Monday, August 30, 2010

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole

Demon from the Dark
(Immortals After Dark Installment #10)
by Kresley Cole

Genre: Paranormal Romance

A dangerous demon she can't resist...Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he's pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.
A maddening witch he aches to claim...Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.
Trapped together in a savage prison...For them to survive, Malkom must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When he becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?

Carrow, a coven witch, has been recently captured and is being held prisoner within a secret island facility hidden from the detection of all immortal creatures.  With more immortals being caught, held captive, and brutally experimented on every day, Carrow is offered a way out for herself and her 8 year old "niece", who was newly orphaned and is being held captive as well.  Her Mission: Bring in Malkom, one of the rare demon-made-vampires (aka vamon), to the facility using whatever means possible.  Carrow considers this to be an easy task until she meets Malkom and realizes they're destined soul mates; something all immortals realize upon first meeting. Now she's stuck with the dilemma of putting her own future on the line versus the future of her niece or more personally, Malkom.

I read, somewhere, how Kresley Cole commented on how Malkom Slaine might be her favorite male immortal.  Unfortunately, he's not a favorite of mine!  I don't know, I just felt after reading this book that it was missing something.  Something that didn't connect Malkom and Carrow as much as I would have liked or something that didn't really show the true feelings between them.  My #1 pet-peeve within romance novels is rushed love and that was pretty obvious in Demon from the Dark.  I guess overall, I'm not one for the whole concept of love at first sight, thus, I'm not convinced when people only know each other for one week, have amazing sex, and then fall heads over heels in "love".  And yes, I understand the idea of mates within this series, so I don't think I'm missing the idea of chemical attraction.  To me, what Carrow and Malkom have is just lust!  Sure lust is fun to read about in Cole's books, but it doesn't make the story enjoyable for me in the end.  

Some novels can carry this rushed affection theme off well (Kiss of a Demon King was as excellent read since the two main characters had more than one week to discover each other, develop jealousy, even majorly dislike each other, etc. before popping the "L" word!), others not so much.  Maybe I'm a sucker for "hate/love" relationships, who knows?  I do know I was expecting more from Cole's new book and was, sadly, let down. I just felt none of what made KC great (example: I use to laugh out loud during her older books and her wit in writing some of the characters dialogue was brilliant) was truly evident throughout this read; majorly lacking since I didn't even laugh once!

Also, I understand Malkom was emotionally hurt in his past and that kind of personal damage can be a perk for gaining feelings toward a character, but I never got around to understanding Malkom as a man.  Maybe it's because I like my Immortals After Dark male leads to be very . . . manly (or very-whatever creature they are), not exactly a gentlemen, but at least a guy who knows what he wants.  Malkom's innocence wasn't exactly working for me.   At the beginning he's a loyal friend, then betrayer, then land defender, then brute/Neanderthal, then lover to Carrow, etc.  He was all over the place and just not someone I enjoyed reading about.  He just seemed lost throughout much of the book.  He felt lost in his own world and now even more lost in his new world with Carrow.  All in all, I love the series as a whole, but I wasn't thrilled with this one and will hold out for better books in the future!

Likes: I did enjoy that younger versions of the Immortals After Dark characters were being introduced (with Ruby and her gang of witches) and we got to catch up with some of the past characters in the series. That was fun! The secret facility with all the immortal creatures having to interact/bunk together was interesting as well.

Dislikes: From previous books, we've had one or more different beings from the immortal world introduced, but in Demon from the Dark, a whole mess of creatures were introduced.  I don't mind a few here and there, but once all hell broke out, it got a bit overwhelming.

