Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
Some Things Won't Stay Buried...
At Grave's End
It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover's finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.
As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to lean the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself-and Bones-from a fate worse than the grave.
I posted a dish on the first book in this series while at d&D, you can see it by clicking here. I'm not sure why I never posted on the second book, but suspect it was during my quiet time. But trust me, I totally dug it. And now that the third book has been released, I'm not really gonna bother with a "review."
I will say that I LOVE this series. I was hooked with book one. This world that Frost has created is one I look forward to visiting and one I hate to say good-bye to at the end of the books. Cat is a hell of a kick ass heroine. Bones is my favorite vampire and I have a serious case of literary lust. Every book thus far has taken me on a roller coaster ride that has me turning the pages faster and faster. In a time when vampire fiction is around every corner and growing old to some, Frost has staked a claim in my MUST buy category.
So, if you wanna win this book and the other prizes mentioned so far, help me out! In the flap of the book is a picture of Cat with a man whom I'm assuming to be Bones. This is not my idea of Bones. In fact, he looks kind of like Lewis Smith in The Heavenly Kid. So, all you have to do to be entered is point me in the direction of someone hot enough to be Bones. I don't even have to agree with your idea of hotness!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Mistress of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle
REAL PLEASURE CAN'T BE TAKEN... Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle de Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction - in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent, free from men and the shackles of marriage. But when Maybelle lays eyes on Edmund Worthington, the Duke of Rutherford, at a soiree, and hears of his scandalous reputation, she decides he's the perfect person for her to have a tryst with no strings attached... IT MUST BE GIVEN... Unbridled passion has again muddied Edmund Worthington's family name. After his very public dalliance with the strikingly beautiful and sensual Maybelle, his mother insists he marry her. But much to the Duke's surprise, Maybelle scoffs at his proposal. Never has he encountered such a brazen - and maddeningly irresistible - woman. But when Maybelle's grandmother falls ill, forcing Maybelle to take over the operation of her school, Edmund devises a plan to make her his. He enrolls in the school, where no one other than Maybelle must give him expert lessons in carnal pleasure...
Cold in your neck of the woods? Well, save on heating bills by picking up this book, trust me, Marvelle's debut is sizzling hot. Maybelle de Maitenon has no intentions of marrying, nor does she have any intention of going into the family business of teaching gentleman the fine art of seduction. However, it's up to Maybelle to instruct the first group of students when her grandmother falls ill. Much to her irritation, one of the students just so happens to be the man she had a scandalous fling with, Oh, yes, I'll bed that one please. Worthington has enrolled in the school strictly to gain Maybelle's hand in marriage, since his father has already disgraced their family name, he doesn't want his very public encounter with Maybelle finish what little honor they have left.
I've always enjoyed the few Historical's I've picked up, but never enough to really follow a particular series or author, Marvelle has changed that. I don't plan on missing a single semester of The School of Gallantry and neither will you once you've read this one. I have to give this one an A+.
Wages of Sin by Jenna Maclaine
She is a warrior of extraordinary power - the ultimate creature of the night. Her story is one that spans the ages, from historical England to modern-day America and beyond. Welcome to eternity...welcome to the night.
Dulcinea Craven descends from a long line of witches, and she has just inherited wild, untrained magical powers that she has no idea how to control. now a ruthless vampire and an age-old demon are determined to enslave Cin and steal her power for their own. Her only hope is the Righteous, a band of warrior vampires who slay the rogue undead. Among them is Michael, a fierce swordsman who inflames Cin's most primal hungers. Showing her a sensual pleasure beyond anything in the mortal realm, she must choose between the human existence she has always known, and immortality as a vampire - a new life filled with forbidden urges, dark yearnings, and unearthly passions...
I cannot express how much I love to hit a series with book 1. Sure it's fun to find a good series like The Southern Vampire series or The Plum Series, in the middle and have tons of books to read to catch up, but there is just something amazing at catching a series from hello. I bought this book shortly after it was released and read it during my silent time and I feel bad that it has taken me this long to stand up and say - GO GET THIS BOOK!
Maclaine had me engrossed in her world of witchcraft and vampires from the first page. Wages had me turning pages so fast I didn't realize I had stayed up half the night reading until I hit The End. The Righteous are the boogeymans boogeyman, and when Dulcinea is hunted by an unspeakably evil and powerful vampire, she summons The Righteous to her, but they can only do so much, and soon Dulcinea has choices to make and finds herself in a fight for more than just her life. Maclaine successfully weaves together the best elements of the Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, and Historical genres and gives readers a suspenseful thrill ride that will have them craving more, more, MORE Craven! Another A+.
For the next two weeks I'll be running a contest here on Novel Reads. Baby it's cold outside, and I want you to stay nice and toasty, so I'm offering up winners choice of one of these four flavors of Folgers Coffee (I'm totally digging the Hazelnut and French Vanilla right now). But wait! That's not all! I'm also going to give away a copy of each of today's books from the Novel Chat and at least two more books that will be announced throughout the next two weeks, because let's face it, books these good will warm ya right up (and I'm all about pimpin' a new author esepecially when they write this good!) :). Plus I'll throw in a tee shirt. Not sure what it'll say, I may even let the winner choose the saying.
There will be several chances to enter, and you may enter more than once. Simply visit each of the author's websites and tell me something you found there (please actually go look, don't just state the same fact as the person before you). There will be a new way to enter on each post until the contest deadline of February 4, 2009. Extra entries for blogging it and pointing people my way. Just let me know so I can make sure to link back to you.
Authors, if you're interested in offering up a prize for this contest, drop me a line at novelreads at gmail dot com (ya know, with the symbols and no spaces) and we'll see what we can do!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Oh, and American Idol. I can't blog when American Idol is on. Tomorrow. More on books tomorrow. I'm going to go cuddle into my fleece sheets (yep, fleece, those babies are SO nice) and several heavy blankets, and dream of warm temps.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey.
According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys.
Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke. He's chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he's chosen the Barrens as his new playground
Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He's now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn't made it out of the boys' department at Macy's. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn't met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree.
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court. Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel.
Diesel pops in and out of Plum's life like birthday cake - delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He's an uber bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He's after Grimoire, and now he's also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn't mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs.
Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys.
I really didn't have very high expectations for this one as I have been increasingly disappointed with the Plum-verse. I think 12 was the last book that I really enjoyed and the Between the Numbers have never been my favorites. That plus that JCC and I just knew I was in for yet another disappointment. I mean, what the heck was it with the monkeys?!
I am happy to announce, though, that I WAS WRONG!! I remember now why I fell in love with Plum. Here's just a few examples...
"It's not our juju," I told Lula. "It's our skill level. We're incompetent."
"I got a high skill level," Lula said. "I just shot a rat off a rafter."
"You weren't aiming for it."
"Yeah. My skill level is so high I do things I don't even try to do."
...I got out of the car and examined the dirt like I was Tonto running point for the Lone Ranger."
"Ranger this and Ranger that," Lula said. "Don't none of you people think for yourself? I bet you can't wipe yourself without Ranger telling you."
Tank looked at her in the rearview mirror. "I'm telling him you said that."
"I might have misspoke," Lula said.
**** And since I'm a Babe, this one is my favorite quote of the book:
I allowed myself a moment to relax into Ranger. He was warm and strong, and all the bad, frightening things in life went away when he held me like this.
Those are just a few examples of things that made me smile or laugh. The monkey story line that they seem so proud of on the JCC, wasn't nearly as horribly slap-sticky as I had figured it would be. Carl the monkey (from book 14) was back, and I actually liked him. Joe was in the book but not really, Evanovich kept him out of the way and mostly I just had to deal with him over the phone. And really, with characters like the fire farter, who could ask for anything more?Even Diesel didn't bother me much. In fact, I know of liked the way he teased Stephanie, and the dynamic between the two of them.
There were a few things that gave me pause, but all in all, I am SO glad I read this one. For the first time since closing the pages of 14, I'm excited about 15!
I want to state, for the record, I am not a cyber bully, Victoria Laurie. In fact, if you look closely at the events and posts of the time, you were the one being the bully. You are the one who had threatening letters sent to me. You are the one who caused me much embarrassment with some very cruel words on your blog. I look back over my posts and can, in fact, find not one instance where I attacked you. Where as, if you look at the files I have on my computer, you'll see where you very publicly harassed me.
I'm glad you're taking a good hard look at yourself and considering that you may be the problem. But believe me when I tell you, that's not enough. You owe me an apology. You owe me a very public, very sincere apology. What you did to me was incredibly hurtful. What you did was threaten and defame me. You caused me many nights without sleep. Many days of worry. You caused my family the same.
You now also owe me another apology for the untruths you are spewing on your blog. I did not make phone calls, as in plural. I made ONE. I did not seek out other cyber bullies. In fact, I had moved on to other subjects when your attorney sent me an e-mail. I then contacted some one who has a law degree and just so happens to blog books as well. You are still, in such a passive-aggressive manner, trying to off your blame onto me. The events of what happened are clear here on my blog. Everyone can follow and see the truth of this. My blog is still here with all the posts. I had nothing to be ashamed of in that whole debacle. Where is your blog posts?
I deserve an apology. I know I'll never get one, but at the very least, have the decency to admit FULL RESPONSIBILITY for the events and stop painting me as the antagonist.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Welcome to Serenity by Sherryl Woods
The Sweet Magnolias are branching out...
When Jeanette Brioche helped launch The Corner Spa in Serenity, South Carolina, she found a hole lot more than professional satisfaction. She discovered the deep and loyal friendships that had been missing from her life. Nut even the Sweet Magnolias can't mend the terrible rift between Jeanette and her family or persuade her that the holidays are anything more than a season of misery.
Pushed into working on the town's much-loved annual Christmas festival, Jeanette teams up with the sexy new town manager. Tom McDonald may be the only person in Serenity who's less enthused about family and the the holidays than she is.
But with tree decorations going up on the town square and a bit fo romance in the air, Jeanette and Tom take a fresh look at the past and a hopeful look into the future. Together they discover that this just may be a season of miracles after all.
Like I said, I hadn't expected any more Magnolia books so when this one was released I was pleased but perplexed. Woods explains with a short letter at the beginning that so many readers were asking for more from the Sweet Magnolia's, and she enjoyed them so much as well, she's returning to Serenity to give us readers what we wanted.
Unfortunately, the story is Jeanette's, the woman the Magnolia's hired to run Spa Services in The Corner Spa, their new business. IIRC, Jeanette had been a third POV in at least one of the books. This, however, was not enough for the reader to really bond with her in any way, at least, not this reader. So when I say that Jeanette's graduation into Sweet Magnolia-dom was a bit of a shock.
Jeanette and her family suffered a horrible loss over the Christmas holiday when she was just a teenager, and ever since then, Jeanette's parent's barely know she's alive, let alone function well enough to want to celebrate in the merry fashion they once did. It's no wonder she hates the holidays. So when Maddie asks her to take the responsibility of The Corner Spa's contribution to the towns annual Christmas Festival it's the very last thing she wasn't to do.
Tom McDonald is also a non-lover of the holidays, as his family over-celebrates with the motive of impressing the other upper crust families. Growing up his house may have had multiple Christmas trees but they were all put up by decorators, not with love by his family. But even though he has a serious hate on for the holiday, as the new town manager the mayor insists that he be on the planning committee as well. In his quest to work off some of the stress of the new job, Tom tries to get into The Corner Spa to work out, only to be denied entrance (and quite rudely, I might add) by a beautiful woman. Tom is instantly smitten and takes her obvious distaste for him as a challenge.
The book also has a nice subplot about Mary Vaughn, the woman who had tried to get Ronnie away from Dana Sue (second book in the series). In the letter at the beginning Woods explains, "I think you'll gain some new insights into what makes her tick and maybe even feel some sympathy for all she's gone through in her life."
This book, no matter the fact that it was a Sweet Magnolia book, fell so far short of its mark for me. First there's Jeanette, who yes, has had a rough time of things, but was so absolutely insane I was praying that Tom would wise up and steer a wide path around her. And by insane I mean absolute raving bitch one minute, snapping the heads off of everyone, including the people there to help her only to do a complete 180 where Christmas was concerned and then upset when Tom doesn't have the same change of heart.
Then there's Tom, who falls in love with a woman who is all kinds nasty to him but he seems to have real chemistry with. I tell ya folks, you've heard of the Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) heroine, well, meet Tom, the TSTL hero.
Then their is Mary Vaughn and her ex-husband Sonny. Okay, I actually kind of enjoyed their story, and the Jeanette/Tom storyline notwithstanding, if Woods would have been writing to her normal high standards, I think Mary Vaughn's story would of have been far better suited to a full length novel rather than the measly sub-plot she got. Mary Vaughn's struggles and poor choices, her hard work to be respectable and her desire to be liked, coupled with the fierce animosity between her and Dana Sue, could have made an amazing book. I suppose though that it would take too long to write such a tale and make it believable that the Magnolias and Mary Vaughn could ever come to terms. I have no doubt though, that if Woods would have put her mind and pen to it, she could have pulled it off and we would have had a book that actually fit with the other Sweet Magnolia books.
As it stands, Jeanette doesn't really ever seem to treat any of the Magnolias or Tom very well, yet the Sweet Magnolias consider her one of their own and Tom falls in love with her. Jeanette was a selfish woman who talked sharply to too many people and yet got her happy ending. And while I know it's a Romance and the HEA was required, it was a stilted love story, with an ending that leaves much to be desired. In short, I'm willing to suspend reality for a while but even my fiction must be believable and this one just didn't add up.
Truthfully? I'm sort of hoping that in the next book which would seem to be about two of the Magnolia's children, Ty (Maddie's son) and Annie (Dana Sue's daughter who had anorexia), will show that Tom has wised up and left Jeanette for some one that deserves him. And yes, I still plan on reading the next book, it is this readers opinion that Woods rushed herself to get this one done and the next book (hopefully) will be much more up to the level of feel goodness I'm used to from Woods and The Magnolias.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Lord of Misrule The Morganville Vampires-Book Five by Rachel Caine
MORGANVILLE TEXAS. JUST SOUTH OF NORMAL.
In the college town of Morganville, vampires and humans have coexisted in (relatively) bloodless harmony...until the arrival of Bishop, a master vampire who threatens to put the evil back in evil undead and smash the fragile peace. But Bishop isn't the only threat...
Violent black clouds promise a storm of devastating proportions. As student Claire Danvers and her friends prepare to defend Morganville against the elements- both natural and unnatural - the unexpected happens: Morganville's vampires begin to vanish one by one. Discovering why leads Claire to one last choice: Swear allegiance to Bishop ...or die.
Sounds good, right? Well, that would be because it is. Now, since the author is obviously a doll, there is a THE STORY SO FAR... chapter, which does a fairly good job of giving a quick rundown so that the "new to the series" reader (me) can follow along. Of course this pre-book rundown is only a couple of pages, so I was still lost on a bunch of points.
Basically, from what I could gather, there was a vampire that founded the town of Morganville, Amelie. Now, in Morganville vampires and humans co-exist. It's a safe haven sort of town for vampires, and some or most of the humans there pledge their allegiance to certain vampires and are then under their protection (? - if you've read the series and I'm botching this up but good let me know). Bishop, Amelie's dad has come to Morganville and now wants to take it over and make sure that vampires really do rule and only humans who are a walking vending machine (they actually use this term in the book) will be allowed.
Of course, Amelie is not going to go down easily, and Claire along with her best friends Eve and Michael, as well as her boyfriend Shane are all willing (if not so calmly) to help stop Bishop from taking over.
Also from what I can ascertain is that Claire, though in college, is actually only 16 or 17. It was also clear that Claire was vital to the vampires, but I was never really sure why they needed her alive and protected so badly. There is some sort of disease floating through the vampire community, and Claire seems to be helping to find the cure, and by her age and the fact that she's in college it's obvious she's extremely gifted. However, I also got the impression it was more than just her mind that had the vampires so keen to keep her around. It also seemed hinted at that her boyfriend Shane may have more to him than even Claire knows. Hence me gonna go buy the other books in the series.
