Kitt: When Suz found out that I got an ARC to Jenn Bennett’s second in her Arcadia Bel...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Kitt: 3 Stars Suz: 3 Stars
Kitt: When Suz found out that I got an ARC to Jenn Bennett’s second in her Arcadia Bell series, Summoning the Night, she down right viciously attacked me to get her grubby little hands on my precious. Of course, being the fabulous, golden heart creature that I am, I couldn’t just let her pout in the corner could I? That’s right; I couldn’t, because no one puts Suz in the corner.
Suz: You sound a little bit like Johnny from Dirty Dancing, Kitt. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” “Oh, Kitt!” ;) But seriously, Kitt – I really loved the first Arcadia Bell book and when I heard that you had an ARC of the second I found myself squeeing like a fangirl. It was a bit embarrassing, really. But I really enjoyed the first one. The world Jenn Bennett has created around Arcadia Bell is pretty compelling and draws me in. I wanted to go back there and see what was cooking.
Kitt: You squeeing like a fangirl? I almost don’t believe it. Almost. Because I know where you’re coming from and think I’d have to agree. Ms. Bennett’s world truly is a fantastic, fresh new angle on magic. Arcadia Bell is a magician who can kindle Heka through electricity, and after Kindling the Moon, we now know about her Moon Child powers too. But it isn’t just her world is it? Her charming characters have this way of completely stealing the show. Who would of thought that a thirteen year old motor mouth could be so entertaining?
Suz: Isn’t that the truth? You know I’m not a big fan of the kiddies, Kitt. It’s not that I dislike kids; I’m just one of those people who does better when I can “awww” from afar and carry on with my day. Even so, it’s the kid’s show in this book, for sure. I don’t mean to take anything away from the rest of the characters, they all reached out and grabbed me one way or another, but that kid redefined “endearing brat.”
Kitt: I know what you mean! But oh we’re skipping ahead, aren’t we? Summoning the Night begins only two months after Cady’s tragic brush with reality. Everything is going swimmingly with her job and her new found relationship with Earthbound demon, rare book collector and rich photographer, Lon Butler. That is until the head of the Hellfire Club, Ambrose Dare, asks them both to look into the case of missing teens and a cold case serial killer, the Snatcher, from the early 80s.
Suz: I gotta tell you, Kitt, I really don’t like that guy, Ambrose. In the first book he was just alluded to as the power behind the throne, so to speak, of the Hellfire Club, and the person who would fix the ills the club had been up to. Turns out he’s a real piece of work in his own right and I’m thinking I’m going to get plenty of opportunity to love to hate him in the future, too. Just a hunch.
But Lon, I think, is a new kind of dreamy that we don’t see very often in romantic leads. He’s not super hunky, but more of a later-hippy-throw-back who kept his decent looks. You’re a bit younger than me, Kitt, so that might not be up your alley, but it brings back memories for me! *eye wiggle* Combine that with his other, supernatural characteristics and his near infinite patience and it’s a pretty attractive package to me in an unconventional way. Although, I could probably do without the mustache.
Kitt: No, I get the appeal – he’s rich, charming with all the right amounts of laid back that some heroes seem to have an allergy to, but I have to admit, he’s not really my type. There’s something about him that didn’t quite resonate with me at first. Also, the mustache! Throws me every time and I have no idea why. Though, the more I see him on the page the more I’m warming to him.
I have to admit that this story brought on a complete state of confusion for me. I understand Cady’s power, but I don’t understand why she would be asked to help find these missing kids. Ok, well maybe not why she was asked, but more like feelings that maybe this story was brought on too soon in the series. Nothing about her seems like the appropriate person to ask and her skills rank somewhere near junior league detectives. Before Kindling the Moon, she was just magician fugitive bartender, and now in Summoning the Night, she still is. Not to mention, that Cady seems to be moving backwards from the self-assured women we saw in the first in the series. What did you think of the plot, Suz?
Suz: I agree there seemed to be holes in the plot and you’ve mentioned one of them that was confusing. I half expect to find out in a later book that Ambrose has some inside information from Cady’s magic society that we haven’t been privy to yet, but I suppose that’s just me trying to fill in the blanks.
For me, however, her moving backwards as you suggest, was the most frustrating. I could have dealt with it had it been a personal growth arc that was book length, but it’s looking like it’s going to be her cross to bear in the long haul and I find that pretty infuriating. She’s acquired tons of magic she’s afraid to use just because she prefers to “not think about it right now” and she puts herself and everyone around her at risk because of it. Again, this is something that when it first appeared in this book I frustratingly thought it had to be a book length personal growth arc but when we reached the end of the book and it was not only unresolved but perhaps in worse shape I have to admit I was disappointed.
Kitt: Same here. Seeing Cady continue down the path of ignorance is just going to make things worse in the end, not only for her new found family, but for readers as well. Summoning the Night started out well enough. And it does have all the action, mystery with a smidgeon of romance that I look forward to in my urban fantasy’s, but I honestly was hoping for more than I was given. Maybe we’ll see a little more personal growth from Cady in the short story, Leashing the Tempest, when it release’s this December.
Suz: Oh! See, I didn’t know there was a short coming out in the same year. That’s a bit of salve on my confusion and helps me lean more to wait-and-see. Bottom line for me is that I loved the first one, was so torn with duality about the second one that it ended up feeling unfinished, even though it’s not, so I could only give it a middlin’ rating. However, the world is so original, the way the magic works and the characters interact is so interesting and genuine, and Cady started out with such a bang that I’m going to continue to follow this series and see where it goes, hoping that Cady finds her figurative cojones soon. I’m chalking this one up to a sophomore slump because I think the foundation is essentially still pretty solid. (less)
I have never read a book by Barbara Bradford Taylor before but the synopsis of Letter from a Stranger sent fro...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I have never read a book by Barbara Bradford Taylor before but the synopsis of Letter from a Stranger sent from the publisher intrigued me so I agreed to review the book at their request. I loved the book and found it was a quick and easy read.
Letter from a Stranger is a book of romance, family, intrigue and the beautiful backdrop of Istanbul. In fact Taylor paints a picture of Istanbul that leaves you feeling as if you have been there yourself. I found myself falling in love with the city and telling my husband we should go. Istanbul could easily be a main character in the book. As you can imagine this book is a journey for Justine. As she drops everything and heads to Istanbul to find her beloved grandmother she has no idea that the true journey will come once she has found her. Along the way Justine discovers deep family secrets that her grandmother has kept hidden away for many years as well as love.
I found the most intriguing part of the novel the memoirs of Justine’s grandmother Gabriele. Her memoirs take us on a journey back to her time in WWII and we relive the horror as well as the small beautiful moments she encountered during this period of history. I found myself thoroughly engaged in her story and this portion of the book alone could by far be the best part of the entire book. Ultimately Justine and her brother must face their mother as the truth behind her motives for such a deep deception come to light.
I enjoyed this book as a quick light hearted read for me in the midst of a very stressful time. At times the book was a bit slow and I do have to admit I have read quite a few novels recently that use the method of reading someone else’s journal to convey information and it’s starting to lose its appeal for me. If the memoir had not been so moving I would have been a little frustrated with the means of delivery. Overall this was quite an enjoyable book and I will find myself reading more by Barbara Bradford Taylor in the future.(less)
Usually – I really love reading Kresley Cole’s books but, right now, I’m hating LOTHAIRE. Now all the Immortal...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
Usually – I really love reading Kresley Cole’s books but, right now, I’m hating LOTHAIRE. Now all the Immortals After Dark fans will send me hate mail because I seem to be the only one who is not in love with this book.
Lothaire is a centuries old vampire notorious for being fiendishly cold blooded, sadistic and incredibly intelligent. He is opportunistic, calculating, and every creature in the Lore fears him. The only thing that has kept him (barely) sane throughout these many years is his plan to rule all the vampires in the Lore.
In Cole’s Lore, a vampire will fall in love with only one woman – their bride, but it may take centuries to discover who this person is. But wouldn’t you know that this is where the trouble lies. Lothaire believes he has found his bride in the body of Ellie Pierce. Saroya the Soul Reaper has taken possession of Ellie’s body and is fighting to have Ellie’s soul permanently extinguished. When Lothaire meets Ellie he believes that Saroya is his bride and makes an oath to help her gain permanent control of Ellie’s body. Sounds good right?
Cole is wonderful at creating full characters and imbuing them with traits and voices that are interesting; leaving a reader with a pretty clear and distinctive impression of each character in her novels. Lothaire just happens to be written as an unappealing, sadistic, cruel, domineering, bigoted, opportunistic, selfish, self-serving son of a gun – I’d be just fine if he didn’t find his bride. In fact – it bothers me that such a bright, interesting, noble person as Ellie would even give Lothaire the time of day.
What bothers me even more is that in order to make this match seem more improbable, Cole has chosen to draw Lothaire as a wealthy worldy Russian sophisticate and Ellie as a poor, ignorant, virgin hill billy with a heart of gold. Cole uses every cliche in the book. Ellie lives on a mountain named after her family, in a trailer, with her mother and baby brother. All her kin live on or around the mountain. Her father worked in a coal mine and died in a mine explosion. Ellie may fool around but she doesn’t have sex because she doesn’t want to end up teenaged and pregnant like all the other women in her family. Ellie’s only clothes are some jeans from the Walmart. And, of course, Ellie’s speech is riddled with so many “country” colloquialisms I feel like I’m watching The Beverly Hillbillies. Any second now, Ellie will be spurting out, “I may be ignorant, but I’m not stupid!” – “Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980).
Oh – and Ellie is human – which is a huge no-no. So. that’s kind of the cherry on top.
The book is filled with page after page of cliches, sadistic events and over the top drama, BUT, there is one beautiful, perfect, memorable scene between Lothaire and his nemesis Nix, The Ever Knowing Valkyrie oracle, that is the one saving grace of this novel. For fans of the series, that scene alone would be worth purchasing this book.
At the end of the day, I don’t care if these two get together because he is an nonredeemable prick and she is an idiot for making excuses for him. If he wasn’t such a sadistic egoist I could find some love for him maybe through pity. If Ellie wasn’t drawn as being smart in spite of being poor and unsophisticated I could probably find some love for her, too. And let’s not even talk about the fact that Ellie is a virgin because that makes this pairing even more twisted. My real problem is that Cole has shown again and again how intelligent a PNR can be that anything less than her best is tragic. She can really be that good.(less)
Try as I may, it is almost impossible for me to review this book without mentioning some details from previous...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
Try as I may, it is almost impossible for me to review this book without mentioning some details from previous books in the series and after 12 installments, can you blame me? So, just in case you haven’t read the earlier Sookie adventures, consider this a warning of possible spoilers.
In many ways DEADLOCKED showcases the true strengths in Charlaine Harris’ writing. Despite all the suitor wars (Bill Lovers, Eric Lovers, Sam Lovers etc…) at it’s core the Sookie Stackhouse books were quirky mysteries where some of the characters just happened to be supernatural. Somewhere along the way, whether it was the readers who got caught up in the supe craze or the authors intent, those paranormal elements began to out shine the mystery that is (and always has been) the foundation to each book.
