Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mini Me: Beauty Touched the Beast by Skye Warren

Erin cleans Mr. Morris’ house twice a week, soaking up every moment with the reclusive ex-soldier. Blake Morris knows that he’s scarred both inside and out and no good for someone like her. Then Erin walks in on Blake touching himself, moaning her name, and all bets are off.

A great little quick read from Amazon (for free!) I would consider this an intro to the series itself. It introduces the two main characters, Erin and Blake, and does enough backstory building to make me believe that when they fall into bed together it's more than just hormones.  

If you're looking for a way in to a new contemporary series with spicy bedroom scenes and (hopefully) emotion too then I think Beauty Touched the Beast is a good place to start. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Neil Gaiman at Lisner Auditorium

Friday night was a good one for me. Not only did I end up with a free ticket to Neil Gaiman's talk (& book signing) at George Washington University, but due to unexpected friend of a friend connections I got a seat in the second row! Wahoo!

It was incredible to hear Gaiman speak in person, his words and personality over blogs/Twitter has always been so much fun, but the book reading was my favorite part. I didn't know much about The Ocean at the End of the Lane but hearing it in his own voice definitely has me intrigued. I just wish I was a better audio book person though because Gaiman recorded it himself! 

Pictures from my Instagram

Either way it was a really fun night and if you're looking for something new yourself why not check it out? It's only $15.22 on Amazon! A steal!

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Your Public Library @ Work - Seattle Edition!

A friend linked me to this earlier today and I just had to share. To kick off their 2013 Summer Reading Program, volunteers at the Seattle Public Library set up a world record making book domino chain!

Anyone else tempted to try this with their collection ^_~?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

Dublin native Freda Wilson considers herself to be an acquired taste. She has a habit of making offensive jokes and speaking her mind too often. She doesn't have the best track record with first impressions, which is why she gets a surprise when her new neighbour Nicholas takes a shine to her.

Nicholas is darkly handsome, funny and magnetic, and Freda feels like her black and white existence is plunged into a rainbow of colour when she's around him. When he walks into a room he lights it up, with his quick wit and charisma. He is a travelling cabaret performer, but Freda doesn't know exactly what that entails until the curtains pull back on his opening night.

She is gob-smacked and entirely intrigued to see him take to the stage in drag. Later on, Nicholas asks her if she would like to become his show assistant. Excited by the idea, she jumps at the chance. Soon she finds herself immersed in a world of wigs, make-up and high heels, surrounded by pretty men and the temptation of falling for her incredibly beautiful employer.

In this story of passion and sexual discovery, Nicholas and Freda will contend with jealousy, emotional highs and lows, and the kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime. 


After hearing so much about Painted Faces from Dear Author and Smexy Books there was no way I could resist snapping it up for $.99. I'm not always in the mood for the unconventional, but generally speaking the reviews were positive, both about the story and the high level of sexual tension. To sum up my own feelings I'd say that the story and the characters are indeed unconventional, but the insecurities and experiences they've both had make them relatable; ultimately though I couldn't connect enough to Freda to make the first person really work for me. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, Freda/Fred is a bit of  bitch. She's learned to protect herself from the criticism that often comes with being physically bigger, and so communicates both with friends and family in a very sardonic, sarcastic tone. I can't say I'm a fine. I understand why she does it - it's just not my cup of tea, and I don't find many of her friends (or the roommate) all that likeable either. Luckily the heart of the story, her relationship with Nicholas is more engrossing. They're both very broken characters and Nicholas has a lot to go through of his own past before he's able to foresee himself in a relationship. Both of them end up hurt at times and while they work it through in the end it was definitely emotional there for a minute or two.

It's a good, interesting story, I just think that personally it would have been better written in third person. But hey - that's just me :).

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - None

Monday, June 17, 2013

Scent of Darkness by Christina Dodd

A thousand years ago, a brutal warrior roamed the Russian steppes and struck a sinister bargain. In return for the ability to change at will info a coldhearted predator, Konstantine promised his soul—and the soul of his descendents—to the devil.

Then one day a dangerous prophecy reveals the truth: One family has been chosen to battle the darkness—or face damnation.

Ann Smith loves her dynamic boss, Jasha Wilder, but her daring plan to seduce him goes awry when she encounters a powerful wolf who, before her horrified eyes, changes into the man she adores. She soon discovers that she can't escape her destiny, for Jasha is Konstantine's descendant, and Ann is the woman fated to break the curse that binds his soul.

I really had some trouble with this one friends. I've never been the biggest fan of Christina Dodd, though admittedly I've only read one book by her before and that was many years ago, but forced seduction is just never my jam. And this time forced seduction was really really rape-y and I was super uncomfortable. Plus it took me longer than normal to warm up to both of the main characters. Jasha is a lot of alpha male and as I mentioned before a little rape-y (not so much in the heroine's eyes) and Ann is more constrained, internal; she has secrets that she won't share even in the face of some amazing coincidences (how many battles between good and evil does a person encounter in their lives?!).

