Thursday, September 29, 2011

Following Friday (6)


Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character? 


I'm going with Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews for this one. I've been enjoying this series so much! It's so original in world building and ideas, and I think it would make an awesome movie or TV series. I am no good at casting people...I thought of Maggie Q (who plays Nikita) for Kate. She has the right look to her, I think...


Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Marriage: A Review of Mistress by Marriage by Maggie Robinson

Mistress by Marriage is the bookclub pick over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The chat takes place at 9pm on Tuesday September 27th.

The premise of this book is essentially the "marriage in trouble" trope. Edward and Caroline are trapped in a terrible marriage. Edward is strict and stuffy. Caroline is wild. The two have amazing chemistry in bed, but can't get along outside of it. For most of their marriage, Caroline has been banished to Jane Street, a district usually reserved for rich gentleman's mistresses. Edward visits once a year so they can have sex, but otherwise she's left to her own devices. She makes friends with courtesans and writes dirty novels. Both she and Edward assume that it's only a matter of time before Edward works up the nerve to sue for formal divorce. But then Edward decides that perhaps once a year is not enough for him...

Positive comments:

The characters are certainly original and interesting. Caroline frustrated me a bit, but she had her redeeming qualities. I liked that she made a life for herself on Jane Street--consorting with fallen women and writing her dirty books. I was really amused by the details of her books--how she'd write Edward as a villain or a hero. Edward is a rather priggish character who clearly needs some shaking up. I did enjoy the opposites attract  aspect of the relationship.

The love scenes are hot, and there are many of them. I'm not sure that this can be labeled as erotica, but I do think it would appeal to many fans of erotica.

This book is full to bursting with angst. That could be a positive or negative depending on taste, but for the most part, I liked it. There's a great deal of emotional struggle, and a lot of character development as a result.

Critical Comments:

I'm actually not a huge fan of the "marriage in trouble" trope. It especially did not work for me in this book, because I got the sense that the characters were never actually in love at the beginning of their marriage. Edward was in lust, Caroline needed to be married, so they got married. There didn't seem to be any real basis for an emotional connection between the two of them.

I never fully connected to the story. At times it felt forced, other times it felt aimless. There was nothing in the plot to get me really excited, or keep me wondering what would happen next. It's predictable. It's not boring, exactly, but it certainly isn't exciting.

I mentioned Caroline's personality as a positive, but there are also aspects of it that were negative. She throws temper tantrums and breaks things, and she behaves and thinks like a child. Those details really frustrated me because they made me re-think whether this was a character who deserves a happily-ever-after.

My final point is something I feel a little uncomfortable bringing up. An expert in history, I am not. But the characters in this story just didn't seem to behave as I would expect for people of that time period. I can't put my finger on exactly what's wrong--whether it's the dialogue, the narrative, or the plot itself. The characters' attitudes were one thing that stood out particularly. At one point, Edward and Caroline were discussing a child molester, in comparison to a homosexual person. Edward is really quick to announce that gay men are a-okay as far as he's concerned. Here's the quote--

"No. Most men of that persuasion would not (molest a young boy). They are simply seeking affection like the rest of us, although they can be hung for it."--Maggie Robinson, Mistress by Marriage
Maybe I'm wrong, but doesn't that strike you as a little too enlightened? A little too modern of a view point? Especially for a stuffy, by-the-books hero? My point in all of this is, the book doesn't successfully recreate the atmosphere of it's time period. The story could easily have taken place today, with a few adjustments, or in any other time period.

So overall, I did like some aspects of the book. I think if you like "marriage in trouble" stories or "opposites attract" stories, this book might be worth reading for you. For me it was just average. 2.5 stars.

Miscellaneous Monday: Teens, Monsters, and Teen Monsters

Miscellaneous Monday is my new weekly post in which I will talk about things that I'm doing or am interested in that are not related to books, or in many cases, are only vaguely related to books. I'm going to keep it as a journal throughout the week and post on Monday mornings. I'll try to stay organized, but it may get a bit "rambley", so feel free to read, reply, or ignore at your heart's content.

Welcome Home, Ghoulia

First up, I want to mention Ghoulia Yelps--the Monster High doll I received as a present from my fiance. I'm not sure how long Monster High has been around, but I just noticed them a few months ago and instantly thought they were adorable. And your never too old for toys, right? Ghoulia is a zombie, and is currently my one and only doll. I display her proudly.

