Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite New Series of 2010

Whenever I read about a great new series or a series that everyone loves I'm tempted to pick it up but at the same time I know I shouldn't start a new one until I've caught up with the ones I'm currently reading. And then there's the series that I have sitting in my mountainous tbr pile, waiting for me to start ~ Hello Meljean Brook, Anne Bishop, Lois McMaster Bujold, Diana Gabaldon, Cindy Gerard, Kim Harrison, Eloisa James, Sabrina Jefferies and many more. But that didn't stop me from picking up some new series in 2010 which was good since I found some real gems. So, the tbr pile gets a little bigger but I have some wonderful auto buy authors and their reads to look forward to. New worlds to explore and new characters to love. So it's all good!

In no particular order, here are some outstanding series you really should be reading!

Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series. This is an amazing Young Adult series that has kept me completely enthralled in the mythical world Kagawa has created. I love reading about Megan, Puck and Ash. The next book, The Iron Daughter, is set for release on January 25th. You can go here to read the free novella, Winter's Passage.


Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamer series. Love, love, love this series! It's another Young Adult series that I initially picked up for my teen, who loves it too! Vincent knows how to put the reader on the edge of the seat, keeping tensions high while still writing about the ups and downs of teen relationships. Do yourself a favor and start reading this series if you haven't already. You can go here to download My Soul to Lose, the free prequel novella.


And lest you think it's all about the YA, nope. Cowboys are one of my favorite types of heroes and Lorelei James knows how to write hot, alpha cowboys! I finally started reading her Rough Riders series this year and let me tell you, it was about time. They are full of sugar and spice and all things hot and sexy. This is one erotic series where the relationships don't take a backseat to the sex. It's all rolled up into one steamy tale of cowboys and cowgals and their love for each other. Definitely a series I can easily recommend. Bonus - the covers are gorgeous!


Elizabeth Hoyt aka Julia Harper aka a favorite author in either genre. Ms. Hoyt started her Maiden Lane series this year with Wicked Intentions, a top ten read of mine. Only one book into the series and I have no doubt it will become one of my favorite historical series. You know it's a good sign when you finish a book and there are any number of secondary characters whose book you would love to read.


Is it any surprise that a Jill Shalvis series made the list? Nope. I love her writing and was thrilled to find out she's starting a new series, Lucky Harbor. It's a wonderful contemporary series about three sisters and their relationships with each other and with the men in their lives. Shalvis is an author not to be missed!


So what series stood out for you this year? Any that you now find yourself waiting in anticipation for the next installment? Any series that you think I need to start reading, like yesterday? Cause, hey, there's a good chance it's on my tbr pile. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ARC Review: Precious and Fragile Things

Precious and Fragile Things
Megan Hart
Mainstream Fiction
Harlequin/January 2011*


From the author's website ~

He’s not about to let her leave.
And she cannot stay.

Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by the endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn’t immediately consider the consequences when she’s carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she’ll finally get some rest. Someone can save her for a change.

But salvation isn’t so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gilly knows she must never forget he’s still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him.


Megan Hart is known for her steamy, unique romances. Hart's stories are unique in that they are not always the standard, happily ever after romance but there is romance. In Precious and Fragile Things Hart takes the reader in another direction with no romance in sight. What she does give us is an equally compelling and in depth look at two people who at first glance are polar opposites.

Gilly Soloman is a woman on the brink. But before she can go over that brink she's pulled back in an unexpected, startling way. Gilly is a character that many of us can relate to. She's often overwhelmed by life and by the direction her life has taken her. By the demands put on her, not only from her family but from herself. She's in desperate need of a break from that demanding life and she gets it, just not in the form she could have expected.

The man who holds Gilly captive starts out as a low-life loser who puts not only Gilly but her kids in jeopardy. How could I possibly empathize with this jerk? This person that cares only about himself and what he wants? What he does, he does for his own needs, disregarding anyone else. Or does he? Oh, yes, he is screwed up - major childhood trauma, adult life not much better, and yet he still has some sliver of humanity in him. Sometimes he seems almost normal. The relationship he and Gilly forge, at times seems almost normal. But it's not, it can't be.

I love how Hart gets into the characters heads. Just when you think you know them, she shows you another side to them that you never expected. A side that the character didn't expect. This is truly a story about characters - how they change with the situations. How their reality changes to fit the situations. Precious and Fragile Things is not a love story, but it does show how much love, or the lack of it, can have an affect in shaping and determining a person's actions.

Hart is an exceptional writer, giving the reader uncommon characters in intriguing situations. I found myself drawn to both characters with Gilly garnering my sympathy as well as my annoyance. Gilly's captor made me want to understand what made him tick. Oddly enough, I didn't want Gilly to escape or be rescued before I figured this guy out. What the hell was with him?

Precious and Fragile Things is not a fast read. The story starts off fairly quickly with much happening at the beginning. Then the pacing slows down, allowing the reader to get to know Gilly and her captor as they get to know each other. I do think this is a fascinating story and I highly recommend it but. . . I also think you need to be in the mood for it, especially if you primarily read romance.

Precious and Fragile Things is a story with flawed, broken characters that I ended up caring about. I wanted needed to know how their story could possibly have a glimmer of a hopeful ending. In the end, it ended like it was meant to, giving this reader much to think about and appreciate.

Rating: A

*Official release is January 1st but is available now on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: Possession in Death

Possession in Death
The Other Side anthology
J. D. Robb
In Death/Book 39
Jove/November 2010


Very Brief Blurb ~

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has always sought justice for the dead, but now a victim will seek her own vengeance - through Eve.

The last In Death Challenge review of 2010. Thanks to Christine for hosting! It's fun to read other readers reviews and their takes on Eve, Roarke, Peabody and the gang. I'm caught up on the series but I do like going back and doing some re-reading, getting a different perspective of some of my favorite cases. I think this is a great way for readers new to the series to get that boost to start. Since it is a long series it can be overwhelming to contemplate starting but having others join it can be just the motivation to start.

The woo-woo is loose in this In Death installment and it's heading straight for Eve. Being part of an anthology, this was a quick read, coming just under 80 pages. Possession picks up right after Indulgence in Death with Eve closing that case and heading to the BBQ that she and Roarke are hosting. Can I just say, Nadine is right when she said how Eve and Roarke's parties are interesting because of the eclectic group of people they know? Well, I guess I can because I did. :) Initially the gathering was to help Morris who is slowly recovering from the death of his lover (Promises In Death). But I think it also helped Eve set aside her difficulty dealing with the cruel waste of life caused by her latest case.

Eve catches her next case literally when it happens. Or at least she thinks she does. Then things take an odd turn and Eve begins experiencing some very woo-woo-ish happenings that she can't explain using her cop logic. I liked that Eve, "I think magic is bullshit" was willing to believe in the possibility. That doesn't mean she sets aside her cop instincts, she merely becomes a bit more flexible. Which was nice since it's usually Peabody who has the open mind and has to nudge, shove, push, Dallas in that direction.

