What an excellent addition to historical romance titles. Lately I've been on the hunt for more historicals that take place from the 20s-40s. The styleWhat an excellent addition to historical romance titles. Lately I've been on the hunt for more historicals that take place from the 20s-40s. The style, the music, the snazzy close, snappy dialogue and volatile society offers so much for so many stories to be told. As we are going through a similar situation today with the depression, it's an interesting reflection upon the times to look back during the time of prohibition.
Jazz Baby doesn't disappoint. It's a romance that focuses around the main couple but at the same time, it's an excellent crime drama & family story with speakeasies, gangsters, sex (which is pretty detailed), violence and a lot of booze. Kate isn't the typical romance heroine as she is strong willed, a little loose although whip smart. Micah Trent oozed with the sexy and confident charm of Humphrey Bogart in his early work. Both had some interesting family dynamics and background which helped shaped their characters we experience in the story. Kate's brother Patrick is an integral part of the story, a former aspiring writer who fell off the path after their father's abuse which lead to his constantly drunken state. He's a side character but his character arc was fascinating to view. I also loved Susie and Jake's witty and biting repartee. They remind me of the youthful kind of love interest not unlike the boy teasing the girl he likes. They definitely have potential for their own story to develop and I hope Ms. Brown writes a followup story so we can see where everyone is after the main conflict in the story.
The setting was so spot on as Ms. Brown really brings the world to life through the dialogue (I loved the lingo here) and society at the time. At times it felt like a vacation when I was reading the book. I tried to stretch it out as much as possible reading it because I didn't want to end. I'm definitely adding this to my new favorites of 2010 and another 'wow' book that I'll happily add to my keeper shelf.
4.5 - This is easily a 5 star story. Ms. Nelson weaves a wonderful love story mixed with action packed suspense and some welcoming surprises along the4.5 - This is easily a 5 star story. Ms. Nelson weaves a wonderful love story mixed with action packed suspense and some welcoming surprises along the way.
Royal Stone is tired of job hunting on a hot Memphis day. As she steps into a little restaurant unknown to her called Mother Russia, she has no idea how much her life will change. She comes upon a handsome Russian in an expensive suit playing the violin. Right away, she is entranced by his music and him. He offers her food and some refreshments and soon he's offering her a job for her new boutique opening up called Dmitry's Closet. Complete with room and board, Royal can't resist the invitation. She's lived a life from one foster home to another, never really settling anywhere. She takes up the job and soon enters a lavish lifestyle led by the charming, handsome and enchanting Dmitry.
I loved this book. I really liked the fact that even though Dmitry's profession and lifestyle is revealed in the blurb, the story takes its time to reveal it slowly. First we see him as a person, then we see how he treats those around him before the truth about how makes his money is revealed. I love antiheroes especially when they're written with such complexity like Dmitry. I don't think I've read such a compelling character this year since Jon F. Merz's Parallax which features two deadly yet sympathetic assassins in the lead. It also reminded me of Anne Stuart's Ice series although Dmitry is not as cold and calculating (but he does have his moments)! Kudos to Ms. Nelson for writing such a wonderful love story with a side of action and suspense. She really went into the brutal structure of the Russian mob and brought out the reality of it in society along with a heavy dose of the current economic situation. Romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres to read and she did it awesomely. I also loved the fact that she handled the love scenes so sensuously. Often IR books nowadays get so crude and short on the emotion that there's no time to really connect with the character but Dmitry's Closet allows you to really feel for both Dmitry and Royal and understand how they see each other through one another's eyes.
As I said, this is clearly a five star story but I give it 4.5 starts due to some grammatical, homonym and spelling errors that interrupted the flow of the story at some points.
Other than that, the story was excellent, the characters were engaging and I'm jazzed to add this to my keeper shelf. I look forward to more works by Ms. Nelson if this is what we have to look for in the future!
