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....more
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?
FAIR GAME is the third book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. This series includes characters and thOriginally 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....more
Usually – I really love reading Kresley Cole’s books but, right now, I’m hating LOTHAIRE. Now all the ImmortalOriginally 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....more
I chose this book on a whim based solely on the title and quickly fell in love with it. McAfee has created a humorous homage to friendship, love and self acceptance centered around the main character, Graciela “Ace” Jones. Loud, loyal, and gregarious, Ace and her friends find themselves at crucial turning points in their lives.
Ace is stuck in a job she desperately hates and wonders if she has lost her one chance at happiness because of her pride & insecurity. Deeply in denial over her abusive marriage timid Chloe’s life is in shambles but her shame alienates her from her friends just when she needs them most. While worldly sophisticated Lilly is willing to sacrifice her own reputation to give another at chance at true love & happiness. Minor story lines round out the novel with humor and at times heartbreaking moments.
Set in Bugtussle, Mississippi,a small Southern town where most people stay from cradle to grave. Bugtussle feels genuinely like most small towns except for one crucial element towards the end of the book. That change is necessary to move the book forward but is so preposterous it breaks the spell McAfee had so convincingly laid.
Ace, Chloe and Lilly remind me of women I have met through the years. McAfee accurately and honestly taps into the unspoken rules of adult friendships – knowing when to respect a friend’s decision and when to intercede. Of course more often than not, Ace sees herself as a protective mama hen ready to rise to any challenge or perceived slight.
This book reminds me of a small town “Sex in the City” replete with drinks, gossip, sex and wild escapades! I can’t wait to read the follow-up, HAPPILY EVER MADDER when it comes out!...more
The Night Strangers is very much in the same tradition as such revered horror stories as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. Chip Linton is an airline pilot trying to rebuild his life after an emergency landing kills almost all his passengers and crew. His wife Emily decides a move to the bucolic town of Bethel in New England will be just the thing for rebuilding their little family and his battered psyche. Upon arrival The Linton’s are welcomed by the local community but most especially by a group of ardent gardeners who adopt them and the couple’s twins.
Nestling into their new home Emily is quickly able to find work with a local law firm while Chip takes on the duties of a stay at home dad. But it’s not long before Chip begins to feel that the Lintons are not alone in their new home. Emily begins to notice that all their new gardening friends are easily identified by the fact that they all have first names that belong to herbs and their passion for gardening is bordering on obsession. Before long, Emily realizes that Bethel is divided into two groups – The Herbalists and the rest of the town. And the rest of the town is in fear for their lives.
As Chip embarks on remodeling their new home, he is struck by the discovery of a door in the basement with 39 bolts. There were exactly 39 deaths related to his plane crash. Day by day, Chip becomes increasingly disturbed and we follow him on a journey through madness. It isn’t long before The Lintons are fearing for their survival and looking for an escape.
Bojalian’s story is somewhat timeless – it could be set in almost any decade. Young disenfranchised family suffers though a tragedy and tries to leave the past behind by settling down in a new place only to find that things in their new community may not be as wholesome as they seem. The story has that wonderful quality where everyone is in on the joke except for The Lintons. And while the premise is intriguing the pace occasionally lags during the moments where Chip is lost in his reveries. Bojalian plants several sub stories throughout the novel that are never fully explored and serve to add little to the story in fact they are distractions. I won’t go into details because I don’t wish to spoil the story for anyone. But most of all – I suppose I wasn’t fully convinced of the ease with which the nefarious Herbalist plot unfolds and that feeling nagged me throughout my reading.
Nonetheless, The Night Strangers, is a page turner and could easily be adapted for the big screen. Before long everyone will be saying, “Eat them – they’re vegan.”...more
Thomas “Veck” DelVecchio, Jr. has a chip on his shoulder. The newest detective on the Caldwell police force is also the son of a notorious serial killer. Eager to distance himself from his father’s gruesome reputation and firmly establish his own sense of worth, Veck has lived a solitary life of self loathing. His smoldering good looks have never left him at a loss for company but his insecurities have made it impossible for him to connect with anyone.