In Bon-Temps, Sookie has settled into her new responsibilities at Merlottes as “part-owner” with her best friend Sam Merlotte. Despite being tired from work, she makes time to go out to ladies night at her cousin Claude’s strip bar, Hooligans, with her friends Holly, Kennedy, Michele (her brother Jason’s girlfriend) and the very pregnant Tara. The fun evening out quickly becomes an evening of surprises for Sookie when an unexpected person is seen stripping at the club and then afterwards at her home with an even more unexpected visit from her grandfather, Niall.
Niall’s appearance at Sookie’s home is awkward as ever, especially since her cousin Claude and great-uncle Dermot (who Niall considers a traitor) are living there. But, Sookie forces Niall to face Dermot and discuss their differences. In doing so, the possibility of a curse being put on Dermot becomes likely and Niall takes Claude back to Fairy to investigate the charges.
The following evening Sookie is strongly encouraged by the lone-were, Mustapha (Eric Northman’s daytime man) to go to a “party” where King Felipe is in attendance at Eric Northman’s home in Shreveport. Once there she is once again faced with visual knowledge that she, in a very “Scarlett O’Hara” fashion, had previously tried not to think about. But, instead of whining about the situation or running away from the problem, Sookie takes charge and deals with things in a rather mature manner. When the dead body of one of the party guests shows up on the lawn and Mustapha is missing, Sookie begins to investigate with the help of her ex-lover Bill Compton. The more they uncover, the more it appears Eric is being framed but the list of motives is long and all the details seem too complex for some of the usual suspects.
Of course, there are other issues adding to the conflicts. Eric is still in negotiations with The Queen of Oklahoma over the proposed marriage between them set into motion by his late maker. And if that wasn’t enough Sookie is having issues with Sam’s girlfriend, the were Jannalyn, who just happens to also be the second in Sookie’s one-time possible flame, Alcide Herveroux’s pack.
I admit, this is a tough book for Sookie and Eric. So many things seem stacked against this favorite couple. No character is perfect in this series and I think that is what allows readers to relate to the characters making these books strike a chord with so many different people. Even with all the turmoil, Sookie repeatedly says over and over that she is in love with Eric and loves him . . .
There is so much that goes down in this book. Charlaine Harris seems to be tying up all those loose ends. So often when author’s of long running series attempt to conclude their story certain things can feel rushed and unnecessary but this is not the case with DEADLOCKED. Readers will be delighted to see Mr. Cataliades and Diantha pop in at a perfect moment, questions about Barry the bell hop (LDID & ATD) answered, Quinn make a cameo on a special day with some big news of his own, Alcide finally atoning for some bad choices and growing up, The Fairy story-line directly dealt with, more of Sam, the Cluvial Dor’s purpose, Jason mature and stable, and Bill in a good place in his existence.
Even Sookie feels like she is in a better place than she has been in the last few books. She goes out with friends, visits people, tans and daydreams like Sookie of old but that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of tough times and sad moments, just that the character’s growth is evident.
The writing in DEADLOCKED was improved and at times even poetically beautiful. As in these passages:
I woke up to a summer day that mocked me by being beautiful. The downpour had washed everything, cooled the air, and renewed the green of the grass and the trees. The delicate pink of the old crepe myrtle was unfurling. The cannas would soon be open. (Chapter 9)
Loved ones, friends, acquaintances had been mown down by the Grim Reaper. So I was no stranger to loss and to change, and these experiences had taught me something. (Chapter 9)
Not only was there real emotion conveyed in the text, but at times it felt as if Harris was really enjoying her characters, even poking fun at some of the tired behaviorism’s of various characters in a “Laugh out loud” scene between Eric, Pam, Bill and Sookie something that I haven’t really seen since the earlier books. All these things combined to make reading this book a real treat and left me nostalgic for earlier books, wishing I could re-read them all again from a first time perspective.
With everything that is answered in DEADLOCKED there are lots of surprises and revelations that leave so many possibilities that will keep fans guessing all the way to May, 2013.(less)
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and f...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I requested Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal completely on a whim. I was looking for something light hearted and fun after all the heavier reads I’ve been devouring lately. As the second in Grace Burrowes The Duke’s Daughters series (or the fifth in her long running Windham series) about the Duke of Morland’s daughters, Ms. Burrowes drew me in from the very first page.
Lady Maggie Windham is the illegitimate, but much loved eldest daughter of His Grace, Percy Windham. She’s a strong, clever, and self-reliant woman, but riddled with self-doubt due to her by-blow and marital status.
Mr. Benjamin Hazlit is in the business of secrets and shadows. An investigator of sorts for the ton finding all things lost or missed placed and ferreting out information. However, that very same skill set has him kept at arm’s length from his own clientele for fear of what he may find out about them.
Ms. Windham and Mr. Hazlit share something in common, though – they both have a secret life. Their paths cross often at Maggie’s father home, but it isn’t until something precious goes missing do these two really have more of a chance to get to know one another when Maggie seeks Ben out for his services.
Sadly, I haven’t read any of the previous books in these series and I really wish I had. There is so much back-story not told or alluded to, that I feel I missed out by not going in order. Those interested, I suggest that you start with “The Heir”. One thing that is truly fabulous – and that I absolutely love – is that Ms. Burrowes has interwoven her whole series with minor characters that will have you longing to learn more.
There was one main major hiccup for me, however, something I just couldn’t wrap my head around – the story of Ben’s secret life. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but he is more than the face he shows high society and I just don’t understand how someone of his status and station could have hidden it for very long, if at all, from the likes of the ton – people who have nothing to do, but be in each others business. Not to mention, that he has sisters. Sisters that surely had to have a come out at some point since they are both married. In fact, his sisters situations puzzled me even more. Either I missed what happened from previous books or it isn’t explained very well at all. I’m thinking more the latter than the former.
Overall, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal is a light, delightfully told unconventional love story between two passionate and family oriented characters. Both Maggie and Ben are relatable in their insecurities as well as their longings. I found it to be both an emotionally driven and humorous read that not only satisfied my craving for romance, but did it without being too sugary.(less)
I really do try my best to finish every book. If the story is interesting enough, I will find the strength to...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I really do try my best to finish every book. If the story is interesting enough, I will find the strength to muddle my way through to the end. It’s a compulsion for me, the NEED to know what will happen next. Slowly but surely, I’m learning quickly to just stop instead of subjecting myself further to a book I just don’t like.
Kiss of Pride should have been a triple threat. I mean Viking Vampire Angels? Score, right? Unfortunately for me, no. I tried really hard for over a week to get through the first hundred pages to no avail. From the very first pages we’re greeted with a subject matter that doesn’t match the levity of its language, but instead comes off completely absurd and just plain immature:
”I am deeply disappointed in the Vikings. I made them proud examples of a favored race.” Lightning bolts shot from Gods hands, which He raised on high, and the clouds wept. “Micheal!” God called out, and immediately appeared the Archangel Micheal, feathers flying as he rushed to His side. Without words, Michael could see down below to what had so offended his Lord. “Tsk, tsk!” was the best he could come up with.
“God loved Michael’s idea. “You will head this enterprise. Viking vampire angels. Well, not really angels. More like angels-in-training.” The archangel gasped with horror at his mistake. “Oh, not me, Lord. I have to help St. Peter repair the Pearly Gates. And Noah is building another ark. We have no room to put another ark. And those hippos! Phew!”
Kiss of Pride is the first in Ms. Hill’s Deadly Angels paranormal romance series designed to tell the story of the seven VIK who each committed one of the seven deadly sins and must now spend their lives as one of God’s vangels – vampire angels – fighting against the Lucipires – Lucifer’s vampires.
Now, I will admit to being somewhat shallow myself in choosing Kiss of Pride. That cover is HOT and who doesn’t secretly harbor desires for Viking Vampires, hmm? However, after reading just a short way through, that’s where all my interests ended. I didn’t get much past the introductions to the story and characters to report on more of what happens, but I can say what irritated me the most was the gravity of the situations warred with the humor. I, for one, am all for humor in books, but sometimes too much can make a mockery out of what is trying to be conveyed and make it all sound rather empty and foolish.(less)
I am not quite sure how I became so interested in the world of Amish romance. My typical choice of books usual...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I am not quite sure how I became so interested in the world of Amish romance. My typical choice of books usually involves steamy love scenes, murder mystery, and paranormal creatures with a lust for violence and accumulating sex partners. When I learned that Amish romance was actually a genre I couldn’t believe my ears. I had to see it for myself. It began with Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt trilogy and skyrocketed from there. So whenever I need a break from otherworldly creatures and sex kittens, I turn to the world that Cindy Woodsmall has created in Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is the Amish romance version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In a world where it is forbidden for Mennonites and Old Order Amish to become romantically involved, childhood friends Annie Martin (of the Mennonites) and Aden Zook (of the Old Order Amish)find themselves drawn to each other in a way that they have never experienced before. After being abandoned by her father in New York and despising the manner in which her mother allows her siblings to behave, Annie must return to Apple Ridge and her grandfather, Moses, to gain a perspective on the life that she leads. Annie couldn’t be happier; she will be arriving just in time for the blossoming of the cherry trees in her grandfather’s orchard. She tries to make herself useful by helping the Zook family run their diner since Roman, Aden’s twin brother who was paralyzed in a farming accident years ago, is assisting his uncle in mechanic work during the busiest time of the year for Zook’s Diner. Annie is overjoyed to see her old friend Aden. But what neither of them counted on was falling in love and the trials and tribulations they must face in order to overcome two worlds that are trying to tear them apart.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is a wonderful love story. Combining sorrow, joy, laughter, and journeys to self-discovery, this novel has something for everyone. The interaction between the characters creates tremendous tension while to plot drives them both together and apart.
The characters are endearing, the Amish lingo and history are thoroughly explained, and the setting paints a beautiful image of springtime. (less)
FAIR GAME is the third book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. This series includes characters and th...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
FAIR GAME is the third book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. This series includes characters and themes from Briggs’ popular Mercy Thompson series.
In FAIR GAME, the werewolf population in the USA is coming to terms with the fall out from having publicly revealed their existence to the human race. Bran Cornick, The Marrrok, head of all werewolves in the USA, and his enforcer Charles, his son, have been overwhelmed managing their werewolf brethren under the increased scrutiny of the media. The stress has weighed heavily on Charles and Anna, his wife, begins to fear for his emotional and mental well being.
Anna is a rare form of werewolf, an Omega wolf, able to calm those around her and intuit emotional disturbances in those around her, as well. Concerned for her husband, Anna approaches The Marrok and begs for his release from his enforcer duties but faced with an outbreak of werewolf attacks in Boston there is no chance of Charles being relieved of duties. Instead, Bran assigns Anna to go to Boston with Charles to assist the FBI in investigating the grisly string of attacks. Before long, they will uncover a larger plot that will bring the balance between the fae world and the human world into a collision course.
