Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Kitty Goes to War

Kitty Goes to War (Kitty Norville, Book 8)Product Description: From Booklist
In the eighth installment of the Kitty Norville series, Kitty, the alpha werewolf of the Denver pack and host of a radio talk show that examines lives and problems of paranormal people, is summoned to an army base to help with a werewolf problem. The werewolves in question were part of a secret project that infected soldiers with lycanthropy to make them more effective in the war in Afghanistan, but when their alpha was blown to bits the squad imploded. The three remaining members, who have a murderous lack of self control, are facing extermination unless Kitty can teach them the ways of civilized werewolves, while dealing with her own problems revolving around a libel suit and possible wizard. Kitty is an empathetic character and smart as can be in this fast-moving urban fantasy. --Diana Tixier Herald

Given the excellence of Kitty’s House of Horrors, I expected quite a lot more from this one.  It was interesting enough to keep me reading but I wasn’t gripped like I was with the last one.  Ms. Vaughn had an interesting take on werewolves in the military but the resolution of the difference in Cormac was lame.  It’s a solid entry in the Kitty Norville series, but probably best read as a transition book as Book 9, Kitty's Big Trouble (Kitty Norville, Book 9) , looks really packed.  It actually looks like what I was expecting for this one given the name and the hints at war coming in Kitty’s House of Horrors.
Sensuality: a few fade to black sex scenes and some kissing.
Rating: 3 stars

Book Review: Kitty’s House of Horrors

Kitty's House of Horrors (Kitty Norville, Book 7)Product Description
Talk radio host and werewolf Kitty Norville has agreed to appear on TV's first all-supernatural reality show. She's expecting cheesy competitions and manufactured drama starring shapeshifters, vampires, and psychics. But what begins as a publicity stunt will turn into a fight for her life.
The cast members, including Kitty, arrive at the remote mountain lodge where the show is set. As soon as filming starts, violence erupts and Kitty suspects that the show is a cover for a nefarious plot. Then the cameras stop rolling, cast members start dying, and Kitty realizes she and her monster housemates are ironically the ultimate prize in a very different game. Stranded with no power, no phones, and no way to know who can be trusted, she must find a way to defeat the evil closing in . . . before it kills them all.
Kitty Norville is back for the 7th book in Kitty’s House of Horrors.  She’s well-established in her marriage and as co-alpha in her pack and is a national radio talk show celebrity with her show: The Midnight Hour.  She’s just as out-spoken as ever.  This book has been out for a while and since I’m not a huge reality TV person, this didn’t seem like a book I would really enjoy, but I did!  That part of the story didn’t last too long and was really well-done.  The meat of the story starts about halfway in and starts in a shocking way.  I read this in a day, could barely put it down.  Highly recommended, probably best read after dark to enhance the tenseness and the horror. 
I think you could read this book as a stand alone novel, but it would be much better if you read the series starting with Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, Book 1) for maximum impact.
Sensuality: a fade to black sex scene
Rating: 5 stars

Book Review: Magic to the Bone

Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom, Book 1)Product Description
Devon monk is casting a spell on the fantasy world...
Using magic means it uses you back, and every spell exacts a price from its user. But some people get out of it by Offloading the cost of magic onto an innocent. Then it’s Allison Beckstrom’s job to identify the spell-caster. Allie would rather live a hand-to-mouth existence than accept the family fortune—and the strings that come with it. But when she finds a boy dying from a magical Offload that has her father’s signature all over it, Allie is thrown back into his world of black magic. And the forces she calls on in her quest for the truth will make her capable of things that some will do anything to control...

I wanted to love this book, it sounded very promising.  I enjoy books where the characters have to train to use their abilities, they don’t just automatically arrive and the main character knows immediately exactly how to use the ability, I enjoy stories where there is a cost to using the ability, even if it’s only fatigue.  We have that here in spades.   Not only does Allie get fatigued, she pays a physical price for the magic she uses: headache, flu, nausea, bruising and sometimes she pays a double price: memory loss, sometimes large chunks.
The book was well-written, the theme is a nice mystery, it’s tense in the appropriate spots, I just wasn’t that interested in what happened to Allie and friends.  I’ve heard the next few books in the series are much much better now that the author has laid the groundwork in this book.  That’s the main reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 2.  It’s the first book in the series and often there’s a lot of world-building stuff that the author needs to do.  I will probably read more books in the Allie Beckstrom series but there are so many more books that are calling to me: “read me, read me!” that it will probably be a while before I actually get around to it.  Overall, I do recommend the book.  It probably won’t rock your world or anything but it’s a great alternative to sitting and staring at a wall! 
Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Lord Langley is Back In Town

