Monday, November 12, 2012

Update: Still Alive!

I promise, I’m still alive and kicking, but school is simply consuming all my spare time this semester! I’ve read very little, although I did read Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Ilona Andrews’ Gunmetal Magic (from the Kate Daniels world. This one is about Andrea and Raphael. That was a fun book, reading about those crazy boudas!

I’ve also been reading Pride and Prejudice. I confess: I’m 40 and I am just now reading it. I’ve tried a few times before but never made it past the first few chapters before. I’ll actually finish it this time! I’ve been losing myself in the language; it’s quite different from what I usually read and I’m finding it’s very immersive for me this time around (maybe I just need to be able to lose myself for a few minutes at a time and escape the school pressures). I have to admit: I’m looking forward to treating myself to the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice once I’ve finished. Colin Firth. Enough said. I’ll probably shanghai my youngest daughter and make her watch it with me Smile I don’t think anyone else in the house will tolerate it, but that’s ok. Anyway, back to school stuff, I’ll write more when I’ve finished the book!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Book Review: The Principal’s Office by Jasmine Haynes

Book Description:

Rachel Delaney, divorced mother with two boys, isn't complaining. Her life is fine. Really. There is one thing that could make it better, though: a strong, warm, male body to help her make it through the occasional lonely night. No strings, and no relationship, thanks. Just a little fun with a perfect stranger. And there's no more perfect a stranger than Rand.

He's tall, blond, unattached, smokin' hot, and looking for the same thing Rachel is: wild, abandoned sex with no limits, no last names, and no complications-until Rachel's eldest son gets in trouble in class.

Only then does Rachel discover that her down-and-dirty, dangerously sexy mystery lover is also the new school principal. They're not exactly the ideal role models for a troubled student acting out his own frustrations. With Rachel's life turned upside down, Rand's the only one who can make it right-by maybe taking their hot-bodied hook-ups into a warm-hearted new direction... (from amazon.com)


Book Review:

This was a delightful surprise! I found this gem listed as a suggestion when I bought another book and decided to try it. I expected it to have a decent amount of sex, and it did, but was completely floored by the amount of character building included. The book described a wide variety of sexual experiences ranging from flirting to fantasies, role-playing to voyeurism.

I loved watching Rachel grow from a tired, beaten-down divorcee (though not a mouse) to a woman confident in her sexuality. I found it very easy to relate to the characters. The author did a great job with the characterizations of Rachel and Rand as well as the ex, the kids and Rachel’s co-workers. I’ll be re-reading this one and also reading the other 2 books in the series that deal with Bree and her guy and Erin and Dominic.

The hero and heroine are a little bit older than many written about today. At 39 and 40, they each have some life experience yet quite a lot of life left in them, no inexperienced miss fresh from the schoolroom making her first appearance to the ton here. It was quite refreshing to read about characters my own age with a similar past. I loved reading the role-playing scenes Rand and Rachel acted out. “Playful” doesn’t even begin to describe them. This is a grown-up erotic romance, steamy and real. If you are looking for something with extremely simple sentences that reads like Penthouse or Playboy letters, you’ll need to look elsewhere because this is excellently written, classy and has real depth to it. There’s joy, laughter, tension, anger, frustration and much satisfaction.

My only complaint about the book is Rachel was a little wishy-washy while she grows as a character as a result of facing some really tough decisions. That said, she reacts believably and in-character, it was just a little  bit frustrating to read it. The author did a great job alternating between Rand’s and Rachel’s PoV, but I would have liked to read just a bit more from Rand’s viewpoint.  Rachel’s discovery of Rand’s school position occurs a little later in the book than I really expected. That’s not a bad thing, just another example of how surprising this book was.

If you are looking for an erotic romance with real characters, that is fresh and playful, this is a great place to start. I highly recommend it.

Sensuality: many descriptive sex scenes

Rating: 5 stars

Book Review: Unbreakable Bond by Gemma Halliday and Jennifer Fischetto

 

Book Description:

Her name is Bond. Jamie Bond. And her life is about to be shaken and stirred in a cocktail of sex, lies, scandal, and one very dead body.
Jamie Bond is a former cover model who switches gears to take over the family business: The Bond Agency, a high-powered P.I. firm located in Los Angeles that specializes in domestic espionage - catching cheating husbands. Jamie's assembled a team of other disenchanted former models to help her take names and kick derrieres among L.A.'s wealthiest philandering husbands. Her current client: Mrs. Veronica Waterston, the young, distraught wife of superior court judge, Thomas Waterston, known for his tough sentencing, right-wing leanings, and his fondness for blondes with double D's. Easy target. But Jamie's simple case takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the not-so-good judge winds up on the ten o'clock news with a bullet through his head. It's clear that someone has set Jamie up, and suddenly she's on the run, under fire, and in serious jeopardy of losing it all. With a hot A.D.A. on her trail, a killer on the loose, and her life on the line, Jamie must prove once and for all that nobody messes with a Bond.


Book Review:

After several weeks of reading books that were pretty blah, this was very refreshing! I devoured it in an afternoon. If you are looking for a quick, fun read, look no further! If you have read any of Gemma Halliday’s High Heels Mysteries or the Stephanie Plum books and enjoyed them, this will be right up your alley.

I really enjoyed Jamie’s (short for James) character. She is a beautiful, sexy, smart, funny woman with a heart of gold. I loved her persistence and her indomitable spirit. She has a photographer best friend, Danny, who assists her on cases when necessary. The relationship here interests me and I look forward to reading where the authors take this story arc.