I've been to, which has games and character bios and that sort of think. I recommend watching the webseries, if you're at all inclined to watch cartoons. There are a lot of episodes, but they're only about 2 minutes long each. A few of them are actually quite clever.

There are also Monster High novels. I'm considering ordering the first one just to give it a try. From the description I think they're meant for preteens/young teens, so it would be outside my usual genre.

The Secret Circle

Out of curiosity, I watched the pilot of The Secret Circle. This new show is based on the book series by L.J. Smith. I have no intention of reading the books at this time. I read her Vampire Diaries books before the show first aired, and to be honest, did not care for her writing style. I also never got around to watching the show, though I intend to.

Anyway, for a pilot, I thought this was a pretty good episode. We meet Cassie, our main character, who is honestly a bit bland. We establish that magic is real (and can be kind of pretty--aw, floating water drops). We meet the other two corners of the love triangle (or possibly square, not sure yet)--Diana and Adam. And there's a whole host of shady characters and villains. This includes Faye who, so help me God, I wanted to drop a rock on. The actress's performance is so over the top, I kept thinking it would be more efficient to have her wear an "I'm An Evil Bitch" T-shirt. But it's the first episode, so I'll cut them all some slack for being new to the parts. It's probably too early to say whether the show is going to be hit or miss for me, but I will say that I'm inclined to like it.

Most girls go through a witch phase. For me, it was Charmed, and to some extent Harry Potter. I know there are lots of books and movies about witches that are geared toward teens. Point is--there is always a market for this kind of show.

Supernatural Season Seven

I'm a huge fan of the Supernatural TV show. Never heard of it? Here, have a link! Seriously, I don't watch much TV--there are maybe two or three shows that I actively follow. This is one of them. It's urban fantasy at it's core, with the entire show based on the idea that urban legends and myths are real--and generally unfriendly.

Incidentally, there are Supernatural novels, but I gently caution against reading them--unless you're a huge fan of the show and a very patient reader.

Anyway, Friday's season seven premier was interesting in that it put our heroes in kind of a helpless position where the "monster" is a close friend who they really don't want to have to kill. After six seasons, we're starting to see some repetition in theme and character development. So it wasn't the best episode, and it wasn't the worst.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On Jumping Genes: A Review of Grimspace by Ann Aquirre

I've been interested in reading Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series ever since I stumbled upon it at the local Booksamillion. I feel like there just isn't enough really good female centered sci-fi out there--although the subgenre seems to be growing. Anyway, this Grimspace really hit the spot for me.

Jax is a jumper, possessing a rare gene that allows her to navigate a spaceship through grimspace. This enables the ship to move through stellar pathways at faster than the speed of light. When a ship she was navigating crashes for no explained reason, the Corp (the military/government body that controls everything) is eager to pin it on her. She's rescued from their clutches by March and his crew. March wants to use Jax's unique talents to start his own school of jumpers, outside of the Corp's control.

Positive Comments:

The narrative is written in first person and present tense. At first that struck me as odd, and I worried that it would prevent me from getting into the story. Instead it worked really well, lending a sense of immediacy to everything.

Jax is a strong, confident female lead. She has a sense of humor and a smart mouth. She has flaws and quirks that bring her to life. I really enjoyed seeing the story from her perspective.

The rest of the character's are equally fascinating. March, the leader of the crew (and obviously the potential love interest) is pretty well developed. I found his motivations and his struggle believable; he wants to be a hero and complete a quest for the greater good. Then there's Saul, the doctor, who is interested in the science behind their goals. Dina the engineer, and Loras the communications savant, were equally interesting members of the crew.

The world building is very well done. Often in sci-fi, the technical babble is the stuff a reader has to wade through to get to the real story. In this case, the technical stuff is the real story--and it's intensely interesting. The idea of grimspace and jumpers is well thought out and makes sense, but isn't explained in excessive detail.

Critical Comments:

There were a few issues with plot structure and pacing. On several occasions it seemed that the story strayed from the original conflict, jumping into a different and only vaguely related conflict. There are bursts of action all over the place, which is awesome, but it makes it hard to determine what the primary climax was meant to be. There is a central story, and that story gets told, but there are a lot of other things going on. As a result, the pace is inconsistent, and there's a disorganized feeling to the novel.

