Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pam's Review: Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Voyage
~Colleen Houck

Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 560 pages 
Publisher: Splinter 
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402784058 
ISBN-13: 978-1402784057

From the author's website:
With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever. buy here

 ***Spoilers if you haven’t read books one and two, Tiger’s Curse and Tiger’s Quest!***

Things aren’t looking good for Kelsey. Not only does Ren not remember her, but he feels discomfort and pain when he is near or touching her. After feeling depressed for a while, Kelsey takes Mr. Kadam’s advice and tells Ren that it’s okay to just be friends and that there is no pressure to remember her. A relationship soon develops between Ren’s brother, Kishan, and Kelsey. And soon, they are all on Ren and Kishan’s yacht heading on the next part of their adventure to break the curse. Will they be successful in their mission? Will Ren ever recover his memory of Kelsey?

My thoughts:
This was my favorite book of the series. I literally picked it up as soon as I finished the second one, and I had trouble putting it down. The story and all the settings were amazing. I don’t know how Ms. Houck can come up with this stuff in her mind, but I’m glad she did so everyone can enjoy it.

Part of their quest in this book involved dragons, and in one scene a dragon is taking Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan up to the sky and into the stars. Just the way the flying is described, I felt like my stomach was dropping on a rollercoaster. It was great!

I had trouble relating to Kelsey in the previous books, but in this one I liked her a little more. I think she might be growing on me. She actually made me laugh out loud a few times which is something that is hard to do. At one point in the story, the three of them have to fight a kraken (a sea monster for those of you like me who wouldn’t know what that was without having read the book). At one time she was wondering if she was going to die and what she would tell the other deceased people around her if she did….

“I thought about the afterlife and wondered if people shared death stories. If so, I’d have the coolest story ever. You died in your sleep? Drunk driver? Cancer, huh? World War II? Well…yeah, those deaths are great and all, but wait till I tell you what happened to me. Yeah…that’s right…I said a kraken.” ~Tiger's Voyage page 303 

There is one reason why this isn’t a five star book to me. I couldn’t feel the romantic relationships. I don’t know what it is, if it’s just me or what, they just don’t work for me. I want to feel heartbroken that Ren doesn’t remember Kelsey, instead I just feel a little sad.

Besides the lacking in the romantic environment, the story was truly fabulous. Pick up Tiger's Voyage if you want to get totally lost in another world. You won’t regret it.

My Rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch

Alien Proliferation 
~Gini Koch 

Paperback: 480 pages 
Publisher: DAW 
Publish Date: December 6, 2011 
ISBN-10: 0756406978 
ISBN-13: 978-0756406974 

From the author's website:
A new set of conspiracies, old enemies, and a dangerous new drug being tested on unwilling subjects are more than enough to deal with, but new parents Jeff and Kitty Martini have an even bigger problem -- the bad guys want their newborn baby.

*SPOILERS for books 1-3*

As Alien Proliferation opens, Katherine "Kitty" Katt (now Martini) is nearing the end of her pregnancy, and she's miserable:  bed rest, inability to decide on even the smallest baby supplies, and discomfort all combine to make Kitty one cranky agent.

Then, a phone call comes in - Kitty's best friend from college is in trouble.  Jeff and Christopher rush out to save the day, but of course it's not that easy: more problems are uncovered than are solved, and then suddenly - there's a baby on the way!  Take a (half) alien baby, add the fact that dad had been force-fed untested alien drugs before conception, and you have a white-knuckle delivery on your hands.

From there, things just keep going crazy and Kitty and Jeff's new-parent bliss is clouded by disappearing agents and the realization there's a mole trying to take out the team.  What comes next is a lot of action, secret agent stealth, sci-fi conspiracy, and a ton of fun.

My thoughts:
I have been a huge fan of Gini Koch since the first book and Alien Proliferation has everything I've come to love about this series:  Smart, funny dialogue, diverse and interesting characters, and boatloads of action.

In addition to the sweet and sexy rapport between Kitty and Jeff, one thing I really liked about Alien Proliferation is that we get to see more of Kitty's relationships with her two BFFs:  Chuckie and Reader.  I have adored Chuckie since we met him (even before, kind of), and he gets one of the sweetest, most saddest lines I've ever read:

He got up, and I handed Jamie to him. He held her well. "She really looks like you. Beautiful baby."
"I still don't see it, but I'll take the compliment for both of us."
He held her for a few minutes, walked around the room with her. He finally handed her back to me. "Thank you."
"For what?"
Chuckie kissed the top of my head. "For letting me pretend."
~page 126, Alien Proiferation

Sooo sweet, right?  We (and Kitty) also learn a bit more about Chuckie through some of the other characters he works with.  I was very pleased with the amount of information/page time Chuckie had in this book.

