Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rest of the Best

Here are some quickie reviews of the rest of my favorite 2007 books that I never got around to reviewing:

Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
I had a hard time reading the previous book in the series, Demon Angel, because of some intense world building full of complex rules that demons, angels, vampires, hellhounds, nosferatu, and guardians must follow. I found it extremely confusing, but I was intrigued enough to keep reading and re-reading confusing passages until I sorted it out. I ended up doing some research on Brook's website (see The Primer) and online reviews with spoilers so that I think I figured things out. Fortunately, DM was much clearer and much easier to understand. The hero Colin is a 200 year old vampire who made this book worth reading on his character alone. He was made by a nosferatu and therefore cannot feed from other vampires so he feeds on humans. Colin is an extremely beautiful man and utterly vain and I was half in love with him myself. Savi is brilliant and fascinating and seemed to be a perfect match for him. The non-stop action kept me riveted to the story and I had a hard time putting it down. It's one of those books where you aren't sure how H/H could get their HEA, but they did and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My grade: A-

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
This is the third book in the Psy/Changling series and I liked it almost as well as the first book (Slave to Sensation). Judd Lauren is a telekinetic and a Psy who has left the PsyNet along with his family to escape having their minds destroyed. They have sought refuge with the Snowdancers, a wolf changling clan, and have been accepted into their pack. Judd's mind is still locked into Silence and any emotion causes him excruciating pain. Brenna Kincaid, a wolf changling and member of Snowdancer, first appeared in another book in the series. She had been kidnapped and tortured by a psychopathic Psy serial killer and her mind was invaded. She has now healed physically but she has been emotionally damaged. I love books with the theme centered on the healing power of love. Brenna and Judd are basically emotionally broken. Judd continually tries to push Brenna away and Brenna can't keep away from him because she knows he's her mate. The gradual progression of their relationship and the sexual tension culminating in some very hot love scenes were phenomenal. This book was a great addition to the series and I look forward to Mine to Possess.
My grade: A-

Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward
Butch O'Neal was one of my favorite characters in the previous books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I was excited to learn that this book, #4 in the series, focuses on his story. Butch, an ex-cop, is the only human who has been living among the vampire warriors of the Brotherhood. He has secretly been in love with Marissa, an aristocratic vampire, since book #1. Butch feels caught between two worlds; he doesn't fit into the human world anymore and the vampires won't let him help in their fight against the lessers. Butch has bonded with the brotherhood, especially Vishous. The action was non-stop and scenes with the lessers was far less annoying than in previous books. The love scenes were hot and steamy but Marissa was a bit of a dull character. Overall, I liked this book and gave it the same grade as the others in the series which is good because at least I'm consistent.
My grade: B+

Play Dirty by Sandra Brown
I haven't read Brown's newest releases lately because she seems to have strayed away from romance and into suspense, but I decided to pick up this book based on a recommendation from Keishon. The book had an unusual premise and I had to give it a try. As the book begins Griff Birkett is an ex-con just out of prison on parole and looking for work. He was a star pro football quarterback when he was caught gambling and throwing games for millions of dollars and sent to prison for 5 years in disgrace. I can't remember a book where the hero was such a thoroughly unlikeable character. Foster Speakman, a wealthy businessman, invites Griff to his home to offer him a job. Foster is a paraplegic and in a wheel chair. His beautiful wife, Laura, loves him and is devoted to him. But Foster wants an heir and he feels nothing from the waist down and cannot impregnate Laura. And he refuses to use artificial insemination. He wants Laura to conceive and deliver a baby in the natural way and has finally convinced her to do just that with a surrogate. He offers Griff 100 thousand dollars to impregnate Laura with an additional 500 thousand when the baby is born and then a million a year after that. Griff is reluctant at first and he can see that Laura is reluctant but determined to go along with her husband's wishes so he finally agrees. This is a suspense novel not technically a romance, but a romance sub-plot is there. I was completely shocked near the end when the villain was finally revealed and it really took me by surprise. Griff's complete story was eventually revealed and he manages to redeem himself a little and I kinda liked him at the end. He turned his life around and started to repair the damage he had done to the people in his life. The action kept me on edge and turning the pages late at night. The ending along with a couple of love scenes are satisfying enough for most romance readers to enjoy. And Keishon and I agree on the grade :)
My grade: B+