The big villain of the story is obviously the Corp as a whole. As is typical when the adversary is an entire government body, the author chooses one character to sort of represent them and serve as a more targeted villain. I'm avoiding naming this person because I don't want to spoil it. I found it a little disappointing, though, that we didn't get to see more of this person. I wanted more background, development, and motivation.

Overall: This book had some flaws, but I really enjoyed it. I liked Jax and the other characters, I loved the world building details, and I loved the entire tone of the story. Aguirre has a strong storytelling voice, and I look forward to reading more of her books. 3.5 stars.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway WINNER!

The winner of the 100 Followers Giveaway is....Island Reader (comment 10)! Island Reader requested a copy of Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase; great choice! Congratulations!

You should be receiving an email shortly from, requesting your mailing address. If you don't get an email within the next day, please contact me!

Thanks go out to all of my followers for their warm support. To my international followers: I plan on opening my next giveaway to everyone (if logistics allow). Stay tuned! Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Following Friday (5)

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?


Do I have to pick just one? There are a handful of series that merit rereading in my mind. 


1) The early books in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. They aren't the most well written things in the world, and God knows they have their issues. But they contain some kind of addictive, crack like quality that has me rereading over and over. My favorite is Lover Awakened, which is a tortured hero redemption story. I think it's the angst that I like the most.


2)Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark books. They have a lot of cool mythology, but they don't take themselves too seriously. The characters are funny and romantic, but can also kick ass.


3) Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. This is mainly because they are so long and detailed, I miss things the first time around. Each time through is kind of like reading a new book. I love the characters, the use of history, and the sheer epicness of the series as a whole.


So there. I had to work really hard to narrow it down to three. Turns out I reread a lot!


New followers (and old ones too), there's still time to enter the 100 followers giveaway!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fins vs. Legs: A Review of Awakening by Kitty Thomas

A Sleeping Mermaid by Josephine Wall

I decided to give Awakening by Kitty Thomas a try after seeing it reviewed positively by several helpful bloggers. This is a very short story, but it's nicely written and heavy on the erotic elements. It's about a mermaid, Nerina who's taken captive by a human man, Kyros. Legend has it that if a man can arouse a mermaid sufficiently, she will transform for him--growing legs in place of her tail. Kyros is convinced that the legend is true and determined to make Nerina transform for him so that he can keep her as his own.

Positive Comments:

I'm fond of mermaids and other fantasy sea creatures. The use of them in this story is simple, but compelling. Thomas manages to describe a little bit about mermaid culture and way of life, and we get a small glimpse into how important those things are to our heroine. They also serve as a sharp contrast to the new life and way of thinking she encounters after she's captured.

I liked the idea of using arousal as a method for transformation. As far as erotic plot devices go, I thought this one was quite successful--it's unique and makes for beautiful imagery.

The author at least starts to explore the master/slave relationship and skims the surface behind the psychology of that on both sides. It certainly isn't a complete exploration, but it's as much as I can expect in such a short story.

Negative Comments:

This is definitely erotica--pretty, interesting erotica--but it isn't romantic. By this I mean, the connection between Nerina and Kyros never strays outside of owner/possession territory. Kyros is possessive of Nerina and happy to have her--as one might be with a really nice car. Nerina is dependent on Kyros to survive, and she happens to not hate his erotic attentions. The book doesn't have the page space to deal with anything deeper, and that's a shame.

In both the relationship and the mythology, this felt like the prologue to a really good book. I hate to put "too short" as a criticism--that seems unfair. Instead I'll say that it was a bit too ambitious for it's length. A lot more could be done with this world and these characters.


This is a well written and very interesting tale. If you like erotica and don't mind the master/slave theme, I'd suggest this book. 4 stars

Sunday, September 18, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway!

So I've (finally) reached 100 followers! I'm so excited! To say thanks, I'm hosting a small giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive your very own penguin bookmark, and a brand new copy of your choice of one of my 5 star reviewed books!

Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
Love In the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole
Dark Need at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole
Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole
Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey
Unveiled by Courtney Milan
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

To enter, 1)Be my follower on this blog and/or on Twitter 2) leave a comment on this post, and include your email address and the book you would like if you are the lucky winner!  Open to US entrants only (due to postage costs).