When Veck is found covered in blood at the scene of a vicious attack on a serial killer Veck is immediately pegged as the number one suspect. Officer Sophia Reilly, a by the book red headed bombshell, is assigned by Internal Affairs to investigate the attack and become Veck’s partner. Right from the start these two find themselves fighting their attraction to each other. Can they find the real culprit and exonerate Veck? Who is the mysterious Jim Heron who continues to show up with information about the attack and the serial killings? Will Veck and Reilly finally allow their passions to take over?
What a ride! Ward’s writing style is direct and aggressive. Her characters are in your face, challenging you to deny their brash intensity. ENVY is the third book in Ward’s Fallen Angels series which follows Jim Heron in his fight to save souls on the verge of being eternally damned. Heron is pitted against the demon lord, Devina, an Angelina Jolie look alike who will break all the rules to make sure she wins this contest. Compared to the previous two books in the series, ENVY is simpler and easier to follow. Both Heron and Devina have gotten the hang of the contest and it is great fun to read the psychological battles between the two.
The mystery surrounding Veck and his role as the chosen soul is fairly clear and doesn’t leave the reader in the dark. The animal attraction between Veck and Reilly comes to life in some super smexy love scenes that may leave you hot and bothered so don’t say I didn’t tell you! Ward throws in a few doozies but there are two sub plots I could easily have done without (can’t tell you because they are spoilers). And you can always count on Ward to give you the anti-heroine heroine (her specialty) – Reilly doesn’t wear make-up and is utterly unaware how attractive she is. A paragon of tighty whitey efficiency - literally – she is brainy but she can’t understand what super hunky Veck even sees in her. While Veck is so steeped in guilt and repentance for the sins of his father, Reilly’s straight arrow good girl rocks his socks off and leaves him totally inept and hopelessly flummoxed.
Take this PNR to bed with you and don’t be surprised if you find yourself racing through the book to read the smexy parts!...more
I’m hooked on Gena Showalter’s Lords of The Underworld series. The series describes the adventures of the immortal Lords of the Underworld, a group of warriors created by Zeus. Overcome by jealousy when Pandora is chosen to guard the box that imprisons all the worlds demons, the Lords kill Pandora and inadvertently set free all the demons upon the Earth. As punishment each Lord is sentenced to carry a demon within their body for all eternity. Now the Lords dedicate themselves to finding the mystical tools that will release them from their sentence.
The Darkest Surrender is the story of Strider, Keeper of Defeat. As Keeper of Defeat, Strider experiences debilitating pain whenever he is defeated. His demon seeks a challenge in even the most mundane of tasks. Incredibly handsome and overwhelmingly obnoxious, Strider will go to any length to keep from losing, especially when it comes to love.
Kaia Skyhawk is a beautiful harpy hopelessly in love with Strider. A mistake during the Harpy Games at the age of 14, has left Kaia ostracized by the harpy community and haunted by the ensuing tragedy. Countless decades have passed since that day and Kaia has sought to redeem herself in the eyes of her family but most especially her mother. When the Harpy Games are announced and Kaia receives a special invitation she is certain she can win and regain her status. But as the details of the event unfold, Kaia and Strider find themselves pitted against each other in the battle for the prize. Will Strider risk losing his heart to Kaia even if it means losing the only chance the Lords have to win their freedom?
The Lords of the Underworld series is a PNR set in modern day Budapest. The characters although hundreds or thousands of years old live in castles filled with video games, hip-hop music and state of the art surveillance equipment. Like a Black Ops outfit on steroids, the story is told in contemporary slang full of swagger and posturing – a never ending frat party. Showalter’s dialogue is fun! But behind all the bravado is a story of two people who are afraid of getting hurt and disappointed by love. It is painful to read the missteps and misunderstandings as Kaia and Strider awkwardly navigate the game of love. Showalter makes you believe that even immortals with centuries under their belts can still be made to feel insecure and sensitive when it comes to barring their hearts.
The Harpy Games add an exciting background to the love story. The challenges are bloody and gruesome and the villains are dastardly.
Showalter is the best friend who knows where all your skeletons are hidden and wants to help you find some more to put into the closet with them. This series is a fun over the top read that is full of action and and super smexy scenes. Give yourself a present – bring The Darkest Surrender home tonight along with a bottle of margaritas and get ready for some fun!...more
Greg Novak is the Pack Alpha in Detroit and heir to the pack council leader. Fianna Meadows is an exile from the Seelie Court and Greg’s responsibility. Someone is murdering werewolves in the Detroit area and the Novaks are next on the list.
Greg, his brother George, and his cousin Lana had formed their own pack upon reaching adulthood. They inherited a bar in Detroit, The New Moon, and have been quietly running their business while trying to stay out of werewolf politics. Fianna Meadows has been exiled from the Seelie Court after inadvertently taking part in a revolt against the Seelie queen. Stripped of her fairy powers, Fianna is sentenced to work and live as a human under Greg’s care. The last thing that Greg expected was to become attracted to Fianna and he is awash with guilt for having feelings for someone entrusted to his care. As the days pass and the attacks become personal, Greg and Fianna can no longer deny the passion between them.
If you love Alphas who are tall, dark and protective – then you will love Greg Novak. His shaggy bad boy rock star looks are at odds with his paternalistic code of honor for his friends and family. Fianna Meadows may be over 100 years old but she is completely out of her comfort zone in the human world and it is fun to watch her struggle with even the most mundane of tasks. Fianna’s blasse acceptance of sex as a natural part of life are a perfect match for Greg’s libido. Smexy shifter sex galore.
There are a few twists and turns as the mystery unfolds. But overall, the story is not subtle. Be ready for a few startling scenes towards the end of the book. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Motor City Wolf is a perfect choice for all those readers who love strong Alpha males and hot smexy love scenes....more
West has delivered a romantic thriller that strives to combine romantic love scenes with a grisly murder mystery. The story is interesting and engaging as we watch Wes struggle with his lack of police skills, his deep seated nostalgia for the town, and a torrid romance that has him physically and emotionally overwhelmed. As the story unfolds and more victims fall prey to the murderer, we feel Wes’s blinders begin to fall off as he attempts to comprehend the extent of the crime encompassing this small bucolic town. This story pays homage to novels like THE STEPFORD WIVESwith a town overrun with couples so happily in love for so many years; you start to wonder if there is something in the water.
My concerns with the novel center on a few basic issues. The novel is uneven in pace and often repetitive in language. The first 17 chapters could easily be consolidated into a much tighter package providing stronger world building for the novel. The protagonist, Wes is not the most intelligent of characters and seems to be the last one to realize what and who are behind these crimes. Several sub arcs are distracting and seem to lead nowhere including the news that Leah gave a daughter up for adoption 12 years earlier.
The story would benefit greatly from a strong foil to Wes’s good guy caught in the middle of something too big for him to handle. A town newspaper journalist or reporter would have been a great foil – asking questions, pointing out inconsistencies, and revealing town gossip that leads to breakthroughs in the case.
The murder scenes are bloody and the buildup of suspense is steady. The romantic relationship between Wes & Leah is not very developed so it didn’t grab me too strongly.
But the ending – the ending had me scratching my head for a few days; even inspiring a dinner conversation along the lines of – what would you do in their position?
ADDICTED TO LOVE is a romantic thriller perfectly suited to the reader who enjoys an easy going mystery that is not explicitly sexy....more
The novels of the Edge Series written by Ilona Andrews are works of paranormal romance filled with smart heroines, kooky characters, grueling fight scenes, charming heroes, and rich story telling covered in romantic goodness that will melt your heart and leave your brain feeling happy. The series takes place in a parallel world that exists just around the corner from our everyday world in dimensional planes that are imbued with varying degrees of magic.
The dimensional plane we live in is called “The Broken” since we mere mortals survive without any magic. The first dimension outside the broken is “The Edge”. Citizens of the Edge have varying degrees of magic in their DNA. The next dimension is “The Weird” and it is mostly populated by nobility who wield strong magical powers. But this parallel universe has a sense of balance that tends to keep everyone in check. Most members of The Broken have no knowledge that magic even exists and instead have modern technology. Most “Edgers” have enough magic to keep them out of the Broken while others have the ability to cross the barriers separating the dimensions. But the magical inhabitants of the Weird cannot enter into the Broken at all. Their magic is too powerful and the barrier between the planes would rip them apart. Members of the Weird can enter into the Edge but just like in real life, there exists a caste system of sorts – snobbery! Why no self-respecting noble or inhabitant of the Weird would ever be caught dead in the Edge! How ordinary and vulgar! But there is one other similarity to real life in this world building that is particularly of note – evil and greed are just as alive in a magical world as in an industrial one.