The mystery surrounding the victim's death flows swiftly in this fasted paced story. Eve does have a unique advantage in this case which helps bring the criminal to justice. Roarke is involved once again as civilian consultant. And the rest of the gang are all present and accounted for but it's Eve that takes the spotlight this time around.

Possession in Death was a quick read but can easily be skipped without losing out on any character or plot development in the overall series.

Rating: B

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Young Adult Contemporary
Knopf Books/October 2010


From the inside cover ~

I've left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the pages.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf please.

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dates, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and red notebook) of their own.


What a pleasure to read. I thoroughly enjoyed Dash and Lily's unconventional romance. They are two teens with different views of Christmas and what it all means to them. They discover each other through a simple red, moleskin notebook. It's that discovery that was such a fun adventure for both the characters and this reader.

Lily is in love with Christmas. She easily gets into the spirit of the holiday, even when her parents decide to vacation in Fiji, leaving Lily and her older brother Langston home in New York City. I thought that was cold of her parents, they should have waited until new years to go. But they didn't and Lily is more or less left on her own since Langston invites his boyfriend Benny over. Then Lily gets a response from the notebook and she's sent on an adventure to places she normally wouldn't go.

Dash is a teenage version of Scrooge. He's not a people person so the idea of New York City during Christmas holds no appeal for him. He has become disenchanted with the holiday and has no intention of celebrating. His parents are divorced and each believe Dash is spending the holidays with the other. So he's on his own. He's a very bookish, geeky guy who loves spending time at the Strand, the monolithic bookstore in New York City. If I ever get there, that's where I'm going first!

As Lily and Dash write their dares in the notebook, trading it back and forth, they come to realize that it's not only freeing to come up with the dares, it's also freeing to accept and complete the dares. They both escape their comfort zones and explore parts of the city they previously knew little about.

The story does have some sober moments. Lily missing her parents, feeling lonely during this time when families tend to spend together. Dash, missing his mom, loathing his dad and having given up on family togetherness a long time ago. I felt sorry for both of them, for Dash, being alone and thinking that's what he wants. And Lily being stuck with her brother, who has little time for her. Lily, wanting so much to be happy and wanting her family together.

There was also much laughing on my part. Both Dash and Lily have a well-developed aptitude for teenage irony. Add in some slap-stick comedy and you have a very entertaining read. The secondary characters also added some flavor to the story. Dash's good friend Boomer playing straight man to Dash's snarky humor. Lily's extended family giving her advice whether she wants it or not.

A very satisfying read full of quirky humor, book nerds and a city full of entertaining places to explore, even for New Yorkers.

Rating: A-

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!



The presents have been opened and everyone is happily playing their new video games. LOL It used to be toys but as they get older, it has become video games. I'm off to do some more baking and cooking before we head out to my mom's later. And proof that laundry is never ending, yes, I threw a load of wash in this morning. :D

Hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you are enjoying a beautiful weekend. Whatever you celebrate - here's to good friends, good food and of course, good books!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Access Romance Day. . .


Today is my day over at the Readers Gab Blog at Access Romance. I'm talking about reading guilt and how we should let go of it. Come on over and confess. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: Montana Glory

Montana Glory
R. C. Ryan
Contemporary Western
McCords/Book 3
Grand Central/November 2010


From the back cover ~

They're the McCords. . . three rugged, sexy cowboy cousins who'll inherit the family ranch - if they seek the treasure hidden on it. But even more precious are the women who can tame their wild hearts. . .

Single mom Riley Mason learned how to take care of herself the hard way. . . and keep an explosive secret. But her new job with the McCords has put her and her you daughter under the endless prairie sky and the protective arm of cowboy Zane McCord. The wildest of the McCord cousins, Zane lives as free as the mustangs he tames on his family's land. And even though Riley's unexpected spirit and courage tempt him in ways he never imagined, earning her trust is the hardest challenge he's ever faced. Yet, as a deadly danger from Riley's past threatens to destroy the McCords and their priceless legacy, both Riley and Zane must risk what the fear most to have a future together - and at last claim their. . . Montana Glory


Even though this is the last book in the trilogy, I had no problem following along while learning about the other two cousins, Jesse and Wyatt along with their wives. The story is centered around Riley and Zane and Riley's daughter Summer is also part of the relationship. The Lost Nugget is a working ranch, all three cousins work hard while also searching for the family hidden treasure.

Riley Mason is a recent college graduate, ready to take on the world, as long as that world is far away from Philadelphia. She's hiding out and figures the isolated Montana ranch is the perfect place to keep herself and her daughter safe. I like how Riley didn't expect a man to come to her rescue but was proactive in making a life for herself and her daughter. In fact, she didn't want to get involved with Zane and would rather focus on her new job and taking care of Summer. But this cowboy is very persuasive and doesn't believe in giving up.

Zane is like his cousins in that he loves the ranch and the working cowboy lifestyle. He didn't always live at the ranch with his cousins. When he was a child his parents moved to California taking Zane away from the wild mustangs he loved even then. But he's back and has no desire to ever leave. What he does desire is Riley. He knows pretty quickly that she's hiding something but he doesn't push, letting her learn to trust him, kind of like how he tames horses, earning their trust. He's also learning how to relate to a little girl. Zane knows next to nothing about kids but he's enchanted with Summer. Their scenes were cute without being too sugary sweet. Summer is an adorable minx who, like her mother, seemed a little too mature for her age.

As the romance grows between Riley and Zane and the past catches up to Riley, Zane becomes more protective of her and gets his alpha on. I did like how their romance developed, getting to know each other, and not excluding Summer or having her fade into the background. They made a good couple with both of them mature enough to take the relationship seriously. There was also a very strong family aspect to the story. Zane, his two cousins and their spouses, their Aunt Cora, Cal Randall the ranch foreman all live a the ranch. They take their meals together and are a very close family. Riley and Summer live at the ranch and become part of this close-knit family.

The story was moving along well until it took a sharp turn into action/suspense and I found myself wondering who these previously intelligent characters were. Without giving too much away, they made one mistake after another, that just left me shaking my head, wanting to yell at them to open their eyes because the big bad is right there in front of you! The story bordered on the unbelievable, with shootings and helicopter acrobatics. I was glad to get past those scenes and into the treasure hunt and the HEA of Zane and Riley, and Summer.

Aside from the venture into the unbelievable, Montana Glory was a solid read with sweet and sexy cowboys and a young mother who will do anything to keep her daughter safe.

Rating: B

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Somewhere Along the Way

Somewhere Along the Way
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Harmony/Book 2
Berkley/November 2010


From the back cover ~

In the two years since she claimed Harmony, Texas, as her home, eighteen-year-old Reagan Truman has found herself drawn to others who have made their way there, too. Gabe Leary, for instance, whose plan to hide out in Harmony is dashed when he becomes the town hero. Then there's Liz Matheson: Vulnerable and fresh out of law school, Liz has never been needed by anyone?until an unsettling encounter with Gabe changes everything. And there's Liz's brother, volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson, who's starting to wonder where the town's sheriff, Alex McAllen, will ever set the date to marry him.

