Friday, August 31, 2012

Much Ado About Magic by Shanna Swendson

Katie Chandler is back in New York and at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. – and just in time. The city’s in the grip of a magical crime wave from spells that wizarding whiz Owen Palmer thinks look awfully familiar, and the rogue firm Spellworks is raising its profile in the magical world by selling protective amulets. It’s Katie’s job as the new director of marketing for MSI to fight this battle of public perception while Owen and the other wizards try to uncover what’s really going on.

What Katie doesn’t realize is that her idea to stage a showcase for MSI’s magical achievements is playing right into a devious plot more than three decades in the making. Now Katie has to do damage control that has nothing to do with marketing. To save the magical world, she’ll have to prove who the real enemy is, and doing that will require digging deeper into Owen’s mysterious past than he wants anyone to go. If she fails, she not only stands to lose a magical war, but she could also lose the man she loves.

You guys. YOU GUYS. Shanna Swendson wrote another book in her Enchanted, Inc. series! Yes! These books are an old love of mine, the first one recommend to me when I worked at Barnes & Noble. Thank goodness for the employee discount cause trade paper or not I proceeded to buy each and every one because they were so much fun to read. Katie is a down-to-earth lady from Texas trying to live her life in NY, and her combination of quick wit, humor, and intelligence in the face of danger make her a joy to read. Throughout all the novels we see her interacting with a number of mundane people and magical creatures, and Swendson does a fantastic job at making each one both unique and seemingly 'normal'. Just because Sam is a gargoyle who spends most of his shift watching out for magical dangers doesn't mean he can't swoop down and have a quick convo with Katie during her lunch break. 

In this latest installment Swendson introduces us to the 'after HEA' of Katie and Owen. After a few books of slow build-up Katie and Owen finally got to defeat the bad guy and be together. These may not be the sexiest of books, but the way Owen blushes when he gets Katie coffee or buys her chocolate and flowers for her birthday is adorable (and leaves me smiling every time). We're introduced to a new big and bad in this book, one who's been behind the scenes, setting up himself to be head honcho of the whole magical realm, and there's a good bit of action at the end which Swendson handles well without going over the top. I don't want to be spoil-ery but the very end of the book was a BIG surprise, just because it was so unexpected, but I can happily say that Katie and Owen are still the wonderful couple we've come to love from previous books and I highly recommend this whole series to anyone who likes a feel good adult fairy tale.

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - 1) Enchanted, Inc. 2) Once Upon Stilettos 3) Damsel Under Stress 4) Don't Hex With Texas 5) Much Ado About Magic

**Title requested from NetGalley**

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (8/28)

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!

"When you find somebody you love, all the way through, and she loves you- even with your weaknesses, your flaws, everything starts to click into place. And if you can talk to her, and she listens, if she makes you laugh, and makes you think, makes you want, makes you see who you really are, and who you are is better, just better with her, you'd be crazy not to want to spend the rest of your life with her."

--pg 312-313, Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ghost Hunter by Jayne Castle

Where deadly energy ghosts lurk in the ruins of an ancient alien civilization. Where dust bunnies prove to be loyal pets. And where a ghost hunter will discover that a woman's heart is the most dangerous adversary of all...

Local Guild boss and powerful ghost-hunter Cooper Boone is everything botanist Elly St. Clair could ask for - the handsome, strong, and silent type. Maybe too silent. For when Guild secrets threaten her career at the college, Elly has to call off their marriage - and leave small-town life behind...

But starting over in the thriving metropolis of Cadence City isn't easy, especially when one of Elly's new friends disappears in the eerie catacombs beneath the streets. Cooper turns up just in time to help Elly investigate. And as the mystery deepens and dangerous ghost myths and legends come to light, Cooper makes it clear he intends to stick around - and this time he's holding nothing back...

For an uncomplicated romance (futuristic or not) Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz remains a favorite. Her characters continue to be unique, even if there are similarities, and in the case of her Harmony world series I like the slight tinge of paranormal with the romance. It doesn't negatively affect the evolution of the relationship, but it does give rise to interesting reasons for conflict that don't annoy me (ie, no soap opera drama).

