Sunday, February 28, 2010

Best Book of February

This month I'm going with Demon Moon by Meljean Brook. This is the second full-length book in her Guardians series and my favorite so far. Savitri Murray and Colin Ames-Beaumont are the focus in this one and boy are they interesting to watch.

Colin has been a favorite of mine throughout the series and one of the oldest characters too; he wasn't a main character in the intro short story "Falling for Anthony," printed in the anthology Hot Spell, but he was a main part of that plot since it was there that he was turned by a nosferatu in 19th century England and his sister is the one who does the "falling" for Anthony. Colin is shrewd, fantastically handsome, filthy stinking rich, friend to Lilith, and a useful tool for the Guardians. Savitri, on the other hand, is a young (20's) woman who is the honorary sister of Hugh Castleford, hero of Demon Angel (book one) and on again/off again Guardian. Savi's family, with the exception of her grandmother, was murdered while she was in her teens and then unofficially adopted by Hugh. Savi is Indian and a genius. It is totally true love for both her and Colin at first sight but it took a while for them to work out the kinks in their relationship.

Brook's books are always funny and romantic yet almost impossibly deep. Sometimes I get a little lost in the pathos but I always some out smiling (sometimes in tears) in the end. This month I read both Demon Moon and Demon Night. I gave them both the same grade but I liked this one a bit more. I expect to read Demon Bound and possibly Demon Forged in March. Demon Blood comes out in July. Here's the order in which to read this awesome series:

"Falling for Anthony" in Hot Spell
Demon Angel
"Paradise" in Wild Thing (Jane, I had read this one the first time around! I'm so dumb, LOL)
Demon Moon
Demon Night
"Thicker Than Blood" in First Blood
Demon Bound
Demon Forged
"Blind Spot" in Must Love Hellhounds
Demon Blood

Books Read in February 2010

Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (A!)
by Jessica Andersen (B++)
by Eileen Wilks from On the Prowl (ant.) (B)
by Caitlin Kittredge from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (A-)
Craving Beauty
by Nalini Singh (B+)
First Blood
Demon Night
by Meljean Brook (A)
Must Love Hellhounds
Accidentally Dead
by Dakota Cassidy (B)
Kiss & Hell
by Dakota Cassidy (B)
First Drop of Crimson
by Jeaniene Frost (B+)
Carved in Stone
by Vickie Taylor (B)
Truly, Madly
by Heather Webber (B+)
No Rest for the Wicked
by Kresley Cole (B+)
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
Demon Moon
by Meljean Brook (A)
My Wicked Enemy
by Carolyn Jewel (B-)
Red-Headed Stepchild
by Jaye Wells (B-)
by J. F. Lewis (A-)
The Bridegroom
by Linda Lael Miller (B-)
The Undoing of a Lady
by Nicola Cornick (B-)
The Scandals of an Innocent
by Nicola Cornick (B)
The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
by Mario Acevedo (dnf)
The Confessions of a Duchess
by Nicola Cornick (C+)
by Jennifer Armintrout (paused)
Three Days to Dead
by Kelly Meding (A-)
The Cinderella Deal
by Jennifer Crusie (B)

February Total: 24, 2010 Total: 55)
1 dnf, two short stories from two anthologies = 1

Friday, February 26, 2010

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

I so wanted to love this book. I love the cover model's hair, for starters. In this vampire world, everyone who has red hair is a vampire. Anyone with hair of any shade of red has vampire ancestors. (I think that might explain a lot about my cousin.) Hair notwithstanding, I had a few problems with this one. The blurb from
In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina Kane has the only profession fit for an outcast: assassin. But, her latest mission threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races and Sabina must scramble to figure out which side she's on. She's never brought her work home with her—-until now.

This time, it's personal.
Sabina Kane is the granddaughter of one of the baddest vamps in the vamp world, the Dominae leader. Sabina is one of her assassins. Sabina is also half vampire-half mage and therefore is an outcast. The book starts out with Sabina killing one of her friends on her grandma's order, claiming he is a traitor. Faithful to the last, Sabina does her duty without question and that my friends, is the biggest flaw in Sabina's character - blind faith. Wanting so badly to be accepted and loved, she lets her grandma turn her into a killer without so much as a hug or handshake in return. Then, she's given a mission to infiltrate the compound of a cult-like half-demon leader who is their main opposition in the quest for superiority between the races and pseudo-peacefulness. Anyone with half a brain would realize its a suicide mission and that her grandmother couldn't care less about her. Lucky for Sabina, she meets a mage, a demon parades around in kitty cat form, and a roomie of Fae origin and manages to keep her bacon out of the fire.

