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Books I Want: December 2012

1 Dec

The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy (TBA December)

thecatsmeowkennedyIn Charleston, Libby is an Enchantress—a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells. When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby must take the case to discover the reasons behind the odd deaths. Much to her displeasure, the coven has also sent the sexy warlock, Kale, to assist her.

While having the muscle around proves to be useful, fighting the
attraction between them is worse than a hex, especially considering Kale is keeping secrets. Libby has good reason to believe that Kale is there to evaluate her performance as a witch, and fears her job is on the line. But soon, Libby has bigger problems than the elusive warlock and career stability. Her spells are turning up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats, leading her to a threat that could shake the very foundation of her world.

Now Libby lands herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe. Not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her. Continue reading

Review: Ironskin by Tina Connolly

16 Oct

DNF

Ironskin by Tina Connolly
TOR/FORGE (Oct. 2, 2012)
Hardback: $24.99; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780765330598

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her scars and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things are true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

Ironskin is Tina Connolly’s introduction to a fantasy world which is recovering from a war between humans and the fae. During the war the fae would fling curses at humanity. Those scarred by the curses can prevent the curses from spreading by covering the marked area with iron.

This is another book that I wanted to love. I didn’t. I didn’t even make it very far before deciding to put it aside. I was bored. Plain and simple. I’ve read that it’s supposed to be a rewrite of Jane Eyre. Don’t bash me, but I didn’t like Jane Eyre. I’m not into updating or rewriting old stories either. Had I known it was a retelling of anything I never would have requested the story. As such, I’m not going to rate it. I’m leaving it firmly in the Did Not Finish category.

For those of you who loved it or take pleasure in retellings, Tina Connolly’s website says a sequel is scheduled to be released in 2013.

Review: Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara

18 Sep

4 out of 5 scoopers

Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara
Harelquin/LUNA (Sept. 18, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803507

Favorite Lines: “Kitling, I don’t know what hopes you have for Lord Nightshade, but hope, among our kin, is not a double-edged blade. It is single edged, and the edge always wounds. Always. He is not mortal. He does not value what you value…He is what he is, Kaylin. Accept that; you will find the Barrani less daunting. He is not mortal and his concerns are not mortal concerns.” (p. 118-119, e-galley)

USUALLY DISASTER DIDN’T STRIKE QUITE SO CLOSE TO HOME…

It has been a busy few weeks for Private Kaylin Neva. In between angling for a promotion, sharing her room with the last living female Dragon and dealing with more refugees than anyone knew what to do with, the unusual egg she’d been given was ready to hatch. Actually, that turned out to be lucky, because it absorbed the energy from the bomb that went off in her quarters….

So now might be the perfect time to leave Elantra and journey to the West March with the Barrani. If not for the disappearances of citizens in the fief of Tiamaris-disappearances traced to the very Barrani Kaylin will be traveling with…

Yes, it’s that time again. Michelle Sagara has written book eight in her Chronicles of Elantra series. (I call it the Cast series.) If you haven’t read the previous seven books, do NOT attempt to begin with Cast in Peril.

Kaylin is about to depart on a new journey. This one will take her into the heart of he Barrani. She has no idea how many secrets she’ll uncover or the danger she’ll face. Kaylin’s ability to tell stories and use true words will be needed as she learns truths about those who surround her. Fortunately, she has a new ally which hatched before the trip.

I enjoyed this installment, but I had a few issues. For the first time Kaylin irritated me with her cluelessness. I’ve watched her grow over the weeks that which were written about in books one through seven. She may not have caught on to the events immediately, but she always learned and retained what she learned. While reading Cast in Peril I wanted to shake Kaylin. Over and over she was told the need to do certain things, but by the end of the books she had yet to do so. It was like all adventures she’d recently faced made no impact at all.

Despite my irritation with Kaylin, I enjoyed the story. I have a feeling that others will not be pleased with the lack of progress made in the story though. The journey begins in Cast of Peril, but by the final page turn the characters have yet to reach their destination. I feel like the story ends without ever reaching the climax and the idea of waiting a year to find out what happens is going to drive me bonkers.