Still, in spite of these problems, the book does pick up. The Wilder family is boisterous and interesting, and the fact that each sibling is going to get a book appeals to me. Family patriarch Konstantine even calls Jasha on his rape and 'punishes' him for it (that sounds horrible but essentially Konstantine confronts Jasha, calls him on his sh*t, and slaps him a couple times. Things stop when Ann claims him as her mate and says he never raped her, but I was just glad someone faced the obvious). Their romance ultimately ends on a high note with Ann demonstrating some new skills and belief in the love that Jasha feels for her. 

So....yeah. Interesting book, but I'll probably read the next one.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) Scent of Darkness 2) Touch of Darkness 3) Into the Shadow 4) Into the Flame 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (Spoiler alert - maybe?)

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh's explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world...

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.

A woman whose very existence has been erased.

A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.

A deadly price that must be paid.

The day of reckoning is here.

From "the alpha author of paranormal romance" (Booklist) comes the most highly anticipated novel of her career--one that blurs the line between madness and genius, between subjugation and liberation, between the living and the dead.

When going into Heart of Obsidian I was very deliberate: Yes to teasers and excerpts from Ms. Singh, NO to any reviews by other bloggers. As much as I love the thoughts of my peers there was just no way I was going to taint/influence my reading of what is probably considered the biggest game changer to date for this series. And WHAT a game changer this book was.

For the first time we're introduced to the inner thoughts of Kaleb, the mysterious Council member whose motivations could never be understood. He's been a big influence throughout the series but to finally get to read his thoughts, to figure out just who was the one person he'd been searching for was fantastic. Singh handles her characters with an adept hand, never straying from the heart of them  - Kaleb is never going to be good (in that flat lily-white definition of good) and honestly I found myself routing for his violence more often than not (but I'm a little blood thirsty). Even when he denies it, the connection between him and (SPOILER) Sahara can't be resisted, and their journey to a new future, one built on the people they are at this moment, after their years of separation and torture, is incredible. Don't read this without the backstory from the full series, but I loved this book.
Overall Feeling - A+

Series - 10) Kiss of Snow 11) Tangle of Need 12) Heart of Obsidian 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays (6/11)

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!)
"'You were beautiful.' Strong and whole and a luminous repudiation of everything the monsters had tried to to them both."

--pg 358, Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Night Heir by Lucy Monroe *ARC Review*

Only a royal wedding…

Bitter life lessons have taught Crown Prince Maksim Yurkovich that duty must come before desire. His country needs an heir, so when he discovers his lover can't have children, he must sever their ties. Only Maks can't resist spending one last night in her bed.

…can avert this royal scandal!

Now he faces the biggest diplomatic crisis of his life. Against all odds, Gillian Harris has become pregnant. Maks's royal reserve masks the heart of a fierce Cossack warrior—one who is not above using their mutual passion to convince a hurt, wary Gillian that she must be his queen!

I'm sure my coworker got super annoyed with me as I reading this because every other word out of my mouth was 'Oooh', 'That's different', or some variation on 'I didn't expect THAT to happen'. Reading One Night Heir reminded me that while Harlequin Presents are not usually my #1 pick when it comes to romance, there is still a place for them in my life/shelf.

The plot is very typical, prince rejects lover/marriage interest due to her supposed inability to conceive even though he really likes her, but Monroe does a great job at keeping things fresh. When Maks learns of Gillian's pregnancy and comes back to propose marriage, Gillian does not jump on the gravy train. In fact I would have loved this as a longer title where even more time was spent with Gillian going no a lot - because she does it in such a way that it's respectful of her own feelings while acknowledging what could happen with Maks in the future. Maks's 'incredible sexual appeal' doesn't suddenly override her reason or her intelligence and Maks has to work to show that while he 'may not' love her that doesn't mean he wants to live without her or that he'd be a bad father.

Highly recommended, but only if you're able to read the prose without rolling your eyes (too much). There's a lot made about Maks's urbanity combined with a Cossack spirit, and the language at times is incredibly flowery.  Which I don't consider bad so much as representative of genre, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

Bring on Demyan!

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 1) One Night Heir (6/18/13) 2) Prince of Secrets (7/23/13)

*Title requested from NetGalley

Thursday, June 6, 2013

May in Review

Oh May, there you go with all the pre-Summer DC breezes and hope of a day without hairline sweat. Sigh. It's been a busy month, especially at the second job, with everything 'go go GO!' all day and I have to admit my reading suffered for it. It was hard to find the gumption to read, even when I did have a down moment, but looking at the list below maybe I can say it could have been worse?

I spent some time in Old Town towards the beginning of the month and just last weekend held up my Duke pride at an international chain of events entitled Duke Forward. I even tried my hand at this year's Armchair BEA (find my posts here) but surprising no one but myself I fell quickly behind and am now considering which questions I liked enough to go ahead and answer at my leisure. Oops!

in Old Town, Alexandria
Duke Forward DC
I hope everyone out there is having a great week, or as great a week as possible, and if you're in hot weather like me dreaming wonderful beach filled dreams!

Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick (B) 
True by Erin McCarthy (C-
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
i can barely take care of myself by Jen Kirkman (B-) 
Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (C+) 
Making Chase by Lauren Dane
Once and Again by Lauren Dance
Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick (B+)
The Billionaire Bad Boys Club by Emma Holly
Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh
Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison
Loving a Prince Charming by Danielle Monsch (B+)

And I don't care if I've already read it, this month's favorite is going to Oracle's Moon and that's all I have to say about that!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

7 Books

Checking in with the blog-o-sphere this morning I was immediately taken in by The Book Vixen's "7 Books" post. Her rules:

"Don't take too long to think about it. Seven books you've read that will always stick with you. First seven you can recall in no more than 15 minutes."

A great premise no? I'm glad I got 15 minutes because once I got down to the last two spots it was a little harder to decide ;). 

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce - I'm pretty sure I picked this off the shelf of my local library by random when I was little, but wow am I SO THANKFUL I did. Tamora Pierce and her books kind of defined me as a young person and today I still look to her for fantastic stories with great heroines and adventure.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley - What do I say about Robin McKinley? Besides awesome, obviously. McKinely's works are a little darker thematically when compared to Pierce but she also writes strong resilient heroines who often have to work against cultural norms to find themselves. The Hero and the Crown is a two parter with The Blue Sword (which is ALSO a great read) and together the two of them hold well loved spots on my shelves. 

Secret Vampire by L.J. Smith - It's a battle between L.J. Smith and Christopher Pike, but as my entry to to PNR I'd really have to give it Secret Vampire. The Night World is a great series (even if it wasn't ever completed) but Poppy and Jame's battle to stay together while also fighting her deadly illness was the first and probably my favorite (Soulmate is good too).

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey - And we're back to my fantasy roots! I followed Anne McCaffrey from fantasy to sci-fi and back again with absolutely no complaints because her books are filled with interesting characters, complicated but entertaining plot lines, and DRAGONS. 

Tiger, Tiger by Robyn Donald - My first 'adult' romance, picked up in the aisles of K-Mart during a grocery trip with my mom. I'll never forget how at the end she asked me if we really needed to buy it since I was 90% done by the time we got to the check out line but yes, it was that important and I still haven't gotten rid of it. (I also re-read it from time to time because except for the threat to their romance being possible incest, it's a very good book.)

MacGregor Brides by Nora Roberts - This title had to go on here because it was my very first Nora Roberts book! I can't imagine my shelves without them, or what romance I'd be reading without her tutelage. It's a great book and a great family of stories - don't miss any of them! 

Dark Prince by Christine Feehan - I wasn't sure whether to put Christine Feehan here or Laurell K Hamilton, but I think even before Guilty Pleasures, for me there was Dark Prince. The soulful dramatic tale of the doomed Prince Mikhail and the human psychic Raven who will be his salvation. It sounds ridiculous but I love this book still because even as the series starts to meander and stagnate, this first book - and many of the ones right at the beginning - were unique and had alpha heroes we readers could be proud of. 

And that's all she wrote folks! Do you have a book, or seven, that will always stick with you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Loving a Prince Charming by Danielle Monsch

Honor and Integrity were more than words to Seth - they were the values he lived his life by. As Prince of a large kingdom, putting duty before desire was vital for the prosperity and wellness of his people. If sometimes he looked at Kira – best friend since childhood and his personal guard – and regretted his betrothal to the Princess of a neighboring kingdom, well, that was the price he had to pay for his people’s happiness.

Even if that Princess was cursed and given the nickname Sleeping Beauty.

Seth discovers the way to end the curse and, against his father’s wishes, sets off on a perilous journey to free her with Kira by his side. But Kira represents a different type of danger… Only love can break the curse, but how can Seth keep his promise to protect Sleeping Beauty when every moment with Kira makes his heart damn duty and demand its desire? 


I don't know about you, but happily ever after/fairytale stories are my warm and fuzzies: don't think too hard , sit back, and enjoy the ride :) and Monsch makes this a pleasure as Seth tries to save both the damsel in distress and be true to his heart - because he can only do one. 

As his bodyguard and best friend, Kira is also written as a well rounded, interesting character. She loves Seth but her sense of duty, and his sense of honor, make giving in to their feelings forbidden and when Seth is called upon to venture out to save his fiance from an evil curse she knows the only thing she can do is accompany him.

Loving a Prince Charming doesn't have a lot of twist and turns, the 'big surprise' at the end was something I saw coming, but the role reversal between Seth and Kira (to not spoil too much) was my favorite part. It was only a few pages but throughout the story Seth is very respectful of Kira and her abilities (it's actually refreshing that neither of them feel the need to throw themselves into situations that will obviously endanger them) and that particular part felt true to both their natures.

Short and sweet - exactly what I needed. 

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Loving a Fairy Godmother 2) Loving an Ugly Beast 3) Loving a Prince Charming

*Title requested from NetGalley*