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Sunday, 29 April 2012

New Releases in Urban Fantasy - May 2012

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



Make your shopping list for May!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (#3 in Seven Kingdoms)

Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers (#3 in Personal Demons)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (#2 in Divergent)

Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (#6 in The League)

Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready (#3 in Shade)

Black Dawn by Rachel Caine (#12 in Morganville Vampires)

Warrior Enchanted by Addison Fox (#4 in Sons of the Zodiac)

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (#12 in Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire)

Kiss of the Goblin Prince by Shona Husk (#3 in Goblin King, Shadowlands)

The Impossible Cube by Steven Harper (#2 in Clockwork Empire)

Under Suspicion by Hannah Jayne (#3 in Underworld Detection Agency)

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (#1 in Dreamblood)

Embrace of the Damned by Anya Bast (#1 in The Brotherhood of the Damned)

Sparks Fly by Katie MacAlister (#3 in Light Dragons)

Silence by Michelle Sagara (#1 in The Queen of the Dead)

In the Company of Witches by Joey W Hill (#2 in Arcane Shot)

Demon's Bride by Zoe Archer (#2 in Hellraisers)

Awaited by Lynn Rush (#2 in Wasteland)

Heart of Brass by Kate Cross (#1 in Clockwork Agents)

Darkness Breaks by Jessica Sorensen (#2 in Darkness Falls)

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards (#1 in Bloodsounder's Arc)

Journey to the Fringe by Kelli Swofford Nielsen (#1 in Stone Mage Wars)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Fool's Silver by Alice Moss (#2 in Mortal Kiss)

Broken Dream by Eden Maguire (#3 in Dark Angel)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Shifter by Jean Johnson (#2 in Shifting Plains)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Until I Die by Amy Plum (#2 in Revenants)

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (#5 in Mortal Instruments)

Endure by Carrie Jones (#4 in Need Pixies)

Beauty: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Story by Laurell K. Hamilton (#20.5 in Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Immortal Hearts by Ellen Schreiber (#9 in Vampire Kisses)

As Dead as it Gets by Katie Alender (#3 in Bad Girls Don't Die)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (#5 in Sabrina Kane) (paperback only)

Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione (#3 in Lords of Deliverance)

Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent (#2 in Unbound)

Midnight's Master by Donna Grant (#1 in Dark Warriors)

Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (#3 in Raised by Wolves)

Fated by Alyson Noel (#1 in Soul Seekers)

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen (#1 in Nightwatchers)

Guardian of the Night by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom (#4 in Vampire Moons)

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross (#2 in The Steampunk Chronicles)

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander (#1 in Nightshifted)

Zombie Island by Lori Handeland (#2 in Shakespeare Undead)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When Passion Lies by J K Beck (#4 in Shadow Keepers)

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh (#15 in Psy-Changelings)

Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer (#1 in Vamp City )

Night's Engines by Trent Jamieson (#2 in Nightbound Land)

All Spell Breaks Loose by Lisa Shearin (#6 in Raine Benares)

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep (#3 in Mythos Academy)

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (#2 in Starcrossed)

Darkness Becomes Her by Jaime Rush (#6 in Offspring)

Changeling by Philippa Gregory (#1 in Order of Darkness)

So, what are you looking forward to?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ★★★★★

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA dystopian, science fiction, futuristic
Series: The Hunger Games #1
Publication Date: September 14, 2008
ISBN: 0439023483
Page Count: 384



Summary:

May the odds be ever in your favor.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. In the previous war the Capitol took over and now, the Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl from each district, between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Every single second of this dreadful event is recorded twenty four seven and broadcasted across the nation.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. Katniss has been close to dead before. For her, survival, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. If she is to win, she will have to start making choices that are very well the difference between life and death. What lies ahead is great rewards and fortune if she makes the right choices and if luck is on her side. But also, a love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale slowly unfolds, forcing Katniss to decide whom she really wants to be with—a situation complicated by the fact .

