Friday, October 30, 2009

The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston

Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill has learned how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy in the form of a massive Grizzly shifter? Especially one with a rather unhealthy fetish for honey, moose, and…uh…well, her. Yet despite his menacing ursine growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, protects her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.

At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming and running away. Gwen-half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass-does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's a born protector. Watching out for the family and friends closest to her but missing the fact that she's being stalked by a murderous enemy who doesn't like hybrids…and absolutely hates Gwen. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he will. Why? Because this is Gwen-and no matter what the hissing, roaring, drape destroying feline says about not being ready to settle down, Lock knows he can't simply walk away. Not when she's come to mean absolutely everything to him.

I love Shelly Laurenston. Is it ok if I say that? Because it's totally true - I LOVE SHELLY LAURENSTON. Her books are this incredible combination of sex, violence, and laughs. How could anyone not love them? I think that even though over my 23 years I've continually said I read too much to pick just one favorite author, Laurenston might actually take that prize. I don't think I have ever been disappointed by one of her books, primarily because her main characters, the women especially, are crazy (probably certifiably so). But it doesn't matter because the shenanigans that all of them manage to get into make the books a sure fire good time - though I really hope they never make these into movies. I'm positive that will kill them. Their main stream audience appeal in my opinion comes from Laurenston's ability to make the lives of these shapeshifters normal. Family drama, embarrassing situations (you want to be there while your mom discusses her post-delivery vagina? I think not!), worries about the future - they're all there and make each man and woman incredibly relatable. Laurenston isn't going anywhere and with her releases getting bigger with every book I can't wait to see what happens in the future.

Overall Feelings - Thumbs Up! So much fun it had me laughing out loud, and it definitely makes you want to find that special bear of your own!

Series - 1) The Mane Event 2) The Beast in Him 3) The Mane Attraction 4) The Mane Squeeze

Lucinda, Dangerously by Sunny

Soon after returning to the world of the living with her two bondmates, demon princess Lucinda is kidnapped and imprisoned by her enemy, Derek. He brings her back to a hidden outland in Hell, a bleak and desolate landscape riddled with disfigured rejects. At first enraged by Lucinda's new abilities, Derek soon realizes that he may have just stumbled upon a way to regain his power-and Lucinda's new life is the sacrifice.

Let me start out by saying that I don't think Sunny's books are going to appeal to everyone. They can be kind of dark with a lot of sex and violence, not always with the emotional attachment that some readers expect to make those relationships 'okay'. Her books could almost been seen as very dark fairy tales, where the prince doesn't always win and the princesses are known to do a lot in defense of their honor and their kingdoms.

With that being said, Lucinda, Dangerously is an intriguing second book for this series. Written in first person (switching sometimes from Lucinda's view to the views of the other central characters) it's the continuing story of Lucinda's journey to find herself. There are a lot of things going on in this demon's life, or non-life, and the enemies that she meets and the changes that happen to her are substantial. It's a good book but it's a little hard to see this one going as far as Sunny's Mona Lisa books, just because while Lucinda is changing, I kind of find myself rooting for her to find her happy ending and not have to worry about everything anymore. Shrug - we'll have to just see I think.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. I had an interestingly neutral feeling after reading this book, even though I know I enjoyed it. So definitely read it but know what you're getting into and be prepared for some evil to rear its head.

Series - 1) Lucinda, Darkly 2) Lucinda, Dangerously

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

On a recommendation from a friend I picked up my very first Philippa Gregory book and I was pleasantly surprised! I don't usually read historically accurate romance/fiction just because it seems to often be depressing. Yes, I know, history had its ups and downs, thus 'duh!' books that are accurate cannot always have a happy ending - I know! Either way, I just don't read a lot of them. But this one is definitely something I'd recommend to others. The story of Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV, it has an intriguing mix of romance, mystery, and the supernatural. Elizabeth is a strong woman determined to do the most to forward the lot of her children and her family, even if her methods don't always result the outcome she desires. Ms. Greggory has a nice writing style, engaging the reader and making them fell committed to the lives that are playing out before them. The only negative thing I would say is there is kind of an obvious foreshadowing of doom right from the beginning, but I don't know if that was really something Ms. Greggory could change, with her writing about a period of history where really horrible things happened and peoples fortunes could change with a snap.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. An interesting read, though not necessarily a fast one with an ending that definitely leaves you wanting to know what comes next.

Series - 1) The White Queen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Untamed Bride - A Give Away!

Thanks to the wonderful people over at Wiredset I've been offered the chance to host a give away!For two winners! Yay!

I've done a review on Stephanie Laurens' books before but this is a chance for you to get- FOR FREE- her latest release The Untamed Bride. But you might be asking yourself, 'Why do I want the new Stephanie Laurens book?' Because she writes some of the best Regency England romances available today. A New York Times Bestselling Author, her books are always filled with great alpha males and incredibly strong women with just the right amount of banter to keep you engrossed in the story. To be completely upfront they are going send me a free copy to review, but keep in mind two things: 1) I was planning to read the book anyway, and 2) I've already reviewed Laurens' work before with very high marks so I'm not offering up anything I don't think is quality work.

