24 February 2012

REVIEW: Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane

Author: Stacia Kane
Title: Unholy Magic
Series: Downside Ghosts #2
Pages: 346
Source: Owned

The second book in this edgy urban fantasy trilogy. Chess is a fiercely independent witch and talented Debunker - working for the Church of Real Truth to exorcise ghosts and expose human liars. But she has a dark little secret that is causing her a lot of problems! a drug addiction. Trying to catch a spectral serial killer with a fondness for his victims' eyes is distracting Chess from her day job, and her growing attraction to Terrible is making things worse. Life is getting too complicated and Chess must break the rules to keep her head above water.

Much of the reason I am rating this four stars is Terrible.

Okay. Here are my thoughts:

1.  I am fascinated by the world Ms. Kane has created. Oh I am still confused by a lot of it, but it's still rather unique in terms of UF worlds. It's dystopian (which is commonplace in UF), but the part of the world we see/spend time is not common: the underworld. It's dark, raw, gritty, and an unpleasant place to be. The books are about a high functioning druggie who lives smack in the inner city, who deals with drug lords who run prostitution rings, sell drugs, have their henchmen brutalize people, where street fights kill people, and where most people are victims of circumstances. It isn't a pretty world. The characters are not people you should be rooting for: a drug addict who realizes that her drugs are ruining her life but who still makes no move to try and stop, and an enforcer who, as Mimi puts it, "is a professional bully" for a drug baron. But that is the genius of Stacia Kane. Like Regina says, "[Ms Kane] is able to surprise us with our feelings about Terrible."

2. Terrible is awesome. And Ms. Kane did one of the best jobs in any UF anywhere when she came up with this guy. He's not someone we should root for. He's not your normal hero; or anti-hero. He brutalizes people for a living (never mind that he was a victim of circumstances, the truth is still the truth), he also oversees his drug lord's prostitution business. Seeing him in action as th thug was...harrowing. I hated it. But he still manages to be kid, sweet, considerate..... in some ways he is more than the usual heroes we have in UF: not many people can live the life he has, in the circumstances he has and still be an honorable person through and through. Yet Terrible manages to be believably so. A very big part of what keeps me coming back to this series is Terrible.

3. Chess: again, to quote Mimi, she is not so TSTL as she is TUTL (too unstable to live). She is supposedly a high-functioning drug addict. She is always high and can still solve mysteries while high. If she can do that, I don't see why she can't exercise some of that good sense and NOT hurt Terrible; and NOT make bad decision after bad decision; and NOT decide she needs to get her life together and wean herself off drugs. You see glimmers of growth here and there, but for the most part....oh Chess - get it together, girl!!

4. I still don't get a lot of the ghost mythology and stuff. For example, how the heck big is this so-called City of Ghosts? The spirit of every person who ever lived is kept there? Don't they run out of space? These ghosts are supposed to b incorporeal, but thy act like zombies half the time. Pyschopomps? Huh?!!

5. I am not amused with the way things ended.



23 February 2012

ARC REVIEW: Raven Calls by C.E. Murphy

 This title will be published on March 1st, according to Goodreads.com. FictFact has this title as being published on the 21st of February

Author: C.E. Murphy
Title: Raven Calls
Series: Walker Papers #7
Source: Netgalley

Something wicked this way comes…

Suddenly, being bitten by a werewolf is the least of Joanne Walker’s problems.

Her personal life in turmoil, her job as a cop over, she’s been called to Ireland by the magic within her. And though Joanne’s skills have grown by leaps and bounds, Ireland’s magic is old and very powerful…

In fact, this is a case of unfinished business. Because the woman Joanne has come to Ireland to rescue is the
woman who sacrificed everything for Joanne—the woman who died a year ago. Now, through a slip in time, she’s in thrall to a dark power and Joanne must battle darkness, time and the gods themselves to save her.

I gave up after about 30% of the way through.

It's not bad, I was just patently uninterested in the plot.

Joanne, bitten by a werewolf in the previous book, heads off to Ireland to see if she can get a powerful shaman to reverse the effects of the bite, so she doesn't become a werewolf. Instead, she finds herself traveling back in time on a quest to save her mom's life.


After 6 books, there is very little character growth. Joanne is still the same old dimwit, same old rude, obnoxious, and infantile person she used to be. All of the growth from book 3 and 4 have been lost. And IMO, there is no excuse for that this far into a series.

Existing fans of this series will probably enjoy this installment, so I'd say "go for it." To someone who hasn't started I'd say "don't bother; it isn't worth it."

*I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

1. Urban Shaman
2. Thunderbird Falls
3. Coyote Dreams
4. Walking Dead
5. Demon Hunts 
6. Spirit Dances

REVIEW: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Author: Stacia Kane
Title: Unholy Ghosts
Series: Downside Ghosts #1
Pages: 339
Source: Library

The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased.