Will she win or will she die?Who shall she pick?

Happy Hunger games...

Review:

I feel a little late to the game getting around to finally reading this, as it seems like everyone and their aunt has already read it ahead of me. And there's not much I can add in a review that hasn't been said in all the other squillion reviews for it, but I'll just add a few thoughts.

First of all, hoorah! For once, a popular book that actually lives up to all the hype and hoopla surrounding it. I'm glad to know this book is reaching lots of readers of all ages as it really is a fantastic story. It's YA but definitely one that adults can enjoy. And I wouldn't even worry too much if SciFi or Fantasy isn't usually your thing. A good story is a good story no matter what genre and this one definitely sucks you in. It wastes no time about it either which I really appreciated. There was no dithering about before the games began. We meet Katniss, get a little glimpse of her normal every day life, and then BAM! off we go in the Games.

It also exceeded my expectations in certain areas. Although I'd been warned that I'd probably cry I wasn't expecting to be so emotionally involved quite yet, I thought that might come later in the trilogy, but it was a real roller-coaster on the emotions. So many twists, shocks, heart-pounding moments. Even knowing there's two more books didn't help at times because you get so wrapped up in it that any kind of rational thought like that goes right out the window.

 "Remember, we're madly in love, so it's all right to kiss me any time you feel like it." 


I loved Katniss. I thought she was a great protagonist. I can see why she has become the way she is from her harsh beginnings and it only made her more interesting to me. I feel like I've only seen a surface glimpse of other secondary characters so far like Gale, Haymitch and even Peeta to a certain extent, so I'm really looking forward to the next book to see more of them. And the way this book ends makes me glad I have the next one right here. It's not a cliffhanger, but it's an "end of part one" type ending that makes you want more more more!

I can't wait to see the movie now too to see what they've done with it. There are many visually strong scenes in the book that I think are going to look amazing. I doubt they'll ever do Katniss' dresses justice though. Just not possible.

So I'm off to read the next one now. Toodles!

5 Stars! ★★★★★

Review: Outside in by Maria V. Snyder ★★★★

Outside in by Maria V. Snyder
Genre: YA dystopian, science fiction
Series: Insider #2
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
ISBN: 0373210116
Page Count: 320



Summary: 

Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion - between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again - while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there's outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.

Review:

First of all, let me just say there are some series that it would be okay-ish to read out of order. This is NOT one of them. Be careful even reading reviews on this one before you've read book one lest you see something you're not supposed to. I've kept my review spoiler free as usual, but just be careful out there peeps!

I wasn't sure Maria V. Snyder could keep my attention in the second part as well as she did in the first one. The desperate need to know what was going on in book one was a very strong driving force. But I needn't have worried, the plot in this second instalment was just as compelling as the first, and had a big Oh My Gosh moment to rival the reveal of Gateway in INSIDE OUT.

There was a little more time devoted to Trella's personal relationships which I was very happy about. Especially with Riley and Dr. Lamont. The tentative relationships she started with both characters are tested to the limit in this book. I felt slightly indignant on Trella's behalf at one point though. One of the other characters was being a little too hard on her, expecting her to know what to do simply because of her actions in book one. They were putting too much pressure on her and expecting her to- no, DEMANDING that she carry way too much weight on her young shoulders. It was very interesting to read through but gave me heartburn along the way.

 "Nothing says you care for me better than offering to torture my enemies."

He grinned. "No sense doing things halfhearted. And to think, some girls have to endure listening to poetry."
  

There are a few grumblings here and there about a possible book three. It would certainly fit with MVS's previous series if it became a trilogy, but on the other hand, I feel like it could end perfectly fine here.

A great follow up- 4 Stars! ★★★★

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder ★★★★

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
Genre: YA dystopian, science fiction
Series: Insider #1
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
ISBN: 037321006X
Page Count: 315



Summary:

Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us.

So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it's all that dangerous--the only neck at risk is my own.

Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.

I should have just said no...

