Archive | January, 2011

Review: Stealing Time by Elisa Paige

31 Jan

Stealing Time by Elisa Paige
Ebook: $5.99
Carina Press (January 2011)
ISBN: 9781426891144

Favorite Lines: “I was so cold now. It felt like glass splinters impaled every square inch of my skin and the slightest movement generated agony. My breath bubbled in my throat as I labored to breathe.” (p. 12)

It wasn’t that she wanted to live forever. She just didn’t want to die.

When artist James Wesley realizes Evie Reed is dying, he is so moved by the beautiful reporter’s determination to live that he makes her immortal—a vampire, like him. She’s the woman he’s been waiting over 150 years for. Though initially shocked by the change, Evie quickly embraces her second chance at life, and love.

Just as James and Evie begin to define eternity together, a zealot breaks an ancient treaty, threatening a peace between humans and vampires that has stood for a thousand years. And when he focuses his hatred on Evie, the immortal lovers find themselves swept up in a deadly supernatural war…

Stealing Time by Elisa Paige is a vampire romance where the strongest vampire takes all. The story focuses on Evie’s transition from human to vampire and introducing her to the vampire lifestyle, but the key to the story is Evie and James relationship.

I thought it was kind of stalkerish the way James watched Evie for 8 months travel from one doctor appointment to another in search of a cure for pancreatic cancer. Who the hell does that? Creepy. However, if I wanted to live I’d be  appreciative like Evie, too. Lol

I gotta admit it was kind of nice to read a paranormal story in which a person is transformed to a vampire and doesn’t angrily freak out. Evie quickly took to being a vampire which made focusing on the couple’s relationship easy. Evie thrived as a vampire and it made her an interesting character to read about. The story is told from her point of view.

My biggest complaint with the book has to do with the ending. I don’t feel like the story was completed at all. Authors like Lara Adrian, Karen Marie Moning and Lora Leigh do an excellent job of wrapping up one storyline while keeping the overall story arc going into other books. That isn’t done in Stealing Time; we are given a situation and when it hits its peak we are yanked out and told to wait until the next book to solve the problem. Instead of making me want the next book, it really pissed me off and left me feeling unsatisfied.

With that said, I don’t regret reading Stealing Time. It had satisfying fight scenes and romantic relationship, but I don’t see myself re-reading the book.

Stealing Time is book one in a series; book two, Killing Time, will be released in June 2011.

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Review: Pack of Lies by Laura Anne Gilman

30 Jan

Pack of Lies by Laura Anne Gilman
Trade: $14.95
Harlequin/LUNA (January 2011)
ISBN: 978-0-373-80324-8

Favorite Lines: “The shiver of sparks flickering from my core out into his skin, the sensation of his current sparking mine, then coming back to me. I shivered again, despite the fact that I was comfortably warm.” (p. 343)

My name is Bonita Torres, and eight months ago I was an unemployed college graduate without a plan. Now I’m an investigator with the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations team of New York. Pretty awesome, right?

The Cosa Nostradamus, the magical community, isn’t quick to give up its secrets, though. Not even to fellow members. Not even when it’s in their best interests. So we’ve been busting our tails, perfecting our forensic skills, working to gain acceptance. The team’s tight… but we have our quirks, too. And our Big Dog, Benjamin Venec…well, he’s a special case, all right.

But we can’t give up. We’re needed, especially when a case comes along that threatens to pit human against fatae. But one wrong move could cost us everything we’ve worked for….

Pack of Lies picks up a few months after Hard Magic ends. It is told from Bonnie’s point of view, but occasionally it switches to the third person. The story gives us a better view of the paranormal creatures that exist alongside the magic users, also known at Talents.

Book two in the Paranormal Scene Investigations series by Laura Anne Gilman has far more action than book one. There are battle scenes, a budding romance and newly discovered paranormal techniques used to gather evidence. But all of that would be nothing if it weren’t for the characters’ emotions. The indecisiveness of the investigators paired with their attention to detail gives the reader doubts. Doubts about what could have happened and what truly did happen. It’s a basic he-said, she-said battle that doesn’t become completely clear until the end of the story.

