28 August 2012

Review: Dragon on Top by G.A. Aiken

**Only the novella by G.A. Aiken is being reviewed.  Couldn't find a separate cover.**

Author: G.A. Aiken

Title: Dragon on Top

Series: Dragon Kin #4.5

About the Book: Escorting the highborn Bram through deadly Sand Dragon territory will try Ghleanna’s patience… and her resolve. For Bram is determined to enhance the journey with a seduction no female could resist…

My Thoughts:

Throughout the Dragon Kin series, a recurring thread has been how much Ghleanna hated her father's past as 'Ailean the Whore.' His reputation fared well for their sons, she always said. People ascribed prowess to them, while expecting that his daughters must be whores.

Well, in Dragon on Top, Ghleanna, who had always thought she'd be alone as a result of these assumptions, gets to find her soul mate. And surprise, surprise, he's been staring her in the face all this while. Bram the Peacemaker, as he's known, is the truce maker for Rhiannon's court. He's nothing like the fierce warrior Ghleanna is. He's quite beta, actually, and has been in love with her for ages. I think everyone knew but her.

I loved it! Loved the contrast of these two! So far, this is the only pairing I've read in this series where the two partners weren't both 'dominant,' 'alpha' characters. I love the sense of calm and purpose that surrounded Bram; I loved the calm and rationality he brought into the mix of this crazy family.

I loved seeing Ghleanna realize her chance for love stood right in front of her, albeit in a different package than she expected. I loved seeing Ghleanna herself in action, maneuvering her way around Helena's court with a stratagem worthy of any politician.

And best of all, I loved the tenderness that underpinned the whole novella. From the obvious love Ghleanna's family have for her and each other, Bram's gentle love, the younger brothers' appearances, and Ghleanna's realization that her father was so much more than his past.

Perfect little novella!

1. Dragon Actually 
2. About a Dragon
3. What a Dragon Should Know - 4/5
4. Last Dragon Standing

24 August 2012

Review: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

Author: Neil Gaiman

Title: Preludes and Nocturnes

Series: Sandman Vol. 1

About the Book: In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his seventy-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. This book also includes the story "The Sound of Her Wings," which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl Death.

Collecting issues #1-8, this new edition of PRELUDES & NOCTURNES features the improved production values and coloring from the Absolute Edition

My Thoughts:

I don't think I've read a comic (graphic novel?) quite like this one before. It was dark and twisted as only Neil Gaiman can do. It was also brilliant.

As I understand it, The Sandman is a series of novels chronicling the morbid adventures of Morpheus, the god of dreams, which all began after he was mistakenly imprisoned by a bunch of fanatics who were gunning for his sister Death instead. Preludes and Nocturnes is the first volume, detailing Morpheus' capture, imprisonment, escape, and quest to return himself to full strength.

I didn't understand a couple of episodes, but could still appreciate their brilliance. The ones I did understand I thought were perfect. The illustrator also did a very good job with the volume. The pictures were more crude than refined, but communicated he darkness and rawness in the tone very well. The final episode, where we get to see Morpheus' sister - originally intended captive - Death in action posed a lot of interesting existential questions.

As soon as I can get my hands on Volume II, you can be sure I will be reading it.



21 August 2012

Quickie Review: The Costarella Conquest by Emma Darcy

Author: Emma Darcy

Title: The Costarella Conquest

About the Book: Jake Freedman is biding his time before exacting vengeance on the man who destroyed his family. And if a blind date with Costarella's daughter will keep his bitterest enemy sweet, Jake will don his bespoke Italian suit and mask his cynicism with a killer smile.…

Jake's practiced touch hooks the innocent Laura Costarella into a dangerous affair. But the treacherously tempting Laura is the only conquest Jake's ever desired more than the ruination of the Costarellas.

It seems that, in this case, revenge is a dish best served red-hot!


My Thoughts:

Add this to the list of books which would never have been finished did I not desperately need it for a challenge. As it is, I skimmed a good minority of it.

Ridiculous and ridiculously boring. Dull and flat, the story made no sense. The behavior of all the characters was off for the beginning: who badmouths their family and discusses their family's dirty linen in front of a dinner guest you are trying to impress? Then the plot segues into some sort of friends with benefits arrangement that was just....boring. None of the characters interested me. Like I said, but for the challenge this one would have been DNF.


17 August 2012

Review: What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Author: G.A. Aiken

Title: What a Dragon Should Know

Series: Dragon Kin #3

About the Book:Only for those I love would I traipse into the merciless Northlands to risk life, limb, and my exquisite beauty. But do they appreciate it? Do they say, 'Gwenvael the Handsome, you are the best among us - the most loved of all dragons?' No! For centuries my family has refused to acknowledge my magnificence as well as my innate humility. Yet for them, and because I am so chivalrous, I will brave the worst this land has to offer. So here I stand, waiting to broker an alliance with the one the Northlanders call The Beast. A being so fearful, the greatest warriors will only whisper its name. Yet I, Gwenvael, will courageously face down this terrifying...woman? It turns out the Beast, a.k.a. Dagmar Reinholdt, is a woman - one with steel-gray eyes and a shocking disregard for my good looks. Beneath her plain robes and prim spectacles lies a sensual creature waiting to be unleashed. Who better than a dragon to thaw out that icy demeanor? And who better than a beast to finally tame a mighty dragon's heart?


