Friday, April 20, 2012

Impressions: Lover Reborn (BDB #10) by J.R. Ward

Yes I read this book, even though after reading Lover Enshrined I swore I would never read another BDB book again. But, yeah... I wanted to finish reading the stories about the "original" brothers and so I caved. Yeah.

Tohr and No'One's story/romance turns out to be about sex, sex,and more sex as a remedy to the brother's angst and refusal to get over the loss of his first shellan/wife Wells. Yeap. Tohr turns into a user and abuser (he abuses No'One verbally), until almost the end of the book, just so the poor schmuck can get over his 'owie.' Oh, and no romance for him either. Nope. No bonding, no bonding scent, nothing. Just an "I love you" at the end and an "she'll do" attitude. Meh...

Then there's No'One/Autumn who's a glutton for self-punishment with her "I'll take your abuse now, and some more later, yeah give me more" attitude. Just another female of "worth" who doesn't think she's worth anything in this series. And yeah... she settles for being 'less-than' at the end too. All that angst for Tohrment and Autumn and no real romance to speak of... just a wimpy little second best type of second chance at love for our beautiful Tohr.

The rest of the book is all about Xhex putting her foot down about being treated as a female of worth! Yeah... it's all about being "allowed" by her hellren/husband John Matthew and the Brotherhood to fight. She's given a crumb at the end when they assign an investigation to her (no fighting involved), but going by the past histories of the females in this series we have to wonder if that will last. 

There are no real "villains" in this story. The villains are obviously being slated to be future "heroes" at some point. The Band of Bastards are introduced as a whole bunch of rogue vampires looking to take down Wrath as king, with the idiots from the glymera as their backup, but already some of those characters are being developed for the future. The lessers don't really play a role in this story.

Layla, Quinn, Blay, and Saxton are all featured with Quinn and Layla going into the realm of the ridiculous, and Layla playing that usual servile female role that just grates. We all know she has been trained to be blood donnor to the whole of the BDB world, but in this book her lack of brains -- her portrayal as a brainless bimbo -- just floored me.

But this read wasn't all negative for me. No. Good funny/fun moments? Rhage doing his booty dance -- lord he brought back some great memories and made me laugh! Lassiter and his addiction to television and Real Housewives . Lassiter and Tohr at the movies. And yes, there's that certain 'something' (the crack factor) that is still there and that pulls at the reader -- particularly to an old addict like me.

Other good things I found after not having read this series for a while? Although the POVs change and the storylines abound, this book as a whole flows much better than the last few books I read from this series. It all meshed quite well and that's a huge improvement.

And as a side comment, for a series that is no longer paranormal romance, there was an awful lot of romancing and xhexing (yes, the x and the h are there on purpose) going on from the beginning to the end of this book.

I'm glad I read Lover Reborn, though. It has been a long time and it was good to revisit a series that provided me with many hours of enjoyment and that at one time enthralled me. Grade: C-

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TBR Review: Almost A Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal

This month instead of going with the TBR Challenge 2012 theme, New-to-Me Author, I decided to just go with the flow and read what I was in the mood to read. Although I do have quite a few new-to-me authors in the historical romance category in my TBR pile, this is the book that "called" to me.

For three years, London's haute ton has been captivated by the cool elegance of Philip "Phizz" Marston. Tall, refined, an expert gambler with a cold, unerring eye for style, what keeps the ruthless social climbers attuned to this dandy's every move is something more unsettling.a grace and beauty that leaves women and men alike in a state of unthinkable yearning.


Lord David Hervey must be losing his mind. How else explain the disturbing desires he feels whenever his eyes meet the penetrating gaze of Mr. Marston? When he overhears a threat on the gentleman's life, he intervenes and alone discovers the glorious truth.beneath the bindings of Mr. Marston's masquerade hides an exquisite body that is every bit a woman's.


Armed with desire and entrusted with her bold game, Lord David won't give up till the lady gives in, revealing herself to him completely, surrendering her deepest secrets with every persuasive pleasure he can offer.
I first became acquainted with Pam Rosenthal when I read her Rita Award winner The Edge of Impropriety in 2009. I enjoyed that book and promptly purchased Almost A Gentleman. Unfortunately, it has been lingering in my TBR ever since.

Although Almost a Gentleman has a bit of that same style that I enjoyed in The Edge of Impropriety, I found it to be a vastly different read. First, the trope(s) used in this story are all familiar and then some. We begin with the familiar female to male masquerade and that oh... not so subtle attraction of a man's man who becomes attracted to another man, but doesn't quite know why. This trope has been done well, and it is loved by many.

The success of this past three years' masquerade lay precisely in the fact that she didn't feel like a woman. She didn't stand or sit or act like a woman because she didn't want to feel like a woman. Not ever again.
Rosenthal's gender bending Phizz/Phoebe is interesting in that she doesn't masquerade for a moment or for a short period of time, but instead assumes the life and follows the lifestyle of a gentleman for a period of three years. Successfully. Phizz gambles, drinks, socializes and through an agency that caters to males with 'certain tastes,' engages the services of a boy to service him/her sexually. Phizz is known as a dandy with much influence, particularly at White's where with a comment he can have gentlemen accepted or denied membership.

[...]Three years of Marston had accustomed her to doing things for herself. Three years of educating herself about her own tastes and passionate desires had made her aggressive -- a taker of pleasure rather than its humble recipient.
As you can well imagine, he makes many friends and foes. The one thing you can say about Phizz is that even though he's ruthless, he seems to be both admired and desired (passionately in some cases) by both males and females. Particularly by males. Phizz doesn't want to be a woman, he prefers the life of a man, the sophisticated lifestyle, the freedom, and the power. Phizz resents being a powerless female and for most of the story he fights to stay afloat as the dominant personality. But of course David comes along and changes everything.

David is a country gentleman, a widower nearing 40 and looking for a new wife. He meets Phizz Marston and is both confused and appalled when he's passionately attracted to the young man. He unmasks Phizz as Phoebe pretty quickly into the story, but I found it interesting that before that David went as far as trying to play the hero for Phizz and even throughout the whole story, although he denied it, he was really turned on by Phoebe when she was Mr. Marston.

Stop it, David, he commanded himself. Stop this idiocy at once. For he would certainly lose his oldest friend if John Wolfe caught the merest whiff of suspicion that David hadn't been in any way drawn to the young lady. He winced, imagining how shocked Wolfe would be to learn that what had roused decent, solid Lord Linseley's attention so profoundly had been the elegant posture and extraordinary eyes of a young man in black.
And his ass. Let's not forget the young man's ass!

Although understandable, his denials didn't carry much weight with me particularly when their sexual exploits take place. He loves the woman and insists that the woman is what he wants and needs, but Rosenthal introduces certain ambiguous sexual play as well as reactions in this story that leaves the reader thinking that David enjoys that double/gender bending personality that Phoebe/Phizz projects. David protests a bit too much, no?

The above are the interesting aspects of this story. Unfortunately, Rosenthal doesn't follow through  and leaves much of it unexplored. We rarely see Phizz in action within society, so there's little depth to his character from that perspective. And although Rosenthal's portrayal of how the homosexual male was viewed during those times is more in the historical context than PC, that portrayal is not necessarily well balanced. 

Once Phoebe makes a full time appearance and her real reasons behind becoming Phizz come to light, the story goes into the realm of the ordinary. Her final choices contradict her preferences, the blackmail plot becomes a non-issue, and the 'miracle of conception'? Well... what can I say about that one? I found it a shame that although I enjoyed Ms. Rosenthal's writing style (yes, it is different), and there's great potential and some intriguing moments throughout Almost A Gentleman, as a whole the story ends with a whimper.

April Review
Category: Historical Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Kensington/December 1, 2007
Grade: C

Visit Pam Rosenthal here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: About That Night by Julie James


Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.


Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten...
The Twitter Terrorist! Yes, the fact that this is Kyle Rhodes' romance is what really made me rush to read Julie James' About That Night as soon as it released. I loved his witty character in A Lot Like Love and couldn't wait to have him all to myself during this read.

Well, the romance begins well with Kyle and Rylann Pierce meeting when they were in college years ago. It's obvious that they had chemistry and could have easily fallen in love, but key events got in the way of their planned date and their lives took different paths. By the time they meet again, Rylann is an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) and Kyle is the infamous Twitter Terrorist and an ex-con who also becomes her witness in a related case. The chemistry is still there and so is the possibility for more, but Kyle's poor choices and Rylann's position make it impossible for them to act on their feelings. Or does it?

