Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Most Anticipated Books of February

Jen's pick:

My pick for February is Melissa Marr’s Darkest Mercy (not that I’ve read Radiant Shadows yet). Darkest Mercy is the last in her superfabulous Wicked Lovely YA series and I can’t wait to see how it’ll end. Who will Ashlinn pick, Seth or Keenan? Will all the courts survive? And what about Niall? LOVE him.

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.
Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.
Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.
The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr's New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

Jane’s pick:

My pick this month is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. This is the first book in a trilogy, a saga that blends romance and suspense with fantasy. How can you not be intrigued by a bewitched manuscript, an irresistible French vampire, powerful witches and an ancient castle? I will definitely be reading this one! (Me too! Me too!)

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.
For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.
Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

Oh, yeah, here's the deets: Darkest Mercy comes out on Feb. 22; A Discovery of Witches comes on Feb. 8.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cover Watch!


Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he’s known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check… until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he’s waited for all his life.


But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to win free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark’s enemies make her an offer she can’t refuse: Seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she’s sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs—and the love she knows is impossible.


Review: The Perfect Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

If there is anything Tristan Adam Hargrove, fourth Marquis of Moreland, has learned to avoid, it’s scandal. For the dark and dashing lord is not only an honorable gentleman who would never seduce a woman for his own gain, he is also the author of How to Avoid a Scandal, the infamous red book that has swept like wildfire through the better part of London society.

When a raven-haired beauty arrives as his new neighbor, he knows better than to succumb to the desire he feels. He knows little about her—only that she is high born, a protégé of the Crown and completely unsuitable for the base passions he hides from the world. If only he had never glimpsed the vulnerable beauty one fateful night. If only her lips were not so ravishingly red. If only it were not already too late to save her and himself from the untamed passion he is about to unleash in the name of love.

Delilah Marvelle wraps up her Scandal trilogy with a third story involving dashing men with unusual sexual proclivities and the women who love them with The Perfect Scandal, a daunting romance between a complicated man and a passionate woman. This may be my favorite of the trio; Tristan and Zosia complement each other very well and the subject matter, as with the first two books, is handled in a compassionate manner.

Tristan has some dark secrets, aspects of himself he is ashamed of and terrified of sharing with anyone. He has isolated himself, a masterful trick for a man living in the bustling city of London as well as being one of the most well-known members of the ton. His grandmother tries to run his life and choose the woman he'll marry; his parents died when he was young in a sort of double suicide after his mother's long battle with madness and depression and she raised him after the fact. After he meets the unconventional Zosia, Tristan realizes that he has a long way to go before he can love her as she deserves.

Zosia is from Poland. She's a half-Russian countess from a family who perished in a tragic fire that caused her to lose part of one of her legs, Zosia is in hiding from the hated Russian aristocracy who wish to marry her into their ranks. Marrying an englishman will give her even more protection from Russia and King George himself has promised to find her a suitable husband. Then, she meets Tristan, her next door neighbor, and decides that he is the one for her, even if it takes some convincing on her part.

As I mentioned, Tristan and Zosia may be my favorite of the three couples in this series. Their romance was (as always) a bit naughty but they both are giving people who want the best for each other. I liked how much inner strength Zosia had and how unconcerned she was for propriety; she would more or less holler at Tristan out her bedroom window and seeing him get so disturbed by her doing this was amusing. Tristan, as the writer of that infamous book about scandals, is the essence of proper. It was a relief to see him finally, shall we say, let his hair down.

Delilah Marvelle has greatly impressed this reader with this trilogy. Not many historical romance (or otherwise) writers have the deft hand she possesses when it comes to sensitive subjects (rape, sexual addition, cutting, bondage). I will definitely read more books by this author in the future.

Review: Scandal by Amanda Quick

From a stately country house in Hampshire to the dazzling drawing rooms of London society comes an exquisite tale of an elfin beauty, a vengeful lord, and a wild, sweet love that is sheer poetry.

With her reputation forever tarnished by a youthful indiscretion, lovely Emily Faringdon is resigned to a life of spinsterhood–until she embarks on an unusual correspondence and finds herself falling head over heels in love. Sensitive, intelligent, and high-minded, her noble pen pal seems to embody everything Emily has ever dreamed of in a man. But Simon Augustus Traherne, the mysterious Earl of Blade, is not at all what he seems.

