Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans

It took me a while to get into this book. I’d start reading it for a bit, lose interest and have to read something else and then return to it. Happened a few times before I finally started to care about what was happening.

What bothered me the most is in the beginning, the narrator, who is 21 years old, sounded too much like a teenager, trying to sound tough and cool. After she got past the initial setup and the events began to unfold, I didn’t notice this as much. What did continue to bother me though was her frequent reference to her “inner Were-bitch”. Reminded me a lot of another “inner goddess” in a very popular book I did not enjoy. I don’t like the idea that women are so bothered by their sexual desires that they need to assign them to a separate entity within themselves.

I was almost halfway through the book before I reached a point in which I didn’t want to put it down, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Once Robson Trowbridge becomes a part of the story, things started to get interesting. Hedi’s had a crush on him since she was a child, and once she’s alone with him, things begin to happen – as the title suggests, she seems to have finally discovered her fate.

Even though the love story is the central focus of the book, there’s a lot more fighting action than there are steamy love scenes. And their first time together, which had the buildup of what could have been quite steamy, ended up being ridiculous and maybe one of the worst “love” scenes I’ve ever read. But I think they have a lot of potential to be a great couple.

This is the first book in a series called The Mystwalker. Being that in this book, there isn’t much about Hedi being the Mystwalker, I assume this will be further explored in future books. I’m hoping future books take place more in the other worlds mentioned, but only visited briefly in this book.

This is an interesting story and I liked this book enough that I’ll probably read the next book in the series because I want to know what happens to Hedi and Robson. Also, by the very end of the book, Hedi seemed to have fully claimed her were side – so hoping that means no more separate “Were-bitch” mentions.

I received a review copy through NetGalley. This will be released on December 24, 2012.

Review: All for You by Dana Marie Bell

I was looking forward to reading this book. But a few pages in, I was bothered by all the similarities to another book I recently read and didn’t like. Woman with a brutal, abusive, evil ex-lover is living in terror, but she has a wonderful family, and her protective older brother assigns one of his close friends to watch over her. In the last book I read the friend was a former SEAL, in this case, he’s a nephilim – though no one knows that. Not sure why the brother felt so confident putting his little sister in the hands of an architect, but whatever.

My biggest problem with this story was the main character, Abby. She’s so weak and unable to take care of herself. She’s terrified one moment, so frightened she’s crying and fainting from fear and then she’s deciding that she’s going to leave and take care of herself and protect her family and friends on her own – only to be rescued moments later by Seth. This happens several times in the book. Got old after a while. Also, she acts so goofy and immature. Her thoughts and behavior seemed more along the lines of a silly teenager than an adult woman who had been through a harrowing tragedy. So many times I found myself actually rolling my eyes after reading parts of this book. Things like her getting out of bed and dancing around the room naked or one scene where she got sloppy drunk while waiting for Seth to finish a phone call. An adult woman should not be that unaware of her alcohol tolerance.

I never quite understood why Seth was so drawn to her – other than a desire to protect her because she was in danger. She didn’t seem especially smart or clever, just very, very needy. As for the sex in the book — I’d hoped that would make up for the weak character — it was okay, but a little silly at times. Abby never seemed to move past the idea that she was finally living out her teenage fantasy of hooking up with her older brother’s hot friend.

But the book did hold my interest. I thought the storyline was intriguing. There’s quite a bit of danger and action. This is the first book in a series, and I think the world of Nephilims who hunt Shemyaza holds a lot of potential. I thought for the first book in a series, this world was explained well, I didn’t feel lost or confused about what was happening. There were several other characters introduced in the book I would like to know more about. They seemed stronger and more intelligent than the characters featured in this book. So even though I didn’t love this book, I am interested in reading future books in this series.

I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Let it Snow by Leslie Kelly and Jennifer LeBrecque

I love holiday romance anthologies. You might even say they are something of a guilty pleasure. Even when I was in high school and spending the little bit of money I had on books, I could never resist the holiday romance anthologies with the pretty covers. The stories were short enough that I’d could read at least one a night, providing a variety of adventures to keep me company. Back then, I’d read them to escape all the unpleasant family drama generated from the holiday “fun” and I’d think, “Someday, this will be my holiday story.” Well, twenty or so years later, I’m old enough to know better, but I still relish the escape provided by these stories, especially when I start to feel overwhelmed by all the holiday madness.

