Friday, June 29, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (32) and TGIF (20)

Gain New Blog Followers
Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!


This Week's Feature Blogs:

Novel Sounds

Fighting Dreamer

Q: Birthday Wishes -- Blow out the candles and imagine what character could pop out of your cake...who is it and what book are they from?



Really hard to narrow it down...hehe.  First, I would definitely want Bones from the Night Huntress series.  I would also like to see Valerius from Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Prince Ash from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.  In terms of non-man candy, I would love for Jane from Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series to appear so we could gush about books and other librarian-related things.  

             
  

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I have created different ways for you to follow my blog: GFC, LinkyFollowers, email, Twitter, or Goodreads.  Comment, follow me, and I'll return the favor!!


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Hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This Friday's Question
Best I've Read So Far:
We're halfway through the year, which top three books are the best you've read so far this year?


Angelfall by Susan Ee


A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

Runner-ups:
The Agency series by Y.S. Lee, Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione, Soulless by Gail Carriger, and Lothaire by Kresley Cole


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**BOOKS READ**
What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Hexed by Kevin Hearne
Alien 'n' Outlaw by K.C. Burn

**REVIEWS**
Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux (link)
Fairy Metal Thunder by J.L. Bryan (link)
A Scandalous Affair by Karen Erickson (link)
Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors by Molly Harper (link)
One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea (link)

**BLOG FEATURES**
My Book Boyfriend: Wren Tigarian (link)
Waiting on Wednesday: Venom (link)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

REVIEW: "One Small Thing" by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea


One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea
(One Thing #1)

Male/Male Romance -- Contemporary
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot 

Dreamspinner Press -- May 2012
Ebook, 214 pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars




SUMMARY

“Daddy” is not a title Rue Murray wanted, but he never thought he’d have sex with a woman either. Now he’s the unwitting father of a newborn named Alice. Between bartending and cosmetology school, Rue doesn’t have time for babies, but he can’t give her up. What Rue needs is a babysitter, and he’s running out of options. He’s on the verge of quitting school to watch Alice himself when he remembers his reclusive new neighbor, Erik.

Erik Van Nuys is a sci-fi novelist with anxiety issues to spare. He doesn’t like people in general, and he likes babies even less. Still, with his royalties dwindling, he could use the extra cash. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of manny—and even more reluctantly, he finds himself falling for Alice and her flamboyant father.

Rue and Erik are as different as two people can be, and Alice is the unlikeliest of babies, but Rue has never been happier than when Alice and Erik are by his side. At least, not until he receives an offer that puts all his dreams within reach and he’s forced to choose: the future he’s always wanted, or the family he thought he never did.
MY THOUGHTS

 I had read one of Piper Vaughn's short stories, Wanted, through Goodreads and really liked her voice.  Her style is highly reminiscient of popular M/M writers like Marie Sexton and Z.A. Maxfield.  So I was excited to see one of her book available on Netgalley.   One Small Thing is a unique book that provided me with a fun premise, plenty of awesome characters, and a very sweet love story. 

The story is told through alternating points of view between our two heroes which provides readers with insight into what the guys are thinking and feeling.  This is a writing style that is becoming more and more popular especially in M/M romance and I really enjoy it.  Both heroes are well-written and have plenty of depth beyond their initial impressions. 

Rue is a flashy, sometimes overdramatic hairstylist in training who works as a bartender/eye candy for a local gay bar while Erik is an anxiety-stricken, struggling novelist who has an obsession with Star Wars and junk food.    When Rue becomes a father after a drunken escapade, he meets up with Erik while searching for an appropriate babysitter for his little Alice.  Together these two opposites try to raise a baby while battling their growing feelings for each other.

I loved how Vaughn and O'Shea took some cliched characters and gave them depth.  Behind the flash, Rue is very devoted to those he cares about and really wants to do a good job raising Alice.  Rue is also anxious for his life to really take off once he is done with cosmetology school.  Erik takes a huge step in becoming associated with Rue, and his best friend Dusty, and starts to get over some of his worst anxieties. As a couple, these two were a joy to read.  There was alot of getting to know you and then close friendship before romance entered the scene.  I thought this gave it a realistic plotline and kept reading late into the night to finally see them admit their attraction to each other. 

I also have to mention how much I enjoyed reading about Rue's friend, Dusty.  He is an essential part of this little makeshift family and watching the drama of his personal life unfold was almost as riveting as the main storyline.  Dusty was a nice medium between over-the-top Rue and shy Erik which gave them both a sounding board at different parts in their relationship.  Apparently, Dusty will get his love story later this year in Vaughn and O'Shea's next book, One True Thing and I can't wait to check it out.

