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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Review: The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann ★★★★

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Romantic Suspense (Navy Seals, several sex scenes, sweet romance, reunited, tragedy)
Series: Book one on the Troubleshooters series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Ivy Books
Country: USA
Publication Date: 2000
ISBN: 080411952X
Page Count: 416
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

After a near-fatal head injury, navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton-the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. The town's infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day . .

Review:

My first glimpse at the Navy Seal team 16 I've been hearing so much about.

This book started out at quite a slow burn. There were three distinct strands to the story and I preferred two of them over the third one which was told in retrospect. Probably because I knew from the present day accounts that it didn't end well. The other two stories at least had a glimmer of hope to them.

I really enjoyed the romance of the main couple, Kelly and Tom. I don't usually like my characters to have too much past history together, I'm not a fan of the lovers reunited plot device where everything is all bitter with loads of baggage and resentment, but this wasn't like that at all. What they'd had was more of a "near miss" as teenagers and they had never quite forgotten it or each other. This provided a very strong foundation for them as a couple and made it more emotive for me.

The second storyline was a kind of Beauty and the Geek thing. I have a massive soft spot for a geek with a heart of gold (as my nickname might suggest) so I absolutely LOVED this part. It might have even been my favourite bit.

The third romance we learned about was more of a tragedy and as I said, these parts were the slowest for me. It was just so bleak.

The plot regarding the possible terrorist attack was more in the background than I was expecting- this was definitely more of a character driven novel than anticipated. But I really enjoyed it once it found its legs.

I give it 3.5 stars.


Cover Release - Grave Memory by Kalayna Price


Cover Release- Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

It's very similar to the previous covers in the series- the girl front and centre on the grey city-scape background. I like it.

My Rating: 4/5

Previous covers in the series:

Monday, 30 January 2012

Cover Release - Night Prince by Jeaniene Frost


Cover Release - Night Prince by Jeaniene Frost

Looky, looky it's Vlad! How gorgeous is this cover? And it's that Paul Marron fella again- gosh that boy gets around! I cannot wait to read this.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Cover Release - Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane



Cover Release - Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane.

I love this! Chess actually looks almost, kinda, nearly happy! This makes me very hopeful for the future of the Downside peeps. Great title font too.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Previous covers in the series:


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Review: Amethyst Bound by L. Shannon ★★

Amethyst Bound by L. Shannon
Genre: Paranormal Romance (dragons, archaeology, shifters, vampires, werewolves, several sex scenes, novella length)
Series: Book one in the Amethyst series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Carina Press
Country: USA
Publication Date: June 7, 2010
ISBN: N/A
Page Count: 102
My Rating: ★★

Summary

Toni Giovanni is a thief...although she prefers to call it the high-risk recovery business. Her current job feels suspiciously easy—until a mysterious artifact draws her into an ancient prophecy and binds her soul to a spirited dragon named Amethyst. But Toni isn't quite ready to be taken over by a dragon, even if Amethyst's appetite for sexy archaeologist Dr. Ben Davis mirrors Toni's own. And she's got a big problem on her hands: turns out the prophecy predicts that dragons will end the world...and there are many more dragons out there. Toni's going to need all the help she can get.

Review:

This will be a short review to reflect on this short book- 102 pages short. It took me just over 2.5 hours to read.

There was not a lot wrong with the book other than it was too short, but that in itself was enough to cause the enjoyment factor to plummet. The problem with short stories and novella-length works (unless they are part of an existing series with already established characters) is that there just isn't sufficient time to do any real word-building or character development or any kind of clever twists and turns within the plot. There just isn't. So even though I quite liked some aspects of this book, there just wasn't enough there to satisfy. I will have forgotten all about it by tomorrow.

It basically follows Toni (Antonia) as she accidentally finds herself bound to an ancient purple dragon called Amethyst. Ben Davis is the geeky nerd archaeologist that gets brought a long for the ride to provide a couple of sex scenes. That's pretty much it.

So if you want a really, really quick read and you like dragons and dorks, knock yourself out.

That wasn't actually that short was it? Man I talk a lot.


