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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Review: Vengeance in Death by J. D. Robb ★★★★★

Genre: Futuristic romantic suspense
Series: Book six in the In Death series
Publication Date: October 1997
ISBN: 978-0425160398
Page Count: 384
My rating: ★★★★★

Summary

In a time when technology links the law and the lawless, predators and prey can be one and the same...
He is an expert with the latest technology ... a madman with the mind of a genius and the heart of a killer. He quietly stalks his prey. Then he haunts the police with cryptic riddles about the crimes he is about to commit--always solved moments too late to save his victims' lives.
Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the first victim butchered in his own home. The second lost his life in a vacant luxury apartment. The two men had little in common. Both suffered unspeakable torture before their deaths. And both had ties to an ugly secret of ten years past--a secret shared by none other than Eve's new husband, Roarke.

Review:

This is the first book in a couple of books of this series that's had a real impact on my opinions of both of the main characters, husband and wife, Eve Dallas and Roarke.....just Roarke. He's a billionaire, he doesn't need to have surname if he doesn't want to! And even Summerset, the butler and Roarke's old friend from the back streets of Dublin, doesn't escape with all his secrets intact.

We already knew a little bit about Roarke and Summerset's history and the terrible loss that they both shared. I was obviously a fool to think that was the end of that story, and in this one, we get the rest...

It was explosive. It would have been a great book anyway because the mystery element and the poetic clues from the serial killer were all really well executed- I much preferred this plot over the last one- and the pacing was great with the usual mix of action, humour, romance and intrigue. But it was so much more than that. Obviously I'm not going to tell you why it was so much more, you'll have to read it for yourself. But trust me, it was a biggie.

There was, in the background to all that, great further development to the secondary characters as well. It even furthered my already abundant and slightly inappropriate love for Peabody, Eve's aide and growing friend. And I love McNab, the new tech guy! Yet another of Eve's colleagues that worships the very ground Roarke walks upon. But they only love him for his gadgets... only Eve knows the real man. And after this book, she knows a hell of a lot more than she did before!

Five fantastic, futuristic stars.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Follow me Friday 30th December 2011


Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted 


This week's featured Bloggers are:





This week's question is:

Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

I am going to try and be a better blog mummy in 2012. Participate more in the blog hops and get togethers such as this one (such a good idea by the way) and I'm also going to try and review EVERY book I read. This year that would have been 260 reviews. A tall order- no doubt some reviews will be decidedly more succinct than others- but I'll give it a go!


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Review: Touch if you Dare by Stephanie Rowe ★★★

Touch if you Dare by Stephanie Rowe
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Mutants, witches, magic, explicit sex scenes, Cupid, Death, humour)
Series: Book two in The Soulfire series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Country: United States
Publication Date: July 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1402241963
Page Count: 416
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

He's just about the hottest warrior she's ever seen...
Reina Fleming really appreciates a man who's on a mission-especially when he's a badass warrior doing his best to impress her. And Jarvis is charmed by the way Reina's magic touch can soothe his dark side.

But when Jarvis's attention puts her job, her home, and her family in danger, Reina has to decide whether love is worth the price...
Enter the nonstop, action-packed world of Stephanie Rowe's love stories-you'll never think of the manly arts in the same way again.

Review:

I think I may have had some kind of epiphany where this series is concerned. The first one I found to be a very strange cocktail of elements. It had all the ingredients of a really innovative new series with new types of supernatural warriors and a really unique world- but then when I started reading it, it was written like some kind of comedy farce that was bordering on ridiculous. And I just totally didn't get it. Now, having read book two, I think the problem lay with me trying to take it way too seriously. I mean, it has warriors that do cross stitching or knitting whenever they are feeling overwhelmed at their memories of abuse and torture. Abuse and torture aimed solely at making them better (in the witch-bitch torturer's view), more sensitive men. At what point did I think I was supposed to take this stuff seriously? I mean, they literally, in the middle of a fight, will whip out some charcoal and a notepad and start doing some sketching, just to ease the tension.....

Doh!

This time, however, going into it knowing what to expect, I found I enjoyed it a whole lot more.  I read a tag-line somewhere describing it as "A Paranormal Romance Adventure Comedy". Going in armed with that knowledge made the experience entirely different.

Naturally, it's still not going to be everybody's cup of tea. Some people will probably not appreciate the humour even when expecting it, because it is a little on the silly side. But what it most definitely is, is ENTERTAINING. I thoroughly enjoyed reading both books.

It's a bit like, have you ever watched Dancing with the Stars? You know when there's the couple that maybe aren't the best dancers, and they lack any kind of technical skill, but their wacky routine is still the one you enjoy most on the night because it was simply the most entertaining? Even if they are mad as a box of frogs? Well, these books are kind of like that. Make sense?

I can't in all honesty give this one more than three stars even though I found the quality of the writing had improved significantly over the first one. The first book drove me slightly nuts with all the brackets (that's, brackets!) and the Hello? Sarcasm much? thing. This was much better in that area...but not enough so to make it a four star book.

