My Review – How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days

review iconKerrelyn Sparks has long been an author on my “one day” list. As in, one day, I will actually get around to picking up one of her books. And when I saw she was starting a new series called The Embraced, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to dive in. I was excited when I got a review copy of How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days from NetGalley, but  unfortunately it didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped.

In another time, and another place, there are five kingdoms that make up the world of Aerthlan. Four of these kingdoms are ruled by kings who worship the sun, and anyone who does not follow the faith is subject to death. But the fifth kingdom, made up of two small islands, worship the Goddesses of the Moon. Twice a year, the two moons align, and children born on those nights are called The Embraced. Because they are often born with supernatural powers, they are considered abominations against the God of Light, and to escape certain death, often these children are smuggled to safety on the islands.

It is into this world that Luciana was born. As one of the Embraced, she has spent her entire life in an island convent, believing she was an orphan. She has lived a happy life, making her own family with her fellow “orphaned” Embraced and worshiping the Moon Goddesses. But her entire life is turned upside down when her father arrives, needing Luciana to take the place of her murdered twin sister. If Luciana does not become Tatiana – and marry the man known as The Beast of Benwick – her father will be killed on orders of the king, his lands and property seized for the crown. But to do so means leaving behind everything Luciana has ever known.

While I liked the idea of the book, I had a hard time with it, too. If it hadn’t been a review copy, I probably would’ve DNF’d it at about the 10% mark. It wasn’t that it was bad at all, but it just didn’t engage me at the start. Things did get better as I went on, but my main problem was just that everything was too…easy. I liked Luciana, I liked “the Beast”, I liked them together, but there just wasn’t any sense of drama. Long-lost father shows up, and within a couple of pages they have a strong father/daughter bond and Luciana changes her whole life for him. No anger, no hurt, just one conversation and all is well. And that just kept happening. Everything just kept falling into place way too easily. Even the dramatic showdown at the end was anti-climactic because everything for everyone is perfectly wrapped up in literally a couple of pages. It was too perfect, too happy, too quickly.

So, in summary, I can say I liked the main characters and i enjoyed their relationship, but there wasn’t anything that grabbed my attention, either. Maybe I am used to darker and more dramatic stories, but for me this one was just too light. Am I sorry I read it? Not really. Do I feel the need to pick up the next one? No. It was a fast, uncomplicated read that unfortunately didn’t live up to the potential I thought it had, and sadly it will probably be the only Kerrelyn Sparks book I end up picking up. I would give it 2 stars out of 5.

I know Kerrelyn Sparks has a lot of fans out there, so this is probably not going to be a popular review. Is her work usually so…easy? No drama, no sense of urgency or danger, just light and breezy romance? Just curious, since it is the first book of hers I have ever tried.

New Series Alerts

It looks like there are just a couple of new series to look at this week, starting with one from Wen Spencer. Black Wolves of Boston is the first book of the Black Wolves series.

black-wolves-of-bostonSynopsis…

REBUILD A LIFE, SAVE A CITY

Silas Decker had his world destroyed when he was attacked by vampires outside of New Amsterdam. He rebuilt his life a dozen times in the last three hundred years—each time less and less successfully. Now he lives alone, buried under a hoarding habit, struggling to find some reason to wake up with the setting of the sun.

Eloise is a Virtue, pledged to hunting evil.  What she doesn’t know is how to live alone in a city full of strangers who know nothing about monsters.

Seth is the sixteen-year old Prince of Boston, ward of the Wolf King.  Now he is left in a city that desperately needs his protection with enemies gathering all around.

Joshua believes he is a normal, college-bound high school senior.  His life is shattered when he wakes up in a field, covered with blood, and the prom committee scattered in pieces about him like broken dolls.

These four must now come together to unravel a plot by Wickers, witches who gain power from human sacrifices and have the power to turn any human into their puppet. Four people who lost everything struggle to save Boston by saving each other.

And the second new series comes from Melissa F. Olson. Midnight Curse is the first book of the Disrupted Magic series, but it comes in as number ten in the whole Scarlet Bernard/Boundary Magic World.

midnight-curseSynopsis…

Scarlett Bernard is used to cleaning up messes. As a human who cancels out any magic around her, Scarlett’s job is to keep the supernatural world hidden—at any cost.

On the eve of the Vampire Trials, a two-day tribunal that allows the otherworldly community to air their grievances, Scarlett receives a blood-soaked message from Molly, her estranged former roommate. Molly, a vampire, had been living with twelve human college students…and in one terrible night, she slaughtered them all.

Scarlett believes Molly’s been set up, but no one else in the Old World agrees with her. And the true perpetrator is determined to make sure Molly goes on trial for the massacre—the penalty for which is death.

