Thursday, March 31, 2011

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

(The Outlander Series Book #3)
by Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Time-Travel | Historical Romance

“He was dead. However, his nose throbbed painfully, which he thought odd in the circumstances.”

Thus begins the third book in the OUTLANDER series, in which we learn that–despite his best efforts–Jamie Fraser did not die on the battlefield at Culloden. He isn’t pleased. Back in the 20th century, Claire is equally shocked by the revelation of Jamie’s survival–but much more pleased about it. We hear Jamie’s story as he moves forward, trying to forge a life from the bits of his soul and his country that are left, and hear Claire’s brief recounting of the twenty years since she left him at Culloden, while Roger MacKenzie and Brianna (Claire and Jamie’s daughter) draw close to each other as they sleuth through the clues of the past, in an urgent hunt for Jamie Fraser. Can they find him? And if they do, will Claire go back to him? And if she does…what will happen then?

Claire discovers a startling fact while researching the past; that Jamie actually survived the battle which divided them so long ago. Upon making a life-changing decision, Claire says good-bye to the "present" (aka future) and steps back into 1700's Scotland to find her husband. The man she meets is amazingly the same, but shockingly different -- something 20 years time can do to a person. Claire must slowly accept the changes in Jamie while sharing in some new adventures along new characters and new lands. It's a bumpy ride, but this time they're determined to make it through together.

I am hooked on this series!! When I pick up a book, I'm not interested in reading anything else. Plus, the books are quite thick (1000+ pages in paperback), so once I begin . . . it can take awhile for me to finish and I am more than satisfied staying up late to put in time with the tale. I'm also happy Claire and Jamie are getting a second chance at happiness, even though they do have to sacrifice connections with their daughter Brianna, who has remained in the present (for now!). It was enjoyable catching up with Jamie's family and experiencing Claire's joy in re-connecting with close friends from the past. There were some shocking secrets that Jamie had to reveal to Claire, so that added some great tension to the overall story.

Since these books are so dense, it is almost impossible to do a in-depth review since many readers will point out certain highlights that others won't. Overall, I'm excited for Book #4, but have decided to put it off till my own trip to Scotland this May! (Whoo-hoo!!!) I find I'm going back into the stories and trying to put to memory locations to re-visit myself, but overall the Highlands are my focus. {
silly grin} Yet, within Voyager, the readers gets to travel a lot with the characters -- all over Scotland, Paris, and then some. The boat trips were a nice change in pace and the ending actually had some spooky voodoo parts, which is always a little different, enjoyable and keeps the tale interesting.

If you follow the series, you'll get to re-visit some old characters in this tale...especially some memorable ones from Book #1. Yet, as I have stated in past
Outlander Series reviews, many of the same plot lines are used (ex. rape, yet again, but less subtle this time!) and I always seem to find that as a sore point in the books; almost disgustingly so this time. Funny enough, Claire seems to be getting braver in her age and almost more daring then big-tough Jamie, especially so in Voyager. If you enjoy history and love romance, you need need to check out these book. Highly recommended!!

Likes: Claire displayed a lot of jealous is this story, especially directed to some of the characters from Jamie's past - it's fun to see a prominent character who was so comfortable in her situation before to learn to adapt to changes now. Plus, for me, it just went to show how strong her feelings were and will always be toward Jamie. I liked that.

Dislikes: I always say I love series and these books are so fascinating, but sometimes. . .it's a lot to read for just one book. Don't get me wrong -- the thickness it not exactly a fault, just an annoyance sometimes.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Done & Done

February 18th was the last day for the coffee shop inside the Borders Bookstore on St. Charles Avenue. The long front porch was one of the best places in uptown New Orleans to have a cup of coffee and watch the world go by, along with the occasional streetcar.

March 29th was the last day the store was officially "open", though there was not much merchandise inside except for the bookshelves that were purchased and being picked up by customers.

The bookstore itself was unique for a big chain store - and rumored to be haunted - since it was located in a former funeral home.

Farewell big clearance sale! Good-bye great lunch break escape!

Local uptown book shops will likely benefit from the closure. An estimated third of the nation's Borders sites will be closed since Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The closest Borders not on the chopping block is the Baton Rouge store.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

(A Night Huntress Novel Book # 5)
by Jeaniene Frost

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Dark Fantasy

Danger waits on both sides of the grave…

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they’ve triumphed over the latest battle, Cat’s new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance…

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage.

Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally”—the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war. …to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

I'm happy we got back into a story about the original characters. Cat is just as hard-ass and Bones as frustratingly suave as always, but you gotta love them! You can defiantly tell we're on Book #5 in series since the plot no longer focuses on the main characters and one major plot anymore and, overall, I felt this story went all over the place; from emotional family baggage to catch-up with previous characters to ghouls / ghosts galore.

Unfortunately, I went about the wrong way in reading this book. First, opted for the audio-book on a drive to Texas, didn't finish all the way. About a week passed. Second, I had the paperback to continue reading, but still didn't finish all the way since I got busy with work and ending up reading another book all together. Then another week passed. All in all, I really haven't finished the book YET (honestly, only a few pages till the end) BUT I will get to them soon, promise! ;)

From what I read though, it is full of high-intense action, some HOT (H-O-T-T-HOT!) sex scenes, tearfully emotional family scenes, and lots of new spooky abilities for Cat - which means . . . more books to come. Even though the Night Huntress series is beginning to take on characteristics of a chain of books becoming too much for the reader (i.e. too much plot, too many characters, too much action, etc.) that the simple story in-between it all is lost, I still love Bones and will always be coming back for more!

Likes: A visit to New Orleans - Whoot! Whoot!

Dislikes: I don't like the ghouls. None of them grew on me and all Cat's interactions with them was just "so-so". Blah!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Raised by Wolves
(Raised by Wolves Book #1)
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

Bryn doesn't exactly feel like she fits in at school as well as at home. She's part of the wolf pack, but many members won't even willingly accept her if not for the Alpha's protection. She's an orphan with a dark past and knows something is up since new laws have been put into place for her to get home at dusk and many more rules shes unwilling to follow. When a new discovery of pack secrets is revealed, Bryn must go against her "human" instincts and fully accept the pack lifestyle, accepting the good with the bad. Yet, can Bryn willingly change for the better when even more secrets from the past become known?

I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of this tale, but the end kind of fizzled out for me. It was fresh, very intriguing, and written in a manner that was quite easy to follow, but the plot turns at the end had me wishing for something different. It's not that it wasn't a nice ending, just not as satisfying as I would have personally liked and it was a little sad. Bryn's relationship with the different characters was what interested me the most. She acted differently with everyone and that kept the story spicy and from becoming too slow to enjoy.

I would have liked a better conclusion (maybe even an epilogue?) to this story and perhaps I'm unaware of a series that will soon follow, but I felt many of the side characters had their tale unjustly cut short and I would have enjoyed to learn more about them and where they were headed. Oh, just found out : TRIAL BY FIRE (the Raised By Wolves sequel) okay, that makes my reading taste much happier to know there is more coming overall.

Likes: I enjoyed the concept behind the story and am excited to read more into that world in Book #2.

I want to know more about Bryn and her ability, much was left out and I know there is more of the story to come soon, but what was lacking had me scratching my head in confusion.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue

Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband
(Daughters of the Glen Series Book #1)
by Melissa Mayhue

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Historical | Time-Travel

In the misty recesses of time a Faerie Prince loses his true love, prompting a blessing on all his mortal female descendants, bestowing his powers on them that they should be protected and allowed to find their own true loves.

CONNOR MACKIERNAN is a 13th century Scottish warrior, a descendent of that Faerie prince, a man who lives only for honor and duty, but he has a huge problem. His experience of betrayal at the hands of women has left him suspicious and distrustful of any woman's motives. He's sworn never to marry, but finds he must do exactly that to save his sister. With the help of his well-meaning aunt, and a little Faerie magic, the search for a bride is on.

CAITLYN CORYELL is a 21st century woman who longs to be strong enough to find love without sacrificing who she is. Her experience with an unfaithful fiance who wanted to marry her only for her family's money and influence has left her doubting her desirability and any man's reason for wanting her. Imagine her surprise when she puts on an antique pendant and Connor appears in her bedroom, begging her help to save his sister. He offers a simple adventure: travel to his time, marry him and return home. But nothing's simple when the adventure backfires, trapping Cate in the 13th Century.

An ancient Faerie's blessing reaches across the barriers of time to unite two emotionally wounded people. But it will take more than the magic of the Fae to heal their hearts. It will require the most powerful magic of all - the magic of true love.

