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-- Rhi


Review: Shift by Rachel Vincent

Shift (Shifters #5) by Rachel Vincent
Urban Fantasy, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback (MIRA, 400 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0778327604
Being the first female werecat enforcer isn't easy. Scars accumulate, but I'm stronger in so many ways.
As for my personal life? It's complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother's death and my father's impeachment, it's all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.
With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option…

Author Site: rachelvincent.com

Frustrations galore but still love every minute of it! (5 stars)

In Pride we learned a little bit about shapeshifters that weren't werecats. But even I will admit to being surprised to find that the majority of Shift's plot centers around thunderbirds, a raptor-like (bird enthusiasts will know what I mean) tribe of bird shifters who avoid human involvement. After the events of Prey bring some major conflicts to the table, *spoiler alert for Prey* Ethan's death and Faythe's subsequent hook-up with Jace, Faythe's world is in chaos. She needs to come clean with Marc about what happened between herself and Jace because the two can't act normal around each other anymore.

When an attack and attempted kidnapping bring the thunderbirds into the picture it's not hard to guess who is behind them and why. The big conflict is how to prove it when the bird shifters don't have a social structure or culture anything like the cats. Without a leader and a lack of humanity in their decision making the Flight wants revenge for their own fallen and won't see reason without some proof. It's up to Faythe and the guys forming her frustrating love triangle to prove that the south-central Pride is innocent.

I know a lot of other readers got frustrated with this book for many reasons, I definitely had some of my own to deal with too. So let me get those out of the way first. How on earth can the thunderbirds have not been noticed by humans simply based on the way they are described!?! And why on earth would they have taken the bad guy's word at face value rather than assume they were involved in the murder of their Flight mate? There were just a handful of things about them that didn't work for me or make sense to me enough to not bug me a little. Then there's Faythe finding excuses not to tell Marc about what happened with Jace. In spite of his temper he pretty much worships her and continues to want her no matter what (even when she was out in the human world sleeping with a human) so why is it such an issue really? And why does she suddenly have feelings for Jace beyond friendship? That bit doesn't make sense to me really since she always kind of had a flirty thing with him but in a playful way not an attracted way. Granted I am a total Team Jace girl but puh-lease! Either she loves him or she doesn't. Just because they had sex doesn't mean she has to love him now. There's also a lot of "red shirt" killing in this one. Okay maybe they have names at least but sheesh does everyone have to die before the final book? lol

Even with those issues bugging me I still loved it. Faythe may very well be the most annoying heroine of all time (she never does what we all know she should!!!) yet there's something about that I can't help but enjoy. I don't like Marc, never have, and he's no less irritating this time but for once he has some competition that I liked. The story can get a bit slow because there are a lot of "talky" parts this time but when there's action it's intense.

I'm not sure what more I can say about Shift. I love this series as a whole and find it easy to forgive any of my grievances knowing there's only one more book and thus a climax coming. Can't wait for Alpha's release this fall.

Other Reviews:

Smexy Books
Sarah's Book Reviews
Wicked Lil' Pixie

Notes: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.


Review: Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women by Kristina Wright

Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women by Kristina Wright
Erotica, Fantasy
Trade Paperback (CLEIS PRESS, 256 pages, $14.95)
ISBN# 1573443972
Award-winning novelist and top erotica writer Kristina Wright goes over the river and through the woods to find the sexiest fairy tales ever written. Playfully seductive, supernaturally sensual, and darkly erotic, Fairy Tale Lust showcases clever twists to classic tales and introduces new stories inspired by the ever-popular genre. Here, a walk in the forest is likely to lead to an erotic encounter with a mysterious stranger and the silver light of a full moon might illuminate an orgy of sensual delights! Highly imaginative and downright stimulating, these stories take fairy tale erotica to the next level. Top erotica contributors deliver sizzling work, including Janine Ashbless, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Delilah Devlin, Shanna Germaine, and Saskia Walker.
Author Site: www.kristinawright.com

Fantasies for Non-Fantasy Erotica Fans (2 stars)

Sometimes when you review a book you write it all out and when you read it realize its just way too long. So long that no one is going to read it, let alone get any use out of it. The review I started to write for this book would have been one of those. But I think I'd like to spare those of you out there who actually want to know whether this book is for you or not some grief and try to be a bit cut and dry with it.

