Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: The Captain and the Wallflower

The Captain and the Wallflower by Lyn Stone

Battle-scarred Caine must marry in order to inherit, or his family fortune goes to his gambling cousin. He wants to find a wife who isn't pretty and would be desperate to marry; that way she will be so happy to just live in the matrimonial state that she wont care if he's not around much. Grace has been living in fear of her uncle. She is underfed and looks quite sickly. When Caine proposes, Grace accepts. Soon she's healthier than ever and she also isn't a shy, retiring waif. Someone also keeps trying to kill her. And it looks like Caine and Grace are falling in love.  

I liked bits of this. On their own, and together in some parts (especially their first ride together) it was very sweet.

But, there were so many red herrings and shenanigans that kept getting more & more convoluted. Then there had to be relationship drama, of course, and people getting wounded right and left.

I started off liking it, but by the end I was more than a bit over it.

Review: God Save the Queen



God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

This review was really hard to write, because minus one character, I would have really liked this book.

It's all Vex's fault.

I liked many parts of this. The world is cool, and the big secret was fun. Good setup there for future books.

Xandra is a half-blood living in a world where a virus created vampires and werewolves way back when. Queen Victoria is still on the throne, humans barely tolerate the reigning "monsters", and everyone is scared of the Goblins. In investigating her sisters "death," Xandra uncovers secrets, conspiracies, and betrayals. There is some action and I thought the world was pretty cool. It's a book where you are just thrown into things (and you know I like that).

However, I'm not feeling the love interest. It was way too easy. The timing didn't make sense unless there was an ulterior motive, but this was glanced over. Which blows, because I do really like that there wasn't a triangle and there was no angst. But that made it all a bit, well, boring. I think I would have felt better about it had Xandra & Vex met before all of this went down. Or if Vex was a little less perfect. Or if he was being at least a touch sneaky about his sudden interest in her. Something other than Mr. Perfect. Because he is perfect. And she isn't (and I like imperfect characters).




Sealed With a Curse Winner

Hope the holidays treated you all right! I got books (to the surprise of no one) and 2 new gorgeous, huge bookcases.

Today is the release day of Sealed With a Curse by Cecy Robson, book 1 of her Weird Girls series. Amazon | B&N | Kobo

This book made my action-junkie self happy, and has some romance too. You can get my full take on it here. You can learn about the prequel novella, The Weird Girls, here.

The winner of the Sealed With a Curse ARC courtesy of the wonderful Cecy is...

 
Maria!

Congrats, thank you to Cecy, and thanks to all of you for entering.


"Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls-with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird...
The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region-until one of them blows up a vampire in self- defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust- fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy-or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it's coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough."

More links for Cecy Robson:

Website: www.cecyrobson.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cecyrobson
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCecyRobsonAuthor

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ebook Deals

Today I was at Stellar Four with some eBook deals. Howls Moving Castle for $1.99, Tarnished for 99 cents, most of the books in the Elemental Assassins series are on sale too. If you know of any deals, please leave a comment either at Stellar Four or here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weird Girls Tour Stop: Sealed With a Curse

Hi all! The very wonderful, charming, and funny Cecy Robson is back on the Book Pile! She stopped by in October to talk about The Weird Girls novella. It's out now, so if you like action-packed shorts go get it! Amazon | B&N

This time, we're talking about book 1, Sealed With a Curse. There's also a giveaway!

First, though, Cecy answered some holiday-inspired questions:

KA: What is one way you get in the holiday spirit?

CR: Shopping for my children. Their excitement fires up mine.

KA: Name something on your wishlist.

CR: I’m not going to lie . . . I’d love to hit the NY Times Best-Seller’s list with my series. A new pair of sneakers would also be nice. : D

KA: What was your favorite book/movie/TV show in 2012?

CR: The Avengers—hands down. Book? Catching Fire, but I’ll admit I had several that I just loved. I don’t watch much TV but I’ve really enjoyed Teen Wolf and Grimm.

KA: What book/movie/tv show are you looking forward to in 2013?

CR: I, Frankenstein sounds / looks cool. Books? A CURSED EMBRACE and THE BETTER TO SEE YOU. TV? I’m waiting for Teen Wolf to come back. I have to say, it’s a very well-written and fun show.
 
Thanks, Cecy! Now to the book in question:
 
I do love this cover.
The blurbage: "Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls-with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, weird...

The Wird sisters are content to avoid the local vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region-until one of them blows up a vampire in self- defense. Everyone knows vampires aren't aggressive, and killing one is punishable by death. But soon more bloodlust- fueled attacks occur, and the community wonders: are the vampires of Tahoe cursed with a plague?

Celia reluctantly agrees to help Misha, the handsome leader of an infected vampire family. But Aric, the head of the werewolf pack determined to destroy Misha's family to keep the region safe, warns Celia to stay out of the fight. Caught between two hot alphas, Celia must find a way to please everyone, save everyone, and oh yeah, not lose her heart to the wrong guy-or die a miserable death. Because now that the evil behind the plague knows who Celia is, it's coming for her and her sisters. This Wird girl has never had it so tough."
 
My Take: I love the set-up of this series, the origin of the sisters powers, and the relationships between the sisters. I mentioned in my review of the novella that it is not often that you get a fantasy book that has strong relationships between female characters. I like the dynamic.
 
Where the novella was romance free, this one has quite a bit. There is tons of action, of course, but also a good amount of romance, especially as the sisters get introduced to the local werewolf pack.
 
Celia is an interesting character. She is very strong - her inner tigress intimidates pretty much everyone. However, this also makes her isolated and lonely. It almost got too much for me at a couple of points where I wanted Celia to buck up and be more confident romance-wise, but at the same time it was believable why she was so unsure.
 
It seems like there might be a triangle, but no my triangle-weary friends, do not fear.
 
A snowy sunrise in Tahoe.
I like seeing the various supernatural creatures who are now in the Wird Girls world. I also really dug the setting - I've been to Lake Tahoe and can believe the mystical pull.
 
There is a lot of setting the stage here, of course, but also an action-packed story. Looking forward to more Weird Girl, especially as the girls grow in their place in the supernatural community.
 
Sealed With a Curse is out December 31. Amazon | B&N
 
Now to the Giveaway!!! Leave a comment here or tweet me @kindleaholic with a book you hope to get this Christmas, or your favorite christmas tradition, or just to say "Hi!". The holidays are stressful enough, let's make this easy. :) And while you're at it, follow Cecy on twitter too.
 
