Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

The Gathering
by Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Review on behalf of Dark Fairy Tales

Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students–for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.

Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya’s determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya’s home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts experiencing “bad vibes” about certain people and things. It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret…and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

Maya is from a very private and privileged town (or hamlet as she prefers to think about it due to the size) called Salmon Creek. She is liked by all, best buds with the most popular boy at school and, if she wanted, could easily be the track team captain. Yet, she is very grounded for her age, has good morals, is secretly suffering/dealing with the loss of a very dear friend, and cares deeply for her family, nature and surrounding wildlife. Her sixteenth birthday is soon approaching and all Maya asks for is a tattooed outlining of her odd birthmark to her parents dismay. But not all is as it seems since her town, home of the St. Cloud Corporation (aka top secret "medical" research facility for corporate bigwigs), is having some new "reporter" sniffing around trying to dig up personal information on the students. Things also get a little out of control when Maya begins to fall for the high school trouble-maker Rafe (Rafael), but as some startling truths become known and even more dark secrets still remain hidden - can Maya except the change that is to come?

I got absorbed into this story from chapter one. Armstrong's writing style flows wonderfully and is easy to follow. Plus, the characters are very realistic and all likable. I highly enjoy Maya as the protagonist, since she is quite witty and very open in regards to her feelings and thoughts. She did, sometimes, come off as older than her sixteen years, but she is great as a female lead. Her Navajo background was very interesting as well. Rafe and Daniel grew on my throughout The Gathering and the other side characters were all very intriguing in their own ways (including the wildlife). Maya shares lots of personal (ex. alcoholism) and touching (ex. mentally disabled sister) moments with the two lead males and it just goes to show that even though she leads this "perfect" life in this "perfect" town, not everything is glitter and gold -- in more ways than one!

The plot was well planned out and the ending had me wishing for more (even though it did finish quite abruptly). But now, I know this is the beginning of a series and I cannot wait for Book #2. So many questions, so many possibilities! The setting was great and I had a "small town" bond between Maya and myself since "almost all of us[students] plan to go off to college or university, and not many intend to return, but we're happy enough living here until then" (pg 35) hit home for me! Yet, with Salmon Creek offering "the best of everything" (pg 17), it really makes you think - "If something seems too good to be true, it's probably because it is . . . "

Likes: Maya's humor!

{while on the tattoo trip} Maya: "I've decided to skip the paw print. I'm thinking of a tramp stamp with flames that say 'Hot in Here.' No, wait. Arrows. For directionally challenged guys." to her father.

Dislikes: I was shocked her parents seriously allowed her to get a tattoo for her sixteenth birthday, WHAT!?!

Words of Wisdom: Maya's Mom - "Yes, you set high standards for people. Too high sometimes. But you set higher ones for yourself and that's what worries me more, Maya. I want you to have big dreams, big goals. I want you to strive to achieve them. But I don't want to see you beating yourself up every time you make a mistake." (pg. 306)



Friday, February 25, 2011

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

Dreams of a Dark Warrior
(Immortals After Dark #11)
by Kresley Cole

Genre : Paranormal Romance Dark Fantasy

He vowed he'd come for her - Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past livesonly an endless yearning.

She awaits his return - When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals, unaware that he belongs to their world.

To sate a desire more powerful than death - Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan's torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once sharedeven if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

Regan is known to have a drug-like kiss and a reincarnated Berserker that becomes reawakened to their history together upon her affections. Now, that another 500 years has passed, the war between the immortals is heating up and many of the Lore are ending up prisoners within a facility for research. Soon Regan finds herself there under the study of Declan, the Magistrate, who also happens to be her long-ago mate. Since their latest relationship together is in the beginning stages, Declan knows nothing special about Regan except that she arouses passionate thoughts within him that weren't there before. Yet, after numerous brutal and torturous sessions together, can love actually bloom within two enemies?

Ugh, I am so ready for this "research facility" arc to be over. I'm not a fan! I didn't enjoy the last book in the series (sadly!) and I found this one wasn't that great either. I fear we have one more to go before something new comes along as well, boo! Regardless, I keep holding out for 'better' b/c I'm a lover of past books and characters and keep wishing we'll get a glimpse of them somewhere within the story, but overall . . . not liking the constant action packed feel to the plot, its difficult for me to get into any of the relationships, and its a struggle to even enjoy the male leads.

I find the books I really favor best within the IAD series focuses solely on the pair within the story, since they themselves must complete some journey TOGETHER, they ALONE must fight against the enemy/something broken within themselves, and just the two of them makes up a majority of the tale. Interestingly enough, KC has changed her writing style by mixing these newest couples into massive group settings. No longer does the reader get to enjoy the relationship growth between our two leading protagonists like before, but now there are many many others offering silly feedback in regards to the growing lust/love of the couple. . . that it bothers me. I want the focus to switch back to the reason I buy the book (Paranormal Romance between a COUPLE, not group) and not try to expand the Lore world too quickly by adding immense crowds and intense action power. Boring!

