Friday, 31 August 2012

Early review: The Kingmakers - Clay and Susan Griffith

The Kingmakers
Empress Adele has launched a grand crusade against the vampire clans of the north. Prince Gareth, the vampire lord of Scotland, serves the Equatorian cause, fighting in the bloody trenches of France in his guise as the dashing Greyfriar. But the human armies are pinned down, battered by harsh weather and merciless attacks from vampire packs.

To even the odds, Adele unleashes the power of her geomancy, a fearsome weapon capable of slaughtering vampires in vast numbers. However, the power she expends threatens her own life even as she questions the morality of such a weapon.

As the war turns ever bloodier and Adele is threatened by betrayal, Gareth faces a terrible choice. Their only hope is a desperate strike against the lord of the vampire clans—Gareth’s brother, Cesare. It is a gamble that could win the war or signal the final days of the Greyfriar.

My thoughts:

Can it end well, can it? Can it? That was my question throughout this book; make that throughout the whole series. I will not give you that answer; you have to read the book for yourself. I will not say if it ends well, bad, I will just say that, oh I will not say anything at all about that.

Which brings me to the story. Doomed love, utterly doomed love. All vampires are evil and will kill and drink. The good ones will perhaps think not to kill all as they need their cattle. Then we have our hero Gareth, a good vampire. Why? Who knows? Maybe it was the madness after killing thousands. But he is an awesome hero, pretending to be a hero called Greyfriar and the chosen of Empress Adele. A heroine who has the power of the earth and now who could kill him with that. She is getting to be quite toxic to him. But that is not why their love is doomed. He is masked all the time, because if people knew he was a vampire. Yes there can be no happy ending for this too and it kept breaking my heart thinking of it. Some just have to be together!

War is here. Human vs vampires. Killing across Europe. Adele does have the power to end it all, but will she? The price is high, but some do not care. Just like those outside the vampire held lands think that the humans left behind are mindless cattle. It's not a pretty world. And I seriously hate some characters. For some reason no vampires, no, it's just their nature.

It was a thrilling conclusion to a good series. A world where all went to hell when vampires rose to crush all humans. It's such a well thought world, cool and different. A world of steam and vampires. So if you want evil vampires (but still one that is sexy and nice) then this is sure the series for you.

Conclusion:
Do read it.

Cover:
Awesome

Series: Vampire Empire #3
Genre: Paranormal steampunk action romance
Pages: 374
To be published: September 4th 2012 by PYR
Source: For review

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Exile - Rowena Cory Daniells


For over three hundred years the mystics have lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald lays siege to the mystic's island city. Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, is elected to negotiate with the true-man king. The male mystics still resent her, but she has an ally in Sorne, the half-blood, who was raised by true-men. Even though he is vulnerable to her gifts, he gives Imoshen his loyalty. In return, she gives him the most dangerous of tasks, to spy for her. She negotiates exile for her people. They must pack all their valuables, reach port and set sail by the fi rst day of winter. But to do this, they have to cross a kingdom filled with true-men who are no longer bluffed by their gifts. Meanwhile, there are mystics living in the countryside, unaware that their people have been exiled. King Charald announces any mystics who remain behind after they are exiled will be hunted down and executed.

My thoughts:
I had to start this at once when I got it. I just had to know what would happen! She sure knows how to keep a reader on her (or his) toes.

Book 1 ended with a cliffhanger, still a cliffhanger that I could live with since the city was under siege. All good for now. But it was just the kind of book that you just crave more, you need to know how the story will end.

As this is fantasy there are many threads and people but I will mention a few. Sorne, the half-blood in the enemy camp who watches the king become more and more crazy. Imoshen who is chosen to make terms with the king. She has a brain, she wants more for her people. The whole Brotherhood against Sisterhood can't last. I have hopes for her.

Then there are others, siblings on an island who does not know that there is a deadline. Leave the country or die! An evil Baron trying to claim power. A member of the Brotherhood realizing how bad their leader is. All coming together in one good plot.

This story is all with trying to stay alive. The "humans" does not want them their. They will kill them all, they want them gone. But can they leave? And how? Daniells had me on needles as I read this book and had my heart in my throat. I love how dark the world is, and how stupid the humans are. That might be strange to say but it does make it more thrilling. They are so stuck in their ways, racists that does not like people being different. It made me hate them so much. Most are willing to slaughter a whole people. And the point is that the people that they hate are not really that different. If all of them leave half-bloods will still be born, yes they are all the same. That is just sad.

It's a rich world filled with conflict and even if I say that the "humans" are bad does not make the other guys good. But at least they only kill each other. Their society can't last they way it is. The T'en on top, the half-bloods under them and men and women leaving separately.

In the end I can't wait to see how this all comes together. Can they survive this hostile world? And can they come to live peacefully among themselves? I can't wait to find out as I need to read the next book. I need to know.

Conclusion:
Totally recommended.  Great fantasy.

Cover: 
Cool

Series: The Outcast Chronicles #2
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 509
Published: July 2012 by Solaris
Source: For review

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: Where Azaleas Bloom - Sherryl Woods


Where Azaleas Bloom
Single mom Lynn Morrow is determined to put food on the table for her son and daughter. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband has failed to meet his obligations time and again—but it turns out that Ed is struggling with his own demons.Enter contractor Mitch Franklin, an unlikely knight in shining armor. A widower with two grieving sons, Mitch once admired Lynn from afar. Now he sees in her not only the sweet girl who got away, but a woman desperately in need of support. While rushing to the rescue of Lynn and her children comes naturally to Mitch, he's also wise enough to encourage Lynn to find her own way…hopefully straight into his arms.

My thoughts:
Another sweet romance from Sherryl Woods, and a romance dealing with real issues. Nothing is too sweet when real life comes between this couple.

We have Lynn who is going through a hard and messy divorce. She is trying to do her best but it isn't easy. She is honest, hard-working and loves her kids. In comes Mitch who is fixing something next doors. Now this was sweet as he had a crush on her when their were younger. But he got married, she got married, and now he is a widower and she is separated. He is kind and thoughtful and wants to take care of her, but at the same time let her find her own way.

They take it slowly, as they should, no rushing, no being all lovey-dovey. No these two become friends while thinking if they can be more. Between them is a nosy small-town, an idiotic ex and life in general. But you have to work for love sometimes and they do it, and they show that it can be done.

And last, yes it's a series, but it does work as a stand alone.

Conclusion:
A great smalltown romance with a real couple.