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart
This book is Isobel Lambert's story who is the head of The Committee, a covert mercenary organization who employs secret agents and assassins to save the world from nasty low lifes like drug dealers, arms smugglers and terrorists. Isobel has appeared in all the other books in the "Ice" series and has been an intriguing character. Joseph Serafin is an assassin and a dangerous man. Isobel is called on to pull his butt out of trouble in Morocco because they need him for the intelligence he can supply them. But Isobel and Serafin have a past history. She shot him and left him for dead 17 years ago... but he's the only man she has ever loved. I liked this book a lot. Almost as much as Black Ice, my favorite in this series. I like older heroines and I believe Isobel and Serafin are in their early 40's. Both characters are deliciously dark which Stuart does so well. I loved their past history and how it was all revealed to the reader. The action was well done with some spicy love scenes which made it a very quick read. And the ending was also typical of Stuart - a bit spare. She never wastes words on her endings.
My grade: B+

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My 2007 AAR Ballot

Here is most of my ballot as promised. I left a few categories blank including Best Short Story and Best Medieval. I read lots of medieval out of my TBR but none of them were 2007.

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt:
Best Romance
Most Luscious Romance
Best European Historical

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Favorite Funny Romance
Best Couple
Best Contemporary

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
Most-Hanky Romance
Best Heroine
Best Chick Lit

Broken by Megan Hart
Best Erotic Romance

Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly
Best Series/Category
Most Tortured Hero: James Trevenan

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
Best SF, Fantasy, or Futuristic
Best Hero: Brandon Kel-Paten

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh
Best Paranormal

Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell
Guiltiest Pleasure Read
Best Debut Author
Least believable HEA

Driven by Eve Kenin
Best Buried Treasure
Strongest Heroine: Raina Bowen

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart
Best Romantic Suspense
Author Most Glommed

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard
Best Cabin/Road Romance

High Plains Bride by Jenna Kernan
Best American Historical

I'm grateful to all those who help compile the results (including Cindy!) and can hardly wait till AAR publishes them. I have seen a couple bloggers post their own ballot. These are fun to look at and compare favorites so I hope more of you do this.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wedding Update: Mother of the bride dress

No, I haven't bought it yet. I need to lose at least 10 pounds before I go shopping... just started Weight Watchers again this week. I hope I can stick to it. "One day at a time" I tell myself.

Anyway, I found a picture of a dress that I kinda like but I'd want it in a different color. If you ignore the fake boobs on this woman, the dress looks similar to what I'm looking for. Although I'd want my boobs covered up a bit more. Not appropriate for MOB to look too slutty :).

Here's the link.

The problem now is finding something like this.

Feedback is welcome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Favorite 2007 books

I just submitted my ballot for AAR's 2007 Annual Reader Poll so using my spreadsheet I compiled a list of my 2007 favorites and thought I would share. Not all of these books actually made it to my ballot but I enjoyed them all to one degree or another. I have reviewed most of these so I have included link. I'm working on quick reviews of the rest.

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (A)
Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas (A)
Demon Moon by Meljean Brook (A-)
Broken by Megan Hart (A-)
Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard(A-)
Natural Born Charmer by SEP (A-)
Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (A-)
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (A-)
Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward (A-)
Demon Angel by Meljean Brook (B+)
Play Dirty by Sandra Brown (B+)
Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell (B+)
Mad Dash by Patricia Gaffney (B+)
Hot Wheels & High Heels by Jane Graves (B+)
Dirty by Megan Hart (B+)
The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (B+)
Salvation, Texas by Anna Jeffrey (B+)
Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly (B+)
Driven by Eve Kenin (B+)
High Plains Bride by Jenna Kernan (B+)
Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb (B+)
Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh (B+)
Ice Storm by Anne Stuart (B+)
Wild, Wild West by Charlene Teglia (B+)

I'll post my ballot later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Soul Song by Marjorie M. Liu

PAGES: 331
SETTING: Contemporary - Vancouver, BC
TYPE: Paranormal Romance
SERIES: Book 6 - Dirk & Steele series

REASON FOR READING: I have read the other books in the series (except the short story from the anthology Dark Dreamers) and really enjoyed them.

Against her will, Kitala Bell forsees the future. But only deaths, and only violent. Kitala's own future is in peril. From the Ocean's depths rises an impossible blend of fantasy and danger, a creature whose voice is seduction incarnate, whose song can manipulate lives the way that Kitala herself manipulates the strings of her violin...even to the point of breaking. He is a prince of the sea, an enigma - a captive stretched to the limit of his endurance by a woman intent on using him for the purest evil. And when survival requires he and Kitala form a closer partnership than either has ever know, the price of their bond will threaten not just their lives, but the essence of their very souls.

I really wanted to like this one.. I really did. I have loved Liu's previous books in the series even though I thought they were a bit light on the romance (and sex). But too many other problems in SS conspired against me and I almost gave up a couple times. Well, I bravely stuck with it and finished it (but at one point wished I hadn't).

The biggest problem: the violence. Too much blood and knives and torture. Maybe my memory is lacking but this book seemed more violent and bloody than all the previous books.

M'cal is a merman which I found very unusual and fascinating. Kitala Bell is a world-renown violinist and is gifted with the ability to foresee the violent death of others. The book starts when Kitala is performing in concert and she sees a woman in the audience with a knife sticking out of her eye! Only Kitala sees this since she has the "gift" and she decides to warn her about her portending murder after the concert (although she has tried this in the past and it never worked out). When Kitala approaches her later on the street, she becomes involved in some complicated events that lead to her kidnapping by some corrupt police officers and rescue by M'cal.

The action is non-stop with several kidnappings of both M'cal and Kitala, separately and together, beatings, stabbings, blood and general violence which takes place all over the city (on land and underwater). An evil witch and her vampire henchman were rather over the top and I never really understood their motivations. In one extremely violent scene, I almost lost my lunch. SPOILER (DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EATING): M'cal gets in a physical battle with the witch and bites off her nose!!! What follows is descriptions of the blood pouring out of her face. Plus he has to spit it out! BLERG!!! I almost lost it right there. Can you believe I finished this book? I'm getting nauseous just typing this. I wish I could burn that memory out of my brain.

One other little complaint: The sex scene was hot but there one only ONE and I kept hoping and hoping there were more so it would make up for all the violence.

Liu's writing is very smooth flowing and rather poetic in descriptions of scenery and emotions but the character's actions and movements were not always clear to me and I found myself confused sometimes. The H/H were well written and believable but I think I would have liked the book a whole lot better without the violence.

I'm not ready to give up on Liu based on one book that didn't work for me. Her next book (7th) in the Dirk & Steele series, The Last Twilight, that has just been released takes place in Africa and sounds really good. Check out Liu's cool website. She has wallpaper and book trailers for the Dirke & Steele series. Very cool.


New template

OK, I'm trying out a new template so bear with me. I lost all my "widgets" and have to re-store them from my old saved template. Blogger doesn't make that easy. Coding is involved but I probably can just do a cut and paste.

I've been looking for a free template with three columns and I came across this one. Plus it has tabs at the top but I need to figure out how to edit them. *sigh* more work. I really like my rose template but I was getting tired of it.

I'm on a tropical kick lately since I got back from the Caribbean. And looking at tropical pictures cheers me up. My wallpaper on my home and work computers all have tropical scenes. I need cheering up with the weather we have had.... record amounts of rain and record amounts of snow in the mountains. There are three mountain passes in our state to travel east and west across the Cascade Mountains, but they have had numerous closures due to avalanches and they are just running out of places to put the snow when they clear it off the highway. It's bizarre.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reading stats

I was compiling my reading stats for 2007 from my reading logs so I can submit my 2007 Annual Reader Poll at AAR. You have until February 17, so go vote, everyone!

I went back to all the previous years from 2003 (when I first stated my reading log) onward when I noticed something that surprised me.... I have been reading fewer and fewer books every year. In 2003 I was unemployed the entire year so that was of course my biggest year.

2003: 227
2004: 197
2005: 166
2006: 140
2007: 128

That's pretty pathetic. Of course, that's still a lot of books. I don't feel I have been reading less as time goes by so I can't account for it. Although I have probably been reading longer more involved books with a higher word or page count. I started keeping track of pages read last year so I'll continue to do that and see if that makes a difference.

Next post will be a list of my 2007 favorite books

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...