Review:

Another excellent tale by Maria V. Snyder. And the first of her books that I, personally, would categorize as a YA novel. Even though most of her stuff gets lumped into that genre since it has little sex or swearing, but otherwise has themes that are adult in nature; violence, murder and sexual assault to name a few. Here, however, the main character seemed younger, the love interest was her own age for a change, and it just had a much younger feel to it all round.

It's a very interesting place Snyder has created in Inside Out. I hesitate to use the term "world building" as that seems a little too expansive in this case. But "Inside", the setting for this novel, was a very interesting place to read about. As was the society that lived within its walls. I can't say too much more about it since a lot of the plot drives you towards finding out the answers to exactly what and where Inside is, but let's just say the journey was gripping, and the reveal, a BIG surprise.

I really enjoyed Trella's character. The second main character I've read in consecutive books to have little time or patience for her fellow man (I just recently finished Julie Kagawa's Immortal Rules). Trella begins the book with precisely one friend, one person she cares about, and even he says she has a funny way of showing it. She basically hates her life squashed in amongst all the other scrubs on the lower levels of Inside, so she spends as much of her time as possible in the only place there is to be alone for a scrub such as she: in the pipes and heating shafts that snake throughout every part of Inside.

And since her job is as a cleaner of said pipes, she at least has a valid reason for being there. But her reluctance to come down and mingle with the rest of the sheep, and her apparent disdain for everyone that isn't her childhood friend Cogan, results in her earning herself the nickname "Queen of the Pipes". It's meant to be a derogatory term from those who gave it to her originally, but Trella herself is actually quite proud of the moniker. As well she should be, because it certainly comes in handy in this book...

 "I do know I felt as if my heart had been shredded when I found you in our storeroom, unconscious and bleeding. And leaving you with Vinco in the holding cells was the hardest thing I've ever done." 


There is a sweet and subtle romance threaded throughout the novel. The romance part of it is minimal, but the character is present for much of the book and I really enjoyed him. In fact, Trella attracts a nice little bunch of secondary characters as the story progresses and she also goes through quite a transformation as a protagonist too. Preconceived ideas and prejudices just cannot withstand the force of being knocked upside the head with the stunning truth of the real situation they are in.

So come on, you know you want to know where Inside is now. And let me assure you, the journey to finding out is well worth the taking.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Monday, 23 April 2012

Early Review: Immortal Rules by Julia Kagawa ★★★★

Immortal Rules by Julia Kagawa
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy, Dystopian
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
ISBN: 0373210515
Page Count: 512
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest 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.

Review:

A fabulously creative vampire-filled world from Julie Kagawa!

This book was an exciting mix of genres, with vampires and humans co-existing in a post apocalyptic/dystopian society. Throw in some rabid vampires which are very zombie-like in their mindless state, and their refusal to JUST DIE ALREADY! and you've got a bit of something for everyone here.

I'm a big fan of Kagawa's writing; it's very visual and vivid and there were many scenes, particularly towards the end of the novel, that I can still picture very clearly. Just when I thought I'd overdosed on vamps and needed a break, Kagawa has managed to make them interesting to me again.

The main reason for this excitement is that this time it's the main character, Allison, (who we live through vicariously in the 1st person narrative) that is the vampire. Instead of it being a secondary character- usually some moody broody yet gorgeous boy whose all mysterious blah blah blah. No, this time it's the main character that has to try and fit in, to disguise the fact that they're so much faster and stronger, that they keep such strange nocturnal hours. Allison also has to deal with people instantly judging and fearing her, insisting she be killed even without any cause, just for existing. It's a very different view point to experience it from and I found it really interesting.