Kyle needs to use the reset button and start over again after making a total mess out of his life because a woman pricked his pride. The last thing he expects is to become obsessed and fall in love with Rylann. It's interesting because for most of the book Kyle comes off as a boy/man who needs to grow up and is trying hard to do so  -- I mean he's way past the frat boy age and in many ways he and his friend still act like frat boys. Thankfully by the end of this book he shows growth on the maturity scale, and the level of maturity is higher than when we first meet him in A Lot Like Love.

On the other hand, on the surface Rylann seems a mature, responsible woman who plans every single step of her life and doesn't make allowances for impulsive acts or self-indulgence. She's getting over the break-up of a long-term relationship that she thought would end up in marriage. She has worked hard to be an AUSA, so her career is most important to her. And who can blame her, really? But Rylann has the hots for Kyle and eventually acts on that desire, pulling Kyle into a secret, steamy, affair. She ends up lying to everyone, including herself and Kyle, about her personal activities and real feelings.

When Rylann decides to have an affair with a man who had been her witness, she has real reasons to worry about the career that is so important to her. That I understand. I also understand that the idea is that Rylann is finally acting on impulse and this is supposed to be romantic. Yet, I never really bought the premise because first she constantly makes negative assumptions about her man of choice and ends up showing little concern for his feelings. And second, her credibility as an AUSA is immediately shot when she lies to her boss by omission at the beginning of the book about knowing Kyle in the past. In the end Rylann really ends up coming off as the one who devolves into an immature character. I never got over that.

The chemistry and sexual tension between Rylann and Kyle keeps the romance going, and as feelings grow emotions take over, particularly Kyle's. Although I still wonder what it was about Rylann, besides the physical chemistry, that pulled him in with such force. There's some banter, but the amusing, witty lines that I loved in A Lot Like Love are sorely missing from About That Night and that surprised me! I expected more on that front from Kyle's character. However, taking into consideration Rylann's mostly sober and sarcastic personality it is understandable.

Overall About That Night turned out to be an average contemporary romance read for me with a couple that has some good sizzle and burn moments. James keeps the focus firmly on the main couple with secondary characters, both those from past installments and newly introduced characters, making good contributions to the overall story, and Rylann's case investigation ending with a whimper. Although this is not a memorable read, I seem to be enjoying this series by Julie James and I look forward to her next contemporary romance.

Category Romance: Contemporary Romance
Series: FBI/US Attorney
Publisher/Release Date: Berkley/April 3, 2012, Kindle Ed.
Grade: C

Visit Julie James here.

Something About You, #1
A Lot Like Love, #2
About That Night, #3

Friday, April 13, 2012

This n' That: Recs, A Bargain, Reads + Updates!

Hey how's everyone this Friday? Ready for the weekend? It's a gorgeous spring day, and guess what? It's baseball time! Yankees are holding their game opener today at Yankee Stadium against the Angels. I know you all don't want to hear it, but... Go Yanks! LOL!

I guess this is the perfect time to again recommend one of my favorite fiction books with a baseball theme: Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger! Have you read it? No? Well, even if you don't love baseball, you'll love this book because I dare you not to fall in love with the wonderful characters and the excellent story. (review here)


So what else do I have for you today? Heads up people! Special subscription offer for ICARUS: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction. Lethe Press has a bargain going on today only for those of you who love great writing and/or would like to give gay speculative fiction a shot. I mentioned back in October that I love ICARUS magazine, so you know that I took advantage of this bargain. Check it out here.


And shifting from speculative fiction to science fiction, did you know already that both Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, AND Embassytown by China Miéville made the list of finalists for the HUGO Awards? Yeap, they did!

Also in case you don't know this yet, Seanan McGuire also made it to the list of Hugo finalists under the Best Related Works Category with "Wicked Girls." And, since I featured John Scalzi during my month-long Science Fiction Experience reading binge, I'd like to mention that he also made it as a finalist under the Best Short Story Category with "The Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book 1: The Dead City." Good stuff!

