Reading is my favorite hobby, hands down. Books are love to me. I am an avid collector, and paper books will always edge out e-books with me.
<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25494267-a-christmas-vow-of-seduction" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="A Christmas Vow of Seduction (Princes of Petras, #1)" src="https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1436129140m/25494267.jpg" /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25494267-a-christmas-vow-of-seduction">A Christmas Vow of Seduction</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3430431.Maisey_Yates">Maisey Yates</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1391087734">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I really did like that Zara was able to keep Andres on his toes and go head to head with him. He was a jerk and his behavior towards others were unconscionable. While I understand he had a rough childhood and acting out became a way to get attention, he's a grown man and he needs to act like it. There was a nice amount of angst and tension in this story and Zara and Andres had great chemistry. I think I would have enjoyed it more if Andres was a touch more likable. It's been a while, but I recall that Zara's backstory was tortured as well. I did feel a lot of sympathy for her and I wanted her to be loved the way she deserved. I liked Andres' colder older brother Kairos a lot, or let's say he intrigued me. I thought there was a story to be told about his marriage. It got me excited to read Kairos's story <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25434325.The_Queen_s_New_Year_Secret__Princes_of_Petras___2_" title="The Queen's New Year Secret (Princes of Petras, #2) by Maisey Yates" rel="nofollow">The Queen's New Year Secret</a>, but I didn't like it as much as this one, sadly. <br /><br />The good chemistry and the angsty storyline made it a <b>3.5 star</b> read for me.
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Her Scottish Wolf by Theodora Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For those looking for an interracial book with shades of Harlequin Presents with a black heroine, this would fit the bill. Good news is it's also a paranormal/werewolf romance.
Grumpy boss (check)
Plain Jane/Shy/Low Profile heroine gets her man and a great life (check)
Angsty angle (check)
Hot, steamy sexy paranormal romance (check)
Hunky hero with Scottish brogue (check)
Office romance (check)
I wasn't sure what to think when this book started. At first, I kinda hated Iain. He was being a total douche to Milly. And when she gives him her reasons why she's quitting, he goes full on a-hole with her. I didn't get him at all. I mean, who says that to someone who gives him that kind of news? It turns out that he had a plan all along, and things weren't how they seemed. His reasons for being a jerk become very apparent. Not an excuse, but there you have it.
There are some consent issues about something if I'm honest. If you've read Bitten, you know what I'm getting at. But it turns out better for Milly.
So that's not the happy ending, no Iain has to spend the rest of the book gaining Milly's trust. She has plenty of reasons not to want to be mated to him. Her life changes hugely, and I think any person in her situation would have had misgivings. I'm glad that she stayed true to herself and didn't lose her identity in the face of a very strong personality like Iain.
I loved the arguments between Milly's friend Tara and Iain's brother Magnus. They were a big source of entertainment, and Tara would go toe to toe with him in a way that Milly didn't with Iain.
For all the angst, there is some good humorous moments with Iain's villages wacky residents. There's some major culture shock for Milly, and Iain has to rearrange his life greatly, but he's got his mate, so that's all that matters.
I'd recommend this book, but we warned that Iain does start the book as a major ahole.
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Her Scottish King by Theodora Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Quite different from the first book in good ways. And more than one twist I did not see coming. Magnus is not exactly likable most of the time. He's really cocky and demanding. I know part of it is being an alpha werewolf and a famous Scottish rugby player. He didn't take Tara's rejection well, sure that they are fated as mates, and not able to understand she is running from their bond. I liked that Tara did have a legitimate reason for not wanting to mate with Magnus, and the reveal is really fascinating. Tara has a lot of layers to her that Magnus had to work to develop. It was good, though. He was used to getting everything he wanted easily. But that's how it works with your mate. While that bond is fated, that doesn't mean that your mate is not worth any effort and emotional commitment. And Magnus had to decide if his pride was worth more than losing his mate (ironically his father faced the same choice).
I liked that this wasn't a predictable book. Werewolf romance has some formula to it (as much as I love it), but Taylor did a good job of keeping things innovative.
It's not a five star because I didn't love Magnus. I really liked Tara a lot and she had a lot of dimensionality and strength to her, beautifully complex.
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This is a collection of four longer novellas in the urban fantasy genre written by a quarter of well-regarded writers that showcases each of their characters in ongoing series. I have actually read two of these already: "The Warrior" by Jim Butcher and "What a Difference a Day Makes" by Simon R. Green. "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" by Kat Richardson and "Noah's Orphans" by Thomas E. Sniegoski are new reads for me. My favorites were "The Warrior" and "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog."