Allison's character is slightly antipathetic towards her fellow man at the start of the novel. As a human Fringer (members of society who refuse to be blood cattle no matter the perks) it's always been every man for himself in her world, and the mottoes "trust no one" and "don't let anyone get too close" might as well be stamped across her forehead. And, of course, her hatred of the vamps and their "pets" is long established since their existence is the very reason she has to suffer and struggle to survive every day. So when she becomes the very thing that she once hated, she actually has quite a lot of tolerance with regards to the instant hatred, suspicion and sometimes outright loathing she receives, because she's been in that same position and lived it from the other side. I actually sometimes felt she was too understanding. When certain characters were calling for her head I wanted her to say "Oh yeah, and you're welcome for saving your life earlier by the way! Don't mention it. And I could have ripped your throat out any time I wanted if I was so very evil, but yet here you are, clearly still using it!"

Like I said, a very different view point than what we are used to, and I really, really enjoyed it. I found Allie's character to be a little cold and indifferent at the start, quite naturally so given her history, and it was nice to watch her transform from that closed off person, into a kind of badass-with-a-smooshy-centre by the end. I was totally rooting for her.

 "You are a monster. You will always be a monster—there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you." 
There was a love interest introduced that was also not your usual type of hot boy character. He was hot, but he was also quite gentle and perhaps a little bit idealistic. He wasn't weak exactly- indeed, in his little group of humans he was the one loaded for bear (or rabid vampires, anyway) and acted as their protector. However, when you put him next to Allie, who has struggled more in her former life and has been hardened by it, he came across as the softer of the two, and he even needed saving and rescuing a couple of times. Now I know this isn't the norm, the girl is supposed to be the one rescued and carried off in the heroes strong arms etc, etc, etc. But again, I liked this flip side of the coin. It was interesting and I (because clearly I have convinced myself I am actually Allie) liked being the one doing the rescuing for a change. Swooping in in all my- I mean Allie's- avenging angel glory and saving the day. It was awesome!

And finally, I have to comment on the world building which was possibly one of my favourite aspects. The world as it exists in this book is set roughly 60 years after a plague has wiped out maybe two thirds of the population. The vampires, who had always been around but lived in secret, had to come out of hiding to do something about the fact that their only food supply was dying out before their very eyes. The compromise was allowing certain humans their protection, walled inside new "vampire cities" against the threat of infection by the rabids on the outside, in exchange for being their own personal blood banks. You have the choice of living outside the wall and being a "Fringer", as Allie was, but that life is so hard you'd have to have a really strong character to be able to cope in it. Fringers are starving for most of the time. They get by through scavenging, but if actually caught stealing food from within the city or from a "pet", the penalty is death. Nice, huh?

So, all in all lots of thought provoking stuff to sink your teeth into in this well-paced, exciting, action-filled book with the promise of lots more exiting things to come. A really good read!

4 Stars! ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: Highland Warrior by Monica McCarty ★★★★

Highland Warrior by Monica McCarty
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Campbell Trilogy #1
Publication Date: February 2009
ISBN: 0345503384
Page Count: 384



Summary:

The ruthless enforcer of Scotland’s most powerful clan, Jamie Campbell will use any means necessary to vanquish lawlessness and unrest among the feuding Highland clans. Seduction is a game as easily played as subterfuge, but when Jamie poses a as suitor to a rival clan’s daughter in order to expose treason, the line between duty and pleasure is suddenly blurred. Ebony-haired, ruby-lipped Caitrina Lamont defies him, denies him, and arouses him like no other woman. Caitrina has no intention of forsaking her beloved father and doting brothers for a husband–especially a hated Campbell. But Jamie’s raw, sensual strength and searing kiss melt her resistance. When her idyllic world is shattered, Caitrina’s only hope to save her clan lies in the arms of Jamie Campbell, the enemy she holds accountable for its ruin. Can their tenuous truce, born in the velvet darkness of passionate nights, forge a love as strong as the sword that rules the Highlands?

Review:

Another fantastic highlander tale from Monica McCarty.

This is my third McCarty novel and I'm really enjoying her two trilogies: The Campbells and the MacLeods. There's just been something a bit more special about those two books for me compared to her Highland Guard series one that I tried.