I enjoy Briggs’ work – it’s clean, well plotted and low on hystrionics. She uses a light touch even with difficult scenes and generally is known for not being too sexy. Briggs’ work is full of fae references and folklore, FAIR GAME is no exception and that is perhaps my concern with this novel. In her past novels, Briggs’ shines when creating tension among her characters usually because the characters are so at odds. In FAIR GAME, the differences between Charles and Anna are almost two dimensional and cartoonish. Charles is stoic to the point of catatonic while Anna is so emotionally wound up she could win an Emmy for best actress in a soap opera.
Briggs over indulges in writing the angst between Anna and Charles. Charles’ tortured psyche is literally under attack by the ghosts from his past and unfortunately – I never really bought into this. His reluctance to find any way to communicate his plight with Anna for fear that she would also be haunted didn’t work well for me because I couldn’t embrace that there really was a threat.
Briggs has written a truly disturbing series of crimes perpetrated by a group of villains displaying a complete lack of moral fiber. The crimes were distasteful and could make it difficult for some readers to make it through the book or the ending.
I found the judicial trial at the end of the book and its outcome hard to fathom. And I readily volunteer that I am clueless as to how Briggs will choose develop the fae schism in her next books.
The final scenes in the book have a direct effect on the Marcy Thompson series so be forewarned.(less)
Since this is a short novella, there’s not a lot of time for character development, and some of you may find that detrimental. But if you’re looking for something different and hot, this might interest you. It’s definitely for those of you who like some spice in your books, but don’t have a lot of time to read.
I am having trouble writing this review. I don’t want to gush like a fan girl but it seems that is all I can c...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I am having trouble writing this review. I don’t want to gush like a fan girl but it seems that is all I can come up with right now so before delving into Somebody To Love I’ll share a little of my reading history with you.
I discovered Kristan Higgins approximately two years ago when I decided I would try to read as much contemporary romance I could get my hands on. I was ordering some Rachel Gibson and Susan Elizabeth Phillips and a Kristan Higgins book was in the “people who bought this book also bought…”. I only had about $20 left on the gift card I was using and I was saving it for an upcoming planned prowl of the Bargain Books section at B&N so I opted out of the website and looked forward to a Monday morning off from work and the kids in school. You know Mommy time, book lover/addict style.
I woke up the next day with two sick kids. After bedding them down and loading them up with meds I found myself bored and bookless. My latest order wasn’t due to arrive for days. I couldn’t leave my sick kids alone while I made a mad dash to Barnes and Nobles for something, right? Right? No, no of course not! I had one option left. I had recently downloaded the new Nook app onto my iTouch. I know what you are thinking, tiny screen, but I don’t care how tiny the screen if I can read a book I’m in!
I sat down with the Mac and started searching for a book. I decided if I was going to finally break down and use a new technology to read then I should christen it with a new author and I downloaded my first Kristan Higgins book, Fools Rush In. Over the next two weeks I downloaded every book available from her. I was addicted to her worlds and characters. I loved them so much I re-read each book a minimum of three times. I was never one to revisit a stand alone title but I found I loved to laugh and cry along with Higgin’s characters and her writing style was so easy to sink into that when I read a different author I didn’t like or found the style to be bothersome I would cleanse my reader’s palette with Catch of The Day or Just One of Guys.
Last year Ms. Higgins released Until There Was You and some of you may remember it made my top ten for 2011. I absolutely adored that book. I finished it so quickly I rationalized an immediate re-read in case I missed something. The truth was I was totally in love with Liam Murphy and I wasn’t quite ready to put him on the shelf. Once I was done, for the second time, I started to feel nervous about Kristan’s next book. I mean how could it live up to Posey and Liam’s story? Will she hit a plateau? Will I find myself wishing for a sequel to UTWY instead of new characters? How can any guy live up to Liam?!? I tried not to think of these question when my book came in the mail and I immediately sat down with Somebody To Love……
A good sign I’m going to like a book? The author has me giggling halfway through page one and laughing out loud by page two. We enter the world of Parker Welles just before it’s about to fall out from underneath her. Of course this isn’t the first time we meet Parker Welles. Parker was a supporting character in The Next Best Thing which just so happens to be my favorite Higgins title. Parker is an accidental writer who has hit a crossroads in her career and her struggle to find her muse is something I can appreciate. She shares custody of her five year old son with her ex Ethan who just so happens to be married Parker’s best friend Lucy. When Parker is forced to move and her only option is to flip a remote property in Maine Lucy encourages her BFF to have a summer fling. Lucy believes Parker has been nooky-less since breaking up with Ethan. Can you say awkward?
Our male lead is James Cahill. I kept seeing Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love (after he fell for Emma Stone’s Hanna) *sigh*……. Yeah James is dreamy. James has some issues in the family department and we see him face them along with his growing feelings for Parker. James relationship with Parker’s dad is more than business. It’s more father/son on some levels and Parker resents the closeness because she doesn’t have that with dear old pops. James feels indebted to Mr. Welles but right from the start you can see how much he likes Parker even when she calls him Thing One. I really like James aka Jamie aka super hottie.
The book flows well and we get to dig deep with our leads while getting a nice second visit to Gideon’s Cove, Maine (the setting for Catch of The Day). Kristan is able to hit her stride fairly quickly with S2L, we get a happy balance of humor, angst, and romance. As a reader I never set the book down because I wanted to take a break. It only left my hot little hands because I had no other choice. I recently read a book I wanted to dump in the pool because I couldn’t get close to the characters and everything was distant and cold. Entering the S2L world you are wrapped up in Parker’s life and buckled in for a bumpy yet entertaining ride. Higgins makes it easy to see the world she has created for Parker and James to fall in love in.
The secondary characters help fill up the pages and tell a story worth reading. I have noticed in books where authors revisit characters after a long time away they are a shadow of what they once were. In S2L we get familiar characters we love in Hi-Def. One character in particular I wish would get her own book is animal rescue owner Beth. The dynamics between the new and old meld onto the page as if they were planned from the beginning and maybe even written at the same time. Somebody To Love was a refreshing love story that contemporary romance lovers are going to love. And as for me? There are very few authors that can have me wrapped around their fingers in less than three pages, Ms. Higgins is at the top of that list. (less)
I do love discovering new series with new premises especially when they come along just as your stuck in a boo...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com.
I do love discovering new series with new premises especially when they come along just as your stuck in a book rut wishing you had something new and exciting to read. It was thanks to my friend Bama that I discovered Inhale, the first in the Just Breath trilogy.
Here we are introduced to the world of wyldlings (humans) elementals and sentinels… a world where fire, air, water and earth are what makes the different elementals tick and in this case, the problems created when fire decides it’s just a bit too hungry and starts to invade human dreams, causing nightmares that in some cases, even lead to deaths. Enter the sentinels, super humans who can control dreams and manipulate Elements to either defend against or attack Elementals with Elemental magic. A Sentinel’s purpose is to maintain the balance and protect the wyldlings…or at least are attempting to do so.
Zoe a marine biologist specializing in whale research has finally gotten the opportunity she has been waiting for – a position in Australia leading a research team that could mean a major promotion and an escape from an annoying ex who happens to be her boss. She has a lot to prove but it might be a lot easier if she didn’t hear voices – the whales talking to her …and then there’s her panic attacks and the extremely strange dreams she’s been having.
Gavin Cassidy is a musician and sentinel without a cause. Ever since he lost his partner his control over his elements has been nil – just like his ability to write new songs. But then he’s called in to protect one wyldling – Zoe.
With fire trying to take over the dreaming, elemental leaders being killed off and changes coming to the ranks of the sentinels, Inhale introduces a fascinating new world with vivid imagery and almost poetic descriptions and let’s not forget sensual… Gavin and Zoe spend most of the book meeting in the Dreaming and well, things get interesting, very interesting. Sadly though Zoe is in danger in the Dreaming and in the ‘normal’ world. Some of the enemies are known – like a vindictive fire elemental named Scarlett, while others remain in the shadows.
I really did enjoy this book but at the same time I felt like I was missing something. The world of Inhale was beautifully presented but I wished there had been a little more background information. I realize that as a first book in a series there is always a lot to put on paper and some things get rushed so I hope this means that the second book in the series will clear things up on that front.
I also have to say that at some point in the book I really, really, wanted to find out more about Sinnder – the mysterious fire elemental. So much so that it took over the book from my perspective. That actually means I and seriously looking forward to read the next installment… with high hopes that Sinnder gets a more central role.
All in all Inhale was an intriguing and well written introduction to a new PNR/UF series; one I am looking forward to reading more of.(less)
I am trying to not go all fan-girl right now but it’s really hard. Why you ask? Because lately I’ve read some books that have been a major disappointment and thanks to Ms. Shalvis my faith was restored in Contemporary Romance. I do love me some naughtiness between the sheets or on a couch or up against the railing at the pier… *sigh* Oh Sorry where was I? But what I really want is a story I can get lost in. I want characters I feel connected too and a world I would at least love to visit.
I fell in love with Ty Garrison. He’s a bit of a smart ass, he says the sexiest things, his dark layers are yummy, and he is another reason I wish I lived in Lucky Harbor. Yeah he has some issues, he’s a former SEAL who went through some pretty dark stuff but he hasn’t stopped living. He just feels guilty about it. It’s an honest emotion many veterans feel and it is conveyed in LIL in a realistic manner.
Mallory Quinn is someone many women can relate too. She has work goals, a slightly crazy family, and an addiction to chocolate. She also is having trouble hanging on to her Mr. Rights. Ms. Quinn is a likable girl. And I have to tell you I’ve recently been unhappy with more than one female lead. It was refreshing not to have to yell that the woman on the page.
Shalvis has not let this series get repetitive or boring and I know sometimes I have had issue with other authors and their series telling me the same story over and over and over again. Annoying, right? Thankfully Jill has filled this small town chuck full of interesting and complex characters that will keep you wanting more. I’m already pacing around waiting for At Last and I have a TBR that needs some attention. Jill Shalvis is a storyteller who can make you laugh and rev your engine all on the same page. I appreciate a well-written book that can keep me entertained from beginning to end but when a book keeps me from sleeping because I can’t put it down, well let’s just say it ruins me for lesser books.
This book isn’t hit-me-over-the-head-with-fluffy-love-and-all-things-rainbows but it’s also not my usual angst addict fest. Lucky In Love doesn’t insist the reader suspend reality to like the story or understand it. In any work fiction there is a level of that probably wouldn’t happen in the real life but I am a strong believer unless it’s part of the genre the book falls under we shouldn’t have to have to force ourselves to ignore impossibilities. I am an even bigger believer in, we as readers, shouldn’t have to ignore poor editing! Reading shouldn’t feel like work whether your reading for pleasure or to review it, I want to be entertained and find my happy place in the pages of the book.