As for Reagan, who's been shaped by the loneliness she's know most of her life, she's finally found a place she belongs?and doesn't want anything to get in her way. But when her life is put in jeopardy and the whole town comes together to save her, she'll discover that trusting the love that's come into our hearts is the greatest gift of all?


I think I need to change my perception of this series. It's not simply a romance novel but a "small town" romance novel and I'm not just referring to the setting. There's also that small town feel where everyone is involved in your life. In this case it was Gabe and Liz who had the townsfolk getting into their business. After reading Somewhere Along the Way I've come to expect the romance to share the stage with numerous other story lines. I would say maybe half the book was focused on Gabe and Liz's story, and that's being generous. So while I do plan to read the next book, I won't expect the romance to be the main focus.

Those other story lines are quite a few. There are: Gabe and Liz - the main romance. Reagan and Noah and Bran - a teenage love triangle. Hank and Alex - still trying to make it to the alter. Tyler and Kate - their email potential romance of two years. Mrs. Biggs - with her grave sitting. Claire of the man hating paintings and new guy Denver. It's possible I'm missing someone.

I did like the book but it became almost a habit to read quickly through the story lines that held little or no interest for me. Tyler and his email romance with the elusive Kate. At this point, I honestly don't care what happens to them. Claire and Denver and their budding, crazy romance. This has the potential for an interesting romance but not with so many other plots and subplots going on. So not much interest in them either.

Gabe and Liz, I did like a heck of a lot. Gabe is this reclusive, elusive comic book author who has no interest in people, their problems or their gossip. Too bad Gabe cause you're going to be in the thick of it pretty soon. He and Liz are quite a pair. They fit like two pieces of a puzzle. Gabe is Liz's missing piece. Or maybe it's Liz that's Gabe's missing piece. Whichever way it is, I really enjoyed them together but wish they had had more page time. Liz is just starting her law practice and Gabe becomes her favorite client. Their interactions are humorous with Gabe not always understanding Liz's logic and not really concerned about it. He just likes being with her. Liz gets Gabe to come out of his cave and get to know the people of Harmony. She's bossy like that which is just what Gabe needed.

The Reagan from Welcome to Harmony (book 1) has grown since coming to live in this small town. She is my favorite character in this series. She is such a fun, witty, insightful character to read. She's just turning eighteen but has the soul of a much older, seasoned person. Her love for her Uncle Jeremiah, not an uncle of her blood but of her heart, is solid and a testament to her loyalty. I'm curious to see where her relationships with Noah and Bran lead.

The suspense was good, with a couple of threads to follow. Gabe has a bit of a dark history that he may or may not have to confront. And Reagan gets caught up in the middle of something that puts her in danger. Both situations show how the whole town pulls together and sets aside any differences to help one of their own. I do love that small town feel that Thomas brings to this series.

The next book in the series, no title yet, will be out next fall. I'll be reading it and anticipating the whole town to show up. :)

Rating: B

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Love Me If You Dare

Love Me If You Dare
Carly Phillips
Contemporary Romance
Bachelor Blog/Book 2
Harlequin/August 2010


From the back cover ~

When hostage negotiator Rafe Mancuso takes a bullet to save Sara Rios, his former partner, his actions make him a bona fide hero - and New York City's newest most eligible bachelor. Then Rafe admits that Sara is much more than just another woman he's rescued. Suddenly, a firestorm of gossip turns him into exactly what he doesn't want to be: the Bachelor Blog's newest hot topic. His only solution is to leave town and get himself out of the spotlight, and sexy, jaded Sara out of his mind.

NYPD officer Sara Rios has Rafe to thank for saving her life, and Rafe to blame for the media chaos surrounding her. She wants to throw herself back into duty at full throttle, but until her injuries heal, she's on leave and in search of her rescuer. From the moment she finds Rafe and meets his large, boisterous family, she's hooked. But mutual attraction doesn't always mean happily-ever-after, and these two have a long way to go to find their fairy-tale ending...


The second book in the Bachelor Blog series features another bachelor who would rather eat nails than have the attention of the single and not so single women of New York. What's a guy to do but get the heck out of Dodge. Rafe Mancuso heads home, to his big, crazy family and his house on Lake Ontario. He needs to recover from his injuries and try and get his mind off of his ex-partner. The fact that Rafe and Sara had a history, a working history, added some depth to their relationship. It not only gave them insight into how the other thinks but made them aware of the chemistry between the two.

Sara Rios needs to get out of town to but for a different reason. Her life may be in danger and she's also recovering from injuries sustained at the same time Rafe received his. When Sara goes looking for Rafe, she can tell herself she doesn't want anything serious but I think deep down she wanted him and knew that things could get very serious away from work and at Rafe's home. Sara's a firm believer that cops make bad marriages. But she also knows that Rafe believes in marriage, family and commitment. So obviously if she gets involved with him, she should know he's in it for the long term.

There is a secondary romance between Rafe's brother Nick and his estranged wife, Angel. It's sweet and sad, with Nick and Angel dealing with a profound loss in two different ways. They spend much of the time at odds with each other with Rafe trying to help but not get caught in the middle.

Sara and Rafe were a good match once Sara got rid of her negative thinking but it took a kick in the rear for her to finally admit that she loved Rafe and wanted to be with him. Rafe had a heck of a lot of patience with Sara. The one thing he didn't do is completely give in to her terms. He let her know what he wanted. But he was a little too perfect in that regard. Sara hurt him and I would have liked to see him get mad a little more.

The suspense storyline was merely okay. It did surprise me how slowly the cops were to figure everything out. The secondary suspense story line with Rafe's Uncle Pirro was just a little too silly for me. The big, crazy family of Rafe's was enjoyable and added some much needed levity to the story. And the sexual tension between Rafe and Sara held up well throughout the book.

I was expecting to like Sara more than I did. I did like Rafe a lot but again, a little too perfect. Overall, a good solid read. I'm not sure who will be next on the Bachelor Blog, maybe one of New York City's hunky firefighters? It's hard to go wrong with firefighters. :)

Rating: B

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Can't Get Enough

Can't Get Enough
Sarah Mayberry
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Blaze/October 2005


From the back cover ~

He's everything she despises--a babe magnet with more notches on his belt than a millipede has legs.

And he thinks his coworker is wound so tightly she irons her underwear at night.

Two people couldn't be further apart.

But when Jack Brook and Claire Marsden get stuck in a sweltering elevator one afternoon, it's a different story. By the time they're rescued, Jack and Claire have swapped confidences and oh, they've had the most spectacular sex of their lives!

Back in the office they're still butting heads over projects, but now there's a heightened awareness added to the mix. With this kind of tension in the air, how can they resist another round of sexy indulgence?


This one is going back a few years to Sarah Mayberry's first Blaze and it is hot! The hero, Jack Brook, thinks the heroine, Claire Marsden, is prissy and uptight. Claire thinks Jack is a total player. To say they don't like each other is an understatement. Loved the dynamics of this couple. On a personal level, they didn't like each other. On a professional level, they came to respect each others' work. It's when the personal and professional combine that the sparks fly!