The winner will be selected via random number generator. Contest ends at noon EST Saturday September 24, and the winner will be announced and notified via email on Sunday. Good luck, and Happy Reading!

On Love Potions: A Review of Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

I'm probably the last person that should have read a book like Tris and Izzie. I've said often enough that I despise love triangles. But I thought the idea of a modern retelling of Tristan and Isolde might have potential. And the cover is so gorgeous. Yes, I know there's a saying about that, but damn it, just look at this thing--
It's so lovely and atmospheric! Between this and the description, I was prepared for a lot of romance and teen angst and magic--all good things. What I got was frustration.

Backing up a bit, let me summarize briefly: Izzie has been with Mark for over a year, and the two are quite happy together. But Izzie's friend Branna is the proverbial eternal bridesmaid-- nice, but less attractive, shy and socially awkward. Izzie decides to help Branna out by stealing a love potion from Izzie's mother (who is a witch) and attempting to make Branna fall in love with the new kid at school, Tristan. The plan backfires and Izzie ends up in love with Tristan instead.

Positive Comments:

The premise has potential. Even when you add in the contrived love potion conflict, this story could still work. I imagined that it would be a lot like "marriage of convenience" plots in historical romance, or perhaps "fated mates" in paranormal. Two people who initially don't like each other are forced to be together, and over time genuine love develops. Unfortunately that's not the case in this book. It seems like wasted potential.

I liked the secondary characters--namely Mark and Branna. I felt for Mark, who did nothing wrong except date the wrong girl. Plus, at one point he straight up punches Izzie in the head. I'm not condoning abuse here--in the context of the plot, she really deserved it. 

Critical Comments:

I hated Izzie. She's selfish, reckless, manipulative, and worst of all stupid. Her love potion scheme was perhaps the most thoughtless (albeit good intentioned) plan one could possibly invent to help a friend. Much like Jane Austen's Emma, Izzie thinks she knows what's best for everyone, but her attempts to manipulate only make things worse. The real kicker for me was the fact that she drinks the love potion voluntarily. She knows what it is, and that Tristan already drank his half, and whoever drinks the other half will be stuck with him. She gulps down the second half anyway, just to stop Mark or anyone else from drinking it. She could have walked away, or dropped the bottle "accidentally", but no, she drinks it. And then whines about it's apparent effects. Effects that, incidentally, can only be erased by death.

The magic in this universe only barely makes sense. If I've pieced it together correctly, there are witches who use potions, sorcerers who have power over the elements, and alchemists who have power over metals. And also, big scary monsters to battle. It sounds more like the plot to a video game than a paranormal romance novel.
Yeah, the "villain" is a giant snake. I really wish I were kidding.
By the time we get to the final boss battle, where Tris and Izzie face off against Gurmun the snake of doooom, I was really hoping one of them would die. That would solve everyone's problems. Instead we get the most shoe-horned in loophole ever, allowing our "heroes" to save the day.

To be fair, Tristan isn't a bad character. He's severely underdeveloped, but I didn't hate him. However, the romance is extremely thin and not in the least bit believable. There's no build up of emotions, no connection through dialogue or shared experiences, and no affection. The entire relationship is a handful of passionate kisses. This problem was made worse by Izzie's bipolar attitude toward Tristan--one moment she's making out with him, the next she's slapping him across the face.


This is not a book I would recommend. At times it approached so-bad-it's-good levels, where it became unintentionally funny. But other than for purposes of poking fun at the silly plot and stupid characters, don't waste your time. 1.5 stars.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Following Friday (4)


Q. It's that pesky magic book fairy again! She has another wish: What imaginary book world would you like to make a reality?


Well, most of my favorite books take place in worlds that I would not want to live it (Kate Daniels for example). The first thing that popped into my head was the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. I really love the Seelie/Unseelie court thing, and I like the way she uses the mythology. And I would love to meet Ash...just saying.

On Hunters: A Reviw of Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Blade is book 4 of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series. I want to begin this review by saying that I went into this book with some pretty conflicted feelings. After Archangel's Consort I felt that a change in main characters could be a really good thing for the series. On the other hand, Dmitri was not at all one of my favorite characters. My reviews of the first three books can be found HERE. I highly recommend reading the series in order.

