6/29/11

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sexiest Vampire Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, bibliophile hands on.

Pub Date: September 27, 2011
Format: mass market; ebook

I love funny paranormal books. They're my weakness. I love funny books in general, but mix in some vampires, shifters or other beings and I'm in heaven. While I've liked some of the Love at Stake series more than others, I'm still anxiously awaiting this one!

The Blurb:
Finally, it’s Gregori’s turn!
He was both a playboy and a vampire…and impossible to resist.
At the end of Vampire Mine, a terrible thing happened—a video was released that proved the existence of vampires.  Now Vamps fear the worst, the Vampire Apocalypse!  Will mortals start hunting vampires down and staking them in their death-sleep?  At an emergency meeting, Coven Masters from around the world decide how to proceed. They need an emissary to open negotiations with the President of the United States.  They want their emissary to be modern, safe, and harmless. A Vamp who has never bitten a mortal.  A Vamp who has been entirely bottle-fed. Their choice—Gregori!

Now Gregori has the fate of the entire Vamp population on his shoulders.  Can he keep them safe?  Or will he succumb to his playboy ways and doom them all?

6/28/11

Review: Unlocked by Courtney Milan

Format: ebook
Pub Date: May 30, 2011
Length: novella (approx 28,000 words or 111 pages)
FTC: Purchased myself

I'm sure most of you have heard the buzz about this book. Not because of the novella itself, but because of the publishing back story: this is a self-published book. And since we have been trained for years to equate self-published with crappy books, the fact that a traditionally published author would go that route is news. What's even better news is that this novella is indistinguishable from the traditionally published material I've read from Ms. Milan. Except, perhaps, the quality is far superior to the sloppy formatting often found in NY pubbed ebooks.

Courtney Milan's Unlocked is a perfect example of a shorter romance done right. I read somewhere (a blog interview perhaps?) that Milan writes a short completely differently from a full length novel. And it shows!

6/23/11

Review: The Alpha and the Omega by Patricia Briggs

Format: ebook; available in print as part of an anthology
Pub Date: Oct 2008
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 160 kb, 86 pages (accord. to Goodreads)
FTC: Purchased myself

Having just finished up the Mercy Thompson series on audio, I had a craving for more Patricia Briggs books. And since the next Mercy book isn't scheduled for publication until 2013, I debated trying the Alpha and Omega series. After getting used to Mercy's first person narrative, I wasn't sure if the 3rd person POV would work for me. Thankfully, it did.

I'm very glad I listened to advice I received on Twitter to read this story BEFORE reading the official first novel, Cry Wolf. Because this story contains the entire set up for the book. I think I would have been left feeling like I got dumped in media res if I didn't have the story to fill in the blanks. And that would have been annoying.

6/22/11

Hump Day Classic Movies: Highlander (1986) Flash Gordon (1980)

I was listening to Queen on the way home the other day and got to thinking about how many movies during the 1980s featured their music. At least a handful.  But there are two movies that feature so many songs, I immediately think of them when the songs are playing.

Flash Gordon is a truly awful film. It's in the so bad it's funny genre. I suspect it was meant to be, but was a box office flop anyway. The actors who play Flash and his love interest are truly terrible actors. But there's also Timothy Dalton and Max von Sydow. You can find the soundtrack as a digital download.

The other big movie featuring Queen's music was, of course, Highlander. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the movie. It's ok. There's just too much sword play for me. And I can't stand Christopher Lambert. But the music? Love it.

But both films do have cult followings, so what do I know? If you haven't watched either of them, you should definitely give them a try. Even if you have to shut your eyes and just listen to Brian Mays's songs.

6/15/11

Waiting on Wednesday: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on.

Head Over Heels
Format: Mass Market, ebook
Pub Date: November 22, 2011 (Available for preorder)
Publisher: Forever/Hatchette

I think it's pretty obvious that I am a huge Jill Shalvis fan. The Lucky Harbor series is classic Shalvis, with wonderfully believable characters, lots of humor, and that elusive something extra that has you flipping the last page with a sigh of regret that the journey is over.

Head Over Heels is #3 in the trilogy. And features a classic oil and water personality trope that promises to be sizzling hot and hilarious. I can't wait!