Claire Marsden doesn't know the meaning of the word quit. At least when it comes to her career. She has spent long hours getting where she is and isn't about to let someone like Jack Brook take that away. When Claire and Jack are forced to work together on a new project that Claire developed, neither one of them is happy. Claire makes her feelings known but she isn't a bitch about it. In fact, I thought she was very professional which is why it was so funny when she wasn't always professional when dealing with Jack. She not only shocked Jack, she shocked herself with her less than professional behavior.

Jack Brook enjoys his job that takes him all over to exciting and exotic locations. He also enjoys women and has a reputation at the office as a lady's man. It's that reputation, along with his sexy looks and charm that get him on Claire's bad side. He doesn't understand why she obviously doesn't like him, he's never done anything to her. I do think part of the reason Jack didn't see Claire in a very flattering light was because of her attitude towards him and his subsequent perceived failure to charm her. Women like him, except for her and that bugged him. Then they get stuck in the elevator and it turns out they like each other just fine, at least while stuck in an elevator. LOL

Both Claire and Jack are career driven but in different ways. Claire is uptight and dresses accordingly with her buttoned up blouses and jackets that cover her gorgeous figure. Jack is far more laid back, wearing long shorts and sandals to work. But that's his image - a man of fun and adventure. There are a lot of similarities between Claire and Jack when you get down to the basics. They also have flaws that Mayberry uses to show how sometimes it's the least likely people that are there to help you when you need it the most. Claire is afraid of commitment and Jack shows her how to overcome that fear. The romance wasn't as strong as I would have hoped for with Claire pulling back just when you think she's finally realized she's in love with Jack and it's okay. I wish she would have had a little less martyrdom and a bit more backbone when it came to falling in love and admitting it.

The story is charming and funny and has that quick and witty Mayberry dialogue that I've come to love. It turned out to be an entertaining way to spend a few hours and confirmed why Mayberry is one of my favorite contemporary authors.

Rating: B

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Feed

Feed
Mira Grant
Post Apocalyptic/Futuristic/Horror
Newsflesh Trilogy/Book 1
Orbit/May 2010


From the publisher's website ~

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.


Zombies. I was never crazy about zombies when all the multitude of "Living Dead" type movies came out. I do love the Resident Evil movies, but a big part of that is because of Milla and her kickass ways. I don't usually read horror but I picked up Feed from the library because I liked the premise and I was in the mood for some post-apocalyptic drama. The zombies are not as prominently featured in Feed as I expected. Sure, they're there but on the fringe for the most part. The interaction with the zombies is of course as quick as possible for survival reasons but given how the zombies are portrayed, I expected them to figure more in the overall story.

The main focus is on three bloggers - siblings Georgia and Shaun Mason and their poetry loving computer geek friend Buffy. In this new world bloggers are powerful. They are the voice the population listens to after being lied to and misled by mainstream media when the Rising occurred over twenty years ago. Bloggers are celebrities, getting big name sponsors for their blogs. The other focus of the book are the politics of the time. Georgia, Shaun and Buffy are given the chance to travel with one of the top presidential candidates and report from the campaign trail. The political beliefs of the main narrator, Georgia, are front and center. Unfortunately, sometimes it felt like a lecture, with Georgia giving her beliefs in such a forceful manner I couldn't help but hope a few zombies might interrupt her tirade.

What people learned from the George Romero horror movies helped combat the sudden mass of zombies. But not everything went well, millions died and the really bad part - everyone is infected. Everyone. I thought that twist was decidedly wicked. When anyone dies, even from say a heart attack or natural causes, they become a zombie. The virus is dormant in everyone until it is triggered either through death or exposure to the live virus. And it's not just humans the virus infects. Animals over 40 pounds can become infected. This makes for some very heated debates on animal control and going vegan.

Georgia and Shaun have a very close bond that comes from being raised by two media hungry parents that have no qualms when it comes to using their kids to get more exposure for their causes. I loved the relationship between Georgia and Shaun. The love and respect along with the annoyance and teasing that close siblings have, was there in the way they talked to and about each other. Their relationship was my favorite part of the book.

I will say Grant doesn't pull any punches. You get the feeling that no one is safe from exposure and death, and rising, and death again. Hopefully. There are some extremely emotional scenes in this brutal world. In a place where sections of land, cities, heck even Alaska, are left to the zombies, no one can expect to be completely safe. These are not mindless, slow moving zombies, in fact, they exhibit pack mentality when enough of them converge. They have two main goals - feed and infect. One thing I never quite understood is why the military didn't work at eliminating the zombies to a greater extent. There were teams set up to contain and dispose of the aftermath of zombie attacks so why not be more proactive?

Aside from the political lecturing, I liked Feed more than I expected. I think because it had two well developed characters and didn't rely completely on the horror aspect. I did find the mystery of the political saboteur weak, it was fairly obvious who it was. The plot itself was layered with political and religious beliefs that had characters making difficult, life and death decisions with far reaching affects that are not fully realized in this first installment. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment of this fascinating trilogy, just not for the zombies.

Rating: B

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance

Friday Harbor/Book 1

St. Martin's Press/October 2010


From the inside cover ~

ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY

One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother, Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.

ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE

The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.

SOMETIMES IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC . . .

Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.

. . . TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE

Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home. . . .


Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is short, more like novella length. It's in hardcover which makes it a library read for me. And I wasn't able to find out for certain when the next book in the series is due out. Fantastic Fiction shows Rainshadow Road as the next book, release January 2012! Anyone know for sure? I honestly have no idea what the publishers were thinking releasing this in hardcover (more $$$ probably). I wouldn't pay for it and I consider myself a huge Lisa Kleypas fan. It is a sweet story in what seems to be the beginning of a wonderful contemporary series but at this length should have been in an anthology.

Mark Nolan has his life just how he wants it with a thriving business and a beautiful girlfriend, he thinks he has it all. Then he's thrown into fatherhood when his sister dies and names him as his niece's guardian. Mark not only needs to learn how to take care of a six year old girl, he also needs a bigger place for them to live. So he and his niece Holly move in with Sam Nolan, Mark's brother. Sam lives in an old house on the vineyard he runs. The two brothers do their best to take care of Holly but after months of trying they still can't get her to talk. Both Mark and Sam are likable characters in that they didn't know what to do with this little girl they were suddenly responsible for but they did everything they could. They didn't complain or treat Holly like it was her fault, instead they adjusted their lives for her, trying to give her as much stability as possible. Mark was named guardian so he's in charge of Holly's care and in the parent roll where Sam stays in the uncle roll. Both men have hunky hero written all over them but this time it's Mark's turn.

Maggie Collins is just what the doctor ordered to help Holly come out of her self imposed silence. Maggie seemed to know exactly what to say and do to get Holly to talk in a matter of minutes when Mark and Sam had not luck after months of trying. Maggie was just a little too perfect except for her one big flaw, her belief that she had no love left to give. She was still grieving the loss of her husband and I'm not sure why, when she was so open and approachable, did she think she couldn't love again. I get thinking that she wasn't ready but to completely write-off ever loving again seemed extreme. It would have been more believable if she had closed herself off to people but she interacted with people everyday and really enjoyed it her job.

