Monday, February 28, 2011

Upcoming Reviews

Here are the books from the top of my To Be Read pile this week. I'm hoping to read them all within the next week or so, but as a full-time student who also works 20-25 hours per week I don't always get to do the things I want to. So, here's hoping.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf - Review

Title: How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf
Author: Molly Harper

Synopsis: “Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham – who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska – has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.
“For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.
“If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated…”

Review: I picked this book up because of the title. Truly, how could I pass by a book titled How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf? I got lucky though because this book was as great as it's title. Mo is a wonderful heroine and Grundy, Alaska is full of interesting characters. This is a paranormal romance with werewolves, but I was most fascinated with Mo’s struggle with her crazy family and her new life in Alaska. The werewolves were great, and Cooper is super sexy, but the real story is Mo.

Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-439195864

If you like this book you may want to read:

Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel by Ronda Thompson (ISBN: 978-0312949259)

The Kitchen Witch (Accidental Witch Trilogy, Book 1) by Annette Blair (ISBN: 978-0425198810)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dracula in Love - Review

Title: Dracula in Love
Author: Karen Essex

Synopsis: “London, 1890. Mina Murray, the rosy-cheeked, quintessentially pure Victorian heroine, becomes Count Dracula’s object of desire. To preserve her chastity, five male “defenders” rush in to rescue her from the vampire’s evil clutches. This is the version of the story we’ve been told. But now, from Mina’s own pen, we discover that the story is vastly different when told from the female point of view.”

Review: This retelling of Dracula from Mina's point of view was wonderful! What if the vampire wasn’t the bad guy? What if the bad guys were the men trying to prevent women from gaining a foothold in Victorian Society? This book provides illuminating insight into the struggles of women during the Victorian era. Parts of Dracula in Love made me angry. In particular the number of women being diagnosed with “female hysteria”, a man’s attempt to control strong women, pissed me off. The Count was as sexy as ever, and I loved Essex’s portrayal of Mina as a strong woman through the ages.
I love gothic novels. Give me a creepy setting, dark characters, maybe throw in a dungeon and a foggy cemetery, or a deserted castle at night and I’m in heaven. Many of my favorite books are considered “gothic romances”. Bram Stoker’s Dracula in particular is one of the books that I read over and over. Thus said, I strongly recommend that readers read Dracula before reading Dracula in Love. I loved this novel, but I don’t feel that it would have had the same impact on me had I not been familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula in Love is going on my “keeper” shelf.

Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0385528917

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (ISBN: 978-0316070638)

The Master of Blacktower by Barbara Michaels (ISBN: 978-0060878146)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (ISBN: 978-0143106159)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Sentinel Mage - Review

Title: The Sentinel Mage
Author: Emily Gee
Series: The Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy #1

Synopsis: “In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld od Osgaard, a prince with mage’s blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head – and assassins at his heels.
“Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld’s side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him. But the deserts of Masse are more dangerous than the assassins hunting the prince. The curse has woken deadly creatures, and the magic Prince Harkeld loathes may be the only thing standing between him and death.”

Review: My first thought as I was reading The Sentinel Mage was, “I’ve been blessed with good books lately.” This book was wonderful. I got so involved in it that I couldn’t do any homework or anything else until I finished it. And then I wanted more.
Sometimes I have trouble with novels that skip around from character to character. I get confused, or I end up liking one character’s story much more than the rest and so I skim through the bits about the characters that I don’t like. This novel was not like that. Gee starts with Jaumé’s story. A young boy watching the world go mad around him. Then she switches to Innis’s story. Innis is a shapeshifting mage, and not just any mage. She’s a sentinel mage, who enforces the laws of the mages. After meeting Innis we get to see Harkeld’s story. Harkeld is a prince who is disowned by his family when it is revealed that he has witch (mage) blood. Later we get to experience the story of Harkeld’s half sister Princess Brigitta, who discovers a sinister plot within the castle.
This novel has it all. Zombies, magic, shapeshifters, adventure, romance… I could go on. I loved all of the characters and got very involved in all of their parts of the story. I didn’t experience my normal resigned sigh when the story switched from the character I liked to one I didn’t care about as much. They were all fascinating and interwoven. My only complaint is that Gee’s books tend to come out several years apart. I want the next book in this series now!

Publisher: Solaris
ISBN: 978-1907519505

If you like this book you may want to read:

Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee (ISBN: 978-1844164691)

The Summoner (Chronicles of the Necromancer #1) by Gail Martin (ISBN: 978-1844164684)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tiger's Curse - Review

Title: Tiger’s Curse
Author: Colleen Houck
Series: The Tiger Saga #1

Synopsis: “The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.
“But that’s exactly what happened.
“Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.”

Review: ***Spoiler Alert*** I liked this book. I’ve read quite a few other reviews that criticized Houck’s writing. It seems that many other reviewers thought that she provided too much detail, that her characters were flat, and that Kelsey’s fear of intimacy was not realistic. After reading these negative reviews I went back and reread a few passages, and I could see some awkward phrasing and perhaps there was a lot of detail about food. Honestly, when I was reading Tiger’s Curse I didn’t notice any of that. Houck’s story was so well thought out and interesting that I was caught up, hypnotized. I read this novel in a matter of hours and can’t wait for the next one.
Tiger’s Curse had me on an emotional roller- coaster.
Originally I felt sorry for Ren, as a tiger in the circus I imagined that his life must have been very difficult. Then I was angry when they deceived Kelsey. I was excited by the budding romance between Ren and Kelsey. I anxiously turned the pages through their dangerous struggle to undo the curse. I was saddened by Kelsey’s rejection of Ren, because it was obvious to me that they are meant to be together. I may have even shed a tear when I reached the end, turned the page and realized that this book was over. I want a tiger prince!