Honor is a hunter, one who's been out of commission for quite awhile due to having been kidnapped and brutalized by deviant vampires. In an attempt to pull her back into reality, her boss assigns her to a case that requires her to work with Dmitri. Dmitri, the darkly sexy second-in-command of New York City, finds Honor captivating. He takes the horrors committed against Honor quite seriously, and vows to see the culprits hunted down and punished. The bulk of the book revolves around solving the case to which Honor was assigned, as well as hunting down all of her tormentors.

Positive Comments:

Overall, the book had a really great balance of external and internal conflict. The characters develop in a way that feels natural, and in response to events of the book.

The sex scenes are hot, but not overused. Given Dmitri's personality, I expected lots of senseless sex and bondage. Instead, we only get the scenes that further the development of the relationship. 

I really enjoyed the revenge plot. I'm sure this says something nasty about me, but I liked the process of bringing the evil characters to justice.

I loved Dmitri's back story. You get to learn about his wife and children, how he lost them, and how he became a vampire. I found these parts tragic and captivating.

Critical Comments:

This book is nominally a paranormal romance, and a dark one at that. I've come to expect a little horror in my PNRs, and I enjoy it. But horror is a strong ingredient, and one has to be careful about overusing it in a novel like this, because it can easily overwhelm everything else. Nalini Singh walks a fine line, and there were times when I did feel like her use of violence was a bit gratuitous. It didn't damage the story too much, but it bares mentioning as a tiny flaw.

There were some pacing issues. It felt like this book had no distinct climax, or perhaps had three separate ill timed climaxes. There were too many conflicts, and their resolution felt a bit disorganized. To specify further would mean spoiling things, so I'll just leave it at that.

Finally, the relationship was not entirely satisfying. Honor and Dmitri certainly have chemistry. It's obvious that they care for one another. But there's a certain lack of tenderness or intimacy in their interactions. Again, I think it's partly an issue of pace. I was much more invested in Dmitri's connection to his wife, Ingrede.


I'm pleased with this book. While it's not as good as the first two Guild Hunter books, but it's a solid improvement on Archangel's Consort. I recommend it. 3.5 stars.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On Male Prostitutes: A Review of Her Ladyship's Companion by Evangeline Collins

Her Ladyship's Companion was a book that I randomly selected to read on my Kindle because the premise sounded interesting. I had no prior knowledge of the author and I hadn't read any reviews. As with many of my randomly selected books, it was something of a mixed bag, quality wise. I have much to talk about with this book, but I'll try not to ramble.

The book is set in Scotland/England in 1811 and centers around Isabella, a woman in a loveless marriage. Her husband is abusive and hateful, and consequently Bella has grown quite depressed. Her cousin, who doesn't really know the cause of Bella's melancholy, thinks to cheer her up by hiring a male prostitute for her (as one does). Gideon comes to spend two weeks with Bella, and the two discover both mutual attraction and begin to show signs of affection.

Now, the reason that Bella is in this terrible marriage is that she was caught in an indiscretion with a stable boy, and her brother decided that the best possible solution was to marry her off quickly. In this, and other details, the book attempts to address female sexuality and how it was viewed at that time. Almost every time Bella attempts to take any agency in her own sex life, disaster ensues. This novel did a good job at addressing this idea and it comes to a fairly satisfactory resolution.

Aside from this quality, while I did not dislike Bella, she is not a character I would want to be. I pitied her. She's a helpless character, at the mercy of whatever happens to her. I wanted to see her develop more strength, or self sufficiency, than she did. Perhaps I'm being too hard on her, because given the time period her helplessness is not entirely her fault. But some backbone would not have gone amiss.

Gideon is also characterized as a victim of unfortunate circumstances. He's just trying to make the best of his low birth and status. He's pretty passive as far as heroes go--not an alpha male at all. I noted that the author took great pains to mention that, despite his long career as a prostitute, Gideon never agreed to sleep with men no matter what they offered to pay. It was as though the author was worried that readers would suspect him of being gay or bisexual.  In addition to this, the author tries very hard to present Gideon as the much desired opposite of Lord Stirling (the abusive husband). All in all, I felt like his character was forced and unimaginative.

