Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (1/31)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I could feel things bleeding and breaking inside me, important things. I'd pushed myself and my gift further than I ever had before. Too far."

--pg 302, The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green

Monday, January 30, 2012

Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis


Accountant Katie Kramer is a quintessential good girl – working hard, recycling diligently, all the while trying to ignore the feeling that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. That’s all she wants. Well, that – and amazing sex, and the kind of daredevil escapade she can look back on when she’s crunching numbers in a dusty cubicle. Which explains why she just took a job in Wishful, California, working for Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. Waking up to find a magnificently built stranger towering over her bed – that part defies explanation . . .

After wandering the planet for months following a life-changing accident, Cameron Wilder has come back to the only home he knows. Under other circumstances, he might be thrilled to find a gorgeous woman sleeping in his cabin, but now, while he’ll risk his body taking clients on adrenaline-drenched excursions, his heart is off limits. Still, Katie’s killer smile triggers something deep in his gut . . . among other places. Showing her how exhilarating it can be to stop balancing her life as if it was a checkbook is the biggest rush he’s ever felt – and an adventure Katie’s wishing would never end.

I've got to say, Shalvis is reeling me in with her combination of realistic relationships and just damaged enough to be intriguing main characters. It's refreshing I tell you, to know that in picking up her contemporary romances I'm not going to be inundated with unnecessary drama and obstacles to deter the couple from their happy ending. 

I feel as if I've said this a lot in reference to Shalvis's characters, but both Katie and Cam are working through life issues when they come upon each other. Katie's trying to restart her life after being the sole survivor of a horrible accident and Cam's making attempts to rebuild his life after the sport that usually defined it for him is taken away. What you witness is them inspiring each other, both of them supporting each other as they try to recover and then find love in the process. I loved the scenes with Cam fighting - and eventually giving in - to Katie's determination to be different, to do more, with her life. She wasn't going to forsake feelings just because there might be the possibility of heartache.

The ending was a bit quick but expected, though I almost wish things had been wrapped up before Katie actually left the mountain. All in all it was a great romance though and I highly recommend the book.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Instant Attraction 2) Instant Gratification 3) Instant Temptation

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mini Me: Strong and Sexy by Jill Shalvis


In a family of serious over-achievers, Shayne Mahoney has always been the laid-back, easy-going rebel. But running Sky High Air-a charter airline catering to the rich and famous-is a dream come true, in-flight specials included. Like kissing his client’s beautiful, brainy daughter in a coat closet. But before Shayne can say “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” Dani claims to witness a murder, gets stalked in her own apartment, and as added bonus, gets them both shot at by a mystery sniper. Normally Shayne would be running from the obviously crazy woman, and yet he finds himself trying to help her, leaving him to doubt his own sanity…

There’s a reason Dani never attends her mother’s high society parties. The fake people, the shallow conversation…and the fact that she doesn’t fit in. She’s a zoologist, not a starlet, and happy about it, even if she wishes men like ruggedly handsome Shayne Mahoney would spare her a second glance. Of course, dodging bullets isn’t exactly what she’d call the perfect follow-up to their heated kiss, but Shayne makes it clear she can depend on him. All she has to do is hold on tight to his delicious hard body until the ride is over…

I loved this book! I was really worried that this was going to be the 'woman appears crazy, no one believes her and instead the cops decide to arrest her' type of novel. Not only does that seem completely unrealistic to me whenever I find it, it just makes the romance that harder to believe because I'm always scratching my head about how the hero could be so dumb.

Luckily here, while there may be some initial 'huh' moments, Shayne realizes that Dani isn't really crazy and someone is actually out to get her. We get some very sweet interactions between the two because of it, which made their relationship even more fun to read about. Shayne might be a ladies man but he definitely has his own insecurities and hangups that made it difficult for him to trust his feelings for Dani. Dani's emotional issues, mostly stemming from how her mother and siblings viewed her lifestyle choices as 'insane', don't help matters. Both have work to do to make the relationship they unexpectedly find themselves in succeed - but as it happens without a lot of the soap opera drama I enjoyed the whole thing and can't wait to pick up the next in this series.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R Green

In the secret heart of London, under the cover of endless darkness, the Nightside caters to anyone with any unusual itch that needs to be scratched. But enter at your own risk. The party animals who live here may be as inhuman as their appetites...