So Maggie starts spending more time with Mark and Holly until they slowly become this little family unit. Maggie tries to keep some distance but you really can't have Holly without Mark being in the picture and to a lesser extent Sam and even grumpy Alex the third Nolan brother. The romance of Mark and Maggie is subtle. They develop a friendship first, through Holly. If the story had been longer, the romance could have had the time needed for it to develop, as it was, it felt incomplete. As if we got the pared down version and somewhere out there is the full length version.

I'm not sure how to grade this one. I liked what was there but... it was so darn short and had such potential for more. This poor reader simply doesn't understand why it was not written as a full-length novel - Kleypas certainly has the talent. The romance definitely could have been more fleshed out - near the end of the book felt like that's where the romance really began. Before that it was friendship, which is always good but I would have liked to see more of what comes after the friendship. On the other hand, it did leave me wanting Sam and even surly Alex's stories so in that respect, it worked. I can only hope their stories are novel length with more romance.

Rating: B

FYI ~ Something odd I found at Fantastic Fiction when looking for info on the next book in the series. The blurb for Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is different than the book. I wonder why the change?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Checking In...

The end of the week seems to be the busiest time for me lately. This week was a little different because my body decided to play host to a nasty cold. I'm feeling better, this time of year there really isn't any choice. There's just so much to do that I don't have time to be sick. I did take it easy Thursday & Friday, only getting about half of what I wanted to get done. Saturday I was so sleepy, it was crazy! I think sometimes our bodies force us to take a break. I took two naps on Saturday and I'm not a napper. Today I'm slowly getting better, my voice is the most noticeable change. It's gone all Kathleen Turner. I could get a job with one of those 1-900 numbers. ;)

I did find some time to try a new recipe from Louisa Edwards. It's her grandmother's Fresh Apple Cake that she posted at Romancing-The-Book (go there for the recipe). It's easy and delicious! Seriously, the hardest part was chopping the apples. Very quick and easy recipe - I used Granny Smith apples and skipped the nuts. The house smelled heavenly! It has a crispy texture on the outside and moist on the inside. The apple and cinnamon flavor together along with the texture of the chopped apples made this a real treat!

Mr. & Mrs. Frosty with the delicious Apple Cake



We also got the decorations and tree up. I decided to skip the lights outside this year. I'm just not up to doing it and my husband is working a ton of overtime with little spare time. The boys helped with the decorating and are getting into the spirit. My sister was visiting this past week and last night was her final night here. We all went over to my mom's for dinner and cards. And even though it's sunny and in the 70's here, the winter storm in the Midwest affected even us. My sister's flight back to Atlanta was canceled because the plane was stuck in Minneapolis so she ended up going on a red-eyed. All that snow brings back memories of when I was a kid in the burbs of Chicago, praying for a snow day. LOL We had plenty of them!

I did get some reading done, even remember to read my book for the TBR challenge coming up this Wednesday. And the shopping is coming along okay. Still need a few things for out-of state people that I will get tomorrow and mail tomorrow night when the Post Office is closed and I can used the self-serve machine (no lines). I tried doing most of the shopping online but ended up doing about half and half with Amazon being my go to store for online shopping, no surprise there.

How was everyone's weekend? Read anything you couldn't put down? Did anyone see the new Johnny Depp movie The Tourist? I want to see it (wish AJ wasn't in it) but I'll wait a few weeks, maybe after Christmas. And the kids want to see Jack Black's Gulliver's Travels. I guess we'll see it while they're on winter break. Hard to believe the year is almost over.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Untraceable

Untraceable
Laura Griffin
Romantic Suspense
Tracers/Book 1
Pocket Star/November 2009


From the back cover ~

Be careful what you look for…you might find it.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on—including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy detective who’s helped her before--Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth, one clue at a time.

Homicide cop Nathan Devereaux wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, but his instincts—and their visceral attraction—won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, he realizes this investigation runs deeper than they ever imagined. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear. . . .


This is the first book by Ms. Griffin I've read but it won't be the last. It is slated as the first in a series but there are characters from previous books/series that are secondary characters in Untraceable who were primary character previously. I wish I had known that before, then I would have started with the earlier books. It looks like I'll just have to go back a read a few off her back list before continuing with this series.

Untraceable grabbed my attention quickly, opening with a dramatic chase leaving me curious as to the fate of a character. It's the fate of that character that leads to Alex Lovell. She starts off as an intelligent woman who works in the predominately man's world of private investigation. Much of her work is for insurance fraud but she has created a reputation for helping women get out of abusive relationships. When someone starts asking about one of Alex's special clients, Alex does some digging and finds that something terrible must have happened to her. Alex fears the worst and enlists the help of Detective Nathan Devereaux. This is when Alex started getting on my nerves. She bugged the heck out of Nathan, expecting him to do "something" with no real evidence to go on. She would get upset with him when there really wasn't much else he could do. He did have his job to think about and had to be careful of not crossing the line. Alex had no problem crossing lines and expected Nathan to do the same. Not very realistic of her.

Nathan Devereaux is a damn fine detective and an all around decent guy. He's a bit gruff but in a likable way many women find attractive. I liked Nathan right off. He says what he thinks and doesn't put up with any crap. He and Alex have a bit of a past that is alluded to, I'm guessing this happened in a previous book. Anyway, they also have an attraction for each other but Alex is hesitant to act on it. She doesn't want to get involved with anyone but I was never quite sure why. The most I could figure out was because she didn't like staying in one place too long and a serious relationship would require her to stay. Nathan is tenacious, not giving up on Alex even when she uses him for his connections and sex. They did make a good couple once Alex go over her fear of commitment.

The group of very elite forensic scientists known as the Tracers play a part in helping Alex obtain evidence of the crime she thinks has taken place. They are an interesting group of characters who work in a high tech building full of expensive equipment and high security. I liked the exploration of the forensic side of the crime. There were details on how evidence it obtained and interpreted but it wasn't overwhelming and didn't feel like a lecture. I thought Griffin did a good job incorporating the science in with the story.

There are some pretty tense scenes along with a mystery to solve that wasn't a complete mystery. I did figure out what was going on fairly easily but didn't get all the connections until the end. Untraceable is more centered on the investigation and the action with the romance coming in second. It's a good, solid story with a heroine who could have had a few less annoying traits. I'll continue with this series once I do a little reading from Ms. Griffin's back list.

Rating: B

Monday, December 6, 2010

Re-Read Challenge Review: The Unsung Hero

The Unsung Hero
Suzanne Brockmann
Romantic Suspense

Troubleshooters/Book 1

Ivy Books/June 2000

From Fantastic Fiction website ~

After a near-fatal head injury, navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counter-terrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton-the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. The town's infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day . . .