With two slightly weak, pitiable characters, it's hard to get really invested in a romantic relationship. But, to be absolutely fair, it was surprisingly not terrible. The sex was hot and plentiful. There are lots of sweet, tender moments. While I didn't find the happily-ever-after completely satisfying, I did believe that Bella and Gideon cared about one another.

There was one detail about the relationship that just...irked me. MINOR SPOILER:  After Gideon leaves Bella and tries to go back to his life as a prostitute, he finds himself impotent. Yeah, he can't get it up for any other woman now (because that's what true love does?) I've seen this done a lot in paranormal romance--usually in the "fated mate" trope. This bothered me on a couple of levels: First, because I felt like his biggest motivation in returning to her was to get his equipment operating again and secondly, because I feel like it cheapens the monogamy. He's with her and only her, not because he made an emotional commitment to loyalty, but because he physically can't be otherwise.

What kind of recommendation can I make with this one? I don't want to suggest it to anyone, because it's such an odd book and it isn't very well written. But then again, there isn't anything glaringly wrong with it. So, I won't warn you off of it, if the premise sounds good to you. 2.5 stars.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Lions: A Review of Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series has grown on me like a fungus. You can find my reviews of the first three books HERE and HERE. So naturally I was looking forward to reading the forth installment, Magic Bleeds. Happily, it did not let me down. I'm going to try to keep the spoilers to a minimum in this review.

In this book Kate is knee deep in trouble once again, as an unknown power is attempting to unleash a plague of disease on Atlanta. The Pack appear to be prime targets for the Steel Mary (as the villain is labeled). Kate has strong loyalties to The Pack--many members are close friends. More importantly Kate carries a torch for the Alpha, Curran.

Once again Andrews delivers a captivating and well written urban fantasy story. The villain is original and genuinely scary. There is a ton of action and violence. Plus we learn just a little more about the rules of magic, particularly Kate's personal powers. Ilona Andrew's shines when it comes to clever world building. As usual Kate is a bold, kickass heroine with a good heart, who grows with each book.

Now, as to the relationship between Kate and Curran--I was aware that this was the book when it was all supposed to be addressed. And I was really excited to see that happen. I don't want to get too specific and spoil anything, but...this book uses the Big Misunderstanding trope. person doesn't show up for a date, the other assumes it's because they don't care, and instead of actually talking about it (which would have fixed things in like 10 seconds) they decide to ignore one another and brood in silence. Now, this no talking, brooding thing does fit Kate and Curran's personalities. But I still felt like it was a pretty cheap plot device. Other than that though, I love these two as a couple and I was excited to see hints at their future together. And according to this book, lions can mate up to 30 times a day, so I think they'll be pretty happy.

*Side Note: Princess Bride references in this book earned the authors major brownie points.

I can't say enough good things about this series so far. I highly recommend it to any urban fantasy fan. 4.5 stars.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Following Friday (3)

Q. Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of a story? If so, which one?

Several times actually. When a hero or heroine starts to annoy me my thoughts turn a bit vindictive and I start cheering for the other side. My specific answer, however, is in reference to Rachel Vincent's Shifter series. SPOILER WARNING (For anyone who has not read book 3)!


So in that book, Faythe was on trial for turning and then killing her ex-boyfriend. And to be fair, neither of those things were her fault, exactly. But my GOD Faythe is annoying. And so privileged--she walks into the trial thinking nothing can touch her because she's a girl and her father is the alpha. There is one guy on the council deciding her fate who really has it out for her--our villain. And after a point, I was totally on board with his campaign to have Faythe killed or otherwise severely punished.  


Crazy Covers: Carry Me!

So here's an ongoing trend in romance novel covers--guys carrying ladies. Now, personally I've been carried a few times and I can tell you--it might look romantic, but it isn't the most comfortable way to travel. And there is no dignity in it. Plus, it only takes smacking your head against one door frame to figure out that walking yourself is a better way to get to the bed...
Is he going to carry her into the ocean? And drown her?
At first glance I seriously thought that guy was naked. Maybe it's the tan pants against the sunset background, maybe it's the early morning fog over my eyes, or maybe I'm just perverted. In any case, I saw a naked guy and it made me giggle. Also the tagline "Losing control is the ultimate rush..." runs right into his ass. Great job, cover people.
It looks like she's kicking to get away. Told you being carried is uncomfortable!
Overall this is a pretty cute cover. But once I got over the boots (what kind of outfit goes with red cowgirl boots? And where would I buy them?) I noticed that you can't see faces in this one. For all you know, he's a deranged serial killer holding her over a ravine, and the only reason she's not struggling is that she'd rather not fall to her death. Don't mess with Texas, or it will murder you.

