News

Most Anticipated Books of 2015 a Retrospect

Happy New Year's Eve

I had a lot of books I was anticipating for this past year, so I figured now would be a good time to take a look in review and see how they stacked up.

Bound by Flames by Jeanniene Frost = 4 stars but did not review

Obsession in Death by JD Robb = 4 stars

Highland Guard by Hannah Howell = 3 stars but did not review

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs = 5 stars

Prudence by Gail Carriger = 4 stars

The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire by Molly Harper = 3.5 stars

Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti = 3.5 Stars

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston = 4.5 stars

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick = 4 stars

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris = 3 stars

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh = 5 stars

The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands = 4 stars

Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle = 4 stars

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews = 5 stars

Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh = 5 stars

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger = 4 stars

Mind Magic by Eileen Wilks (Had neither read nor reviewed at the time this post was created)

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews = 5 stars

Breakout by Anne Aguirre = 5 stars

Beyond Innocence by Kit Rocha = 4.5 stars (Still waiting on Beyond 7 AKA Beyond Ruin)

I had a good run. I read and reviewed most everything I set out to do. I switched over to WordPress which has been more successful for me (please ignore the formatting issues on some of my older posts as they didn’t all transfer over prettily). And I hardly ever was disappointed. Plus, there were plenty of books I loved that I never even saw coming. But you’ll have to check back in tomorrow to see what those are.

 

Advertisements
Standard
3 star review

Review – Mine to Protect by Cynthia Eden

MIne to Protect.jpg

He agreed to protect her…not love her.

Victor Monroe left behind a brutal past when he decided to become an FBI Agent. He knows that other agents think he’s too cold, that he has ice in his veins, but he doesn’t care what folks say about him. He gets the job done–always. No matter the cost.

Then he’s blackmailed into guarding…her.

Zoe Peters, ex-showgirl, daughter of a mob boss and drug dealer, a witness who wants to vanish. Zoe is wild, beautiful, and on far too many hit lists. It’s now Victor’s job to keep her safe–a job that Zoe makes damn difficult. But keeping her alive is his mission. It’s supposed to be strictly professional between them. Just another case. Only…

He never counted on falling for her.

Zoe is not the woman he expected. She isn’t cold or hard. She lights up the room when she walks into it, and despite the hell surrounding her, Zoe is good. Probably too good for Victor because Zoe doesn’t know about the secret deal that Victor worked out with her father. Zoe doesn’t know that Victor intended to use her for information and then turn her over to waiting operatives.

Desire wasn’t supposed to enter the equation. The white-hot lust he feels for Zoe should have never threatened Victor’s legendary self-control. But she’s under his skin…melting his ice…getting to him… Soon Victor doesn’t care about the law or about the lines he has to cross for Zoe. She is his priority. Victor will not rest until every threat to her has been eliminated. And then…

Zoe will be his.

I have been waiting for Victor’s book for what seems like forever. He actually crosses between Eden’s Mine series and her Dark Obsession series. As I have said most of these could be read as stand-alones but really, this is sort of a saga of the most villain-beleaguered group of friends and family you will  ever read. Just action packed soap opera and Victor seemed set to be the crowning touch as he’d previously stole the show.

Turns out he’s an effing snake in the effing grass. I could hardly believe it. Sure, he was conflicted about it and all, but he sure wasn’t clearing his mess up any time soon.

Zoe on the other hand, she absolutely rocks, she’s as one character put it, “one hell of a woman”. Kind, compassionate, moral, and a spitfire who rescues herself and others. Probably she’s one of my favorite Cynthia Eden heroines in a while.

Victor though, he’s a snake in the grass almost to the very end. The mystery was nice and twisty though, the story was action packed, and the chemistry between the two of them was fairly combustible. And it was really nice to get updated on some of my old favorite characters. Life is peachy for this villain beleaguered group, and it was lovely to see. It also prompted a re-read so that was nice to.

All in all, I enjoyed it, it wasn’t my absolute favorite in the series, I think I might have built Victor up a little too much. But it was a solid story and a good entertaining read.

Mine to Protect (Mine, #6)

Standard
3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – Altered by Marnee Blake

ALtered.jpg

The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead…except for her.

Only that’s not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He’s fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don’t know is each of them has strange new powers. And they’ll use their “gifts” to survive…no matter who stands in their way.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Post-apocalyptic dystopian is my catnip, and it didn’t look like a series, and I figured with one U.S. Army Specialist Set Campbell-how YA/NA could it actually be? But yeah, turns out I read the blurb poorly and this only affects one town, and it is indeed a series, and the answer to that last question is VERY.