You have until Friday, December 21. This giveaway is international folks!!! So everybody can try!
 
Thank you so much, Cecy!
 
More links for Cecy Robson:

Website: www.cecyrobson.com
 
[received an ARC to review]


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Steel's Edge


Steel's Edge (Edge #4) by Ilona Andrews

The Edge series ends with another exciting installment. We've travelled the Edge world - from the Edge to the Broken, back to the Edge and now into the Weird. We've also had very different heroes and heroines in each story - something I have come to appreciate in romance series.

This go-round we have Charlotte and Richard, both trained from an early age in the mannerisms of the blueblood Weird elite. Charlotte is The Healer, very powerful and living in the Edge with Rose's grandmother because she is afraid of using the darker side of her ability. I love stories that focus on the destructive possibilities of a healing power. We first met Richard in Bayou Moon. Cerise's cousin, Kaldar's brother, and a father-figure to Lark/Sophie, Richard hunts slavers, the people who nearly destroyed Sophie when she was very young.

Richard and Charlotte team up to go after the head of the slavery ring, falling in love along the way. They are very evenly matched and fit well together. This isn't an angsty romance. It is more their mission than any insecurity that gets in their way. I liked that a lot.

Lots of action, some heartbreak for fans of the series, and lots of George, Jack and Sophie. We also get more of Spider and get to see what happened to some family members from previous books. The bits where Charlotte takes Sophie under her wing were really well done. Bayou Moon is still my fav book of the Edge, but as a whole I have really enjoyed this romance series.

I thought Steel's Edge was a good end to the series, although I hope some day the Andrews team will come back with the future adventures of an all growed up George, Jack and Sophie.



Review: Skies of Fire


Skies of Fire (The Ether Chronicles #1) by Zoe Archer

Christopher is the captain of an airship. He is also a Man O' War - fused with a metallic substance that gives him extra strength and energy (he's pretty much the battery for his ship, and he needs the ship in order to siphon off said "energy" - symbiotic relationship). He and his crew are behind enemy lines when they get a distress call from a nearby village. They find Louisa, an intelligence agent, who also used to be Christopher's lover. She has info on a munitions plant that needs to be destroyed to help turn the balance in the war.

And, of course, smexy good fun as they get reacquainted. It doesn't happen right away, of course. Christopher is still very angry she left (and how she left), and Louisa is working through her feelings as well.

This was a very quick, fun read. There isn't a ton of world explanation. I got a feel for the time and place, but there weren't any big history lessons. I kind of wanted some of that, as I find that aspect of world-building very interesting.

I did like Christopher and Louisa together. Given that Louisa left, it is easy to paint her in the villain role of the break-up, but I mostly just felt sorry for her. I thought that the pace of their reunion felt right. Not too rushed or drawn out.

There was a decent amount of action. Louisa more than holds her own, and I liked that Christopher respected it. He is alpha-ish, but doesn't try to put her in a cage.

I'll be checking out more in this series.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's in a Name? A Transplanted Tales Contest

Kate SeRine is working on the third book in her Transplanted Tales series. Rumpelstiltskin is making an appearance, and he needs a name. The fun part - YOU can name him, as well as win some goodies!

Using the Rafflecopter widget below or on Kate's site, put in your suggestion. It can be as normal or fanciful as you like. And, to help you avoid "wasting" a suggestion, here's the list of male characters already appearing in ALONG CAME A SPIDER:

Nicky        Seth           Nate          Al(addin)
Aloysius   Gideon       Orvall       Merv
Irwin         Jack           Pete          Vlad
Alex         Ian              J.G.          Eddie
Tim          Ethan


From the entries, three names will be randomly selected. From those three, Kate will select the winner. The winning name will appear in ALONG CAME A SPIDER, the third book in the Transplanted Tales series, which is scheduled for release in August 2013.

In addition, the person who suggested the winning name will receive a prize package that includes the following:

1) A special mention in the acknowledgements of ALONG CAME A SPIDER
2) an e-book copy of RED, THE BETTER TO SEE YOU, and ALONG CAME A SPIDER as the books are released (or a prize of comparable value if the winner already owns/has pre-ordered a copy of the first two books)
3) a Transplanted Tales-themed goody basket

The runners-up will receive a copy of the Transplanted Tales book of his/her choice and some Transplanted Tales swag! Kate has hinted there might be some additional prezzies along the way...

Get those creative juices flowing and enter today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Tis the Season...for a Full Blooded Giveaway!

Amanda Carlson, along with the #JessicaMcClainStreetTeam (of which I am a member), are hosting a HUGE giveaway.

10 Lucky Winners will receive a Signed Copy of FULL BLOODED, as well as Limited Edition Pack Swag, including a Coffee Mug, bookmark & stickers. The best thing about this giveaway (other than it’s INTERNATIONAL)?  Amanda will be sending them out in time for the holidays! Already have a copy of FULL BLOODED? She'll throw in a signed bookplate and you can gift your book to someone you love. (Amanda will even address it to their name.)

There are so many ways to enter, and you can enter DAILY. Fill out the rafflecopter below OR on Amanda's web site OR you can also enter at any of the other #JessicaMcClainStreetTeam sites.


a Rafflecopter giveaway




#JessicaMcClainStreetTeam

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Heading Back Out on the Iron Seas

Meljean Brook's Iron Seas is one of my favorite romance series. In fact, the bar scene in Here There Be Monsters is near the top of my all-time favorite romantic moments. The world-building in this series is phenomenal. The action is intense. The women kick ass, and the men do as well. We've seen many different "types" of heroes and heroines in this series: Alphas (both male and female), adventurers, investigators, inventors, some experienced, some virgins (even the rare virgin hero). Each time I've felt like we've gotten a different kind of couple. It's not just the alpha-show 24/7, and I am thankful for that.

It's steampunk (so this review fits well with my own personal Steampunk Week). There are mechanical "bugs" that the Horde used to control conquered people, but in the new freedom from the invaders, the bugs help to repair injuries, give strength, and enable the grafting of mechanical limbs. We've also got airships and all kinds of mechanical creations. Oh and zombies, but not any of those in Riveted, the third Iron Seas novel. Seriously, the world sets this series apart. If you are a fan of epic, expansive world-building (and you like romance) you should try the Iron Seas.

In Riveted, we're out of London and more in the New World, settled when the Europeans fled the Horde. Annika is a very "improper" young woman by New World standards. Of course, New World Social Rules make the Pilgrims look like swingers, so for the reader, Annika is a breath of fresh air. She wears bright colored clothes, speaks her mind, has an almost innocent view of the world (in the sense she isn't jaded), is searching for her sister, is a phenomenal mechanic. Oh, and she comes from a secret women-only village in Iceland.