The Kitty/Reader relationship is, as always, wow.   We were treated to more information about Kitty and Reader's relationship in the previous book, Alien in the Family, but Alien Proliferation gives us more insight from Kitty's POV, and it was moving.

And....Christopher gets a love interest in this book - I know, right?!?  He's such a great character and he's had a few hard knocks so I was especially pleased to see him happy.  I'm looking forward to seeing them together in future books, giving Jeff and Kitty a run for their money in the "happy and sex-crazed" department.

My issues with this book were really specific to me personally:  I had a hard time following some of the conspiracy plot, and Kitty referred to her boobs as "torpedoes" way too much; we get it - they're huge.  (and I may have been jealous of Kitty's post-birth recovery; you'll have to read to find out why, lol)

This series is often described as "over the top" which is exactly right - but it's so much fun!!  Gini Koch's Alien series holds a proud place on my "Keeper" shelf and Alien Diplomacy is already on my "Books I Can't Wait For" list.

My Rating:

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason with Mia Marlowe

Sins of the Highlander
~Connie Mason with Mia Marlowe

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Publish Date: January 1, 2012 
ISBN-10: 1402261829 
ISBN-13: 978-1402261824

From Goodreads:
“Mad Rob” MacLaren thought stealing his enemy’s bride-to-be was the perfect revenge. But he never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would waken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, Rob longs to introduce the luscious Elspeth Stewart to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his and only his forever. 

Even with her gift of the Sight, never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a darkhaired stranger charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together–body, breath, and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the Sins of the Highlander.

Elspeth Stewart is getting married.  Her groom is the leader of a neighboring clan and her father has arranged the marriage to benefit both clans.  While they're standing at the altar, in rides "Mad Rob" MacLaren, stealing her from the altar and riding off with her!!!

MacLaren doesn't care about Elspeth, he's avenging his dead wife.   Elspeth's betrothed, Lachlan Drummond, is responsible for MacLauren's wife's tragic death.  His plan is to steal and keep her, thereby having some measure of revenge and embarassing Drummond in the process.  What he doesn't count on are the feelings he gets when he's around Elspeth, feelings he hasn't had since his wife died...

My thoughts:
I've been in the mood for Highlander Romances lately, and Sins of the Highlander was a captivating read.  (<-- no pun intended, lol)

I liked Elspeth - although she was an innocent maiden, she had a head on her shoulders and was a quick thinker.  She was constantly planning how to save herself or her loved ones in a manner that was well-thought out and reasonable, not full of fluff like some historical heroines.  Was she always right?  Well, no, but it's the planning, not the execution, that counts, right? Er...moving on...

MacLaren was not as swoon-worthy as I would have liked.  For one, he's supposed to be a clan leader, which I would think would require a keen eye for detail, yet he didn't notice Elspeth dropping her scraps of clothes for her father/fiance to find or notice a rope strung across the river to stop their voyage.  But, he did grow on me, and his inner turmoil regarding his feelings for Elspeth vs. his feelings for his deceased wife made me sympathetic towards their reaching an HEA.

I should also mention Sins of the Highlander contains some hot sexual tension and an interesting plot twist near the end that had me hurrying ahead to see how the book would end!

My Rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

(*sigh* that would be me....)

Happy Thanksgiving - 
I hope you all have a long holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Looking for Recommendations:

So I've fallen into the dark, wonderful reading that is Dystopia. I didn't think I liked dystopian books, but oh how wrong I was.  In the last few weeks I've read:

Legend by Marie Lu 
Crossed by Ally Condie 
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins 
Divergent by Veronica Roth (my favorite so far)
Delirium by Lauren Olivier 
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines (not really dystopian, I think)

I've also got Enclave by Anne Aguirre and Moira Roger's new dystopian series, Children of the Undying, to read.