My name is John Taylor. The Nightside is my home. I didn't plan it that way. In fact, I once tried to get away. But I came back. And now it seems I'm settling down, with a full-time job (in addition to my work as a very private eye) as Walker-the new Voice of the Authorities in the Nightside-and a wedding in the offing.

I'm marrying the love of my life, Suzie Shooter, the Nightside's most fearsome bounty-hunter. But nothing comes easy here. Not life. Not death. And for certain, not happily-ever-after. Before I can say "I do," I have one more case to solve as a private eye-and my first assignment as Walker.

Both jobs would be a lot easier to accomplish if I weren't on the run, from friends and enemies alike. And if my bride-to-be weren't out to collect the bounty on my head... 

If you caught up with me on Facebook or Twitter this weekend you probably witnessed some pretty huge gushing going on for this book. To be completely honest I LOVES it and while I'm sad to see this series end, I can't think of a better way it could have gone out. 

The Bride Wore Black Leather is full of all the things that made The Nightside series so great - seemingly omnipotent villains, behind the scenes machinations, scary as hell rides through the dark under belly of society - all tossed in with some mystery and a dash of romance. I've been waiting for what felt like forever for John and Suzy to get their own version of HEA and even when things seemed their darkest I couldn't tell which way the book was going go. There are no actual cliffhangers but in the world that Green's created not everyone gets their happy ending; bad things happen to good (or just naive) people kind of often. Even here there were some points where I found myself tearing up because I just didn't know how John was going to pick himself from the mess he'd landed in.

Nothing's perfect and I wouldn't make claims that this book or series is, but I enjoyed the ride so much and my only wish is that there were more people around me who read them so I had someone to talk to!!!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 10) The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny 11) A Hard Day's Knight 12) The Bride Wore Black Leather

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lawe's Justice by Lora Leigh

Diane Broen's lived to protect her younger sister Rachel from harm. But now that Rachel has been mated off, Diane's occupied herself with less fulfilling tasks at the Genetics Council--until she's paired with a new team member, a Breed male notorious for his attitude, and a touch that makes her recoil.

Lawe isn't thrilled with her either. A lion at heart, he prefers a lair of solitude. When it comes to females, he'd rather snarl than purr. And while fate may have paired them to fight on the same team, neither is willing to admit to the obvious: the mating heat between them is positively incinerating.

It's only when danger threatens that they make a hotter-than-hell connection--one so explosive it could destroy them. Or, as providence reveals, bind them together, forever.

If this was anyone but Lora Leigh - and specifically a book from her Breeds series - I would probably be giving it a lower grade. The book was good and had the high scorch content that she's known for, but I'm finally at the point where I actually don't care. I like her plot - I want to know what's going on with Jonas and Rachel's daughter - and I'm less interested in the back and forth between Diane and Lawe. I hate to say it but at some point I found myself flipping the pages past the sex scenes because I just wanted to know what happened next. 

But what aggravated me the most? Lawe himself. Half the time I didn't understand why Diane didn't just punch him. It's a delicate balance between protective alpha male and smothering alpha male, and while Lawe had some of his own demons to overcome I didn't always have the patience to deal with his journey. Maybe it's a fault with me, but I didn't want to see Diane kowtow to some invisible line of his, to some idea of what a 'good mate' should do and be. I can happily report that she doesn't, but Diane's emotional turmoil because she was a mate but not the kind of mate Lawe thought he wanted eventually becomes a bit much.

I'm still going to continue to buy the books from this series but all I want right now is some resolution. More plot development and forward movement please Ms. Leigh, and less sex. Even if you do write sex scenes very very well.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - ....25) Tied With a Bow (anthology) 26) Lawe's Justice

Friday, January 13, 2012

You're So Vein by Christine Warren

Ava Markham is beautiful, savvy, chic, and more at home with Kate Spade than with the idea of fangs and fur.  She can’t get quite used to the fact that some of closest friends have crossed over to the Other side.  Then one night she is attacked by a rogue vampire, and her deepest fears are realized when her body begins a dangerous transformation from human to immortal—a change she cannot survive without the help of an alluring stranger who comes to her rescue…

Vladimir Rurikovich, an elite member of the European Council of Vampires, is on the prowl for a murderous vampire fugitive on the night he saves Ava from the clutches of death. It takes just one look for Dima to know he cannot live another eight centuries without the stunning and seductive Ava—until he discovers a secret about her bloodline that could change everything…

Christine Warren is a bit of a hit or miss for me. I loved her when I first found her titles online, and continued to enjoy her Fantasy series as they continued, but sadly it didn't last. She moved into print publishing and I kind of feel like it's never been the same. First she started out republishing her older stuff - out of order - which drove me batty. Then she released e-novellas as full length stories that didn't seem to add much to what had be written originally. It's not all bad though, there have been some originals that did turn out to be fun to read, but this one was not what I was hoping for.