I expected Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women to be a collection of erotic retellings of favorite classic fairy tales like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast with a strong emphasis on the female as powerful, sensual and sexual. Unfortunately this book didn't deliver the kind of fantasy tales I got the impression it would have. Many are very loosely inspired by fairy tales and children's stories in contemporary settings. Don't come to this one expecting a virginal Rapunzel waiting to bring a handsome prince up to her tower of lust. You're going to get a story about a sexually adventurous woman dressing up as a mermaid complete with sex toy rigged costume (no joke!) and put on display in a restaurant.

Because so few of the stories fit my traditional ideal I really wasn't very impressed with the majority of the stories offered here. If your mind is a bit broader in your definition of fairy tale and you're much more interested in bondage, exploring back entrances *ahem*, and a little F/F then you'll probably find more here for you than I did. That said I really enjoyed a couple of the stories and felt they were worth highlighting for the sake of review.

Craig Sorenson's Ducking is an interesting contemporary Ugly Duckling story about a divorcee who discovers the definition of MILF and seeks to own the term while winning over a sexy much younger neighbor. While some of the cheesy narration bugs me with this one there was just something about it I liked. Definitely fit the feminine sexual empowerment idea I think the title of this book refers to.

Three Times by Justine Elyot is my favorite of the collection. Centering around a bar maid's observations of the men in the kingdom's pathetic attempts at freeing the princess from a magical tree's vines this one fits a more traditional fairy tale theme. Featuring some F/F and M/F/F this one is really a sexy wink at how men and women approach things differently and had a really clever ending.

Sleep Tight by Janine Ashbless is another good take on a traditional fairy tale but retold in a contemporary setting. When a man is paid to clear out an overgrown garden and yard surrounding an aging Victorian house he'll find a Sleeping Beauty within who awaits his hungry touch with hungers of her own. Really different and with a surprise ending I really liked.

Some of the others were okay but several of them I actually really disliked a lot. In general there just weren't enough that I liked to give the book more than two stars. If I had known most of these didn't fit the traditional fairy tale retold with smutty details idea I had I wouldn't have bothered reading it.

Other Reviews:

Steph @ Amazon.com

Notes: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.


Review: The Blonde Samurai by Jina Bacarr

The Blonde Samurai by Jina Bacarr
Historical Fiction, Erotica
Trade Paperback (HARLEQUIN SPICE, 352 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 0373605404
Spring 1873: I arrived in Japan a virgin bride, heartsick and anxious beyond measure. Yet I embraced this perplexing world with my soul laid bare after uncovering an erotic, intoxicating power I hardly knew that I, Katie O'Roarke, possessed.
Japan was a world away from my tedious Western existence, a welcome distraction from my recent marriage to a cold and cruel husband. But when James attacked me in a drunken rage, I could tolerate it no longer…. I had no choice but to escape into the surrounding hills. I awoke in the arms of Akira, a young Samurai, and it was he who took me to Shintaro, the head of the powerful Samurai clan.
At first distrustful, Shintaro came to me every day for a fortnight until my need for him made my heart race at the very sound of his feet upon the wooden floor. He taught me the way of the Samurai—loyalty, honor, self-respect—and the erotic possibilities of inner beauty unleashed. It is his touch that shatters my virginal reserve, evoking danger and physical pleasures that linger beyond our fervent encounters. But James means to find me, to make me pay for his humiliation. I can no longer hide amongst the orange blossoms as rebellions rage, and as my own secret continues to grow…

Author Site: jinabacarr.com

A Sensual Journey for the Erotica Reader (4 stars)

A savage land. A savage husband. Bushido and sexuality. Katie O'Roarke was brought to Japan a virgin bride hungry for the touch of a man. Wed to Lord Carlton to up her status and fund his debauched lifestyle she finds herself in a foreign land struggling to protect the financial interests of her father from her husband's excesses. When an encounter with one of the legendary Samurai lords, Shintaro, leads to an impassioned obsession her adventures in Japan take a sensual turn.