Let it Snow is subtitled, A Blazing Bedtime Stories Holiday Collection. And they are, indeed, blazing.

I loved the first story, The Prince Who Stole Christmas. Claire’s got a rough life. She’s always had to take care of herself and her brother. Money is tight as she tries to run her candy shop in Manhattan. Then Phil shows up, renting the run-down apartment in the building she inherited from her uncle. He’s gorgeous and he’s kind and he’s so very sexy. Of course he is, he’s from another planet, and he’s a prince on that planet. He’s perfect. His manners are impeccable, and he’s protective without being overbearing and he’s still respectful of her desire to remain independent, and he loves chocolate, wow, does he love chocolate. This is the perfect modern fairy tale. Sure, it’s a little silly and maybe he’s too perfect, but so what, we all need a little holiday magic, don’t we?

The other story in the book, My True Love Gave to Me, was also nice. I didn’t love it quite as much as the first one. But I guess anything is a bit of a let down after a prince from another planet. Two people who have been best friends since childhood realize they are in love with each other. They’ve been apart for almost two years, and it takes them a while to finally admit their feelings to each other. It’s one of those small town stories, where everyone in town knows everyone else and they’ve all been waiting for the two to finally get together. I’m not a huge fan of stories like that – I find small towns more annoying than endearing. Also, I felt like for such a short story, it took them a little too long for them to finally get together, but when they do finally get together, it’s with the knowledge of two people who have known each other long enough to be comfortable together. So yes, it was pretty hot.

I enjoyed these stories. I would certainly recommend them for some quick, fun holiday reads.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Review: Dark Dealings by Kim Knox

After reading one particularly intense scene, I found myself conflicted about this book, in that I was both disgusted and turned on at the exact same time. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I had to read over it again to make sure I understood what was happening. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to deprive any future readers of the shock I felt.

If I were to try to explain to someone what I had read, they would think I was depraved for thinking it was kind of awesome. There’s no way I could explain what was happening, and accurately describe the way the magic flowing through the story and around the characters turned this bit of horror into something so intensely beautiful.

Or maybe I am a bit depraved, whatever.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading this book. The characters are very unusual; Ava is a thief who doesn’t know much about her abilities or her past. She has managed to tame her instincts to kill and keeps her hunger at bay by consuming nearly raw meat (as a vegetarian, all the mentions of her eating meat were a little gross). She works for Reist, a mage and the Right Hand of the emperor. He sends her to work with Heyerdar, an elemental, and the Left Hand of the emperor, to investigate the thieves who are attacking the city.

What I didn’t like about the book is how confused I felt while reading about the different characters and their jobs and abilities. Maybe to some extent the confusion was intention because Ava knows very little about the world around her and the people in her life have purposely kept secrets from her. But at the same time, I never felt I fully understood what her job was, or what exactly the mages could do, or the connection between the thieves and the mages and the power of the Words. As I kept reading, more things were revealed, and no one was what they seemed and everyone had an ulterior motive of some sort. The more I learned, the more confused I became. I felt like there was so much more to know about this world, and it was interesting and I wanted to know about it, but everything seemed so vague and rushed.

Much of this was written as if the reader should already have some understanding of this world. I thought maybe this was a book in the middle of a series and that in some earlier book this world had been better explained. As far as I can tell though, this is not part of a series.

Even though I think I would have liked this a lot more if the storyline about thieves and mages had been simplified a bit, and there had been a few less minor characters, I still think this book was plenty hot and sexy and well worth reading.

I really liked the scenes between Ava and Heyerdar. I wish there had been more of that, a lot of more of that. I loved the interaction between the two of them. They were so cute and sarcastic and playful with each other. At first I didn’t like Heyerdar very much. He was too arrogant and crude. I usually like for my “book boyfriends” to be a little bit nicer to the women they’re trying to get into their beds – even if they’re horrible to everyone else. But there’s something about this guy. Despite my usual tastes, I found him appealing – which is exactly what is happening to Ava. This all starts out as something of a business transaction, she’s in love with someone else, and then it turns into something so much more.

When I reached the end of the book, I was not ready to stop reading about these characters, so I guess the author must have done something right.

I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.