I didn’t love the story. However unlike Hard Magic, the tension in Pack of Lies is tight as a guitar string. I like the way old prejudices are clearly explored and the way political machinations were dealt with. But in the end, some of the actions felt forced, unnatural and completely too easy.

Would I recommend this book to a friend? Possibly, if the friend was more of a fiction lover than a romance or urban fantasy person. Why? Because there just wasn’t enough action or romance to clearly put the book in either category. Sure, it’s based in an urban setting (New York), and it has fantastic elements (like magic users, hello), but what I’ve come to expect from UF (a burning love interest and crazy action) just doesn’t exist.

Did I enjoy the book? Well, yeah. Do I see myself reading it again? No. Will I continue to read the series? Yes.

Books I Want: February 2011

28 Jan

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall (Feb. 1)

Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .
In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible — when it mean forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.

Nightshade by Michelle Rowen (Feb. 1)

Jillian Conrad never believed in vampires. But she’s just become a living, breathing weapon against them. Attacked by a desperate scientist, she is injected with a serum that was supposed to act as a deadly poison to vampires. And when the scientist is gunned down in front of her, his secrets die with him.

Declan Reese was only half-vampire, but he hates them with all his heart. He knows that the poison in Jillian’s veins could finally destroy the undead kingdom. Also, the serum has had an unintended effect, making her blood irresistible to all vampires—including Declan, whose bloodthirsty traits are driven into a frenzy by her.

Driven by duty to protect her and by instinct to crave her, Declan takes Jillian into his shadowy world of blood and battle. But he soon realizes his increasing need for her may be a different kind of hunger…

License to Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr (Feb. 1)

Psychic Agent Nola O’Grady isn’t sure returning to San Francisco, and living near her unusual family, is a good idea. Her job, with a psychic agency so obscure even the CIA doesn’t know it exists, can be perilous, and she’s afraid of the relatives getting involved.
Then the Agency saddles her with Israeli secret agent Ari Nathan, and she has a bigger problem on her hands, because tact and compromise are not Ari’s strong points. Their mission is to track down a serial killer obsessed with werewolves. He sees them everywhere and shoots whenever he thinks he has one in his sights. Ari assumes the man’s psychotic, but in truth he’s murdering actual werewolves. Nola should know. Her younger brother Pat, a lycanthrope, was the first victim.
Can Nola’s psychic talents and Ari’s skill with guns keep them alive long enough to unravel the greater mystery behind the killings? Can they save the werewolves and the world while stopping Nola’s family from running headlong into danger?

Primal anthology (Feb. 1)

Four all-new stories of primitive desire- with a never-before- published novella of the Breeds.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh returns to her sensual world of the Breeds in an all-new novella that explores just how savage, and how far, a man is willing to go in the name of desire. Plus three other stories of irresistible passions from three masters of hot paranormal romance.

Visions of Magic by Regan Hastings (Feb. 1)

In the ten years since magic has reemerged in the world, witches have become feared and hunted. For weeks Shea Jameson has been haunted by visions of fire. When she unintentionally performs a spell in public, she becomes one of the hunted. Her only hope is Torin, a dangerously sensual man who claims to be her eternal mate.

On the Hunt anthology (Feb. 1)

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Anderson, and Deidre Knight present a steamy collection of all-new novellas featuring sexy paranormal hunters.
With shadowy creatures, intoxicating magic, vividly imagined worlds, and sizzling passion, this is an anthology no fan of paranormal romance will want to miss.

Deadly Games by Cate Noble (Feb. 1)

EYES ONLY

INTERNAL AGENCY E-MAIL

FROM:  Rocco Taylor

October 3, 11:50 p.m.

It’s the waiting I can’t stand.  Let me belly crawl across a minefield into an enemy stronghold.  Or give me an MP5 and a load of clips and just let me shoot my way in.  Anything but this: playing along with the perps while an innocent woman pays the price.

I know the last thing Gena wants is a hero – or me.  I made the mistake of letting her go once, putting the assignment ahead of the heat between us.  Since then she’s survived things I can only imagine, but no one can escape a death agent alone. Now I’ve got one last chance to win her trust, to get it right.