Rating:
 
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Highland Scoundrel by Monica McCarty

Highland Scoundrel
(The Campbell Trilogy Book #3)
by Monica McCarty

Genre: Historical Romance

Duncan Campbell is a natural born leader, possessing all the attributes for a Highland chieftain except for one: legitimacy. Forced from the Highlands for a crime he didn’t commit, Duncan has earned a reputation as the fiercest, most skilled mercenary on the continent. Vowing to restore his name and clear the cloud of treason hanging over his head, Duncan returns to the Highlands to find the one person who might hold the key to his freedom: the woman he’d once loved who’d betrayed him. But when he surprises her swimming in a loch, he finds himself facing the bad end of a pistol. Told she was impulsive her whole life like her mother who’d destroyed their family when she’d run off with an Englishman over twenty years ago, Jeannie Grant had never believed it—until she met Duncan Campbell. The bastard born son of a chieftain was not a suitable husband for the daughter of a powerful Highland chief, but Duncan made Jeannie willing to risk everything. She gave him her innocence and he failed her, forcing Jeannie to learn the hard way what happens when you follow your heart. Now Jeannie is shocked to find that the brigand she’s shot is the same man who broke her heart all those years ago. But the hard, ruthless man is nothing like the charming young scoundrel she remembers. When their attempt to prove Duncan’s innocence uncovers a deadly secret, not only their lost love, but their lives hang in the balance.

No matter that a brutal war is brewing for Duncan's clan or that Jeannie is secretly being betrothed to another man by her father, they meet at Stirling Castle and within two weeks fall madly in love and hope to fight the odds to stay together.  Unfortunately, their last rendezvous leads to a treacherous mistake that both regret for years to come.  Since that fateful night, the two have been separated with no contact for ten years.  Now, Duncan has returned with a new reputation of being the "Black Highlander" of Ireland and Jeannie is back on the marriage market with kept secrets of her own.  Can they overcome their past mistakes and find the truth that both desperately seek?

Considering this is the first book I've read by McCarty, I was presently surprised with Highland Scoundrel and thoroughly enjoyed the story full of historical facts and fun romance.  It has some nice plot twist that I wasn't expecting and as soon as I really got into the story . . . I couldn't put it down.  Their innocent infatuation when they first meet was sweet, but their intense passion upon meeting up ten years years later was smoldering.  I got so caught up in the emotions of it all, that before I knew it - it was 3 am and I was still reading.  Signs of a great book!  

I haven't read a nice highlander story in quite awhile and once I saw the blurb on the back of this one - "If your heart belongs to the Highlands, then don't miss these novels" - I got suckered right in.  Silly, right?  Yet, I'm glad I did!  After finishing Highland Scoundrel, I found I read Book #3 in the trilogy first.  Oops!  So, I guess I'll be working my way backwards since in my TBR pile is book #2, Highland Outlaw.

Likes:  How Duncan would stand up for Jeannie, no matter how horribly disgruntled they were with each other.  Always a joy reading about a true gent, especially one that's a highlander . . . yum!

Dislikes:  About the story - The blunt reminder that women held such little power over their lives in the early 1600s of Scotland.  Poor Jeannie!  About the book itself - I found some editing mistakes (duplicate words) within the first chapter of the book, catching misprints like that while reading really messes up my feeling of getting "lost" in a tale. 

Words of Wisdom book quote: "...that we make our own destiny not by our birth, but by our actions." (pg. 331)

Rating: 

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #3

Book Blogger Hop
BOOK PARTY

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

Who doesn't appreciate the living dead!?
Yes, you can read about my official rating scale here, but I prefer to use a "bury" theme throughout, including my zombie hands.  Why? I love to read about zombies and find I highly enjoy zombie flicks best out of all horror/paranormal genres.  Also, I find I use this rating system more for myself than anyone else, since I read so many series with books coming out years apart from each other . . . it's nice to check back on my first impressions.  If my followers enjoy my rating style as well, even better! :)  

Thanks for hopping by! Go Zombies!!!
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Passing Strange by Daniel Waters

Passing Strange
(Generation Dead Book #3)
by Daniel Waters

Genre: Young Adult  | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal Romance

Karen DeSonne is used to pretending to be something she’s not.  All her life, she’s passed as a normal all-American teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school.  Passing cost her the love of her life.  And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing – this time, as alive.  Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of anti-zombie regulations that have forced nearly all of Oakvale’s undead into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: betraying her love by becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is – because the consequences would be even worse than death.

