Sunday, 28 August 2011

Quickie Review: Rapture in Death - by J. D. Robb ★★★★★

Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Futuristic romantic suspense
Series: In Death #4
Publication Date: October 1996
ISBN: 0425155188
Page Count: 294
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: In a time when technology can manipulate moods and emotions, death holds the promise of ultimate ecstasy...

They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common-and no obvious reasons for killing themselves. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the deaths suspicious. And her instincts paid off when autopsies revealed small burns on the brains of the victims. Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve's investigation turned to the provocative world of virtual reality games--where the same techniques used to create joy and desire could also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction...

Quickie Review:

I love this series. Not one has been a dud so far. Each crime story is fresh and very different from the last, and this is no different. I'm going to try not to give away any details on the crime itself, as that's best left for you to ponder over as you go along. But I will say that the use of futuristic technology in these books, make the crimes like nothing you have read before.

The secondary characters of this series are slowly wheedling their way into my heart. I LOVE Peabody. She is so dry in her humour, and she's really starting to loosen up with Eve. Not being quite so formal all the time. Roarke was as yummy as usual, and I really felt bad for him when he got messed with in this book. What it made him do... I know he will have a hard time forgiving himself for that. It was beyond cruel.

I'm yet waiting to find one of these books that I don't find deserving of 5 stars.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Review: Immortal in death - by J.D. Robb ★★★★★

Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Futuristic romantic suspense
Series: In Death #3
Publication Date: July 1996
ISBN: 978-0425153789
Page Count: 320
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary:
In a time when technology can create beauty and youth, passion and greed can destroy them...

She was one of the most sought after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted--even another woman's man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas put her professional life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the facade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that Led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could be found to fulfill any desire--for a price..

Review:

Another great read. 

We get to see exactly what Eve Dallas will do when someone she loves is in trouble in this fantastic third instalment of the In Death series.

How can Summerset accuse ever Eve of being disloyal? She's one of the most fiercely loyal people you could meet. And although she may only have a very select number friends, those people have her loyalty and she will protect them with all she's worth. This books shows us that loyalty in action and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Speaking of Summerset, I said I would find out what was going on with him, didn't I? I knew he wasn't just the hired help. And although we do find out a lot more about him in this book, I still think there might even be more to come.

In finding out about Summerset, we also got more of an insight into Roarke's past. Up until now, we've definitely been getting more of Eve's backstory than Roarke's, so it was nice to get some of his history, too. My one grievance where Roarke's concerned would be, does he have to have slept with every beautiful woman Eve stumbles upon? It would bother me a whole lot more than it's bothering Eve, let me tell you! To be fair, though, there's a little bit of the green-eyed monster coming from Roarke's side of the fence in this book, too. A colleague of Eve's is seen to be showing what Roarke considers an unhealthy interest in her, and he openly admits it bothers him. I actually really liked that scene; the way he sheepishly shoved his hands in his pockets, looking at the ground, while she grinned like a loon. So sweet!

There's more revelations from Eve regarding her own hellish past in here too. The dreams have become more frequent and have taken on a flashback quality, rather than just the snippets she was getting before. She's finally able to recall exactly how she came to be in that alley at 8 years old, bloodied and broken. It's hard to read, and it's hard for Roarke to hear. These were excellent scenes. Roarke is so supportive and patient. Even when she's being ridiculous and trying to rush out the door, ashamed.

The crime in this story revolved around a drug case, but as it's set in the future, it's an interesting new drug with fascinating properties and side effects. I kind of guessed who the bad guy was, but I was still open-minded and would have been happy to have been proved wrong.

In case you haven't guess yet, I'm loving this series. Can't wait for book four!

5 stars! ★★★★★


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Review: Glory in Death - by J. D. Robb ★★★★★

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Futuristic romantic suspense
Series: In Death #2
Publication Date: 1995
ISBN: 0425150984
Page Count: 320
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: In a time when technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there's only one place to hide a crime of passion--in the heart...

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects--including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead ... to investigate every scandalous rumor ... to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

Review:

This is the second instalment of what is fast becoming one of my favourite series. It may be a bit early to make such proclamations at only book two, but I am really, really enjoying them.

The crime that this story was centred around was a little more straight forward than the first one, and I was able to figure out who it was just before I was told. But I still enjoyed the reveal and the climatic ending. Not to mention everything else that's going on in the characters' lives.

Eve and Roarke's relationship underwent a bit of a test in this book. It was mainly just a case of insecurity, something that can rear its ugly head at the beginning of most new relationships, where one feels that they are giving more than they are receiving in terms of commitment. It was really gripping to read and also heartbreaking. You really feel for Eve because she's been alone for so long; no family, very few friends. Then all of a sudden someone comes along and tells you you're are their whole world... It must be quite daunting.