Overall, I thought this was a nice, lengthy romance that showed that opposites really do attract and how important family is to almost everyone.  All the main characters were searching for something to live for and they found it through Alice's unexpected arrival and their friendship.  I definitely recommend this for readers who enjoy well-written contemporary romance with characters that go beyond the stereotypes. 

**Thanks to Netgalley and Dreamspinner Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**


SERIES INFORMATION

One Thing
1. One Small Thing
2. One True Thing (To Be Released November 2012)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (23): Venom


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting. 


Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1)

(SECRETS OF THE ETERNAL ROSE #1)
by Fiona Paul

Historical Fiction -- Young Adult
Philomel -- October 30, 2012

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (43): Wren Tigarian



My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week I am swooning over:

WREN TIGARIAN
from
Unleash the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

APPEARANCE:
  • 6'2, muscular build
  • Blond hair and turquoise eyes
  • Has a tattoo of a jungle scene with a white tiger on his left arm

ABOUT WREN:

Wren is a Katagaria Were-Hunter which means he is an animal who can change into a human.  He is the hybrid of a Snow Leopard and a White Tiger.  He can shift into either form at will and is considered to be the last of both species. 

Wren's best friend is a monkey named Marvin and he has a job busing tables at the Were-Hunter nightclub Sanctuary.  He was taken to Sanctuary as a baby after his mother tried to kill him for being an abomination.  Wren is very shy around strangers and does not talk much.  He is a powerful fighter, but does not like it because of his violent childhood.




"I've never met anyone who had a monkey for a friend before."


"I don't know. I think those two guys you were with would qualify as primates, but then, that's an insult to the primate and I don't want Marvin to get pissed at me. He has higher sensibilities, you know?"




The tiger lies low not from fear, but for aim.



 "I’m not putting my faith or life in anyone’s hands. All that ever got me was screwed, and my ass is currently sore from it."


"What happened to cause the jail fight?"

"They thought it would be fun to knock around the ‘kid’ and show off their manhood. I thought it would be fun to knock a couple of them unconscious."




"Have you ever wanted something that you knew was bad for you? Something that you ached for so much you could think of nothing else?"




Wren wrapped his arm around Maggie and flashed them back to their house.  No, it was their house now.  He finally had a home.  After all this time, he had somewhere he really belonged.  The feeling washed over him with a joy the likes of which he'd only known in one place . . . Maggie's arms.


MY WREN: Alex Pettyfer


ABOUT UNLEASH THE NIGHT:


An orphan with no clan that will claim him, Wren Tigarian grew to adulthood under the close scrutiny and mistrust of those around him. A forbidden blend of two animals—snow leopard and white tiger—Wren has never listened to anyone when there was something he wanted. Now he wants Marguerite.

Marguerite D'Aubert Goudeau is the daughter of a prominent U.S. Senator who hates the socialite life she's forced to live. Like her mother before her, she has strong Cajun roots that her father doesn't understand. Still, she has no choice but to try and conform to a world where she feels like an outsider. But the world of rich and powerful humans is never to meet the world of the Were-Hunters who exist side by side with them, unseen, unknown, undetected. To break this law is to call down a wrath of the highest order.

In order to have Marguerite, Wren must fight not just the humans who will never accept his animal nature, but the Were-Hunters who want him dead for endangering their world. It's a race against time and magic without boundary that could cost Marguerite and Wren not just their lives, but their very souls.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors" by Molly Harper


Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors by Molly Harper
Narrated by Amanda Ronconi
(Jane Jameson #4)

Paranormal Romance--Vampires
For Ages 18+
Pocket Books/Audible--February 2012
Audiobook, 8 hours and 28 minutes

Rating: 5 Stars



SUMMARY

Just as Jane Jameson’s unlife seems to be stabilizing, fate sinks its fangs firmly into her butt. Despite her near-phobia of all things marital, her no-frills nighttime nuptials to her sexy boyfriend Gabriel are coming along smoothly. But the road to wedded bliss gets bumpy when a teenage acquaintance is fatally wounded in front of Jane’s shop and she turns him to save his life. The Council pronounces Jane responsible for the newborn vamp until he can control his thirst.

Jane’s kitchen at River Oaks barely holds enough Faux Type O to satiate the cute teen’s appetite and maintain Gabriel’s jealous streak at a slow simmer. As if keeping her hyperactive childe from sucking the blood out of the entire neighborhood isn’t enough to deal with, the persnickety ghost of Jane’s newly deceased Grandma Ruthie has declared a war on the fanged residents of River Oaks. Suddenly,
choosing monogrammed cocktail napkins and a cake that she can’t eat seems downright relaxing in comparison.

Tensions inside the house are growing…and outside, a sinister force is aiming a stake straight for the center of Gabriel’s heart. Most brides just have to worry about choosing the right dress, but Jane fears that at this rate, she’ll never make it down the aisle for the wedding all nice girls dream of…

MY THOUGHTS

Warning: Review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the Jane Jameson series.

Wow!  What a wonderful ending to a wonderful series!!  I loved everything about this book from the characters to the romance to the comedy to the conclusion.  The only thing I didn't like was that there wasn't more for me to read! 

Jane Jameson, the librarian turned vampire, has become one of my favorite heroines of all time!  I adore almost everything about her.  She is a highly entertaining and sympathetic narrator while her escapades continue to be over-the-top yet realistic.

In Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors, readers see Jane become more comfortable with her vampire lifestyle and even take a huge step in her relationship with Gabriel.  Her now-legal vampire wedding is fast approaching and she must deal with a variety of problems such as the dress, the food (which she can't eat), the guests, and, of course, staying alive long enough to attend.  After reading about Jane's wedding feelings during Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men, I was ecstatic to find out how she would react to her own ceremony.  And it was worth it!  Plenty of drama and romance ensued!     

Readers are also introduced to a fabulous new character in the world of Jane: Iris Scanlon the daytime concierge and assistant to vampires who is acting as the wedding planner.  I loved the way that the writer depicted Iris's easy handling of Mrs. Jameson and Jane and look forward to learning more about her in the upcoming spinoff novel, The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires.

Like the other Jane Jameson installments, this book contains two major plotlines that are balanced out with tons of mini-adventures.  Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors begins with Jane witnessing a horrible accident and then turning a hometown boy upon his request.  This forces her to understand the struggles of vampire parenting especially when trying to help a "way to sexy for his age" teenager.  I loved Jamie's character especially when it came to his interactions with Gabriel. 

Jane and Gabriel also have to deal with a series of threats and attacks on them that seems to be related to some unfortunate events that occurred in the very first book of the series.  I found this mystery to be fairly obvious, but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of it.  It was nice to see Jane become the protector and showed how far she has grown as a character.

I feel like I'm repeating myself when I describe what else I enjoy about this series, but it bears saying again.  Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors continues to alot of fun with its great secondary cast like Dick, Andrea, Zeb, Jolene, and the Jameson family.  While Jane and Gabriel are wonderful, what really makes this series stand out is the detail and vibrancy of these not-so-minor characters.  The comedy is always well-written and runs the gamut from smiles to sometimes inappropriate laughter.  Plus it balances with the dramatic storylines perfectly to keep me coming back for more.

I also have to mention that I have listened to this entire series on audiobook and have been extremely impressed with Amanda Ronconi's performance.  She really understands the humor in the books and makes sure that the punchline is always perfectly delivered.  Her various character voices provide a smooth transition and an easy listening experience.  I will definitely search out more of her readings in the future.

All in all, the Jane Jameson series has exceeded all my expectations when I started it a few months ago.  I love Molly Harper's writing style and look forward to what she will come up with next.  I'm just sad to see my time with Jane and the gang end so soon.  Highly Recommended!!

SERIES INFORMATION

Jane Jameson
1. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
2. Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men
3. Nice Girls Don't Live Forever
4. Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors

BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY

NOVELLA REVIEW: "A Scandalous Affair" by Karen Erickson


A Scandalous Affair by Karen Erickson
(The Merry Widows #3)

Historical Romance--Regency
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot

Carina Press -- July 30, 2012
Ebook, 80 pages

Rating: 3 Stars




SUMMARY

From the moment Daphne, Lady Pomeroy, meets the mysterious Marquess of Hartwell at a masquerade ball, she’s determined to seduce him. The handsome, charming man cannot possibly be the cold, calculating lord who Society calls “Black Hart.” Risking everything, the lonely widow invites the elusive Hartwell to her dinner party . . . for two.

Hartwell’s arrogant reputation is built on a lie. For he has a shameful secret that keeps him in the shadows: a stutter—his downfall since childhood. He’d rather keep his mouth shut than look the fool. But he’s shocked to discover that in Daphne’s company—and in her bed—his stutter vanishes.