My Thoughts:

The first book in this series was very enjoyable for me, but the second one was not too good, and frankly I didn't expect to like the third book, this one, because of the lead character, Gwenvael. In the previous books, he was portrayed as a bumbler, and a rabid man-whore who slept with anything that moved...eh.

But I was surprised to find that he had much more depth than the his character in the previous books would suggest. Additionally, the focus on smex was very little (compared to the other books), which allowed Ms. Aiken to focus a lot more on character development and the various relationships in the book. I thought that was wonderful.

But what made the book for me was Annwyl's story. She has been the most compelling character for me since I started the series, and I am delighted to get to follow her and Fearghus as hey get on with their lives. Seriously. They are the reason I continue with the series - Annwyl and Fearghus along with Bercelak and Rhiannon - so I can see what shenanigans they're up to. My favorite scenes in this book had to do with the birth of Annwyl's twins: so moving how much they all love her.

I definitely enjoyed this one more than I thought I would, and I have a lot more respect for Gwenvael after reading his story.

1. Dragon Actually
2. About a Dragon

14 August 2012

Quickie Review: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe anthology

Editor: Charlaine Harris, P.N. Elrod

Title: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe


My Thoughts:

This is one of the better anthologies out there. I can truly say that no matter my feelings about any one of them, every single story is well-written and mostly entertaining.

My favorite stories were
The Haire of the Beast, by Donna Andrews,
Fresh Meat, by Alan Gordon, and
The Perfect Gift, by Dana Stabenow.

They are all new-to-me authors (well, I've read a mystery from Dan Stabenow before, but still) and their stories were simple, interesting, and fresh perspectives of werewolf/shifter mythologies. Ms. Stabenow's was a bit cluttered and I was confused for a while, but it all clears up into an enjoyable story.

Patricia Briggs' story was also enjoyable, as was Karen Chance's.

My least favorite stories were Rob Thurman's entry - it was quite twisted and my only reaction was wth? and Keri Arthur's entry: I just didn't care about it.

Recommended! A very good anthology, with every single story in it being worth the money.


10 August 2012

Review: Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill

Author: Chloe Neill

Title: Twice Bitten

Series: Chicagoland Vampires #3

About the Book: Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene-and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.

Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals-not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries-old master vampire.


My Thoughts:

A few impressions:

Merit is one of the more well-rounded heroines I've come across in UF, meaning that she has very obvious faults as well as strengths. I want to smack her for her faults sometimes, but I also want to cheer her on for her strong points. For a all that she can act the idiot and has bad choices in friends, she is fiercely loyal to her causes, accepts the consequences of her choices, and has a lot of backbone in her character. I had new/more respect for her after I was done reading.

Why oh why did that Mallory girl have to come back into the picture? I immensely enjoyed her absence and thought Lindsey was a much better friend and sidekick. Pity she couldn't stay away forever.

Ethan is also a more balanced character than most UF leads I've come across, for the simple fact that he is fallible and has flaws that are actually flaws instead of "good traits taken to the extreme." for that reason alone I like him and empathized with him and his conflicted self, even though he was way outta line for what he did to Merit. Of all the men in this series he's the one I like best. Morgan is an immature jerk, and I don't like what I've seen of Jonah much.

What is it with ALL the men I. This series being extremely handsome? It seems only beautiful people exist in or venture into Chicagoland.

I hate to say it but the shifter mythology in this series is kinda lame; even so, it is a pretty bangin' vampire series.

1. Some Girls Bite - 4/5
2. Friday Night Bites

07 August 2012

Quickie Review: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Roberts

Title: The Next Always

Series: Inn Boonsboro Trilogy #1

My Thoughts:

It took me four months to finish reading this book, smh. I do think an excellent rating is a bit more than the book deserves, but it did a u-turn on me, so the rating stands.

It took a loooooong time to finally start to enjoy the book, and even after that, there were quite a few facepalm-ing moments, but I was too well-ensnared by Ms. Roberts' magic to not enjoy it.



01 August 2012

Dying to Get in August....Male Authors all Around!

*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. Inspired by Waiting on Wednesday *

This month's Dying to Get includes a release from last month! Ben Aaronovitch's book released on July 31st, so it's practically an August release anyway. More importantly, I didn't even know about just how awesome a writer Mr. Aaronovitch is until July, when I started the first book in the Peter Grant series.  So without further ado, I present you the two books I am dying to get my hands on this month (well, I've already gotten my hands on one, but still, ). Hah! I just noticed it's all male authors this month!

 July 31st: Whispers Under Ground. 

Book 3 in the Peter Grant series. Without a doubt this is one of the most unique and best UF series I have ever read. I love, love, love this series. I adore Peter as a character, I love London as a setting, and the beauty that is the narrative cannot be overstated. I also love just how ordinary Peter is. Also, I really like how well this male author can write women without making them seem cliche or caricatured. I can't say how glad I am that I stumbled upon this series! I don't know what made me put off picking up book 1 for so long!!!
August 14th: The Demigod Diaries

Book 2.5. It's an anthology about Percy Jackson and some of the demigods in mini-adventures after the battle with the Titans in The Last Olympian. I have SUCH tremendous appreciation and respect for the teen? man? boy? demigod? person? Percy has become, from his bewildered beginnings in The Lightning Thief. Percy is so many things, all of them good. He also manages to be all those things without in the least seeming like a Gary Stu or like he's too perfect. Can't wait! Plus I hear tell there's a story of a date with Annabeth in there. Mebbe we'll get some kissing. Squeee!!! But at $9.87 for the kindle price, I am not sure I will be getting this after all :(

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