With less than two days to prove her friend’s innocence, Scarlett calls on former LAPD detective Jesse Cruz to help her dig into Molly’s past. But no one—Molly included—wants Scarlett and Jesse to bring the terrible truth to light.

Melissa F. Olson is new to me, but I did read some of Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series after a recommendation from Nalini Singh (like you can go wrong with that rec). Have you tried any of these authors before? What did you think?

Cover Lover – 7 New Titles

It has been less than a week since my last cover lover post, but I am going to go for it anyways. Plus, there is a big one (for me), so that makes me even happier. Let’s start with the fifth and final (crap) Cainsville book from Kelley Armstrong, Rituals. I am not looking forward to seeing this series wrap up, I have to say. But then it is one among many this year, so I better get used to it. Anyways, Rituals will be released on August 15th.

ritualsWhen Olivia Taylor-Jones found out she was not actually the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers, her life exploded. Running from the fall-out, she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois, but she couldn’t resist trying to dig out the truth about her birth parents’ crimes. She began working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer who also had links to the town; their investigation soon revealed Celtic mysteries at work in Cainsville, and also entangled Olivia in a tense love triangle with the calculating Gabriel and her charming biker boyfriend, Ricky. Worse, troubling visions revealed to Olivia that the three of them were reenacting an ancient drama pitting the elders of Cainsville against the mysterious Huntsmen with Olivia as the prize.

In the series’ fifth and final novel, not only does Gabriel’s drug addict mother, who he thought was dead, make a surprise reappearance, but Kelley Armstrong delivers a final scary and surprising knock-out twist. It turns out a third supernatural force has been at work all along, a dark and malevolent entity that has had its eye on Olivia since she was a baby and wants to win at any cost.

These next two are a bit different. They are the covers for the first and second book in Juliet Lyons‘ new V-Date.com series. Book one is called Dating the Undead, and it will be released on May 2nd.

dating the undead.jpgIt’s Bridget Jones with vampires in this fresh and funny paranormal romance from debut author Juliet Lyons.

When Silver Harris kisses sexy Irish vampire Logan Byrne on New Year’s Eve, she knows other humans just won’t suffice. Convinced she’ll never see him again, she joins the uber-popular vampire dating site, V-Date.com.

What Silver doesn’t know is that the site is more dangerous than she could ever imagined, and soon she’s in over her head. When Logan returns, sparks fly and attraction sizzles, but they’ll have to escape some very real demons if they have any chance of lasting forever.

And it will be followed by Romancing the Undead on October 3rd.

romancing-the-undeadMila Hart’s first experience with the vampire dating site V-Date.com is a complete disaster–her date is wanted for murder! But things turn around when she’s rescued by dashing vampire cop Vincent Ferrer. Dangerous and devastatingly attractive, he’s just the undead hottie Mila was hoping for.

Haunted by his past, Vincent can’t risk falling in love again–even if Mila charms him more than anyone he’s ever met. But when the killer from Mila’s date seeks her out, Vincent is the only one who can protect her. Protecting his heart is a different story…

Terry Spear‘s 22nd Heart of the Wolf book will be called SEAL Wolf Undercover, and it will be released on August 1st.

seal-wolf-undercoverNavy SEAL wolf turned PI Vaughn Greystroke has always worked alone. But when a string of attempted shifter murders put him in the path of an alluring–and potentially dangerous–she-wolf, having a partner doesn’t sound so bad…

This cover looks so familiar to me, but it could just be a matter of reusing the image, I guess. Either way, Never Dare a Dragon from Ashlyn Chase, the third book in her Boston Dragons series, will be released on August 1st.

never-dare-a-dragonJayce Fierro is part of a legendary Boston firefighting family of phoenix shifters. Hiding his true form makes being in a relationship rather difficult. Meeting the beautiful Lieutenant Kristine Scott of the New York City Fire Department and knowing he can’t have her only makes things worse.

Dragon shifter Kristine can’t stop thinking about fun, flirty Jayce and his teasing smile. A relationship could never work-not with the distance between them, and definitely not with her shifter secret. But when Kristine lands herself in a blaze of trouble and secrets are revealed, Jayce will do whatever it takes to help-whether or not the feisty, stubborn New Yorker wants him to.

And Paige Tyler has a new one coming out, as well. Her Dark Half is part of her X-Ops series, and it will be out on September 5th.

her dark half.jpgCoyote shifter Trevor Maxwell is teamed up with CIA agent Alina Bosch to catch a killer. But when the mission becomes much more dangerous than they expected, they’re going to have to ignore the attraction between them and learn how to trust one another to come out on the other side…

The final one for today comes from Gini Koch. Alien Education is the 15th book of her Katherine “Kitty” Katt series, and it will be published on May 2nd.

alien-educationDue to Earth and its solar system becoming a favorite location for disaffected aliens of all kinds, problems with integration of all Earth-bound alien children into schools becomes a major issue that ends up becoming First Lady Kitty Katt-Martini’s new official cause—and one that’s taking up more of her time than is good for anyone. At the same time, moving the school-aged children out of the American Centaurion Embassy Daycare and into regular schools highlights some students and parents who seem suspect to Occasional Room Mom Kitty and Career Day Jeff. As things become the 1960s all over again, all over Earth, the discovery of a plot to mind control the next generation surfaces, and a race against time for the hearts and especially the minds of all Earth’s children begins…including the mind of Jamie Martini.