But once I got over my misconceptions, I enjoyed it for what it was. We’ve got a group of late teen/early 20’s kids basically who are on the run after some sort of government conspiracy unleashes a plague that kills most of the town and leaves them with superpowers.

Fortunately for me our two main characters are the grown ups of the bunch. They each have their own hangups for sure, but they aren’t quite as young as the other 3 feel, so once we settled down to the Seth and Blue’s story it didn’t really have a strong NA vibe if you see what I mean.

There is some, but not a ton, of character growth, and the relationship between the two main characters relies more on chemistry and longing than development until the very end. What this book is, is an interesting premise, a government conspiracy, and practically non-stop action.

And those elements were fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters quite well, but the mystery and government conspiracy is the part that really shined for me and I am kind of hooked. It kind of, in a way reminded me of Rebecca Zannetti’s Sin Brother’s series. It is hard to describe, because they aren’t really that similar, but that is what it made me think of, and I think people who enjoyed that series will enjoy this one too.

The story also ends on something of a cliffhanger, not for our main characters, but for one of the side characters who I assume will be featured in the next book. Just fair warning if that sort of thing bothers you. Personally, while it isn’t my favorite trope, I am looking forward to the next book.

Altered

Standard
3 star review

Review – Some Were in Time by Robyn Peterman

Some Were in TIme

All I wanna do is marry Hank, have 2.5 beautiful little Werewolf babies and live happily ever after while having sex on a very regular basis. Oh…and I still want to shoot stuff occasionally.
Apparently no one got the memo.

Instead of complaining about the price of flowers, cakes and the fact that my gay Vampyre BFF, Dwayne insists on wearing a dress at my nuptials, I’m locked and loaded trying to ascertain who wants my ass six feet under. With Hank at my side and some surprising allies at our disposal, we will take on the bad dudes…one bloody clusterhump of a sucktastic battle at a time.

No one ever said the Werewolf life was going to be easy, but this week we couldn’t catch a break if it bit us in the ass…

The gang is back and more ridiculous than ever. I’m almost sure this book is offensive to everyone everywhere…or is that every were? Anyway, between the Gay Vampyre Dwayne and gender ambiguous, deadly farting, were cows….I just can’t, literally, I can’t. And frankly that doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of the over the top insanity that is this story. There are plot holes large enough to ride a were cow through, particularly when you add this installment to the events to the last one. It is just something you have to go with.

Do I recommend this though? That is a tough one, it isn’t going to be for everyone that is for sure. But if you like the ridiculous, zany, and over the top, this may be the book for you. We’ve got heart warming happily ever afters for a large number of characters, villains were vanquished, mysteries were solved, and I can’t even begin to explain what all else.

Jesus Hesus Christ, where does Peterman come up with this stuff? And where the heck are my happily ever afters for Dwayne, Junior, Dami and Granny? Because I seriously want them.

Some Were In Time (Shift Happens #2)

Standard
3 star review

Review – Ready to Were by Robyn Peterman

Ready to Were

I never planned on going back to Hung Island, Georgia. Ever.

I was a top notch Were agent for the secret paranormal Council and happily living in Chicago where I had everything I needed – a gym membership, season tickets to the Cubs and Dwayne – my gay, Vampyre best friend. Going back now would mean facing the reason I’d left and I’d rather chew my own paw off than deal with Hank.

Hank the Tank Wilson was the six foot three, obnoxious, egotistical, perfect-assed, best-sex-of-my-life, Werewolf who cheated on me and broke my heart. At the time, I did what any rational woman would do. I left in the middle of the night with a suitcase, big plans and enough money for a one-way bus ticket to freedom. I vowed to never return.

But here I am, trying to wrap my head around what has happened to some missing Weres without wrapping my body around Hank. I hope I don’t have to eat my words and my paw.

***This novella originally appeared in the Three Southern Beaches collection released July of 2014. This is an extended version of that story.

I had read and enjoyed the first three in her Hot Damned series, so when this one popped up as a freebie I snapped it up, and it has been languishing on Mt. TBRdoom ever since. It is still free if you are thinking about picking it up.

This is something like a cross between Maryjanice Davidson and Eve Langlais; pure, unbridled, over the top ridiculousness. Essie is vapid and high octane and self absorbed, and when she feels she’s been betrayed by her fiance she sneaks off in the middle of the night to go become become a WTF (Werewolf Treaty Federation) Agent.