 Now, suppose your boyfriend/husband/male slave is not, in fact, hulking and strong. Piggyback rides are a fun theory. But look at that poor guys face! He's practically grimacing. "Please get off of me before we both fall over" doesn't make a very romantic tagline.

Even the dog looks on them with pity.
And this is what happens when someone tries to carry you, but gets tired halfway to the door. That's ok though, because sitting on someone's lap is like the lazier more comfortable version of being carried. Although rocking chairs are dangerous in their own way, believe me.

*Images obtained from

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snippet Reviews: Chesapeake Bay

Nora Robert's Chesapeake Bay books remain my favorite contemporary romance books. They also happen to be among the first romance novels I ever read, and so they are nostalgic for me.

In sum, these books focus on three boys who were adopted into a family and became brothers. Years later, their father appears to have adopted another boy, Seth. He then dies unexpectedly and leaves Seth in the hands of his older sons. Three very different men with very different lifestyles must learn to raise a young boy and rebuild their family.

Book 1: Sea Swept: This book is about Cameron, the daredevil brother who has spent years traveling Europe and entering various races involving anything that will go fast. Moving back home and caring for a frightened kid is not what he wants to be doing, but he goes willingly and tries his best in honor of his adopted father's memory. The love interest, Anna, is Seth's social worker. Under her professional veneer she's feisty and hot tempered, but has a good heart. She's a great match for Cam. I loved them as a couple. I love the interactions between the brothers and the family atmosphere it creates. All around, a wonderful book. 5 stars.

Book 2: Rising Tides: This book is about Ethan, the quiet, more down-to-earth brother who has remained a fisherman at home all his life. The love interest is Grace, a single mom who has been working for the brothers as a housekeeper. I found Ethan's story to be the most emotional of the three brothers. He has a really dark past and a lot of issues to work through. But I liked that he was less of an alpha-male and more a sweet, gentle fellow. I loved his journey to finding peace. 4.5 stars.

Book 3: Inner Harbor: This book is about Philip, the most slick and sophisticated of the brothers. The love interest is Sybill, who presents herself as a psychologist interested in researching Seth's case. Naturally, the brothers are pretty wary of her. This was always my least favorite of the books, because the heroine is a bit cold at first and Phil is not a terribly easy character to relate to. But it does finish up the original trilogy with many heart-warming moments. 4 stars.

Book 4: Chesapeake Blue: This was written as an addition to the original series. It focuses on Seth, all grown up and moving back to his home town after spending years in Europe as a traveling artist. The love interest is Dru, a woman from a wealthy family who decided to break away from her previously upscale life to run a small town flower shop. Not only was this book a wonderful love story in it's own right, it's also and extended happily-ever-after form the other three brothers. I loved seeing how the family had grown and still stayed close. 4.5 stars.

So there you have it, one of my all time favorite romance trilogies (erm, quartets). I haven't always liked everything Nora Roberts wrote, but these are big winners in my book. Happy Reading!

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Mermaids: A Review of Goddess of the Sea by P. C. Cast

A Painting by Josephine Wall
Goddess of the Sea was one of the books I attempted to read this weekend. When it comes to paranormal romance I try to suspend disbelief and just go with the story, trusting that either the author will create a plausible world or that the story will be so amusing that I won't care about implausibility. This book is a rare case in which the author wasn't successful in either manner to my great disappointment. I did a lot of skimming to the end of this book.

The premise of the book is that on her 25th birthday CC is lonely and drunk and performs a ritual in which she asks the goddess of the earth, Gaea, to bring magic into her life. The result of this is that CC switches places with Gaea's mermaid daughter, Princess Undine. She is also sent back in time to about 1014 I believe. CC is allowed to return to land as a human (in Undine's very beautiful form) but she must return to the water and transform into a mermaid every 3 days. The only way to break this cycle is to find a man, fall in love, and have him accept her completely. On land Undine is "rescued" by a hansome solicitous knight who she assumes will be the man for her. Meanwhile, she has already encountered a merman who she is drawn to, Dylan, and they enter into an erotic relationship.

