Saturday, 31 March 2012

A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-weber ★★★

A Kiss in the Wind by Jennifer Bray-weber
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Romancing the Pirate #2
Publication Date: March 26th 2012
ISBN: 9781426893490
Page Count: 228



Summary:

Marisol Castellan is in trouble-again. Against her pirate father's orders, she snuck off their ship to intercept a message meant for a rival captain, one that offers a clue to the whereabouts of her estranged brother Monte.

Pirate captain Blade Tyburn is not pleased to find the letter he's been waiting for is missing. He's even less pleased when he discovers the thief is a raven-haired beauty who bewitches his senses and muddles his thinking. The note gives the location of a silver-laden ship that'll make his fortune; Blade must find it, and if that means bringing Marisol along on the voyage, so be it.

Marisol believes Monte sails on the very ship Blade is to meet and strikes a deal with the handsome rogue. If he will give her passage to her brother, she will give him the exact location he needs. And both will get more than they expected...

Review:

This was my first pirate novel and I enjoyed parts of it immensely. Particularly the heroine, with her reckless nature, her habitual thievery of weapons (for self defense, naturally) and the fact that she knew her way about a pirate ship and impressed the hardened Sea Dogs with her grit and tenacity.

What I didn't care for as much, was the hero. It was aggravating because some of his inner thoughts made him seem really sweet and appealing, then he'd go and think something that just made me want to slap him silly. I found myself immersed in the story for a time, then something would annoy me and I would be drawn out of the book wanting to take a break while I adjusted my constantly reforming opinion of the rogue pirate.

Don't get me wrong, he wasn't completely awful. And like I said, sometimes he was adorable. It was just a couple of instances where I was jarred by his actions or words. I'm not a big fan of overly dominant males, or rakes/rogues, and he had a smattering of both qualities now and then. I'm sure there are women reading this now thinking "You don't like dominant males? What's wrong with you?" but it really rubs me up the wrong way. If I had hackles (whatever hackles are) they'd be up.

Still, I enjoyed the plot overall and will read more swashbuckling adventures in the future, no doubt. 

 3 Stars! ★★★

Friday, 30 March 2012

Review: Cast in Secret by Michele Sagara ★★★

Cast in Secret by Michele Sagara
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #3
Publication Date: July 2007
ISBN: 978-0373802807
Page Count: 521



Summary:

Stolen goods are so much easier . . . Still avoiding her magic lessons -- yet using her powers when need be -- Corporal Kaylin Neya is relishing investigating a regular theft once again. That is, until she finds out the mysterious box was taken from Elani Street, where the mages and charlatans mingle and it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two. Still, she hopes this might be a mundane case . . . Then in a back room, Kaylin sees a lost-looking girl in a reflective pool . . . who calls out for Kaylin's help. Shaken, Kaylin tries to stay focused on the case at hand. But since the stolen item is ancient, has no keyhole and holds tremendous darkness inside, Kaylin knows unknown forces are again playing with her destiny -- and her life . . .

Review:

Sagara's writing felt a bit wordy and self indulgent in this instalment. There were some excessively long dialogue scenes and just long scenes in general, taking a long time to change to new locations, settings and characters. I was also very confused at one point about what was going on, who was speaking, (I think she was speaking to water at one point? Or witnessing a conversation between water and the Keeper of water from a long time ago???). Anyway, I was lost, so I had little choice than to just let the words flow over me (ha) and hope I got it in the end.

It's funny, actually, because no doubt Michele Sagara considers this a stronger instalment than the first two; that she has excelled herself in her poetic prose. And maybe she has, but I'm not necessarily looking for poetry. I want a story. You know, that story thing you were telling me? Yeah. Can we get back to that, please?

That said, there were a couple of positives. Kaylin seems to be developing a little from that compulsively tardy, impertinent girl of books one and two. A bit, anyway. Although I feel like more progress would be welcome. And there were some slight (and boy, do I mean slight) hints of possible feelings from Severn that are not of a platonic nature. A slight edge to his voice when he thought Lord Nightshade had dressed her up. But please, please, please can we expand on this angle, and soon? She needs to have some kind of inter-character relationships going on. You can't tell me she's the only 20 year old in existence that doesn't think about men! And why is she not putting Lord Nightshade straight when he calls her his consort? It doesn't appear to be what she wants, so why keep schtum?