Fleeing a violent attack from Lord Carlton, Katie is found by Akira, a young Samurai warrior. Brought to Shintaro by Akira she will learn the ways of the Samurai as warrior and lover. But Japan is a land in turmoil as Western influences threaten to destroy the Samurai ways of honor and loyalty and Katie's husband will stop at nothing to continue his secure himself a fortune. She will have to fight to save those she loves proing herself a true follower of Bushido.

I read a bit about Bacarr's previously released book The Blonde Geisha and while I intended to read it never did get around to it. Getting my hands on The Blonde Samurai I am pleased to say that I will be picking up more of Bacarr's work in the future. Why? Because she knows how to write an engaging first person narrative!!! Told from the perspective of Katie O'Roarke herself, as if she is writing a memoir, The Blonde Samurai gives readers a lot to digest as the story unfolds. From Lord Carlton's passion for spanking to the basics of the fashions of the era each scene is highly visible without much imagination required. Richly detailed and obviously decently researched I found myself easily transported from contemporary time and place into a nineteenth century London and Tokio.

I had hoped for this to be a bit more romantic in all honesty but with the Samurai code coming into play that part is very subtle. Katie's relationship with Shintaro lacked chemistry for me as a reader and I think some of that had to do with how little we know about who he is as the hero of the story. For fans of M/F/M or M/M erotica this story features quite a bit of both with a little bit of F/F and M/M/F as well. I don't care for spanking and there's quite a lot of it in the early chapters as Katie explains Lord Carlton's tastes and behavior. If you enjoy that, ropes and knots, light bondage and voyeurism you'll be pleased to find those naughty bits as well.

Overall, I read it more for the story than the erotic aspects and enjoyed it though I found it really implausible. But hey, it's fiction! It was entertaining. Most of the erotic scenes weren't quite what I was expecting (I think I was anticipating it to be more romantica than pure erotica) so if you're into erotica AND historical fic I think you'll enjoy The Blonde Samurai a lot.

Other Reviews:

D. Roberts @ Amazon.com

Notes: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.


Review: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Hardcover (HARCOURT, 288 pages, $17.00)
ISBN# 0152063900
Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents' rules--especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father's office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be the key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.
To improve her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen's sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill's accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything--even Tristen's love--just for the thrill of being...bad.

Author Site: bethfantaskey.com

Dual Perspectives Kill the Chemistry (3 stars)

Jill Jekel is descended from THE Dr. Jekyll so it's no surprise she's a chemistry whiz. When her father is murdered and her mother is struggling to cope there's a large burden of responsibility put on her shoulders. Someone has to make sure the bills get paid. But when she discovers her college tuition was stolen by her father before his murder the only way she can possibly pay for school is by winning the grand prize in the Foreman Foundation's scholarship contest. When her teacher suggests she team up with Tristen Hyde and use the whole Jekel-Hyde story to their advantage she's willing to give it a shot but he shoots her down.

Tristen Hyde has been living in the shadow of his mother's mysterious dissappearance and his shrink father's strange behavior. He dreams of violent things and has had his eye on a certain bespectacled Miss Jekel. Protecting Jill from his dark side seems the safest option but when she explains why she needs his help he realizes there might be more to their teaming up than mere chemistry. Maybe they really can reproduce the solution that created the evil Hyde monster and cure Tristen of the big nasty he senses isn't too far off in his future.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I very much enjoyed Fantaskey's previous book and was anticipating another great teen romance. On the romance part she does deliver! There's some good chemistry (pun not intended) between Tristen and Jill. They are both physically attracted to one another and become very emotionally dependant on the other. It isn't flawless but it's entertaining. I'll be honest when I say that this is every geeky girl's fantasy scenario though. That smart, kinda nerdy girl no one notices heroine is noticed by the hot, athletic loner/bad-boy type. For that I would put this into more of the fluffy romance catagory.

What doesn't work for me and really ruined the story were two big issues. The main one is the dual perspective narrative. Maybe it's just me but I (with few exceptions) don't like books where you get the first person perspective of both the hero and heroine in alternating chapters. I find it annoying and sometimes it makes me have to back-up and double-check which one is "speaking". Jill's perspective alone would have been okay in this case but I think it made Tristen seem unreal in a bad way. Not to go far off topic but this style worked in Fantaskey's first book because the hero's perspective was written as letters to a relative which allowed his personality and mannerisms room to be seen and not told (if that makes sense). The other big issue I had was the science part of the story. I've never actually read the book this is inspired from, though I think most are familiar with the jist of that story, but I expected there to be more pseudo-science just for the sake of storytelling. I was looking forward to a little bit more experimentation that failed and that sort of thing.

