Monday, December 31, 2012

Some Things I Learned in 2012

1. I am a big fat sissy when it comes to my favorite series. I have to have the newest release as soon as freaking possible but then I'll let it sit on my shelf for weeks due to anxiety about what it might contain. I am a weirdo.

  I *still* haven't read this - and there's already a new book after it.

2. It's hard to maintain a book review blog on re-reads. Duh right? I just love what I love and want to read those all the time!

3. I am the worst Twitter-er but get unnecessarily excited when people/authors/personalities I like follow me. Can't explain it (especially since I'm super stingy with who I follow) but it's the truth.

4. Book fairs are awesome. If you haven't been able to listen to authors you love (or even those you don't know!) speak in person about their work then I'd have to say you're missing out. There's so much that I've learned unexpectedly just by going to some of the fairs/conventions in and around DC and I highly recommend that you take advantage when you can. 



5. 2012 was a great year for books! Even if they didn't come out this year I think I've had the opportunity to read some really great things and that has me incredibly excited for 2013. I'm bad at branching out but these 'best of the best' choices make me want to push myself.


 Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison (& Lord's Fall)


Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston

 The Witness by Nora Roberts


Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson




Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews


Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire



Bonus: What am I looking forward to the most in 2013? Honestly? I just need the Sookie Stackhouse books to be done. I loved that series in the beginning but feel like it's been puttering out - let's hope that Ms. Harris has enough oomph to end things with a bang!



Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's not Christmas but the gifts aren't over yet! *CLOSED*

So I was supposed to have this giveaway up much earlier than - you know - DAYS before 2013, but who cares! A giveaway is a giveaway and this one has a couple goodies for a very lucky someone :).

Up for grabs this time is a Nora Roberts Christmas classic, a hardcover version of Gabriel's Angel!


FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR NORA ROBERTS COMES A CLASSIC TALE OF ROMANCE TO WARM YOUR HEARTS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON ...

Pregnant, alone and on the run to protect her unborn child, Laura Malone found herself stranded on a snowy Colorado road, at the mercy of a stranger. Fortunately, Gabriel Bradley's only intention that fateful night was to provide her shelter.

She was an angel with midnight blue eyes and a shock of blond hair, and Gabe might have thought she had come out of the snowy night to save him --- if he were the kind of man to believe in such things. But ever since he had lost his beloved brother, he had lost hope. Now the only solace Gabe took was in his solitude.

Together they weathered the storm, sharing their intimate secrets and soon powerful passion. By the time the roads had cleared, a promise had been made. For Gabe understood Laura needed protection if she hoped to keep custody of her child through the coming court battle.

For her sake, he was prepared to offer marriage. But his motives weren't nearly so pure. Truthfully, this beautiful, vulnerable stranger had given him an invaluable gift. Life with Laura had given Gabe a reason for being --- courage to hope, and the power to dream that he could have the future and the family he had once dreamed of ...


But wait - THAT'S NOT ALL! Enter now and you'll also get the chance to win a festive holiday themed bookmark!

I want to commemorate a special Facebook milestone (200 page likes! WOOHOO!) so to enter this giveaway there are just a few rules:

1) You must like Reading Amidst the Chaos on Facebook
2) Find the picture of the giveaway prizes and comment with 'Enter me!'
3) Comment only once and by 11:59pm on Friday, January 4th.

That's it! I'll use Random.org to choose the winner and announce it both on FB and here on the blog - be ready to speak up with a contact email so I can send your stuff out as soon as possible.

(Psst! The picture looks like this - 

nice right? I like it.)

**Fine Print: Must live in the US and be 18 years or older (or have parents' permission) to enter.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from Reading Amidst the Chaos!


I happily spent the day at "orphans Christmas", a potluck event where my friends and I spend the holiday together surrounded by food and t.v. classics. No matter how you celebrate, or if you celebrate at all, I hope you had fun today and got to hang out with those who matter.

Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist—and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish...

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation—and a new found appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected—and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…

~~

After reading some not so stellar reviews about the rest of the Inn BoonsBoro series I decided to turn to my public library to finish out this trilogy. Do I regret that? Not so much.

There's not a whole lot I would pinpoint as really wrong with this book, but I also feel like Roberts has done similar work work before that I loved more. Avery and Owen are familiar characters (which I'm not complaining about) and I'd have to say their HEA is ok. I liked the transition from friends to lovers, and the little twist that they had been engaged before was adorable. I didn't dislike the ghost elements that have been there since the first book, but I do kind of consider them superfluous. They didn't seem to add much to the story, Owen and Avery were on track to fall in love again due to circumstances and proximity, so Lizzy and her lost love? Eh.

It's a fine book in an ok series, but I guess I've come to connect Roberts with always off-the-charts memorable and I wouldn't say this was it. Read it - but get it from your library.

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - 1) The Next Always 2) The Last Boyfriend 3) The Perfect Hope


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (on a Thursday :D )

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!)

"Take my words as gospel on this point. You're the last person I'd want as a shopping buddy. And my ass isn't going to look fat in any dress. Write that down, etch it in your memory."

--pg 302, The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Burned by Eliza Gayle

Welcome back to Purgatory! A club for every fetish…

Being a fire inspector is the perfect job for a girl with a fire fetish. Ruby has come to terms with her obsession, and thanks to her part-time job as a bartender at Purgatory, she can dabble in a scene she isn’t sure she belongs in without going too far or too deep. But there’s one Dom in town who makes her burn for things she wishes she didn’t.

Zane made sure he was on the performance roster at Purgatory for charity night because Ruby would be on duty. He’s respected her wishes to stay away as long as he could, but tonight while his fire burns bright he’ll take possession of the willful beauty who has captured his heart.

~~

I've got to say that I've been very pleased with the erotica I've read lately! I guess I got 'burnt out' (I couldn't help it!) with the lengthy sex scenes that either weren't written very well or didn't seem to connect me any better to the main characters. Burned does a good job of balancing it all while also introducing me to a fetish I didn't really know anything about: fire play. Gayle seamlessly works in to the story the safety concerns, levels of interest, and more involved with fire play; I thought it lent an air of authenticity to the whole thing and better explained the connection between Ruby and Zane. 

It's a shorter length story so it suffered a bit in terms of progression, the end was a bit rushed to me and the two of them getting from the club to Zane's apartment to Zane's bed also seemed fast, but ultimately I was very satisfied. The sex scenes are explicit without being boring and while the ending probably couldn't be considered a full length HEA it did lead me to believe that the two of them had enough of a base to make something more permanent. I've already started doing some research into Gayle's back list (I want this one now!) because I think she'll quickly become a favorite for me in terms of erotica.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) Roped 2) Displayed 3) Whipped 4) Burned

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mini Me: Fury's Kiss by Karen Chance

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. But so far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing...

Dory is used to fighting hard and nasty. So when she wakes up in a strange scientific lab with a strange man standing over her, her first instinct is to take his head off. Luckily, the man is actually the master vampire Louis-Cesare, so he’s not an easy kill.

It turns out that Dory had been working with a Vampire Senate task force on the smuggling of magical items and weaponry out of Faerie when she was captured and brought to the lab. But when Louis-Cesare rescues her, she has no memory of what happened to her.

To find out what was done to her—and who is behind it—Dory will have to face off with fallen angels, the maddest of mad scientists, and a new breed of vampires that are far worse than undead…

~~

I've decided to do a quickie review on this one because for the life of me I cannot remember what happened in Death's Mistress and I think it colored my experience. Now Dory and Lousi-Cesare are still super cool - and the mix of vampire politics with whatever the hell is going on when she wakes up with no memory is very interesting - but I couldn't help feeling a bit lost. Which I guess would lead me to say that this is not a stand alone book. It's the third in a series and definitely reads that way, with characters coming in and out with little to no explanation. It all makes for a snappy, fast paced novel but if you're not really paying attention things will slip by you. 

I love Karen Chance for her ability to write smart kick-ass heroines with intricate plot lines that never bore me. Maybe in the future I'll remember that when there are large-ish gaps between releases that refreshing one's memory is a good idea, lol. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Impulse by Moira Rogers

Sera Sinclaire is a New Orleans rarity: a submissive coyote trapped in a town overrun by dominant shapeshifters. Worse, she lacks the willpower to deny the alphas-in-shining-armor who need her soothing presence, even when their protectiveness threatens to crush her hard-won self-reliance.

The only shifter she doesn’t want to push away is Julio Mendoza, a wolf so dominant he’s earned a place on the Southeast council.

Julio doesn’t have the luxury of indulging in the vacation his psychic shrink insists he needs. He can’t turn his back on responsibilities he’s beginning to wish he’d never shouldered. When an obsessive ex endangers Sera, though, instinct drives him to get her out of town. Watching her come to life outside the city makes him feel like he’s finally done something right, and her touch ignites desire he doesn’t want to ignore.

But soon, lighthearted flirting becomes a dangerous game of seduction, where every day spent falling into each other is another day avoiding the truth. Sera’s ex isn’t the only one who’d disapprove of their relationship. There are wolves who would kill to get Sera out of Julio’s life—starting with his own blood kin.

~~

Feeling a little cheap I didn't pick up Impulse until Samhain's most recent Thanksgiving sale. It's been on my list for a while so I was really happy to pick it up for a great price - 40% off! Oh and in case you were wondering I'm reviewing this mostly as a standalone. The only other book in this series I've read is Crux, not really for any particular reason beyond the fact that the descriptions for the others didn't appeal to me as much.

Anyway, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I could tell even from the excerpt that the chemistry between Sera and Julio was off the charts and the way they slowly build their relationship makes their HEA one of my favorites. Neither of them are exactly sure of what they're doing; besides the whole past abuse for one and torture for the other, their personal lives are a mess too. Sera embraces her submissive tendencies but after being lectured on why 'not be a stereotype' she's worried about revealing that part of herself to Julio. He doesn't want to pressure her into anything and is scared that any violence he commits on her behalf, to protect her, might label him an alpahole.

The balance they find together is beautiful and Julio is one of the best alphas I've come across in a while. Totally recommended!

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - 1) Crux 2) Crossroads 3) Deadlock 4) Cipher 5) Impulse 6) Enigma (October 2013)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (12/11)

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!)

"She danced from foot to foot, barely  able to contain herself until it was safe enough to approach him. She just loved him so goddamn much."

--pg 148, Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Brightest Flame in Ballymuir by Dorien Kelly

When Irish artist Vi Kilbride travels from her village of Ballymuir to prepare her beloved late grandmother's cottage in Duncarraig for sale, more than memories of the summers she'd spent growing up there await her. Long-ago love Liam Rafferty is back in town. Vi, who has kept her heart to herself since having it broken by Liam, finds herself drawn to him all over again. Time has spun back to that passionate summer when they'd first loved for Liam, too.

But Vi and Liam are soon at odds. Liam has begun a search for Rafferty's Gold, a legendary treasure allegedly hidden by one of Vi's ancestors after her heart had been broken by a faithless Rafferty. Liam, with his high-tech search equipment, might think the ancient gold is his to do with as he pleases. But Vi, with only her often stubborn second sight and her grandmother's journals to guide her, knows the gold belongs in a museum. Will these two passionate treasure-seekers find a legendary love to go with the gold, or is their past too strong to conquer?
~~

Thank goodness all three of these books were out when I started. It's pretty clear from the beginning that Vi was going to be the one to wait for. Enigmatic, independent, magical Vi and her art. She's someone the reader roots for throughout the series, as she uses a not so subtle hand to push her brother and friend toward their own HEAs. With all that buildup I had a lot of expectations for her book and I would say that for the most part Kelly met them.

Since Liam and Vi knew each other and had a relationship when they were younger there's not really any initial awkwardness when it comes to how they fit. There might be lingering hurt feelings because of how it ended but what they could be too each other is always there. Finding Rafferty's gold is as good a reason as any to bring them together but ultimately I think this suffered a bit from too little pages and too many supporting characters. A good bit of screen time is taken from Vi and Liam to allow Liam the chance to interact with his daughter (& ex-wife) and his sometimes incredibly aggravating family. The same could be said on Vi's side; her mother and father start to have their own marital problems in this book and while it was a nice balance to have them mostly work things out, it distracted a bit from the main hero and heroine. None of this ruins the story for me, and I can see how/why the supporting characters are there (to highlight certain personality traits, to encourage growth for Liam and Vi, etc.), but since I'd been waiting for this particular story I may have selfishly wanted it to be all about them. As a whole this a very enjoyable series set in small town Ireland; it's right up my alley and something I'd recommend to anyone.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) The Last Bride in Ballymuir 2) The Boldest Man in Ballymuir 3) The Brightest Flame in Ballymuir

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mini Me: Midnight Heat by Donna Kauffman

They called him The Predator, the investigator who never left a case unsolved, and now Dane Colbourne had set his sights on her! Adria Burke knew her quick response had prevented a tragic midair collision, but Dane wanted evidence that proved her case–and his fierce, hot look told her he wanted her just as much. Could a passionate adversary who made him lose control teach him the pleasure of playing with fire?
~~

I wanted to finish out the series with a final review on Midnight Heat, but I'd probably have to say that by the slightest of margins it's my least favorite of the trilogy. There is nothing really wrong with it except for that the fact that it suffers from the short length. There is just so much going on this one: the romance between Dane and Adria, the mystery of the plane cross, wrapping up the final supporting characters, that not all of it receives quite as much detention as it deserves. Adria and Dane's romance works pretty well, but I would have liked it better if all the 'secret plane' stuff, to avoid being spoilery, had been done more on stage instead of being talked about later. It's a small complaint but as someone who does like suspense romances I think a little bit more length would have made you more satisfied in the end.

