I know it seems like I haven’t been reading lately, because I haven’t reviewed anything in ages. But I have been, I swear. Mostly, I’ve been in a bit of a rut. In the past weeks, I’ve started about a dozen books, lost interest, and have kind of shoved them to the side, which is strange phenomenon for me because I used to have a no DNF policy. I was of the philosophy that every book I started was worth finishing…eventually! But my views on that have been shifting lately, mostly because of time constraints.
The books I have managed to finish aren’t new releases, so I didn’t feel like I had to rush out and review them.
Her Royal Spyness
Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #1
My rating: 3 stars
I grabbed this book as a FREE download from audible and decided to give it a go after reading Felicia’s review of it. And I’ve got it admit, it was quite charming. The story takes place in England, in 1932.
I loved the use of proper language and the narrator’s accent. The combo instantly created the atmosphere for the time period. Admittedly, I haven’t read many cozy mysteries, so I was a bit surprised by how long it took for the plot to get to the actual mystery, but I didn’t mind it so much because the unlikely heroine, Georgiana, was an absolute delight. She was funny, smart and determined. Her musings were a bit self deprecating, but in a real woman humor way. And really, who could blame her for having a few doubts when she had the devilish Mr. Darcy O’Mara to contend with?! Their romantic tension was light, yet playful and sweet.
What stood out the most was Georgiana’s ventures into the real world and the self discovery that followed. Overall, this was a fun, little story that wrapped up nicely. It’s the first in a series, and though I’m curious as to how the romance between the title characters progresses, I guessing it will be rather slow going, and for the romance reader in me, that’s not quite enough.
My rating: 3.5 stars
Where has this book been all my life? Seriously!
I think what surprised me the most about Bet Me was that it was filled with plot devices that I usually hate, or at least roll my eyes at every time I encounter them, but for some reason, in this story everything worked perfectly!
The best way to describe Bet Me is by saying it was like an extended episode of Friends. Remember Friends, the epically awesome T.V. show? Yup! If Bet Me was an episode on Friends, it would be “The One with a Chubby Girl who loves shoes and the Hot Guy who feeds her.” I know. You’re astounded by my genius there.
Sure, the story was a bit on the cheesey side, and the characters were a bit caricature-ish, and there were a few bits that annoyed me, but it was a good type of annoyance, if such a thing is possible (if you have pets, you know it’s possible). I think my immense enjoyment of this one came from the fact that I listened to it. It’s the type of story that is perfect as an audiobook, otherwise, those pesky devices I usually loath would probably have irritated me as they usually do. By listening, I couldn’t help grinning like a fool throughout. Plus, the story gave me hope that one day I’ll find a Calvin Morrisey of my own, who will feed me donuts and support my shoe…er…book habit!
A Taste of Midnight
Midnight Breed #9.5
December 5th 2011
Amazon | Goodreads
A shimmering holiday gala lights up an ancient castle in the Scottish Highlands, but beautiful widowed Breedmate Danika MacConn feels alone in the crowd. Even among the friends and festivity of the Darkhaven celebration, she can’t forget her lost love, a fallen warrior of the Order. Her brief return to her mate’s homeland has become treacherous after rejecting the advances of a dangerous Edinburgh crime boss with a taste for blood sport. As Danika seeks to expose the vampire and his dark trade, she discovers an unexpected ally in his forbidding, enigmatic henchman, Brannoc, a man who exudes heat, danger, and dark menace—and seems somehow achingly familiar. Bran has his own reasons for wanting to keep Dani out of his employer’s business . . . and his own secrets he means to keep buried. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a woman who tempts the wildest part of his Breed nature—especially when that woman is Danika MacConn, the one woman capable of bringing him to his knees.
Contains a preview of the hotly anticipated nightcap of Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series, Darker After Midnight!
The title of this novella gives you exactly what it implies…just a taste, but what a delectable taste it is!
I hadn’t realized how much I missed this series until I started reading Danika’s story. Instantly, as if no time passed at all, I was back on familiar ground, securely enfolded into the Midnight Breed world I love so much.
Danika, still in morning over the loss of her mate Conlan, inadvertently puts herself in danger when she overhears a Mob boss’s private conversation to run a blood club, an illegal hunt where humans are helpless prey for vampires looking for sport.
Among Reiver’s ranks is Malcolm (aka Bran), who works as the mobster’s personal bodyguard, but has his own secret plan for revenge. Quickly, Dani and Mal discover that they have a shared past, which ignites a fiery passion between them that may jeopardize Mal’s mission to destroy the man who almost destroyed him.
As with most novellas for a series you can’t get enough of, the plot in A Taste of Midnight moved quickly. I wasn’t really bothered by that because I knew it was intentional, but I would have loved to spend more time with the characters, especially since I felt like I was just getting to know Dani and Mal before their time was up. Still, the novella was packed with a good mix of action, mystery and romance.