But I need more!!!  Do you have any dystopian recommendations?  My only requirement is that there's some sort of love interest - doesn't have to be sexual, but at least a hint or possibility of romance...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pam's Review: Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Quest 
~Colleen Houck 

Hardcover: 496 pages 
Publisher: Splinter 
Publish Date: June 7, 2011 
ISBN-10: 140278404X 
ISBN-13: 978-1402784040

From the author's website:
Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest--this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger's Curse. Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER'S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them. 
Buy here.

 ***Spoilers if you haven’t read book one, Tiger’s Curse!***

Kelsey decides to leave India and go back home to Oregon. She finds many surprises on her return trip, such as a house that was bought for her, and that someone already enrolled her in college. Believing that she and Ren were through, Kelsey begins dating a few young men. While she starts to wonder if she could ever feel the same way with anyone as she did with Ren, something unexpected happens. Ren shows up in America and tries to win her back. Will things finally fall into place for them?

My thoughts:
There was much, much, much more to the story then the brief summary I gave, but there is a great deal that I could potentially give away, and I don’t want to do that. I didn’t like this book as much as the first one. It was good, not great. This book has great reviews, so why am I not feeling it? I think one reason is the immaturity of Kelsey. I know she is only a teenager, and I mentioned how it bothered me in my review of the first book as well. I do feel like she starts to mature though; so there is hope.

There was so much going on in this book that I shouldn’t have been able to put it down. But I did put it down, and I was never in a rush to read it until the last hundred pages or so when it finally got a hold on me. The story is really good; I just couldn’t always connect with the characters. I didn’t always feel like their feelings were believable.

However, as said on page 478:

“Just because you can’t see the star doesn’t mean it’s not there. It might be hidden from view for a while, but you can rest assured that it still shines brightly somewhere.” 

The last hundred pages really picked up to the point where I finished the book, and then picked up the third book, Tiger’s Voyage, immediately. So while this wasn’t my favorite book, the series is starting to have more of a hold on me. Not only are the characters finally starting to evolve and mature, but I believe the author’s writing style is as well.

Stay tuned. Review for book three, Tiger’s Voyage, to come soon.

My Rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pam's Review: Darn Good Cowboy Christmas by Carolyn Brown

Darn Good Cowboy Christmas
~Carolyn Brown

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1402261578 
ISBN-13: 978-1402261572

From Goodreads:
Born and raised in a traveling carnival, all Liz Hanson ever wanted for Christmas was a home that didn't have wheels. After she was old enough to date she added one more item: a sexy cowboy.

She's about given up on Santa ever bringing either one when her father dies and leaves her an ugly house and twenty acres in Texas. Then rancher Raylen O'Donnell walks onto her property...

Lizelle Hanson is a carnie, as she calls herself. She traveled and worked as a fortune teller and belly dancer for most of her life. But what she always wanted was roots; somewhere to call home, a house that has a foundation and not wheels. In fact, that is a Christmas wish that she has; she wants a house and a cowboy. The first part of her wish comes true when her uncle moves out of his house to take care of his father and is going to leave it to her if she still wants to live there after she tries it out for a few months. Liz is ecstatic. She arrives at the house in Texas to find her uncle’s neighbor, Raylen O’Donnell, there. He is the very cowboy that she had a crush on when she used to visit her uncle, and she has been fantasizing about him for years. Could this be the second half of her wish coming true?

My Thoughts:
This is the first book that I haven’t finished since I started reviewing. I definitely gave it a chance though; I read to page 225. Besides just not being interesting, there were a lot of things that bothered me about this book.

First, the shifting of the characters points of view. There was constant shifting with no clear breaks. It gets very confusing, especially if the shift happens within a single paragraph, which it did!

Second, the repeating of thoughts. Liz would think a thought, and then say the thought out loud to someone else. Then she would repeat it later to another character. I get how perhaps the author is trying to show how the third character found out about what she was thinking, but this isn’t the way to do it.

Third, Liz’s character herself. She would ramble a lot, and it just wasn’t attractive to me. Also, everything was handed to her on a silver platter. Where’s the challenge? She wants a house, gets it from her uncle. Wants a job, gets one handed to her right when she moves to town. Wants to decorate her house like the Griswold’s, the neighbors pitch right in to help. It was annoying. I feel like she acted very juvenile too. Here’s Liz talking to Raylen about what kind of Christmas tree she wants.

“I want a real one but Momma reminded me that I’m allergic to cedar and pine trees. Do you think they’ll have one that doesn’t look perfect? I want it to look real even if it’s not.” (p. 181)
I guess I just feel like a grown woman should know what she was allergic to. It wasn’t just that though, it was all things like I listed above.

I can’t imagine the work it takes a write a book, I really can’t. But Darn Good Cowboy Christmas was not worth the read.

My Rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!

The winner of Riversong by Tess Hardwick is:


who said... I recently read After Obsession and I really loved that cover!!

Congratulations Julie!

(winner has been sent an e-mail)

~Tess Hardwick

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publish Date: March 30, 2011
ISBN-10: 1935961144
ISBN-13: 978-1935961147

From Goodreads:
Author Tess Hardwick assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life - even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief. 

Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. When her husband commits suicide,he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother's dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh tart. Lee's resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband's debt as her business blooms. 

A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food, Riversong entertains while reminding you of life's greatest gifts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pam's Review: Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Curse
~Colleen Houck

Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 448 pages 
Publisher: Splinter 
Publish Date: January 11, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1402784031 
ISBN-13: 978-1402784033

From the author's website:
Passion. Fate. Loyalty. 
Would you risk it all to change your destiny? 
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever. 
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.
Kelsey is a high school graduate and needs a summer job before college. The temp agency she went to set her up to work for the circus in town for two weeks. She helps sell tickets, clean up after the shows, and brings the tiger, Ren, its food. There is something about the tiger that captivates her. Kelsey finds herself spending more and more time with him, reading him stories and poetry. She even gets daring and pats him through the bars. Near the end of her employment she gets offered another job to travel to India and help Ren travel comfortably to a tiger sanctuary there. She agrees, but little does she know that Ren is really a cursed prince, and she is about to go on the adventure of her life.

My thoughts:
This was the first book I’ve read with the setting in India; it was so different, it was so unique. I learned, through Kelsey, some myths and legends about the country, but I’m not sure if they were made up for the book or not. Either way, they were really interesting.

I generally liked Kelsey’s character. Her parents died when she was young, but she still turned out to be a caring, genuinely nice person. However, her character bothered me in the way she doubted herself. She thought Ren was too good for her, too handsome for her, basically that he was out of her league. It might be normal for a 17 year old girl to think like that, I wouldn’t know, it’s been a while. But the fact that she self doubted herself so much was a bit of a turn off for me.

Something about this book kept reminding me of the Twilight series as well. Maybe the fact that Ren was really old, really rich, and wanted to be with Kelsey even though she thought he could do better. But then I reminded myself that that is the way a lot of books are. If there is a vampire or shapeshifter who is old, they’re probably going to be rich. It kind of goes hand in hand I guess. Well, as long as they invest right.

Ren and Kelsey had romance, but I didn’t always feel it. Sometimes it just didn’t seem believable to me. Also, in the adventures that they had together pretty scary things went on, but I didn’t even feel like Kelsey was scared. This wasn’t enough to keep me from liking the book though. In fact I had the one more chapter problem. It was one of those books that you say to yourself, I’ll just read one more chapter, and you can’t stop. I went to bed way too late because of this; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

I am already reading and enjoying the next book in the series. Review to come.

Buy the book here.

My Rating:


Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber

Darker Still:  A Novel of Magic Most Foul
~Leanna Renee Hieber

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402260520
ISBN-13: 978-1402260520

From the author's website:
I was obsessed. It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen. Everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable-- utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide.

He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked- bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get darker still...

As a young child, Natalie Stewart was witness to a traumatic incident that rendered her speechless.  Now 17 and mute, Natalie is finished with school and convinces her father to offer her a job working with him at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

The big news in the art world is that the famous painting of Lord Jonanthan Denbury is for sale.  This painting is surrounded by rumors and speculation about the strange disappearance of the subject and the almost mystical feel to the painting.  Her father knows the museum can't afford to buy it, but he brings Natalie to meet Mrs. North, a wealthy widow, who is the most probable purchaser, in the hopes that she will lend it to the museum.

Natalie strikes up a sort of friendship with Mrs. North, their obsession with the painting as their initial shared preoccupation.  Mrs. North is also interested in all forms of spiritualism, and is convinced there is something peculiar and magical about the painting.   When she takes Natalie to see the painting, she's convinced Natalie has a special connection with the painting and encourages her to explore the connection. When Natalie notices a note for her in the painting, she reaches out to touch it, and falls into the painting!