The cat and mouse game with the very attractive Assistant DA, Aiden Prince, alone is worth the read. The scene in the park cracked me up and I loved the twist the authors threw in. If that scene wasn’t enough for you, the courthouse scene will make you pick your jaw up from the floor.

The former models who work for Jamie are also a treat to read about, all successfully balancing intellect, street smarts and allure. As befitting any work where the main character’s name is James Bond, there are some fun gadgets thrown in, but not enough to make this feel like a spy or sci-fi movie. The ending was a bit predictable, but the character development was very well done. I’m eagerly waiting for the next in the series as this one made me laugh and bite my nails. It grabbed me by the hand and pulled me in, not letting go until the very last page. Highly recommended.

Sensuality: references to sex

Rating: 5 stars

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Review: Volcanoes by Nicole Hamlett

 

Book Description:

Be careful what you ask of Fate - sometimes she gives it to you.
When we last saw our heroine, she'd watched her faithful pet rip off her new best friend's head to save her son's life and Atlantis was rising from the depths. Now, Grace Murphy is back in the third installment of the Huntress series, but this time she's facing an all-out war. It's critical that Nyx (and Atlantis) stay buried, but her psychotic brats will do most anything to get her back.
With Hypnos invading her dreams, Dylan caught up in the throes of his "change" and juggling her relationships with Drew and Heph, to say Grace's hands are full would be an understatement.
You didn't think that was all, did you? Of course there's more!
Grace wished her life would just go back to the way it was before, and that she wouldn't have her powers or responsibilities anymore. Unfortunately, it looks like Fate answered this time. The results aren't pretty.

 


Review:

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in the Grace Murphy series: Huntress and Rifts, despite the cliffhanger ending on the second, and eagerly anticipated the release of Volcanoes. Sadly, this book did not live up to my expectation. Honestly, I almost stopped reading it about 1/3 of the way through and forced myself to continue. It picks up after the 1/3 mark.

I didn’t remember Grace being such a whiny little girl in the first two books. Or nearly as prickly. This one, Grace goes waaaaaay overboard on the pity parties and/or verbally skewers anyone who dares to present an alternate opinion (or /gasp! not keep her, as the least-trained Hunter, completely in the loop about everyone’s actions and motivations—completely annoying). That said, the author leaves a LOT of room for character growth, which does occur. We see Grace put on her big girl panties and take care of business in a good way. The ending, while not a cliffhanger, was kind of ambiguous and abrupt. I THINK the author was referring to one character but maybe she meant a different one? (I’m really not sure.) Although she could be referring to a completely different character. It’s just not as clear as it should have been. One other area that could have been better is summation of previous books. I’ve seen some authors do a lot more and some do less. There’s a fine line and the author really only needed to review just a tiny bit more. There were a few things that happened in the first two books I didn’t remember happening that the author could have thrown in a sentence refresher and been done with it. Although, maybe most people really just need the mention of it and not a little bit of background. Like I said, it’s a fine line between too little and too much.

I did enjoy reading about the developing relationship with Grace and her mother. The author did a stellar job there. Moms and daughters… ‘nuff said. I also really enjoyed the introduction of Poseidon and look forward to reading more about him in the next one. This really felt like a transition book for the series. The author wisely left many threads active for future exploration.

I guess Volcanoes could be read as a standalone novel, but a new reader would really miss out on a lot of character motivations and events from the previous two. My recommendation is to read the series in order. It’s a good series and well-worth the read. They all read quickly and contain lots of action and fast-paced dialogue. I recommend this to people who like to read the Queen Betsy series, especially the first ones.

Sensuality: a kiss or two, no sex. So far, this series is safe for younger readers.

Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: Single and Searching by Rita Herron

Book Description:

Overview

SINGLE AND SEARCHING...

A woman looking for love...

A reporter looking for a story...

A mad rush to find a criminal...

When the truth comes out and danger strikes, will they succumb to the passion burning between them? (from amazon.com)


Book Review:

Hmmm, where to begin? This book was hysterical! Some of the mental images will stick with me for a very long time: the 2 year old who greets the “plumber” carrying his teddy bear dressed in _______ with a _____ had me laughing out loud (I don’t want to deprive you of the pleasure of reading it first-hand). Obviously, this author has had some experience with children and knows anything that can go wrong will (in very unpredictable and hilarious ways).

Casey is a single woman, a children’s book author and adoptive mother. Her lifestyle is delightfully scattered and chaotic.

Gabe is a reporter, cynical by necessity, but good-hearted. At the urging of his editor, he agrees to write an article about on online dating service between his usual investigative articles.

Casey and Gabe get off to a rough start, but it’s certainly entertaining! Trust is a big theme in this book as the main characters face some pretty big obstacles to trusting each other.

The criminal is telegraphed pretty well and there’s another aspect of the story that wasn’t entirely unexpected (no spoilers!). Overall, it was a delightfully fun read. I probably won’t read it again simply because my to-read list is so long, but I will remember parts of this story for quite some time (I love it when a good story sticks in my memory for a while). I definitely recommend this book for a fun, light-hearted mystery romance.

If you like Jennifer Crusie, you will probably enjoy this book as well. It’s well-written, well-paced and easy to read.