Cover
Fitting

Series: The Sweet Magnolias #10
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary romance
Published: August 28th 2012 by Mira
Source: For review

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Review: Speechless - Hannah Harrington


Sometimes it is really difficult and even scary to speak up for what you believe is right, but it’s important to do. At the end of the day you answer to yourself, no one else, so you’ll be happy you did.
Hannah Harrington


Chelsea Knot is an incorrigible gossip, she admits it herself on the very first pages of Speechless. She’s also an impetuous sixteen-year-old teen who makes mistakes. One of those mistakes leads to a boy being beaten up and almost dying. Blaming herself and her own words, Chelsea makes a vow of silence and starts her month long road to self-discovery.

She’s still an impetuous sixteen-year-old girl at the end of the book, but she’s also a stronger person and a better human being. 

Only a few days ago I wrote a long review for Beautiful Disaster pointing out some of the authorial mistakes in that book, one of which was the lack of character growth in a so-called character driven story. I feel like I should give this book to Jamie McGuire, and tell her to read and learn. 

This could be a handbook to how character driven YA novels should be written. 

The character gallery is familiar. We have the popular girls and boys as well as the outcasts and the people who blend in all sorts of groups. Unlike Bella Swan and every other YA protagonist that followed her, Chelsea likes being popular and using the power that comes with it. She’s not perfect and knows her shortcomings, but she’s not focusing on them—well, not more than any other teenage girl would when shopping for bras. 

They? Incorrect plural usage!

There’s Brendon, the gorgeous smart guy she has a crush on, but who isn’t without his faults. There’s Kristen, Chelsea’s best friend, the superficially inclined popular girl who runs the high school’s social circles but whose shell has its own cracks. There’s Warren, Joey, Derek, and there’s Asha, Sam, Andy, and Noah. All of whom felt like real characters despite their limited appearance in the book. 

And, believe it or not, there are adults. They don’t overshadow the teenage angst or drama, but they are a presence. On a second thought, I could show this book to Maggie Stiefvater too: Yes, it is possible to write a YA novel where the teens have problems and strong parent figures as well. It can be done.

Where was I? The vow of silence. As you can imagine, it’s not easy. Chelsea learns to communicate without words and to bite her tongue when she’s mocked, ignored, or worse. She wallows in narcissistic self-pity like only a teenager can, but she also recognises it. She realises she can’t stay silent forever, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to the words that’ll break her silence to mean something. In a way, as young as she is, she’s also mature in a way that I can’t remember being at that age. Maybe Chelsea has better friends than I did. 

Good for her. Who wants to be a virgin forever?

One more thing I must mention. For a while, I was absolutely dreading the romance aspect of this book. I could not see how it would work, because there wasn’t any chemistry between Chelsea and Brendon. I shouldn’t have fretted. It’s safe to say that Harrington has earned my trust and I’ll never doubt her again. 

I make a point of not adding anyone to my favourites list until I’ve read at least two separate novels from them and two novels of the same series don’t count. The can’t be connected. I broke that rule for Harrington for the simple reason that I love how she writes.

Do I think this book could have been any better? No. Unfortunately, I don’t give five star ratings to perfect books; I give them to books that change me. As touching as Speechless was, it doesn’t quite fit that category. 



I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Series: N/A
Pages: 288 (paperback)
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HarlequinTEEN
ISBN: 9780373210527
Published: August 28th 2012
Source: NetGalley

Monday, 27 August 2012

Review: The Shifting Price of Prey - Suzanne McLeod


The Shifting price of prey
Sometimes a bit of magical help might cost more than you bargained for . 
London is hosting the Carnival Fantastique, and Genny's job has never been busier or more fulfilling. Only not everyone is so happy. The fae are in trouble again and Genny learns the mysterious Emperor may have the solution they need – if Genny can find him.

Genny needs help. She turns to the vampire, Malik al-Khan, only to find he’s wrestling with his own demons. Genny’s own problems are about to multiply too. An old flame arrives with a tragic situation, just as the police request her urgent assistance with a magical kidnap. Is it all unconnected, or can the Emperor help her solve more than the fae’s troubles?

My thoughts:
Did it end with a cliffie? Yes and no. It made me scream for more, but no one was falling off that cliff. They were just close, and getting closer. But that does not mean anyone will fall down. But you get idea. This book makes you crave more. Of course I told the author how evil she is ;) The best authors always are. They make delicious cliffhangers, not irritating ones. And she does know how to write a book.

Genny is like Genny always is. Lusting over Malik (you and me both girl!), misses Finn as he left (I never lusted after him anyway so no worry for me there), and trying to solve cases. And there is Tavish too, oh I can’t help liking him too, sometimes even more than Malik. It must be what he is all about, luring people down into the river and drowning them. Anyway enough with the men (like I could get enough). Seriously the attraction is oozing out of the pages in this one. There is this build-up, both good and bad for Genny.

Creepy Autarch is back, and new player. She must find the Emperor to finally crack the lost fertility of the Fae. This is not easy. And we get more that we bargained for. I shall not spill it all, but it’s good. And again poor Genny. She does not have any easy job.

And how about those revelations in the last book! Wow, messed up. This is the series to read, wicked vampires, lots of nice and bad Fae. And a heroine that has to tread carefully between the different worlds.

Conclusion:
Recommended to all!

Series: Spellcrackers #4
Pages: 534
Genre: Urban Fantasy
To be published: August 30th 2012 by Gollancz

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire

Sometimes you just have to...
———

I feel dead inside. That’s what reading this book has done to me. I. feel. dead. inside.

Background information:
Earlier this year, I stumbled upon an incident—I lie, there were several—that inspired me to create such shelves as not-for-me and authors-behaving-badly and add this book with all the other books accredited to Jamie McGuire on them. This explains the first comment on this review thread.

I was angry and I rated the book poorly. Then I got over it and removed the rating, and for a while, forgot this book existed.

Ah, those were the happy days.

Then came summer and Simon & Schuster announced their massive brain fart of acquiring this novel and reprinting it. They made the choice to enhance their marketing campaign by allowing free review copies distributed through NetGalley. This was my one chance to read the novel for free and rate it in exchange for this simple tag:

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

In this case, the Advanced Readers Copy means the superficially edited self-published version.

Actual review:
I hated it. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to hate it. I don’t enjoy reading bad books for fun—I don’t like tormenting myself with bad literature—but neither do I start a book expecting to find something positive or other redeemable qualities. I don’t artificially skew my perception just so I can lie about what a good book this is.

It’s not.

Though McGuire seems incapable of using simple he said/she said dialogue tags, there were moments, bits of dialogue, and a set up most promising that in the hands of any other talented or even a competent author could have been solid gold. It could have been the the story of two flawed people falling in love and perhaps changing for the better even if not transforming utterly normal people instead of romanticised description of abuse and misogyny. There were things Travis said or did that in any other setting and context would have been touching, sweet, deliciously heart-rending—but this was Travis and those things were anything but.
 