We're introduced to Elly and Cooper just as their relationship starts to turn sour. She gives back his ring and cancels their engagement after his promotion to head of the local Guild - a promotion she hadn't anticipated, which puts the initial problems she had about their relationship into new light. She moves to Cadence City and while it may take Cooper six months to follow her, he does, which is when the sparks between them and the danger surrounding them pick up speed. You get great action and funny conversations between our hero and heroine as they try to navigate the many misunderstandings that lead to their current predicament - it results in not a whole lot of time between the sheets but wonderful moments as they rekindle the romance and feelings that brought them together initially.

As one of the first few books of the series there are some big discoveries about the Underworld that happen in this book, which are further explored in the later installments. I recommend the whole series.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) After Dark 2) After Glow 3) Ghost Hunter 4) Silver Master 5) Dark Light 6) Obsidian Prey 7) Midnight Crystal 8) Canyons of Night

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chasing Charlie by Kathy Carmichael

When Davis Murphy, cowboy wannabe and one of Dallas's most eligible bachelors, asks Charlie Nelson to pretend to be his fiancée, her reaction is to run far and fast.

Charlie, raised by two older, very protective, brothers on a South Texas cattle ranch, wants only one thing: to avoid thrill-seeking cowboys. She clings to the security of her safe and steady job as a librarian.

Davis needs a fiancée so his widowed mother will marry her gentleman friend whose company is transferring him to Japan. She has refused to wed until Davis is settled.

Charlie is the perfect answer if only she'll go along with the scheme. Can he talk her into becoming his temporary fiancée? And once he does, can he convince her to become his real wife?

This is a light, fun, sweet romance and exactly what I was looking for. I would compare it to a Harlequin series novel in the best way, because we are introduced to the characters and through a kind of ridiculous series of events we get to experience them falling in love and finding their HEA. And make no mistake it's kind of ridiculous. Not ridiculous in that romantic comedy way where I have to hide my face from the screen because the heroine is getting humiliated for the 15th billion time, but ridiculous because who goes about hiring a fiance to convince his mother he'll be ok? Well, Davis Murphy apparently. 

He's a loveable bachelor finally able to live his life long dream of becoming a rancher - even if that future is one that Charlie looks at with horror. The two of them have great chemistry, the dialogue composed of a lot of back and forth as neither is willing to admit that they're falling in love (but really, would you want them to? Them fighting it is more fun for us, lol). For the romance reader that likes explicit sexy times this is not going to be the story for you. There's a few spectacular kisses but things don't head into the bedroom; I didn't have a problem with it because from what we learn about Charlie and her background it makes sense for her character but I want to put it out there for the unaware.

My only complaint would be that at some point Charlie, her brothers, the life she'd lead on her family's ranch, became very flat. Monty Joe and Bobby Gray (yes those are the brothers' names) don't really exist outside of cowboy caricatures. I felt like they deserved more and that tied into a similar feeling about Charlie and Davis's HEA. Things get wrapped up at the end without addressing Charlie's fears about ranching (we get her inner monologue describing them, but no conversation between her and Davis) or exploring what Davis's dreams are with owning a ranch/being a cowboy. The story's about 80 pages and I think it could have been that much better if more time had been spent fleshing out both the main and supporting characters.

Still, it's an entertaining story that has me interested in reading more - especially since Charlie's brothers are up next! 

Overall Feeling - B

Series - Prequel) Chasing Charlie 1) Kissing Kelli 2) Stuck on You 3) Southern Fried Bride (Winter 2013)

**Title requested from NetGalley**

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mini Me: Bleed For Me by Cynthia Eden

The Greek gods are alive and well.  But, unfortunately for the gods, the humans have all but forgotten their glorious existence…and this fact really pisses off the all-powerful, immortal beings.

Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, takes one look at the mysterious Terese Lafitte and knows that he wants her. Even in this modern century, a god takes what he wants. But Terese isn’t a mortal, not any longer. As a newly turned vampire, her attraction to Apollo is downright lethal because desire arouses not just her body, but also her bloodlust.

But Apollo likes a woman with bite, and now that he’s found Terese, he’s not about to let the little vampiress out of his sight or out of his bed.   When Terese’s psychotic vampire ex begins to stalk them, Apollo knows that he will have to use all of his strength to keep her safe.  Lucky for Terese, Apollo has more power than she could ever have imagined.

When you trifle with the sun god, you will get burned.