For me this just wasn't as good as Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, BUUUUUT I think Fantaskey has a lot more to offer her readers. I'd pass on this one unless the premise really interests you but I'll still be looking for the next title this author puts out with eagerness.

Other Reviews:
Jodi @ Amazon.com
Mark Flowers @ 101.com
Elise @ Reading Rocks

Notes: I received a review copy from the author (per my request).


Review: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks
Zombies, Humor
Trade Paperback (THREE RIVERS PRESS, 288 pages, $13.95)
ISBN# 1400049628
The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.
Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack
1. Organize before they rise!
2. They feel no fear, why should you?
3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
4. Blades don’t need reloading.
5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9. No place is safe, only safer.
10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.
Don’t be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset—life. This book is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now without your even knowing it. The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead. It is a book that can save your life.

Author Site: maxbrooks.com

If it can cure my 10-year-old of his zombie fear... (4 stars)

So my husband saw this book ages ago and commented on it to me. Parody books really aren't my thing but I thought it was a clever idea. Eventually he bought it and read it, seeming to enjoy it pretty well. It certainly lead to some funny conversations about beefing up the home security. While planning to read zombie fiction for a theme-of-the-month I decided to toss this one in with it. I mean, why not figure out how to survive a zombie attack if I was going to be reading so much about them?

For a book shelved under humor there's a terribly serious tone to this guide. The kind of serious tone that never falters making you almost go "hmmm, does this guy really believe this crap?". That is what makes it soooo good! This is the sort of well researched and thought out parody that I think most readers who are into zombies or have read a few too many survival guides can get behind. If I were heading out into the workplace every day I think this would be an excellent tome for watercooler chat fodder.

What really surprised me though was that my ten-year-old picked it up to read. My kid hates reading. He is also terrified of only one thing in this world and that thing is zombies. When he was little all we had to do to get him to stay in his room when he was sent there for a time-out was to start up a nice zombie moaning noise, tip our heads sideways and shamble toward him. Thanks alot Mr. Brooks! Now I can't pull that one on him anymore because he no longer fears zombies thanks to everything he learned in this book. Of course, that does make it easier to watch some of our favorite movies in another room without him screaming to turn it off.

All in all I think this is a terrific stocking stuffer for your favorite zombie fan or even a kinemortophobic tween.

Notes: I borrowed this book from someone.

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
Urban Fantasy, Werewolves, Vampires, Steampunk
Mass Market Paperback (ORBIT, 384 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0316056634
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?
SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Author Site: gailcarriger.com

Quirky, Jocular Tale of Victorian London's Unnatural Side (3 stars)

When a vampire attacked Miss Alexia Tarabotti, the snarky spinster of Italian descent, she certainly didn't mean to kill him. But he did ruin a perfectly good treacle tart before pouncing upon her. Enter barely civilized werewolf and BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry) agent, Lord Maccon to investigate the matter by order of the Queen herself. The two have never quite been on fully peaceable terms, ever squabbling wittily back and forth.

Following her attack Alexia becomes the target of strange happenings and with new, unsanctioned vampires popping up it's only a matter of time before she finds herself in trouble again. Toss in some werewolf trouble, an American scientist showing an interest in Miss Tarabotti and a best friend with horrifying taste in head coverings and you have quite an adventure for a Victorian lady who's been on the shelf since she was fifteen.

Soulless is delightfully quirky and snarky, two things I reeeeeally enjoy in a book. Alexia is an independant, intelligent woman who happens to be very much a bull in the social china shop. Her head-butting relationship with Lord Maccon is amusing most of the time though at a point I began to wonder if there was ever really going to be anything to come of the obvious "I hate you so much because we're perfect for each other" sort of chemistry I was seeing. The secondary characters are all nicely established and for their part equally as interesting as our heroine. I will say that for some reason many of their names are just plain odd and I found them annoying as I mentally stumbled over a few of them. Just a small peeve on my part, sorry!