Consequently, there are many false claims of hauntings from those hoping to profit. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully-tattooed witch, freewheeling Debunker, and ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for nailing human liars and banishing the wicked dead. But she’s keeping a dark secret from the Church: a little drug problem that’s landed her in hot and dangerous water.

Chess owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump. And Bump wants immediate payback. All Chess has to do is dispatch a very nasty species of undead from an old airport. But the job involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and crossing swords with enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it.

Hell, yeah.

In hindsight, I must say that Terrible was a very big part of the reason I enjoyed this book. He's drawn with consummate finesse and is one of the most unique and endearing male characters I've ever had the pleasure to meet in any fiction. 

I was confused almost the whole time I was reading this novel. The whole time. The world Stacia Kane has created is soooooo blurry to me. It seems that some time back, ghosts exploded on the scene, and were out with a vengeance to kill the living. One organization who called themselves 'the Church' (nothing to do with religion, since all religion is outlawed) banished the ghosts - to some city? I wasn't too clear on that - and now runs the world - or is it the immediate area? - with an iron fist. Part of their mandate is to protect the living from ghosts. So if you find your house haunted, it means they failed, so they'll compensate you after carrying out an investigation and an exorcism (if your claim is true). Woe betide you if your claim is false.

Chess is a DeBunker (person who banishes ghosts and checks claims) for the church. She is also a drug addict on the side (if the church found out, she'd be toast), and her unscrupulous drug dealer has forced her to do something for him.  In the course of her routine investigations, she discovers a dangerous plot, which is also somehow intertwined with what her drug dealer wants her to do. To make it even more complicated a rival drug dealer doesn't want her to go through with the job for the regular drug dealer.....and oh yes, she has the hots for the rival drug dealer's henchman, as well as the hots for the regular drug dealer's enforcer, called Terrible.

Like I said, I spent a goodly amount of time confused. It seems ghosts are incorporeal when they want and corporeal when they want too. It was very confusing. At some point in time I was wondering whether or not I was reading about zombies instead of ghosts. Woulda made much more sense that way, I think. And the plotting as well confused me. We'd be somewhere, and I'd be following okay, and then all of  sudden I had no idea what was going on, who we were talking to,where we were. I can't get a sense of the world Chess lives in.

I ended up liking Chess and Terrible quite a bit. (I still don't know why Chess is a drug addict, though, or when she began her habit). But my favorite was Terrible, all huge, and ugly, and a drug dealer's head thug but underneath surprisingly sweet and kind and considerate. I am surprised to say I was rooting for a thug, haha. I wish Chess had gotten with him instead of Lex (the other drug dealer's henchman). Btw Terrible is such a bad name for a thug :D but I still love him.

So um yes, recommended. You might have better luck understanding the worldbuilding dynamics than I did, and Chess and Terrible are worth it :D


22 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #4

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Jill's blog, and highlights upcoming releases were highly anticipating.

Today's entry is for Sacrificial magic, book #4 in Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts urban fantasy series

Cover and description taken from goodreads.com

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.
I am so excited! I get to see Terrible again! I am only on book 2, but I hear by this time Chess is actively attempting to clean up her act, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Your turn now :D

21 February 2012

REVIEW: Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Author: Johanna Spyri
Title: Heidi
Series: n/a
Pages: 352
Source: Owned

Heidi was first published in 1880. A classic tale of childhood joys and friendships, it has delighted and inspired generations of children.

I consider this story a romance. I know it's not one in the 'traditional' sense of the word, but it's one in spirit.  It's about a gruff old man learning to open up his heart to the love that his young granddaughter feels for him; it's about the fierce and abiding love a young girl feels for her grandfather and the mountainside on which he lives.

It was one of my favorite childhood stories, and still is. To be sure, it's rather idyllic, but that is how most children see the world, and the places and people they love, no?

What I don't remember from the abridged version as a child was many of the religious passages/ connotations of the novel. It was a nice surprise, and I felt that Ms. Spyri weaved it well into her novel.

The prose like many of the classics, is flowery and embellished, and in this story, could be a bit tedious here and there, but never for long.

All in all, it's a wonderful story about a little girl who's joie de vivre and love bled out into everyone around them and made their lives that much better.

Reminds me of Anne of Green Gables :D



20 February 2012

Memorable Monday #3

This meme is fast becoming one of my favorites ever!  Memorable Monday is a new meme hosted by the ladies over at Escape in a Book, and invites us to share a memorable quote from something we've read/ are reading.

Today's quote is from a book I just finished reading: Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane. There are so many good quotes to highlight what I want, I don't know which on to choose. So here goes:

"So why do you work for Bump?"
"Only thing I ever good at"
"What, beating people up?"
He nodded "I got no school, you know. No family. Bump took me in, I just a kid. Getting in street fights for food, sleeping any flat wheres I could find. Now I don't have to fight. Nobody wanna dance with me." Faint pride colored his voice as he spoke the last sentence.