I love the internets. It teaches me wonderful things - and passes on the opinions of others so that I can make my own decisions :). Before now Cythnia Eden had been an author I only read in Shelly Laurenston anthologies. Not one I bought independently, but didn't mind as an extra. Bleed For Me, while not the best thing I've ever read, does have me pretty excited about her Loved by Gods series. 

Apollo's not bad, a bit obsessed with sex and convinced Terese was the one faster than I've seen in a while, but a good guy. Terese is dealing with being turned into a vampire against her will and suddenly discovering that gods are real, walking around, and owning popular bars. This short story contains plenty of action, sex, some emotion, and is a nice set up for future books, so I'd say that for $.99 it's not bad at all. Thanks Book Vixen for the heads up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (8/21)

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 asked you a question," Raphael said, his voice saturated with menace.

Roman's voice turned icy. "And I told you to fuck yourself. Which part wasn't clear?"

"Hey!" I snapped.

They looked at me.

"The door is open," I said. "You can stay out here and compare inches for the entire night, but I'm going inside."

--pg 247-248, Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Monday, August 20, 2012

10 days....

That's right folks, at the time of this posting there are 10 DAYS UNTIL DRAGON*CON 2012!!!! It's down to the wire for me and my costumes, which thank goodness are nearing completion. I have mad respect for the people who do this on a regular basis - not only is it incredibly time consuming, but the level of commitment and skill necessary to really pull off a costume is immense. I'm doing maybe (*maybe*) 1/4 of the work of a professional and I've found myself contemplating a good cry in the corner more than once. Still I think I'm gonna make it, if for nothing else than to see all the people I love at the event itself!

Getting ready!

As far as hard -core stalkery goes, this year there are a few (heh) names on my list that I want to see/obsess over. They are:

Laurell K. Hamilton
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Nancy L. Holder
Mercedes Lackey
Larry Dixon

Gillian Anderson
Dean Cain
James Marsters
Jason Momoa
Amy Okuda
Billy Boyd
Felicia Day
Burt Ward
Adam West
Garrett Wang
Sean Maher
Kathy Najimy
Robert Picardo
Tim Russ
Richard Dean Anderson
Grant Imahara
Anthony Michael Hall
Adam Baldwin
Amber Benson
LeVar Burton
Michael Dorn
Jonathan Frakes
Juliet Landau
Joe Manganiello
Jason Momoa
Nichelle Nichols
Robin Thorsen
Jeff Lewis
Vincent Caso
Sandeep Parikh

Yaya Han

But you know what these names say to me?

The Guild Panel
Last year at Dragon*Con it was a Guild panel that even got me watching the webseries. The actors were that hilarious and awesome.

Star Trek Panels
Oh Star Trek. Whether you're full of Voyager people or those from TNG you guarantee entertainment and possible dramatic exits. Score.

Buffy/Angel Panels
I can't wait to see Juliet Landau - and with James Marsters even! I haven't heard her speak before so I've got my fingers crossed for even more great cast anecdotes.

Mercedes Lacky
She just may get me back into the author line this year. Her books have been favorites of mine for years and still maintain ample bookshelf space. I've got my fingers crossed it won't take forever and a day because I'd really love to come back with some signed pieces. 

Adam West & Burt Ward vs Jason Mamoa & Joe Manganiello
These...these are the outliers. Both are incredibly popular icons of geeky goodness, but all are people I'd really only see because they were there - not because I, you know, loved them deeply. They're on the list but huge lines could definitely send me else where.

For anyone else joining me at Dragon*Con, who do you want to see? Or if you're not going, who are your favorites?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stygian's Honor by Lora Leigh

Window Rock, Arizona, is the last known location of Honor Roberts, who vanished when she was just thirteen. It was her only sanctuary from the Breed research that would surely have ended in her death—one such insidious experiment should, indeed, have killed her. That she lived is both a miracle—and a great mystery.

Stygian’s mission is to find Honor Roberts, no matter the cost. Now, with the help of Liza Johnson, assistant to the chief of the Navajo Nation, he is closer than ever to his goal. But will the discovery of Honor Roberts mean the destruction of the mating heat that has developed between Stygian and Liza?

Generally speaking:

*What worked for me: Liza and Stygian. There was more buildup to them becoming full blown mates and I liked the way it made their relationship a bit more believable.