Karen has always been considered one of the "fast" zombies and the most caring and beautiful as well.  She has dear friends who are both living-impaired and heart-beaters, but in the beginning of Passing Strange she learns something about herself that both fascinates and frightens her immensely.  Thus, she decides to keep it a secret.  Her world has also turned up-side-down, funny thinking that she's a rare zombie to begin with, but seriously . . . her fellow dead-walking friends are now in hiding on the bottom of the local frozen lake for a crime they didn't commit, her family is beginning to emotionally reach out to her in ways she never imagined since her suicide, the government has passed new strict laws where her kind are no longer allowed out without certain authorization, and she was able to pass as being "alive" long enough to get a job at the mall. Strange, right?  Now she's taken it upon herself to help her friends, both living and dead, to overcome the injustice being dealt to them by falsely dating (ie. being an undercover agent) the main reason for most of their problems, Pete.

Like all readers following the Generation Dead series, Passing Strange created a twist for it's fans by getting new POVs.  The previous two books where told from Tommy, Adam, and Phoebe's perspective, but now we're getting into the thoughts of Karen, Takuyaki, and Pete.  Sadly, none of the new three narrators were my favorite in the series, but it was interesting to see the post-zombie world through their eyes.  If you read the books, you know the whole concept of how everyone deals with these zombies is really one big metaphor for racism (aka "bioism" in the book). Some people deal with it a lot better than others, but overall it points out the ugliness of prejudices in society.  Karen had some really touching moments throughout this book and even had me tearing up as times.  Tak really learned about having to step up and take the spot of Tommy as the new leader of the local zombies.  Pete was just as dark and evil throughout and didn't really convince me of his actions near the end when his conscious caught up with him, but could someone please explain what exactly was happening to him on page 369?

Also, Passing Strange ends in a why that has the reader really questioning just WHERE the series is headed.  Karen's secret becomes even juicer at the end and the last sentence is a major turning point for Generation Dead, even though there seems to be a lot of foreshadowing hidden throughout the text.  That's what I find so fasinating throughout these books, there's so many similarities to the past and it's a perfect example of the saying "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Lastly, I'm so shocked this series hasn't become as popular as I would have liked it too.  I was obsessed from book one and I know all these books will be a permanent fixture in my library.  Yet, I would like more of the reading public to check them out as well since they're a delight and are definitely one of my favorites!!!  Check out my reviews of Book 1 - Generation Dead and Book 2 - Kiss of Life

Likes: Tak and his gang (Popeye & Tayshawn) were really funny together. 

Dislikes:  I would have liked to see more of Tommy, but I know he's off doing better and brighter things right now and we'll be seeing more of him in the future of the series.  Yet, if you think about who he's starting to become, that's just another huge foreshadowing of what will happen in the next couple of books.  Just think about which historical figure he most resembles right now and sadly, I think they'll share the same fate!

Rating:
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Naked by Megan Hart

Naked
Megan Hart

 Genre: Erotic | Contemporary Romance


 No Strings.  
No Regrets. 
And No Going Back.

I didn’t think he wanted me. And I wasn’t about to get involved with him, not after what I’d heard. Alex Kennedy was tall, dark and unbearably hot, but I’ve been burned before. Maybe it was stupid of me to offer but he needed a place to crash and I needed to pay the rent, but now he’s my tenant…with benefits. And now that we’ve crossed that line, I can’t seem to find my way back.  But I can’t give my heart to a man who’s so…unconventional. His last sexual relationship was with a married couple. It’s enough that my ex-fiancĂ© preferred men, I won’t take that chance again no matter how much my body thrives on Alex’s touch. I can’t risk it, but I can’t resist it, either.  Alex can be very convincing when he wants something.  And he wants me. Me.

Olivia is a 28-year-old photographer who doesn't quite know who she is.  She was adopted into an all white family even though she's not white, she has to deal with her family being divided between two religions every holiday, and she's having a difficult time trusting herself after a troubled love life.  Yet, the night she sees Alex Kennedy, everything changes.  She doesn't listen that "he's trouble" or care about his sexual history.  Together they fit and for once, she's content.

"I didn't have to decide if I was one thing or another.  If I was both and neither.  Everything and nothing.  It's okay to struggle to find our place in this world and the person who will take us for who and what we are.  Sometimes we dress ourselves in layers that only get peeled away in the end, to leave us as we should be.  Naked." 