I'd definitely describe McCarty as a very evocative writer. Able to pull lots of different emotions from her readers throughout each book. From the almost giddy feeling of witnessing the rather embarrassing first meeting of our main couple, to the heady awareness and temptation, followed swiftly by trepidation and the fear of all these new feelings and responses. Then to top all that off she kicks you in the gut a good few times once she knows she's got you fully committed to the love story.

And I loved every second of it!

The couple we follow in this book is made up of Jamie Campbell, who is a man whose reputation precedes him, much to his annoyance. And Caitrina Lamont, a woman famed for her beauty throughout all the Highlands. They may be from two enemy clans, but Jamie is a man with a plan and he plans to have Caitrina no matter what. I really connected well to the two of them and enjoyed watching them both change, evolve and adapt. Their love scenes were also some of the best I have read in a while. The wedding night! Whew!

I really recommend this book to all fans of Scottish romances. It's a real keeper!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Cover Love: Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean



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...

Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean


My thoughts.

I like all of these sexy red covers. The bloody wedding dress is definitely intriguing!

My Rating: 4/5

Previous covers in the series:

Feature & Follow Friday- 20th April 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: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

Barrons V Curran

That would be Jericho Barrons from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, and Curran Lennart from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

I'm reluctant to say why I would think they'd be a good match in case there is anyone left in the world that hasn't read either of these two amazing series' yet ,and I don't want to spoilerize anyone. But let's just say they are both very very badass and I think it would be a close call :)

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.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Review: Son of the Morning by Linda Howard ★★★

Son of the Morning by Linda Howard
Genre:Suspense/ Time Travel
Series: n/a
Publication Date: 1997
ISBN: 067179938X
Page Count: 384
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review



A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of fragile, old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the intriguing legend of the Knights of the Templar -- long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power -- Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force. Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a celebrated warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar's secret for all eternity. But to find him -- and to save herself -- she must go back in time. Summoning the magic of an arcane ritual, Grace steps back to the barren hills of 14th-century Scotland, enduring the perils of an untamed land to confront Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire. Driven by a mix of fear and passion, Grace enlists this brazen knight to join her in a modern-day search for a killer. In their quest to protect a timeless secret, they uncover a love for all time -- and a deadly duel of honor that risks everything they have.

Review:

Hmmm...

Like most other reviewers, I'm very unsure what to make of this book. To butcher that over-used cliché- it really doesn't do what it says on the tin.

Because on the tin it says it's a romance. A highlander time travel romance to be exact. Well, technically I'm not sure you can really get away with that statement or that classification since the Hero and Heroine DO NOT EVEN MEET UNTIL THE LAST THIRD OF THE BOOK!

It became clear right from the first chapter that it was going to be slightly different from the various other Time Travel Romances I've read in that the heroine is already married at the start of the book. So I figured because of this and everything that happens in chapter one, it might take slightly longer than usual for her to jump back in time. But two thirds of the book before it happens? Really?

It's a shame because the suspenseful on-the-run-from-a-psycho-killer plot probably would have kept me entertained quite well had it not been for the fact that I was waiting all the time for the time jump to happen. So that sense of impatience really ruined by enjoyment. So then I thought, okay this last third better be EXTREMELY good to make up for it....well, they had some hot sex, but I'm looking for love and romance and you can't accomplish that with any sort of credibility squidged into the last few pages, almost as an afterthought.

Oh, and this part of the blurb "....enlists this brazen knight to join her in a modern-day search for a killer" is just an out and out lie! There is NO hunt for a killer. AT ALL! Let alone a "modern-day search" with forensics and evidence and stuff. It begs the question has the blurb writer even read the book?

So, essentially this is like two separate books made into one with some enjoyable elements and a lot of potential, that unfortunately fails miserably in the execution.