This book was frustrating to read and the humor sometimes fell flat for me. I did like her pet demon and loved Adam the mage though. The next book, The Mage in Black, moves the action to New York and focuses on the mages this time. Maybe I'll like them better :)

Must Love Hellhounds

Well. If any book I have bought in the last year looked so promising, it was this one. Novellas by four of the best writers in the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genres all in one book?!? Holy cow. I finally took that deep breath and dived in a few days ago.

First up: "The Britlingens Go to Hell" by Charlaine Harris. I love almost everything this wonderful woman writes (I couldn't get into her Aurora Teagarden series) so I was sure this was going to be a winner. Surprisingly I found it to be the weakest of the four. Certainly I was disappointed it didn't have anything to do with Sookie, Harper, or even Lily Bard. The Britlingens are bodyguards from a different Earth dimension. Clovache and Batanya, both women, are hired to escort their client to Hell and back so that he can steal a magical artifact from Lucifer. Taking a tour through Hell doesn't sound very fun but they did meet some interesting people. It didn't have the usual Charlaine Harris "feel" to me. B-

The best of the bunch IMHO, "Angels' Judgment" by Nalini Singh, fleshes out the story about Sara and Deacon and is set before Angel's Blood. Sara is the director of the Guild in Angel's Blood but this shows Sara as a hunter, Deacon as the Director's assassin, and how they meet. They are sent to figure out with Hunter has gone rogue and is murdering other Hunters. Needless to say, they figure it out, take care of business, and fall in love. Elena makes a cameo appearance in this nice little romance. A

"Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews pairs up Kate's hyena shifter friend Raphael and Andrea, Kate's replacement at work and hyena beastkin, a hyena-human hybrid that is not welcome in most shifter societies. Raphael and Andrea have a connection and while Raphael has been pursuing her without success, Andrea wants him. BAD. This was a great part of this anthology; it had the feel of its series, an interesting storyline, an even more interesting romance, and a giant hellhound. All-in-all, awesome. A

Last but not least, "Blind Spot" by Meljean Brook. I have a bad habit of reading Meljean's series out-of-order and this story is no exception: I have read up through Demon Night plus the short story in First Blood. This story is set after Demon Forged, the last novel published in the series, so I wasn't familiar with Maggie, Colin's new Winters. He has sent her to NY to find Geoff Blake, his nephew. Geoff is blind (sort of) and works as a troubleshooter for Ramsdell Pharmaceuticals. Geoff and his sister has gone missing and someone from Maggie's past is responsible. Armed with Sir Pup, Maggie sets off to find Geoff and finds love instead. Aw. I liked this one alot but being somewhat lost in a story where the only main character I am familiar with is Sir Pup took some of the shine off of it but I'll like anything she writes so that didn't matter :) A

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

I dropped Jeaniene Frost's Cat & Bones series awhile back. There was just something about them (Cat more so than Bones) that didn't agree with me. Or maybe it was the plots. Or whatever, it just had a bad aftertaste. I think the sex scenes in the last one I read turned me off too. Anyway, I've not been reading her books but when I saw this one, set in Cat's world but featuring secondary characters in their own stories, I was interested.

I barely remembered Spade and Denise drew a blank for me. Denise's backstory, the one where her husband is murdered by vampires, has traumatized her and made her afraid of vamps so it was interesting that when she needed help, she called Spade, one of Bones's turning buddies and oldest friends, when a demon threatens her family. Naturally, he drops everything and rushes to her side since she's Cat's best friend. Together, they're both fighting awareness of the other, an attraction that started (I think) in the first book, Halfway to the Grave. The romance between these two takes an awful long time to simmer - about half the book. Maybe it was too subtle for me and I certainly could be missing details that were shared in the books I haven't read so there's that to consider. It ended pretty well and I am planning to read the next one, Eternal Kiss of Darkness, out this summer and featuring Mencheres, Spade and Bones's sire. Mencheres and Ian were both pleasant cast members in Crimson. Can we assume that Ian might be focused on in book three?

Best Book of January (and yes, I know it's almost March)

Juliet Marillier is now one of my favorite authors EVER. I did read Heart's Blood first and loved it in the way I love many books but this book, this is true love. It's the beginning of a saga that spans generations of a family line. What a way to start the year! Here's the synopsis:
A beautiful retelling of the Celtic "Swans" myth, Daughter of the Forest is a mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love... To reclaim the lives of her brothers, Sorcha leaves the only safe place she has ever known and embarks on a journey filled with pain, loss and terror. When she is kidnapped by enemy forces and taken to a foreign land, it seems that there will be no way for Sorcha to break the spell that condemns all that she loves. But magic knows no boundaries, and Sorcha will have to choose between the live she has always known and a love that comes only once.
So it's not completely original. BFD! Marillier paints her stories with words to create a gorgeous canvas that makes her books feel more like art instead of just a book. I'll stop gushing now since I think you get the gist of what I'm saying but seriously. There's some real good reading here.