I have books by all these authors on my 2012 Wish List or TBR:

Railsea by China Miéville (May 15, 2012)
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (June 5, 2012)
Caliban's War (Expanse #2) by James S.A. Corey (June 26, 2012)
Rosemary & Rue (October Daye Books) by Seanan McGuire - backlist title


Last but not least, I'm reading again! Yay! I've finished some good books, some of which I've already reviewed: The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley, The Rake by Mary Jo Putney, Split by Mel Bossa, Private Eye by S.E. Culpepper and a couple of other books that I haven't reviewed yet: Just Down The Road by Jodi Thomas, and About That Night by Julie James.

Right now I'm reading a book I just received for review and that looks to be a great read, The Heart's History by Lewis DeSimone.


That's my news today! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Memorable Characters: Reggie & The Rake

The Rake
by Mary Jo Putney
The rake is as common a character in historical romances as is the duke or the dandy, the military hero or that second son. He is both loved and maligned and can easily play the hero or the villain. It has often been said that "there is no better husband than a reformed rake."

A rake is usually portrayed as a man whose physical attributes can only be outdone by his prowess in the bedroom and his charm with the ladies. The ladies want him and the gentlemen want to be him. Of course, usually some of those same gentlemen end up envying him for those attributes mentioned above, and others would prefer to get rid of him when their wives or mistresses share their admiration.

Nevertheless, to qualify as a rake a gentleman must have other skills. He must not care what others think or say about him, his wit must be as incomparably sharp as his sense of fashion and his superb knowledge of cattle. A rake is a risk-taker, and that often leads to gambling, horse races, and dueling. Adulation and emulation is also part of his daily life and the ton's young bucks usually flutter around him like bees around a flower. Womanizing, gambling, dueling, racing, drinking, and making the rounds make up the life of a rake. Visiting the right bedrooms, keeping the right mistress, and having enough pounds to finance this lifestyle is a 'must.'

These gentlemen usually begin following this life style early in life while they wait for their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, or nearest relatives to die off so they can inherit a title, or marry and live off allowances from their families until the title comes along.

But what happens if after years of "raking" and sowing wild oats there is no title, no wife, and no fortune? What happens when all those great expectations promised by society or family are dashed? What happens to a rake after years pass and there is nothing but more women, more duels, more gambling, and more drink? Then he becomes Reginald Davenport, the "Despair of the Davenports," a thirty-nine year old wastrel, The Rake.
Davenport was a complicated man, one who could act with both heroism and villainy, though he was neither hero nor villain. A man who, while not old, was certainly not young; who had the recklessness to create problems for himself, and the honesty to admit when he had done so. [...] he was fair and compassionate in his dealing with those around him. 
He was also very much alone.
There are many versions of the rake -- the much admired and reformed womanizer or the charmer is the most popular version. With Reginal Davenport, the author explores the intimate, personal reasoning behind such a life, as well as how society's influence encouraged and created the rake. After having read many a version of this popular character as a hero or anti-hero, to date Reginald Davenport is the most complete, complex version of a rake I have encountered, placing him firmly on my list of memorable characters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: The Duke's Perfect Wife (Highland Pleasures #4) by Jennifer Ashley

Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancee, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.

Hart has it all--a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him--his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He's also suffered loss--his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.

Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart's doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes--and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination--Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.
The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley is the much awaited romance between Hart Mackenzie and Eleanor Ramsay. This is the last Mackenzie brother, and frankly after reading that first book about Ian, Hart's character was the one that most pulled at me, possibly because of all those dark places in his character that were either hinted at or detailed in the first book. I love flawed, dark characters.

The story begins with much potential as Eleanor Ramsey returns to Hart's life just as he's about to lead his party against Gladstone in the House of Commons, and his hopes to attain the Prime Minister post is at the tip of his fingers. She comes bearing bad news as she presents him with a photograph of Hart someone sent to her, a photograph of a young, nude Hart that was taken by his old and now dead mistress, Mrs. Palmer. Neither understands why the photograph was sent to Eleanor, but Hart informs Eleanor that there were a total of twenty pictures taken, and both fear that they are coming from a political foe. Hart takes the opportunity to keep Eleanor with him so he can begin wooing her back into his life. Later, as Eleanor investigates this matter and Hart continues his quest for power and his reconquest of Eleanor, there are assassination attempts against Hart and the plot thickens.