Sensuality: some sex, fairly descriptive

Rating: 5 stars

Book Review: The Dream Child by Emma Daniels

Book Description:

After years of trying to have a baby through IVF, Sophie Quinn’s marriage breaks up. In their attempt to start a family, Sophie had put the rest of her life on hold, including a thriving business, so now at thirty-five she’s single again, living alone in a tiny apartment, with a dead-end job, trying to pick up the pieces of her life.
The last thing she needs is to start having erotic dreams about a handsome blonde stranger who turns out to be a real person, Vic Rose, the new manager, who walks into the office to discover the beautiful dark-haired woman he’s been dreaming about is not a figment of his imagination either.
Sophie and Victor are just as drawn to one-another in real life, but neither are prepared to admit to the dreams they’re having about each other, not until the arrival of the dream child.....


Book Review:

I have kind of mixed feelings about this one. Overall, it was an enjoyable book, but I was highly distracted by errors. I realize the author is from Australia and some of the “errors” stemmed from me not grasping minor differences in language use/slang, but not all. If the author wants to contact me through my blog, melodysbookshelf dot com, for a list of errors, I will be happy to respond. That aside, I thought the premise of the book was truly unique and enjoyable.

Things I enjoyed about the book:

1. The premise

2. The dream scenes (I wanted more!)

3. The reveal (what was behind the dreams—awesome!)

4. Sophie, free-spirited bead jewelry maker

5. The ending. Loved, loved, loved it!

Things I didn’t love about the book:

1. Pacing was a bit strange, offering highly descriptive dreams (very nice!) then skipping weeks and months at a time in other parts of the book. I realize part of the months skipping was necessary as nothing relevant to the plot really happened, but it still felt weird to me as a reader.

2. Vic, stuffed shirt, kind of a jerk at times

3. The lack of communication drove me nearly insane. Misunderstandings and failure to resolve issues/dragging out the conflict is a serious pet peeve of mine as a reader.

Again, overall, it’s an enjoyable book, but I won’t read it again. I do recommend it as a good beach/weekend read as it reads fairly quickly.

Sensuality: some descriptive dream sex

Rating: 3 stars

Book Review: Who Glares Wins by Camilla Chaffer

Book Description:

Only a few weeks into her new job as a private investigator, Lexi Graves thinks she may have bitten off more than she can chew with her first solo cases.
In between going undercover as a plush pony at a “Bronie” conference and following her cheating brother-in-law, she’s got a saboteur-turned-killer to catch and a missing woman to find. Two of her cases may be connected, but how?
There’s no short list of suspects to investigate, but the closer Lexi gets to the killer, the more her life is put in jeopardy. Trying to avoid being framed for a murder she didn’t commit, Lexi knows her luck is running out.
To make matters worse, her boyfriend, sexy detective, Adam Maddox, thinks she’s out of the PI game faster than she got into it. Her boss, the mysterious Solomon, meanwhile, hopes to get her between the sheets by night, as well as solving cases by day, and Lexi’s "just say no" resolve might not be as fortified as she believes.
All she wants is to be taken seriously and there’s only one way she can do that—solve the cases, no matter what. (from amazon.com)


Book Review

Ms. Chaffer pulls it off again. Lexi is just as charming in Who Glares Wins as in the first book in the series, Armed and Fabulous.  

Lexi very much wants to be respected by her co-workers, but they all think she and Solomon have something on the side and that is why she got the job. I enjoyed how the author allowed Lexi to prove she is a capable investigator. She also has good instincts, developed in part by growing up in a family of police officers. She takes 3 solo cases, 2 pro bono without Solomon’s knowledge, and juggles them well. I love how Lexi utilizes all the tools she has available, work, family and friends and new acquaintances to solve tricky informational needs. The scene where she lays a honey trap for her brother-in-law is priceless and is worth reading the book!

I like how the book focuses primarily on the cases, family and friends, with romance off to the side. It’s not quite an after-thought, as Lexi does contemplate the two men in her life more than a bit, but it doesn’t take center stage and that’s a refreshing change from my usual reads. Lexi grows quite a bit in this book and doesn’t seem quite as klutzy as in the first one and far more capable. 

My one quibble with the book is how much people underestimate her, specifically Maddox. Although that actually turns into a positive when she proves just how capable and resourceful she is and successfully vindicates herself.

The humor, language, editing, pacing are all excellent. Who Glares Wins grabs your attention quickly and hangs on to it until the book is over. I highly recommend this series and am eagerly waiting for book 3, which is supposed to be out later in August 2012. I think the book would work as a standalone novel, but a reader would benefit from reading Armed and Fabulous for the backstory.

Sensuality: kissing, references to sex. Safe for teen readers.

Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Armed & Fabulous (Lexi Graves Mysteries, 1) by Camilla Chafer

 

Book Description:

All Lexi wants to do is get through the day at her boring temp job with Green Hand Insurance. That’s until she discovers the vice president, Martin Dean, in a pool of blood and herself at the center of an investigation into insurance fraud.
Millions of dollars are missing, the chief suspect is dead and her mysterious, sexy, new boss is not what he seems.
Recruited by the joint task force working on the case, all Lexi has to do is work out who killed Dean and where the missing millions are. That’s easier said than done when her sister insists upon the baby shower to end all baby showers, her wise-ass cop family just wants to keep her safe, someone keeps leaving her creepy gifts, and all the clues point to a seedy sex club on the wrong side of town.
As the bodies start to pile up, Lexi is on a race against time to find the killer and the money, before she’s the next one in the murderer’s sights. (from amazon.com)

 


Review:

Prior to finding this book on a list of free books, I had never heard of this author. I read a lot of indie authors or not really very well-known authors and sometimes they are good and sometimes, eh, not-so-good. This book was one of the really good ones.