Young Natalie discovers a curse, a gentleman, a murderer, and her inner voice; taking her far beyond the boundaries of what she thought she knew about the world she lives in...

My thoughts:
I have not yet read Ms. Hieber's adult series, but when I saw the blurb for her YA book, Darker Still, I knew I had to read it!  A mute heroine and a hero stuck in a portrait painting?  Set in the 1880s?  YA?  Yes, please.

I enjoyed the POV as coming from Natalie's journal entries.  It was a nice way to get around her inability to talk, and also gave the heroine time to think about the events as she writes them, making it more introspective than had we gotten her POV as events happened.  Natalie was a good heroine - clever, open-minded, loyal, and kind-hearted.  I kind of feel like we didn't really get a good look at Lord Denbury's personality, mostly because the story was told from Natalie's POV, and, of course, because he was trapped in a painting - there wasn't much he could do.

I liked the secondary characters, especially Mrs. North.  Her niece was a bit annoying and I have the feeling we'll be seeing her again.  The villian in Darker Still is suitably creepy - I think Natalie did a much better job of standing up to him than I would have done!  I loved the mystical/spiritual aspect of the story and hope that will continue with the series.

There were spots where the story moved slowly; I can't put my finger on exactly why, but I did find myself occasionally trying to read ahead to where we get more information or something exciting happens.  That being said, while I liked the ending, it was the only part of the book that felt a bit rushed; it seemed to wrap up quickly.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series though; I can't wait to see what Ms. Heiber has in store for these characters!

My Rating:
Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pam's Review: Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish
 ~Grace Burrowes

Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publish Date: October 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402261543
ISBN-13: 978-1402261541
ASIN: B005EU5092

From Goodreads:
It's just before Christmas, and Lady Sophie Windham has an abandoned baby on her hands with nobody to help her but a handsome stranger who hates the holidays. Sophie and Lord Vim Charpentier succumb to a vulnerable moment, and he feels he must leave before he compromises her. But they're trapped by a snowstorm in a ducal mansion full of well-placed sprigs of mistletoe...

Lady Sophia Windham wants some time to herself this holiday season. She does not expect to be left with an abandoned baby. Having no clue as to why the child is crying, she is in luck when Vim Charpentier approaches her and offers assistance. She allows it because he seems very knowledgeable about children. Vim ends up accompanying Sophie and the baby, Kit, home because he is worried for them in the snow storm. He agrees to spend the night because of the snow and to help with Kit. Also, he assumes that Sophie is a housekeeper or a lady’s maid, otherwise she wouldn’t be unchaperoned; so he believes that his staying the night would not be scandalous in this case.

Vim gets snowed in with Sophie and the baby for a few days. During this time Sophie becomes more confident with Kit; she starts to recognize what his different cries mean and what to do about them. She also starts to have feelings for Vim, even though she knows he is bound to leave as soon as the snow clears up. What she doesn’t know, however, is that Vim is also having those same feelings for her.

My thoughts:
I really liked this book, it was so sweet. I felt cozy just by reading it. Honestly, most of the book was about them snowed in at her house, but it wasn’t boring at all! I felt like I was snowed in with them; I smelled Sophie’s cooking, watched Kit learn to crawl, and listened in to their conversations.

Also, the characters were definitely unique and likeable. Vim Charpentier is not your typical alpha male that I’ve gotten used to reading in romances, and I really liked that he was different. He has this sense of calmness about him, and patience too. I felt like he was soft spoken, but not a pushover. Sophie, a duke’s daughter, is very knowledgeable, not a complainer, and knows how to take care of herself. She speaks up for herself while at the same time she is cautious with her feelings; she is another likeable character.

I definitely suggest reading Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish this holiday season. Curl up under a warm blanket, grab some hot chocolate, and get trapped in the snow with Sophie, Vim, and Kit.

My rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating:

One of the books I'm most excited about reading is Richelle Mead's Shadow Heir.  Even though I love her other two series, I put off reading her Dark Swan series forever...I just didn't think I'd like a fairy story.  Then, Parajunkee convinced me to give it a try - OMG it's awesome!!!  I read the first two books back-to-back and pestered her until she gave me the third book :)  Since then, I've been waiting with baited breath for the fourth and final book in this series - I cannot wait to find out what's in store for Eugenie!!!

Shadow Heir
~Richelle Mead 

Paperback: 352 pages 
Publisher: Zebra; Original edition (December 27, 2011) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1420111809 
ISBN-13: 978-1420111804 

From the author's website:
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice...