This is Terrible's life story, as told to Chess I LOVE Terrible. One of the best characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading since I began reading romance and (urban) fantasy.. He's a badass - his job requires hat he be one but I don't know anyone else who's a bona fide thug (dude's an enforcer for a drug dealer, or as my friend put it, professional bully) who also manages to be so genuinely sweet, so kind, so considerate.  Okay enough rambling.

19 February 2012

REVIEW: The Conqueror by Brenda Joyce

Author: Brenda Joyce
Title: The Conqueror
Series: The de Warenne Dynasty #1
Pages: 428

Like a pagan god, Rolfe the Relentless rode into Castle Aelfgar to claim it as his prize--and Lady Alice as his bride.  Lauded for his bravery in France, in England he was the hated enemy.  Once ensconced in his new domain, Rolfe became determined to tame the Saxon beauty Ceidre, Alice's illegitimate sister, whose spirit and sensuality make him risk treason to have her--not Lady Alice--in his bed...

Mysterious and seductive, she was no lady but a spy for the rebel cause of her noble half brothers.  Refusing to bow to this arrogant warrior who ignited her forbidden passion, Ceidre was swept into a dangerous liaison tied to the fate of England and kings.  Yet with his kisses on her lips, his skillful hands on her body, she would have to struggle not to surrender to... The Conqueror.

Reading a bodice ripper - a medieval bodice ripper, no less - requires some mental preparation on my part. I have to be willing to suspend copious amounts of disbelief, and keep in mind that people could be callous, women were not treated like human beings, and that violence and rape was practically a way of life (at least no one cared to defend the rapee from the rapist). Oh, and the language was a lot bawdier then - at least all the medieval bodice rippers I've read have bawdy language. Once I get there, then I can leave my outrage at the door and just enjoy the story for what it is.

Even so, this one was a bit hard to take at times. Rolfe de Warenne is one of William the Bastard's (that's conqueror to you :D) most trusted knights. After a successful campaign to control Saxon England, William rewards Rolfe's services with some Saxon Lord's holdings. He is to marry the dude's daughter to cement his claim. So he and his knights ride in triumphantly and wreak havoc. Rolfe sees a girl he fancies and attempts to forcibly take her, only to be informed that was his wife-to-be. [It was a case of mistaken identity. Caedre was the half-sister of the wife-to-be].

 The almost-rape in the very beginning left me reeling. I mean, it was very much in character for that time but still! Well anyway, we continue on to meet Alice, the wife-to-be who's a bitter vindictive woman, probably because she learned it from her mom. See, her dad didn't love Alice's mother. He'd married her as an afterthought to prevent himself from going after the baseborn woman whom he loved - Caedre's mom. but everyone talked of it as if Alice's mom had been bitter for no good reason. Would you not be bitter too, in her shoes? Things like that bothered me.  Again, I understand that is how things were- women were not given any consideration - but still.

There were also many moments where I felt the heroine was exceedingly TSTL, because she did things anyone with a modicum of sense wouldn't do, like telling your sister, who so obviously hates you, that yo are committing treason. The hero spent a good amount of time thinking with not-his-head, and then would be surprised when things went wrong because of that. He also acted with casual callousness a lot of the time, but see my very first paragraph for the disclaimer. Smh.

I still did give this three stars though, because I very much enjoyed the drama and the angst - this was one very angsty tale impossible love. Rolfe desperately wants Caedre, to the point that he is open about it and everyone knows it. She rebuffs his advances 1. because he is to be married to her sister, and 2. she's been an outcast since she was born, what with being a bastard child, being cross-eyed and being able to heal with herbs. No one has ever wanted her. He wants her, he can't have her. I don't think I've ever read a medieval romance where the heroine was actively rebuffing the hero's advances or the hero was so open about his desire; I enjoyed that aspect very much.

And the various obstacles - mostly man-made -  that kept popping up in their path just made me want to groan - it seemed like they were never going to get together! When Rolfe decided to marry Caedre off, I was speechless, but then that's when things took an interesting turn (IMO it was rather ingenuous execution on Ms. Joyce's part), i.e. that's when all the smexing began, and boy was there boatloads of it! Ms. Joyce had gone 60-70% of the novel without any smex, and she seemed bound and determined to make up for that. It kick-started off with a rape, which again, I had to grit my teeth and remind myself that it was in keeping with the time period and our characters, but it still grated. What didn't didn't gel well with me was Caedre's arousal right after she'd been raped. But oh well. I'd suspended disbelief for so long, I was willing and able to go with the flow.

At the heart of it, I truly did enjoy Rolfe and Caedre's story. Good bodice ripper. Recommended - if you like that sort of book, and if you are willing to suspend disbelief.