What did I like about this book? I loved the family dynamics as always. The whole Mackenzie clan makes an appearance in this book with some making more of an impact than others. Ian Mackenzie in particular plays a key role because of that special bond that he and Hart share. I love that Ashley features that bond in this book -- it is so important to both characters. Of course Ian steals every scene where he appears, but it also gives Hart's character strength.

I love Hart Mackenzie as a character. Well, I did from the beginning. He is flawed, a bit heartless, but also vulnerable. So, what is there not to like? And, I also like Eleanor very much. Eleanor is obviously a loving and giving woman, and not weak in any way. She loves Hart, but it is also clear that she can handle him quite well. This couple provides many beautiful moments along the way.

I also enjoyed how Ashley incorporated history into the romance. I'm one of those readers who doesn't get bored by a little history with her historical romances, so that worked for me quite well, and I didn't think that it was too much or that it took the focus away from the main couple.

Did I have problems with this romance? Yes. Hart as a character, and this story as a whole, had lots of potential that unfortunately wasn't entirely realized. Hart's character is introduced as dark, with dark desires and a very dark past full of a sexual history and sexual desires that are not the usual fare. Yet, we never really see that Hart in this novel. Never. That Hart is hinted at throughout the story, but he's never truly revealed. So that if the layers are there, he remains cocooned in them and hidden both from the reader and from Eleanor. This is a shame, because here is a man whose character was begging for exploration.

I also felt that Eleanor's characterization was incomplete. Here is a woman who loves and has loved Hart since breaking their engagement, to the point of obsession if you go by the fact that she keeps a scrap book of Hart.  Yet, there is much about Eleanor's motivations for breaking that engagement, that although superficially explained and valid, are not truly explored in depth, so that in the end they are not quite convincing to the reader.

The result? An undefined character, and one that is contradictory to boot. She's a lovely, caring woman who on the surface doesn't seem to care that the man she loves betrayed her with another (other) women. Yet, she's jealous when someone else "fondles" and "flirts" with Hart in her presence. As I said, contradictory and not quite believable.

Having said all of the above. Having found problems with both characterization and some awakwardness in plotting follow through, it is quite interesting that I still read this book in one sitting, and even more interesting that I ended the story with a smile on my face. Why is that? Well, Jennifer Ashley has created a fantastic family in the Mackenzies, so that even when individual stories are not up to par (in my opinion), as a whole, this series still manages to please me immensely.

The Duke's Perfect Wife is not my favorite book of this series, believe it or not my favorite so far is The Many Sins of Lord Cameron. However, I still think it works well as a wrap up book to the brothers' romances, and I'm even more hooked on these highlanders than ever. I look forward to the next book in this series, The Seduction of Elliot McBride, and of course hope that the Highland Pleasures series continues to bring me hours of enjoyment.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Pleasures #4
Publisher/Release Date: Berkley/April 3, 2012, Kindle Ed.
Grade: B-

Visit Jennifer Ashley here.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Book 1
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, Book 2
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, Book 3
The Duke's Perfect Wife, Book 4

Monday, April 9, 2012

Minis: Mel Bossa, S.E. Culpepper

Hi there! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I took a few days off to rest and regroup. I needed them.

The good news is that the rest really helped and while relaxing, I read for a change. Good stuff! So, yes... I'll be reviewing a few books in the near future. :) In the meantime, here are a couple of mini-impressions that I put together for Goodreads for two gay romances that I read this past weekend.

I haven't been reading too many gay romances and I thought it was high time to give a couple of them a shot for a change. Here are my finds. :)

SPLIT by Mel Bossa

Quiet and imaginative, Derek O'Reilly spends a lot of time watching a movie in his head. His fiancé Nathan, aka “Mr. Alpha,” wonders why Derek hasn't taken any interest in their wedding planning. Aunt Fran—his spiritual guru—would like to know when her guilt-tripping nephew became some kind of kept boy. One evening, she drops Derek's childhood journal on his lap, forcing him to remember the name he's been trying to forget since he was eleven years old. Nicolai Lund.

Nick was Derek's neighbor—and first love.

Weeks before Derek's engagement party, a chance meeting with Nick catapults Derek into the past. Nick could flood Derek’s stale existence like a blond tidal wave, but Nick isn't that sixteen-year-old rebel anymore. He's a man hardened by invisible scars.