So there are a few things that could turn some people off. One is of course the aforementioned ridiculousness (I adored it, but YMMV). The other issues are that this is a fated mates, Big Mis, AND Big Secrets all wrapped up in one over the top package. There is also a bit of time where Essie is a just a twit and overly like a doormat. The rest of the time she relatively kick-ass, so I found it if not forgivable, then at least acceptable.

Which all makes it sound like I didn’t like it, but I did, it was funny. But those were my issues with it. But the characters were hilariously funny caricatures, the mysteries were just too ridiculous for words, and I found myself wanting to read more of their shenanigans. It was simply put, fun.

There is just one description for this story, and that is “over the top”. I had to stop myself from using it even more than I already have. But if you like Maryjanice Davidson and Eve Langlais, and have an hour to read, I definitely recommend this freebie.

Ready to Were (Shift Happens, #1)

Standard
3.5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – A Coral Kiss by Jayne Ann Krentz

A Coral Kiss

With twenty-two New York Times bestsellers and millions of readers, Jayne Ann Krentz is one of the most popular romance superstars of our time. Now treat yourself to her deft and incomparable brand of riveting and sexy suspense in her classic tale of a woman, a man, and destiny’s many unexpected twists.

Successful author Amy Slater had a life in need of mending. And Jed Glaze proved to be the right man for the job after the pair hit it off as fabulously good friends. Then one day Jed shows up with a mysterious injury of his own—and suddenly dark, confounding, yet utterly irresistible Jed becomes a lot more than “just a friend”.

Now it’s a time for not only mutual healing and delightfully sensuous nights but for sharing secrets that could prove a little dangerous for them both. On a jaunt to a Pacific island paradise, Amy and Jed will unearth the key to the unsolved murder that has haunted Amy’s nights—and discover how surprisingly and exquisitely fated two seemingly mismatched hearts can be.

Yeah, so reading Secret Sisters prompted a re-read. Luckily it’s available on Openlibrary so I have a good excuse for reviewing it here. (Why I need an excuse, I don’t know. I mean, it’s my blog, I can review what I want. But I never said I wasn’t neurotic.)

In any event, my usual Openlibraryu disclaimer applies, if you’re checking out the book from OpenLibrary, then you need to check out the PDF…unless you enjoy playing the bad OCR game. I can’t verify the quality of the scan because I’m reading my personal copy, but most of the time they do a good job.

Basically, I re-read this specifically because when I was reading Secret Sisters this was one of the books that came to mind when I was thinking “Wait this isn’t any darker, grittier, or edgier than…“. And I remembered liking it. So bear with me, because there are going to be comparisons between the two books. I can neither guarantee that if you haven’t read either book you’ll either understand the review or not be spoiled. I’ll try to be clear, that is kind of the point. And I’ll try not to spoil people. But no promises, feel free to step off the crazy train if needed. Also, I always have a bad habit of not referring to characters by name, and that is much more likely to be irritating here when I am actually talking about two or three sets of characters, mea culpa.

The first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable the dialogue felt in this older novel. That could be due to a couple of reasons. One, it could be due to the fact that I have read this before, maybe it feels more comfortable because I am more familiar with it. Or two, it could be because these characters already have backstory, which then the other component may be that it was a purposeful stylistic choice she made in the newer novel in deference to the fact that they don’t have as much backstory.

The second thing I noticed was how much more of the focus was on the characters and their thoughts and feelings in the older novel, compared to a greater focus on events and dialogue in the newer novel. I agree with Krentz’s assessment that the focus IS different in her latest novel. The older is more romance with suspense whereas the newer is more suspense with romance. Let me try that again. The older novel, the main focus is on the relationship, and while there is significant suspense and mystery, much of it is couched in how it affects the characters, their perceptions of each other, and their relationship. The newer book is more about the mystery and the twists and turns, and the relationship is more along for the ride, it wasn’t that is was merely appended, but that their relationship wasn’t the lens through which we viewed the mystery.

There are significant similarities between the two books though. For instance, both heroes are super masculine, highly capable, associatied with governmental investigations that give them negative views of the world, AND they each have one softening feature that leavens their character and that they rely on to ease the stresses of their lives. The newer book utilizes cooking while the latter has the hero make fancy bird cages as a hobby. Of course the older book the dialogue seems a little snappier and makes me giggle snort rather than it feeling defensive.

“When I decide to get an agent, I’ll consult you. In the meantime, no more sneaking around behind my back buying birdcages without my permission, understand?”

I don’t know, it just made me laugh.