Driven by dark, smoldering passions and a tragic secret buried deep within his soul, Blade has all of London cowering at his feet, but not Emily . . . never Emily. For even as she surrenders to his seductive charms, she knows the real reason for his amorous suit. And she knows that she must reach the heart of this golden-eyed dragon before the avenging demons of their entwined pasts destroy the only love she has ever known. (from B&

The other day, I did what I usually do when the book I'm chewing on doesn't agree with me - I went to my historical shelf and looked for something easier to handle. I read lots of books like this one (there's just so many millions of them floating about the universe (or so it seems) that it's only probable that I'll brush up against one from time to time) but I'm not quite sure that I have ever seen one like Scandal by Amanda Quick. The main female character, Emily, is so utterly annoying and ridiculous that I'm still in awe of her. Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Ann Krentz, is one of my favorite historical authors and I am gobsmacked that she of all people came up with an unparalleled nitwit such as Emily.

Emily is intelligent. She manages her family's finances; more specifically, she manages to keep her gambling addict of a father from the poorhouse by successfully playing the stockmarket and choosing successful ventures. However, when it comes to men, she is an idiot. Losing her reputation at nineteen to a prettyboy Byron wannabe, she settled into a life of quiet spinsterhood in a small village outside the direct influence of London. One day, she received a letter from a stranger, a man who claimed that he had heard through the literati grapevine that she was a fellow lover of poetry, and they became pen pals. Turns out that her pen pal is a man whose father was ruined in a card game by her father and she's living in his old home! Simon has waited a long time for revenge and he's decided to use Emily to get it.

Here's where it goes bad. Emily is a HUGE sucker for romantic literature. (Ironic, isn't it, how she didn't fancy Mr. Darcy when her book club read P&P?) Simon uses her awful poetry as a lure, reeling Emily in slowly. He then shows up in her neighborhood after he's sure she's an absolute fool in love over him and seduces her without going all the way (a late night tryst was a sure thing to check that she was, in fact, INTACT). They marry and he makes sure that they consummate the marriage on their wedding night. At this point, I was thinking, hmm. Looking into a man's eyes and thinking that they seem cold to you when he's talking about love and metaphysical attachments is probably not a good sign, sister. However, throughout all of this, Emily goes on and on about how Simon is good and honorable and not at all cruel and dangerous to him and everyone else who will listen. Here is a rather long example of their interactions that appear throughout Scandal, where Emily apologizes to Simon for speaking to her father and tries to understand why he's being cold to her. It is fairly consistent with the rest: (from pages 140-142)
    "I understand and I am truly sorry," Emily said quickly. "You must know that. But it all happened a long time ago. It concerns our parents, not us. It was the work of an earlier generation. Now that you have St. Clair Hall back, you must let go of the past. It will only continue to torment you if you do not. Simon, you must look to the future."
    "Really? And what, precisely, do you propose I contemplate when I gaze upon the future?" Simon asked dryly.
    Emily took a deep breath. "Well, there is the matter of our relationship, my lord," she suggested tentatively. "As you pointed out last night, it has been considerably enhanced and deepened now by our physical union. We share something very special. Surely you will want to let go of the sadness of the past and concentrate instead on the joys of our greatly expanded methods of communication."
    He looked down at her, brows arched in icy amusement. "Are you suggesting that I forgo the reminder of my vengeance against your family in favor of the joys of the marriage bed?"
    Emily was increasingly uncertain of Simon's odd mood. A deep foreboding swept over her as she peered up at him through her spectacles. He looked very dangerous suddenly; a dragon had invaded the south garden, a dragon looking for prey.
    "Last night," Emily said slowly, "you said that for us the pleasures of the marriage bed would be unique. You told me they would be connected to the pure and noble passions of the metaphysical realm. That our union took place on the transcendental plane as well as of the physical plane. Surely that sort of relationship is very special and should be nurtured and cherished, my lord?"
    Anger crackled in Simon's golden eyes. "For God's sake, Emily, even you cannot be that naive. What took place between us last night had nothing whatsoever to do with any damn transcendental place. It was a matter of simple lust."
    "Simon, you cannot mean that. You yourself explained about the connection between the physical and metaphysical realms." She blushed but did not lower her gaze. She knew she was fighting for something very important now. "Our passions are transcendent in nature. Remember how you described the way our lovemaking in the physical world was bound to enhance our communication in the metaphysical realm?"
    She bit her lip. "So you lied to me about wanting to enhance our unique metaphysical communication?"
    "Emily, I did what I had to do in order to calm you bridal fears. We got the business over and done in a reasonable fashion and there is now no chance of an annulment."
    "That is all you cared about? Making certain there would be no grounds for an annulment this morning?" she asked softly. "You did not feel that last night we were both cast adrift on love's transcendent golden shore?"
    "Bloody hell. For God's sake, woman, will you cease prattling on about romance and metaphysics? I have had enough of your romantical nonsense. This is a marriage, not a verse from an epic poem. It is time you faced reality. You are no longer a Faringdon. You are now my wife. We shall manage to deal comfortably with each other if you keep that fact uppermost in your mind at all times."
    "I am hardly likely to forget it, Simon."
    "See that you don't," he said, his golden eyes blazing. "Emily it is time you understood that I require one thing above all else from you."
    "You require my love?" A spark of foolish hope still burned within her, Emily realized with chagrin.
    "No, Emily," Simon said brutally. "What I require from you - what I will have from you at all costs - is your complete and unwavering loyalty. You are now the Countess of Blade. You are a Traherne. You are no longer a Faringdon. Is that entirely clear?"
    The last, tiny flicker of hope died. "You make yourself very clear, my lord."