3 Stars! ★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Review: Highlander's Prize by Mary Wine ★★★★

Highlander's Prize by Mary Wine
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: English Tudor #3
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
ISBN: 978-1402264719
Page Count: 352
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review



BASTARD ROYAL DAUGHTER, PAWN IN A DEADLY GAME

Sent to Scotland to be the king's mistress and produce an heir, Clarrisa of York has never needed a miracle more. But the brusque Highland laird who kidnaps her is a bit too rough to be considered divine intervention.

HE'LL DO ANYTHING TO THWART HIS KING

With rival lairds determined to steal Clarrisa from him and royal henchmen searching for her all over the Highlands, Laird Broen MacNicols has a mess on his hands. Worse yet, there's a magnetic attraction between them, although he's betrothed to another. But even an independent–minded lady like Clarrisa knows that a Highlander always claims his prize...

Review:

It's fair to say I use a totally different set of criteria when reviewing my hunky highlander books than I do for any of my other genres. Really, I'm just looking to fall a little bit in love, or at the very least, enjoy watching the two main characters fall in love. And in this book, I got just that.

They are two very likeable main characters as well. You've got Clarrisa, illegitimate but acknowledged daughter of the late King of England, and you have Broen, the young, recently appointed Laird of the MacNicols clan. Both had their merits; Clarrisa was strong emotionally after the awful upbringing she'd received. It seemed no one really knew what to do with someone of royal blood that should on the one hand be respected, but as a bastard, was also to be sneered at. So it seemed they ostracised her quite a bit and this formed the incredible character we meet in this book, as she's about to be married off, or sold off is probably more accurate, to the King of Scotland who hopes to create ties to England with the marriage and to hopefully therefore prevent any future attacks.

Broen was a much more simple character but no less endearing. He is an attractive man and as such has a certain way with the ladies, but since the death of his father and being made the new Laird, hasn't really given the lasses much of his time. Until the feisty Clarissa stumbles into his lap of course. I really enjoyed watching Broen's playfulness. Enticing Clarissa into letting him steal a kiss, then further challenging her to kiss him back. It was all quite heady stuff. Their relationship was totally believable and I even shed a few tears right at the end at the seemingly awful situation they faced.

My only complaint would be that as much as I enjoyed the chase, the teasing and the hot smexy times, I just wish they had gotten to the love stage a bit earlier on. I felt like they had only just reached the point of understanding their feelings when the book ended. I believe if that point had been brought forward a little, the stressful part at the end would have had even more impact.

That said, I really enjoyed reading this and will add Mary Wine to my ever-increasing and growing larger by the second list of good hunky highlander writers.

4 Stars! ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Review: Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann ★★★

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
Genre: Science fiction, Futuristic Romance
Series: Fighting Destiny #1
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
ISBN: 978-0345521279
Page Count: 528



Summary:

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?

Review:

This is only my second book by Suzanne Brockmann (I've also read book one in her long established Troubleshooters series about a Navy Seal team) but I'm going to go ahead and assume that she follows the same pattern in all of her books of running three simultaneous romances in each novel. There's a main one, the one mentioned in the blurb, but there are also two others that get almost the same amount of page time. I have to confess, I don't love this approach. The laws of probability state that you're likely going to love one of the romances much more than the others, and so the inordinate amount of time it takes to get back to that thread of the plot will probably get on your nerves, as it did for me. It also means there are a lot of sex scenes, although the main couple do steal the show on that front. The other problem with having so many romances is the fact that it made the book very long. Over 500 pages.

I predicted I would enjoy this more than the Troubleshooters book I'd read because of the fantasy sci-fi woo woo elements in it which is more my thing, but I actually ended up rating it one star less. And the reason for that wasn't the the genre or world-building (I did really like those as predicted) but because none of the three romances did much for me, unfortunately. There were some sweet moments here and there, especially from Shane, but Mac (Michelle Mackenzie), his love interest, was largely unlikeable and very against starting a relationship with him which sometimes made her seem quite rude considering she'd already slept with him on the first night they met. The second romance was a gay relationship, a story of heretofore unrequited love, which was surprisingly sweet since I don't usually read any m/m stuff, and the third was the least explored, and yet showed the most potential for me, and that was between the leader of the Obermeyer institute and the victim in the crime the story revolves around.