This is definitely going on my best of 2010 reads list....more
4 1/2 - What an excellent novel! I love it when historical romance balances both aspects while keeping true to the setting the story takes place in an4 1/2 - What an excellent novel! I love it when historical romance balances both aspects while keeping true to the setting the story takes place in and Gold Mountain doesn't disappoint. Sometime ago I was researching around the setting and time period depicted in this story. It mentioned the rise of the Chinese immigrant males taking African American wives and I loved that the author centered around this not only as a way of writing about that true aspect but to center on a type of couple that isn't given much spotlight.
Gold Mountain focuses on Quiang, a Chinese railroad worker, and Leah, an African American woman who runs a laundry/store with her best friend Clara. They meet one day when Quiang comes to the shop one day to have his shirt cleaned. Although they each speak a different language, both the hero and heroine take time to communicate with each other and of course the most basic communication, that of the heart, begins to bring them closer together. As they battle the social obstacles of their time and try to navigate just how to live each day, Quiang and Leah grow closer and find out just how much they need each other.
I loved this book! I was a little nervous about reading it because the publisher is known for kinkier fair but Gold Mountain was sensual and sexy without going over the edge to crudeness. Kudos to Ms. Cullars for writing such an engaging tale that had me on the edge of my seat, fascinated by the history and cheering for the hero and heroine all at once. I really love her voice and the way she takes time to build chemistry between the leads. There are some scenes of violence in the story but they definitely complement the story and give the reader and idea of what the leads had to go through and how harsh the conditions were for them. Overall, my only complaint is that I wish the story were longer!
I really hope Ms. Cullars writes more historical romances. We definitely need these types of stories to show more of how minorities lived and fell in love thoughout the ages and with Cullar's masterful storytelling, it'll be all the more interesting. In the mean time, I'll happy grab some goodies from her backlist and start reading them as I wait for her next release. This is going on my best of 2010 release reading list.
If you love historical fiction and/or romances, definitely check out Gold Mountain!...more
The Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative vThe Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative variety, and being a fan of practically anything fae related I was quick to jump on the book. Julie Kagawa's intro into the world of the Iron Fey was addictive and after finishing the first, I couldn't wait to dive back into the world to see what the cast of characters was up to in their next adventure.
Just like I hoped, The Iron Daughter turned out to be another wonderful visit with a couple of old friends. While reading this, I would always promise myself just to read a chapter or so before bedtime. I never kept up that promise because I would always get sucked into an obstacle that seemed like all hope was lost or a threat of losing one of the characters. Ms. Kagawa has a way of keeping the pace going while putting her characters through the hardest of times and making them suffer. My hats off to authors who can do this because it adds a real sense of danger and keeps me flipping pages.
Although the first book didn't lead itself to a love triangle, quickly becoming a new go-to trope in YA fantasy these days, this book fully explores it. Although I'm biased and already have a favorite of the two, I wish the story would have focused on said character and Meghan's developing relationship as they work through trying to be together despite coming from different worlds. In the end, there was enough to satisfy this wish and even the ending was more than I could every hope for. (Thank you, Ms. Kagawa for that ending.) Looking back, I can definitely see shades of A Midsummer Night's Dream in how the setup between the three is presented.
This story picks up right were The Iron King left off and there are some awesome revelations that come to a head in continuation of the groundwork that was set in the first book. We get to know more about the fae courts and how they work, there are characters who are introduced and there's an interesting twist in the revelation of what memory Meghan lost to the Oracle in the previous book. I was hoping we'd find out eventually and I was excited to see how it ties into the story here. There's also an interesting twist to the mean girls situation that Meghan faced in the first book which is paralleled in the Fae world. I'm hoping we see another visitation of that situation with a stronger and wiser Meghan the second time around especially after the school events in this book.