This was a classic story of opposites attract, meet, fall in love! :)

*SPOILERS*

Olivia, aka "Liv", is struggling to get her own advertising/graphic design business off the ground while living in a newly purchased building that had once been a firehouse.  She hasn't had the best track record in relationships and has even had a few other life hiccups as well.  She lived a lie back in college upon dating Patrick for three years and two weeks before they were due to walk down the aisle at her father's church, she found out Patrick was really gay and sleeping around.  Yet, Olivia took the full blame for their failed marriage on herself and even went back to Patrick so they could remain friends. She keeps living a lie since she's still in love with her gay best friend, even when he continues to get jealous and steer her away from any potential relationships.  

Alex, on the other hand, is financially stable, an international globe trotter, and is the walking fantasy of both men and women.  He's back in the states after living recently in Japan, Scotland, Singapore, and Holland and is being a "professional house-guest" (aka mooching off the hospitality of friends and their couches) all while avoiding the final stop of visiting his parents in Sandusky, Ohio.  He believes "sometimes, the longer you stay away from something the harder it is to go back there."

This was the second book by Hart that I've read; my first being Deeper. The story flows smoothly and the characters are very realistic.  I'm not a fan of rushed relationships, but I really felt Alex and Olivia had a nice bond even though within four months there were engaged.  I kept waiting for Alex to cheat on Olivia or something similar (I'm not sure why I expected that?) but overall their relationship throughout Naked was solid.  In short - It's a mishmash of couple meeting, couple falling in love, couple meeting each others family/friends, and couple accepting each others past and loving them for who they are.  It's an erotic read, so expect some juicy love scenes. 

Likes:  I enjoyed Olivia describing how she "hadn't been raised stupid, but sure ended up feeling dumb" during certain points in her life.  I find that's a common aspect many women keep secret. 

Dislikes:  I wished to have seen the wedding.  The story kind of dropped off before that, leaving my things up in the air . . . like what church/religion did Olivia decide to get married under or if Alex got around to extending an wedding invitation to his father or not?  Plus Alex's marriage proposal still bothers me.

Rating: 
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop
BOOK PARTY
Question: How many blogs do you follow?

Numerous blogs! 
I follow all types of blogs from Jane Austen facts to Cooking tips to Antique Auctions to my Favorite Authors.  I wish dearly I could keep up with everyone, but it's fun to catch up when I can! :)

Thanks for hopping by!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
(Austen Addict Book #1)
by Laurie Viera Rigler

Genre: Time-Travel Romance | Fantasy

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?  Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. But not even her level of Austen mania has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperons, condom-less seducers, and marriages of convenience.  This looking-glass Austen world is not without its charms, however. There are journeys to Bath and London, balls in the Assembly Rooms, and the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who may not be a familiar species of philanderer after all. But when Courtney’s borrowed brain serves up memories that are not her own, the ultimate identity crisis ensues. Will she ever get her real life back, and does she even want to?

Jane Mansfield (aka Courtney Stone) hasn't been herself lately . . . literally.  She wakes up one morning in a Jane Austen-style dream (she thinks!) and soon finds out that her new historic life appears a lot more realistic than she first thought.  Now she's stuck in another person's body, living a life that's not her own, and beginning to share memories of a world she knows nothing of.  What's a modern lady to do when she can't keep up her normal twenty-first century lifestyle?

There was a lot missing from the book that I would have enjoyed to read about, but overall it was a cute story.  I'm a history buff myself, so all the daily troubles Jane/Courtney had to learn about throughout the tale wasn't anything new to me, but it was interesting watching her adapt.  Strangely the book begins right when Jane/Courtney wakes up in her "new" world, which was a bit odd and confusing for the reader to understand just HOW? she got there.  The tale wasn't written a 100% smoothly and there were gaps missing here and there; example: I would have liked to learn more about her dream within a dream with her reflection in the lake addressing her or I would have liked to see the main character have a harder time describing why she couldn't write, do needlework, or dance like her "old" self (personal traits). . . I feel the author took the easy way out.  Plus, characters were kind of confusingly blending together from the past and present worlds, which really could have been some type of symbolism of Jane/Courtney's conscious, but again, never fully explained.  Our protagonist's a little scattered brained sometimes and even comes off as adjusting to the whole time travel incident almost too easily.  She doesn't appear to learn from her mistakes and doesn't really evolve as I enjoy seeing characters do throughout the book.  Yet, there were funny parts that made me smile and it kept my attention throughout.  I'm even curious enough to check out book #2 - Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict

Likes:  I think I enjoyed the historical aspects to the story more than anything else; the daily habits, the courting rituals, and the whole style of life during 1813-1814 England.