Sorry this is so very late! The first book in Brockmann's well known Troubleshooter series did not impress me when I first read it and that hasn't really changed with the re-read. I think it was because of all the reader love that I continued with the series. I do remember not being thrilled with the secondary World War II story. I think that has more to do with not wanting to read about heroes and heroines who are now old and either dead or dying. I would like to read romances set in WWII but not through flashbacks.

Tom Paoleti is on medical leave due to being in a coma and is now trying to recover from his head injury and get back to his men on Team 16. Tom decides to pay a visit to his Uncle Joe and in the airport spots a man who looks like a well known, supposed dead, terrorist. Which is crazy, at least that's what Tom thinks at first. Then he sees the guy again, which I thought was kind of funny. Here's Tom in this little town and he keeps seeing an international terrorist. And, his superiors don't believe him when he reports what he has seen. Add to that the dizziness and headaches, and Tom's not sure what to believe. Kelly tries to help Tom figure out what's wrong with him and her concern brings them closer together.

In another part of town, Mallory, Tom's niece, meets a geeky guy named David who is heavily into graphic novels. Both in writing and drawing. He wants Mallory to pose for him and be his inspiration for his next novel. I guess they were a cute couple but they really didn't add anything to the story. It was like a separate young adult story had been stuck into a romantic suspense novel.

The World War II storyline was interesting but took away from the romance of Tom and Kelly. If it had been in a separate novel, then it might have worked. Plus, I'm not a fan of the flashbacks and that's how much of it was told.

Tom and Kelly - sigh. They had the hots for each other in high school but nothing really came of it except for a few kisses. Much of the time they were together this time around it felt very "high school-ish" with idiotic misunderstandings and both of them doing too much worrying about what the other might think instead of actually talking about what they are thinking and feeling. Then there's the hurt feelings and misunderstanding and the insecurities that could have been worked out had they acted more like adults and simply talked things out. I found them irritating for much of the book. I can say that I like them better as the series has progressed. Maybe because they're married now and getting regular sex? LOL

Overall, this book was merely okay. There was too much going on - romance, WWII, teens, and terrorist, that the book felt pulled in too many directions. Spending a little time on the romance, then jumping to teens, then over to grumpy old men, then another terrorist sighting. It was as if Brockmann was trying to give everyone equal time and ended up shortchanging the main reason I wanted to read it, for the romance.

I am glad I continued with the series. It still has some flaws, gets a little too preachy at times which I've come to expect from Brockmann, but I've enjoy getting to know the characters and even have a few favorites.

Rating: C

What a Weekend!

Wow - I haven't posted since Wednesday! My intentions were good, I've got books to review but RL got in the way but in a good way. Thursday was middle's first band concert. He was nervous but had a great time and looked very comfortable on stage. I didn't get any good pictures, I really need a new camera with interchangeable lenses. After my very old, beloved Pentax died I replaced it about 7-8 years ago with a digital but it has a fixed lens. I told dh there was a Nikon that I researched and it has everything I want. I've had sitting in my cart at Amazon but it's expensive. He, of course, said "Why don't you just get it?" So maybe I will. A combination birthday/Christmas present to myself. :)

Here's middle on stage with his trombone ~



And here's one after the concert ~



He's not crazy about getting his picture taken so I was happy he actually stood still. The concert was packed, probably 150+ people standing. We got a seat because dh took middle early for his call time and then stayed and saved us (me, teen & youngest) seats. We had to park, what seemed like, a mile away. We're walking fast & dh calls wanting to know where we are because the concert is about to start. Of course it started on time so we just made it to our seats. I was just thankful we had seats!

I wasn't expecting it to be so crowded since it was only beginning band - 2 schools. What I didn't know was that the other school had a 4th grade beginning band in addition to 5th grade. Middle's school starts band at 5th grade so this other school made an exception to have a 4th grade band. Instead of being a small concert, middle's band has 29 kids, it turned out to be huge with the 4th grade band having 40 kids & the school's 5th grade band had 53 kids. 122 kids with probably an average of 3, maybe 4 people attending per kid - that's a lot of people to pack into the school cafeteria!

The concert itself was really good. The kids did a great job and middle was just so excited and very handsome, says his very proud mom! LOL After, dh and the teen went home cause it was way past dh's bedtime and the teen had homework. The boys and I went out to dinner to Culver's, middle's choice. Burgers and fries and Concrete Mixer's for the boys which I had to steal a bite from each of them. :)

Friday youngest woke with a headache and fever so we stayed home & he's fine now. Not sure what was wrong with him. Saturday was a trip to the airport to pick up my "big" sis. She's actually smaller than me but she's older so she's the big sis. :) She lives in Atlanta & is here for a week. We headed to my mom's and hung out for a while. Saturday night I cleaned and baked cause Sunday, big sis, my mom and Aunt Fran came over for lunch and hung out at my house being entertained by the kids. My sister doesn't have any kids so I think my kids, especially the boys, are a unique experience for her! It was a fun time, but I forgot to take pictures! There's a big party at my mom's house this Saturday so I'll take pictures then.

I didn't get much reading done this weekend and I've still got to get the Christmas decorations up - I'm surprised the kids haven't asked about the tree. That's tonight and I will get some reviews up too! I did re-read The Unsung Hero but didn't get the review written so I'll try to get that one up tonight maybe? Ha - I've still got shopping to do and cards to send out. And the kids - I'm looking at you youngest - keep changing their Christmas wish lists!

This is such a busy month for everyone. I always feel like I'll never get everything done but somehow I do. I'm trying to do a lot of shopping online - Amazon has been my "mall" but it's still hard for me to buy some things without actually seeing them. The kids have 2 weeks of school left before winter break (2 weeks off). And this is one of the busiest times for dh's company. He's working 10+ hour days and weekends so we don't see much of him. Which is why I do all the shopping, even for me! At least I know I'll like what he gets me. LOL

So, how was your weekend? Have the holiday crazies hit you yet? Or are you super organized and have everything done already?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: A Wild Light

A Wild Light
Marjorie M. Liu
Urban Fantasy
Hunter Kiss/Book 6 (3 novellas)
Ace/August 2010


From the back cover ~

Obsidian shadows of the flesh... tattoos with hearts, minds, and dreams. By day, they are my armor. By night, they unwind from y body to take on forms of their own - demons of the flesh, turned into flesh.

For too long Maxine Kiss has felt an inexplicable darkness inside her-a force she channels into hunting the demons bent on destroying the human race. But when she finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside her grandfather's dead body with no memory of what happened, Maxine begins to fear that the darkness has finally consumed her.

With blood on her hands and her sanity in question, Maxine must face the truth about who she really is and embrace the love of the only man who can help her - before she loses what she cares about most: her family.


Happy Birthday Maxine! To celebrate Maxine and her odd assortment of family members get together for cake. But in Maxine's world a simple birthday party can turn to something dark and dangerous. This time it's a family member who is the victim. Maxine must figure out what happened and why she has no memories of the man she loves.

Why do I not hear more about this series? Liu is an amazing author with the gift of bringing her world alive for the reader. And why haven't I started her Dirk & Steele series? I have the first 6 or 7 books, seriously need to start that series. If it's anything like the Hunter Kiss series, I will be one happy reader.

