Saturday, May 31, 2014

STACKING THE SHELVES (38)

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A great feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to feature the new books they received over the past week.

~BORROWED FROM THE LIBRARY~
The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3) These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan (MG fantasy)
I am slowly catching up on this series and had to request this one as soon as I finished Son of Neptune with that cliffhanger.  Probably starting it sometime this weekend.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman (YA science fiction)
I've been on the waiting list for this one for almost three months and am so pumped that it is finally available.  I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan, but I've heard fabulous things about this.

~RECEIVED FOR REVIEW~
Temptation in Shadows
Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter (paranormal romance)
I'm a huge Showalter fan especially her Lords of the Underworld series so I had to request this book from Netgalley.  Sexy cover alert too!

***********
WEEKLY RECAP

I READ...
Purity in Death by JD Robb
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan


Friday, May 30, 2014

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Reunion in Death" by JD Robb

Reunion in Death (In Death, #14)
Reunion in Death by JD Robb; Narrated by Susan Ericksen
For Ages 18+ (Language, Violence, Sensuality)
Romantic Suspense

Berkeley/Brilliance Audio -- Published in 2002
Audiobook, 12 hours and 59 minutes
Read in May 2014
Purchased from Audible

THEMES
Alpha Hero, Kick-Ass Heroine, Murder Mystery, Secondary Romance

SUMMARY
At exactly 7:30 p.m., Walter Pettibone arrived home to find more than a hundred friends and family shouting, "Surprise!" It was his birthday. Although he had known about the planned event for weeks, the real surprise was yet to come. At 8:45 p.m., a woman with emerald eyes and red hair handed him a glass of champagne. One sip of birthday bubbly, and he was dead.

The woman's name is Julie Dockport. No one at the party knew who she was. But Detective Eve Dallas remembers her all too well. Eve was personally responsible for Julie's incarceration nearly ten years ago. And now, let out on good behavior, she still has nothing but bad intentions. It appears she wants to meet Dallas again—in a reunion neither will forget.



FIRST LINE
"Murder was work."

MY THOUGHTS
Reunion in Death is the fourteenth book in the lengthy and highly entertaining In Death series featuring New York City homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas.  While it can be read as a stand-alone, I try to recommend people read the series from the beginning (as daunting as that appears) in order to fully appreciate the amazing character development of everyone in the cast.  I am fourteen books in and I think this may be one of my favorites so far.

The story starts off with a wealthy businessman dropping dead at a surprise birthday party.  The only thing that stands out to witnesses is the redheaded waitress who handed poor Mr. Pettibone a glass of champagne moments before his death.  Eve quickly figures out that this is the work of Julianna Dunne, a woman who was jailed for murder almost a decade earlier.  Julianna has recently been released and is up to her old tricks again though this time she is coming after Eve, the cop who helped put her away the first time.

Julianna Dunne is easily one of my favorite villains so far in this series.  She is intelligent, ambitious, and as evil as they come.  Her hatred for men is obvious and the way that she punishes them for her personal feelings is intriguing and scary.  I liked the fact that Julianna had a sense of respect for Eve which peppered the way that she made her moves this time around.  I found her to be a worthy opponent for Eve since, for the majority of the book, she appeared to be one step ahead. 

This case forced Eve to really delve into what she remembered about Julianna and figure out how much she has changed in the past ten years.  There is much more traveling associated with this story and, while I love the NYC setting, I enjoyed getting out there in the world of 2059.  Eve is forced to travel to Chicago (Julianna's "rehab" center), Denver (possible crime scene), and Italy (high-class spa) with varying degrees of success.  I loved all the action in this installment and it really gets violent at some points which kept me on my toes.

The biggest challenge for Eve, however, is when she and her husband, Roarke, fly to Dallas to interview Julianna's stepfather.  After all, this is the city where Eve was discovered as a child and the memories from that time in her life continue to come back to torture her.  There is an absolutely gut-wrenching scene where Eve returns to that infamous hotel room and readers are forced to just sit and observe her reaction just as Roarke is.  I love the way that JD Robb continues to develop this aspect of Eve's character a small amount at a time and am intrigued to see where she goes from here with it.

Speaking of Roarke, things are also progressing on the marriage front with Eve and him.  They have reached their first anniversary and this provided readers with some great scenes between the two.  I loved getting to know more about their wedding...and wedding night since it happened off-page.  JD Robb definitely knows how to keep her fans happy!  I also liked it when Roarke was forced to act as bait in order to catch Julianna and Eve's protective instincts flare up even more than normal.  They are just a great couple whose relationship is constantly evolving in a realistic and entertaining fashion.

And, of course, I can't forgot the plethora of side characters that pepper this world.  Peabody gets her own cold case to solve and it was great to see her use everything that Eve has taught her.  We also got some fun with Peabody's parents showing up and using their Free Age philosophies to throw Eve and Roarke for a loop.  McNab and Peabody's relationship continues to grow as they figure out what they truly want from each other.  I also loved getting to meet profiler Charlotte Mira's absent-minded, but adorable husband.  And then there are the cameos from Dr. Louise Dimatto and licensed companion Charles Monroe...I could just go on and on.

In conclusion, Reunion in Death definitely will be remembered as one of my favorites of the series (so far).  The villain is easily one of the most interesting and most dangerous.  There is some major development of Eve and some of the side characters.  And, as always, Susan Ericksen is just perfection in the way she brings these stories to life.


4.5 STARS


STEAM LEVEL
Fever -- Definitely graphic, but still emotional descriptions.


FAVORITE QUOTeS
1. "The whole point of love is that it has no reason. It just is."

2.  "Prison fit ain't street fit, bitch!"

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
There are too many to show here, but I'm providing a link to the Goodreads listing and the listing from JD Robb's website.

CHALLENGES READ FOR

 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

THROWBACK THURSDAY-HISTORICAL ROMANCE EDITION (29)

Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.

THIS WEEK I AM FEATURING...

Guilty Pleasures (Guilty, #1) 
Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke
Originally Published: January 2004

For prim and shy Daphne Wade, the sweetest guilty pleasure of all is secretly watching her employer, the Duke of Tremore, as he works the excavation site on his English estate. Anthony hired Daphne to restore the priceless treasures he has been digging up, but it's hard for a woman to keep her mind on her work when her devastatingly handsome employer keeps taking his shirt off. He doesn't know she's alive, but who could blame her for falling hopelessly in love with him anyway?

Anthony thinks that his capable employee knows all there is to know about antiquities, but when his sister decides to turn the plain young woman in gold-rimmed glasses into an enticing beauty, he declares the task to be impossible. Daphne is devasted when she overhears...and determined to prove him wrong. Now a vibrant and delectable Daphne has emerged from her shell, and the tables are turned. Will Anthony see that the woman of his dreams has been there all along?


*****************
This was a very entertaining read! The characters were relatable and deep and the love story was not contrived or stereotypical. The archaeology tidbits were fascinating, especially for a history nerd like me, but didn't take over the story at any point. There were a few points of the book that dragged a bit especially at the beginning, but it quickly righted itself.  Read my full review here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Freebie--Families in Romance


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Freebie--Top Ten Families in Romance~

The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)
1.  The Bridgerton Family by Julia Quinn
(Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, Hyacinth)
A group of eight siblings whose mother is obsessed with matchmaking,

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2)
2. The MacRieve Clan by Kresley Cole
(Lachlain, Bowen, Garreth, Uilleam, Munro, 
A group of Scottish Lykae (werewolves) who find themselves playing big parts in the upcoming Accession.

Mine Till Midnight (The Hathaways, #1)
3. The Hathaway Family by Lisa Kleypas
(Amelia, Winifred, Leo, Poppy, Beatrix)
An eccentric family that is socially elevated by a surprise inheritance.

Slightly Married (Bedwyn Saga, #1)
4. The Bedwyn Family by Mary Balogh
(Wulfric, Aidan, Rannulf, Freyja, Morgan, Alleyne)
An aristocratic family that is ruled by a stoic duke.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #1)
5. The Mackenzie Brothers by Jennifer Ashley
(Hart, Cam, Mac, Ian)
A group of scandalous Scots who are in need of love and compassion.