Still it's a good series on the whole and I'm glad I have the whole set!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tart by Lauren Dane

Juliet Lamprey is having the time of her life running her successful bakery, TART, when Gideon Carter comes back into her life. Returning home to help his grandfather run the family on the farm, Gideon is back for good. When they meet again, the spark between them is immediate, and it isn’t long before the former childhood friends play catch up in bed.

That’s not good news for local lawyer Cal Whaley. Though the sexually open but strictly monogamous Cal has loved Jules for a long time, he’s hardly ever taken it further than friendship. When he sees her start to fall for Gideon, he knows he has to make his move or risk losing her forever.

Who would have anticipated that all three of them would connect on such an intimate level? The trio’s scalding liaisons take them places they’ve never dreamed. But such an intensely passionate and unusual relationship comes with equally as complicated emotions, and when Jules must suddenly leave town, she wonders if she’ll have a choice to make when she returns

~~

I liked Tart but I have to say that it's probably not my favorite Dane novel. I think that while I liked the family, the relationship, and for the most part how each of the main characters interacted with the world, I couldn't get over how everything started. 

It's a bit spoiler-y, but come on. Why would Jules be ok with Cal just coming up and kissing her after she'd been with Gideon for a while? Yes she goes straight to Gideon and tells him what happened, but it all seemed a little strange to me. Add in the fact that it felt so sudden, the chapters go from Cal's point of view talking about how he doesn't want to ruin the friendship he and Jules has, to suddenly kissing her in an alley, and I just couldn't quite let go of the 'WTF' feeling. 

I would have to say though that if you can let go of any concerns about how the relationship initiates, the rest of the book reads pretty well.  Don't expect Gideon to be anything less than perfect and with his balance between Cal and Jules things progress between the three of them without many issues. Their families aren't always as accommodating, but that's a truth that Dane has never shied away from. Sometimes people suck and sometimes they do things that hurt you for what is seemingly no reason. It's a crappy situation to be in and I'm just thankful that eventually Jules stood up for herself enough to tell those people to suck it. 

It's a good addition to the series, and a great way to stay connected to the Brown siblings, but I would give this book more of an ok (but that's kind of because the rest her work is awesome so keep that in mind?).

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) Cherished (duology) 2) Tart 3) Lush (April 2013)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays (12/4)

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!)

"You know everyone thinks we're headed to the nearest motel to fuck ourselves stupid for the next week, right?"

He threw back his head with a laugh. "My fault, sweetheart. People think I can't keep my pants on."

"Who says I can?" Sera twisted on the seat and grinned at him. "That's the awesome part about the twenty-first century. Girls get to love sex too."

--pg 79, Impulse by Moira Rogers


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Billionaire Bad Boys Club by Emma Holly

Self-made billionaires Zane and Trey have been a club of two since they were eighteen. They’ve done everything together: play football, fall in love, even get smacked around by their dads. The only thing they haven’t tried is seducing the same woman. 

Rebecca learned early on not to trust anyone. She raised her brothers by herself—with no adult being the wiser. Her knack for cooking kept a roof over the twins’ heads. Now she’s damned if it won’t pay their way through Harvard as well. Add in running Trey’s latest restaurant, and her plate is way too full for romance. 

That’s an attitude the bad boys intend to change. Zane and Trey have set their sights on the sexy chef. When their hearts enter the equation and they both fall for her, this committed twosome faces their hardest test of all! 

 ~~ 

 I've always loved Emma Holly but with this particular story I think she's on par with Lauren Dane in the realm of 'believable menages'. Can I make that a category? I think it should be because when things are not set up as a straight erotica, when there's a HEA with each person deserving of individual love and attention, it's not easy to get that perfect balance. Part of what I think makes it work so well here is the original attention put on the relationship between Zane and Trey. They've been together since they were teenagers and while individually they may have played around, the core of their relationship was always the two of them. Thus when Rebecca is brought in (with an amazing adeptness in regards to how both Zane and Trey separately start things off) it doesn't rock the boat. 

Still that doesn't mean things are easy.  Each of them has their own insecurities and Holly takes the time to make sure a lot of them are addressed - and doesn't skimp on the reality of how other people could view what they're doing. I probably wouldn't say I missed the volatile family reactions that Dane tends to focus on, but the vulnerability of people in the limelight choosing a non-traditional lifestyle is a real problem. There are going to people invested in their own interests who won't take no for an answer and Holly takes the time to write in a scenario that fits with the overall story. I liked all the supporting characters in this one, no one felt unnecessary or throw in there to advance the story, and I hope that some of them get their own books later. Loved it!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - None