Last year, Amanda Bonilla captivated me with the first in her Shaede Assassin series, her debut release Shaedes of Gray featuring cold hearted, damaged, and lonely Darian making my top 5 favorites for 2011. Now she’s back with her second, Blood Before Sunrise, and I have to say that I absolutely love this series!
I’m completely fascinated by the world Ms. Bonilla has created. Set in Seattle, Fae, Shaedes (creatures of shadows), Lyhtans (creatures of light) Djinns and Oracles all try to coexist with the human populous – and other unknown beasties – in a convoluted and elaborate world in which no one seems to know how to share knowledge, tell the truth or say things outside of riddles.
Darian is a Shaede, able to switch between blending in with the night and her corporeal form. An assassin by trade and mistreated for most of her life, I can understand her standoffish detachment, but it’s her haughtiness that throws me and has me screaming at her from page to page. Darian isn’t a TSTL character by any means, but her arrogance leads her and, more often than not, drags her farther and farther down the wrong path.
It’s this arrogance that propels her in Blood Before Sunrise. After a passing word from the desperate Delilah to save her own skin, Darian becomes obsessed with finding her friend and mentors missing daughter, Brakae. Like many times before, Darian’s assumptions and inability to trust her new found friendships lands her in situations that are far more than she can handle and costs her more than she can bear.
Not a single word or scene is wasted, and the payoff at the end is well worth the journey in this fast-paced mystery-driven plot. With fascinating characters and awesome world building, Blood Before Sunrise is exactly what urban fantasy was meant to be. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Darian when Crave the Darkness hits shelves next year.(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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
In this debut post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel from the incredibly talented actress/screenwriter/lyricist/si...moreOriginally posted at Paperback Dolls.com
In this debut post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel from the incredibly talented actress/screenwriter/lyricist/singer/author, Emmy Laybourne, we are introduced to a group of kids and teenagers (ages 5-18) who are trapped in a superstore while civilization collapses outside the gates. Despite the fact that they have a fairly decent shelter that provides basic needs, they soon discover that the thing they need and desire more than anything else is their parents and comfortable homes.
The more time that passes as the kids are waiting to be rescued inside the store the more things begin to change outside. When a chemical is released into the air, people’s personalities begin to change based on their specific blood type. Things escalate in a heartbreaking scene that pins brother against brother and children are hurt by the hands of other children.
MONUMENT 14 is an emotional book that examines various personality traits in a survival situation. Think LORD OF THE FLIES meets LOST only set inside a Wal-mart style supercenter that provides essentials and shelter and then add some science-fiction elements and you’ll get a good idea of how the story flows. I admit, this wasn’t what I expected and that being said, I’m not sure now what exactly I had been anticipating, but I liked the book and couldn’t stop reading it despite the few slow moments and times that I knew what was coming next. I think Laybourne’s history as an actress and screenwriter helped her character development and aided in creating a story that seemed to play like scenes from a film in my head.
Emmy Laybourne has written a new series that is entertaining but definitely not for those sensitive to obscene language (blasphemy), sexual situations, and violence or opposed to cliffhanger endings.
Jennifer Estep has done it again with yet another fun and addicting read that appeals to my inner 15 year old....moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Jennifer Estep has done it again with yet another fun and addicting read that appeals to my inner 15 year old. With more action and development, DARK FROST is incredibly entertaining and page turning story that is even better than it’s predecessors.
DARK FROST is well titled as it’s definitely the “darkest” book in Estep’s Mythos Academy series to date. With battles taking place inside the academy and students coming to their ends at the hands of the Reapers, there is more of a serious tone to this book from the very beginning. That tone is reiterated in Gwen’s inner dialog and allows readers to really see her growth and development especially when she is left feeling more isolated and alone due to a very interesting twist. This isolation causes Gwen to question her abilities and opens the door to revelations about herself and her family.
Despite the bleakness of the situations the characters face, there are a few of what I would consider “cheesy” lines that lightened the darkness. I found myself laughing out loud while reading and I was told that I had a goofy grin across my face at times. But, what can I say? The Mythos Academy books are a guilty pleasure, and one I don’t take too seriously. I just enjoy them for what they are and look forward to each new installment.
I think fans of P.C Cast’s HoN books will really enjoy this series because it has the same teenage angst and drama set in a world with mythology and supernatural powers, but unlike House of Night, these books have some depth and resolution and don’t those have pesky cliffhangers every…single…Book. ;)(less)
In this exciting debut novel by Leigh Bardugo, readers are introduced to a magical Russian inspired setting ful...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
In this exciting debut novel by Leigh Bardugo, readers are introduced to a magical Russian inspired setting full of remarkable characters, creatures, and a truly unique world that I found utterly captivating.
Alina grew up as an orphan placed in a residence that served as an orphanage with another orphaned boy, Mal. Growing up together the two children form a close bond and follow each other into the military. Always exceedingly ordinary, Alina becomes a map maker and Mal excels at tracking. When they attempt to cross a dangerous area known as the Fold, Alina taps into a power that she never knew existed in order to protect herself and Mal.
With a new and powerful ability brought to everyone’s attention, Alina is whisked away by the magical elite order called Grisha and their mysteriously sexy leader known as The Darkling to begin her official training. Although Alina misses Mal, she is captivated by The Darkling and his mysterious ways. As their attraction grows so does Alina’s comfort in her knew surroundings until new discoveries are made that force Alina to make some decisions that she never dreamed she’d be in the position to make . . .
Leigh Bardugo blew me away, I couldn’t put SHADOW & BONE down. With all the amazing characters and world building, this is a truly intelligent book that will leave readers enthralled from cover to cover in it’s fantasies. It isn’t often that side characters are as detailed and interesting as the main characters or that a plot surprises in all the right ways, but SHADOW & BONE is an exceptional debut that did just that and more! I am already waiting on pins and needles for the next installment and will definitely add this author to my “must read” list.(less)
Imaginative world building, unlikely allies, and the hint of a love story keep this novel moving at a brisk pac...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Imaginative world building, unlikely allies, and the hint of a love story keep this novel moving at a brisk pace. Sydney’s rough around the edges and hovers just outside of respectability, and her on again-off again lover, Zared, makes the reader wonder if he’s to be trusted.
Arrested for stealing from a Guild official, she’s sentenced to hang, but at the last minute, she’s taken to the edge of the forest and tied to the Wizard Tree where, in years past, scores of Tuatha were put to death. She’s rescued by a wizard named Oryn and taken to his castle to meet his granddaughter Vadnae, a knight named Gregor, and Brother Erik, the monk.
This unlikely foursome sets out to defeat the Guild and bring Willem, the bastard heir apparent, to the throne. But the Guild has a terrifying enforcer named Schrammig who is determined to see Sydney hang, and cuts a swath of destruction everywhere he goes.
As they elude Schrammig, a connection between Sydney and Willem develops and grows. She can help him in ways the others cannot, and it’s up to her to get him safely through the underground tunnels in order to fulfill his destiny.
While I enjoyed the story, there were times it needed a little more tension. Sydney’s showdown with Shrammig needed a smidge more intensity, because during that final confrontation, I wondered how she subdued him with a few well-placed kicks to the body. All in all, it was an entertaining read, and I feel that as Ms. Young-Turner pushes past her comfort zone her writing will sparkle. On the plus side for many of you….it didn’t end with a cliffhanger.(less)
Jessica McClain: Blooded is Amanda Carlson’s first offering in the urban fantasy genre. In this very short nove...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Jessica McClain: Blooded is Amanda Carlson’s first offering in the urban fantasy genre. In this very short novella, only about 50 pages, we’re introduced to the world of Jessica McClain and her fight for survival in a pack that will no longer tolerate her existence. As the first female, and human, born to a race of werewolves where bloodlines are only passed down through the males, Jessica is an anomaly that breathes truth into an old myth of the Daughter of Cain bringing fear, panic, and rage to the pack that her father, the Alpha, can no longer control.
In this prequel to Jessica McClain series, Ms. Carlson brings to the table a strong, witty heroine who will go to lengths to ensure her own survival and a premise that promises to be enormously entertaining. If Blooded is just a taste of what is to come, than I for one am eagerly awaiting Full Blooded when it hit shelves this September.(less)
My heart is completely broken and I feel slightly sick to my stomach now.
I’ll be honest with you. This review is going to be breif, because I only made it 40 pages before I couldn’t go any further, but I’ll tell you what I know up until that point. I want to warn you though, if you have no desire to see any spoilers, I would stop now.
Bloodright is the second in author Karin Tabke’s Blood Moon Rising Trilogy and I was so looking forward to enjoying another hot and steamy yet fully enriched story by one of my quickly becoming auto buy authors. I had everything – my favorite comfy seat, my cool beverage, and my tasty little snack for later – then tragedy strikes in the first chapter.
Bloodright picks up exactly where Blood Law’s cliff-hanger dropped off. All hell has broken loose after the council’s verdict that either Lucien can take Falon as his one true mate or leave her to Rafe and choose another. Lucien chooses his Bloodright, not for a love of Falon, but only to torture his brother more for his treachery at slaying his own chosen.
Falon is so in love with Rafe and hates Lucien so much that she would rather shoot herself than to go with him. She finds him selfish, mean, callous, and insensitive and quite frankly, so do I. By the time Lucien gets her to his lair; she’s hurt and bleeding badly. It takes five days for her to heal, but for Falon, everything has just happened when she wakes up from her much needed recovery.
Karin is very good at what she does and that’s why I loved reading her work so much. She has me right there with Falon in her distrust, disgust and her broken heart. I feel her pain and her lost.
That’s why it isn’t a shock for me that when Lucien comes for her, she rails against him, fights him tooth and nail, tares at his flesh and shreds his skin.
The shock comes at his actions and her switch in mental voice because of it. I don’t care what “inarguable call of her blood to his” is happening or that they aren’t like us with animalistic instincts. I don’t care that her body betrayed her.
At no time is ok for a man to force himself on a woman.
For me this is NEVER hot, sexy or romantic, but it has come to my attention that there are some women out there who may enjoy this type of fantasy or can overlook it. I, however, am not one of them. I will not be reading Blood Vow when it releases this December.(less)
Ripper is another book I found while looking for books to review for Paperback Dolls.
While the description drew me in the novel kept me reading. It did keep me reading, though I did stop so for sleep (at a reasonable hour). I finished reading Ripper in a day. Ripper had everything mystery, history, the supernatural, the Romantics with the added bonus of The Pre-Raphaelites. What more could a pre-law/English major ask for?
Ripper is a young adult novel centered on a large cast of doctors. The main character is a seventeen year old female named Arabella “Abbie” Sharp. She’s the granddaughter to Lady Westfield and Abbie has come to live with her after the death of her mother Caroline Westfield Sharp. She moves to London in 1888, to live with a woman she’s never met. Abbie is a little rough around the edges and her grandmother wants her to become a proper lady. Abbie, has different plans. She’s an adventurous young woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty or get into trouble. However that being said she doesn’t like the continuances after she’s done something grandmother deems unlady like or that would mess with way Westfield’s status. As you may have guessed Abbie doesn’t like the lectures her grandmother gives her, and she’s always expecting to be thrown out. No she’s not always in trouble but she likes to do things her way which her grandmother (and others) wants to object too.
You may wonder why, after what I’ve told you, that I liked Ripper. It’s because it has mystery and a little magic. Both of which I love. Here’s the other reason it has history which is something my dad and I loved to discuss. As I’m sure you caught the history portion has to deal with the most famous murderer of all time… Jack the Ripper. Yes, I was stoked, I have three or four Jack the Ripper books as it is. They hit on all of my “callings” (legal and English). However Ripper is on a different level than most Jack the Ripper stories, where most look at the true history of Jack and or who he might have been Ripper has a new point of view. The premise was great, Abbie is sent by her grandmother to help out down in the East End specifically Whitechapel, at the Whitechapel Women’s Hospital, for a week. Lady Westfield thought this would help make Abbie, see her evil ways and the experience would put her on the right track for becoming the “proper lady” Lady Westfield wanted her to be. It backfires. Abbie loves working at the hospital with the doctors and being able to help those less fortunate than she. The longer Abbie works at Whitechapel Hospital and with the doctors there she decides she wants to become a doctor as well. Something Lady Westfield is not going to approve of. Though Abbie does have the approval of the three doctors she’s working with, Dr. Bartlett, Dr. Simon St. John and Dr. William Siddal. When the murders start it’s the doctors (Abbies friends) at Whitechapel who become the suspects. Why you may ask? It’s because of the brutality and the fine craving skills of Jack the Ripper. Skills only doctors would have the training for, or so Scotland Yard thinks. At this time, almost to the day when Abbie starts working at the hospital, roughly two and an half to three months after her mother’s passing, Abbie gains her mother’s gift of visions. Though I don’t think Abbie would call it a gift, she starts seeing the murders take place.
There are many twist and turns as Abbie tries to work her visions to save the women that she cares for. She also wants to true killer whoever that maybe to be brought to justice, so her friends will be left alone, especially Simon and William. To do that she must follow her instincts and use her visions to prove her friends aren’t Jack the Ripper. The only problem, she may not be ready for the answers she seeks, or the family secrets she will learn. They may haunt her, and closure may not come. Especially since Jack wants her as well.
