30 April 2012

{April} Month in Review

April was even more uneven (haha) than March was for me.


I read 22 books,  a whopping 9 of which were re-reads! I kinda fell back into my reading slump :(. I also started a new job, which leaves me with much less time for reading. My laptop broke - long story, and it won't be fixed for another month or so, which means I am less mobile online.

The favorites:

I went on an Ilona Andrews kindle marathon. In one weekend, I re-read though book 2-5 of the Kate Daniels series, as well as all the Curran POV's and fell in love with the characters all over again for the thousandth time.

1. Magic Burns
2. Magic Bleeds
3. Magic Slays
4. Magic Gifts
*Fathers and Sons (Curran II)
*Curran III
*Currran Hot Tub POV

The least favorites

1. Oracle's Moon by Thea Harrison.

This whole series has been one big bust apart from Dragon Bound.

Underwhelming/Disappointing Reads.

1. Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins
2. Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne

These two books come highly recommended by a lot of my Goodreads friends. Fail. I didn't much like Hex Hall. A lot of the book wouldn't have happened if the characters had the slightest shred of sense :/. Kevin Hearne's book I didn't enjoy as much as I could have because of the caricatured women and the untrue and unnecessary snark about Christianity. I am not inclined to go searching for the rest of the books in the series.


I think my love affair with UF and PNR is coming to an end. It seems like I have read all the great books by all the best authors in the genre. And I don't have patience for TSTL characters masquerading as being kick-ass. So now I just live for new releases by my favorite authors in the genre and ignore the rest. :/ I am also reading less (due in part to my reading slump, and in part to being tired of all the UF/PNR.)

Looking Forward: 

Sometime in the next week, my blog is gonig to have a new design! I am so excited about that. I showed the design progress to my sister and she was awed. It's really cute! And I can't wait to have it done!

Here's also hoping May brings less reading slump, more fab books, and my laptop back - or else I might haver to buy a new laptop :(

25 April 2012

Review: An Indecent Proposition by Carol Marinelli

Author: Carol Marinelli
Title: An Indecent Proposition
Series: Harlequin Presents

Zander Kargas developed his drive to succeed first from his father's cruel fists, then from living on the streets. He's fought for everything, and few challenges remain…or so he thinks!Charlotte is the best secretary Zander has ever had the pleasure of dealing with, and the only woman to fire his blood in a long time. But she works for his bitter rival….Zander, assuming he can acquire her the way he does with most things, reaches for his wallet—except, Charlotte can't be bought. So Zander must entice her…beginning with a very indecent proposition!

I really enjoyed this one despite myself.

Oh sure, I had some issues with the story and with some of the characters, but it still didn't take away from my essential enjoyment. The dialogue was really cheesy in places, but I found it beautiful and haunting instead of annoying. Additionally, I thought the plot could have been much more developed than it was, but again, I read this book at the right time, because it didn't bother me as it usually would.

I really wish, though, that the hero's past had been exploredmore fully. I'd have liked to know more salacious, ultimately heartwrenching details. If I shed a few tears in the process of reading this book, I am refusing to acknowledge it.

I don't remember if I've read any Carol Marinelli before, but I won't be forgetting her in a hurry.

I wasn't going to rate it 5 stars, but I really, really enjoyed myself. And that is what 5-star books are supposed to do for you, so I figured, what the heck? :D



12 April 2012

Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

Author: Devon Monk
Title: Magic to the Bone
Series: Allie Beckstrom #1

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user - maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they Offload the cost onto innocents. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster - and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.

Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune - and the strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now Allie's out for the truth - and must call upon forces that will challenge everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine ... and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control

The strongest emotion I feel after reading this book is disgruntlement (if that's a word at all). Allie Beckstrom's tale started out well enough. We're told she's a hound and can trace magic and magic signatures; she hates her rich dad and avoids him; the rules for the world are being laid down, Allie meets a few interesting people and then her dad is killed. Of course she has to find the whodunit. And that is when everything goes to hell in a handbasket, my friends.

