Friday, March 30, 2007

#28 Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Twins Connor and Grace never dreamed that there was any truth to the Vampirate shanty their father sang to them before he died, but that was before the two were shipwrecked and separated from each other. For Connor, who is taken aboard a pirate ship, there's the chance to learn to sword fight, but for Grace, aboard a mysterious ship of vampire pirates, the danger is great. The twins want more than anything to find each other, but their time is limited and they're an ocean apart.

This was a swift-moving, interesting read... reminded me a bit of Darren Shan's wonderful Cirque Du Freak series. It's young adult so not a very complex or convoluted story line, but that simply made for an even quicker read considering it's 330 pages.

Though all ends on a happy note when Connor and Grace are eventually reunited, another danger has boarded the Diablo, which causes the story to end on another minor cliffhanger, and thus left me craving Tide of Terror, the next in the series.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

#27 Secrets, Volume 8 by Jeanie Cesarini, MaryJanice Davidson, Alice Gaines, Liz Maverick

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Taming Kate by Jeanie Cesarini:
When Kathryn Roman inherits a legal brothel, she refuses to trade her high-powered career in Manhattan for a life in the wild, wild west. Little does this city girl know that the town of Love, Nevada wants her to be their new madam so they've charged Trey Holliday, one very dominant cowboy, with Taming Kate.

A so-so story. The whole cowboy/pretty lady thing got old pretty fast. I can't say I disliked it totally though, only that there was a bit too much romance for my liking.
Rating: 4 stars

Jared's Wolf by MaryJanice Davidson:
Jared Rocke will do anything to avenge his sister's death, even believe in werewolves. What he doesn't believe is that he's attracted to Moira Wolfbauer, the she-wolf sworn to protect her pack. In Jared's Wolf, two enemies must join forces to stop a killer while learning that love defies all boundaries—even those between species.

Much better than the first story, which to me read much more like a pure romance novel, a genre I don't particularly care for.

These are the first 2 Wyndham Werewolves stories written by MJD's. And I specifically put off reading Derik's Bane, Dead and Loving It, and even Undead and Unpopular until I read these two short stories, "Love's Prisoner" from Secrets 6, and this one from Secrets 8. I'm now more looking forward to reading Derik's Bane since I should feel like I'm coming back to familiar friends.
Rating: 8 stars

My Champion, My Love by Alice Gaines:
My Champion, My Love tells the tale of Celeste Broder, a woman committed for a sexy appetite that is tolerated in the men, but not the women of her time. She desperately needs a champion, and finds one in mayor Robert Albright. If she can convince him her freedom will mean a chance to indulge their appetites together.

Bah, this story was so boring I don't even know how or why I finished it! I guess I can only blame it on my OCD, my need to complete things I start, and particularly since I liked the stories in Secrets 6 so much better.

One of my main problems with this story is due to the fact that this story takes place back in 1888, when things were extremely uptight and Puritan sexually. And that alone is a huge pet peeve of mine! I hate the sexual repression we live with even today, and since the basis of this story was the fact that Celeste was put into an insane asylum because of her strong sexual nature and the books she read had me screaming with indignation on her behalf. And I guess because I don't really like romances just for the sake of romance, without any danger or other stuff in the story. And this story just did not have enough "other stuff" for me, and not nearly enough erotica. *sigh*
Rating: 3 stars

Kiss or Kill by Liz Maverick:
In this post apocalyptic world, Camille Kazinsky's military career rides on her ability to make a choice—whether the robo called Meat should live or die. Meat's future depends on proving he's human enough to live, man enough... Should Camille Kiss or Kill this man/machine that makes her feel like a woman?

I really liked this story a lot and was surprised to read that the short story appearing here in Secrets 8 was her first published work. I have a couple of her books from the Crimson City series, including the first one aptly named Crimson City, waiting on Mt. TBR so now I'm more looking forward to reading that.

Unlike the Cesarini and Gaines stories in this anthology, this was a lot more erotic and thus was more to my liking. And for the romance portion, I didn't have to deal with a swooning female and a bunch of "mushy gushy". LOL The sex scenes weren't really long, but were explicit enough to get me hot! ;-)
Rating: 7 stars

Overall, I'm rating this book a 6 when I average out the 4 individual ratings (which actually come to 5.5). The stories from Davidson and Maverick definitely made this anthology worth reading. The other two I wouldn't recommend for anyone who's not a die-hard romance fan.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

#26 Love Bites by Lynsay Sands

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

As I'm not a fan of romances, I've been getting tired of paranormal books that are simply a straight romance in a vampire wrapper. Fortunately, I can't consider this series in that category. There's definitely enough tongue-in-cheek humor and back story with a bit of suspense to keep things entertaining..