I was sad to some characters go after I had grown attached to them and I commend Ms. Kagawa for creating great characters to incite such feeling from this reader; all the while putting them in mortal danger at each turn. The story lulls a bit in the middle during a making up sequence but quickly picks up toward the end to bring another obstacle in the fray. There's also a new array of awesome characters including a zombie corporate clone army in an office space setting, a viral fae and a cheery fae with a royal disposition and a fondness for pet names. I love the voices that come from these characters and being a big fan of audio books (which is how I fell in love with the first book in the series) and I can't wait to hear the narrator bring her and the other characters to life.
Fans of Fae political intrigue, adventure and fantasy YA works will love this series. You can tell Ms. Kagawa is inspired by a lot of different classic fantasy literature from Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll but she clearly makes these characters and situations her own within this world. What I love about each of these books is that they have clear endings. Each book has it's own set of problems and a main conflict which is solved by the end but is left open enough for more stories within the world. The Iron Daughter is no different in that we end on a wonderful note with Meghan completing her missions and also leaving it open enough for another story to see what happens due to the consequences of their decisions. I loved it. I highly recommend this series and this book which is also going on my fave 2010 best reads list.
FTC Advisory: This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. ...more
Boy is it good to have Teresa D'Amario back! I lost count of the many times I read SheWolf since the first time and I've been waiting for Nora's storyBoy is it good to have Teresa D'Amario back! I lost count of the many times I read SheWolf since the first time and I've been waiting for Nora's story as well as Ryland's. I was very interested in seeing how a villain could be turned into a hero for the next book as its one of things on my wishlists for romance themes.
D'Amario doesn't disappoint! Dark Succession is a sexy paranormal romance but it's also a gut wrenching fantasy and suspense all rolled into one. After being captured and tortured then saved by Anna, heroine of SheWolf, Nora (daughter to the former pack leader Sean and Laura) has moved on to college where the guys give her attention more for her status than for herself. After almost being attacked by a group of college guys, Ryland intervenes and rescues Nora then takes her back to his compound where he hides a harrowing secret not only within his pack but also one he doesn't know about that's been hidden as a lie within his own family. Soon, members of Ryland's pack being to disappear and as Nora uncovers the reasons why, a pattern emerges bringing them close to the pack as things begin to unravel.
Ryland came dangerously close to being anti-hero and there are some heavy things he is involved with. His brother (another secret) left him a no-holds-barred unruly wolven pack of convicts, rapists and war mongers and it's up to him keep order even as he fights to control his attraction to Nora.
Nora was a strong heroine although she had some faults due to how she saw her body. I like that she was a strong SheWolf and she took charge when needed but also had to overcome the time she spent as a prisoner. It was an interesting admission when she meets similar prisoners at Ryland's compound and how she saw him through her eyes.
I loved and really enjoyed this book and was tickled when an excerpt for SheWolf was included. Although there was no particular scene to top my favorite one from SheWolf (ahem, the one in Anna's office, hehe) the tension and the sexiness of Ryland was strong enough to topple the previous hero Kieren (sorry Kieren but Ryland was just wow).
Anna makes an appearance here later in the story and I was hoping we'd see a bit of the old Uwharrie camp just for old time's sake. Knowing how Laura reacted to Anna when she arrived and considering Nora's coming into her own SheWolf, I can see why that would probably not turn out well.
All in all I loved Dark Succession which is a wonderful addition to SheWolf. Ryland and Nora's dance of attraction mixed with the murder mystery within the pack, topped off with how Nora would be able to stay in a confined compound made me glued to the pages to find out how all of it will be resolved. I loved that this book had twist after twist with not only finding out the truth about Ryland's family but also about the revelation of the murderer. Early on I thought it was the obvious choice but later there were certain clues to tip off the gender. Eventually, my guess was totally off but it was interesting to see how it lead to the culprit after a previous surprise attack.
D'Amario did an awesome job and if there's another book in the series, I'll be eagerly waiting to grab a copy and dive into the world of the True Mates.