18 February 2012

Demon Hunts by C.E. Murphy

Author: C.E. Murphy
Title: Demon Hunts
Series: Walker Paper #5
Pages: 361
Source: Library

Seattle police detective Joanne Walker started the year mostly dead, and she's ending it trying not to be consumed by evil. Literally.
She's proven she can handle the gods and the walking dead. But a cannibalistic serial killer? That's more than even she bargained for. What's worse, the brutal demon can only be tracked one way. If Joanne is to stop its campaign of terror, she'll have to hunt it where it lives: the Lower World, a shamanistic plane of magic and spirits.
Trouble is, Joanne's skills are no match for the dangers she's about to face--and her on-the-job training could prove fatal to the people she's sworn to protect

For the most part, this series leads me to think of what it might have been, instead of what it now is. It could easily have been a great series, but it isn't. Not by a long shot. I had thought the series was starting to look up when the author began to portray a different side of Joanne - a more likeable side. But alas, it seems like that was only a flash in the pan.

Dimwit Joanne seems to be making a comeback in full force: rude, obnoxious, and with very little to recommend her. In this book, this was not just Joanne, but every other female character. It made reading such a chore.

Unfortunately the plot was also uninteresting - the search for a cannibalistic serial killer...sounds interesting, but the execution was a failure.

Not recommended.

1. Urban Shaman
2. Thunderbird Falls
3. Coyote Dreams
4. Walking Dead

17 February 2012

TGIF @ Greads #5: Blogger Pride

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted every Friday at GReads, asking reading/book-related questions which are fun to answer. This week's question is:

Book Blogger Pride: What do you take pride in when it comes to blogging?

Erm...I think I take pride in my blog. I like to share my thoughts on books with people, and having a blog, being a part of the book blogging community gives me a sense of  pride, if you will.

I think I am most proud of my reviews. IMO some of them are very good, others not so much, others, quite bad. Some of them are all formal, others more informal. Some are written in awe of an amazing writer or book, or else disappointment or disgust at something I considered subpar.  It's an accurate reflection of how I feel about a book at any given time. So um, yes. I am proud of having a blog where I write down my thoughts about books; I am proud of being a part of a community of readers who like to talk about their books - especially romance and fantasy.

A year ago, none of this was true. Now it is. And I'm proud of that :D

16 February 2012

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Author: Jim Butcher
Title: Grave Peril
Series: Dresden Files #3
Publication Date: 1st Sept 2001
Pages: 374
Source: Library

Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden’s faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. All par for the course for Chicago’s only professional wizard.

But in all of Harry’s years of supernatural sleuthing, he’s never faced anything like this: the spirit world’s gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble—and not just of the door-slamming, ‘boo’- shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly.

Someone—or something—is stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc. But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn’t figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself....

This third installment of the Dresden Files is a huge improvement over the second book, and Harry has risen a bit in my estimation. Oh he still has most of his faults - a God-complex, and a bumbler - but he is no longer unforgivably obtuse, and that counts for a lot.

I was confused in the beginning, because the whole mystery aspect was based of an occurrence that happened off-screen I think. I don't remember seeing Kravos in any of the previous books. i thought he might have been the sorcerer in the first book, but according to the time line, the first book took place two years before, and the Kravos incident took place a year after that. He was also definitely not in the second book. Anyway, it made for a mystery that seemed really complicated but was rather simple in hindsight.

One thing I have noticed is that I don't think I like the female characters Jim butcher writes. They are horrible, and I wouldn't bat an eyelid if any of them were killed. Susan almost certainly deserved what she got, and s for Karrin Murphy, the less said about her, the better. The book was so much more enjoyable because she was out of it for the most part.

I liked the addition of the character Michael. He was not a bumbling fool. Plus, you very rarely find Christians in UF, even rarer, portrayed in a favorable light. I am interested in him and hope we'll get to see more of his backstory. I liked his wife :D.

I am definitely going to come along for the next ride.



15 February 2012

Heartless by Gail Carriger

Author: Gail Carriger
Title: Heartless
Series: Parasol Protectorate #4
Pages: 374
Source: Owned

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking ), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.
Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

Information reaches the now-heavily pregnant Alexia that someone plans to kill the Queen. So of course, since Alexia will never shirk her duties as muhjah, she takes it upon herself to find the culprit and put a stop to their shenanigans.

Gail Carriger's writing so witty and fun, and it has this old-world feel to it that suits the historical aspects of the book perfectly, making it a pleasure to read. Conall Maccon is such a gruff sweetie, I can't help but love. He and Alexia are a riot when put together.

I felt so sad for Professor Lyall, as the revelations about his past came to light. And we got to meet Prudence herself, finally! :D

I think this is not one of the better stories in this series, and it dragged quite a bit more than some of the previous three books. There were three main reasons for that. Number 1: I HATE Felicity and Ivy Tunstell. They were in the book a bit too much for me, especially Felicity, distracting me whenever they were on. At least Ivy is much smarter than she appears. Felicity just has no excuse for existing. Number 2: I am not much of a steampunk person, the story dragged a bit in the sizable portions where steam machines and such play a role. Number 3: I was tired of Lord Akeldama and Biffy's whining.