Allie is unforgivably stupid. So stupid that is was kinda insulting to have a character be this clueless. When your dad denies that the signature you traced back to him is his, even though signatures are like DNA; when a truth spell shows he's not lying; when you are told that the signature of the magic that killed your dad is yours even though you didn't kill him, won't you start putting two and two together and realize that your dad was telling the truth and that there is something afoot? And if not then, surely after you meet a guy who tells you in so many words that he impersonated your magic signature, wouldn't you figure it out? When you're wanted by the police and ruthless people in very high places of power and influence for the murder of your dad, is your first and only thought to go to the police and tell them, "but, but, but I'm innocent!"? Exactly.

To be sure, we're all allowed our moments of obtuseness, but when your very life depends on it, you can't afford to be dense. Dense, obtuse people who are fighting for their lives end up dead. Heck, even some of the smart ones don't escape.

So yes, I am not at all impressed with my first book by Ms. Monk. Idiot character and a world that doesn't bring much to the genre. Rachel Vincent's Unbound series is a much more unique take on the idea of Hounds and magical consequences, with characters that don't insult your intelligence, if you're looking for a good time, because this one certainly doesn't deliver one.

I will read the next book in series, though. You know, second chances and all that jazz.


11 April 2012

Playing Around With Names


So I am a rather fickle person when it comes to naming things. I change my mind and change my mind and change my mind all over again. I have renamed my unborn kids a thousand times over.

The blog too.
Thank goodness I like the blog address. I think it took me a coupla changes to fix that one.

Well, anyway, the blog:

It started out as LADY JAYE READS,

and now I am considering changing it all over again, since it's gonna be not-a-review blog, but  diary-ish blog (for me at least. There is every chance that it won't look or sound like a diary-ish blog to you, hehe).

After much thinking (I suck at creative name things :/) I came up with one I liked and thought was perfect:

A Reading Life

But there are a coupla other blogs that have that name :(.

At first, I was going to abandon it, since it's bad form, I think, to use  name that's already been used.
But then, since so many other sites have the name, it's not bad form after all, right? And the url is still unique.

What to do, what to do?

10 April 2012

Review: Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Author: Lisa Kleypas
Title: Secrets of a Summer Night
Series: Wallflowers #1

"Four young ladies enter London society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born." Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle's most intriguing--and persistent--admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition . . . but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.
Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon--and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon's passionate embrace and tempting kisses . . . and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all.

A solid 3-star book, I think. I can see the setup for the whole series and who's to be paired of with who. I am excited about some matches and less excited about others. In general I think I like the men more than the ladies. Of the ladies, Evie is my favorite, and my two least favorite are Annabelle and Lillian, the latter being too mercenary and conscience-less for me.

Pertaining to this story, I thought Ms. Kleypas painted a very accurate picture of the poverty-stricken genteel girl, but still, Annabelle was not a very sympathetic character to me. Simon is....okay as a Kleypas hero, but she can and has done far better. The romance was middling to me. The tale was a likable one, but it ended at about 77% with the marriage of the hero and heroine. The remainder of the story was more filler than anything else, really.

All in all a good story for a night's entertainment, but forgettable. Looking forward to the other books, especially Evie's.


06 April 2012

Review: Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

Author: Stacia Kane
Title: Sacrificial Magic
Series: Downside Ghosts #4
Pages: 403
Source: Owned

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.

Chess and Terrible, now that they have admitted their love for each other, are in a relationship. Chess knows that Terrible loves her, but given the events of the previous books, she's walking around feeling like this relationship is hanging over her head like the Sword of Damocles, waiting to crash upon her should she make the tiniest mistake. Amid all of that, she has a new case from the church, which is tied to the ritual murders going on in both Slobag and Bump's sides of town.

Wow. My thoughts are kinda jumbled right now. I truly enjoyed the story. I liked seeing Chess work. One of my favorite scenes was where she looked down her nose at the officious people by the school. She doesn't play and can give as good as she gets :).