Lexi is the youngest of 5, born into a family of police officers. She is smart and capable, though she hides this well, personable, but has no place to really direct her energies, so she works as a temp.

Adam and Solomon are on the task force with her and provide an interesting love triangle. I hope the author doesn’t drag that aspect out too much. I enjoy a little love triangle as much as the next person, but they can be drawn out too much. Adam is the good-guy cop, boy scout-ish, Solomon is the bad-boy, dangerous. Another reviewer compared this series to Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich and that’s a pretty accurate assessment. Adam=Joe Morelli, Solomon=Ranger. At least it seems that way from the first book.

Things I really enjoyed about the book:

1. Lexi’s friendship with Lily. I love that the author didn’t throw the best friend under the bus because some hot guys were around.

2. The dialogue/inner monologue was great. The humor was fantastic (I laughed out loud many times). There was only one time I felt it was over-done.

3. Believable sexual tension build-up between Lexi and both Adam and  Solomon.

4. I Loved her family. The protective older brothers and the too-perfect older sister provided some comic relief as well as some genuine displays of caring. The author did a fantastic job portraying family commitment and exposing faults (and setting up future books).

5. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book quite a lot and was a little surprised at the ending. The author did a good job building the tension.

Things I didn’t care about:

1. I would have liked a bit more information about her past. I realize the author is stretching the story out a bit over a few books, but darn it, I want answers now! (just kidding). Specifically, I want to know about “the army incident” and why she can’t be a police officer. I have a feeling the 2 are related.

That’s it for what I didn’t enjoy about the book. Seriously. It was a great book. Well-edited, dialogue great, pacing great, believable characters and actions.

If you like funny mysteries with a similarity to the Stephanie Plum novels, you will probably enjoy this as well. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series (I’ll be buying the next installment as soon as I post this review) and highly recommend this book.

Sensuality: a few kisses and some sexual tension, references to sex. It would fine for a teenager to read.

Rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: Subtle Magic (Subtle Lovers, Book One)

 

Book Description

Publication Date: October 13, 2008

Duse Ammadon has been without Skylar for over four hundred years and he'll not wait another minute. His life mate is the first to be reincarnated since the depraved Watcher, Asmoday, killed his brother's mate, forcing her into a sexual response, which robbed her of her magic essences. Now a whole world of criminal possibilities has opened to the once innocent race of Watchers. Because Duse knows Skylar could be the next target for Asmoday's depravity, he doesn't have the luxury of re-introducing Skylar to Watcher ways or for a slow, patient seduction. To set the protection spell, he has to make love to her immediately. If only she could remember him from one lifetime to another. Skylar Halifax always knew she was different. She could see auras and manipulate subtle matter to promote healing. She sensed there was something unique about Duse, something beyond his god-in-man form and phenomenal good looks. Duse can't waste any time convincing Skylar that he is different. So different, in fact, that he's not even human. Will Skylar accept Duse as her life mate or will Duse have to use other means to convince her that he is her destiny?

Review:

This was a mildly entertaining book, worth a quick read, but not much more than that. While I appreciate the author working to provide a backstory and an introduction to the way her world works, especially since it’s the first in a series, I felt it was a bit over-done on the description of the subtle bodies and some of the chakra information. Some of the past life story regarding Skylar was interesting, as she had been a healer, wise woman, village leader previously.

I would have liked a little bit more build-up before the hero and heroine had sex the first time. Sex scenes were pretty steamy; if you are reading the book just for the sex, this will probably be a good choice for you. I just didn’t like the way all the sex scenes jumped right in without much other play (could very well be personal preference on that one).

One of the things the author could have done to make it more of a story was to make the danger a bit more apparent. That part of the story felt rushed and contrived. I would have liked more page time with Jax and maybe a bit more with the bad-guy. We know he’s evil, but I just didn’t feel the importance of what he was doing besides that he was killing these young women to keep them from “feeding” other Watchers. I also would have loved for the author to explore what appeared to be a budding relationship between Ainge and Sherry, who, btw, was probably my favorite character in the book. A retired police officer, smart, attractive (if a VERY young grandma), she kind of steals the show in the end.

I liked parts of the book, but feel like it fell short of what it COULD have been. Bottom line: read if you are in the mood to read something sexy and not particularly interested in the story.

Sensuality: explicit sex, adults-only

Rating: 3 stars

Book Review: When Libby Met the Fairies and Her Whole Life Went Fae by Kirsten Mortensen

Book Description

Publication Date: May 10, 2011

Biologist Libby Samson wants only one thing: to rebuild her life after an ugly divorce.
So she quits her job and buys an organic farm.
Then, one evening, a two-foot tall man stands up out of the shadows and greets her by name.
It’s hard enough for Libby to come to terms with the fact that “little folk” exist.
But when word of Libby’s experience leaks out onto the Internet, her peaceful farm soon swarms with kooky strangers. The media shows up. Her annoying sister shows up. And her horrified boyfriend thinks she should be on meds.
Libby finds one person she can confide in: Dean, her solitary (but sexy) next-door neighbor.
But what if trusting Dean is a huge mistake?


Review

This was a well-constructed book. I felt like the characters were well-drawn and mostly realistic while some of them felt a bit cartoonish (Gina, Libby’s sister).

Things I liked about the book:

1. The premise. Libby, a biologist, wants to be an organic farmer. She is a nice woman who just wants to have a quiet life in the country after she goes through a divorce and is laid off.

2. Maizey and Dean. Maizey is the niece, Dean is the sexy neighbor. Maizey’s kind of a breath of fresh air, exuberant. Dean is a quiet beta-type hero who has a heart of gold under a slightly crusty exterior. His dog, Bo, is awesome.

