Thursday, December 31, 2009

Counting My Blessings


I stayed up late last night, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep, to think over 2009 and to give thanks for the blessings I've received. In this busy world of ours, I think this is a good exercise, because in the hustle and bustle, we usually forget to be thankful to the Almighty God or whoever you worship (or even if you don't worship anyone) for the good things that have come our way.

So, to name a few:

1. Family.

2. For good friends without whom this blog would not be possible. 'Nuff said.

3. Good books that helped while away the time spent commuting to and from work, that saved me from utter boredom, that transported me to exciting, imaginary worlds with sexy (both inward and outward), gorgeous, to-die-for heroes. We always need more good books. More time, too.

Enough about me. What are the things you're thankful for in 2009?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

REVIEW: Revealed by Kate Noble


ISBN 978-0425221747
(c) 2008, Berkley Trade, Penguin Group
Kate Noble's website

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Links (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Engaging and sweet. Not to be missed!"

Philippa Benning is undoubtedly the darling of the ton, but she has to be on guard lest her arch nemesis, Lady Jane Cummings, steals the title away from her. Things come to a head when both women tried to win the affections of the Marquis of Broughton.

In these first few chapters, Philippa comes across as a shallow, society lady who enjoys playing "the game" and who would do anything to come out on top. At this stage, I am of two minds about her. One is that I didn't like her, as I grow tired with yet another description of the setting, the gowns, etc, as of course, only Philippa would notice. In this, her thoughts and actions are in tune with her character. On the other hand, Philippa is such a refreshing change from the rest of historical England's heroines (at least, those books that I've read so far, where the women never aspired to be Society darlings) that I felt compelled to read on. I did debate whether I should stop, but another reason that made me continue turning the pages is that I wanted to meet the hero and see what stuff he's made of!

So then, Philippa stumbles upon a mysterious stranger who she inferred from an eavesdropped convesation is the Blue Raven, a hero of the land, and she realizes she has the perfect trump card in her hand. If she could reveal the identity of the Blue Raven at the annual Benning ball, her place in Society would be secure, hence, she makes a bargain with him. In exchange for what she wanted, she would help him gain entry into the big Society events, which he needed as part of his investigation into French treachery. Little did she suspect that she would be throwing her heart into the bargain...

As the story progressed, I find myself liking Philippa more and more, for her courage, her sense of adventure and for her innate desire to do what's right, at any cost to herself and her pride. Of course, concern for Marcus Worth has a big influence in her decisions. Another thing I must applaud the author for is the believability of Philippa's character. She remains true to herself, even until the end. Essentially, she is still the same Philippa Benning, still aspires to continue to hold the title of Society's darling, but she has been tempered by love. I like that she didn't become a completely different person when touched by love as had happened in some books.

She is also understandably confused and torn about her feelings for Marcus, as he is a nobody, while the Marquis of Broughton is the catch of the Season. Yet, in true Philippa fashion, when she makes up her mind about something, nothing and no one will stop her in the way of getting it.

Marcus Worth is a government spy, big, bad and dangerous, and yet his interactions with Philippa are rather sweet. Okay, I'm lying. Marcus comes across as a gentle, thoughtful man with a wide streak of patriotism and who wouldn't hurt a fly. A typical nice guy. And he is exactly what the competitive Philippa needs. Marcus is also smart and caring of Philippa, and he knows he is irresistibly attracted to Philippa, no matter how torn up he is about it, because he knows he is nothing in Society, and he has nothing to offer Philippa. Yet, he can't help his feelings for her, and when her safety is threatened, he becomes big, bad and dangerous, and nothing is going to stop him from keeping her safe.

Nothing was revealed about Philippa's long-standing feud with Jane, and there was also a hint that there could be more people involved in the French treachery that Marcus was investigating. I hope there will be more books in this series, as Kate Noble's stories are a joy to read, and her characters engaging. For sure, I'll be checking out "The Summer of You" (Jane and Byrne's story, yay!) and an earlier novel, Compromised, which features a viscount who is in love with a woman but engaged to her sister (A delicious read! Review coming soon).

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Links (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

REVIEW: Candelabra by Afton Locke


ISBN 9781419926525
(c) December 2009, Ellora's Cave

Buy Link (ebook): Ellora's Cave

"Ingenious and delicious hot, short read"

Tandy Davis travels to Loch Enya Castle in Scotland to experience BDSM as a sub in order to deal with being a control freak. As she got lost in the castle, she stumbled into a room which contained the most attractive man she'd met during the entire trip and the possibilities that yawned before her was endless...

Afton Locke pens an unique and delicious way to deal with control issues interspersed with magic and fantasy. Mainly, Tandy likes to take control because she doesn't trust in anyone but herself, yet this is exactly what Bryne needs to resolve his own issues. Yet with each information he reveals about himself as an elemental fire fairy, Tandy struggles more and more with herself. And we can see her conflict and confusion when her mind thinks one thing, but she does another.

Readers should take note that this book mainly contains light BDSM play. I am not into BDSM, hence I wouldn't know if the scenes described here or words used are technically correct or not, but they're hot with sizzling passion between the characters and an ingenious use of candle wax.

