Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black Ice by Anne Stuart

5 out of 5 stars

*All Time Favorite Book List*

I will admit I had been a little hesitant to read this book for a couple of reasons. First of all, Romantic Suspense has never been my favorite genre, and secondly although I am a sucker for a dark, brooding hero, I wasn't exactly sure what I would think of the Uber-Alpha Bastien.

All I can say is, i am so glad I decided to give this book a shot after all, because it ended up being one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I have had in quite some time.

The storyline itself grabbed me right away. There was just the right amount of tension and action to keep me glued to my chair for most of the day. I simply could not put this book down, which has been rare for me lately.

Now, as for Bastien. *sigh* Where do I even begin. I think everyone who has read this will agree with me, that the man that appears at the beginning of this book, is not the same man we are left with at the end. And his journey into becoming that man, was wonderful to experience. In many ways, Bastien will always be just as cold and aloof as he ever was. He's still the tough as nails mercenary. But by the end of the book, he has allowed a small part of himself to come alive because of his love for Chloe. The later scenes between the two characters are both heartbreaking and incredibly beautiful. I never expected that this book would make me cry, but the scene at the airport, did just that.

Thoroughly entertaining, suspenseful, passionate and just plain well-written, Black Ice will now have a permanent place on my Keepers shelf.

Minion by L A Banks

1 out of 5 stars

*Worst Book List*

I very rarely give up on books. If i have a problem getting into a story, I will usually put it down for a while, and try to approach it again at another time.

I attempted to read this book on 4 separate occasions over the course of a year, and I still found it impossible to finish.

To be quite honest, I found this practically impossible to read. First of all, there's not many things I hate more than the feeling of being dropped into the middle of a story without any kind of explanation or backstory until late in the book. Call me silly, but it's confusing as hell and just plain frustrating. How can you possibly enjoy a book when you have no clue what the heck is going on? When you keep having to make sure you are indeed reading the FIRST book in a series, because nothing is making sense?

Also, the dialogue...good grief. It was like the author's main goal was to make these characters sound 'current' and to use as much street slang as humanly possible. It came across as being incredibly trite and annoying.

And there is also the fact that the characters were far from likable. Everyone had a chip on their shoulder...but without giving the reader a reason WHY they acted that way until late in the book, it was hard to feel anything but annoyance toward their behavior.

I have heard that the series gets better as it progresses, but I think I'm beyond giving it another shot at this point.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dark Magic by Christine Feehan (Carpathians #4)

2 out of 5 stars

I think i have officially lost my patience with this author.

Everything about this series is hopelessly repetitive. From the plot (Uber-Alpha male finds his lifemate. The chosen woman always whines about being bossed around initially, but that aspect is usually quickly forgotten. Someone threatens the couple's happiness/safety. Again, that is usually quickly and far too easily resolved. Lifemates have their HEA)...the phrasing, and in the case of this book, Dark Magic, even the actual dialogue, and descriptions of the two main characters are used again and again. Basiclly Feehan is recycling the exact same story over and over again, and simply changing the names, the woman's hair color (all of the females are described as beyond beautiful, with a tiny waist, narrow ribcage, and large breasts), and a few other small details.

The ONLY reason i'm giving this 2 stars instead of 1, is the fact that i ended up liking Gregori more than the previous two male leads, Jacques and Aidan.

I have returned to this series numerous times over the last few months...hoping that maybe, just maybe the next installment might capture me the way the first book, Dark Prince did. I wasn't even able to finish this book, i was so frustrated. And i hardly ever give up on a novel.

Dark Gold by Christine Feehan (Carpathians # 3)

2 out 5 stars

Christine Feehan has fostered an amazingly successful career from rehashing basically the same plot over and over again. All of the Carpathian books that i have read have pretty much been the same, with the exception of the names and locations. Incredibly beautiful female becomes the obsession of an incredibly possessive and arrogant vampire. The female puts up a half-hearted resistance to the vampire's advances before finally falling under his spell and the two characters end up having poorly written and terribly repetitive sex. A somewhat cardboard cutout villian/obsticle prevents the couple's happiness for a while, before once again love conquers all and the Carpathians ride off into the sunset.

