Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sweetest Thing ~ Jill Shalvis

The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor, #2)The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ah Lucky I wish I could somehow find a way to make you a real place so I could move there and find myself a hunky man to call my own.

This is the second book in the series, and I do believe my personal favorite to date. This time around the focus is on Tara, the unflappable, straight-laced sister to wild-child Chloe and slightly wacky and wonderful Maddie. Tara has decided to stay on in Lucky Harbor to try and help her sisters get their Mother's old B&B back up and running, serving as the resident chef and Mother Hen. But staying in town means seeing ex-boyfriend Ford on a daily basis. And things are complicated further by the arrival of both Tara's estranged husband - intent on winning her back, and the long lost daughter that Tara and Ford gave up for adoption years before.

Yes, the story line sounds a bit convoluted, but trust works on every single level. This is not just a cliche' romance. This book has heart and will win over even the most jaded soul. It definitely won me over. I loved reading about the citizens of Lucky Harbor, and Tara and Ford's story was especially affecting due to the added element of first love, and the fact that they had a daughter together at such an early age.

I loved seeing Maddie & Jax again. And I will always enjoy spending time with all of the crazy residents of this quirky town. This book also happens to feature what was probably my favorite HEA moment of any romance I have read in recent memory (the ending had me more than a little teary-eyed).

This series is just flawless in my opinion, and Jill Shalvis is now at the top of my must-read authors list.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Enclave ~ Ann Aguirre

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Enclave by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Deuce is a teenage girl living in one of many self-contained Enclaves located in the sewer-system in a post-apocalyptic version of NYC. She has just become a Hunter (someone who patrols the tunnels, protecting their home from the zombie-like creatures they call Freaks) and has been teamed up with another Hunter named Fade. One day, Deuce pulls a Katniss and decides to sacrifice herself in place of one of her friends and is banished from her Enclave and forced to venture into the city above. This is basically considered a death sentence, since NYC is considered an uninhabitable wasteland. So Fade chooses to go with her having spent part of his childhood above-ground before making his way down into the tunnels.

This book felt a little like 2 seperate stories. There was Deuce's life at the Enclave, and then there was her life Top-Side. There were many dangers in the tunnels, but once she and Fade venture into the actual city above, they have even more things to worry about.

Enclave was an incredibly dark book. Especially after the story moves into the city. The people that Deuce and Fade encounter there are even more terrifying then the Freaks, which is saying a lot.

My one and only problem with this book was when the author felt the need to introduce a love triangle into the mix. Not only was it an unnecessary plot element, but it was also completely unbelievable considering the actions of the third party when the character was introduced to the reader. The idea that Deuce would be able to develop feelings for someone so cruel and barbaric was just completely ridiculous to me. The romantic angst towards the end of the book was a bit off-putting to be honest.

But, overall this was a terrific and original take on a dystopian world, and I look forward to reading book two Outpost.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Envy ~ JR Ward

Envy (The Fallen Angels, #3)Envy by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Police Detective Thomas DelVecchio has been living in the shadow of his infamous serial killer father for his entire life and is considered something of a loose cannon at his new job in Caldwell NY. Finding himself alone at the scene of a vicious attack on a suspected murderer, "Veck" has no memory of what happened and finds himself beginning to lose his precarious grip on reality. One of the only people who believes in Veck's innocence is Internal Affairs officer Reilly, the person ordered to keep tabs on him.

This series started out so promising with the first book, Covet which I absolutely loved, but then fell apart in spectacular fashion with the second book Crave. This third book sort of falls somewhere in the middle.

The character of Thomas DelVecchio was first introduced in Ward's other (and far superior) series The Black Dagger Brotherhood, when he showed up in Lover Unleashed. To be honest, I was not a fan of him there. He came off as cocky and snide, and when i found out he was due to be the focus of this book, I was less than thrilled. However, I found myself being surprisingly drawn to his character in this setting. Although you could argue he was just another one of Ward's signature tortured heroes, I found myself liking him more and more as I read the book.

Reilly was another story altogether. She came across as very two dimensional and her constant flip-flop decision making was totally unbelievable especially given her profession working in Internal Affairs. Ward usually writes her heroines as strong no-nonsense woman, but with Reilly (as with the heroine in Crave, Grier) she has delivered a very forgettable wishy-washy female.

The main reason I keep sticking with this series is because of the character of Jim, the Fallen Angel and the heart of each story. His passion and determination to make things right has kept me coming back to these books even when I feel like walking away for good. I honestly wish that the focus of the series would be more on Jim and his band of Rebel Fallen Angels, than on the sometimes boring humans he spends so much time trying to save.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Such Wicked Intent ~ Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #2)Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was a HUGE fan of the first book of The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series, This Dark Endeavor. That book was chock full of genuinely creepy surprises, and I loved the whole Gothic, claustrophobic feel of the story.

Unfortunately, this book seems to suffer from "2nd Book Syndrome". Which is what I call the annoying trend of sequels never living up to the awesomeness of the first book in a series. I have been running into this quite a bit lately, and it's more than a little depressing.

While the overall story was enjoyable, there were several times that I did find myself rolling my eyes while reading about the adventures of Victor, Henry and Elizabeth. While the first book did have it's intense moments, I feel like Such Wicked Intent went more for the gross-out factor, then for the much more satisfying uber-creepiness that was found in TDE.

Victor was a cocky SOB from the beginning, but his un-likability level went up a bit in this book, and I found it hard to root for someone so hell-bent on self-destruction.

But, even though i did have several issues with the book...this series is still quite entertaining, and one that I hope the author decides to continue.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Simply Irresistible ~ Jill Shalvis

Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor, #1)Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Needing a fresh start after a nasty break up and losing her job, Maddie decides to move to picturesque Lucky Harbor and attempt to start a new life running her mom's B&B with her estranged sisters Tara and Chloe. There she meets bar owner/contracter Jax (sparks fly immediately between them of course) as well as the rest of the cast of truly quirky, wonderful townspeople.

I have never been a big fan of contemporary romance novels, but once in a great while I will stumble across a book and an author that just completely win me over. This was that book, and Jill Shalvis is definitely that author.

The characters in this series absolutely jump off the page and are so full of life, that I found myself wishing I could pack up my car and move to Lucky Harbor myself (of course the fact that the town seems to be jammed packed with hot, available men doesn't hurt either LOL). The story is a simple one, but told so beautifully that it made reading this book a complete joy. The humor was genuine, the romance never felt forced or rushed in any way. And the chemistry between Jax and Maddie? Off. The. Charts. Jill Shalvis has a way of writing a story that is both sweet, and scorching hot at the same time. After reading all the books in this series to date, I am truly in awe of her awesomeness.

This is definitely one of my favorite book series now, and if I can't live there myself...then I at least hope I have many more Lucky Harbor books to look forward to in the future.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This Dark Endeavor ~ Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being a huge fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I was beyond excited to find out there was going to be a series detailing the life of a teenage Victor Frankenstein. So, I had enormous expectations going into reading this book, and I am happy to say that Kenneth Oppel did not let me down at all.

Victor and his twin brother Konrad are 16 and staying at the family house in Geneva along with their cousin Elizabeth and close friend Henry. One day, they discover a hidden passage way that leads down to a secret room that the friends dub The Dark Library. Shortly afterward, Konrad falls mysteriously ill and Victor becomes obsessed with creating The Elixir of Life, a potion found in a book from the Dark Library, and sets out on a quest with Elizabeth and Henry to track down it's ingredients.

From the beginning, the 4 friends are pretty much isolated from everyone other than Victor and Konrad's parents, so they only have each other to rely on. And Victor uses a tiny cell in the basement of the family's chateau as his first laboratory. The Dark Library itself is completely underground and cut off from the rest of the house, and all of these things combined create this wonderfully creepy, claustrophobic feel.

Content Warning
Even though this book deals with teenagers, and has been lumped into the YA genre, in my opinion it is much more of an adult read. Some of the scenes, especially towards the end are quite intense, and I also feel the need to point out, Victor ends up being portrayed as quite the horny teenager (something that only intensifies in the sequel Such Wicked Intent). So you know...just keep that in mind. ;)

My one complaint...and it truly is a bit nit-picky on my part: The love..quadrangle. I could understand having the conflict of Victor and Konrad both being in love with Elizabeth (though if I'm being honest, the fact that she was their cousin skeeved me out. Yes, I know it was much more common back in those days, but still...), but the addition of Henry also being smitten? Not really necessary.

The actual ending of the book was a bit of a surprise, though it probably shouldn't have been, but it still packed an emotional punch.

This was a truly wonderful, and atmospheric gem that is definitely deserving of a spot on my keeper shelf.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Girls Do It Better ~ Jasinda Wilder

Big Girls Do It BetterBig Girls Do It Better by Jasinda Wilder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering this story was only 35 pages long, I will keep this review short and to the point.

For such a short novella, this book packed quite an emotional punch. It is so refreshing to read an erotic story that features a heroine who is not a stick figure, and a hero who adores her just as she is. This story actually made me a little teary eyed, with how sweet Chase was in trying to get Anna to see just how beautiful she really is.

This is the first 'episode' in a series, and I for one can not wait for the next installment!

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