Thursday, March 28, 2013

Slashback by Rob Thurman


Taking on bloodthirsty supernatural monsters is how Caliban and Niko Leandros make a living. But years ago—before they became a force to be reckoned with—the brothers were almost victims of a very human serial killer.


Unfortunately for them, that particular depraved killer was working as apprentice to a creature far more malevolent—the legendary Spring-heeled Jack. He’s just hit town. He hasn’t forgotten what the Leandros brothers did to his murderous protégé. He hasn’t forgotten what they owe him.

And now they are going to pay… and pay… and pay.…

As far as action filled urban fantasies go there are few as good as Rob Thurman and her Cal Leandros series. The action is organic and the violence almost integral to the story, as both Cal and Niko were raised with it and use it now to defend others. Over the course of the series we've seen both their lives change, favorite characters leaving (where is Georgie?!) and new ones bring brought in to stay. In this particular installment though Thurman does something completely different and writes a chapter by chapter change in viewpoint and time - which if you'd told me going in was going to happen I would have objected to but is used so well here.

I wouldn't say this book is for the faint of heart because of the heavy emotional baggage the two brothers share so be warned. I'm not sure either could survive without the other, physically or emotionally, which could be creepy in another context but makes total sense for who these two men are. Don't pick this book up if you haven't read the previous installments (I think you'll be both confused as hell and unsure about why these two dudes care so much) but as part of a series I've come to love so much it's fantastic!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - ....6) Blackout 7) Doubletake 8) Slashback

Monday, March 25, 2013

Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity--and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ--assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.

If you have not yet picked up a book by Seanan McGuire I am telling you (again) - GET THEE TO THE BOOKSTORE! Again and again she manages to create dynamic characters in both familiar and unfamiliar environments, that while being definitely non-human you find yourself relating to as a reader. I would almost say this is more true in her InCryptid series than her Toby Daye because technically the human is the main character. Verity, despite all her skill as a cryptozooligist, is still just a human but McGuire's skill is so great that this is never isolates her from the pain and suffering of the 'monsters' around her.

In this particular book things are not going well for Dominic or Verity, as the Covenant decides to come to town and check things out for themselves. Emotions are tried (and hurt), and people (or monsters - whatever) are also hurt. I knew going in that as an author McGuire chooses to not make sexual violence a 'tool' of character growth but I found myself wanting to cover my eyes anyway! Can you imagine how that feelings? Desperately wanting to know what happens next but stuck looking away because things are JUST that intense? Suspense is something I expect from McGuire (look at the entire Toby Daye series) but damn this woman keeps topping herself and has created yet again an action filled, suspense driven novel that has just enough romance to keep this heart happy.

Overall Feeling - A

Series -  1) Discount Armageddon 2) Midnight Blue-Light Special

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wolf With Benefits by Shelly Laurenston *ARC Review*

There’s nothing like a good-‘ol-boy wolf. And ace security expert Ricky Lee Reed serves, seduces, and protects with all the right moves…

Sure, Toni Jean-Louis Parker has to be the responsible oldest sister to a crazy-brilliant clan of jackal siblings. But now she’s cutting loose for some hot, sweaty, no-commitments fun—and the sexy, slow-talking, swift-moving predator assigned to keep her family safe is just the right thing to shapeshift her love life into overdrive. Trouble is, he’s starting to get all obsessive wolf on her every time he looks in her direction…

Getting serious about anyone isn’t in Ricky Lee Reed’s plans. Hell, even now he doesn’t really have a plan—outside of catching whomever is threatening this dangerously brilliant family. But the more he gets of Toni, the more he’s howling for her. And whatever it takes to convince her what they have is everything, well, this wily wolf is down for the sizzling chase…


Very few authors get me laughing out loud at the desk but Shelly Laurenston consistently proves herself one of them. Wolf With Benefits is filled with unique characters (dare I say even more than usual?) and their interactions are just so ridiculous and over the top that you have to laugh.  I got a little used to her 'prodigy' characters in Miki's story ("Go Fetch!") but come on now - a whole family?! I do not have Toni's patience and couldn't imagine living my life trying to make sure no one does any permanent damage.