Since this is a give away, and my first one at that, the rules are going to be pretty simple (and sorry in advance, but it's only open to US Residents):

1) You must be at least 16 years of age (because you're going to have to email me your physical address)
2) You must be a subscriber of my blog (click the Follow Blog button!)
3) Leave a comment on this post asking to be entered into the giv eaway

And that's it! Two winners will be chosen randomly from everyone who comments, please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win - GOOD LUCK! Contest closes November 12, 2009 11:59pm(my birthday!)


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Want One! The Barnes and Noble Nook

I don't know how behind the times I am, could be a lot, but after seeing a reference to it in my newspaper I looked up the Barnes and Nook and damn do I want one! Yes I have to fight against an almost irresistible urge to own the newest and brightest thing in ebook technology, but I have to admit that this one sounds pretty fantastic. With brand new Touch screen technology built into the unit, you can browse through your library (full color) looking at the covers of the books you own and choose your reading material from there. Like the Sony eReader you can download your own PDF's onto the device, a big step up from the Amazon Kindle in my opinion, or you can download free or priced titles from None of the eReaders currently available have back light capabilities, though for its own release Barnes and Noble describe this as a way to do away with the eye fatigue usually brought on my computer use. I still say that I'd rather have the back light option, because if I'm reading in bed or on a train or something, that would be more convenient than having to clip on a book light.

There are some other differences between the Nook and the Kindle 2, including that fact the Nook is on AT&T and has virtually unlimited expandable memory, but I appreciate B&N also being upfront with the similarities. The screen size, initial memory, price of new releases, etc. - all of these are the same between the two devices (though isn't it interesting that the website only has the comparison between the Nook and the Kindle 2 up? I guess B&N doesn't consider the Sony eReader competition). The other main difference that's being talked about is the ability to bookmark, highlight, and make notes on what you're reading - though those features are exclusive to titles purchased from B& I'm not totally sold on those options, mainly because as a bibliophile I don't like doing any of those things to my books - but maybe having the ability to do it but not feel like I'm irreparably harming a piece of beloved literature will make me enjoy it more. We'll see.

It's still mostly out of my budget at $259 but GOD I wish I had some well up relative or fairy godmother who could get me one. It's available for pre-order now, to be officially released in November, and I'm excited to see what happens. Of course, I'm more excited for it to be November 30th and for me to be able to go into a store and play with it in person. Oooh yes, feel that technology goodness.

MY BAD - here's the link to Barnes and Noble website on the Nook, where you can examine all the specs and features.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Laurell K Hamilton at Dragon*Con 2008

Since I'm working on what my next book review is going to be, I thought I'd take a time out and do a quick little post on Laurell K Hamilton and Dragon*Con. I love LKH - quite a bit in fact - but I have one major issue: her inability to be consistent with Dragon*Con attendances drives me crazy! My BFF and I waited years to go to Dragon*Con for the first time solely because we weren't gonna go if she wasn't there - and she kept not being there. AUGH!

Luckily, I can say that in 2008 LKH went and so we proceeded to stalk her around that entire Convention. HOURS of waiting in line hoping to be in the first or second row so that we could really hear and see the person who wrote so many of the books we loved. I'm even happier to say that she was totally worth that time and that Ms. Hamilton is very funny and engaging in person. If you get the chance to go listen to her speak definitely take it! It's like watching one of your favorite heroines step out of the book and come to life in the very best way.

Both of these clips are from Dragon*Con's 'She Did What?!' Panel:
"Sex in science fiction. Is it necessary? Does too much of it cross the line from sf/fantasy into...other things?" - Dragon*Con 2008 Pocket Program

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Death in the Family

Hello Readers,

My mother died last week and so I will not be updating for awhile. Thank your understanding and support during this very tough time.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy--cool, calm, least on the surface. Inside, she's fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper's embrace.

DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard's rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance. Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian's agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules...

Nalini Singh's books are still a lot of fun. Since I just did a review for one of her other books not too long ago I'm not going to go really in depth with this one, but suffice it to say that it doesn't let the series down. Dorian and Ashaya are still two unique characters, even after all the other Changling/Psy pairings we've seen before. At this point in the series I probably feel some of the most enjoyment when more of the Psy plots unfolds - seeing the inner workings of the Council is pretty cool.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Definitely.

Series - 1) Slave to Sensation 2) Visions of Heat 3) Caressed by Ice 4) Hostage to Pleasure 5) Branded by Fire

Covet by J.R. Ward

Redemption isn't a word Jim Heron knows much about-his specialty is revenge, and to him, sin is all relative. But everything changes when he becomes a fallen angel and is charge with saving the souls of seven people from the seven deadly sins. And failure is not an option. Vin DiPietro long ago sold his soul to his business, and he's good with that-until fate intervenes in the form of a tough- talking, Harley-riding, self-professed savior. But then he meets a woman who will make him question his destiny, his sanity, and his heart-and he has to work with a fallen angel to win her over and redeem his own soul.