*What didn't work for me: The non-mystery mystery. People who've been reading this series from the beginning aren't dumb and Leigh was a bit heavy handed with the hints. Also, Jonas being a butthead and the slowest moving plot line in the history of the world. Seriously. I need something to happen pronto.

After reading a few reviews (and learning that Navarro's Promise was published missing an entire chapter, sheesh) I went into Stygian's Honor a little worried. I like this series but even I have to admit that there's only so long that scorching hot sex is gonna hold my attention. I can't be left hanging here much longer because truthfully I'm getting bored. Someone either needs to die/be cured, because I'm not sure if I can keep buying these things if nothing happens. This isn't a stand alone book or an just an erotic romance - it's a series with a overarching plot that's going in a very particular direction. Let's get it going! 

What saved this book for me was Liza and Stygian. Because she kind of knew once her feelings for him kicked in how things were gonna go, she never let him rest on his laurels. She repeatedly called him out and made him treat her like an equal. While I didn't love how Stygian seemed to be a little too understanding of Jonas and his butthead-ness, all in all I was happy with their relationship.

Overall Feeling - C

Series - ...   25) Navarro's Promise 26) Lawe's Justice 27) Stygian's Honor

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A little bit of a tease...

Thanks to Shelly Laurenston's newsletter here's a little excerpt from her upcoming release Howl For It (out 8/28)!

Back Cover Copy:
HOWL FOR IT Back Cover:
Quiet little Darla Lewis couldn’t be happier when the most-feared member of the South’s rowdiest pack kidnaps her. A girl gets real tired of being overprotected by her own shifter family, and there’s nothing like an oh-so-big bad wolf to start a pack feud, unleash her instincts—and have her surrender however and whenever she wants…

EXCERPT: (Unedited/Unproofed)
“Like a Wolf With a Bone”
From Brava
Available August 28th, 2012!

Darla had no idea what woke her up.
She knew she was safe and her body nearly healed. She just had a little bit of a headache that started at the base of her skull. But other than that . . .
And yet, she knew she’d woken up for a reason.
Slipping out of bed, Darla made her way downstairs. As she passed the dining room, she glanced into the kitchen and she could see through the big windows and onto the porch. She stopped and spun around, staring at the wolf standing on his porch. He just stood there, staring out into the trees that surrounded his little house.
She walked to the door and eased it open, stepped out onto the porch.
He glanced at her. “You should be in bed.”
“So should you.”
“Just keeping watch.”
She stepped closer. “Have you been out here all night?”
“Maybe?” Darla sighed. “You’re such a protector.”
“I am?”
“Of course you are. But we’re safe here. You said so yourself.”
“Couldn’t hurt to have a little extra --  ”
“Lord!” She grabbed his arm and yanked him toward the backdoor. “Come on.”
“You need sleep. You’ve been up for hours.”
“I’m used to it.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be. Not when you’re home.”
She managed to drag him through the house and up the stairs, but as soon as she got to the bedroom he was letting her use, he froze in his tracks.
Darla squealed a little when Eggie brought her up short. She realized he’d only been letting her drag him through the house.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded. She wanted to go back to bed.
“Why am I going in there?”
“So you can get some sleep.”
“But where will you sleep?”
Darla released Eggie so she could put her hands on her hips. “Tell me you are kidding.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty has been tapped as the keynote speaker for the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. The conference brings together scientists, activists, protestors, and supernatural beings from all over the world—and Kitty, Ben, and Cormac are right in the middle of it.

Master vampires from dozens of cities have also gathered in London for a conference of their own. With the help of the Master of London, Kitty gets more of a glimpse into the Long Game—a power struggle among vampires that has been going on for centuries—than she ever has before. In her search for answers, Kitty has the help of some old allies, and meets some new ones, such as Caleb, the alpha werewolf of the British Isles. The conference has also attracted some old enemies, who’ve set their sights on her and her friends.

All the world’s a stage, and Kitty’s just stepped into the spotlight.

I love this series. Seriously. Even if the details of the first few books get a little fuzzy (which I think I should be forgiven for since we're 10 books in) I still find Kitty and her pack completely entertaining. Vaughn has navigated the tricky waters of giving her main character her HEA without forgetting the rest; just because Kitty and Ben are married doesn't mean that the good guys have finally won or that there isn't more work to do.

