RhiReading News

Dear readers,

Hi Rhireaders! Check out the latest events in the sidebar! Thanks for visiting, be sure and follow me on social media for MORE awesome content.

Did you drop by to request a review or tour stop? Due to high demand and a very busy schedule, I am currently CLOSED for unsolicited review requests. Thank you for thinking of me though!

I do have promotional openings for October 2017 through February 2018 open so please reach out. Just please drop me an email with a polite request and if I'm interested I will reply.

-- Rhi


1.28.2009

Coming Soon: February 2009 Releases

February 1st

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Pride (Werecats #3) by Rachel Vincent
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (MIRA, 400 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0778326497
I'm on trial for my life. Falsely accused of infecting my human ex-boyfriend—and killing him to cover up the crime. Infecting a human is one of three capital offenses recognized by the Pride—along with murder and disclosure of our existence to a human.
I'm two for three. A goner.
Now we've discovered a rogue stray terrorizing the mountainside, hunting a wild teenage tabbycat. It's up to us to find and stop him before a human discovers us. With my lover Marc's help, I think I can protect the vulnerable girl from both the ambitious rogue and the scheming of the territorial council.
If I survive my own trial…

Author Site: http://rachelvincent.com/

February 3rd

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Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4) by Patricia Briggs
Urban Fantasy, Shapeshifters, Fae
Hardcover (ACE HARDCOVER, 320 pages, $24.95)
ISBN# 0441016766
In a world where “witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people” (Booklist), it takes a very unusual woman to call it home. By day, Mercy Thompson is a car mechanic in Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shape-shifter with some unusual talents, Mercy’s found herself maintaining a tenuous harmony between the human and the not-so- human on more than one occasion. This time she may get more than she bargained for.
Author Site: http://www.patriciabriggs.com/

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Never Been Witched (Triplet Witch Trilogy #3) by Annette Blair
Paranormal Romance, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 304 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425226492
The Cartwright triplets—Harmony, Destiny, and Storm—are psychic sirens who use their magic for good and their good looks for seduction. But for Destiny, catching the attention of a paranormal debunker isn’t going to be easy.
Author Site: http://www.annetteblair.com/

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Undone (Outcast Season #1) by Rachel Caine
Paranormal Romance, Witches
Mass Market Paperback (ROC, 320 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0451462610
Once she was Cassiel, a Djinn of limitless power. Now, she has been reshaped in human flesh as punishment for defying her master—and living among the Weather Wardens, whose power she must tap into regularly or she will die. And as she copes with the emotions and frailties of her human condition, a malevolent entity threatens her new existence...
Author Site: http://www.rachelcaine.com/

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Dream Warrior (Dream-Hunters #4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Paranormal Romance, Mythology
Mass Market Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S PAPERBACK, 320 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0312938837
The son of Warcraft and Hate, Cratus spent eternity battling for the ancient gods who birthed him. He was death to any who crossed him. Until the day he laid down his arms and walked into self-imposed exile. Now an ancient enemy has been unleashed and our dreams are his chosen battlefield. The only hope we have is the one god who swears he will never fight again.
As a Dream-Hunter, Delphine has spent eternity protecting mankind from the predators who prey on our unconscious state. But now that her allies have been turned, she knows in order to survive, the Dream-Hunters need a new leader. Someone who can train them to fight their new enemies. Cratus is her only hope. But she is a bitter reminder of why he chose to lay down his arms.
Time is running out and if she can't win him to her cause, mankind will be slaughtered and the world we know will soon cease to exist.

Author Site: http://www.dailyinquisitor.com/sherrilyn/

February 24th

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Desire Unchained (Demonica #2) by Larissa Ione
Paranormal Romance, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (FOREVER, 416 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 044640098X
Pleasure is their ultimate weapon . . .
Runa Wagner never meant to fall in love with the sexy stranger who seemed to know her every deepest desire. But she couldn't resist the unbelievable passion that burned between them, a passion that died when she discovered his betrayal and found herself forever changed. Now, determined to make Shade pay for the transformation that haunts her, Runa searches for him, only to be taken prisoner by his darkest enemy.
A Seminus Demon with a love-curse that threatens him with eternal torment, Shade hoped he'd seen the last of Runa and her irresistible charm. But when he wakes up in a dank dungeon chained next to an enraged and mysteriously powerful Runa, he realizes that her effect on him is more dangerous than ever.
As their captor casts a spell that bonds them as lifemates, Shade and Runa must fight for their lives and their hearts-or succumb to a madman's evil plans.