We also have David, horrifically injured in a volcanic explosion that killed his mother, he has become a vulcanologist, an expert in volcanoes. He also has been rebuilt with mechanical legs, hand and eye. He is used to people, especially prejudiced New Worlders, shying away from him. He doesn't think he will be able to find someone who can see the man behind the mechanics. He is also searching for his mother's people. She also dressed and acted differently, much like Annika...

And there's your setup. We have an airship, madman (or two), a giant whale, and two people who are outsiders in the world, but kindred spirits.

I loved this book so much. The couple...it was just one of the most romantic Romances I've read that also satisfies my need for some action (not just of the smexy variety). Annika and David work so well. I also really enjoy that they become friends first. Brook hits all the right notes here.

That wasn't all, of course. Riveted even brings in LGBT issues and explores the need of being able to love freely without fear of physical violence or social condemnation. And this happened in a way that did not feel preachy. I am so looking forward to Scarsdale's book.

This also isn't an alpha-hero situation. Not that I don't appreciate the alphas, but I also really appreciate the male characters who exude strength, but don't necessarily need to be dominate.

I didn't feel there was as much focus on the world as we got in the first two books, but that felt right to me. The Iron Seas world is now established in my mind. There is still plenty of exploration, of course, and I can't wait for what we'll encounter next.




Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm Feeling Steampunkish....

I hope everyone had a great holiday (all you US folks) or a wonderful weekend (hi rest of the world!). I found myself with a hankering for some steampunk. I also had 3 books that I've had on my shelf awhile but hadn' t gotten to yet because of time, and 1 new relase, so this week is theirs. Except for when Steel's Edge comes out, but I think we can fit everything in.

Currently on my Reading Now list:

Skies of Fire (The Ether Chronicles book 1) by Zoe Archer

Zoe and her husband Nico Rosso take turns penning the tales in this steampunk romance series. Book one is by Archer. It introduces us to the world and what it is like to be a Man O' War - a human/metal amalgamation. Lots of power. Good for the pecs.This one mostly takes place on an airship (win!) and has two ex-lovers reuniting.

Tin Swift (Age of Steam book 2) by Devon Monk

If you haven't read Dead Iron yet, go do that. Also, you might want to read the short Hang Fire (available soon as an eBook on Amazon, B&N & Smashwords). I am very much looking forward to the further adventures of Cedar Hunt, Mae Lindson, the Madder brothers, and of course, the always awesome Rose Small. Here's hoping Rose gets to kick a little ass.

The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences book 2) by Philippa Ballantine & Tee Morris

Book 1, Phoenix Rising, was so much fun. I'm looking forward to finally reading book 2. Books & Braun, so different and so, so good together. There is a whole world of fun to explore with this series, including podcasts of stories and ebooks of those short stories.

The Inexplicables (Clockwork Century book 5) by Cherie Priest

This time, the action packed series is back in Seattle. I love losing myself in Priest's re-imagined America.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight #1) by Jax Garren

This short novel is very, very tricky. I keep trying to think how to place it and the solution eludes me.

It's a bit of a fairytale retelling, a very much all growed up Beauty and the Beast. But I can't quite call it that. There are some steampunkish elements, but that label doesn't work either. There are some romantic elements, but if I called this a Romance it would imply certain traditional tropes that just aren't here. There is action as well as a bit of magic too, along with mysterious societies and a secret war. So, an Urban-Fairytale-Steampunkish-Romance-Fantasy.

Hauk is a horribly scarred veteran of Afghanistan, and is sure that no one will ever be able to look past his scars. He devotes his energy into helping the Underlight, a secret underground community, against the evil Order of Ananke (whose members control the media, governments, and in general try to take over the world).

Jolie is an heiress who is thumbing her nose at her family by working as a burlesque dancer. She is attempting to live her life on her own terms, and is in an open relationship with a musician. After her first show, she has a steamy encounter through a curtain with Hauk (although she never sees his face). Later, she is almost kidnapped when a monstrous looking man with a familiar voice rips her assailants apart. Soon she is in an underground community and is learning more about her family's ties to the evil Order.

There is some action, a little flirting, but not much else in the romance department, and we do have an annoying teenager (who is thankfully kept to a minimum). This isn't an "after a night Jolie can look past all of Hauk's scars and they are in love the end". Nope. She does get used to his scars and starts to appreciate Hauk, but there are still 2 books to go in this trilogy.

It's a really quick read, and I was intrigued by the world and the assorted characters. I like Hauk. I think most Romance fans will love the tortured Hero who feels he'll never have anyone love him. Jolie is a bit tougher to like in that respect, because Hauk is so sympathetic, but I did think her reactions were realistic, and she showed some growth. I wish we had seen more of the Underlight and its inhabitants. Hopefully in book 2 we will.

When I say quick read, I mean quick. This is a short novel, and there will likely be folks saying, "Where is the rest?" You know I'm good with short stories, and since I knew going into it that there would be more than 1 book, I'm OK with the short installments.

[received an arc to review]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Three Parts Dead

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

I can honestly say that this book was nothing like what I expected.

The trickiest part about writing this review is that no matter what I say, I don't think I can adequately describe the utter uniqueness of the story. I'll try, though.

Let's look at the cover: knife, shiny, magicky looking mark on arm, shrouded city. I'm thinking: action and magic, with a dark tone. Looks like an Urban Fantasy maybe.

Kind of.

There is magic. And there is action. It takes place in a city. But the whole style, world, plot, problems, characters were not what I was expecting.

It all was a bit more corporate, and lawyer-ey (I don't care if that isn't a word, it totally fits).

In Tara's world, the Craftspeople (human magic users) battled with the gods. And the Craftspeople won.

There are still gods and goddesses, but the world is run according to Craft law. The Craftsmen and women are the ones who draft contracts and handle disputes. Life essence is currency. Of course, in a magic court, the truth is relative to whoever has the most power.

Tara is a novice who was thrown out of Craft school for some reason. She gets a job under Elayne Kevarian, a very powerful Craftswoman. They are needed to resurrect a god. But why did the god die in the first place? And what is with the gargoyles in the city? And why oh why did the opposing counsel have to be her enemy? What kind of f'ed up world is this anyways?

Here's the thing - this isn't what I expected, but I still really liked it. I had a bit of "What is going on here" in the beginning, but I still kept turning the pages, wanting to see how it all turns out.