The Blurb:
Breaking rules and breaking hearts

Free-spirited Chloe lives life on the edge. Unlike her soon-to-be married sisters, she isn't ready to settle into a quiet life running their family's newly renovated inn. But soon her love of trouble--and trouble with love-draws the attention of the very stern, very sexy sheriff who'd like nothing better than to tame her wild ways.

Suddenly Chloe can't take a misstep without the sheriff hot on her heels. His rugged swagger and his enigmatic smile are enough to make a girl beg to be handcuffed. For the first time, instead of avoiding the law, Chloe dreams of surrender. Can this rebel find a way to keep the peace with the straitlaced sheriff? Or will Chloe's colorful past keep her from a love that lasts . . . and the safe haven she truly wants in a town called Lucky Harbor?

TBR Challenge Review: Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Format: Mass Market paperback
Pub Date: 2008 (orig. pubbed as a hardcover in 2007)
Length: 418 pages
FTC: Purchased used
Why it was in the TBR: Wanted to try Kleypas's contemporary debut

I've been meaning to read this book since it came out in hardcover back in 2007. Of course, I rarely buy romances in hardcover, so I waited until I found a used paperback copy at the local thrift store. And then it sat neglected on the shelf for another couple years. Ah well.

I pulled this out thinking it would match this month's contemporary romance theme. Turns out I was wrong. This isn't my idea of a contemporary romance. It's more of a women's fiction/straight fiction novel. The focus isn't on a main couple, something I need to have to qualify a book as a romance.

6/14/11

Quickie Audiobook review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Format: Audio download
Length: 8 hrs 54 minutes
Narrator: Lorelei King
Pub Date: March 2011
FTC: Purchased myself

I've listened to the entire Mercy series in the last few months. I haven't reviewed them (bad Amber) except for the first one, but I have been flying through them as much as the format would allow. Although I loved the previous installments in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, I just didn't enjoy River Marked. At least until the last 1.5 hrs of it.

Maybe it's because Briggs played with her formula, but due to certain developments, there is no romantic tension in this book. None. And that was part of what I loved about Mercy.

There was also a huge emphasis on Native American religion and mythology. Something that quite frankly bores me to tears. I liked the fey, the vampires, the werewolves etc. I have zero interest in characters from the Native American creation myths come to life. It's just not my cup of tea.

Another irritant was the limited number of characters in this book. Because Mercy and Adam are on their own, we see the rest of the larger cast of characters only at the beginning and the very end. Or through an occasional phone call.  Taking these two out of their circle of family and friends did not work for me at all.  Those relationships are what keep the series afloat and provide much of the charm.

The last part of the book was much, much better. Probably because we get some action. There's a huge  battle, filled with terror, loss, angst, and lots of emotion.

The narration, as always, was terrific. The characters sound unique without being grating, and Ms. King manages to convey character emotions and attitude.

I found myself really disappointed in this book, even though the ending did bring up the grade quite a bit. The pace, the lack of romantic tension, the vague sense of stagnation where nothing really happens all made this a meh listening experience for me.

My Grade: C

6/8/11

Hump Day Classic Movie: Green Card (1990)

I just finished reading Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey. The plot involved a pretend engagement, and some of the kooky things that happened reminded me so much of the movie Green card starring Andie MacDowell and Gerard Depardieu (in particular, the Photoshopping element that paralleled the fake photos in the movie.)

Green Card is a sweet romantic comedy that I personally haven't watched in a very long time. Hard to believe the movie is over 20 years old now.

Waiting on Wednesday: One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-lovin' hands on.

One Grave at a Time
Pub Date: August 30, 2011
Length: 384 pages
Blurb: Goodreads description (may have spoilers in it!)

I still haven't read book #5 in this series (although it's in the TBR), but I love this series a lot. In fact, I have them on audio also, and my husband loves them too.

6/6/11

Quickie Review: Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon

Format: ebook
Pub Date: (newly revised edition, April 2011)
Publisher: Carina
Length: 44,490 words
FTC: review copy via NetGalley

I'm incredibly late posting this review, but I blame the winter blues. Why? Because it's still acting like winter here. And thanks to someone on Twitter, I have a name for it: June-uary. Seriously. We've had maybe 1 day in the last month that hit 70 degrees. Anyhoo...my review:

I love Josh Lanyon's writing. Something about the mystery noir sensibility just makes me happy. And setting this one during  WWII? Total win. Finding a genre for this novella is a bit difficult. I'd say it was a m/m historical romantic suspense. And I think that's where my problem lies...I'd have preferred this story as a mystery.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the explicit scenes, but except for one...they seemed unnecessary to the plot. As if the author had added them to artificially turn up the heat level to match the preferences of the current crop of m/m readers.