Sugar Daddy (Travises, #1)
6. The Travis Family by Lisa Kleypas
(Gage, Haven, Jack, Joe)
A wealthy Texas family who are all strong-willed and fiesty.

In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1)
7. The McCabe Brothers by Maya Banks
(Ewan, Alaric, Caelen)
Three brothers trying to protect their family's keep from opposing clans.

Unveiled (Turner, #1)
8. The Turner Brothers by Courtney Milan
(Ash, Smite, Mark)
Three brothers who were all tortured by their insane mother and are trying to find some semblance of happiness.

The Perfect Rake (The Merridew Sisters, #1)
9. The Merridew Sisters by Anne Gracie
(Prudence, Charity, Hope, Faith, Grace)
Five sisters who escape their insane grandfather's clutches and try to start a new life in Regency-era London.

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, #1)
10. The Seminus Brothers by Larissa Ione
(Eidolon, Shade, Wraith)
Three brothers who are a subspecies of incubus and run a demon hospital together.

Honorable Mentions: The Murrays by Hannah Howell, The Smythe-Smiths by Julia Quinn, The Wroth brothers by Kresley Cole, The Bennet sisters by Jane Austen

Friday, May 23, 2014

UPCOMING RELEASES: June 2014

A list of new releases that grabbed my attention for next month.  They are organized according to reported release date (which are subject to change).

Genre abbreviations are as follows: HR-historical romance; CR-contemporary romance; PNR-paranormal romance; UF-urban fantasy; YA-young adult fiction; MG-middle grade fiction; M/M-male/male romance; HM-historical mystery; F-fantasy.


June 3rd
Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling, #13) Wicked Temptation (Nemesis, Unlimited, #3) Once Upon a Kiss (Book Club Belles Society, #1) The Baron Next Door (Prelude to a Kiss, #1) Fall from India Place (On Dublin Street, #4) Grim Shadows (Roaring Twenties, #2) Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War, #1)
June 9th
Cross & Crown (Sidewinder, #2)
June 10th
 Azagoth (1001 Dark Nights, #6; Demonica, #10.5) Hexed (Hexed, #1) I Become Shadow Nothing But Smoke (Fire and Rain, #3)
June 17th
Shattered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #7) Fan Art 17 First Kisses Otherbound
June 24th 
Better Homes and Hauntings Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers, #3) Neanderthal Marries Human (Knitting in the City, #1.5) Lady Windermere's Lover (The Wild Quartet, #3)

Which ones of these are you most excited about?  Are there some I missed?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

THROWBACK THURSDAY-HISTORICAL ROMANCE EDITION (28)

Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.

THIS WEEK I AM FEATURING...

 My Dearest Enemy
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
Originally Published: 1998

“Dear Mr. Thorne, For the next five years, I will profitably manage this estate. I will deliver to you an allowance and I will prove that women are just as capable as men.” Lillian Bede is shocked when she is tapped to run the affairs of an exquisite country manor. But she accepts the challenge, taking the opportunity to put her politics into practice. There’s only one snag: Lily’s ward, the infuriating, incorrigible globe-trotter Avery Thorne.

“My Dear Miss Bede, Forgive me if I fail to shudder. Pray, do whatever you bloody well want, can, or must.” Avery’s inheritance is on hiatus after his uncle dies—and his childhood home is in the hands of some domineering usurper. But when he finally returns, Avery finds that his antagonist is not at all what he expected. In fact, Lily Bede is stunning, exotic, provocative—and impossible to resist.


***************
My Dearest Enemy is considered a classic in this genre for many fans and I finally understand why.  Connie Brockway provides readers with a lighthearted, but still thought-provoking romance with two likable characters.  There is just something about the mix of the prose with the plot and the characters that is hard to describe in a review.  But, I knew it was something special a few chapters in and I hope that others will give this oldie, but goodie a chance sometime.

My full review can be found here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

REVIEW: "The Unexpected Duchess" by Valerie Bowman


The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, #1)
The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman
(Playful Brides #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon 
Author Website

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

St. Martin's Press -- Published in April 2014
Ebook, 368 pages
Read in May 2014
Received from Netgalley

THEMES
Romantic Comedy, Witty Dialogue

SUMMARY
Is there any greater surprise than falling deeply, madly in love?

