Reading Roundup…

It has been a while since I did a reading roundup post, so I thought maybe we could go over what we thought of the good, the bad and the ugly of some recent releases. Spoilers are possible, so proceed with caution if you haven’t read any of these.

night's honorNight’s HonorThea Harrison‘s latest Elder Races book almost read like a stand-alone title to me. We have only briefly seen Xavier in the past, and next to nothing about the Nightkind demense has been featured in previous books, so it was interesting to see inside another branch of the Elder Races. I liked the world-building, but I found myself a bit underwhelmed by the romance side of things, and dare I say it, but I found the characters a bit on the dull side. I didn’t really connect with them, especially with Tess, who was just too bland to hold my interest. Final Thoughts: Here’s hoping that things pick up again for the next one, Midnight’s Kiss.

dark bloodDark Blood – Hm, this one is a bit tricky. Christine Feehan is one of my guilty pleasures, but you go into her books knowing exactly what you are going to get (and this one was no different). I am glad to see this Lycan angle wrap up. I didn’t enjoy is the whole Carpathian language thingy (which grates on my nerves every book now), but it was especially distracting here. I don’t mind a small phrase or two in the Carpathian, but whole sentences followed by their translations gets awkward and takes me out of the flow of the story. Also, believe it or not, I found myself thinking a time or two that things were, well, unrealistic (ha!). I rolled my eyes at the Xavier/Xavion/Xav-something triplets angle, and the whole climactic battle scene actually struck me as funny. But I did like the characters, the acceptance of their mating early on, and I liked seeing so many old favorites, no matter how briefly. Plus – no flower scene! Bonus. Final Thoughts: Ok, not bad, not great. Hopefully on to another angle for the Carpathians.

shifting shadowsShifting Shadows – This collection of short stories from the world of Mercy Thompson is actually turning out to be quite interesting. Not all, or even most, feature our well known leads of Mercy, Adam, Charles or Anna, but they are set within the same world and have the same tone. I am enjoying reading one here and there before bed when I don’t want to get too involved in a full book and then stay up all night reading. The short story Alpha and Omega is what got me reading Patricia Briggs in the first place, and I loved reading it again in Shifting Shadows (for something like the 5th time, I’m sure). Final Thoughts: A nice collection, which looks great on the shelf with its pretty cover. Now, if only we could get a Kate Daniels world collection like this, I would be extra happy.

visionsVisions – The second book in Kelley Armstrong‘s Cainsville series was one of my most anticipated reads, and it lived up to my excitement. Book one read like a mystery with some paranormal aspects, but book two has much more of a supernatural feel to it. I liked the slow progression of the story, the development of the characters, the growing bond between Olivia and Gabriel (and, well, I like Gabriel). Final Thoughts: Great book. Great series. Looking forward to the re-read, and can’t wait for the next one.

We are now heading into the last few months of 2014, but there are some much-anticipated books that should keep me warm this winter. The absolute top pick for me is Ilona AndrewsBurn for Me (since I already read Archangel’s Shadows, that is). Seventh Grave and No Body from Darynda Jones should be intense, and Gena Showalter‘s long-awaited Torin story, The Darkest Touch, is also on the list. And while anthologies are not usually much to get excited about for me, the Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh entries in Night Shift make this a biggie, too. Add in a few young adult titles that I am eying, and the rest of the year isn’t shaping up too badly at all.

Which of these have you read, and what was your take on them? Did you come across anything exciting (or disappointing, for that matter) recently, and what are you most looking forward to for the last quarter of the year?

Love Them, Love Them Not…

question markFor the last little while, I have been noticing a slight change in my reading habits – or rather, in who I have been looking forward to reading. As I have bored everyone with for the last few weeks, my total disinterest in Kresley Cole‘s Dark Skye is something that I never, ever would’ve saw coming. Kresley Cole was always, ALWAYS tied for my favorite author, along with Nalini Singh. That was just a given. Now? I still like her work, but I have found myself not as excited as I once was.

Alyssa Day and Lara Adrian are two more that I find myself drifting away from. I was never a rabid fan of their stuff, but it was something that I enjoyed while reading then promptly forgot (with the exception of Lara’s Darker After Midnight, which was a brilliant, game-changing book). I have gotten to the point where I am happy saying goodbye to both the Warriors of Poseidon and the Midnight Breed, so I probably won’t be picking up any more of their books.

But, on the other side, my adoration for Ilona Andrews has only continued to grow, and now I can honestly say that Ilona has supplanted Kresley as tied for my favorite author. Like Nalini, I haven’t yet read anything by them that I didn’t love, and that shows no signs of changing soon. Burn for Me is my most anticipated book for this fall (since I have already read Archangel’s Shadows, that is), and Magic Breaks was one of the best reads of summer.

And a recent development is my obsession with all things Kelley Armstrong. The Cainsville books have me completely hooked, and when I finally took Amber’s recommendation to start the Women of the Otherworld series I was pleasantly surprised. I have even been reading her middle grade Blackwell Pages written with Melissa Marr, and liking that (sort of like Percy Jackson).

How about you? What authors have risen, and which have fallen, in your must-read list? Are any old favorites losing their shine, or is there any new author you can’t get enough of?

Archangel’s Shadows Tidbits and Reaction…

As I usually try to do on these types of posts, I have to start by saying that Nalini Singh is one of my favorite authors, to the point of it being a bit pathetic, actually. So does that mean that I go into anything she writes expecting it to be great? Yep. And she has never disappointed me yet. I was totally surprised to get an ARC of Archangel’s Shadows, and it was a one-sitting read. This will be a few spoiler-free glimpses, but I will assume that you are up-to-date with the events in Archangel’s Legion.

archangel's shadowSynopsis…

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

I went into this thinking that it was going to be equal parts Raphael and Elena’s story and Ash and Janvier’s, and I was thinking that Ash and Janvier might get short-changed. I couldn’t’ve been more of the target. The story breaks down, as best as I can figure, to be about 75% Ash and Janvier, 15% Raphael and Elena, and 10% everyone else. Nice.

We start out seeing a little bit of role Ash, Janvier and Naasir’s trio played in the battle against Lijuan, and the bond they formed behind the lines. The recap of the battle is brief, but the impact of it continues throughout the book. When a new issue rises that threatens the stability of a city that has already been through so much, Ash and Janvier end up teaming up again to track a vicious enemy. There is lots of action, but that doesn’t overpower the romance at all. Their story has been simmering over the course of several stories, and it was worth the wait.

Illium and Aodhan make a few appearances, usually as comic relief. Change is coming for Illium, and I do believe his story will be heading our way (soonish). And I could totally see a novella for Ransom, too. Dmitri and Honor are settling into their new life, Aodhan is continuing to make progress coming back into the world, and the Legion is slowly beginning to find a place. But the scene-stealer, no doubt, is Naasir. I didn’t think anyone could outshine Bluebell, but Naasir did. Half feral, half innocent, and completely unpredictable, he made every scene he was in. We don’t find out exactly what he is, or what he isn’t, for that matter, but I can’t wait to find out. Elena continues to make the role of Consort her own, even if it sometimes a struggle for the fighter to handle the politics of the position.

So, that is about it. I thought it was a great story – strong on the romance, the action, and the set up for future stories. Oh, and as an extra bonus, there was an excerpt from the upcoming Secrets at Midnight, the Bastien novella that will be in the Night Shift anthology due out on November 25th.

Behold…The Beauty of the ARC

Nalini Singh is one of my two absolutely favorite authors, so when I get a surprise package in the mail from her, I get more than a little excited. Once again, I wasn’t expecting it, but today I got the wonderful surprise of an ARC of Archangel’s Shadows. Behold the beauty…

imageThe saddest thing is that I have only read the first 50 pages, but I am already more involved in the story than I have been after 250 pages of Dark Skye.

Cover Lover – Rock Addiction

Word recently broke that Nalini Singh is releasing a New Adult contemporary book called Rock Addiction, which was to be the first book of what was called The Schoolboy Choir series. Well, now it seems the series name has changed to Rock Kiss, and the cover is just now heading our way…

Rock Addiction coverYes? No? No and you are excited anyways? What is your take on Rock Addiction, will you be following Nalini into her new venture? Look for this one in both print and e-format on September 9th.

Adding to the Author Pages…

question markBecause I like to try and keep things interesting, I was wondering who you would like to see added to the author pages? Lorraine mentioned Lynsay Sands, but are there any others you find tricky to keep track of and would like to see organized into their own section?

Also, I have pretty much limited the info on the authors I have already done to cover only their paranormal/urban fantasy series, but would you like it to expand to cover the other genres? For example, Cynthia Eden has added romantic suspense to her works, Kresley Cole has gone to some more erotic types, and Nalini Singh has a New Adult series in the works. Let me know if expanding is something you would find useful, and I will see what comes up.

Monika’s Review…Rock Addiction

review iconI have to admit, I love it when people give me reviews to post, partly because I suck at reviewing myself, partly because I am nosy and I like to get honest opinions on what others are reading without having to search through the masses at Goodreads and Amazon. And when the book in question is from a favorite author, it is even better. Monika sent over a review for the upcoming (and very much a surprise) Rock Addiction from Nalini Singh, which from what I understand is being classed as New Adult.