The Obermeyer Institute is a place where Greater Thans (this is Brockmann's name for those who, in this future society, have been found able to access higher percentages of their brain functionality and have developed extra abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis, accelerated healing, not ageing, etc) work and often live, and also the command centre for their operations which mostly consist of taking down Jokers. Jokers are the members of society who have overdosed on a new killer drug out on the streets called Destiny, which as well as providing eternal youth- its main lure for the rich and vain- also appears to be giving them symptoms that could rival a Greater Than's abilities, only without any of the common sense and restraint to go with it.

Like I said, I enjoyed this aspect and the whole idea of us not using our minds to their full potential, and I think this will keep me interested enough to try the next book in the series. And hopefully, with less world-building to take care of, Brockmann can concentrate more on providing us with at least one (or even better, three) really nice romances to sink our little teeth into.

3 Stars! ★★★

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cover Love: Death's Rival by Faith Hunter



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...

Death's Rival by Faith Hunter

My thoughts.

I'll be totally honest and confess I haven't loved any of the covers in this series overly much. The last one for Raven Cursed was my least favourite of the series by far. But this one is actually pretty good! It's a lot less cluttered and "Jane's" clothes look like the actually fit her, which is a nice change.

Awesome!

My Rating: 4/5

Previous covers in the series:


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review: Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken ★★★

Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Kandrith #1
Publication Date: March 26th 2012
ISBN: 9781426893476
Page Count: 364
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review



Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves. Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. Soon their travels become fraught with peril, and Sara discovers she's fallen victim to the ultimate betrayal. To end a war between two nations, she will have to make the ultimate sacrifice...

Review:

I found most elements of this story really engaging and unusual. And unusual is something I generally appreciate. I like being surprised and shown stuff I haven't seen a dozen times before in fantasy novels. But then, on the other hand, some of the events in the plot made even me raise incredulous eyebrows. There were a couple of instances where I wished the author had taken a different route and not gone to some of the places she did. And this lowered my rating down to 3 stars from the 4 I thought I was going to give it most of the way through the book.

I loved the concept of the way magic works in Luiken's world. It's quite a big part of the plot that one of our main characters has to uncover for herself, so I'm not going to give you any details, but it was a very interesting take on magic and who can access it.

I was slightly surprised at how prevalent the romance angle was in this book. At times, I almost felt like I was reading a historical romance. The highly prejudiced class system that is in place made me feel it too. The term "nobles" or "of noble birth" often being applied in such novels. However, what they don't have at the other end of the scale that this world does have, is slaves. I thought this was handled relatively well and Luiken showed the different ways people can look at the same issue. Even within the nobles themselves. Our main character, Sara, for example, as a noble born has almost convinced herself that they are merely "maids" or "servants". I'm sure this is partly down to seeing only what you want to see, and partly because she does treat hers with the respect a valued member of staff would receive. But it quickly becomes evident she is in the minority in her way of thinking.

Lance, the other lead character and a former slave, naturally has a very different take on the issue and has seen first hand what other slave masters are like. He has prejudices of his own to overcome, however. It's a journey for both of them in more ways that one.

Even with the strong and often touching love story that was threaded through this book, I would not call it a romance book. Don't expect to find any riding off into the sunset happy endings in this instalment. This is part one of a duology, so the story here finishes only half told.

A solid 3 Stars! ★★★

Sunday, 8 April 2012

In My Mailbox - 8th 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!

I have been a very bad blog mummy recently and I haven't done an In My Mailbox post for a couple of weeks. First it was Mother's Day (Mothering Sunday) here in the UK, then other things got in the way and today is Easter Sunday so I am late doing this one too. It's hard being a blog mummy as well as a real mummy!

But, I have bought some really cool books lately so I want to share them. Better late than never, eh? So, without further ado...