I also read the preview of Chase’s book Darker After Midnight! January 24th, the release date, can’t come any sooner!
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, Vampire Challenge 2011
Yikes, the year is almost out, and I’m so behind on life! To try to get a few last reading challenges done, I’ve been listening to audiobooks back to back while I do everything from dishes to driving. Here are a few minis.
Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh
Guild Hunter #1
Narrated by Justine Eyre
Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
I’d heard amazing things about Singh’s Psy-Changeling series for years now, but this is actually the first time I read (listen to) a full novel of hers. I’ve tried out one of her short stories before, but since it was for the Psy-Changeling series, I felt pretty lost. But, not this time.
I’ll admit that when I first started Angels’ Blood, I was pretty apprehensive. I love vampires, but Angels…not so much. And the pairing of the two never seems to really work for me. Maybe it’s because it’s hard for me to accept Angels as sexual beings, with genders and genitals (*giggles*. Okay, I’ll grow up now.)
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself truly enjoying Angels’ Blood! I think the main reason why it blew me away was because it mostly stayed away from a religious context. Instead, the focus was on a kick ass heroine, Elena, whose stubbornness never subsided, and an Alpha Archangel male, Raphael, who after centuries of thinking he was alone, finds the one woman who brings excitement back into his existence. The romance was tantalizing and heady, and the mystery and action was fun/terrifying to follow along with. I also really liked the reason why vampires were made. It was a unique take on vampire lore.
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Naked Werewolf #1
Narrated by Amanda Ronconi
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
Despite not liking the narrator’s voice at all, the story was freaking hilarious, if not a bit drawn out.
Ready to leave behind a breakup and her overbearing parents, Mo moves to Grundy, Alaska to start a new life. But her cold nights quickly heat up when she catches the eye of the annoyingly handsome and smug, Cooper.
The story threw me off for a couple of reasons. The first being Mo’s quick acceptance of Cooper’s two-nature ability, and the second being Cooper’s status as Alpha of his pack. I don’t read many werewolf books, but there are certain things I’ve come to expect about Alphas, so it really boggled my mind to meet a ‘docile’ Alpha like Cooper. Other than that, there wasn’t much going on in the middle, beside Cooper becoming increasingly paranoid, which sort of built up the mystery part of the story. But the highlight was Mo and her flippant yet caring, and fun, girls’-girl personality.
Married with Zombies
by Jesse Petersen
Living with the Dead #1
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
I’m kind of torn as to whether or not I liked the narrator’s voice for this book. Sometimes it worked perfectly, others it seems more drone-like (which I guess was appropriate for a zombie novel).
Regardless, I had so much fun listening to this audiobook. I’ve long since struggled with getting myself to read zombie novels, so listening to one was the perfect remedy. The chapter titles were hilarious zombie themed marriage tips, since Sarah and David start off as a married couple struggling in their relationship and going to marriage counseling only to discover their therapist eating brains!
In no time at all, I found myself rooting for Sarah and David; willing them to stay together and stay alive. Really, my only complaint is that it was too short. Eager for more, I found two additional books in the series that I now can’t wait to start.
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, 2011 Audio Book Challenge
Obviously, I don’t know the meaning of the word mini. Anyhoo, have you signed up my Holiday Bookmark Exchange yet? Why the heck not? I want to send you a bookmark.
Yikes! Where did November go? I didn’t realize I had a backlog of reviews I needed to get out, so I decided to throw them together for a quickie. Hope y’all don’t mind.
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey #4
Amazon | Goodreads | TBD
Stories like The Iron Knight make me wish I was a review writing ninja, so then I could actually write something more profound than, THIS BOOK IS EPIC!
I never imagined that a journey I began back in April 2010 would lead to this. Yes, I knew that Ash, the former Winter Prince of the Unseelie Court, had a dark, destructive past, but to read about it from his account was heart breaking. Hearing about evil and seeing evil are two very different things. But, as much as it pained me to read about his past transgressions, I’m glad I got to see this other side of him. He has overcome a lot, and this book, his story, is a reflection of that.
The only thing I kept asking myself is, “Where’s Meghan?” She was notably absent for much of the tale, and when you’ve grown accustomed to relating this series with her, as I have, then it’s kind of weird not having her around. Secondary characters were loads of fun, and now I’m hoping for a Puck story.
Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
Beautiful story about how powerful love is and how it can heal from the outside in and from the inside out. Though I have to say, it’s extremely odd? uncomfortable? awkward? to have crude and crass humor juxtapositioned against religious themes. While I admire Anastasia’s ability to push the boundaries in this regard, it was difficult to follow the abrupt changes in mood. And, though I really liked some of the heavy, darker bits of the story and absolutely reveled in the lighter, humorous bits, the constant switching of mindsets and POVs was taxing.
