Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl


Bad Boys Do
~Victoria Dahl

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373776020
ISBN-13: 978-0373776023
ASIN: B005HRT7D2

From the author's website:
Olivia Bishop is no fun. That’s what her ex-husband said. That’s what her smart bob and glasses imply. And with her trademark determination, Olivia sets out to remake her life. She’s going to spend time with her girlfriends and not throw it all away for some man. But when an outing with her book club leads her to a brewery taproom, the dark-haired beauty realizes that trouble – in the form of sexy Jamie Donovan – may be too tempting to avoid. 

Jamie Donovan doesn’t mean to be bad. Sure, the wild streak in his wicked green eyes has lured the ladies before. But it’s time to grow up. He’s even ready for a serious romance. But how can that be when Olivia, the only right woman he has ever met, already has him pegged as wrong.
Olivia Bishop wants to have fun; the thing is, she doesn't know how.  She married young, gave up her ambitions for those of her husband, and then when she caught him cheating on her, she divorced him.  His parting shot:  If you knew how to have fun I wouldn't have had to look elsewhere.  She's a teacher at the local college, and when another employee suggests joining a book club, one that meets once a month at the Donovan Brothers Brewery, Olivia hopes this is her first step on the way to 'fun'.

Jamie Donovan is the middle sibling in the Donovan family.  His older brother Eric is responsible for most of the business end of running their family brewery andis younger sister Tessa is responsible for the marketing aspect.  Jamie feels like the black sheep in the family - he looks pretty but isn't reliable.  He wants to prove himself to his siblings: he dreams of adding a restaurant to the brewery but knows he needs a plan before presenting it, so he signs up for a class at the local college.

Olivia and Jamie each have something the other wants, so they agree to help each other out - Jamie will help Olivia loosen up and have fun, and Olivia will help Jamie with his restaurant plans.  What neither of them counts on are the feelings that develop between them.

My thoughts:
I am a huge Victoria Dahl fan, and Bad Boys Do did not disappoint.  Prior to reading Bad Boys Do, I had just finished a heavy, emotional read and wanted something sweet and humorous to cheer me up - and Bad Boys Do did the trick!

Olivia is 35, divorced for about a year, and her ex-husband Victor is a real jerk.  He cheated on her, and since they both work at the same University, he flaunts his younger girlfriends whenever he gets the chance.  Olivia's had enough, and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, she invites Jamie (who's 29) to be her date to a University function.  I kind of had a problem with Olivia using Jamie like that, but giving her credit, she felt guilty about it too.  Her ex did a real mind-f*ck on her, essentially molding her from a young student into what he wanted her to be - a professor's wife.  She put her dreams on hold, giving them up in place of Victor's wishes.  When she found out he was cheating she was angry and hurt and determined to never give up any part of herself for a man again.

Jamie has a different problem - he's viewed by friends and family as a carefree guy with no responsibility and not really caring about anything but himself.  While this was true when he was younger, he's grown and wants to take on more responsibility but no one, especially his brother, will believe he's changed.  Every time he tries to show he's more responsible, it backfires and usually makes things worse.  He sees in Olivia someone who's responsible and knowledgeable about a project he's determined to make succeed.  I really liked Jamie (and not just because he's a sexy bartender who wears kilts on a regular basis) because he was so earnest in his endeavors to be more than a hunk in a kilt.  I really felt for him when his brother or sister would disregard his input.

Bad Boys Do is a great "opposites attract" story.  I could see where each half of the couple brought to the table something the other needed, and also how their differences could create problems in their relationship - especially when Olivia wasn't viewing it as a relationship but as an arrangement.  Each made the other stronger, whether they realized it or not.  When Jamie's "activities" come to light from the last book (Good Girls Do), Olivia is understandably upset.  Jamie's explanation, however, was heartbreaking; I just wanted someone to believe in him!!!

Favorite quote:

     "We get along," she whispered.  "Of course.  as friends. As people who...see each other."
     He took her hand.  "It's more than that.  You bring out something better in me.
     Her heart lept at his words, but it quickly fell back down again, thumping in fear.  Was he saying he loved her?  That couldn't be right.  "Have you been drinking?" she blurted.
     "No," he said with a laugh.  "I'm sober.  And sincere.  When I'm with you, I feel mature.  Responsible.  It's what I liked about you from the start.  You're so serious-" When she gasped, he held up a hand. "I know that's not what you want me to say, but it's true.  You're serious and smart, and I like that.  You make me want to be more."
~Bad Boys Do, location 3664

And if you think that's their HEA, you'll be as surprised as I was at what comes next! Ms. Dahl took Jamie and Olivia's story to highs and lows and dragged my heart right along with it...

Bad Boys Do is the second book in the Donovan Brothers Brewery series; I am thoroughly enjoying these characters and watching each their stories unfold.  Eric, the oldest of the siblings, seems pretty uptight and I'm looking forward to his story next:  Real Men Will (October 2011).

My Rating:
 

Book received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pam's Review: Deep Disclosure by Dee Davis

Deep Disclosure
~Dee Davis

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever
Publish Date: September 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0446582921
ISBN-13: 978-0446582926
ASIN: B0047Y0EU6

From the author's website:
After spending years in prison under deep cover, black ops agent Tucker Flynn joins A-Tac, an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Nothing can shake him-except a vulnerable young woman marked for death. 

DUAL DECEPTION 

When Tucker is assigned to protect-and secretly investigate-Alexis Markham, he expects a routine mission. But this mysterious beauty has a past even darker than his: her father created a horrifying new biochemical weapon-and was murdered to keep it secret. 

Alexis has spent the last decade racing to stay one step ahead of the shadowy operatives who will stop at nothing to possess her father's formula. She can trust no one, not even her handsome new bodyguard. But the heat that flares between them is impossible to resist. Will giving in to passion bring her the safety she's always craved, or will her love for Tucker draw him into a killer's sights?

Alexis has been in hiding her whole life. Her family died in an explosion when she was in high school and ever since then she only has her father’s friend, George, to rely on. She grows up constantly having to watch her back and leaving no trace of herself behind in fear of being discovered. Then something happens that leaves her more alone and frightened than ever. Alexis goes home to get her belongings before she goes on the run once again; and there she meets a man who tries to kill her. She might have been killed if not for Tucker. 

