Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  It's easy to join, just post your loot and link up with Mr. Linky at either Claire or Marg's blog.  It's that simple!

Since I'm still reading previously checked out books, this week the loot has been kept to a minimum. Of course what do I do but read the books I just checked out instead of the ones that are due back soon! Sometimes there is no logic to my reading .

First up is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which caught my eye for a number of reasons.  The setting and time period are not the usual and the two main characters, both female, are involved in the war efforts.  I've already read it, very hard to put down.  I hope to get the review posted soon. 

 I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

The next book, Tessa Dare's A Lady by Midnight, is an ebook checked out from the library's "Digital Library" which I try to use as much as possible.  The only drawback is no ability to renew so I have to get the ebooks read within the 2 week time period.  No problem with Ms. Dare's books, this one is proving to be a quick, enjoyable read. 

A temporary engagement, a lifetime in the making . . .

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove--but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiance. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.

And for variety, a romantic suspense from Catherine Mann.  Guardian, the next book in her Dark Ops series.  I expect it to be a fast paced, action packed romance. 



 After a dark ops malfunction, Major David Berg finds himself dead center in a military trial. It’s a race against time to root out the truth, and Major Sophie Campbell isn’t making that any easier. The hot JAG wants to bring down David’s unit and fast. His testimony is crucial to winning a case that will make her career. All Sophie has to do is ignore this witness’s unflappable charm, his unnerving good looks, and a strong, solid presence that commands her attention. It’s not easy for David, either. His attraction to this take-charge beauty is turning him inside out. But these adversaries have more in common than secret, mutual desire. There’s a traitor somewhere in the dark ops and now, to find him, David and Sophie must work together—relentlessly, tirelessly, and so intimately it could be damn near fatal.

Did you pick up anything at the library this week?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: All Seeing Eye

All Seeing Eye
Rob Thurman
Supernatural Thriller
Pocket Books/July 31, 2012

Picking up a small pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was dead—murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well—but the shoe itself told him so.

Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that, combined with this new talent he neither wants nor can handle, throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. At last, Jackson has left his troubled past behind him and found a semblance of peace.

That is, until the government blackmails him. Helping the military contain the aftermath of a bizarre experiment gone violently wrong, everything Jackson knows about himself will change just as suddenly as it did with his little sister’s shoe.

And while change is constant...It’s never for the better.

All Seeing Eye is a departure from Thurman's Cal Leandros series with the evil element human in nature, no werewolves, goblins or vampires here.  What is familiar is the self-deprecating, smartass humorous attitude of the narrator, Jackson Lee.

Through Jackson we see how his childhood was not idyllic but he did have a few bright spots, one of them being his little sister, Tessa.  After Tessa's death, Jack's life leads him to learning the art of survival at all cost.  Eventually Jack builds a life for himself and surrounds himself with only a couple of close friends.  I liked seeing how Jackson grew from his tragic past but didn't completely leave it behind.  With his psychic ability he really couldn't so instead he uses his talents and creates a haven of sorts for himself.  And he guards that haven intensely. 

As Jackson gets caught up in the military experiment we see him changing how he views others and how he comes to view his past.  He has a very difficult time trusting anyone, having seen so much of the dark side of human nature, Jackson rarely lets anyone get close.  There isn't a lot of physical action, this is more of putting the pieces of a puzzle together to get to the truth.  The science behind the experiments I found interesting as well as scary.  Truth is stranger than fiction and this fiction is pretty strange.  Thurman keeps the plot moving forward, revealing details of the puzzle as Jackson becomes more deeply committed to finding the end result. 

With Jackson's narration also comes quite a bit of internal dialogue, too much at times.  Jackson is living a life far from ordinary and with his special abilities ordinary is out of his reach.   So maybe that's why he spends so much time in his own head - he knows inside nearly everyone else is a scary place!

All Seeing Eye has elements of Thurman's previous novels with some interesting science and lots of what ifs to get the reader thinking.  I look forward to seeing where Jackson goes next. 