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Link (ebook): Ellora's Cave

Monday, December 28, 2009

J. Kaye's 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


The Raving Readers decided to participate in J. Kaye's 100+ Reading Challenge, represented solely by me--Silver. *waving pom poms*

Basically, with this challenge, I just need to read 100 or more books in 2010, and these can be audio books, ebooks, dead tree books, graphic novels, etc, as long as they have an ISBN. Thus far, I was the 287th person to join. Cool that so many people take up this challenge. For more details on the challenge, head on over to J. Kaye's website.

I've never counted how many books I've read in a year, so I think this is gonna be fun.

This is also the post where I'm gonna list down the books I've read in 2010.

1.  Savage Lessons by Moira Rogers
2.  Another Night, Another Dream by Mechele Armstrong
3.  Lilac by Louisa Trent
4.  Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione
5.  Written On Your Skin by Meredith Duran
6.  The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter
7.  3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys by Lucy Monroe
8.  In Training by India Masters
9.  Tempted All Night by Liz Carlyle
10. Wicked All Day by Liz Carlyle
11. Holiday Bound by Beth Kery
12. Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen
13. Entwined by Fate by S.A. Price
14. Settler's Mine 5: The Man by Mechele Armstrong
15. Firsts by Rosalie Stanton
16. Seduce Me in Shadow by Shayla Black
17. The Club by Sharon Page
18. Possess Me at Midnight by Shayla Black
19. The Battle Sylph by L.J.McDonald
20. Breaking Free by Cherise Sinclair
21. Dawnkeepers by Jessica Andersen
22. Skykeepers by Jessica Andersen
23. Beyond the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy
24. Threshold by Sara Douglass
25. Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
26. Another Dream, Another Reality by Mechele Armstrong
27. Medalon by Jennifer Fallon
28. Darkness Revealed by Alexandra Ivy
29. Embrace the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy
30. How to Score by Robin Wells
31. Never After (anthology)
32. Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
33. Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
34. The Nymph by Kate Austin
35. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
36. The Initiation of Isabella by Jenna Ives
37. My Lady's Pleasure by Alice Gaines
38. Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
39. One Weekend by Sasha White
40. Crystal Genie by Opal Carew
41. Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
42. Wicked Temptation by Liane Gentry Skye
43. Lover Enshrined by J.R. Ward
44. Beyond the Night by Joss Ware
45. Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran
46. In Other Worlds by Sherrilyn Kenyon
47. Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward
48. Position Secured by Olivia Brynn
49.

Erotic Romance Reading Challenge - 2010




In one of my jaunts through blogland, I came across the Erotic Romance Reading Challenge 2010 from Erotic Horizon. Interesting, and sounds right up my alley! I can tell that this is going to be such fun.

Also, the requirement isn't hard to achieve. Just read TEN erotic romances in 2010 and you also get to discuss it with like-minded people. I'm also the 32nd person to join. For more complete details on the challenge, head on over to Erotic Horizon. And grab the above button for your blog or website if you want to participate.

I was able to drag Shana into this with me, so each of us are gonna list down 10 books each. (July 2010 Update: Since Shana has retired from blogging, I'd decided to update her part, and hope she'll still be able to complete this as there's about 5-1/2 months to go!)

This is also the post where we're going to list the erotic romance books we've read in 2010.

Shana:

1. Sex Drive by Susan Lyons
2. Morning Star by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
3. Playing for Real by Madison Blake
4. Laid Bare by Cerise Deland
5. Perhaps Love by Madison Blake
6.

Silver:

1. Savage Lessons by Moira Rogers
2. Another Night, Another Dream by Mechele Armstrong
3. Lilac by Louisa Trent
4. In Training by India Masters
5. Holiday Bound by Beth Kery
6. Settler's Mine 5: The Man by Mechele Armstrong
7. Firsts by Rosalie Stanton
8. Breaking Free by Cherise Sinclair
9. Another Dream, Another Reality by Mechele Armstrong
10. The Initiation of Isabella by Jenna Ives

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Picks for 2nd Half 2009

Since we're just starting, it's not all that hard to come up with our Top Picks for the 2nd Half of 2009. Most are reviewed by Silver, who is really a prolific reader and reviewer. (That would have come out so much better if I weren't the one writing this. LOL) So, anyway, on to the top picks:


The writing flows, and I was charmed by the first part of the book and let's face it, mainly by Julian, the hero.

Full Review








No doubt about it. I love, love, love Leo Marsden. The way he loved Bryony is inspiring, and their story is soooo romantic. Love the last paragraph.

Full Review






This story is short, wildly romantic and sweetly poignant.

Full Review












Love the way Alexandra Ivy was able to draw you into her world and not letting go till the last page. I was also fascinated by Jagr. Yummy hero! Not to mention his vulnerability touched something in me. Why are we women always such suckers for men in need? LOL

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coming Soon Books - January 2010


Here at The Raving Readers, we are looking forward to the following books in January 2010 and expect the TBB and TBR piles to increase by several inches. Aren't they tall enough yet? Apparently not. :)

Silver said they could use the additional inches. So anyway, here they are:



Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Greetings


Soon, 2009 is ending, and 2010 is upon us. New year's resolutions, anyone? I'm not good with those, so I'll forego them this year. No use thinking and making some, only to find I can't keep them at all before January is even over. What I'll do instead, is to think over 2009 and count my blessings.