I think what keeps me committed is that each book feels 'complete' almost while still not losing the threads of the Long Game. As a reader it can be hard for me to maintain the same level of care that I used to have for a series, I admit that even with this one it took me a minute to work up the energy to read it. But Kitty is immediately someone you identify with, a woman trying to survive in a world that doesn't know what to do with her and in the face of an evil that wants to control her (and everyone). There's a lot of action in this book and more Cormac (yay!) along with familiar faces from previous books. 

The ending is cliffhanger-esque in that it's definitely setting up the next few books (or the rest of the series, I don't know) but we still get to see Kitty take one more step into taking that mantal of leadership she's not sure she deserves. I guess I'm always going to be a sucker for the reluctant hero, the one who makes the best of bad situation. 

Overall Feeling - A

Series - ....8) Kitty Goes to War 9) Kitty's Big Trouble 10) Kitty Steals the Show

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Christmas in July (Part II) Winner!

After putting the number of comments through, the winner is...

Lady Soul

Congrats Lady Soul, you should have already received an email from me asking for your shipping address :).

And thank you so much to everyone who entered! I love giving away books to good homes and being able to learn more about the people who read this blog while I do it is the BEST!

P.S. - As a quick housekeeping update, please make sure to read the giveaway rules carefully. I had to disqualify some entries because they didn't include email addresses and I wanted to be fair to everyone. Thank you! 

Teaser Tuesday (8/14)

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 went through the door, leaving Claudia looking at him as if she'd never quite seen him before. In the midst of catching bad guys maybe we could have a little romance, and for once, it wouldn't be mine. Cool."

--pg 322, Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crux by Moira Rogers

Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn’t crack…until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.

New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn’t explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.

When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating.

With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.

I picked this up for a couple reasons 1) I've like Rogers work in the past, and 2) it was FREE and really who's gonna pass that up? My willpower is just not that strong. I've also been on the fence about whether I could read Impulse without any knowledge of the series whatsoever, and I figured this was as good as a universal sign as I was gonna get.

For the most part I don't have any complaints. The romance between Holt and Mackenzie was sold, with its progress believable in this world of unbelievable happenings.  The sparks are there right from the start but I'm happy it took some time before they jumped into bed together - it just felt right. And I guess it's a compliment that the anachronistic/chauvinistic werewolf world annoyed me? There's not even a lot of it in this book (it's mostly set up for the next two it seems) but I still found myself scratching my head a bit in a 'what the hell' fashion. 

In the end I'd say this book was good but it didn't wow me. Is that a negative though? No, I wouldn't say so. Good books are hard to come by, especially in an increasingly over-saturated genre.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Crux (free through Aug 15!) 2) Crossroads 3) Deadlock 4) Cipher 5) Impulse (on sale for $3.85!) 6) Enigma (October 2013)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dark Angels Series by Keri Arthur

Risa Jones is as extraordinary as her heritage. Born from a lab-enhanced clone mother and an Aedh father, she can not only talk to the souls of the dying and the dead, but she can see the reapers and walk the gray fields that divide this world from the next.

They are skill she rarely uses, however, preferring to concentrate on the business she shares with her two best friends. But when her mother asks her to help the parents of a little girl locked in a coma, she reluctantly agrees. What she discovers scares the hell out of her. Because the little girl’s soul no longer resides in her body, and it wasn’t death and the reapers that took her.

Someone had ripped her soul from her flesh.

As it turns out, a creature consuming the souls of the innocent–and not so innocent–is the least of her problems.

Because someone wants to rip open the gates that divided hell from earth, and Risa is a key component in their plans.

And the only person standing between her and disaster is a reaper who isn’t exactly on her side.

--blurb from Darkness Unbound

Even with all the good books released in the last few weeks I found myself binging on all three from this series in one go. I thought about deviating but then realized that if the heroine annoyed me a little bit now then it might be hard to make myself come back to everything later. It's not that Risa is completely unlikeable but the books left me feeling a little 'eh' about the whole thing.

I can't say too much without heading straight into spoilers-ville, but my biggest problem was two fold: the bad guys were heavily foreshadowed so the heroine's resistance to the truth was annoying, and Risa working with entities who actively sought her destruction irked me. One relationship she actually went into at the end of book one because of possible gains on both sides, but from then on, when it was obvious that nothing the other party did was going to help, why did she stick with it? It seemed to me she had more than enough allies around her to tell this person to f*ck off but instead she just kept letting this person toy with her life. Yeah...that doesn't work for me.