Now in fairness this book had it's good parts. I liked the use of mythology/fairy tale that made the story seem familiar and comfortable. I liked a lot of the discriptive ideas, like the scene where she actually becomes a mermaid--very well written. The setting was fairly intrigueing, all though the time travel portion of it was somewhat pointless. The romance was passable. And from what I could tell, there are some interesting plot twists thrown in to keep things fresh.

My issues with this book are many. The humor is at best awkward and clumsy. It's never fully commited to. The openning scene of the book has the heroine talking to herself and pathetically drinking alone. At the same time we are supposed to believe that she's a smart professional member of the United States Air Force. I guess my problem with her character and this part of the premise is that I wanted to like her, but she's inconsistantly written. I think that the author either need to commit to making a humorous slightly ditzy character, or a smart well put together one. Or give us some background to justify the lack of consistancy. This problem carries over into the actual story as well. Half of the time the effort is made to give good logical reasons for things, and half of the time no explanation is given at all. The other major issues is that the characters are, for the most part, flat and underdeveloped. An effort is made to show that CC has a meaningful change in her worldview and character...but thats about it, everyone else is fairly static. Overall the writing is rough. 2 stars.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On Teenage Witches: A Review of Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Dime Store Magic is the third book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, but the first with Paige as the narrator. The previous two books focus on Elena, a werewolf. The first question I usually ask with these types of series is "Does order matter?" In this case, I would say yes. You need to at least have read book two, Stolen, for this one to make sense. And you need to have read Bitten for Stolen to make sense. You can find my review of Stolen  HERE

This book focuses on a Paige, a coven witch, and her struggle to retain custody over her thirteen-year-old ward, Savannah. Savannah was the daughter of a witch who practiced dark magic and fraternized with many supernaturals whom the coven considers highly undesirable. One such undesirable, a sorcerer named Kristoff Nast, shows up claiming to be Savannah's father. Paige struggles with nasty rumors, her coven's prejudices, and outright attacks from various parties, as well as winning over the trust and affection of her ward.

Dime Store Magic was kind of slow going for me. Partly because I've been insanely busy, and partly because it has a pretty slow moving plot. I don't at all mean to imply that it was boring, because I found it quite entertaining, just that is isn't as lightening fast as your typical fantasy novel. I really enjoyed the details about witches and sorcerers and they're history, the process of spell work, and Paiges quest for lost magic in ancient grimoires.

The part of this book that I liked the most, however, was the character building and the relationships. Paige is pretty young (23?) and untried, and not physically tough at all. She certainly wants to be a stronger witch with more offensive magic, but that's something she has to work very hard at. Furthermore, offensive magic is against the rules of the coven. Added to this, she's trying to figure out how to raise a teenage girl. Paige and I are of a similar age group, so I found myself imagining what I would do if asked to care for someone like Savannah. The conclusion I came to was that the task would be herculean. But Paige does her best, and she does start to make some genuine emotional connections with Savannah.

The romantic interest of the book is Lucas Cortez, a lawyer working on Paige's case. His strengths, like Paige's, are more intellectual than physical. He's smart, articulate, and a bit of a nerd. I thought they were a good match. Although it isn't a romance novel with a happily-ever-after ending, I was satisfied that something meaningful was happening there.

So in sum, while it took me a little longer than anticipated to finish this book, I really enjoyed it. It has a different tone from Bitten or Stolen, and in my opinion that was a positive thing. 4.5 stars.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Following Friday (2)

Q. If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? Why and to what?

My Answer: Oh boy this one is tough. I mostly read books with happy endings on purpose, because I really can't stand disappointing endings. So I guess I'm going to go with Harry Potter. Ok, so most everyone has read the seventh book or seen the movie, and we all know how sugary sweet that stupid epilogue is...I can't say what I would replace it with precisely but perhaps, instead of going that far into the future, she could have done a scene with Harry just after the war.  Maybe hanging out with the Weasley family, or helping to rebuild Hogwarts. Something a bit more imperfect, while still keeping it heartfelt and happy.

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