Lucky In Love helped me find my happy place… several times.(less)
Stars: Doll Believer: 4 Stars Doll Suz: 1 Star Doll Kitt: 2 Stars Doll Noa: 1 Star Doll Day: 1 Star Doll Eowyn: 1 Star Doll Chrissy: 1 star Doll Mona: 1 Star - DNF Doll Lil: 1 Star - DNF Doll Alli: 1 Star - DNF
Kitt: See what had happened was... It all started with an innocent inquiry from Alli about Fifty Shades of Grey "Has anyone read it?" From there Day, dratted woman ;p, decided we should all read it. Most of us involuntarily volunteered, but what the hell, we're all game for the challenge. Except how to have one review with ten women that would be different - and short (ha! yes, this is the short version!) - hence the Q&A. All the Dolls were charged with reading Fifty Shades, once completed, were to submit two questions. Here's the result:
Did you finish reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? If not, how far did you make it and why did you stop reading? If yes, how did you rate it on Goodreads?
Day: Yes, I finished the first one. I had to keep reading. I kept thinking... "Okay. Any minute now something really amazing will happen and I will realize why so many women are obsessed with this book." That moment never came for me. I rated it a one on Goodreads. (Sorry)
Noa: Day, that was my reaction too! I kept telling myself "maybe the next chapter...maybe the second book...the third?" Then I realized it wasn't going to happen. This wasn't even a one star series for me.
Mona: I stopped at a point shortly after Ana’s graduation. My inner goddess told me she was going to kick my ass if I didn’t give her something less annoying to read.
Eowyn:Yes, I finished the book and felt I liked it a little more toward the end. I only gave it two stars on Goodreads.
BLVR: Devoured all three. I took time off whenever my feelings were too overwhelmed. The first book was particularly emotional for me.
Alli: I have as of yet not finished. It's not because I don't like it, it's just my pregnant brain won't allow me to read for more than 10-20 minute spans before zoning out and thinking about nesting!
Lil: I did not finish it. I tried repeatedly but could not do it. I stopped at Chapter 4 and decided to skip ahead (something I never do). I got through "basic training" and I couldn't keep going. I became angry because I have a TBR full of really good books I was ignoring them to be annoyed by head cocking, murmuring, and one really noisy subconscious. I reluctantly gave Fiddy 1 star because giving Minus Stars is not an option.
Chrissy: Yes I finished reading it despite the fact that I did not enjoy it.
Suz: Yes, I did finish it although I haven't rated it on Goodreads yet because I've been waiting to do this review first. I give all cliff-hanger endings a one star rating because I believe them to be manipulative marketing thievery. This book will get one star when I rate it for that reason. I read all three of the books, back-to-back.
Kitt: Yes, I did. I read the first two - both I gave 2 stars - and then I had other books to read. I may eventually go back to read the last, Fifty Shades Freed, just to see how it ends.
Suz: Did you begin reading FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY with preconceived notions, and if so what were they?
Day: Yes. Due to all the hype I was expecting the "grand poopa" of books. Something that is extremely well written with incredible character development and a new and unique twists on erotica.
Mona: No preconceived notions here. I tend to take every book on its own merits, but this one had more demerits than merits, IMHO.
Noa: I guess I did. It would be very hard not to with everything going on out in the media and social media world proclaiming it as the literary accomplishment of the year if not decade.
Eowyn: I began reading the book expecting it to be extremely racy considering all of the media hype. I must admit, though it is slightly racy, I found it quite tame to what I had been led to believe from all of the hype.
BLVR: Yes, I did. I had heard a lot of media hoopla surrounding this piece, "Mommy Porn" , "BDSM in the Burbs", "Publishing Phenom". I was very intrigued.
Alli: I had heard some talk of the book bringing sexy back to the bedroom on the radio and how all these women just couldn't put it down. I expected it to be amazing.
Lil: I didn't even know the book existed until Day brought it up. I live with my nose in books or at Swimmer Girl's practice or I'm working (not lots of book discussion there) so I missed all the media attention. But I trust Day's opinion so I did go in thinking I was going to regret it. Which of course made me feel guilty for not giving a new author a chance.
Chrissy: I had a few preconceptions. From what I'd seen online it seemed as if 50% of readers loved it and 50% of readers loathed it so I figured it could go either way.
Suz: Yes. I had heard it was fanfic of Twilight and that it also had a lot of BDSM. I assumed the quality of writing, or at least the editing, might be substandard and was therefore skeptical but tried to remain open minded. My biggest concern, however, was that BDSM would be presented as some sort of psychological and emotional work around for the deeply broken. I think that's how it was presented in the movie The Secretary and I was fearful I would find that to be the case here. In all honesty I had not really exposed myself to too much of the hype other than to be aware of its existence. I don't spend a lot of time scouring sources for controversy as I find it unpalatable.
Kitt: Yes, I believe I did. Even though, like Mona, I try to take every book on it's own merit, it's hard to ignore the massive amount of hype surrounding this book. Going in I thought "This must be one of the best erotic books ever"
Day: Have you read other books that are classified as Erotica fiction? If so, how does this compare? If not, will you now read more?
Day: Yes. This one is nothing spectacular when it comes to the genre. There are some that are much better and some worse. In my opinion, 50 Shades is just mediocre.
Mona: I’ve read a LOT of erotica. Heck, I even corrupted Kitt with my choices. FSoG doesn’t even register on my radar.
Noa: I have read Erotica fiction and many of its sub-genres. As with any genre there are books I enjoyed more and books I enjoyed less. If not for me forcing myself to finish it (see answer 1) I would have stopped in the middle and put it in the "Do Not Read" pile.
Eowyn: I have not read other Erotica books. I can't say that I won't read more after reading this but I'm not inclined to run out and check out all of the Erotica books. I have enough Fiction on my TBR list at the moment.
BLVR: Yes. I often read Erotica written by Emma Holly, Portia Da Costa and several authors who might bristle at being labeled Erotica but whose work clearly fits. I am not a huge fan of Erotica for its own sake, instead I prefer erotic themes or events that are part of a larger work.
Alli: I have not read any books that are classified as Erotica. It's just not my style typically, but doesn't mean I'm not open to exploring it as an option later.
Lil: I have been told over and over if I'm going to write then I had to read everything, fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, Archie and Jughead.... so yes I've read Erotica, I hated it in the beginning, it was torture for my creative juices. Then I discovered Lorelie James and Cat Johnson and what can I say, Giddy Up Cowboy ;). They opened me up to the world of Erotica where there is juicy story line and a plot that makes sense with dominant men and strong women, since then I have found other writers I enjoy but they remain at the top of my list.
Chrissy: Erotica is one of my favorite genres to read. I'm quite fond of the works by Alison Tyler and Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Suz: Yes. This one had comparable heat to other erotica in terms of excessive quantity but the quality of erotica can vary pretty widely and 50 Shades is not exceptional in regards to the quality of the erotica. In fact, given that it was supposed to be kinky I found it to be more than a little tamer than I expected. In terms of quantity I suppose I would praise 50 Shades because the sex scenes were relatively brief and not over written with flowery prose. I did have trouble with suspension of disbelief because the protagonist was a virgin who became multi-orgasmic from her very first experience, but I suppose that’s a trope you could find in just about any romance novel. A wishful thinking trope. As for whether I'll read more, I read a lot anyway and much of what I read is "chick lit." There is often a lot of erotica in that whether it intends to be classified as erotica or not. So I don't think I'll read any more or less than I was reading of it before. I LIKE a bit of sex in my books, I just tend to prefer there to be a STORY with it, too.
Kitt: Mona is one of the worst book pushers! So yes, I've read my fair share.
Mona: After reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, do you think people will assume BDSM will magically revive sexual desire, and if so, will they be brave enough to try it? What happens if their partner is offended/disgusted by it?
Day: If readers are naive, they'll believe anything I suppose. The media sure would like us to believe that millions of women have revived their sex lives with BDSM, but I don't think it's likely. And if it has actually sparked a flame in their bedrooms, I think it will be short lived. Good sex has a lot to do with breaking the monotony and in my experience everything gets old after a while.
Mona: I had to ask this question after seeing a news program about the increase in women buying the 'toys' to spice up their marriages. I wondered if any of them actually had any idea what they were getting into, and what their husbands thought about them just coming up with this out of the blue.
Noa: Mona, I was wondering about that too. I have to agree with Day. I'll add a little bit of wisdom I got from my mom: Spicing up the sex life is awesomesauce. So long as both sides are happy with what's happening. But I doubt it will make readers decide to take on the BDSM lifestyle.
Eowyn: I honestly think it might spice up their sex lives but not with the BDSM life style. I think perhaps women are getting a little turned on from reading the book and perhaps making sex exciting again but I'm not so sure they are adding anything other than some possible role play to the mix.
BLVR: I wouldn't classify these acts as true BDSM but it doesn't matter I suppose. I would hope that a reader would be inspired to bring the themes that move them into their own lives and act upon them. Absolutely! Harry Potter can help children feel brave and courageous. There are countless examples of literary characters or scenes giving people solace, hope, courage and inspiration. If 50 Shades helps reignite a romantic spark - I'm all for it! These games are not for everyone and there will be readers who will stop reading or simply enjoy being voyeurs.
Alli: To be quite honest, a book shouldn't be the catalyst to revive someone's sex life. Reading about non-vanilla sex might make them desire sex more with their partner, but would it make them branch out and try something new? Probably not.
Lil: What Day said.
Chrissy: I'm sure that many readers will view it that way but both parties are not always apt to participate. If it works for them then great if it doesn't at least they can say that they tried. Although I agree with Alli, it shouldn't be the catalyst.
Suz: Although 50 Shades uses the correct shibboleths from the BDSM community and suggests the proper forms it’s not, in my opinion, a BDSM book. It’s a slap & tickle bedroom book in which the virginal, inexperienced female protagonist manipulates and controls the highly experienced but emotionally bankrupt dominant throughout. In the BDSM scene they call it “topping from the bottom.” Since there really isn’t any BDSM other than references and props and a bit of spanking and light bondage, I would say it’s not really a BDSM book. Do I think it will help people feel better about wanting to shake up their sex lives and try something “new and naughty?” Yes. It already is. Will that be BDSM? I doubt more than a very few people will find their way into a BDSM community or lifestyle from these books. As for partners that are offended/ disgusted – I suppose they will do what curious partners have been doing from the beginning of time: either forget about it or go exploring on their own.
Kitt: What is there really to add to this that hasn't already been said, except no, I don't think the majority of women will suddenly feel the urge to take BDSM into their bedroom. At least I didn't. However, I do think that this book is having the same effect of other erotic romances by giving the women the urge to have sex more often.
Chrissy: If you enjoy the overall storyline of a book, can you overlook the unnecessary reiteration throughout a novel or does it annoy you? Example: the continuing emphasis on the fact that Ana is a bookworm and that Christian is gorgeous.