Yep...that about covers all of the books in the series that i have read.

As far as this one specifically goes...There is relatively little action in this book. The main focus being the relationship between Aidan & Alex. The interaction between them...the constant back and forth of Aidan trying to get Alex to obey his every command, and Alex whining about everything under the sun... got more than a bit repetitive and mind-numbingly boring by about page 200. And while i liked Aidan, Alex got on my last nerve. Having said that, it still ended up being slightly better than the previous book in the series.

One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

3 out of 5 stars

While there were a few aspects of this addition to the Dark Hunter series that i enjoyed (revelations about Nick's powers, the return of the trademark DH snarkiness after the overwhelming seriousness of the previous book, "Acheron"), i still had quite a few major problems with the book, which made me feel more than a little disappointed in the end.

1. Having read this in about 2 hours, the story felt like something that should have been included in an anthology, rather than released as a stand alone novel. Coming after the mammoth "Acheron", OSN feels rather hastily, and sloppily put together.

2. I could be in the minority in this, but i found it hard to truly care about Stryker as a lead. He's the bad guy, and therefore i didn't really care if he got his HEA.

3. I hate to say this...i really do. But, Ash in this book...was a shadow of the bad-ass warrior i have come to know and love. Granted, he wasn't the main focus of the story, but that has never stopped him from blowing my mind in the majority of the previous DH books. I truly hope that, considering this book is the start of the new "ark" of the series, that SK isn't planning on letting such an amazing character as Ash, fade into the background.

The Maestro's Butterfly by Rhonda Leigh Jones

1 out of 5 stars

*Worst Book List*

This book was ridiculously over the top, and just plain BAD. In fact, it has the distinction of being close to the top of my list of worst books I've ever had the misfortune of reading. What an honor.

The plot, or what the author tried to pass off as one...was laughable, and made little sense. I realize this was a short novel, but Jones didn't even attempt to show any kind of motivation as to why the characters did what they did. I think this was a prime example of someone writing a bunch of sex scenes, and throwing them together with a bit of idiotic filler to fill up the pages. And having been a long time fan of both erotica & romantica fiction, i can honestly say there was nothing at all sexy about this book.

The female lead proceeds to have every kind of sex with just about any male character in the vicinity, and considers herself 'in love' with what has to be hands down one of the most unappealing 'heroes' I've ever read about. The Maestro is supposed to be dark, dangerous and possess a forbidden type of sexiness. For me, he came off as being an uncomfortably written bully. Sexy? I don't think so.

The solitary bright side? . The story could have been longer.

When Darkness Falls by Shannon Drake

3 out of 5 stars

Better than the first book in the series, Beneath A Blood Red Moon, but once again the story seemed to fall apart towards the end of the book. The ending itself was extremely frustrating, and left more questions than answers.

I love the character of Lucian. He is a near-perfect anti-hero. However, his heroine Jade ended up coming off as somewhat whiny. The secondary characters (Jade's friends from her writers group especially) were for the most part entertaining, and provided a bit of much needed comic relief.

For me, the single biggest problem was the fact that Lucian & Jade's future was left pretty much up in the air. The ending to BABRM while extremely far fetched in it's resolution, at least left little doubt as to the path that Maggie & Sean were on. Where as with this book, the reader is left feeling more than a little cheated out of a proper ending.

Scent Of Darkness by Christina Dodd

2 out 5 stars

I REALLY wanted to like this book. But, unfortunately the story just didn't work for me. On numerous levels.

The main problem i had with the plot, was the fact that we are supposed to believe that Jasha worked with Ann for all that time, and never thought of her as anything other than his assistant, But, have him chase her through the woods in his wolf form, and suddenly she's irresistible? And within hours, he has decided she's his mate (aided by a few very complicated, very silly supposed 'signs')? Speaking of the above encounter...the entire scenario of Ann deciding to drive out to his house (which the author describes as looking like a giant penis) to surprise her boss and offer him her virginity was downright laughable. Possibly handled by another author, i MIGHT have been able to get past it. But here, it came off as ridiculous, and made me cringe while reading it. I know it's important to suspend reality while reading a book like this, but this was just one of a few aspects to this story that i just couldn't buy.