There isn't any romance, and while there is some action, Tara is not throwing punches right and left. She has power, but she also is very, very smart. Her counterpart, Abelard, a devotee of the dead god, was very interesting to follow as well. Don't think think this is a "get the team together and go on a quest" story either. We have a team, of sorts, with varying levels of trust.

If you have strict lines where your fantasy must fall, you might have some issues getting into this one. However, if you want something different on your fantasy shelf, give Three Parts Dead a try.

[received an ARC to review.]



Conjure Winner

 
 
And the Conjure winner is....
 
Alyssa Susanna
 
 
Congrats!
 
Thanks to Lea Nolan, Entangled Publishing, and everyone who entered!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Showcasing Some Gender Equality in YA

Today I'm over at Stellar Four spotlighting some YA reads that have an equal partnership between the male and female leads, where the skills of each are valued.

I would love for my children to live in a world where their skills are valued, regardless of gender. The idea that the only way for a male to be masculine is if the female is submissive is just so full of wrong I get stabby thinking about it.

Please share your favorite partnerships in the comments here or over on S4.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Conjure"-ing Up Some Creepy YA Fun & a Giveaway!

Today, Lea Nolan is at the Book Pile to talk about her new book, Conjure, part 1 of The Hoodoo Apprentice trilogy. There's also a Q&A and Giveaway!

The blurbage:

"Be careful what you search for...
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry—hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

But when a strange girl appears bent on revenge, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton, Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends—are lost forever."

My take: I really liked this YA paranormal. There is a little action, more towards the end, but my favorite part was following Emma as she learns hoodoo to try to save her brother.

The book is fast-paced and I found it an engaging read. It starts a little younger than many YAs - the three main kids are all 15, but the tone will progress as the series does (see Q&A below), which makes sense for this Middle School-YA crossover. There are some dark aspects, and enough creepy without being really gory or too scary.

Jack is more than a bit of a jerk, but I'm hopeful he will grow. Cooper is very sweet. Emma is quiet, but strong. I really liked her as a character. She is learning and she makes mistakes, but I love her resolve. She has a crush on Cooper, but I'm happy to say that this isn't an angsty romance. It's all very sweet (and bittersweet too). Of course, the story isn't done. We do get an ending, but everyone isn't out of the woods yet.

I enjoyed the mythology (any story involving Gullah history and folklore is of interest to me) and I'm looking forward to book 2.

And now, let's get to know Lea a little better.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Personal Demons (Hopeless, Maine #1)


Personal Demons (Hopeless, Maine #1) by Tom & Nimue Brown

I am not a graphic novel expert, but I do like to grab one now and then as a change of pace. I've tried some of the newer Wonder Woman's, Locke & Key, and of course The Sandman. I find myself drawn to the darker fantasy works. This one is closer to a YA dark fantasy.

The horrible occurrences in Hopeless, Maine, were just right. Creepy, kid-centered, there is violence but not to the extent of those geared for older audiences. I absolutely fell in love with the illustrations (a must with a graphic novel, of course).

Terrible things have been happening in Hopeless. The orphanage is full, people keep dying, and there are demons everywhere. A strange girl named Salamandra has been found living alone. She says her mother wants to drink her and her father has some very interesting acquaintances. She is sent to the orphanage where she encounters a dangerous enemy, finds a friend, and also shows what she can do. Salamandra might be small, but she is not helpless.

I liked the atmosphere and the little taste of Hopeless we get in Book 1. I'll keep an eye out for future installments.

[Received an ARC to review.]

Review: The Dead of Winter



The Dead of Winter (Cora Oglesby #1) by Lee Collins

This book was so good - a mix of the action I love, interesting characters, and a few kicks to the emotional gut.

Cora Oglesby is a character I always want to read about - the older, experienced, battle-hardened female lead. Cherie Priest and Philippa Ballantine have done this so well, and now I can add Lee Collins to the list.

Set in the late 1800s American West, Cora and her husband, Ben, are bounty hunters. However, the things they hunt are vampires, werewolves, hellhounds, and other dark creatures that prey on humanity. They have been doing this for a long time - 20 years, and while very experienced and kickass, Cora is starting to feel those years. Her penchant for whiskey and gambling takes its toll too.

Cora and Ben find themselves in a mining town beset by a savage killer who is hunting people for food. They also meet an English vampire hunter and scholar whose employer has a problem with vampires in his mine. Through it all Cora relies on her network of priestly connections for information and weapons, faces a terrible enemy, finds a bitter truth, and kicks some serious ass.

Cora and Ben's relationship is also unique. At the start of the book,  it's quiet and understated. You get the feeling that they know all about the other persons crap, have accepted it, and made their own groove to fit alongside. This isn't the fiery first passion. These two have lived and fought together, respect each other, and have a real partnership, to the point that Cora takes point on most of their hunts. Ben is more the bookish type. It felt very real.

And here I'm going to stop because I will not spoil one thing. I will say that there were more than a few "Damn!"'s uttered as I read it. Those kicks to the emotions I mentioned. Yeah, Collins delivered.

However, if you read it and want to discuss, we can do that.

Another book that proves the Western is not dead. Can't wait for book 2.


[I received an ARC to review.]


Winners!

The winner of the Weird Girls swag giveaway is Tonya Kuper!

The winner of the Mr. Real giveaway is Merry!

Congrats and thanks to everyone for participating, and to Cecy Robson and Carolyn Crane for the giveaways!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Everything's Starting to Get Real...

Today the awesome Carolyn Crane is here! Her latest, Mr. Real, is going to be out October 30.

This is not the first time Carolyn has dropped by the Book Pile, but this time she came with some genuine Carolyn Crane art (perhaps you have seen them on her blog or other places around the internets - if not, I weep for you).

From the Mr. Real blurb:

"He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.

Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.

Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall - in the flesh - with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness - somehow.

But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?"


My take: Mr. Real is a paranormal-romance-superspy-mashup that defies a strict category and was just so much fun to read. When Carolyn's characters mess up, they do not do it half-assed. In fact, the first lesson I gleaned from this book was to never screw with an occult computer program after the 5th beer. Definitely want the beer goggles off for that kind of decision.

I did like Alix. She of course did stupid things, but she tried so hard to do right and build herself up after years of feeling inferior. Paul, yeah, good stuff right there. He is tormented but he tries to work through it and I liked him a lot. And Sir Kendall was exactly how all of my Bond fantasies play out. Sure he's a suave, charismatic figure, but get involved with him and you'll be screwed over (and not in a happy-fun-times-way). I really liked that we got to get into all 3 of their heads. Especially Sir Kendall. Also really happy with how Paul & Alix balance each other. I do like when the couple have a prior history.

