Novel Review: Wild & Steamy (Anthology)

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane (see review here) was one of my favorite reads of 2010. I believe I only had 3 books in 2010 which hit my favorite reads that year. Well, when I saw this anthology, I snagged it. I feel like I’ve had it on my to-read list forever, but it’s only been out since August 2011. Before we get to the review, the blurbs from Goodreads:

The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook – An Iron Seas novella of 15,000 words: The search for a killer puts Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth’s life in danger and her assistant, Constable Newberry, in the line of fire. But Newberry faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?

Vixen by Jill Myles – A shifter novella of 15,000 words: Miko’s denied her were-fox nature for far too long and turned her back on her vixen heritage. But when she meets two very sexy cat-shifters, she has to decide if she truly wants to give up on her frisky side, or embrace it. Because the were-fox in her doesn’t want to choose between both men…it wants them both. 

Kitten-tiger & the Monk by Carolyn Crane – A Disillusionists novella of 20,000 words: Sophia Sidway, Midcity’s most dangerous memory revisionist, seeks out the mysterious Monk in the wasteland beneath the Tangle turnpike, hoping for redemption…but it turns out that the Monk is not all that pious, and the turnpike is no turnpike at all.

This anthology was quick enough, I was able to knock it out in a day. Definitely what I needed at the end of 2011. I might make my Goodreads Challenge yet!

The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook ~ My first introduction to a Brook’s work was in the Burning Up anthology. Brook’s work was entitled Here There Be Monsters (see review here). I totally loved her writing style. Later I picked up The Iron Duke (see review here). Though I’m not a fan of detective stories, her writing was still A+.

Once again, Ms. Brooks does an excellent job with bringing her Iron Sea world to life in The Blushing Bounder. Brooks definitely has style when it comes to writing. My biggest gripe with this work was it seemed incomplete. The romance was cold then hot. It really lacked any sort of build up. One moment the heroine was standoffish and completely uninterested. Next thing I knew, she was in love. In my prior experience with Ms. Brook, she presented herself as a STRONG mystery writer. In this story, the mystery lacked substance and was only solved on a basic level. What was the motive?

Vixen by Jill Myles ~ If I’m not mistaken, this was my first encounter with a Jill Myles work. It wasn’t bad and I may or may not look for more of her works. One thing for certain, paranormal romances are a tough sell these days. It seems like everything’s been done. That’s the issue I faced with Ms. Myles’ story. Like I said, it wasn’t a bad read, and still entertaining, but the story lacked freshness and was quite predictable. Still, the sex scene was quite steamy.

One item which has me all twisted is the idea of wild cats with a fox… odd to say the least. I wonder if her other books mix and match like that.

Kitten-tiger & the Monk by Carolyn Crane ~ Of the three stories, Ms. Crane’s work was the weakest. I was actually rather bummed, because she was the main reason I purchased this anthology. Majority of this story was backstory… I wouldn’t be surprised if 75% of it was backstory with the remaining working on the relationship between Kitten-Tiger and the Monk. Even the relationship portion was highly predictable.

One interesting item about this work is it’s in past tense. I remember Mind Games throwing me for a loop when I first started reading it. I don’t recall ever reading a book in present tense before Mind Games. It took some major adapting for me. After reading Kitten-Tiger and the Monk, I kind of wished Ms. Crane had stayed in the present tense. It might have discouraged her from loading the work with backstory.

I’m not sure if Wild & Steamy was a free read when I picked it up, but it might be now. I know it was last week.

 

Sunday Showcase #22

Okay, people. It’s been so long since I’ve done a Sunday Showcase, I don’t even know all I’ve received since the last time. All I know is I’ve collected a LOT of books over the last few weeks. The sad thing about it all is I haven’t taken the time to do any major reading with NaNo in November and working on the latest releases. Anyway… time for the rundown of the ones I remember. 🙂

Eighteen-year-old Jess Bonner is casting off pretense—and, with it, some friends from his past who aren’t particularly trustworthy. In just a few months he’ll be starting college, and it’s time for him to admit the truth: he’s gay, not bi, and only one of his childhood buddies holds any kind of real interest for him. When Dylan Finch, aka Mig, follows his lead and puts some distance between himself and the old crowd, he and Jess give in to a mutual attraction that’s been building for years.