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October Wrap-Up

Well, this is kind of an abbreviated wrap-up, as I'll explain below.  October started out with a bang and ended with a whimper...

What I read (I stopped keeping track around the middle of the month but this is what I remember reading):
1.  Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks (3 stars)
2.  Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks (4 stars)
3.  If I Tell by Janet Gurtler (4 stars)
4.  Drink Deep by Chloe Neill (4 stars)
5.  Legend by Marie Lu (4 stars)
6.  Sold to the Highest Bidder by Donna Alward (3 stars)
7.  A Novel Seduction by Gwyn Cready (4 stars)
8.  Darker Still by Leanna Renee Heiber (4 stars) (review tomorrow)
9.  Long Time Coming by Scarlett Parrish (4 stars)
10. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James (5 stars)*
11. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James (5 stars)*
12.  Forever Mine by Elizabeth Reyes (3 1/2 stars)
13.  Come Monday by Mari Carr (3 stars)
14.  Home Sweet Home by Bella Riley (1 star)
15.  Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason (3 stars) (review to come)

*I know this series is a bit "controversial", but I loved both books (apparently it was originally Twilight fanfic, and while I could point out the similarities, it's definitely it's own story)!  Were there some problems?  Sure there were, but it's been a while since I read something that grabbed my attention and held it as I breathlessly turned each page, waiting to find out what was going to happen next. For that reason alone I gave them 5 stars. Christian is my latest book boyfriend.  Yes, he's fifty shades of fucked up, but man he's sexy!!!  Can. Not. Wait. for the next book, Fifty Shades Freed, out in January.

Pam reviewed:
1.  Lethal by Sandra Brown (4 stars)
2.  Riversong by Tess Hardwick (4 stars)
3.  Caressed by Moonlight by Amanda Greene (3 1/2 stars)
4.  Unleashed by Sara Humphries (3 1/2 stars)

I did a character interview with Chloe Neill - Merit's grandfather, Chuck Merit.  That was my first "character interview" and it was fun...

(me, Janna, Leontine)

GayRomLit came to New Orleans in October, and while I did not go to the conference, I did get to meet some of the bloggers who came into town!  First I met the lovely Leontine (Leontine's Book Realm) and Janna (Rarely Dusty Books), who came in from the Netherlands a week early.  We spent a day running around the French Quarter and I took them out to a Barnes & Noble just for kicks.  We found a little bookshop I'd been wanting to visit - Faulkner House Books.  They filled my kids with candy and then we parted ways :)

The next weekend the rest of the group came in:  Kris (Kris n' Good Books), Chris (Stumbling Over Chaos), Kassa (three am), Tam (Tam's Reads), and Tracey (Tracey's Place).  I met them for drinks Thursday night at Lafitte's in Exile, where we were treated to drinks made by Jimmy, a most excellent bartender, and naked and semi-naked guys on the bar.  Saturday night I met the ladies at the GRL wine and cheese party, then headed out to the gay bar crawl.  It was a bit unorganized, and we didn't stay with the group for long...and ended up back at Lafitte's.  There might have been too many alcoholic beverages consumed, and someone might have been sick the next day, but I'm not telling *winks*...  It was such an awesome experience to meet these ladies - they were all so lovely and I had a genuinely good time.  For someone who gets very anxious in social situations, that's saying a lot.

And lastly, I announced that after 2 1/2 years, I'm shutting down the ol' blog.  As I mentioned in my post, I do have a few books left to review, but I think I'll have everything wrapped up by the end of December (with a LOT of help from Pam...she's a lifesaver, truly).  It's not one specific thing, but a lot of little things - basically what it boils down to is that I can no longer juggle work, family, and the blog - something had to give and giving up work and/or family was not an option.  (If I ever win the lottery I'll be back in action, lol)   So....I'm still very sad about it but it is what it is.

I've got some great reads coming up this month that I'm pretty excited about.  
What are you looking forward to in November?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Home Sweet Home by Bella Riley

Home Sweet Home
~Bella Riley

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages 
Publisher: Forever 
Publish Date: October 1, 2011 
ISBN-10: 0446584215 
ISBN-13: 978-0446584210 

From Goodreads:
Ten years and two hundred miles. That's what separates Andi Powell from quiet, secluded Emerald Lake-and that's exactly how she likes it. But now her job brings her back to the hometown she's tried so hard to forget . . . and to Nate Duncan, the man she's never been able to. 

Nate once looked at Andi with love in his eyes. But that was before she left him in the dust to pursue her big-city dreams. Now he's the town's ruggedly handsome mayor with the power to break Andi's career like she broke his heart. As the two clash over the future of Emerald Lake, the sparks that fly between them rekindle a passion neither of them can deny. 

 Andi may have left town looking for the life she thought she wanted. But could everything she needs have been in Emerald Lake all along?

After 10 years, Andi Powell has returned to picturesque Emerald Lake.  Not because she's homesick, but to save her job.  She's got to convince the townsfolk of Emerald Lake that they'd like new vacation condos on the lake for rich out-of-towners.

Nate Duncan was the love of Andi's life, until things went horribly wrong when they were teens.  He's never seriously dated anyone since Andi, and he can't believe she's back in town. Nate is now the town mayor, and while he's having mixed feelings about seeing Andi again, he's wholeheartedly opposed to the condo idea.

When they're together, it's like the years never happened, until reality sets in and they're on opposite sides of the condo issue.  How can they make a relationship work if Andi doesn't want to live in Emerald Lake and Nate doesn't want to leave?

My thoughts:
I just couldn't get into this story.  Andi and Nate were nice enough, but that's part of the problem, I think...they were so fiery passion or exciting action, and I really couldn't get excited about their story.  Andi's father was a politician who was gone a lot while she and her mother stayed home, and she's terrified this will be her future as well, so she leaves Emerald Lake as soon as she can and doesn't look back.

For about the first third of the story I kept thinking I had already read this book; I actually checked the publish date to make sure this was the book I was supposed to be reviewing.  The quaint lakeside town, the knitting shop on Main Street, the three generations of women, it all felt very familiar.  There was also a storyline involving Andi's grandmother as a young girl and a mysterious stranger she was in love with at that time.  This plot did not interest me at all and I skipped over those portions.

Nate's backstory was very sad and I found myself judging Andi, which may have been part of my issue with enjoying Home Sweet Home.  Was it a sweet story?  Sure.  It just didn't grab and keep my attention.

My Rating:

Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pam's Review: Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts by Claire LaZebnik

Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts
~ Claire LaZebnik

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: 5 Spot (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446555029
ISBN-13: 978-0446555029
ASIN: B004RD8558

From Goodreads:
Despite her name, Keats Sedlak is the sanest person in her large, nutty family of brilliant eccentrics. Her parents, both brainy academics, are barely capable of looking after themselves, let alone anyone else, and her two uber-intelligent siblings live on their own planets. At least she can count on one person in her life, her devoted boyfriend Tom. Down-to-earth and loving, he's the one thing that's kept Keats grounded for the last decade. But when Keats's mother makes a surprise announcement, the entire family is sent into a tailspin. For the first time, Keats can't pick up the pieces by herself. Now she must re-evaluate everything she's ever assumed about herself and her family - and make the biggest decision of her life.

 Keats Sedlak is living a content, comfortable life. She is living in an apartment with her boyfriend of ten years and has a not so challenging job as an office manager. However, she is the oddball in her family, the normal one to say the least. Her brother, Milton, hasn't left their mother's house for two years. Her sister, Hopkins, is a genius, and she is currently saving lives as a neurologist. Her father, also a genius, is a published author and a professor at Harvard. Lastly, her mother drives her insane for many reasons, one of those is for always implying that Keats's boyfriend, Tom, isn't good enough or smart enough for her. In fact, her whole family seems to think that about Tom. They also don't like her job; none of them understand why she is working there and not getting a higher education.

While her family definitely drives her nuts, she is there for them when she is needed, like for going through items in the house she grew up in because her mother wants to sell it. In spending more time with her family, she is also spending more time with her dad's personal assistant, Jacob. Keats starts to question certain aspects in her life and witnesses all the changes taking place around her. She starts to see that change isn't always a bad thing.

My thoughts:
This was a very good read, but it made me a little depressed at the same time. Let me try to explain why without giving too much away. Keats’s parents, who have been separated for years, are finally going through a divorce, a family member suffers a medical emergency, and I think the fact that Keats has to constantly defend her boyfriend and her happiness made it a little sad for me.