In tomorrow's post, we'll be featuring the January 2010 books that we here at The Raving Readers are looking forward to.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

REVIEW: Savage Need by Moira Rogers


ISBN 978-1-60521-241-8
Series: Temple of Luna, Book 2
(c) 2009, Changeling Press

Buy Links (ebook): Changeling Press, Fictionwise

"Wildly romantic, sweetly poignant, not to be missed!"

Zahra is a priestess and healer at the Temple of Luna, but mainly a healer. Priestesses take care of the savage needs of the werewolf warriors, and as a healer, she heals her fellow priestesses and anyone else in need. Her services becomes sorely needed by Jarek, whose mind was shattered by a traumatic event.

Jarek is known for being an excellent and coolheaded healer, trained in both werewolf magic and human medicines. But when an injury left him with no knowledge of himself or his family, the only thing he had to go on was the familiar scent of the woman he longed to claim.

Bree and Donna, the writing team that is Moira Rogers, write hot, compelling stories, as they continue the story they began in Savage Possession, the first book in the series. Savage Need, despite the title, is a very romantic story, especially the scene after Jarek recovered his senses. Jarek just about tears my heart apart, with his pain and vulnerability. I like Zahra much, much more than Avani, the heroine in Savage Possession. Her submission to Jarek is very sexy and sweet, exactly what he needed to heal. In fact, there's a rather poignant quality to Zahra's and Jarek's relationship and their interaction with each other that touched the heart.

I'm glad there will be more Temple of Luna books in the future, the next one coming in January 2010. Not much waiting left!

Readers should take note that this title contains scenes of bondage and dominance.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (ebook): Changeling Press, Fictionwise

REVIEW: Hunter's Need by Shiloh Walker


ISBN 978-0-425-23150-0
Series: Hunter Series
(c) December 2009, Berkley Sensation, Penguin Group

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Well-written, Hunter's Need is a fascinating tale of vengeance and a race against time"

Psychic Analise Morrell stumbled upon a mystery up in Alaska where she lived, where the ghosts of murdered girls battered at her psychic shields. She didn't know why they chose to disturb her, but something in the mountains made her uneasy, which prompted her to call the Hunters for help.

The Hunters are a group of special men and women with extraordinary powers that help them right a terrible wrong. Hunters include psychics, witches, weres, vamps, shifters, etc. However, although Ana is a psychic, her powers aren't strong enough for her to become a Hunter.

She didn't expect the assigned Hunter to be Duke Lawson, the shifter she betrayed years ago when she lured him into the clutches of a feral vamp. Though he was later rescued after undergoing unimaginable torture, Ana was forever swamped with a conflicting mix of desire and guilt with the certainty that Duke hated her.

For his part, Duke could understand Ana's motivations for her betrayal, though he couldn't agree with her methods. He was mostly angry at himself for what he deemed was foolishness on his part, for being so clouded with lust for her that he wasn't aware she was leading him into danger. Foolish because he still lusted after her so many years later and despite what she'd done to him.

Shiloh Walker has written a fascinating and horrific tale of ghosts seeking for vengeance against their killer and the characters' race to identify him before he killed another girl. The world is also a fascinating one, with the concept of a powerful group of men and women battling evil forces in the world and trying to make things right, kinda like the X-Men. That said men and women also have their own personal issues they should go through make it intriguing. Though Hunter's Need is generally well-written, especially toward the end, the story didn't quite resonate with me, maybe because the characters didn't quite click with me.

The reason may be because some of the characters' actions didn't seem logical to me. Like, there's this scene in the middle of the book, when Duke arrived in Alaska due to Ana's call for help, and they met for the first time in a year. I would've have thought they'd discuss the case first since that was the reason for his being there and the reason she called for help from the Hunters, but no. They had to indulge in their lust for one another. And this being Ana's first time, Duke wasn't even gentleman enough to do it on the bed. No, the floor is fine, because he's in a hurry. Well, that, and maybe because he didn't care enough about Ana, since she betrayed him, so she deserved to be uncomfortable. I'm sure that's not how the author meant to portray it, but that's the impression I got.

This is the first book in the series I read, so that may have a bearing on the level of my enjoyment of this book. However, although the book does refer to things that has happened in the past, which I assumed were detailed in previous books, the author did a good job of highlighting the events without info dumping and drawing you right into the heart of the conflict.

Rating: 3 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

REVIEW: Serengeti Heat by Vivi Andrews



ISBN 978-1-60504-613-6
Series: Serengeti Shifter Series, Book 1
(c) 2009, Samhain Publishing


"Fabulously well-done lion shifter story, full of heat and romance!"

Ava Minor is secretly in love with Landon King, the alpha of her pride, for months. However, buoyed by her own insecurities, she avoids him, thinking he'd never notice a small lioness like her.

Landon doesn't know Ava existed, until the night her heat draws him, and all he could think of is to make her his. She may be good for a tumble, but when it comes time for him to pick a lioness as mate, who would he choose?