This is just book 1 and I can't wait to see what Carolyn cooks up for us next.

And now on to the Q&A!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Things are getting Weird....

Today, the very fun Cecy Robson is here promoting her new Weird Girls series!

From the blurb: "Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they're products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…"

Book 1, Sealed With a Curse, is out December 31 (and Cecy will be back to talk about it on December 14). Today, we're looking at the prequel novella The Weird Girls (out December 4).

Blurbage on the novella: "The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option."

My reaction: The action junkie is happy! It starts with a fight in the girls room of a bar and keeps going until the end. I like the shapeshifting Celia a lot. She is strong, but her strength sets her apart from everyone else, making her lonely too. She is fiercely protective of her sisters and I love that aspect. A lot of books have relationships between men and women, but not as many positive relationships between women. While they may not always agree, these girls love each other and have each others backs. Taran the hot head, Shayna the bubbly one, and Emme the sweet, they all also have powers that make these sisters a force to be reckoned with.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tough Chick...With a Broom?

Have you been reading Clean Sweep, the free serial by Ilona Andrews?

If you have, then you have discovered the giddy excitement of a new chapter to devour.

Wait, you haven't read it yet? Then you are missing a magic innkeeper with the most awesome broom ever, a tiny dog who is a ferocious as her name, a werewolf, and a deadly creature stalking the inhabitants of a sleepy subdivision. Just your normal, suburban adventures, yes?

Throughout you'll find the action and humor that have made Ilona Andrews a permanent fixture of the Book Pile.

Right now you'll find Clean Sweep, the Innkeeper Chronicles, chapters 1-4 here. When its done it will eventually be available as an eBook (or at least, that is the plan right now).

If you sign up to receive e-mail updates from Ilona Andrews blog, or follow her on Twitter, then you'll know when the next installment is up. Or you can check obsessively a few times a day - whatever floats your boat.

It looks like I am going to have to add brooms to my list of kickass weapons.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Moonlight & Mechanicals

Moonlight & Mechanicals (Gaslight Chronicles #4) by Cindy Spencer Pape

I did something with this book that I really rarely do - I read book 4 without reading any of the preceding books in the series. To be fair, it is a romance and generally you can get away with reading out of order for most romance series (of course, there are exceptions). I didn't realize it was a book 4 when I first requested it, but I really had no trouble getting into the world, so it all works out. I plan on reading the other books too, so that works out better.

This is a paranormal romance with an infusion of gadgets and alt-Victoriana.

Winifred, better known as Wink, is a brilliant scientist and inventor who used to be a street urchin before she was adopted. Liam is a werewolf who works for Scotland Yard. She's been in love with him for years. He has feelings for her, but fears his werewolf self is too dangerous to be around. He has many issues stemming from his parents abusive union.

Both are involved with the Order of the Round Table, who use magic and gadgets for queen and country.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Katya's World



Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard

Right now this is one of my favorite YA books read this year, as well as my favorite YA Sci Fi book read in recent memory.

I fully do realize that a part of my excitement for this book is that it is a YA book with NO ROMANCE. I can't remember the last time I read a YA book that didn't have romance. Middle School books, yes, but not YA.

It's not that I hate romance, but it was sooooo refreshing to read a book that in the middle of a battle with a semi-sentient AI bent on destroying everyone, there wasn't a subplot about unrequited love, or which of 2 suitors to pick. And it could have happened, and might have even worked for me, but the story worked so well without it that I'm glad it wasn't added because "that's what you do these days with YA."

I get asked by folks to recommend books, and a common question I get is if I know of any new YA titles that don't have romance. Now I have an answer.

Katya's World is an action-filled sci fi set on a planet completely filled with water, so everyone travels by submarine. I freaking love anything with submarines. I used to watch the Disney version of 20K Leagues over and over again. I wanted to live on the Nautilus. My inner child is still squeeing.

Katya's ancestors were colonists from Earth who braved a new, harsh environment and survived. When the Earth, or Terran, forces finally came to "check on them", the colonists weren't interested in being ruled by anyone other than themselves. Cue a war that the planet is still recovering from.

Katya has finally earned her license and is ready to start working on her uncle's sub. Kids grow up fast here, and they have an ingrained sense of responsibility and rugged determination. Without it, they wouldn't live very long.

Her uncle's sub is commandeered by a Fed transporting a prisoner. Soon, they make contact with something that the Terran forces left behind and Katya is on an adventure that will test her trust in others, her bravery, and her skills.

Katya was strong, older than her years, very smart - my kind of lead. Kane is an intriguing character. I got in the end why he did what he did, but sometimes I had to wonder. I thought the other characters were well done as well. This is the first book, so there is a lot of introduction. It will be interesting to see where it all goes next.

There is a lot of action here, and I felt like I was hurtling to the end, but it kept my attention and I really enjoyed the book.

I will be eagerly awaiting book 2.

Katya's World will be out November 6, 2012.

[Received an ARC to review.]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Blackwood



Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

The second I heard that Blackwood featured the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists, I HAD to read it. The Roanoke mystery is one of my favorite historical conundrums. What happened to them? Where did they go? Did anyone survive?

This one begins in present day Roanoke Island. Miranda Blackwood is an intern with The Lost Colony production. It is a welcome respite from her days of tending her alcoholic father and dealing with constant taunts from the locals. The Blackwoods have always been known as screwups, cursed with being lowlifes, and always stuck on Roanoke.

Then Miranda sees something strange, a gigantic ghostly ship, and the next day, 114 people have vanished, her father included. Although he isn't missing, he's dead and soon the snake birthmark on his face is now on Miranda.

Phillips has a bad reputation - he broke every rule he could in an effort to get sent away, the only way he knew to escape the voices of the dead that invade his mind. However, when 114 people disappear from the island, Phillips father, the police chief, knows something weird is going on, and that he needs Phillip's help.

Soon Phillips and Miranda have teamed up, trying to stop what was started years ago when the first colony vanished.

There's alchemy, curses, and two leads that I really liked. Miranda is geeky (her favorite curse is frak) and snarky. She's more than a bit bitter about how she has been treated, and is rightfully freaked out by what is happening. She is not completely altruistic, but she also doesn't back down. Phillips knows about being cursed - he hears the voices of the dead and can't control it. He and Miranda have a bit of a past history. At first, I thought that their teaming up happened a bit too fast, but as I got to know the characters better, it made sense.