Luckily, into all this crazy wanders Ricky Lee. One of the 'Reed' boys he does what he likes and 'waits for the entertainment to come to him'. Which it does, in spades, especially once he gets his sites set on Toni. Together the two of them have to navigate the wacky waters of all her siblings, the return of Irene Conridge and what appears to be an underground operation to kidnap someone important. Surprisingly the only really slow part I'd say is when Toni and Ricky go off to Siberia to negotiate a hockey game (yes this makes sense, I promise). Maybe because the bears they meet up with are more annoying then endearing? Either way I was happy to head back to NY and the rest of the whole cast because while I knew sh*t was gonna hit the fan there's no way I could have predicted the way everything turned out. Loved it!

Overall Feeling - A-

Series - ... 6) Big Bad Beast 7) Bear Meets Girl 8) Howl for It 9) Wolf With Benefits

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, March 18, 2013

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.


I think sometimes it's totally in my best interest to have no idea what's going to happen next. Comfort reads are comforting because I know that the hero and heroine - when my comfort reads have those - are going to end up together and have a great HEA. Anyone who's read Bishop's Dark Jewel Trilogy will feel be when I say that for the most part her work isn't comforting; it's still damn good though.

Each of the characters in Written in Red is incredibly unique. I've read a lot of paranormal romances and quite a few urban fantasies but even I have to say that what Bishop does with each species is new. She excels at making the familiar both unfamiliar and scary; just when you think you know what a 'werewolf' or 'vampire' are you read this book and remember that these things will EAT YOU AND ENJOY IT. Add that to the ambiguousness of the feelings between Meg and Simon, the confusion the rest of the Other residents have due to her 'not prey' scent, the mystery of where Meg comes from, and you have a book filled with moments that all feel important and vital. None of it ends up reading like an info dump though, instead we're getting little pictures into each of these creatures and their worlds (and their origins) and I can't wait to learn more. Highly recommended!

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - 1) Written in Red

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh

In Beat of Temptation, innocent Tamsyn has always had a place in her heart for Nathan, a blooded DarkRiver sentinel. But is she ready for the fierce demands of the mating bond?

In Stroke of Enticement, a wary young teacher, skeptical about love, arouses the man—and the animal—in an aggressive leopard changeling who must prove his affections are true.


In Declaration of Courtship, Grace, a shy submissive wolf, finds herself pursued by the last man she ever would have imagined: a SnowDancer lieutenant said to be “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

In Texture of Intimacy, SnowDancer healer Lara discovers the searing joys—and unexpected challenges—of being mated to quiet, powerful Walker, a man used to keeping his silence.


Oh Nalini Singh, how I love these. Wild Invitation is - if you haven't heard - a short story collection almost all of the crowd favorites from the Psy/Changeling series. In a rare twist of fate I can even say I'm glad I didn't pick up the anthologies that the original short stories were featured in because while Beat of Temptation and Stroke of Enticement are great reads in an of themselves, but bookshelf appreciates them all in one volume. 

Singh excels at writing some of the best alpha shapeshifters around and each of these stories showcases why each of them are incredibly loveable; protective but not caging, teasing but serious when they need to be - who wouldn't want a wolf or cat for their very own? Plus while there might not always be room in the core novels to expand when it comes to the lives of all of the secondary characters, for long time readers we're treated to a look into how individual HEA's started or are continuing to function.

Ultimately while this collection works fantastically as an addition to the Psy/Changeling series and I loved it, I wouldn't recommend it as a stand alone. There's just too much history amongst all the characters and the plot is dense enough at this point in the series that I feel like the stories don't, and can't really, explain it all. What does this mean? GO BACK AND READ THE REST. They're awesome and you'll thank me later :D.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - Psy/Changeling Series, Novella Collection

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.

Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.

Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.

I don't know why when I was the one who chose to check out the book from the library it still takes me so long to read it. I guess there's some sort of unintentional bias against the book - if I didn't buy it I must not have wanted to read it *that* much right? Happily what started out as 'eh' finished as 'ah-mazing' and Linda Howard had me all involved in her work again :).