I am, bizarrely enough, really looking forward to the next one- Hold Me If You Can, out early January.



Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review: Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison ★★★★

Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Fantasy, dragons, gryphons, faeries, elves, goblins, explicit sex scenes, alpha male, fated mates)
Series: Book two in The Elder Races series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Berkley
Country: United States
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
ISBN: 978-0425242667
Page Count: 336
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

Able to wield thunder and lightning, wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the wyr's best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks, heir to the Dark Fae throne, when she's almost assassinated in Chicago. Soon Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them-a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.

Review:

This is the second book in The Elder Races series by Thea Harrison. It was a very good follow up to the first book (which I absolutely loved) but was a little lacking on the action side for me, so it doesn't quite get the full five star treatment as that one did.

Whereas in book one we had kidnappings, incarceration, prison breaks, shock twists and surprises and all sorts of yummy things to keep us entertained, this one was more based around the political machinations of the Dark Fey as they accept (or not, as the case may be) Tricks, aka Niniane Lorelle, back into her rightful place as Queen of the Dark Fey.

We learned a little about Niniane in book one: that her family, the previous Dark Fey royals, had been brutally murdered by Urian, the baddie from the last book. Since Dragos more than took care of him in that story, this opened the way for Niniane to finally return to her home after hiding out with the wyr for nearly 200 years. Niniane wasn't entirely thrilled at the prospect of returning, afterall, all that she would find there was bad memories and constant reminders of all that she'd lost. But she also felt a sense of duty and obligation, so off she went. I liked what little I'd seen of Tricks in book one. One of my favourite scenes, actually, was her and Pia drunkenly making the tablecloth of shame. So funny. I found her initially to be just as amusing in this book, but as the story progressed, it was almost like her light-hearted side got knocked out of her bit by bit by having to deal with all the conspiracies, murder attempts and betrayals, which was a bit of a shame.

Tiago, the ancient, tattooed Thunderbird, was the one who volunteered to go and be her bodyguard. The wyr protect what's theirs and no matter where Tricks resides from now on, she will always be one of theirs. Tiago though, suddenly finds himself thinking more along the lines of "mine" instead of "ours", and it's fun watching the big guy fall and fall hard. I really enjoyed Tiago's character. He was a bit of a contradiction, though; one minute he was the sweet, caring bodyguard stroke mother hen. The next he was a dirty-talking stud muffin. Some of the things that came out of that boy's mouth! I ought to wash it out with soap and water! Tsk, tsk *grin*

All of their scenes together were enjoyable, both the sweet moments and the smexy ones, and they made a great couple. We were also introduced to the female for the next book in this one too. I'll be honest, I didn't care for her, so I will start the next book with a little apprehension. I have faith in Thea Harrison's writing by his point, though, and I'm sure she'll have changed my mind about her by the time I finish her and Rune's book.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review: Body of Sin by Eve Silver ★★★★

Body of Sin by Eve SilverGenre: Paranormal Romance ( Egyptian mythology, Soul Reapers, several sex scenes, good vs evil)
Series: Book four in The Otherkin series
Original Language: English
Publisher: HQN Books
Country: USA
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
ISBN: 978-0373775927
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

Once the favorite son of the Lord of the Underworld, Lokan Krayl held enviable privileges and powers. Powers that led to a devastating betrayal—murder.

Resurrected by his immortal brothers, Lokan is still trapped in purgatory. He has no way to contact his family. He has no answers. In order to find the truth about his death and who killed him, he must escape his prison. And there's only one way out: through the twelve gates of his eternal enemy, Osiris.

But Lokan has help. Bryn Carr, the woman who duped him once before, is his beautiful yet unwanted guide. She's been sent by his brothers to aid him. She's his last hope. Lokan must place his fate—and that of the mortal and immortal worlds—in the hands of the one woman he can never trust.

Review:

This was a great ending to the series. It is definitely a series that has to be read in order and if you haven't read books one through three you shouldn't read this review.

Lokan Krayl, the fourth and final brother and youngest son of Sutekh, has been the focal point linking together all three books up until this point. Which is quite an achievement for a dead guy.

Of course, "dead" is a somewhat fluid term when you are talking about immortal demigods. After having been betrayed by his father: Lord of the Underworld, Sutekh, and hacked to pieces and had his soul sent to a null zone, imagine Lokan's surprise when he suddenly finds himself set free and told he simply needs to to pass through the twelve gates of Osiris in order to return to his corporeal form. Something that was made possible due to the efforts of his three siblings in previous instalments. And something that is much harder than it sounds...

The story features flashbacks and present day accounts following Lokan, his brothers and their mates, and the mother of his daughter, Bryn. The way these different scenes were woven together felt very smooth and it really helped you piece together all of the events that you'd already learned a bit about in past stories: How Lokan met Bryn and ended up with a daughter that he kept a secret from everyone, even his siblings. Who and what Bryn is and why she sought out Lokan in the first place. And also, the events leading up to Lokan's "death".

The flashback scenes really helped give you a sense of the personalities of both Lokan and Bryn before everything went to hell, and I really like both of them. And once they are reunited in the present day, this knowledge also helps you appreciate the depth of feeling and respect they have for one another after raising their daughter amicably for the last seven years. Even though the relationship was largely based on lies.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. The mythology was great as always and the romance was touching and sweet. There wasn't a great deal of action considering this was the final showdown, so to speak, but it was still a nice round up of the series and it was great to see how everything turned out for these four brothers and their partners.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Review: Kiss at your Risk by Stephanie Rowe ★★★

Kiss at your Risk by Stephanie Rowe
Genre: Paranormal Romance (black widow, mutants, witches, magic, explicit sex scenes, humour)
Series Book one in the Soulfire series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Country: Uinted States
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
ISBN: 140224195X
Page Count: 416
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

HE NEEDED A KILLER WOMAN…

Blaine Underhill was one lucky man. Having recently escaped a century and a half of imprisonment at the hands of an evil witch, he's determined to save his still-enslaved friend. But in order to do so, he'll need the help of one of the world's most lethal women.

SHE WAS DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, LITERALLY…

Trinity Harpswell is sick and tired of being a Black Widow. Having managed to go three years without accidentally killing anyone she loves, she's one short week away from freeing herself from this killer curse forever. When Blaine tracks her down and convinces her to help him, little does Trinity know that the next seven days are going to be murder!

Review:

This is a bit of a weird one to review. Part of me really, really enjoyed it, the rest of me thought it was kind of silly.

Let me try to explain.

The things I really liked were the originality of the characters in terms of what they are. There were some great new ideas here- Ms Rowe is clearly a very creative lady and she has written some brilliantly imaginative creatures and beings. Okay, so we've heard of witches before and we've heard of a black widow before, but the four warrior guys in the story and their abilities - they were really interesting. The only way I can think to describe them is as human mutants. They've been tinkered with by the witch who has held them captive for the last century and a half, using Black Magic. The main character we follow in this book, Blaine, is a sort of fire warrior....think of The Human Torch from the Fantastic Four movies and you'll be close.

The other thing I really appreciated was the overall plot. It was a great race against time thrill ride with high stakes and a love story that took place along the way. All good stuff.

What kind of spoiled it for me, I'm sorry to say, was the writing style. It was written in a sort of conversational tone- only it was like a conversation with someone with really weird speech patterns and a hard to understand accent. I found myself having to do the literary equivalent of lip reading for the first 50 or so pages of the book. She would also miss words off the beginning of sentences and substitute words for slang phrases and I had a hard time trying to understand just what the author was trying to convey at times. Also annoying was the overuse of brackets. It was like (Hello? Use brackets much?) every other paragraph. And the Hello? thing would have been annoying all by itself without drawing a circle around it.

Also, she just tried just a little too hard to be funny, to that point that it wasn't. I like humorous books, but it would be better if the humour was limited to the banter and dialogue between characters, rather than the entire prose sounding like some kind of comedy farce. I'm sure some people will appreciate the added humour, and to be fair, it did work in some scenes, but I personally found it was just trying too hard.

In summation, I'd say it's still a good book and people that enjoy light-hearted PNR should definitely give it a go. I just think the author could have made something more of her ideas than this type of paranormal comedy romp. I'd love for her to write a straight up paranormal series one day, with her great ideas and creativity it would certainly be worth a look if she did.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Review: Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk ★★★

Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Alternate history, magic, spell casting, mystery, romantic elements)
Series: Book five in The Allie Beckstrom series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Roc
Country: United States
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
ISBN: 978-0451463623
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

Allie Beckstrom's lover, Zayvion Jones, is a Guardian of the Gate, imbued with both light and dark magic and responsible for ensuring that those energies don't mix. But Zayvion lies in a coma, his soul trapped in death's realm. And when Allie discovers that the only way to save Zayvion is to sacrifice her very own magical essence, she makes a decision that may have grave consequences for the entire world.

Review:

A rather lacklustre entry to the series. I had high hopes that the new setting, the trip into Death, would revive my waning interest in this series. Nothing like a change of scenery to perk you up, right?

Wrong!

Well, in Monk's hands it's wrong, anyway. The descriptions of the World of the Dead were so unimaginative it was almost laughable. Crumbling buildings was about the extent of it. Wow. So very vivid, it's like I can taste it.....only not.

The great rescue attempt of her lover, Zayvion was completed fairly early on so I was thinking we'd at least wrap that up and move on to a new mystery plot, but then he was in a coma for much of the book and without him, Allie really doesn't know her arse from her elbow, so she was pretty much just kicking around with Shame for the rest of the book.

In terms of plot- what little there was of it- there are previously dead folks walking around looking suspiciously more corporeal than they should. So it looks like the missing magic discs from the end of the last book have wandered into enemy hands. From here the plot was driven slowly and clumpily to the big end scene that wasn't. It had all the impact of a wet party popper.

This is where I get off the Allie Beckstom bus. I tried. I made it though five books but the character growth I needed to see hasn't happened and for once this one didn't end on a cliffhanger. So I'm outie. See ya. Bye, bye. Adios. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Review: Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★★

Ecstasy Untamed by Pamela Palmer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Book seven in The Feral Warriors series
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN: 978-0061794735
Page Count: 384 pages
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary

They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . .

Shattered by recent nightmarish events, Hawke feels his bond with his animal spirit weakening—and once it breaks, he’s finished. The arrival of Faith sends his life spinning even further out of control, for although she delights him and enflames his deepest primal passions, she’s promised to Maxim, the newest Feral Warrior. Faith is drawn to Hawke from the start, but Maxim holds her in his thrall and has secretly bent her to his malevolent will. Though gravely damaged, Hawke is the only one who can end Faith’s slavery and protect the Feral Warriors from Maxim’s evil designs. But first they both must embrace the wild . . . and surrender body and soul to a forbidden, all-consuming ecstasy.

Review:

I have been very excited to get to this, Hawke's book, for quite a while now for several reasons.

Reason one: He has always been such a sweetie-pie in previous books, so respectful to the new females entering Feral House and just an all round nice guy, that I'd developed a bit of a soft spot for him already.

Reason two: I really wanted to know more about him as a warrior since he is the only one of the nine Ferals that isn't a predatory animal. I also wondered if this had anything to do with his slightly gentler nature.

And reason three: The events at the end of the last book. Hawke has only just been freed from a daemon spirit trap and escaped suffering a near severing of his bond with his hawk spirit which is causing him to experience terrible rages in complete contrast to his usual demeanour.

And let me tell you, even going in with these high expectations, I was not disappointed. You may notice the five star rating? Yeah, it was that good.

And what made it so good I don't hear you ask? Well, firstly it was the refreshing change in the personalities of the hero and heroine. Hawke is (usually) a far less aggressive male than the rest of the Ferals- he's more of a thinker, an academic, and has a cheeky boy smile that can melt your heart from a thousand paces. And Faith is a girl that doesn't expect much from life, but has a big, big heart and a desire to help people. She has been helping human street kids for years, drifting from city to city trying and saving the ones that will accept the help. She even dresses like a human teenager- blue-tipped hair, piercings and all- in an effort to win them over. I just thought both characters were refreshing and endearing and I really look forward to seeing them again in future books.

What also made this one of my favourites of the series along with book one, was the amount of new shock twists and turns that were included. There were several events in this book that will impact all future books from this point on and all of the Ferals. Of course, every single one is a spoiler so I can't say more about them, but just WOW!

There is a slight cliffhanger at the end that has me salivating for the next book. I just can't wait to find out what happens next for these sexy warriors.

Review: Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk ★★★

Magic on the Storm by Devon Monk
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Alternate history, magic, spell casting, mystery, romantic elements)
Series: Book four in The Allie Beckstrom series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Roc
Country: United States
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
ISBN: 0451463277
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

Allison Beckstrom is committed to her work tracing illegal spells. Now, there's an apocalyptic storm bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority-the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic-and take a stand against a magical wildstorm that will obliterate all in its path...

Review:

This was an okay instalment. The first three quarters of the book were pretty average but the end was a great climatic scene. Be warned it has one stinker of a cliffhanger. You're going to want to have the next one in hand.

To be honest, if it were not for nearly every book so far ending in some kind of cliffhanger, I might have walked away from this series by now. There's nothing wrong with it, exactly, but it doesn't rock my world by any stretch of the imagination. This cliffhanger ploy is something that's definitely starting to aggravate.

Allie's character still isn't the badass I want her to be. For someone that has the unique ability to channel as much magic as she wants you'd think she'd be more helpful in a crisis, but as far as I can tell, whenever there's a dangerous situation, Allie is more of a liability than anything else. She either just rushes in half cocked and gets in the way, or she has a Too Stupid To Live moment and makes everything worse.

The romance element is still only luke warm for me, too, but its definitely better in this book. It's nice to see Zayvion training Allie to better defend herself. This should help with the above.

The most interesting thing at the moment for me is the subplot between Shane, the lovable, if slightly annoying, Irish rogue, and a blast from his past that turns up by the name of Terric. There is some question as to whether or not the two are soul complements. Something that both are uncomfortable with as it usually is something that that happens between a male and female pair and can be a highly pleasurable thing to experience during sex. So for two straight guys? Well they react pretty much as you'd expect them to react. They try and out-man each other and piss each other off as much as possible rather than deal with it like a grown up.

I am going to read the next one ('cause of the dang blasted cliffhanger) but it's with reservation. I really hope for an improvement in this series, or I'm out.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Review: Hunger Untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★

Passion Untamed by Pamela Palmer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Book six in the Feral Warriors series
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0061794711
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . .

For a thousand years she has haunted him—Ariana, Queen of the linas, a beauty of mist and light. His love, his life mate . . . Kougar believed her lost to him forever, until the truth of her stunning betrayal left him bitter and hungry for revenge. Now she alone holds the power to save two trapped and desperate Feral Warriors.

Ariana, caught in a deadly battle of her own, is neither the soulless creature Kougar believes her to be nor the savior he seeks.

And when darkness threatens to annihilate both races, the greatest danger of all becomes the glorious love Kougar and Ariana once shared. A love that must never rise again. A love that has never died.

Review:

Another really good instalment in this dark, gritty and very sexy series. It was really nice to get to know Kougar a little more. Up until now he's been a bit of a mystery- the silent but deadly one. We did know he was the oldest of the group, but not by how much. The other Ferals guessed at around 1000 since Lyon is 700 and we know Kougar was around before him. Well, we get to find out and, whew! Seriously impressive!

As you'll recall from the last book, Tighe and Hawke have become trapped in a demon spirit trap. The same trap that chewed up and spat out The Seventeen all those centuries ago. From that experience they know they have no more than 11 days to find a way to get Hawke and Tighe out before their animal spirits are ripped from them and their (dead) bodies are released back to the world.

You may also recall that Kougar, at the end of the last book, had a visit from Mellisande- an Ilina mist warrior and his so-called "mate's" second in command- who reconnected his defunct mate bond and made him feel for the first time in a millennia.

The Ilina's are a breed of female immortals, thought to be extinct until 21 years ago. A revelation that has Kougar filled with unbelievable rage and bitterness over the incredible deception from the one who was meant to be his other half. There is a lot more to this story, but after a thousand years of feeling numb and grieving for the mate he believed murdered, will Kougar be in any mood to listen to the explanation?

His mate, Ariana, I actually really liked. I wasn't sure what I would make of these only partly corporeal women as mate potential, but it actually comes in very handy! They can be flesh as much of the time as they wish, but during a fight when someone makes a grab for them they can turn instantly to mist, making them an almost unbeatable foe. They can also travel across huge distances, and even into different realms, in the blink of an eye, and can take along one passenger. This would be a very handy alliance for the Feral warriors in upcoming books as they continue the war against the Mage and Daemons.

The overall plot was very well thought out. There were two distinct problems they had to solve if they were to have any chance of freeing the two Ferals and it was a race against the clock throughout. This created a nice amount of tension and I was furiously turning the pages towards the end. The romance that developed along the way felt quite authentic even after such a long separation and the sex scenes were schmokin' as usual.

I'm really looking forward to the next book, Ecstasy Untamed, which I'm reading next.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Review: Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk ★★★★

Magic in the Shadows by Devon Monk
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book three in The Allie Beckstrom series
Publication Date: November 2, 2009
ISBN: 0451462874
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary


Allison Beckstrom’s magic has taken its toll on her, physically marking her and erasing her memories—including those of the man she supposedly loves. But lost memories aren’t the only things preying on Allie’s thoughts. Her late father, the prominent businessman—and sorcerer—Daniel Beckstrom, has somehow channelled himself into her very mind. With the help of The Authority, a secret organization of magic users, she hopes to gain better control over her own abilities—and find a way to deal with her father...

Review:

Now this was more like it. I had been having a real problem feeling fully engaged in the two main characters of this series and I really felt I made a lot of headway in that area with this book. Still not to the happy clappy fan-girl stage of excitement that I get to with other series, but a definite step forward.

The story picks up about 30 seconds after the end of the last book, when Allie had thought she'd heard the voice of her father in her mind and seen a trace of him in her own reflection in the bathroom mirror. Well.....she wasn't hallucinating, she really has taken on part of her fathers spirit into her own psyche. Neat, huh? Well it might be if Allie didn't actively detest her father and if her father hadn't proved in the last book that he was more than willing to kill Allie and keep her body for himself. Still, no need to panic...

Already this new development was a more promising start, right from page one. And the improvements kept coming. We got to see Allie and Zayvion go out on their first proper date (three books in and after sleeping together- hey, better late than never, right?) And I really enjoyed these scenes. Zayvion is finally answering some of Allie's questions now that she knows who he works for and they tentatively discussed the future and what it means to be soul compliments.

Then we get a whole bunch of new characters to sink our teeth into. The lovable Irish rogue Shamus (Shame) Flynn, a gargoyle called Stone and the bitchy ex-girlfriend, Chase, who just has to be gorgeous, doesn't she? I know, sodding typical. I loved all of these new additions and they helped me appreciate the two MC's as I watched them interact with them.

We also got to know more of the members of the Pack- the group of Hounds Pike left Allie in charge of in the last book- and I really like Davey who she has appointed her assistant/second in command.

All in all, this was a vast improvement on the first two books and I hope the trend continues or at least maintains.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Review: Magic in the Blood by Devon Monk ★★★


The Dex-Files by Karina Halle
Genre: Horror/Romance
Series: Experiment in Terror #5.7
Publication Date: August 13th 2012
ISBN: n/a
Page Count: 139
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: Own Purchase
Reviewed by: Lynsey/Janice



Synopsis:The truth is out there...

 The Dex-Files is a compilation novel that accompanies the Experiment in Terror Series and is not to be-read as a stand-alone. In the Dex-Files we find a variety of scenes and chapters from the enigmatic Dex Foray's POV from books #1-6 in the series. Some of these scenes have been previously published, albeit from Perry's POV, while other scenes are completely new.

In addition to it not being a stand-alone, the novel also contains some major spoilers and should be read only by those who have read all the published books in the series. 
 
Review:

This was a pretty decent follow up to the first book and went some way to improving on the characterization that I felt was lacking in book one, Magic to the Bone.

Having the main character, Allie Beckstom, have her memories reset back to her back to her 25th birthday, which was the opening scene of book one, was both a blessing and a curse for us as a reader. A blessing because it gave us a chance to get to know the love interest, Zayvion Jones' character a little more, and for them to try and build a relationship on something other than just "magic sex". And, I admit, I did soften towards him a little more in this book. He can be very sweet and endearing at times and I think it's good that they have slowed things down. It's how it should have been in the first place.

But it was a curse because Allie can't remember anything that happened in book one, so the amount of recapping and the feeling of being right back at square one was slightly overwhelming.

Allie gets drafted in by the police's magic enforcement division (MERC) to Hound a job involving a possible serial killer and six missing girls. She also starts to experience weird happenings whenever she taps into her magic.

There were several new characters introduced in this one, none of whom made any great impact, still, it was nice to widen the cast a little since most of book one featured only Allie and Zayvion.

Going back to Zayvion for a second, I'm finding the whole "Man of Mystery" persona slightly annoying at the moment. I'm all for characters being mysterious if it's done well, and if they are dropping clues without actually meaning or wanting to, but with this one it feels more like he's saying "I have loads of secrets! Neener neener neener!" If he can't talk about his job or say who he works for because he's not allowed, then fine, just stop mentioning it!

I'm going to give book three a chance because...well because I have it here right next to me, but this series really needs to step it up a notch to hold my interest for much longer.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk ★★★

Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk
Genre: Urban Fantasy (Alternate history, magic, spell casting, mystery, romantic elements)
Series: Book one in The Allie Beckstrom series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Roc
Country: United States of America
Publication Date: November 4, 2008
ISBN: 978-0451462404
Page Count: 368
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

Devon Monk is casting a spell on the fantasy world...

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

Review:

This was an okay start to a series. It definitely shows some potential but it has some quite major issues as well. For me, the problem with this one so far seems to be the characterization, or rather, the lack thereof.

Think about all of your favourite Urban Fantasy heroines. Add up all the brilliant things you love about them: their humour, their sarcastic wit, their strength of will, their fighting abilities, their sheer badassness. Whatever it is you love about them, add it all up. Have you done it? Good. Now take all that away and you'll be left with Allie Beckstrom.

Harsh? Maybe. True? That's for you to decide for yourself, I suppose.

I can, however, see potential for her to grow as a character, so it's not all doom and gloom. There has to be somewhere for your character to go. If they start out all shiny and awesome, there's no journey, and I totally get that. But, it's literally like the only interesting thing about Allie Beckstrom, is that she is not interesting in any way. She's just a regular girl. Daughter of a rich, powerful man, trying to make a go of things on her own in the big, wide, magic-filled world, and avoiding her father as much as possible. She seems to be doing this through sheer, childish stubbornness rather than because her father did anything particularly heinous. Okay, he used "Influence" to try and get her to go to the college of his choice. This is hardly the crime of the century now is it?

So you can safely add "stubborn" to her list of attributes. You can also add "Too Stupid To Live". Yup, we had a definite TSTL moment in this book. With consequences that will reach well into the next book and probably beyond. Good going, Allie!

There's also a love interest of sorts that was introduced. Now, I'm a bit confused here because I have this theory about a possible future plot that may explain my total lack of connection with this character. If that theory pans out in future books I will totally come back and eat all of these words because it will actually be really quite clever, but for the moment I can only comment on what I experienced in this book, and that was that I didn't understand how they ended up together. At all. He was kind of stalking her at the beginning of the book, he dresses like a "drifter", she tells him to go away and he won't, and then, whoops! She kisses him!

*insert nonplussed face here*

Looking at the positives now, the world-building and the actual plot I did enjoy. The idea of using magical glyphs to cast spells in the air with your hands was interesting. As was the idea that the common masses can all now draw on magic, which is fed into the city like electricity. I also liked learning about the different types of magical specialities people have developed since magic was introduced about thirty years back.

The hunt for the bad guy was fairly well written. There were just a couple instances where I was confused by the actions and decisions of one of the main characters. I found the small passages from Cody's point of view a good way of giving you a glimpse at the actions of the bad guy, without actually telling you any details.

Overall, it's a middle of the road 3 stars rating. I was intrigued enough by the events at the end of the book to pick up the next one straight away. I really hope to see an improvement with these characters and some much needed growth in the next book(s) to give me that connection that I'm currently missing and that's preventing me from truly being able to enjoy the story.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price ★★★★★

Grave Dance by Kalayna Price
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book two in The Alex Craft series
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
ISBN: 978-0451464095
Page Count: 336
My Rating:★★★★★

Summary

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.

Review:

This was an excellent follow up to the first book, which I really enjoyed. I sometimes worry when I've loved the first book in a series that the next one(s) will pale in comparison. In this case, I needn't have worried.

The mystery element here really had me stumped. I thought I had it all figured out right until the end, and there was the baddie, with his/her back to me and I'm thinking, I've totally got this, then they turn around and.... doh! Looks like I'm not quite as much of a smarty pants as I thought, huh? I love that I was surprised and thought it was really cleverly written.

Alex's character had time to shine in this one a bit more than the first book as well. I don't think I really mentioned much about her as a lead character in my first review, I was too busy being all excited about the world-building and cool magical abilities and such, but she is a good leading lady: strong in her magic, honest, loyal, fierce, free and open with her opinions of others, both good and bad. And I can see why people are drawn to her.

Lets not say the words "love triangle" because they upset me, and really, that's not the case here at all, BUT, but there is more than one person who thinks Alex is the bee's knees in this series. One of them is just lovely, and seems to have really deep feelings for Alex, but I just can't see any possible way that it could work out between them. The other is a bit more of a conundrum, both to Alex and to us as a reader. He has his secrets and loyalties that lie elsewhere, and these make him a risky choice. But he's, like, all yummy and stuff..... I just don't know what I think at this point other than that I like both of them for very different reasons.

I can't wait for the next next book, Grave Memory (write faster dammit!) and really hope this series continues to keep up this high standard for many books to come.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price ★★★★★

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book one in The Alex Craft series
Publication Date: Oct-2010
ISBN: 0451463803
Page Count: 325
My Rating:★★★★★

Summary

Not even death can save her now. As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a "shade" involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why...

Review:

Ah, now this is why I love reading. Discovering awesome books like this. I'm not even sure I can explain exactly why I loved it so much, or what makes it stand out for me above other Urban Fantasy books with similar themes. But I just absolutely loved it.

The plot was based around a murder mystery that was written with perfect balance; neither too complicated nor too easy to work out. There were many twists and turns right from the offset to get you engaged and furiously turning pages so that you almost didn't notice the initial world-building and setting up of characters that always exists in a first-in-series book. The writing style felt very conversational and it was just an effortless read.

To give you a head start on the world-building, it's an alternate history Urban Fantasy. Anyone familiar with Rachel Morgan's world in the Hollows series will find this world easy to acclimate to. In this case, it's been around 70 years since both the Fae and Witches came out of the mushroom ring, and they now live side by side with the norms. There are different types of Fae; ones who appear as humans, and other more traditional creatures such as goblins, trolls, brownies, etc. There are also different types of witches. Our leading lady is a Grave Witch. She can connect to the World of The Dead and can see ghosts and raise Shades. Shades, unlike ghosts, are only the memories of a life lived, they are unable to lie and can only answer questions about their life. You cannot interact with them beyond that. So they are useful for the purposes of identifying their own killers in murder cases, which is generally what Alex Craft, our lead protagonist, is drafted in for.

The initial hook comes when Alex is asked to raise the Shade from a body, that for all Alex can tell, is not a body at all. She also meets the lead detective on the case, Falin Andrews, who is a mystery in and of himself.

There was a romantic subplot to this book that was fascinating, gripping and rather sexy. And also completely infuriating, complicated and unresolved! I loved it and I can't wait to see where this part of the story goes, particularly with what is revealed towards the end of the book.

This book is going straight to my Favourites shelf. If you like The October Daye series, The Hollows (Rachel Morgan) series and/or The Walker Papers series, you will love this too!

Review: Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen ★★★★

Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen
Genre: Paranormal romance (Fantasy, Fairy tales retold, magic, werewolves, fated mates, explicit sex scenes)
Series: Book three in the Royal House of Shadows series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Country: United States
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN: 0373837747
Page Count: 288
My Rating: ★★★★


Summary

For practical Reda Weston, nothing could explain how reading a sexy version of “Little Red Riding Hood” catapulted her into another realm—face-to-fang with the legendary wolf-creature who seduced women. A wolf who transformed into a dark, virile man . . .

Dayn cursed the Sorcerer that turned him wolfyn and damned him to a lonely fate. As a beast, he mated with women to gain strength. Strength he needed to rescue his royal palace. But as a man, he craved Reda’s heated, sizzling touch. With little time left, Dayn had to either embrace his wolf to save his kingdom…or fight to save his woman.

Review:

This is the third book in this intriguing series by various authors who've been tasked to bring new life to an old tale. This time the gauntlet has been thrown down for Jessica Andersen, who is a new author for me. And the story is Little Red Riding Hood.

So naturally, that means we get wolves, or wolfyn as they are termed here, which are a type of wolf shifter. We get a sexy woodcutter (rawr), and we get cute, little "Red"-a Weston as our heroine.

For me, the character of Dayn made this story. He was such an adorable male lead, I absolutely loved him. He makes a really heartfelt speech about four chapters in, trying to explain his "kind" to Reda and he totally had me from that point on. It was such an honest and open explanation and he was so humble and self depreciating and....ah, he's just yummy! I realise that's not a very professional critique, but this is what he's reduced me to, okay? I can't help it!

I also really enjoyed the overall plot- the race against the clock created nice tension and suspense, and the knowledge that at the end of that time the two would be forced to part made the swiftness of their growing feelings seem more believable to me. Nothing makes you want to declare undying love quite like the thought that you may never see that person again.

I also loved the action scenes. Being more of an Urban Fantasy girl at heart I really appreciated that there was more to the story than just the romance. We had chases, battles, fighting off giant mythical creatures AND a sweet, sexy romance. I mean, what more do you want?

My only negative was that the baddie of the piece never seemed all that much of a danger. She was just a behind the scenes threat that didn't make much of an impression on me. And also, I'm not really clear on who she was or why she wanted to kill Dayn in the first place....maybe I missed it, but I can't remember that explanation. I can only assume that this lack of a big finale is because all four of these stories are heading towards one big end fight with the real enemy that started it all, but I guess I have to wait for the last book, Lord of the Abyss, to find out how that goes down.

Looking forward to it!

Review: Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason ★★★★

Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason with Mia Marlowe
Genre: Historical Romance (Highlanders, abducted bride, arranged marriage, revenge, several sex scenes)
Series: N/A
Original Language: English
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Country: USA
Publication Date: January 1st, 2012
ISBN: 9781402261824
Page Count: 329
My Rating: ★★★★


Summary

Even with her gift of the Sight, never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a dark-haired stranger charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together–body, breath, and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the Sins of the Highlander.


Review:

This is my first book by Connie Mason and I have to say that I am very pleased to have discovered her work and have already added several more of her titles to my bookshelf. This one is actually a combined effort by two authors, Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe. I always find it interesting when I read that a book is written by more than one person. It's such a creative and in-depth process that I wonder about the actual mechanics of how two people can come together to form one piece of work.

Well, however they do it, they do it really, really well. I thoroughly enjoyed Mason and Marlowe's writing style and thought the whole thing flowed effortlessly. The romance between Rob and Elspeth was engaging and it had just the right amount of action, steamy scenes, historical detailing and tender, heart-melting moments.

I really enjoyed Rob's character in particular. As historical romance heroes go he's one of the better ones that I've read. I love that although he was a fine, braw lad, he was certainly no muscles-for-brains type. He was endearing, respectful, loyal...and sexy as nobody's business! He was a tortured hero to some extent, but whereas sometimes this can make the hero think he has the right to behave like an arrogant pig and get away with it, Rob, after their initial and albeit slightly unconventional first meeting, was nothing but respectful to Elspeth and I just adored him for that.

So okay, barging into a church astride a black stallion and abducting your enemy's bride from the altar may not be the most rational of behaviour- hey, they don't call him "Mad Rob" for nothing- but once you get to know the why of it, it becomes evident quickly enough that he may have just done her the biggest favour of her life!

Unfortunately, Rob hadn't actually thought much about what he would do with a living, breathing noble maiden once he'd whisked her away. His focus was solely on his vengeance against Lachlan Drummond- her bridegroom and his enemy. And he is somewhat taken aback by the protective feelings she brings out in him- feelings he hasn't felt for some time- as well as the undeniable lust she stirs within his body.

Elspeth's character was nice as well although she did suffer a teensy bit from "whiny female syndrome". I suppose given what she'd been through I can forgive her for this slightly, and we can all empathise with the crazy insecurities that come with finding your first love, but I just felt that sometimes she was almost forcing Rob to talk about his feelings even when he clearly didn't understand what was happening between them himself yet. Falling in love with his captive wasn't exactly part of his "plan", if you could even call it such.

There was a nice amount of tension built up at the end of the book. A betrayal by someone close and a sacrifice made by Elspeth that made me forgive her for any and all past transgressions.

I have to say I would have dearly loved an epilogue. I do like it when we get a wee glimpse into the future to see them all married and settled, but alas, not in this case.

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and sexy read. A real keeper!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What I read in November



I only had a so-so month. Not quite up to my usual reading quota of past months. And I have 20 books left to go for my 250 book yearly challenge. Can I do it?


✔ 1. Passion Untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★☆
✔ 2. Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent ★★★★☆ and a half
✔ 3. Drink Deep by Chloe Neill ★★★★☆ and a half
✔ 4. Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe ★★★☆☆
✔ 5. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison ★★★★★ ♥
✔ 6. Rapture untamed by Pamela Palmer ★★★★☆
✔ 7. Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy ★★★★☆
✔ 8. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa ★★★★☆
✔ 9. Thunderbird Falls by C. E. Murphy ★★★☆☆
✔ 10. Coyote Dreams by C. E. Murphy ★★★★☆ ♥
✔ 11. Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason ★★★★☆
✔ 12. Walking Dead by C. E. Murphy ★★★★☆ ♥
✔ 13. Demon Hunt by C. E. Murphy ★★★★☆ ♥
✔ 14. Spirit Dances by C. E. Murphy ★★★★★ ♥
✔ 15. Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen ★★★★☆