Keats is a great protagonist though. Although her family is constantly on her case and questioning her happiness, Keats stands up against it and defends herself. She also clearly loves them and lends them a hand, or even a stubborn threat, to help them out. I definitely felt for Keats when she was dealing with her family, but it wasn’t always depressing. When she did interact with them there was usually some humor to be found in the struggle too. Here is Keats describing time with her dad:

“When he finally moves on from the topic of Keats’s Wasted Life, it’s to give me a lecture about the heart, both as muscle and as a literary trope. It’s clearly something he’s put a lot of thought into, but none of his observations seem all that original to me, and after a while, I can’t restrain a yawn, which sends him into a long rant about the deterioration of the American attention span—which makes me so bored I could scream, which I guess proves his point.” (p. 137)

While I wouldn’t say that this is the best book I’ve ever read, it was an enjoyable read with a melancholy sort of feel.

My Rating:


Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Last Breath by Rachel Caine

Review originally posted at

Last Breath
~Rachel Caine

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 0451234871
ISBN-13: 978-0451234872
ASIN: B0052RDK12

From Goodreads:
With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace. She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone new to town—a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's latest resident, Claire is certain Magnus isn't merely human. But is he a vampire—or something else entirely?
Claire Danvers is an extra-ordinary girl living in the extra-ordinary town of Morganville, Texas.  What makes Claire so special?  She's super-smart, having started college early, and, among other things, works after school in a lab with Myrnin, who's a little crazy...and a vampire.  In Morganville though, that's no so unusual - there are lots of vampires in Morganville.

While there is usually an uneasy truce between the humans and the vampires, things are currently a little strained.  Someone's planning a wedding, and as the countdown ticks down, it's plain that the wedding is one thing that everyone in town seems to agree on:  no one thinks it should happen; not the vamps, and definitely not the humans.

But while the town is focused on the approaching nuptuals, Claire and the gang learn that vampires are going missing.  Just a few at first, but as the days go by and there's no sign of the missing vampires, things start to get weird weirder than usual.  Claire sees something she shouldn't but can't remember what it was, Amelie gets a cryptic message that leads her to the decision to close down Morganville, and Myrnin has a decision to make.  Will Claire and her friends solve the mystery and save Morganville?  Do they even want to save Morganville?  Or is this their chance to be free of the vampires forever?

My thoughts:
Last Breath is a can-not-miss installation to The Morganville Vampires series!  As I've come to expect from this series, the story is fresh and the players are like old friends.  As an added bonus, in Last Breath, we are treated to viewpoints from not only Claire, but also Amelie, Eve, Michael, and Shane.

Fans of Myrnin will love Last Breath: he continues to be one of my favorite anti-heroes.  Even faced with the possible demise of Amelie, Morganville, and possibly himself, he steps up and does what needs to be done.  And Shane...oh Shane...*sniffs*  Shane faces possibly the most heartbreaking section of the book.

Without giving anything away, we do learn why this book is titled Last Breath; and believe me, you're going to be holding yours.  After 10 books in this series of characters we have grown to love, Ms. Caine continues to captivate the reader with jaw-dropping scenes like this:

     I lifted my head, and I knew my eyes were flaring with white power, driven by my rage, my revulsion, my desperation.  "Silence them Myrnin.  You know you must."
     He stared back at me for a moment in mute horror, and shook his head.  "I can't," he said.  "God witness me, I cannot do it.  Not to her.  The boy, yes, but not her.  Amelie, there must be another way."
     "Jesu, you think if there was, I wouldn't take it?"  I shouted it at him, fists clenched against the need to strike.  "You will do it.  You must."  And I put my will on him, pushing in a way that I so rarely did these days.  That I so rarely had to do.
~page 74, Last Breath

Last Breath was impossible to put down; every time I thought I knew where Ms. Caine was going to take us, I was wrong.  This new villain in Morganville is dangerous and scary; so terrifying that even the vampires are panicking.  And it's stealthy, sneaking up on us while we're busy looking somewhere else.

I have one complaint...usually Ms. Caine ends her stories nicely and things are as wrapped up as they can be, without ending the series of course, but that's not the case in Last Breath.  Last Breath ends with a definite cliffhanger, and I felt like the story was left unfinished.

Last Breath is probably the most emotionally-charged installment in the series to date; fans of the books will not be disappointed.  Between the surprise twists and the seemingly impossible challenges Claire must overcome, Last Breath left me gasping for breath.

My Rating:

Book received from the publisher.