Note to readers: Although this story stands alone, you may want to check out SheWolf not only for the great story but for a little extra flavoring to the world and how the characters are connected. There's also a bit of interesting backstory in how you'll see Ryland's scenes in SheWolf which gets turned on its head in Dark Succession.
Highly recommended as one of my faves for 2010....more
Wow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right oWow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right off the bat.
Ms. Kagawa opens the book with our heroine Megan Chase dealing everyday teen life battling wits with her parents, caring for her baby half brother Ethan, a jokey best friend and her crush on the most popular boy in school she is sent to tutor. Amidst all of this, there is something otherworldly in the air. Things move out of the corner of her eye, her best friend is acting strange and strange creatures seem to overtake everyday people. Soon the world of the Fey opens up and Megan is called to save her baby brother when he is switched by a vicious changeling and puts her family endanger. Megan's journey sends her through a maze of strange creatures and customs, numerous bargains and debts and a secret revealed about her family history and ultimate future.
I LOVED this book! Although I lament the fact that current fantasy writers have overused the European mythologies to the point of cliche, The Iron Fey takes these myths and breathe new life into them. I loved the idea of the Iron Fey seeing the old courts as the past while they, purveyors of iron, current and advanced technology are the future. The characters are fully developed with Megan being a down to Earth character who is a bit of an outcast in our world but soon finds her footing and strength in the Fey world. She never becomes overbearing to the point of arrogant, she always keeps her head even though her choices aren't always the best ones. I sympathized with her plight and loved her sayings. I was rooting for her to find her baby brother and survive each obstacle that was thrown her way.
I also loved the way the potential romance was handled here. Not to spoil too much but I had a feeling that someone close to her was more interested than he let on. Although that was left unsaid here, I have a feeling it'll be making head way again. I was torn between this character and princely one who is completely and utterly swoonable in the romantic sense. By the end, I was rooting for this character and gasped every time something happened to him. I hate to biased but I'm rooting that she ends up with the latter character. And if she doesn't want him, pass him on over to me!
The Iron King is one of those novels that you hate to put down. There's always something happening and always something about to happen that keeps the action and plot development well paced. It's a good and bad thing because I get to see what happens (good) but the fun is over faster (bad). It's also a bummer because I'm hoping my next read is just as satisfying. Kudos to Harlequin for presenting this in their new Teen line of books. I'm a new fan of Ms. Kagawa and while I'm clamoring for the next Iron Fey entry (August 2010, counting down the days!) I'll be checking out other books in HQN's line.
The Iron King is the first entry into my Best of 2010 Reads.
If you liked The Iron King and are looking for similar books. Might I suggest the following with similar themes and Fae mythology:
Parallax is my second fiction read by Jon F. Merz after I got a taste of his short story and I'm definitely hooked. ThWow! What an excellent thriller!
Parallax is my second fiction read by Jon F. Merz after I got a taste of his short story and I'm definitely hooked. This was an awesome thriller with lots of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I love stories that take me off guard and deal with complex characters that don't seem as if they're who they are, only to turn your expectations of them right on the side.
The story deals with Frank Jolino and Ernst "Stahl", two expert assassins living on opposite sides of the globe in different lives until one fateful moment of mental interlinking brings them together. Soon each is allowed to view the other's experience as if they were perched on the other's shoulder. Their lives interconnect from jobs to love lives and betrayal while each have something in the balance. With Stahl, his son's life is at stake on the condition that he kills a scientist connected with the SARS disease. With Frank, he is sent to kill his old girlfriend, the long lost niece of his mafia boss who he still is in love with, on suspicion that she is connected with the feds.
This was one novel that was hard to put down. Merz excels at creating engaging characters wrapped in a fast paced read. One moment I was sympathizing with them and the other felt the complete opposite. Overall, my nose was in the pages all the way to the very satisfying end.
This is a late entry for the best of my 2009 reads and it goes right at the top. I hope Parallax makes it to the big screen like Merz's Fixer series is coming to television. I'd definitely grab a ticket!...more