Serengeti Heat is a fabulously well-done lion shifter story, full of heat and romance. I have to admit, it's Ava's angst that drew me in, and the thought of a small beta lioness felling a powerful alpha male like Landon is darn nigh impossible to resist. Happily, Vivi Andrews is a master at her craft, and Serengeti Heat keeps me on a contented afterglow for hours after I finished reading it.

Though Ava is a beta, she's not a pushover, and we see the sparks in her personality that caused Landon to admire her. Yet, the pride holds fast to traditional ways and values. How could Landon convince the pride that the mate of his heart is good for the group and their progress? I won't tell you, since that will spoil the story for you.

The one thing that bothered me in this otherwise perfect story is the return of the two malcontents. I feel that that scene could've been handled in a more satisfactory manner. However, this small thing is not enough to hinder my enjoyment in reading this story. This is a short, fun read that is good for that two hours—or three—in the afternoon when you're bored and want to find some exciting story to read.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (ebook): Samhain Publishing, Fictionwise, Barnes and Noble Ebook

REVIEW: Darkness Unleashed by Alexandra Ivy


ISBN 978-1-4201-0297-0
Series: Guardians of Eternity, Book 5
(c) November 2009, Zebra, Kensington Publishing Corp
Alexandra Ivy's website

Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"Alexandra Ivy has me hooked on this series, craving it like I would the finest chocolates."

Alexandra Ivy created a winner with this combination of sexy, gorgeous hero, a courageous heroine who's more than a match for him, sly humor, action, magic and hot passion guaranteed to sizzle a page or two.

Regan, kidnapped and abused from young, is a pureblood Were who was finally rescued from her kidnapper, Culligan. However, when Culligan escaped, she vowed not to rest until she has him in her grasp and exacts her revenge. However, she didn't account for Jagr, a smokin' hot vamp who fired her blood the moment she set eyes on him.

Sexy, gorgeous, muscled, virile hero (really, any other description for a hero, anyone?) Jagr, a reclusive vampire who had been tortured for centuries, is sent to bring Regan back home to her sister in Chicago. However, he understood her need for revenge, having undergone the same thing himself years ago. Attracted and unable to help himself, he joined forces with her to track down her ex-kidnapper.

Ms. Ivy's world is one wherein demons (referring to vamps, weres, imps and just about anything non-human) live under the humans' noses in disguises or passed themselves out as humans. I think the premise here is that the humans generally don't know that the demons live among them, except for some special people, such as those who had been in the service of the demons for years as caretakers, housekeepers, etc. Vamps belong to clans and weres to packs, and there exist a sort-of harmony/peace between the two tribes, but it only takes for something to happen and an all-out war would flare between them. There are other demons, of course, such as imps, trolls, gargoyles, etc. Nothing new in this nor in the way both main characters fight their attraction to one another, but the story has more twists and turns than a labyrinth which surprised me in a pleasant way.

There are lots more things I love about this book. There's the strong heroine and her humor and the real issues Regan brought to the relationship. There's the way Regan's character grew and developed over the course of the story, in the way meeting Jagr changed her and the way she suddenly realized how her priorities have changed. There's the way Jagr opened up a bit about himself to Regan early on in the book (about 100 pages into the book) and it is as a result of this that they have their first intimate moment. All too often in some books, sex happened for no reason other than that it's time to have a sex scene. And there's the way Jagr oozed all those protective male testosterone... *melts* He's utterly yummy.

And regarding the descriptions, we have an insight into the way each character viewed the other party toward the middle of the book. Yes, they're still attracted to the other's physical attributes, but there's something more, something deeper.

Regan on Jagr: Icily aloof and yet so terribly vulnerable. Strong and yet tender. Raw, ruthless power with the soul of a scholar.

Jagr on Regan: His tiny Were, with the soul of a warrior and the innocence of an angel.


Apparently, like all the heroines in the series, I also like Levet! I'm sure I'm not the only reader with this sentiment. He provided comic relief, and I'm certain there was once or twice when he stole the scene completely from the main characters. I'm eager to read the other books, if only for Levet, but that's not the entire reason. Ms. Ivy has me absolutely hooked on this series.

I'm happy to say that this book is a standalone and it's not necessary to read the other books in order to understand it, since this is my first Guardians of Eternity book as well. But I'm getting the other books while I wait for Salvatore's story.

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

REVIEW: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione


ISBN 978-0-446-40103-6 
Series: Demonica, Book 1
(c) 2008, Forever Imprint,Grand Central Publishing
Larissa Ione's website 

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

"An awesome start to a new paranormal series!"

Larissa Ione crafted a rich, unique, spellbinding world of demons, wargs and vampires that drew me in long after I've finished reading the book. Her demons are the good guys, hot (hot, hot, hot!), gorgeous, wicked, witty males whose mega-watt smiles are guaranteed to melt the bones of any female they meet. (Seems to be every female.) Her writing flowed with non-stop action and conflict, keeping the tension carefully on the edge. Each scene, seemingly small and insignificant, plays an essential part in the bigger picture.

Eidolon, our demon hero, is a doctor at Underground General Hospital, a facility he built that catered to the needs of demons. Whoever thought demons would do that? In fact, his two younger brothers are involved as well--Shade is a paramedic and Wraith is a procurer of rare artifacts and potions that aimed to bring about healing. Though Eidolon is the hero of this book, the different personalities of the other characters shone through, and their interactions are real and genuine. You could see that his brothers mean a lot to Eidolon, no matter how they difficult they are and how they made his life hell. Literally.