“Coupled with the alcohol in my system, when he pulled my body against his, things came to mind that were anything but friendly.”

McGuire’s simplistic writing is readable, even likeable at times, but it’s also uneven. There are good bits and then there are horribly bad bits. There were times when I’d forget to stop and think what made sense and what didn’t, and I’d just plough through pages without even realising it. Then the only recollection I’d have was having felt something. If I wasn’t paying attention to what it made me feel, I would—could, possibly, perhaps—understand why some people would think this a good book.

But I didn’t just plough through the pages. I read them slowly, carefully taking notes and always thinking of what made sense and what didn’t—very little, as it turns out.

Can a story be character driven without characterisations?

Apart from Travis’ tattoos—those tattoos are mighty important since they define what he can study and what his future career going to be—not a single character in this book is given a proper, layered, characterisation. Not all characters are given physical descriptions, even Shepley, who as Travis’ cousin-slash-roommate and America’s boyfriend is prominently portrayed secondary character, is never given a physical description. To this day I don’t have a clue as to what he looks like. I know Abby and America are both blonds, I know Travis is tattooed all over and has hazel eyes, I even have a vague impression of Parker, but other than that I do not know. It’s never revealed.

What I do know is that Shepley is the lapdog enabler. He exists to be America’s boyfriend and provide a link between Travis and Abby. He exists to among others to make excuses for Travis’ behaviour. He doesn’t have any other function in this story.

America ("Alice") is Abby’s best friend the Weathervane. Depending on the scene she’s either trying to keep Abby and Travis apart or trying to get them together. She’s always dreamt of her and Abby dating brothers or cousins, so they could become real family or something other. America exists to drive Abby around and to scold her either for resisting Travis or not resisting him enough.

Parker is the token third wheel, a secondary love interest option paper doll. He’s rich and a hardworking student, but ultimately he’s just another jerk and not a viable third corner of a triangle—and that honour he has to share with Jesse, the ex-boyfriend. Parker exists to flirt with Abby and to make Travis jealous when the mood strikes. He also exists to prompt a casual date rape scenario.

Finch is the token gay guy. He exists to provide Abby with alcohol and a shoulder to cry on whenever America is lip-locked with Shepley and too busy to notice.

Kara is the roommate who we never see. She exists to make a handful of accurate comments and remains the sole remotely likeable character in the book.

Abby giggles. She studies high school level biology in college and sucks at it. She apparently likes numbers but hardly ever talks about those classes. She has a dark, dark past that’s never talked about until it’s all that’s talked about. She likes to drink and plays a mean game of poker. All these details and I still don’t know what drives her. I don’t know what her inner passions are or how she thinks and the book is written from her perspective in the first person limited voice.

“This is hard for me, ya know. I feel like any second you’re going to figure out what a piece of shit I am and leave me. When you were dancing last night, I saw a dozen different guys watching you. You go to the bar, and I see you thank that guy for your drink. Then that douchebag on the dance floor grabs you.

Travis prizefights for money. He’s a genius and he doesn’t need to study. Travis has a short temper, cocky attitude, a dead mother, four brothers and a father who taught him everything he knows about beating other people up. Travis has tattoos. Travis has a six pack—such a shame it’s not a twelve pack—and he’s never met a speed limit he couldn’t break. Drunk or sober.
 
“I wouldn’t have swung if I thought I could have hit you. You know that, right?”

Travis doesn’t hit Abby. He comes into the bathroom when she’s in the shower. He comes up with a bet to keep her in the house with her. He talks her into sleeping in the same bed as him, because he’s never brought a girl he’s fucked there. He forces her to change her clothes when she dresses up too sexy. He grabs her to keep her safe. He stalks her. He buys her a puppy to stop her from leaving. He scares her when she is in the car kissing another man. He trashes the house the morning after they have sex because she leaves and refuses to talk to him. He beats up several guys for simply touching her.

And she lets him.
 
”Travis’s behavior piqued their curiosity, and I subdued a smile at being the only girl they had seen him insist on sitting with.”

”It wasn’t Parker I was trying to impress. I wasn’t in a position to be insulted when Travis accused me of playing games, after all.”

Worse, she’s manipulating him right back. On one occasion Abby tells Travis to teach someone manners, and he beats the guy to a pulp. There aren’t any repercussions or a fallout. Several of these unprovoked attacks happen outside the illegal prizefighting circles with plenty of eyewitnesses around. Yet, Travis is never detained, arrested, or even confronted by his friends. They’re all making excuses for him.

Abby’s reactions to Travis’ behaviour make no sense. She’s either blaming herself or acting irrationally and manipulating the situation to her end. She’s playing with Travis just as much he’s playing with her as evidenced by the events of the night they first sleep together. She tells him he’s a virgin, he tells her he likes it rough, they have sex—one of the few times condoms were used—and in the morning, she leaves. He trashes the house. America the worst friend who ever lived, comes to get Abby to talk Travis down. Not to make sure that Abby is safe and sound and far away from the psycho as possible, but to fetch her to the house so she can talk to Travis and calm him. So she can understand him.

The abuse, the antifeminism, the misogyny, the casual slut shaming, rape threads, girl-on-girl hate, it’s all omnipresent. You can’t avoid it.

Character driven stories rely on one essential idea: That the main character learns something. That all the pain and heartache, all the adventures that they experience within the story enrich them as a human being and make them grow as a person. Not necessarily for the better, but simply more aware. On some level the characters do need to be conscious of their actions and choices they make in the end of the book in a way they weren’t at the start of it.

In this Beautiful Disaster fails.

Travis does forsake all others but he isn’t any better taking into account Abby’s feelings in the end of the book than he is in the beginning of it. As for Abby, life is still a huge poker game she’ll bluff her way through like it was before she met Travis. Well, maybe not bluff, but she’s always had a talent of manipulating the cards in her favour.

Instead of bare boned characters who apparently learn nothing within the four hundred and twenty odd ebook pages, I could be talking about the overall plot of the book. Except, there isn’t one:

A girl goes to see a fight. A girl meets a boy. They skip time and become friends. They make a bet and end up living under the same roof. They dance around each other and a girl tries dating another guy. The boy gets jealous and they sleep together. The bet has ended and the girl leaves. Boy gets angry. Girl comes back. They fight and the girl tries to leave. The boy gets her a puppy to make her stay—

This isn’t a plot. This is a list of consecutive events describing a dysfunctional codependent relationship. Of course, we could call it a relationship drama, but we’d also have to redefine words relationship and drama. There’s no internal conflict. Nothing is addressed and nothing is learned. All obstacles are external ones and easily cast aside.