Day: Yes. IF I enjoyed the overall storyline those things could be overlooked.
Mona: A book must be really good for me to overlook something that annoying. Oh, my.
Noa: I think it would be very difficult to say. There are just so many things that annoyed me in this book. Ana's inner goddess, Christian's hair, Ana's inner goddess, her other inner character, her inner goddess... See? annoying right? And the storyline didn't help.
Eowyn: I think perhaps I can overlook unnecessary reiteration if I'm really enjoying the book. For most of this book I felt it was strained and I was back in High School.
BLVR: I did overlook it eventually. I found that the character development and story arcs became increasingly interesting enough to make me more generous towards forgiving certain crutches the author employed.
Alli: Probably. I do get annoyed with repetitive themes being beaten into my skull, but if the story is amazing I tend to ignore the nagging voice inside my head.
Lil: No I can't. I tried. Really really hard.
Chrissy: For me, it takes away from the book and can be the difference between whether or not I like a book at all. Writing style is very important to me as both a reader and a writer.
Suz: It depends on the book and whether or not I’m getting properly lost in the story and characters and the world. Generally if it’s annoying me it’s also pulling me out of the “world.” There was a lot of annoyance factor with unnecessary reiteration in this book. In fairness, that does improve a bit as you move through each book but since we’re only talking about the first book I’d have to say it was above average annoying in this book, but not as bad as I have seen in some books by much more established authors.
Kitt: I'd have to really like the book. But like Chrissy, it can make or break a book for me. In Fifty in particular, I couldn't ignore it, like a little electric shock every time she mentioned her inner Goddess, her subconscious, every time she said 'Oh my'
Kitt: What are your thoughts on Anna and Christian in general? Were they well developed or one-dimensional? How about the secondary characters of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY?
Day: Unimpressed all down the board. More development with all characters would have been nice.
Mona: Paper dolls. Repetitive paper dolls.
Noa: There were characters in 50 Shades of Grey? O_o
Eowyn: Character development was lacking.
BLVR: Yes - I believe that James imbued her Ana & Christian with complexity. But Ana could have acheived a higher level of complexity without a doubt. I think James was exceptionally brave in the last book when she gives us Christian's POV of his first meeting with Anna. He is truly unappealing and a cad.
Alli: Like most of the other dolls, I felt that the character development was very one-dimensional. We learn about them at only the most superficial level. I had a hard time connecting to Ana and Christian, which makes me like the story a lot less.
Lil: I didn't really read enough to make an observation about character development. I can say the characters did not draw me in and I didn't find myself invested in them in the least. I guess that made it easier to put the book down.
Chrissy: I strongly agree that the characters were one dimensional.
Suz: It was fairly poor in the first book but improved a bit as you move through the rest of the trilogy, for both the protagonists and some of the secondary characters. In the first book there was so much reiteration and so much mind talk that seemed juvenile and insipid that it left the characters fairly flat. I think that time could have been better spent developing situations to put the characters in that would have shown us their characters.
Kitt: I'm going to agree with Suz here, and some of the other Dolls. As the books continue, we do get to see further growth from both Christian and Ana, but for Fifty Shades by itself, both characters were flat. <laughs at Noa>, I could see how you missed them.
Lil: How did you feel about the POV? Was the inner dialogue helpful to you as a reader or distracting from the story?
Day: My thoughts on Ana's inner dialogue? Annoying. Personally, I wanted to scream at her to shut up about her inner goddess. But that is just me.
Mona: My inner goddess kicked the crap out of her inner goddess….and her noisy subconscious, too. Just shut up and let me read.
Noa: Her inner goddess, her subconscious... I take it back, there were characters in 50 Shades, they were all in Ana's head.
Eowyn: I have to agree with the rest of you on the inner dialogue. I was so sick of her inner goddess! I wanted to scream at her inner goddess and it didn't even make sense to me the things her inner goddess would be doing. I mean really? I think inner dialogue can be helpful but in this book I wanted to scream at it.
BLVR: A-ha!!! I loved it! I really did! Those are the moments and devices that make literature great. A visual medium could not have done those moments justice. James chose a clever way to showcase her character's logic fighting with her libido.
Alli: I teeter-tottered between meh and annoyed with the inner dialogue. By the way, where's my inner goddess these days?
Any book that has food in the title tends to catch my eye almost immediately. A large slice of yellow cake coated in chocolate icing and topped with a single birthday candle graced the cover of this book and seemed to call to me from afar. But the title, strange as it may be, was ultimately what caused me to take it home from the library—The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. After reading the book synopsis, I couldn’t wait to take this novel home and get started on reading. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.
On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein obtains a very unique ability—she is able to taste the emotions of the person who prepares her food. It begins with her mother’s lemon cake with chocolate icing, a cake that leaves Rose feeling empty and sad. Her brother thinks that she is crazy and his best friend continues to help her experiment with taste testing sessions throughout the restaurants in greater Los Angeles.
Over time she grows and her ability grows with her, becoming part of her until she decides that she will only eat food from vending machines and prepackaged meals. Her senses are so heightened that she is able to break down the ingredients into the regions that they came from. Forced to endure the speculation of her brother, her unrequited love for his best friend, her mother’s life outside of their home, and her father’s distant demeanor, Rose must harness her abilities while keeping the secrets that every bite of food reveals to her.
While there are many intriguing aspects of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I found it to be an unsatisfying read as a whole. There were several aspects of this novel that were quite enjoyable (the humor, the setting, Rose’s point of view, and the quirkiness of the plot) but as a whole it left me feeling like the lemon chocolate cake that Rose’s mother made—unfulfilled. Of all the characters I found Rose to be the only likeable one. The language and grammar utilized by the author makes this book a little difficult to read, it simply does not have a steady flow that keeps you turning page after page. The concept of the book was brilliant, but the execution left much to be desired. Three quarters of the way through the book the storyline takes an unexpected turn and veers into the truly bizarre and unexplained. The book ends with many unresolved issues and unanswered questions which, again, leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled and, in a way, cheated.(less)
Noa: I have to admit before beginning this review that I did not read the first book in the new Smythe-Smith quartet series. I do know who the Smythe-Smith’s are… I loved reading about the annual musicales in the Bridgerton series, and I always felt awful for those poor girls with their lack of musical talent, I was really looking forward to reading a series that focused on them. Sadly, I think my growing TBR pile made me miss out on Just Like Heaven. So I’m really happy I got a chance to review A Night Like This…
Kitt, I know you are a major Bridgerton fan, did you read Just Like Heaven, were you looking forward to the next installment?
Kitt: Like you, I totally missed its debut! I had no idea that Just Like Heaven even existed. I don’t know what happened, because like you mentioned, I’m a huge Bridgerton fan (you can read my review of the series here) and was really looking forward to a series from the Smythe-Smith family point-of-view.
It’s unfortunate that we both failed to read Just Like Heaven, though, because it appears we missed out on quite a bit. Apparently when A Night Like This starts, it’s in the midst of Just Like Heaven’s ending and we’re seeing a major scene from two new, different points-of-view.
Noa: True Kitt, but I do have to add, while the first chapter does involve scenes from Just Like Heaven – the rest of the book does stand on its own. Do you agree?
Kitt: Oh totally! Besides feeling a little pang of regret for not reading the first – you know how obsessive I am about reading a series in order – I had no trouble following the characters or the story.
Noa: So, what do we have in A Night Like This? One governess for the Pleinsworth cousins of the Smythe-Smith family, one prodigal son returning after years abroad, an awful musicale and almost immediate attraction… Kitt, what do you think of the book’s main characters?
Kitt: I completely adored them both! Daniel Smythe-Smith is the eldest son, Earl of Winstead, Viscount Streathermore, Baron Touchton of Stoke – my word, the names! – and he has just returned home to England after three years of forced exile do to a drunken night between friends wherein he accidentally shot a Marquess son. When we first meet him, he seems young and frivolous, but the years abroad change him. His focus has found new avenues, family means more to him, and he’s taking his responsibilities more seriously now. The way he goes about catching Miss Wynter is completely swoon worthy. From the very first moment he lays eyes on her, he has to have her and what made me the happiest is that he never strays away or falters in his determination.
Miss Anne Wynter has a huge secret that keeps her at arm’s length even more so than the average governess. Her past is truly heart-wrenching, but it’s made her stronger and more resilient for it. I like her playful and witty attitude along with how she fights instead acting like a swooning debutante. It did surprise me, though, that she wasn’t more wary of Daniel’s intentions when she finds herself once again in a similar predicament regardless of his perseverance. What did you think of the Earl of Winstead and Miss Wynter?
Noa: I really liked Ms. Wynter, like you said, she fights back and doesn’t just lie down and take things. I also like that Julia Quinn put her in a happy household rather than many books where the stories have a Cinderella feel. Though, I guess she did have her share of bad positions, both as companion and governess in previous homes she worked in.
As for Daniel, I thought he was lovely – a perfectly upstanding young man who is a good brother, a loving son and cousin and who, like you said, realizes he has responsibilities.
So, what was the problem you might ask? It did reach a point where I felt Daniel was acting less than honorable. She’s a governess…he has to realize the problems. His cousin warns him, his aunt warns him…and what does he do? Ignore them. I really found myself disliking him at one point in the book. Especially knowing what we come to learn about Ms Wynter. And like you Kitt, I felt Ms. Wynter should have been a bit more wary of Daniel. I guess what I’m saying is – I needed a bit more story in order to believe that the romance was real and not just a member of the aristocracy trying to seduce the help.
Kitt: I’m totally going to have to agree with you, I’m not the hugest fan of cross-class coupling myself. It seems highly unfair to the poor party – which is usually the woman – that the gentry has even more power over them – which is almost always the man. Not to mention, I really don’t see this as something that would have actually taken place. I will give Miss Anne Wynter some credit though. She’s a governess which holds a significant higher position than the maid.
Noa: I agree, though there have been books where I really enjoyed it, I just felt that in this case their meeting and everything that followed was a bit rushed. I needed “more” to happen between them for it to be believable. What do you think?
Kitt: Actually, I didn’t get the feeling of it being rushed at all, but yet I do still see what you mean. I think it would have helped considerably to see just a little more intimacy between the two of them in some form or another – and not just in the smexing department.
Noa: Lol! The smexing was nice ;) I think Julia Quinn excels at writing a humorous love story, and A Night Like This delivered in that department. It just needed that extra “something”.
Kitt: The smexing was nice. But it seems to me, though, that I enjoyed A Night Like This a smidgeon more than you did. Overall, I thought it was a good showing from Ms. Quinn. I like her style and the humor she adds to each of her stories. She continues to demonstrate why readers flock to her books. I ended up reading A Night Like This in one afternoon and it has me eagerly rushing to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven.