I love JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series so much that I hesitate to say that I didn't like this one - but I didn't. From the very beginning it felt like this book was going on forever. A never ending sea of mundane world building exercises and seemingly meaningless character building. There's just no balance between the world and the characters, thus instead of the characters weaving together with each other and their environment, things almost feel stilted and forced. In the end things do come a bit clearer and you feel like the series could go somewhere, but this story was just no my favorite and I don't know if I'll ever reread it except to remind myself where the series began. So sad J.R. Ward, so sad. I hate to say it.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs down. Mediocre in execution though a good idea. She could have done a lot better- I know because I've seen her do it.

Series - 1) Covet

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On the Edge by Illona Andrews

The Broken is a place where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is nothing more than a fairy tale.

The Weird is a realm where blueblood aristocrats rule and the strength of your magic can change your destiny.

Rose Drayton lives on the Edge, the place between both worlds. A perilous existence indeed, made even more so by a flood of magic-hungry creatures bent on absolute destruction.

Illona Andrews made so much noise on their (it's a husband and wife writing team) website about their editor and publishing company not being able to define what genre of book this was. I didn't have that same problem - it's a great example of Urban Fantasy with strong Romance leanings. Let's be real folks, fantasy is changing every day and with the inclusion of stories like this, where the contemporary is combined seamlessly with the fantastic, Urban Fantasy becomes more and more real. Sometimes I love myself - 'real fantasy'. Ahh, puns. So easily used for both good and evil.

Anyway - to get back to the review - this was a really great series opener. I've loved Andrews through all of her Kate Daniels books, but when an author starts something new it can be a delicate process. You've gone so long without any tedious world building explanations that it can be hard if an author all of sudden incorporates it; luckily, Andrews seems to be beyond that. Instead you're shown this wonderful intricate world and it's through the characters actions that the reader learns about the environment. Rose and Declan are both very unique personalities and their dance around each other is a lot fun to experience.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. I can't wait for the next one!

Series - 1) On the Edge

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hot for the Holidays by Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast, and Allyson James

Featuring four all-new novellas of sensual surprises and seasonal spirits, this collection includes a new tale of the Breeds from Lora Leigh and a return to the world of the Mageverse from Angela Knight.

Well that crappy description is on the back of the book too, so I'll do a quick recap of the four stories. Allyson Jame's contribution to this anthology is a decent shape-shifter love story, with a bit of Native American mythology that includes a Skin Walker. Anya Bast has written a story where the world of the Fae takes the forefront, with the main characters belonging to the Seelie or Unseelie courts. And as the description says, Knight includes another story from her Mageverse series and Leigh another short tale from her Breeds books.

I really wasn't totally impressed with any of the stories besides Leigh's. Even Knight didn't pull out a brand new addition, but instead seemed to be cycling things from her other short stories - find an unawakened witch (Majae), pair her with a hot knight (Vampire) and let the story take care of itself. Bast and James made ok showings, but again I didn't feel like they were really worth my time or money, though James' story made me at least a little excited about the possibility of a sequal. After looking at the other stories, what makes Leigh's really stand out is the fact that it was an independent, unique story that has a beginning, middle, and end that gets the reader involved. The elements of the 'mating heat' are still there, so the instantaneous connection between the Jessica and Hawke exists, but the back story of her 'betrayal' and the way the two of them interact is what makes the story worth it.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up, but only because Leigh's story is included her. The rest of the anthology gets more of an ambivalent vote, and it might be more worth your time to check it out from the library.

Series - Knight and Leigh are adding to their own popular series in this anthology, which I won't list here, but Bast and James seem to have written stand alones.

Big Bad Wolf by Christine Warren

Missy Roper’s fantasies have revolved around Graham Winters since the moment they met. But the imposing leader of the Silverback werewolf clan always seemed oblivious to Missy’s existence. At least he was, until Missy collides with him at a party and then abruptly runs away—arousing Graham’s interest…and wild desires.

Lupine law decrees that every Alpha must have a mate, and all Graham’s instincts tell him that the sensual, beguiling Missy is his. Trouble is, Missy is human—every delectable inch of her. Convincing his clan that she’s his destined mate, and keeping her safe from his enemies, will be the biggest challenge Graham has ever faced. And now that he is determined to have her—as his lover and as his mate—Missy’s world is changing in ways she never imagined…

BEWARE BIG BAD WOLF - THIS BOOK IS A REPRINT! It isn't anything I can really blame on anyone but myself, but I bought this book and was very disappointed. Damn you reprints of E-books! I have no problem with the story itself, but it's pretty much identical to the original, except for one added scene and one place where the dialogue is changed during a sex scene to allude to the new title. Ugh. I don't even feel like it was worth my money to complete my print collection to get this. Either way, it's a good story, one of my favorites that I go back to time and again with characters that are memorable. Missy's and Graham's love story is that great combination of easy and hard, with their feelings for each other a part of the story and not a side note or assumed.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up for the story, THUMBS DOWN for being a reprint and for St. Martin's Paperbacks because they are reprinting the Fantasy Fix series in a very awkward order for any new comers.

Series - 1) Wolf at the Door 2) She's No Faerie Princess 3) The Demon You Know 4) Howl at the Moon 5) Walk on the Wild Side 6) One Bite With a Stranger 7) You're So Vein 8) Big Bad Wolf