But this is a romance novel about two people finding love together, you say.

No. It’s not.

This is as mislabelled as a romance as it was mislabelled as a young adult novel. There is absolutely nothing romantic about this book. It’s the author’s ode to "Edward's" Travis’ character. A controlling, abusive, stalker is in the centre of everything and the reader can’t escape him even when Abby is on a date with another man. The conversation always quickly returns to Travis and stays there. 
 
By now the strikethroughs have become obvious; I’m bringing up the Twilight connection:

This book reads like a Twilight fanfiction or work heavily inspired by Twilight.

America behaves as bipolar as Alice, and Travis is set upon a pedestal and worshipped just like Edward was. Travis shares Edward’s penchant for speeding. Travis and Abby’s first date is in a restaurant where the waiter flirts with him and he starts questioning him over the food. The biology lessons and the absent parent figures. Abby likes to bite her lip almost as much as Kristen Steward in her portrayal of Bella Swan. Parker Hayes reads like a distorted Mike Newton. etc. etc.

There isn’t any proof that I’m aware of to show that this ever was posted and labelled as a Twilight fanfiction. I’m going to have to go with the “inspired” by Twilight theory and keep my opinions to myself…

It looks like I failed too.
1 hateful star
 
Other notable (and negative) reviews for Beautiful Disaster

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Review: Fighting Fate - Leigh Morgan

Fighting Fate
*Looks around corner* Hi guys! Remember me? I used to review her regularly and then went all gypsy and started travelling. Then there were ringers, beach bums, cowboys, knights and oh, I sorta, might have, you know, forgotten about reviewing for B. But I’m back now and I’m here to tell you all about Leigh Morgan’s Fighting Fate a story that is really underappreciated if I judge the lack of buzz out there. It has such a pretty cover too!

Fighting Fate is book two in the Dojo Chronicles. I reviewed Sparring Partners back in 2010 and was pleasantly surprised by how good the story was. Like with Sparring Partners, Fighting Fate was a breath of fresh air. That’s saying something because I can’t remember the last time I read a m/f romance book and liked it. That might actually have been a book reviewed for B. 

Back to the book. Fighting Fate focusses on Jesse Mohr, who is on a quest and Taryn Campbell who is the quest and not in the way you think. Though, the start of the book had me doubting that, because it starts out pretty creepy on Jesse’s part. Luckily that picks up soon! 

Jesse is on a quest to find the long lost child of his adoptive mother, a child given up for adoption. Taryn is that child. But Taryn doesn’t want to be found and isn’t all that sure she wants to meet her mother. At first glance this seems like a pretty straightforward romance with some angst and some drama, but there is much more to it as there is much more to Taryn, as the blurb suggests. I won’t tell you what, that’s something you have to figure out on your own. It would give too much away, but trust me when I say, discovering Taryn and Jesse and company and the quest they undertake? Worth it.

Like with Sparring Partners the writing threw me. It’s really good and organized for a new author. It’s stylish and draws your right into to the story to the extent that it feels like you’re right next to Jesse, Taryn and the other. 

Yes, despite the fact that Fighting Fate can be read as a standalone, I think, there are tidbits from the previous story. I loved seeing the other characters again. 

What threw me a bit was the supernatural angle. I wasn’t really expecting it, though I shouldn’t have been surprised. It fit the story. 

The characters are well done, they make the story and I was glad to see that the story didn’t just focus on Jesse and Taryn. There is a solid cast of support characters that make the story and fill it out. I absolutely loved Jesse and wanted to install a filter for Taryn, cause she needs it when she’s drugged but who is also a strong woman who kicks butt! I do so love me a good, strong independent woman who makes the sheets go up in flames at the right times!  

Then there was Merlin….wicked cool! 

So to conclude: GO PICK THIS BOOK UP!  



----Note from B:
I seem to have misplaced Lis' pic, so here you go ;)
I fear the pic went missing in the The Great Photobucket Purge of images I can't use of 2012

Jesse Mohr longs to reunite his adoptive mother, Reed, with her child she gave up for adoption years ago. Taryn Campbell is about to embark on the expedition of a lifetime, trying to decipher the cryptic archaeological clues left to her by her now deceased father. When Taryn learns her true identity, will she accept it or fight her fate?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Robin Kaye guestpost and contest


Robin Kaye has a new book out named Call me Wild, and today she is visiting my blog. Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end.

What advice, tips or tricks have you learned from your writing that you wish you had known when you wrote your first book?

1. How to write. There’s a book I recommend to everyone—especially people new to writing toward publication. ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser. I read it once a year just for a brush up. But it changed my life. You learn how to write active, strong and succinct sentences—which is the direct opposite of what most English teachers teach.  

2. Get a good critique group. Ideally three to five people, writing different genres and at different points in their career. A great critique group is worth its weight in plutonium, but they’re not easy to find. You might have to try a few before you find one that fits. Still, they’re worth the work involved in finding a good one.

3. Make sure you have enough conflict (both internal and external—and yes, you do need both) to carry your book. It’s the biggest failing in both my early work, and the work I see in contests. If there’s not enough conflict, then you have a sagging middle and a black moment that’s more gray than black. 

4. Network. I’m a great networker. It comes natural to me, but that’s not saying it’s easy. I think that getting to conferences and being seen is a huge help. The editors and agents see you at conferences and know you’re invested in your career. When I’m at conferences, I purposely sit with people I don’t know every chance I get. By doing this, I’ve gotten to know so many incredible giving writers, editors, and agents. 

I go to spotlights on the publishers I’ve targeted, or editor/agent panels, and sit in the front row and make eye contact. I’m engaged and they always notice. Later, I’ll see them around the conference and they approach me thinking that they know me from somewhere. It’s a great way to form a relationship. I don’t hit them with a pitch, I’ll just chat about whatever... but more often then not they’ll ask what I’m working on, and then I’ll pitch to them. 

Always be positive and professional. People are watching.

5. Go to workshops or get RWA National CDs. I have five or six years of RWA Nationals workshops downloaded on my iPod and I listen to them over and over and over again. I’ve learned so much while I drive. 

I love Michael Hauge’s Six-Stage Plot Structure. I was a pantster and now I’m a planster because of Michael Hauge (storymastery.com). I’ve loosely plotted seven books using his method and it always works! It’s also the only plot structure that makes sense to me. I’ve seen him so many times, for a while he probably thought I was a stalker. Finally he came up to me and asked why I was there—after all, I’d heard it all before. I said yes I had, but every time I see him, I’m writing a different book and he sparks something wonderful.  