Tucker is part of a secret organization in the CIA, but he can’t tell Alexis this because the government are the people that she has been running from her whole life. So instead, he tells her that he is a friend of George’s and he is there to help her. While he does help her, the real reason he is there in the first place is to find out how Alexis is involved in a recent bombing that took place. While Alexis and Tucker both try to find answers, they find love with each other along the way.

My thoughts: 
This book took me days to get through. I was so bored; I could not wait for it to be over. I felt like I was just reading a bunch of words. The characters had no depth. They said things, I just didn’t believe them. I wasn’t fond of Alexis either. Again, I felt like I needed to see inside her more to get a feel for her. Also, certain situations that occurred in the story annoyed me because they weren’t believable, but I can’t mention what they were without giving anything away. This was the fourth book in a series; I didn’t read the previous ones. Would it have changed my opinion if I knew some of the characters previously? Who knows, but this book on its own was not good.

I feel like this is a really negative review, so I want to leave with something that I liked; a quote:

She wished it were as simple as all that. That the world was divided into black and white. But she’d learned a long time ago that things were far more complicated, the world filled instead with muted shades of gray. Good and evil looking practically the same. The trick being to choose wisely.
~Deep Disclosure p. 215


My Rating:
Pam

Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews


Silver Shark
~Ilona Andrews

Format: Kindle Edition 
File Size: 242 KB 
Publisher: NYLA  
Publish Date: September 14, 2001 
ASIN: B005N9FPOO

From the author's website:
Claire Shannon is a Kinsman, a woman gifted with enhanced mental capabilities. Her skills and her life were taken over by the military to fight in war that has raged on her home planet for decades. But as the war ends, she is forced to hide her abilities in order to make a new life for herself as a civilian. It’s a new persona, a new planet and new job that has her crossing paths with the powerful and alluring Venturo Escana. Is she strong enough to hide her true nature from her perceptive new boss? And as they grow closer, will she even still want to try?

Claire Shannon was born in a country at war. Brodwyn has been at war with Melko since before she was born; her entire life has been one of service and sacrifice - hot water, food, happiness, her life - all given up for the war cause.  Claire is a soldier; she has been since the age of 14 when she was taken from her sick mother's bedside. She's a member of an elite team of "psychers", or soldiers who fight with their minds instead of their hands.  Claire can disarm or kill any threat in a matter of seconds.

Claire's team is on a mission when she finds out the war is over and her side lost. They're killing all the psychers, so she's forced to hide her identity and manages to get deported to the planet of Rada, where she must learn to assimilate and hide her abilities or be killed immediately, no questions asked.

When she gets a job with Guardian Inc. as an assistant to the handsome and powerful Venturo Escana, she thinks all she has to do is hide her "talent" and blend in.  Then, one of her countrymen gets into some trouble and Claire is the only one who can help, but by helping will she destroy everything she has done to survive?

My thoughts:
Silver Shark is the second book in Ilona Andrew's Kinsman series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone.  I read the first book, Silent Blade, because I have Book OCD and couldn't read out of order - with Silver Shark it really wasn't necessary.

I consider myself a "light" sci-fi reader, and Silver Shark was a nice fit for me - not too complicated as far as world building, and a bit of romance to keep me happy.  The world building was very good: I loved the contrast between Claire's home planet - grey, drab, depressing - and her new home, the planet Rada - colorful, friendly, vibrant.  You would think she would be thrilled to be there, but the mindset she was raised with is difficult to shake off, as when another refugee meets her on the street and tells her she stands out, which is a bad thing on her home planet.  She's scared but determined to adapt to her new life.

Silver Shark actually had two different types of world buiding - the physical world and the world Claire enters when she hooks into the system to use her psycher abilities:  This world is lush and full, as if Claire could escape her physical surroundings when she went to work.  I love that her "mental" world also changes after her deportation to reflect her new surroundings.

Claire is a great heroine - smart and resourceful, ruthless yet at times compassionate in her psycher mode.  Her attraction to her boss is achingly wonderful - she cannot reveal herself but yearns for him nonetheless.  I liked Venturo but feel like I would have benefited from knowing more about him; he was a good match for Claire though.

My main issue is with the ending - we're rolling along and the story is moving nicely and then BAM!  It's over.    Don't get me wrong - I'm happy with the outcome, but it was fast.

Silver Shark is a captivating short story, wonderfully descriptive and with a nice romance that doesn't overpower the plot.  I would absolutely recommend Silver Shark for readers who aren't sure if they'd like sci-fi and are looking for something to try, or for seasoned sci-fi readers who are looking for a quick, entertaining read.


My Rating:




This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
~Stephanie Perkins

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publish Date: September 29, 2011
ISBN-10: 0525423281
ISBN-13: 978-0525423287
ASIN: B004RKXHZY

From the author's website:
In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.

 Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Delores "Lola" Nolan has just turned 17 and thinks her life is moving along just fine - she's got a boyfriend who loves her, a great best friend, and she loves her two dads.  Well... things are fine if you don't count the fact  that her dads don't approve of her 22-year-old boyfriend.  Then, the Bell twins move back in next door and her birth mother shows up, and Lola's life gets turned upside down.

My thoughts:
I absolutely loved Anna and the French Kiss, so I was super-excited to read Lola and the Boy Next Door;  Ms. Perkins writing shines again in this wonderful story of love lost and found anew.

Lola is a sweet kid with a style all her own - wigs, glitter, dresses made from tablecloths.  She works in a local movie theatre (with Anna from Anna and the French Kiss), hangs out with her best friend Lindsey, and sees her boyfriend Max as often as her fathers will let her.  When the Bell twins move back in, she's devastated.  Calliope Bell is just a witch, and her twin brother Cricket Bell was Lola's True Love.  Then, right before they moved away, something happened between them.  It took Lola a long time to get over the hurt, so when he moves back in, she's determined not to let him get under her skin. But he does, again and again and again...


     Cricket walks several steps behind me.  It's a careful distance.
     I wonder if he's looking at my butt.
WHY DID I JUST THINK THAT?  Now my butt feels COLOSSAL.  Maybe he's looking at my legs.  Is that better?  Or worse?  Do I want him looking at me?  I hold on to the bottom of my dress as I climb into the backseat and crawl to the other side.  I'm sure he's looking at my butt.  He has to be.  It's huge, and it's right there, and it's huge.
     No. I'm acting crazy.
     I glance over, and he smiles at me as he buckles his seat belt. My cheeks grow warm.
     WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
~Page 128, Lola and the Boy Next Door

Cricket is absolutely adorable - tall, stylish but geeky, smart, and kind. He's so interested in Lola; everyone can tell, especially Max, who's not happy about it, and Lola's dads, who are happy about it.  He's absolutely the kind of boy I'd want my own daughters to date.