But navigating a fledgling relationship isn’t easy for beginners, and forces they can’t seem to control keep tripping them up: sexual appetite, personal insecurities, fear of discovery, and more. They need clarity. They need courage. Just as they’re on the verge of finding both, a vindictive act of jealousy sends one of them to jail. All their hard-won victories are in danger of falling to dust. The only way to save what they have is to recognize it for what it is . . . and fight for its integrity.

Why I chose it: I totally need to expand my horizons. Really, I’m curious. I’ve never read a straight gay (can you use straight and gay in the same sentence?) YA book. Perhaps with a bit of understanding, I might be encouraged to write Seth Richard’s story. I’ve got a whole lot of reading to do before I can even consider that.

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Why I chose it: This book just plain sounds weird, plus it’s dystopia — my new favorite genre.

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

If someone gave you a chair and said it was made by Jesus Christ, would you believe them?

When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe’s antiques store and gives him a chair she claims was crafted by Jesus, he scoffs. But when a young boy is miraculously healed two days after sitting in the chair, he stops laughing and starts wondering . . . could this chair heal the person whose life Corin destroyed twelve years ago?

As word spreads of the boy’s healing, a mega-church pastor is determined to manipulate Corin into turning over the chair. And that mysterious woman who gave him the piece flits in and out of his life like a shadow, insinuating it’s Corin’s destiny to guard the chair above everything else. But why?

Desperate, he turns to the one person he can trust, a college history professor who knows more about the legend of the chair than he’ll reveal. Corin’s life shatters as he searches for the truth about the artifact and the unexplained phenomena surrounding it. What’s more, he’s not the only one willing do almost anything to possess the power seemingly connected to the chair.

Why I chose it: I’ve really been getting into the Christian genre lately — Amish romances, Christian non-fiction, a bit of Christian fiction here and there. And this one sounds extremely intriguing. A chair Jesus made…. hmmm?

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s battle with cancer. A novel in verse.

Why I chose it: I’m intrigued by cultures other than my own. Some might have read that The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan is my favorite book. My interest in other cultures came about many, many, many (don’t think there’s enough many’s for this but go with me) years ago when I took a Women’s History class. Later, I joined the military and had an opportunity to learn about Korean… There’s a whole other world out there my fellow Americans, and it’s cool. I believe this will be my first Mexican-American book. I’m excited to read how the Mexican-American culture differs from other American cultures.

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide . . .

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won’t let her get away again.

Why I chose it: I’m a Book Depository loyalist. Well, I’ve been waiting and waiting for this book to come in stock at the Book depository ever since I read Halfway to the Grave (review here). It’s been half a year, and it hasn’t happened yet. When my husband asked me if I wanted anything from Amazon, you better believe I hopped on this book!

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can’t tell anybody about what she does they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant.

Why I chose it: I picked up the second two books in the trilogy back when Borders was having their going out of business sale. Well, they didn’t have Wake. Today, we stopped by the Books a Million store which opened in the same shopping center. haha Would you believe the same clerks from Borders are working at Books a Million now? That’s another story. Well, they had Wake in the bargain aisle for more than 1/2 the regular price. Odd, because they also had the same book on the regular shelves for full price. Guess it pays to cruise the bargain bins. 😀

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository

If everyone told you love wasn’t real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Citizens of a six-moon system in our arm of the Milky Way don’t remember Earth, only the History of a generational worldship culture. In their multi-partner society a caste system rules tradition, but the governing body of the Embassy rules everything else. Obsessed with celebrity, beauty, and power, relationships and conceptions are based more on DNA than emotional ties…or should be.

What the citizenry can’t escape are the human feelings of love and jealousy that turn the sterile to honorable suicide, force a couple to make the ultimate sacrifice, and allow rebels to spin their world into a violent revolution.

Ambasadora Sara Mendoza becomes the unwilling face of this revolution. Captured, tortured, and given a second chance at freedom, she proves that sacrifice for the man she loves is more honorable than sacrifice to a society’s antiquated mores.