3. The fairies. I think there should have been more in the book about the fairies, not about people who attempt to capitalize on Libby’s experience with them. They were an interesting little group.

Things I didn’t like about the book:

1. Libby displays passive aggressive behaviors. Instead of dealing with her problems, she hides from them.

2. She allows people to walk all over her on her own turf and almost allows these people to steal her dream of organic farming. I could not stand Gina. She was pushy, belittling, and then made it seem like Libby was in the wrong. I hate bullies. I wanted to jump into my Kindle and punch her in the face. However, I also don’t like in books when people don’t stand up for themselves.

3. I also didn’t like her boyfriend, Paul (selfish jerk). I thought she stayed with him entirely too long (a great example of rationalizing her problems and hiding from them).

I realize some people may think some of the good things are bad and vice versa. It’s worth a quick read, but it’s not a book I will re-read. I’d recommend this for people who like “train wrecks.” You know, that TV show or movie that you are watching and can’t stop because you know it’s going to be bad. I have a difficult time with that sort of thing and usually just walk away if I can tell it’s going to be painful.

Overall, it’s a good book, pretty enjoyable to read.

Sensuality: references to sex and some kissing, not descriptive, safe for younger teens, though they probably won’t be very interested.

Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: Tempest’s Fury by Nicole Peeler

Book Description

Publication Date: June 26, 2012

Jane's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight in a war when she'd much rather be snogging Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been busy stirring up some major trouble -- the kind that attracts a lot of attention. In other words, they're not making it easy for Jane to get any alone time with the barghest, or to indulge in her penchant for stinky cheese.
Praying she can pull of a Joan of Arc without the whole martyrdom thing, Jane must lead Alfar and halflings alike in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane also has to fight her own insecurities as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion.
Along the way, Jane learns that some heroes are born. Some are made. And some are bribed with promises of food and sex. (from amazon.com)


Book Review:

I’ve been following the adventures of Jane True since the beginning (late 2009), watching Jane grow from a girl with a tragic past to a young woman with a mission to save the world. At times funny, endearing, touching, horrifying, sexy, this series delivers a wide range of experiences from Jane’s point of view.

It took me a little while to sit down and actually write this review, even though I read it on Release Day. I enjoyed the book, I’ll say that right away, because I don’t want people to think my criticisms stem from a lack of enjoyment of the book.

If you haven’t read the first 4 books in the series, stop right now, head to the book store or download and read them on your e-reader. You will not be able to grasp the character motivations or some of the implications for actions taken. This book will be much more enjoyable after you’ve read the other books in the series.

This book felt more like a transition book than anything else. Lots of small things happened and a  HUGE cliffhanger ending. The author ended up posting her reasoning for the way she ended the book on her website because she’s fielded a LOT of comments about it. It’s HUGE, did I say that before?  Well, it is! My main complaint about the book is the cliffhanger, leaving us stranded for at least 6 months. I get so impatient!

I did enjoy several characters from past books visiting with Jane. Grizzie HAS to be one of my favorite characters, so colorful! Also, Jane’s dad is fun now that he’s better. But neither of them hold a candle to Jane and Anyan; it’s been so much fun watching as they became a couple.

I can’t really say much more about the book because I don’t want to give anything away. I can’t wait for the 6th (and final) book. I expect it to be epic.

Sensuality: a sex scene and several “close calls”

Rating: 4 stars

Book Review: Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Book Description:

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.
When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.
An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, “Gabriel's Inferno” is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man's escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible...forgiveness and love.


Book Review:

This book was pretty strange and I can’t quite decide whether or not I really enjoyed it. It had some good parts to it, was well-written, editing was pretty decent, but I didn’t really like the main characters. Oddly enough though, that doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t enjoy a book. For example, I’ve read the Twilight series oh, about 5 times but I really didn’t like Edward OR Bella. I just loved the story.

A few things bothered me about Gabriel’s Inferno. 

1. It felt like the author was trying to write a “literary novel” (and didn’t quite succeed). References to paintings and works in other languages abounded. I guess this could be just me, maybe I’m not “cultured” or “smart” enough to enjoy this (I don’t think that’s the case as I do enjoy literature and going to museums, etc.)

2. It took waaaaaay too long for us to discover what Julia’s issues involved. She should have told Gabriel much sooner. I got the gist of what had happened earlier, but I felt like the author delayed divulging the information much longer than the story warranted.

3. The relationship was a little bit troubling (professor-student) but the author did a good job with keeping them apart until that was not an issue (but it does set up the conflict for the next book), also pointing out that they had been in contact before, kind of family friends.

4. The way Paul, a fellow student, and Gabriel treat Julia was weird. I realize that’s not really very descriptive and I realize the author was attempting to convey how much these men valued her and would cherish her but it felt kind of creepy. Paul called her “Rabbit” and treated her like a porcelain doll. Gabriel treated her also like a porcelain doll but the cherishing part was a bit overplayed in my opinion. I honestly can’t believe I am saying that, because I ADORE feeling cherished (husband is awesome at making me feel cherished) and am a sentimental sap when it comes to reading romances and seeing the man just take care of his woman. I eat up old-fashioned stuff like that! I say all this to say that if I say it felt overdone, I’m not speaking from a position of feminism. 

I did enjoy the end. Honestly, that’s why I’m even contemplating reading the next book, Gabriel’s Rapture. The author wrapped up the story with Julia’s past and set the stage for the next book.