Ok everyone, which is your good, your bad, and your just plain ugly? Does the different look of the Juliet Lyons covers grab your attention in a good way or a bad? Can you believe Terry Spear is over 20 books in on just one of her series, because I seriously had no clue.

February’s Book of the Month and Giveaway

I don’t think it is much of a surprise that Jeaniene Frost‘s Into the Fire was chosen as February’s book of the month, and it will be nice to get back into the Night Huntress World (and get the set up for Ian’s book). It feels like it has been so long since I have read any Jeaniene Frost (I didn’t get into her New Adult Broken Destiny series), and it will be nice to see Vlad finally get his happily ever after. I am a bit fuzzy on the details of the last book, so I just might have to work a quick re-read into my plans, too.

into the fireSynopsis…

In the wrong hands, love can be a deadly weapon.

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.

A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.

And on to the giveaway…

If you would like to win a paperback copy of the final Vlad and Leila book, Into the Fire, just drop a line in the comments section. Contest open to all, winner to be chosen at random through Random.org. Giveaway ends Sunday night at midnight, Atlantic time.

Just a quick update on my idea to giveaway e-format books. I looked into it a bit, and I think that it is just too grey an area. I guess I will just have to wait until Amazon.ca comes up with the same options our American counterparts have.

Review – A Darkness Absolute

review iconReviewing isn’t my thing, since I tend to ramble and either give way too much info or not enough. But since I have gotten a few ARC’s I guess it is going to be something I have to work on. In this case, I was lucky enough to get a copy of the second Rockton novel from Kelley Armstrong, A Darkness Absolute. I am a big Armstrong fan, and I find myself following her across genres. In the case of the Rockton books, the stories are mystery/thrillers, which is a nice change of pace.

The idea of Rockton intrigued me from the start. A tiny town in the middle of nowhere, Yukon, that takes in those that need to disappear – both the innocent, and the guilty. Every person there is on the run from their past, from what they’ve done and what was done to them. Into the middle of this lands homicide detective Casey Duncan, now known as Casey Butler, whose particular skill-set is put to use hunting a killer who just might be one of their own.

As of A Darkness Absolute, Casey has been in Rockton for four months, and she already has one major case under her belt. She is settling surprisingly well into her new life, her new relationship with Sheriff Eric Dalton, and her new freedom from her past. I enjoy Casey, she is no-nonsense and tough without being over the top. I always enjoy Kelley Armstrong’s leading men since they are not your traditional “heroes”, and Eric is no exception. He is rough around the edges, foul-mouthed and quick tempered, but he also has an honesty and earnestness about him that balances it out. He doesn’t play games, doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what he is, and he does the best he can to not only keep order in the off-the-grid town, but to keep everyone safe from the dangers surrounding it. And there are many. Casey and Eric must balance their professional and personal lives while investigating some of their own, tracking a killer, and dealing with the mysterious council who controls Rockton – and who has an agenda of their own.

I enjoyed finding out more about the “outside world”, as well. What exists outside the borders of Rockton isn’t always pretty, but it is interesting. We delve a bit more into Eric’s backstory, his family and his feelings about where he came from, and I hope we learn even more in the books to come. The only thing that threw me a bit in A Darkness Absolute was how many times Casey wandered into mortal danger. That happens, and it is what drives the story forward, but it just kept happening. She would be told “don’t do that, because…”, and she would do it anyways. It wasn’t like she fell into the too-stupid-to-live category, and she did usually manage to go a long way towards extracting herself from whatever the situation was, but I did find myself saying “Again?” a couple of times.

So, all in all, I enjoyed A Darkness Absolute a lot. I like the whole idea of Rockton, I like the idea that nobody there is what they seem, and where the story can go from there. I very much like Eric and his relationship with Casey, and I hope to find out more about his past. The action starts at the first page and never stops, and there are a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I do wish that Casey might’ve been in peril a couple less times, but it was a small thing that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. Definitely worth a read if you are looking for a solid mystery/thriller. You can pick this one up on February 7th.

Well, One Down

checkI had a lot of things I wanted to get done on my recent time off. I did get the site redesigned, which was a big one. And I planned on getting all of the character guides updated…that didn’t happen at all. But I did manage to get a new guide done, and at least that is something. So, I now have a full character guide done up for G.A. Aiken‘s Dragon Kin series, which can be found HERE.