Game on.

Halfway Hexed by Kimberly Frost (Feb. 1)

First, there are the local residents who form a scripture-spouting posse and kidnap Tammy to “defend” Duvall, Texas, against witchcraft. Next, someone saddles her with a secret package chock full of dangerous visions, just as the president of WAM-the World Association of Magic- arrives with his entourage to investigate her. And who worse to examine Tammy’s entanglement with off-limits and drop-dead gorgeous wizard Bryn Lyons than his ex-girlfriend? Not to mention that the clash between the locals and the magical visitors leads to a series of unnatural disasters that may doom them all.
While the fate of the town hangs in the balance, one thing’s certain: this would-be witch is ready to rumble, Texas style.

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield (Feb. 15) (Got a copy through NetGalley)

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

And with her, nearly all of civilization.

Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.

For the Beaters are out there.

And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world….

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole (Feb. 15)

HE VOWED HE’D COME FOR HER . . .

Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

SHE AWAITS HIS RETURN . . .

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

TO SATE A DESIRE MORE POWERFUL THAN DEATH . . .

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

Hunger Untamed by Pamela Palmer (Feb. 22)

They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . .

For a thousand years she has haunted him—Ariana, Queen of the linas, a beauty of mist and light. His love, his life mate . . . Kougar believed her lost to him forever, until the truth of her stunning betrayal left him bitter and hungry for revenge. Now she alone holds the power to save two trapped and desperate Feral Warriors.

Ariana, caught in a deadly battle of her own, is neither the soulless creature Kougar believes her to be nor the savior he seeks.

And when darkness threatens to annihilate both races, the greatest danger of all becomes the glorious love Kougar and Ariana once shared. A love that must never rise again. A love that has never died.

Etched in Bone by Adrian Phoenix (Feb. 22)

SON OF A FALLEN ANGEL. FORGED IN VAMPIRE’S BLOOD. SWORN TO A MORTAL WOMAN. IF DANTE FALLS, THE WORLD FALLS WITH HIM. . . .

THREE LEGACIES ETCHED IN BONE

More beautiful and powerful than any creature the world has ever seen, Dante Baptiste has become the supreme target of the three worlds that spawned him. The mortal agents of the Shadow Branch have tried to control his mind through psychological torture. The vampire elders who guide nightkind society have plotted to use him in their bloodthirsty bid for power. And the Fallen have waited for millennia for Dante to claim his birthright as their Maker. But Dante belongs to no one—except the woman he loves. . . .

ONE PASSION SWORN IN BLOOD

Determined to face the Fallen and the world on his own terms, Dante hopes to piece together his shattered past and claim his future, with FBI agent Heather Wallace at his side. But in Heather’s human family awaits an unexpected enemy. One who could rip Heather from Dante’s heart and fill the holes with bullets. One who could force Dante to choose his darkest destiny—as the Great Destroyer. . . .

Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead (Feb. 22)

New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead takes readers back to the Otherworld, an embattled realm mystically entwined with our world–and ruled by one woman’s dangerous choice. . .

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land’s queen, she’s fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful gentry fear. . .

Who Eugenie can trust is the hardest part. Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda for aiding her search. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her along the way. To control the Crown’s ever-consuming powers, Eugenie will have to confront an unimaginable temptation–one that will put her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal peril. . .

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (Feb. 22)

Review: Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

26 Jan

Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman
Trade: $14.95
Harlequin-Luna (May 2010)
ISBN: 978-0-373-80313-2

Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations

A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch—crimes of magic.

My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work—so off I went.

Two days later I’m a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.

The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We’re sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.

Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along….

Laura Anne Gilman’s newest series Paranormal Scene Investigations is a cute, out of the ordinary spin in the paranormal bookiverse. It’s set in the same world as her Retrievers series, but if this is your first foray into Gilman’s paranormal worlds you should be fine.