Emily's prattling about "love's transcendent golden shore" continues throughout the whole of Scandal and it drove me crazy, just as it did Simon. From a writer who creates such intelligent and shrewd women, I could just not understand by Quick/Krentz would go this direction with Emily. Perhaps this is her version of whimsy?

As for Simon, I'm not agreeing with his motives or methods but I found him less annoying, if not exactly likable. A man willing to trample over anybody and everybody for revenge isn't the type I'd want to spend my life with. The title of Earl of Blade is certainly apropos, is it not?

Scandal is definitely not Amanda Quick's best work. An annoying heroine and ruthless hero make this an irritating trip into regency England.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Accidentally Yours by Susan Mallery


-Single mom seeks billionaire's pocketbook to fund dying son's research cure. Will seduce if necessary. Blackmail is not out of the question. Miracles welcome.
-Cynical billionaire seeks working mom with a heart of gold for PR campaign to improve his standing in the community. Must be willing to attend social events. Anyone looking for love need not apply.
It seemed like the perfect match…until the unthinkable happened.

My thoughts (audiobook version):

Kerri Sullivan is a single mom who is willing to do absolutely anything to get the money needed to continue the research for a cure for her nine year old son, Cody who is slowly dying from Gilliar’s disease. She goes after Nathan King, a billionaire who had lost his son to the same disease 6 years ago, blackmailing him into donating $15 million. Nathan had no interest in getting involved. He already had to endure seeing his child die from this disease, he didn’t want to experience it again. But Kerri wouldn’t take no for an answer...

This is a heart tugging story about sacrifices, faith and a mother’s undying love. I hope that if I ever find myself in a situation like this, that I would be as strong and determined as Kerri. The dialog was witty (laugh out loud funny at times) and the romance between Kerri and Nathan was beautiful and unrushed. The other characters I found endearing were Nathan’s chauffeur and his boyfriend Lance and of course Cody who was adorable and so brave. Be prepared to laugh and cry, this is a wonderful story.

Narration: I was impressed with Therese Plummer’s narration. This was an emotional story and she really made the characters come to life for me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout

He's the good kind of vampire...sort of.

Buried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years…and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers at all.

Jessa’s the only one to even remotely trust him, and she’s desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide. Supplies are low, the locals are ornery for a sacrifice and there’s a monster more powerful than Graf lurking in the woods. New men are hard to come by in this lonesome town, and this handsome stranger might be Jessa’s only hope for salvation.

Even if she has to die first…(from

In American Vampire, Jennifer Armintrout boils down humanity to its worst and then adds a vampire. It's not saying much that the vampire is the best of the bunch, is it?

Penance is cut off from the real world, a la The Twilight Zone, and the people who live there are hunted by a monster. Graf starts out his accidental visit to Penance with plans to suck everybody dry. He doesn't think much of humans, it appears, but ends up having to ingratiate himself on Jessa lest he end up sleeping, or rather baking, in the trunk of his little sports car. Jessa wants no part of him; life in Penance is hard enough without having to stretch supplies that much more. The people of Penance have regressed back to the Salem witch trials; outsiders are not accepted and suspicions run high. There's not much reason in Penance and it's a very scary place, even without the monster.

I liked American Vampire but not quite as much as I had expected. The plot was interesting, certainly unlike anything else I've read lately even if it was a bit predictable, especially the ending. Graf comes off as a jerk more often than not but redeems himself by the end. Jessa is sad, desperate, and defeated enough to throw out all her self-respect but who wouldn't be under the circumstances? In the end, I felt that American Vampire lacked the same spark that I saw in The Turning, book one in Armintrout's Blood Ties series.