Each book in this series focuses on a particular member of the Argeneau vampire clan. And this one is the story of Etienne Argeneau and Rachel Garrett. Etienne is 312 years old, the youngest son and 2nd youngest child of the beautiful Marguerite Argeneau. As the story opens, Etienne is faced with a dilemma: Each vampire is only allowed to "turn" one human in his or her lifetime, and usually that option is reserved for converting a life partner. However, Rachel Garrett has thrown herself in the path of a mortal blow from an axe-wielding maniac in an effort to spare his life, and thus endanger her own. Though he's felt an attraction to Rachel since first waking up in the morgue where she works, he doesn't feel right about converting her, even if it's to save her life, without her permission. Because though his race is extremely difficult to kill, a beheading would definitely get the job done. But then again, since she's saved his life, he feels that he can do no less for her than return the favor.

When Rachel wakes up a vampire in Etienne's home, she goes through extreme denial as Etienne tries to explain to her what she has become. It's only after she meets the rest of his family, discovering the scientific facts behind vampirism, as well as the sexual "side effects", does she begin to grudgingly accept the fact. But since she must learn to control her blood lust, and hone her new talents while the conversion within her body completes itself over the course of the next week, Etienne has asked that she remain with him in his home for a while as she adjusts to these changes. The attraction Etienne has felt for Rachel continues to grow. And Rachel recognizes Etienne as the man who has haunted her dreams, in a strangely sexual way, for the past several nights prior to her turning.

The story is ultimately a romance, but as I said above, it's got enough other things going for it to keep it entertaining and amusing. And I'm looking forward to keeping up with this cute, light-hearted series.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

#25 Mirrormask (children's edition) by Neil Gaiman

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Helena is a 15 year old girl who hates her life in the circus. She tells her parents she just wants to run away and have a "real life". Unfortunately, Helena's mom then falls ill, and while she's in the hospital, Helena is thrown into a very strange dreamland: a strange, dark realm like a mirror of her own, but the dark side... Helena meets some strange characters while she seeks to find the key to saving her mom and returning to the other side.

This was a quick and fun read. I'm almost wishing I'd opted for the longer screenplay version of this book, simply because the art work included here left me wishing I could see more, and the descriptions of some of the characters and places Helena encountered sounded really freaky!! But yay, shortly after I put it in my Netflix queue, I noticed it's on Starz this month anyway, so I set up TiVo to record it. :-)

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#24 Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

A terrific read! I liked this one even better than Kitty and the Midnight Hour, the first in the series.

Kitty runs a late-night talk radio show called The Midnight Hour. Up until now, many humans still believe her show is some kind of spoof; they simply can't bring themselves to believe supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, and other shapeshifters actually exist. However, having become somewhat of a celebrity now, and kind of a resident expert, Kitty's called upon by the Senate to testify at a hearing which would bring the supernaturals to light and be legally recognized by the government

But her trip to D.C. has brought her face-to-face with a number of other interesting characters, some of them seeming quite friendly, like a ├╝ber-hot Brazilian were-jaguar *roaw* and the vampire mistress of the city, and others not quite so. And as a dirty politician and a sketchy doctor set her up to take a major fall, help comes from unexpected places.

But this is Kitty! As much as she'd normally like to stay in the background, and her wolf rather hide than fight, her determination not to pushed around anymore gives her the strength to overcome anything which comes her way! Kitty is definitely a friend every girl would love to have: a soft lovable side, combined with a strong and determined determined tough side. I eagerly await the next in the series!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

#23 Three Bedrooms, One Corpse: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery by Charlaine Harris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Former librarian Aurora Teagarden, basking in the inheritance which made her financially independent and allowed her to quit her job at the library, is now seeking a new occupation to keep her from going stir crazy with boredom. Perhaps she'll follow in her mother's footsteps and become a highly successful real estate agent.... Unfortunately, as Roe embarks on her apprenticeship showing houses, she instead seems to be turning up corpses instead: two dead real estate agents in only a week's time! Maybe it's not quite so bad as it could be though.... After all, she may not have met the enigmatically handsome Martin Bartell otherwise. :D