Assorted musings

I was going through my bookshelves today while thinking about my self-challenges and looking for books I have had for a while yet not read. Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen is a perfect example of this: I received this book via PBS last summer. Several times I have wondered what possessed me to wishlist this book - I am sure I saw it listed somewhere on one of my daily blog strolls - but having it in my hands and reading the back cover made me question my intelligence. Doomsday prophecies and Mayans? I figured it would be one of those series where they scrap a plot together around raunchy sex scenes that I would be skimming past. Let's get one thing straight here - this is not fancy literature. It's not even the best pararom I've read in a long while but it has kept my attention. 300+ pages and I'm still interested! Not bad, right? This is the first in its series and it has a lot of work to do in the exposition department what with all the new characters to introduce, and I'm thinking that she's setting up every book to come if one can judge by how many she's crammed into this book. Now I just have to get my hands on books two and three...

Speaking of self-challenges, I think for March I shall just pick a number. Pick a number of books from my own library, in particular books that I won't be keeping after I've finished with them. Shouldn't be too hard since there's lots of those around here. I keep picking these books that I don't read and part of me knows that I won't read them. It's my subconscious's way of weeding them out, I guess. I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of trying to trim down my book obsession; certainly I keep the ones I love the most but I keep finding new ones that I love. What's a book freak to do? Wah. My life is so hard :)

I have gone through a bunch of other paranormal romances lately and it seems like almost everything I read this month has been B worthy. Am I being too easy on them or have I just read lots of decent fiction lately? I don't know. I do know that Meljean Brook is so utterly awesome.  I've been reading my copies of her books and then sending them to a friend so she may love them too but it was kinda hard to part with them. Don't get me wrong, I was going to let them go without any reservations but I did have some separation anxiety. I had to tell myself "It's okay. If you want to read them again in the future you can." I'm so lame sometimes. LOL. And, no Jane, it's all good and I want you to have them :)

OK. I expect to do my reviews of First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost, Must Love Hellhounds, Staked, Red-Headed Stepchild, Demon Moon & Demon Night, possibly some words about the two Dakota Cassidy books I just read, and I really need to finish reading that ebook I got from LT, Dead Pan, and write a review for it too all in the next few days. Oh, and maybe I'll finally get to Juliet Marillier and all her fabulousness. The husband will be at work for a big bunch of Saturday so I would be such a bad blogger if I didn't take advantage. Let's hope for the best! *snort*

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Which I State the Obvious

So I'm halfway through February and I've read, and by read I mean finished to the end, half my chosen list already. Here's what I've learned:
  • I don't care for Mario Acevedo's books. An acquaintance of mine told me she didn't like The Nymphos of Rocky Flats but I didn't listen since her idea of a tasty book is extreme horror. While this book wasn't "horrible," I didn't like Felix Gomez enough to keep reading. I also didn't like the habits of Mr. Acevedo's vamps, especially when eating: they pour blood on all their food. Pasta and beef would have a very red sauce for example. I guess I've become used to reading vampire stories where they feed off the hoof, so to speak, but the mental picture of regular food covered in blood bothered me. Sorry Mr. Acevedo, I really wanted to enjoy your books since I have two others to add to the first one in the "outbox."
  •  I'm not sure why but I ended up with five books about vampires in my pile this month. Two of them were familiar; I had already read the first books in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series and Meljean Brook's Guardians series. The third one is mentioned above but the last two, they were pleasant surprises. Staked by J. F. Lewis and Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells were completely different takes on vamps. I plan to review these two a bit more closely later and I will be picking up Lewis's sequel, Revamped, from the library in the next few days.
  • I finally finished the Nicola Cornick trio that I bought last year. I had never read a full-length book of hers before; she did a short story in an anthology that came out late '09 and had a reprint of a novella by Mary Balogh and introduced Courtney Milan, a new author whose first book I own but have yet to read. Cornick's trio focused on a village in Yorkshire, England in the 19th century. The local town squire decided that he would enforce some ye olde medieval laws so that he could rake in some moolah. The law gave him the authority to claim a substantial percentage of each eligible unmarried woman's money if they didn't get married by the end of the year. Thus, a new marriage mart was born, as were many headaches. This trio was about average for historical romances set in that period: Oversexed couples overcome heartache, pride, and social injustice (?) in order to find true love. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but not the best efforts I've read either. 
  • I'm thinking that for next month's challenge I won't be picking random books but may go in a different direction (kinda) - choosing a few authors of whom I have several books or a series and finishing them. C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp's Tales of the Sazi series in one possibility as is Anne Bishop's Black Jewels. Those two suggestions came off of the first page of my inventory on LibraryThing so I know there's lots more to choose from :) Or, pick a genre and stick to it all month. Also, one of these months Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice may be on a list. I keep telling myself that I will read it someday. I'm probably the last woman in America that loves books that hasn't read it yet.
  • I have a feeling that I won't be getting into Napoleon's Pyramids anytime soon - it just isn't holding my interest. Roxanne St. Claire is iffy too. Maybe I'll get through the others :) Just maybe...
P.S. I'm falling behind on my reviews again. Reminder: think about Staked and Red-Headed Stepchild and write down what pops. Do this for Kelly Meding's book and Deidre Knight's books as well.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    One for the Money is finally going to be a movie?