Caitlyn (aka Cate) is torn, she's days away from her own wedding and she innocently discovers her fiance, Richard, having an affair with his secretary but she's never been one of those women who could end things so easily. Thus, she's weak in her decision about cutting ties and on that same night, a tartan-wearing warrior, Connor, walks through her bedroom mirror. Thinking she's drunk on whiskey and imagining marital related things, Cate accepts this Highlanders proposition of marriage and finds herself in 1272 Scotland with a wedding soon approaching. Yet, as realization sinks in, threats on her life become quite frequent, and romance beginning to bloom, Cate must make some tough chooses about "true" love and the sacrifices one must make in order to get it.

I'm a sucker for time-travels and this one was an easy fun read. A little silly at certain parts, but none the less entertaining. You can't take the story too seriously though since some of the plot concepts just seemed rather oddly unrealistic (even for a time-travel tale), but overall it's a good 'curl-up-on-the-couch' Sunday book. I enjoyed Connor the most. He's unbashful about marriage, daring in his actions, and accepting of all Cate's futuristic quirks. I'm eager to read more into the series to catch further glimpses of him and his family/friend.

Likes: Mairi was a fun and vibrant part of the story that spiced up Cate's character. I enjoyed their little escapes from the castle together to spy on Connor.

Dislikes: Cate came off as a confusing character to me, at times she would display a strong manner with great tact by working within her families international business, but she wasn't very resilient in her attitude toward Richard. It's like her "time-travel experience" was the only pivotal moment in her life that made her actually change for the good and because of that, she just appeared as a weak women to me in her thoughts and actions for most of the story.


Happy Mardi Gras Everyone !!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

The Eternal Ones
(Eternal Series Book #1)
by Kirsten Miller

Genre : Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

Haven Moore is a high school senior who has had visions of previous lives since she was a small child. Her strict, religious grandmother and guardian insists that she is possessed by demons. Haven believes she is being driven to find the current reincarnation of her true love.

The teen is a fine seamstress and has saved $12,000 making prom dresses with her gay friend, Beau. As her small-town world closes in around her, she decides to make a run for it to New York City, where she has seen the love of her lives come back in the tabloids because he has been accused of murder. This novel is a mystery, a thriller, and a love story. There is also a touch of the occult via the Ouroboros Society, an organization that purports to gather members from the reincarnated of the world. The element of mystery is consistently sustained from the beginning as Haven tries to determine if the man she loves is trying to kill her.

Ever since Haven Moore was 9 years old, she's been having flashbacks of realistic events that haven't happened yet. As a child, she would always mention of having "another mother", talk about her "other big self" and other unnatural things for someone so young to even know about. Thus, she was shunned early on by the students at school, thought cursed by her church, and practically kept prisoner by her strict grandmother/caretaker. Luckily, she had a best friend, Beau Decker, who kept her sane while memories of a past love, Ethan, kept her dreaming of something better in life. Eventually, research on her visions led to actual historical facts which convinced Haven that she was the reincarnation of a girl named Constance from the 1920s. She also discovered her "Ethan" was reincarnated as well as Ian Marrow, a New York rich society boy whose face is across all the gossip tabloids. Yet, as things begin to heat up in her home town in Tennessee, Haven escapes to try to figure out what all her visions means and just who she really is.

This was a refreshing read, something paranormally different from most of what is out there. Past lives that are reincarnated over and over again so that they may finally be together, a true love that doesn't end . . . utterly romantic and still sadly tragic. I enjoyed Haven's struggle of dealing with her debilitating visions of places/people she had never seen in her current life. The past twist was just as fascinating and I wish we would have gotten even more detailed glimpses into more of their past lives besides the most recent one in 1925. I adored the relationship between Haven and Beau and found myself easily getting caught up in the overall mystery of The Eternal Ones. Yet, about 2/3rds into the book, I felt Haven became very wishy-washy in her Ouroboros Society beliefs and that she was exasperatingly tedious with going back and forth in her trust in Ian/Ethan. I did find some parts shockingly spooky (ex. her discoveries while being held captive near the end), but all in all I thoroughly was captivated and cannot wait for what is next.

Coming Soon: Book # 2 - ALL YOU DESIRE - August 9th, 2011

Likes: What little bits we got of the past-life stories was fascinating, especially the story set during ancient Crete.

Dislikes: Lots of controversial religious beliefs were brought up throughout the story and since I'm not really not a fan of religious debates or political prejudices brought up in any type of book, I frowned upon it here too.

Words of Wisdom: "Unless you make the jump, you'll never know what is on the other side." (audio-book)