Since I've been reading her for a while Ava Markham had always been this kind of annoying, but still big and bad character. The friend that no one could get rid of but loved anyway - kind of like Oscar the Grouch. You're So Vein seemed to the perfect place for her to get her comeuppance or at least turn into a more well rounded character, but it didn't really go far enough. She was turned into a vampire against her will, which is not only something that would drive her crazy as a control freak, but should have sent her over the edge because she considered paranormals 'monsters'. Somehow though she gets over this whole thing pretty quickly and falls in lust, then love, with Vladimir (who has his own connection to the group). It just didn't ring true to me, and ultimately fell flat.

It's a quick read and not completely without merit, I like catching up with Regina and Missy, but it's not my favorite of the series and I think heralds the switch for me from auto-buy to borrow.

Overall Feeling - C

Series - ...13) Walk on the Wild Side 14) You're So Vein 15) Born to Be Wild

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Land of the Blindfolded by Sakura Tsukuba

Get ready for Tsukuba Sakura's symbolic tale LAND OF THE BLINDFOLDED, in which one character can only see the past, and another can only see the future! Originally presented in LaLa DX magazine from Hakusensha between 1998 to 2004, the 9-volume LAND OF THE BLINDFOLDED is the story of high school student Outsuka Kanade who can sometimes see a person's future with a touch, and transfer student Naitou Arou, whose ESP is limited to past events. When Kanade glimpses an unfortunate incident coming, can she change it? She soon befriends Arou, who's no novice - he can turn his ability on or off at will, even using it to see an object's "memories." Are these teenaged seers of the past and future made for each other? And who's right: Arou with his "hands off" policy about meddling in people's lives, or Kanade whose more proactive stance has already had unhappy consequences?

I consider manga's one of those things you have to REALLY love to buy all of. Most of the time you can never quite tell how long the series is going to go on and at least $9.99 a pop it can be an expensive habit to stick to.

Which I know sounds ridiculous as someone who buys mass markets all the time, but it's still true ok?! I like to have an end in sight if I'm going to be veering away from my usual.

But to get back to the point, Land of the Blindfolded is a cute, enjoyable, visually appealing story in an easy to consume 9 volumes.  I stumbled upon it when I was unpacking in the new place and rereading it just reminded me how much fun a Sunday afternoon on my couch can be. Kanade and Arou are both ridiculously cute and drawn to match, and the slow evolution of their relationship is appropriate for all ages. It's hard to be different and I think Tsukuba does a job of showing what you as an individual can and can't do to mitigate fallout.

There's a little bit of paranormal as the main characters do have the ability to see the past and future, but all in all this is a cute romance story and I highly recommend it.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - Land of the Blindfolded, books 1-9

there really IS nothing like a real book

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (1/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"If you're going to offer sex," he went on, "I just think it should be for something life or death. Or money." He thought on that for a moment, nodded. "Yeah. Life-or-death situation or money. But for a chick hobby? That's a little beneath you, don't you think?''

--pg 37, Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston

Monday, January 9, 2012

In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz

Scargill Cove is the perfect place for Fallon Jones, confirmed recluse and investigator of the paranormal. It’s a hot spot, a convergence point for unusually strong currents of energy, which might explain why the town attracts misfits and drifters like moths to a flame. Now someone else has been drawn to the Cove — Isabella Valdez, on the run from some very dangerous men.

When she starts working as Fallon’s assistant, Isabella impresses him by organizing his pathologically chaotic office — and doesn’t bat an eye at the psychic element of his job. She’s a kindred spirit, a sanctuary from a world that considers his talents a form of madness. But after a routine case unearths an antique clock infused with dark energy, Fallon and Isabella are dragged into the secret history of Scargill Cove and forced to fight for their lives, as they unravel a cutthroat conspiracy with roots in the Jones family business...and Isabella’s family tree.