Hard Magic tells magic user Bonnie Torres’ story from a first person point of view. Bonnie grew up in two worlds: lonejacker and Council. Lonejackers wield magic on their own. They do what they want, when they want and are not policed. Council is the exact opposite. The two normally do not mix. They do for Bonnie who was born and raised for part of her life as the child of a lonejacker. After her father was murdered, she became the ward of her mentor who was Council all the way. Her experiences helped create a woman who can see more than one side and makes her a valuable asset to the team.

However it was her search for a job after college that  I related to. That initially drew me in. After a while, I don’t know what held me. It’s not like the story is packed with action or suspense, and there was no true love to be had at the end. No, it’s not a romance. It is an urban fantasy which creates an entirely fictional protocol for handling crimes committed with magic. It lives up to its CSI-like name, and that is why I continued reading the story.

I’m not too interested in Bonnie or her co-workers, but her bosses…yeah–I want to know it all. I want to know where they come from and what makes them tick. I want them to succeed at making the world a better place for everyone. I want the magical assholes of the world to deal with exposure just as the regular jerks do. This story is about making that possible. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get bored while reading about the PUPI’s search for a magical killer. Now it’s time for the only question that matters:

Would I recommend this book to a friend? I don’t know. It’s not exciting, but it does drag you in. When I finished the book I was curious enough to read book two, Pack of Lies. It was only after reading that book that I decided to continue the series. If you decide to read Hard Magic keep an open mind, think of it as an introduction to a new world and enjoy it.

Review: Night Betrayed by Joss Ware

25 Jan

Night Betrayed by Joss Ware
Mass Market: $7.99
HarperCollins (January 2011)
ISBN: 978-0-06-201863-2

The world they knew is ashes.

The world that remains is in peril.

And five extraordinary survivors are humankind’s last, best hope.

The Change that devastated the earth did not destroy Theo Waxnicki. It made him something more than human—eternally young, eternally beautiful . . . but not immortal. When he dies on a mission against the Strangers, he is lost to the darkness . . . until a miracle lady brings him back.

Born during the apocalyptic storms and earthquakes that left the world in ruins, Selena has dedicated her life to easing the pain of others. But Theo is the first in her care to survive. Responding to Selena’s tender touch, Theo starts to live again, to feel and desire again. But joined in a world of terrors, the secrets they can never share make them targets. And love could be the ultimate betrayal.

Favorite Line: “Staring at the long shadows, and at the same time watching for the hulking movements of the zombies, Selena’s shoulders tightened. She felt as if her muscles would snap at the slightest movement.

She knew she couldn’t save them all. Of course she couldn’t save them all. Just as she couldn’t ease every dying person into the next plane.” (p. 28 )

Joss Ware has created an apocalyptic world in which a group of “gag me I’m so rich” people called Strangers have absolute control. There are gangas (zombies) and rebels fighting against the Strangers, but there are also tons of questions that have been building up through the series. Night Betrayed is book four and at least two other books will be in the series.

It is not a fluffy book. It addresses hard topics and is filled with dark threads. I’m not sure if an easy way out is taken, but one possible hindrance to the couple’s happily ever after was removed toward the end of the story. It’s not an easy removal. It’s a pain wracking, rip the Band Aid off kind of moment.

The characters are fully flushed out. With Selena we get a grown woman with responsibilities and a scary, yet awe-inspiring ability. It sets her apart which makes her perfect for Theo who doesn’t age.

There are horrific moments in this story and the side note which involves a character named Remy. I cringed as I read her story and chills ran up my arms. I NEED her story ASAP! Holy Shit that woman has been through hell. If you haven’t checked out this series it’s time to do so. I read books 1, 3 and now 4 and have a clear understanding of the world. Even though it’s part of a series, I think it would be simple to pick up the series with this book. You will miss the reintroduction of lead characters from the first few books, but this book is a definite must read.

Review: Kiss of Darkness by Loribelle Hunt

24 Jan

Kiss of Darkness by Loribelle Hunt
Ebook: $4.99
Carina Press (January 2011)
ISBN: 9781426891120

Favorite Line: “She was bored, tired of the same old crap day after day, looking for a good fight, looking for something. Anything new and different, anything that would banish the sameness from her life.” (p. 23)

Winter, a hybrid, has spent her life at war. A group of humans who are part demon, the hybrids, along with the lupines and nightwalkers, have dedicated their lives to defeating demons and protecting humanity. Yet, despite their united cause, the three groups share an uneasy alliance.

When hybrid military compounds come under attack from demon insurgents, Winter has no choice but to turn to the lupines and nightwalkers for assistance. It’s a partnership based on necessity and she has no intention of letting down her guard with either group.

Marcus, the nightwalker Lord, has other plans. The immediate attraction between him and Winter promises a passion he can’t ignore. To claim her as his own, he’ll not only have to fight the demons who seem hell-bent on destroying her, but her own misconceptions about him and the nightwalker race. It’s a battle he refuses to lose.

Kiss of Darkness by Loribelle Hunt seems to be the first book in a series, but other than the unfinished plot lines introduced in the book, I haven’t found any information about additional books on either the author or publisher’s websites.

I really didn’t care too much for Kiss of Darkness when I started reading it because I didn’t like the heroine. Winter was a little bit too arrogant for my tastes, but not without reason. In 1955 she bonded her soul to a demon so she could better fight the demons invading the world. While being part demon makes her stronger and prevents her from aging, it also wears at her soul. The only way to avoid turning evil is to bond with a purer soul.

Even knowing this, Winter fought the ease her soul found with Marcus and it really bothered me. I don’t think she should have felt trust for the nightwalker (vampire). She knew nothing about his species or character, but she was very quick to disregard the peace being with him offered.

She also failed to learn from her mistakes. To be fair, that could be due to the pressure her soul was under. However that does nothing to provoke an ounce of empathy from me. That said, Kiss of Darkness grew on me and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

That’s true because I love the characters I met. It’s that simple. The secondary characters turned into real, interesting people. Winter’s best friends Gia and Dupree are intriguing and their love interests are enticing to the imagination. I could see the battles they faced just from the way they interacted in Kiss of Darkness. Those sneak-peeks into their lives made me want more. I want to know what adventures they take and how they react to accepting their mates.

Now that I know the world in which the story is set, I am ready to move on to the next installment. Bring on the vampires, werewolves, demon/human hybrids and fated love.

Review: Bonded by Blood by Laurie London

23 Jan

Bonded by Blood by Laurie London
Mass Market: $7.99
Harlequin/HQA (January 2011)
ISBN: 978-0-373-77544-6

Favorite Line: “Ha. ‘Excuse me, but you’re my soul mate. Pardon me while I kill you.’ Riiiight.” (p. 56)

Movie location scout Mackenzie Foster-Shaw has always known that she’s cursed to die young. No one can protect her from the evil that has stalked her family for generations—vampires who crave her rare blood type. Until one afternoon in a wooded cemetery, she encounters an impossibly sexy stranger, a man she must trust with her life.

For Dominic, a man haunted by loss, Mackenzie satisfies a primal hunger that torments him—and the bond they share goes beyond heat, beyond love. She alone can supply the strength he needs to claim his revenge. But in doing so, he could destroy her….

Bonded by Blood is book one in the Sweetblood series written by Laurie London. It’s also London’s first book and I’ll admit to enjoying the jaunt through the paranormal world with her characters. The story is a romance between a human and a vampire, so expect strong alphas, humans who are blind to the paranormal community and love that leads to a happily ever after ending.

Right off the bat, one of the things that impressed me was London giving at least one of her characters a nontraditional job. The heroine hunts for places to shoot movie scenes. I can’t mention one other book that uses that job. Not one. And I appreciate the effort London put into making this romance a little bit different from others on the market.

The premise of the series is that there are people who carry an addictive blood type. These people are Sweetbloods. The bad vampires are called Darkbloods. The Darkbloods are all about pleasure and they don’t believe in restraining themselves. The guardians are the good vampires who try to stop the Darkbloods from destroying both humanity and vampires. This is the world where London’s characters find love.

Bonded by Blood is a quick, enjoyable read. I don’t know that I’ll be re-reading it, but I am looking forward to the second book in the series Embraced by Blood which will be released in July 2011.