The chemistry between Gabriel and Julia was well-done, the dialogue was enjoyable for the most part and felt pretty natural (not much worse than reading an adult book that read like a middle-schooler wrote the dialogue).

If you enjoy books that deal with more literary topics, you will probably enjoy this book (for that kind of audience, I would probably give the book 4 stars). For people like me, probably 3 stars. For people who want a quick, uncomplicated story, probably 2 stars. This is a pretty lengthy book (I took 2 days to read it and I’m usually a book-a-day kind of gal). This is a complex book, entertaining at times, but it is not one I would recommend for everyone.

Rating: 3 stars

Sensuality: many kissing/petting scenes, one sex scene. Well done, probably not a book for teens, especially early teens.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book Review: Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Book Description

Publication Date: July 3, 2012

When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.
But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a string of suicides occur in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shades have no memory of the days leading up to their brutal endings, so despite the very public apparent suicides, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why do the shades lack the memory of their deaths? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all… (from amazon.com)

 

Book Review:

I marked the release of this one in my calendar months ago. For some reason (OK, OK, many reasons), this series really sticks to me. I finished the book this morning and I just want to go back to the first two and re-read them. Not that I was lost in this book’s storyline as it relates to the other two books because the author did a fine job of reminding the reader about past occurrences without sounding like a broken record, but because I want to re-experience the introduction of Death and meet Falin again. Surprisingly, I also want to go back to read parts about her dad. Now there’s a mystery I want solved!  The author leaves much unexplained and open for future development.

 

While the case takes up a lot of page time, we do get to visit with her friends and keep up with them as well, the revelry during the Equinox was very interesting and I find myself wondering which court she will choose. I hope the next book develops the fae storyline a little bit more, because there is a LOT the author could explore. The Winter Queen is an awesome character to hate!

We meet a new character, Briar, who is um, an interesting character. I kind of hope we see her again. The author’s development of the ghost characters reminds me a little bit of Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series (one of my all-time favorite series), but it never felt “copied.” I loved it when Roy asked if he could have the broom closet for his office.

Ms. Price threw in some unexpected (yet hoped-for) events and really knocked it out of the park with this one. It will probably be about 9 months before the next one comes out. I can guarantee the release date will be marked on my calendar the moment I see the date.

I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy urban fantasy that’s a little bit different, with a bit of a mystery, a bit of romance and a strong female lead who seems like a real person. Alex messes up, stumbles around, uses her magic, and pays the price for her magic (with her eyesight), no perfect Miss here. She’s grown quite a lot since we first met her in Grave Witch and has taken the reader along for the ride. Do yourself a favor, though and read the first two books in the series before you dive into this one. Grave Memory will be all the richer experience if you do.

Sensuality: some kisses and a sex scene, a little descriptive, probably OK for older teens.

Rating: 5 stars.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Bared to You

Book Description

Publication Date: May 24, 2012
"If I were to recommend any book today to readers who enjoyed 50 Shades...this would be the first one I would offer....scorching love scenes."--Dear Author
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness...
He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily...
Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private worlds...and desires.
The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart... (from amazon)

Review
I got an e-mail a few weeks ago which read something along the lines of “If you enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey, you should read Bared to You.” Sadly, it had not been released yet, but I eagerly counted the days. I read some early reviews of it and they were overwhelmingly positive, which increased my anticipation even more! Finally, I had the book on my Kindle Fire (release day) and sat down to read, completely ignoring the assignment for my summer class that was due in less than a week and devoured the book. I couldn’t put it down and finished it the day I started it. It grabs ahold of you like a baby with a piece of candy and refuses to let you go.
Gideon and Eva were both damaged characters. I enjoyed that they weren’t perfect but not so damaged I couldn’t relate to them, even though they both had some moments you wanted to smack them upside the head. 
The book was well-written, interesting story, Eva and Gideon had chemistry that almost made you forget to breathe and steamy sex scenes. Eva’s model best friend was a great character, as was her boss and his boyfriend. My one main gripe about the book was really about Eva’s financial responsibility. Her stepdad was rich, her biological dad was a police officer. At the beginning of the book, she says something about not being able to pay for her student loans so she let her real dad take care of them (we’ll forget also for a moment we find out later she has a nest egg she refuses to touch that started at 5 million and has been growing under the watchful care of her step dad but she can’t use the interest or the investment returns and her middle class dad has to pay for it?) Then later she buys a very expensive ring? Not acceptable to me. I get that it’s fiction and she has many people in her life that are wealthy, but that just seemed wrong. OK, I’ll stop griping about that now Smile .
I didn’t even finish reading the book before I recommended it to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Mother-in-law LOVED it, haven’t heard from sister-in-law. If you enjoyed 50 shades (and even if you didn’t like 50 Shades but you like steamy books every now and again), you should give this a read. Not for younger readers (I won’t let my teenage daughter read it yet).
Sensuality: several descriptive sex scenes
Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: Forgotten Father

 