Maxine Kiss is the kick ass heroine who sports tattoos all over her body, at least during the day. At night those same tattoos come alive in the form of Zee, Raw, Aaz, Dek and Mal. I adore these guys! The boys are well developed characters with their own unique characteristics, even though Zee, the leader, is the only one that talks and he is stingy with words. I love how Maxine interacts with "her boys", treating them as family, trusting them completely and loving them as only a parent can.

The boys are demons who help Maxine hunt zombies. These zombie are not your risen from the dead type but humans who are possessed by demons. Maxine exorcises the zombie out of the humans and the boys eat it. In fact, the boys pretty much eat anything. In A Wild Light we find out more background on the boys and Maxine's. The plot is fast paced with a complex world that Liu keeps in check with her ability to make the complex flow in a logical path, while still maintaining that uniqueness that sets it apart from other urban fantasy worlds.

The heart of the story is Maxine, Grant and family. After the murder, Maxine's memories of Grant are buried deep, leaving Maxine to question her ability to trust him. Grant shows his patience and intelligence when confronted with Maxine's memory loss. He continues to reassure her of his love, even while we see it hurts him that she doesn't remember him. Maxine gets to experience some of her "firsts" with Grant all over again. Still, she is unsure of herself and her reactions to Grant. It was sweet and touching, showing a side to Maxine we don't see often. If there was ever any doubt that these two belong together, it was laid to rest. They are, despite their differences, a solid couple that work well together.

The family of misfits all have their strengths and Maxine needs their help. In learning why Jack, her grandfather, was killed, Maxine discovers more about her ancestors and the boys. The pieces of the puzzle start coming together and Maxine is put in a tenuous position of making a decision with far reaching consequences. One of the things I like about this series is that everything isn't always black and white. There are many shades of gray and Maxine is aware that she could slip into that gray area, that she might have to if only to keep the darkness within her from taking control.

The series is different from many UF series in that it has a very lyrical feel to it. Liu has an ability of describing the characters and world in such vivid imagery, giving them life in a way only a gifted author could. I would say this is heavier on the fantasy, with characters moving through time and space, facing creatures that are not of our world no matter how much they want to be. Definitely a series I recommend.

Rating: A

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Indulgence in Death

Indulgence in Death
J. D. Robb
Futuristic Romantic Suspense
In Death/Book 31 (plus 7 novellas)
Putnam/November 2010


*Potential Spoilers for Previous Books*

From the inside cover ~

First it was a limo driver shot through the neck with a crossbow. Then it was a high-priced escort found stabbed through the heart with a bayonet.

Random hits, thrill kills, murderers with a taste for the finer things in life-and death-are making NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas angry. And an angry Eve can be just as an efficient and dangerous predator as the killer.

As time runs out on another innocent victim's life, Eve's investigation will take her into the rarefied circle that her husband, Roarke, travels in-and into the perverted heart of
madness...

After thirty-eight stories about Eve and Roarke, Peabody and McNab, Feeney and all the rest of the gang you would think this series would slow down, become boring or just feel like the same story rehashed over and over. There have been some books I liked better than others but the overall feel of the series has stayed constant. The characters continue to develop and progress in their relationships with Eve making the greatest internal changes.

The story starts with Eve and Roarke on holiday, visiting Roarke's family in Ireland. Eve can't seem to get away from dead bodies, she finds one in Ireland. It seems Ireland is full of surprises. The relationship with Roarke's family continues to surprise Eve, both with their easy acceptance of her and her comfort around them. I enjoy seeing this side of Eve, her ability to adjust to situations where Dallas the cop may feel out of place but Eve the wife is learning to fit in.

The holiday ends and it's back to the city Eve loves. It doesn't take long before she's caught a case, an unusual one. Man dead by crossbow. Not something you expect to see in the city. It turns out Dallas and Peabody will get even more unusual murders before they put a stop to it. I've come to realize that I like the books when we don't know who the killer or killers are. I like the investigative aspects and when we find out early on who did it, that seems to lessen the importance of the investigation and by degrees, my enjoyment of the story. I'd much rather be surprised by the identity of the murder. Or at the least, figure it out but still have the tiniest smidgen of doubt until the last minute when Eve does her big reveal. Indulgence in Death didn't work that way and I think that's what made this a slower read for me. Since we find out early on who Eve will be "locking up in a cage" as she puts it, I had a hard time drumming up that urgency to get to the end and find out who did it. I already knew!

So the investigation didn't wow me but I did like the relationships in this one. Eve is once again learning all about friendships and how they need that give and take to make them work. She is learning to give more of herself to her friends. You certainly get that Eve was not used to giving much of herself outside of her work until Roarke and then Peabody came into her life. She had Mavis and that was pretty much it. Feeney to a lesser extent but he was part of the job. This time we see some of Morris and Eve's camaraderie of not only the job but also the mutual respect and friendship. They remind me of a close brother and sister relationship. They kid around, tease each other a bit but underneath it all there's that deep concern and love.

Speaking of love, I do love Roarke. He's got everything a hero should have but... you'd almost think he didn't have a job. LOL Once again Roarke is able to set aside his bid for world domination to help Eve work her case. This can get to me at times. Roarke gets too involved in the cases, spending far too much time working on them when he is this inter-planetary billionaire with so much work of his own. I find I have to bend reality a little to make his involvement plausible.

While not a favorite, still a worthwhile read. Wish it had had the big reveal but Indulgence did give me moments of truly laugh out loud, shake my head, enjoyment. These characters have cemented themselves into my reading life and I never want to give them up.

Rating: B

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review: Reaper

Reaper
Rachel Vincent
Young Adult/Urban Fantasy
Soul Screamers/Novella
Harlequin Teen/December 2010


From Books on Board ~

The story of how Tod died and was recruited as a reaper . . .

Tod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him--and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod's future wasn't so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life . . . Death . . . or something Between . . . .


A couple of things first. This is a novella of approximately 17,000 words. Most full length novels run closer to 90,000 to 100,000. Reaper comes in at 64 pages in Adobe Digital Editions. The great news is that it's free right now! Yes, you can go right now and download it for free from Books on Board in Adobe PDF format. It's showing up at places like Amazon and B&N for pre-order, set to release on December 1 for $2.99 (minus discounts). If you don't want to pay for it, Ms. Vincent has said it will be available for free on her website. Personally, I think this is a great way to introduce new readers to Ms. Vincent's writing and get current readers excited about the next release in the series, My Soul to Steal (January 1).

As you can see from the blurb, the story is from Tod's perspective, telling about the events that led up to him becoming a reaper. But that really simplifies this little gem of a story. Those of you that have read the previous books in the series know who Tod is and, if you're like me, want to know more. This is the more. Tod is complex in a way that only a teenage guy could be. He likes hanging out with friends, his girlfriend and partying. He finds his little brother irritating as only little brothers can be. He loves his mom but doesn't always listen to her. See, a typical teenager. Tod's also smart, he gets the consequences to his decisions. He's loyal and loves his family so fiercely, he'll do anything to keep them safe.