I'm sure there are some who don't like how it takes about half the book before Xavier and Lizette actually 'meet' meet, but I thought it worked for the plot. Lizette is being confronted with what seems like a life gone totally off its rocker and while Xavier might have more information he is still bound by the connections he has - things could go wrong really quickly. What Howard does instead is what she does best, having the two characters circle around each other, flirting with the edge of disaster (and some really spicy dreams!) until circumstances work themselves out enough to force them together. 

There are only a few sexy scenes so if you're looking for super hot this might not be for you but I loved it was actually really surprised with how the mystery worked itself out in the end. I thought I knew what was going on but Howard totally pulled the rug out from under me - definitely recommended! 

Overall Feeling - A

Series - None

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blue Flame by Jill Shalvis

After San Diego firefighter Jake Rawlins is injured in a heroic, high-profile rescue, he decides to hide from the media and recover in solitude. So he retreats to the Blue Flame, the Arizona guest ranch he inherited from his father. The remote oasis under a clear azure sky might seem like a bit of heaven, but Jake finds himself longing to return to the city, where he can be lost in a crowd instead of alone with his thoughts--or-his spread's tempestuous manager.

Callie Hayes has put into the Blue Flame her heart and soul--both of which are shaken when her wildly sexy employer returns, rekindling memories of the stormy past they shared. But Jake's a different man, and soon he's setting off sparks that could lead to a love hot enough to change both their lives.

I went back a ways with Jill Shalvis, thanks to the DC Public Library, and ended up with Blue Flame - a not too shabby firefighter romance. It almost reminded me of something by Diana Palmer, with the western backdrop and two people finding each other again after a 'night of passion' (I couldn't help myself). Jake and Callie don't know what to do with ranch Jake's father left him - he's bitter and Callie just wants to protect the only home she's ever known. 

It's a familiar plot (though what the hell - could a firefighter really be sued by a snot nosed kid claiming 'rough handling'? Cause that's messed up) that was fun to read. I think I've got others of Shalvs's characters that I liked more, though the side story between Jake's brother and the new ranch cook was super cute. I don't think they get a book of their own but it was a sweet side story that I didn't expect to enjoy. Recommended as a comfort library read :).

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) White Heat 2) Blue Flame 3) Seeing Red

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February in Review

I told you February was a bad month! I read almost nothing, reviewed less than that, and I have to say I'm a little ashamed. BUT. I did manage to plan and execute a lovely engagement party with the help of my fellow bridesmaids and even with some camera error (booo) we were able to get some pretty primo shots like this:

(I'm the girl with yellow necklace)
Fun right? Homemade photobooths - not for amateurs or those with OCD.

March is already looking to be a bit better (hello there March 5th! $50 gone from my wallet in one fell swoop) and I hope I'll share some other good books with you soon :). I think I may shift the posting schedule though, to Mon and Thurs, to give myself a break - I don't wanna feel guilty when life just makes it impossible to read or when the only thing I want to read is the Nora Roberts I've already read a billion times. 

Trickster by Jeff Somers (A)
Winter's Tale by Emma Holly (B+)
Beneath the Skin by Lauren Dane
Wolf With Benefits by Shelly Laurenston (review coming soon!)
Lost in You by Lauren Dane (A)
Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz (B+)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer (B+)

My favorite (that's actually out right now?):


Monday, March 4, 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 


This has been on my TBR list for a while and let me share with you my first reactions at finishing Cinder - 


2) Not bad, not bad at all.

I knew going in it was a Cinderella re-do but everything turned out better than I expected (though I guess my expectations were low because every review I read praised it). The world building Meyer puts in is extensive but not boring, and definitely necessary. I want to understand the relationship between the Empire and the Lunars, why Kai would find Queen Levana so abhorrent. Through Cinder we're able to navigate this whole other echelon of society and it's very interesting.

My heart broke a few times for Cinder while reading, even when I was expecting bad things to happen. Heroines in young adult tales, especially those with world changing journey's to go on, suffer a lot and have significant emotional baggage (see Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley). Near the end I couldn't help but compare Cinder to the movie Ever After, specifically the scene when Drew Barrymore is revealed as the peasant and the prince turns his back on her. I can't wait to pick up the next book (though I'm a little concerned that new characters are introduced while continuing Cinder's journey) and luckily I don't have to wait very long - Scarlett came out last month!

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Cinder 2) Scarlet 3) Cress (2014)