    And Katherine Heigl is supposed to be Stephanie Plum? REALLY? I think I'll be skipping this one or else I'll be kicked out of the movie theater for throwing popcorn at the screen and heckling the actors :) Stephanie Plum is one of my absolute favorite females in fiction and I don't think I could bear to watch what they are going to do to her on the big screen. I cringe when I wonder who they'll pick to play Morelli. Or Ranger. Or Grandma Mazur. :(

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    February Challenge Booklist

    I have chosen eight books, plus two alternates to give me a little wiggle room :)

    Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
    No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole
    Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
    Longing by Mary Balogh
    The Confessions of a Duchess by Nicola Cornick
    Kill Me Twice by Roxanne St. Claire
    Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich
    Staked by J. F. Lewis


    The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
    Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    State of the Month

    Officially, I'm going to call my experiment a failure (technical). I failed to read all the books on the list. However, I did get two extra Julia Spencer-Fleming books read as well as my two Marliss Moon books (these have staring at me for months). The Eyre Affair and Charmed to Death are going back on the shelf to be attempted again in the future. That all being said, I will be coming up with a new list of another eight books to be read in Feb. Eight books = two per week. That is definitely doable...I just need to choose more wisely this time around.

    I discovered a fascinating new writer in C. L. Wilson and am looking forward to reading the other three books that have been published in her Tairen Soul quintet. Obviously, book five isn't out yet. I read somewhere that she'll be doing a new series, also about the Fey, so I'll definitely be looking out for that. Other new notables: Kim Lenox, Jeri Smith-Ready, Shirl Henke (what a surprise), and Helen Scott Taylor. I expect that I'll have a weak moment, break down, and go to the bookstore to buy The Phoenix Charm. I don't think I can wait!

    Only one DNF in January - Lori Avocato's A Dose of Murder. I was so disappointed by this book and as a huge fan of Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum, I was astonished at what a lousy job the author did (Sorry) and how much of a rip-off it was of Stephanie. I didn't even get through fifty pages of this one. I had high hopes for it too.

    I had a good run of Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick books for some reason. Ms. Krentz writes very good romances but I think I prefer her historicals under her Quick pseudonym. Her strength of writing intelligent yet vulnerable women with a sharp wit really seems to shine when she writes about 19th century England. I've got two more to go in my library.  

    I'll be doing my usual separate post of the best book of January was but I want to mention A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. Mary is one of my favorite authors and this book was short but so sweet, with a neat little twist I did not see coming. At all. This was one of only two A+ books in January but sadly, it won't win this month. When it comes out in paperback, I definitely plan to pick up a copy of this too short book.

    So, not a bad run this time. I averaged a book/day and that's pretty good for me. Having a few days a month where I don't read at all and a few more where I read two or three a day seems to work for me. I do have a life, after all. No, really :)

    Books Read in January 2010

    By Starlight by Marliss Moon (B+)
    Red Kiss
    by Deidre Knight (B+)
    Red Fire
    by Deidre Knight (B)
    Danger's Promise
    by Marliss Moon (B+)
    Amazing Gracie
    by Sherryl Woods (B)
    Ain't She Sweet?
    by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (B)
    Lord of the Fading Lands
    by C. L. Wilson (A)
    by Gena Showalter (B-)
    All Mortal Flesh
    by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A)
    To Darkness and to Death
    by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A)
    Out of the Deep I Cry
    by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A)
    Night Falls Darkly
    by Kim Lenox (B+)
    by J. R. Ward (B+)
    The First Rule
    by Robert Crais (A-)
    Hush, Hush
    by Becca Fitzpatrick (C+)
    Furies of Calderon
    by Jim Butcher (B+)
    Wicked Game
    by Jeri Smith-Ready (A!)
    Yankee Earl
    by Shirl Henke (B+)
    The River Knows
    by Amanda Quick (B)
    A Dose of Murder
    by Lori Avocato (dnf)
    All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz (B-)
    Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz (B-)
    The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick (A-)
    A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (A+)
    From the Mists of Wolf Creek by Rebecca Brandewyne (C-)
    Sizzle by Julie Garwood (B+)
    A Deal with the Devil by Liz Carlyle (B+)
    The Magic Knot by Helen Scott Taylor (B+)
    Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (A)
    Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier (A-)
    Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier (A)
    Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (A+)

    Total: 31