Why I chose it: Ms. Miller offered me a copy of her book a few weeks ago when she sponsored giveaways here. 🙂 Yep… I’ll be reading my copy along with the winners. Thanks, Ms. Miller!

Available: Barnes & Nobles, The Book Depository, Smashwords

JUSTINE JONES FACES HER ULTIMATE ENEMY: HERSELF

In an attempt to put her unhappy past behind her, Justine Jones throws herself into nursing school and planning her wedding to the man of her dreams. But something is off. Random details aren’t adding up…and is it her imagination, or are her friends and fiancé keeping secrets from her? And what’s with this strange sense of unease, and her odd new headaches?

Justine tries to stay upbeat as Midcity cowers under martial law, sleepwalking cannibals, and a mysterious rash of paranormal copycat violence, but her search for answers leads her into the most dangerous mind game yet.

With the help of unlikely allies, including her paranoid dad and best frenemy Simon, Justine fights her ultimate foe…and unravels the most startling mystery of all.

Why I chose it: I’ve been waiting for this book since I finished the 2nd CLIFFHANGER book in the series (see review here). At last, it’s arrived. You know this book is only available in eBook right now? And for once, the traditional price isn’t outrageous. Well, I picked up my copy, did you?

Available: Barnes & Nobles

 

So… what’s in your wallet? I’m mean… shelf.

 

Julianna Baggott, K.Z. Snow, Jaems L. Rubart, Guadalupe Garcia Mcall, Jeanienne Frost, Carolyn Crane, Heidi Ruby Miller, Lisa McMann, Brodi Ashton

Sunday Showcase #13

Welcome to this edition of the Sunday Showcase. This was a big week for me in terms of purchases. Didn’t spend too much, but gathered quite a few books.

The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook – An Iron Seas novella of 15,000 words: The search for a killer puts Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth’s life in danger and her assistant, Constable Newberry, in the line of fire. But Newberry faces a danger of another kind: to his heart, by the woman forced to marry him. What will it take for this prudish bounder to convince his wife to stay?

Vixen by Jill Myles – A shifter novella of 15,000 words: Miko’s denied her were-fox nature for far too long and turned her back on her vixen heritage. But when she meets two very sexy cat-shifters, she has to decide if she truly wants to give up on her frisky side, or embrace it. Because the were-fox in her doesn’t want to choose between both men…it wants them both.

Kitten-tiger & the Monk by Carolyn Crane – A Disillusionists novella of 20,000 words: Sophia Sidway, Midcity’s most dangerous memory revisionist, seeks out the mysterious Monk in the wasteland beneath the Tangle turnpike, hoping for redemption…but it turns out that the Monk is not all that pious, and the turnpike is no turnpike at all.

Why I Picked It up: I’ve been following Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionist series, so yeah… had to get this one. Plus it has Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas work. I’m all for seeing what Inspector Mina is up to with her iron heart.

So I had $7 in cash when I set out to find birthday presents for my husband on Friday. Not much, but enough to make stopping at the local used book store worth it. 🙂 These were my finds.

National Geographic on Indians of the Americas a color-illustrated Record

Why I Picked It up: I’m fascinated with early Native Americans… before Europeans pushed them onto reservations and such. It’ll be interesting to sift through this one. Cost me a whopping $2. Sorry. This book is an ancient one, and I could find a decent picture. I will say that it looks a bit like an encyclopedia.

Twilight tempted the imagination. New Moon made readers thirsty for more. Eclipseturned the saga into a worldwide phenomenon. And now, the book that everyone has been waiting for…Breaking Dawn, the final book in the #1 bestselling Twilight Saga, will take your breath away.

Why I Picked It up: Mostly for my daughter. She read the first two books. This was cheap ($1), so figured I’d pick it up for her. Now I’ll have to keep a look out for book #3. The other two books I also picked up from the used book store, by the way.

Available at: The Book Depository and Anne Rice returns to the mesmerizing storytelling that has captivated readers for more than three decades in a tale of unceasing suspense set in time past—a metaphysical thriller about angels and assassins.

The novel opens in the present. At its center: Toby O’Dare—a contract killer of underground fame on assignment to kill once again. A soulless soul, a dead man walking, he lives under a series of aliases—just now: Lucky the Fox—and takes his orders from “The Right Man.”