American Vampire is available on Feb. 22, 2011.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cover Watch!

See Meljean's post about it HERE. Nothing on amazon yet.

October, baby!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I used to think that my favorite women in fiction were written by Nora Roberts. They are strong women who have dignity and the courage to fight for what they want. Well, sorry Ms. Roberts, but there's a new favorite in town: Susan Elizabeth Phillips. SEP (as she is often referred to) doesn't write romances, she writes women's fiction, good women's fiction. As with her peers Jennifer Crusie and Jennifer Weiner, her stories aren't about the "action" between a man and a woman (not that this particular aspect is missing, mind you) but rather the journey that the woman takes to become the woman she wants to be. Meg from Call Me Irresistible is her most compelling leading lady yet in a long list of awesome women.

Meg is daughter of Hollywood elite parents (from SEP's Glitter Baby) and is considered to be a spoiled rich girl. She carries no responsibilities and lives her life jumping from one exotic locale to the next for fun. (Think Nepal, not Monaco.) Her best friend, Lucy, a former president's daughter, is about to marry Ted Beaudine from Wynette, Texas, the local Golden Boy and PGA champ. When Meg arrives in Wynette to stand up at Lucy's wedding she makes a horrible discovery: Lucy is marrying the wrong man! With one look, Meg believes with all her heart that Lucy is not marrying the right man for her. Chaos ensues with Meg left to take all the blame. Now she's stuck in Wynette - a town that hates her - and since her parents have decided to cut her off financially, she's got some serious bucking up to do. The worst part? Ted Beaudine has made it his life's mission to make her miserable...and he looks so good doing it.

I loved Meg. Plucky and full of sass, her life is looking pretty lousy but she doesn't let it drag her down. She's attracted to Ted, yes, but when she looks at him she sees a pretty unhappy man instead of the town hero (and mayor). That makes her want to help but only a little bit since he pretty much hates her. Her family and friends cut her off from any help to make her grow up and grow some resources of her own and she does; she takes menial jobs but makes the most of them and even starts crafting her own jewelry line. The hardest part about living in Wynette for Meg really is maintaining her dignity in the face of those catty women who are just trying to protect what's theirs: Ted.

Ted was a hard read. He's a popular man who always knows the right thing to say or do but he's still an introvert. He doesn't emote, even with Meg, and at the beginning of the book, I thought he was pretty awful. He took his frustration and pain from being jilted out on Meg just like everyone else when it wasn't her fault. Bringing Meg down many pegs made him a bit too happy for my taste. I liked how the reader's understanding of Ted mirrored his own; Ted's self-awareness needed some time to kick in.

SEP's next book sounds like it'll be about Lucy, the runaway bride. I can't wait to see what happened to her after she fled Wynette.

Other reviews:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shadowfever: The Day(s) After

So. I read Shadowfever the day it came out. I finished it around seven p.m. Tuesday evening. I think my mind is still processing it and I know it will take a reread or two before it is completely digested but I wanted to give myself a little bit of closure for now so here I am, talking about this series AGAIN on this blog. Get over it, people, I love this writer :)

Here's my problem: I am now faced with a serious dilemma of how to review this book. There's really no way without blowing a bunch of spoilers - little ones and big ones - so I won't. Just like I did with Mockingjay, I'll just talk a bit about my reactions. 'Cause I think they're a bit more important than dicing up the book just like Mac does with Unseelie.

First off, I smiled when I finished the last page. There was no howling or stomping around with steam shooting out of my ears, ranting to my poor husband about how this or that should've or didn't happen. I. Am. Satisfied. That surprises me in a way because there were some definite questions flitting around in my head that I wanted answers to but...not all of them were answered, not completely.

What made me happiest, I think, is that Mac gets her HEA. Come on folks, you knew it was coming! How could KMM leave us all hanging like that? I'm not telling how it happens or with who, but it does. YAY! I am a total sucker for the HEA. Sometimes it can't happen (like with Aeriel at the of Meredith Ann Pierce's Darkangel trilogy) and sometimes it shouldn't happen (how many romances have I read where the couple is completely obnoxious) but usually, it's a nice payoff for me as a reader.

There's TONS of action in Shadowfever and lots of dangling subplots are tied up. However, some of them aren't and that's why I appreciated the last few words: "The End...For Now." Here's what KMM says when asked about future books, specifically more Highlander ones (from :
FAQ: Will you write another Highlander novel?