What Monika said…

Wow, I’m still fanning myself! Nalini Singh succeeds in striking the perfect balance between scorching hot eroticism and sweet romance. The hero is an alpha male with hidden vulnerabilities and the heroine innocent but with an adventureous streak. It’s a case of instant lust and they have intense chemistry but need to come to terms with what it means to have a relationship in the spotlight.

I used to read a lot of romance novels, both historical and contemporary, although these days I am mostly into Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. The Psy/Changeling and the Guild Hunter series range among my favorites and I consider them some of the best writing in the genre, so I was very excited when I discovered the unexpected announcement on Nalini Singh’s blog that she had branched out into contemporary romance. The whole rock music scene is not really my thing, but the blurb sounded very promising and struck a chord with me.

Synopsis: At a party hosted by her publicist half-sister cute librarian Molly Webster comes face to face with Zachary Fox, sex god and lead singer of the famous rock group Schoolboy Choir. She has been fantasizing about him for some time, so when he follows and propositions her, she throws all caution to the winds and decides to indulge in one night of pleasure. Fox has been captivated by her artless and likeable nature, so there is no way he will be satisfied with one night and he proceeds to convince her to give him the whole month he is vacationing with his band in New Zealand. Afraid of the intensity of her feelings and haunted by traumatic events in her childhood Molly nevertheless agrees since she feels she will at least always have the memories of the time she spent with Fox. After the month is up, Fox, who was playing for keeps from the beginning, asks Molly to come back with him to California. Taking the biggest chance of her life Molly leaves her job and her friends behind to be with Fox in his Santa Monica home. Although she can slowly establish herself as a freelance editor and researcher, she has to come to terms not only with beautiful Hollywood actresses dropping by unanounced, but also with pushy groupies groping her man and intrusive papparazzi. Plagued by demons in his own past Fox has a tendency to try to control Molly, and not only inside the bedroom. While on tour an incidence occurs that plays on Molly’s worst fears and that will put their fragile love and trust to the test…

What I didn’t like about it: Nothing against a heroine that is sweet and inexperienced, but a virgin at 24? And then she considers a one-night stand, even if the hero is gorgeous and she’s had a crush on him for the longest time. Also, though probably many (female) readers can identify with Molly, she is a bit ordinary and bland. And I don’t mean only her looks (she is described as pretty), but also her personality and her whole life. To have a gorgeous, sexy, famous hunk fall madly in love with one has at one time or another probably been the secret fantasy of every woman, but even with the suspension of disbelief I find it hard to swallow. So does Molly, actually, and at the beginning of their relationship that is a source of insecurity for her. It wouldn’t be so bad if Fox, in contrast, weren’t so perfect in every way: hero with a tortured past, great body, ribbed, golden skin all over (why does this remind me of a certain cat), sexy voice, talented, great in the sack and loaded. Really, why am I complaining? But he seems just like too much of a good thing. Oh, and the name oft he band “Schoolboy Choir” does so not hit the right note for a supposedly gritty rock band.

What I did like about it: Even though it’s in the “didn’t-like-section” I actually loved Zachary Fox, because who wouldn’t? He is very likable beneath his rough edges and although he is quite controlling and demanding in bed he isn’t too bad outside of it and Molly stands up to him if he tries to be. Recently I have started to read some erotic romance, but disappointingly most of it is written very badly, with inconsistent character development and very repetitive. I would also label “Rock Addiction” erotic romance, but that’s where all similarities end. Nalini Singh is a superb story writer and her main protagonists are well developed. I liked the local color she used for the scenes in New Zealand and Santa Monica. She also finds a good balance between romance, intense emotion and explicit love scene and the narrative has a good rhythm. The sex is intense, with some kink (light and playful bondage). The cast of secondary characters is also well drawn and I’m looking forward to future stories featuring the other band members, Molly’s half-sister Thea and her best friend Charlotte.

If I had to rate this book, it would very much depend on what I compared it to. On its own merit as an erotic romance I would give it five out of five stars, because it’s so well written and by far the best of its genre I’ve read. Compared to Nalini Singh’s PR / UF writing I would only give it 4 stars, because I feel that the complex world building accounts for a large part of the appeal and what I am willing to believe in a story set in a fantasy world it not necessarily the same as in one set in the “real” world. Having said that, I will certainly check out Thea’s and David’s story, which is coming up next.

Rock Addiction will be hitting the shelves on September 9th, and it will be followed by the novella Rock Courtship in October.

That Sneaky Nalini Singh…

So, totally out of left field, Nalini Singh announced a bonus book today – that is due out in SIX WEEKS. Yep, only six weeks to wait. And, it is a contemporary romance with a rock-star hero. Niiice. Rock Addiction will be out in both print and e-book format in September, and there will be at least two more books and two novellas in the series (which is called The Schoolboy Choir). The cover release will be done shortly.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh stuns with a sizzling contemporary romance…

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

So, yesterday word broke about a contemporary from J.R. Ward, and today it is Nalini’s turn. And the best part? These new books have absolutely no impact on the release schedule for the Psy/Changeling and Guild Hunter series. It is really a total bonus.

Nalini Talks Psy/Changeling Future…

Some of you may not be as, uh, devoted, to keeping an eye on the blog of Nalini Singh (and Ilona Andrews) as I am. I swear, I only check two or three times a day. So, on my last stalking visit, I found this very informative post on the future of the Psy/Changeling series. It is a must read for fans, and you can find it HERE.

Share your thoughts. I am thrilled to see that there is a plan for the single SnowDancer Lieutenants, since I was worried the storyarcs were moving away from them recently. I have loved the Psy and Silence arc, but I do miss some good old wolf stories, too.

Happy Endings and New Beginnings…

Pheonix was kind enough to send me over her notes from the RT book convention about some PNR/UF series that are coming to a close soon, and that got me thinking about who is wrapping up one world, and starting on a new one. It is hard to let go of a favorite series, but when you have something new to look forward to it takes some of the sting out of it.

  • Kim Harrison‘s popular Hollows series is calling it quits with the release of the 13th book, The Witch With No Name, on September 9th. She went on to give a little bit of info on her new project, which will be about a slightly older female heroine, written from the third person point of view. “It’s a twist on what I usually write, and I’m so excited about it,” she added.
  • Larissa Ione is also wrapping up the Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series. She said “I didn’t want to keep adding new characters and I didn’t want to keep adding new sequel bait.” I haven’t seen anything listed after Revenant‘s book, so I wonder if that is the finale? Interestingly, she and Stephanie Tyler are returning to their Sydney Croft ACRO series with a couple of new novellas in the works.
  • P.C. Cast‘s House of Night series is finished this October with the release of Redeemed. No word yet on what is in store after that.
  • Not one but two series from Gena Showalter are wrapping up soon, with both The White Rabbit Chronicles and Otherworld Assassin stories finishing at a trilogy. And she is replacing them with two new series. She has a new four book YA series in the works, and a New Adult Contemporary trilogy + novella called The Original Heartbreakers. The novella will be called The One You Want, and the first full book called The Closer You Are will follow next March. It will be followed by The Hotter You Burn and then The Harder You Fall.
  • Apparently, the publisher has chosen not to go ahead with Cassie Alexander‘s Edie Spence series, so she has turned to a new series called Sleeping With Monsters. This one seems to be a bit more on the steamy side of things. Book one is called The Haunted, and it will be followed by The Hunted in August.
  • We have talked before about J.R. Ward finishing up her Fallen Angels books with the sixth title, Immortal, which is due out this October. Aaand I am still on the hunt for info about the rumored two new series heading our way. More to come on that one.
  • Chloe Neill still has at least three more full books and a novella in her Chicagoland Vampire series, but she is already looking ahead and planning a new series for 2015. No title is available as yet, but a bit of a teaser is out. “After humans overcome a shocking attack by supernaturals centered in the Crescent City—the Second Battle of New Orleans—supernaturals are forced into a walled community known as the District. It’s not good—or safe—to have magic, so Claire Connolly risks everything when she uses her secret magic to protect a friend. Claire quickly learns the world is more complicated than she ever knew . . . and allies are hard to come by.” Interesting…
  • Night Huntress has been done for a few months now, and the end is in sight for Night Prince, but we have Jeaniene Frost‘s New Adult Broken Destiny series to look forward to. The Beautiful Ashes heads our way at the end of August.
  • And Delilah S. Dawson ended her popular Blud series this past January, but has since turned her attention to more stand-alone (and varied) stories. Her YA paranormal Servants of the Storm comes out this August, and a very interesting book called Hit will come out next April. It is an alternate future/romantic suspense mash up where the United States was bought out by a Bank, and those in debt become the hunted. Or the hunters. Hm, like I said, interesting…
  • Oh, and on a positive note, both Kresley Cole and Nalini Singh have confirmed that their IAD and Psy/Changeling series have no end in sight. Nalini has said that the next book, featuring Aden, is the end of the second arc, but a new arc shall begin. Very, very good new indeed.

So, any you can add to the list? Anything new on the horizon from an old favorite?