Book Description

Publication Date: November 19, 2011

When Delanie Carlyle wakes in the hospital after a car accident, she discovers she cannot remember the past month of her life…and to her dismay, she’s newly pregnant. With no husband or lover in her life, she must take care of her child alone and then an elderly friend dies and she must deal with the complications presented by a large, unexpected inheritance.
Eighteen months later, Mitchell Riese meets again the woman who has stolen half his inheritance. Delanie knew who Mitchell was when she fell into conversation with the dark, handsome tycoon at a cocktail party celebrating the re-opening of his grandfather’s historic resort. She has supervised the restoration of the massive turn-of-the-century hotel and, in the process, has earned the fond affection of the irascible, elderly Donovan Riese.
Mischievously, Delanie parries Mitchell’s attempts to learn her name. But somewhere between the casual conversation and the sparkling champagne, she falls instantaneously, head-overin love with Donovan Riese’s sexy grandson. After a night of glorious passion, she wakes and slips away from his bed, still awash in the glow of finally having found her soul mate.
At breakfast later that morning, Delanie waits with teasing expectancy when Donovan introduces her to his grandson, Mitchell. When the man she thought was her hero viciously attacks her for supposedly taking advantage of his grandfather, Delanie runs away, only to crash her car in her distress and wake up...having forgotten with whom she made a baby. (from amazon)


Review

 

I enjoy reading independent authors because discovering a really good new author is such a great surprise. When I read independent authors, sometimes I find grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, word choice problems. All of those are very fixable and if I really like the story, the characters, the chemistry, I’ll shoot the author an e-mail and tell him/her about it so they can fix it. I won’t do that with this book.

 

Forgotten Father by Carol Rose has an interesting premise, but I disliked this book intensely, mostly because the hero is a misogynistic asshole. I read the book on my iPhone and there were so many times I wanted to throw my phone up against the wall when I read Mitchell talk about how all women are money-grubbing whores. The author had the good sense to not actually use that word in the text, but it’s strongly suggested on more than one occasion. I’m getting mad again just writing about it. He had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and did not deserve the heroine at all.

 

Delanie wasn’t the best heroine either. She was just OK. I recognize the author was attempting to make her a multi-faceted character, but she came off as a bit like a person who has multiple personality disorder might be portrayed. It seemed incongruous that she was a smooth-talking situation smoother and then not be able to verbally defend herself. The resolution was too-pat and too fast. I realize people can have aha! moments and change, but given the depth of Mitchell’s hatred of women, it was not well-done at all.  

I should also add that one of my least favorite storylines is The Misunderstanding.If you really like that type of story, you might like the book, but characters who don’t communicate well and continually misinterpret each other’s actions irritates me at best and angers me at worst. If you couldn’t tell, this one angered me Smile. I do not recommend this book and I’m not sure I’d read another of her books, at least for a while, hopefully I’ll forget this book soon.

Sensuality: a few sex scenes, not terribly graphic, decently written

Rating: 1 star

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick List of Good Books Read

Disclaimer: I’ve read quite a few more books than this, generally 3-5 a week, but many are ultimately forgettable, so if I’ve remembered it long enough to post it here, it would definitely be worth the read-time (3-5 stars).

 

Lover Reborn by JR Ward

This was one of the more enjoyable BDB books. It was a nice blast from the past with some character updates. The story was necessarily slow, taking place over a year. I wanted to smack Tohr so many times for his harshness. No’One and Tohr both showed a great deal of character development, as did Xhex and John. I don’t really care much for Xhex but she had a great part in this series entry. I am very interested to see where JR Ward goes from here.

 

Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James

This was originally a fan fiction piece for Twilight, but it’s much more adult. It’s not a vampire story (darn, I love the vampire stories!) but it was nonetheless captivating (I read the trilogy in less than a week).

I was originally intrigued when my husband sent me a link to an article about the first book. Evidently this has polarized men and women due to the subject matter. DO NOT READ this series if you are faint of heart as it does deal with BDSM and has explicit sex (although I wouldn’t call it erotica, it has more sex than many books I’ve read). This is NOT a book for teenagers. I don’t normally read books with BDSM, but this was very well done. Ana and Christian, while not necessarily realistic characters, are well-drawn and the trilogy is about their journey as a couple, much more than the manner in which they play.

 

Drink Deep by Chloe Neill

The latest book in the Chicagoland Vampires delivers! It begins with the transition the House and Merit go through in the aftermath of the last book. Merit is caught in the middle of vampire politics, Mal is in the middle of her wizard exams and the other main character (the city of Chicago) has some serious problems (understatement of the year there)! The ending was VERY unexpected and you will be waiting for the next installment from the moment you finish the book.

 

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

I love Jennifer Crusie! This was a fun novel, a little paranormal (ghosts!) a lot of heart. Madcap, zany characters and kids who need understanding.

 

By a Thread by Jennifer Estep

The latest Elemental Assassin takes you on a wild ride when Gin and Bria go on vacation. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned and Gin brushes off her assassin skills again, this time to help Bria’s childhood friend. There’s plenty of Owen page time, which makes me happy and a satisfactory conclusion. 

 

Black Howl by Christina Henry

I can’t say much without giving spoilers but if you’ve read this series at all, you definitely need to read this one. Maddie has lots of problems here from a surprising source with a truly unexpected ending.

 

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

This series keeps getting better and better! Charlie Davidson (grim reaper) can’t go to sleep or she summons Reyes (in my mind that’s good! He’s a great character!). She’s doing her normal private investigator stuff and she runs into problem after problem. It’s a wild ride you’ll be glad you didn’t miss.  Don’t start with this one, since it’s the third in the series, you’ll be lost. We meet some new characters which are certainly colorful and learn quite a lot about some characters we already know. Can’t wait for the next one, it promises to be an even wilder ride!

 

Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead

This was the conclusion to the Dark Swan series and it packed a wallop! I didn’t  necessarily agree with some of the decisions she made, but I think Eugenie was trying to do the best by everyone, as a ruler sometimes needs to do. The battle scene was great! The antagonist was delightfully evil and Dorian was charming. It was a good ending.