Rating:  B+

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ARC Review: The After Wife

The After Wife 
Gigi Levangie Grazer 
Ballantine/July 10, 2012

L.A. is no place for widows. This is what forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal quickly discovers after the tragic death of her handsome and loving husband, John. Misery and red-rimmed eyes are little tolerated in the land of the beautiful. But life stumbles on: Hannah’s sweet three-year-old daughter, Ellie, needs to be dropped off at her overpriced preschool, while Hannah herself must get back to work in order to pay the bills on “Casa Sugar,” the charming Spanish-styled bungalow they call home.

Fortunately, Hannah has her “Grief Team” for emotional support: earth mother and fanatical animal lover Chloe, who finds a potential blog post in every moment; aspiring actress Aimee, who has her cosmetic surgeon on speed dial; and Jay, Hannah’s TV producing partner, who has a penchant for Mr. Wrong. But after a series of mishaps and bizarre occurrences, one of which finds Hannah in a posh Santa Monica jail cell, her friends start to fear for her sanity. To make matters worse, John left their financial affairs in a disastrous state. And when Hannah is dramatically fired from her latest producing gig, she finds herself in danger of losing her house, her daughter, and her mind.

One night, standing in her backyard under a majestic avocado tree, in the throes of grief, Hannah breaks down and asks, “Why?” The answer that comes back—Why not?—begins an astounding journey of discovery and transformation that leads Hannah to her own truly extraordinary life after death.

Finally finished.  This took a very long time to get through.  I started reading this back in July but couldn't get into it.  So I set it aside, thinking I would come back to it soon.  Fast forward a few months and I've finished The After Wife with little to recommend it.

Hannah Bernal has what seems to be the perfect life.  A wonderful, loving husband whom she is completely mad for.  A beautiful little girl who brings such joy to their lives and a home filled with happiness and love.  Then, all of that seems to be gone.  Hannah's husband is killed and her life is falling apart.  She still has her daughter but can't stop herself from focusing on her loss, instead of focusing on her daughter who needs her.  As Hannah falls into despair she finds out she has a unique ability that will eventually help her cope with her loss and give her life new purpose.

While Hannah tries to deal with her grief the world around her continues on.  Her friends, the "Grief Team", are there to try to help but they all have numerous problems of their own.  The problem I had with these characters was that I couldn't drum up any real concern or interest for them.  Lots of pretentious, self absorbed people living in Hannah Bernal's world.  Her deceased husband, I think I might have liked him, before he died.

There is also the sense that Hannah is always on the outside looking in. It didn't ever feel like she fit in, anywhere.  I often wondered where this woman in the flashbacks went to.  In the flashbacks prior to her husband's death, she seems strong, resourceful and intelligent.  After, those qualities are gone, replaced with a woman who acts as though she has nothing to live for.  Suicide is mentioned fairly often, even joked about, which I found to be in very poor taste. This book may be considered humorous but most of the jokes fell flat, trying to make light of serious subjects only proved to belittle genuine feelings of pain and loss. 

So much of the story feels over the top in the highly superficial setting.  There are numerous references to pop culture which became tedious. When deeper emotions began to surface from Hannah, they were cut short by sarcastic remarks and Hannah talking of wanting to leave this world and be with John.  Then there is Hannah's irresponsible attitude which irritated me to no end.  At one point she has no job, no income, is about to lose her home but decided to go off to a spa for a couple of days with her friends.  I just wanted her to get it together and be proactive in her life, cherish her daughter and friends, not hide from the responsibility of living.   

In the end, The After Wife could have been so much more.   

Rating: D

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TBR Challenge Review: Winter Kiss

Winter Kiss
Deborah Cooke
Paranormal Romance
Dragonfire/Book 4
Signet/November 3, 2009

*Possible Spoilers for Previous Books*

For millennia, the shape-shifting dragon warriors known as the Pyr have commanded the four elements and guarded the earth’s treasures. But now the final reckoning between the Pyr and the dreaded slayers is about to begin…

The mysterious Dragon’s Blood Elixir gives immortality to Magnus, the Pyr’s greatest enemy, and his minions—so it must be destroyed. Outcast from the Pyr because of his own dangerous impulses, Delaney will do anything to vanquish Magnus—and vows to complete a mission which will either redeem him or end his suffering.