Also, I'm one of those women that does not enjoy a man in a uniform. Thus, I don't "get" Duncan's heavy military attire with combat boots and his desire for weaponry . . . nothing there excites me. And I need some true redemption within my stories to give off a feeling of completion and Duncan didn't get far enough for my taste, therefore I couldn't find myself liking him as a character. Honestly, I wanted the original Berserker to come back in full force, but sadly that wasn't the case. I feel Regan deserved better! Plus, there was so much going on within the story that by the time the relationship between the two heated up near the end, I was so over the book that I just wanted to skip it. There was no fun romantic build up for me and Dreams of a Dark Warrior came off a lacking when I finished. I totally rolled me eyes at the Epilogue!

All in all, I find I'm extra hard on this book because I love the IAD series and I truly expected a lot from the story. Yes, I may have some favorite Lore stories that other readers don't favor as much and I understand some readers highly enjoy these 'research facility' books as being some of the best within the series, nonetheless, I'm so ready for something NEW to spice up this series for me again . . . otherwise I might get burned too many times and just turn away.

Likes: I did enjoy the flashbacks to the other Berserker's reincarnated selves, maybe since they WEREN'T Duncan.

Way too action packed for my taste and I'm almost dreading the Lore Accession from coming since it'll be mostly full on 'battle mode' then on out.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bye, Bye Borders!

Bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week and said it will close about 30 percent of its stores nationwide, including the two it operates in the New Orleans area.The bookstore chain plans to shut both its Metairie store at 3131 Veterans Memorial Blvd. and its New Orleans store at 3338 St. Charles Ave in the coming weeks. The latter location is the site of the former House of Bultman Funeral Home, which Borders converted and opened in 2008.
The Veterans Boulevard location had been the site of House of Lee restaurant. Opened in 1959 and billed as "the largest restaurant south of the Mason-Dixon line" until it closed in 1995, the restaurant was opened by the parents of the late Sheriff Harry Lee.
In addition to the New Orleans area stores, Borders operates one other bookstore in Louisiana. That store, on Bluebonnet Blvd. in Baton Rouge, is not on the list of planned closings.

Book Blogger Hop #7



"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

Answer :

Not at all! I'm a HUGE zombie fan (thus the rating markers) and I love anything paranormal, so I think my blog name fits my reading style perfectly! Plus, the greatest book is one you can really become lost in or not put down (i.e. Buried In!) and I feel my title combines all that.

hanks for hopping by,


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber
(Outlander Series Book #2)
by Diana Gabaldon

Genre : Historical | Romance | Time-Travel | etc.

The book carries on the story begun in OUTLANDER, but begins with a brief framing story set in 1968, in which Claire Randall visits a young Oxford don named Roger MacKenzie in Inverness, in search of answers for her daughter, Brianna. Her request is unusual; she has a list of names, Jacobite soldiers who fought with Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s army, who took part in the disastrous battle at Culloden in 1746. What happened to these men, she asks, following the battle? Roger is surprised at her intensity, but intrigued at her question–and intrigued even more by her red-haired daughter. The answer to Roger’s search leads all three to an unexpected grave–and to a revelation that will turn all their lives inside-out.

Claire tells Roger and Brianna what happened during the year before the Stuart Rising: the political intrigues, the chain of spying, betrayal, and murder that led her and her husband James Fraser from the court of Louis XV to the windswept moors of the Scottish Highlands and the blood-soaked ground of Culloden. The horrifying trap of circumstance and honor that sent her back to the future–and the present set of circumstances that have led her to her quest, and to a still more shocking revelation.

The story begins with Claire back in her modern time with her 20 year old daughter. Both are traveling to Scotland for the first time since her husband's recent death and Claire wants to do some research on the past and re-visit some historical sites. Yet along the way, Claire begins to honestly & heartbreakingly explain her time-traveling years on how she and Jamie escaped Scotland for France. They were on a mission to change the future, but became involved deeply within the monarchy and other monumental figures. Yet, trouble eventually finds them again and they both realize that the "future" must be faced regardless of the outcome and head back to Scotland. Back in the "future future" Claire discovers more people other than herself have a direct link to the past and her daughter, Brianna, must face some harsh facts herself.