Author Site: http://www.larissaione.com/

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You're the One that I Haunt (Nicki Styx #3) by Terri Garey
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Ghosts
Mass Market Paperback (AVON, 384 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0061582034
The devil went down to Georgia . . .
Nicki Styx has always known that the devil's in the details—but does he have to move in next door, too? Worse, he won't take no for an answer. Nicki would never leave her beloved boyfriend, ER doc Joe Bascombe, but hell hath no fury like a devil scorned. He's determined to make Nicki's life a living hell—even if it means exposing Nicki as an unwilling ghoulfriend to the dead.
Now, just when she was getting used to being able to see and hear—and help—spirits, Nicki's got a whole new set of problems. With ghosts descending from all sides, the bereaved knocking down her door, and Joe trying to take things to the next level, Nicki may finally be in over her head. It would be so easy to dance with the devil . . . but if Nicki crosses over to the dark side, she may never leave.

Author Site: http://www.tgarey.com/

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White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows #7) by Kim Harrison
Urban Fantasy, Magic, Demons
Hardcover (EOS, 512 pages, $25.99)
ISBN# 0061138010
Some wounds take time to heal . . . and some scars never fade.
Rachel Morgan, kick-ass witch and bounty hunter, has taken her fair share of hits, and has broken lines she swore she would never cross. But when her lover was murdered, it left a deeper wound than Rachel ever imagined, and now she won't rest until his death is solved . . . and avenged. Whatever the cost.
Yet the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and when a new predator moves to the apex of the Inderlander food chain, Rachel's past comes back to haunt her.
Literally.

Author Site: http://www.kimharrison.net/

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Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville #6) by Carrie Vaughn
Urban Fantasy, Werewolves, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0446199540
Sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.
Kitty and Ben flee The City That Never Sleeps, thinking they were finished with the dangers there, but the sadistic cult of lycanthropes and their vampire priestess have laid a curse on Kitty in revenge for her disrupting their rituals. Starting at the next full moon, danger and destruction the form of fire strikes Kitty and the pack of werewolves she's sworn to protect.
She enlists the help of a group of TV paranormal investigators - one of whom has real psychic abilities - to help her get to the bottom of the curse that's been laid on her. Rick, the Master vampire of Denver, believes a deeper plot lies behind the curse, and he and Kitty argue about whether or not to accept the help of a professional demon hunter - and vampire - named Roman, who arrives a little too conveniently in the nick of time.
Unable to rely on Rick, and unwilling to accept Roman's offer of help for a price, Kitty and her band of allies, including Vegas magician Odysseus Grant and Kitty's own radio audience, mount a trap for the supernatural being behind the curse, a destructive force summoned by the vengeful cult, a supernatural being that none of them ever thought to face.

Author Site: http://www.carrievaughn.com/

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The Better to Hold You (#1) by Alisa Sheckley
Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Mass Market Paperback (DEL REY, 336 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0345505875
SHE KNOWS WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.
Manhattan veterinarian Abra Barrow has more sense about animals than she
has about men. So when her adored journalist husband returns from a
research trip to Romania and starts pacing their apartment like a caged
wolf, Abra agrees to move with him to a rural mansion upstate in order to save her marriage.
But while there are perks to her new life, particularly in the bedroom,
Abra soon discovers that nothing in the bucolic town of Northside is
what it seems. The local tavern serves a dangerous, predatory
underworld. Her husband has developed feral new appetites and a roving
eye, and his lack of humanity isn’t entirely emotional. As the moon waxes full, Abra must choose between trusting the man she married, taking a chance on a seductive stranger, or following her own animal instincts.

Author Site: http://www.alisakwitney.com/

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Deader Still (Simon Canderous #2) by Anton Strout
Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (ACE, 320 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 044101691X
It’s hard to defeat evil on a budget. Just ask Simon Canderous.
It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does.

Author Site: http://www.antonstrout.com/

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The Reckoning (Immortals #8) by Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash, Robin T. Popp
Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (LOVE SPELL, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0505527685
In "Wolf Hunt," by Jennifer Ashley, werewolf Logan must race to save the beautiful demon Nadia from his own pack.
(There are two other stories in this anthology but I couldn't find any info about them.)

Author Site: http://www.immortals-series.com/

The Lost Art of Honest Reviewing

As a reader, several years ago now, I've always felt cheated when I buy a book based on the blurb sounding interesting and it turns out to be not much like said blurb. All the rave quotes from other authors (no offense to you authors out there) also tend to make me question the validity of their claims. They tend to sound so generic due to the limited space given for them.

So it was that once upon a time I started searching for books in a certain vein. You see... long before Buffy and films like Underworld and books like Twilight... I wanted to write urban fantasy. I didn't even know what it was called. I just knew I had these characters climbing around the dark recesses of my addled brain demanding that I write their adventures. To understand why I never allowed these beings and their worlds to emerge is a long story involving literally the religious abuses of my childhood. So my search began one day by simply typing the word 'vampire' into Amazon.com's search engine. Feel free to try it, you'll be amazed at how much comes up these days.

That simple search lead me to a certain well known and IMO notorious series which I investigated and later went in search of locally. It was a great series... for about six books. Then something began to change. If you're thinking this sounds familiar you'll understand what I am refering to, if not don't worry it's not important to this post. A few more books came along but slowly it began to devolve so very much that I didn't know why I was reading them anymore.

What frustrated me most of all was how when I would look at the Star Ratings used on Amazon (and many other sites too) they were very back and forth. You'd have people say the book was bad but still give it three stars. I needed to understand the star system better. So I began really paying attention to it. The one I use here is what you usually find. Love it, like it, okay, dislike and hate. So why couldn't it stay that simple?

Because reviewers don't know how to properly explain their stars.

It was then that I began really caring about writing reviews. Sure, I had written a few here and there just for the hell of it. But now I knew what my reviews had been missing and what I needed to do to become a reviewer people would listen to and hopefully respect the opinions of. I don't honestly know if I have achieved that goal but I have had enough response to feel I'm doing a decent job of getting there.

The first thing I had to do was find out all of the things I thought reviewers did wrong in their reviews and do the opposite. Posting spoilers, making statements about the author's personal lives, saying 'I loved this book' but not why. The list was pretty long. Then I thought about the reviews that had previously convinced me to buy a certain book. Surprisingly many of them were negative reviews. Reviews where a reader did explain what they didn't like about the book. Why? Because when you're writing a review all you're doing is giving an opinion. Everyone knows the saying about opinions and assholes. ;D Maybe what one reviewer disliked about the book was something I personally like!

There began my journey to be as honest as I could when I review. Sometimes, I feel very guilty when I don't care for a book or I dislike elements of them. This is especially true when I know the author might see it. As someone who enjoys writing and can't imagine the difficulty of carrying a book from idea to published work I worry at times that my statements in review could be looked at as critisism. Then I have to remind myself that just like not everyone likes olives on their pizza, not everyone likes mushrooms. When I get critical you can rest assured I'm not trying to be mean but I like olives and mushrooms and I don't like pepperoni. It's my opinion and who am I to judge?

Take my reviews as just honest opinions and note the star rating and chances are you'll be able to get enough info about a book to decide whether you want to look more into it. Then, do the next reader the courtesy of sharing your opinion too! Maybe you loved it and I only thought it was okay. Maybe the latest installment of a series got poor reviews from the pros but we everyday fans think it rocked. So go tell everyone why. This reader will be glad you did.
-- Rhi

1.26.2009

Review: Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear

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Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear
Paranormal Romance, Werewolves
Mass Market Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 400 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1402211570
Their forbidden love may get them both killed.
Bella is a red werewolf, sole survivor of the fire that killed her entire pack.
Devlyn is a beta male werewolf in a pack of grays.
Forced to flee her adopted gray pack when the alpha male becomes a vicious threat, she struggles to live as a lone wolf, until Devlyn, the gray male who rescued her as a pup, comes to bring her home.
When a local red werewolf goes on a killing spree, Bella and Devlyn must flee the murderer, the police and their vengeful pack leader. With the full moon rising, and her heat upon her, Bella can't resist the pull to her destined mate, even if means Devlyn will have to face the wicked alpha male in a fight to the death...
A sizzling paranormal romance based on extensive research on how wolves live and behave in the wild, creating a fascinating world of nature and fantasy.
Author Site:
http://www.terryspear.com/


Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear (3 stars)

Bella won't be forced to be Volan's mate. He might be the pack's alpha male but she's chosen the male worthy of her love and loyalty. The trouble is that she believes Volan will kill Devlyn if the beta chooses to fight for her. Fleeing the pack of grays that took her in when her pack of red wolves was killed she lives a solo life in Oregon now. When she left them she was still very much a child in the werewolf world but one hundred and fifty years later she has come into her maturity and longs for a mate. The mate she could never claim for her own.

Getting drugged and tossed into the zoo is the last place Bella expects to end up when she decides to spend some time at her cabin. She's been investigating a series of local murders she believes have been commited by one of her own kind. But her former pack aren't the only ones trying to help her escape. It seems she's drawn the attention of the local red wolves and they are more than willing to start a violent war to keep her for their own. Devlyn won't let Bella do any of this alone even if it means he has to fight the reds and Volan to claim her.

This was a tough book for me to give a star rating on. In the end the things I liked and enjoyed about it were about equal with the things I didn't care for. That's always a tough call. Conceptually, I love this book. Werewolves living with true pack dynamics like wild wolves isn't done very often in the genre. Knowing from page one that Devlyn would have to fight Volan for Bella added tension to the story. Seperating the different types of wolves, red and gray, into their own distinct groups also added a unique element that I really liked. The secondary characters Thompson and Chrissie gave the story some added depth since I always enjoyed decently fleshed out secondaries.

What made me struggle with the book was actually the plot. Unfortunately, there were too many threads trying to be woven as the main story. Volan's wanting Bella seemed like it was going to be the main thread. But then the addition of the murder mystery and the reds' attempts to woo Bella added to the confusion. I found myself asking questions about the world building and such that made the story unravel a bit skewed. My other tough spot was the actual romance between Devlyn and Bella. I like a good sex scene as much as the next reader but after a while it felt like the only chemistry the characters seemed to have was their mutual desire to get naked and mate. I'd have liked just a little more romance of the clothed kind werewolves or not.

All in all I think this is a wonderful concept that will carry over really well into other books. This one just didn't happen to have the right storyline to strike my personal fancy. I think that if you like lots of sex and/or are into the pack dynamics you'll enjoy it. Enjoy!

1.20.2009

Getting Excited for the Marked series!

Last summer I got a friend invite on amazon.com from someone named S.J. Day claiming to be an urban fantasy writer. Well, anyone who is a frequent user of Amazon knows that anyone could claim such a thing and get away with it even if it isn't true. But something told me to go with my gut and accept the invite. Then, sure enough, in the last couple of months Day's books started popping up on my recommendations!

I totally wanted to sit down and write her a note about the long ago invite and how silly I felt to have questioned it and see if she had a press kit or something I could look through to do a feature on her when the first book hits the shelves. See if she was available for a short Q&A session at some point. Alas, I am a big chicken and now her site is up and looking so professional and wicked cool. I feel like that girl who realizes that the actress playing her favorite character on a new show is the barista she once got her latte from. ha!

But anyway... the point of all this to say... I am soooo looking forward to this series. You all should expect me to pick it up quick and review as soon as I get the first finished and so on. ;D

In the meantime, there's a
giveaway up on the site! Neat goodies being given away. Wouldn't mind getting my hands on that ARC teehee! Can we say impatient?

Even if you have no interest in the giveaway do check out Day's series info. I forsee this being one of the hot new ones this year. You don't want to be the last one to get into it!
-- Rhi


S.J. Day's the MARKED Urban Fantasy series -- Coming in 2009

1.16.2009

Check out the latest from Kresley Cole



Hey there dear readers! It's Friday morning and I have had such a busy week. As I sit here and slurp my coffee and troll through updating my author sites bookmarks one thing looms at the back of my mind... how much I reeeeeally want to go back to bed. teehee! If wishes were fishes eh? Instead I'm trying to do some profile updating over at Amazon.com (my Listmania collection especially hurts for updates right now) and the above mentioned author site updateness.

As I was updating my Listmania's I happened to notice that Kresley Cole is having a contest... and I never enter contests but I admit the prize sounded worth the
terms. Being the big ol' geek I am I was going to pop onto World of Warcraft and pimp the book in some silly manner... dressing up in a [Lovely Black Dress] and handing out [Tasty Cupcake]s or [Glass of Dalaran Red] wine seemed like a cute option. But then I realized as cool of a girl as I am... it's Friday morning. Which means the servers are full of nothing but hardcore guy gamers putting things on the auction house in anticipation of the weekend. So naturally I'd get reported for spam and potentially have my account banned. Now as much time as that would free for more reading... I actually like playing the darned game!

So instead I bring you...


Wow Item Creator! This Item's Voting Page!

The newest item that SHOULD be within the World of Warcraft. A soulbound tome of epic proportions that any proper Night Elf Priestess or Tauren Druidess should be instance grinding her way toward. /giggle

I may not be the coolest kid on the block but I know how to promote a great series in the most unusual way possible. Or at least... pretend like I do. ;)

Happy Friday ladies (and gents)... and seriously... go
check out the series.

Consider KoaDK officially RhiPimped. 8D
-- Rhi

1.13.2009

Review: 22 Nights by Linda Winstead Jones

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22 Nights (Emperor's Brides #2) by Linda Winstead Jones
Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 336 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425224910
Just when the lovely Belavalari has given up on Merin - the dashing general to whom she lost her maidenhead - he appears in her native village, with orders from the emperor to return with Bela as a prospective empress. Fearless and skilled with her magical sword, Bela embodies everything Merin could want in a soldier. Except that she's female. And already married - he's horrified to learn - to him.
For her own reasons, Bela drugged him all those years ago and performed the Turi marital rite. Now, to sever the bond forever, Bela and Merin must remain bound together by a short rope for twenty-two days - and twenty-two nights. That is, if they don't kill each other first.
But on the horizon looms a cutthroat enemy. Now the pair will have to rely on each other - and the magical sword - to make it through alive and to experience the strength of the ties that bind.
Author Site:
http://www.lindawinsteadjones.com/


The Emperor's Brides, Book Two: 22 Nights (3 stars)

In Jones' Fyne Witches trilogy a pair of twin sons are born to Emperor Sebestyen of Columbyana. Now adults, Emperor Jahn and his moments-younger twin, Prince Alixandyr have begun an adventure to find a bride for the Emperor. There is to be a contest, six women of worth from varying lands are to be brought to the palace to be offered the chance to be Empress. Messengers are sent to the far places at the height of the Spring Festival to return with the ladies in time for the Summer Festival where Jahn will choose his bride. Already Alix has returned with Princess Edlyn of Tryfyn and has found a bride for himself in the exotic Sanura.

Sending General Merin to the Turis to bring back the Chieftain's daughter, Belavalari, seems a logical choice. Six years ago, during the war, Merin spent time fighting alongside the Turi people. It was during this time that an impulsive young Bela chose Merin to take her maidenhead. After drugging the General she performed the Turi matrimonial rights and attempted to consumate the marriage. Thinking Merin would die in the war leaving her a widow her only interest in him was how his death (and the loss of her maidenhood) would allow her more freedoms as a woman. When Merin rides back to the Turis to bring Bela to his emperor he has no idea that he is returning to his wife!

When the truth of the union is revealed the two agree to the process of ending the marriage; twenty-two days and nights bound together with a short rope. For the next twenty-two days the two must do everything together, including chores and tasks set down for them by members of the clan. When a dangerous outsider comes to claim Bela and her mysterious magical sword, Kitty, the two must work together to unravel the mystery of where the sword came from and why it chose Bela and Merin to be its keepers.

If you've been a fan of Jones' previous books (The Fyne Witches, Children of the Sun and the first in this trilogy, Untouchable) this one may be a little bit dissappointing. While it still has some of the elements one can expect, epic storytelling and sensuality, it is lacking in one of the elements Jones usually shines in, strong character development. Bela is fleshed out far more than Merin, which I found to be frustrating because I couldn't understand his motivations much of the time. Though having explanations for her manly ways and atittudes Bela was very one-dimensional and the turn from her rejection of all things sensual to full acceptance seemed forced.

Overall the story was very predictable and I felt as if the side romance (Leyla and Savyn) was more interesting and enjoyable than the book's main story. I wanted to like this one, but there were just too many cliched plot devices for my tastes. As an addition to the trilogy it's not one to be passed over but I suspect it will be the weaker of the three. If you don't mind a predictable story and the use of overused plot devices this one isn't bad by any means, it just didn't impress me. With this one tied up the stage is very well set for the conclusion of the bride hunt in Bride by Command.

Review: Untouchable by Linda Winstead Jones


Untouchable (Emperor's Brides #1) by Linda Winstead Jones
Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 304 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425222969
Released: August 2008 (Reviewed: August 2008)
The Emperor of Columbyana is in need of a bride. Riders have been sent to the far corners of the kingdom to bring back six noble beauties for him to choose from. But none can compare to Sanura, an exotic slave with the power to see into men's souls. To touch her is said to bring incredible pleasure - and certain death. Even for the emperor's twin brother, Prince Alixandyr.
Alix is charged with bringing this rare creature back to the palace. A man possessed, he has wrestled the darkness inside him since birth. He cannot afford to desire Sanura, but the attraction between them is stronger than his darkest impulses. Even if it means his own destruction, he cannot allow the emperor to claim her.
Sanura is a proud woman of great power, reduced to a plaything for the rakish emperor. She wants nothing more than her freedom - except perhaps Alix. He is a mystery, the first and only man whose true soul remains hidden from her. As their passion threatens to unleash the demons within Alix, Sanura must do all she can to save the man she loves and prevent him from committing an unforgiveable sin ...
Author Site:
http://www.lindawinsteadjones.com/


The Emperor's Brides, Book One: Untouchable (5 stars)

In Jones' Fyne Witches trilogy a pair of twin sons are born to Emperor Sebestyen of Columbyana. Now adults, Emperor Jahn and his moments-younger twin, Prince Alixandyr begin an adventure to find a bride for the Emperor. There is to be a contest, six women of worth from varying lands are to be brought to the palace to be offered the chance to be Empress. Messengers are sent to the far places at the height of the Spring Festival to return with the ladies in time for the Summer Festival where Jahn will choose his bride.

Princess Edlyn of Tryfyn's father is noted to not want his daughter traveling with just anyone so Alix is sent to retrieve her. While at the King of Tryfyn's court the new Queen demands that Alix bring a gift back to the Emperor along with the princess. Painted blue and scantily clad, Sanura is a woman of the Agnese. Gifted with the ability to see into the hearts of those around her she must never be touched by anyone save the man who owns her. One small touch and the blue which covers her skin will mark anyone who dares touch her for death. When Alix hesitates to take the pleasure slave the Queen makes it known she will kill Sanura instead so he takes her with them on their journey.

Through her gift Sanura can see that Alix is a good man, but there is a darkness within him she doesn't understand. His attraction to Sanura goes denied for much of their long journey until his dark side breaks free. When one of their traveling party is murdered and Alix and Sanura are blamed it is his dark side that saves them. But will the darkness ever go away? Can Alix desire and love Sanura without risking his very soul? Can Sanura save Alix from himself?

Fans of Jones' writing will love this first in a new trilogy. It has all the great elements she's come to be known for- epic storytelling, sensuality, strong character development and while she focuses on Sanura and Alix, she still takes time to tell more of the overall story of the trilogy. Tying into her Fyne Witches trilogy and the Children of the Sun trilogy you can enjoy the continued world building. But if you haven't read them, this story can stand alone well enough that you can easily go back and enjoy them later if you like.

My only complaint with this book was how abruptly it ended but due to this being about the Emperor finding a bride too many details of what the future holds for Alix and Sanura would have required giving away the rest of the story. We will just have to wait for 22 Nights (the second book in this trilogy) to find out. I personally can't wait!

1.08.2009

Review: Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

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Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott
Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit
Paperback (SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA, 288 pages, $12.95)
ISBN# 140221393X
A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go...
His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise's English class, he's a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America - but he's lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English...
She knows she shouldn't take him home...
Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can't help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her "Mona Lisa" she just about loses her heart...
Author Site:
http://web.mac.com/malenalott/iWeb/Malena%20Lott/Welcome.html


Journey to La Dolce Vita. (4 stars)

Two years ago, Ramona Griffen lost her husband. Being a widow at any age is hard, being one in your mid-thirties is near impossible. In Ramona's world there are now only two kinds of people; Grievers and Normals. The Normals don't understand why she can't throw out her husband's last jar of peanut butter or why decorating for the holidays is just too much. She's coped through junk food and routine but what she really wants is her life back.

When 25-year-old Italian immigrant, Leonardo da Vinci, walks into her classroom she knows she shouldn't take him home. But the lonely young foreigner needs a place to stay and she her husband's old studio would make a good place for him to get a start in America. Da Vinci in turn has something to offer Ramona, or Mona Lisa as he begins to call her. The handsome Italian has a youthful passion for life that begins to rub off on Ramona. But where does she draw the line between them? She might be a widow but she's not dead yet. Learning to live and to love again might be the scariest thing she's had to face since her husband's untimely death.

This was one of those books I read for someone else. When I heard about it I thought it would be a good read for someone I know who was recently divorced and struggling with finding a reason to "live". I honestly didn't think that I personally would get anything out of it. But I was wrong. Ramona's situation as a widow and a mother were very relatable because they could be any woman. I found myself wondering how I would cope if my husband died and I was left partnerless. It's kind of frightening how much it made me realize I shouldn't take the partnership I have with my husband for granted.

What made me actually not be able to put the book down was that while Ramona was the central character of the story, each person within her life was on a journey of their own too. Everyone grows as she grows and Ramona learns that she shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to be happy again. Her romance with da Vinci is a very good example of these two factors. He has growing to do as a person just as she does and I enjoyed that their relationship was realistic, not unbelievable as I worried it might be.

Overall Dating da Vinci was surprisingly moving and insightful but still had a good romance to keep it from being all about life lessons. I think this would be a great read for anyone who is looking for an entertaining bit of insight on getting the joy back in your everyday life.

Review: An Enchanted Season (anthology)

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An Enchanted Season by Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, and Jean Johnson
Paranormal Romance, Anthology
Paperback (BERKLEY TRADE, 352 pages, $14.00)
ISBN# 042521785X
Give readers a gift-new stories from a bestselling lineup of romance authors.
It's the time of year when dreams come true, miracles happen every day, and love is the greatest gift of all...
The holidays always seem to bring out the best in everyone, with heartfelt hugs for long-missed friends, sincere smiles in the spirit of the season, and a feeling of magic in the air.
Here, for the first time, is a collection of paranormal romances celebrating the holidays as never before. From a shape-shifting leopardess who wants a packmate to be her soulmate to a snowstorm that brings a surprise gift, these all-new tales by Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, and Jean Johnson will stir your spirit in all the right places.
Author Site:
http://www.maggieshayne.com/


Enjoy the magic of the season! (4 stars)

The holidays are a time of magic and good cheer. So what better time for four tales of romance influenced by paranormal means? I have yet to read any of the four authors outside of anthologies so this was certainly a good sampler for me. As a lover of holiday tales this appealed to me when it first hit shelves but I waited and found a used copy on Ebay which I don't think the previous owner realized was not only in mint condition but signed by Shayne. I wanted to read it then (spring) but held off so it could be enjoyed over Christmas.

Melting Frosty by Maggie Shayne (Wings of the Night series) is a very traditional romance short story. A bah-humbug meets a free-spirit and the two get snowed in at the house she grew up in and he wants to buy. Despite how much they dislike one another's outward attitudes they are very attracted to one another. With a little Christmas magic and a little love even the iciest heart can be melted. I think this one was a little too silly for my tastes and somewhat implausible in a way I couldn't quite put my finger on. But I liked the idea a lot and it made for a nice read after I decorated. 4/5 stars

Charlotte's Web by Erin McCarthy (Vegas Vampires series, 7 Deadly Sins series) is a lusty romp through the tangled web of best-friends suffering from attraction. Will wants Charlotte but doesn't know how to tell Charlotte how he feels. Charlotte's sister insists that she too is a witch and they're going to prove it by casting a lust spell on Will. When Charlotte drops by Will's to help him decorate for the holidays how can they tell whether it's the spell or their own natural attraction drawing them together? This one was a cute, fun play on the 'love spell gone wrong' tale. The HEA was a little too abrupt and sugary but even I (the cynic) couldn't help but find it sweet. 4/5 stars

Beat of Temptation by Nalini Singh (PsyChangeling series) is set in her PsyChangling world. Tamsyn is destined to be Nate's mate, if only he would let her. At nineteen years old she might be a bit young for her role as senior healer for the DarkRiver leopard pack but she knows what she wants. Nate on the other hand, fears that if he takes her, he will be ruining her life. When throwing herself at him brings no results Tammy has to resort to other tactics but will pushing him away bring him closer or destroy the bond between them? The least Christmasy of the four stories this one gave me a little look at a series I have sitting waiting to be read. It didn't get me in the holiday spirit though which was a little dissapointing. Set at another time in another anthology I would have enjoyed it much more. 3/5 stars

Gifts of the Magi by Jean Johnson (Sons of Destiny series) is an unusual mix of romantic love and holiday spirit. What happens when a Buddhist, a Muslim and a Reform Jew visit a tiny B&B in rural Iowa during a blizzard? Rachel and Steve, the engaged owners of the inn, are about to find out. Through the rough days ahead, snowed in with strangers and a trio of young trouble-makers, the two are strengthened by the depths of their love for one another. This was my favorite of the four. It was both romantic and amusing as Rachel and Steve dealt with the situation they found themselves in. It also warmed my heart that the three young men were also changed by their stay. 5/5 stars

1.03.2009

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead


Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead
Young Adult, Vampires
Paperback (RAZORBILL, 448 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 1595141979
It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all...might be seeing ghosts. As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose's forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line--and choose between the two people she loves most.
Author Site:
http://www.richellemead.com/


Kiss St. Vladimir's Academy Good-bye (4 stars)

After the tragedy of Frostbite, Rose and her friends are coping as best they can. Bearing her first molnija marks might be a bit of a status symbol but their earning was bittersweet. As her final months at St. Vladimir's begin winding down the guardians are facing their field experience testing. They'll be facing weeks of practice guarding their Moroi classmates from their instructors pretending to be Strigoi. Expecting to be paired with Lissa, Rose's field experience should be easy. But when she sees the ghostly image of Mason and freezes at her first attack everything goes downhill.

For the first time in her life Rose is beginning to question the life of a Dhampir. Becoming Lissa's guardian means she will never choose what classes to attend or where she will live. The guardian standard "They come first." suddenly doesn't have such a great ring to it. Meanwhile, Lissa continues to practice her spirit magic with Adrian causing turmoil with Christian. When Adrian begins to see how Lissa's magic use is affecting Rose the mystery of St. Vladimir and shadow kissed Anna holds answers Rose isn't ready to face. She's always known she may one day have to give her life to protect Lissa but can she? When an unexpected threat breaks over the academy the students' lives are forever changed but none moreso than Rose who has to choose whether to protect her best friend or fulfill a promise to the man she loves.

As with the first two books, I very much enjoyed being emersed in the world of St. Vlad's. In just three short books Rose has gone from mouthy runaway to seasoned guardian. It was great to see her beginning to question whether she really wants to live her life for Lissa. That aspect of the Dhampir/Moroi relationship has always bugged me. It was also enjoyable seeing Rose put into a position she didn't expect no matter how upset she got.

I will say that I struggled with the pacing this time around. I also felt that the events of Frostbite seemed as if they were being overlooked almost as if they had happened a very long time ago instead of just a couple of weeks. I've always looked forward to Rose's interactions with Christian and Adrian but both characters seemed different this time around, not bad just... as if they weren't being written with their usual stronger personalities. The focus was definitely more on Dimitri and I know many readers of the series adore him but I've always found him boring. I had hoped that the extra focus would make me like him more and approve of his relationship with Rose but I was again unable to find a spark for him. Without spoiling anything I feel it is safe to say that the next book, Blood Promise, will be mostly Rose and Dimitri again.

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

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Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) by Richelle Mead
Young Adult, Vampires
Paperback (RAZORBILL, 336 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 1595141758
Released: April 2008 (Reviewed: May 2008)
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...
It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...
Author Site:
http://www.richellemead.com/


Get Bitten At St. Vladimir's Academy (5 stars)

After the lite urban fantasy of Vampire Academy, try on something just a little darker with Frostbite.

Welcome back to St. Vlad's. Christmas is quickly approaching and the wilds of Montana are freezing. The students are all looking forward to their holiday break until a brutal Strigoi (the bad vampires) attack on a family of Moroi (the good vampires) and their Dhampir guardians (half-bloods) leaves the vampire community reeling in shock. Not only is the murder violent but marked by the number of Strigoi it would take for such an attack and their involvement of humans. Fearing for the safety of the students and their families the students of St. Vlad's head to Wyoming for a ski trip in a Moroi owned resort.

Rose and Lissa are back, with new problems brewing. Rose keeps getting sucked into Lissa's mind when her friend is with her boyfriend, Christian. But Rose has boy troubles of her own. She's got it bad for her mentor, Dimitri, who is too old for her and will be guarding Lissa with her after graduation. At the same time her best guy pal, Mason (who has had an obvious crush on her for a long time), would be a great boyfriend and could help her get over Dimitri. When she realizes she's not sure about Mason her actions send he and a group of fellow students out of the safety of the resort and into harm's way.

While the first book was good, Frostbite started off shaky. I was pretty worried it wasn't going to win me over. But when the real trouble starts happening about halfway into the book this story got good. Really good. If you liked the first book you will LOVE this one. Rose is growing up, maturing as much as she can and I found that I began to like her a lot more, even relate to her for the first time. Lissa's role in this one was considerably smaller, but other secondary characters from Vampire Academy rounded this story out well. I even grew to like Mia by the end of the book.

While still lite for the urban fantasy genre Frostbite was very dark in the final chapters and without getting spoilerish I recommend you bring some tissues if you're sensitive like I am. I can't wait for the third book--Shadow Kissed!

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
Young Adult, Vampires
Paperback (RAZORBILL, 332 pages, $8.99)
ISBN# 159514174X
Released: August 2007 (Reviewed: May 2008)
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
Author Site:
http://www.richellemead.com/


Welcome to St. Vladimir's Academy (4 stars)

Younger fans of the vampire genre, and even adult fans, this is a new series you should check out. Welcome to a world where the good vampires, Moroi, need their half-blood cousins, Dhampir, for protection. Their children train at academies like St. Vladimir's, preparing Dhampir for the fight against Strigoi, the bad vampires. Moroi are not completely helpless, as they possess four schools of magic--air, earth, fire and water--but these are strickly for non-offensive uses. The Dhampir are heartier and stronger, their human side keeping them from needing blood to survive. But Strigoi hunt their kin, having a special taste for Moroi blood but an inability to tolerate any sunlight or use magics.

Vampire Academy introduces us to Rose Hathaway, Dhampir and guardian trainee. She and her best friend Lissa Dragomir, a Moroi princess and last of her family bloodline, have run away from St. Vladimir's after strange events lead them to believe Lissa is in danger. For two years they have run, hiding among humans and their time has run out. Brought back to St. Vlad's the two friends must deal with nasty rumors, mysterious changes in Lissa and that doesn't include the rigors of regular high school! Behind in her training Rose begins training in all her spare time with a full-fledged guardian, Dimitri, whom she has a growing attraction to. Meanwhile Lissa is having problems, someone keeps putting dead animals in her vicinity, but is this just someone's horrid prank or is it something more serious?

If you're a fan of vampire lore or favor the school of vampire fans who like their vamps pretty and not-so-evil this is a great book to try. As a hardcore paranormal & urban fantasy fan I found it to be light, but entertaining reading. On a more personal note I enjoyed that the locations in the book were all within the Northwestern US (Portland, Oregon, rural Montana, Missoula, Montana) as they were areas I was familiar with and aren't overly used in this genre. Richelle Mead's writing was a little unnotable and while I rarely complain about it the massive number of typographical errors in this book was annoying.

If you're too young for Laurell K. Hamilton, you enjoy the Buffy franchise or you just want a vampire lite this should be a good read--and don't forget to check out the second book, Frostbite!

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