But his plans don’t take into account his sudden firestorm—or the hot-tempered Ginger Sinclair. The firestorm reforms Delaney closer to his old self. And when Ginger learns about Delaney’s scheme, she cannot resist a strong man with a noble agenda.

This month's possible theme was Paranormal Romance or Romantic Suspense.  I decided to attempt to catch up on one of the PNR series I've let fall by the wayside.  The Dragonfire series, as you can guess, is about shapeshifting dragons.  One of the things that I enjoyed about this series is the beautiful descriptions of the men in their dragon forms. 

Delaney has distanced himself from the Pyr because of what he believes is his darkness and his need to destroy the Dragon's Blood Elixir, the cause of his darkness.  So he's gone rogue, set himself apart and decided on a suicide mission against the Pyr's worst enemy.  Then, fate steps in and Delaney's firestorm occurs.  The firestorm is the instinct in the male telling him this is his mate and he needs to get her pregnant - pronto!  Delaney, bless his heart, is more than willing to fulfill his destiny.  

Ginger Sinclair is a chef who is determined to make a go of the family dairy farm.  When she meet Delaney she's attracted to the tall, good looking guy who just happens to be a great dancer.  When the sparks literally fly between these two, Ginger gives in to the attraction, taking Delaney home with her.  Yep, the firestorm is a powerful thing!

If you're not a big fan of the "destined mate" trope, then you're probably going to have a hard time with this romance.   I'm fine with the "one and only mate" romance but I have to believe the hero and heroine belong together with or without the cosmic pull of whatever deity is in control, in this case the Great Wyvern.  With Delaney and Ginger I found it difficult to believe in their deep feelings for each other happening overnight.  Sure, there was plenty of lust but nothing to base a relationship on let alone start a family.  

So while the romance didn't work very well for me, I do like how the dragon mythology is handled along with that male camaraderie that we see so often in these type of books. Get a group of single guys who, one by one, find their true loves while they fight a common enemy.  I also like how the heroes have different viewpoints on being a Pyr.  Some are old school and believe strongly in everything the Great Wyvern tells them.  Others, respect the old ways but feel it's time for a change, moving into the future while respecting the past.  These are not cookie-cutter heroes but instead have their own lives and their own interests apart from being dragons.

The Dragonfire series continues to move along with the Pyr's goal of fighting off the Slayers (evil dragons) while building lives with their found mates.  For the single guys, you know their time will come along with their firestorms.  I'm glad I choose to get back into this series, I'd forgotten what fun it is!

Rating: C

Dragonfire Series ~

Kiss of Fire
Kiss of Fury
Kiss of Fate
Winter Kiss
Harmonia's Kiss (e-novella)
Whisper Kiss
Darkfire Kiss
Ember's Kiss

Monday, October 15, 2012

ARC Review: Enslaved

Elisabeth Naughton
Paranormal Romance
Eternal Guardians/Book 5
Sourcebooks/November 6, 2012

*Possible Spoilers for Previous Books*

GRYPHON—Honorable, loyal, dependable…tainted. He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can’t ignore.

She calls to him. Come to me. You can’t resist. But Gryphon will not allow himself to be ruled by the insidious whispers in his head. And there’s only one way to stop them: kill Atalanta, the goddess who enslaved him. But with so much darkness inside, he can’t be sure what’s real anymore. Even the Eternal Guardians, those who protect the human realm from threats of the Underworld, want to exile him. They’re not sure he can be trusted.

Finding Malea is like a miracle. Somehow he doesn’t feel the pull of the dark when she’s near. And he’s determined to keep her as near as possible, whether she wants him close or not. But proximity spurs temptation. A temptation that will test every last bit of control he has left. One that may ultimately have the power to send him back to the Underworld or free him from his chains for good.