     Deep breaths.  Take deep breaths.  I adjust my dress, but the fabric sticks to my leg, and I accidentally flash Cricket my thigh.  This time, I catch him looking.  His fingers are messing with his bracelets and rubber bands.  Our eyes lock.
     A rubber band snaps and shoots into the windshield.  Nathan's and Andy's heads jolt back in fright, but they laugh when they realize what happened.
     Cricket's body shrinks up in his seat, "Sorry! Sorry."
     And I'm strangely relieved to know that I'm not the only one freaking out.
~Page 129, Lola and the Boy Next Door

In Lola and the Boy Next Door, Ms. Perkins has written wonderful characters who leap off the pages:  Lola's dads, Max the boyfriend, and Cricket's twin sister Calliope are all integral to the plot without overshadowing Lola and Cricket.  I also loved seeing Anna and St. Clair again.

I think the only reason I didn't give Lola 5 stars is that I didn't identify with Lola like I did with Anna.  That sounds like a bad thing but it's not - the characters are very different, but the writing and story are still fabulous.  I tore through Lola and the Boy Next Door in a day.  This is definitely a series I will be keeping up with!  I'm looking forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After; do we really have to wait until Fall 2012?


 My Rating:



Book received by publisher at ALA.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead


Bloodlines
~Richelle Mead


Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 432 pages 
Publisher: Razorbill 
Publish Date: August 23, 2011 
ISBN-10: 1595143173 
ISBN-13: 978-1595143174 
ASIN: B004XFZ9CC

From the author's website:
Blood doesn't lie... 
 Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

Sydney Sage is an alchemist:  a member of a "secret society" of sorts, one sworn to protect humans from vampires or any knowledge that they even exist.  Right now, the vampire world is in an uproar - there's a new, young queen, Lissa Dragomir, who is tenuously hanging on to her crown, and she's bringing in changes to a system that has been in place for centuries.  The queen's young half-sister, Jill, is in danger, as she is the only living relative to the queen and if she is killed Lissa will have to step down - one of the rules Lissa is trying to change is that the current ruler must have living family; they cannot be the last of their line.

Sydney is chosen to go into hiding with Jill, to "manage things" in case anything comes up; she will be posing as Jill's sister while they attend a private school in Palm Springs. Sydney is still on probation for the events that took place in Ms. Mead's other series, Vampire Academy, so she wants to do this job well to prove to the Alchemists that she's not a "vampire lover".

Things are off to a bad start though:  her supervisor, Keith, hates her, Jill is acting weird and getting in trouble, and the local vampires are giving her more stress than help.

My thoughts:
I am a huge Vampire Academy fan, it is one of my favorite YA series.  I've been looking forward to Bloodlines with a little trepidation, as my reaction to the last VA book was just "meh" (I still absolutely recommend the series to anyone who hasn't read it).  I should not have been worried - Richelle Mead absolutely delivers!

While Bloodlines is set in the VA world, it is a different story - where Rose is a kick-ass, take charge heroine, Sydney is  more reserved.  She's been raised with the belief that knowledge is power, and has been groomed since childhood to become an Alchemist.  Sydney likes to think things through and be sure about it before she acts. She's also aware of the political aspects of her assignment with regards to the Alchemists, and she holds back where other UF heroines might not.  This works for her though - she needs to analyze and plan and see the whole picture before acting.  It does, however, make for a slow start to the book as Sydney and Jill get in and settled and Ms. Mead sets up the story.  Once her investigations get going though, I spend the rest of the book guessing who the villian was - was it the obvious choice or maybe someone less obvious but with definite motivation?  I was very surprised by the end of the book.

I was thrilled that the secondary characters I loved in the VA series are here; especially Adrian Ivashkov, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking royal who is in turns charming and broody.  He is such a fabulous character and I loved him in Bloodlines:

     I shook my head, still smiling.  "You'll have a hard time getting any Alchemist to admit that. But I can say you're okay for an irreverent party boy with occasional moments of brilliance."
     "Brilliant? You think I'm brilliant?" He threw his hands skyward. "You hear that, world? Sage says I'm brilliant." 
     "That's not what I said!" 
     He dropped the cigarette and stamped it out, giving me a devil-may-care grin. "Thanks for the ego boost. I'm going to go tell Clarence and Lee all about your high opinion." 
     "Hey, I didn't-" 
     But he was already gone.  As I drove away, I decided the Alchemists needed an entire department devoted to handling Adrian Ivashkov. 
~Bloodlines page 145

While I like Jill's character, she comes across as a wishy-washy character who doesn't figure much in the story except to provide a purpose for Sydney's assignment.  She was pretty forgettable, but did come to life near the end of the story.  I'm hoping her character will grow with the series.

I must also address Sydney's potential love interest.  Without giving away any spoilers, I think this is going to be a long journey but ultimately a good one.  I see a lot of frustration in my future waiting for Sydney to come to terms with her feelings for this particular character.

I was intrigued by Sydney in the VA series, she was a secondary character who seemed to have an interesting story, and I wanted to know more about her.  In Bloodlines, we get some of her story, but you can tell there is much, much more to tell. All in all, Bloodlines is another mark in the "awesome" column for Richelle Mead!  I'm looking forward to the next book, The Golden Lily, scheduled for release in June 2012.


My Rating:
 

Book received from the publisher.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A hodgepodge of things to be excited about:

There's a couple of things I'm excited about this week that I thought I'd share:

First, I'm super excited about Chloe Neill's upcoming Chicagoland Vampires novel, Drink Deep.  I know a lot of people were upset about the last book, Hard Bitten, (my review here), but I loved it.  Was I upset?  Of course!  But Ms. Neill has promised an HEA for Merit and I'm going to trust her.  I don't know if I can wait until November; someone pass the Valium and keep me away from spoilers...


Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city iself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven’t been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.

That’s when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.

Chicago’s mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for vampires and humans alike.

Drink Deep is on shelves November 1.  More info at the author's website.

On that note - Ms. Neill has released the cover of the NEXT book in the Chicagoland series, Biting Cold (out August 2012).  This will be book 6 in the series.  *drumroll please...*






Isn't it gorgeous?!?  I really love all the covers for this series; they did a fabulous job of catching Merit as I see her.
___________________________________

Another favorite author of mine, Stacia Kane, revealed the new cover for the next book in her Downside Ghosts series, Sacrificial Magic:

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Sacrificial Magic hits shelves March 27, 2012. Dark Faerie Tales has an exclusive look at Chapter 2!!!
___________________________________


Also, Ilona Andrews has posted a snippet from Andrea's book - Gunmetal Magic (due on shelves May 31, 2012).  Go here for the snippet.  You want to.  Trust me on this.

___________________________________

And, for you Becca Fitzpatrick fans, Sea Lion Books has this Hush, Hush wallpaper:


They've got several great books being adapted into graphic novel format - go check them out!!

What have I missed? 
What great book news are you excited about?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Giveaway Winners!!!


I've had a few giveaways going on here at Caught in a FAB Romance and it's time to announce the winners, chosen by Random.org:

The winner of the signed galley of NEVER ENOUGH by Lauren Dane is:

BreiaB

who said...I have loved so many of your books. I love the Browns, the Chases and the Murphys. You are at the top of the charts in my book. Awesome giveaway!


The winner of CHOSEN by Paula Bradley is:

Melissa (Books and Things) 

who said...I can see why that would bother you. I would bother me as well. However, now knowing that they don't deal with her initial suicide attempt, I think I can deal with it better. I think it might bother me but not as much now that I know! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

Winners have been sent an e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who entered and to the authors for offering their books for giveaway!!


(Don't forget, there's still a chance to win 
my giveaway for my ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer; it ends Monday! ) 




Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy


Tigers and Devils
~Sean Kennedy

Paperback: 376 pages 
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publish Date: March 9, 2009 
ISBN-10: 1935192450 
ISBN-13: 978-1935192459 
ASIN: B001V7POB6 

From the author's website:
Football, friends, and film are the most important parts of Simon Murray’s life, likely in that order. Despite being lonely, Simon is cautious about looking for more, and his best friends despair of him ever finding that special someone to share his life. Against his will, they drag him to a party, where Simon barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler — unaware that the athlete is present and listening.

Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, Victoria, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are deemed gods and treated as such – until they do something to cause them to fall out of public favour. Declan is suffering a horrendous year of injuries, and the public is taking him to task for it, so Simon’s support is a bright spot in his struggles. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever.

As Simon and Declan fumble toward building a relationship together, there is yet another obstacle in their way: keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret amidst the intrusion of well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media. They realise that nothing remains hidden forever… and they know the situation will only become more complicated when Declan’s private life is revealed. Declan will be forced to make some tough choices that may result in losing either the career he loves or the man he wants. And Simon has never been known to make things easy – for himself or for others.
Tigers and Devils is the story of Simon Murray and Declan Tyler.  Simon is the director of an independent film festival in Melbourne, Australia; he's also gay and is "out".  Declan is a famous AFL football star -one of he best in the league- and definitely not "out".  Their meeting is embarrassingly comical and sets the tone for the whole story:  Simon has been dragged to a party by his childhood BFF, Roger Dayton, and Roger's wife, Fran.  Simon is hiding out in a dark corner, listening to some strangers talk about AFL football, when he hears some disparaging comments about Declan Tyler's playing abilities.  He stands up to defend Tyler and ends up couching it inside an insult, but of course he doesn't know Tyler is standing right behind him!

What follows its the story of their relationship, the challenges Declan faces as a gay football player, the challenges Simon faces as not only his partner, but a non-famous person dating a well-known football star.

My thoughts:
In a word:  Amazing!  I absolutely loved Tigers and Devils and can honestly say it is one of my favorite reads this year.  I could not put this book down, Sean Kennedy's writing is so entertaining and the characters are so realistic that when I finished the book, I felt like friends had just moved away.

Simon's dry wit and sarcasm pulled me into the story immediately:

     "Stereotypes are a killer," he said.  "I mean, if I was to go on what you look like, I would say you're a typical arty wanker, what with your cargo pants, your Doc Martens and your all-black wardrobe."
     "Ah, but I am an arty wanker," I replied.  Rule one, always be self-deprecating and get in with insults about yourself before the other party can.
     "Where's your beret?"
     "That's for Sundays."
~Tigers and Devils, location 275

As the "arty wanker", you would think he would be the more open of the two, but you'd be wrong.  Simon's gruff exterior hides his feelings of being hurt:

As he swiped us through the lobby with a security card, I wondered whether even without the secrecy built around our relationship, if we would feel comfortable with such a public display of affection.  when it came down to it, I honestly did't think I would be.  And I wasn't sure if it was fear or just the fact that I was reserved to begin with.
~Tigers and Devils, location 3029

Declan, on the other hand, while hiding his homosexuality from the public, is more accepting of his feelings and knows what he and Simon have is real and good:

"As long as I'm here in the morning," he yawned.  "This was where I wanted to be all night, so that's why I came here."
There was a deliciously gooey feeling in my belly, damn it.  "I'm flattered."
"I love you," he whispered.
~Tigers and Devils, location 5712

Simon and Declan were funny and stubborn and sweet and frustrating - they love each other and both want to protect the other from being hurt.  There are misunderstandings and scandals and touching, heartwarming scenes.  I loved every page of it.  The sex scenes are light - not explicit at all, and I'd say they're a perfect fit for the story.

Not only did I adore Simon and Declan, their friends were amazing as well.  Sometimes, when you're reading a story, you kind of skip over the friend parts - not so with Tigers and Devils.  Roger and Fran were integral to the story and their support of Simon (and more than a few whacks on the head when he was being a stubborn idiot) was touching.  Everyone needs BFFs like Roger and Fran.  Declan's friend couple, Abe (a teammate) and Lisa were great.  I enjoyed the scenes were Lisa takes Simon to the games.

I find that in general m/m stories are a bit short, but that was not the case with Tigers and Devils, as a matter of fact, I didn't want it to end.  The length  is necessary to cover how much time passes during the course of the story; this is not an "immediate attraction" story but could be a real relationship with all the ups and downs that can happen there.  I like that the author didn't end with their getting together and fading to HEA - we got to see what happens after that, when things get rough and disagreements happen.