In This Battle of Wits...
Lady Lucy Upton’s tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the duke…but it turns out that he’s made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she’s had in ages.

Kisses Are the Best Weapon.
Lord Derek Hunt made a promise to his dying friend to marry the demure Cassandra, and for a man who wants nothing more than peace and quiet after the horrors of war, she’ll make the perfect bride. If only the impudent Miss Upton will let him court the girl! Doing battle is the last thing on his mind, but bantering with Lucy behind the bushes is too tempting to resist. And the spoils of this war just may be true love.



FIRST LINE
"Lady Lucy Upton blew a leaf away from her lips."

MY THOUGHTS
The Unexpected Duchess is my first Valerie Bowman historical and definitely won't be my last.  It is the beginning of her new Playful Brides series which features three young ladies who are best friends and have very different views on marriage.  Lady Lucy Upton is the first heroine to get a story and she is the main reason that I requested this book from Netgalley.  I love a sharp-tongued heroine especially when combined with a stoic hero who can battle with her.  While it was not perfect, I found the book to be charming and romantic.

The story starts off with Lucy hiding in a bush in order to help her best friend, Cassandra, politely ward off the new Duke of Claringdon's attempted courtship...think female Cyrano de Bergerac.  Unfortunately, Derek (Claringdon) figures out the scheme and gets into quite a verbal tiff with Lucy.  He is determined to court Cassandra in order to complete a promise he made to a dying friend and is not willing to let a sarcastic debutante ruin his goal.  As expected, this begins a chain of events where Lucy and Derek constantly argue about one another's motives when it comes to Cassandra and their own feelings start to get in the way.

I really liked both Lucy and Derek as characters.  Lucy is a bit of a talker and sometimes doesn't let other people get their own opinions out, but she is a very loyal friend.  There was quite a bit of neglect in her childhood and that helps explain how devoted she is to her few friends.  She is determined for Cassandra to have a loving marriage and is willing to do anything to make sure she is successful.  Derek is newly titled for his bravery during the Napoleonic Wars and is adjusting to life away from the battlefield.  He is stubborn when it comes to his pursuit of Cassandra, but never pushy or mean.  He truly thinks he can make her happy which is what he promised to do.  One of my favorite aspects of Derek's character was his devotion to his work as a soldier and how difficult he finds it to act as the "conquering hero" when his friends are still fighting their lives.

The thing that makes Lucy and Derek stand out as a couple to me is their witty rapport.  Both are intelligent, well-spoken people who enjoying bantering with others and find a worthy opponent in one another.  Their word battle was especially entertaining and made it easy to see the growing chemistry between them.  I found them to be reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite historical romance couples: Kate Sheffield and Anthony Bridgerton from Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me.  I just found them to work so well as a couple once they finally realized how much they were hiding their feelings through snappy dialogue.

I mentioned above that this book was far from perfect and the main reason for that was the plot.  I thoroughly enjoyed the romance element and the friendship between Lucy, Cassandra, and the bookish Jane.  But, I found the rest of the story to be a bit boring even if there was a lot going on.  I can appreciate the farcical nature of the story line though I felt like it was a little half-hearted.  Also, the constant back-and-forth that Cassandra did in relation to Derek's courtship of her got a bit annoying.  I understood she was in a bad situation, but I just wanted her to make up her own mind for once!

Despite these few issues, I really did like The Unexpected Duchess.  The characters were so well-written that I was able to overlook the plot for the most part.  I know the next book focuses on Cassandra and possibly her long-lost love and I'm hoping I like her character much more than in this story.  I definitely recommend the book for readers who enjoy witty dialogue and fun chemistry between their protagonists.

I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin's via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

FAVORITE QUOTES
"This man was a survivor.  The thought hit her out of nowhere.  He had been born into an ordinary family and made himself extraordinary.  And he was that.  Extraordinary."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Unexpected Duchess
2. The Accidental Countess (Coming October 2014)

CHALLENGES READ FOR