Dislikes:  I'm not sure if it was the simple writing style or the rambling on of Jane/Courtney's silly thoughts that caused me to, sadly, skip paragraphs when I got bored with the story.  Not a good thing!

Rating:

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
by Ben Sherwood

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Fantasy

In a snug New England fishing village, Charlie St. Cloud tends the lawns and monuments of an ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried.  After surviving the car accident that claimed his brother's life, Charlie is graced with an extraordinary gift: He can see, talk to, and even play catch with Sam's spirit.  Into this magical world comes Tess Carroll, a captivating woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe.  Fate steers her boats into a treacherous storm that propels her into Charlie's life.  Their beautiful and uncommon connection leads to a race against time and a choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on an letting go -- and the discovery that miracles can happen if we simply open our hearts.

Charlie suffers the lose of his younger brother, separation from his mother, and a dead-end job all for the reason of keeping a promise.  A promise he made to Sam, his brother, when they both died in a car wreak.  Yet, Charlie was brought back to life by a paramedic that fateful night for a second chance at life.  A new life he has no idea what to do with.  Since he already crossed over once, he's know graced with the ability to see the newly dead.  For thirteen years, he remains a fixture in Marblehead, Massachusetts by working at the Waterside cemetery.  "Now twenty-eight, Charlie had spent his adult years looking after the dead and the living of Waterside.  He had sacrificed greatly to keep his word to Sam.  He had given up on big dreams . . . " (pg. 47)  But, that all changes when the appealing minor celebrity in town, Tess Carroll, walks into his life.  After a sweet love affair blooms between the two, tragedy strikes in a why that could tear them apart forever.  Yet, Charlie is determined to not give up on Tess, even if that means breaking his promise with Sam.

You may be one of those people that saw the tear-jerking trailer on TV about the movie Charlie St. Cloud and thought . . . lame, but you'd be wrong.  I actually watched the movie on the big screen first (loved it!) and went out and grabbed the book second.  Books are always better than their movie adaptions and this is one that doesn't falter on that fact.  I enjoyed the sweet connection between Tess and Charlie and the book just extends on their relationship.  I have the say, the brother connection was adorable in the movie, but Sam's character in the book gets more evolved and Tess gets a lot more interaction as well.  Overall, I kept wanting more from everyone when I finished The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.  It was really enjoyable, sweet, and had just the perfect touch of silliness to make this a great summer read. 

Likes:  I wish my town had a Bella Hooper "The Woman Who Listens".  

Dislikes:  This book points out the fact that too many good people die a little when they lose someone they love.  Which is a sad, but true fact.

Rating: 
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Local Book Signing: Ruined by Paula Morris



















See my review of Ruined HERE

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garden of Darkness by Anne Frasier

Garden of Darkess
(Tuonela Book #2)
by Anne Frasier

Genre: Supernatural Thriller


Rachel Burton tried to leave, but the killing brought her back. The skinned body was found in the woods, just as Rachel—the town medical examiner—was driving out of Tuonela for good, or so she thought. Now her baby will be born here, and the betrayal of Evan Stroud—the man she’s always loved, the man who can never see the light of day—will continue to haunt her waking and sleeping hours… 

Others are coming to Tuonela, drawn to the legend of the Pale Immortal, the so-called vampire whose exhumed body is now on display. And others will die. As Evan succumbs to madness, those around him will suspect the worst of him. But everything he is rumored to be will pale in comparison to the one who has been awakened…

Tuonela is a town whose name means "land of the dead" and there's a dark secret that even the locals refuse to speak about.  The residents are shockingly use to the mysteries deaths, soft whispers on the wind, and the Old-Tuonela ghost town, only 5-miles away, where only a few brave souls dare to visit.  Yet, with the opening of the new museum exhibit displaying the mummified body of the "Pale Immortal" (the supposed town vampire from 100 years ago, Richard Manchester),  Tuonela is now being overrun with out-siders and  journalists  . . . including some university students completing their senior work of a Blair Witch Project- esque documentary on the town's haunted past.  What's Tuoneal and it's residents to do when a dark history begins to unravel?