"Changes" is a Harry Dresden story that heavily features Harry's friend Michael Carpenter and his family. It's also about how being a hero is not just taking up a sword. It's a culmination of many small choices one makes everyday in how they interact with people around them. The lesson was really important and the plotting flawless. Short but substantial. 5 stars
"What a Difference a Day Makes" by Simon R. Green doesn't measure up to the other stories in this volume because it doesn't have the deep character development, pathos or growth of the other stories. I say this as a big admirer of Simon R. Green. His work is very good, and it works for what its doing, but his real brilliance shows in his longer work than his shorter work. Having said that, I enjoy Green's noir style and the just plain weirdness of his imagination. This story is good but not great. 3 stars.
"The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" by Kat Richardson is the first I've read by her and I'm a fan. I loved the intricate look into Mexican culture, specifically Dia de los Muertos. Most non-Mexicans don't really get what this is about. It's not a spooky holiday in the way we think about Halloween. It's a deeply meaningful holiday in which people remember and celebrate those they have lost to death. There are some folkloric underpinnings that may not make sense, and probably some aspects that might be a dealbreaker for some people. While the holiday is not spooky, this story is written to have some aspects of the macabre to it. Definitely a ghost story, and it's also about magic, dark and light. I really appreciated this story and I loved the narrator. She did a great job with the Spanish pronunciations and in distinguishing the different voices from one another. 5 stars.
"Noah's Orphans" by Thomas E. Sniegoski is thoughtful and sober storytelling. The concept behind it resonated with me as a Christian who grew up reading the Bible and is acquainted with the Noah's Ark tale. This book has a 'what if' aspect to it that got my mind spinning. Consistent for the rest of the series, but rather joyless. 4 stars.
Overall, a good book, and worth listening to on audiobook.
Ironically the last of this series that I read, but the second book. I listened to this on audiobook and I loved the narrator Xe Sands. Thomas Luca Morgan is a rogue and that's clear from the beginning. I liked that he immediately saw that Maddie wasn't what she was pretending to be. The villain seemed the most heinous in this book to me, especially for some of the people he hires to get rid of Maddy. Just enough seafaring to make the theme fit the title. Great chemistry between the leads, and I like that Maddy is fairly savvy and sassy and stands toe to toe with Thomas/Luca. Hard to say which book is my favorite, they're all great. I think this one stands out because Maddy is cynical enough to handle a guy like Luca and they felt very well matched to me.
Aidan Turner as Thomas Luca Morgan
Kaya Scodelario as Maddy Russell
Reread on Audiobook Fall 2018:
It was great listening to this on audiobook. Xe Sanders is a lovely narrator, with a talent for female and male voices. She endowed Adrian with all the roguish sensuality that his character emanates. She also captures Briony's mix of no-nonsenseness and vulnerability.
Liam McIntyre as Adrian, Lord Kilmartyn
Claire Foy as Bryony Russell
Reread in December 2018/January 2019 on Audiobook:
This was great on audiobook. Xe Sanders has a great voice for both male and female voices. She makes the hero sound purringly sexy and her accents are great too. Listening to this reminded me of how fantastic a writer Anne Stuart is. I can never get enough of her writing.
This is a nice sort of homage to "Like Water for Chocolate" or "Simply Irresistible" but without magic. I love that Sophie's thing is cooking. In the kitchen and in the bedroom with the sizzling hot Alexander. As always the banter and flirting is superb, but then it's an Anne Stuart romance. When all three of the couples (Russell sisters and their spouses/beaus are together, it's magic).
My Casting Choices:
Henry Cavill and Alexander, Lord Griffiths
Clare Bowen as Sophie Russell
I finished writing this review and it got eaten by the computer gremlins. Oh well, here it goes again. I listened to this on audiobook while I was packing up the house this summer, and it greatly improved what was a tedious task. The narration is well done. This series is pretty darn spooky, no pun intended. It's downright scary at times. The narrator lends well to the atmosphere. There's a feeling of the monster lurking in the dark behind every closed door, a sense of paranoia and an urgency not to trust anyone. The storyline enhances that feeling because the monsters lurk in human form. More of the witches storyline in this one, and further development of the relationship between Tom and Alice. Definitely worth a read.