We're getting to know more about the supporting characters as we go along as well. I like Eve's very colourful friend, Mavis. I think there might be a genuine friendship forming between her and Nadine the journalist, too. I think Eve needs vibrant people like these aroud her to help bring her out of herself more.

There's something fishy going on with Summerset, Roarke's butler. Other than the fact he's still being impossibly rude to Eve, it's been mentioned twice now, when asked who he is and why Roarke puts up with him, that it's "too complicated to get into". Hmm. Who is he? I will find out, I will!

I also like her Commander, Whitney, and her computer genius pal Feeney, who's fast becoming her personal sidekick.

There was a very romantic conversation right at the end of this book, so even though I had promised myself I would swap to something else and alternate these books in (there are 40+ after all), I confess I went straight to book three without so much as taking a breath :D

5 Stars!  ★★★★★


Friday, 19 August 2011

Review: Naked in Death - by J.D. Robb ★★★★★

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
Genre: Futuristic romantic suspense
Series: Book one in the In Death series
Publication Date: July 1995
ISBN: 0425148297
Page Count: 314
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: In a time and place where technology rules the world, one irresistible impulse still rules the heart: passion...

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all - and knows that her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire - and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about - except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

In a world of danger and deception, she walks the line - between seductive passion and scandalous murder...

Review:

Well, this is a different genre than the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance stuff that I've been reading for the past couple of years, but I had this book/series recommended to me and I have to say that...I LOVED it!

It's an extremely well-written book for starters. J. D. Robb, a.k.a Nora Roberts, has written around 170 novels so far, and it shows here in the skill and polish of her storytelling. I had no idea who the killer was until the big reveal (I normally pride myself on being able to spot them a mile off, but I was left guessing right until the end), and the journey to get to that end was thoroughly enjoyable, in more ways than one.

I've read quite a few crime novels in the past. When I was finding my feet as a reader and not really sure what genre to read, I read all the Stephen King books (as you do) and I also used to be a big fan of Patricia Cornwell. So the crimes in this book (although violent and disturbing) weren't a complete shock to the system. I guess some people might be a little freaked out by them, but for me, the detail provided was just enough to make me wrinkle my nose, but not so bad I needed a Gag bag.

The futuristic element I found really interesting. It had me thinking of movies I've seen such as Demolition Man (what the hell do you do with the three seashells?), The Fifth Element, and Total Recall. All of which I've enjoyed and which had similar futuristic themes. Robb could have easily gone OTT with those details, but she didn't. They added flavour, nothing more.

I think one of the main reasons I like reading fantasy novels, is that anything can happen. With these novels being set in the future, there is still that same fantasy element happening, because even though all the robots, androids and hover vehicles are meant to be real within the story, for us the reader, it's all still make-believe and it's a lot of fun to imagine such a future world.

Most of the stuff that they have doesn't seem all that far-fetched to me for 2058. A lot of it is just advancements on stuff we've already invented. I mean, we already can operate things by voice command, just not as many things as they do in these books (I really want an AutoChef that makes me tea and toast on voice command too! It's so unfair).

As for the romance side of things. This is where this book made me really happy. I think I might have just found a new Book Boyfriend (of which I already have several: Bones, Wrath, Curran and Barrons to name but a few). Roarke...ah lovely Roarke. I can't wait to find out more about this enigmatic man. He's a billionaire (which can never hurt), and he's completely open and honest about the fact that he's been bowled over by this prickly, stubborn lieutenant, Eve Dallas. Who doesn't seem to trust anyone. Least of all him.

"Roarke, what's going on here?"
"Lieutenant." He leaned forward, touched his lips to hers. "Indications are we're having a romance."

Eve is a very likeable character. She's clearly got some issues and a terrible back story that we will no doubt learn more about in the upcoming books, but she's trying, for Roarke's sake, to put them aside so she can be with him. I can' wait to see how this develops.

Here is my mental picture of Eve (a.k.a the chick from Quantum of Solace)


Willowy? Check. Choppy hair? Check. Whiskey coloured eyes? Kinda check.

So, to sum up, I loved this book. I am slightly daunted by how many more books are in the series, but as long as the standard stays this high, I'm in for the long haul.

5 stars! ★★★★★

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Review: Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill ★★★★★

Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #3)Twice Bitten - by Chloe Neill
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Chicagoland Vampires #3
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 0451230647
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene-and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission. Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals-not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries-old master vampire.