There are five characters that the reader follows throughout "Garden of Darkness".  The first being Rachel Burton, a town local, whose parents passed away a few year previously.  She's also the only one in Tuonela to complete a full autopsy on the skinless cadavers.  She desperately wants to leave the town and move to California, but is basically coerced into staying, even though she's eight months pregnant.  Next is Alastair Stroud, the chief of police, and father to the town's most talked about resident, Evan.   He takes up drinking again after discovering some disturbing facts about a terrible mistake he made in the past.  Evan Stroud suffers from a skin disease that makes him sensitive to light as well as the brunt to every vampire joke in Tuonela.  He shares a dark secret with his father and is driven to the point of insanity in this book.  Next we have, Graham Stroud, Evan's son, who escaped from an abusive mother to find his heritage and is disappointed in what he discovers.   He now works as a part-time security guard at the museum while completing high school, but gets close with outsider, Kristin Blackmoore, whose is in town working on the documentary.

The story is a bit rocky here and there, but easy enough to follow overall.  At the beginning, the reader really has no idea what is going on since following so many different point-of-views.  Eventually the POVs begin to collide and the tale gets creepier and creepier.  It's like a nice Dean Koontz tale with footsteps outside your bedroom door when you're home alone or spooky scratching sounds in the dead of night.  I LOVE that!  Sadly it's also one of those books that builds up nicely, but ends abruptly.  Boo!  The only way to truely enjoy this book is reading it late into the night.  Sweet Dreams.

Likes: The spook factors throughout the tale were fun.

Dislikes: This was Book #2 in a trilogy and unfortunately, book #3 will never be published in the series.

Rating:
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Dangerous Protector by Janet Chapman

The Dangerous Protector
(Puffin Harbor Book #2)
by Janet Chapman

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Willow Foster is committed to protecting Maine's precious coastline. She's equally committed to avoiding her one-time fling, Duncan Ross, the rugged Scotsman who's got her hometown believing she's the love of his life. But when Willow goes home to uncover the mystery behind a worrisome lobster catch, she learns that pub owner Duncan holds some mysteries of his own...and that taking a chance with her heart might open her life up to passion beyond her wildest dreams.

When a lobster-man, Ray Cobb, alerts Maine Assistant Attorney General Willow Foster to the presence of contaminants and dead lobsters in Puffin Harbor, she begins a personal and secret investigation. She's unofficially assisted by bar owner and former Navy-man Duncan Ross, whose offers of both marriage and passion she's been resisting since a one-night stand 18 months earlier. As the two explore both the corporate paper trail and the local seascape, Duncan reveals that he's actually a Scottish lord, while Willow is forced to grapple with her fear of commitment.

Occasionally I like to mix it up and read a nice historical romance or some hot contemporary story.  This was definitely a likable read, plus it's been sitting on my library shelf for years (yes, years!) unread.   Right off the back, Duncan (aka Dunky) and Willow (aka Counselor) steamed up the pages with their chemistry.  Duncan's made it clear his ready to take the next step while Willow is hesitant and basically goes the opposite directions every time a serious relationship talk comes up.  They blend together so well from the beginning that it's hard not to enjoy them as a couple.  Duncan moved to Maine from Scotland and opened a bar two years previously, while Willow is a local AG and works on cases non-stop unless she's visiting her sister, Rachel, in Puffin Harbor.  Whenever Ducan and Willow see each other, they bicker, they flirt, they secretly share kisses and more . . . and now the whole town is placing bets on their wedding even though neither are officially together.  Too fun!  This was a quick read for me, maybe since it was a nice change from my normal reading style, and the mystery part to the story flowed smoothly throughout.  Didn't feel rushed or bada-bing-bada-bang (abruptly finished) at the end, like some stories can be.  Nothing Paranormal.  Nothing Supernatural.  Nothing Fantasy related.  Just an easy HOT read . . . just what I wanted!