Rogue is a diverting book that has an unconventional hero. Robin Monarch is a thief who worked for the CIA a short while. He has a complicated past that he's running away from but continues to shape his present. This one's recommended to readers who like globe-trotting adventure and political espionage. It kept me on the edge of my seat plenty of times, but I did get the impression that Robin often wasn't the smartest guy in the room. I don't mind heroes who don't have all the answers, but I feel like he made it easy for the bad guys a little too often. I could see the double cross in this book coming 10 miles in advance. Plus, I think Monarch has wretched taste in women, and it continually gets him in trouble. I couldn't stand Lacey. Ugh. I feel like this book is aiming more towards the James Bond kind of spy thriller than a more straightforward action series. If that's what you're looking for, then you'll like this.
The action scenes were pretty good, and like I said, it did have some good suspenseful moments, but it's not up there overall for me as read. More on the average side. I know my opinions are biased because I was also listening to the Orphan X books, and that's about my favorite thriller series right now. On its own, this is a good read, but it doesn't compare to that series at all.
A required read for my Readings in the Graphic Novel class, but it was a fun one. I've never read any of the Captain Marvel books, so I came into this fresh. It's fun to discover this series without any preconceived notions. In the discussion, classmates brought up some issues that I didn't necessary see initially.
I think that this one is geared towards a younger audience than the typical Marvel books, and the writing bears that in mind. The storytelling is a shade simplistic, and the illustrations jump rapidly between panels. The drawings are more sketchlike, lacking a clean rendering and finish. Some classmates thought the creators must have been under a tight deadline, and that's why the final version lacks polish. The conflict seems unfinished, and it was hard to follow exactly who the villain is and what their motives were.
Overall, I liked this a lot. They're some hidden layers to this book that came out on a second read. While the portrayal of Kamala might have been in some way problematic, I still think it's powerful for young Muslim kids to read this book and see someone like them in their superhero books. In these charged times, it's also good for non-Muslim readers who don't know much about what it's like, so they can see that demonization of people who are different or share different beliefs and cultures is wrong. It was also good to Kamala's evolution from being ashamed of being herself, to the degree she wanted to escape her culture and heritage to fit in so badly. Instead, she learns that it's a part of her and it makes her stronger.
The Midwinter Mail-Order Bride by Kati Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Is barbarian fantasy romance a thing? Well anyway, this book was amazing! This is the second book by Kati Wilde I have read and I loved it just as much as the first. Kael the Conqueror won his kingdom the hard way, by killing those who enslaved him. Now, his people want him to be married. They've searched far and wide for a bride, but many woman fear him. Princess Anja of Ivermere offers to be his bride (with some ulterior motives), and she's turned down because Kael believes she can't really want him. Anja does, very much, even though she doesn't understand why. As Kael escorts Anja home through the treacherous, ensorcelled Dead Lands, he comes to realize that he doesn't want to let her go.
Anja is badass, gorgeous and very likable. Kael is HOT and strong and has a secret vulnerability in that he wants to be loved for who he is. I rooted for them to be together ever after.
Kati Wilde is excellent at writing sexual tension. And this book capitalizes on its short length by buying up the tension between Anja and Kael. The reader is treated to the couple falling deeply in love, with some good action and creative fantasy and magic along the way. I hope this is a series, because I would love to read more books set in this world.
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The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to this on audiobook, and it was a lot of fun. The narrator really got into the story and was quite good at the voices. While this is geared to the tween audience, it's plenty enjoyable to older readers, especially those who are really into Greek mythology.
Riordan has found a novel way to reinterpret the Greek myths, adding something and some new ideas that make these ancient legends feel fresh. This was made into a movie, and some aspects follow the book, but there are whole plotlines that didn't make it into the movie.
I especially liked how Percy's brother, Tyson, is introduced, and the evolution of the relationship between Percy and Tyson. Initially, Percy viewed Tyson as a nuisance, but he comes to love and value his half-cyclops brother.
There's plenty of action and magic and stuff that makes these books tons of fun. I recommend getting the audiobook for this if you can.
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The Ice King and the Black Widow
This is my revised review for the book. It's been a while since I read it, but I needed the time to coalesce my thoughts. I am pretty darn disappointed, to be honest. Yeah, I still gave it four stars, and I'll explain why later.
I was loving the first 1/2 or so of the book, and it went downhill shortly thereafter. Trap was an ahole from the beginning but not in an intolerable way. I actually kind of liked him initially. I really enjoyed the banter on the scene at the beginning where the guys are hanging out in the bar. The GhostWalker camaraderie is one of my favorite things about there books. It was pretty fun how Trap was calculating how many peanut shells were on the floor and got the guys involved in, and then Cayenne had come up with her own estimates that were close to his. I felt like they had a pretty good meeting of the minds.
