jim Butcher’s “Last Call,” wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers—the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer.

For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection!

This collection was pretty decent - though I decided in the end it wasn't decent enough for me to keep. There were just so many authors that the worst happened: even the best authors didn't have enough room to create a great story. Most came out just a good one, and the rest were mediocre at the best. The 3 big authors, Harris, Butcher, and Briggs, each brought their own considerable skill to this anthology with me calling a tie between Butcher and Briggs for the best story. Butcher always writes a good short story (though I liked the one in Mean Streets better) and Harry is a character beloved by many a reader (and Murphy plays a heavy role in this story too - yay!). Briggs writes an interesting one in this anthology, mostly unexpected because it doesn't seem to have anything to do with her hit Mercy Thompson series. Despite of that she writes a quickie, entertaining and interesting, though it really just leaves me wanting to read what happens next.

Overall Feeling - This one gets an eh. Pretty decent, but would check it out from the library and save yourself the price of trade paperback.

Series - The anthology collects stories from a few different series, so read at your own risk!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

eBooks and Books

Sorry it took me so long to write this post! It was sitting in my mind and then somehow laziness and new books took over - I blame my job, because it leaves me with enough free time to read at the desk!

The question, or topic, that I'd like to tackle today is why do we read what we read - books or eBooks? There are pros and cons to both mediums; physical books have at their core the emotional attachment that I think comes, in part, from the tactile sensation of having a book in your hands and reading it. The ability to run your fingers across the pages, or make notes in the margins - in effect, the reader's ability to make the book their own. And with time, physical books take on the look and smell of their history. Men and women can remember their past, the good and the bad, through the books they've read. The reality of their existence and the tangible proof that books can provide of the times.

eBooks have a different type of appeal - convenience. The convenience of having thousands of titles at your fingertips, no waiting with no worrying about space. However much computer memory you have, that's how much you can fill with things to read. And with the creation of the Amazon Kindle, eBook proponents have an even bigger motivation - the Kindles are lighter and even easier to carry around with you than regular books. Where a good sized hardcover might be responsible for an aching shoulder and an over packed bag, the Kindle is compact and durable. Even more than that, technologies like the Kindle appeal to the present consumer's need for instant gratification. At a person's whim they can have at their fingertips newspapers, magazines, AND books. It's amazing the kind of emotional bond a person would be willing to forgo for that type of convenience.

The picture I used here isn't really an example of my own opinion though. I love ALL books. No lie. And in college I found myself understanding the appeal of the eBook. I just didn't have the same kind of access to books in college. No car and with just an academic library nearby, the situation left me without almost any other avenue to explore. Luckily, I can say I found some great things; authors and titles that I know have enriched my reading experience. On the other end of the spectrum I've also found books that weren't worth my time, and the rare one or two that I wouldn't even finish reading (something has to be REALLY bad for that to happen).

Still, at the end of the day, I love curling up in my bed with a book. To lie down and look at a favorite and see the wear and tear of my usage. Books even have a smell that has been incorporated into my sense understanding and attachment to the activity. I've even been known to print out eBooks, the urge to hold it in my hands has been so strong. So I might have been lying before and print books might be my favorite. BUT eBooks are never left out in the cold, and it's been my joy to say I've seen some of the best authors make the leap from virtual to print - because while legitimacy doesn't come from the printed word, a readily recognizable name and popularity are increased by the consumers ability to browse. And that's one thing I think print books definitely have over eBooks - there's nothing like running your fingertips across the spines of books in your bookstore or library. eBooks have nothing on that.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Spy Who Haunted Me by Simon R. Green

The legendary Independent Agent is dying who will inherit his hoard of secret information and fabulous secrets? For most of the last century, he was the greatest spy in the world, but now The Independent Agent is retiring, he has decided on one last great game - the six greatest spies in the world today must work together - and compete against each other - to solve the six greatest mysteries in the world. Whoever wins the game will also win The Agent's priceless treasure-trove of information.

Eddie Drood, aka Shaman Bond, has been invited to join the great game, and of course he can't say no, especially when he learns what the mysteries are - everything from the Tunguska Incident to the Philadelphia Experiment, to whatever the hell it was really happened at Roswell. But that means he needs to survive working alongside old friends and old enemies ...especially when the spies start dying, one by one ...And one of them is going to haunt him ...for the rest of his life.

I know I said I was gonna do a series of posts on eBooks- I am! BUT I had to get through this review first, just because it was an INCREDIBLE book. If you have not a read a Simon R. Green stop reading now and go buy one. Definitely at the pinnacle of hard core, gritty, detective (usually) driven horror, all of Green's books are fantastic. Being the latest book in Green's new series, this one picks up with our main character - Eddie Drood - being strong armed into taking part in a contest where secrets are the prize. Teleported all over the world to figure out some of its greatest mysteries, Drood and Co. lose people and more along the way. It is a prime example of the vivid and spectacular character plus world building that Green can do, with some of the horrors that this team has to face ones that I wouldn't have been able to imagine before this book.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. An incredible addition to a series that I don't want to see end - GO READ IT! NOW!

Series - 1) The Man with the Golden Torc 2) Daemons are Forever 3) The Spy Who Haunted Me

Real Men Last All Night by Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, Heidi Betts

Today’s top erotic romance writers come together for a steamy read of four sexy stories about women who discover that real men last all night...

Luring Lucy by Lori Foster

All Lucy was looking for when she went to her vacation home was in innocent fling to quell the yearning she had felt since her husband died four years ago. She never expected her longtime friend Bram to lure her into a love affair so hot.

Cooper’s Fall by Lora Leigh

Former ranger turned bar owner Ethan Cooper never expected to get an eyeful of prim Miss Sarah Fox from his attic window one hot summer afternoon. But now his blood is on fire for the delicious little minx.

The Edge of Sin by Cheyenne McCray

Zane Steele lives a life of extraordinary danger as a government agent and has never let anyone get too close. Then he sees the one woman who changes his life forever.

Wanted: A Real Man by Heidi Betts

Claire left her high school sweetheart Linc, in search of a better life. Ten years later she needs his help as a U.S. Marshal to find her missing daughter…Linc's daughter. Reeling with the knowledge of a daughter he’s never known, Linc sets out to claim what’s his.

I was a little worried when I bought this anthology, just because while I love Lora Leigh and Lori Foster, the other two authors are not ones I really go out of my way to read. Luckily things worked out! Lora Leigh's story is just what you would expect from her, filled with sex and fun, and it was great to read. A little bit of mystery (that might have been slightly unnecessary) but recommended all the same. Foster's story is actually an older one (published originally in 2001) and while typical for her, still not bad. I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed McCray's story because I've been disappointed by her in the past. I always like how her books sound, then am never quite as happy with how they turn out. This story is definitely a keeper though, again with a somewhat uncomplicated happy ending built in for the hero and heroine - but I'm not complaining because that's often all I want. Betts' story is the only disappointing one, but it has to a do a lot with the fact that I'm kind of done with the whole 'I had a baby but didn't tell the father, who is actually the love of my life' story. The guys always start off by being a d-bag and then works to redeem himself in the eyes of the reader by the end, but it doesn't always work for me.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Definitely a lot of fun, filled with hot sex and not something to miss if you know the genre and what to expect.

Series - None

Sunday, July 5, 2009

DSK Jewelry Contest Results!!

So you remember the post from a few weeks ago, where I answered a bunch of questions and even made a YouTube video for DSK Jewelry's contest? Well I won 3rd place! Woohoo! And that's not too shabby considering that Stephanie had 54 people enter her contest. It kind of inspire's me to enter another one, this time a contest put up by Judy from itsjudytime.

But I won't lie, you always hope when you enter something like this that you'll get first place (or why do you bother?) but I'm still happy I placed! Hopefully I'll just do better next time! I won a pair of Swaorvski crystal star earrings ($15 value) and a few other little things that I'm really excited to get in the mail. I decided to go with the earrings in CLEAR AB just cause I want them to be just big and sparkly and something I can wear whenever. You can see them here -

Check back soon because I've decided to do a series of posts on the world of eBooks and physical books and some of the authors/stories that I've found there that have either been incredible or somewhat of a disappointment. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cast in Fury by Michelle Sagara

When a minority race of telepaths is suspected of causing a near-devastating tidal wave, Private Kaylin Neya is summoned to Court—and into a PR nightmare. To ease racial tensions, the emperor has commissioned a play, and the playwright has his own ideas about who should be the focus.…But Kaylin works her best magic behind the scenes, and though she tries to stay neutral, she is again drawn into a world of politics…and murder. To make matters worse, Marcus, her trusted sergeant, gets stripped of his command, leaving Kaylin vulnerable. Now she's juggling two troubling cases, and even magic's looking good by comparison. But then nobody ever said life in the theater was easy.…

I love this series. Each book gets more and more exciting, with the characters growing and becoming more powerful in a very believable way. No brand new powers jumping in and saving the day, but a natural progression of the abilities Sagara wrote into the first book help Kaylin navigate the delicate interracial situations that she often finds herself in. There's no way to accurately describe the five main races that are featured in each of Sagara's books, suffice it to say that each one is created as an entity in and of itself and getting to know each society is part of why I love these books

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Great book in a great fantasy series.

Series - 1) Cast in Shadow 2) Cast in Courtlight 3) Cast in Secret 4) Cast in Fury

Lord of Bones by Justine Musk

Jess and Ramsey stopped a demon from bringing about the apocalypse. But a gate was opened and more demons have come to Earth—inhabiting human bodies. Now, these demon hybrids are paving the way for the arrival of the Soulbreaker, known as Lord of Bones…

It took me FOREVER to get around to reading this book. I started with BloodAngel and bought this one because they both sounded really good, but something about them just made me hesitant to keep reading. I think the inherent darkness of the subject matter just made me kind of shy away from this sequal. But I'm glad that I finally took the plunge because this book was a significant step up from the first and it was illuminating to see where the author took her characters. Yes Jess is dark, yes the way her power seems to be eating her up from the outside is dark, but it's compelling and the relationships she builds are compelling.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. This is not a quick page turner, it actually takes some effort and concentration to get through, but you do get rewarded with a cool ending once you make it.

Series - 1) BloodAngel 2) Lord of Bones