On the Severn and Lord Nightshade note, I think Kaylin is beginning to lean toward one person in particular. I could be wrong, but she discovers some information which infuriates her. It bothered me too, but I need more. I want some romance thrown in and the reader is still being teased about who means what to whom. The thing to remember is Kaylin and Severn are humans playing an unknown game with immortals. What makes sense to long-lived creatures, does not always seem “right” to the human who “would only live a handful of years.”

Cast in Peril is not my favorite book in the series, but I still rank it higher than the average book. I will re-read it and am excitedly waiting the next book, Cast in Sorrow.

Review: In a Fix by Linda Grimes

30 Aug

4 out of 5 scoopers

In a Fix by Linda Grimes
TOR/FORGE (Sept. 4, 2012)
Trade: $14.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780765331809

Favorite Lines: “Guess you could say I’m a kind of life coach. At least, that’s my cover with all but the select few nonadaptors who know about us. Only instead of teaching people how to solve their own problems, I just do it for them. My clientele tends to be more comfortable with delegating than learning.” (p. 13, e-galley)

Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.

This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.

Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

In a Fix is a fun urban fantasy novel written by Linda Grimes that had me thinking “go go Gadget arms.” That should tell you not to take it seriously. It’s an outrageously comedic book featuring characters with fantastic abilities who are placed in an urban setting.

I’ve got to tell you–I was a little confused in the first chapter of the book. I didn’t understand what was going on so I’m going to simplify it for you. Mina is a rich chick who wants her boyfriend to propose to her, but she’s nervous it won’t happen so she hires Ciel. For a price Ciel can alter her aura which allows her to take on another individual’s appearance and level of fitness. So when the book opens we get Ciel who has “shifted” into Mina and is making out with Mina’s boyfriend. We also get other aura adaptors who are pretending to be other people which created a mess of confusion.

Now those other adaptors are men. Attractive, single men who Ciel becomes sexually drawn to in tingly ways before the story ends. In a Fix is not a romance, but it gives Ciel a couple of guys to lust after while avoiding a permanent entanglement with either. Ciel is immature and child like at times, so either of the men would be a good fit. Both of them are responsible adults. Mark is serious, while Billy is playful.

Let’s move on to the villains. They are neo-Vikings who believe the Viking lifestyle is the only way to live. Silly. Do you hear me? The villains are goofy. And their big plan is straight out of an Inspector Gadget cartoon and is exactly what you would expect some play acting men to concoct. Now it may feel as if I’m being derisive, but after I decided to just go with “it” I had a great time reading In a Fix.

Ciel is a trouble magnet who somehow manages to stumble into absurd situation after absurd situation. I laughed out loud and wondered how Grimes could top each crazy adventure. She showed me when she brought in a catapult. Yes, a catapult. You’ll be seeing the similarity to cartoons when you read In a Fix, but you won’t be thinking kids when you read it. It’s sexy, action packed and humorous. If you’re anything like me you’ll have picked the man you want Ciel to explore more of with in a physical romantic way. Book two in the In a Fix series is called Quick Fixed and will be released in 2013.

Review: Tinker by Wen Spencer

14 Aug

Tinker by Wen Spencer
Baen (November 2003)
Mass market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780743498715

Favorite Lines: “Tinker, we can’t know other people’s hearts. Humans fall in love at first sight, and only time tells if that love is true. There is no reason that elves can’t do the same..” (p. 257, Hardback)

Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. She runs her salvage business, pays her taxes, and tries to keep the local ambient level of magic down with gadgets of her own design. When a pack of wargs chase an Elven noble into her scrap yard, life as she knows it takes a serious detour. Tinker finds herself taking on the Elven court, the NSA, the Elven Interdimensional Agency, technology smugglers and a college-minded Xenobiologist as she tries to stay focused on what’s really important – her first date. Armed with an intelligence the size of a planet, steel-toed boots, and a junkyard dog attitude, Tinker is ready to kick butt to get her first kiss.

A reader of Scooper Speaks clued me in on Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series. It’s a fantasy series with only three books, but boy is book one, Tinker, good reading material. It’s full of big words and theories, but never once did I feel bogged down. I was fascinated with the world, the characters and the plot.

Tinker is a young lady who is trying to prove how very adult she is now that she’s turned 18. She’s an intelligent business owner who has never been kissed at the moment we meet her. Over the course of the story the reader watches her mature after being placed into positions based on her own ignorance. She learns from her mistakes and owns up to them, which makes her a worthy heroine. Tinker makes mistakes, but by the end of the book she is a character that I’d be glad to have grace my “keeper” shelf.

The story progressively intensifies over time. The ramifications of ever decision becomes clear.  Violence, bloody and disturbing, is used to show the primal evil of a particular group of characters. There is also a rape scene (involving a secondary character) which I’m sure will bother some readers. Yes, it bothered me and it takes a lot to get me squeamish.

Tinker is a fantasy book, but there are things in it which invite science fiction and romance lovers to pick it up. From quantum physics to finding love in unexpected places, Spencer has written a book that draws from various genres to create a world and peoples I want to know more about.

I loved Tinker. I borrowed the book from my local library because I wasn’t impressed with the cover and the blurb on the back of the book didn’t pull me in. Now, I’ll be buying it and recommending it to other people. I’m about to start book two, Wolf Who Rules, and am pleased to say book three, Elfhome, was released in July 2012.

What book are you feining for and a question

16 Jun

Me? I want the new Michelle Sagara book Cast in Peril. It’s book eight in a series and if you haven’t read the previous books, it’s not the book to start with. Anyway it’s supposed to take place in the Marches with the Barrani. I haven’t found cover art for it, but here’s the blurb.

USUALLY DISASTER DIDN’T STRIKE QUITE SO CLOSE TO HOME…

It has been a busy few weeks for Private Kaylin Neva. In between angling for a promotion, sharing her room with the last living female Dragon and dealing with more refugees than anyone knew what to do with, the unusual egg she’d been given was ready to hatch. Actually, that turned out to be lucky, because it absorbed the energy from the bomb that went off in her quarters….

So now might be the perfect time to leave Elantra and journey to the West March with the Barrani. If not for the disappearances of citizens in the fief of Tiamaris-disappearances traced to the very Barrani Kaylin will be traveling with…

This all leads me to a very important question. What author would you suggest I read since the new Sagara book doesn’t come out until September 2012? I’m looking for women authors that I may have overlooked. I want to be sucked into a new fantasy world and would love it if a touch of romance was included in the story.

Promo: Eventide by Tracy & Laura Hickman

6 May

When a traveling bard stumbles into a dragon’s den, he is forced to tell stories to the fire-breathing menace or end up being eaten. Eventually running out of stories to tell, he makes a deal with the dragon: for his freedom, he will return with new tales of adventure, romance, and bravery. Tales of the Dragon’s Bard is the story of his quest to collect the most exciting stories he possibly can, and Eventide is the first town he encounters. With wish-women, gnomes, a centaur farmer, a resident Gossip Fairy, and a blacksmith dwarf, those living in Eventide have enough going on to keep the Dragon’s Bard busy collecting–especially if he can liven up those adventures a bit with his own ridiculous plots.– B&N

Eventide goes on sale June 5, 2012.

Movie Trailer: Show White and the Huntsman

2 May

Promo: Journey to the Fringe by Kelli Swofford Nielsen

15 Apr

Long ago, Stone Mages were revered in Lyria. They were men and women who could use powerful tradestones to harness their unique gifts of wind, rain, and earth to help those around them. But war with the Southern realm has threatened the mages with extinction. The truth about the tradestones has been lost, and the remaining magic is dwindling.

When Princess Ivy, the beloved daughter of the king, is abducted, it seems that all hope for Lyria is lost as well. But when an unlikely group of loyal subjects embarks on a dangerous journey to the far-distant Fringe, the hope of restoring crown and kingdom is renewed. Among the group is Simon, a fool with wisdom beyond his years; Gilda, a nonmagical witch; Burr, a young thief; and Merrick, a jaded sea captain. Their quest will test their courage, their strength, and their friendship.

But at the Fringe, they encounter a truth that will change everything they thought they knew about themselves, and this small band of heroes must embrace the power that is their birthright and stand together as Stone Mages of Lyria.–B&N

Review: The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred

19 Dec

The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred
Entangled Publishing (Dec. 2011)
Paperback: $15.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781937044534

Favorite Lines: “Fear and instinct propelled me to flight. If not for the violent downpour, I might have lost myself in the glorious feeling of riding the wind, but the rain beat down against me with tiny fists.” (p. 73)

First, I’ve gotta tell y’all I’m not a fan of the cover. It catches the eye, but based on the cover alone I would not have purchased this book. I was given a copy to review.

Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

I was expecting book one of Jane Kindred’s House of Arkhangelsk series to be racy. I thought it might have a menage type feel, but I was wrong. The Fallen Queen is not what I imagined, nor is it the type of book I normally read. I was uncomfortable with much of the book which involved BDSM, a gay couple and a 17-year-old getting it on with a much older man. If I had known any of those themes were included in the story, I would not have read it.

As it was, I almost stopped reading the book several times. It was interesting enough that I wanted to know where it was going, but the themes–oh, the themes–about drove me mad.

The story is told in first and third person. I was never confused with the POV switch; it was clear and well written. One of the biggest obstacles to my enjoyment of the story was the words used. For example, the names of people, places and items were hard to pronounce, define and keep clear. Words like: Belphagor, Paimon, Raqia, Anazakia Helisonovna, Arkhangel’sk, perferans, Elysium, Omeliea, Aravoth, Pyriphlegethon, Empyrean, Aeval and aeth. The Russian words which were interspersed within the text didn’t help.

I’m extremely uncomfortable with BDSM and I’m not interested in gay or lesbian themed stories. I don’t mind as much if there’s a scene involving male-male or female-female. I still feel awkward and prefer to read about heterosexual couples, but I can choke it down. In The Fallen Queen, the two main male characters have a romantic history together. They participate in a BDSM lifestyle and begin to rekindle it (along with oral sex) while on their journey with Anazakia, the heroine. There are many undertones that I’m unfamiliar with in the book and they all revolve around BDSM and the gay and lesbian world.

The underaged heroine’s head is shaved and she is dressed to look like a man. She is called “boy” and has her breasts bound. At different points, she is interested in both of the men. Because she only interacts with the gay couple and is sexually attracted to a clearly gay man (although later she is attracted to the gay man who considers himself bi-sexual), I think the gay community would call her a “fag hag.” I don’t know. It was too much.

Add to that the scene where the male couple is enjoying whipping and being whipped, prison rape and forced degradation and I was pushed too far. I’m sure there are other things. So, yeah, the story is about fallen angels and demons and a fight to control heaven. In the end I was so distracted by the details that I lost track of the actual point of the story.

When push comes to shove I read for enjoyment. I don’t want to be depressed  when I finish reading a book. I don’t want to feel conflicted. I have enough problems in life that when I finish reading a book I want to know that someone–even an imaginary someone–can have a happy conclusion. Now there’s room in that for a lot of leeway. But at the end of The Fallen Queen I never felt that there was hope of any type of satisfactory ending. SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER***DON’T READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO READ A SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER

I watched him go, reluctant to relinquish the elemental stirring his touch sparked in me, but pleased at the new pride in his step. Though I couldn’t be what Belphagor was to him, I’d given him something the demon could not. I kissed the top of Ola’s head. Whatever bond I had with Vasily, I was on the outside of a relationship so intense I could only admire it from afar, like the Aurora Borealis. It left an emptiness inside me, a longing for that sense of wholeness they had in one another.–p. 328