Not the best story in the series but still worth a read.


14 February 2012

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)Author: Jim Butcher
Title: Fool Moon
Series: Dresden Files #2
Pages: 347
Source: Library

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn't been able to dredge up any kind of work—magical or mundane.
But just when it looks like he can't afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.
A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses—and the first two don't count...

I'm sad to give this one a measly three stars because I was excited for this book. I was disappointed.

A lot of the plot was advanced by people who should know better being unforgivably obtuse. Take Murphy, for example, with her knee jerk reactions, arresting Harry every chance she got, when a little bit of maturity would have accomplished drastically different results. All she'd needed was a few minutes - no seconds, of clear thinking to allow Harry to talk, and a lot of misconceptions would have been cleared up. But no. She's too old to be that immature. And her job alone should preclude her from being that way, but no.

Harry himself was not much better. He acted rather immature and needlessly cruel for a good part of the novel, even if for no other reason than to show bravado to people who were on your side. He's too old for that. His mini God-complex was also rather annoying. And you would think anyone who saw himself as the only hope mere mortals had against all the dark forces would conduct himself with a modicum of common sense, but no. He's gone down in my estimation with this novel.

I so wanted to like this one. Like my friends Sans would say, Sad Panda.


13 February 2012

Memorable Monday #2

Memorable Monday is a new meme hosted by the ladies over at Escape in a Book, and invites us to share a memorable quote from something we've read/ are reading.

This week's quote also comes from Alpha and Omega. Bran is talking to Anna on the phone, and after she tells him that Charles' wolf has claimed her as his own and that he thinks she is an Omega werewolf. Bran goes silent for a while and then says

"Oh his brother is going to tease him unmercifully about this. Why don't you tell me everything that has happened. Start with picking Charles up at the airport please."

I love this quote because it is one of three that shows how Samuel's brother and father see him: the joker, the prankster, the one with so much joy in him. Not the Samuel we've seen of late, bowed under so much pain. He's my favorite character in both of Patricia's series' and I so badly want him to be happy.

11 February 2012

The Dutiful Wife by Penny Jordan

Author: Penny Jordan
Title: The Dutiful Wife
Publication Date: 11th Jan 2010
Pages: 189
Source: Library

Saul Parenti has always been glad that he's second in line in the Arrezzian monarchy. He can concentrate on his business empire...and the delights of his new wife Giselle... But when his cousin is killed Saul must ascend the throne. Instead of pursuing their own dreams, Saul and Giselle must now make their lives about pomp and protocol. But the secret traumas of Giselle's past have scarred her deeply; she never wants to be a mother – and that leaves her marriage in crisis: because her royal duty is to produce an heir...

THE PARENTI DYNASTY Power, privilege and passion The worlds of big business and royalty unite...

The premise sounded really interesting. I, for one, don't remember the last time I read a HP where the couple were already married and still together and still in love from the very beginning of the story. Unfortunately, the story is interesting only in name; the execution was horrible.

My impression was that the relationship was very unhealthy. What else can you think when any mention of the guy going somewhere on his own for even 5 minutes triggered feeling of "Oh he doesn't love me anymore; oh our marriage is not strong because we are not spending every waking moment together" in the heroine?

Speaking of the hero and heroine, they were both a bit Mary Sue and Gary Stu and quite stupid. A few good slaps of good sense into them would not have been amiss at all. They kept claiming to be in love, but I didn't see it. All I saw was two people acting so formal with each other, and two unhealthy people in an unhealthier relationship.

The treatment of post-partum depression in this book angered me. It was stupid, and not fit to print. Saul was an idiot and Giselle was an even bigger idiot who should have been put in counseling when she was 6 years old.

Not a good HP.

10 February 2012

TGIF @ GReads #4: Love Stories

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted every Friday at GReads, asking reading/book-related questions which are fun to answer. This week's question is:

Love Stories: What are some of your favorite fictional love stories?


The very first story that comes to mind is Rachel and Gabriel's story from Archangel, by Sharon Shinn.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their love story. I love everything about it. I love those two characters and their journey to love. It is a story about two very imperfect people learning to make the best of a 'bad' situation.  They're also very unusual characters in the world of fantasy and romance:  a very prim-and-proper and uptight angel, and a VERY stubborn-to-the-point-of-idiocy heroine. Their flaws, their strengths, their weaknesses, their (more like Rachel's) past pain...it was glorious to experience. To date, they remain two of my very favorite characters in all fiction.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I positively adore this story. What's special about it is that it's not about romantic love. Instead it's the story of a little orphan girl who's foisted off on her unwilling curmudgeon of a grandfather. And watching the gruff ole loner show his love for Heidi in many little ways is so sweet.  Equally sweet is the love Heidi has for her grandfather and the Swiss alps. So strong is this love that Heidi has to be returned to her darling grandfather after well-meaning "social services" separate them. I adore this tale so much that I planned on naming my daughter either Adelaide or Johanna, in honor of this book and the author who could think up such a delightful tale. But that was before I decided that darnit, I am not European, so none of my children are getting European names.