I honestly don't know if I can write a straightforward romance in which the story revolves primarily around the romance again. There, I've said it. I know this will disappoint some of my fans but the romance alone wasn't enough to keep my muse happy. I need more than that in the stories I tell. So, if the question is will I ever write a book like my Highlander series again where the primary thrust is: woman meets man, complications ensue, woman loses man, reclaims man and has a HEA, the answer is probably not without a whole lot of other stuff going on, too.

That being said, I may find myself at some point in the future, dying to re-visit the Highlands again and totally in the mood to lose myself in love for no other purpose than love's sake.

I guess the answer is: no plans to write a straightforward Highlander romance right now but I never say never.

Remember, the Keltars figure prominently in the Fever series, and Christian will be getting his own play--just not the way I did it in my Highlander series. I need a little more nitty, gritty reality in his tale. He's becomes quite the complex man.
Christian is definitely a complicated one. Shadowfever wasn't especially kind to Christian.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I'm satisfied. I gave this book an A although it's not perfect strictly because of my emotional reactions (duh). It is well written, has plenty of surprises I wasn't expecting, and even managed to make my jaw drop a time or two (or, uh, three). I will say here that I figured out who the UK was halfway through. Extra characters are never superfluous.

The Fever series is now at an end. Read it sometime if you like long, drawn-out paranormal romances with lots of action and drama. And faeries. Don't forget the faeries.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Countdown to Shadowfever!

ARE YOU READY?! I know I am. I have reread the first four Fever books. I have read the first two chapters of Shadowfever; someone leaked them last week and to keep her readers from being too upset about a certain spoiler, KMM posted them herself on her website. Like a diabetic with a candy bar, I couldn't NOT, you know?

Here's my opinion: if KMM keeps you-know-who dead, I will not be a happy woman. I can't see it happening. There's just too much invested in this character and KMM will have some serious 'splaining to do.

Can you tell how hyped I am for this book? It feels like it's right up there with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It's going to rain here tomorrow and I'm still going to go out and get me a copy. If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what will.

Tomorrow, I'm turning off my phone. I'm locking the front door. I'm going incommunicado until I finish it!

Happy reading tomorrow!

Update: I would also like to add some links here to other book blogs who have been doing some awesome work with the reviews and discussions:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal. (from

Evie isn't normal. She has no family and lives in a government facility. Her best friend is a mermaid who lives in a big fish tank and has to speak using a machine like Stephen Hawking. She works for a company that gathers up supernatural creatures like vampires or werewolves; her job is to find and tag them so that they're "neutered," or no longer able to harm anyone. She is starved for teenage interaction and obsesses over a television show akin to 90210. Evie is a kind person who only wants to be good. And don't forget, normal.

At first, I wasn't sure what to think of Evie. Sometimes worldly but more often naive, she jumps when her "boss" and surrogate mother, Raquel, says how high. She has to occasionally fend off her faerie ex, Reth, stalker that he is, and this makes her seem, well, normal. But then she wanders around IPCA's facility, blithely going along, not questioning anything. This is basically her life until she catches an intruder, a shape-shifter boy named Lend, who is breaking into Raquel's office. He and Evie hit it off right from the start even though the IPCA has him in a cell and wants to know what his agenda is. Lend helps Evie open her eyes to what her life is like and moreover, to herself. Is she human or not? Why is she always so cold and what is she to IPCA - an employee or an inmate? By the end of Paranormalcy, I had a much better sense of Evie and so did she.

Paranormalcy is a nifty little YA novel. It took me only a few hours to read it (just finished this evening, actually) but it kept my eyes riveted to its pages throughout. I could have lived without some of the more stereotypical teenage stuff like the prom but with a heroine who aches to be a typical teenager, what else could I have asked for? With an interesting (if not a bit predictable) plot and a likable heroine, Paranormalcy is a good addition to the YA genre.