The setting and characters are well done as always, though, and the mystery was believable. This is a very atmospheric piece of writing. It expertly captures the feel of the old film noir movies without overdoing it. And it made me care about the two lead characters enough to hope there are other stories in the works.

And props to Josh Lanyon: I didn't guess whodunnit. At all. I had part of the mystery figured out, but not who the murderer was. That's a rare thing for me.

My Grade: B

The Blurb:

Los Angeles, 1943
Reporter Nathan Doyle had his reasons to want Phil Arlen dead, but when he sees the man's body pulled from the La Brea tar pit, he knows he'll be the prime suspect. He also knows that his life won't stand up to intense police scrutiny, so he sets out to crack the case himself.
Lieutenant Matthew Spain's official inquiries soon lead him to believe that Nathan knows more than he's saying. But that's not the only reason Matt takes notice of the handsome journalist. Matt's been drawn to men before, but he must hide his true feelings—or risk his entire career.
As Nathan digs deeper, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay one step ahead of Matt Spain—and to deny his intense attraction to him. Nathan's secrets may not include murder, but has his hunt put him right in the path of the real killer?

Review: Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Format: ebook, mass market paperback
Pub Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 368 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

Summer at Seaside Cove is the perfect beach read: heartwarming and hilarious. As a longtime fan of Jacquie D'Alessandro's books, though, I didn't expect anything less.

Mainly known for her historical romances, Jacquie D'Alessandro's unique sense of humor translated well to this contemporary romance. It took a bit longer than normal for her voice to shine through, but once it did, I was smiling my way through the rest of the book.

6/2/11

June is Audiobook Month!

In honor of audiobook month, I'm going to attempt to post all of those audio reviews I've been neglecting to finish. I've listened to quite a few, but just haven't gotten around to posting my thoughts on them.

One thing I do know about audiobooks: the narrator is extremely important. Many non-audiophiles are leery of audiobooks because they feel like it's just too weird to have someone read a story to them. And that's where a narrator comes in. The best narrators perform a book, rather than just read it. In fact, I often search Audible.com by narrator to find new authors to try.

My favorite narrators:

Barbara Rosenblat: She does all of Elizabeth Peters's books, but my favorites are the Amelia Peabody series. She also does Katie MacAlister's dragon series and the Recorded Books version of Kathy Reich's Tempe Brennan series.

Jim Dale: Famous for his Harry Potter narrations, he also does the Peter and the Starcatchers series.

Jim Frangione: It took a bit of time for the voice of JRWard's Black Dagger Brotherhood books to grow on me. Now I can't imagine anyone else reading them.

6/1/11

Waiting on Wednesday: Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It highlights books we just can't wait to get our greedy, book-loving hands on.

August 30, 2011
448 pages
Avon

I admit, Stephanie Laurens's last series just didn't do it for me. I read the first two, then DNF'd the 3rd one. I never bothered to try the last one in the series. But this book marks a return to the Cynster universe. It's part of a new trilogy about Cynster Brides...presumably in-law sisters or some of the younger Cynsters that were too young in the previous books. Details are still sketchy (Ms. Laurens doesn't have any info on her website yet, either).

Edited to Add: Sometime after scheduling this post, Ms. Laurens added more info to her site:

Three heros, three rescues, three weddings. 
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Miss Heather Cynster
...but not before she encounters kidnappers, danger, and a daring rescue at the hands of Viscount Breckenridge.
Determined to hunt down her very own hero, one who will sweep her off her feet and into wedded bliss, and despairing of finding him in London's staid ballrooms, Heather Cynster steps out of her safe world and boldly attends a racy soiree.
But her promising hunt is ruined by the supremely interfering Viscount Breckenridge, who whisks her out of scandal-and straight into danger when a mysterious enemy seizes her, bundles her into a coach, and conveys her out of London.
Now it's up to the notorious Breckenridge to prove himself the hero she's been searching for all along

The next two in the series are: IN PURSUIT OF ELIZA CYNSTER (September) and THE CAPTURE OF THE EARL OF GLENCRAE (October)

Gifts for the Baker