If you like tortured heroes, Gryphon is the hero for you!  In Elisabeth Naughton's fifth book in her highly addictive Eternal Guardians series readers find out what has happened to Gryphon, the guardian who became a slave to Atalanta.  Gryphon was rescued but he's still suffering the effects of his enslavement and no one, least of all Gryphon, is sure if he will ever recover.

He escaped the hell he was living in but the torture continues, if only in his head.  It's the voice of Atalanta Gryphon can't get away from that may just drive him insane.  Gryphon is determined to kill Atalanta without putting the other Guardians at risk.  So he's going it alone or so he thought until Malea tags along.  I liked how dark Gryphon was.  He didn't just miraculously turn away from the darkside but kept some of that with him.  Malea brings light into Gryphon's life but he still must fight his way back from the hell that was Atalanta.

Malea is use to being alone and with Hades hunting her down, it's better for everyone if she doesn't get close to anyone.  Malea strikes out on her own but runs into Gryphon and they reluctantly team up together.  There is a definitely pull between them but Malea is afraid of what might happen if Hades' Hellhounds catch up to them.  Malea isn't a kickass heroine but she does try and I have to give her credit for effort.  I also respected her for trying to protect others while so desperately wanting to be part of the group instead of always alone.  She was a good match for Gryphon because she could understand his need to protect those he cared about by trying to keep his distance from them. 

The romance begins on the run with little in the way of actual romance.  Gryphon and Malea are not exactly enemies but they are far from friends.  That develops over their mad dash to freedom.  Even with the attraction they have for each other, it didn't always feel genuine but having more to do with Malea's affect on Gryphon's darkness.  Which made me wonder if their wasn't that connection of light/dark, would anything developed between them?  The romance does take off but from the physical attraction with the respect and friendship coming later.  I much prefer it the other way but this worked out okay in the end.  

The Guardians and their mates are involved in trying to help Gryphon but they also have their concerns as to his ties with Atalanta and how much control she may still have over him.  I really enjoy seeing this group of males and watching them interact.  They're not all close, best friends but they do respect each other and will fight for each other.  The women are not wallflowers who fade off into nothing but continue to make contributions to the fight against Atalanta and her evil horde of daemons.

This is a strong series that continues to deliver action, adventure, romance with kickass heroes and smart heroines. Definitely worth the read!

Rating: A-

Eternal Guardians Series ~


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  It's easy to join, just post your loot and link up with Mr. Linky at either Claire or Marg's blog.  It's that simple!

This week I only picked up a few books since I haven't started on last week's picks.  I need more time!  Good thing I have the option of renewing. 

First is Dark Storm, the 23rd book in Christine Feehan's Carpathian vampire series.  This is a hardcover request I made some weeks (months) ago.  I'm undecided if I will read it.  At one point I consumed this series but the heroes, and to a lesser extent the heroines, are all starting to blend together.

This was another request.  I think I first heard about Precinct 13 on Goodreads.  Not sure, but I do like the blurb.  Tate Hallaway (aka Lyda Morehouse) is a new-to-me author and this sounds like the perfect book to try.

Sandy Blair's The King's Mistress was an impulse check-out.  It caught my eye as I was looking over the new release shelves.  The cover is very pretty and the blurb drew me in with talk of Scotland, twin's mistaken identity and a hero who is not a nobleman but a soldier.  I've never read Ms. Blair either so that's two new-to-me authors. 

Did you stop by your library this week and pick up something interesting?  Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: Tricked

Kevin Hearne
Urban Fantasy
Iron Druid Chronicles/Book 4
Del Rey/April 24, 2012

Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.

This is a series that continues to surprise me. It is funny, smart and completely entertaining.  The more I get to know Atticus, Oberon and now Granuaile, apprentice to Atticus.  I do think Mr. Hearne has really hit his stride in Tricked.  For some series, the fourth book could turn out to have a "been there, done that" feel to it but Hearne continues to show growth in his characters, keeping them interesting and entertaining.  