I would be tickled pink if Amy Carol Reeves came out with a second book. I don’t think Abbie or the Whitechapel doctors have told their full story. The one thing that I wasn’t sure about for this book was if the voice (language) was the correct for this time I would gladly join their journey again. Amy Carol Reeves did a wonderful job of drawling me in and keeping me with Abbie the whole time… I can’t want to see what comes next.(less)
I’m pretty sure my squees of excitement could be heard blocks away at the invite sitting prettily there in my i...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
I’m pretty sure my squees of excitement could be heard blocks away at the invite sitting prettily there in my inbox. I actually had no idea that there was a story in the works from Jocelynn Drake, but I’m so glad to have been selected to read an early copy, because quite frankly, I’ve been missing this series something fierce since it’s ending in Burn the Night last year.
For those of you who don’t know, Bound to Me is a short novella of only 100 pages set a couple centuries before Mira’s adventures in the Dark Days series. Available only in ebook from HarperCollins, fans will get one more look back into the past of the Fire Starter.
Finally, we get to see just what it was about one of my favorite sub-characters. I always wondered just what it was that kept Mira looking so fondly towards Valerio, besides his smoking good looks. Caught up in a love affair, Mira travels with Valerio to track down her own kind, among others, and deliver death as the enforcer for the Coven. Though, this arrangement is not without its entertainment as the pair of them travel throughout Europe leaving death in their wake.
In this short, Valerio and Mira go to the home of her maker Sadira, Madrid, to track down a Warlock murdering vampires, but while they’re there, Mira uncovers the real truth behind the Covens request.
Appealing to both new comers to the Dark Days series and longtime readers alike, Bound to Me, is a perfect addition to the rich world Jocelynn Drake has created. While I was both completely heart broken and thrilled that Ms. Drake ended the series when she did, I must admit that visiting Mira again has been nothing less than fabulous.
ETA: Bound to Me will becoming to paperback May 1, 2012: Amazon(less)
Mo (Mouse) Fitzgerald is still adjusting to life without her best friend Verity and the knowledge learned from...moreOriginally posted at PaperbackDolls.com
Mo (Mouse) Fitzgerald is still adjusting to life without her best friend Verity and the knowledge learned from the events in Torn, including her new role in a supernatural world she never knew existed. As if that wasn’t enough…Mo has her own personal family drama going on that has nothing to do with Supernaturals and everything to do with organized crime and family secrets.
TANGLED picks up shortly after the end of TORN. Mo managed to help stabilize things for the the Magical community and took over Verity’s role as the vessel and in now tied to Luc, and though she can admit that the boy has charm and definite appeal, in the back of her mind she still thinks that he is only interested in her because of the prophecy. Collin, Mo’s appointed bodyguard provided for her by her Mob uncle, is still guarding her and despite their mutual attraction Collin continues to push her away and remains highly guarded emotionally.
I know what you’re thinking “UGH! Another love triangle?! Stab me!”. Normally I would agree with you, but this love triangle doesn’t bother me that much. Whenever I am reading scenes with one love interest I am totally into that character and then the next chapter I am reading about the other guy and I am thinking he is the one! With a love triangle with two equally likable guys, what’s not to enjoy?
There are lots of new developments in this book including an unlikely “friend” that shows interest in helping Mo and the family dynamic is really shaken up when Mo’s mother begins making preparations for her father’s release from prison.
The real theme of this book is not love or redemption but secrets and lies and the impact they have on people from both sides of the deceit. It reminds me of that famous quote by Sir Walter Scott;
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” -Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17. Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832) (less)
This is the sort of book I keep in reserve for when I’m burned out and need a break. I know there will be romance and an HEA, and somewhere in there will be the doubt and conflict needed to keep it interesting.
When I downloaded The Cowboy Takes a Bride, I’d just finished back-to-back-to back PNRs. Needless to say, my vampire meter was warped and needed rest. I figured a contemporary romance was just the thing. I settled in and read it in one evening, and it did the trick….total mental palate cleanser.
While I enjoyed Mariah and Joe, he aggravated me by ignoring the fact that his late wife’s sister, Ila, had the hots for him. Most men seem to have built-in radar for that sort of thing, and I got annoyed more than once when he treated her like one of the guys—oblivious of her attraction to him. He also tended to put his late wife Becca on a pedestal when she was far from perfect.
Mariah’s father had deserted her and her mom for the cutting horse scene when she was very young, and because of this, she has a hard time believing Joe could really be a family man.
Both Mariah and Joe seemed to indulge in an unusual amount of angsty internal dialogue, but they’d both accumulated more than their fair share of emotional scars, so I guess they were entitled. At times, I feared they would completely talk themselves out of falling in love, but in the end true love won out.
Overall, it was a pleasant diversion, and gave me a chance to recharge my mental batteries. After all, a girl can’t live on dark, wicked supernatural beings alone.(less)