After one wanton evening together, Daphne is hurt when the lord lives up to his Black Hart name. Yet his reasons for leaving surprise even him. Now he must confess everything or risk losing Daphne forever.

MY THOUGHTS

One of my guilty pleasures in romance novels is misunderstood main characters.  If there is a hero/heroine that is thought to be snobby or aloof when they are truly shy, I will read it and, more than likely, love it.  That is what attracted me to Karen Erickson's latest historical romance novella, A Scandalous Affair.  This book is the third in Erickson's Merry Widows series though I read it as a stand-alone without any trouble.

Our hero is Camden, Marquess of Hartwell, who has obtained the nickname of Black Hart due to his seemingly cold nature.  Unfortunately, his reputation covers up a great shame (according to Camden).  He is extremely shy and deals with a pronounced stutter especially when he gets anxious.  This has led him to become wary of talking to strangers and interacting with Society as a whole.  I really felt for Camden as Erickson depicted how lonely he was and how ashamed of his affliction.  The masquerade allowed him to become comfortable with social interactions and brought out the true charming side of his personality which is what attracted our heroine, Daphne, to him. 

Daphne is a lonely widow who is being hounded by family and friends to find another husband.  But, she only has eyes for the quiet, handsome marquess that she dances with at the masquerade.  I wish that I had been given a little bit more about Daphne's character through the course of the story.  It seemed like there was little time spent on her personality besides the fact that she was a widow and very lonely.  Her actions were difficult to predict because of a lack of knowledge on my side. 

This story is fairly short and moves along at a quick pace.  There are some cute interactions between Daphne and Camden that made me care about them as a couple.  The love scenes are appropriately spicy without being too erotic.  I think that I would have preferred this book to be a full-sized romance rather than a novella.  The concept is wonderfully done and the characters had definite potential so I wish there was more to it.  Overall, I did enjoy the story and found it to be a nice way to spend a few hours.


**Thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press for providing me with an ARC of A Scandalous Affair in exchange for an honest review.**


SERIES INFORMATION

The Merry Widows
1. Lessons in Indiscretion
2. Her Christmas Pleasure
3. A Scandalous Affair

Monday, June 25, 2012

REVIEW: "Fairy Metal Thunder" by J.L. Bryan


Fairy Metal Thunder by J.L. Bryan
(Songs of Magic #1)

Young Adult -- Fantasy
For Ages 12+
Self-Published -- September 2011
Ebook

Rating: 4 Stars




SUMMARY

A rock & roll fairy tale.

Jason plays guitar in a teenage garage band called the Assorted Zebras, but they have no fans, no gigs, and they're going nowhere. Even worse, Jason has a crush on their lead singer, but she doesn't seem interested in him at all.

Then Jason steals instruments from the fairy world. Soon the band is enchanting crowds, and Jason is a step closer to the girl of his dreams, but the new gear is brimming with dangerous and destructive magic they can't control.

Their shortcut to success has cost a troupe of innocent fairies their livelihood and turned Jason and his band into enemies of the powerful Queen Mab, who sends supernatural bounty hunters to track them down, including one of the most dangerous horned creatures in Faerie...a small unicorn named Buttercake.

MY THOUGHTS

I became a huge fan of J.L. Bryan's work after reading his horror romance, Jenny Pox.  His writing style and plots were very unique without being completely out in left field.  I was interested to see what else he could come up with so I agreed to read the first in his Songs of Magic series for young adults.  What I found was a highly entertaining story that was about as far from the dark, black humor of Jenny Pox as possible.

I won't go too much into the summary because I don't think I could do it justice.  Basically, Fairy Metal Thunder tells the story of a teenage boy named Jason who plays in a band and is trying to get the girl he likes to acknowledge his presence.  Through a series of strange coincidences, Jason ends up traveling to the world of fairies and steals magical instruments which helps his band gain rabid fans throughout the city.  Meanwhile, the fairy musicians are forced to enter the human world to hunt down their stolen property in order to avoid punishment by the beautiful, but scary Queen Mab.

When I think of Fairy Metal Thunder, the first word that comes to mind is fun!  I had a blast reading this and learning about Bryan's twist on fairies.  The mixing of the fantasy aspect with the music plot point was well-balanced and made for a unique storyline.  I am a huge music fan (despite not having any skill at playing instruments) so I really enjoyed this concept.  The story was fairly lighthearted and super funny.  J.L. Bryan excels at taking seemingly normal fantasy concepts like unicorns and giving them a much-needed makeover ala Buttercake.

All the characters are entertaining and relatable even the fairies.  Most of the story is told in Jason's point of view, but readers do get snippets from Aoide, Neus, Rhodia, and Skezg as they search for their instruments.  I really liked Jason as the protagonist and enjoyed watching him try so hard to gain Erin's affection while usually messing it up.  It was really sweet how sincere yet hapless he was.  As for the other band members, I found their interactions so funny and realistic.  I have a special place in my heart for Dred because I love girl drummers.

Overall, this is a well-written fantasy story that gives readers a little something different in the world of vampires and angels.  J.L. Bryan's sense of humor and skills at dialogue keep the story going despite its seemingly simplistic plot.  I look forward to reading more of this series and finding out how Jason and the rest of the Assorted Zebras deal with their newfound popularity.  Highly recommended!

**Thanks to J.L. Bryan for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
SERIES INFORMATION

Songs of Magic
1. Fairy Metal Thunder
2. Fairy Blues
3. Fairystruck
4. Fairyland 

REVIEW: "Cut & Run" by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux


Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux
(Cut & Run #1)

Romantic Suspense -- Male/Male Romance
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot

Dreamspinner Press--September 2008
Ebook, 370 pages

Rating: 4 Stars




SUMMARY

A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.

Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He's cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he's paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it's hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliché: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.

Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again — this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer's knife.

MY THOUGHTS

I have heard alot about this series recently, but was a little hesitant to start it.  While I thoroughly enjoy a good male/male romance, I am not always a fan of romantic suspense except for the occasional Suzanne Brockmann or J.D. Robb story.  But, after seeing all the readers that were pumped for the fifth installment in the series (Armed & Dangerous), I decided to bite the bullet and am I glad that I did.  This first book in the Cut & Run series provided me with hours of fun with the unique characters, the mystery plotline, and the surprise romance.

As protagonists, Ty and Zane were really hard to read at first.  With Ty being a former Marine who recently lost his FBI partner and Zane as the not always sane lifetime FBI agent, I wasn't sure if I would be able to connect with them.  One of the biggest things I look for in an enjoyable book is the connection with the characters, whether through adoration or hatred.  But, I shouldn't have worried.  Both of these guys slowly grew on me as they did each other.  I was fascinated by their growing relationship as professional partners and the slow transition to being romantic lovers.  I know that this is just the beginning for these two and I can't wait to learn more about them.

I really enjoyed the serial killer investigation.  This goes along with my sometimes unhealthy obsession with creepy murder mysteries ala CBS's Criminal Minds tv show.  I found the motives of the killer and his inspiration to be fascinating as well.  I did get a little disappointed when I figured out the true identity of the killer early on and got frustrated that the guys couldn't see it.  But, that is only a minor quibble.

The aftermath of the investigationw as a nice segue into the series.  Both Ty and Zane have obvious issues to deal with and I look forward to reading more about them.  I'm always hesitant to try a book that has gotten such praise since I'm worried that I will be the lone person who doesn't enjoy it.  But, that was definitely not the case with Cut & Run.  Highly recommended to fans of suspense and murder mysteries with a hint of romance.
SERIES INFORMATION

Cut & Run
1. Cut & Run
2. Sticks & Stones
3. Fish & Chips
4. Divide & Conquer
5. Armed & Dangerous
6. Stars & Stripes (To Be Released 2012)

Friday, June 22, 2012

FOLLOW FRIDAY (31)

Gain New Blog Followers
Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!


This Week's Feature Blogs:

Head Stuck In A Book

Books and Blossoms

Q: If you could "unread" a book, which one would it be?  Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time?  Or because it was THAT bad?

I'll start my answer with the most obvious choices: Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  I would love to go back and experience the wonder that I felt during my first reads of these books.  HP in particular would be fabulous to start over because I would get to figure out all the amazing connections that JKR put in the stories. 

I would also like to start over on the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost.  Cat and Bones are my all-time favorite paranormal couple and I would love to watch them fall in love over and over again.  Plus what I wouldn't give to experience the wonders that is Chapter 32 in One Foot In the Grave for the first time!

I had a hard time coming up with books that I wish I hadn't read especially since I tend to just not finish a book when I'm not enjoying it.  The first two that popped in my head were F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and E.L. James's Fifty Shades Freed.  I had to read Gatsby for a school assignment and hated every minute of it.  I found the setting to be the best part since I despised all the characters especially Daisy.  I have a weird unnatural hatred for Daisy. 