The next chapter in Kiersten White's trilogy, Supernaturally, will be released in Fall 2011.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardians to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose - for a crime she didn't even commit. She's in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She'll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose's life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back...and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your whole life is about saving others, who will save you? (from dust jacket)

Well, it's over. (Sort of.) Last Sacrifice is last in Richelle Mead's five book YA series about vampires. A question I kept asking myself as I was reading Last Sacrifice: Why am I reading Last Sacrifice? Did I expect an ending different from the one I got? If you are a fan of this series, what did you expect? Here's what I figured would happen (and did), in very general terms:

  1. Rose would end up with Dimitri. Duh! You don't spend four angst-filled books pining for the man you can't have to give up on him by the end. Poor Adrian. He didn't have a hope in hell from the very beginning. I really liked him and hope to see more of him in Bloodlines, the Vampire Academy spin-off.
  2. Rose would be exonerated. Duh! She didn't do it. And Richelle Mead would probably fill us in on who did.
  3. There would lots of big reveals and surprises. Duh! There has to be SOMETHING to fill up those gaps between those adoring gazes Rose gets from Dimitri (and vice versa). 
  4. Everybody (except the murdered and murderer and Adrian) would get their HEA. Duh! 

Last Sacrifice is a decent end to a decent (but not great) series. As I figure to be the case with most of the other readers, I kept reading because I wanted to see Rose and Dimitri reconcile. I wanted my payoff! It was worth it to put up with Rose for that long; I find her immature and irritating most of the time. I was actually surprised (and disappointed in) the identity of Titania's murderer; I felt betrayed too. I liked him/her! (Ha! Not telling!)

Bloodlines has a release date of August 23, 2011. Will I be reading it? Probably, yes. Mead's website claims that it will be written in third person, we will get to see what happens to Sydney, and that Rose will be making an appearance. Please, may be have some more Adrian? Please?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

ARC Review: Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

To save her life, bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan must overturn a death sentence, outwit a demon assassin, and endure a cross-country drive with a vampire, an elf, and a pixy in this latest kickass adventure in the New York Times bestselling Hollows series

Condemned to death for black magic and shunned, Rachel Morgan has three days to somehow get to the annual witches convention in San Francisco and clear her name. If she fails, the only way she can escape death is to live in the demonic ever after...forever after.

Banned from the flight lists, Rachel teams up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack, headed for the West Coast for her own mysterious business. But Rachel isn't the only passenger along for the ride. Can a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car survive for more than 2,300 miles? And that's not counting the assassin on their tail.

A fearsome demon walks the sunlight, freed after centuries of torment to slay the innocent and devour souls. But his ultimate prey is Rachel Morgan. While the powerful witch with nerves of steel will do whatever it takes to stay alive, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her. (from the back cover of this ARC)


**clears throat**

Pale Demon is the ninth full length book in Kim Harrison's The Hollows series and the fifteenth installment altogether.

Pale Demon is a kickass book and it just may be my new favorite of the series. While I've loved reading each new installment in their own ways, the last few have been the hardest to digest. This happens a lot with long-lived series like this one, I think; with all the calamity and tribulations that these characters have gone through it gets harder and harder to keep the, uh, magic going. However, by the end of Pale Demon, things are starting to look up for Rachel. Just a little bit.

Kim Harrison said of Pale Demon on her website, "Some of the desire to write Pale Demon came from you, the readers, wanting to know if Trent and Rachel actually liked each other despite the taunts and put-downs. I wanted to know myself. What better way to find out then a forced cooperation? If something was going to happen, it would happen then. Right? What evolved surprised even me, and I hope you like it." This was what Pale Demon is all about, the interaction between Rachel and Trent. Kim Harrison is a genius, putting these big personalities into a car for a cross-country road trip. Rachel and Trent have a lot of history and while it certainly hasn't been all good, there's a bond there that keeps it from being all bad. Forcing them to be together in a car for days is a perfect way for her to have them resolve their issues; ratcheting up the tension and pissing people off will bring things to a head every time. It was also pretty funny, too. I will admit it took me a little (read: longer than it should have been) while to figure out why Jenks kept using phrases with "cookie" in them. I got a real big laugh out of that when I figured it out.

The other reason why Pale Demon is so good: the demons. Rachel spends quite a bit of time in the ever after with Al. Their relationship is such fun to behold and I do believe that they actually care about one another. Inasmuch as demon can "care" about someone, anyway. Newt is crazy as ever too.

Pale Demon is starting a new chapter in the chronicles of Rachel Morgan. Things are changing in her world, some relationships are ending and others are just beginning (sort of). I can't wait to see what happens next. The first two chapters are now available on Harrison's website with the next two coming soon. Pale Demon will be released on February 22, 2011.

Now, the best part: a GIVEAWAY! Who wants my LibraryThing ARC of Pale Demon? (US only) Remember, this is an ARC so it won't last forever. (A few pages are already loose.) But who cares if you don't have to buy it? Here's the deal. Become a follower (current followers are eligible too) and leave a comment and the winner will be picked randomly on January 31, 2011. I will get it to the winner before it's release date! Good luck!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

At the tender age of twelve, Gideon Crew witnessed the brutal murder of his father, a scientist wrongly framed by the US government, and shot down by police during a hostage crisis.