Publisher: Splinter
ISBN: 978-1402784033

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt (ISBN: 978-0345423610)

Tiger Eye (Dirk & Steele #1) by Marjorie M. Liu (ISBN: 978-0062020154)

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs (ISBN: 978-0441016150)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Upcoming Reviews

Even though I've been really busy with work and school I've been trying to take more time to read for fun because it's relaxing. I'm a little behind on the reviews. There are three books in my "read but not reviewed" pile but I'll get to those soon. I know I usually try to post these upcoming reviews on Sunday, but this weekend is starting to look like it's going to be busy for me so I'm doing it now.

Here's the books I'm planning to read next:

These books all look great!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I think I've been sleepwalking. Not just wandering around the house like a zombie sleepwalking, I'm talking about actually doing stuff while asleep and then not remembering doing it. Since I live alone with only the cat (isn't she gorgeous?) as a witness I have no way of knowing for absolute certain. The evidence that is leading me to suspect my sleepwalking is compelling. About a week ago when I woke up in the morning I discovered the lid on the toilet was up. Now, at the time I blew it off. "I must have just neglected to put the lid down when I used the toilet before bed," I told myself. But it bothered me. I never forget to put the lid down, it's a long time habit. A few days after that I wandered into the living room after getting up in the morning to find three neat stacks of books on the coffee-table. I am one hundred percent sure that these books were neatly put away on the bookcases that line my living room walls before I went to bed.
At this point I was convinced that someone was sneaking into my apartment to use the toilet and read my books while I was sleeping. Even though I always make sure that my apartment is locked up tight before I go to bed and I'm a terribly light sleeper I was sure that these abnormalities were being caused by an outside source. So the next few nights I placed a chair in front of the door to the hallway and hung bells on the curtain that covers the sliding glass door onto the patio. No abnormalities and no ringing bells or falling chairs.
By last night I had decided that maybe I was going crazy and had imagined everything. But I was still taking the precautions of chairs and bells, just in case. This morning there were, once again, books stacked on the coffee-table and there was a yummy looking ham sandwich on the counter in the kitchen. The ham was warm, so I think that it had been laying there for a few hours. Also, this morning I had no clothes on. I went to bed in a t-shirt and sweatpants, I woke up naked.
I'm exhausted, and I've been feeling unusually stressed lately. So much work and school with no days off has started bogging me down. I haven't been reading as much as I usually do, and obviously that is starting to get to me (the stacks of books on the coffee-table is probably a hint from my subconscious mind). I'm going to try to do more reading, and cut back a little on the stress (I'm not sure how yet) and we'll see if that helps with the sleepwalking.

As a thank you for letting me ramble here's a cute sleepwalking video I found on YouTube:

Hard Magic - Review

Title: Hard Magic
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
Series: Paranormal Scene Investigations #1

Synopsis: "My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work -- so off I went.
“Two days later I’m a PUPI – me and Nick, Shannon, Nifty and Pietr. Give twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.
“The fist job we get is a doozy, proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We’re sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.
“Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along.”

Review: When you read as much as I do sometimes stories can all start to blend together. This is especially true with novels of the paranormal. It seems as if every author is writing stories about vampires, werewolves and the ditzy girls who love them. I find myself desperately wishing for something new. Hard Magic made me sit up and pay attention. Finally, a paranormal novel that isn’t about tragic love or alpha males who have to swoop in and save the poor tragic heroine ten times per chapter!
I loved Bonnie and the other members of PUPI. I was a little put off with Bonnie’s situation with her mentor. I wish that Gilman had found a way to allow Bonnie to take care of herself instead of having her mooch off of J for most of the book. It would have been easier for me to see her as a strong young woman if she had been struggling to support herself instead of living in the lap of luxury on J’s dime. Despite this one little downfall (which is just my own personal opinion and may not be a downfall for other readers) I loved this book. Read it!

Publisher: Luna
ISBN: 978-0373803132

Some other original novels of the paranormal you don't want to miss:

Heart of Stone (Negotiator Trilogy #1) by C.E. Murphy (ISBN: 978-0373802920)

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher (ISBN: 978-0451457813)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Catalyst - Review

Title: Catalyst: A Tale of the Barque Cats
Authors: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Series: Barque Cats

Synopsis: “Pilot, engineer, doctor – ship’s cat? Since the early days of interstellar travel, the so-called Barque Cats have become essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Assisted by humans – Cat Persons – with whom they share a deep and loving bond, the Barque Cats are responsible for keeping spacecraft free of vermin, for alerting crews to environmental hazards, and for acting as morale officers.
“But a widespread epidemic affecting livestock on numerous planets throws the felines’ future into doubt. Suddenly the galactic government announces a plan to impound and possibly destroy all exposed animals, including the Barque Cats. With the clock racing against them, a handful of very special kittens and their humans will join forces to save the Barque Cats, and quite possibly the universe as they know it, from total destruction.”

Review: I should know better than to start reading an Anne McCaffrey book at bedtime. I stayed up all night last night reading. Plus, it’s about cats (in case you haven’t noticed I love cats), cats that are in danger. There was no way I could have stopped reading after I started. I became so emotionally involved in this story that even if my apartment had been on fire I would have been reading, holding the book in one hand and my cat in the other, as I ran out. Catalyst is a wonderful novel with vibrant characters that dragged me into the story. It takes a special novel to force me to become emotionally involved. I usually maintain a detached calm (with books and life). I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to buy the next one.

Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0345513779

If you like this book you may want to read:

No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey (ISBN: 978-1557423245)

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (ISBN: 978-0886773786)