I thoroughly enjoyed this 3rd story in the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. As usual, Aurora finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, she's actually been the one to find the bodies both times. And it seems like she may finally have a hot and stimulating love interest now too! ;)

The reading is quick paced and the mystery keeps you guessing right up until the very end, when as usual, Roe figures out who's behind it all before the police do. However, I found her actions in confronting the suspect herself pretty stupid on her part. One of these days, she's gonna get herself killed! Heh, maybe that's why Ms. Harris ended this series. Maybe Roe finally did one (brave yet) stupid thing too many in the final book (book 8) and ended the series. LOL

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Friday, March 09, 2007

#22 A Midsummer's Nightmare by Garry Kilworth

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

On Midsummer's Eve, Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies, along with the rest of their fairies, including the infamous Puck and Cobweb, have decided to leave their home in Sherwood Forest, which has been dwindled down to nearly nothing due to urban development, and make for the New Forest several miles south, where they hope to make their new home.

Accompanied by Sid, their enchanted "rude" mechanical, who teaches Titania to drive, they have quite the adventure on the way. For the movement of the fairies across the land has disturbed the magical atmosphere and caused a number of dormant creatures from Arthurian times—giants, dragons, and even the evil Morgan LeFay—to be roused from their eternal slumber in the Earth.

Stealing a very special baby, whom Titania recognizes as a direct descendant of the union between Guinevere and Lancelot, and meeting up with a friendly group of New Age travelers, the fairies make their way across England on their hapless journey, with numerous detours, for a fairy's path never follows a straight line! And when they finally reach the New Forest, it's a fight to the death between Titania and Morgan LeFay before the fairies can settle into their new home, and return peace and harmony to the land.

This was a wonderfully delightful read! I've always enjoyed Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, having seen the play a number of times. Plus I have an affinity for the fae, so while reading this, I felt like I was visiting with a few old friends, discovering what they've been up to in recent years. :)

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

#21 Samantha: The Sorority by Tamara Thorne

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

At exclusive, isolated Greenbriar University, within the elite Gamma Eta Pi sorority, is a secret society known as the Fata Morgana. Its members are the most powerful women on campus—and the deadliest. For this is a sisterhood of evil, a centuries-old coven, and every girl who pledges herself to their wicked decadence does so for life... or death...

This last book in the trilogy was the best of the bunch! It picks up right where book 2 left off and answers a lot of unanswered questions from the previous books. Because of the way this picks right up from book 2, the trilogy is best read all at once, or at least within a reasonable time frame of one another.

In this novel, we discover a lot more about Samantha and what makes her tick, but also find out some very interesting information about Merilynn and her background as well. As the girls are drawn deeper into the mystery surrounding Gamma House and the Fata Morgana, Merilynn mysteriously disappears, and Sam and Kendra are putting together the pieces to try to find her, and discover the secrets hidden in the old sorority house. Malory and Brittany, the Greenbriar Ghost... how does it all tie in together? And what can be done to stop the evil that is causing these sorority girls to simply disappear without a trace?

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

#20 The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Zoe is wary when, in the dead of night, the beautiful yet frightening Simon comes to her house. Simon seems to understand the pain of loneliness and death and Zoe's brooding thoughts of her dying mother. Simon is one of the undead, a vampire, seeking revenge for the gruesome death of his mother three hundred years before. Does Simon dare ask Zoe to help free him from this lifeless chase and its insufferable loneliness?

Hmmm... after reading Blood and Chocolate, I was expecting this one to be almost as good, but unfortunately, it didn't live up to those expectations. There were times I found it a bit tedious, if only because there was less action than I usually like. But that's definitely a personal preference as I'm not one for the more introspective novels. Okay, now I'm not saying this was an introspective novel, just that it was more so than Blood and Chocolate. It seemed that at times the author was trying to get an important life lesson across to her teen readers, which is kind of where I was going with that comment.

Anyway, now that I got that out of the way, this book did have it's good points as well. The author was able to evoke a good deal of sympathy in me for Zoe's character and her situation. And her reaching out to the Vampire when she felt like she had no one else to turn to was touching. It was even kind of sad at the end...

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