The romance(s) and relationship(s) between Risa and some of the other characters in the series are probably where I feel these books shine. Her roommates Ilianna and Tao are strong beings in their own rights with personality to spare. Azriel (the reaper) starts off very aloof but through the books develops and really becomes someone to root for. 

All in all the series isn't bad but if I continue reading them I'm going to want to see Risa step up and actually using her abilities to put people in their place; just because they want to use her doesn't mean she has to let herself be used. Her network and powers should make that clear, but at least at this junction both are being underutilized.

Overall Feeling - C+/B-

Series - 1) Darkness Unbound 2) Darkness Rising 3) Darkness Devours 4) Darkness Hunts (Nov 2012)

**Books won in a giveaway from Michelle's Book Blog**

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Book Lovers Day!

Thanks NetGalley, for giving me a heads up on something pretty cool :). I hope you're all enjoying a great book right this minute (I know I am!).

Book of Love

 P.S. - And happy almost Friday! I love knowing that I'm about to slide into the weekend \(^_^)/

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Some people have everything figured out- Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano- the male alpha of Clan Bouda as well as Andrea's former lover- die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate...and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world...

How does anyone expect me to have a real non-fangirl reaction to this book? Really - how? Cause at this point I've read it all the way through twice, in addition to all the specific parts I had to go back and read again by themselves. I'm keeping it in my purse just in case I want to pull it out later to re-read again!

To try and maybe sum up what makes this book great I'd have to put my finger on two things - characters and world building. The world of Kate Daniels is intricate and almost never ending, as whenever Andrews shows us another part of it it's interesting and unique. Beings and environments that popped up after the magical catastrophe never feel tacked on. Instead each one is fully realized and adds to the whole. It's as if they're drawing a map with each book, and every paragraph is like Google Street view. Love it.

The characters though, oh that's where they've really got me. Andrea and Raphael have been through a lot, each of them working to overcome their upbringings to find a way forward with them together. When Kate compares them to a Hispanic soap opera she's not exaggerating; their emotions and arguments are large and dramatic - each of them determined not to get hurt again (even though they love the hell out of each other). They've made a lot of mistakes, punished each other, but are trying to make it work. It's painful and hilarious all at the same time, because Boudas never do anything the easy way (but why would you when there are so many ways to playfully torture the other person?).

I love this book and this series, can't wait for the next one, and highly recommend Gunmetal Magic to everyone.

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - 1) Magic Bites 2) Magic Burns 3) Magic Strikes 4) Magic Bleeds 5) Magic Slays....6?) Gunmetal Magic

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (8/7)

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!
"His laughter was that of a pirate- a buccaneer, a swashbuckling rogue who should have been safely on a deck in the middle of some ocean- nowhere near her. The sound. deep, rolling, and far too sure, held a threat and a promise; it enveloped her, caught her up, and held her- then he was there, before her once more."

--pg 124-125, Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

When a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to find her. And when she does, she’s faced with something she’s never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people—kids, grandparents, soccer moms—all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving a master. And where there’s one martyr, there will be more…

But even vampires have monsters that they’re afraid of. And Anita is one of them…

You know that feeling when you're sure that something doesn't totally suck but you're sure it could have been better? That's what this book left me with. It wasn't bad, I mean I didn't hate it while reading or feel that way about it now, but I know it could have been so much better. I'm not going to lament and wring my hands about all the people Anita's sleeping with but I will say that at this point I've lost track of who everybody is. I also found that I don't really care about her self-doubt about a handful of them. Sex, no sex, Asher, no Asher - let's move on. Anita 'has to' have sex with a lot of people. Ok then I just want to read/see her doing it and stop having to deal so much with her angst. Sigh. Still I actually thought Sin's determination to be seen as an adult and his familial feelings towards Nathanial was interesting. I probably could have done with more of that  than Anita's feelings individually.

Oh and the other thing I could have had more of? The mystery/murderous vampires plot. There were so much that could have been said about these vampires that didn't want to be blood-oathed but it was set aside for emotional drama. Pretty wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, except for one somewhat exciting scene near the end. I don't have a problem with the sex in this series but I do miss the action/mystery that used to take more of the forefront. 

All in all, ok but I'm still looking for more. I'm glad I got this from the library instead of buying it.