Oh, dear. Now look what's happened. I've gone and made one of those ranty, frustrated reviews to go with the many other ranty, frustrated reviews about this series. I was really hoping not to do that, but it seems to be an easy trap to fall into. The series shows so much imagination and potential that it is frustrating to see it being executed in such a long-winded, aggravating manner.

Okay, I am going onto the next one about the Leontines and am hoping to be better impressed. Wish me luck!

3 Stars! ★★★

Cover Reveal - Iced by Karen Marie Moning



New cover releases for upcoming titles. The good, the bad and the why-god-whys. Feel free to share your thoughts on the artwork.

And today we have...

Iced by Karen Marie Moning

My thoughts.

Oooh! I spy Dani! I'm not sure at all what it will be like to get a full fecking book from Dani's fecking point of view (shudders), but I do love this cover. The backdrop is amazing and the icy font is really bold in the forefront there.

I love it!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Previous covers in the series:

N/a

Thursday, 29 March 2012

New Releases in Urban Fantasy - April 2012

Full list of Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Paranormal book releases for April 2012.



Make your shopping list for April!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Crystalfire by Kate Douglas (#4 in Demonslayers)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25892588/Crystalfire
The Lingering Dead by J N Duncan (#3 in Deadworld)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25701001/The-Lingering-Dead
Predestined by Abbi Glines (#2 in Existence Trilogy)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/26654023/Existence
Deadly Is the Kiss by Rhyannon Byrd (#1 in Primal Instinct World )
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25521314/Deadly-Is-the-Kiss

Monday, April 02, 2012

Pure by Jennifer L Armentrout (#2 in Covenant)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/21910945/Pure

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black (#3 in Curse Workers)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/22619513/Black-Heart
Magic Unchained by Jessica Andersen (#8 in Final Prophecy)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23896878/Magic-Unchained
Devil's Punch by Ann Aguirre (#4 in Corine Solomon)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24001231/Devils-Punch
Blood Right by Karin Tabke (#2 in Blood Moon)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/17521289/Bloodright
Enraptured by Elisabeth Naughton (#4 in Eternal Guardians)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25469094/Enraptured
Magic Without Mercy by Devon Monk (#8 in Allie Beckstrom)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23993909/Magic-Without-Mercy
Vengeance Moon by Lee Roland (#2 in Dark Huntress)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24067100/Vengeance-Moon
Savage Awakening by J D Tyler (#3 in Alpha Pack )
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24427800/Savage-Awakening
The Slayer by Theresa Meyers (#2 in Legend Chronicles)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24739167/The-Slayer
Alien Diplomacy by Gini Koch (#5 in Katherine "Kitty" Katt)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23898392/Alien-Diplomacy
Grave Mercy by R L LaFevers (#1 in His Fair Assassin )
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24589055/Grave-Mercy
Untouched by Sara Taney Humphreys (#2 in The Amoveo Legend)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25520787/Untouched

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong (#2 in Darkness Rising)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23751752/The-Calling
Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore (#2 in Magic Under Glass)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24077073/Magic-Under-Stone/readers-reviews
Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson (#1 in Sentinels of New Orleans )
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24115268/Royal-Street
Taken at Dusk by C C Hunter (#3 in Shadow Falls)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23846839/Taken-at-Dusk

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Trinity Blue by Eve Silver (#3 in Compact of Sorcerors)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23605566/Trinity-Blue

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blood Possession by Tessa Dawn (#3 in Blood Curse Vampire)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24357679/Blood-Possession

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell (#2 in The Vespertine)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24569467/The-Springsweet

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting (#3 in Body Finder)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24023852/The-Last-Echo