Likes:  I enjoyed the town's betting pool for when --or rather if the wedding between Duncan and Willow will take place and having the various citizens of the Harbor admit who (and how much) they bet on.

Dislikes:  There are definitely a lot of characters going on throughout the story and perhaps if I would have read Book #1 (The Seductive Impostor) first, I wouldn't have been confused trying to remember who was who.

Rating:
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Undead and Unfinished by Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unfinished
(The Undead Book #9)
by Mary Janice Davidson

Genre: Paranormal Romance

In Undead and Unfinished, the ninth novel featuring the adventures of Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor, Betsy strikes up a deal with the devil. Now, Betsy has the ability to read the Book of the Dead without going insane and she finally gets the chance to discover all the dark mysteries it holds. When a visit to Hell turns into a time traveling journey filled with risky encounters, Betsy gets more than she bargained for. As she interacts firsthand with her past generations, Betsy’s meddling will impact the future in ways she does not yet understand.

Vamp Queen Betsy Taylor's at it again and no matter what goes down in Minneapolis, whenever Betsy's involved, it's usually not good. Her sister Laura or as Betsy's refers to her (numerous times!) throughout the book, Antichrist, gets involved in a scheme to visit her true mother, the Devil, in Hell.  Wanting to tag along (reluctantly!) to make sure everything is A-okay, Betsy follows Laura to have a personal tour down-under, witness the hellish treatment of Ted Bundy and Henry VIII, and travel in time.  Yes, that's right - I said travel in time since Laura needs to practice that skill if she's to take over her Mother's position upon retirement.   Something neither are willing to do, but it's not like you have much choice in Hell.  

This use to be such a cute series and who couldn't enjoy Betsy Taylor—former model, newly unemployed secretary, 30, and still single—who wakes up after being flattened by a small SUV in a tacky coffin wearing cheap knock-off shoes and is now the Queen of the vampires?  Come on . . . that was a hilarious plot!  But the last few books in the series have been major major bombs!!!  I couldn't even finish the last one and, sadly, I've stopped buying the ridiculous hardback copies of this series.  Thanks to my library though, I can safely test the waters again with the next addition, Undead and Unfinished.  I'm not offering praise or anything, but Davidson is at least is taking steps in the right direction with Book #9.  I struggled at times to continue (Could Betsy just SHUT UP for once and stop making senseless chatter?), but at least I finished this story and the ending was surprisingly shocking to me . . . didn't see that coming at all!  I did enjoy the Devil's description of being the "giver of knowledge" since "knowledge is like a hammer . . . it's neither good nor evil.  What matters is how you apply it." (pg 125) I think that was probably the deepest thought throughout this whole book.  If you've been a fan from the beginning, you'll more than like be tempted to check this one out and honestly it's not as bad as the last two (those were just SAD excuses for books) but it's nothing great to brag about it either.  Pure Fluff!

Likes: The references to The Body Shop's Strawberry bath gel . . . OMG I love that stuff, too!
Dislikes: I use to think Betsy's obsession with shoes was quirky, but now it's just ridiculous!

Rating:
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Monday, August 2, 2010

*REREAD* One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

One Foot in the Grave
(Dark Huntress Book #2)
by Jeaniene Frost

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Urban Fantasy

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind. Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won't let her get away again.

Half-Vampire, Catherine "Cat" Crawfield (know as "Kitten" to only one other), is now a full fledged Vampire Huntress.  She has her own specially trained team, works within a secret government branch, and cannot forget about the dark past (particularly one leather jacket wearing vamp) which is catching up with her.  Vampire Master, Bones (known to his close personal friends as "Crispin"), didn't take well with Cat disappearing five years ago; since then, he's be on the hunt for any information pertaining to her where-abouts and he just got lucky.