In terms of Fifty Shades Freed, I liked the first two books in the series, but found this one to be a complete rehash of the same issues and just skipped through to the end.  I wish I had just stopped with Fifty Shades Darker and kept the fond memories I had for this controversial, but enjoyable series.  Oh well!
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I have created different ways for you to follow my blog: GFC, LinkyFollowers, email, Twitter, or Goodreads.  Comment, follow me, and I'll return the favor!!


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**BOOKS READ**
One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea [4 Stars]
A Tale of Two Lovers by Maya Rodale [3.5 Stars]
Sticks and Stones by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux [4 Stars]
Wallflower by Catherine Gayle [4 Stars]
Liberty For Paul by Rose Gordon [4 Stars]

**REVIEWS**
Nice Girls Don't Live Forever by Molly Harper (link)
A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant (link)
Liberty For Paul by Rose Gordon (link)

**BLOG FEATURES**
TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Summer TBR List (link)
WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs (link)
MY BOOK BOYFRIEND: Kale from Touch by Jus Accardo (link)
MIDSUMMER DREAM FAIR (link)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

REVIEW: "Liberty for Paul" by Rose Gordon


Liberty For Paul by Rose Gordon
(Scandalous Sisters #2)

Historical Romance -- Regency
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Mild

TALC -- 2011
Ebook, 380 pages

Rating: 4 Stars



SUMMARY

Liberty Banks loves revenge almost as much as she hates one Mister Paul Grimes, who, she considers to be the most improper creature she has ever clapped eyes upon. But when her plans for revenge against Paul go bust, she suddenly finds herself walking down the aisle to him.

Once married, a battle of the wills breaks out as each tries to reform the other. Liberty wants nothing more than to have a proper husband. And, much to Liberty’s dismay, Paul will stop at nothing to have is all too proper wife do something--anything--to break the rules of society, specifically do the most improper thing imaginable which is to fall in love with the most improper man: her own husband.
MY THOUGHTS

When I read the first book in this series, Intentions of the Earl, I knew there was definite potential in Rose Gordon's writing style.  This book exceeded my expectations and really made me anxious for more of her work. 

Liberty was not my favorite character in the first book because I found her and her obsession with propriety annoying.  But, Ms. Gordon did the almost impossible and made me care for Liberty.  Her characterization is well-done and sympathetic.  Her obsession with etiquette could not completely quelch her desire for revenge and adventure.  Liberty's fears for disappointing her father, and later husband, were understandable and really shaped how she acted in the later sections of the book.

Paul Grimes, the handsome vicar, was a joy to read.  He did not completely understand Liberty's animosity towards him, but he still cared enough about her to help her in times of need.  Paul's past and family were a mystery for a significant portion of the book, but offered up a decent explanation for his protective and gentle nature.

One of biggest joys of this book was watching Liberty and Paul learn to live together after their marriage.  Both are determined for it to remain a marriage in name only, but their interactions make it difficult.  It was so obvious to me, as a reader, that they were perfect for each other and it was entertaining to watch them figure it out for themselves.

I look forward to reading more of Ms. Gordon's work especially the next in the series.  I know it is Madison's story and I have a sneaking suspicion who were love interest will be.  Definitely recommended to fans of sweet historical romances.

SERIES INFORMATION

Scandalous Sisters
1. Intentions of the Earl
2. Liberty For Paul
3. To Win His Wayward Wife

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MY BOOK BOYFRIEND (42): Kale



My Book Boyfriend is an awesome weekly meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader all about fictional boys who make us swoon.  This week I am swooning over:

KALE
from the Denazen series by Jus Accardo




About Kale:
  • Dark hair, blue eyes, tan skin, muscular.
  • Raised at the Denazen Institute since he was a baby.
  • Trained to be an assassin for Denazen until his escape.
  • Has the ability to kill with a touch of his skin.
  • Is fascinated by seemingly everyday items like DVDs.





He sat up straight, eyes wide, and touched the tip of his index finger to his cheek. "What was that?"
I blushed. "A kiss."
"That's what a kiss feels like?"
"Well, technically. There are a lot of different types of—"
"Show me."
"Show you what?"
"Show me some other kinds."
"You're asking me to kiss you?"





His gaze was fixed on the red silk baby doll in my hand.  "What is this?" he asked, rubbing the satiny material between his fingers.
"Clothes," I said. "For women."
His eyes widened, "Girls wear this?"
"Yeah, but usually not for long." I chuckled.
Kale turned as red as the teddy, "Are you going to wear this now?"
"Umm. No," I said, blushing.
He seemed a little disappointed and I stifled a laugh.






"I'm never going to get used to that," he said, smiling. 
"Used to what?"
"The way I feel like I'm going to explode every time you come close. The way my head fills up with just you when you do that."





"I love you," he said.  His arms encircled me, fingers digging into my lower back.  They slipped down, sliding inside the back of my jeans.  His words came in thick, hot rasps that tickled the side of my face as he kissed a trail from my chin to my ear, and back again.  "Just you.  Only you.  Always you."




"As long as I know this"--he lifted our joined hands--"is mine to hold, I'll wait for you forever."

My Kale: James Lafferty


WAITING ON WEDNESAY (22): Greta and the Goblin King


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting. 

Greta and the Goblin King (Mylena Chronicles, #1)

(MYLENA CHRONICLES #1)
by Chloe Jacobs

YA Fantasy
Entangled Publishing -- November 13, 2012

While trying to save her brother four years ago, Greta was thrown into the witch’s fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon.

To survive, seventeen-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back.

MIDSUMMER DREAM FAIR (Day 20): "The Jinn Game" Featuring Samantha Young


All month author J.L. Bryan is hosting a Midsummer Dream Fair which features guest posts from a variety of authors and tons of fun giveaways.  My blog and Blood, Sweet, and Books are the sponsors for the day. 

 Today one of my new favorite authors, Samantha Young, is talking about the mythical Jinn and how she was inspired to write a series about this fascinating creatures.  I adore Samantha's writing especially her YA fantasy Slumber and her paranormal series Tales of the Lunarmorte.  Head on over and check out her interview here



While visiting the fair, don't forget to enter the giveaway!  Today Samantha is giving away a copy of Smokeless Fire, the first in her Fire Spirits series.  You can also enter a giveaway for the ultimate grand prize of the entire fair here.

Thanks to J.L. Bryan for hosting this wonderful event and letting me be a part of it!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY (27): Summer TBR List



TOP TEN BOOKS ON MY SUMMER TBR LIST

I decided to make this a list of books that are being released this summer because there are so many awesome ones!!

1. Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt [June 26]
This the fourth book in the highly entertaining and sensual Maiden Lane series.  After years of waiting, readers finally get to find out the identiy of the mysterious Ghost of St. Giles and see the straight-laced headmaster Winter Makepeace find his happily ever after.  I have loved every single one of Hoyt's historical romances so I am pumped for this one to be released.





2. Once Burned (Night Prince #1) by Jeaniene Frost [June 26]
A spin-off to Frost's very successful Night Huntress urban fantasy series.  The Night Prince books will tell the story of Vlad Tepesh aka Dracula who finally meets his match in a powerful, but tortured young woman named Leila.  I love Frost's depiction of Vlad and his sarcastic comments in the Night Huntress books so I am anxious to see more of him. 





3. Wicked Nights (Angels of the Dark #1) by Gena Showalter [June 26]
Gena Showalter is one of my favorite authors and her Lords of the Underworld series is absolutely amazing.  The Angels of the Dark series is a spinoff to LotU and will provide information about some angels who are on the brink of destruction.  I loved Zachariel's character in the latest LotU book, The Darkest Seduction, so I am excited to find out why he is considered so dangerous.  Plus I have a weakness for sexy, bad boy angels!




4. Scandal Wears Satin (Dressmakers #2) by Loretta Chase [June 26]
Loretta Chase is one of the most popular and respected historical romance writers today.  Her latest series deals with three sisters who open a dress shop in London and deal with the difficulties of running a business and falling in love.  The second book depicts the story of the manipulative Sophy and the deceptively reckless Earl of Longmere.  Chase's characters are always unique and well-written while her romance is tender yet spicy.




5. The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper [July 31]
I've made it pretty clear in the past few months about my undying adoration for Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series.  So imagine my excitement when I find out that there was going to be a spin-off focusing on Iris Scanlon, a daytime assistant to the vampires of Half-Moon Hollow.  I love Harper's twist on vampires and can't wait to read more of her signature humor.





6. Dream Lake (Friday Harbor #3) by Lisa Kleypas [August 7]
I still haven't read the second book in Kleypas's Friday Harbor series, Rainshadow Road, but I already know I will be buying this one the day it comes out.  I love everything that Lisa Kleypas writes (historical or contemporary) and I can't wait to find out more about the mysterious Alex Nolan.






7. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas [August 7]
This a young adult fantasy that is getting tons of publicity right now.  Many bloggers that I highly respect are giving it rave reviews and just making me more excited.  I am really interested in the premise which deals with a female assassin caught in a dangerous competition.  There are some prequel novellas available to wet your appetite for what I'm sure will be an epic story.





8. The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon & Clare #1) by Lilith Saintcrow [August 7]
The first in a new steampunk urban fantasy series by a renowned author.  I love series with two intriguing characters who solve mysteries especially of the supernatural variety so I will definitely check this book out.  Plus the cover is so intriguing!




9. A Lady By Midnight (Spindle Cove #3) by Tessa Dare [August 28]
I have given the two earlier installments in the historical romance series five stars on this blog so it should come as no surprise that I am anticipating the next book.  The hero in this one is the seemingly cold Corporal Samuel Thorne who has a mysterious connection to the lonely Kate Taylor.  I love when heroes appear cold and unfeeling at first and slowly show their true feelings.  I'm a hopeless romantic that way. 





10. Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction [August 28]
An anthology with some of my favorite YA authors like Richelle Mead, Meg Cabot, and Simone Elkeles and some authors that I've been meaning to try like Lisa McMann, Laini Taylor, and Diana Peterfreund.  Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I am particularly pumped to read Mead's new story about Dimitri and Rose from the Vampire Academy series. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

REVIEW: "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant


A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
(Blackshear Family #2)

Historical Romance -- Regency
For Ages 18+
Steam Level: Hot

Bantam -- May 2012
Ebook, 384 pages

Rating: 5 Stars




SUMMARY

Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London's gentlemen's clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm's length.

A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind with a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.

MY THOUGHTS

Cecilia Grant was one of my favorite debut authors last year.  The first book in her Blackshear Family series, A Lady Awakened, was well-written and showed definite promise.  Due to my enjoyment of that book, I was overjoyed to receive an ARC of the next book in the series, A Gentleman Undone.  And I am happy to report that this book exceeded my expectations and really makes Cecilia Grant one to watch over the next few years.

One thing that I noticed in this book, and her earlier one, was that Ms. Grant is not afraid to take classic plot lines and give them a good mixing up.  Specifically, she provides her own spin on the stereotypical courtesan and damaged war hero storylines.  Both Lydia Slaughter and Will Blackshear fit the mold that historical romance readers are familiar with, at first glance, but then they veer off into entirely new directions.  Basically, these are two damaged characters who are drawn to each other despite the many obstacles in their path to true happiness.

The heroine, Lydia, is a working courtesan who strives for her independence while still enjoying the sensual aspects of her lifestyle.  I thought this was a bold choice on the part of Ms. Grant and found that it made Lydia stand out.  I admired her intelligence and ambition to make her own way in life.  I also felt sympathy for her especially when the secrets of her past came out. 

On the other hand, Ms. Grant provides readers with Will Blackshear, the brother of Martha from A Lady Awakened.  He is returning from war with more mental injuries than physical injuries.  This causes some drama especially since this time period was not as familiar with the psychological damage that can occur in battle as we are today.  I really fell for Will and rooted for him as he dealt with the guilt that he retained after surviving the war.  He is a wonderfully well-written character who has a deep desire to be needed which his relationship with Lydia provides though not in the way that he first believes.

Both Lydia and Will are very deep and richly detailed characters.  They each have their own attributes and flaws which makes them relatable to the reader.  I latched on to them from the beginning and really looked forward to their developments.  There is alot of sexual tension in this book which I found highly entertaining.  Due to the fact that Lydia is employed by another man for a significant amount of the story, it took time for the chemistry to really implode in a sex scene.  While this can be frustrating in some stories, I felt like it worked well.  The interactions between Lydia and Will were always fun to read because of such obstacles.

The research that Ms. Grant did in preparation for writing this book is obvious.  I loved seeing the evidence of her work without feeling like it overwhelmed the plot.  I especially enjoyed the tidbits that she provided about the different methods of gambling and how Lydia and Will were able to tweak the system.  This was a different side of history which grabbed my inner history dork's attention.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Cecilia Grant is not afraid to push the envelope.  The end result is that A Gentleman Undone is a dark, sensually entertaining story which shows how two people can heal each other on their path to love.  After reading and enjoying both A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone, I look forward to what Ms. Grant comes up with next.

**Thanks to Netgalley and Bantam for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.**
SERIES INFORMATION

Blackshear Family
1. A Lady Awakened
2. A Gentleman Undone
3. A Woman Entangled (To Be Released 2013)