Most of the book was like watching a learning curve for Chess; you can see her character growing, becoming empowered. She learns very slowly to accept a friendship offered (Beulah), and to choose her friends (Lex) - for herself, and not because it suits Terrible or no. Seeing her like that felt so good her drug use didn't overshadow everything for me like it does in the previous books. She's still a junkie, but it's now no longer the center of her life - she has Terrible, other things and people are beginning to creep in.

There is not much to say for Terrible except that he is BEYOND AWESOME and that I am not entirely sure Chess deserves him. I truly like Chess but I want to beat her up sometimes because she hurts Terrible and that is in no way acceptable, for any reason :)

The final scenes in the book, from the climax to the resolution, are so heartfelt and beautiful.

In the end, I loved the story, but I am very, very, very ready for Chess to begin to actually take charge of her life. I like Chess and I am glad she is beginning to envision a new life for herself, a better life. However I feel a lot of the epiphanies she came to are long overdue, especially given her life's trajectory. I'm trying to say - it's not as if her life has only been bad, compared with say Terrible's life - she's had tremendous good too: she's educated, she has a steady job, has been around more than just Downside and crime, more than just screwed up people around her; she's found love and a new reason to live. She's had time to let it all sink in. It shoulda sunk in long before then. The curve for her has been too slow, is what I'm tryina say. But now that realization has come, I am very ready for her to stop regressing, build some self-esteem, stop waiting for the other shoe to drop for every little thing, stop hurting Terrible because she is afraid of getting hurt first, get off the damn drugs! I am ready for it all to happen. Much as I love the series and Terrible, I am not sure I will continue reading if she doesn't at least begin doing that.

So I guess Chasing Magic might be a game-changer for me.

1. Unholy Ghosts - 3/5
2. Unholy Magic - 4/5
3. City of Ghosts - 4.5/5

05 April 2012

Review: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Author: Sharon Shinn
Title: The Shape of Desire
Series: Shifting Circle #1
Pages: 336
Source: Owned

For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.
Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can't choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn't trade their unusual relationship for anything.
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she's been telling about her life have turned into lies she's telling herself...

I am a huge fan of Sharon Shinn, and have been looking forward to this book for almost a year now. Having read it, it is different from Ms. Shinn's usual work in that it is set in the real world, in present-day Missouri, and reads more like magical realism than fantasy. I enjoyed it very much, but it was different.

Maria Devane has been in love with Dante for fifteen years. Dante is a shapeshifter, and as the years have gone by, he spends more and more time in his animal shape, so that he is human only a few days a month. Maria's whole life revolves around keeping Dante's secret and she lives for the moments she can be with him in his human form.

The story is quite slow-paced, but I think that was the point. It's not an epic tale, or one filled with adventure; not a lot of things happen. It's the simple story of Maria life, her daily routine, and the brief moments of happiness she has with Dante. It's about the strain of keeping his secret, of choosing to be in a relationship, which although it makes her happy, is not entirely healthy and balanced.

In the end, we find out it's also about Dante, his motivations, and the choices he's made; the new choices he can choose to make.

The issues that arise in Maria's life around the choices she makes concerning Dante, and how she reacts to issues in the lives of the people around her provides a lot of food for thought - both for Maria and for me as a reader. There are no easy answers.

It's a slow story. But it is also a simple and heartfelt story, told with grace and stark beauty, with complex characters who have complex motivations, who make difficult choices.

I waited a year for this, and although it was not what I expected at the end of that wait, I was not disappointed at all. Of course I recommend it - it's Sharon Shinn!!


02 April 2012

Dying to Get this Month {April}

*At the beginning of the month I post covers of new releases I am just dying to get my hands on and why I am so excited. 

I have only a handful of favorite authors - less than 10, I think - and most series are merely okay for me, so there are not many books I just absolutely have to have as soon as they're released.*

April 3rd: The Shape of Desire.      