As for our two heroines, they both have had traumatic pasts that impact their lives. I suppose one could say that having terrible events happen in childhood, as Secret Sisters does, makes it darker, but that isn’t my perspective. The thing that strikes me though, is how much more agency the character in A Coral Kiss had, she does creates action she does effect (or affect) the outcomes. The heroine in Secret Sisters has things happen to her and around her, but she does comparatively little to shift the events of the narrative. So while the more current heroine is nominally written more feminist, it seems more surface and window dressing. And the heroine in the older novel is written much more feminine and nurturing outwardly, but that again is more surface when underneath it all I’d say the older heroine is actually the stronger character, in this respect. It is an interesting dichotomy.

But here’s something remarkably, I don’t know, “meta” from A Coral Kiss. The heroine is a writer and the hero is thinking about her book.

“The tone had seemed darker than the others, not as adventurous and lighthearted in its dealing with the perils faced by the hero and heroine. In a way it had been a better book, richer in detail and characterization, but there had been an uneasy edge to it that set it apart from the others.”

How’s that for some sort of cosmic sign that I picked the right book to compare Secret Sisters to?

Things were going asking swimmingly, and I came to a screeching halt. How did I not notice this when I read it previously? How did I not remember it? The heroine slaps the hero because she’s pissed at him. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t mind the somehow dated sex scenes and dated man/woman interactions, but that’s almost a deal breaker. I guess my perspectives have changed, which in this case is all too the good. So I reminded myself this thing was published in 1987, so almost 30 years ago, a lifetime in the publishing industry, and was on my merry way.

In any event, bottom line, I disagree that there is anything darker in the new one. I think this is classic Krentz, the sort of thing she does so well, maybe with more emphasis on the suspense, but the overall bones are the same.

A Coral Kiss

Standard
3.5 star review

Review – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Secret Sisters.jpg

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same.

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants.

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

I almost always read Jayne Ann Krentz (and her pen names) immediately, and this one was no different, despite the author’s foreboding words about how different it is from her usual stories. She described it as darker, grittier, and edgier. I don’t mind any of that, but I was wondering how much of my Krentz fondness was due to nostalgia and comfort, and how much was her ability to weave a story. I mean, we like what we like, and it is often remarkably tough to parse out WHY we like or dislike things.

So the beginning was dark, as promised. And then we move into meeting our grown up heroine and her hero. Madeline is aggressive and icy and emotionally closed off. But Jack, Krentz paints him as sexy right from the beginning, or at least in my opinion she does, because men who are competent in the kitchen are my catnip. It made him seem softer and was a nice foil to his otherwise rough tough image and was a nice characterization thread throughout.

Anyway, we get into the mystery pretty quick. And, it is hard to explain, but the dialogue is a little stilted. It is like Krentz was trying to wade into unfamiliar waters and she feels unbalanced and couldn’t quite get a feel of what her characters would say, or how they should say it. There is also some kind of Nora Roberts vibe, I don’t know, but the set up with dual couples and the suspense just had something of a Roberts feel.

In any event, once the mystery really got up and running I didn’t mind the slightly awkward dialogue anymore I was just sucked into this over the top dramatic suspense. Except I also kind of wasn’t. I was into it, don’t get me wrong, but if something distracted me from it, it often kept me distracted and I didn’t find myself racing back to the story. It is hella twisty turvy though, and the twists actually make sense and are logical, though our PI hero spends a tad too much time explaining it all.

So here’s the deal, I think I am getting a handle on why I enjoy steampunk, science fiction, paranormal, fantasy and urban fantasy so much more than contemporary. Because people are people and there are really only so many ways to write them, and there are really only so many mysteries, so many motivations, and so many ways to put people in jeopardy. And when you are working within the framework of contemporary you tend to be constrained I think. Other genres I think allow for more creativity. The things you can explore are practically limitless, so you get novel settings, unusual rules to the world, and every now and then it seems like it opens up a different choice or makes the people set in those fantastical settings just a bit different.

I don’t know, I guess I am jaded on contemporary romantic suspense. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this one and will gladly continue reading Krentz, darker or not. She still weaves a hell of a tale, and that hasn’t really changed. But frankly I wouldn’t consider this darker, edgier, or grittier in the least. It is comparative to Silver Linings, Soft Focus, or A Coral Kiss (albeit with some feminist flair that’s glaringly obvious in these older books), all books I have enjoyed. I’d say the story is more detailed, tricky and maybe tightly plotted, but this isn’t groundbreaking to me, it is more like returning to the late 80’s through the 90’s in my opinion. So if like me you enjoyed this previous books, you’ll probably like this one too. I’m giving this 3.5 stars because while I enjoyed it, I guess t didn’t live up to expectations, and I am not sure I’d reread this one, I’d probably reread one of those other three, and I think this may actually prompt a reread.

Secret Sisters

Standard