Anyway, we follow Claire as she and her friends race against time to save Morganville from total destruction. But all Hell's breaking loose, some of the humans have decided they think it would be a good thing if the fighting vampires killed each other off, and they're more than happy to help speed that along any way they can, and a monster of a storm is heading right towards Morganville with more than enough power to destroy the town on its own. Before long it's clear that Claire can't really trust anyone, because friends could turn out to be enemies and enemies may very well turn into, if not friends, allies.
When storm meets war the end result is so terrifyingly fantastic, that I was sitting on the edge of my seat unable to tear myself away until the very end where I was left panting for more. Caine has crafted a universe that is so well built that while reading there is no doubt in your mind that this place and these people really do exists. Caine has found a new fan and cheerleader in this reader, and I look forward to catching up with this series and continuing to follow it until the end. I expect I'll also be buying Caine's other series, but I think I'll start that on Book 1 (unless of course, some one *hint, hint* wanted to send me, oh I don't know, and autographed complete set *BG*).
Go get the book if you're a fan of the series, I really think this is one book you'll not want to miss. For those of you who have yet to start the series, I really do suggest starting with Book 1 (Glass Houses) just so you don't have as many questions as I did/do. Plus, we can go on that particular reading journey together!
But just in case you have any doubts, let me share with you a small bit of one of my favorite scenes from the book:
Shane said, "Some of those same people killed your son."
Theo looked at him with calm, unflinching eyes. "And without forgiveness, there is never any peace. I tell you this from the distance of many centuries. My son gave his life. I won't reply to his gift with anger, not even for those who took him from me. Those same poor, sad people will wake up tomorrow grieving their own losses, I think, if they survive at all. How can hating them heal me?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
- I've been busy: Well, duh. Who isn't these days, right?
- I quit smoking so I don't have as much time to read: Bear with me here, I didn't smoke in the house, I would go outside, so when I had a smoke break, I had a book in my hand. It really did make reading so much simpler. Now I feel kind of guilty if I just sit down and read.
- I've been sick and so have the kids: This is all true, but of course, not for the entirety of the past few months that I've been MIA.
- I have been uncommonly addicted to the aps on MySpace and have been spending way too much computer time on them when I should be doing other things: This one, unfortunately, is true. Thankfully, my addiction is waning and I'm able to tear myself away from them fairly easily.
- My schedule at work has been way wonky and is causing me all sorts of stress: Very true, but thankfully, we're getting a bit of a schedule worked out and I should have my afternoons free to clean house and blog.
And while all of these are true, they aren't the real reason. No, the real reason is that I've went from Rabid Reader to Cynical Reader.
I haven't always been this way, but I've noticed that for the past several months I look at the books I'm reading with more harshness than before. When I used to be able to fall in lurve with a book fairly easily, I've gotten to where it takes an author working their ass off to make me enjoy the thing. I mean, the book has to bring its A-Game if it wants me to even like it a little, where as before, I was a pretty easy sale.
Will this help me as I begin to pick up the blogging reins again, or will it hurt me? I actually kind of liked the old Reader me and while it took me a while to come to terms with new Reader me, I think I may like this side of me too. Only time will tell if this will make me a better book blogger or worse. At first, I thought I was maybe just in a funk, but when my standard cure for that didn't work, I realized it was something else, something was shifting in my reading life.
And while I can attribute my cynsism to a few key aspects, I can't really pin point when the change occurred. So, bear with me these next few posts as I find my new voice to go with this new view.
I've also realized that with the job and kids, my writing, and oh yeah, those darn MySpace aps, I can't do this blog completely alone, so I've asked a friend of mine to chime in every once in a while, she's graciously agreed, and Jenny will be joining me here on Novel Reads very soon. I'll have a formal introduction in a few days.
I will say this though, I'm not completly unable to enjoy books, it just takes me a little longer to finish them. I'm not quite finished with Lord Of Misrule The Morganville Vampires-Book Five by Rachel Caine (started it Sunday, it's out today) and I'm totally diggin' it. I'll blog it tomorrow, but it was released today, GO GET IT! I really think you'll enjoy.