Lord Langley Is Back in Town (The Bachelor Chronicles: the Widows of Standon)Product Description
Lord Langley and Minerva, Lady Standon, began their faux engagement with three simple rules set down by the baron's all-too-proper (and utterly unlikely) bride-to-be.
1. No more kissing. The intoxicating kiss Langley stole from her lips still has Minerva aflutter.
2. She will not share his bed. (For if his kiss is that tempting, Minerva doesn't dare imagine what a night in Langley's embrace will do to her already addled senses.)
3. No scandals during their engagement. With the infamous Langley back in Town, there is no lack of trouble he can bring to Minerva's unblemished reputation.
Oh, the wily Lord Langley will keep his word—but that doesn't mean he won't use every rakish trick he knows to get Minerva to break her own proper rules, especially once he realizes that this convenient arrangement has led him to the only woman he's ever loved . . .
Set in Regency England, I knew I would enjoy the book from the first page.  The author included a cast of characters, which included “the nannies.”   The story was a bit improbable but it was well-written with good character development as well as steady action.  The characters came to trust one another in a fairly believable manner, not immediate and not strung out forever.  The heroine was practical and smart, had a lot of spitfire buried under her  prim fa├žade and didn’t have a lot of TSTL moments like so many heroines do.
Lord Langley is a man accused of treason and comes back to London to clear his name.  He finds his twin daughters’ former “nannies” (his mistresses) have moved into the house he’s hiding in, the indomitable Minerva, who has a huge secret of her own.  What ensues is a lot of craziness with the nannies, various relatives, intrigue and of course, a romance.  I recommend this book for a summer afternoon read.  It’s light with just enough action and romance.
Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: One Magic Moment

One Magic MomentProduct Description
Medieval studies scholar Tess Alexander is thrilled for the chance to live in a medieval castle. But then a trip to the village brings her face-to-face with the owner of the local garage, who looks a great deal like the man who married her sister...800 years in the past. She's determined to remain objective about magic and destiny, but she can't help wondering about that mysterious, sword-wielding mechanic.

Lynn Kurland can still craft a heartwarming time travel romance, however, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed many of her other stories.  The characters seemed a bit too “bolt-y” for my taste, the heroine a bit too emotionally fragile and the hero too secretive.  The lack of communication was problematic in the beginning (on both sides). 
John de Piaget has many characteristics of the trademark LK heroes: handsome, protective, wields a mean sword, curses in many different languages and grumbles but he doesn’t have that loveable arrogance so many of them have.  It was a satisfying addition to her paranormal world but it felt a little bit long, although I’ll readily admit I wanted to finish it quickly so I could read another book that was on my list.  It was nice to see several characters from past books and it made me want to re-read Kendrick’s story, Stardust of Yesterday (Haunting Hearts Series)which has to be my all-time favorite Lynn Kurland book, closely followed by This is all I ask, which I previously reviewed.  This would be a fantastic beach read or a lazy Saturday afternoon read.
Sensuality: kissing and references to sex
Rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mini Reviews Part 3

Yes I have more I want to squeeze in!  Told you I’d been reading a LOT!

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin, Book 4)Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

Book 4 in the Elemental Assassin series begins a few weeks after the showdown at the giant’s house, where Gin Blanco declares war on Mab Monroe.   She now has another problem: Mab has hired an assassin to assassinate HER!  And it’s Christmas!  What a Scrooge Mab is!  What follows is a dark novel  with some bright rays of family and friendship.  The scenes with the assassin, LaFleur, are really well-done.  I LOVE how Gin taunts her!  I’ve been rooting for her to tell Bria who she was.  We also see more of Owen, much to my delight.  They are really so good for each other.  Of course there are the loyal, trustworthy dwarves and Finn drinking his chicory coffee.  If you haven’t read the first 3, don’t bother with this one, there’s too much history, even though the author does a bit of summarizing for us.  However, if you have read the first three Elemental Assassin books, this one is not to be missed.  My one complaint about the series is Jo-Jo has told Gin repeatedly she’s the strongest elemental she’s ever seen and Gin doesn’t use her magic much at all.  I’d like to see her practice with it more, just in case she ever loses her silverstone knives Smile

Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 5 stars

Iron Crowned (Dark Swan, Book 3)Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead

Iron Crowned is the third book in the Dark Swan series about Eugenie Markham, a shaman in the human world and a fairy queen in the Otherworld.  We see more of Dorian and Kiyo and a surprising about of Jasmine, her sister.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  The story was well-told, but I was soooo frustrated with Eugenie.  She made so many poor personal decisions.  I realize it was all on purpose and that the author has a fantastic grand design to all this, but it was rough reading it; I had to get up and walk away from the book a few times toward the end (kind of like Joey putting the book in the freezer).  I was really upset with Dorian and Kiyo in this book, they both had their own agendas  and I think Eugenie needs  an all together new man, leave these guys alone.  The ending was great but it also had some ambiguous parts, leaving the next installment wide open; the author could go in any number of directions with the series.  I do look forward to reading the next book.  If you haven’t read the first two books, you should do so before you read this one as it will make a lot more sense.

Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice

These are mostly novellas with Destined being a bit longer.  I’m not going to review these individually, although I will put in individual links to amazon for them.
These appear to be self-published and I had some real problems with the writing.  I appreciate how difficult it must be to edit your own writing, but the author should spend some more time on it or have someone with fresh eyes read it. 

This is a young adult series, written from the perspective of a teenage girl and I read it as such but it was dizzying how quickly someone turned from an evil person to best friend, possible boyfriend to forgotten in the face of a new guy.  The timeline was seriously messed up as far as personal history of characters.  My other major complaint about the novellas is that the author merely states something and it is so.  Girl sees boy, falls in love, done deal, no real description about why or how.  The bad guy is evil to the extreme, no nuancing or redeeming qualities, more of a caricature of evil.  Also, the author spent very little time doing world-building.  How does vampirism work in this series?  Does one bite kill or can vamps sip from willing donors?  It reminded me a bit of Twilight in parts (although no sparkles!). 

The story is pretty decent;  I enjoyed the action scenes, the vamps have some interesting abilities and the coven mentality was well-done.  The quest that threads through all of them is a really good one; it involves time travel and saving the world.  I will continue reading the series and recommend with reservations.  They read quickly and are inexpensive but the writing and editing need help. 

Sensuality : very little
Rating: 2 stars

Turned (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals)Turned

Loved (Book #2 in the Vampire Journals)Loved

Betrayed (Book #3 in the Vampire Journals)Betrayed

Destined (Book #4 in the Vampire Journals)Destined

Mini-Reviews part II

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been reading a lot.  I thought I would split the post to be easier to read through.  So refresh that beverage of choice and settle down to read about some more books you might want to add to your to-read list.

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5)Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

The husband-wife writing team that is Ilona Andrews knocks one out of the ballpark again.   Magic Slays is a solid entry into the Kate Daniels Magic series.  I loved how Curran and Kate grew together even more.  There’s a new enemy in town and this group is baaaaaad.  Her best friend, Andrea, comes back to town and they join forces to solve the first case of her new magical detective agency.

Kate is just as brash, cranky and loyal as ever.  She really has grown more mature over the course of the series as she makes friends and adds more responsibilities to her life.   We learn a bit more about Kate’s family, her mother this time and it was a shocker.  This series is a must-read for any lover of urban fantasy, man or woman (not a lot of that mushy stuff and a lot of action).
Sensuality: I only remember one sex scene
Rating: 5 stars

Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 9)Lover Unleashed by J.R.Ward

The ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series picks up right where Lover Mine ends, with Payne brought to the compound and V in shock he has a sister.