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Under a Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands (#16 in Argeneau Vampires)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23893344/Under-a-Vampire-Moon
Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett (#2 in Arcadia Bell)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24759202/Summoning-the-Night
Obsidian Flame by Caris Roane (#5 in World of Ascension)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24464167/Obsidian-Flame
Deadly Descendant by Jenna Black (#2 in Descendants)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24582915/Deadly-Descendant
Warrior by Kristina Douglas (#3 in Fallen)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24634526/Warrior
Tricked by Kevin Hearne (#4 in Iron Druid Chronicles)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24064191/Tricked
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King (#8 in The Dark Tower)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24626919/The-Wind-Through-the-Keyhole
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (#1 in Blood of Eden)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/25806775/The-Immortal-Rules
On The Prowl by Christine Warren (#14 in Novels of the Others)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/24616849/On-the-Prowl
Beauty: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Story by Laurell K. Hamilton (#20.5 in Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/27114675/Beauty-An-Anita-Blake-Vampire-Hunter-Story
The Prophet by Amanda Stevens (#4 in Graveyard Queen)
http://www.shelfari.com/books/23890851/The-Prophet




So, what are you looking forward to? 

Review: Cast in Courtlight by Michele Sagara ★★★★

Cast in Courtlight by Michele Sagara
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #2
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
ISBN: 978-0373802449
Page Count: 496


Summary:

No good deed goes unpunished . . . In elantra, a job well done is rewarded with a more dangerous task. And so, after defeating a dark evil, Kaylin must enter a place of deceit and treachery. A world where silk and jewels hide deadly secrets . . . Kaylin goes before the Barrani High Court, where a misspoken word brings sure death. And Kaylin's never been known for her grace or manners. But the High Lord's heir is suspiciously ill if she manages to doge the traps laid for her. Only to discover that the healing might turn out to be the simplest of the tasks before her . . .





Review:

The first comment that has to be made about this book is that horrendous cover! It does not reflect the book's content or give any glimpse as to what type of book it is at all. If I were to make an assumption based solely on that, I'd guess it was an historical romance novel. It's just awful!

Luckily, the story inside it is not awful, however. I found this all together a much smoother and easier read than book one. Naturally, that will partly be down to me now understanding all the various species and races and with a fairly good handle on the main character and her abilities, back story and relationships. Although some of her still remains a mystery and she seems to be one of those heroines that is destined to discover new and greater power within herself as each book goes on.

This time she has to attend the Barrani High Court to assist one of the Lords there with her healing ability. This leads to all sorts of fun. She has to face a few tests- magically, intellectually and emotionally. The story arc regarding Severn and Kaylin as children gets re-addressed and looked on in a new light. We didn't really give much consideration in book one as to how Severn felt about what he'd done and it was very interesting to see it from this angle. I am glad the two have found each other again. Now I just wait patiently for them to realise they fancy the pants off each other as adults and fall madly in love. Can that happen soon, please?

It looks like we're going to concentrate on a different race in each book as I've just begun book three and that seems centred on the Tha'alani, and this one was all about the Birrani. As each race is fascinating in its own way, this is fine by me. I wasn't sure I'd ever warm to or understand the cold, reserved Birrani race, but I felt I definitely did make progress with that by the end of the book. This might help me appreciate Lord Nightshade more in the next one, perhaps. Although I'm not sure you'll ever convince me he actually cares for Kaylin as anything other than a prized acquisition. And how did he know to mark her as his within 30 seconds of meeting her anyway? What's that all about?

Well, there's only one way to find out, and that's too keep on reading!

Oh, and I have to praise the narrator of these audiobooks for really bringing them to life for me. I think she might be assisting my enjoyment of them quite a bit. Her name is Kristine Hvam, and she rocks!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review: Cast in Shadow by Michele Sagara West ★★★★

Cast in Shadow by Michele Sagara West
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Chronicles on Elantra #1
Publication Date: 2006
ISBN: 0373802544
Page Count: 512



Summary:

Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddles streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered -- and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin . . . Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and the immortal Barrani, she's made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth. But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging. Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can't trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers -- powers that no other human has. Her task is simple -- find the killer, stop the murders . . . and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies! 

Review:

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Having done a bit of homework before I started I'd noticed all sorts of contrasting reviews- lots of 1 or 2 star ratings and just as many 5 star ratings- so I gathered it was a sort of "you get it or you don't" kind of thing.

I also struggled to get a clear answer on what genre this is, and having now read it, I can see why it was hard to categorize. The cover looks like a standard Urban Fantasy, but it's not. I would say it's definitely full or high fantasy, but not the swords and sorcery type I'm used to. It's set in an alternate world and we focus specifically on the City of Elantra. There are a wide variety of species: humans, winged Aerians, half-man half-cat Leontines, ethereally beautiful Barrani and Dragons to name but a few. The city has a law system split into three branches- the Swords, the Wolves and the Hawks. Our main character, Kaylin, is a Hawk. The city is also split into two specific sections; the law abiding side, and the Fiefs. The Fiefs are a dichotomy of the very rich and powerful but outcast Biranni, and the pitifully poor humans, the dregs of society.

The world-building is quite complex and there is a lot to absorb. It feels like you are sort of expected to hit the ground running and pick things up very quickly as you go along. You really have to pay attention and memorize all these new races and hard to pronounce names. But I didn't really mind all that. I'd rather have to pay close attention at first than to have pages and pages of info-dumping. And a complex world, if done well, is worth it in the end, as it really captures you and stays with you long after you finish the series. And that's what I predict for this series once I get further in.

By far the best thing about this book for me was the story of Kaylin and Severn's relationship and just what he did when she was 13 to make her want to kill him on sight. This also links nicely to the current case Kaylin is assigned, involving strange markings showing up on murder victims' bodies in some kind of sacrificial killing spree that the Hawks- including new Hawk, Severn- have to investigate.

The main negatives for me were that the lead character doesn't seem to eat or sleep or wash or do any kind of mundane, inconsequential stuff that, whilst maybe not the most riveting thing to read about, is nonetheless necessary to make your character seem more real. And the other thing was the writing at the end section. I got kind of lost. I realize it was meant to portray the chaos of the situation, but I was quite confused about who what and where at one point. Which was a little annoying. Oh, and one other thing that might annoy some people is that no one tells Kaylin anything. She's largely treated like a bratty little sister by her fellow Hawks who are all older than her and have known her since she was 14 (she's now 20), so they try to protect her by keeping things from her. And since we only know what Kaylin knows, this can be a little frustrating. Or, if you are more like me, intriguing. I don't mind the dangly carrot method of story telling, personally. As long as you give me answers eventually, I can wait.

Overall, I am excited for this series and these characters and look forward to diving straight into the next one right now!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Monday, 26 March 2012

Early Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens ★★★★

The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Genre: Paranormal mystery
Series: Graveyard Queen #3
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
ISBN: 978-0778313397
Page Count: 352



Summary:

Older than time. Darker than night. Stronger than death.

My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.

Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

Review:

Book three in this beautiful, Gothic Paranormal Mystery series sees much more emphasis on character relationships this time around, and also on providing answers to the many questions raised in book one.

As you'll recall from The Restorer, the Prophet is actually a man named Robert Fremont. A police detective and former friend of John Devlin who was murdered on the same night John's wife and child died in a car accident. This story unravels the events of that night with some startling outcomes. Amanda Stevens is the queen of red herrings. She even made me doubt characters I totally trusted for a few seconds here and there. The way the story was told was both gripping and emotionally charged.

I felt there was a definite shift in our main character Amelia's opinion of herself and her role as well. She mentions often a need to fulfil some kind of higher calling. That perhaps her father's rules regarding the ghosts- which are basically to pretend like heck you can't see them so they don't haunt you for eternity- might not actually be the answer. Maybe she should be doing something else, like helping them move on. I hope this is something she continues to explore as the series goes on.

And go on it will. After the way this book ended I have no doubt that the next book will be equally full of revelations and shocks. Not all of them good. I can't wait!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Sunday, 25 March 2012

In My Mailbox- 25th March 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!


This week I have:

The Werewolf's Wife by Michele Hauf
Received for review 


The legacy he must obey…The child she must save…
The man who threatens to fulfill her every fantasy…
and break her heart.Alpha wolf Ridge Addison left his wife in Las Vegas, vowing to put their one reckless night of passion behind him and return to his clan. Thirteen years later he needs a divorce so he can become pack leader. Yet he's never forgotten the sensuous witch whose life he saved…or the knee-buckling kisses he still craves.After they parted, Abigail tried banishing Ridge from her memory. Now her heart belongs only to her son. But when the boy is kidnapped, she knows she alone can't save him. Though Abigail's body still aches for Ridge, she's willing to give him his freedom in exchange for his help. But who will shield her heart from the only man she's ever let claim her, body and soul?