I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed Tigers and Devils.  If you've never read m/m romance before then this would be a perfect book to start with.  If you are a regular reader of m/m romance, you cannot miss Tigers and Devils, it's a must read!




My Rating:
5 stars

Book received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pam's Review: In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener


In A Treacherous Court
~Michelle Diener

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: August 2, 2011
ISBN-10: 1439197083
ISBN-13: 978-1439197080
ASIN: B004G8QTYI

From the author's website:
Henry VIII’s most lethal courtier and his newly appointed artist become the only thing keeping him on the throne – and if they survive, neither will ever be the same.

John Parker is one of Henry VIII most useful courtiers — utterly merciless and completely loyal. But one small favour for his King will pull Parker into a deadly plot against the throne, one that will test his courage, his resolve, and most especially, his heart.

A commission from Henry VIII should have been the crowning achievement of Susanna Horenbout’s career, but before the beautiful and talented artist even sets foot in England, she finds herself in possession of a secret that could change its history. With Parker as her only protection against killers who will stop at nothing to silence her, Susanna has to trust the dangerous, enigmatic courtier. She’s used to fighting in a man’s world, but she never expected to be fighting for her life.

The story takes place in 1525 England. Susanna Horenbout finds herself in an unusual predicament. She is on her way to England to serve as an artist for King Henry VIII. During the journey, however, a man dies in her arms with no one else around. He leaves her with his last words which are an important message for the King.

John Parker works very closely with the King and is one of his men. He comes across Susanna because the man who died in her arms also worked for the King. Parker tries to get the dying man’s message out of Susanna, but she is determined to tell the King herself because the message was for his ears alone. When a bolt seems like it was meant to take Susanna’s life, Parker decides to stay close and guard her on the way to the King, because someone clearly doesn’t want the message to get delivered.

My thoughts:
This book was very hard for me to read. It was lacking in….something. I even stopped reading at one point when Parker and Susanna were being attacked. I think one reason is that I didn’t feel connected to the characters. I didn’t get the real feel for them, for what makes them who they are. I think another reason that I had trouble with this book was I just felt that the first two thirds dragged and was almost repetitive, in my mind at least. Even though I just finished this book last night, I’m having trouble remembering what happened; it didn’t interest me enough to stay with me. There was some romance between Parker and Susanna, but again, I just didn’t feel it.

The story finally started to flow and held my interest when there was about a hundred or so pages left. So while it definitely ended on a good note for me, this is not a book that I will be keeping on my shelves.

My Rating:
 
Pam

Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Wilder's Mate by Moira Rogers


Wilder's Mate
~Moira Rogers

Format: e-book
File Size: 487 KB
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publish Date: March 8, 2011
ASIN: B004KKYX9A

From the author's website:
Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America's frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.

Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication--keeping his hands off the man's pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.

At odds with polite society, Satira's only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn't going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel's life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn't worth saving. Besides, if there's one thing she's learned, it's that brains are more important than brawn.

As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they're fighting to save. 
Warning: This book contains a crude, gun-slinging, vampire-hunting hero who howls at the full moon and a smart, stubborn heroine who invents mad-scientist weapons. Also included: wild frontier adventures, brothels, danger, betrayal and a good dose of wicked loving in an alternate Wild West.
How to describe Wilder's Mate?  A Futuristic Old-West Steampunk Paranormal Romance?  Yeah, let's go with that.  For now...

Satira is a young woman who lives in a border town in the futuristic old west.  She's not your typical young woman; she likes working with her mentor, Nathanial, an inventor for the Guild.  When Nathaniel goes missing, the Guild sends Wilder, a Bloodhound.  Satira insists on accompanying Wilder in his search to find Nathanial.  Sparks fly and adventures ensue:  vampires, double-agents, and a shocking surprise will have you holding your breath until the end.

My thoughts:
I had no idea what to expect from Wilder's Mate; I loved it!

The setting, frontier-style wild west meets steampunk is brought to life this unusual story.  While reading, the scenes rolling through my mind were sepia-tinged like an old western movie.  I could see the clothing, the dirt, the stagecoaches, all made for a gritty feel to the story.

I liked Satira, a young woman who wanted to be an inventor even though women weren't allowed to do so.  Her fears for her future due to the loss of her mentor/protector Nathaniel had her desperate to find him and bring him home.  She stood up to Wilder, sometimes stubbornly so, and was not a shrinking violet when the action got intense.  I also liked that she wasn't a shy virginal type, and took what she wanted.

Wilder - how many ways are there to say "yum!"? As a Bloodhound, he's strong, persistent, fighting machine.  We don't get too much about how he became a Bloodhound - he was wounded in the war and volunteered.  He's one of the best and because Nathanial is working on a super-secret project for the Guild, they sent Wilder to find him.

The tension between Satira and Wilder smoulders.  Tentatively at first, then, as the full moon approached, a full-on inferno... I loved how his protective instincts kicked in when Satira was in danger - very, very sexy.

My one complaint:  Not enough information as to the world building.  Are the Bloodhounds part of or separate from the Army?  What kind of men to they accept to be Bloodhounds and how are they created?  It also sounds like there's an interesting backstory to the vampire situation but we don't know what it is.

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series, Hunter's Prey, which centers around one of the Bloodhounds we meet in Wilder's Mate, Hunter, and Ophelia, who we meet only briefly.  Hunter has an interesting story in Wilder's Mate and I'm curious to read more about him.

My Rating:

Book received from the author.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss 
~Stephanie Perkins 

Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 372 pages 
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (December 2, 2010)
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 0525423273 
ASIN: B005EP1PJQ

 From the author's website:
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend. 

 But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


Anna Oliphant is starting her senior year in high school.  She should be extatic, but she's not; her father has enrolled her in a French boarding school for American students.  She's leaving behind her best friend, Bridgette, and her latest crush, Toph, the cute guy at work who she finally kissed the night before she left for Paris.  She's alone and doesn't know anyone, doesn't speak French, and just wants to go home to Atlanta.

She does make friends, of course, and even while she's pining for Toph, she develops a crush on Etienne St. Clair, one of the guys in her group of friends.  She thinks he might feel the same, but St. Clair has a girlfriend; she graduated last year and attends a local Parisian college.  It shouldn't be complicated, right?  But it sooo is...  

My thoughts:
It's ALWAYS the books that I put off reading that I end up adoring.  Anna and the French Kiss is like hot chocolate (chocolat chaud) on a cold winter day:  It warmed my heart, made me smile, and I didn't want to put it down.  

Stephanie Perkins has written a wonderful story about a teenage girl who's learning that although things change, they're not always bad.  Her cast of characters are well-rounded and each of them brings something special to the story.  Besides the witty writing and sweet story line, though, I think what I liked best is that Anna is a character that I can relate to.  I remember those feelings of insecurity and just feeling so...awkward.  Her fears about being an American in France are comically endearing.  I also swooned with Anna over St. Clair, he was  so charming and sweet had his own problems to deal with.

As you probably guessed from the title, Anna and the French Kiss is set in Paris, and Ms. Perkins does a wonderful job of highlighting all the parts of Paris I hope to one day see for myself.  There were several scenes that took place in the city, notably a very sweet scene when St. Clair takes Anna on a brief tour of the city to assuage her fear of leaving the school's campus. 

In case I haven't made it clear yet, I absolutely recommend Anna and the French Kiss; it's definitely going on my Keeper Shelf.  I plan to read more books by Ms. Perkins, starting with the next book in this series, Lola and the Boy Next Door, on shelves September 29.

My Rating:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Don't Mess With Texas by Christie Craig


Don't Mess With Texas
~Christie Craig

Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Forever
Publish Date: September 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 0446582840
ISBN-13: 978-0446582841 
ASIN: B004QX079G

From the author's website:
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Nikki Hunt is not in love with her ex-husband.  Not even if it will help her out of her financial difficulties. She's agreed to meet him for dinner but decides she will absolutely not get back together with him. Once she gets there, however, he's distracted and on the phone.  He tells her he needs a wife to move up in the law firm he works for, then when he gets another call, he goes outside to take it.  Nikki waits....and waits....and waits.  She realizes she's stuck with a bill that she can't afford, and she's pissed.  She leaves the restaurant, runs out to buy some medicine for her upset stomach, pops the trunk to her car, and finds her husband inside - dead.


Dallas O'Connor is a private investigator.  He takes on cases of people who he believes are unjustly accused of the crimes they're being charged with.  With each case, it's personal - Dallas was wrongly convicted and sent to prison with two friends.  Once their conviction was overturned, the three friends started Don't Mess with Texas Private Investigations.  Dallas is with his brother Tony, a cop, when Tony gets a call about a murder scene right around the corner.  Dallas heads over with Tony, and begins to think Nikki Hunt may need his services...


My thoughts:
Don't Mess With Texas was not at all what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it.  Based on the title and the cover, I thought it would be a Cowboy Romance, but it's not. Don't Mess With Texas is a funny, sexy, sweet and sometimes wistful Contemporary Romance.   Although they meet under dubious circumstances (trust me, you don't want to be eating when you start this book) the attraction between Nikki and Dallas is hot.  I like that they fight it though, and try to concentrate on clearing Nikki from the top of the suspect list in her ex-husband's murder.  Several times I went back and forth trying to decide "whodunit"; and in the end, I guessed wrong, lol.

Ms. Craig paces the story well, there's a nice flow between the plot and the romance, as well as the secondary storyline of Dallas' brother Tony.  Tony and his wife LeAnn are having problems, and reading their attempts at moving on from tragedy was both sweet and heartbreaking - the events on page 414 brought tears to my eyes.

The cast of secondary characters is varied and entertaining:  In addition to Tyler and Austin, Dallas' partners in Don't Mess with Texas Private Investigators, there's Nikki's grandmother, Nana, is a wild woman who speaks her mind and protects Nikki like a bear protects her cub; Nikki's friend and co-worker Ellen, who has a hysterical scene in the hospital wherein she propositions the male healthcare workers and cops who come in to her hospital room to question her; Dallas' client, Nance, a young man accused of murder, and last but not least, Dallas' gassy dog Bud.

This is my first ready by Christie Craig and I intend to read more, I thoroughly enjoyed Don't Mess With Texas and recommend it to anyone looking for a read that's got an interesting plot, steamy scenes and a sense of humor.


My Rating:

 


Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Does your inbox look like this?

[image redacted]
Anyone who knows me knows I like things to be in order.  I firmly believe "everything has a place" and get borderline crazy if it's not where it belongs.  One place I've tried but failed to organize is my e-mail.  I feel like I'm always behind, or can't find something I received or sent out...

I've got a separate e-mail for personal use and book blogging.  My blog e-mail has lots of folders:
Authors After Dark
BEA 2012
Blog Help
Blog Misc
Books I've Won
Giveaways (that I'm hosting)
Paperback Swap
Review Requests (subfolder for competed or rejected)
Pam has her own folder for reviews and such *waves at Pam*
and I just started a few folders for publishers

And yet, it's a mess.  I spend more time trying to find stuff than I do actually sending it.  I once sent myself an entire blog post and then promptly lost it.  Poor Pam has to put up with my e-mails like "what's your address again" or "what books do you have?" Lucky for me she's got a sense of humor :)

It's not like I'm inundated with e-mails or have government secrets in there; I just can't ever seem to find something where I think I put it.

Anyone have any suggestions?  What am I missing? 
How do you organize your inbox?




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pam's Review: Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong




Where Demons Fear to Tread 


~Stephanie Chong 



Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages 

Publisher: Mira 

Publish Date: August 23, 2011 

ISBN-10: 077831247X 

ISBN-13: 978-0778312475 

ASIN: B005DB89UE 



From the author's website:

Fledgling guardian angel and yoga teacher Serena St. Clair dares enter Devil’s Paradise nightclub on a mission – to retrieve the wayward Hollywood “It Boy” she’s assigned to protect. But she’s ambushed by the club’s owner, Archdemon Julian Ascher. The most powerful demonic entity in Los Angeles, Julian is handsome as sin, a master of temptation who loves nothing more than corrupting pleasure-seeking humans. He won’t release the lost soul Serena is supposed to guard. Unless she accepts his dangerous wager… 



After the disastrous way his human life ended, Julian vowed that no woman would get the better of him again. Yet this sexy-sweet angel, smelling of fresh ocean air and happiness, triggers centuries-old feelings. Now, their high-stakes game of seduction, where angels fall from grace and where demons fear to tread, will lead them either to an eternity in hell…or a deliciously hot heaven.




Serena died almost a year ago, and now she is a guardian angel to an actor named Nick. Nick is a challenge; he likes to party, drink, do drugs, and spend ‘time’ with prostitutes. Serena does not mind the challenge and is determined to help him live a straight, honest life. He was doing well, but then she found out he was at a club so she went to get him to help him stay away from old habits.



While searching the club for Nick she meets Julian, the clubs owner and arch demon. He is not willing to let Nick’s soul get saved especially in his club. Julian also senses that Serena is an angel. He decides that he must have her and goes about pursuing her. During this pursue certain feelings arise that he hasn’t had for a very long time. Serena is starting to have feelings towards Julian as well, and he may be making her fall for him, and quite possibly fall as an angel as well.



My thoughts:



This was a good story, not what I was expecting. It was a fast read and I never found myself bored. I liked how although the book was about angels and demons there were no clear lines between good and evil; it helped make it more realistic in a way. Serena is pretty straight laced, she is an angel after all, but she is not annoyingly so. She is actually quite relatable and seemed more human to me, but perhaps that is also because in the story she has been dead for less than a year so she is still close to her human side.



Julian is not the most powerful demon, but he has the potential to be. In fact, there is only one more powerful than him before the devil. Julian is the typical alpha male; he sees something he wants therefore he will get it. Since he is a demon he hasn’t always gone about that the right way nor cared about the consequences of his actions. With Serena however, though his intentions at first are not pure, he definitely does not act like a typical demon would.  



All the characters that you were supposed to like, I liked. All the characters that you were supposed to hate, I hated. I was also really fond of the interpretation of what angels and demons are in this book. I would suggest starting this book when you have a few hours of spare time because it is very hard to put down.








 My Rating:

 
Pam

Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating:

The first thing about Darker Still that caught my eye was the cover - it's gorgeous!  I haven't read Ms. Hieber's adult series, so I'm not sure what to expect with this one but it sounds suitably dark, romantic, and mysterious.  I'm in!!

Darker Still:  A Novel of Magic Most Foul
~Leanna Renee Hieber

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN-10: 1402260520
ISBN-13: 978-1402260520

From the author's website:
I was obsessed. It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen. Everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable-- utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide.

He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked- bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. And unless I can free him soon, things will only get darker still...

What are you waiting for?





Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan


Glow
~Amy Kathleen Ryan

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
ISBN-10: 0312590563
ISBN-13: 978-0312590567

From the author's website:
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

Earth is quickly reaching it's expiration date, and two ships have been sent to repopulate another planet many light years away. Waverly and Kieran are the oldest of the first generation of children to be born on the Empyrian after many years of infertility, and as such are expected to marry and procreate soon.  While Kieran is completely on board with this, Waverly is not so sure this is the direction she wants her life to take.

As the story opens, Waverly and Kieran are looking out the window of the Empyrian at something that's got everyone talking:  The other ship. The New Horizon is supposed to be way ahead of the Empyrian, and until a few days ago, it had not been visible to them.    Kieran, as the oldest of the new generation, has been working with the ship's captain for many years, and he knows the captain is worried and suspicious.  Then, members of the New Horizon's crew forcibly take over the Empyrian, killing most of the adults and kidnapping the female children.

My thoughts:
Glow is a fabulous Young Adult Sci-Fi adventure that will keep you turning pages until you get to the very last one.  And then you'll turn it over and start reading it again.  Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, Ms. Ryan pulls the rug out from under you and you're left wondering how the heck that happened.

The girls are taken to the New Horizon, where they are quickly brainwashed into believing they've been rescued, when in reality they've been stolen.  The captain of the New Horizon, Anne Mather (Pastor Mather, as she is called), is a woman I love to hate:  she's using religion to keep the population of the New Horizon under control. She is a gifted communicator and she's convinced everyone on board that her way is best for everyone; that it's God's will that they succeed and must do so at any cost:  God helps those who help themselves.  Waverly immediately sees through the spin but is rendered helpless to fight; Maher has total control.  It is in Mather's dealings with Waverly, though,  that the author keeps us on our toes:  Mather brings up specific, reasonable doubts about the actions of the captain and crew of the Empyrion, forcing Waverly to realize fears she's been hiding from herself about what's going on aboard the Empyrion.

While the New Horizon is full of religious zealotry and is an experience of nightmarish proportions for Waverly and the girls, things on the Empyrion are not so rosy.  The only adults on board the ship are either dead or stuck in the engine room, slowly dying of radiation exposure.  Kieran attempts to take over command of the ship, but Seth, another teen on board, convinces the other boys that Kieran is responsible for the deaths of most of the adults and is going to get the boys all killed as well.  From there it devolves into a Lord of the Flies-type situation, becoming less about survival and more about who's in control.

I won't give away spoilers, but Ms. Ryan manages to build a spectacular love triangle into the background - Waverly's doubts about her future with Kieran merge with unexplored past feelings for Seth.  Again, she keeps the reader guessing:  Does Seth take after his father and have an axe to grind with Kieran, or is he just a sweet guy who sees his chance with Waverly and is taking it?  Is Kieran in love with Waverly, or is he doing his duty to the ship and humankind?

The end of Glow leaves me hanging, wanting more - I have no idea where Ms. Ryan is going to take me but I cannot wait for the rest of the journey.  There are some fabulous new authors emerging on the YA scene right now, and Ms. Ryan is definitely part of that group - she has the ability to capture the reader's imagination and twist the plot to keep the reader involved and continually switching sides about who's the hero and who's the villian.

My Rating:


Book received from the publisher at ALA.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review and Giveaway: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
~Michelle Hodkin

Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
ISBN-10: 1442421762
ISBN-13: 978-1442421769 
ASIN: B004IK988I
  • From the author's website:
  • Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.  It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.  There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.  She's wrong.
Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital and can't remember how she got there.  Her parents tell her she was in an accident and the three friends she was with didn't survive. They weren't in a car accident though, they were in an abandoned building and it collapsed.  Mara begs her parents to move:  she doesn't want to be around the memories of her dead friends when she can't even remember what happened.

The family moves to Florida, and Mara and her older brother Daniel are enrolled in a fancy private school: Mara's a junior, Daniel's a senior.  Mara immediately begins having hallucinations - her class is  the building where her friends died, when she looks in the mirror she doesn't see her own reflection, she sees her dead friends.  She's having a hard time dealing with the hallucinations, and the snooty students aren't very welcoming either.  As if that wasn't enough, people are dying and she thinks it's her fault but she doesn't know how or why. Top it all off with nightmares of the night of the accident and Mara is having a very difficult time acting normal.

Then Mara meets Noah - he's gorgeous, British, and popular, and he seems to be interested in Mara.  Mara doesn't want to be interested in Noah, but he's very persistent. Once she decides to confide in him, together they try to unravel what's been happening to Mara.

My thoughts:
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer left me feeling unbalanced and off-center the entire time I was reading.  The hallucinations, the mysterious deaths, and the nightmares all make for a dark but riveting story.  There's much more going on that I can possibly include without spoilers - Mara's father is involved in a court case involving a young girl who was murdered, Mara's injury during one of her hallucinations miraculously heals, she's missing large gaps of time, and her nightmares slowly reveal the events of the night of the accident.

During all the strangeness though, a sweet love story develops between Mara and Noah.  I like how instead of continuing to close herself off, Mara accepts help from Noah. I hate it when characters refuse to accept help even though they need it, and Mara definitely needs it.  I enjoyed the tension between Mara and Noah - the flirting and lightness that randomly erupts between them is a nice counterpoint to the darkness of Mara's dreams and hallucinations.

There are a few loose ends:  There are two surprises at the end of the story; the one at the very end left me with a few questions about the motivation of certain characters that I can't go into without spoilers.  The reveal near the end leads me to wonder if this book is a stand-alone or if it's the first in a series - the ending is open for either.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a deliciously dark treat for the imagination by debut author Michelle Hodkin.  Once I started reading I did not want to put it down - I will definitely be keeping an eye on this author in the future.

 My Rating:


The Giveaway:
I am giving away my personal ARC of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.  To enter, leave a meaningful comment about the book or the review.  Must be a GFC follower, extra entry for tweeting about this contest (must include link).  Open to everyone, ends September 26.  Caught in a FAB Romance is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail.



Book received from the publisher at ALA.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fangirl Squee: Molly Harper's New Cover

I think I've shown time and time again that I'm a bit stalkery where Molly Harper is concerned... so when I saw her new cover I *might* have jumped up and down (and maybe a teensy *squee* escaped my lips).  It's absolutely perfect - the fangs, the hot guy, the ring...I LOVE IT!!!


Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors
~Molly Harper


Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages 
Publisher: Pocket Books (February 28, 2012) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1451641818 
ISBN-13: 978-1451641813

From Goodreads:
Just as un-life seems to be stabilizing for Jane Jameson, fate returns to sink its fangs and wreak havoc. Despite Jane’s almost-phobic approach to the process, wedding planning is going smoothly. But then Jane happens upon her former babysitting charge, Jamie Lanier, injured and dying outside of a bookstore. When Jamie asks her to turn him, she reluctantly does so and takes Jamie in at River Oaks at the Council’s insistence.

Jane’s life is further complicated when Grandma Ruthie dies, only to return to haunt River Oaks. Outside the old house lurks an even more sinister presence. As the faceless threat draws closer, Jane begins to wonder whether she will ever make it down the aisle. Will their friends accept Jamie—the newest, somewhat annoying, addition to their little family? Will Jane ever feel like a nice girl again?

Read an excerpt here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: The Renfield Syndrome by J.A. Saare

The Renfield Syndrome
~J.A. Saare

Format: e-book 
Size: 430 KB 
Publisher: Mundania Press LLC 
Publish Date: August 21, 2011 
ASIN: B005IEIJY2


From the author's website:
Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she's about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse...

Rhiannon Murphy is having a rough day.  In attempting to help her vampire lover, Disco, erase a debt with a demon, she is tricked and sent 101 years into the future.  Her part of the deal is that she's got to deliver a message to Disco, and even though she's in this strange, future New York, she is still beholden to the terms of the deal - she must find Disco and deliver the message.

Rhiannon starts off in search of Disco, and is suddenly involved in a fight between vampires and some sort of military-type group.  The army guys grab her and force her to come with them, against her protests.  She's taken back to their compound, and Carter, the man who grabbed her, tells her that in this future New York, vampires are in charge and humans are cultivated like cattle for food.  Rhiannon must get to Disco, but Carter won't let her leave; he's convinced she's a former vampire slave and is concerned for her safety.  Complicating things is that Carter and his men are werewolves, and Carter has decided he wants Rhiannon for his mate.

Eventually, Rhiannon is able to get to her former mentor, Goose, who is still working for the vampires.  Disco, however, is not there.  From there on in, the story shifts to Rhiannon's time with the vampires, her race to end her debt with the demon, and a desperate attempt to save Disco's life.

My thoughts:
At the end of the first book, Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between, I was not a happy camper - I ddin't like where Rhiannon ended up, 101 years in the future. I'm not really a fan of Dystopia and didn't want that situation for Rhiannon.  Strangely enough, that element ended up being one of my favorite parts about The Renfield Syndrome.

The plot was intense, I love the idea of the Renfield Syndrome but wish the author would have gone more into it.  Rhiannon's time with the werewolves showcased how kick-ass she is - there is a particular girl fight that had me wincing more than once.  I may get some flack for this, but I really liked Carter, the werewolf who "rescued" Rhiannon.  He  was very Alpha; strong, compassionate, territorial, and all around sexy; I wish she would have given him a chance.  Of course, it wouldn't have been the Rhiannon we know and love if she had just picked the easiest path and stayed.

What was also unusual for me was that I was more into plot than romance this time around:  I just couldn't see how Rhiannon was going to get out of this mess she ended up in!  There were several new characters that I hope the author can somehow work back into the story in the future.  As mentioned above, the worldbuilding was interesting and I wanted to know more.

I suppose this is where I admit I'm not a fan of Paine, so his part in the story was not my favorite and I was disappointed with some of the events involving Paine that took place.  I think Paine is supposed to be a tortured but sympathetic character, but to me he just seemed needy and moody.

I was very pleased with the ending; it felt full circle and brought us back to where we first met Rhiannon.

This is a fabulous series and I cannot wait until Book 3, The Ripple Effect. I would not recommend reading The Renfield Syndrome without reading Dead, Undead, or Somewhere In Between first; you'll miss a lot.

My Rating:

Book received from the author.