 I am soooo jazzed up about this book! It looks as if this one is a departure for Ms. Shinn. All of her other books have been set in fantasy worlds; Shape is set in the real world, in modern-day mid-western America. It is also about shapeshifters (woohoo!) and I am excited to see what she will do with it. Her take on shapeshifters seems unique -they spend more time in their animal forms than as humans, and they seem to be able to take on any shape they want - cats, dogs, pigs, hens, cows, etc - instead of the genre-staples tigers and bears and wolves and lions and ligons, hehe. The first chapter is available on her website, and it is fantastic. Can't wait!

April 3rd: The Dukes Perfect Wife. 

 So erm, this one is kinda weird. It is the fourth book in the Highland Pleasures series. I have only read the first book, which deals with lord Ian Mackenzie and his madness Everyone and their mama loved this book, but I was glaringly underwhelmed. The only character that really interested me was the oldest, Hart Mackenzie.  I knew I had to read his book as soon as it came out. And here it is this month! I am still debating whether to buy it or wait for the library to acquire it. Either way, it will be read by the end of the month in any case :).

And that's it for the month of April. Any thoughts? Or new releases you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!!

01 April 2012

Review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Author: Patricia Briggs
Title: River Marked
Series: Mercedes Thompson #6
Published: March 1, 2011

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.
An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...

It feels really blasphemous to be rating a Patty Briggs book so low, and to be fair, I liked it a lot more than many books I've rated three stars. However I rated Bone Crossed for stars and I liked that one much better than this one. So I am rating in comparison to the other books in this series as opposed to the book on its own merit, if you get what I mean. That's said......

I liked the story. It was a good something. But for me it lacked the draw that other books in the series have had. I didn't care much for the first book in the series, but every one after that has held me spellbound until I finished it. This one I found hard to get into from the beginning and had to put it down for awhile. When I came back into it, it hit its stride and I rolled with the story until the end, but it was still lacking in Patty's usual subtle oomph for me. 

I think a part of that could be attributed to the new setting. The story takes place away from the pack, and the usual supporting cast, and has a slew of new characters. They were interesting to read about, and I really liked to see Mercy 'explore' her Native American heritage; it was also moving in parts - especially the scene where she saw her father's ghost dancing and the scene where Coyote explains that dance to her. But it still lacked the magic of previous books, the cohesiveness the Columbia Basin support cast brings. 

And this one is my fault. You know how people read to see their favorite characters - like how most people will read to see Mercy and Adam again? Well, my favorite character is Samuel, and I sorely missed the glimpses of him I usually get. I mean, it's not Patty's fault that I had the bad taste (well. it's good taste IMO, LOL!!!!) to fall hardest for a side character, but it is what it is.

And this part is a little ranty. You can skip it entirely, as I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the only one who feels this way :)

For the first time, Mercy and Adam really got on my nerves. Adam with his posturing and yellow eyes....yes sah! We get it. She's your wife, your mate, she belongs to you, no one can hurt her, blah blah blah. Enough already. Adam used to be both possessive and sensible; in this books he was not sensible, and I wanted to smack him on the nose. I felt more than a share of malicious glee when Wolf got his own back on Adam. In that scene especially I felt his behavior was uncalled for, so I was glad he was 'put in his place', so to speak.

And Mercy going on and on and on and on ad nauseum about not being a fragile flower, and not needing to be protected and how Adam was her mate.....we get. We really do! We've been rooting for you guys all along. Now we don't need to be reminded every two pages. The Lady and the Gentleman doth protest waaaaaaaaay too much. Okay, rant over. 

It was a good book, a solid book, an enjoyable book and I have no doubt many, many people will love it. It just didn't pack the punch for me Patty's books usually does, and so I was disappointed. The whole was less than the sum of its parts, for me.

1. Moon Called - 3/5
2. Blood Bound  -5/5
3. Iron Kissed - 5/5
4. Bone Crossed - 4/5
5. Silver Borne - 5/5
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