Noa: Oh, I did enjoy it Kitt, and like you, I really wanted to find out what I missed in Just Like Heaven, but I can’t say this was my favorite Julia Quinn book. She writes such fantastic heroes (and heroines) and Daniel just had a tough act to follow. Of course, I’m now dying to know what happens next… who will the next Smythe-Smith heroine be? ;)(less)
I’m going to tell you right up front that I almost didn’t read this book because the ARC I had was missing chunks of the story and it was frustrating to try to piece it together. I’m so glad I gave it another shot, though, because it was so good I didn’t want it to end. Once I got past the first couple of missing sentences or paragraphs, I was able to glean enough from what I’d read to piece the rest of it together.
The cover blurb tells it all, but without the spirit and fire and emotion that’s woven throughout. Charlotte is determined to rescue her father with or without help. It’s just dumb luck that she ends up at Bryce’s feet…with a clear view of what’s under his kilt.
Thinking she’s a boy, he rescues her from getting arrested and now she’s his property. Laboring under the assumption that she is a he, Bryce is determined to make a decent man out of her. Charlotte/Charles is more than up for the task and can outdraw most men with her bow. Together, they make a formidable team, teaching each other valuable life lessons.
When she’s finally outed as a girl, Bryce is shocked then goes into macho protective mode, which is ridiculous considering she’s saved his hide more than once. She refuses to be intimidated into dropping her father’s rescue attempt, and eventually leaves Bryce behind. But like any hardheaded man in love, Bryce follows her.
A touching, funny ruse that morphs into a love story, A Warrior’s Promise will satisfy the historical and the contemporary romance reader. Plenty of action keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, and the solid bond of trust that develops between Charlotte/Charles and Bryce is the basis for the love that transpires later. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.(less)
A Blood Seduction hooked me right from the start with a different twist on the whole vampire trope, and I couldn’t put it down.
The protagonist, Quinn Lennox, knows she’s different, but after her mother dies and her father remarries she suddenly becomes an outsider in her own home.
When her baby brother comes along, she’s supposed to stay away from him so of course, she makes him the focus of all her love and attention. Years later when his girlfriend vanishes, Quinn is determined to help him find her, and in the process, the two of them embark on a terrifying journey through a strange dimension filled with vampires.
I’m fascinated by the different breed of vamps that populate the pages, especially Arturo, but I doubt he can be trusted. He appears to develop real feelings for Quinn, but then does or says something that negates them, and I’m right back to square one. Do I trust him or not?
Some of the horrendous acts performed on the humans were hard to read, but since the vamps feed on pain or fear, the acts fuel the progression of Quinn’s attachment to Arturo. By the last chapter, I was convinced Arturo really loved her only to have that certainty blasted out of the water. Now I’m on the fence and don’t know which way to turn.
The world building is wonderful, and I could visualize it as I read. The vamp hierarchy is interesting and contributed to my on/off appreciation of Arturo. Since few truly care for her, Quinn is fiercely protective of those she loves, and that could end up becoming her strength or her weakness. I’m curious to see how that plays out.
Yes, it was a bloody, violent, emotional book—that’s what made the vampire world so horrifying to imagine. It also gave Quinn a reason to fight back, and I can see where her ability to discover and hone her own talents will make or break future events.
Minor spoilers, possible... I've actually searched the internet on how best to describe Pamela Palmer's A Blood Seduction. Some refer to it as a paranormal romance, others as urban fantasy romance, others still as dark urban fantasy romance, but let me make this clear: A Blood Seduction is not a romance. Far from it, in fact. I personally think it would be best described as a horror.
Quinn Lennox, along with her half-brother Zack, fall down the "rabbit hole" into a parallel universe of Washington, D.C. circa 1870, aptly named Washington, V.C. or Vamp City. Everything in this alternate reality is exactly as it would have been back then except in disrepair... and filled with blood thirsty fiends. Though, it's not just neglect ripping this city apart, the magic holding it together is breaking down and letting the human world seep through its cracks bringing with it sunlight to brighten a world in perpetual darkness. After Quinn gets captured by Arturo shortly after her arrival, he soon discovers a secret about her that he hopes will save his world from being destroyed.
I have to hand it to Ms. Palmer, from the very first page, I was sucked into her world, compelled to keep reading even though every part of me was screaming for me to stop. Her world is harsh, violent, sickening and terrifying. I don't think I ever enjoyed one moment. Her vampires are the epitome of terror. Not only do they feed on blood, but the majority feed on pain, fear, and pleasure. After years of honing their skill, most take just as much delight in the chilling acts that they perform as the release given to them by it.
To feed, the vampires make slaves of the poor souls that they stole before their magic started failing or ones unlucky enough to fall through one of the many wholes between the two worlds that have now started popping up all over Vamp City. These humans are nothing more than cattle, no, lower if that's possible, rats to them. They think because they glamour them, nothing they can do will affect them, but most of what we see through Quinn's eyes.. you just can't come back from that. I found in some places it was hard to keep the nausea from rolling up at the things being described - This is definitely not one for the faint of heart.
It’s hard when reading a book not to look for that ray of light. That small glimmer of hope. You want, or need, a reason to fight, but in Vamp City, it isn’t just crushed, it’s obliterated. The vamps are so strong and adept that it magnifies how powerless the naïve and directionless Quinn is throughout the whole book, how she fumbles her way through, never making plans, and always relying on others to save her. To make matters worse, I found myself silently screaming at her repeatedly for making the same mistakes over and over and over and over – like with Arturo.
Normally, I root for the anti-hero. He has always been my favorite. Is he good or bad? Can he be saved? Never before have I ever wished so much for a heroine to grow a pair and kill the hero. This is a first for me. Arturo has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Every time Quinn starts to trust him, he shows her another reason why she shouldn’t have. He’s a snake, a liar, playing on Quinn’s vulnerably and loneliness. The crux is she knows this! But lets him continue to get close to her so he can do it again all because of the burning desire that rears up every time she gets close to him! Sex? Or survival? Sex? Or survival? Hmmm… I pick survival, but that’s just me.
A friend of ours described A Blood Seduction perfect for me – it polarizes the reader. On one hand, this book will have you ranting and raving, shocked and appalled, or just plain irritated by the shear helplessness. On the other, Ms. Palmer seduced me, kept me reading, and fighting for Quinn. Her world building was fantastic and her writing keeps you in abject horror, but you’ll continue to read until that very last page. I think fans of Laurell K. Hamilton will find it to be a perfect fit, especially those intrigued by Queen Andais like myself. I’ll be reading the next in Pamela Palmer’s Vamp City series.(less)
Africa has always been a bit of a literary mystery to me – Out of Africa is my guide, which is just wrong when you think about it. Nina Darnton’s Suspense Thriller An African Affair was quite an eye opener. The author has herself lived in Africa in the 70s (two years of which she spent in the novel’s setting – Lagos Nigeria) and it is evident in every detail that she has done her research.
An African Affair was a fascinating and yet, disturbing read. Lindsay Cameron, a journalist stationed in Lagos is looking for a story – one that will expose the corruption of Nigerian President Michael Olumide’s regime, she realizes that any attempt to unmask the truth behind the lies fed to the media may lead to her never being able to step foot in Nigeria again – that is, if she’s allowed to leave. Yet she doesn’t give up.
When one political assassination is followed by another mysterious death – Lindsay finally has the lead she was looking for. But with the CIA, mercenaries, rebels and the regime itself involved, she’s heading down an increasingly dangerous path.
Nina Darnton’s detailed description of the day-to-day life of a journalist in Africa, the often haunting descriptions of what life is like in Nigeria for local residents and the diplomatic staff were insightful and brought the story to life.
The novel remained suspenseful throughout and other than one minor scene which felt a bit unrealistic when you look at the bigger picture (won’t spoil but it involved Lindsay and a very tidy escape) the book managed to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Darnton’s protagonist is depicted in a very realistic way, she is not perfect, she has her flaws, and yet she still manages to be likable. In fact, each of the characters is very well portrayed and no one comes out looking one dimensional.
Reading this book I felt the suffocating heat, the close environment, the fear, the excitement and the adrenalin pumping as if I was Lindsay.
Darnton’s novel is a spectacular debut and I for one will be very happy to read whatever she comes up with next.
On a side note, as someone who works in a newsroom, I loved the backstage look at a journalist’s life abroad – filing stories, trying to dictate stories via a broken phone line – It brought a smile to this reviewers’ face.(less)
I have to admit it took me a couple times to get into this book, but I blame since I’ve been on a Cat and Bones marathon and it was quite the switch from one genre to another. The final time I picked up this book I couldn’t remember why I had put it down in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed Cowboy Crazy.
The characters for me were full of what real people are: love, laughter, and contradictions. I love complex characters but I’m also drawn to people who know their minds. I liked Lane because he knew what he wanted straight away and poor Sarah who maybe, just maybe had enough baggage to keep her from finally letting go and loving someone. Stubborn women and the alpha cowboys who love them, I’ve always been a fan.
The backdrop of Cowboy Crazy isn’t something I’m overly familiar with but the way Kennedy made the town of Two Shot it’s own characters is a plus in my book. It gives the reader a complex landscape to explore as the characters interact and discover what they want out of life and love. Lane’s brother Eric Carrigan had me laughing, lusting, and scratching my head. I would love to see him get his own story where it’s get knocked down a peg or two by a cowgirl.
I’m not going to come out and say this is my favorite book of the year but I am glad I read it. There was chemistry between the Lane and Sarah and darn it if my husband didn’t find me squirming and completely enthralled more than once. I have to recommend a book that makes me laugh, groan, and talk out loud to the characters and Kennedy got me to do all three! In the end I kept myself up late so I could see how Lane and Sarah finally figured out how to be together and I’m not sorry I did. ;)(less)
Deirdre Griffin is a strong, intelligent woman feeling trapped in her brothers’ shadow. Deirdre has always felt that she was the wallflower in the family, the one that nobody sees. Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook is the story about what happens when she finally decides to forge her own path in search of her own identity. I had requested a review copy of this book because the aspect of discovering who you are later in life appealed to me and where I am in my life at the moment. I hung on every word and read the entire book in one sitting.
Wallflower in Bloom is about family and how we view ourselves in our family. The story investigates how it is hard to view our siblings as the adults they have become instead of the children or teenagers they used to be. The part that resonates with me the most is Deirdre’s realization that her life is not where she thought it would be and she must take charge now because only she can forge the life she wants. It is a bit frightening to step out and follow your dreams and as Deirdre begins to do so we are right there with her. My only disappointment was that the book seemed to end way before I was ready to put down the book. I wanted to know more about Deirdre’s growth and her family. I felt there could have been more character development and the story could have been longer.
Overall Wallflower in Bloom is a fantastic summer read and I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for an insightful, funny, light-hearted book to read on their summer vacation. (less)
When the author asked Paperback Dolls if we would review SEA Change by Karen White I immediately jumped on the opportunity based on the synopsis I couldn’t wait to read it and wow am I glad I did. It was by far one of the best books I have read in a while.