Trap had his moments, but later in the book, he was a serious douche bag. I liked the initial love scenes, but towards the end of the book, the scene on the airplane was just freaking rotten how he treated Cayenne just because she was having a bonding moment with a member of his team and then the sex after that. I don't like any butt play, and I do feel that I was highly disappointed that Feehan chose to spring that on me as a reader. I know most readers don't care about that, but I am not into that and I try to avoid books that have it. A big part of my issues with the sex were his motivations. It was like some sort of possessive/masculine domination/punishment for making Trap feel jealous on the plan. That nearly made me throw the book against the wall. I think Cayenne deserves better. He knew how crappy her life has been. He is very protective of her, but then he seems okay with pulling jerk moves on her. He's a highly intelligent guy, but he acts like he's all testosterone and 100% caveman sometime. Apparently, sex is his main outlet besides his work, so I guess being kinky is part of his nature. The way he's treated his past lovers is questionable, and I'm not saying he gets a pass for it, but i would hope you would get a clue that you don't treat a woman you're suppose to love and adore that way. It's a big deal how he built his house for her and to make a place that she was safe. But then he gives her reasons not to trust and feel safe with him. It's sad because I really wanted to like Trap, but I think he blew it for me with his behavior.
Cayenne, on the other hand, I loved consistently. She was lethal and tough, but also tormented and emotionally vulnerable. I felt bad that she couldn't leave Trap, and although he couldn't leave her, he just needed to treat her better. I normally love the whole fated to be mated thing, but in this book, it seems like a bad thing. I really want to believe that people should be with someone because they are deeply loved in return and there is caring and trust between them.
I'm having a real issue with the escalation of erotic sex tinged with violence in the later books that Feehan is writing. I still love her writing and her books, but I'm really nervous now that she's going to go full bore with the stuff I'm just not into and have no desire to read. I had to skip some scenes in Fire Bound (not between the H/h, but when the bad guys were abusing a woman). I would have to have to start skipping H/h scenes in her books. I enjoy the plotting and the ongoing storylines too much to quit reading her, so my hope is that she doesn't keep escalating with her content. If it comes down to it, I may have to just read the non sex scenes when they get over the top.
I'm still giving this four stars, because I love the GhostWalkers storyline so much, and I really, really enjoyed the first part of the book. I can't give it more because of how much of a cad Trap was and the butt plug stuff (eww).
I gave this four stars, but my feelings about this book are difficult to coalesce down to a simple numeric rating. I read this with my Readings in the Graphic Novel course, and I agree that it is seminal graphic novel/comic reading. However, there are some things about this book that I didn't care for. Ultimately, I would say that like and dislike are not the best terms to apply to it.
"Watchmen" started a whole ripple through comic book/superhero fiction that is still profoundly influential in the many years since it was published. The dark and aheroic/antiheroic superhero/crimefighter motif that subsumed what we know about comic books in the 21st Century can largely be attributed to this book, although Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is also essential. I like darker superhero stories, but some aspects of this one made it hard to sympathize or care for many of the characters. I had to write essays for my class on our readings, and I have some longer opinions on this book that I intend to post on my Goodreads profile under my writings.
This book is very thought-provoking and my class had some very interesting discussions on it. I have to also say that I thought about it for a long time after I finished it. My viewpoint evolved on a few of the characters as well. However, some, I hated to the very end. I could actually write about 20 pages about this book, but I won't. I'll try to coalesce it into a reasonably short review.
"Watchmen" is essentially a murder mystery with masked crimefighters/superheroes. The narrator is extremely atypical, the very questionable person of Rorschach, who is a violent vigilante that wears a hood that changes its expression, much like the Rorschach Test his mask resembles. He is determined to find out who killed Eddie Blake aka The Comedian, an original member of the Minutemen, who later became part of the Crimebusters. He goes to visit other former members: Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II), Jonathan Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) and Laurie Juspescyk (Silk Spectre II), and Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) to warn them that they might be next. Along the way, the reader gets to experience how conflicted the life of a masked crimefighter and/or superhero/villain is. The story is set in an alternate history where Nixon was never caught in the Watergate scandal, the US won the Vietnam War, and in the 1980s, America and the Soviet Union are on the brink of war (the Doomsday Clock frighteningly close to midnight).
Each character has a slightly different perspective of how the passage of the Keene Act made their crimefighting work illegal. Dan and Laurie bond over missing the excitement of it all. Veidt has gone on to build an huge business empire and is a celebrity for his incredible level of fitness. Dr. Manhattan is mostly interested in his research and has become disconnected from human concerns, an issue in his relationship with Laurie, who has been his girlfriend for about twenty years (since she was sixteen).