Akorfa Asiedu, veteran Ghanaian actress
My last entry is not from books. But the love stories from the old time Ghanaian movies (late 1980's, early 1990's) are some of my favorite of all time. They were awesome, and no one ever forgets them. Even today, start singing

"Sakina, O Sakina, my endless love for you will remain,
My love for you will never ever die,
O Sakina, O Sakina"
to a group of Ghanaians over 20 years old, and everyone will reply back with
"Nico, Nico, I love you from the bottom of my heart
Nico, Nico, I love you from the bottom of my heart,
O Nico, O Nico."
Nico and Sakina's forbidden love story was epic! The movie was Matters of the Heart, released way back in 1996. Unfortunately, you can't find this, or any of those movies anywhere anymore, since no one was forward-thinking enough to record them, and the movie companies that made such awesome moves are mostly defunct now.

Anyway, that's my piece. the ball is in your court now. What are some of your favorite love stories?

09 February 2012

On the Prowl (anthology)

On the ProwlOn the Prowl by Patricia Briggs
My rating:

Alpha and Omega - 5 stars
This is my second read of this novel, the intro to Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega series, and I am upgrading my rating to 5 stars. I loved it! And I had more time to notice other things since I was already familiar with the storyline, and oh, the things I noticed! I LOVED Anna's first impression of Charles, and the descriptions she gave of him were KILLING ME SOFTLY!!! And Charles, being all studly on Anna made me giggle (and melt), LOL! You stud, you.

And of course I loved the three references to Samuel. He wasn't there in the book, but his father and brother's perceptions are so telling. From them I caught a glimpse of the 'lighthearted person who "had joy in abundance"' (in spite of his past) and had taken the time to teach Mercy to be joyful too. I saw him how he should be instead of the sad person he is now, bowed under the weight of so much pain. And my heart broke all over again.

Bran  must have some amazing genes to have created the offspring that he has! Patty sure knows how to write those Cornick men!

Inhuman - 2.5 stars
Eileen Wilks tells a story set in the World of the Lupi, about a hellhound and a telepath caught in the search for a killer. It's not too hard to follow, but there were quite a few references to things and events I can surmise happened in the previous book (this novella is #1.5). I was a bit impatient with the heroine: if i tell you there's a killer who can assume anyone's shape and then later I tell you that people who saw the killer say they saw you - wouldn't you be able to put two and two together? It was a good enough read, but the first half was much better than the second. It also felt rather soapbox-y to me, making me want to steer clear. Overall not a bad novella, but it doesn't inspire me to go looking for more books in this series.

Buying Trouble - 5 stars
This one is labeled Dorina Basarab #1.1 I haven't started the Dorina Books, and have only read the first of the Cassie Palmer books. In the one I read, I was really confused and not too impressed with Ms. Chance. Well, now I am super impressed. But for a moment there I had no idea what was going on. The main character was introduced and I went 'Claire who? LOL!' It's the same world, I guess, but this one was so much more fun than Cassie's book. There's a motley crew of paranormal beings featured - everything from trolls and fey to werewolves and dragons and a 'null'. and let me tell you, I have never read any male described as having "creamy buttocks," LOL! the story was full of surprises I didn't see coming; and laughs too. Wholly original and so much fun. Oh yes, the story is about the adventures of a Fey and a Null.

Mona Lisa Betweening - 2 stars
As far as I can tell, this one was about a shifter queen running around having sex with the men in her court under the full moon - rather reminiscent of Anita Blake. No thanks.

View all my reviews

08 February 2012

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)
Morganville Vampires #1
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
My rating: ★★★½

I don't know if my rating is fair or not, because I rated the last Rachel Caine I read 3 sars, and I enjoyed Glass Houses way more than that one. The book had some seriously good moments. But it also had seriously iffy moments, hence the 3-star rating, I guess.

Claire Danvers is a 16-year old genius who had the chance to attend any college she wanted - but her parents made her go to some backwater college in Morganville, not too far away from home. That stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Any Ghanaian parent who's child was smart enough to be accepted to some of the best universities in the world would ship them off. First. Chance. They. Got - because a good education makes all the difference. (Again, this is a story about a sheltered American kid. Not Ghanaian. I get that. But still. I was like, are you kidding me, really?)

But never mind. Rachel goes off to college and finds herself in the sights of a clique of really, really mean girls. Because of their meanness, she flees college and finds accomodation and friends at the Glass House. This one bugged me a lot. If Claire was 12 years old and going to 9th grade at Morganville High School, it would have been perfect. Not College. I mean, 18 or 19-year old girls behaving like this? No. Oh they can still be mean, but it's more innocuous and sinister than this.

Claire also behaved more like she was 10 or 12 years old than like a sensible person who's 16 years old, much less someone who's a genius.