Their paths fatefully cross again in of all places, a close friend's wedding; where both are in the bridal party.  Keeping feelings contained is something Cat prides herself on and plus, she's a professional now and cannot put more around her in danger.  Thus, the reason she left years before.  Bones, on the other hand, refuses to lose Cat (again!) and is willing to expose himself to her co-workers as well as train those within Cat's agency.  Beside the romantic tension between the two yummy main characters, tons of vampire history is given, Cat's father's identity is revealed and his relationship is closer to her than previously thought,  Bone's vampire heritage is learned, and lots of action packed adventures are had.  If you read the first book in the series, you'll be itching to jump right into the next.  It's a great followup and Cat saves herself (and the story) from becoming too much of a kick-ass/bad-ass female read (something I loathe!) by having Bones show her up with his amazing vampy powers.  I'm also that rare exceptional reader that dislikes books with men/women in uniforms (ie. law enforcers) thus, the "secret" hunting agency (not just a police force) twist of the tale helped me enjoy it a lot better! To each their own, eh? So . . . Enjoy Dark Huntress Book #2 y'all!

Likes: I adored the part when Bones was faster than a speeding bullet during their date, could fly after those they hunt, and that Cat joked they should leap tall buildings in a single bound next.  Super silly, but cute!

Dislikes:  Cat's mom has NEVER grown on me throughout the series.  I basically skip the sections she's in.

Rating: 
 
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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blue Bloods: Keys to the Repository by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods : Keys to the Repository
(Companion to The Van Alen Legacy)
by Melissa de la Cruz

Genre: Companion | Paranormal Romance | Young Adult

Lavish parties. Passionate meetings in the night. Bone-chilling murders. Midterms. The day-to-day life of Schuyler Van Alen and her Blue Bloods friends (and enemies) is never boring. But there's oh-so-much more to know about these beautiful and powerful teens. Below the streets of Manhattan, within the walls of the Repository, exists a wealth of revealing information about the vampire elite that dates back before the Mayflower. In a series of short stories, journal entries, and never-before-seen letters, New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz gives her hungry fans the keys to the Repository and an even more in-depth look into the secret world of the Blue Bloods.

Half-Blood
Birth Name: Schuyler Theodora Elizabeth Van Alen Chase
Origin: September 1, 1992, New York, New York
Known Past Lives: None: she is Dimidium Cognatus (half-human, half-vampire), the first and only one of her kind.

Azrael, Angel of Death, Twin Angel of the Apocalypse
Birth Name: Madeleine Alexis Force, known as "Mimi"
List of Human Familiars: See pages 84-88 in Records of Human Interaction for full list. (Too many to mention here; number in possible violation of the Code.) HA!

Kingsley Martin
Assigned to investigate the murder of Aggie Carondolet, Kingsley enrolled as a student at Duchesne.  With his cocky confidence, smoldering air of mystery, and devastating good looks {NOTE FROM RENFIELD: SCRIBES, ARE YOU SURE VENATOR MARTIN HASN'T HACKED INTO THIS FILE?}, Kingsley was a legend only a week after arriving at Duchesne. {NOTE TO RENFIELD FROM K.M. HI RENNY!}

You'll find fun facts like this and more scattered all throughout Keys to the Repository.  It gives detailed accounts of all the main character's family backgrounds, current status, list of bond mates, physical characteristics, as well as city maps, a full history of the Blue Bloods, and a peek at Bliss's "Wolf Pack" side story in search of the Hounds of Hell.  Lovely stuff for all followers of the Blue Blood series, like myself.  It's a companion read, so don't expect much.  I personally have a love/hate relationships with companion reads.  On one hand, I enjoy the little details and shorts stories about all of my favorite characters, while on the other hand, I hate that the fans have to wait even longer for an actually book, and not just an encyclopedia, to continue the series.  Yayy that Misguided Angel (Book #5) is right around the corner on October 26.  We even get a special treat with Bloody Valintine, a romantic novella, that will be published next year! Double Yayy.

Keys to the Repository answered some nice questions of mine (like: What was Schuyler and Jack's first meeting at the Perry St apartment like? or More insight to what happened to Dylan Ward) but then left me blank on so much more (like: Is it true that Stephen Chase, Schuyler's red blood father is only "presumed" deceased? or Wait, so . . . Kingsley was only believed to be trapped in the underworld and not finished?) If you like Schuyler and the gang, you'll enjoy all the "documents" within Melissa de la Cruz's newest work.

Likes: "Mr. Darcy's Requests" was nice!  "Stolen moments, stolen kisses, a secret oasis." Yummy! (pg 59)

Dislikes: Sometimes there's so much information to absorb that I get overwhelmed and can only read the books for bits at a time.

Rating:
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