Intertwined with the overarching story is a subplot about a kid reading a pirate comic. The adventures of the comic protagonist mirror the overall story themes. A huge part of this story is how heroism is not what its cracked up to be. Also, becoming strong enough to achieve a goal can be a path paved with destruction, and in some instances leading to the 'hero' becoming a 'villain'. And really, what is heroism? That's a question posed for every lead character. Since this is a dark, and in some ways, nihilistic-toned work, the answers aren't encouraging. The Comedian is one of the most wretched examples of someone having abilities and using them for bad purposes. The Comedian is an incredibly adept fighter and soldier, but is also very corrupt, acting as a bully, knowing right and wrong but not doing it. He makes excuses for the evil things he does because the world is bad and it's going to burn anyway, essentially. Dr. Manhattan, Jon Osterman is a physicist whose body was obliterated in an accident at the science testing facility where he worked in 1959. When he comes back, it is as a being with seemingly godlike powers that separates him from the rest of the humans he once interacted with, eventually leading to his breakup with his girlfriend. The US government exploits his powers to exercise dominance over other nations (in fact, he's part of the reason that Vietnam surrendered). He's seen and done some of the worst things to other humans, which doesn't help his cynicism about the better parts of humanity. At the point that this story begins, his only tendril of contact is through Laurie. Eventually, that's gone as well when Laurie breaks up with him.
But when it's clear that the world is on the brink of obliteration, Laurie has to convince him to care again.
The more I ruminated about this story, Osterman/Manhattan became more of a sympathetic character to me. He seems the less empathetic, but in some way, he strikes me as feeling more deeply than anyone else. I can completely understand his decision to retreat to a self-built crystal castle on Mars. Sometimes I wouldn't mind having me own, but probably in the mountains in some undiscovered cold part of the world with plenty of snow and ice. People are exhausting. It hurts to care, especially when others aren't all in with you. The circumstances of the accident that gave him his powers were heartbreaking, and he was abandoned to his fate. That's soul-destroying right there. Having said that, he's not off the hook for the questionable things he did and how he treats Laurie.
Ugh, Rorschach. Where do I start? That dude is a bucket of crazy. I feel for what he went through as a child, but it twisted him until he was so broken. All of us are f*&%$! up, but there's no fixing him. He represents the worst of self-righteousness. He's so rigid in his sense of right and wrong that he won't compromise, but then he is bigoted, racist, has poor hygiene and litters in Antarctica. His contempt and mean treatment of his landlady because she has six kids by different men. And he's extremely violent. It's a huge Glass Houses kind of scenario. To me, he is not a hero. He is an antihero, and he's the narrator, but other than the horrors of his childhood, it's really hard to feel sympathetic. While there are parallels between him and other vigilante crimefighters I admire like Batman and Daredevil, his core feels rotten to me. I can't get past that.
Laurie is just plain underwritten. She is interpreted through her relations with the male characters. I am grateful that graphic novels have matured and evolved past this kind of writing, frankly. Laurie could have been a lot more interesting a character if deeper layers to her persona were made available. Just delving into how her stint as Silk Spectre differs from her mother's tenure. How interacting with and in a world of violence has changed from the 30s to the 60s and 70s. Maybe just not stopping at her relationships with men and why her mother and her don't get along.
Dan is honestly a bit on the underwritten side as well. He's written a good-natured guy with a facility with gadgets and a desire for action. His mid-life crisis has to do with missing that sense of purpose and it translates to feelings of inadequacy about not being Nite Owl anymore. Maybe because Moore didn't really know what to do with a guy who is more or less 'normal'.
Veidt is such a sneeringly superior person in his own mind. I can't say too much because I'd reveal some things better left to be read. Suffice it to say that he reminds me of the so-called polite white supremacy that is increasingly in vogue (especially since the 2016 presidential election).
Another issue is the treatment of the GLBTQ characters. Many meet unfortunate ends and their peccadillos are looked at as being unforgivable in a way that being a violent sociopath, bully or rapist are not.
I think a psychology doctoral student could write a hell of a thesis on this book.
There is so much cynicism in this book. It's hard to take in. Some ugliness not easily forgotten. I feel like the psychiatrist who interviews Rorschach in that sense. While I'm not necessarily into the sugary sweet kind of fiction writing, I think it can definitely go the wrong way with the dark and dreary. I'd be a hypocrite to disavow this book. I think it had some insights to give me, and something to offer as far as story and artwork. I gave it four stars because to give less didn't seem fair to me. I couldn't say it was life-changing or a graphic novel that would make the top of my list. I can understand why it would for some though.
So much for a concise review.