Margie Lawson’s on line classes (MargieLawson.com) do the same thing for me. When I take them, I’m relearning things I might have forgotten and my writing is fresher and sharper even if I’ve taken the class three times. Margie and Michael are the reasons I’m published and stayed published. They’re both amazing instructors.

6. Don’t be in a rush to submit because you only get one chance. Enter it into a few contests to get feedback, ask a few published authors if they have time to read the synopsis and the first three chapters. Get feedback from people who have been around the block a time or two. Once you submit, if it’s not ready, you’ll get a rejection and then you usually can’t resubmit the tweaked manuscript to that agent or editor. You’ll have to cross them off your list for that project at least. Don’t be in such a rush. That’s the biggest mistake I made and most of the other new writers I’ve seen.  

7. Writers write but they have to have a life to give them things to write about. Work on balancing your life, your family, your faith, and your passion for writing. 

–Yeah, I’m still working on this one. Once you’re published, things just get more difficult, you have deadlines (not only for the new book, but for revisions, copy edits, and galleys) and all of a sudden you’re supposed to be writing a new book while on a blog tour, and revising the book you’ve just finished. Once you’re doing it all, balance is hard to come by. Be careful what you wish for!

8. If writing isn’t a passion, if it’s not something you have to do, if your characters aren’t keeping you from sleep and you don’t have imaginary people whispering in your ear and driving you insane until you write about them then give it up. You’re not insane enough for this business. It’s a hard business, and there are countless ways to make money that are a hell of a lot easier. If writing is a choice and not a sickness, then I’d say run like hell. If it’s a sickness, then welcome to the club. 


Giveaway:
Call me Wild, 1 copy

1. US and Canada
2. Ends Sep 7th
3. Just go ahead and enter :)

Unemployed New York Times sports reporter, Jessica James gives up her big city life and moves into a borrowed house in Boise, Idaho. She's determined to become a great romance writer, and she only has one obstacle: she doesn't believe in love. Writing quickly becomes a challenge, so Jessica decides to go out and find some inspiration. She soon meets sexy, outdoorsy doctor Fisher Kincaid, who's more than happy to teach her all about love.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Review: Call me Wild - Robin Kaye


Unemployed New York Times sports reporter, Jessica James gives up her big city life and moves into a borrowed house in Boise, Idaho. She's determined to become a great romance writer, and she only has one obstacle: she doesn't believe in love. Writing quickly becomes a challenge, so Jessica decides to go out and find some inspiration. She soon meets sexy, outdoorsy doctor Fisher Kincaid, who's more than happy to teach her all about love...

My thoughts:
I do like Kaye's heroes, sure this was only my second book but I have looked at the other books. They are just heroes that I would want to meet.

On to the review. We have a heroine who does not believe in romance (she has reasons) and who thinks she can sell a romance novel and make some quick cash. I was a bit on the fence first but then I got to know her more and understood her thinking.

The hero then, oh please let me have him. A doctor who loves to cook and clean *dies*. Yes please cook me dinner and clean my place. He is the perfect man, well except that he is sporty and likes healthy food ;)

The romance is a chase, he wants her, she only believes in lust (figure out for yourself what they do next). They struggle with feelings, they fall in love and there is drama.

And yes, it's book 2 in a series, but I have not read book 1 and it did not matter. It's a perfect stand alone. 

Conclusion:
It was a nice romance with a different heroine and a hero anyone would want to meet.

Cover:
Cute

Series: Wild Thing #2
Genre: Contemporary romance
Pages: 346
Published: Aug 7th 2012 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: for review

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: Shadows before the Sun - Kelly Gay

Shadows Before the Sun
After filling out mountains of paperwork, Detective Charlie Madigan sets out for a death-defying trip into heavenly Elysia to rescue her partner Hank and bring the siren home. Of course, she doesn’t expect to leave behind an all out siren revolution or return home to find that jinn crime boss, Grigori Tennin, has begun a massive search for the divine being, Ahkneri. Tennin’s tactics set off a chain reaction that puts Charlie in the crosshairs of the shadowy creature known as Death and awakens Ahkneri from her long sleep. And when Vengeance rises, Atlanta will never be the same.

My thoughts:
I have waited and waited for this book. For those who read the previous book you know what I mean. The way it ended broke me and made me crave this one badly, and madly.

I finished the book in a day because I could not put it down. Charlie was going to Elysia to find Hank and those evil bitches who put him back in a hellish jail. Elysia is what heaven is supposed to be but in the Siren city heaven is not what I think of. But Charlie will get an ally, I can't say who, but someone comes.

Through out the whole book the only thing I could think of was Hank, Hank Hank! Sure I liked him before, but now, now I felt it. They need to be together, they must be together. But will they?

Most of the book takes place in Elysia and I liked that. It did give the book another tone and it was nice for a change. Just like we visited the hell world in the last book.

Where was I? Am I rambling again? I think so. There is just so much to say. I like the world. A world where humans found ways to visit "Hell" and "Heaven" and found out that monsters and Gods were really those beings from the other worlds visiting. A city in eternal darkness, and a main character who has been experimented upon. And therefore she has cool weird powers. And those powers come out to play again as she meets Death. And Death is not nice.

Another great book in the series and I want more. I love Charlie and Hank. Rex! And everyone else.

Conclusion:
Start this series now!

Cover:
Cool

Series: Charlie Madigan #4
Genre: urban fantasy
Pages: 335
Published: July 2012 by Pocket Books
Source: own

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review: A Lady can Never be too curious - Mary Wine

A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious
Janette Aston is fascinated by all things scientific, and couldn’t care less that her thirst for knowledge is regarded as unladylike by Victorian society. Enthralled by the Illuminists, a group of individuals committed to scientific discovery, she sneaks into their headquarters and is caught by Darius Lawley, an Illuminist Guardian. The attraction between the two is instant and magnetic. 

When the Illuminists realize Janette is a rare Pure Spirit who can harness the power of crystals, she’s targeted by a rival society, the Helikeians. It’s up to Darius to protect her for the sake of science and love.

My thoughts:
This was a bit of early steampunk. Dealing with crystals and a secret society that most look down upon. So they are not secret in that sense but they do not let people in.

The heroine Jeanette wants more from life, society is strict. She wants to try and wear pants, study and just be free. The Illuminsts are everything she should not want to be. She was a free spirit and I liked her courage.

Darius is a guardian and looks after his fellow Illuminists. I was a bit on the fence about him. He clearly wanted her, but he did not trust Jeanette and still he did little Darius do the thinking and it just did not feel right to me. So even though he wanted her..I dunno, I did just not warm up. He was so not trusting her and there was one thing he said that just made me angry. He should have known better. But Jeanette at least liked him so I can forgive.