Overall Feeling - C

Series - ...19) Bullet 20) Hit List 21) Kiss the Dead

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cherished by Maya Banks and Lauren Dane *ARC Review*

"Exiled" by Maya Banks…Enticed to the island paradise where an enigmatic prince is living in exile, beautiful, virginal Talia is introduced to a world of forbidden pleasure where the prince’s every whim is fulfilled and her fantasies are rendered in exquisite detail. But when the prince is summoned back to fulfill his duty to his struggling country, reality is thrust upon Talia all too soon. She returns home, heartbroken, convinced she was a passing fancy for an idle ruler and his most trusted men. Until the day they arrive on her doorstep, determined to have her back where she belongs.

"Sway" by Lauren Dane…Levi Warner is an established, older man—wealthy, powerful, and above all, respectable. Then Levi meets Daisy, an uninhibited 24-year-old dance instructor and artist, not exactly the kind of woman Levi is accustomed to. But the young, free spirit, brings out something in him he only experienced in fantasies. When their scorching affair turns into something unexpectedly deeper, Levi finds himself torn between preserving his reputation, and exploring a wilder and much more satisfying kind of life.

I think after reading Banks' story I'm going to have to officially name my preferences for romance in the 'BDSM-lite' category. No insult to her intended but I just could not get over the premise for her particular piece; power dynamics are all well and good to play with but when they're weighted so far in one direction that I can't help but be worried about one of the participants then it's less of a fun fantasy for me. Xander wanted Talia; wanted her and made it happen, seemingly without any knowledge or caring about what she wanted. She comes to the island under his dictate - she doesn't see herself as having a choice in the matter, and later when she's told that not only will be she having sex with Xander but also his guards... well things take on a kind of sinister tone (in my head). Plus Banks made sure to have Xander tell us a million times that he knew his kinks were super kinky but he needed her so it was gonna happen. The end.  Banks works in more emotion between all the characters in the end and Talia ultimately makes her own choice about what relationship she wants but I couldn't totally get over my own discomfort about how things began. C+

I have a soft spot for Dane's Brown family series so when I realized (because stupid me I hadn't been paying enough attention) that this story was about Gillian's friends that we met in Never Enough I was one ridiculously happy person. This story was significantly lighter on the BDSM level but I also felt like the romance/emotion/power/choice line was walked better. Daisy goes into this relationship knowing her needs and wants; she's not going to let Levi walk all over that just because of his 'hot teacher' vibe. When Levi starts incorporating more control elements into the bedroom she decides if they work for her - there's even a point when she almost says 'no thank you, let's not do that again'. All in all in lent an element of realness to their relationship because while sparks got them into it both parties kept their head about where things went physically. Their path to HEA was a little rocky, Levi definitely had some groveling to do, but I loved touching base with the Brown family members and can't wait to keep reading as Dane explores more of these friends. A-

Overall Feeling - Split between the two, C+/A-

Series - None/Delicious series, book 1 [To be published 8/7/12]

**Title received from author for review**

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July in Review

Ok I don't feel like I read a lot this month. Or at least, not a lot of full books. I love my Nook for its ability to let me reconnect with bits and pieces of stories that I like, but I can also use it to post-pone starting something new.  Shrug. I've been stressed out crafting for Dragon*Con and stressed out dealing with some volunteer stuff but along there way there have been some good things.

Moonrise Kingdom was a blast and if you find yourself needing something to do some random evening, I highly recommend it. Forever and a Day was a freaking awesome Jill Shalvis and it's one of those feel good picks I can't do without. Other than that...hmmm...I spent a weekend in NY that included a day at the beach (no complaints) and ate some fantastic food. I guess in spite of all the stress I managed to have a pretty good July now that I think about it - I hope the same goes for all of you!

--> oh and I guess I should mention I saw Star Trek: TNG in theaters too. Don't be too jealous! 

Coming Undone by Lauren Dane
Samurai Game by Christine Feehan (B+)
To Do List by Lauren Dane (A)
The Covenant by Evangeline Anderson (B-)
Sabine by Moira Rogers (B+)
True Colors by Thea Harrison (A)
Sparks Fly by Katie MacAlister (mini me)
Cherished by Maya Banks & Lauren Dane
Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis (A+)
The Darkest Day by Britt Bury (B+)
Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton
Darkness Unbound by Keri Arthur