Atticus O'Sullivan doesn't lead a quiet life.  He'd like to enjoy some peace and quiet but as soon as he survives one near death experience he's called upon to lend his exceptional talents to another potential crisis.  Along for the always intense ride are his Irish Wolfhound Oberon and Atticus' Druid apprentice Granuaile.  The relationship Atticus and Oberon have goes beyond owner and pet.  They share a unique bond allowing them to communicate telepathically.  Which also allows the reader to enjoy Oberon's wicked sense of humor.  

Atticus and Granuaile's relationship continues to develop as their characters develop.  I really like the direction they're going and the pacing.  The author is taking his time and really allowing this friendship to deepen before bring on the romance.  Whether they ever become romantically involved is still undecided but it looks to be heading that way.  If they do I don't see the romance to be front and center but stay in the background with the magic and world building continuing to take center stage.  

The world of the Iron Druid has numerous inhabitants, in addition to the humans, and can get a bit overwhelming.  Hearne does well in making the mythology, characters and their abilities form a cohesive world.  I do like how some of the well known mythology is refuted by Atticus because he was there when it happened.  It's amusing hear him spin a story, taking a grain of truth and turning it into fact.  The secondary characters each have their place within the story and are well developed in relation to their importance to the overall plot.  

Tricked hit all the sweet spots providing action, humor and intelligent characters.  I'm thankful the wait for the next installment is only a month away!

Rating:  A

Iron Druid Chronicles ~

A Test of Mettle ( free short story/author's website)
Two Ravens and One Crow (novella/e-book)
Trapped (November 27, 2012)
Hunted (2013)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  It's easy to join, just post your loot and link up with Mr. Linky at either Claire or Marg's blog.  It's that simple!

Hey there!  I've been meaning to join in the weekly Library Loot forever and I finally remember to post my loot!  I'm a regular at the library, stopping in a couple of times a week. Usually it's to pick up holds or return items but every once in a while I'll check out what the library has on display in their featured section.

This week the display features cookbooks.  I love cookbooks but I do have a pet peeve about cookbooks - they must have pictures!  I'm always surprised when I pick up a cookbook with little or no pictures. They must have at least some pictures, not drawings, of the finale product.  No pictures, not interested.  I did spot Anne Burrell's Cook Like a Rock Star.  Lots of delicious looking pictures along with some of Anne with friends and family.

A quick look inside and I already found three recipes I want to try.  The first is Killer Mac & Cheese with Bacon.  Now, I'm not a big fan of mac & cheese but add bacon to the mix and I'm more than willing to give it a try.

Next is Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Spiced Nilla Wafer Crust.  Doesn't that sound tasty?  I've just recently, in the last few years, come to appreciate the deliciousness that is cheesecake.  Never had it with goat cheese but I'm up for a little adventure, I just won't tell the kids about the goat cheese. :)

The other recipe is one for Stewed Zucchini.  I rarely eat zucchini, mostly because the only way I'm at all familiar with it is in zucchini bread.  But the picture looked yummy and it's healthy.  Win/Win.

The next book I picked up is J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  This of course was a hold, lots of requests for this one.  I never read the Harry Potter books, *gasp* so this venture into adult fiction will be my first read of Rowling.  Anyone read this yet?  It's quite big, just a smidge over 500 pages.  And the font is small, but that could just be my vanity in refusing to wear my reading glasses.  I wish I could have gotten it on audiobook format but that wait would have been longer since there are only a few copies available.  I might see if the teen wants to read it first and get her reaction before I read it. 

Lastly, I picked up an audiobook on CD.  I prefer to download my audiobooks from the library's online site but sometimes it's quicker to get the CD.  The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman caught my attention, heck, I'm not sure where I heard about it but I like the blurb plus it's post World War I, Australia and features a lighthouse.  I've always been fascinated by lighthouses ever since I was a kid.  Dreamed of living in one too, just never got the chance.  I am a little concerned because it does sound very emotional but I'm also intrigued as to how the story will play out.

So there's my Library Loot for this week. Did you get any goodies from the library this week?