I most also mention that there were these two side characters that I liked together so I hope they get a book and if so then it will be thrilling. That one I could like more.

I did feel there could have been, well more of things. But as it was it was a good book. The crystals were cool butI would have liked to learn more.

Conclusion:
There is action, romance, passion, creepy bad guys and wonders to see.

Cover:
Good

Series: Steam Guardians #1
Genre: Steampunk /romance
Pages: 320
Published: Aug 7th 2012 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: For review

Monday, 20 August 2012

2 in 1: Deep Dark Secret and Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean


Secret McQueen has hunted vampires, werewolves, and every conceivable supernatural menace-to-society. Seen it all? Not even close. When the queen of the were-ocelots comes to her for help finding a missing girl, the half-vampire/half-werewolf soon realizes how much she has to learn about the things that go bump in the night.

The case of the missing cat is one thing. Pile it up with her new duties as a Tribunal Leader, her tenuous position as mate to the king of the Eastern werewolves, and a slew of new (and unwelcome) supernatural abilities, and Secret is once again in familiar territory. "Way" over her head. But for this multitasking half-breed, it's business as "un"usual.

What knocks her for a loop, though, isn't her lover's intoxicating kiss. It's the missing memories rushing at her from out of nowhere, signaling a rapidly approaching fork in her destiny. Her choice will affect not only her life, but her love.

My thoughts:
I am gonna try to keep this short (something I never managed anyway) as I have to write a review for book 4 too. Yes I finished this book in a hurry and immediately started book 4 because the series is just that good!

Secret is kick-ass as always and adjusting to her new position among the vampires. She still keeps her two delicious boyfriends, I heart Desmond all the way but he sure gets the short stick of everything. Then there is Lucas, I do like him, he is king after all. I keep forgiving him cos he has this presence and they are meant to be after all but...yes but...

This story is about her searching for a missing girl, meeting an old friend, going to school (sort of), and dealing with her messed up love life.

And it's good! I just can't gush enough because I have fallen for this series. I am just going to recommend it to everyone!!! Read it!
Series: Secret McQueen #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 309
Published: 2012 by Samhain
Source: Own

It’s a nice day for a white wedding. At least that’s what Secret McQueen is hoping for, with her poofy-princess-dress marriage to a werewolf king looming closer and closer by the day. But as ever, nothing can be that easy for a vampire/werewolf hybrid for whom someone still harbors a death wish.

Summoned to the south by her werewolf uncle, who makes no bones about the fact her mate bond with Lucas doesn’t pass muster, Secret learns her furry heritage looks more like a tangled vine than a family tree. Getting her royal uncle’s blessing hinges on finding one of the missing twigs. Even with vampire sentry Holden Chancery at her side, she manages to land up to her neck in a swamp of trouble.

As an assassin’s scope zeroes in, family dramas boil up and a fast-collapsing love square threatens to bury her alive, making it to the church on time could be the least of Secret’s problems. 

My thoughts:
By looking at the cover you sure know something is gonna happen, yes Secret is going to marry Lucas. And I could not wait to sink my teeth into this one.

I still like Lucas but he always puts pack first! Time after time. He knows how she feels about Desmond, I mean she loves Des more! Still I like Lucas, but that love is wearing thing while reading this book. And Desmond *cries*. Why can't she just have them all :( Poor beta Des.

Like that wasn't enough, I started falling for Holden in this one. He is all..vampire and sexy. Do I need to say more?

The wedding is fast approaching and there will be a lot to deal with since not everyone is happy. And trust me, the book ends, with a big bang. A big bang that made me crave the next book like crazy! How on earth is this gonna turn out?

*craves book 5*

So start reading this series at once. Action, passion, and one girl who can't decide since she is meant for more than one wolf.

I need more!

Series: Secret McQueen #4
Pages: 256
Published: July 2012 by Samhain
Source: My own

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: The Harlot - Saskia Walker

The Harlot
It’s seldom that I find and read an erotic novel that I enjoy for the sex scenes alone. This, however, is one of those rare occasions. 

Saskia Walker’s The Harlot is set in the historical Scotland, to year 1715. There, the story starts with a cat fight in a bar, where two whores are fighting for a man and their pimp is taking bets. One of the women is Jessie Taskill, The Harlot of Dundee, a woman who truly enjoys a tumble and doesn’t imitate the dead when under a man. 

Gregor Ramsay is a man on a mission, seeking for a revenge. He needs the help of a capable but not too innocent woman to spy his enemies for him. When Gregor sees Jessie’s bare buttocks, he decides she’s just the girl for the task. 

I admit, the plot is on the thin side, almost anaemic, but it does string together the unbelievably arousing sex scenes. Usually, I’d prefer more build up, more unresolved sexual tension, more waiting, but here the quick debauchery makes sense. For the plot. Of course with so much sex in a book there needs to be games to keep things fresh and exciting. 

The first half of the book is spent on Gregor teaching Jessie how to seduce Ivor Wallace, the land owner Gregor holds a grudge against. This is where the voyeurism and light BDSM play comes in. If that’s not your thing or if you’d prefer to avoid hints of m/m and f/f, you should probably give this book a pass. However, if those things don’t bother you, make sure you either have a significant other at hand or enough batteries to keep you happy. 

The second half, in comparison, drowns in plot as Jessie starts to spy for Gregor and Gregor learns choice things about his past and the past of his parents. Jessie also reveals that the accusations thrown at her in Dundee weren’t as inaccurate as Gregor believed. 

Why then, if I enjoyed the book so thoroughly, am I not giving it a higher rating? The writing itself explains it. Especially the introduction to Jessie’s point of view felt repetitive and wooden. She started going on about her “secret talent” while talking about witchcraft and it annoyed me more than the usually irritating word choices for smut. Speaking of which, I’ve hidden a list under the spoiler tags. If you, like I, can’t stand certain words for genitalia or other body parts, well, beware:

Spoiler:
twin globes for buttocks
aching centre
cock
core
cunny
damp folds
her hot channel (lots of traffic there again?)
his length
juices
member (of parliament?)
most intimate place
nether lips
rigid shaft
stiff rod
Ends:

And I’m only rounding up, because deep down, I still prefer plot over smut.



Series: Taskill Withces #1
Pages: 252 (epub)
Publisher:         Harlequin
Imprint: Spice
ISBN: 978-1-4592-0536-9
Published: May 24th 2011
Source: Bought

It is a Dark Era, one when a lusty lass will do what she must to survive. Even if it means bartering flesh for a palmful of coins…
Forced to watch her mother burned at the stake and separated from her siblings in the aftermath, Jessie Taskill is similarly gifted, ripe with a powerful magic that must stay hidden. Until one night when she's accused by a rival, and Jessie finds herself behind prison walls with a roguish priest unlike any man of the cloth she has known.
In reality, Gregor Ramsay is as far from holy as the devil himself, but his promise of freedom in return for her services may be her salvation. Locked into a dubious agreement, Jessie resents his plan to have her seduce and ruin his lifelong enemy. But toying with Gregor’s lust for her is enjoyable, and she agrees to be his pawn while secretly intending to use him just as he is using her.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carré


It’s been three months since I read this book and I’m no wiser today than I was then. I don’t know what to say about a book I loved. I don’t know how to convey… the it factor. 

If you haven’t heard of John le Carré, you’ve been living under a rock, much like I was before May of this year. Well, let’s say before May of last year, because the film was coming out and the actors… well. I have thing.

You’ve read the blurb, seen the film, or the previous adaptation, and you have an idea of the plot. You know there are spies and there are moles. You know that a veteran spy is given the task to find a mole amongst friends and possibly clear himself as a suspect. And you know that the veteran spy is George Smiley.

What you don’t know is that this is a slow book. This is all about paperwork, talking to other people, collecting data, and piecing the clues together. There aren’t any explosions or high speed car chases. There are guns, bullets, and gun fights but they’re not glamorous. 

This book is about mind games.

What you realise as soon as you pick up the book, whether it be a translation or not, is that le Carré’s writing style either speaks to you or it doesn’t. It’s simple, it’s precise. It focuses on the actions rather than descriptions, but there is description too. 

Since finishing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I’ve read several other le Carré’s novels and I’ve enjoyed them all. None as much as this one, but the writing, it speaks to me. Even through the translations, it speaks to me. 



Translation: Finnish
     Suom: Eero Mänttäri
            Series: George Smiley #5
           Pages: 308 (paperback) 
Publisher:         Tammi
           ISBN: 9789513163525
               Published: 2012 (orig. 1974) 
Source: Bought

A modern classic in which John le Carré expertly creates a total vision of a secret world, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy begins George Smiley's chess match of wills and wits with Karla, his Soviet counterpart.
It is now beyond a doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review: Lord of Chaos - Robert Jordan

2012 The Wheel of Time re-reading Challenge
On the slopes of Shayol Ghul, the Myrddraal swords are forged, and the sky is not the sky of this world;

In Salidar the White Tower in exile prepares an embassy to Caemlyn, where Rand Al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, holds the throne--and where an unexpected visitor may change the world....

In Emond's Field, Perrin Goldeneyes, Lord of the Two Rivers, feels the pull of ta'veren to ta'veren and prepares to march....

Morgase of Caemlyn finds a most unexpected, and quite unwelcome, ally....And south lies Illian, where Sammael holds sway....

My thoughts:
Another long one, 1000 pages, book 6, well you get the general idea. So for this re-read review I will look at the characters.

Rand, honestly I always thought I had a crush on him, but so far nothing has stirred at this front. He is just crazy, laughing by himself and talking with Lews in his head. He is rather pompous too.

Mat, was this the book where I suddenly did not heart Mat anymore? I think so. He was rather pompous too.

Egwene, do I like her yet *laughs* No, and this is the book where she spends some time on Gawyn's knee. She is just too nice.

Elayne, eh, little less I love Rand Please.

Nynaeve, now look at that, I am starting to like the braid tugging woman.

Perrin, How on earth did I think he was boring when I was a teen? He is a cutie!

Mazrim Taim, Grrrr, he has plans, I know it! (as I can't remember anymore what will happen later on, LOL). Still I like him.

Galad, do you really need to ask? I HATE HIM. Down with the White Cloaks!!!!

Alanna, Grrrrr, that bitch. Unforgivable.

Logain, I wish he would do something soon..*hearts*

Min, and to think I found her dull too. I like her snappy comments.

Faile..I so do not understand women *Perrin, Mat and Rand agree*

Gawyn, That idiot has a stick up his behind. Do not trust the one rumor you hear. Arghhh, I want to ring his dang neck.

Not much about the Seanchan, but I can still put it here that I hate them, down with the Seanchan!

The Forsaken, I like bad guys. They are so evil.

Berelain, I think that I did not like her the first time around, but she is a maneater and I approve.

The Aes Sedai, idiots. All around.

Scared yet? Yes there are A LOT of characters in this series..a LOT.

Aviendha, truth be told I am pretty neutral but I just find her silly for going all, oh no! I can't sleep with Rand again, he belongs to Elayne..uh, your people's custom is to share a man. So what is the problem?

Tallanavor, ok so he is not around much, but he is a cutie!

Whitecloaks, they have to be mentioned again cos I despise them.

Awesome series!!!! :D Even if things move really..really..really slowly.

Cover:
ROFL! Do not even get me started

Series: Wheel of Time #6
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 1011
Published: 1994 by TOR
Source: My own, duh

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: Sparks - Laura Bickle


Sparks
Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.
After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city.

My thoughts:
First of all, I should have written this one when I finished it, but I was shocked that there are no more books! I want more :/

Anya is back, being her cool self, investigating fires, keeping track of her guardian/pet Sparky and being in a new relationship. She is always so cool, not kick-ass, just cool. She does not bring a katana to the table, but she can suck in ghosts. And that gives her heartburn.

There is just so much to talk about, so much more it could be. But there are no more books at the present. And I do find that sad, because this world has so much promise. Like what is her connection to Ishtar really? And..something else that I found out and really want to know more about. But for now it ended well, they could all be happily ever after. So no cliffie or so. But yes, more things are hidden, more things could be told. And I hope they are one day.

Conclusion:
For now, just read these two books and enjoy a different UF with a ghostsucking heroine and the coolest of side kicks, Sparky, the electricity eating salamander. 

Series: Anya Kalinczyk #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Published: 2010 by Pocket
Source. Own

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Review Tracking the Tempest - Nicole Peeler + guestblogging

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Ryu - Jane's bloodsucking boyfriend - can't let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane's life is thrown off course. 
Ryu's well-intentioned plans create mayhem, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings. All the evidence points towards another Halfling, much to Jane's surprise...

My thoughts:
It was good, it was just not as good. yes yes you have heard it all before, book 2 syndrome. I kept comparing, and truth be told it was the end in book 1 that made me want more. Sure I want more here, just not buy now more. More like, when I have bought all my awesome books, then maybe. it was still good, just not awesome.

Jane, Jane, dump that guy. Honestly, sure he is hot and good and bed but the things he says sometimes. And the things he lets others get away with. I just could not stand it. Please go for the cute doggie instead.

Anyway, good hunt for the killer, even if Rye, Ruy, oh great I forgot how to spell his name, that guy annoyed me at times. Nothing gets dealt with. I want to see bad guys suffer.

Conclusion:
The series is good, but I need Jane to shape up. Even hot sex is not always worth it.

Cover:
Boring!!!!

Series: Jane True #2
Genre: Urban fantasy / paranormal romance
Pages: 352
Published: 2010 by Orbit
Source. Shelf
--------

I am guestblogging today about my fav fictional character :D Stop by 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Review: Besieged - Rowena Cory Daniells

Besieged
Sorne, the estranged son of a King on the verge of madness, is being raised as a weapon to wield against the mystical Wyrds. Half a continent away, his father is planning to lay siege to the Celestial City, the home of the T En, whose wyrd blood the mundane population have come to despise. 

Within the City, Imoshen, the only mystic to be raised by men, is desperately trying to hold her people together. A generations long feud between the men of the Brotherhoods and the women of the sacred Sisterhoods is about to come to a head. With war without and war within, can an entire race survive the hatred of a nation? Rowena Cory Daniells, the creator of the bestselling Chronicles of King Rolen s Kin, brings you a stunning new fantasy epic, steeped in magic and forged in war.

My thoughts:
This story takes place over a few decades and then it ends when something big happens. Oh yes cliffhanger alert, but it was still a calm cliffie as things will happen. But there is no one hanging off that cliff just yet. Maybe in a minute though.

There are different POVs but the two big ones are Sorne. A half blood raised to be a spy and weapon. He wanted to prove he was something more than just tainted and I felt so sorry for him. Humans are stupid and would never see anything else.

Then there is Imoshen who is also raised to be something else as her people bicker between themselves. She was calm and cool. And not so set in her way as the rest of her kin.

Then we have the races. Mieren = true-men, that's normal humans then. Idiotic, racists, I just loathed them. They hate the T'en because they have magic. But the thing is the T'en are not that different. Just a bit different looking and two humans can still get a halfblood kid. Even if the Wyrd had issues of their own they still tried to live alongside humans. While humans took the form of an angry mob with pitchforks and nooses. And I could not see a way out of this. How can the trilogy possible end?! I like the T'en. Please save the T'en. They are all the same, can't they see that?!

Yes as you can see the book sure got a few emotions out of me, I sat there grinding my teeth hating The Mieren (humans, grrrr). And then are some evil characters that stand out too. Down with them!

Conclusion:
The world was fascinating, just like the people living in it. It was the beginning of a rich saga, and it was truly only the beginning. So much more to come. Things are sure about to happen and I must read book 2!

Cover:
Great, though she does look like the actress playing Daeny in GoT and I despise Daeny.

Series: The Outcast Chronicles #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 672
Published: June 26th 2012 by Solaris
Source: review

Monday, 13 August 2012

Review: Hell on Wheels - Julie Ann Walker

Hell on Wheels
He’s the bad boy she’s always wanted...
Nate “Ghost” Weller has loved Ali Morgan nearly half his life. But he’s done something so heinous he’s convinced she’ll never forgive him if she discovers the truth, so he keeps his feelings and his secrets to himself. Then she blows into town with a mother lode of bad guys on her tail and Nate can’t deny she’s in serious trouble. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can help her.

She’s the good girl he’s kept at arm’s length...
Ali knows Nate as the most solemn, aloof man on the planet. Sadly, he’s also the sexiest. For years she’s avoided him, unable to stomach his dark scowls and brooding silences… especially when she secretly yearns for his touch. Now she must rely on him to save her from the malevolent shadows ghosting her every move. When the bullets explode, so does their passion. But can love really conquer all? Or are some things just too terrible to forgive?

My thoughts:
I have to start this review with a quote, because while reading I kept think The Expendables and that is exactly what the heroine later asks.
"..And yeah, we're the Expendables. just younger, better looking, with cooler bikes and real bullets."

Lol, yes that did not go by well, lol.

To the book then, Ali is the sweet kindergarten teacher. And she does want Nate to see her as more than that. She tries her best. While the hero Nate does his best to keep his distance. Sighs, men are such idiots. She likes him, he likes her, he stays away cos of a promise to her brother. All brothers would say that. But hey we need the drama as these two dance around each other and keeps on sending mixed signals.

But this is romantic suspense after all and there sure is that too in it. Someone is after Ali. Why? That is for the Knights to find out and to protect her. Bullets will fly.

There is also a secondary story as we see the tension between another couple and that will lead up to book 2. Which seems to be another good one.

Conclusion:
A thrilling ride with a couple who wants each other so much.

Cover:
You all know I'd want to see his face too, but still ok

Series: Black Knights Inc #1
Genre: Romantic suspense
Pages: 349
Published: August 7th 2012 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: For review

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: Through an icon's eyes - Grace Conti


Synopsis:
 Benedict Paston, a guest in a Greek monastery, is painting an icon – it is a form of prayer and spiritual cleansing to him. He has to overcome some very nasty experiences. He was in love, he was betrayed, he had to look as his woman was burned at the stake as a witch. Painting an icon, he speaks with Mary Magdalene, a saint who is supposed to help him understand the meaning of his life and find a new purpose. A saint who once was allegedly a whore should understand a sinner best, provide some answers to most difficult questions.

The dialogue with Mary Magdalene let us discover what really happened to Benedict and his beloved Annie, why they had to run away from England and look for happiness in Italy. The times are turbulent, it is fifteenth century, everybody can be accused of being possessed by demons and some people hide under their monk habit murderous or sadistic inclinations.

What I liked:

We are presented two stories in one – there are two parts and two POVs, that of Benedict and of Annie. I really enjoyed such a division as the tale gained so many dimensions and the author managed to show the differences between their way of thinking . Both of these characters are very flawed but also rather likeable. Benedict made many mistakes but had to pay for them time and again. The story of Annie’s disastrous marriage was really heartrending and sometimes hard to swallow, she married such a sadistic, selfish but rich brute and neither her family nor her priest wanted to help her. The fact that Benedict rushed to her help was sweet and moving. Finally, yes, there is a happy ending waiting for you.

I appreciate the fact that the book was so well-researched – the details of the monastic life were rendered in a believable way especially that the author didn’t shun the problem of homosexuality among monks and priests.


What I didn’t like:

The present tense 3rd person limited narration is really not my thing so every paragraph written that way was a shock for my system at first. Also some dialogues between Annie and a nun were too long and almost made me bored. What’s more, the narration was linear only from time to time. All of this made me confused a bit. What purpose it was supposed to serve? In my view it was befuddling and distracting.

Final verdict:

A nice, readable novel but not without some faults. I still recommend it to historical fiction fans who don’t mind being led astray by the twists and turns of narration.


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