More than twenty years later, Gideon finally gets his revenge and fulfills the promise that he made to his mother on her death bed to clear their family name.

He brings down the man who destroyed his father. But then a mysterious witness steps forward to confront Gideon on his crime - and to offer him the chance of a lifetime...

I look forward to the new Pendergast novel by Preston and Child every year and in 2011, they will have two new books to offer: Cold Vengeance, the next Pendergast, out in August; and Gideon's Sword, book one in a new series about a man named Gideon Crew.

Gideon is a genius and a retired art thief. He's also a con artist and a pretender and can become anyone in the wink of an eye. He has a legitimate job that he keeps for fun (and rent money) at the Los Alamos National Lab testing parts that are used in nuclear devices. He is not especially close to anybody.

Revenge takes up most of Gideon's time at the beginning of Gideon's Sword. His mother made him promise on her deathbed that he would make the man who murdered his father pay for it and also know who it was that hurt him. Afterward, Gideon is approached by a man with a request: come to NYC and listen to a proposal. A private company that does contract work for the government wants Gideon to retrieve some ultra-sensitive information from a Chinese national who is flying to the US against his country's wishes. Needless to say, the job becomes very complicated very quickly. Gideon enlists the help of an old acquaintance and a prostitute to complete his assignment.

Gideon's Sword reads like you're watching an action movie. There are car chases, international locales, government conspiracies, secret agents, and assassins. Exciting and, at times, unbelievable, this book is a lot of fun. The rights have already been bought by Paramount and Michael Bay so look for a movie in a few years.

Gideon's Sword will be released on February 22, 2011

Review: Once Upon a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Victoria Jane Emerson left behind her girlish notions of romance when Jonathan deserted her without a backward glance. Now the time has come when she must finally choose a husband, and she has vowed to marry someone who will never break her heart.

Jonathan Pierce Thatcher, Viscount Remington, has returned home, free of all his family’s debts. Only to discover that by some miracle he has been chosen to vie for the hand of his beloved Victoria. To convince his only love to once again believe in the magic of love and the promise of desire will be his greatest challenge yet. And one he cannot fail!

Delilah Marvelle is making one heck of a splash into the world of historical romance with her Scandal series. They're not technically her first books but these are definitely getting more attention in the mainstream market. Once Upon a Scandal is the second in this series and I found it to be just as good as the first.

Victoria was less than a year away from her coming out season in London when Jonathan made a play for her heart. A complete romantic, Jonathan wooed her with sweet words and only one kiss. They were already friends but he wished to have a promise from her before he left for Venice that she would wait for him to return. It should have been seven to ten months, tops, but instead he was gone for five years. And he wouldn't tell her why he couldn't return. From Victoria's perspective, it felt like he dumped her as an afterthought. He stopped replying to the letters she wrote and forbade her cousin, his best friend, from telling her the truth about him. It broke Victoria's heart, a heart that was already fragile after losing her mother and twin brother years before, and so she never married. Fast forward five years. Victoria's father is dying from tertiary-phase syphilis and doesn't even remember her. She is informed that three men have agreed to vie for her hand in marriage and she must marry one before her father is too ill to stand at her wedding - her inheritance depends upon it. Guess who shows up that night to be one of the three? Jonathan. Victoria has to speak to each for an hour before making her decision and than marry them within a week. How does someone make a decision like this, especially with these circumstances? Where has Jonathan been the last five years? And does Victoria still love him?

Delilah Marvelle does not make life easy for her couples, does she? (See my review for Prelude to a Scandal.) I consistently find it appalling, the way that women were treated back then for I do not doubt that this scenario was likely forced upon some poor girl back then; possibly now too. Many men also didn't have it all that easy either, I suppose. Anyway, Once Upon a Scandal is a bittersweet love story. The sex theme is back, too, in a different incarnation, yet still applied to the man in the equation. Sexual abuse in literature or fiction is generally forced upon the woman and I appreciated that Marvelle is turning the tables on that. (Not that I like reading about sexual abuse in any fashion.) I also liked that Jonathan's version of romance didn't involve sexing up Victoria, exactly, as well as his devotion to her and their love. On the flip side, I felt that the villain, Marchese Casacalenda, was rather uneven. He does all these horrible things (i.e. rape, murder) because his influence and money has bought him impunity and then at the end, he voluntarily acquiesces and accepts bodily harm? That felt inconsistent and didn't make sense. On the whole though, I found Once Upon a Scandal to be a riveting story.