That notwithstanding, it was a good story. I liked the inhabitants of the Glass House - Michael, Eve, and Shane. And while I did think something was weird about Oliver, I did not see that twist coming. It made for a very awesome climax.

The resolution is the final issue I had with the book. I don't like cliffhangers, especially ones that come out of nowhere. Grr. But yeah, I'll be reading the next book in series when I can get my hands on it.

View all my reviews

07 February 2012

Memorable monday #1

Three guesses where/who I saw doing this meme. Sigh. So I am still only going to do two memes a week.  Instead of a Waiting on Wednesday this week, we're going to have a Memorble Monday (yes it's Tuesday, I'm late I know, but still ^_^)

 Memorable Monday is a new meme hosted by the ladies over at Escape in a Book, and invites us to share a memorable quote from something we've read/ are reading.

Here goes!!

My entry is from Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs, found in On the Prowl (an anthology). The review for the anthology will be up on Friday. Anyway here's my absolute favorite line from the book:

"I promise you will enjoy sex with me," he murmured.

Oh Charles Cornick, you stud, you! What we have here is Charles being all suave and cool after he'd told Anna his wolf wanted her for a mate and she'd told him bitingly that after being treated like a whore for a year, she didn't like sex. Patty keeps her series really vanilla, and Charles is really somber, so for him to go all studly and say something like this...It made me giggle so much.  Alpha and Omega is a very short story that worth way more than its weight in gold. You should check it out!

Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare

Extreme Exposure (I-Team, #1)I-Team #1
Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare

For some reason, the series name, I-Team, had me expecting an Elite Ops/SEAL/mercenary sort of romantic suspense. So I was confused for a moment there when I realized we were dealing with the Investigative team of a newspaper and not hot men who are trained killers, heh. But once that was cleared cleared up, I started noticing a few things.

The book is a lot more romance than suspense, so much so that you could take the suspense part out, and you still pretty much had a solid romance going on. Speaking of romance, this one was as steamy as you could get without making it erotica.

I liked Kara and Senator Reece. They were solid characters who behaved their age - both in their thirties, not too much angst, hiding information leading to big misunderstanding, no TSTL moments...it felt age appropriate.

It was a very quick read. It didn't feel like 300+ pages at all, which is a very good thing, right?

The epilogue was HELLA cheesy! But it was all good.

Overall, it was a nice evening's escapism, and a good introduction to romantic suspense for someone used to reading romance. I am adding this series and Ms. Clare to my TBR list.

View all my reviews

06 February 2012

Blood Cross by Faith Hunter

Blood Cross (Jane Yellowrock, #2)Jane Yellowrock #2
Blood Cross by Faith Hunter


The first book in this series surprised me into enjoying it and checking out the rest of the books. Unfortunately, this book is a disappointing follow up to the first book.

Jane Yellowrock is still in Louisiana, even after completing her job for the Vampire Council. It seems she has been hired on to do some more work for them: a rogue is making new vampires and must be stopped.

For a long while the story just seemed to be going nowhere, so I went back and checked the synopsis, and it was vague, much like the story itself: there was not much of a sense of the plot moving forward to some sort of culmination. It remained flat until the final few chapters, where it picked up a bit, but by then I couldn't care less about any tensions or happenings that had to be resolved, I just wanted the book to end.

I also found myself returning to my initial assessment of Jane (you know, before the turn of magic that had me change my mind about the first book) as a rather uninteresting character to get to know. The one thing that perked me up was her relationship with "Bruiser", which alas, seems to be fated to either go nowhere or be part of a love triangle/quadrangle.

I was really disappointed in this installment. I think I will go on to read the next book in series to gauge whether the first book was a fluke or if it's truly worth coming along for the ride.

And...the cover is horrible. Womp.

View all my reviews

03 February 2012

Thank you!!

This post is just to say thank you to Bilal Aslam, who helped me get threaded comments on my blog.  I am a technology dunce, you see, and when I couldn't figure it out fro the instructions on his blog, he took the time to have me email him my template and then he fixed it for me. That was so nice of him!

For anyone who's having similar trouble, I suggest you take a look at the tutorial: click me!!
I would also encourage just browsing his blog, which has tons of useful tutorials for bloggers who use blogger.

If you're reading this, Bilal, thank you so much! You are a prince among men! :D


TGIF @ GReads #3: Book Appeal

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted every Friday at GReads, asking reading/book-related questions which are fun to answer. This week's question is:

Book Appeal: When you're browsing goodreads, the library, or another blogger's reviews, what grabs your attention to make you want to read it?

The library: The cover. And the blurb on the back of the book. I will bypass a book whose cover doesn't impress me. I've missed out on many good books that way (Patricia Briggs' series), but I can't help it. If I don't like a cover, I'm most likely not picking the book. And the section. I am usually in the Romance/Fantasy/Science Fiction section. So unless I am looking for a specific book, books n other sections pass me by.