Blackwood is fast paced with some romance. It is also the rare YA standalone, so the story has an ending and you won't be waiting a year (or more) to find out how it all ends. While I do like reading series, it is so nice to have a standalone too.

I'll be looking for the next book from Bond.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Assassin's Curse



The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

I really got into this one. The pages flew by and I had a lot of fun reading it. You know I love YA, and I can usually handle ones set in high school, but I've read lots of those lately. I LOVE that this is a YA fantasy outside of the schoolroom, in a completely unique world.

Ananna is a pirate, raised in a pirate clan on the seas. She is an expert thief, knows her way around a sword, and while not bloodthirsty she also doesn't run from a fight. She also has a good sense of self-preservation and while her manners might be rough, she is very intelligent.

So, I was very, very happy with our lead.

Ananna's parents are trying to marry her off to the pretty boy son of another pirate clan. Of course, Ananna has other plans. Her father taught her to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, and she jumps at the first chance to escape. Her intended's family sends an assassin, Naji, after her, a blood magician and the stuff of legend and nightmares. However, Ananna saves the assassin's life and he becomes bound as her protector, something neither one wants. He is overcome with intense pain if she is too far away from him or if she is in danger. Ananna and Naji team up to find a way to break the curse and stay one step ahead of everyone trying to kill them.

This is action-packed goodness right here. There is a teensy bit of romance, something that I'm sure will develop in another book. I liked how Naji and Ananna start forging a tenuous friendship. Neither one trusts easily. I really liked both leads and I'm looking forward to them traveling to new lands with even more adventures.

The story is definitely not done, but I got enough for now.

Highly recommended if you like YA Fantasy, fairytales, magic and pirates.

[I received an ARC to review.]

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review: Trance



Trance (MetaWars #1) by Kelly Meding

While this had many elements of my usual UF reads (kickass action, interesting mythology, and some romance), the overall feel was very different.

Trance is much darker than I was expecting. So very tense. I really wasn't sure who would make it, but I wasn't numbed to the prospect of losing anyone either. Good balance and I was left guessing to the end as to who would still be standing.

The world is still recovering from a horrific war between superheroes and supervillains. Teresa, "Trance", is the daughter of the leader of the Rangers - the good guys. She and other young superheroes were trying to get to safety when all of a sudden all metahumans lost their powers.

The children were separated and sent to live in foster homes.

Fifteen years later, Teresa is harder, more bitter, and definitely not what you would expect from the daughter of a superhero. All of a sudden, she gets her powers back, and she races to the former Ranger headquarters. She meets up with Gage, "Cipher", and they quickly learn that its not just the good guys who got their powers back. The supervillain Bane is hot on their trail. Teresa also learns that she got back her powers and then some.

They are on a race to find the others before Bane does, need to manage their public persona in a world that sees all metahumans as bad news, and stop Bane once and for all.

Betrayals, finding the truth behind what really happened in the war, adjusting to their new lives complete with the baggage of the past 15 years, and lots of action - oh yeah, there is action here aplenty.

There is a lot going on, and everything speeds by, but I liked it. I'll be reading the next one.

Review: Libriomancer



Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1) by Jim C. Hines

I loved every book geek-fueled moment. It was fun with the right amount of tension and action. I want Isaac Vainio's job and a pet flaming spider. I also really dig the idea of the power we geeks give to our beloved books, movies, and action figures (an idea also found in Geekomancy, another recent read).

Isaac is a librarian at a normal, mundane small-town library. He is also a librarian for the DZP, an organization that patrols the magical community. He used to do field work, but has been demoted due to a past "magical indiscretion." There are vampires - probably my favorite vampires I've seen in some time, and someone is trying to start a war between vamps and humans. Is Gutenberg, the incredibly long-lived and powerful creator of the DZP involved? Who can Isaac trust?

He teams up with a dryad, Lena Greenwood, who needs Isaac's help in more ways than one. Lena is a very intriguing character. It almost feels spoilery to talk about her. I did like her interactions with Isaac. It will be interesting to see where this all goes.

It's another book that I don't want to describe too much. I had such an enjoyable time uncovering everything.

I will say: very cool world & magic system + interesting characters + good action.

I'll be reading book 2.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Some links, deals, giveaways...

Not sure how long this deal will last, but Maria E. Schneider over at Bear Mountain Books reported that Neil Gaiman's American Gods is $2.99 for the eBook at Amazon. Maria is a great source for cheap and free deals on eBooks, as well as a good source for self-published author recs. And I've enjoyed many of her stories as well. There's currently a Goodreads giveaway for her Catch an Honest Thief.

Other Kindle deals:

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep $2.99

Darkwood by M.E. Breen $1.99 - Has been on my TBR list for awhile.

Today at Stellar Four it's Trailer Thursday!

Other Goodreads Giveaways:

Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous edited by Tim Marquitz (US, CA, GB, and AU) - I'm currently reading this one. Creepy but not too gory.

Death: Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman (US)

The Silvered by Tanya Huff (US)

The Wheel of Time Book 1 by Robert Jordan (US)

The Missing by Shiloh Walker (lots of countries)

Stolen by Shiloh Walker (lots of countries)

Hounded (Iron Druid #1) by Kevin Hearne (US) - If you haven't read this one yet, I highly rec it!








Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Better to See You

Today the Book Pile is part of the cover reveal for The Better to See You (transplanted Tales #2) by Kate SeRine. I really had fun reading the first book in this series, Red, and I'm eagerly awaiting book 2. I have a thing for fairytales, and when those tales have to deal with the real world and living life outside their stories, that is good stuff.

From the publisher:

"Coming February 2013 from eKensington

Once upon a time, a spell went awry and Make Believe characters were cast into the ordinary world.

And the results aren’t always happily ever after…

Everyone thinks fairy godmothers can do no wrong. But if not for a certain spell mis-cast by Lavender Seelie, Cinderella’s former fairy godmother, the Tales would not be stuck in the Here and Now. Fortunately for Lavender, she’s about to get a second chance at a happy ending…

The Refuge, a sanctuary for wayward Tales, seems like the perfect place for Lavender to start a new life—especially when she discovers an unexpected ally in Seth, the brooding werewolf who’s been typecast as a villain ever since his run in with Little Red Riding Hood. But when humans from nearby towns start turning up dead, their bodies mutilated with archaic Tale symbols, Lavender wonders if Seth’s deep sensuality has blinded her to the truth. And that distraction could put innocent lives in danger. Including her own…"

I have to be honest. While I knew that Seth would be getting his story, I was a bit surprised that Lavender is the female lead. We only got a small taste of her in Red, so I'm looking forward to seeing what SeRine does with this character. Considering that fairy godmothers are always the support staff in fairytales, I like that this one is getting her turn center stage.