This week I have:

The Captain of All Pleasures
Bought from KOBO bookstore


Book one of the Sutherland Brothers series. I've been wanting to read these last two Kresley Cole books for ages. They are the only two books of hers I haven't read yet and I can't wait!

In her exhilarating debut novel, Kresley Cole captures the drama, passion, and boundless adventure of the high seas -- as one fiery lass finds herself caught in a tide of torrid romance.

Raised as a free spirit aboard her American sea captain father's majestic clipper ship, willful Nicole Lassiter has never encountered an obstacle she couldn't overcome -- until she meets Captain Derek Sutherland. His sizzling kisses leave her longing, but after they share a night of passion, his subsequent disdain makes her blood boil. Nicole vows to take her revenge -- by helping her father beat Sutherland in a high-stakes competition: the Great Circle Race from England to Australia.

Nicole's scheme is thrown overboard after her father is wrongly imprisoned, yet she remains undaunted -- taking to the high seas with her father's ship. But a storm wrecks her plans, and she finds herself a virtual prisoner aboard Sutherland's vessel. And while her mind tells her she should escape, her body urges her to surrender...

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Bought from Kobo


Another one that's been on my radar for ages. I've decided to cut back on review books a bit and get to some of the great sereis I've had on my TBR for a while

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention. But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires. Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything. Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21 st century faery tale.

Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon
Bought from Kobo


Another one I've been meaning to start for a while. It's apparently written in a paranormal romance style but with the same couple in each book. The only other series I can think of that could also be described that way would be the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost so that's a good comparison right there. The premise sounds really good, too.

IN THIS STUNNING FIRST BOOK FROM NANCY GIDEON’S SIZZLING NEW SERIES, A TENACIOUS COP AND HER SHAPE-SHIFTING ENEMY SACRIFICE EVERYTHING FOR FORBIDDEN DESIRE. ALL SHE WANTS IS REVENGE.

New Orleans homicide detective Charlotte Caissie is dedicated to bringing down the crime boss responsible for her father’s murder. Using Jimmy Legere’s mysterious and irresistible right-hand man is a dangerous gamble, and not only due to his reputation as more monster than man. Because her feelings for Max Savoie are . . . complicated.

THEN HE RISKS HIS LIFE TO SAVE HERS. Rescued from the swamps as a child, Max exists silently in Legere’s shadow, heeding only his voice—until Charlotte Caissie awakens his emotions and tests his loyalties. Stepping outside his cautious rules threatens more than just his heart. He could expose his darkest secret.

NOW THEY’RE BOTH IN OVER THEIR HEADS. Testing boundaries they weren’t meant to cross means facing the truth about who and what they are—and what they need from each other. If Max is the murderer she seeks, Charlotte could be his next victim. She can’t afford to trust any man. Good thing Max isn’t one

Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward
Bought from Kobo


Do I even need to explain why I bought this. It's BDB - hello?

In the darkest corners of the night in Caldwell, New York, a conflict like no other rages. The city is home to a band of brothers born to defend their race: the warrior vampires of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Now back in the Brotherhood – and unrecognizable as the vampire leader he once was – Tohrment is physically emaciated and heartbroken beyond despair. When he begins to see his beloved in his dreams – trapped in a cold, isolating netherworld – Tohr turns to a self-serving fallen angel in hopes of saving the one he has lost.

When he’s told he must learn to love another to free his former mate, Tohr knows they are all doomed…Except then a female with a shadowed history begins to get through to him. Against the backdrop of the raging war with the lessers, and with a new clan of vampires vying for the Blind King’s throne, Tohr struggles between the buried past, and a very hot, passion-filled future… but can his heart let go and set all of them free?

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin
Bought from Kobo


I've been increasingly enjoying high-full fantasy lately. As long as it has a dash of romance, rather than the more widely popular Urban fantasy. Check me out, I'm hardcore!

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born...

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na'Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father's people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she's gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy...

With the Na'Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na'Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons-and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father's dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war..

So, what did you get?