In My Mailbox - 29th January 2012


In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. It is a chance for book bloggers everywhere to share and showcase the new books they have received during the week, whether they be bought, borrowed or received for review.

Be sure to check out some of the other great blogs listed at The Story Siren to see what others have discovered!


This week I have:

Shades of Gray by L. M. Pruitt
Bought this one from Books on Board
Can't believe it was only 59p! Hope it's good. It had been on my TBR for a while anyway.


Fearless by Ella Jameson
Received ARC from the publishers.
I don't like the cover much; too many overlaying images. But, you know I love my hunky highlanders so I thought I'd try a hunky Irishman instead.


And that's it. That's all I got this week. How good was I?  I am waiting for a couple of things though so I can't guarantee being good next week. I'm waiting for Wrong Side of Dead by Kelly Meding on 31st Jan, and I still haven't bought Silver-tongued Devil by Jaye Wells yet because I've had too many review books to read. Might just have to rectify that too!

So, what did you get?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Review: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield ★★★

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Genre: Post Apocalyptic (Zombies, biological and chemical warfare, dystopian elements)
Series: Book one in the Aftertime series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Luna
Country: United States
Publication Date: February 15, 2011
ISBN: 978-0373803361
Page Count: 384 
My Rating: ★★★

Summary

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Wearing unfamiliar clothes and having no idea how many days—or weeks—have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization. Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong. In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get her Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety. For the Beaters are out there. And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world....

Review:

Disclaimer: This is my first real post apocalyptic novel so I have little to use as comparison material. The only other book I can think of that I've read that's in any way a Post Apocalyptic is 'The Host' by Stephanie Meyer, but that's more Sci Fi- alien take-over, than apocalypse.

Anywho. I think I should perhaps have left a little time to go by before trying to review this as I'm a bit confused about how I feel about it and I literally only finished it minutes ago, so this will probably read more like a brain fart than a review, but bear with me.

I definitely liked certain aspects of it. Overall, Littlefield's writing is solid. My only real issue in that department was the stuttering, stumbling dialogue and the overuse of "you know". Maybe this was another affect of the apocalypse; not only did people start eating each other for breakfast, but it also made them forget how to form coherent sentences. Shame, really.

It was also very atmospheric. The zombies were incredibly creepy and the descriptions of their behaviour sent shivers down the spine. The pacing, as well, was not too bad. Although there were a couple of instances of zoning out, but I was usually brought quickly back to attention. The characterisation for the main character and some of the secondary characters was also good, but others felt a little cardboardy to me.

So that's what I liked. Now for the Not So Much.

The world-building, quite naturally, is extremely bleak. There is little joy to be found except perhaps the joy found in communities forming and people bonding together in such desperate times. On top of this bleakness, though, you've also got Cass, the lead character, who is like a one-woman disaster novel all by herself. She's a total mess. She's a former addict, a former victim of child abuse, a former victim of zombie abuse. And it's because of all this that she's now become the type of person that rejects any and all acts of kindness on the assumption that she doesn't deserve any. She will purge and punish herself often if anything is remotely going well in her life. This, on top of the Post Apocalyptic setting, was just too much for me.

I think I needed someone who was less of a hot mess to carry me through my first sojourn into the genre. Someone to root for and maybe a relationship to follow, one that formed despite the horrendous conditions. But I didn't. I got Cass. And a "romantic interest" that was as flat as a pancake. The two sexual encounters in this book were the most unromantic couplings I've ever read. And apart from that I saw little evidence of a relationship. He was just there. And I don't even know why he was there, that was another issue. He just decided to tag along for no apparent reason..... Weird.

So, this is now a bit of a pickle. Did I not like it all that much because I don't like the genre? Or is it just this particular book/series/characters that I didn't gel with? I'm afraid I think it might be the latter. I have no great desire to read the next one but I will keep my eye out for any others in the PA field that have more of a "together" lead character to follow.

All in all, this adds up to a wishy-washy, neither here nor there, three stars. Nom, nom, nom.


This week, I have been mostly talking about...

... Covers I lovers.

Pretty, pretty covers. They attract us like dancing butterflies, call to us like a moth to a flame. I would like to share with you some of my favourite cover art.

(Some of these books I haven't even read, but the covers are still amazing)


Gorgeous pose and colours. Similar to Lauren Kate's Fallen.


I just thought this was such an unusual pose. Love the coyote tracks too.


I have no desire to read this but it is a very haunting cover.


This is a little dark. I have the paperback and you should be able to see her face more but even so, it's such a striking image. I love the windswept dress and hair, the notched arrow pose and the swirling sky behind. Gorgeous.


I love this. Love the blue shades, the fire on fire, and the ornaments are featured in the story.


I love Atticus. I like all of the covers that have been out so far but this is my favourite pose (I kinda wish the background wasn't yellow but, eh) Look at that manly forearm. Mmm.


Another one I doubt I will ever read but just look at that pose! That's just stunning.


The red lips are so striking and also, how can someone who's contorting their face like that, still look so beautiful? No fair!


This girl reminds me of Charlize Theron, except for the mouth. Such an awesome pose and gorgeous colours.


Even this moving .Gif doesn't do the actual hardback version justice. It had a clear overlay with loads of little locks and keys on and was meant to look like "the book". Amazing.

 

Love the red lighting and it's nice to see a blonde for a change, you hardly see any on covers. And she looks so kick-ass too.


Just the piercing gaze, the glinting sword and the muted colours all make me want to know who that girl is. Can't wait to read it.


I love the title of this one almost as much as the cover. And I love the muli-coloured backdrop.


I like the scope of this. The waterfall looks so overwhelming against the girl in the foreground. It's awesome.


 My beloved Toby. I like the teaming of a medieval style dress suitable for when she's in Faerie, with Tybalt's leather jacket for when she isn't! I love it when they put something on the cover that reader will recognise- like the jacket- it just makes it more special.


Would you just look at that stomach! So not fair. I kind of love this picture and hate it at the same time. That is a badass pose though.


This cover is why I started the Shifters series. The tones are really unusual, the cool green with the bright red. And I love the added touch of the claw marks.

 

Gorgeous lady on the cover who reminds me of Buttercup from A princess Bride. A great fantasy cover.


Very pretty girl and a very unusual styling with the swirls and leaves. Love it.


Bit of trivia for you. Did you know this picture was of a catwalk model which was adapted. See here for the real girl


 There are a few different covers out there for Hallowed but this one is my favourite. So haunting.


As sick as I am of seeing this, you can't deny the hands holding the apple is still a very striking image.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Review: The Sinner by Margaret Mallory ★★★★★

The Sinner by Margaret Mallory
Genre: Historical Romance (Highlanders, clans, 16th century, explicit sex scenes, feisty heroine)
Series: The Return of the Highlanders #2
Original Language: English
Publisher: Forever
Country: United States
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN: 0446583103
Page Count: 416
My Rating: ★★★★★

Summary
IRRESISTIBLE DESIRE

Alex MacDonald is known for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife. But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice: wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty-and defiant ways.

Familiar with heartbreak, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex's past sins force an unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife. Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives?

Review:

Favourite!

As a self-confessed Urban Fantasy fanatic it probably seems weird that I have this big soft spot for historical romance. Not all the time, but every now and again I just need some real romance, you know? And to me, no one does that better than a hunky highlander or a fearsome knight. They have to be warriors of some sort for my liking- no rakes, rogues, fops or dandies for me, thank you. I want battle-worn men with the scars to prove it. This is for two reasons: Reason one. Hello? Warriors, swords, big muscles, yeah, yeah, yeah, I really am that shallow. And reason two: slightly less shameful, it's because this generally means that the book will contain some kind of battle/conflict/fight scenes to keep my action-loving tomboy alter ego happy.

This book is quite simply one of the best of this genre I have read. It pretty much had everything I could hope for in a highlander romance.

The dialogue was one of my favourite parts. So authentic (or at least it seemed so to me). The banter was excellent, the stories that the characters would tell around a camp fire really served to bring them to life for me. I could imagine their lilting brogue as if I were sat amongst them.

The characters themselves were very enjoyable. After my initial worry over Alex's womanising ways - I'm not always a big fan of men who believe themselves God's gift to women- I grew to greatly appreciate his character and the changes he went through during the course of the book. The transformation was convincing and I genuinely believed it was sincere, which often isn't the case with former "sinners". Once a player, always a player as Jerry Springer would say.

Equally delightful was Glynis. From the initial encounter in her "disguise" to the very last pages, she was someone whom I respected and could easily empathise with. There was not a moment of whining from her regardless of the circumstances. She really was a great female lead.

I was very invested in both of these characters. Although sometimes I did want to scream at them to talk to each other, and indeed there were some painful, heart-rending moments to go through along the way, but to me, this just proves how good the book was. That I was so engrossed I felt the heartache right along with them.

The main story and the two or three sub-plots were all well paced. There was a great climactic finish which was very satisfying also. And a lovely epilogue as the cherry on the cake.

This is book two in a four-part series featuring each of the four warriors I met in this book. I know now that I will be reading the rest of them at some point. And I recommend that you do, too.


Follow me Friday - 27th January 2012

Feature and follow Friday- 27th January 2012

 
Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week's featured Bloggers are:

Book’d Out

Bookdoutblogbadge250 Feature & Follow #81

And

Fiction Fervor




Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

Chick-lit! Specifically the type with the pastel-coloured covers with the cupcakes and stars and sparkles on them. The ones that are about OCD shoppers or women whose only worry is if their bum looks big. Just don't. I can't even....

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks ★★★★

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Humour, explicit sex scenes, vampires, highlanders, teleportation, mystery)
Series: Book one in the Love At Stake series
Original Language: English
Publisher: Avon
Country: USA
Publication Date: July 26, 2005
ISBN: 0060751967
Page Count: 384
My Rating: ★★★★

Summary

So what if he's a bit older and usually regards a human female as dinner, not a dinner date? Yes, Roman Draganesti is a vampire, but a vampire who lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn't have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop–sided eater for all eternity.
Things aren't going well for Shanna Whelan either...After witnessing a gruesome murder by the Russian mafia, she's next on their hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral because she's afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she's found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman's fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her...

Review:

I really rather enjoyed this. I have to say from the horrendous cover art and the cheesy title and the premise about the broken fang, my expectations weren't all that high. I was mostly just hoping to have a few good chuckles, a bit of vampire lite comic relief. But I have to say, that was by no means all I got.

I was actually rather intrigued by the vampire world Sparks has created here. You've got your good vampires who are striving to be as little a threat to humans as possible- using science to create synthetic blood and banning drinking for the flesh. And then you've got the malcontents who are, in their mind, true vampires, that feed on humans without regard, drinking them to the quick.

In this book we meet Roman, the leader of one of the largest American vampire covens. A 544 year old vamp with a very poor opinion of himself. A man with a brilliant scientific mind who has made many breakthroughs for vampire society with his blood replacement drinks. He is also working on a formula to help them stay awake (and alive) during the day. Apart from this work, though, Roman has very little in his life that he truly enjoys, and is rather maudlin at the beginning of the book.

Then we meet our lovely dentist Shanna. She is currently in the witness protection programme. She needs protection; Roman needs a dentist. And so they team up, and of course, this being paranormal romance land, it's not long before they start to have feelings for each other.

The romance element was quite well played out. There was a fair bit of worldbuilding but it was all interesting enough. I've read a number of vampire series' and I've never read one with this particular view on science and vamp self improvement before. I also really liked Roman's bodyguards - a bunch of kilt-wearing highlanders! (It's like she looked into my mind and went "Okay, she likes vampires? Check. She likes hunky highlanders? Check. She likes situational comedy and juvenile humour? Check"). It could have been written specifically for me!

In summation, while this book won't be going on any of my favourites list, it certainly was very enjoyable and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series whenever I need a bit of light relief.


Cover Release - Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward


Cover Release - Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward

There have been several covers released for this already. The one I see most often around the book reading community sites is the orange background one, but this new one most closely resembles the covers in the rest of my paperback collection. The model is a little of the pretty side for my image of Tohr, but apart from that, I like it.

My Rating: 4/5

Previous covers in the series: