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? I am currently CLOSED for review requests for ALL review requests due to time contraints. I have promotional openings for February through July open though so please reach out. Just please drop me an email with a polite request and if I'm interested I will reply.

♥ -- Rhi


6.30.2009

Coming Soon: July 2009 Releases

July 1st

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Prey (Werecats/Shifters #4) by Rachel Vincent
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (MIRA, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0778326810
Sometimes playing cat and mouse is no game…
Play? Right. My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father's authority is in question and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven't laid eyes on Marc's gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother and an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don't exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.
Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Author Site: rachelvincent.com

July 7th

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Dragons Prefer Blondes (Caruthers Sisters #2) by Candace Havens
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Dragons
Trade Paperback (BERKLEY TRADE, 320 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425227804
Second in the paranormal series featuring the Caruthers sisters, party girls who save the world—between cocktails.
Alex Caruthers is a sassy socialite who knows when it’s time to turn in her dancing shoes and kick some serious dragon booty. But when Ginjin—the dragon warrior who’s tried to kill her numerous times—chooses her as his mate, Alex finds herself in a situation that’s too hot to handle.
For help she turns to Jake, head of Caruthers security—and a total hottie in a suit—and asks him to pose as her boyfriend. Their relationship might be fake, but Alex can’t deny that one touch from Jake makes her burn hotter than any dragon could.

Author Site: www.candacehavens.com

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The Dark-Hunters, Vol. 1 (Dark-Hunter Manga) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Manga (ST. MARTIN'S GRIFFIN, 208 pages, $9.99)
ISBN# 0312376871
In the war against vampires, mankind has only one hope: The Dark-Hunters. Ancient warriors who died of brutal betrayal, the Dark-Hunters have sworn themselves into the service of the goddess Artemis to protect us.
It’s a pact with pretty good perks. Immortality, power, psychic abilities, wealth and a cool wardrobe. But it comes with a few drawbacks: fatal sun poisoning and a new, irreparable dental problem. But aside from the fangs and nocturnal lifestyle, it’s not so bad.
Until Kyrian meets the most frightening thing imaginable. An accountant who’s being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there. If Amanda Devereaux goes down, so does he and no offense, he doesn’t want to die (hence the whole immortality thing). And he doesn’t want humanity dead either which is a good thing for us since he and Amanda are all that stands between us and oblivion. Let’s hope they win.
From the wild imagination of Sherrilyn Kenyon comes the humorous and suspenseful manga debut of the #1 internationally bestselling Dark-Hunter series. The world of manga will never be the same again.

Author Site: www.dailyinquisitor.com/sherrilyn

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Strange Brew (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Anthology, Witches
Trade Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S GRIFFIN, 384 pages, $14.99)
ISBN# 0312383363
Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic!
In Charlaine Harris’ “Bacon,” a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother—and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected. And in Jim Butcher’s “Last Call,” wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers—the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer.
For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection!

Author Site: www.vampwriter.com

July 27th

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The Eternal Kiss: 12 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Anthology
Trade Paperback (RUNNING PRESS KIDS, 416 pages, $9.95)
ISBN# 0762437170
There’s an allure to vampire tales that have seduced readers for generations. From Bram Stoker to Stephanie Meyer and beyond, vampire stories are here to stay. For those fresh-blooded fans of paranormal romance or for those whose hunt and hunger never dies, these stories have what readers want!
This collection of original tales comes from some of the hottest, most popular, and best-selling YA writers, including:
• Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tithe)
• Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
• Melissa De La Cruz (Blue Blood)
• Cassandra Clare (City of Bones)
• Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires)
• Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie (Wicked)
• Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof, Queen of Cool)
• Kelley Armstrong (Women of Otherworld)
• Maria V. Snyder
• Sarah Rees Brennan
• Lili St. Crow
• Karen Mahoney
• Dina James
They will make everyone a sucker for eternal kisses.

www.blackholly.com

July 28th

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Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) by Jeaniene Frost
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (AVON, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0061583219
Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger
Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they've fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it's time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She's having visions of a vampire named Gregor who's more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn't know about.
Gregor believes Cat is his and he won't stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor's hold over her. She'll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she's ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

Author Site: www.jeanienefrost.com

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Leader of the Pack (Tales of an Urban Werewolf #3) by Karen MacInerney
Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Mass Market Paperback (BALLANTINE BOOKS, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0345496272
WILDLY INDEPENDENT, SHE’S NOT ONE FOR PACK MENTALITY.
On the outside, Sophie Garou is living every woman’s dream: she has beauty, brains, and a big-time position in Austin’s most respected accounting firm (not to mention a very sexy, very successful new boyfriend). But there’s one Sophie would rather keep under wraps: she is a werewolf.
Sophie’s life gets a little more hairy when her long-estranged father, Luc, arrives in the Live Music Capital to attend the werewolves’ annual Howl and reconnect with his daughter. But Luc’s plans fall apart after he’s accused of murder and arrested by his archrival, Wolfgang, leader of the Houston pack (and one notoriously dirty dog). Wolfgang drools at the thought of Luc’s impending execution, but Sophie won’t let her father die without a fight. Determined to prove his innocence, she and her friends set out to find the real killer. Along the way, Sophie must deal with taboo attractions, Machiavellian intrigues, sinister agendas, and hair-raising betrayals.

Author Site: www.karenmacinerney.com

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Skin Deep (Laura Blackstone #1) by Mark Del Franco
Urban Fantasy, Magic
Mass Market Paperback (ACE, 304 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0441017436
A THRILLING NEW URBAN FANTASY SERIES FROM THE AUTHOR OF UNFALLEN DEAD AND UNQUIET DREAMS.
She’ll need to keep up appearances—if she wants to stay alive...
Being an undercover agent has its occupational hazards, but Laura Blackstone makes it look easy. As a spy for a fey intelligence agency, she uses her magical abilities to create disguises that are skin deepglamours that must never be compromised. But when Laura’s worlds collide she’ll have more to worry about than retiring an identity; she may just lose her life.

Author Site: www.markdelfranco.com

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Thorn Queen (Dark Swan #2) by Richelle Mead
Urban Fantasy, Magic, Fae
Mass Market Paperback (ZEBRA, 384 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 1420100971
Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she’s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It’s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one—except Eugenie—seems willing to find out why.
Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren't making things any easier. Her boyfriend, Kiyo, is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty—even if it means facing the darkest—and deadliest—side of her nature…

Author Site: www.richellemead.com

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Speak of the Devil (Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist #4) by Jenna Black
Urban Fantasy, Demons
Mass Market Paperback (DELL, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0440244935
FOR A KICK-ASS EXORCIST, IT’S ALL ABOUT STAYING ALIVE….
Morgan Kingsley, America’s most successful exorcist, is paying the price for an exorcism gone wrong. The victim’s family is suing the daylights out of her, the Exorcism Board has suspended her, and now she’s living on a diet of ramen noodles and bad coffee. But Morgan has a few good men at her side. One is her current boyfriend, nice-guy legal eagle Brian, who’s suddenly starting to reveal his inner bad boy. The other is Philly cop Adam White, who’s trying to help Morgan find out who sent her a little present—a severed human hand—and why someone seems determined to destroy her.
As her stalker turns more violent, leaving dead bodies in his wake, Morgan turns to the dark side of her life: a group of demons steeped in secrets, sinful eroticism, and otherworldly family feuds, including one sexy beast who shares Morgan’s body—and some X-rated fantasies. Soon Morgan must choose between her friends, her enemies, and her libido: to escape a mad demon determined to destroy her completely.

Author Site: www.jennablack.com

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Obsession Untamed (Feral Warriors #2) by Pamela Palmer
Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (AVON, 384 pages, $6.99)
ISBN# 0061667528
They are called Feral Warriors—an elite band of immortals who can change shape at will. Sworn to rid the world of evil, consumed by sorcery and seduction, their wild natures are primed for release . . .
Every time she closes her eyes, Delaney Randall suffers another nightmare. A brutal serial killer has found his way inside the tough, take-no-prisoners FBI agent's head. Now she lives the murders through his eyes, from his deadly approach to his victims' screams—until the night he breaks into her apartment and she fears she's going to be the next to die.
But the man who snatches Delaney from her home isn't the murderer. He's Tighe, a dangerous Feral Warrior who needs her and her visions to stop the rampages of a creature as inhuman as he is evil. Tighe has little use for humans, but as he and Delaney join forces to track the dark fiend, he falls for the intense beauty and becomes wild with an obsession as untamed as his heart.

Author Site: pamelapalmer.net




My list of monthly releases is never a complete one for the genres I read and primarily focuses on series I am interested in or following. For a much larger and comprehensive list for July please check out the one SciFiGuy has up! -- Rhi

6.29.2009

100 Posts!

Once upon a time there was an aspiring writer who hadn't a clue what books where out there akin to what she had in mind. So she went to the book store and started looking for books featuring vampires and other paranatural beings because she had to be sure no one had already written her book. But then that lead to more and more books. Then those books lead to more books until she realized the genre she had expected to be a bit obscure was the new in thing. Terrified of even bothering with the fabulous series she so desperately wanted to bring from her imagination to print she stopped aspiring to write the fiction she had admired and began to enjoy writing about what was already in print instead. Slowly at first because the idea of giving an honest opinion about a book was daunting (gawd forbid anyone had ever done the same to her own scribblings!). Eventually she realized that what most average Janes and Joes were looking for in a review was a fair but honest opinion about the books they intended to spend their hard earned cash on.

Three years passed and the would-be writer grew as a reviewer, learning through trial and error, through observing what other reviewers did that she didn't think was helpful, fair or honest. Until one day a fellow reviewer she had come to trust the opinions of shared a link to the blog she wrote.

A whole new world had opened for the would-be writer, now amateur reviewer. She knew nothing of starting up such a thing on her own or how best to present herself for such a site but she knew she needed to try this for herself. Not letting herself research the idea too much lest she scare herself away from it (as she had her wishes to become a published author) she opened a humble little blog and called it RhiReading. And the rest is history.

Alright... so I felt like going all storyteller for this post for some reason. Must be the stressful week I've been having combined with the Turtle Cookies I'm treating myself to. But anyway, I noticed today that I had made my 100th post here on the blog and for some reason it made me feel quite accomplished.

From time to time I get comments and questions from friends and acquaintances as to what exactly it is I do here. Someone recently asked if I get all these books I review for free. To that I had to stifle a chuckle and mutter an 'I wish' before explaining a little bit about what I've learned about the world of publishing, galleys & ARCs, comp copies, publicists and authors, blogging and... yeah, needless to say it was in that moment I realized that in the past eight months I have had a whole new world opened to me.

I still don't really know what I am doing. I'm still terrified of contacting publicists about books I wish to review to request ARC copies (it's that whole rejection thing). I still have moments when I feel defensive when friends and family realize I don't get paid to do this even though I treat it like a job. But I'm learning as I go and get a certain sense of pride from each step I take toward being just a little more professional, when readers 'follow' the blog or when a publicist contacts me about the work they are representing. I may not be going after my childhood dream of writing something worthy of publication... yet... but knowing that I am supporting the industry and the people who enjoy what the industry puts out has been and hopefully will continue to be a pleasure.

So here's to 100 more posts and hopefully a little backbone so I can get my nerve up to start telling people I want their damn books for review! LOL Thanks to all who have supported me as I put together this blog, in particular my husband and son who put up with the "shut up I'm writing a review!" gripes, as well as the awesome ladies who gather and discuss books over at Amazon.com's paranormal romance community.
-- Rhi

Review: Dead After Dark (anthology)

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Dead After Dark (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Anthology
Mass Market Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S PAPERBACKS, 384 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0312947984
With these four tales of paranormal romance, it’s never been hotter to be close to death... SHERRILYN KENYON “Shadow of the Moon” Angelia has fought her entire life to make herself strong. Now, with her patria under fire, she has to protect her people from Fury and his werewolf clan. Vowing to bring him to justice, Angelia sets out alone…until the hunter becomes the hunted, and the only way for her to survive is to trust the very wolf she’s sworn to kill. J.R. WARD “The Story of Son” Claire Stroughton is a beautiful lawyer who would rather spend the night with a legal brief than the man of her dreams. Then a routine client meeting turns dangerous—and deeply sensual—when she is held captive by a gorgeous man with an unworldly hunger... SUSAN SQUIRES “Seize the Night” When Drew Carlowe returns home to win back a lost love, he is quick to dismiss rumors that his estate is haunted by a stunning young ghost...until one passionate encounter leaves him mystified—and aching for more. DIANNA LOVE “Midnight Kiss Goodbye” Trey McCree possesses an insatiable desire for Sasha Armand—and supernatural powers that could endanger her life as a human. But when they team up to stop an evil warlord, Trey discovers that Sasha can do way more than drive men wild…
Author Site:
www.dailyinquisitor.com/sherrilyn


Three Greats and a Dud After Dark (4 stars)

[SHADOW OF THE MOON] by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Fury fans will rejoice that he's finally getting a story of his own, even if it's only this short one. When his childhood friend and former object of his affections betrayed him years ago he swore to show her no mercy. But can he let old grudges shadow the tenderness they once shared, especially now that she's involved in the most horrible crime imaginable? -- I'll admit to not being a huge Fury fan but Vane, Bride, Zarek and Sasha all make cameos in this one! The story wasn't too bad but I definitely agree with some other opinions I heard about this one, it should have been a full length novel. 4/5 stars

[THE STORY OF SON] by J.R. Ward, Claire is a high-powered NYC lawyer known for her strong work ethic and commitment to her career. She plans to spend her labor day weekend working once she gets back from Caldwell, New York where she has a meeting scheduled with a very wealthy and important client. But when her client's darkest secret is revealed to her, Claire's life will change in more ways than one. -- Fans of Ward can't miss this one. You simply cannot! While not a BDB tale it is set within that realm and while very simple in execution is an excellent example of her skill as a writer for those who haven't tried her yet. Loved it! 5/5 stars

[BEYOND THE NIGHT] by Susan Squires, Drew Carlowe has returned to the home of his youth in search of love and revenge. But when he discovers that the rumors of a beautiful lady haunting the halls of his house are true his plans become much more complicated. -- I haven't yet read anything by Squires but I believe this story ties into her Companions series. Fans of steamy romantica will like this one's highly sensual story and those looking for a proper happily ever after won't be disappointed either. 4/5 stars

[MIDNIGHT KISS GOODBYE] by Dianna Love, Trey left Sasha behind nine years ago so that he could follow his destiny as a Belador. But when his path leads him back to Atlanta and Sasha he can't help but want to see her and protect her from the evil that she's being paid to investigate and he has to destroy... even if it means risking his own people to do so. -- I feel terrible saying this but this story should never have been included with others by authors of this caliber. This story reads like the efforts of am unpublished author and frankly I wonder if an actual editor even looked at it. Could barely get past the glaring mistakes enough to attempt to enjoy the confusing plot and dimensionless characters. 1/5 stars

Overall my personal assessment of this anthology was obviously a bit mixed but I would still recommend it to Kenyon and Ward fans. For non-fans of these authors I think Ward and Squires have the stand-outs that really show their depth as writers. It is fair to say that the first three stories could easily have been made into full length novels and been just as good if not better. Enjoy!

6.27.2009

Review: Faeries Gone Wild (anthology)

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Faeries Gone Wild (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Anthology, Faeries
Mass Market Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S PAPERBACKS, 432 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 031294568X
MARYJANICE DAVIDSON “Tall, Dark and Not So Faery”
Scarlett is not your typical pint-sized faery. At six feet, four inches tall, she’s an unlikely candidate for a match made in heaven. But when she ventures to Cannon Falls, Minnesota, on royal orders to survey its extraordinary residents, she stumbles upon the one man who just may measure up to size…
LOIS GREIMAN “Pixie Lust”
William Timber is a cutthroat developer who refuses to let a few trees come between him and his next million. But when Avalina—a sparkling faery charged to protect all things green—comes to town, William is forced to choose between life as he knows it and the unknown reaches of his heart.
MICHELE HAUF “Dust Me, Baby, One More Time”
A librarian by day and a tooth faery by night, Sidney has absolutely no time to find Mr. Right. Until she flies smack dab into sexy, sun-bronzed Dart Sand, a man who makes her wings a-flutter…and whose allure could get her banished from the Mortal Realm.
LEANDRA LOGAN “A Little Bit Faery”
Tia is mystified when she strikes out on the Luna faery singles scene, in spite of her hourglass curves and vivacious charm. Then she takes off for Manhattan and lands on the doorstep of a steamy firefighter who sets her soul on fire—and shares a strong connection to her secret past.

Author Site:
www.maryjanicedavidson.net


Winged Things (5 stars)

Four Minnesota based authors, four tales of faeries lusting and loving, one anthology full of humor and strange hijinks.

[TALL, DARK AND NOT SO FAERY] by MaryJanice Davidson, When six feet and four inches of counting obsessed faery comes looking for Lent, the Violent Fairy to do the duty the faery king has sent her to do silliness ensues. Fortunately, Judith, the enchanted car decides there's another town resident that this gigantic faery should count and she won't take no for an answer. -- This story HAS to be read AFTER you've read the previous installment from the No Rest For The Witches anthology. It will make NO sense unless you do. That said this story was a bit silly and very weird (as the other was) but if you're in the mood for that sort of thing it's okay. 3/5 stars

[PIXIE LUST] by Lois Greiman, Avalina is on a mission to find a very special fern in the woods of the Pacific Northwest but when a human unknowingly interupts that quest it will change both of their lives in ways neither expected. -- More of a lusty tale, this is a very fish-out-of-water kind of story. I, personally, found it different in a good way and really liked Greiman's writing style. 5/5 stars

[DUST ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME] by Michele Hauf, When you're the tooth fairy, having a love life can be more than a little complicated. Especially when the rules of your job include a no fraternizing with other night-workers clause and your best chance at some male attention is a premature dusting sandman. -- I dunno what it was about this one but it was so silly it was cute and I loved it. Hauf did a wonderful job of taking fairytale fairies and making them real enough to be great story characters. 5/5 stars

[A LITTLE BIT FAERY] by Leandra Logan, When her living situation in the faery realm gets shaken up Tia goes on an adventure from the Isle of Man to the Island of Manhattan in search of a new life. While there she enchants a down-on-his-luck fireman and gets more than she bargained for in her search for her father. -- This well plotted storyline works really well but the faery elements were very weak and I didn't care for the hero or heroine. Not a bad contribution, just not quite as funny as the others which in my opinion seperated it from the group in a bad way. 4/5 stars

In general this anthology is sure to get mixed reviews. Most I think will be buying it because of MaryJanice Davidson's contribution and thus might be disappointed. If you're buying this one for the reason I did—faery stories for adults, yay!—I think you'll likely enjoy it more. This one definitely isn't for every reader but if you like faeries (not fae, sidhe or elves but pixies!) and can handle the funny I think this one is worth picking up.

6.26.2009

Summer In The City

Ugh. There's nothing like that feeling of molten drudgery that settles over a gal when she realizes that due to lack of funds, available vacation time or whatever there will be no trip out of town over the summer.

I haven't seen the ocean in almost seven years and that was only to fly over it. I don't count that. So if you wanna get technical I haven't seen the ocean in fourteen years! I could totally use a trip to the coast right now. I'm not in search of anything tropical but I must admit I would love to hit the Oregon coast for a few days. Alas that's not feasible right now so I'm stuck in the city—and yes, you smartasses, we have cities in Montana!—for the summer.

I suppose that's not a completely bad thing since I'm pregnant and the idea of fitting into my bikini right now is scary. Nothing a little air conditioning, Red Zinger iced tea and a good pedicure can't sooth. Fortunately there's one summer staple that you don't need the seaside atmosphere to enjoy... beach reads!

So what is the criteria for a beach read? There are a lot of ways to define the phrase 'beach book' but in general the best ones seem to point at these being books that are quick reads that entertain. We're not talking classic literature here, we're talking the sort of fluffy paperback fare one can sit down and read while spending an afternoon poolside without having to strain the brain over heavy, dark plots and moral messages.

Of course, there are so many exciting new books coming out in my preferred genres this summer I could do nothing but read brand new books for the next couple of months. In fact, you're welcome to check out the list I keep over @ Amazon.com to help out readers looking for new stuff: Coming Soon: Paranormals & Urban Fantasy. This one currently just has this summer's releases and is not all inclusive so if you'd like to see the September and beyond list you can find it in my profile there or just comment here and I will share the link.

But what's the point of cramming all those new books into my TBR boxes for the rest of the summer? Nope, I want me some beach reads to enjoy for the long hot month of family barbeques, days at the public pool with the kids and hours spent thanking heaven for central air. Thus I've decided that for the month of July I want to read some lighter, fluffier stuff. For me that means books with lots of wit and humor. Of course there's no way I'm hitting the chick-lit shelves in search of beach books, I gotta have my vampires, faeries and witches! So expect me to be reviewing some books filled with fangs, fur and funny this July.
-- Rhi

P.S. - What are y'all reading that fits this PNR/UF beach reads theme?

6.24.2009

Want More Anthologies?

Upcoming Anthology Releases

June 2009
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Huntress (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Mass Market Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S PAPERBACKS, 352 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0312943822
It takes a real man to satisfy the powers and passions of the HUNTRESS
Christine Warren
“Devil’s Bargain”
Supernatural bounty hunter Lilli Corbin made a pact with the Prince of Hell: She agreed to recover a book of prophecies. When she learns it could trigger the apocalypse, Lilli is forced to make the ultimate choice: save her soul, or the man she loves?
Marjorie M. Liu
“The Robber Bride”
Welcome to a post-apocalyptic world where women are fed on for their life forces. Now it’s up to Maggie, one of the last female survivors, to hunt down and destroy an army of darkness…
Caitlin Kittredge
“Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”
Ava is a demon slayer who needs help from mage Jack Winter to reach the demon underworld—a place of dark seduction…and, maybe, one of no return.
Jenna Maclaine
“Sin Slayer”
London 1889. Jack the Ripper is killing off the city’s vampire population, and now it’s up to Cin Craven to hunt him down—and save the infected Michael, the love of her undead life.


July 2009
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Strange Brew (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Anthology, Witches
Trade Paperback (ST. MARTIN'S GRIFFIN, 384 pages, $14.99)
ISBN# 0312383363
Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic!
In Charlaine Harris’ “Bacon,” a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother—and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected. And in Jim Butcher’s “Last Call,” wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers—the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer.
For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection!


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The Eternal Kiss: 12 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult, Anthology
Trade Paperback (RUNNING PRESS KIDS, 416 pages, $9.95)
ISBN# 0762437170
There’s an allure to vampire tales that have seduced readers for generations. From Bram Stoker to Stephanie Meyer and beyond, vampire stories are here to stay. For those fresh-blooded fans of paranormal romance or for those whose hunt and hunger never dies, these stories have what readers want!
This collection of original tales comes from some of the hottest, most popular, and best-selling YA writers, including:
• Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tithe)
• Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
• Melissa De La Cruz (Blue Blood)
• Cassandra Clare (City of Bones)
• Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires)
• Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie (Wicked)
• Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof, Queen of Cool)
• Kelley Armstrong (Women of Otherworld)
• Maria V. Snyder
• Sarah Rees Brennan
• Lili St. Crow
• Karen Mahoney
• Dina James
They will make everyone a sucker for eternal kisses.


August 2009
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Unbound (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Anthology
Mass Market Paperback (EOS, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0061699934
Not all hunters are bound by human laws...
Revisiting the paranormal realms they've made famous in their wildly popular fiction, New York Times bestselling authors Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Pettersson, and Jocelynn Drake—plus New York Times bestselling YA author Melissa Marr with her first adult supernatural thriller—unleash their full arsenal of dark talents, plunging us into the shadows where the supernatural stalk the unsuspecting... and every soul is a target.
Get ready for the ride of your life—because the wildest magic has just been unleashed... and evil is about to have its day.


September 2009
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The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2 (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Anthology, Vampires
Trade Paperback (RUNNING PRESS, 512 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0762437960
This exciting follow-up to the wildly successful Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance contains 30 short stories of hot blood, midnight pleasures, and inhuman passions. Containing the best names in the field, such as Eileen Wilks, Caitlin Kittredge, Jennifer Ashley, Dawn Cook, and Diane Whiteside, this compilation is sure to arouse attention.

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Must Love Hellhounds (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Trade Paperback (BERKLEY TRADE, 368 pages, $15.00)
ISBN# 0425229599
Stories from Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, & Meljean Brook. Check each author's website for more details as there is no official blurb about this anthology at this time.

October 2009
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A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris (short story collection)
Urban Fantasy, Collection, Vampires
Hardcover (ACE, 192 pages, $23.95)
ISBN# 0441017835
A collection of Sookie Stackhouse short stories.

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Never After (anthology)
Urban Fantasy, Collection, Vampires
Trade Paperback (JOVE, 400 pages, $9.95)
ISBN# 0515147281
All new tales of magic revealed, and matrimony refused, by four of today's most provocative authors: Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie Liu, and Sharon Shinn.

Review: First Blood (anthology)

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First Blood (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Anthology, Vampires
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 336 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425224007
Four all-new stories of forbidden passion and dark desire.
You never forget your first blood...Susan Sizemore returns to the universe of her Laws of the Blood novels with a sizzling story of the relationship between a vampire enforcer and a werewolf.
Erin McCarthy’s Sasha Checkikov flees the bright lights and dangerous slayers of Vegas for New Orleans, where she is saved by a vampire haunted by his past—and hungry for passion.
Set in the Vampire Babylon world, Chris Marie Green’s story puts the bond between twin female vampires to the test when one of them falls for her prey.
Meljean Brook’s vampire Annie Gallagher needs help to save a young human girl, but she doesn’t expect the help to come from the FBI agent she loved—and had to give up— when she was transformed.

Author Site:
www.susansizemore.com


Bloody Boring (2 stars)

Before I go any further let me just say that I purchased this anthology because it featured four authors I had not yet read but had an interest in sampling before commiting to buying their series books. I know many other readers purchase anthologies for that same reason and because of that I have given this one a pretty low rating. Why? Because every one of these stories fell into a series that the author already writes without offering enough info about said series to be helpful to someone in my never-read-it-before situation.

Fans of these series will probably love these stories as all were well written and though I've not read these authors outside of other anthologies I feel confident saying these are decent examples of what one can expect in their work.

[CAVE CANEM] by Susan Sizemore is set in the world of her Laws of the Blood series. When a hellhound pup is stolen a vampire and a werewolf partner up to get it back -- I'll admit... after a couple of chapters I had to skim a lot of this one because I didn't understand who the characters were and what was going on half the time. It was intriguing but impossible to enjoy without knowing more about this world/series. 3/5 stars

[RUSSIAN ROULETTE] by Erin McCarthy is a Vegas Vampires tale... set in New Orleans. Sasha Chechikov has had a really unpleasant life made worse by being a newly turned vampire. When she is rescued by Alistair Kirk she's ready to keep on running but her safety depends on his protection. -- I might have liked this one if I had liked the characters even a little bit. They felt one dimensional and that really took away from the story since they spent most of the story dancing around their attraction to one another. 2/5 stars

[DOUBLE THE BITE] by Chris Marie Green is stated to take place in the scope of her Vampire Babylon series. When Ben hits NYC in search of the truth about his brother's mysterious death he tangles with a pair of beautiful twins who seem to know information he needs. Ginny and Geneva might look alike but they give a whole new meaning to the concept of good twin and evil twin. -- I did like the general idea of this story but it was really weak and didn't play out in a fashion that was particularly entertaining. 2/5 stars

[THICKER THAN BLOOD] by Meljean Brook doesn't actually state that it ties into her Guardians series but I'm pretty sure it does loosely as Guardians make a cameo. Annie is a vampire in search of a missing young girl she has sworn to protect but when her need for blood leads her back to the man she deserted six years ago things get more complicated before they get better. -- I liked this one best of the four because it didn't feel as series oriented as the others. I didn't really care for the characters much but the story moved along decently enough I didn't hate it. 3/5 stars

Overall this one just doesn't work for a reader looking to get to know a new author as I was trying to do. The stories all have good potential to entertain but unfortunately seem to all require some knowledge of the series they tie into. Fortunately I'm still interested in these authors based on the quality of writing so I hope that fans of these series will find the stories to be a treat.

6.23.2009

Review: Weddings From Hell (anthology)

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Weddings From Hell (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Mass Market Paperback (HARPER, 384 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0061472689
Released: May 2008 (Reviewed: June 2008)
Some marriages are made in heaven . . . Some are not.
What happens when "the happiest day of your life" turns into a nightmare? Forget the drunken best man or the bridesmaid dresses from the '80s . . . none of these wedding day disasters can compare to a cursed bride determined to make it down the aisle, or a vampire who is about to disrupt your wedding.
Join New York Times bestselling authors Maggie Shayne and Jeaniene Frost, USA Today bestseller Kathryn Smith, as well as Terri Garey in four unforgettable tales of unholy matrimony . . . where the grooms are dark, dangerous, and mostly dead, and to love and cherish till death takes on a whole new meaning.

Author Site:
www.maggieshayne.com


Always a bridesmaid... or an eternal bride... (4 stars)

Weddings From Hell is another paranormal anthology in the vein of Dates From Hell and Holidays Are Hell. Pick a theme and throw some popular paranormal romance or urban fantasy authors at it. And just in time for wedding season we've got this collection of tales sure to make your horrific bridesmaid dress woes and cold-feet fly right out the window.

[Till Death by Maggie Shayne] is the first offering in the anthology. When a heartbroken witch of the McLellan clan lays a curse on the women of her family they are cursed to either die at the hands of their cheating husbands or never know love. When Aunt Iris passes away and Kira heads to Scotland for the will reading the last thing she expects is to encounter ghosts or start falling for handsome family friend Ian Stewart. Can she break the curse and find her happily-ever-after?

I've never actually read anything by Shayne, though I have several of her books waiting to be read. This story was short, cute and felt only slightly rushed by the limited time frame. But what really impressed me was her well written dialog, her Scottish brogue was near flawless and read so well! Can't wait to get caught up enough with other books so I can start reading hers!

[Happily Never After by Jeaniene Frost] is the second tale, when grandma Greta's grandson and grandaughter get into trouble with a local mob-wannabe she calls in a favor from her vampire buddy Bones. Happy to serve, Bones sends in Chance to look after Isabella and hopefully find her missing brother Frazier. Unfortunately Frazier is likely in the hands of Robert Bertini, who has strong armed Isa into marrying him. But Chance isn't about to let the strong and independant woman marry the murderous lout, especially not since he himself is falling for her. Will he be able to save her brother and prevent her from this forced marriage?

Another author I've not read, but she's on my wishlist. This story was amusing with its intentional mobster cliches and the banter between Isa and Chance. If the writing here is any indication of Frost's writing for her series I doubt I'll be dissappointed when I get my hands on it.

[Ghouls Night Out by Terri Garey] is the third story, introducing us to Nicki Styx (who has her own series--2nd book comes out later this month). When Nicki's cousin needs a bridesmaid who is she to deny the family, even if it means dressing up in a pineapple yellow dress meant for the bride's best friend Michelle who just so happens to be dead! Of course, no one knows about Michelle's death yet so when she appears to Nicki, she can't help but feel compelled to help find out what happened. Will Nicki find out what happened to Michelle before it's time to kiss the bride?

This story ended up being my favorite in the anthology. I've never read Garey's first novel as it never hit my radar, but now I'm thinking I should hurry up and get it going! The redneck comments got a little judgemental at times but the stereotypes were nicely handled. Anyone who has some redneck relatives will likely find the entire wedding planning to be realistic and amusing, bachelorette party at a country bar complete with Shania Twain karaoke and round after round of beer anyone?

[The Wedding Knight by Kathryn Smith] was the final story, rounding out the anthology with a historically set scene. When Payen Carr returns to London the last thing he anticipates is that he's arrived on the eve of Violet Wynston-Jones' wedding. When he realizes that her groom-to-be is a member of the Order of the Silver Palm--a group of former Templars seeking the Blood Grail and the destruction of the vampires who protect it--he can't let the wedding happen. But he has other reasons for wanting to stop the wedding as five years ago he and Violet shared one blissful night in which she proclaimed her love. If Payen stops the wedding will he be doing it to protect her from the Order or because of his own unspoken love for Violet?

Another author I haven't read, but have her series sitting on my shelves waiting--this short storty turned out to be my least favorite. I'm not sure if it was because of the historical setting or because I felt like I didn't get enough back story. Maybe a little of both. The dialog was a little dull and very little descriptive scene setting took place to frame out the world in my mind. I believe this story ties directly into her series though so fans of it might enjoy the side trip.

Overall this was a really enjoyable anthology. Three authors I was interested in and hadn't read gave me a good taste for what they write and an author I hadn't even noticed yet smacked me between the eyes and made me take notice. From what I do know of the authors and their series Frost's ties into hers as does Garey's and Smith's. I can't say about Shayne's but I get the impression this is just its own story but well worth reading to feel out her style.

July Needs a Theme...

So far setting up a theme for my reading for each month has been great. I throw in a non-theme book here and there but I try to stick to it for the majority of my reviewing at least. But here I am a week from July starting and instead of announcing a theme I've picked I am quite stumped. I'd like to read books I've already got cluttering my massive TBR bookshelf—seriously, I have a whole bookshelf and then some just for the TBRs—but don't want to give up any time for new releases either.

I've debated a few themes and haven't been sure whether any of them was a good choice. The first was focusing on books with Demons in their storyline (hot month + creatures from hell...). The only trouble there was that nothing on my TBR shelves jumped out at me for that one. That's when I noticed I had lots of sci-fi romance titles I'd never read and thought maybe going for an escapism theme focusing on sci-fi romance might be nice. Only trouble there is I'm just not in the mood for a bunch of scifi-ness. Then of course the whole water/seaside thing came to mind suggesting mermaids and that sort of thing.

Needless to say I'm kind of stuck at the moment. It may run down to the wire where I just randomly choose something on the fly. Until then I think I ought to really go look through my shelves and find something that strikes my fancy.
-- Rhi

6.22.2009

Review: Shifter (anthology)

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Shifter (anthology)
Paranormal Romance, Anthology, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (BERKLEY, 336 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0425220354
WHEN IT COMES TO SHAPESHIFTING PARANORMAL ROMANCE, WHO CAN RESIST...
New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight, USA Today bestselling author Lora Leigh, and national bestselling authors Alyssa Day and Virginia Kantra?
Whether transforming under a blue moon or prowling the streets, the shifters come alive to fulfill the wildest of fantasies in this seductive anthology by four masters of paranormal romance.

Author Site:
www.angelasknights.com


Werewolves and Jaguars and Selkies, Oh My! (4 stars)

Bringing together some of the hottest names in paranormal romances that feature shapeshifters, Shifter, delivers four tales of men who are a little beastly and definitely 100% male.

[MAD DOG LOVE] by Angela Knight, Set in a futuristic world (that somewhat reminded me a little bit of Firefly with nanotechnology) where Freeworlders can be taken as slaves and manipulated by the nanotech these futuristic peoples rely on for healing and communications. Rance Conlan, called "Mad Dog" by his owner, has little hope for escape and freedom until an icy, aristocratic woman comes in search of a werewolf guardian. I have to say I was quite surprised by this one it was well plotted for the short format and while there was definitely some steamy sex there was good story too. 5/5 stars

[A JAGUAR'S KISS] by Lora Leigh, A Breeds series short story this one is about a human female who wants to become a teacher at a school where Breed children will be learning. Getting this job means she will have to deal with being protected by the sexy, Cajun accented jaguar Breed, Saban. When the tension between them turns unbearable things get more than a little complicated. I know lots of fans of this series but if this is any indication of how much their plots focus on sex and erotica it's just not for me, sorry guys! 2/5 stars

[SHIFTER'S LADY] by Alyssa Day, Following characters from Day's Atlantis series this short story focuses on the romance between Marie, an Atlantean, and Ethan, a jaguar shifter. When outsiders threaten the jaguar pride and Marie, Ethan will have to prove himself as an alpha and protector. I think since I haven't read this series it contributed to me not liking the story much because I was very lost on the Atlantean side of things. 3/5 stars

[SEA CROSSING] by Virginia Kantra, This prelude to Kantra's Children of the Sea series serves as a simple, very romantic introduction to the Selkies and their realm. When Emma March sets sail for Canada after being ruined by a man who would make her his mistress the last thing she expects is for her ship to go down or to be rescued by a mysterious seal only to wake in a strange castle. Having read the first in this series and enjoyed it I can safely say you don't need one to understand the other and this was the most romantic of the four, loved it! 5/5 stars

Overall this anthology was definitely geared more toward readers looking for some spice and eroticism rather than truly romantic stories. As far as the shapeshifters go, they were all decent representations of the genre and seem to be good examples of each writer's work. If you're curious about any of these authors—as I was when I bought this anthology—I think this would be a good place to sample their writing styles and the realms they work in.

6.19.2009

Review: My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (anthology)

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My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (anthology) edited by P.N. Elrod
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Trade Paperback (ST. MARTINS GRIFFIN, 368 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0312375042
What newly married couple doesn't dream of a romantic retreat where they can escape the world for a while—but what happens when supernatural forces intrude on their wedded bliss?
Nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors answer that question in this all-star collection of supernatural stories. Can a vampire-hunter enjoy her honeymoon when she’s just learned that her new hubby is a werewolf? How can newlyweds focus on their wedding night when their honeymoon suite is haunted by feuding ghosts? And what’s a wizard to do when a gruesome monster kidnaps the bride on her way home from the wedding?
With so much otherworldly mayhem awaiting our newlyweds, will they ever get around to the honeymoon itself? Find out in…My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon.
* Kelley Armstrong
* Jim Butcher
* Rachel Caine
* P.N. Elrod
* Caitlin Kittredge
* Marjorie M. Liu
* Katie MacAlister
* Lilith Saintcrow
* Ronda Thompson

Author Site:
www.vampwriter.com


Putting the full moon in 'honeymoon'... (4 stars)

We've taken a look at the wild and weird wedding photos, now it's time to hitch a ride on the honeymoon train. Here are a handful of supernatural stories of post-wedding vacations gone awry.

[STALKED] by Kelley Armstrong is a Clay and Elena story from her Women of the Otherworld series. When a mutt interupts Clay's special honeymoon plans for Elena he's got to get rid of the bastard without drawing attention to it. Fans of Armstrong's characters will probably love this one but hearing it from Clay's perspective felt weird to me. 3/5 stars

[HEOROT] by Jim Butcher brings readers into the world of Harry Dresden for a quickie adventure. Harry and his dog Mouse are set after a grendelkin who has kidnapped a young bride just setting out on her honeymoon. While I've still not delved into the Dresden Files Butcher knows how to deliver an entertaining short story that even non-fans of the series can enjoy. 4/5 stars

[ROMAN HOLIDAY or SPQ-ARRRRRR] by Rachel Caine picks up where her story from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding left off. Celia and Liam Lockhart are about to set off on their honeymoon but first they've got to deal with mutiny and a couple of cursed bad guys on the high seas. Another cute piratical adventure from Caine, a fun follow-up to her previous tale of pirates. 4/5 stars

[HER MOTHER'S DAUGHTER] by P.N. Elrod drops readers into the world of Elrod's Vampire Files with Jack Fleming being rushed to a reception to find a missing groom. Twists and turns lead Jack through some interesting social curiosities all while hiding the fact that he is in fact, a vampire. Another series I've not read but certainly does tickle my curiosity with Elrod's narrative style, one I am sure Vampire Files fans would enjoy but readable by anybody. 4/5 stars

[NEWLYDEADS] by Caitlin Kittredge leads readers through a confusing plot that introduces her leading characters for her Black London series (which wasn't released yet when this anthology was released but rather, just came out June 2009). Newlyweds and strange happenings at a nice hotel/resort make for a strange story of spooky magic. Liked the characters introduced but this story confused the heck out of me, I was completely lost with no explanation of the finer details this series will introduce. 3/5 stars

[WHERE THE HEART LIVES] by Marjorie M. Liu is noted as taking place long before the events of her Dirk & Steele series but basically being tied to it. When a young woman is thrust from her home and sent to live with strangers who care for a cemetery ghostly happenings and a dangerous mystery in the woods threaten her. This one IMO really didn't fit the honeymoon theme of the book very well but was a great story I very much enjoyed. 4/5 stars

[CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE] by Katie MacAlister follows characters from her Dark Ones series through a honeymoon adventure in a haunted castle. When Raphael St. John and his bride meet up with the ghosts of Fyfe Castle they might get more than they bargained for in this vacation package. A little too silly for my tastes I (again) think fans of the series who wanted to know more about Raphael will like what they read. 3/5 stars

[HALF OF BEING MARRIED] by Lilith Saintcrow is typical Saintcrow originality poured into print for a clever, exciting adventure that flies by fast. Mr. and Mrs. Black have just started their honeymoon when they find out that their most important secrets they've been hiding from one another could be a deal-breaker, if the vampires don't get to them first! Saintcrow's writing is always hit or miss with me, love it or hate it she knows how to create really unique stuff and this is no exception... pretty darned good for a short story. 4/5 stars

[A WULF IN GROOM'S CLOTHING] by Ronda Thompson is a modern Wulf family (from her historical paranormal Wild Wulfs of London trilogy) tale of a newlywed Wulf and his unbroken curse. Sam hoped his curse would be broken once he and Laura married and consumated their marriage but when he still turns wolfy he's going to have to tell her the truth. This was cute but not overly fluffy and really made me wish that Thompson (who passed away last summer) was going to be writing more. 4/5 stars

Overall not quite as strong of a collection as My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding but definitely a nicely balanced one. Lots of tie-ins to other series written by these authors so their fans really shouldn't miss out on picking this one up. So what's next? An anniversaries collection maybe? Enjoy!

6.16.2009

Review: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (anthology)

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The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance by Trisha Telep
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Trade Paperback (RUNNING PRESS, 512 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0762436514
24 new short stories from the hottest names
Fall in love with someone out of this world.
If love transcends all boundaries then paranormal romance is its logical conclusion. From the biggest names around, here are 24 tales to take you to another time and place.
Let Alyssa Day, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Cheyenne McCray, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Allyson James Marland and others show you powers beyond your wildest imaginings.
Within these pages mythical beasts, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, heart-stoppingly handsome ghosts, angels, and mortals with extra-sensitive sensory perception play out the themes of extraordinary desires.

Author Site: www.runningpress.com

Great variety... not so great quality... (3 stars)

A widesweeping selection of paranormal fables of the romantic persuasion, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE, is a tantalizing sampler for fans of both the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres. Filled with short stories from some of the biggest names—and some little known—in paranormal romance and urban fantasy I highly recommend this for other readers who are seeking a taste of new authors or to try something from an old favorite. To keep things brief let me offer information on each short story...

[THE TEMPTATION OF ROBIN GREEN] by Carrie Vaughan, Lieutenant Robin Green's work at the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology introduces her to some strange and interesting creatures of myth and legend, one of which may steal her heart. -- This was classic Vaughan and fans of her Kitty Norville series will recognize a familiar face at the center. 4/5 stars

[SUCCUBUS SEDUCTION] by Cheyenne McCray, Lilin, a succubus, has been charged by the queen of the Unseelie Court to seduce Archer Dane and bring her his soul... but Archer won't be won so easily. -- Definitely more erotic than romantic this was an okay story but not really my thing. 3/5 stars

[PARANORMAL ROMANCE BLUES] by Kelley Armstrong, Half-demons looking for love in all the wrong places. -- I'm known for not caring for Armstrong's writing style and unfortunately this one didn't help win my fandom. 1/5 stars

[JOHN DOE] by Anna Windsor, Celebrating her 30th birthday working the late shift at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital would be really boring for Dutch Brennan if it weren't for the interesting new arrival. -- An interesting mythology and okay premise, fans of her Dark Crescent Sisterhood should like this one. 3/5 stars

[TAKING HOLD] by Anya Bast, Human nurse, Lily, has volunteered to help in the search for a lost young werewolf with Mac, the wolf she's got a jones for. -- One of the most well executed plots in the collection, this actually felt like a complete story, nicely done. 4/5 stars

[HOW TO DATE A SUPERHERO] by Jean Johnson, Partnered superheroes struggle to find a way to balance their conflicted feelings toward each other without endangering the team. -- Love a good superhero story but this one felt reeeeeally cheesy and more about sexual attraction than romance. 2/5 stars

[DANIEL] by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, When a process server gets tangled up with a sexy vampire and his master things could get nasty. -- This one felt like a reject from the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, not much story or romance. 1/5 stars

[LIGHT THROUGH FOG] by Holly Lisle, When Sarah's husband Sam died all that was left to connect them was their tree and a mysterious magic in the fog. -- By far the stand-out story of the bunch, vividly imagined, extremely romantic and touching, doesn't quite make up for the less-than-stellar rest of the collection but a must-read! 5/5 stars

[THE TUESDAY ENCHANTRESS] by Mary Jo Putney, It's not everyday Charlie meets a gorgeous fellow Guardian but this might be his lucky day... or a really, really unlucky one when the two are put in a hostage situation. -- Haven't read the series this ties into but I think I want to now, this story was really clever, the characters very real and likable, loved it! 5/5 stars

[TRINITY BLUE] by Eve Silver, Jen's love-life heats up when she hires a mysterious drifter to help with some painting around her grandmother's house, but could he have something to do with an equally mysterious murder? -- This one ties into Silver's Compact of Sorcerer's series (I think?) and therefore was a little confusing but wasn't too bad. 3/5 stars

[GRACE OF SMALL MAGICS] by Ilona Andrews, When warring mage clans clash Grace not only discovers that her family is essentially owned by one of them or that she must now fight beside her new master but that there's a lot more to herself and her master than meets the eye. -- Not sure if this one ties into one of Andrews' series but was a very interesting concept and an okay story. 4/5 stars

[ONCE A DEMON] by Dina James, Kyle prefers his solitude but when a friend offers a chance to speak of the love he lost it may lead to his salvation. -- Loved the ending but the pace was really slow and tedious overall. 4/5 stars

[NIGHT VISION] by Maria V. Snyder, Most of her life Sophia has hidden from those who would use her unusual gifts but perhaps putting them to use in the right ways could be a good thing. -- Another interesting concept delivered in an okay package but didn't really wow me. 3/5 stars

[PELE'S TEARS] by Catherine Mulvany, Dillon Makua never forgot his first love and when she comes crashing back into his life to solve the mystery of her grandmother's suicide maybe Neolani hasn't forgotten him either. -- I'm a sucker for Hawaiian mythology being used in fiction and I love first love reunion stories so this one was a favorite. 5/5 stars

[PACK] by Jeaniene Frost, Getting lost in the woods alone has definitely gotten Marlee in over her head when she gets attacked and rescued by two very different wolves. -- My first taste of Frost's writing and I like it, am guessing her fans will too. 4/5 stars

[WHEN GARGOYLES FLY] by Lori Devoti, When Mord the gargoyle is awakened by Kami after a hundred years of slumber the world of humans could be in mortal danger. -- Ugh, a too-stupid-to-live heroine and a really one-dimensional hero killed what could have been a cool gargoyle story. 1/5 stars

[THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER AND HIS WIFE] by Sara Mackenzie, Sent back from purgatory to right a past wrong, Zek strikes a bargain to see his wife in her reincarnation one more time. -- An okay romance and a slightly confusing mythos make for an okay story. 3/5 stars

[BLOOD SONG] by Lynda Hilburn, Ethan is a vampire who gets stuck on clean-up duty when he meets the enigmatic sound-healer Grace and what their meeting brings is simply magic. -- Liked the characters and I thought the sound healing was pretty cool but some will find it hokey or even cheesy, def not for every reader. 4/5 stars

[THE PRINCESS AND THE PEAS] by Alyssa Day, A princess, 'peas' made of iron and a gathering of fae are all it takes for trouble and romance in this tale. -- Humorous and original if pushing into silly territory. 4/5 stars

[AT SECOND BITE] by Michelle Rowen, Evan Frost is convinced that Julia is his soulmate reincarnated and when his brother Henry tries to kill her things get even more confusing. -- I tried to like this one but the romance felt very contrived and the concept just didn't work for me. 2/5 stars

[BLUE CRUSH] by Rachel Caine, Joanne and David from the Weather Warden series spend a day at the beach saving lives, kicking booty and getting a little frisky. -- I've only read the first book in the series so not sure where this tale should fall but I think this is definitely for fans of the series only. 3/5 stars

[THE WAGER] by Sherrilyn Kenyon, A strangely narrated Lords of Avalon tale of loving and pissing-off the wrong woman. -- This might have been okay but the narration was sooo badly done (and I normally like Kenyon). 1/5 stars

[IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING] by Meljean Brook, Five years ago Emma left Oregon and Nathan behind but when she comes home and faces off with a murderer she and Nathan will need one another to bring the bad guy down. -- I actually really liked this one, it was believable and not too predictable. 5/5 stars

[THE DREAM CATCHER] by Allyson James, Set in an unusual world where high society humans no longer have sexual relations a creature meant to fulfill fantasies of all kinds will awaken Natalia to the pleasure and joy of her secret desires. -- Unique, intriguing and a nice cap to the end of this collection... I dunno why this felt a little steampunk to me but it did. 4/5 stars

As a whole I felt that this collection had a few strong tales but was mostly a very random selection of stories with paranormal elements. There was definitely a lot of variety in concepts (fae, gargoyles, selkies) but a sad lack of quality storytelling. I think most fans of the paranormal romance genre won't find this to their taste. There are a few vampire stories, a couple of shapeshifter ones and lots of magic users but it was missing the really juicy sensuality and deeply heart-felt romance most of them (us!) want to find in something like this.

6.09.2009

Review: The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

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The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
Literature, Translation, Dystopian Society
Trade Paperback (OTHER PRESS, 272 pages, $14.95)
ISBN# 1590513134
One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and…well, then what?
THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.



Dystopian Dreams For Any Reader (4 stars)

At the age of fifty Dorrit Weger is whisked away to a place commonly known as The Unit. Here she will have a comfortable apartment all to herself, access to nice shops and leisurely activities galore, as well as fine meals she doesn't have to prepare for herself. There are parties and a beautiful winter garden to roam in, athletic facilities to enjoy and a library stocked with the latest books and movies. But there is a price for the luxury afforded The Unit's residents; their bodies and ultimately, their lives. Dorrit and her companions have been deemed "dispensable" by the government and thus they are sent to The Unit to live out the rest of their brief years as lab rats and organ donors for the greater good.

At first life within The Unit isn't so terrible. For the first time in her life Dorrit feels needed and has a social circle that she has much in common with. She misses her dog and parts of her life before The Unit but slowly this fades giving way to a certain level of acceptance. She doesn't suffer much at first taking part in simple physical testing and eventually donating a kidney but all residents know that in due time they will make their "final donation". As her friends slowly begin to go through their "final donations" Dorrit falls in love with Johannes, a fellow writer with whom she develops a deep relationship. But when she discovers that despite her fifty-years-of-age she has become pregnant the idea of the two gaining their freedom—as they are now "needed" by their offspring—may not be so easily obtained.

I've always loved a good story of dystopian societies and the way they make us question our own social and moral obligations to the world. Yet it isn't so easy to find one that isn't so heavily weighed down by its own attempt at teaching a lesson that it is stifling. The Unit is far from being stifling. It doesn't pretend to be something it is not, the straight-forward beauty of the premise is executed so simply but richly that I couldn't put the book down. As the sun's first rays of morning were breaking over the horizon I finished The Unit with a sense of peace.

With the average lifespan of human beings having risen drastically in the past hundred years it is not so difficult to imagine a place like The Unit becoming a reality. It is because of this that I found the story somewhat haunting but not so horrible. There is a distinct dilemna I think every reader will feel very differently about when reading this one. Would you be willing to shorten your own life for a few years of luxury and knowing you've done something good for society? Others may get something else out of The Unit but that is what I was left wondering to myself.

I highly recommend this if you liked George Orwell or Ayn Rand when you were made to read them in high school. This is the perfect read for someone looking for a good bit of dystopian literature without getting headaches trying to wrap our mind around the concepts and questions.

6.08.2009

Review: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (anthology)

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My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (anthology) edited by P.N. Elrod
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Trade Paperback (ST. MARTINS GRIFFIN, 310 pages, $14.95)
ISBN# 0312343604
Werewolves, vampires, witches, voodoo, Elvis---and weddings
An “ordinary” wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories. What’s the seating plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof? How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives---who are experts at voodoo? Will you have a good marriage if your high-seas wedding is held on a cursed ship? How do you deal with a wedding singer who’s just a little too good at impersonating Elvis?
· L. A. Banks
· Jim Butcher
· Rachel Caine
· P. N. Elrod
· Esther M. Friesner
· Lori Handeland
· Charlaine Harris
· Sherrilyn Kenyon
· Susan Krinard
Shape-shifters, wizards, and magic, oh my!

Author Site:
www.vampwriter.com


Gives a whole new meaning to 'wedded bliss'... (4 stars)

When a simple, traditional wedding just won't do, you get together several popular paranormal fantasy authors and bam! You get a wedding worth remembering.

[SPELLBOUND] by L.A. Banks is a lively tale of two families notorious in their feud and moreso for their voodoo. When the son of one and the daughter of the other fall in love they risk an all-out war of magics between their aunts and uncles just to get married. With her usual attention to cultural detail and a heavy dose of slangy dialog this one was a little tough to swallow but Banks delivers flavor like none other. 3/5 stars

[SOMETHING BORROWED] by Jim Butcher brings the world of Harry Dresden onto the wedding ciruit and into a patch of faerie trouble. When werewolves Billy and Georgia attempt to get married an old grudge comes back to haunt them and it's up to Harry to make sure that the wedding goes on. I've still never ready the Dresden books and that made this story a little confusing not sure how fans of the series would feel. 2/5 stars

[DEAD MAN'S CHEST] by Rachel Caine is a wild yarn about a wedding at sea and attempted-murder most foul. Ian is a man almost too good to be true when he whisks Cecilia off on a wedding cruise that will change their lives. I am a huge sucker for a pirate story and this one delivered quite well even if the romance was a bit too rushed for my tastes. 5/5 stars

["ALL SHOOK UP"] by P.N. Elrod brings the catering crew and entertainment at a reception into the light as an Elvis impersonator and head caterer strike up an attraction. Toss in a special magic, a model and a wrestler and you get one crazy wedding that won't be easily forgetable. This story was so different but well characterised I couldn't help but like it. 4/5 stars

[THE WEDDING OF WYLDA SERENE] by Esther M. Friesner throws the book at the uppercrust and their snooty ways as they try to find a way to prevent chaos at The Club where a wedding is to take place. Mixing mythology and dry humor this one pokes fun at high society's strictures. I loved how this one was narrated but the story was a little choppy and strange. 2/5 stars

[CHARMED BY THE MOON] by Lori Handleland is a story of Native American myth and a wedding that could be stopped by questionable magics. Werewolves are the bad guys who may have set the trouble up but sometimes lovers just need to trust their feelings. I'm not sure if this ties into Handeland's series at all but it felt like these characters were from another story. Loved the Native American mythology use and the hero and heroine were well suited to one another. 3/5 stars

[TACKY] by Charlaine Harris is set in the Southern Vampire Mysteries world but isn't focused on Sookie. When a vampire and a werewolf decide to get married it causes all kinds of comflict for the bride and groom least of which is the fact that their races hate one another! I've only recently become remotely familiar with this world and love the way it is presented, this story was cute and an interesting look at the vampire and werewolf politics Harris has created. 5/5 stars

[A HARD DAY'S NIGHT-SEARCHER] by Sherrilyn Kenyon plops you down into the world of the Dark Hunters where a young squire with delusions of grandeur has written and gotten published with a short story that is a blatant rip-off of the REAL Dark Hunters. To protect his squire a Dark Hunter has to keep the female squire he has the hots for busy and maybe get her to break a few rules along the way. There's a lot of plot packed into this short story but it comes off strangely well if you're a fan of Kenyon's Dark Hunters this is a decent read. 4/5 stars

["...OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE"] by Susan Krinard is a historical tale of a wedding interupted by a mysterious man, an even more mysterious death and a kidnapping. When a group of friends must sort out the truth using their inherited magics they're in for a big surprise. Really interesting conceptually but a little confusing this one would have made a better full length novel. 3/5 stars

Overall this was a pretty good sampler of authors and I loved the diversity of writing styles. It was fun to see familiar authors writing outside of their series (Banks, Caine) and to see a few were tied to others (Butcher, Harris, Kenyon). Not my favorite anthology about weddings but certainly one for fans of the well known authors included within.

6.04.2009

Review: Hotter Than Hell (anthology)

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Hotter Than Hell (anthology) edited by Kim Harrison
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Mass Market Paperback (HARPER, 512 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0061161292
Released: June 2008 (Reviewed: July 2008)
Beyond the boundaries of the everyday is an unseen realm where anything you imagine is possible. Your demon lover is waiting for you in the shadows, ready to fulfill your secret wishes and most dangerous fantasies. Here passion has a face and form both titillating and terrifying—and love has teeth and claws. Get ready to give in to your craving for something exquisitely dark . . . and different.
Hotter Than Hell gathers together a baker's dozen of today's boldest and best authors of supernatural fiction and paranormal romance in a breathtaking anthology that blends black magic with red-hot desire. From the tantalizing tale of a conflicted psychic vampire driven by a powerful, savage love to the strange saga of a Greek warrior woman battling to save the world, these are stories outside the limits, as hypnotic as the full moon . . . and hotter than the sun.

Author Site:
www.kimharrison.net


Must Try -- Paranormal Romance Sampler (4 stars)

At just under 500 pages, Hotter Than Hell, collects a dozen short stories from some of the biggest names in paranormal romance and urban fantasy into one nice little beach ready tome. Because there are a dozen that need a review let me do my best here and give you a very short bit on each one (in the order from the book)!

[Music Hath Charms] by Tanya Huff is a quicky about a talent scout for a music studio and her sultry adventures to sign a hunky pair of country-rock musicians who's sound has a magic all its own. I hate to say this was my favorite since it was the first story but I loved Huff's crazy concepts for it. 5/5 stars

[Minotaur in Stone] by Marjorie M. Liu is a darkly fantastical fable about a lonely young woman who is haunted by sensual dreams of a monsterous minotaur made of stone. The concept was great, the present tense narration was awful. Very sexy but not typical Liu. 4/5 stars

[Demon Lover] by Cheyenne McCray is a story about a writer working on a book relating to incubae when she starts having steamy late night visits from one. A little too cutesey and cliche for me to love but well written and a good example of McCray's writing. 4/5 stars

[Equinox] by L.A. Banks is a modern mythology of the goddess Artemis' campaign to protect the forests of the world but a group of elite soldiers gets involved and vows get broken. Another excellent story, Banks at her finest and very sensual as always. 5/5 stars

[Ride A Dark Horse] by Susan Krinard is about a recently divorced woman trying to put her life back together while vacationing in the southwest, there she meets a seductive stranger and a beautiful horse who change her life forever. Never read Krinard before that I know of and I loved this story and her style, another favorite. 5/5 stars

[To Die For] by Keri Arthur is about a wolf shapeshifter and a werewolf investigating the dissappearance of two teens while fighting the urges to investigate one another intimately. This was one of my least favorite stories. Too abrupt, lacking chemistry and it was more focused on the sex than the story. 2/5 stars

[Curse of the Dragon's Tears] by Heidi Betts is the story of a man cursed to wear the scales of a dragon and the young woman who wants to break that curse with her love. I've never heard of Betts and I don't plan to look for her after this sloppy story, too many inaccurate details of the culture of Scotland. 1/5 stars

[Brother's Keeper] by Lilith Saintcrow is about a psychic who's brother is murdered after she receives a frantic call from him and the vampire who protects her. I've not read Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series but I am pretty sure this takes place in the same world. I wasn't impressed and didn't like the characters though the author writes very well. 1/5 stars

[(Like A) Virgin of the Spring] by Susan Sizemore and Denise Little is a time-travel story, a seer trapped in the past and her rescuer tangle with Arthurian legend. A little cheesy and poorly plotted but fresh and fun. 3/5 stars

[Life is the Teacher] by Carrie Vaughn is a tale about a newly made vampire struggling with her new power and how it will affect her love life. Fans of the Kitty Norville series will recognize Alette and the story is a good representation of Vaughn's writing but it falls flat otherwise. 3/5 stars

[Moonlight Becomes You] by Linda Winstead Jones is a cutesey short about a young woman who thinks her neighbor is a vampire and how she tries to prove it but falls in lust/love with him in the process. I've read one of Jones' trilogies and I love her writing, she's got a way of making things light and fun but still solid enough stories and it shows with this one. Very cute and sexy. 4/5 stars

[Dirty Magic] by Kim Harrison is the final story, about a banshee and her quest to feed her baby daughter. I hate to say it but this one totally lost me. I was so confused by the story I can't give a proper description and I felt it was not Harrison's best despite how much I love her Rachel Morgan series. 1/5 stars

So there you have them... the overall concepts and what I liked and disliked about each of them. Overall I think that this is a good book for someone looking to dabble into the realm of paranormals to pick up so they can try these authors and the concepts of vampires, weres, icubi, time-travel and the like. At the very least check it out at the library and try some of the stories for their unusual faire 'cause stories about banshees, minotaurs and men cursed to be horses aren't your typical everyday paranormal fantasy.

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