The first book in this series,
ON THE EDGE
, introduced us to this magical world.. It also introduced us to some of the most interesting characters in UF or PNR in ages. Jack the young changeling boy who can turn into a lynx, and George, the pre-teen necromancer with a heart so large he would rather die than see anyone suffer – and almost does. Other memorable characters live in the Edge including Zombie Grandpa, brave Rose, noble Declan and lonely but deadly William. The final battle scene at the end of this book is one of the most terrifying battle scenes I’ve ever read!!!! I was on pins and needles! And the formula was set! Each book would have a smart admirable heroine facing an impossible challenge; a brave and charming hero ready to come to the rescue; at least one if not a group of God awful terrifying villains; and a mix of supporting characters that remind me of The Beverly Hillbillies, Swamp People, The Hatfields, The McCoys, Cinderella, and characters from the X-men series, all combined!
Cerise, the heroine of
is my favorite from all three books. Her sense of humor had me laughing out loud. And my good Lord, her family, The Mars, is some sort of swamp people Addams Family! The fight scene in
did not disaapoint. Dear Lord – how do Andrew & Ilona come up with this stuff - cecause they look so nice and yet they write about these truly terrible fight scenes. Shudder! Makes you wonder what they see in the ink blot tests, ya know?
, the third installment in the series, takes place a few years later. Rose & Declan are happily married and living in the Weird. Jack & George are living the privileged life of Weird nobility with Rose & Declan as their guardians. Cerise & William have settled into domestic bliss and are enjoying the roles of doting aunt & uncle to Jack & George when they aren’t on spy missions for the Mirror. And the Mars family has successfully re-established itself down the way form Cerise & William. Tranquility! Well – not exactly. The savage battle in
has left a number of walking wounded including Kaldar Mars. Kaldar – with his “Dukes of Hazzard” charm, pretty boy looks, and con man ways is bent on avenging his family and killing as many members of the Hand as he can. Now a secret agent working for the Mirror, he has been called into action on a new mission which threatens to destroy the delicate balance keeping the world in check.
Jack and George have been trying to fit into their new lives in the Weird but the onset of puberty is bringing its own set of problems. Jack can’t seem to keep out of trouble and George is realizing his options are limited in regards to his future. Both boys struggle with the anti-Edge bigotry that surrounds them in the Weird and worry that they will be sent away.
Audrey Callahan is a beautiful grifter trying to go straight. Raised in a family of grifters in the Edge, her talents have always been a means to an end for her greedy and abusive family. As a teen Audrey is sold into slavery to a local drug lord and beaten to within an inch of her life. Managing to escape she disappears into the Broken to start a new life.
A powerful ancient artifact has been stolen and Kaldar is placed in charge of the recovery. All paths lead to Audrey and sparks begin to fly the moment these two grifters meet. They must pull off the biggest heist of their lives while keeping ahead of the Hand, The Hounds, and the Claws of Bast; and keeping two castaways safe. Can these two con artists open their hearts enough to fall genuinely in love or will the fear of having their hearts broken keep them lonely forever?
Kaldar made such a huge impression in
. He was the scoundrel uncle with the charming ways and no-good sexy looks which makes it is no surprise he gets his own book. And the best part is he gets to meet his match in a beautiful female con artist so wise to the game it’s a wonder she has managed to hold onto her heart. I really enjoyed reading the cons that Kaldar and Audrey pulled off including their hilarious first meeting. Watching them struggle to accept love with another grifter was very entertaining. But most of all – reading Kaldar’s insights into the cons he played in the past give me that fly on the wall access to a grifter’s mind.
Jack and George are always great! And it was such a wonderful surprise to have them show up in integral roles in
. Watching them develop and suffer with aspects of their natures really tugged at my heartstrings.
Overall – the book went along at a relatively slower pace compared to its predecessors but the element of danger and culminating fight scenes were exciting and over only too soon.
This series really delivers a punch! It is packed with drama and excitement. The Ilona Andrews team has a gift for world building and making each book better than the one before. These novels are subtly crafted and much like their Kate Daniels series, the first book only begins to set the tone for the rest of the series. I can’t wait for the fourth installment and I wonder what surprise Ilona Andrews have up their sleeves for us....more