Still, however misplaced it may have seemed at times, the comical witticisms were definitely a welcome reprieve. At almost 400 pages, Poughkeepsie is a rather intense and compelling read. The interwoven stories of each character were very detailed and well developed. As each character slowly revealed information about their past, their tie to one another became more prominent. The story ended up reminding me a lot of the movie, CRASH.
I just wish the ‘bad’ stuff that happened wasn’t so excessive/extreme. There was enough of a story to tell about a homeless man finding love without adding more drama in the mix.
Fourteen by C.M. Smith
Amazon | goodreads
As the constant target of ridicule, Arianna Weller isn’t exactly thrilled to be paired up with the hottest guy in school, Evan Drake, for a science fair project (Really? Seniors in High School still have to do Science Fair project? I thought that was a grade school thing. *shrugs*), and Evan is even less so. Doing their best to work with the situation, they decide to try to be friends…until Evan begins to see Anna in a different light.
Usually, I love stories about underdogs prevailing, especially if the story is about a girl with a little meat on her bones. But, my biggest issue with Fourteen was I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in Anna. She introduced herself as a girl who didn’t understand why the kids at school were so mean to her just because she’s overweight and not exactly good looking. But before you get the chance to feel sorry for her or think her confidence has long been buried in the dumpster, she’s off yelling in your face.
All I can say is poor Evan. I couldn’t get why he completely changed his life for Anna. After getting to know her, I felt more likely to befriend someone who kicks puppies for a living than her. Everything about her attitude was unappealing and juvenile. Usually, in stories like this, if the protag is unattractive, another enduring quirk of hers will quickly appear to act as a counter balance, like ‘she’s so sweet’ or ‘she’s so funny’, but, unfortunately, Anna was neither.
Or maybe I’m just not hip enough to know that teens don’t laugh anymore. I’ve been watching that show Suburgatory and that chick Dalia never even cracks a smile. Sure, in high school you expect some melodrama, but dang! You’re only young once, right? Why be so moody, kiddos? Take it from this grandma, laugh/love/live it up while you still can because soon your chuckles will sound like cackles and your face will be too exhausted and droopy to smile.
Fourteen is eerily similar to The DUFF by Kody Keplinger (which I loved), expect that Anna lacks Bianca’s snark and Evan fails to be as charming as Wesley Rush.
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, Debut Author Challenge
Paperback, 432 pages
March 9, 2010 (U.S.)
Amazon | Goodreads | TBD
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
In Six Words: Love is a never ending journey.
I’m so upset at myself. I can’t believe it took me three attempts to get through this book. I’d nearly convinced myself to give up on it completely, thinking it just wasn’t for me. I’ve never been happier to have been proven wrong.
With amazing precision and patience, Marchetta weaves together two stories, one devastated by the past, the other looking for a future, to create a masterpiece revolving around the solace of love.
Taylor Markham, the only passenger flying on I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit Airline, has reason to be angry at the world. She was abandon by her mom on the Jellicoe Road. Six years later, Taylor is doing her best to guard her house, negotiate the territories between the Townies and the Cadets, avoid the only guy that can help her breathe and steal her breath at the same time, and figure out the mystery tied to her past. Soon, something has to give, and Taylor determines that it won’t be her… But how long will she be able to avoid the inevitable?
I’ll never stop marveling over the affect that Marchette’s characters have on me. She leaves me with a longing that has me wanting to be apart of their lives simply to break bread or to sing bad karaoke or even to spend the night insulting one another in jest; it wouldn’t matter as long as we’re all together.
But Jellicoe Road wasn’t just about character development. There was a thick, mysterious plot involved that was shrouded by overwhelming loss and sadness. And underneath it all, Marchetta has done what she does best, lay the ground work so intricately that you don’t see it until the very end when it leaves you in open-mouthed shock, overwhelmed by sharp emotions.
Through my exhaustive tears, I couldn’t help but wonder how Marchetta could even write such a harrowing tale. The burning ache that developed at the back of my throat while I tried to stop my tears just to be able to see that pages so I could continue to read was challenging. I can’t even fathom the incredible strength it must have taken to write the words.
I have to quickly mention how swoon worthy the romance was. Jonah Griggs had my heart skipping a beat every time he appeared. The intensity of their relationship was an important part of Taylor’s journey, but it wasn’t the only thing that defined her. Because of that, I thought it was well done.
Jellicoe Road is a beautifully complex story that finds a way to silently crave a place for itself in your soul.
Other Reviews: Alison Can Read, Galla, Mindful Musings
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge, Aussie YA Reading Challenge, Award Winnings Reads Challenge