The Perfect Scandal, starring Marquis Moreland, one of Victoria's suitors, is the final book in this series. I will definitely be reviewing that one as well.

Once Upon a Scandal can be found in stores on January 18, 2011. The Perfect Scandal will be out on February 15, 2011.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Look! LOOK!

There's no blurb yet but we do have a release date of June 21, 2011! Woot! Already, my ear infection in my left ear and the crick in my neck from sleeping funny are so much better :) 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Rebellious teen Demon Trapper Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself-and that's exactly what Lucifer is counting on.

It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night.
Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell. (from

First off, I would like to pose a question. Why is it that UF/PNR/YA writers like to pick on Atlanta? I have never been there so I have no personal feelings toward it one way or another but it seems that lately, when a book is set there, the city is one step away from being demolished! In The Demon Trapper's Daughter, Atlanta is bankrupt. There is a huge gulf between the classes and folks just barely scrape together a living. Demons are everywhere and they wreak havoc as much as possible. In the beginning of TDTD, Riley is sent to a university law library to capture a "Biblio-Fiend," a tiny demon who lives to ruin books. It's favorite method of destruction: peeing. These little buggers like to sneak into libraries (and if there's rare books there all the better) and pee everywhere, shredding pages as they go. Their kryptonite: boring literature. Riley read it part of the first page of Moby Dick and it was down for the count. (I can relate.) Into it's little sippy cup prison it went. Only...not.

And with that opening snafu, The Demon Trapper's Daughter kept me up until 2:30 am last night. I just couldn't put it down. I laughed and I cried and I rolled my eyes many times. I marveled at this clever world that Jana Oliver has created with it's different classes of demons, some ridiculous but most very dangerous. My favorite, besides the ones that pee, is the "Geo-Fiend," a class Five demon that you can't fight unless you're able to get them to touch the ground. They float, you see, and use earth magics to use the elements as their weapons. Plus, they're just BIG. Nasty, but cool.

Riley is a typical teenager with abandonment issues. She's clingy with her dad because her mom died of cancer. Riley only exists in extremes with her feelings; she used to have a crush on her dad's trapping partner, Beck, but now she hates him. She is almost to the point of obsession of making her dad proud of her as a trapper. She is in constant fear of disappointing him. It doesn't occur to her that her father already loves her and is proud of her but wishes that she did something else with her life, something way less dangerous. Riley is loyal and intelligent but just a bit clueless about the men in her life. I liked her but will like her even more after she can get over herself just a bitty bit.

As for the book as a whole, it is a well-written, evenly paced story with plenty of action. I was particularly amused by the necromancer parade that visited the cemetery while Riley stood vigil. There's not much romance here either unless you count a few kisses between Riley and the do-gooder Simon. A nice guy for certain but not the one who will last until the end, I think. Neither will the mysterious boy; that's where Beck will come in (eventually). I appreciated the lack of girly swooning here; it's obvious that while boys are an important part of a teenage girl's life, for Riley, they're not the top priority at the moment.

There is a subplot in TDTD that is touched on a few times but is barely explained until you are smacked over the head with part of it at the end. I'm hoping that the next book in this series has more to tell on the subject because my interest is piqued. The Demon Trapper's Daughter is the first book in a new series that I definitely want more of. It will be available on February 1, 2011.

On second thought,  you know what? Sorry, Atlanta. Any writer who wants to pick on you is fine with me.

Letting Go and New Beginnings

It's the beginning of a new year so you know what that means: it's time for my annual recataloging of my library. I simultaneously loathe and enjoy this yearly reckoning; giving up books is never easy for me as I get unreasonably attached to my library. But it's a necessary evil. I bring in WAY more books than I send out and something's gotta give. Reclaiming any space is good though.

The question is...which books do I get rid of? If I have them then there was a reason, right? I mean, I wouldn't have bought/borrowed/traded/downloaded them if I wasn't interested or they didn't sound like a good read. What I really need is a more judicious eye when it comes to accumulating them. More often than not I know my reasoning is along the lines of "yes, I could get this from the library but that's only for a limited time. What if I can't get to it in that time period? Wouldn't it just be easier if I had my own copy?" Seriously, people, I can rationalize almost anything when it comes to books. It's time to stop and get control! *sobs*

Oh hell.

Now you know why I only do this once a year.