As Derek reads through his diary, Nick and Derek’s powerful relationship sways between past and present, sweeping over their emotional landscape, revealing what they were, still are, and might yet be to each other.
Split is the best, angst-ridden gay romance I've read in a long time. Well-written and executed, with excellent characterization, and an emotional plot that nevertheless left me satisfied at the end. The reader connects with the characters from beginning to end, and that not only includes the main character, Derek, but also all of the secondary characters which are beautifully developed.

The title Split has multiple meanings in this novel, including the fact that the author goes back and forth between Derek's childhood and his present life as an adult. Bossa works these shifts beautifully, and keeps the reader glued to the pages. I know that I read this book in one sitting and it has been a long time since I've read a gay romance that has touched me so. A marvelous debut for this author.

Warning: Get the tissues ready and prepare yourself to fall in love with a few great characters: Derek and Nico, Boone, Johan and the wonderful Aunt Francine.
Grade: A-

PRIVATE EYE by S.E. Culpepper
Rafe Bridges stopped mixing business with pleasure long ago, but when he receives a call from an intriguing cop who needs help searching for an old family friend, he breaks down and takes on the case. With each day that passes, Rafe becomes further fascinated with Jeremy Halliday...but the biggest problem isn't his attraction to the cop or his growing need for him. It's the tiny little detail of Jeremy being straight.

Jeremy isn't as immune to Rafe as he'd like to believe and as they work together, sifting through a case that is more mysterious and dangerous than it seems, Rafe draws away from him. Knowing he might miss out on someone incredible, Jeremy has to figure out what and who he really wants. And soon.

Nothing is black and white anymore.
I liked the investigative aspect of this novel, the storyline is interesting and it has a good climax. The romance is a typical "gay for you" type of romance between a gay PI and a "straight" cop. The romance is developed slowly by the author and these two don't jump each other's bones immediately. Unfortunately for me, there's nothing that really made Private Eye stand out from other similar stories. Grade: C-

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March 2012: Reads + Updates

March, the month when "real life" kicked my ass and drew me deep into that black hole we all refer to as a reading slump. Don't let the numbers below fool you, most of my reads were short stories, novellas or short reads. I couldn't concentrate for long periods of time and those books are all I was able to manage, particularly during the first 3/4 of the month.

As a result, I began and didn't finish an enormous amount of books this month. I'll get back to them when I settle down. I also book shopped like a mad person and I ended up buying books that I've had on my wish list for a long time, all in the hopes of finding books that would grab my attention and hold it for more than a mere hour. I found a couple.

Here's my list:
Total books read: 14  Re-read: 1 
Contemporary: 4 (Romance: 2 Erotica: 2)
Historical Romance: 1
Urban Fantasy: 2
    Erotica: 4
    Fantasy: 1
    Romance: 2
    Historical Erotic Fiction:1

1.   Maybe with a Chance of Certainty by John Goode: B-
2.   Brorotica by Guy New York: C-
3.   Chicks are for Fags by Guy New York: C-
4.   Hana: Polyamory and Erotica in New York by Guy New York: C-
5.   The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh: A
6.   A History of Barbed Wire by Jeff Mann (Re-read): B+
7.   History's Passion: Stories of Sex before Stonewall edited by R. Labonté: B+
8.   Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War by Jeff Mann: A-
9.   Dalton's Undoing (Cowboys of Cold Creed #3) by RaeAnne Thayne: B
10. The White Knight by Josh Lanyon: C+
11. Chance of a Lifetime by Joey W. Hill: B
12. Point of Knives: A Novella of Astreiant by Melissa Scott (Review to come)
13. Doubletake (Cal Leandros #7) by Rob Thurman: (Upcoming Buddy Review)
14. Woodrose Mountain (Hopes Crossing #2) by RaeAnne Thayne: B-
15. Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1) by Seanan McGuire: B

I'm reluctant to list what I'm reading at the moment because I've been jumping around so much, but I'll list the following two books:

The first book I'm reading is Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett, the first book of the original duology that was just re-released by Lethe Press. The book I'm reading is actually a copy of the old edition I happened to have in my book shelves, but click on the title of the book to check out the new cover. Also, last month I read the eARC of Point of Knives: A Novella of Astreiant, a brand new novella by Melissa Scott that will release in July and that chronologically falls between the two books, Point of Hopes, Book 1, and Point of Dreams, Book 2.  Expect my review of Point of Knives closer to the release date. ;P

The second book I'm reading is About That Night by Julie James. This is a contemporary romance that I've been looking forward to reading for a while. The set up for Kyle's story during the previous book in this series was fun and I can't wait to find out exactly what's going on with the Twitter Terrorist.