There were other guides that have been requested, but honestly I thought that this series was one of the most confusing and involved. What with several generations and clans and names I just couldn’t keep track of, I thought it would maybe come in handy. And doing a re-read of the series showed me just how much I had forgotten.

Next up will be a whole round of updating, and then after that I am open to suggestions. Maybe Lords of the Underworld. Mercy Thompson would be handy, too. Night Huntress World? What do you think?

Sad News

I am so very sorry to say that I just saw where Mike Briggs, husband of Patricia Briggs, passed away this week. He was a constant presence on their blog and Facebook page, and also helped with doing research for Patricia’s books. If you would like to send condolence cards, they can be mailed to P.O. Box 5394, Benton City, WA, 99320.

Site Updates and an Etiquette Question

question markWhat an interesting night. Where I live, we had a pretty big ice-storm with big wind gusts, so that meant no power for just about 12 hours. There are a lot of tree limbs down all around the house, and it sounded like they were coming though either the roof or the windows. Luckily, though, no damage was done. Just a bunch of mess. We don’t have them often, thankfully, so I can’t really complain.

On the site side of things, I have added all of the series you have recommended to the 101+ Series to Read page. I wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks to all of you who took the time to help out with it, and hopefully we can all get some use out of it. I have found a few on there that are tempting me, but I am putting them firmly on the “one day” list.

I also have an etiquette question. Since I live in Canada, Amazon.com won’t let me order ebooks, and Amazon.ca doesn’t allow for gifting, but I have been thinking of a work-around. When I did a giveaway, would it seem tacky if I bought the ebook and emailed it to the winner myself? I don’t want it to seem shady, but it would be about the only thing that would work. And because of my “experience” with my father’s reading needs, I could convert to whatever format is needed. I could even include a screenshot of the order so that it didn’t look like I was some scumbag who pirated the title and tried to pass it off as a giveaway. Then it is just a matter of the winner emailing to their Kindle themselves, just like it was an ARC. Let me know if you think that idea has potential.

Another Kindle Question

bang-head-hereOk people, I need help yet again. Twice today alone, my father somehow managed to jump ahead on his Kindle (he must get grabby with it when he is watching his beloved wrestling, I guess). Of course, it is then passed over to me to find the exact page he was reading before the trauma. Exact. Page.

Now remember, if you will, that I also have to edit a whole bunch of books and then put them into one huge anthology so he isn’t inconvenienced by having to flip through things like chapter listings and credits. So it is find the exact page someone else is reading in the equivalent of TWELVE WHOLE BOOKS. Sorry, that was from me banging my head into the keyboard. Again, this happened. Twice. It sounds like this:

Me: What book were you on?

Father: One of those ones.

Me: Uh, yeah, but which one? There’s 12 books in this one. Was it James Patterson? Michael Connelly? Karin Slaughter? Who were you reading?

Father: Jericho Quinn.

Me, searching the spreadsheet I have done to keep track of his reading: There is no author named Jericho Quinn.

Father: Eyeroll – the CHARACTER is named Jericho Quinn. (Duh implied at the end).

Me: I don’t read them so I have no clue who…never mind. Goodreads search of all of the authors in question. Find right book. Then do the “did you read that page yet”, “did you read that page yet”, “how about that one”. Until we come to the right page. TWICE.

Rant over. For now. Maybe. He has the Kindle Paperwhite, so my question is, have any of you tried the new Kindle Oasis? The one that has the dedicated page-turn buttons? Do you think it would avoid the jumping ahead like sensitive touch-screen does? The price is pretty steep, but if it would help me avoid ever having to have the conversation above again, I might go for it. Or a tranquilizer dart. That works, too.

Archangel’s Viper

I have been doing behind-the-scenes stuff for the last couple of days, so my usual info-hunting routine has been behind. So imagine my shock when I stumbled onto Nalini Singh‘s site to find the title and a non-official blurb for the next Guild Hunter book, Archangel’s Viper. And we all know who that’s about:

Return to the epic and dangerous world of the Guild Hunters in this new adventure from New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh, as immortal angels, vampires, and mortals struggle to build a new world order…

Venom has always been one of the most mysterious and seductive members of the Seven–Archangel Raphael’s personal guard. But even this powerful vampire has no idea what awaits when he returns to New York…and to a woman who might be the greatest threat of all…

Confession time – I firmly believed that Sorrow (whom I am completely assuming is the woman in question) would end up with Bluebell. Even against all of the signs, I was almost sure. I figured her terror of angels would bring the angst, and his love for humans would be covered in a way that didn’t involve his HEA having to turn vampire. And it now really makes me wonder about the Illium/Aodhan vibe I have gotten from the last book. Sigh.

Amazon.uk lists the next Guild Hunter book as a September 21st release. Countdown begins again.