Take, for example, Wraith, the youngest brother. There's one situation wherein he made me laugh out loud.

Wraith rubbed his hands together in cheesy horror-movie glee. "Join us or die." He grinned. "I've always wanted to say that."

Now, you wouldn't catch Eidolon saying that, no matter the many cracks he made throughout the entire book.

As a Seminus demon, a rare breed of incubi, Eidolon couldn't resist any aroused female. More so when he is nearing the Change, the final maturation stage of a Seminus demon's life, after which he is able to procreate and shapeshift into the male of any demon species. Needless to say, he is resisting the Change, because without a mate, he will turn into some sort of insane sex monster and lose his personality. At the same time, a demon-organ harvesting operation is going on, killing friends and family, and being a principled demon (sounds like an oxymoron), he vows to get to the bottom of things and put down the operation for good.

He has reasons for suspecting the Aegis, demon slayers and general scourge of demons, of being behind the operation, of which Tayla Mancuso is one, Tayla, the sexy female whom he couldn't get to orgasm.

And Eidolon is insulted and challenged to try until he succeeds.

Unfortunately, Tayla doesn't like demons, hates them in fact. Demons are evil and the world is better off with them dead, especially after the way a demon killed her mother when she was sixteen. Tough, no-nonsense and strong, Tayla gives as good as she gets, though she can't help falling under Eidolon's spell. At times, she wonders if it is her own attraction to Eidolon (considering that he's a demon and she hates them) or merely the Seminus demon working his spell on her.

Though Eidolon and Tayla are strong characters, it's easy to empathize with them, because we see their struggles and conflicts, their thoughts and emotions, their weaknesses and redeeming characteristics. Complex, complicated characters like them generated fireworks especially when there's inherent conflict in their situations, and oh man, the sex scenes are way too hot to describe. The only place where I was jarred out of the book was the scene after the battle toward the end. The happenings in the aftermath was kinda...awkward, to say the least.

Pleasure Unbound abounds with more twists and turns than a mountainous road, and it's the journey toward the end that provides all the fun. However, the end is not yet in sight, because there are four more books and one novella to devour--lots more enjoyable reading time ahead!

Rating: 5 stars

Buy Links (paper): Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble
Buy Link (ebook): Barnes and Noble Ebook

Treasure Ahoy!



I can't believe I haven't read this author before! I picked up this book by Jacquie D'Alessandro, Tempted At Midnight, on a whim. I wasn't even particularly tempted by the summary on the back cover, because there are hints that a vampire's involved, and I'm not a fan. But then, I turned to the first chapter and started reading...and I was hooked. I love me a good story, and this sounds like one. Moreover, Logan (the hero) appeared to be human, since he's out in broad daylight. ;)

I've only read about halfway through, but I'm happy to say I wasn't mistaken. I love the scene where Emily and Logan took a long walk and had an interesting and illuminating conversation. I was totally charmed, especially by Logan. Okay, I'll stop or I'll have nothing to say for the review post.

Checking out the author's website made me realize I've read the last book first! No wonder Emily's other friends are all married to the loves of their lives. It doesn't matter, because I'm checking out the other books as soon as I'm done with this one!

So, my TBR pile grows by another three books (and I'm not promising to read them in order):

Sleepless At Midnight
Confessions At Midnight
Seduced At Midnight

I wonder what "midnight" has to do with the stories. ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

INTERVIEW: Lynn Viehl in the House!

Lynn Viehl, awesome author of the Darkyn and Kyndred series, has graciously consented to answer my questions regarding Shadowlight and...other stuff. Read on to find out more!

Silver: Lynn, thank you for being here and being so generous with your time and answers. You have such a long and successful writing career, with books written in various genre. For the sake of new-to-you readers, can you tell us a few things about yourself? Where would you suggest we start reading your books?

Lynn: Other than the fact that I’m hopelessly ordinary, I live in country with my guy, our two teenagers, two rescued cats, and a Sheltie pup. New-to-me readers might first want to try one of my free e-books posted on Scribd.com (http://www.scribd.com/people/documents/179767-lynn). I have original novels, novellas, anthologies and short stories in a variety of genres posted there, and all of them are free for anyone to read online, download in .txt or .pdf format, and/or print out.

Silver: That's great! I've been to there, and you certainly have a lot of free stuff to delight a reader's heart. Do you have a favorite genre that you love to explore and write? Why does this genre appeal to you?

Lynn: I try not to play genre favorites because they’re like little girls and get jealous of each other, but the world-building involved in dark fantasy and SF make them the easiest and most interesting for me to write. Don’t tell my romances that.

Silver: My mouth's firmly zipped. :) Now, how long does it take you to write a book, from conceptualization to submission, including research? You can take for example, Shadowlight.

Lynn: It varies, but the average time is between four to six months per novel. I write several novels simultaneously so I’m often working on two or three books at the same time. Shadowlight took about eight months, a bit longer than usual because I took a trip to Savannah to map out some of the settings and conduct some interviews with real-life experts for certain parts of the story.

Silver: Wow, the perks of writing! How did your idea for Shadowlight evolve?

Lynn: After my publisher told me to stop writing my Darkyn novels and put together a new series concept for them, I asked if I could use a portion of the Darkyn universe revealed in the last novel as a jumping-off point. I felt it was important to deliver something that my Darkyn readership would enjoy, and as the original series did very well it seemed sensible to put together a spin-off.

Silver: Another researh question incoming! What is the research that went into this story?

Lynn: I’ve already mentioned the research trip I made to Savannah. I also mapped out the concept with help from some friends in the medical science community, and did quite a bit of reading up on genetic science and the practices of biotech corporations. I interviewed a number of experts and real-life counterparts for the characters, including adults who were adopted as children. I also discovered exactly how to disappear, establish a new identity and handle other things related to the Kyndred characterizations.

Silver: *Very* interesting. I'm astounded by the medical terms you used in the story, and they certainly lend an authenticity to the story. Are you a doctor in your other life? *grin*

Lynn: No, but I play one in my science fiction series. :)

Silver: What do you like about Jessa Bellamy?

Lynn: Because of the differences in our backgrounds and our personalities, Jessa’s character was a real writing challenge for me. I love that kind of character because it allows me to step outside myself and my comfort zone, which I think is important at this stage in my career to help me avoid repetition in my characterizations.

Silver: What makes her the perfect heroine for this novel?

Lynn: For this book I needed a character that embodied both the spirit and the mythology that inspired the Kyndred universe, and I think Jessa did the job.

Silver: She certainly did! You've mentioned that you have a hard time writing love scenes. Did you have the same problem in Shadowlight? How did you overcome it?

Lynn: Often there is a great deal of clamor for writers to deliver physical and emotional intimacy early on in the book as well as the obligatory HEA. I’d rather let intimacy happen naturally as the characters’ relationship develops versus forcing it, and I don’t believe in HEA endings because they’re rarely realistic. As a result I always get a lot of revision requests in those departments. I’ve been experimenting with some new approaches to the problems, and in Shadowlight I think I came up with some interesting compromises, but still, it’s an ongoing, frustrating situation.

Silver: Oooh, I know what you mean. I simply love the massage! LOL What else do you have in store for your fans?

Lynn: Right now I’m finishing up a free e-book that has a parallel story to Shadowlight, which I’ll be giving away online at the end of September, and in late October I’ll have another free e-book which will be Darkyn High Lord Richard Tremayne’s story. I’m also writing the last novel in my SF series and putting together some proposals for two new dark fantasy/paranormal novels. Depending on how the new series performs, my publisher may ask me for more Darkyn novels to publish in print, but I’m not sure I want to go back after they had me wrap up that series. I may write a couple of Darkyn standalones as a compromise; it really depends on what they want to see and what I’m willing to write.

Silver: Wow, that's a lot! I'm sure your fans will be happy to know that. I can attest to it! LOL As an author, I'm sure you also love to read! What are your guilty pleasure books?

Lynn: Poetry collections and nonfiction history books, mainly because I have no real professional reason to buy and read them. I also enjoy reading working memoirs by doctors, surgeons and other people in the medical field, which will become a guilty pleasure as soon as my SF series ends.

Silver: If you are to be stranded on an island for a year and you can only take one book, what would this be? Why?

Lynn: Only one book? What if it caught on fire, or got swept out to sea? What if a giant turtle decided to eat it? Ha. If there isn’t a giant manual out there titled “How to survive on an island with no books” then I’d probably want e.e. cummings Complete Poems 1904-1962, edited by George J. Firmage, ISBN# 0871401525. I never get tired of reading e.e.’s poetry.

Silver: What is one advice you would give to writers who are trying to break into publishing?

Lynn: Be persistent, patient, and write daily or as often as possible. It took me ten years and over a thousand rejections before I received my first offer. Also, if you have a manuscript you can’t sell that you consider to be the book of your heart, take it out in the backyard and burn it.

Silver: Ouch. Well, then, to aid would-be-authors, what is one must-have reference book that an author should have?

Lynn: All these one-book-only questions are killing me here.

Silver: I just love torturing authors. *evil laugh*

Lynn: The most complete writing instruction/reference book that I recommend most often is Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School by Gotham Writers' Workshop, edited by Alexander Steele, ISBN#9781582343303.

Silver: Any last words for everyone?

Lynn: Please keep reading, and tell others about any books you enjoy. It’s a great way to keep your favorite writers employed, and absolutely the best advertising money can’t buy.

Thank you, Lynn, for this wonderful interview, and for the chance to review Shadowlight. Read my review!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl



Series: Kyndred series, Book 1
(c) 2009
295 pages, Ebook ARC
Author's Website
Summary:

With one touch, Jessa Bellamy can see into a person's deepest thoughts. In the process, she has uncovered criminals and leaked information to the authorities for many years. However, her activities are catching up to her, and unbeknownst to her, people are watching her--a mysterious man named Gaven Matthias and a biotech corporation called GenHance Inc. Each wants her for his own purpose, but only one will get her...

Review:

Lynn Viehl crafted an amazing story--a brilliant mix of the paranormal and suspense. Each scene raises the stakes and escalates the mystery until she reveals the answers one by one, and I couldn't stop turning the pages due to the urgent need to know what happens next.

The worldbuilding is superb, especially with the use of the proper terminologies that lends credence to the world the author has built. Some of the foundation has already been laid during the Darkyn series, and Lynn Viehl just builds more upon it. It was nice to see how Lucan's and Sam's relationship has evolved, for those who love visiting with characters from the previous books. I do wish though there could have been some solid interactions--instead of the almost-interactions--between them and the main characters, but alas, it was not to be. Perhaps I'll get my wish in the succeeding books.

Jessa Bellamy makes the perfect heroine, smart and with a strong character. Having gone through a lot, she has emerged stronger from her experiences, though wary and cautious and protective, especially for her fellow Takyns. She is also smart and resourceful, and she knows when she is at the limit of her strength and needs to trust the hero. Oh, and did I say she's smart?

I love the mystery of Gaven's identity, and I have to admit that it is also in anticipation of the revelation of who he is that makes me keep scrolling down. I have such fun guessing who he could be and what he was about. I also like how his background intertwines with that of the arch enemy's. This makes me eager to read the next book in the series, where I'm sure we'll see more of them both.

I have to admit, I didn't like Rowan so much at first. But I warmed up to her when her backstory was revealed. One thing for sure, Takyns are such a wary, untrusting lot! However, one can't blame them. When evil men want to harvest your DNA, well, that's a lot of cause for keeping important things secret.

Though all the important threads pertaining to this book are addressed by the end of the story, Lynn Viehl leaves enough questions unanswered to make me wish I could get the next book now.

Book Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: This e-ARC is provided for by the author.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

REVIEW: Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas



(c) 2009, Bantam Books, Random House
338 pages, Mass-Market Edition
Author's Website

Summary:
Bryony Asquith left her tumultous marriage behind and went to India, not expecting that one day, her ex-husband Leo Marsden would come after her. Leo, whose smile had felled her. Leo, who broke her heart before they could say their vows. Leo, whom she still loved.

Review:
The short review: I laughed and cried as I read this book. And cried again. Definitely a keeper!

The long review:

Where to start?

I have to gush about Leo. He's a totally to-die-for hero. I think his most endearing quality is that he has loved Bryony since his youth, and even after the terrible things Bryony has done to him, he still continued to love her, protect her and stayed faithful to her. Throughout the book, we can see Leo taking care of her, making sure she's comfortable, that she's not hungry, etc. And I like that he decided to trust Bryony in the end--trust her regarding their future. This is a powerful story of how love makes us a better person.

I especially love the last paragraph of the book. Read it and I dare you not to get tears in your eyes.

Bryony comes across as prickly and antagonistic toward Leo, at least in the beginning, but she has reason. Good reason, though I don't know why she couldn't have confronted Leo with the truth in the first place. Maybe because of the shame she felt, the shame which shut her mouth. Others may this decry this as The Big Miscommunication issue that could've been resolved easily enough, but I feel that the author carried this off well enough due to the emotions that the character was feeling. Moreover, even if Bryony and Leo had talked about this during the first few months of their marriage, the problem might still have existed, because as Leo said (not exact words), there is something about war that distills everything into the essential: that only love matters, in the end.

When one is near death, or close to, because in war, one never knows, one then realizes the things that are truly important.

Though most of the book happened in war-torn India, the author's vivid descriptions made this exotic setting come alive. However, most of the descriptions of the different tribes and the animosity between and among them went right over my head because, to be honest, I truly don't have any idea what these tribes are and I also couldn't be bothered to go look for a map while I'm the grip of the story. Except for Swat Valley, of course.

Sherry Thomas is simply amazing with this book, combining a vivid description of the setting with a sweet, powerful story of love that touches the heart. Highly recommended.

Book Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, September 5, 2009

REVIEW: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran


(c) 2008, Pocket Star Books, Simon&Schuster
371 pages, Mass Market Edition
Author's Website


Summary:

Emmaline Martin travels to India to be with her fiance, Colonel Marcus Lindley. Though captivated by the country, she is made aware of the stirring unrest among the troops by Julian Sinclair, heir to the Duke of Auburn, who captivates her and for whom she feels an attraction. On the heels of her fiance's betrayal and mutiny among the native troops, Emma has no one to turn to except Julian.

As they flee toward safety, Emma and Julian fall in love, but due to circumstances, they are separated, only to meet again at a London ball years of grief later...

Review:

Meredith Duran brings a refreshing voice to historical romances, partly because of her exotic setting and mainly because of her irresistible writing style. She has a different way of looking at things and this shows in her characters' thoughts and feelings. The words she used are beautiful and perfect, and evokes emotions that make me want to read that particular sentence or paragraph over again.

The Duke of Shadows is divided into two parts, and the first part utterly charms me. Funny how war-torn India could be charming, but I like reading about Emma's and Julian's interactions and the gradual way their feelings for each other developed as Julian tried to bring Emma to safety. I like that Julian is different from other heroes that we normally read about. Though he is dangerous with a rakehell charm, he is kind and patient with Emma, even when there is nothing between them yet. He is also a complex man with hidden depths, brought about by his myriad heritage.

And here is one example of that wonderful inner dialogue of Julian's that charmed me:

...She had not felt like a woman who shared an understanding with
someone else. She had felt like a woman who shared an understanding
with him.


Emma, in this first part as described by Julian, is captivating, a girl who rushes headlong into life, unafraid and excited. And it is so easy to weep with her as she lost her parents and to cheer for her as she takes control of her life, and as she falls in love with Julian.

Here's another passage. The sheer poetry of her words/descriptions astound me:

His hands had performed miracles. Her life had rested in them, balanced in
their capable grace. And now they rested on her, and their grace infused
her as well.


And inevitably, war changes everyone.

I'm torn with the second part. On the one hand, the fairy-tale charm has gone, leaving behind the grim realities of life, wherein we see how Julian and Emma have changed due to their experiences. And on the other, we see a love that has endured through unimaginable sufferings (both characters'), and a love that has matured and is all-encompassing (Julian's). I love that Julian is constant, that his love never wavers, despite what his beloved has turned into. One of the best heroes I've read, and one that makes me want to keep him. This scenario--that of the heroine deteriorating into someone not so lovable due to her experiences--is something we don't often see in books.

And so, one of the brilliant passages in this half of the book is the one wherein Emma was enumerating the places where Julian has searched for her in war-torn India. He said he searched for her everywhere, but he hadn't named London, because he hadn't conducted the search in that city.

"I thought you had not found me here," she whispered. "Or I thought you
would not want me, as I am now. But you
did find me here. Didn't you?"


The words are ordinary, but I love the double meaning here, because it is in London that he has found her--both physically and the real Emma, who was "lost" after the war.

And another:

...Yes: everything was coming alive. Plants with deep roots, that had gone
underground for winter, would be rising again through the soil. She had
always loved him, after all. And perhaps he knew it. Perhaps he saw more
than she had suspected. And despite it, he did not look away.


I love the words "he did not look away". Despite my ambivalence, this second part for me is gripping because we see how the characters have changed and there I was, reading as fast as I can to see how they'll get back together again. I don't understand Lockwood's part in all this, though, except for being instrumental in arranging the venue for Emma and Julian to meet again. Nor that of his wife. (Someone enlighten me?) I feel there's a mystery here, and I have a feeling Lockwood would have his own story someday, but thus far, I don't believe he's the hero of the next two books from Meredith Duran. The fourth maybe?

One thing about this book is that after I read the last page, I immediately opened to the first page again to take a second journey through that wonderful interaction between the characters. I highly recommend this book. I've also heard good things about the next two books by Meredith Duran, Bound By Your Touch and Written On Your Skin, and I can't wait to read them.

Book Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

REVIEW: Dark Time by Dakota Banks


Series: Mortal Path, Book 1

(c) 2009, Eos Books, HarperCollins

306 pages, Mass-Market Edition

Author's Website


Summary:

Susannah lives in perilous times. A woman with the gift of healing, she uses her gifts to ease suffering, but she is accused of being a witch. Burned at the stake, she is not willing to just let her life go, and thus, she makes a bargain with the demon Rabishu. She is given immortality, but in return, she has to do the demon's bidding, which usually involves killing people who is poised to thwart some purpose that the demon has. Until a series of events culminates in the breaking of the wall around her heart, and she decides she cannot go on this way.

Now, as Maliha Crayne, she is given a chance for redemption, if she can save a life for every life that she has taken. Or if she can find the means to destroy the demons and rid the world of evil forever. However, she is in a race against time, for every life that she saves aged her in indeterminate ways. If she cannot balance the scales before her death, she is in for a lifetime of unspeakable torment, at the hands of the demon who was once her master.

Review:

Simply amazing! On-the-edge-of-your-seat brilliant, Dark Time is an intriguing blend of myth, paranormal, suspense, and action-adventure.

Maliha Crayne is a complex heroine. A trained assassin, she now uses her powers for good, not only because it's the way to her redemption, but also because she couldn't ignore people in need. After two coders were murdered, she seeks to find the killer and comes face-to-face with an enemy she might not be able to take down, considering her reduced powers.

Yet, what I like about Maliha is that she faces life head on. She takes stock of what she has and does what needs to be done, no matter that the situation might end in her death. She doesn't give up hope, but strives on toward the goal she sets for herself, no matter the obstacles. She is also fiercely protective about the few friends she has and would die to keep them safe. No wonder these friends feel the same way about her.

I also like the detailed descriptions of Maliha's weapons and action scenes, as they give an authentic feel to the story, with Maliha being what she is. Though this book focuses on Maliha's solving the mystery of the coders' death, the entire series has an overall arc, which leaves the question hanging at the end of this book: Will Maliha triumph over evil and emerge victorious in her battle with her demon master?

Because Maliha is not the only Ageless her demon master employs. It also stands to reason that the other six demons have their own Ageless minions as well, minions who are threats to Maliha and her goal.

There's a hint of romance as well, between Maliha and DEA agent Jake Stackman. Yet, who is Jake exactly? A mystery that I'm sure will be revealed in succeeding books.The ending caught me by surprise, and what a cliffhanger! Makes me anxious to read the next book. I hope I won't be kept waiting long.

Disclaimer: This book is provided by the author.

Book Rating: 4 stars
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