The story itself has some steampunky tech elements but didn't really sit with me as a steampunk story though that was what had sold me on it. I found it to be more of an alternate history-ical urban fantasy and that was okay by me. Overall though the whole missing vampires and new vampires plot came out really flat to me, almost as if it were an afterthought when the author had great characters and wasn't sure how to play with them. What it does do though is set up for a series that I think will be pretty unique and certainly entertaining.

If you're into historical romance and urban fantasy I think this book melds the two genres into a pretty neat package. It's on the lighter side, lots of humor and hilarity not at all the dark broody stuff much of the urban fantasy genre is known for. I loved the girl-power elements too. Enjoy!

Other Reviews:

KB @ Babbling About Books, and More!
Smexy Books
KindleVixen @ Amazon.com

Notes: I bought this book at an online bookstore.


Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Steampunk, Historical Fiction, Zombies
Trade Paperback (TOR, 416 pages, $15.99)
ISBN# 0765318415
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

Author Site: www.cheriepriest.com

Pretty good, IF its plot elements are EXACTLY what you're looking for. (4 stars)

Sixteen years ago, Briar Wilkes, was the much-younger bride of inventor Leviticus Blue. While the Civil War was being waged on America's eastern coast gold was what ruled the west. When Dr. Blue built his Incredible Bone-shaking Drill Engine at the behest of Russian prospectors Briar had no clue what her husband was really up to. Just barely pregnant when the Boneshaker mysteriously tore apart the underside of Seattle she and the rest of the town were forced to leave their homes to avoid the poisonous Blight gas that began seeping from the ground. Eventually a wall was built around the city to contain not only the Blight, but the zombies created by the noxious gas.

Now a teenager, Ezekiel Wilkes may not bear his reviled father's name but he faces troubles none-the-less. Set on proving that his father wasn't the evil, mad scientist people believe him to be he has set out on a fool's errand. It's not hard to get onto the other side of the wall, it's the surviving on the other side that's hard. If the zombies, known as Rotters, don't get you and the Blight doesn't catch you with your mask off you're likely to run into Doornails, folks who never left the city. Resilient and of questionable motivations the Doornails survive through resourcefulness and the ingenuity of one really shady character.

If Zeke can survive long enough to find evidence about his father maybe things will change but his mother knows the truth. Setting out on a dangerous adventure to bring her son home she'll risk it all to set the record straight for her boy.

I'm a huge fan of any story where a parent risks themself to save their kids. I'm also a bit of a sucker for stories set in the Pacific Northwest, even if the author has taken some artistic liberties. If either of those things interest you as a reader this is a book worth looking into. But first and foremost I think this is a great example of the steampunk genre even if it's not set in any sort of pseudo-Victorian-England setting. This is the American west version and if you love airships, clockwork weaponry and that sort of tech Boneshaker delivers in spades. Then there's the element of horror thrown in with the Rotters. They're zombies of the creepiest caliber and I caught myself holding my breath more than once as they chased the characters around the walled city.

Although I really liked the idea of Briar being the tough mama who goes after her ignorant teenaged son, Briar's personality was a little dry. Why she never really told her son much about his father was never really explained to my satisfaction and I admit to being left wondering why she kept him in the dark so long. Zeke's wandering off on his misguided adventure into zombie land seemed almost to be his mother's fault. Aside from that I really enjoyed the mystery and the questions that were often left unanswered for a very long time ate at me. Both Zeke and Briar meet some pretty interesting figures in their adventures, some more entertaining than others. For my personal tastes there were a few too many to keep track of at times but for the most part those more elaborated upon were useful in peppering the story with humor and wonder.

In summation Boneshaker is a good book but not for every audience. It can be really draggy at times. I think those who are looking for a steampunk world with a less fluffy Victoriana vibe, more wild westy flavor and plenty of nail-biting running-from-the-zombies scenarios will enjoy it for the most part. If you want something a bit more civilized and romantic (there's definitely no romance here) you may want to look for another book.

Other Reviews:

Leah Raeder @ Words Fail Me

Notes: I bought this book at an online bookstore.


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