This book is truly as complicated, elaborate, and as long as Book #1, but no where near as romantic and exciting as a budding relationship can be in the beginning phases. Claire & Jamie are past their "honeymoon stage" and are now dealing with establishing a new life within a new country with the dark details of what's to come barreling down on them. They foolishly bicker (which is adorable since they have some amazingly funny rumbles) and commit some bitter marriage faux paus, but flourish as a couple. Lots of historical figures are introduced and many interesting cultural tid-bits are thrown into the story as well. Be ready for a ride, since the reader gets two new worlds (the future and the past) to follow with fascinating characters in both.

Likes: Claire's involvement with the monastery hospital was both intriguing and frightening.

Dislikes: Jamie came off as a totally different person from book #1, since now he was truly the 'Jack of all trades', he became almost too unrealistic as a character. Also, I felt many of the stories themes were repeats from the first tale: whipping as punishment, rape, etc.



Monday, February 21, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Iron Queen
(The Iron Fey Book #3)
by Julie Kagawa

Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Paranormal Romance

Review on behalf of Dark Fairy Tales

In less than twenty-four hours I'll be seventeen.

Although, technically, I won't actually be turning seventeen. I've been in the Nevernever too long. When you're in Faery, you don't age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I'm probably only a few days older than when I went in.

In real life, I've changed so much I don't even recognize myself.


I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

The star-crossed lovers of this tale, Meghan and Ash, are trying to adapt to their new status of being exiles from Nevernever as well as working on their budding relationship. Yet, they quickly get dragged back into a bloody war while at the same time discovering Meghan's father for the first time in years. With the fairy world slowly being destroyed, Meghan cannot foolishly divide her time between her two existences anymore. And with a power that truly scares her, Meghan realizes she must face her destiny, finally choose sides, and learn what 'sacrifice' really means.

I fell in love with this story from Book # 1 since it was/is a pure fantasy mixture of the classic 80s movies Labyrinth and The Princess Bride - all with a fun modern twist. Now with the dark war between the fairy kingdom ensuing, add some of the fighting sequences from Lord of the Rings/Narnia to the mix as well. Meghan is no longer the young naive half-breed daughter of a legendary fairy king, known as "Princess" to most, but is now a tougher version ready to face a world where she accepts there will be no easy answer to things.

I really wanted to like this book and get caught up within the story again, but sadly I felt there were parts that seriously dragged and others that I desired to skip all together. Maybe it was that the fairy world is no longer 'new' and exciting to me anymore since Book #1 or maybe the spicy relationship triangle factor was toned down some from Book #2, but overall . . . I just wanted more from the tale. I wanted Meghan to fight harder for Ash, I wanted her to not shy away from her unknown powers, and I wanted a story that captivated me throughout.

Though some characters remarkably stood out for me (i.e. Glitch), others were flat annoying (i.e. Gremlins!) and I found myself disliking the story more and more with their every appearance. In the end, The Iron Queen is truly a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss (and I shed a tear here and there) but as a whole, I would rank this book as my least favorite of the series. During those rather slow parts, I was even secretly rooting for Puck to step up as new 'boyfriend' material OR something tragic to happen to Ash *gasp* but that wishful thinking wouldn't pan out so well for THE IRON KNIGHT (Ash's Story) up next!

Likes: NEW ORLEANS! Woo-hoo!

Dislikes: Nasty gremlins! Ugh!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Cover - Image Switch

Funny how images are sold and used elsewhere.

While checking my email this morning, this advertisment stood out and made me double check the cover of a previous book I've read and reviewed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

by Heather Dixon

Genre : Young Adult | Historic | Romance | Fairy Tale

Review on behalf of Dark Fairy Tales

Confined to their dreary castle while mourning their mother's death, Princess Azalea Kathryn Wentworth and her eleven younger sisters dance in a mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father's grief. What they don't understand -- although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in -- is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper (trapped in a magic passageway) is tightening his snare with deadly purpose and soon their nightly dances becomes nightmarish.

Upon the royally hosted Yuletide ball, which is also Azalea's first ball allowed to attend at the age of fifteen, her sickly mother makes her promise upon an old silver handkerchief to 'always take care of her sisters' before passing away and causing the family to go into mourning for one full year. Gone are the colorful dresses, daily palace visitors, bright sunny windows (for they are covered now with dark draperies), outside trips to the garden, and most importantly...dancing...something all the sisters love dearly and remember most about their mother. To add to the growing grief, their father shortly departs to war without so much as a good-bye and all their mother's personal items are locked away so that nothing is left as a remembrance. Bitter, distraught, and lonely the girls turn to each other for emotional support and when Azalea discovers a secret magic passageway within the castle - all of them jump at the opportunity to escape to this new world and embrace the chance to dance nightly. Yet, as their sadness begins to lift, Azalea begins to realize that not all is as it seems and they may have gotten too entwined within Mr Keepers web to escape without harm.