And here is the cover:


Well Hello, Seth! My, what big...I think I'll let you fill in the rest.

Sidenote: Anyone want to take bets on how many times someone has uttered those words today?

I have seen many variations on the bare-chest male cover, and I'm glad that this one isn't headless. I also like that the eyes are very vivid. I was checking against Red's cover and I like that the font is carried through, but Red's simplicity remains my fav of the two. This definitely catches the eye and lets you know that there's going to be Romance here. Red skirted UF/PNR for me.

I think I'll just ruminate on it a bit more while you go check out the giveaway*.

As a special treat to celebrate the cover reveal, Kate is giving away three copies of RED (Transplanted Tales #1). Enter using the Rafflecopter widget:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Find out more about Kate SeRine and Transplanted Tales:
Website: www.kateserine.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/KateSeRine
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kateserine
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/kateserine

*This giveaway is part of the Cover Reveal Party, not a Book Pile giveaway.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: The Kingdom



The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2) by Amanda Stevens

This is another hugely addictive series. I talked about the series as a whole over at Stellar Four. This time I'm just reviewing the second installment.

If you haven't read The Restorer yet, you might want to skip reading this review until you are caught up.

Amelia has taken a job on a remote island as a way of distancing herself from the haunted John Devlin. She meets the alluring Thane Asher and uncovers a murder mystery and the truth about where she came from. (Cue intense dramatic music)

She also gets a dog.

Like The Restorer, this one is atmospheric and angsty, and just freaking delicious to read. I love all of the gothic glory and tortured romance. It completely works and I want more. It's another book where I don't want to tell you much about story specifics because it was all part of creating the broody, thick tension-filled setting and I don't want to spoil it for you.

There is kind of a love interest in Thane, but we aren't in love triangle territory. I can't explain why, but we aren't there.

I do stand by my thought that Amelia needs to find some way to scratch that itch. Really.

Again, we see ghosts that follow Papa Grey's definition, but we also see signs that there are more to ghosts than just what Amelia knows.

We get some answers in this one, and a bit of a teaser about who will be featured in the next book. I will be reading it soon.





Review: Redshirts



Redshirts by John Scalzi

The short review: I really enjoyed this book.

A little explanation:

I cut my sci fi teeth on Star Trek re-runs. My entire family watched every Trek series together (original through to the first season of Voyager).  I bought my uncle a red t-shirt that read "Expendable" (from Thinkgeek) for Christmas. I also bought him this book.

I have a touch more than an armchair interest in writing as well.

I AM the audience for this book. It's meta. It's funny. It made me want to watch old Trek episodes.

Ensign Dahl and his friends have just been assigned to the Intrepid - a ship with a horrifically large body count on away missions, and where every now and then the captain and crew get caught up in an overwhelming need to make everything as dramatic as possible. It's like they are living in a sci fi tv show - except it is a horribly written one.

I just can't even describe more without spoiling the things that I enjoyed so much.

I will say that the story ended before I thought it would, with the remaining pages giving bits about some of the peripheral characters. I don't feel anything missing from the main storyline, though.

I'm curious as to how someone who didn't like Trek would approach this book, but then I think they might not at all, so the speculation is a moot point. Yes, sometimes it is a bit "on the nose" but I felt like I was in on the joke, so it didn't bother me.



Review: Hell on Wheels


Hell on Wheels (Black Knights Inc. #1) by Julie Ann Walker

It's like The Expendables, except along with the ass-kicking, guns & explosions you also have Romance and smexytimes. The characters do make a joke about this, which I appreciated.

As I am a fan of The Expendables in all its action-packed glory, as well as a fan of Romance with big bads and action of all kinds, this was a very fun read for me.

Nate has been lusting after his best friend Griff's sister for years. After a job gone wrong, Griff is killed and Nate is too wracked with guilt to do anything but try to protect Ali, and that means keeping his distance. Ali has always had a thing for her older brother's best friend, but thinks he doesn't like her because he is always so aloof. When she realizes someone is following her and the danger is mounting, she knows that Nate is the only one who can help.

Cue Ali's introduction to Black Knights, Inc, a group of covert operatives who operate under the guise of a bike shop. Pretty soon all hell is breaking loose and things are heatin' up all over. Just what I want in a fun, escapist Action-Romance.

Nate & Ali worked for me. I bought their relationship. There is some miscommunication, but given the context, that was totally natural. There was more puking than I normally see in a Romance, but it was OK.

I liked the cast of side characters, too. Can't wait to read Becky & Frank's book - they have some excellent banter and tension going on.

Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair



The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

This story punts you out of the plane and lets you free-fall without a parachute into the world. It took some getting used to, but I got absorbed in it. So much so that it was high on my list of addictive reads (I talked about it over at Stellar Four).

This is the first book in the Bannon & Clare series. It's alt-Victorian with magic, gadgets, deductive geniuses, conspiracies against the crown, fantastical creatures, and a team that may or may not be able to trust each other.

I referred to this book in the past as steampunk, but I'm starting to question the use of the genre name. Overall, I don't know that much of us really have a concrete definition of steampunk. I've been thinking about it, and I tend to lump fantasy with alt-history (esp Victorian England or late 1800s elsewhere in the world) and some kind of gadgetry in the steampunk sub-genre. I think this is pretty consistent with your average reader. Purists might be gagging right now, but so be it. Feel free to school me in the comments.

I would say that Saintcrow takes elements of steampunk/alt-history to concoct some bookish alchemy, and I truly enjoyed the effect. I can't say that I understood every reference. There are a couple of lines of dialogue that completely went left when my brain went right. It really didn't matter for me.  I rarely understood the techno-gobbledygook on Star Trek:TNG, but I still watched it faithfully every week. The arcane references felt much the same - background detail that the characters knew all about, but weren't crucial to understand the main plotline. What worked was the vivid descriptions and that the world was revealed as the action went along. We didn't have a lot of asides telling us all about the world. I gleaned what I could as the story progressed.

Miss Emma Bannon is a sorceress. A very, very powerful sorceress. She is overworked, isn't sure she can trust her Shield, Mikal, and is still reeling from a traumatic event in her past. Mr. Archibald Clare is a mentath - a deductive genius (think Sherlock) who survives on logic and must have puzzles to stimulate his vast intellect or he might go mad. Throw in an Italian assassin, a German mechanist, and loads of conspiracies and you have one action-packed story.

