Thursday, December 27, 2007

MeMe via Book Binge

The ladies over at Book Binge are having a little MeMe contest. The winner gets an ebookwise reader! All that is required to enter is to answer the following ten questions and leave a link to your responses in the comment section (for this contest) at Book Binge. The contest ends on the 31st.

1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year?

Good question. I don't have an answer. All of the Christmas story's I re-read are not romance but my childhood favorites. Number one being Twas the Night Before Christmas.

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show?

A Christmas Story. Who doesn't love Ralphie?

3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

It's not really a cookie but Starbucks has these Cranberry Bliss Bars. To. Die. For.

4. When do you start Christmas shopping?

In October, Online only.

5. Do you re-gift?

No.

6. What is your favorite Christmas song?

Jolly Old St. Nicholas. It was the first song I learned to play on my keyboard.

7. When do you get your Christmas tree?

The day after Thanksgiving.

8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it?

Love it!

9. Who is the hardest person to buy for?

My mom. Ack!

10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial?

Real. Nothing says Christmas like the crisp scent of pine.

If At First You Don't Succeed

Dust the book off and try again?

After tossing Hunted aside in favor of Slave to Sensation, I am now going back to it. I have to admit that the first 50 or so pages were dull and the heroine is insanely annoying. Yes, I'm only 50 pages in and I want to rip her hair out strand by strand. But I am giving this book another whirl. Why? Because I really hate to leave a book unfinished, so even if I have to trudge through the mundane and contrived to get to the end, I will.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Slave to Sensation

Book: Slave to Sensation
Author: Nalini Singh
Grade: A

Finally, after months of this book being in my TBR pile, I decided to read it. Now I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…


Slave to Sensation received great reviews and I see why. Nalini Singh has formed a very fascinating world. What I love the most about about her world is that the humans, Changelings and Psy all know about each other and live in the world amongst each other. Be it a little separated, but still together.

Most Paranormals revolve around a world inside of a world, with a species that is intent on hiding from the human world, keeping their existence...non existent. Singh breaks down all of the barriers between separate species' and puts them all together. They interact, mate with each other, form business deals together etc. Very cool.

I also love her multicultural characters, it is very rare for an author to bring multiple races together and make them one big melting pot. But Singh does it masterfully. For that uniqueness alone, I applaud her.

I'm not going to give my synopsis of the book because I'm late to the party and I know that Slave to Sensation has been reviewed adnauseum. But I will say that any paranormal fan who hasn't read this book yet, should.

*Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Changeling Series with Visions of Heat and Caressed by Ice following it. Book 4, Mine to Possess, will be out Feb 5, 2008. Which means I have a lot of catching up to do.

Grade A.

Click here for excerpt.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reader Expectations.

Have you ever waited on pins and needles to get your hands on a book that you have heard great reviews about, only to get the book and find it severely lacking? I am suffering from that lacking feeling right now with my current read Hunted by Amelia Elias. Don't get me wrong, the writing is not bad and the story is interesting enough, but for some reason I'm finding this book to be a total bore.

Recently I have had similar reactions to other books that I couldn't wait to get my hands on. For instance, Atlantis Rising: I was really looking forward to reading the first installment in the Poseidon Series. The reviews were good, the message board talk about them was a buzz, so naturally the book was too enticing to resist. Too bad I didn't resist, I found the book a complete and total disappointment.

The same thing happened with Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward. I was looking forward to V's story and when I finally got LU in my hot little hands I wanted to hurl it across the room. Not that it was a bad book, it wasn't. Ward knows how to deliver in her writing and her male heros are some of the best characters I've ever read, the book just wasn't what I expected. Given Ward's first four books were so good I was sure that Lover Unbound would live up to, if not surpass the previous books in the series.

Unfortunately it did not.

Instead of being riveted by the character of Vishous my attention was drawn to the secondary characters in the story. John and Phury were the attention grabbers while V just fell flat. After anticipating his book he read like a third string character, not the lead and his heroine, Jane, was just as flat.

Lisa Kleypas, Mine Till Midnight had the same effect that Lover Unbound had on me. While the writing was up to par, Kleypas' take on the story was off. Ameila and Cam were the leads of the story but towards the middle of the book I found myself more interested in Win (Amelia's sister) and Merripen (the Rom who lived with them) than with Cam and Amelia's relationship.

Needless to say I was reluctant to start yet another highly raved about book, positive that I would end up disappointed. Still, last night I put Hunted back on the shelf (unfinished) and reached for Nalini Singh's, Slave to Sensation. *Sigh*. It is really, really good. I'm only halfway in but I am already immersed in the characters, the world and the story. Luck of the draw, I guess.

My ramblings about this have brought me to these questions:

Do we, as readers, set ourselves up for disappointment? I mean, the authors of these books we love are only human, they are prone to mistakes like the rest of us, they are entitled to not knock it out of the park with each book. Yet we expect them to. Are we setting our demands on them too high? Are we putting authors on too extreme a pedestal and becoming unfairly upset with them when they do not meet or exceed our expectations? Do we ask too much of them?

I ask with this in mind: Knowing how acclaimed Singh's work is, knowing that her first three books in the Changeling series are loved and recommended by many readers. Will there come a time when Singh puts out a book that is a disappointment for her readers only because all of her work up until that point was awesome? Will her readers, like many of Ward's did, become angry at her for not meeting their expectations? Being that Nalini is only human I say yes that time will come. Will it be warranted? Probably not but it is most likely inevitable.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Untouched

Book: Untouched
Author: Anna Campbell
Grade: C

I picked up Untouched after being told by a friend that it was a book that needed to be read. All of her excitement over the book made me drop my, at the time, current read and rush out to purchase Untouched.