 

Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland

 

Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland

O M G These books keep getting better and better! Diana Rowland is on my to-read list as soon as her books are published! People might be put-off by the premise of a demon summoning police officer, but it’s not satanic. The paranormal police procedurals are amazing and I highly recommend them!

 

Huntress (Grace Murphy novels) by Nicole Hamlett

 

Rifts (Grace Murphy novels) by Nicole Hamlett

I got the first book in the series from the amazon prime monthly book checkout (too bad I had to give it back!) and had to read the next one asap. The premise is truly brilliant; the main character begins as a romance writer who finds out she’s the daughter of a goddess and goes through an amazing metamorphosis. Curse the author for leaving a HUGE cliffhanger!

 

The Sex Club: A Detective Jackson Thriller by LJ Sellers

I debated putting this one in because I got pretty mad at the author for “preaching” liberal stuff at me. I don’t mind if the characters are liberal, but books where the characters are portrayed as extremely virtuous for making politically correct environmental and personal choices (and demonizes people who are conservative Christians) make me angry. The book was well-written though, the mystery engaging with a fascinating premise. However, be aware you might or might not like the preaching in it.

 

Spying in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

This was a fun weekend read.

 

The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Can’t wait for the next one! Will, Jem and Tessa will engage you better than many books I’ve read lately. It’s technically YA literature, but even adults can enjoy this one. It’s the second in the Infernal Devices trilogy, so definitely read Clockwork Angel first. What’s with authors and cliffhangers lately?! Anyway, definitely worth the read.

 

Like I said at the beginning, I’ve read far more than this since I blogged last, but these are the best. Have fun reading!

Book Review: Wannabe Spy Club

Product Description

Meet Leslie, Dale, Jazz and Vivica: Four best friends use the skills they learn from their favorite spy shows and impromptu spy lessons to find love and bring down their enemies.
******************************************************************************************
Sometimes when you date someone, you have to date their friends as well.
But Leslie Mason isn’t ready to date. Her life has been in limbo since the night her parents died, and she’s spent the last five years raising her teenage sister, Amanda. All she really wants is to see her sister settled safely at college. As far as Leslie’s concerned, living like a nun is no big deal – after all, who needs a man when you have three best friends like the other members of The Wannabe Spy Club? Their mission: to learn everything they believe spies would know. If that means watching every spy show ever made, shooting guns, riding motorcycles, or even pole dancing, they’re all in. Therefore, Leslie sees no compelling reason to add a man to the mix... until she meets the oh-so-tempting, tattoo-covered, Harley-riding mechanic, Jack Bradley.
From the moment Jack Bradley laid eyes on Leslie Mason, he wanted her in every sense of the word. He wanted her tender loving heart, her hot little backside, and he sure as hell wanted to get a glimpse inside her “purse of tricks.” But Leslie is way out of his league. She’s looking for a Knight in Shining Armor, and Jack’s armor is pretty damn rusty. Believing the only way to win her is to show only his good side, Jack does what he can to keep his past a secret. All he needs to do is hold her sexual advances at bay long enough to wine her, dine her, and convince her he’s worth loving. Then and only then will he tell her the truth – that he’s an ex-alcoholic with a shady past, shadier friends, and an ex-con for a father.
Then, Leslie’s world turns upside down. Her sister’s gang-banging ex-boyfriend wants Amanda back and figures “if he can’t have her, no one can.” When kidnapping fails, the gangster does a drive-by shooting on the Mason house, then disappears. After the police confirm they can’t find Amanda’s ex, the four Wannabe Spies hatch a scheme to bring the gangster down with cell phones, duct tape and a laptop. Overhearing their crazy plans, Jack realizes there’s no way in hell he’s going to let the four na├»ve women handle this on their own. They may not realize what kind of person the ex-boyfriend is, but he knows from experience how dangerous a gang can be. He’s going to look out for the Wannabe Spies whether they like it or not...even if it means calling in the bad guys, tarnished armor and all. (from Amazon.com)


Review:

I was drawn in immediately by the group of friends who loved spy stuff so much they made a club to learn about all things related to spying. I loved the energetic relationship between Leslie, Dale, Jazz and Vivica, which spoke of a long-lasting, time-tested friendship. These friends were ready and willing to drop anything at the drop of a hat to help out any of the Wannabes.

From the first scene with Jack, I was completely hooked and found myself rooting for him and Leslie. They had a great chemistry that didn’t feel forced despite the relatively short time frame of the book. The author crams a lot of action into this book but it didn’t feel crammed. The pacing was great, the dialogue realistic, as was the emotional reactions to various situations in the book. Each character carried quite a lot of baggage in the book and I felt it was dealt with in a very satisfactory manner.

Leslie’s relationship with her sister felt realistic, especially since I have teenagers of my own. You just never really know what’s going to happen and have to be ready for anything (and sometimes even have to take drastic measures to keep them safe from themselves). I digress.  But seriously, the author crafts a fantastic, laugh-out-loud, hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat story. I could  not put the book down and read it in a morning.

I laughed, I cheered, I dropped my jaw and said to myself “oh no, you di’unh!” I LOVED the scene where Leslie takes a crowbar to…. (you have to read the book to find out to what! No spoilers!).

I highly recommend reading the Wannabe Spy Club. It’s a book full of friendship, romance and family (and spy stuff!). I’m looking forward to the next book, which will be Vivica’s book.

Sensuality: a few kisses and a sex scene. I’d probably let my teenage daughter read it since it’s not overly explicit.

Rating: 5 stars