That's it for my March update. I read some great books, however it really was the most frustrating month reading-wise for me so far this year. How about you? How did your March go? Any great reads?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Impressions: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
Well, wasn't this just a refreshing urban fantasy read? It has a lot to do with Verity Price, the heroine of the story. She's young, yes... she can kick ass and has some wonderful sarcastic lines in this story, but Verity is happy! She's not moody or depressed or a downer. Helping along with this refreshing atmosphere we have her permanent roommates, the Aeslin mice, those happy, happy, talking rodents who have daily religious celebrations about everything they can think of, and HAIL Verity as their Princess. It's a party at home for this girl whether she wants one or not

Verity's family life and personal choices help along with the atmosphere too. She seems to have a "normal," loving relationship with her parents and siblings, Alex and Antimony, even if her life is not considered the norm. The other surprise is her choice to make a career out of ballroom dancing. An urban fantasy heroine as a ballroom dancing queen? Lots of fun. I love it! I also love Verity's sense of freedom when she plummets from her kitchen window into the darkness and races through the rooftops of New York City, and her straight forward approach to situations as she confronts or relates to both friends and foes.

Of course Discount Armageddon is not a light fairytale. There are dark spaces, tough villains, scary moments, great kick ass fighting, a mystery to solve and that wonderful pacing that makes urban fantasy the genre we all love. There's also a love interest who just happens to be part of the Covenant and a nemesis of the Price family. Dominic DeLuca is in New York for the Covenant of St. George to evaluate the situation for his organization to see if a Cryptid purge is needed. Of course these two meet as enemies, but this is Dominic's first foray into the field and pretty soon he and Verity are working together and she's trying to change his long-held beliefs: that all Cryptids are monsters and all deserve to be exterminated.

Verity and her family were labeled traitors to the human race by the Covenant when they quit the organization generations ago. Why? Well, they hold different beliefs. To them Cryptids are sentient beings and as such yes, some are monsters, but most just do what they are meant to do, live with their families, or alone, and survive, and nature dictates that there's a reason for their existence. Because the family is considered traitorous, they are hunted by the Covenant and have been in hiding to avoid assassination for generations. Verity and Dominic's meeting in New York is monumental and dangerous, not only for her personally, but for her whole family's safety.

I love Verity and Dominic together, as well as the rest of the cast of characters that are introduced in this book. For me, one of the few weakness in this first book comes from Verity's lack of curiosity about Dominic and in how quickly she "trusts" an enemy. Verity doesn't ask enough questions, and since the story is from her first person point of view by the end of the story Dominic is still pretty much a mystery. There's no real proof that what he says is truth, and although his actions do back up what he says, there's a 'wait and see' factor to Dominic's character that is not entirely satisfactory. Although I'm sure his background will really be explored in future installments.

Verity's family's history is also a bit of a muddle even with the family tree that's provided at the beginning of the book. Her immediate family is well defined: her mother, father and siblings sound wonderful, but once great grandparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc., are mentioned, the relationships and some of the events that Verity mentions get a bit confusing and some bits of information dropped here and there are left unexplained. This is something that is also left open for future exploration. The mystery is well done with plenty of clues along the way, a good twist at the end, and some logistics that don't quite make sense to me -- mainly to do with William.

McGuire is a new-to-me author, so I'm one of those readers who is beginning with a clean slate. I'm not comparing this series with her Toby books (yet). As such, I can say that even with the niggles found in this first book, I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Discount Armageddon is fun and refreshing, full of wonderful characters, and I love this world. I can't wait to meet Alex and Antimony, or to find out what the heck is up with Dominic. And of course, Hail Verity!

Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: InCryptid
Publisher/Release Date: Daw Books, Inc/March 6, 2012 - Kindle Ed.
Grade: B

Visit Seanan McGuire here.