Goodreads: When I'm looking at a random book on Goodreads, the first thing I do is look at the average rating. If 1, 000 people have read it and the average rating is 4.30, then I'll take a closer look at it. I'll look at some of the reviews. More importantly, I'll look at what my friends and people I follow have to say about it. If I get a positive vibe, I'm much more likely to attempt to acquire the book. If I get an intensely enthusiastic vibe from them, I'll get the book and start it right away (that's what happened with Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison).

Another Blogger's reviews: What they have to say. I am not much for detailed synopses and book report-ish reviews. I want to know how the reader felt, whether they liked it, loved it, curse it with fire and brimstone...you know, that sort of thing. And if the feelings expressed are strong either way, I'll take a second look at the book.

If it's a book I really want to read anyway, then all bets are off. If it's a book I'm leaning towards not reading, the opinions of friends and people I follow are more likely to play a bigger role.

Because I'm feeling rambly, I've left you with some examples.
1. I autobought - if that's a word - Dragon Bound because ALL my friends on Goodreads were raving about it and the average review was really high. I didn't really enjoy the first 50% and I was tempted to give up, but so many of my friends encouraged me to continue - "it gets better," they said. And so I did. I am glad I did because  I majorly enjoyed the second 50% - enough to rate the book 5 stars.

2. Wicked Lovely Series, by Melissa Marr. I got the first book from the library. I read a bit, and wasn't sure I was enjoying it, so I checked out the blurbs for the other books. I wasn't sure I liked where the series was heading, so I looked at my friends' reviews on Goodreads. One particular review, by a person who I follow, was thoughtful, and which pointed out issues she'd had, made me realize I was better off spending my time on other books. I don't regret choosing to DNF the first book and not continuing with the series.

3. Pride Series, by Rachel Vincent. I love Ms. Vincent's work, but usually I want to smack sense into her characters. I was trying to decide whether to start this series, but readers' opinions about Faythe's attitude gave me pause. I looked around and saw another thoughtful review of the whole series by someone I follow whose opinions I respect. Her analysis of Faythe's character made me decide it was better to leave the series alone instead of trying to assess it for myself. And again, I haven't looked back even once: not in the face of glowing reviews or negative reviews. I am content with choosing not to experience this series for myself.

01 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #3

  Happy February!! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Jill's blog, and showcases upcoming releases we're highly anticipating.

And my entry for today is somewhat special. I'll tell you why after the blurb, heh :) That's code for I'll be doing a lot of rambling, but it's worth it...I think.

Raven Calls, by C.E. Murphy. This baby is going to be the 7th book in the Walker Papers series. It is slated for release on February 21st

Description via amazon.com
 Something wicked this way comes…
Suddenly, being bitten by a werewolf is the least of Joanne Walker's problems.
Her personal life in turmoil, her job as a cop over, she's been called to Ireland by the magic within her. And though Joanne's skills have grown by leaps and bounds, Ireland's magic is old and very powerful….
In fact, this is a case of unfinished business. Because the woman Joanne has come to Ireland to rescue is the woman who sacrificed everything for Joanne—the woman who died a year ago. Now, through a slip in time, she's in thrall to a dark power and Joanne must battle darkness, time and the gods themselves to save her.

I say this book is special for two reasons, the most important being if you had asked me about this series even two weeks ago, I would have said fervently, "Heck no! I hate that series!" and probably proceeded to explain why this is one of those series that must die. The first two books were terrible because the heroine Joanne, frankly, was an insufferable dimwit and I wanted to smack her senseless. My less-than-charitable-reviews for books 1 and 2 can be found here:
 Book #1: Urban Shaman (Goodreads link)
 Book #2: Thunderbird Falls
 Book #3: Coyote Dreams

I read book three ...just Monday? - and all that changed. Ms. Murphy discarded the layers of Dimwit that coated Joanne and showed what lies beneath. She gave us a new Joanne, someone whose journey is worth reading about. And yes, it is as dramatic as I make it sound, at least for me it was. My very-charitable-aka-I-was-wrong-about-this-series review of book three is also linked above, just in case anyone cares. Coyote Dreams changed my view of this series so drastically that I am excited about it enough to power through book 4-6 in 3 weeks or less, just so I can read Raven Calls as soon as it comes out (or slightly before, thank you NetGalley ^_^). I am excited about Joanne and how much potential her character has for growth and I want to be there for the journey. I have no idea what the plots of the next books are, but now, instead of the dread of two weeks ago, I am going into this series with  a sense of enthusiasm and expectation.

Reason  #2: This is another mythology that you won't see too much of peppered along the landscape of fantasy (really bad sentence structure, but you know what I mean). It's basically a series about a half-Irish, half-Cherokee police-officer-who's-really-a-mechanic; it's about being a shaman. It's new. And it pretty much sticks to Native American mythology, which is kinda cool, and again not too common in the Urban Fantasy genre.

I am really excited about this release, for not-the-usual-reasons, and that gives me an extra thrill :)

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