I know that for some the addition of paranormal elements to a contemporary romance isn't a good thing.  I suppose it can act as a distraction from the focus of the story, which in my opinion would be the relationship between the two main characters. Luckily for me and other readers, I don't feel like Krentz has that problem, because while reading In Too Deep I never felt like we shifted too far from Isabella and Fallon. It reminded me strongly of some of her older romances, in a very good way, as there was some family wrangling for position and politically people out to get more power for themselves. These are elements I consider outside the realm of the paranormal, so while both of them unmistakably have abilities most don't the romance was definitely the heart of the story. Which I am VERY thankful for since this is a story I've been waiting for (darn expensive hardcovers **grumble**)!

I love Krentz's writing style and her characters, specifically for how human all of them are. In a small town like Scargill Cove the people who stick around all have something a bit 'off' about them, but what would be the fun if we didn't have that? Isabella has an interesting past she's working to get away from and Fallon has both past and present issues, as he can't figure out quite how close or far he might be from the line of 'sane'. Together the two have a lot of sparks and a familiar journey to their HEA - which is not a complaint as mostly without drama happy endings are a good thing to have on the shelf. It's probably considered a standalone but I think reading some of the others in her Arcane Series helps because Fallon pops up everywhere as the head of Jones & Jones.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) In Too Deep 2) Quicksilver (as Amanda Quick) 3) Canyons of Night (as Jayne Castle)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Reading Amidst the Chaos

Well maybe not really a new RAtChaos, but definitely a new review rubric. More often lately I've been feeling hemmed in by my 'thumbs up, thumbs down, eh' review style. I may say what I feel about the book in my review but by the time I get down to the 'Overall Feeling' section I'm not happy with my choices. Even though they are my choices and I have no one to blame but myself.

Thus in 2012 I'm going to push to be more clear and exact about my feelings when I give an overall review and so I'm making the switch to a grading system. Boring I know, but I think it'll work better for me in the long run as a reviewer and better for you as the reader because I'll now be able to give you the option of 'quick and dirty' regarding all the books.

The New System:

A: If you could see me I would be doing a happy dance of epic proportions.

B: While slightly less spastic and entertaining, a B book still has some pretty wonderful things going for it.

C: Average, these are usually worth a read though possibly better as a library pick.

D: Bleh. Probably has a few bits that aren't so bad but I'd be hard pressed to single them out.

F: What the f*ck was I thinking to read this book?

DNF: Did Not Finish. In other words it seemed better to bang my head on the desk then actually finish reading this book.

I reserve the right to use '+' or '-' as I deem them appropriate :D. But that's it folks, short and sweet, so here we GO!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December in Review - BYE 2011!

I have done nothing today and it has been GLORIOUS. I suck at life a bit and am no where near fully moved in to my new place, but you know what? I didn't do anything to fix that today. I opened my balcony doors admired the beautiful weather and sat on my bed. And on my couch. And read and ate food that was delicious.

If you haven't taken some time for yourself yet in this new year of 2012 I must recommend it :D.

For the last month of 2011 I managed to read 23 books. One of my best months so far, even if some of them were rereads. There was so much ridiculousness going on that taking the time to go back and familiarize myself with great authors on already on my shelf was one I don't regret. For most of the year I think my monthly count hovered around the 17-20 mark so I'm just going to say I read a lot of books and leave it at that. I didn't succeed in either of my reading challenges though, which makes me 1) more reluctant to sign up for any, and 2) determined to only take part in ones that I think I can realistically accomplish. We'll see how that goes!

I hope all of you had an awesome New Years Eve, no matter where in the world you are. Mine was filled with food, fun, and actually appropriately priced drinks. I have no regrets and hope that this is a sign that 2012 is going to be good to me.

Wild and Steamy by Carolyn Crane
Lesserblood Lies by Ainsley Davidson
Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara
Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch
Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews
Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis 
Lawe's Justice by Lora Leigh
Move Me by Emma Holly
Hidden Talents by Emma Holly
Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson
Taking Chase by Lauren Dane
Swimming Without a Net by MaryJanice Davidson
Fish out of Water by MaryJanice Davidson
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson
Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson
Don’t Hex with Texas by Shanna Swendson
Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Magic Gifts by Ilona Andrews
Spirit Bound by Christine Feehan
In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
You're So Vein by Christine Warren

Happy New Year!