I loved this look at the series from Tod's POV. He's a character that we've gotten to know through the series but still leaves us so many questions. In Reaper, we get to see what makes him tick, what drives him to make difficult decisions and still maintain that smart ass humor that is oh, so Tod. It was also heartbreaking, making me tear up a bit and feel Tod's sorrow and regrets coming through in Vincent's writing.

This novella only adds to the layers of this series. Since the bean sidhe are all about the dying, it's not surprising that reapers are part of their world. In Tod's world, there are rules that he doesn't mind bending and even breaking a little. Tod showed how mature he could be and gave this reader a greater appreciation for his part in Nash's life. I hope we get more of Tod and possibly his POV in future books. Since he's an integral part of Nash and now Kaylee's life, I can't imagine we've see the last of him.

Rating: A

My reviews for books in this series ~

My Soul to Take
My Soul to Save
My Soul to Keep

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Are You Thankful For?


Hey All ~

I'm over at Access Romance's Readers Gab today talking about - yep, what I'm thankful for. Come on over and chime in on the discussion. I'll bet you can guess my answer. :)

And Happy Thanksgiving to those of you that celebrate turkey day. If you're traveling over this holiday weekend, may your trip be safe.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ARC Review: Kiss Across Swords

Kiss Across Swords
Teal Ceagh
Erotic UF/Time Travel/MMF
Time-Crossed Love/Book 2
Ellora's Cave/November 2010


From the author's website ~

Taylor Yates never dreamed growing up she would end up happily living with two drop-dead sexy vampires and time-hopping through their thousand years of personal history. Her life is complete…or is it?

When she finds herself at the siege of Jerusalem during the first crusade, Veris doesn’t know her at all and doesn’t want to. Worst of all, he and Brody are total strangers, and Taylor drives a wedge in deep between them by trying to seduce Veris at their first meeting—not something a lady of the day does if she wants to keep her head.

Taylor and Brody must woo Veris using the customs of medieval England, win his heart and his full commitment before Jerusalem falls in four days time—or when they return to their own time, their lives as they know them will be gone…


After reading Kiss Across Time, the novella where Taylor meets and falls for vampires Brody and Veris, it was easy to get into their continuing story in Kiss Across Swords. It's been four years since the three became lovers and now Taylor wants to be turned. The only problem is Brody and Veris are not completely on board with the idea. The past is very much in the present with both men having strong feelings about the significance of turning a human to a vampire.

The time travel they had previously done bore no ill effects but now things are changing and Taylor might lose her lovers. This time Brody and Taylor time travel back to when Brody and Veris first met. Taylor being there causes a disruption in Veris and Brody's past. When they should have become lovers, Veris now thinks Taylor is Brody's wife and tries to keep his distance from them.

The scenes when Brody is telling Taylor how he and Veris first became lovers all those centuries ago I found to be very erotic. These two men are warriors but they are also very sensual men. Ceagh shows the reader how beautiful and seductive two men can be when they unleash their desires for each other. I don't read a lot of books with m/m but I found the love story between Brody and Veris moving and powerful. This time, with Veris not knowing Brody or Taylor, both of them took part in seducing Veris. I loved reading about when Brody and Veris first met. How they came to know each other and built their bond over the centuries. It wasn't easy for Taylor and Brody to get Veris to trust them and begin to form that bond.

This is a time travel and through that travel we get to explore the land of the Crusades. The history in the story is fascinating. When Veris and Brody first meet it's 1099 and they are fighting in the first Crusade. The feel of that time and place comes through in the descriptions of the land, the people and the politics. It was interesting to see how 21st century Brody and Taylor especially, acted in a time from so long ago.

All three characters are well developed with distinct personalities. Brody is the peacemaker and tends to defer to Veris, believing him to be the more intelligent of them. Veris is more stoic, exhibiting a calm demeanor. He is a man that keeps much to himself and likes to think things through before acting. I saw Taylor as a bit of a wild card. She's intelligent and thoughtful but can let her temper loose when angered. She also loves very fiercely and shows it through her actions and selflessness with Brody and Veris. The author did a wonderful job showing the give and take between these three.

The story was filled with history, passion and emotional love scenes between three unique individuals. It's a romance that has a number of elements, all combined to make a very captivating story. I'm looking forward to reading more in this imaginative series.

Rating: A-

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Shade

Shade
Jeri Smith-Ready
Young Adult/Urban Fatansy
Shade series/Book 1
Simon Pulse/May 2010


From the inside cover ~

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.


There are a few of Ms. Smith-Ready's adult novels on my tbr pile but when I saw this one at the library I had to get it. I had planned to get it when it came out but, it got lost in the shuffle. It's not that I need to start yet another series, believe me I don't. It's not that I'm heavy into young adult novels or getting them for the teen. In fact, she hasn't read this one yet, she's re-reading her Mercedes Lackey books, again. I simply love Smith-Ready's writing and the premise of the story intrigued me.

In a world where kids can see and hear the dead, it maybe be cool at first but can become annoying fairly quickly. For Aura, it's been annoying for a while. She works for her Aunt Gina who provides legal counsel for the dead. Since Aura can see and speak with the dead, she acts as a translator. Aura isn't all work, she's a high school student with a boyfriend who's in a band. She's busy with her friends and school. Just a regular teenager. It's when things go horribly wrong that Aura begins to realize that she may not be just a regular teenager. She was the first one born after the Shift and the significance of that will play into Aura's future.

Wouldn't it be weird if teens has this power to see what adults couldn't? It puts them in a unique position. But there's more to it than just seeing ghosts. Aura is determined to find out why the Shift happened. She teams up with the new guy at school, Zachary, to work on her research of what caused the Shift. She doesn't tell anyone, afraid they'll think she's crazy, but Zach figures it out. But Aura isn't the only one keeping secrets. Zach is keeping some pretty big ones too.

Since Aura grew up after the Shift seeing ghosts has always been part of her life. But when that ghost is your dead boyfriend, that makes it odd in a way she wouldn't have imagined. After Logan dies, he visits Aura and she's happy he's there but she knows he needs to move on. The problem is that the circumstances of Logan's death are not cut and dry and Aura finds herself in the middle of the conflict. Aside from typical teen issues, Aura certainly has some unique ones. Her boyfriend is dead and is now a ghost and there's the new boy at school that she finds herself attracted too. Nothing like a little love triangle, no matter how odd, to add drama to a teens' life.

The world building is first rate with ghosts part of society. The government, of course, is involved and not always on the side of the innocent. I liked how Smith-Ready incorporated the various government entities into this world that now includes ghosts and the more darker Shades. The Shades are the ghosts that basically turn mean. They are not bound by the elemental laws that govern the standard ghost. The Shades are powerful and dangerous, something to fear. Loved that twist that made this so much more than just a simple ghost story.

So, it's another YA series I'll be adding to my reading list. I enjoyed this different take on ghosts and Aura's world. I'm curious to see where Aura is heading and hope the next book, Shift, (May 3, 2011) will answer some of the questions that Shade left us with.

Rating: A-