Review:

I am now at the third book in the Chicagoland Vamps series, and by this point I am fully involved in the story and I have some favourite characters. But most importantly of all, and the thing that's keeping me flipping pages at breakneck speed, is the incredible tension—sexual and otherwise—between Ethan, Master vampire and eyebrow-archer extraordinaire, and Merit, Sentinel and all-round good guy/ badass vamp soldier for Cadogan House.

The scenes with these two positively sizzle! If you're anything like me, you'll be clamouring for them to just get on with it already! How much more does Ms Neill think we can take? I'm reluctant to give too much away regarding this, but let's just say that there will be conflict in this area. BIG conflict.

The storyline for TWICE BITTEN sees us immersed deeper in the Shapeshifter world. There has never been any great love lost between these two races after the Shapeshifters declined to help (read: turned tail and ran away to hide) during the last Vampire Clearings (a time when humans rose up to rid the world of the threat vamps posed by staking them all. Rational beings us humans, eh?). Now Ethan, ever the opportunist, sees the current shapeshifter difficulties as a perfect time to build a bridge between their two races, united against the overwhelming human population, in case they decide the time for another Clearing is upon us again. While tackling these tricky political manoeuvres, he of course wants his right-hand girl, Sentinel Merit, by his side at all times.

Merit is really coming into her stride in her role as Sentinel. After sorting out a little problem she had with her inner vamp in the last book, she is now unparalleled in her Katas sword work—ridiculously fast, although she does still struggle with her sparring—so Ethan decides to stop her lessons with Catcher and have her train with the only other person he can think of who might be able to keep up with her: himself!

"Humiliation is like a fine wine. It should be shared between friends.”


Overall the story was a lot more complex and fast paced than the last two. We got a lot of emotional drama and an intriguing ending. This is my favourite so far (by far), and I'm glad I only have to wait until 3rd May for the next one!


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Review: Some Girls Bite - by Chloe Neill ★★★★

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, #1)Some Girls Bite - by Chloe Neill
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Chicagoland Vampires #1
Publication Date: April 2009
ISBN: 0451226259
Page Count: 352
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary: First in a brand new series about a Chicago graduate student’s introduction into a society of vampires. Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker—and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead. Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she’s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude— and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan’s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

Review:

Overall, I enjoyed SOME GIRLS BITE. It had a slightly YA feel to it for some reason (although it isn't; our protagonist is 27), it was more in the writing style, I think. And perhaps some of the dialogue. At the time of writing this, I have already read the first three books back-to-back, so I can tell you this is something that becomes less of an issue with each book.

It's based around vamps and their feudalistic House system. Basically, whichever Master Vamp turns you (and only masters can), you then belong to his or her House. There are three Houses in Chicago, and our leading lady, Merit, is born into the only one that still drinks from the vein, and not from a blood-bank baggie like all the others. She is also (a little predictably) not your average vamp; she displays extra speed and strength after only a few days as a vamp. Something that makes her of interest to several parties.

I felt like the possible love interest was thrown in your face much too early on to be believable in this book. This might have contributed to the YA feel as well. It was just all a bit predictable and, dare I say, a bit cheesy. However, by the end of the book, we had met several interesting characters and had been supplied with what will be the overarching story arc of the series and I am definitely interested enough by all of that to overlook these minor quibbles.



Friday, 5 August 2011

Review: Magic Bleeds - by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4)
Magic Bleeds - by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book four in the Kate Daniels series
Publication Date: May 2010
ISBN: 9780441018529
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary

Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. And now there's a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.





Review:


This one's hard to review without giving away spoilers, but I will try. As usual, it was a pleasure slipping back into Ilona Andrews' amazingly crafted world of chaotic magic, kick-ass heroines and sexy shapeshifters.

What I will say is that up until now each book has been better than the first for the first three novels. This one, although there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and it had some scenes in it that I loved,  it didn't quite beat the thrill of Magic Strike's gladiator-style storyline for me. Not enough for it to not get full marks, mind—I would still read it again which is my benchmark for giving out 5 stars—but I just thought book three was so very awesome. Most of my favourite funny and/or romantic quotes and scenes come from that book.

This one is exciting for a different reason. What it lacked on the action side of things, it more than made up for in other ways. There are big developments—both positive and negative—in certain characters' personal relationships. There are big changes afoot for Kate's life as she knew it.

My favourite funny moments for this novel are the practical jokes the characters play on each other. They are totally hilarious. I need it to hurry up and be May 31st to get my next fix! I hope it's the size of a small bungalow when it's published :D



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review: Lover Unleashed - by J.R. Ward ★★★

Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9)
Lover Unleashed - by J.R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
ISBN: 978-0451233165
Page Count: 528
My Rating: ★★★

Summary: #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward's thrilling new novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, seductive cloth as her brother.

Imprisoned for eons by their mother, the Scribe Virgin, she finally frees herself-only to face a devastating injury.

Manuel Manello, M.D., is drafted by the Brotherhood to save her as only he can-but when the human surgeon and the vampire warrior meet, their two worlds collide in the face of their undeniable passion.

With so much working against them, can love prove stronger than the birthright and the biology that separates them?


Review:

I am not really feeling this book, true?

This is my least favourite of the BDB books so far I'm afraid. It had too many subplots, not enough time devoted to our main couple Manny and Payne, and it lacked the lighter moments that Ward usually provides in her otherwise dark world.

As a paranormal romance, I'm expecting a certain amount of time devoted to our star couple. All the former books have been clearly "Wrath and Beth's story", or "Zsadist and Bella's Story" (my two favourites incidentally), with a side story usually featuring the head of the Lessening society. But this one was more like "Manny, Payne, Jane, Vishous, Butch, Quinn, Xcor, Throe, Jose and Veck's story"... It was just too much! I feel like this was a "setting up" book, and we're being prepared for the next big storyline to come. Which is fine, I guess. But it didn't make me enjoy the book any more.

So much of what we are used to was missing, too. Where were the Omega and the Scribe Virgin? Where was the leader of the Lessers? And I didn't even get a song from Zsadist!...tsk tsk

There were a few bits I did enjoy, however. I did like the Manny and Payne bits; she certainly deserves her freedom after centuries spent with Mother dearest, so it was nice to see her discovering the world and falling for handy Manny. And although I don't like all the BDSM stuff associated with V, I was glad he was able to get over what happened to him a bit more, with the help of his boy, Butch.

So all in all, it could have been much better for me. I will still be reading the next one, of course. Everyone is allowed a bump in the road, and I think this is Ward's.




Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Review: Magic Strikes - by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★

Magic Strikes - by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels #3
Publication Date: March 2009
ISBN: 0441017029
Page Count: 320
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary
: Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot. But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet.

Review:

This is book three of the series. You should start with book one: Magic Bites, then book two: Magic Burns

This has to be the best yet (I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that for every single one of these books!). This one was epic, though. This was, Kate-takes-on-Gladiator. And what happened to Derek! Agghh! And the hot tub scene! I don't even know where to begin reviewing this book!

Okay, so there was definitely a lot more in the way of drama in this one, both in terms of the tragedy that befalls our lovely Derek, and in the relationship progress with Kate and Curran. I really went through the whole range of emotions; I felt angry as hell on Kate's behalf at one point, I felt giddy as a kipper at others (Curran is so yummy in this one!), and I felt the fear of walking into a stadium about to fight to the death for the entertainment of others. Like I said— EPIC!

As usual, I don't want to give too much away, but Kate is again brought into the pack's inner circle, to assist her one-time Merc partner, Jim with the big ol' mess he's made. It all centres around the Midnight Games—something that Pack members are strictly forbidden to have anything to do with—but unfortunately, that choice gets taken out of their hands.

I can't really say anything else without spoiling it, so I'm just going to stick with- Best. One. Yet!



Monday, 1 August 2011

Review: Magic Burns - by Ilona Andrews ★★★★★

Magic Burns - by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in the Kate Daniels series
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
ISBN: 0441015832
Page Count: 272
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary
: As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels knows how waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.



Review:

This second instalment was even better than the first (and I frickin' loved the first!). Often, the first in a series has that "setting up" feel to it, some worse than others. Magic Bites wasn't actually too bad, but even so, it's nice to get to book two and move past it. Now, we know who the characters are, we know exactly who we want Kate to get together with (Hello, Curran), even if she doesn't yet know it herself, and so we wait patiently for the penny to drop.

There is some definite progress made in that area in this book. Maybe not huge amounts, but the anticipation in the meantime is delicious! At the very least they have stopped trying to kill each other (mostly) and even managed to have one whole civil conversation. He also handed her food, which as a lion shifter, means more than you might think;)

Aside from Kate and Curran yumminess, there is a lot going on plot-wise here. There's a magical flare brewing, so we meet some interesting creatures and characters that only make an appearance during such times, including a crossbow-wielding guy called Bran, who also seems to have a distinct interest in our dear Kate. She also picks up a new sidekick in the form of a street kid named Julie. I've come to the conclusion that Kate, no matter how tough and mouthy she can seem sometimes, really can't say no to someone asking for help. It's just not possible for her to walk away from someone who needs her, which is a really endearing quality to have.

I am inhaling these books at breakneck speed and I am already concerned about the withdrawal symptoms I will face when I run out.

5 stars! ★★★★★