“I am many things,” Lord Sheene said. “Kind is not one of them.”

Beautiful Grace Paget has no reason to doubt these words. After all, she was kidnapped, spirited away to a remote country manor, and told she is to grant this man his every desire… or lose her life. But Grace is no common trollop. So she risks everything to save her virtue by planning a daring escape, even though she finds herself tempted by this dangerously handsome man. There is something in his eyes that makes her wonder if he is not as cruel as he would have her believe…

Sheene knew nothing of the plan to bring him this woman. Locked up as a prisoner, called “mad” by all of society, he will do anything to reclaim his life, and Grace’s sensuous beauty has distracted him from his goals. And although he finds her irresistible, he is horrified to hold her against her will. Now, together, they must both revolt against the strange set of circumstances that have forced them together - for only then will Grace truly surrender to him… forever.


Since I read prior reviews, I went in to reading Untouched knowing the basic premise and what would occur during the course of the story but as always I blocked out every other interpretation to form my own.

Overall, Untouched was a good book. The writing was fluid, the hero and heroine were endearing, and the backdrop for the story was almost tangible. I did have a few gripes about some things though:

First, I thought that Matthew and Grace's "falling in love" time was really fast. Matthew went from being weary of Grace and not really trusting her to telling her he loved over the span of three days. Grace went from being drugged and strapped to a table to falling for the "insane" Matthew over that short time also. This does not normally bother me in paranormals because they are not your normal run of the mill romance but in a historical romance, like this one, I prefer to see the emotional connection between the main characters happen over time, not over night.

Secondly, I thought that Grace was sometimes deliberately dense. For all of her smarts and time in the real world outside of her privileged upbringing, besides her rough working hands, there was no trace of a woman who had lived outside of a coddled world for nine years (during the first half of the book anyway). There were times when her inprisioners were blatantly honest about their intent and it went right over her head. In other words she was quite slow on the uptake. The second half of the book, though, she became more of the woman I expected her to be after living the life she had.

Lastly, I felt that some of the brutality that Grace received was washed over and taken too lightly. Like: It happened, it's over, now let me go back to my regularly scheduled captive program. I also felt that for all of the danger that Grace was in we rarely got a clue about how that looming threat affected her. In fact, it hardly seemed to, even after she suffered at the hands of one of the men holding her captive.

Now, there were times when I totally felt how the two had suffered. Matthew from living his years under the watchful and many times abusive thumb of his uncle and Grace under the repressiveness of her husband and the decisions she made early on in life. These prior occurrences that shaped their lives played out realistically in their reactions to each other and the situations they found themselves in throughout the book.

Grace's initial reaction to having sex with Matthew for the first time was one of those instances. Her reaction, her thoughts, her feelings about what transpired between them felt very Grace like. Even the way that she second guessed Matthew's feelings for her, thinking them to be more fanciful than real, (since she was the first woman he had known) was very realistic and I do like that it was added to the story.

Also, Matthew's logical stance on most everything through the story. From believing Grace to be exactly what his uncle said she would be, to learning who Grace really was, to forging a plan for Grace's escape; his driving force behind it all never faltered. There was never a moment where I thought that Matthew wouldn't do that or wouldn't say that. In other words their actions were never contradictory or out of place with the character.

All in all this was a worthwhile read. There was a love scene or two that I skimmed through, because after reading the third one I got the point: Grace and Matthew liked having sex with each other. There were a few slow points and the first half of the book seemed to drag, but overall Untouched was worth the price I paid for it.

Grade: C

ETA: I gave Untouched a C because I had a hard time reading through the first half of the book. Though, Once I reached the second half, the story picked up momentum and I became increasingly interested in the characters and the direction of the story as a whole.

If it wasn't for my struggle with the first part of the story then I would have graded Untouched with an enthusiastic B+. But I couldn't, in good conscious, grade it that highly knowing that I wanted to put the book down the first few chapters in.

Click here for excerpt.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Prince Of Magic

Book: Prince of Magic
Author: Linda Winstead Jones
Grade: B+

Being that this book was the first in a continuation of a previous trilogy I was originally inclined to read the trilogy of the Fyne Witches prior to the first book in The Children of the Sun trilogy, Prince Of Swords. But since I was unable to find the first book in the Fyne Witch Trilogy I settled on the first one in this newer, Children of the Sun trilogy.

The firstborn children of the Fyne witches have finally come into their own, each with a special gift...

Independent Ariana Kane Varden, daughter of the Sun Witch, has never let family duty keep her from reaching her dreams. She learned the practice of her gift, the power to heal others, at her mother's knee. And now she is the Palace healer, tending to her emperor...

The last prophecy of magician Sian Chamblyn's late grandfather points to Ariana as the one to save Columbyana from a growing evil. Sian has hightailed it from lands afar to deliver the message. When he must prepare her for the fight of her life, Sian intends to remain undistracted by his sensuously beautiful protege. But in the heat of battle-and passion-diligence might be his downfall...


Ariana is a witch with the power of healing. Her primary patient is the Emperor, Arik who has fallen ill. While Ariana wants to heal Arik it is proving to be difficult so her primary goal becomes just keeping him alive as long as possible. There is no one else to take the throne in his death, being that his son, Ciro has disappeared and leaving the land of Columbyana with no king would be disaterous.

Sian is a wizard with strong magical powers. Before his grandfather's death he was given a prophecy by his grandfather, that speaks of a war between good and evil that will be led by the first born of the Fyne Witch's, and told to deliver it to the emperor immediately. Sian does just that. At his arrival at the emperor's palace he has an initial run in with Ariana that leaves them both not to fond of each other. Sian thinks that Ariana is nothing more than the kings concubine and Ariana finds Sian arrogant.

Upon delivering the prophecy to the ailing king Sian learns that the first born that is to lead the war of good and evil is Ariana Varden, a woman. It is unheard of in the times that they live in for a female to lead men into a battle and Sian lets it be known that he feels that Ariana is not capable of such a feat. The prophecy also states that the first born of the Fyne witches will meet their death in the battle. Now Sian is really against sending a woman to the front line. None the less, he knows that Ariana needs to be ready for what is to come so Sian takes up the role of being her teacher.

Through the time Ariana and Sian spend together pratcing magic they grow closer and form a mutual attraction and a close bond. But there is still a battle to be won and with the prophecy's prediction that Ariana will die in battle looming over them will they be able to find the love they both crave with each other or will the prophecy's words end them before they get a real chance to begin?

--

I know, bad me for not reading the first trilogy before starting the second one but the premise of this story intrigued me and I couldn't resist. Good thing I couldn't seeing as how this book was a really enjoyable read.

While there could have been major confusion, on my part, by not reading the first trilogy I was able to pick up on details easily enough and Jones gave just enough back story so that Prince of Magic reads well as a stand alone. It does leave off with many questions still unanswered but I'm assuming that the second and third book will clear everything up.

I'm so anxious to complete this trilogy that I'm going out today to buy the final two books: Prince of Fire and Prince of Swords. Hopefully they are as good a read as the first.

Grade B+

I could not find an excerpt for this book.

Be Mine Tonight

Book: Be Mine Tonight
Author: Kathryn Smith
Grade: B-

I picked this book up after a few recommendations I was a little hesitant being that the book is a vampire historical and those are usually a drag but I gave it a try anyway. Be Mine Tonight is book 1 in The Brotherhood of Blood Series.

For centuries Chapel has served as a holy warrior, hiding himself away from human contact. Now he's forced to travel to England where an ancient evil may be awakened.

Prudence Ryland almost out of hope. She desperately needs a miracle and thinks she might have found it. But she's about to discover that the greatest miracle awaits her in Chapel's arms. All she has to do is make her reluctant vampire believe in the power of true love.


Chapel is a centuries old vampire, who was turned into one by drinking from the Blood Grail believing it to be the Holy Grail. Thinking himself a demon he has lived his years in the service of the Catholic Church. His primary goal is to keep the Blood Grail out of the wrong hands.

Prudence is the youngest of four girls, at only 22 she is dying of cancer. She isn't ready to die though and sets out in hopes of finding the mysterious Holy Grail, since it is widely believed that sipping from the grail will grant a person eternal life.

Word of Prudence's search for the Holy Grail reaches the Church and a priest along with Chapel are sent to England to make sure that it is indeed the Holy grail that Prudence thinks she may find not the Blood Grail. When Chapel gets there he meets Prudence and is immediately attracted to her, which poses a problem because he is a vampire.

Pru finds herself drawn to Chapel as well. Over time the attraction deepens and it is revealed to Chapel why Pru is seeking the Holy Grail. Seeing that Pru's time is running out Chapel hopes for her sake that it will be the Holy Grail she finds and not the Blood Grail, because he could never allow her to become like him; a curse.

Things go awry and Pru finds out that Chapel is a vampire. She wants him to make her into one too so that she will be able to live forever with him. Solution right? Not quite, see Chapel flat out refuses to turn her into something he believes to be a horrible curse, not a blessing.

With Pru's time running out will she be able to find the grail she is searching for? And Chapel's love for her growing stronger by the day, will he be able to come to terms with who he is in time enough to save Prudence from certain death?

---

This story was very good. I found it to be well written, entertaining and the characters, especially Pru, were well fleshed out. Their internal struggles were believable and while Chapel's constant berating himself about what he was could have become tedious it was written so well that I didn't find myself wanting to hurl the book across the room. Okay, I actually did want to throw it but only once. What can I say? I like my male vamps... vampy.

Prudence in no way lives up to her name. Despite her condition she is full of life and hopeful. She is not "woe is me" at all and even though she is not ready for death (so soon) she has on some level accepted it as her fate and face's it with a strength and bravery not normally found in heroines afflicted with an illness.

I did have a slight problem with the book though, and that was that it wasn't too much of a vampire romance as it was a normal romance. The vampire angle was thrown in here and there but it was not a major point in the book other than Chapel's internal musings about how much of a curse he was. This wouldn't have been a problem for me had the book not been marketed as a vampire romance. But of course that was a minor blip and for anyone who is a lover of historical romance's and vampire's this would be a great read for them.

Book 2, Night of the Huntress and 3, Taken by the Night are in stores now.

Grade B- [Only because when I read a book about vampires I do so expecting the vampire to actually like being a vampire.]

Click here for excerpt

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Berkely's First Manga Cover

Book: Dark Hunger
Author: Christine Feehan


Wow, I'm a little late but this intrigued me. Berkley has released their first manga version book in the form of Christine Feehan's Dark Hunger. Here is the cover.


Riordan is an immortal Carpathian male, trapped and caged, his honor compromised by his captors. They're in his mind. They're in his blood. And not one can withstand his desire for revenge.

Juliette is an activist devoted to liberating animals from a secret jungle lab. What she stumbles upon is a prisoner like no other. She will release him from his bonds. He will release her from her inhibitions.


We first read Dark Hunger in Hot Blooded, the Anthology that featured Feehan as well as Maggie Shayne, Emma Holly and Angela Knight. That story was converted into a manga (comic book) version stocked with animated pictures *pows, bangs and arghh's* -- *hehe*.

I'm not big on comic books, other than Archie and Veronica, but from what I hear this version of Dark Hunger is more "American-Manga" as opposed to the originator of the style: Japanese-Manga. In other words it's a not-so-up-to-par imitation of real Manga.


This has dedicated Manga readers a little peeved as well as the paranormal romance readers who ordered Dark Hunger thinking they were getting a traditional Feehan romance, not a "comic book". I'm not too sure how they missed that but I suppose if one is not familiar with the term 'manga' it could very well happen.

So for clarification purposes If you want to read Dark Hunger in it's original (normal) formatting then pick up the Hot Blooded Anthology. If you want to take a chance on a comic version then try your luck with Dark Hunger. Same book. Different format.

Click here for excerpt Originally formatted version.

World Building 101

Worldbuilding: A technique widely used by authors to create diverse and believable constructed worlds in which to base their stories, the process usually involves the creation of maps, listing the backstory of the world and the people of the world, amongst other features. [wikipedia]

While perusing one of my favorite message boards I came across a few topics of world building. Being me I took it a step further and looked up the views of worldbuilding and techniques of two popular authors. Their takes on the way they build the backdrop of their story's are interesting and enlightening.

First up C.L. Wilson. I have to admit that I'm a big Wilson fangurl so I tend to pimp her out, so to speak, but she has built a very intricate, very believable, very tangible world in her first two books Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows. And since we are talking about great world building then we should start at the top.

Wilson's Blog Date Stamp11/1/07

The amount of details that go into creating a completely new world are staggering. Below Wilson gives a few examples of the thought process required [technology wise] to make a world believable.

Remember, the level of technology needs to be commensurate with the other aspects of your culture. Hunter-gatherers, for instance, would probably not have internal combustion engines. Medieval knights would not have light sabers.

Consider travel technology - how do people get around? How do they transport goods? Horse and wagon? Donkey pack trains? Locomotive? Ground-skimming hovercrafts?

Consider machines - what types and what is the availability of machinery? And if they have machines, what powers them? A windmill is a machine powered by wind. Historical uses for windmills include milling grain, powering well pumps, etc. ©Copyright Wilson

That's something to chew on.


Next up: Patricia Briggs. Author of the Mercedes Thompson series that includes Moon Called, Blood Bound, On the Prowl and the much anticipated Iron Kissed, due out January 08.

Here is just a little of what she had to say on the topic:

"The set designers for theatrical productions are masters of world building. With a few broad strokes of a brush on canvas, a bit of paper mache and some bits of fabric the audience is almost magically transported to regency England, the deepest jungles of Africa or a cottage in the forest. Stage designers choose their props and their placement very carefully. And, if you think of world building like set design, suddenly it becomes apparent why the details are so important.

An author may well fill notebooks with the details of their world. In the end, however, those notebooks full of details make their way to the reader in ghosts and shadows, a turn of phrase, a brief description of architecture, a detail in dress or grooming. Getting a detail wrong is like leaving a fake palm-tree on stage for the castle scene . . . the illusion is dispelled, and rather than Camelot the audience sees paper mache and grease paint" ©Copyright Briggs

Her advice:

"Write what you know" is really an attempt to help authors get the details right. If you attempt to write outside your experience, you need to do your homework." ©Copyright Briggs


Briggs' Blog Date Stamp 12/3/07

Through reading what both of these talented writers had to say about what goes into creating a successful world I'm left in awe. It gives me an even greater respect for authors who take the time to actualize their visions into something that readers can not only understand but appreciate.

For more information on what goes into building a world check out wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Atlantis Rising

Book: Atlantis Rising
Author: Alyssa Day
Grade: D

Atlantis Rising is my first Alyssa Day read. She also writes under the pen name Alesia Holliday.

I went into reading this book with very high hopes. I'd heard really good reviews so I thought what the heck? Why not? Now I'm asking myself, why?

Why was it that while reading this book I kept on forgetting that I was reading an author that was completely new to me? Why did Christine Feehan keep popping into my brain? Why did I have to force myself to continue on? Why did I purchase this book at full price? Why? Why? Why? *Head desk*

If you are a fan of well rounded, unrushed, engrossing paranormal romance's then please do not pass go with this book.

If you are a fan of fleshed out characters and real, true connections between the hero and heroine then do not pass go with this book.

If you are not a fan of Feehan then do not even think about this book because I promise you; you will regret it. Day and Feehan's writing styles are very, very similar. Right down to the mind touching heroes and heroines. I guess that the Feehan stamp of approval on the cover of Atlantis Rising should have alerted me but she gave a great review about C.L. Wilson's writing as well and I absolutely loved Wilson's books.

When she calls…
Riley Dawson is more than a dedicated Virginia Beach social worker. She's blessed with a mind link that only Atlantaens have been able to access for thousands of years. Being an "empath" may explain her wistful connection to the roiling waves of the ocean, the sanctuary it provides, and the sexual urges that seem to emanate from fathoms below…

He will come.
Conlan, the High Prince of Atlantis, has surfaced on a mission to retrieve Poseidon's stolen Trident. Yet something else has possessed Conlan: the intimate emotions-and desires-of a human. Irresistibly drawn to the uncanny beauty, Conlan soon shares more than his mind. But in the midst of a battle to reclaim Poseidon's power, how long can a forbidden love last between two different souls from two different worlds?