First off, I feel in love with the sister's names in Entwined - "Princess Royale (Azalea), Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, Evening Primrose, Flora, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Ivy, Jessamine, Kale, and tiny Lily" (pg 102) All alphabetical, all botanical, all girls - so whimsical and adorable. Honestly, I was expecting this story to be quite juvenile, but it came off as very emotionally entertaining and easily draws the reader into a world of magic and heartbreak. I enjoyed how brittle Azalea was upon her Mother's death since she so desperately wanted to trust in her father's love and blindly raised her sisters in their year of grief, thus, she instantly changed from a naive young princess to that of a responsible eldest sibling overnight. She easily took on the role of 'parent' when both were out of the picture and matured even more throughout the tale; wish I could have said the same for some of the other sisters (i.e. Bramble!) but , I guess, there does need to be some comical humor within a dark tale.

The royal palace was a fascinating setting for the little princesses; with bits of hidden magic left over from past eras. It came off as enchanted in some scenes and almost cursed in others, thus as a reader, it was hard to decided rather to be spooked or enthralled by the place itself. "It should have frightened [Azalea], thinking of the palace as once evil and magicked, with the candelabras and ceiling murals alive, but it didn't. It was hard to be frighted of a building that smelled of old toast" (pg 52) Overall, the story carried a heavy fairy-tale theme, but it still focused strongly on family bonds and learning to depend on others in between the mystical adventures. Plus, the "gentlemen" relationship aspect captivated me and had me guessing which suitors would end up with which sister and if all parties involved (ex. the King and fellow sisters) would agree to any future marriages. The courting manners were fun to read about and each sister had a distinct personality which really carried the story without making it feel dragged out or boring. Great read!

" Ladies' Dance Pocketbook : Entwine

The Entwine, also known as the gentleman's catch, is an amusing and challenging redowa suitable for accomplished partners. Similar to a trois-temps waltz, it is danced in open position with a long sash. The lady and gentleman each take ends of the sash, which their hands must not leave. In a series of quick steps the gentleman either twists the sash around the lady's wrists, pinning them (also known as the catch), or the lady avoids capture within three minutes' time. "

Likes: The relationship development between the King and his daughters.

Dislikes: Even though Entwined was set in a fantasy land - I felt a little lost on the time in which the story was being told (Victorian?) and felt a year or era given throughout the story would have satisfied my historical taste.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

(Outlander Series Book #1)
by Diana Gabaldon

Genre : Historical | Romance | Time-Travel | Fantasy | etc.

In 1946, after WWII, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family. But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones–such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain. She walks through a cleft stone in the circle….and disappears. Back into 1743, where the first person she meets is a gentleman in an 18th-century army officer’s uniform. This gentleman, Jack Randall, looks just like her husband Frank–and proves to be Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather. Unfortunately, he also proves to be a sadistic bisexual pervert, and while trying to escape from him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Highland Scots, who are also trying to get away from Black Jack Randall–though for other reasons.

In order to avoid being handed over to Captain Randall, Claire is obliged to marry one of the young clansmen. So she finds herself trying to escape from Castle Leoch and her Scottish captors, trying to get back to her husband Frank, trying to avoid being recaptured by Captain Randall–and falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the young man she’s been forced to marry. The story rolls on from there…

Clare is a content, newly married, post-war English nurse of the 1940s. She and her husband, Jack, are on their honeymoon in the Scotland highlands and while he does historical research for his Oxford career; she explores the countryside and works on her botanical hobby. Yet, upon an intriguing discovery near a circle of ancient druid stones, Claire is pulled from her modern world and thrust into the 1740s - two hundred years before. From here on out, it is a roller-coaster ride of adapting to another time while dealing with witchcraft, torture, love, murder, new marriage, etc.

WOW - I have been hearing rave reviews about this series for awhile now and I'm so glad I started. Also, really glad I got a bookstore gift card for Christmas, because now I can add a good chunk of this series to my own library! The story has everything I look for in a book: paranormal twists with the time-traveling aspect, budding romance with Claire and Jamie, suspense with Jamie being an outlaw on the run, intriguing historical facts, and oh so much more.

I was easily drawn into this story and I highly enjoyed the marriage progress between Claire and Jamie. I found the numerous twists and turns in the plot were fascinating and the overall tale not too overwhelming as a 800+ page story like this can easily become. Be warned that there are many gruesome details that add to the historical authenticity of the time, but Outlander's written style flowed very smoothly throughout that I cannot wait to begin Dragonfly in Amber (Book # 2)

Likes: Even though there was A LOT to take in from this book since the genre really goes all over the place, the ending was satisfying. No major cliff-hangers that you would usually find in a series.

Dislikes: I really enjoyed the plot development overall, but felt things were quite rushed at certain times - so much so that this book could have been broken down into smaller stories.