Jane know she can’t handle the injury on her own but knows her former co-worker, Manny, can certainly handle it.  I enjoyed this installment, although it’s generous to call it Payne and Manny’s story when V seems to have more page time.  It does however feel like there’s some completion there.  If you read BDB, you will definitely want to pick this one up.  It felt like a transition book, getting ready for a new batch of Brothers as we meet several new males so JR Ward can continue this spicy series.
Sensuality: several sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Vampire MineVampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks

Vampire Mine is grumpy Connor’s story.  Of course we always knew his grumpiness his a soft heart.  In true Love at Stake fashion, Ms. Sparks weaves a funny, heartwarming story that leaves you with a goofy smile on your face.  This time around, the girl is an angel, fallen from grace.  When I read that, I thought “hmmm how will that work?”  It ended up being a decent story, definitely worth reading, but maybe not one I’ll re-read.  Gregori’s story is next, out in September.  Looking forward to that!

Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Looking Glass Trilogy Books 1 and 2 by Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick

OK, I’ll admit it, Amanda Quick is one of my guilty pleasure reads.  I’ve read most of the books she’s written as Amanda Quick and many by her other pseudonyms.  Amanda Quick is Regency and Victorian England, set in the ton or on the fringes of ton society, usually involving a murder mystery and/or involving some type of magic (Arcane Society).  The heroines are usually vocal and smart, which I enjoy quite a lot. 

Jayne Ann Krentz is set in modern day and Jayne Castle is future, but often related in some way to the others.  The Looking Glass Trilogy follows an arcane item through all three time periods (and authors).  I read Quicksilver first (book 2) and then In Too Deep (book 1) and was able to follow easily, maybe because book 2 was set before book 1.  Anyway, each book easily stands alone.  I am looking forward to reading book 3, Canyons of Night due out August 30, 2011.

In Too Deep: Book One of the Looking Glass Trilogy (An Arcane Society Novel)In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz

This is the Story of Fallon Jones and Isabella Valdez.   There seems to be a lot of backstory for Fallon and the J&J detective agency but JAK does a neat job summarizing any necessary plot points as they come up.  Fallon and Isabella make a really good team as each of their psychic abilities complement the others as do their personalities.  Fallon and the small town he lives in provide a perfect hiding place for her as she is on the run from her former boss.  They investigate several mysteries which are separate but linked in some way, making for an interesting and satisfying read. 

Sensuality: a few sex scenes
Rating: 3 stars

Quicksilver: Book Two of the Looking Glass Trilogy (Arcane Society: Looking Glass Trilogy)Quicksilver by Amanda Quick

This is the story of Virginia Dean and Owen Sweetwater.  Virginia is a genuine talent, able to read glass, or rather the images that are psychically burned into the glass at the time of a person’s death.  Needless to say, many people think she’s a fraud.  Owen Sweetwater, a psychic investigator, has closely observed her and knows she’s telling the truth about her ability and he needs her help on a case he’s working.  Adventure, romance and laughs abound in the book.  I especially giggled at references to medical treatment for female hysteria, which Virginia Dean and her friend, Charlotte have been researching.  This book is definitely worth reading if you enjoy historical romantic fiction with a touch of the paranormal.

Sensuality:  a few sex scenes
Rating: 4 stars

Book Review: Hunt the Moon: A Cassie Palmer Novel

Hunt the Moon: A Cassie Palmer NovelProduct Description
Cassandra Palmer recently defeated a god, which you'd think would buy a girl a little time off. But it doesn't work that way when your job description is Pythia-the world's chief clairvoyant. Cassie is busier than ever, trying to learn about her power, preparing for her upcoming coronation, and figuring out her relationship with the enigmatic sexy master vampire, Mircea.
But someone doesn't want Cassie to become Pythia, and is willing to go to any lengths to make sure the coronation ceremony never happens- including attacking her mother before Cassie is even born.

Well, after two years of waiting, I had it in my hands.  Karen Chance, I have to say it :WOW.  What an amazing book.  It had everything I crave in a book and more: action (maybe some of the scenes were a tad long but they were excellent!), romance, a strong yet vulnerable heroine, humor, fantastic world and character building!
Cassie is every bit as much a spitfire in this book as in the previous ones, Mircea is every bit as protective and Pritkin is every bit well, Pritkin.  He’s protective but not smotheringly so, tough, gentle, cranky (can you tell which one I like the most?).  He seems to be the only one who cares about Cassie, not the power of the Pythian office and what favor she can do for him later, just her.   The sexual tension between them is so thick it’s hard to breathe during their scenes together.  They make such a fabulous team and I wish he had been featured a little bit more in this book.   Mircea, as sexy as he is, seems to always have in the back of his mind how he can use her in the future, always maneuvering.  He REALLY ticked me off in this book on several occasions.  Cassie dealt with that and maybe, just maybe, in the future he won’t try to protect her to death.
This book involves trying to keep her mother alive.  The leader of the mages, Jonas, has some ideas about what the bad guy guy is in this installment.  Cassie really grows into her power in this installment and it is a treat to read.  The climax was breathtaking and the ending leaves you wanting the next book in your hands yesterday already so you can finish it NOW!  Ms. Chance left the series wide open; it can go just about anywhere from here.  I can only hope it doesn’t take her two more years to complete book 6.
Sensuality:  several sex scenes
Rating: 5 stars

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Books I’ve read recently (mini-reviews)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and not much reviewing.  I know, I know, I’m slacking even more than usual.  My to-read list keeps getting longer and longer!  Some of the following books have been on my can’t-wait-to-read list for a year and some of them are starts to new series by authors I have not heard of or have heard of and simply have not read yet.  Some of them are young adult and some adult, some mystery, some urban fantasy, some light, some dark, but all worth reading.  So sit back and enjoy a beverage while I tell  you about some books you should add to your to-read list!

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom
Entertaining read about a feisty witch with anger problems and her vampire lover.  Throw in a ghost who smokes, a client who smells so bad the  main character has to throw away her clothes and some fuzzy attack bunny slippers and you have a recipe for a a wild ride of a story.  You should probably consider having the next in the series ready to start when you finish this one.
Rating: 3 stars
Sensuality: some brief semi-graphic sex scenes

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, Book 1)Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

This is a dark urban fantasy set in San Francisco, about a half-fae, half-human named October Daye, who tries to pass as human.  The world-building is rich, and well-done, but Toby didn’t really grab me as a heroine.  I get that the author was probably going for an everyday heroine and I whole-heartedly approve of that, it’s a nice change of pace from the super-warrior heroines usually found in urban fantasy but she just seemed too weak.  She also made some really dumb personal decisions that had me shaking my head at her.  I will probably read more in the series but they aren’t on my immediate read list.  It’s a clean book, lots of fairy politics, a good murder mystery and angst.  I loved the setting: it made me want to visit San Francisco even more than I already do!
Rating 3 stars
Sensuality: mentions a few kisses that happened in the past.  No sex.

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Book 4 in the Mortal Instruments Series for young adults, this continues the adventures of Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabelle and Maia with brief scenes with Magnus and Alec.  I enjoyed this book, no spoilers, but I will say I was screaming in my head at the author for how she ended this book.  This was pretty heavy on teen angst and internal drama but was an enjoyable read.  If you liked the first 3 books in the series, you won’t want to miss the fourth.  Also, if you like the author’s style, you might consider reading a related series, the first of which is out now (the second will be out in December I believe), The Infernal Devices.  I can’t wait until Book 5 comes out!
Rating: 4 stars
Sensuality: a few make-out sessions

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1)The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

This book is the first in a trilogy for young adults.  The main character goes to a very exclusive (and small!) private school.  The author introduces us to Maya, her family and friends and introduces some mysterious occurrences.  The book doesn’t go much further than that and sets up the second one, which comes out who-knows-when, to be full of action and mystery with a splash of romance thrown in.  I would probably wait to read this one until  the next one comes out, but it was an enjoyable read.

Rating 4 stars
Sensuality: main character is drugged at a party and makes out with a boy but no sex

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Sookie, where do I start?  Life certainly has gotten complicated for our favorite telepath from Bon Temps!  Her cousin and uncle live with her, she has a telepath cousin that she tries to mentor a bit, work responsibilities, someone who repeatedly tries to kill her, the blood bond with Eric (mmmm Eric) and friendship with Pam and various other supernatural beings.  It will certainly keep a girl busy!

Book 11 in the series begins with a Molotov cocktail thrown into Merlotte’s and the action continues with very little downtime.  We have some surprises in store for us, some are nice some not so nice.  Ms. Harris wraps up some story lines, answers some long-standing questions and appears to be gearing up for a fantastic end to the Sookie series.  Rumor has it there are two more books to come (2 more years to know how it ends waaaaaaah).  I am eagerly awaiting book 12 which will probably be out in May 2012.

Rating: 4 stars
Sensuality: I remember one sex scene, not very long.