Now, seeing the line-up with the magical Miss Bannon and logical Mr. Clare, you might be thinking, "Opposites attract, there is going to be some kind of romance here." Yeah, you can think that, but if it's romance you're after, this isn't that book. Not that there aren't developments, but it's not the crux of the story. Can't reveal anymore without spoilers.

Of course, I long ago stopped thinking that I would get the usual from Saintcrow. Now I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Review: The Earl's Dilemma

The Earl's Dilemma By Emily May

I was in a bit of a rut last week. It happens. I needed something completely different from my usual fantasy fare and this historical romance fit the bill.

It's a quick read, easy to get into, and I liked the characters.

James needs a wife or he will be disinherited, and only has 2 months to find one (of course), so he decides to settle on his best friend's sister. He likes her, she isn't afraid of him (he has a tendency to scowl and "look stern"), and he thinks they will get on tolerably well. Since she's on the shelf and not known for her beauty, he thinks this is a slam-dunk arrangement.

Kate has secretly been in love with James for years. She overhears James' talking to her brother and she hears him say that he doesn't love her, but he's sure she'll agree to marry him. He says some other insulting things as well. (Note: In reality, for the time, I suppose this would have been an ideal match for her, but this is a Romance, so I went with it.) Kate says no, but that she will help James find a woman he can love.

Of course, as Kate introduces James to the other eligible young ladies he starts realizing that Kate is the only one he wants. Then he has to convince her he is sincere.

I did love that Kate didn't have to marry. She wasn't going to be sent out into the streets. She had a very strong relationship with her brother and had her own fortune - enough that she could establish her own household if she wished. So, she didn't have to marry anyone. I really loved it when she told that to James, too.

It was diverting for a few hours and was a warm & fuzzy romance. If you like historicals (or like me, just need a change of pace for a bit), you should look into it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Full Blooded Winner!



Congrats to Maria! Amanda will be sending you your signed ARC very soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and big ginormous thanks to Amanda for the giveaway!



Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome to the Pack Tour (& Giveaway!)

Love the pretty cover!

Amanda Carlson is back (you might remember a little Q&A we did for the Blooded novella). This time the Book Pile is a stop on the Full Blooded blog tour and I could not be more excited. There's a prezzie for one lucky reader too!

From the blurb: "It's not easy being a girl. It's even harder when you're the only girl in a family of werewolves. But it's next to impossible when your very existence spells out the doom of your race... Meet Jessica McClain -- she just became part of the pack.

In the vein of Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs, a new urban fantasy that rewrites the werewolf myth..."


Full disclosure, Amanda is a dear friend and I got to witness and read this story from the very beginning. That said, I was eagerly waiting for each installment, so I'm not bs-ing you when I say it's a damn good read.

The book starts with a bang (worst "wake up call" ever) and just keeps going. The action is great. I love that we are thrown into this world, and even though Jess has been on the periphery of it, she now has to learn quick, and we get to tag along.

Werewolves, witches, vampires (not romantic, these are evil suckers), demons, and so on. Jess has just become the only female werewolf - something everyone in the supernatural community seems really pissed about. Throw in prophecies, conspiracies, and betrayals and this is a fun ride.

There is some romance, but this isn't a Romance. I thought it fit well with the story.

Love the characters - Jess is my kind of heroine. Marcy is fantastic as the witchy friend. Tyler, James, Danny & Nick - I love them all, but have to go with Danny as my fav. Cocky with an accent. That'll do it. And Rourke, very well done indeed.


With Jess as the solo female in the pack, you might say it's raining men.



But don't think that this is a "Jess juggles four boyfriends as well as fights for her life." Nope. This is action first, and often. With a hefty dose of kickass on the side.

I received an ARC of this book, and I got to read this story from the beginning, eagerly awaiting each new chapter, so I feel a lot closer to these characters than I would a new to me series. That said, I would come to the end of each chapter and howl at having to wait for more, so I really liked it from the earliest start. It's a great start to a series.

Full Blooded is officially out September 11, but some copies have been seen "in the wild" already.

Now to the Giveaway: Amanda has generously offered a signed ARC of Full Blooded to one lucky commenter. If you could wake up tomorrow as a supernatural, what would you be? Leave a comment with a way to contact you by Wednesday, September 12. Tweet about the contest and get another entry (include the tweet URL for your second entry). Winner announced Thursday. US & CA only.

Note: if you don't want to leave your e-mail in the comments, you can send it to me at kindleaholic [at] gmail.com and you'll still be entered.

Thanks, Amanda! The rest of you, read this book!!!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: In a Fix

In a Fix by Linda Grimes

First book in a new UF series that is devoid of the usual vamps, shifters, fae and magic. Instead we have a group of aura readers - with a touch they can become anyone's double. I found this aspect to be very intriguing. There are so many chances for someone to abuse this power as well as use it to help. Will be interesting what happens as the series goes on. Add in spies, demented conspiracies and interesting family/friend dynamics and it made for a fun read. It also felt lighter to me than other UF without being too light. The main bad guy is nuts, but he isn't as bad as some.

Ciel uses her powers as a kind of "life fixer," stepping, literally, into someones shoes to make things go their way. She runs her own business, but her family and close friends always seem to be butting in. She's the proverbial little sister and is tired of everyone treating her like a child.

Then her latest "fix" goes south when her client's boyfriend is kidnapped right before he can propose, and Ciel kicks her way into the big leagues alongside longtime friend Mark and irascible "cousin" Billy.

This book was so easy to get into. That doesn't mean there weren't parts where I felt that my disbelief had to be suspended a bit more, but when I was in the story, it didn't bother me. There were a few instances where I got really ticked at Ciel for barging in without fully understanding the consequences, but I could also see why she did it, in a way. Ciel does have some growing up to do.

There is a romance, of sorts. I really hesitate to call it that, to be honest. I felt more like Ciel was finally coming into her own and starting to live it up a bit. In no way do I think she is ready for settling down. At times it felt like there was almost a love quadrangle going on, but then since there really wasn't any firm relationship progress, I can't really even call it that. Mostly it's flirting and a few kisses. And maybe a bit more (so those who need a little smexy-action won't feel too left out). It's a woman who has always been on the sidelines. I can see where she'd want to live a little.

A lighter UF with a very intriguing mythology. I'll be looking for the next one.

[Received an ARC to review.]