SEA CHANGE is a story of what it means to be a family. It’s a heartwarming story of how our families past affects our future and how misunderstood events in the past flavor the way we view ourselves today. White captivates with a story of love, betrayal and family secrets that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last page. We are immediately engrossed as the story of Ava in the present is mingled with the story of Pamela from the early 1800’s. Both stories are equally intriguing filled with the nuances of family and what it means to love as they follow a path finally converging into one. White builds the story from the perspective of a few a few different characters and I love how we get to see events from the perspective of Ava, her mother and grandmother as well as Pamela’s story from the past. Each voice weaves together seamlessly tugging at your heart.
I absolutely could not put this book down. It is a testament that love can last forever and the ties that bind a family. You will cherish every moment as Ava discovers herself and what true love means. I highly recommend this for your summer reading list; in fact I recommend you grab this book as soon as it comes out June 5th. You’ll be delighted that you did.(less)
In all my years of reading historical romance, I’ve never seen dyslexia addressed in any of them even though it probably existed then. I was surprised to see it surface here, but it was presented in a sympathetic manner making the character even more endearing.
Lord Blakeney (Blake) is cursed with what we now know as dyslexia, but during that particular time in history, he’s simply considered stupid. It’s hurtful to be ridiculed, but for a Duke’s son it’s even more so. How’s he supposed to command respect when people think he’s an idiot? Eventually he learns to read, but it’s a painfully slow process. He manages to get through school by paying a friend to do his homework, which leaves him susceptible to all sorts of nefarious plots.
Minerva is his complete opposite—serious and studious with no learning problems. Her parents encourage her to use her brain and form her own opinions…one of which happens to be that Blake is an idiot. She decides it’s bad enough to marry someone you don’t love, but to be saddled with an idiot is worse. Though she’s well educated, Minerva hasn’t learned much about compassion. Without taking the time to get to know Blake, she treats him like an imbecile and misses no opportunity to insult him. In return, he avoids showing any emotion around her, figuring if he doesn’t reveal weakness, there’s nothing for her to use against him.
After a while, I began to wonder if these two had any chance of making it at all, and I wanted to smack Minerva for being such a snooty, spoiled brat. I must admit, though, she did have some redeeming qualities, and I actually felt a little sorry for her when she thought Blake had a mistress.
When Blake’s father dies unexpectedly, he starts to depend on Minerva to keep the masses at bay long enough for him to mourn and take the reins of his father’s empire. Little by little, they come to realize there’s a spark between them that could flutter into a flame if given a chance. And they almost miss it.
This book had me fussing and fuming at Minerva for being an unfeeling, spoiled prima donna. Blake needed to trust someone, and in order to do so he had to let down his guard, but with her condescending attitude, it almost didn’t happen. It took some time for both of them to show character growth, but by the end of the book, I was a happy camper. (less)
Full disclosure! #1 – I tend to love books set in the South and most especially in South Carolina. #2 – I luvs me some ghost hunting! #3 – I am a big fan of Southern Gothic writing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern...
Amelia Grey, “The Cemetary Queen”, has been hired by The Daughters of Our Valiant Heroes to restore Thorngate Cemetery in the town of Asher Falls, SC. The Thorngate project gives Amelia the chance to leave behind her beloved Charleston and the memories of a recent break-up and haunting that have left her heart broken & insecure. A remote town located in the Upstate, Asher Falls is full of folklore and local secrets – the kind that no one wants to talk about. Before her project ends, Amelia will learn more about herself, the townsfolk, and just how far someone will go to preserve their legacy.
I am having a full on love/hate relationship with this book.
What I love:
THE KINGDOM is set in the Carolina Upstate. The premise that Amelia Grey can see ghosts. A creepy town full of locals who are mysterious and secretive. Several intriguing story lines that build in a really suspenseful way.
What I don’t love:
An un-believable premise about how the town came to ruin. An anti-climactic ending. Ghosts who don’t do much of anything.
Stevens has a gift for building suspense. She takes great care in creating detailed imagery and palpable tension in her scenes. In this series, her character, Amelia, can see ghosts and is deathly afraid of attracting them for fear of a creating a psychic bond which would leave her – drained? It seems as if the first book in the series actually gives one a more specific account of what happens if a ghost becomes interested in you but in The Kingdom my impression is that a ghost need only say “Boo” and our heroine would fall apart.
The Kingdom harkens back to great Southern writers like Faulkner especially ABSALOM, ABSALOM - whether by design or coincidence – I really do not know. In both cases a family patriarch, Pell Asher in THE KINGDOM, is willing to do anything to protect the family legacy. Asher has sold off a portion of the town to the government to build a reservoir and in the process cut the town off from the highway. Wait! What? This is so unlikely. No business person would ever agree to a deal like this. This became the second strike against the credibility of this story.
The reservoir is constructed by flooding a cemetery. Creepy! But the most we get out of this wonderful premise is a bunch of bell tolling. :-(
Much like ABSOLOM,ABSOLOM Asher’s sons find themselves trapped in their father’s dream of glory and part of its demise. As Asher’s personal fortune dwindles because of his terrible business decisions, his lust for heirs grows out of control.
Before the book is over, the reader will be introduced to troubled teens, psychics, shape changers, witches and mountain magic – oh – and a dog. Our fragile heroine spends most of the time telling us how wonderful she feels inside a cemetery, as long as it is on hallowed ground, because the ghosties can’t reach her there. Which is weird because I would expect to see ghosts in a cemetery not just randomly around town. This really threw me for a loop. When she is not in the cemetery, or hiding from ghosts, Amelia is trying to solve the mystery of a young woman who died under mysteries circumstances at Asher Falls.
I did not read book 1, THE RESTORER, and after speaking with other readers, my recommendation would be to read this series in order as the events in book 2 seem to build upon book 1. This might explain why I felt lost at times as to the significance of certain references. Most of all, I felt underwhelmed by the book. In an era where the paranormal is incredibly popular in mass culture and you can find a paranormal investigator or ghost whisperer on every cable channel, this book failed to deliver a real reason to be afraid of the dead. Instead – Stevens gives you many more reasons for being afraid of the living.
This book immediately made me think that Amelia Grey is a heroine from another era. I could easily see this book being set in the sixties or seventies and Amelia would easily fit in an Ira Levin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary... or David Seltzer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omen type novel. She is part of that class of paranormal heroines who laid the way for the kick butt ultra empowered heroines of today’s PNR/UF novels.(less)
Melissa McGuire’s a hard working news producer whose job seems to consist of keeping the cute, perky, nightly news anchor on time and out of hot water. Since her last job ended after a nasty breakup with the station manager in Los Angeles, she tells herself she’s satisfied with her current status. She might be happy, but her grandmother Nelly isn’t.
Nelly knows she doesn’t have much time left on this earth so she plans to make sure Melissa falls in love with a good man—someone who’ll look out for her once Nelly’s gone. And the best place to find a good man? A charity auction where the hunky, single firemen are auctioned off to the highest bidder. (Who among us hasn’t dreamed of the gorgeous men who grace calendars everywhere?) But after being burned by the last man she dared to love, Melissa isn’t about to fall into that trap.
Compared to other genres, I don’t read an inordinate amount of contemporary romance, but when I do, I want the story to grab me, the characters to live and breathe. The Fireman Who Loved Me does these things and does them well. I loved Nelly, the meddling grandmother, and the other firemen were great, too, but watching the antagonistic relationship between Melissa and Brody evolve was what made it all worthwhile. This is the stuff of daydreams.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without an ex-wife hovering in the wings, an old flame showing up, or other catastrophes dangling overhead ready to drop without notice. And just like in real life, Melissa and Brody almost let love slip away because of stubborn pride. Overall, a cozy, steamy, feel-good story you won’t want to miss.(less)
My fascination with Shirley Jackson began at the age of fifteen. My Sophomore English teacher, Miss Randall, created a lesson plan around Gothic literature. Reading tales such as How Much Land Does a Man Need and The Yellow Wallpaper filled my mind with horrific images that evoked the spirit of the writer and horror fan within me. But it wasn’t until we read Shirley Jackson’s gothic tale The Lottery that I learned what true terror meant.
Years later I remain in awe of Jackson’s work and was overjoyed to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Just when I thought that her work couldn’t be any more intriguing, this novel comes along and proves once again why Shirley Jackson is a master of Gothic Lit.
Sisters Merrikat and Constance Blackwood live a secluded life in the dingy old mansion. But after what happened to their family what choice do they have? Rumors swirl as reminders of Constance’s trial are beginning to resurface, the trial in which she was acquitted from poisoning the elder members of her family. The girls are happy living a secluded life with their uncle, the lone survivor of the poisoning. But when their cousin decides to pay a lengthy visit, strange and unfortunate things begin to happen, and Merricat must face some truths that have always remained unspoken.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously sinister tale that creeps into the depths of the reader’s soul. This novel grabs the reader at the very beginning and holds on tight until the very last sentence. With lovable and loathsome characters, this novel introduces readers to the world of the Blackwood family and opens a magical yet dark atmosphere through the eyes of Merricat. The plot is original, the characters are powerful, and the setting is one of the creepiest of all time. With such a fantastic melding of characters and events, We Have Always Lived in the Castle will surely make the hair on your arms stand on end.(less)
I love reading books about food, particularly books about baked goods. And when a fictitious book about food also contains recipes I’m pleased as punch to add it to be to-be-read list.
The Icing on the Cupcake is a tale of family, friends, heartache, mistakes, revenge, love, humor, and cupcakes. Each chapter ends with a different and intriguing cupcake recipe that really sends your appetite into overdrive.
With lovable and loathsome characters, vastly different settings, and recipe after recipe, Jennifer Ross not only paints a candid picture of the New York lifestyle but the Texas lifestyle as well.
Ansley is beside herself with grief. The love of her life, Parish, broke off their engagement because he claimed that she was too mean to like. Her dreams of becoming a Texas housewife have been shattered and she is left confused and in search for a new path to take in life. Her grandmother abandoned her mother and grandfather decades ago to move to New York, leaving Ansley’s mother broken and fragile. But Ansley decides to give her grandmother and New York a chance, hoping to discover a new way of life for herself and ultimately happiness.
Ansley befriends a southern belle named Dot and decides to use her life savings to open a cupcake bakery. Meanwhile, after the death of her husband, Ansley’s grandmother, Vivian, is in the middle of an IRS audit that not only reveals a sinister revenge plot against her but also the feelings that she is developing for Agent #1432 in the process. Can Ansley get her business up and running, save her grandmother from tax evasion charges, forget about Parish, and bring her mother and grandmother back together?
The Icing on the Cupcake is a cute read. Many of the characters are likable and the villains are loathsome. Jennifer Ross paints a quaint picture of Texas and a glitzy picture of New York through her writing. Each of the two settings brought something different and endearing to the novel.