It's hard for me to sum up why the book didn't work for me. Maybe because there is so much to cover, pretty much the whole book was a dud. There were moments where I'd be along for the ride but then something outlandish would happen or the writing and phrasing would become almost juvenile and I'd be lost again.

Ex: Conlan has just returned from seven years of torture at the hand of the Vampire Queen, Anubisa. From what little I could gather about his captivity, he was basically her blood slave. This passage occurs right after his cousin, Alaric has healed Conlan. Alaric has grinned at him...

Conlan tried to return the smile but his mouth had lost it's memory of how to smile, after so many years of grimacing in agony. Years of howling out his rage and despair.

Alaric raised one eyebrow, his mouth flattening into a grim line. "That's an... interesting...expression. You'll have to tell me one day exactly what they did to you."

"No," Conlan answered. "I wont."


And you know what? He doesn't. He never really mentions exactly what happened to him, yet his enslavement was supposed to be his driving force in revenge. I guess we see glimpses of it theough flashbacks but is it ever really confronted and put to rest? I would have to say no.

It's also hard for this reader to believe that in that same day (a couple of pages later) Conlan is smiling... big time:

He raised her chin with one finger and she looked up at him again. He was smiling, amusement lighting up his dark eyes...


He smiled down at her, but it wasn't enough to reassure her.


Conlan felt the fierce smile spread across his face.


Looks like Conlan relearned how to smile very quickly.

I also disliked the constant talk about how pure and light and innocent Riley was. My motto is don't tell me what I should think about the characters, show me. Too bad I was told at every turn:

He sent his mind inside of hers-inside of her soul-and was captivated by her innate goodness, selflessness and light.

The epiphany of her purity slammed into him with a force beyond reason. He was paralyzed.


Or

"Never apologize to me for your grace and your light, [mi amara aknasha]." [beloved empath]


*Snicker*

But my biggest pet peeve was the mine moment. I'm not big on them in any book and even in the most well written books the mine moments can be over done. The one in Atlantis Rising went exactly like so:

Mine. Mine to protect. Mine!


What about:

Mine. Mine. Always mine.


Let's not forget:

"Mine Riley. Say it. You're mine."


Me Tarzan, you Jane; much? Funny that Tarzan was referenced more than once in this book and the author still went with a very barbaric mine moment. There were also so many of them. I lost count after "Mine" moment number five, but there were a few more after that. A bit overdone in my opinion.

The characters are pretty cut and dry one noters. Conlan is the damaged prince who must overcome and who's soul is soothed by an unsuspecting human empath.

Riley is a wonderful, courageous woman who is all light and purity. She is the center of all good.

If I wasn't already annoyed with the story then the ending would have really made my head spin. The conclusion to all of the "struggle" to be together is so darn abrupt and vapid.

It's like "Ta Da! The End."

And just because I laughed so hard while reading this passage of the story:

The nausea rose again in her throat at the idea of any of them touching her. She feinted back then swung her foot with every ounce of rage inside her. It connected, hard. He howled, clutched his groin and dropped to the sand like a big, ugly rock.


LOL!

There is a second book in this series that is currently out (Atlantis Awakening) and the third one will be out in Febuary 08.

Grade D

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stonewords...

A Ghost Story.

This was one of my favorite childhood books. I checked it out of my elementary school library on a whim at age 8 and fell in love with it. I loved it so much that I kept the book way past it's return date. I remember making my little sister and my best friend read it as well, just so that I would have someone to talk about it with!

When Zoe is abandoned by her mother at age five and sent to live with her grandparents in their 19th-century mansion, she is delighted to discover that living in the house is a playmate her age, named Zoe Louise. That no one else can see Zoe Louise doesn't bother Zoe, until she is older and discovers that Zoe Louise is the ghost of a girl who died in a fire on her 11th birthday. If Zoe can go back in time, she can prevent Zoe Louise's death.

I was thinking about this book lately in hopes of finding it to read again, then saveing it for when my daughter is old enough to read it. I couldn't remember the title but I remembered the ghost in the story's name, googled it and voila, I found Stonewords A Ghost Story. *Happy dancing*

The funny part about my search was that when I found Stonewords at the Barnes & Nobles online store and read the reviews (just to see what other's thought about it) the reviewers had the same response as me; They read the book as a kid and wanted to either reread it or give it to their child to read or both.

Now I'm on pins and needles waiting on my copy. I can hardly wait to read this enchanting childhood book again.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Midnight Awakening

Book: Midnight Awakening
Author: Lara Adrian
Grade: B+

Yet another series.

Midnight Awakening is the third book in Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series and so far the best read in the bunch.

Let me start off by saying that I was extremely skeptical of Adrian's vampire series prior to reading and I stayed skeptical up until Midnight Awakening. My reason for skepticism, you ask? Well I had been warned that Adrian's vamp world was a lot like JR Ward's notorious vamp world. With this warning in my head I toed the line of Adrian's books with great reluctance and I didn't let myself become fully involved in the series until now. Why now? Because Adrian's latest heroine, Elise, pulled me in. She was ballsy and headstrong and determined. She was no simpering damsel in distress, which is a quality that I despise in romance heroines.

Are there similarities in Adrian and Ward's world's? Yes. They both have big bad male vamps that are apart of an elite society that goes out and kicks the butts of the bad guy's that aim to take out the vampire race. They both have heavily tatted up alpha male vamps with major internal problems and foul mouths that every woman wants to kiss. They both have built worlds where the high society vamps turn their noses down on the regular vamps... Yeah they are similar but they also have their differences and Adrian stepped out of the shadow of Ward with Midnight Awakening.

He has resisted temptation for centuries, a stone-cold warrior whose frozen heart refuses to thaw--until her . . .

In present day Boston, a daring young woman is on a desperate mission--to claim revenge on the Rogue vampires who took from her everything she held dear. But Elise can't do it alone. There is only one man she can turn to: the deadliest of the Breed warriors, Tegan. An unholy alliance is forged--a bond that will link them by blood and vow--and plunge them into a tempest of danger, desire, and the darkest passions of the heart.


As I said before Elise is the reason that the book was a winner for me. It's not often that I like the heroine better than the hero in the books I read but I did in this book. I also liked that both the Tegan and Elise have past pain that they must both overcome. It wasn't one sided with one of them helping the other out of their dark place, it was mutual. That does not happen often in romance.

Adrian successfully weaves an interesting and eventful story of loss, overcoming past demons and finding love again. B+

Click here for excerpt.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lord of The Fading Lands

Book: Lord of the Fading Lands & Lady of Light and Shadows
Author: C.L. Wilson
Grade: A+

CL Wilson is brilliant and I spent the last four days reading the first two books in the Fading Lands series.

Lord of the Fading Lands had been on my TBR pile for about a month. Finally I cracked it open and let me tell you, from the moment I began reading it, I dreaded putting this book down. It was that good.

I became so engrossed in Rain and Ellysetta's story that I actually began to feel that I was apart of it. Cheering them on, yelling at the bad guys and despising the evil doer's. I'm pretty sure that I used all of my emotions while reading the two books; from happiness, to anxiousness, right down to anger.

What you need to know: Reading the first book before the second one is a darn near necessity since book one (Lord of the Fading Lands) flows directly into book two (Lady of Light and Shadows).
Long ago, in the magical holocaust known as the Mage Wars, the immortal Fey and their allies fought to defeat the grasping evil of the Elden Mages and their dark-gifted supporters. During those wars, in a fit of grief-induced madness caused by the death of his mate, Fey shapeshifter Rain Tairen Soul nearly destroyed the world in a blaze of tairen fire.

Now, a thousand years later, the fierce Fey king must fight to save his race from the brink of extinction and once again stop the evil rising in the homeland of his enemies, the Eld. The key to his success lies in the mortal city of Celieria, where the Mage Wars began, and with a young woman whose soul sings to him in ways no woman’s ever has, whose presence reawakens the primal fury of the tairen within his soul, and whose vast, untapped power can either save or destroy him and his people
.
Rain is a Fey king that finds out that the key to saving his people and the Tairen is a girl. He leaves the security of the Fading Lands in search of the girl and come to find out she is not only the key to the survival of the Fading Lands she is also his true mate. Her name is Ellysetta and she is a normal Celerian girl. She was adopted as a child by a Celerian couple who raised her as their own.

At first Rain is not so comfortable with finding out that he has a true mate because he is still not over the death of his heart mate who died during the Mage wars 1000 years prior. Still, her soul called out to his and his soul answered. He has absolutely no control over his need for her and she in essence has no control over it either.

They do face some major bumps in the road from the start. One being that Ellysetta has been claimed (against her wants) as a mate to someone else. After they get passed that little hurdle they have to deal with the fact that their is new trouble brewing with the Fey (immortal magical people), the Eld (evil magic people) and the Celerians (normal mortal folk). There is also the little fact that Ellie is capable of a little magic of her own. Magic that she doesn't even know she possesses and has been taught to be afraid of.

Click here for excerpt.


Lady of Light and Shadows is just as good, if not better than it's precursor. Lots of story movement and questions answered and so much action! On a superficial note: I love the cover of this book. It conveys the occurrences in the book to a 'T'.
Since her earliest memories, Ellysetta Baristani has feared magic, even as she has been inexorably drawn to all things Fey, especially the poetry and legends of Rain Tairen Soul. Now claimed as Rain’s truemate and no longer able to deny her own magic, Ellysetta is swept into the very center of a struggle filled with the magic and darkness she has always feared. The High Mage of Eld wants to capture her. The most murderous dahl’reisen who ever lived wants her dead. And her enemies will corrupt even the people she loves most in their quest to claim her magic for themselves.

In the second book Rain continues to court Ellie while he also deals with the treat of the Eld gaining access to Celerian land.

Ellysetta, with the help of Rain, begins to come to grips with her magic. She begins to use it much to her mothers dislike. She also has to face past demons and come to terms with who she really is.

Click here for excerpt.

Wilson has woven (pun intended) a world that is so tangible and seamless that any fantasy reader worth their salt can do no less than stand up and give applause to her ingenious writing and world building abilities. My only complaint? That the next two books that conclude Rain and Ellie's story don't come out until Oct and Nov of 2008... *Sigh*

This book easily gets an A+.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wicked Deeds on a Winters Night

Book: Wicked Deeds on A Winters Night
Author: Kresley Cole
Grade: A

Wicked Deeds on a Winters Night was definitely a really enjoyable read. This is the latest book in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series and ties with the first one in the series A Hunger Like No Other for me in terms of the romance and the characters.

Her breathless kiss haunts him...

Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed — until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. When sinister forces unite against her, the Highlander finds himself using all his strength and skill to keep her alive.

His slow, hot touch is irresistible...

Temporarily stripped of her powers, Mari is forced to take refuge with her sworn adversary. It's rumored that no one can tempt Bowen's hardened heart, but soon passion burns between them. Though a future together is impossible, she fears he has no intention of letting her go.

No deed is too wicked for her seduction...

If they defeat the evil that surrounds them, can Mari deny Bowen when he demands her body and soul — or will she risk everything for her fierce protector?

What you need to know: This book is the third in the Immortals after Dark series. I would recommend reading the first two. A Hunger Like No Other and No Rest For the Wicked before picking this one up. You might be a little lost if you read this one before NRFTW because Bowen's role in that book ties directly into this one.

There is also a Prequel to AHLNO which has the story of Nikoli, a vampire and Myst, a Valkyrie. That story is apart of the anthology, Playing Hard To Get.

Bowen MacRieve is a Lykae that lost his mate, Mariah, over 200 years ago. He hasn't been able to move on past her to another love because Lykae's only get one mate in life. He enters a competition, The Talisman Hie (An immortal version of Amazing Race), after being told by a Valkyrie soothsayer that The Hie is the way for him to find his mate. Bowen hopes that entering will somehow bring Mariah back to him.

When he gets there he finds out that the grand prize is a key to go back in time and change something from the past. This is a light bulb moment for Bowen because he knows that if he wins the grueling race that he will get the key that can take him back in time to change the outcome of the night that Mariah died and bring her back to the present with him.

Problem is, Bowen is immediately drawn to a fully cloaked witch who has also entered the race.

Mariketa the Awaited is a 23 year old witch who is not yet immortal and though she has great power she is unable to use it properly. She stays fully cloaked due to a prediction that basically said that when her mate finds her he will claim her readily and lock her away from her coven. Mari is very valuable to The House of Witches so to prevent loosing her to this unknown male they make her wear a red cloak at all times outside of her coven.

Mari enters the race to prove to herself and her kind that she is as powerful as she is awaited to be even though she hasn't shown it yet.

Circumstances during the race bring Mari and Bowen together in a heated exchange that not only brings about a kiss between the two but also leaves Mariketa and a few other competitors locked in an ancient Mayan tomb via Bowen. He thinks that Mari must have enchanted him since he was so drawn to her and even kissed her; he hasn't kissed another since his mate died (until Mari). Bowen also traps them in there because he is still intent on winning The Hie, and needs them out of the way. Bowen is also pretty sure that the boulder he uses to trap them within will only slow the other competitors down since Mari led him to believe that her powers were strong enough to move the boulder. Little does Bowen know that Mari and the other competitors, *along with 7 nasty incubi* stay trapped in the cave long after the competition is over.

Angry, Mari curses Bowen taking away his immortality leaving him vulnerable to death. The curse ends up making Bowen loose the Hie competition and his eye, part of his head and oh yeah, his hand too. LOL! And he is unable to regenerate them since he is no longer immortal.

The House of Witches are none to happy about their cherished witch being locked away with half dead incubi for weeks without food or water and Bowen is sent back to get her and the others or else the Lore revolution a.k.a. The Accession will go down.
He also needs to save her in order to get the immortal spell and the enchantment spell he believes Mariketa put on him removed.

And this is where things get deliciously complicated..

The Good: Bowen and Mariketa. I loved each one equally, neither outshines the other. Bowen was a strong hero and Mari was just as strong a heroine. Even with Bowen's history of depression, his reservations about Mari and his utter disdain of witches in general he was still a very sensitive yet sexy hero.

Mariketa was funny, spunky, sassy and lively (Everything I love in a heroine) a good contrast to Bowen's more serious demeanor. She even helped him come out of his shell and joke around with her too. She is just beginning to come into her powers and Bowen seems to be the only being that she is able to use them correctly on, which angers her but also makes her feel powerful. She is not taking Bowen's urge to claim her lightly, especially since she feels like she will just end up being second best to his real life mate. She also doesn't mope around about her problems, instead she does something about them.

There were many laugh out loud moments throughout the book. I literally had to put the book down, laugh, pick it back up and reread the part that was so funny and laugh again. I love it when a writer can make me laugh out loud. Nix the soothsayer Valkyrie was so hilarious. I loved all of her interactions with Bowen and hope that she one day gets a book.

The world that Cole is building is very uncomplicated, unlike many other world builders out there. I think that mastering the essence of world building in paranormal romances is a feat because the authors want to advance the world but still convey a good love story in the process. Cole did that with such ease I didn't even realize that I was retaining the intricacies of her world until after I was done reading.

I love how characters from the previous books still show up in the newer ones and still play a significant role. I find too many times while reading a series that the author seems to forget about the previous characters after their story's are done. Props to Cole for not falling into that trap.

The Bad: There wasn't much bad with this book. I honestly can not pick out a single spot that I wasn't engulfed in the story. Even in the beginning when Bowen and Mariketa aren't completely in each others orbits I was still immersed in the story being told.

The Ugly: Hmm... The evil that Mari and Bowen must face. I was totally upset for Bowen and what he'd been put through for years but it makes for a really unexpected and pleasing twist.

Since I stayed up well into the night aching to see the resolution of Mariketa and Bowen's story I give this book an A.

Click here for excerpt

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Hunger Like No Other

Book: A Hunger Like No Other
Author: Kresley Cole
Grade: B

A Hunger like No Other is the first Kresley Cole book I have read. I picked this book up after reading good reviews about the series as a whole and I'm very glad I did.

AHLNO is the first book in Kresley Cole's, Immortals After Dark series.

A mythic warrior who’ll stop at nothing to possess her...

After enduring years of torture from the vampire Horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he’s waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebb as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all consuming desire...

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be...?

I'm new to Cole's writing but her style is very smooth and addictive. The characters she developed were especially good and even though Emma was said to be timid and thought herself as such she was still a very strong heroine.

Lachlin was extremely endearing despite his not so endearing acts toward Emma, from time to time. I was really able to feel his struggle with his dark side and his memories and the torture he'd spent decades enduring.

Though things moved relatively fast between Lachlin and Emma their love felt genuine. I wasn't shaking my head trying to figure out when they fell for each other and it didn't have to be spelled out for me either. It was gradual and as strange as it might seem, I just knew. Also (a biggie for me when dealing with possessive heroes in paranormal romances) is the timing of the infamous "Mine" moments. The ones in AHLNO were put in at just the right moments and I really felt the authenticity of them.

For me this novel speaks volumes about Cole's way of weaving a successful love story. She did it with an easiness and a story pacing that is rare to come by in many paranormal romances.

The love story between Lachlain and Emmaline is one of fiery passion, desire and genuine love and just enough adventure. I give this book an B.

Click here for excerpt

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beyond The Highland Mist

Book: Beyond The Highland Mist
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Grade: B-

Yes, I am very late to this series but on the plus side I have a whole seven books that I can read back to back without having to wait for them to be released.

I'm also new to Moning's writing and mystical, historical romances. Those are a lot of "new to's" but I'm down for the ride!

AN ALLURING LAIRD
He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistibly challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A PRISONER IN TIME
She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite in her. Not even the barriers or time and space could keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about flowing the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side...

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were pretty fleshed out. I felt for them especially the devastatingly handsome hero, Sidheache "Hawk" Douglas.

Hawk is a charming one; full on Alpha male with bits of Beta in his blood. Hawk is a beautiful playboy who has bedded a many women in his day. His bedroom talents are legendary in the Scottish Highlands and not just there, for a scorned Faerie Queen knows a thing or two about the Hawk and lets it be known.

Adrienne is a woman of the twentieth century (1997) who gets yanked out of her world (By a mischievous "Fool") and thrown back in time to the sixteenth century (1513). So what happens to her as soon as she comes to? Well, she is married off of course, to our delicious Hawk.

Hawk falls hard for Adrienne but she is not falling so hard for him. See, Adrienne has been wronged by a handsome man before and she does not trust them, thus ensues a mystically enchanting tale.

Their road to Happily ever after takes a while but they do make it with lots of speed bumps along the way.

I've already ordered the second book in the series To Tame a Highland Warrior and if I enjoy it as much as I did the first then Moning will have herself a new avid fan. I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a well written, light hearted romance. Since I found myself becoming annoyed with Adrienne more than a couple of times during this book I'm giving it a B-. This is a pretty long series so there's always room to grow.

Click here for excerpt

Thursday, November 1, 2007

About Brie

Brie can be found perusing quiet bookstores in search of her next great read.

Hi, and welcome to my blog!

I'm Brie, an avid reader. I'm a 25 year old cosmetologist who (when not styling hair, chasing my two toddlers around or spending time with my hubby) loves to read, blog, blog hop, and think about what I'm going to read next.

I'm from Georgia and I say 'y'all' more than anyone should. I'm a horrible speller and never claimed to be a good one, so if you some across a misspelled word on my blog ignore it or send me an email telling me the correct spelling. I have no problem being corrected!

I live in Hawaii with my two daughters and husband. We are an eclectic bunch, a mixture of Puerto Rican, African American, Irish and Native American. With all those ethnicity's mixed together, I have no idea what my children are, but I like to think of them as little people with big attitudes.

I currently enjoy reading a wide assortment of books: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery, and the occasional Horror are all able to keep me up, reading into the wee hours of the night.

Feel free to drop me a line anytime!

If you would like to submit a book for me to read and review, please email me at brie [at] bibliophilemusings [dot] com.

Rating System

As of February 2009 the ratings on Musings of a Bibliophile changed. In place of letter grades are now word grades. Since meanings can vary depending on the reader, I've added short explanations for each rating. Alphabetical ratings are still linked to reviews before February 2009 and can be found below the new rating system.


Exceptional. Blown Away: Exceeds expectations. Not a quibble in sight. Highly Recommended.

Worthwhile. Highly Enjoyable: The story was very good. Recommended.

Mas o Menos. So-So: Readable, but could have been better. Minor problems. Recommended with reservations.

Unsatisfying. Eh: Has some problems, not an enjoyable read, but not a completely bad one either. It sits on the fence. Buy used.

Avoid. Approach With Caution: Has some major problems and was thisclose to becoming a DNF. Save your money and get it from the library.

DNF. Did Not Finish: Not worth the paper it was printed on. Pass this one up.


Grades prior to February 2009:

A: Loved it. Loved the characters. Overall great read. Grade A Reviews

B: Liked it a lot. Good characters. Overall good read. Grade B Reviews

C: Did not really like it. Characters were okay. Could have been better. Grade C Reviews

D: Barely finished it. Characters were unlikable. Not a good read. Grade D Reviews

DNF: Did not finish. Did not like the book at all. Definite wall banger. DNF Reviews

Sensuality: Kisses, Subtle, Warm, Hot or Burning. How each book rates sensually. Sensuality Ratings

All ratings are based on my personal feelings on the books I read and only meant to be a starting point for someone looking to read a certain book. It is always best to do your homework on a book before purchasing, and not take a single review as the gospel.