Into O’Dare’s nightmarish world of lone and lethal missions comes a mysterious stranger, a seraph, who offers him a chance to save rather than destroy lives. O’Dare, who long ago dreamt of being a priest but instead came to embody danger and violence, seizes his chance. Now he is carried back through the ages to thirteenth-century England, to dark realms where accusations of ritual murder have been made against Jews, where children suddenly die or disappear . . . In this primitive setting, O’Dare begins his perilous quest for salvation, a journey of danger and flight, loyalty and betrayal, selflessness and love.

Why I Picked It up: I’ve wanted to read this for quite some time. I’m not a huge fan of Anne Rice’s works since she let the vampire and witches series go, but I continue to remain curious about what she writes. Hoping this one is interesting.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Nora Grey’s life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn’t pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He’s more elusive than ever and even worse, he’s started spending time with Nora’s arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadnt been acting so distant. Even with Scott’s totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him – despite her lingering feeling that he’s hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything – and everyone – she trusts.

Why I Picked It up: Last time I went to Walden, I picked up Hush, Hush. When I found this one on the bargain shelf, I was so pumped. Hopefully Hush, Hush and leave me highly motivated to dig into this one.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield’s life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she’s successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat’s worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover’s finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn’t enough, a woman from Bones’s past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat’s about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she’s learned as a special agent won’t help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.

Why I Picked It up: I’ve actually been keeping an eye out for TBD to offer book #2 in paperback. I saw these two available for 1/2 price at Walden and decided to pick them up in anticipation. A bit bummed I couldn’t find book #2. Oh well.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.

Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced . . . even if getting that power will result in an early grave.

Why I Picked It up: Same reason I picked up book #3. 🙂

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

So what about you? Have you taken advantage of any going out of business sales this year?

Novel Review: Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Despite absolutely loving Mind Games (see review here), it took me awhile to get around to ordering Double Cross by Carolyn Crane. I think part of the reason was the lapse in time between the time I read Mind Games and the release of Double Cross. Some of the excitement faded as other new releases hit the shelves. I don’t know why I’m rambling about this. To the blurb!

SOME SECRETS COME BACK TO HAUNT.
OTHERS COME TO KILL…

Justine Jones has lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she’s lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard. He gifts her with extraordinary mental powers-dooming her to fight Midcity’s shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now, serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard – and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity’s new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

As the body count grows, Justine faces a crisis of conscience as she tests the limits of her new powers and faces an impossible choice between two flawed but brilliant men . . . one on a journey of redemption, and the other descending into a pit of moral depravity.

So the saga continues with Justine, my favorite hypochondriac. After reading Double Cross, I have to say, Mind Games is still my favorite in the series. Double Cross wasn’t bad, I think it just lacked the newness I experienced with Mind Games.

Justine was pretty much the same gal from the prior book. It wasn’t until the she was backed into a corner that she put her foot down. I don’t know if I’d call it character growth, but more on the lines that everyone has limits.

She spent a lot of time getting to understand the inner workings of Packard and Otto. In many ways, Double Cross seemed to be more about those two guys than Justine. This time around I learned so much more about the men in her life. The actions they were willing to take in order to come out on top amazed me. I loved them; I hated them. Packard really showed some character growth, while Otto made quite a showing for himself also. Well, I want to go into more detail, but everything which pops into my head is a spolier, so I’ll just leave it at that.

(Sub)plots: The early parts of the novel reintroduced me to the secondary characters. Definitely something I needed considering how long it’d been since I’d read Mind Games, even if it did make for a slow start. I’d say the subplots were mostly setups for the grand finale which ended in a cliffhanger. And what cliffhanger it was. When Justine was saying, “Oh my God” so was I. 🙂 I’m more than curious to know how this trilogy will end.

A couple of my favorite lines:

  • “If you ignore me and nobody’s there to see it, are you really ignoring me?”
  • “Sometimes you have to be a bad person to save yourself, and it takes a little chunk out of your soul, but you do it anyway.”

So like I said, I didn’t like it as much as Mind Games, but it was still pretty decent.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes