Wednesday, April 23, 2014

World book day 2014

Happy World  Book Day!

The day to celebrate our vice joy with books and fictional worlds and magical moments!!
Happy book day :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tessa Dare / Abigail Roux

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.
Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.
Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.
She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

Comment: This short story is second in the Spindle Cove series. It's Violet's story and we learn why she is in Spindle Cove and on the eve of her return home, a man shows up and she thinks he's familiar. The development was rich and intense despite the small size of the story. I found if deeply engrossing and so very detailed for such a short length. The romance part was fast but there are mitigating circumstances. I was once more surprised by hoe serious and rationally discussed everything was. This is a solid, strong writing and shows great promise. Can't wait for more!
Grade: 8/10

*  *  * 

After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.
Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.
Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

Comment: This is the first of a spin off of the Cut and Run series. It's Nick's side of things and his relationship with Kelly, with his take on work, on life. I was glad he got a story. His relationship with Kelly changes but I was quite surprised with the level of emotions and expectations the author dealt with in a short story. It doesn't feel like one. Kudos for talent, I guess. I was impressed and will read the rest. Being a spin off it's better read after the main series, because many things are understood because of that. It was a strong story, I'm very happy with it.
Grade: 8/10

Song # 17

This Portuguese singer isn't the most recognized here, unless by a small group but one of his songs was picked to be part of CSI Miami soundtracks. Yay.
This is one of his first known songs. I like it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Virna dePaul - Chosen By Blood

Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.

Comment: I got this book mostly because in this trilogy there would be were characters, meaning shape shifters. I was very curious to see how that aspect of a paranormal would play out, since shape shifters are my favorite type of paranormal creatures and a world with shape shifters is always one to consider at some point.

This is the story of Knox Devereaux, he's the leader of vampires in a world were vampires and Other creatures are out to the human world but humans have created a vaccine that render their blood unsuitable for vampires, meaning vampires are slowly dying with proper nourishment. Knox wants the cure that was created in a lab and joins a team of six beings to search for it. And part of that team is the human he have loved forever, even though he was married to a vampire and knows he will do so gain in the future...but this time he wants love too. Will he get it?

Well, this story doesn't focus on shape shifters but they are part of the story because the team Knox joins has a werewolf. I was quite glad over this but of course he (Hunt) not being the protagonist didn't played that much into focus. I'm still curious about him despite the fact his story will be the third and I still have one to go before that.

As for this one, all the scenes with the team felt like movie scripts, namely, it had scenes with them distrusting each other, getting to know each other, playing their strengths, getting to trust each other, etc. Not a bad thing but I feel conflicted over it, I don't know if I should feel annoyed it wasn't developed more and that this could turn into a sort of paranormal series focused on the character's mission in which case it wasn't successful, or if I should feel irritated it didn't focus properly on the vampires' cure and the world building, in which case it wasn't a success either.
I'll summarize the issues that should be addressed differently, in my personal opinion:
- the romance sucked, I'll explain after;
- the world building felt very minimalist because it didn't offer anything besides the action center necessary to the story. I don't like this that much because if looks like the world is narrow...a bit more effort would be interesting, I think. Maybe we can see more in the next stories;
- the series is focused on Knox and his love on sights Felicia, but there are other characters that matter. There are clever ways to make them more substantial than what they seem, but I don't think that happened here. Still, the little clues we had were intriguing and I have hopes for more in the next books;
- the pace was OK. The overall plot line about the cure for the vampires and the starting of the plots for the next stories were nicely fit together and the story didn't feel heavy or useless. I liked this sense of always moving forward somehow. But, I still believe it would have been even better if the author could have given more dimension to the whole thing.

The romance sucked to me. Why? Because in the beginning Felicia is known to have kept away from Knox for a long time despite having feelings for him. He pursued her but she never said no for the best reasons, I think! But eventually she gives in and to be honest it was so stupid. How could her reasoning fall so easily after years of god sense? I get it that it helped for the plot purposes, but is someone that weak to be influenced to change a way of thinking that lasted years in such a short time? I know it seem it lasted longer because of all those "no" years, but the reasons were still the same when they got intimate! She still thought the same about him, herself and the whole situation. Well, maybe it's me that wants to stick to some sort of moral conduct but this is something I really must feel is respected in character's behavior. If they are said to be a certain way then I only accept change without good reason. This didn't feel like it. It's hard to explain without giving spoilers, but let's just say if you respect someone and yourself, you wouldn't act against the two. I think.

In the end, good supports and interesting, promising bases, but still a lot to be worked out, in my POV. I gave this a better grade due to the possibilities. Let's see it it matches up in the future.
Grade: 7/10

Tessa Dare - A Night to Surrender

Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are... nowhere to be found. Or are they?
Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.
Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.
Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle... but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

Comment: I've got this book some time ago after seeing some discussion on a message board about the unconventionality of some of the romances in this series. Although some readers might find the concept as too much fantasy, for me it was like a beacon and I got the first story right away. Eventually time went by and only now I managed to read it.

The story presents us Bram, his cousin and an officer who's been with Bram forever during the war. Bram arrives at Spindle Cove to ask the help of Sir Lewis Finch, a renowned inventor of artillery. Bram wants to return to war despite his knee and doctor's advice to retire. Bram doesn't want to even think about it so Sir Lewis might be the key to put him on battles again.
Before that Bram meets Susannah and feels very attracted to her, not knowing she's Sir Lewis' daughter. Susannah is a woman with a mission, she wants to help the ladies who arrive at Spindle Cove to cure themselves for whatever ails them in the city but in truth Spindle Cove is the place for them to breathe, to be themselves without pressure or disappointments. Bram's arrival disturbs the peace and the routine but what Susannah fears the most is her own feelings about him...

I liked this story a lot! I especially liked the idea of a place where ladies can be without the pressure of living in a city where those with some kind of apparent handicap, like a facial birthmark or shyness or spinsterhood are targeted by the society. Susannah tried and achieved her goal of creating a place where that doesn't happen and ladies have a weekly routine of chores where they can be on their own, with friendly faces and peace. All this in the disguise of being away to be cured. I really liked how Susannah behaved like the hostess of a never ending possibility of freedom and peace.

Susannah was quite the character. She had all the evidence of being a women ahead of her time, she wanted the best for those ladies because herself had bad experiences in dealing with society and even more so about curing what others thought was illness. All she needed was time and peace to be herself. After returning to Spindle Cove she envisioned that for other women in need. This shows the kind of person she is and how she would try to create the best she could to help others.
Men weren't part of the picture because in Spindle Cove there were no alpha men, so that scenario wasn't even a thought, but with Bram things change. Susannah keeps an eye on him but she can't help but fall for him and his nobility of character. 
I think their relationship was well done, it felt phased, not rushed, not even the seduction scenes seemed forced or there just for the sake of the romance, when they actually are exactly that. But while many authors can't disguise this with talented writing, I had the feeling ms Dare could and the seduction between Bram and Susannah seemed cute and romantic to me. Plus, it looked like they belonged together and I was happy when they reached their HEA.
Bram wanted to go back to the life the knew, he wanted to stay away from dealing with different responsibility, but he wasn't prepared for Susannah or the feelings Spindle Cove and its inhabitants would set on him. He has character and a good heart and throughout the story it was evident to see and cherish.

There are many secondary characters with the magic possibility of good plots and I can't wait to read about them. I think the author did a good job, thought about a good plot and set up an interesting place and environment. Some might feel this was too much fictional to be labeled simply historical, but honestly I liked it a lot and I don't think it's to different from so many other books in the genre out there. As with everything, it's a matter of personal taste and, in this case, it did work for me perfectly.
Grade: 9/10

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TBR Challenge: Jennifer Bernard - Sex and the Single Fireman

There's a hardnosed new training officer in town, and that's bad news for the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel . . .
But great news for firefighter Sabina Jones . . . maybe.
The toughest captain on the East Coast, single father Rick Roman has come thousands of miles to San Gabriel to put an end to the "Bachelor Firemen" media hype. But when a stunning woman he nearly hooked up with in Reno turns out to be a firefighter from his new station, Roman realizes it's going to be tough keeping the tabloids at bay.
But there's even more Sabina isn't telling him. Before dedicating herself to battling blazes, Sabina led a very different life, one that made her famous. The last thing she wants is to have her secret exposed. The papers, bloggers, and TV gossips will have a field day with that -- expecially when they sense the obvious sexual heat between Sabina and Chief Roman, who's torn between firing her . . . and falling in love with her!

Comment: It's time for another post for the TBR challenge. This month the theme is contemporary and I've picked a book I had here since last year because at the time the blurb seemed interesting. I wasn't aware this was actually the third in a series, but now that I've read it, I don't feel like going back. I might read the following ones one day, I was interested enough in the characters to do so.

This is the story of Sabina Jones, she liked her job as a firefighter and she loves he idea she's working to help others. Sabina has had a very different life before the anonymity of being just another firefighter and she wants to keep things that way.
Chief Roman comes from New York to help the fire house to deal with the excess media attention they're having lately all due to the amount of times the station has been on the news and not always for work purposes, the thing is, the firemen of Station 1 are well known to be bachelors and when one of them got married, they all got even more popular.
Sabina and Roman meet one day without knowing the identity of the other. They almost made love but Sabina lost her nerve, so it was very funny to see both their faces when Roman was introduced as her new boss the next day. From here on, their relationship changed, developed and their feelings too.

I was sold on this one the moment I saw the two protagonists didn't know the other would be a co worker and how that would stress their professional relationship. I was curious to see how that would happen. After a bump start with a misunderstanding, they got to know each other during a blind dinner let's call it, and the chemistry was obvious. But Sabina thought twice before sleeping with him despite her attraction (smart girl) and she never knew he would be her boss. That scene was funny, when they both saw each other after Sabina left without saying something and by having left only a note under the door. At first they struggled to keep things professional but it got more difficult the more time they spent together and even more so when even in their spare time they run into each other all the time, like in Roman's son baseball practice where Sabina had a "borrowed" sister too, and in the restaurant near their work. All the apparently random meetings only enhanced their attraction and a personal involvement was to be expected.

I liked the protagonists. Sabina was running fro the memories of a past where she couldn't be herself, where others expected something from her and now that she's living the life she wanted, the past is returning. This part of the story provided enough bases to justify Sabina's character and was an interesting opposition to her current life and way of thinking. I thin some situations were exaggerated and in a way I guess it was meant to offer a funnier side of things but I thought that it wasn't that special. I'm glad that it didn't went into stupidity level. The best thing in all the background was that it showed how committed and professional Sabina was about being a firefighter. I liked that she was proud of this side of herself.
Roman lost his wife in the 9/11 and moved to California so his son could join a baseball team and also to help with a famous fire house presenting a more formal identity after all the media apparatus of lately. Things aren't as easy because of several reasons and Roman actually gets to a point where he fears he's made a mistake. But his son's happiness and his growing feelings for Sabina tell him he should give life another chance which he does, even more so than we think at first. The end of the novel is quite the surprise for Roman's character.

My general feelings about this novel are pretty satisfying. The story was solid enough, had good bases and a good enough structure. It's meant to be funny, I did laugh at some scenes and was glad this wasn't meant to be a joke. I think it was serious enough on the right moments and still managed to offer a good image of how to deal with feelings too. The scene where Sabina tells Roman she's in love with him was very cute.

The secondary characters were interesting. The upcoming heroes seem interesting, I hope the settings can still function around the fire house, I think it's one of the things that could add a bit more seriousness to the plot, a bit more scenes within the fire house to present a more complex professional situation. My opinion, of course.

The story isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it and was happy enough with the way things were dealt with. As far as contemporaries go, this wasn't so bad. The characters had reactions believable enough and the chemistry between Sabina and Roman wasn't badly done. I also liked they didn't had sex right after seeing each other again at the fire house. Their relationship developed slowly, giving them time to know each other better until it was obvious they were already feeling something more than lust by the time intimacy happened. The situations outside themselves were done well enough to add some veracity to the demands of life.
All in all, an enjoyable story, good and strong elements, some lack of that extra thing that could put this in perfection level, but certainly a good story nevertheless. Recommended to contemporary fans.
Grade: 8/10

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JR Ward - The King

Long live the King…
After turning his back on the throne for centuries, Wrath, son of Wrath, finally assumed his father’s mantle--with the help of his beloved mate. But the crown sets heavily on his head. As the war with the Lessening Society rages on, and the threat from the Band of Bastards truly hits home, he is forced to make choices that put everything--and everyone--at risk.
Beth Randall thought she knew what she was getting into when she mated the last pure blooded vampire on the planet: An easy ride was not it. But when she decides she wants a child, she’s unprepared for Wrath’s response--or the distance it creates between them.
The question is, will true love win out... or tortured legacy take over?

Comment: Here it is, the annual release of a Black Dagger Brotherhood story. This year it's back to Beth and Wrath although the plot isn't only about them or things around them. This book keeps up with so many sub plots and possible protagonists that it's very populated for sure.

The main story line focuses on Wrath and his kingdom. Wrath has been feeling powerless and unable to cope with his blindness and most impirtant, his lack of will to carry on as king, as a ruler without much control over what he is doing and he feels often that his efforts aren't leading nowhere.
I think part of the problem was precisely this, the fact his "job" as king isn't instantly synonymous to success and acceptance. There are several scenes from his father and how he acted upon a time concerning some things during his reign and how we can make a parallel comparison to the current Wrath's efforts. I thin these scenes aren't here just to make the reader know Wrath senior but also to show that Wrath isn't dealing with unheard things, a king has responsibilities and issues to work out all the time, since kings exist and the best lesson Wrath can take from what he is ding is what it means to the ones around him that his efforts, his work has a meaning, has value. Wrath says at some point he hates the job. So, I think the author's intention to make Wrath accept this sort of failure was the right step to move forward. Wrath changes things and I have to say I liked him here, I liked his position and his mind when he decided to make choices, when he decided to change things and that it wouldn't mean a disrespect to his own father's reign before. It meant that, as soon as he was truthful to himself and to the ones around him, that was the way to prove how worthy he was as king and as a male. I think this aspect of the story was well explored and interesting.
Then there's also the issue of babies...Wrath and Beth dealt with the problem and I think the way things worked out on that field was cute.
Beth was quite the character here. I thin we can see how her help and strength are things to appreciate and how she can be the best support Wrath could ever get. I didn't feel this was heir story re-written, this was them more mature, more knowledgeable about the problems, the difficulties, but also the good things and the respect. I liked this.

We also see development in several sub plots, which will certainly keep being worked on in the upcoming books.
There's Trez, we learn more about Shadows and their world.
There's still the thing between Xcor and Layla, a relationship that leaves me very curious.
There's Assail and Marisol and what could mean for them to be together.There are more little clues about these sub stories and other things in the working. I think so many things could feel too much but I think the author has a vision and I hope t will turn out alright. Still, a part of me misses a bit the emphasis on the romance, on the relationships...I wish those days could still happen.

There are things that annoyed me a bit. As individuals, as human beings, as readers, there are things that are acceptable and welcome to out tastes and others that not so much. I have to say I wasn't fond at all of the drug references here. Assail does drugs and it annoys me a lot. I really hate it. I can understand how it enhances his persona and his character construction but I hate it and wish it's something to solve soon.
There were some scenes filled with anger that made me a perfect world, anger and arguments and fights are solved right away. I hope that, at least, the not so happy scenes can be just the set up to better times.

This book isn't perfect, but like with so many things in out lives, when we care for something and we are used to it, we feel wonderful near that thing or even talking or knowing it's there, so I feel thrilled about a book in this series, the first to hook me up in paranormal and that showed me a world of possibilities in reading I didn't know before BDB. For that, even though I think this could be better or more powerful, I still can't say it's bad. It's as entertaining, as addictive and as special to me as ever. I think that, sometimes, just being in a world you dream about can be enough even if your other side recognizes the room for improvement. Still, I can't wait for more and I keep as eager and as enthusiastic for this as  a child for candy. Next year here we will be and I hope I finish it as entertained and with such enjoyment as with this one.
Grade: 8/10

Eresse - By Chance Met

From the moment he laid eyes on the handsome Lord of Ilmaren, Naeth Orosse fell head over heels in infatuation with him. And after that first meeting in the middle of a tavern brawl in the dual-gendered realm of Ylandre, Reijir Arthanna did not forget the orphaned youth who came to his aid unasked. When fate brings them together anew, Reijir becomes Naeth’s guardian, which proves both blessing and bane when their mutual attraction is guilelessly nursed by one and distrustfully downplayed by the other.
Between attempting to ignore Naeth’s artless overtures and suppressing feelings he had long disavowed, Reijir has his hands full. But more than a title and duty were forced on this enigmatic cousin of Ylandre’s king. A less than benevolent past has left its imprint on Reijir who is as known for his cynical outlook on life as he is for his exotic features and proficiency between the sheets. Convincing him to risk his heart in love is a battle more experienced Deira than Naeth have waged and invariably lost.

Comment: In keeping up with this series, this month it was time to read the third installment of the Chronicles of Ylandre, a series of five books by Eresse.

This is Reijir and Naeth's story. 
Naeth is a young man who lost everything back home and looked for help in the capital with one of his father's old friends. He works in a tavern but his life is far from perfect. One day he helps some highborns and when he is attacked later that night, Reijir rescues him from harm. That night starts their relationship, as Reijir welcomes Naeth as his ward and takes care of him. Years go by and Naeth falls more deeply in love with Reijir the more time he spends with him. Things reach a breaking point when Naeth listens to what he shouldn't and tries to run away, but will Reijir just let him go?

I liked this installment. Many things are going on, although it's obvious the wight of the relationship is distributed not very equally...Naeth is clearly portrayed as younger and more naive man and Reijir is the older, more mature one. I felt that, until the end, Naeth was a much easier character to understand, he showed his feelings better and in a more obvious way. Reijir had reasons to be quieter and more reserved, but in a way that fact didn't help in building up a more empathic connection to him and he always felt a bit cold at times. His reasons are more than acceptable, tough. But that doesn't mean he changes much, I found his character to be pretty much the same throughout the story.

Like I said, I still liked this one, and it was interesting to see how previous characters played a part in this one as well. There are many usual elements in this novel, the same way there are in any other romance story. There's jealousy, fear, feelings of inadequacy, love, lust, friendship...although the overall feel of the story doesn't differ much from the other stories, I thought this one felt more polished, more thoughtful in a way.

This series are based on a society where only exist men. Therefore, any relationship pertains only men, so it can be a bit annoying at times when they talk or act together and one of them is almost what we would call a "twink" because of the similarities to women's behavior or characteristics. Personally I would prefer if this were not to happen, as I like my m/m romances with men acting like men (for the most part), but this being a fantasy, it's not that weird. I just think it wouldn't be bad if one of them didn't had to look "weaker" in a relationship, or if this is such a keystone to the imagined society, then why does this has to be a rule in all books? Just random, personal thoughts.

Despite my personal ideas, I still enjoyed the book and was touched when they faced emotional and moral dilemmas and had their problems...I wanted everyone to be happy and to find their place. Despite a thing here and there I don't like as much, I still feel marveled at the author's imagination and society descriptions, which are a lot, and how interesting everything works.
Grade: 7/10