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

4 out of 5 stars

Suddenly You is a book that I was looking forward to reading with a giddy sense of anticipation. I had heard nothing but good things about it, and the snippets I had read online only seemed to whet my appetite. And while overall I did end up enjoying this book, there were certain things that bothered and downright frustrated me about it as well.

I loved the fact that in Amanda Briars, Kleypas has given us a self-made woman. The character is an author who has forged a life and career for herself without the help of a man in her life which was practically unheard of at the time. But unfortunately, I didn't end up liking her actual character all that much.

I can certainly understand Amanda's insecurities. However, the way she acted towards the hero Jack Devlin through a large part of this story, drove me batty. Considering how she had chosen to live her life so unconventionally before meeting him, I find it more than a little frustrating that she would care so much about what people thought of her being with Jack. Yes, he was her boss, but in my opinion it had more to do with her being embarrassed by his less than aristocratic upbringing. I realize that that is a common theme in historical novels, but for whatever reason, it truly bugged me here.

Having said all that, it will probably come as no surprise that I truly adored Jack Devlin, and his character is the main reason this book garnered 4 stars instead of 3. Lisa Kleypas has the Midas touch when it comes to creating thud-worthy heroes, and she has brought to life another winner in Jack. He is a 25 yr old man in love with an older woman who is...happily...not a stick figure. He unashamedly adores Amanda, and I love how in his eyes she is true perfection. The chemistry between Jack and Amanda right from the very beginning is scorching, and as usual, the love scenes are intensely erotic. I won't even get started on the raspberry scene...

I guess the fact that I felt so many different emotions while reading this book, is further testament to the brilliance of Kleypas. Even when i'm not thrilled with where she takes the story at times, I am always emotionally invested. And that's never a bad thing.

Dance With The Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon

5 out of 5 stars

*All Time Favorite Book List*

Zarek's Point of View:

Dark-Hunter: A soulless guardian who stands between mankind and those who would see mankind destroyed. Yeah, right. The only part of that Code of Honor I got was eternity and solitude.

Insanity: A condition many say I suffer from after being alone for so long. But I don't suffer from my insanity-I enjoy every minute of it.

Trust: I can't trust anyone...not even myself. The only thing I trust in is my ability to do the wrong thing in any situation and to hurt anyone who gets in my way.

Truth: I endured a lifetime as a Roman slave, and 900 years as an exiled Dark-Hunter. Now I'm tired of enduring. I want the truth about what happened the night I was exiled-I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Astrid (Greek, meaning star): An exceptional woman who can see straight to the truth. Brave and strong, she is a point of light in the darkness. She touches me and I tremble. She smiles and my cold heart shatters.

Zarek: They say even the most damned man can be forgiven. I never believed that until the night Astrid opened her door to me and made this feral beast want to be human again. Made me want to love and be loved. But how can an ex-slave whose soul is owned by a Greek goddess ever dream of touching, let alone holding, a fiery star?

This book inspired so many emotions for me.

Long before I fell in love with the King of all Tortured Heroes, Zsadist (from JR Ward's brilliant Black Dagger Brotherhood series), there was Zarek. A truly frightening lone-wolf assassian who delights in shocking and scaring the hell out of anyone who even attempts to get to know him.

Zarek's backstory is heartbreaking. And in fact, a lot of the flashback scenes are a bit hard to read. But that only made me love this character more by seeing the reasons he ended up being so cold. When Astrid enters his life, she becomes his lifeline, his reason to not give in completely to the darkness. Their scenes together are not always perfect. Kenyon frustrated me with a couple of the encounters that the two of them ended up having, but it still adds up to one of the most satisfying, heart-wrenching, and beautiful stories I have ever read.

Kenyon's dialogue here, shines. Some of the things that Zarek says to Astrid were heartbreakingly beautiful and romantic. In my opinion this is SK's best work, and Zarek is a character that I will never forget.

Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon

5 out of 5 stars

Having fallen in love with SK's style of writing with Fantasy Lover, i knew this book had a LOT to live up to. I definitely wasn't disappointed. Kyrian and Amanda are a couple for the ages, and their story is at once beautiful, romantic, tragic and sexy.

With this, the second novel in her series Sherri continues to add both spice and humor to the Dark Hunter world, and she does it almost better than anyone else around today. Her early DH books are hands down some of the best novels I have read, in any genre, in a very, very long time.

I have said this before, but I honestly think I read this series far too quickly the first time. I ended up getting slightly burned out around the time of Devil May Cry (DH #13). But, it ended up being like an addiction...I couldn't stop myself from devouring the next book. If I ever manage to get my TBR list down to a somewhat manageable level, I want to go back and experience this series again from the beginning.

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

5 out of 5 stars

*All Time Favorite Book List*

Not officially considered a DH book, this was the one that not only got me hooked on Sherri's writing, but also the para-romance genre itself.

Sherrilyn has a knack for taking a seemingly ridiculous concept (Basic storyline of Fantasy Lover: an ancient Greek god is cursed into a book and he ends up being the willing sex slave of any woman who conjures him out of it, for the period of one month), and some how makes the characters and situations believable and compelling.

There were moments that made me laugh out loud, and moments that made me cry. Her love scenes were both erotic, and sweet and I couldn't help falling in love with Julian, and wanted him to finally find some sense of peace and happiness.

The series did in fact continue to improve, but this book will always hold a special place in my heart. It's a wonderful introduction into the world of the Dark Hunters, and highly recommended to any fan of para-romance.

Slave by Cheryl Brooks

1 out of 5 stars

I have read some weird stuff in my time. But nothing...and i do mean NOTHING compares to Slave by Cheryl Brooks.

This first book in the Cat Star Chronicles, is a mixture of erotica and sci fi...two of my favorite genres. And while the mix SOUNDS good in theory, in this case it just did not work.

Basically the premise is this: Jacinth is an 'intergalactic trader' who buys a slave - who possesses more than a few feline qualities, and is nicknamed Cat - to help assist in her mission to free her kidnapped sister.

Much flirty banter and oogling of Cat's well endowed body ensue, and within about 2 days, the two characters have professed their undying love and mutual lust for each other. And this is when the real weirdness begins.

Jacinth discovers that Cat's....'male essence'... *cough* is a highly potent aphrodisiac and much discussion of bottling and selling the prized elixir begins. I will spare you the incredibly unappealing name that Cat has for it. Trust me, you don't need to know.

Everything about this book screams "" and not in a good way. The dialogue is cheesy and ridiculous, the characters are about as one dimensional as you can get. Even the sex scenes are poorly written.

And to think...this is only the first book in a series! *shudder*Italic

Beneath A Blood Red Moon by Shannon Drake

2 out of 5 stars

I have conflicted feelings about this book. First off, I'm a huge fan of Heather Graham/Shannon Drake (SD is Heather's pseudonym). And there were several aspects to this book that I really liked; I thought the historical flashbacks were the best part of the story. I also loved the character of Lucian who is the main focus of the next book in the series [book:When Darkness Falls|176789]. However, the things that I found irritating about the story began to pile up towards the end of the book. HG/SD is known to have a fondness for sappy dialogue, which doesn't bother me in small doses. Here, it was used to a near constant distraction. Also, the climax of the 'mystery' (which really wasn't a mystery at all, since the killer was made obvious by about 20 pages in)seemed a little over-the-top.

I plan on continuing on with the series, and am hopeful that Lucian's story will not leave me disappointed.

Mine Til Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

5 out of 5 stars

*All Time Favorite Book List*

If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. I honestly haven't enjoyed a book this much in AGES. Cam Rohan is now firmly planted very close to the top of my list of all time favorite leading men.

The chemistry between Cam & Amelia is just breathtaking. I have always been a sucker for an Alpha male, and Cam is about as Alpha as they come. When he finally sets his mind to having Amelia, he won't let anyone or anything stand in his way. He's fierce, compelling, intense and sexy as hell and Amelia is helpless to resist his charm...and I definitely can relate.

This was my first experience reading Lisa Kleypas, and I have to admit I picked a great one to start with. From the first page, this book sucked me into the storyline, and the beautifully detailed world of the characters.

I have to point out something that many of the author's fans know all too well; Lisa Kleypas not only writes a hero to die for...but she has a knack for creating the most beautifully erotic love scenes I have ever read. She has said in the past that when she writes love scenes she choreographs them down to the last detail, and it's obvious that she does just that. She somehow manages to create toe-curling encounters without ever going too far in her descriptions. Her dialogue is always eye-rolling or giggling, the way I have found myself doing while reading love scenes in other author's books. She knows how to mix romantic with scorchingly hot like no one else.

LK cares about every aspect of her novels, and it shows. Which is one of the many reasons she has such a devoted following. I for one consider myself lucky to include myself among that following.

Storm Of Visions by Christina Dodd


This book tried my patience right from the very beginning. I understand that this book is loosely tied-in with Dodd's previous Dark Chosen series, but the author seemed to have just assumed that anyone reading Storm Of Visions would have been completely versed in the previous series. This being my first attempt at reading one of Dodd's books, I was completely frustrated and confused through the first 75-100 pages. There is nothing more annoying than starting a book, and feeling like you're being dropped right in the middle of the story.

But, once i figured out what was going on, i realized the story itself was just plain ridiculous and over-blown. The characters are over the top and the melodrama is suffocating. In all honesty, Dodd's writing is repetitive and just not very good.

It's rare that i give up on a book...but i could only make it 200 pages into this one.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

1 out of 5 stars

Obviously, this book disappointed me greatly. I kept plugging along until about half-way through when i realized that absolutely NOTHING had really happened in the storyline. It didn't even feel like a Dan Brown book. The excitement, and nervous anticipation i've felt while devouring his previous books, was nowhere to be found. My eyes were literally glazing over from Brown's attempt to sound scholarly about the minutest details of the most boring, and inexplicable 'scientific' subjects. Where both Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code succeeded in grabbing my attention right away with intriguing plots and believable characters, this book felt cold, stiff and read like a textbook instead of a novel. After waiting 6 years for the next chapter of Robert Langdon's story, i think it probably would have been impossible to live up to all the hype surrounding it. However, Brown could have, and SHOULD have done so much better.

Trial By Fire by

5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to this book, i have a new weakness. Firemen. Yes, the hero Howard "Six-Pack" Paxton was at times adorable, sweet, romantic, shy and tortured. As well as being incredibly stubborn and hard-headed. But then, no one is perfect.

Everything about this book worked, on so many levels. The characters (even the secondary ones) felt real and well-rounded. The mystery surrounding the serial arsonist was intriguing, and had a well thought-out resolution, and the step-by-step revel of the true horror of Howard's early childhood, was heart-wrenching.

I have to say, i loved the heroine, Kat. She was strong, feisty, flawed, and the perfect person for Howard. She stood up to his sometimes boorish behavior, and she stuck by him as he tried to come to terms with his fear of opening up. And i loved the fact that Kat was a gorgeous, curvy woman and that to Howard, she was the sexiest thing in the world. I only wish there were more men like him in the real world.

Can't wait to read more from this series, and author.

Beyond The Night by Joss Ware

2 stars out of 5

I was so excited to find a book combining so many unique elements that I love; post-apocalyptic mayhem, adventure, paranormal romance and zombies. How could it disappoint, right? Unfortunately, after a promising start, this book completely fell apart.

For the first 75 pages, I was riveted to this story. It was only after the band of survivors made their way to the city of Envy (a barren version of Las Vegas) that things went south for me. The story became less a zombie ass-kicking adventure, and more a retread of cliched para-romance themes. I won't get into specifics, since I don't want to spoil the 'twists' for anyone who plans on reading this, but I will just say that I rolled my eyes several times. And I have the say the last third of this book worked on my patience, and there was a LOT of skimming. To be honest, I was very happy to see this novel come to an end, which is unfortunate considering how excited I was when I began this book. :(