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
Received for review 


In the not-too-distant future, the Obermeyer Institute (OI) has made a revolutionary discovery: With special training, humans can tap into the brain's hidden powers (think telepathy, telekinetic powers, super strength, and more). The training is strenuous, though, and it works only for those with natural potential. Tough girl Mac has that potential, and she's a devoted member of the OI. But there's one rule she can't help but bend. Her boss thinks celibacy is key to their work. Mac's learned differently—an active sexual life enhances her powers. And when she meets Shane, a sexy former Navy SEAL, the sparks are instant. But after the two spend an amazing night together, Mac finds out that Shane's a new recruit at the institute. How can she mix business and pleasure?

Highland Lover by Amanda Scott
Received for review


HIGHLAND DANGER

Ever inquisitive, Lady Alyson MacGillivray embarks on a sea voyage and makes a shocking discovery: The young future king of Scotland is secretly traveling on board. Yet her surprise soon turns to terror when pirates attack the ship, take the boy prince hostage, and leave Lady Alyson to drown.

HIGHLAND WOLF

Known to the world as the The Wolf, Captain Jake Maxwell had been commissioned by the King to follow the prince's secret transport. When he spies Alyson struggling against a violent sea, he moves swiftly to save her. Soon desire sparks between them, bringing them pleasure-powerful and deep. But the young beauty's connection to the prince's abduction puts her in danger. And if their love is to survive, Alyson and Jake must play a game of intrigue with royal-and lethal-consequences.

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen 
Received for review 


I don't do DANGEROUS.

Smart, ├╝ber-careful, ordinary Samantha—that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me...something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing—and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me....

Nightwatchers: When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising...

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Received for review


You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.

So, what did you get?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Review: Masques by Patricia Briggs ★★★★

Masques by Patricia Briggs
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Sianim #1
Publication Date: 1993
ISBN: 0441520995
Page Count: 320


Summary:

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. But her latest mission involves more peril than she ever imagined.

Agents of Sianim have asked her to gather intelligence on the increasingly popular and powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. Soon Aralorn comes to see past the man's striking charisma- and into a soul as corrupt and black as endless night. And few have the will to resist te sinister might of the ae'Magi and his minions.

So Aralorn, aided by her enigmatic companion, Wolf, joins the rebellion against the ae'Magi. But in a war against a foe armed with the power of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is- or where he will strike next?

Review:

Disclaimer: I read (listened to) the updated 2010 version which had been re-written and fleshed out considerably (according to the author's introduction), and was almost twice the length of the original 1993 release.

I really struggled to rate this one. It's so hard not to compare it to her Mercy Thompson series, which is a mistake because that really is in a class of its own. Not even the spin-off Alpha and Omega series compares to it, in truth. But it's hard not to at least compare writing styles since you know it's the same author, and this is definitely a more simplistic style. There is none of the complex layering and weaving of story threads, and not much in the way of mystery or intrigue. Really, it's just about a simple (if magical) girl, who has a friend who is sometimes a wolf, who has to try and stop an evil mage from taking over the world (insert cheesy echo sound effect here). It's a plot that has been wheeled out for fantasy novels many, many times before.

Except that this is Patricia Briggs we are talking about here, who is a master story teller and amazing at characterization. So although the plot shows little originality on the outside, once you get into the nitty gritty of it, there were many enjoyable aspects of the world-building and characters to savour. And a sweet and touching tentative romance. Although this part of the story is minimal, it really added to my enjoyment.

The main character we follow is Aralorn, who is a shapeshifter. She can become almost any shape but she has to train and memorize each new one to be able to do them instantly. Being able to switch between girl and mouse, or girl and goose at little more than a thought, helps no end in her job as a spy, which is how she becomes entangled in a powerplay between two opposing leaders.

Wolf is a very interesting character as well, with a rather hellish back story. As you don't find out exactly who he is until after the first quarter of the book (And I try never to mention things past that point in reviews lest I spoil the plot for you) I won't be able to say too much about him, other than that I liked him a lot, and was happy with the progress he made within this story. I would like to see even more progress in the next one, but I understand these things take time.