With several recipes included and numerous mentions of food, The Icing on the Cupcake is sure to strike up an appetite for readers. Throughout the novel, the reader witnesses a change for the better in each of the main characters, bringing overall satisfaction to the reader by the end of the book. The plot was typical of its genre, but overall fun to read. (less)
Back in 2006 I was completing my first year of work at the city library. One day, as I was straightening the shelves, I noticed a very seductive looking cover. A candle and red smoke danced around the silhouette of a young lady with an arched back and flowing hair. I was intrigued. Little did I know that a grand love affair was about to be set in motion. The title of this book was Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur.
The Riley Jenson Guardian series introduced the world to characters like Riley and Rhoan, Quinn and Liander, and Dia and her adorable daughter Risa. Throughout the Guardian series little Risa demonstrates great power that readers just know will develop into full-blown greatness as she grows into adulthood.
The Dark Angels series is a spinoff of the Guardian series and follows the life and times of Risa, who is now an adult with great powers that she has learned to harness and use. The first book in this series is Darkness Unbound.
Risa Jones may be referred to as a half-breed by her peers, but she has the best of both worlds when it comes to powers. Her mother Dia is a genetically enhanced lab-created werewolf with psychic powers and her father is an Aedh, a being that appears to be an angel and aids in the transportation of souls to the afterlife. Risa has a touch of the psychic powers, the sex drive of the wolf, the ability to transform into invisible energy, the ability to walk the grey fields to seek out the dying, and the scariest of all—the ability to see the reapers.
While she would much rather focus on the business she runs with her friends Tao and Illianna, Risa is roped into searching the grey fields for the soul of a little girl in a coma. But what she finds there is beyond horrific. The little girl’s soul did not simply move on, it was ripped from her by an unknown creature.
But this is the least of her worries. A reaper is following her in an attempt to track down her father who has hellacious plans for the control of the gates to hell. Can Risa solve the mystery of the soul stealer and stop her father from wreaking havoc on both the grey fields and the world of the living?
Darkness Unbound is a wonderful introduction in the world of Risa Jones. This novel contained all the elements a reader desires in an Urban Fantasy novel. Action, suspense, terror, sex, love, humor, you name it. The plot is original and the characters are endearing. Old favorites from the Riley Jenson Guardian series make appearances. We bump into Riley, Quinn, Liander, Rhoan, and even Director Hunter.
This novel exceeded my expectations beyond belief. I was nervous to read a spinoff series since the Guardian series is one of my all-time favorites. But Keri Arthur did not let me down.
Darkness Unbound is so wonderful it manages to rival Full Moon Rising. Arthur’s writing style sucks the reader into the book, grabbing them in the first sentence of the book and holding on tightly until the last. Once again, Keri Arthur proves that she is one of the best in the world of Urban Fantasy writing.(less)
I’m always a little nervous when I read a new author. And when I say new, I mean to me, because let’s face it, there are simply too many great writers out there for even a book addict like me to have even scratched the surface. I sat down with Rules of Negotiation on a day when the house was clean, the kids were in school, and my wonderful husband was off hunting down lawn and pool supplies. I would have hours of uninterrupted reading time. And it’s a good thing, because I don’t think I would have noticed if dinner was burning.
RON was full of everything I love, a good dose of angst, a great love story, and a writer who knows how to deliver a story. I’ve recently hit a road bump with several writers and their continuity issues within one book. I’ve also run across finding a real disconnect with characters in several books. In more than a few I wanted to throttle the leads and tell them to find some new friends and family to hang with! In Rules of Negotiation we have characters that were likable, I want them to be together, I root for them! Brit is hot and adorable and sexy and smart. And hot. Hey did Imention hot? Tori got to me and not in a bad way. I was so happy to like a female lead this much again! I also enjoyed Betsy, Tori’s assistant. She was funny and straight forward but not in an annoying I-know-better-than-you way.
It’s that time of year to put our summer reading lists together and I highly recommend to all our readers to add Scott’s love story to their TBR! I ended up reading it twice and I have a good feeling I will again this summer. I’ll have to put a * next to the title though …..iced tea and a fan at the ready for some scenes because hot and steamy will be coming from the pages not just Mother Nature. (less)
Seriously, offering me a book where Steampunk meets Jack the Ripper? Are you kidding me? It’s like chocolate with peanut butter on top! Oh, the goodness! Darn, did I give it away to early? Sorry, I just couldn’t wait to say that I really loved this book. Now I can act in a more orderly fashion. In this steampunk debut by Karina Cooper we are introduced to orphan and heiress Cherry St. Croix (love the name!) who is caught between two worlds – London below the drift and London above the drift… yes, in this alternate universe London has been divided in to two levels- the original level which is considered below the drift and the new level – constructed to escape the ever growing fog, above the drift, where the more privileged dwell in a fog-free area.
While Cherry lives above the drift, in a house with her guardian (a man we see little of but of who Cherry is terrified) she works a collector (a kind of bounty hunter) below the drift, in the foggy depths of London’s less salubrious neighborhoods. I keep thinking how much can I give away without completely revealing the entire plot…so I’ll say this: Her childhood left her with an expensive habit, one she can only pay off by getting an additional income.
London above the drift is ruled by society, and Cherry is at its outskirts, not quite a pariah but very close. So she is incredibly surprised when she gets invited to one of the society events of the season. Where she meets Lord Compton, the prodigal son who has returned to the arms of his loving mother – one of society’s leading ladies who loathe Cherry…
Meanwhile, London below the drift is rules by the Midnight Menagerie… a circus filled with every kind of pleasure, for those who can pay the price; and if you can’t pay the price, they will make sure you pay. Using collectors if necessary. Here Micajah Hawke is the ringmaster for the menagerie…and well, lets just say this ringmaster can run rings around me any day. ;)
While attempting to collect her fee from the menagerie, Cherry runs into one of it’s lady’s of the night who wishes to hire her to look into the disappearance of some of the menagerie girls, found brutally murdered. Yes, the infamous leather apron (one of the names given to Jack the Ripper) and from here on in the pace of this story just increases. As Cherry tries to discover who leather apron is, and could he be a collector? She is also embroiled in other menagerie business, stumbles upon a connection with her dead parents and all while trying to be a proper society miss who has caught the interest of Lord Compton, a man she doesn’t mind being caught by.
In fact, my only problem with Tarnished is that I sometimes felt a bit lost. I was trying to both understand the incredible universe created by Ms. Cooper while piecing together the plots and characters. There was just so much going on here! Now, this is something I have often seen happen in first books in a series, so I understand why it was like this, I just really needed a little bit more insider information on the St. Croix Chronicles universe.
As for the characters themselves, they each jump off the pages and are so easy to picture in my head. Cherry is a very sympathetic character though she is most definitely not the type-cast heroine. Her past, her current problems, they all make for a page turning read. It looks like Ms. Cooper is setting Cherry up for a bit of a love (lust?) triangle and frankly, I know where my loyalties lie…. Did someone say Hawke?
Tarnished is an absolutely riveting series debut and a must read for steampunk lovers. I am truly looking forward to Gilded which is set to be released in December…In fact, I may go re-read Tarnished now in anticipation.(less)
This book made me insane. Oh, it was surely a happy ride and I’d stand in line to go again, but it was without a doubt pure, emotional insanity. I said, about the last book, that Stacia Kane had ridden me hard and put me away wet and it’s true here, too. I feel like the junkie, coming back for more after being wrung out so hard, but I just can’t get enough of this series. For a long time I thought book #3 in the series was my favorite but I do believe this one is now. It might go down as the book I most love to hate in the series, too. There was a lot of emotional dichotomy in this book for me, a lot of emotional extremes.
I’ve been standing up for Chess against the folks who knee-jerk react against her drug abuse since the beginning. I’ve encouraged people to see beyond her drug use to the person behind it. I have to own that I’m tired of her drug use and the self hatred and negative mind talk; and I just want to smack her, and shake her, and smack her again and scream in her face and tell her to grow the fuck up. I’m sick and tired of being patient with her and watching her hover on the border of self-destruction and the annihilation of those around her who care about her (even though she’s so fucking great she always manages to pull it out). There. I said it. I feel so much better. I feel like I need to be going to Al-Anon meetings over my love of Chess. My co-dependency has resurfaced and I am making excuses for a relationship whose chaos I would not tolerate in meat-life. In short, I am completely sucked in!
So, by now you’re thinking that this book is nothing but negative, right? I’ve made it sound as though it’s all bad and you don’t think you could possible stand to listen to Chess mind-fuck herself through it all? Well, Chasing Magic is hands-down the most romantic, most action-packed, and most thrilling of all the books in the already superb Downside series. If you opt out of this book just because I bitched about the stuff that’s driving me nuts with Chess then you’ll miss all the good stuff and there is so much of it that you’ll want to roll around in it like a cat in a patch of cat nip. When I say “good” I don’t necessarily mean “feel good” but it’s good never the less.
We’ve never seen Terrible quite so tender or so effusive. There are so many wonderful moments that if Terrible wasn’t on your romance top hits list before he will be after this book. He’s also never been quite so adamant about putting his foot down and laying down some boundaries while still respecting Chess’ right to choose, and I say “about damned time!”
We’ve never gotten quite so much insight into Bump. But I’ll let that unfold by itself.
I’ve always felt a dichotomy for Lex. I empathized with people who liked him and thought he was charming and cared about Chess and understood that he was not to be trusted, but thought that because he cared about Chess he should be cut some slack. Let me tell you that I read this book two months ago, I’ve had time for it to stew. When I read this book I decided that I didn’t just hate Lex, I loathed him. I waited to see if I would still hate him after it stewed for a while. I still hate him. You may not. I do. I didn’t hate him until this book, and that’s even after he again saved Chess’ life, and I hate him for a scene in this book that he spends with Chess – not for what he tries to do to Terrible (although that doesn’t put him on my fan-girl list, either).
Chess suffers a loss in this book that is very real and ongoing. It’s something that she’ll have to deal with on a regular basis and it’s poignant and, in my estimation, very telling about how strong she really is. It’s an extremely hurtful thing to her, but she rolls with it and finds a way to keep on keeping on even though it hurts. It’s the kind of hurt all of us can relate to in one way or another, I think.
As I write this I have no word about whether or not there will be any more books in this series. The last I heard there might be one more in the U.K. but there were no known plans for further publishing in the U.S. According to Goodreads the paperback and Kindle publishing is Del Rey and the ebook is Random House Publishing (in case you might like to write an email expressing your support) although I have not been able to further verify any of this so please don’t hold me or anyone else to that and I am certainly not suggesting an email writing campaign.
All I know is that Downsides Ghosts is one of my most favorite urban fantasy series. Even when I hate it, I love it and that’s a very difficult thing to get from me as I am not the sort of person who enjoys being teased. I will watch with baited breath hoping that Stacia Kane finds a way to continue publishing whether it be through conventional publishing methods or not. As long as there is more to read in this series I will be there with bells on to read it, particularly if it’s half as good as Chasing Magic.
And with one final shot let me now thank Stacia Kane personally for never having written a cliff hanger in this series. Few things make me feel more respected by an author and this is at the top of my all time favorites list.(less)