There are a few issues with the plot even with the rewrites that have been done but I'm not going to go over them. I'll leave that to others. What I will say is that I enjoyed the story, I particularly enjoyed the narrators work on the audiobook, and I grew to like Wolf and Aralorn enough to want to read the next book, Wolfsbane, which I am looking forward to starting very soon.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Highland Hero by Amanda Scott ★★★★

Highland Hero by Amanda Scott
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scottish Knights Trilogy #2
Publication Date: October 1st 2011
ISBN: 9780446574303
Page Count: 400 pages



Summary: 

LADY IN DISGUISE Lady Marsi Cargill refuses to marry a man who wants her land rather than her love. To escape her arranged betrothal, she disguises her noble lineage and accompanies her young cousin--the future King of Scots--on a secret journey across the Highlands. Their guide is a mysterious knight known only as Hawk. Heat flares between the beautiful maid and the brooding warrior, but when Marsi's true identity is revealed, Hawk's desire gives way to fury... KNIGHT AT THE READY Summoned by the King to guard his son, Sir Ivor "Hawk" Mackintosh now has two royals to protect. This daring, willful woman has invaded Hawk's every thought, and laid siege to his heart. Soon the solitary soldier is yearning for a life with Marsi at his side and in his bed. But as their passion grows, so too does the danger surrounding them. Powerful enemies watch their every move, and to survive, Hawk and Marsi must fight for Scotland's future-as well as their own new-found love.

Review:

This was a really enjoyable highlander tale. As a background to the romance storyline, which was very sweet, the main plot is based on the political manoeuvring and power plays of the royal family, and it was interesting to read. After the death of Queen Annabella, Scotland is left with a King in rule who has no interest in doing so. But a brother with other ideas, who seeks to implement his wants and wishes through his weak-willed sibling. Including marrying off his niece if it furthers his political ambitions.

I was drawn initially to this book by the prospect of the subterfuge mentioned in the blurb. And indeed, our heroine, Marsi, does try and pass herself off as the nursery maid in order to escape a planned wedding to a repulsive man three times her age, who only covets her inherited lands. She is...unsuccessful at impersonating the help, shall we say?

Our hero, and the man she is trying to fool into protecting her, is known initially only as The Hawk. A warrior and strategist, he makes the perfect bodyguard. I found his character a little boorish at the beginning, especially when he thought her only a maid. But in reality I don't doubt his actions and opinions are only reflective of the times. Indeed, I believe the author tried to be as authentic as possible in most areas. Including the bedroom scenes. It was a refreshing change, in a way, to see a sex scene involving a virgin that was believable and not totally romanticized and perfect. But then, on the other hand, I wouldn't have minded a few more scenes after that that upped the heat a little. On a smut scale, this was maybe a two out of five, but the lead up and tension was nice and I believed that they cared about each other.

And I really liked both main characters, which, in the end is the most important thing in a romance novel for me. If there's an overbearing hero or a TSTL heroine, it's game over, so I am happy to report that both characters were very endearing.

I plan on reading the rest of the books in the series (including going back to read book one).

4 Stars! ★★★★

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter ★★★

The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Lords of the Underworld #7
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
ISBN: 9780373775491
Page Count: 416



Summary: 

Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when new demons possess him, the immortal warrior must be chained and isolated to protect those he loves. Death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty…. Haidee is an infamous demon assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.

Review:

This felt like somewhat of a down-shift in pacing compared to the last couple of books I've enjoyed of this series. The main couple were a little dull and the plot drawn out and overly long for the content. I'm not sure it even progressed the series in any way as there were no changes in the situation with the Hunters or the war.

There were a few things to enjoy, however. Amun was a surprisingly sweet guy and it was nice to get to know him a bit more since he has always been hiding in the background before now. And, of course, the smexy times were as hot as always. It was also quite nice not to have as much bitter resentment and distrust towards the female character at the beginning of the story. Amun is way to nice for that. Which is surprising, in a way, since the female in question this time is none other than Haidee, the female hunter that killed off Baden, one of the former Lords. Haidee herself was a very bland, 2D character, although she does have an interesting back story.

We kept cutting to Strider throughout, probably because his book is next. I honestly don't get why Showalter felt the need to make him interested in Haidee as well. That plot seemed to serve no purpose really since it all came to nothing in the end. And then the abrupt about turn with Kaia? Are we supposed to believe now that he really wanted her the whole time? If so, what up with the stripper, huh?

Here's hoping Strider's book is better. It should be since both he and Kaia are a lot more funny and entertaining.

3 Stars ★★★

Sunday, 18 March 2012

In My Mailbox - 18th March 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!

This week I have:

Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane
Received for review from Netgalley

I can't wait for this. I feel so lucky to get these books early for review. And perhaps also a little smug. I'm hopefully going to start this one next week whilst it's all still fresh in my mind after reading Sacrificial Magic last week

When Darkness Hungers by J. K. Beck
Received for review from NetGalley

I picked this up too because I've had book one of the series on my TBR for a while. I'm going to have to play catch up before I start this because I have to read series' in order. It's the law. And is that Paul Marron I spy on the cover? That guy sure gets around in Paranormal Romance land.

The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Otsler
Received for review from NetGalley


I don't know much about this on other than what it says on the blurb, but it sounded good and the cover is gorgeous.

So, what did you get?

Early Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens ★★★★

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
Genre: Paranormal mystery
Series: Graveyard Queen #2
Publication Date: March 23, 2012
ISBN: 9780778312772
Page Count: 400



Summary:

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town….

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here. Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods?

Something is eating away at the soul of this town — this withering kingdom — and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Review:

I'm beginning to notice a pattern with these books. They have a tendency to make me stay up until all sorts of ungodly hours of the night because I JUST SIMPLY CANNOT PUT THEM DOWN!

Even with my trepidation going into this one knowing that one of the characters I loved from book one wouldn't be in it at all, I was not in any way disappointed. I did miss the character, and I can't wait for them to show up in the next book, but I can totally see how it made sense plot-wise for Amelia to take this time away from all that. To try and clear her head, and maybe even her heart. And throughout the book the character is referenced regularly as Amelia contemplates her situation.

But none of that really dulled my enjoyment of the story because it was just so gripping.

Amelia is contracted to a cemetery restoration out on the island town of Asher falls. A creepier town you have never come across. Have you ever seen those movies where the main character winds up in some small town in the middle of nowhere, and as an outsider notices that there's something just a little...off, about the town and its inhabitants? Well let me tell you, Asher Falls pretty much takes the cake on that one.

There's a new little clue and tidbit around every corner and it makes it nigh on impossible to put the book down until you find some answers. And we do get a lot of answers, eventually. Especially pertaining to some of the mystery surrounding Amelia herself. But I did feel that a couple of the unexplained happenings remained unexplained. There were no concrete answers on what exactly had happened on a couple of occasions, which was a little frustrating. I can't obviously give any examples as they would be humongous spoilers, but when you read it yourself you might notice the same things.

So, to sum up, if you enjoyed the first one and were intrigued by Amelia's character and her abilities, you will love this book too. And after the last line of the book there's simply no choice left to me. I'm heading straight onto reading The Prophet right now!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Friday, 16 March 2012

Feature and Follow Friday - 16th March 2012



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

The point of this hop is to follow other bloggers, to gain new followers yourself, and to make friends in the book blogging community.

If you follow me I will follow back. Just let me know in the comments that you are a new follower. Happy Friday!

Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?
Firstly, I don't know what I would do without wonderful websites like Shelfari and Goodreads that help me to actually remember what I read in the last month. 'cause I kinda read a lot so it all becomes a bit blur in my head.

Anyway. My answers are just for between 1st March and today. If I go back any further the list will be way too long. I already found it impossible to pick only one:

Best book(s): Firelight by Kristen Callihan ★★★★★

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane ★★★★★

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens ★★★★★

Worst book: By a Thread by Jennifer Estep ★★★☆☆

Just to clarify, I am not saying By a Thread was a terrible book or anything, but it was my lowest rating for the past month.

So, what about you?

Thanks for visiting me! If you follow me just let me know so I can return the favour! That's what this here get together is all about, after all.