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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year!
May your cup runneth over and your resolutions be attainable.
Party hard, party safe
See you in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Paranormalcy' by Kiersten WHITE

From the BLURB:

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Putting the ‘normal’ in ‘paranormal’

Evie has a fairly typical life. She has an annoying ex-boyfriend who won’t leave her alone, an amazing best friend and a serious obsession with TV show ‘Easton Heights’. Never mind that the ex is a fairie, the best friend a mermaid and Evie lives in a reform centre for paranormal’s. Yeah, totally normal.

Evie may only be sixteen, but she is fairly high-ranking at the International Paranormal Containment Agreement, IPCA. Because of Evie’s ‘gift’ she has the job of bagging and tagging everything from vampires to werewolves, trolls to hags and bringing them to the IPCA for reform and rehabilitation. Because Evie’s gift is very useful to the IPCA – she can see through glamour’s. No vamp or werewolf can hide from Evie, and that makes her invaluable.

But one day there’s a break-in at IPCA headquarters – a shapeshifter boy called Lend who can be anyone’s Döppelganger tries to steal the IPCA’s information about a slew of paranormal deaths. . . and suddenly Evie’s dreams of normal adolescent behaviour is rudely interrupted.

Rehabilitate your Imagination

I absolutely loved ‘Paranormalcy’. I was only a few chapters into this seriously cool book when I knew that I had discovered a favourite new YA series. . . ‘Paranormalcy’ is the first in what will be a trilogy, with second book ‘Supernaturally’ coming out this in fall 2011.

The concept is very unique and Evie is a protagonist like no other. The story takes place mostly in and around the IPCA headquarters, the only stable home life Evie has ever known. She is constantly surrounded by rehabilitated paranormal beings and the humans who ‘monitor’ them. Evie believes herself to be a human with unique gifts, until a slew of paranormal murders and a facility break-in leads Evie to discover some unsettling truths about who (and what) she is. . .
I felt like my mind had short-circuited. I always knew I was weird. But I figured I was a normal human who could do something paranormal. Not a paranormal who could do some things human.
“Evie,” Lish said, waiting until I met her eyes. “You have always known you were different. Do not let this change the way you see yourself. IPCA is – ” She paused and then moved closer to the glass. “IPCA is not always right about everything. You are not paranormal.” She smiled at me, sadness behind her wide, green eyes. “You are special. There is a difference.”

I loved the IPCA centre setting. Evie is surrounded by high-tech gadgetry and characters from childhood fairytales. Her tutor is a werewolf, her best friend is a mermaid and everybody travels via faerie portals. Brilliant! The IPCA centre has a ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Heroes’ feel to it and offered an utterly fascinating landscape.

Epic Love

Evie’s world is shaken-up by a shapeshifter boy called Lend. Lend is a Döppelganger, able to shift forms to look like anyone. . . except Evie is never fooled because she can see through glamour’s, even Lend’s. Lend may be able to ‘lend’ other people’s faces, but Evie is always able to see his watery-self below the surface. And actually, his almost invisible face is really cute, and as the only other seventeen year old in the IPCA centre, Evie gets quickly attached to Lend and his tales of normal human life. . . like high school lockers and proms.

Lend and Evie are easily one of my favourite YA couples, seriously! These two are so cute. I knew from the get-go that these two would be special – Lend as the boy without a face of his own, and Evie the only girl who can see the real him. So freakin sweet! Evie has never had a proper boyfriend (a psychotic faerie doesn’t count!) and Lend is the first boy she has been able to try her flirting techniques out on. Likewise, Lend has never felt himself around anybody (for obvious reasons) but finds himself being open with Evie since he can never hide himself from her. . . *sigh*. These two have a very tender and sweet romance that is no less epic for the gentility of their affections.

Damn Faerie’s!

Evie has another ‘boy’ on her plate. . . her ex, faerie Reth. Reth is cold and smothering in his affections and attentions towards Evie. Regardless of his creepiness, I did find myself oddly fascinated by him. Faerie’s are, by nature, elusive and secretive. Reth drops a few hints throughout ‘Paranormalcy’, and while I’m sure I was supposed to be freaked out by him, I found myself intensely interested in his role in the next book. Hmmm. . .

Make light

The cover hints at a slightly darker, gothic book than ‘Paranormacly’ actually is. Yes, Evie is an orphan in the middle of a killing rampage and government conspiracy. . . but she’s also funny! Evie is obsessed with the TV show ‘Easton Heights’, has a taser called Tasey, wears copious amounts of pink and replaces swear-words with the word ‘Bleep’. She’s a modern Buffy, complete with all the witty trimmings and bubbly attitude. I really loved Evie because while she’s fun and flirty on the outside, on the inside she’s battling some serious demons. . .

Wear your Heart on your Sleeve

Evie is very up-front about her problems. She’s lonely, and feels like all her life no one has ever wanted her (her parents abandoned her at the age of three, and she went through the foster care system until IPCA discovered her at the age of eight). Evie is very open about having nobody in her life beyond the IPCA, and how she craves Lend’s normal family life and his typical teen behaviour. White has definitely written Evie’s heart on her sleeve – and sometimes I wished that, as a reader, we’d had to work harder to know her fears and weaknesses. That being said – I thought Evie’s personal obstacles were fascinating, and very relatable teen problems (if, heightened). Evie just wants to fit in – she wants normal and she wants to be wanted. There’s real heart in this character, distilled in those very wants. . . and I think her cravings for family and normalcy will be an interesting grapple throughout the next two books.

To Read is to Obsess

‘Paranormalcy’ is a blockbuster new YA paranormal read. A kick-butt heroine, epic romance and conniving faeries. . . this book has everything! Evie is an adorable teenage protagonist, and her romance with Lend is swoon-worthy. There’s action, conspiracy and destiny that coalesces into a thrilling plot and unforgettable debut book. White’s ‘Paranormalcy’ series is my new obsession, and I can’t wait for second book ‘Supernaturally’.

5/5

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Crave' A Novel of the Fallen Angels #2 by J.R. WARD

From the BLURB:

Seven deadly sins. Seven souls that must be saved. One more no-holds- barred battle between a fallen angel with a hardened heart and a demon with everything to lose.

Isaac Rothe is a black ops soldier with a dark past and a grim future. The target of an assassin, he finds himself behind bars, his fate in the hands of his gorgeous public defender Grier Childe. His hot attraction to her can only lead to trouble-and that's before Jim Heron tells him his soul is in danger. Caught up in a wicked game with the demon who shadows Jim, Isaac must decide whether the soldier in him can believe that true love is the ultimate weapon against evil.

Here we go Again

‘Crave’ is the second book in JR Ward’s ‘Fallen Angels’ series.

Okay. So it’s no secret that I wasn’t thrilled with the first book ‘Covet’. I went into this second book with big trepidation, and actually put-off reading it for three months. But I finally got around to tackling this worrisome sequel and overall I've got to admit, it’s not bad. . . it’s not great, but it’s not bad either.

I really don’t know how to do this review without spoilers of both ‘Covet’ and ‘Crave’, so don’t read on if you’re not up-to-date with those pesky Fallen Angels. . .

In this second instalment dead soldier and newborn angel, Jim Herron, is assigned to one of his fellow XOps army buddies in a bid to save his soul and win the ultimate game of Good VS. Evil. Isaac Rothe is going to be a hard nut to crack – he’s on the run from his ex-XOps captain, Matthias, and living on the mean streets to do it. Isaac has been street-fighting to make a living. Unfortunately the evil demon she-bitch, Devina, is also after Isaac and determined to claim his soul for hell. . .

But before either Jim or Devina can make a play for Isaac, he is swept up by the Caldwell police department and assigned a state’s attorney to plead his attempted manslaughter charge. Isaac is assigned to the beautiful and leggy Grier Childe, a well-to-do lawyer with a killer closer and a ghostly brother haunting her.

Grier is reluctantly drawn to Isaac, despite his thug behaviour and lethality. But then Matthias realizes he can use Grier to threaten Isaac, and suddenly the bid for his soul becomes a 50/50 even-split between heaven and hell.

You had me at ‘Ma’am’

I wasn’t too thrilled with the hero of ‘Covet’, Vin DiPietro - I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t rate him either. Isaac Rothe is another story. . . he’s a Southern Gentleman dripping with country drawl and impeccable manners. But underneath Isaac’s swagger is a lean, mean, killing machine. I loved his duality and sheer toughness. Even more so because he was able to switch it off with Grier. The second he lays eyes on his leggy lawyer Isaac is enthralled, and he treats Grier with the utmost respect, gentleness and care. He was very much a (Black Dagger) brother in that way, and I loved him for it.
“Okay.” He tightened her first and drew her arm back over her shoulder. “Take it out on me.”
“What - ”
“Hit me. Tear my eyes out. Do anything you have to.”
“Are you mad?”
“Yes. Insane.” He dropped his hold on her and braced his weight, staying close. . . close enough so she could cork him a good one if she wanted to. “I’ll be your punching bag, your Kevlar vest, your bodyguard. . . I’ll do anything to help you get through this.”
“You’re crazy,” she breathed.
Grier was the perfect match to Isaac. She’s ballsy and beautiful. She is initially wary of Isaac’s hardness, but quickly enraged by his seeming death-wish. I loved that she called him out for his stupidity and never backed down. These two were combustible and hot on the page. . . and it goes without saying that Grier kicked Marie-Terese’s hyphenated-ass!

Within Temptation

I didn’t really care for the entire angel aspect of ‘Covet’. . . which is a sore point in a series called ‘Fallen Angels’. I’m still not a fan of the Warden’s interpretation of Heaven (an angel called Nigel and an ongoing croquet tournament. . . puh-leeze!). But I am warming to the Warden’s feathered friends. Jim Herron is assisted by his angel buddies Adrian Vogel and Eddie Blackhawk. I didn’t think a whole lot of these two in ‘Covet’, because I didn’t think they were given enough page-time for reader’s to get to know them. Well, that changes in ‘Crave’. . . not only do we get an idea of their tag-team efforts, but we are given insights into their ongoing twisted torment, courtesy of Devina. These two are growing on me, Adrian especially, and I look forward to reading their progression (especially since now I know how much emotional and mental baggage that are lugging around!)

Good girls go to Heaven,
Bad girls go Down

I actually like Devina as a ‘bad-guy’. She is the female BDB equivalent of Lash, in that she’s the continuous villain throughout the series (I assume?) and we read her interiority. I am not a big fan of the ‘Mr. X’ & ‘Mr. O’ villainous sub-plots of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, I tend to skip over those interiorities and get the gist of their plot from the Brother’s side of things. It wasn’t until Lash came on the scene that I actually started reading and investing in those sinister side-stories. Devina is similar to Lash, because we are getting a progression of her character. . . from her back-seat romp with Jim in ‘Covet’, to her increasing infatuation with him in ‘Crave’. I like reading that evil progression, mapping the villainous character-arc is more interesting than the usual throw-away side stories in BDB. And Devina is truly sinister. She is a mind-fuck female who will stop at nothing to degrade and derange her angel foe. And her torture technique is. . . horrible. That’s all I can say. . . horrible!

His Girl

I also wasn’t a big fan of Jim Heron in ‘Covet’. . . another sore point since he’s the only mainstay character in the series. But Jim grew on me in ‘Crave’ – it was partly due to the fact that Devina puts him through the ringer and I felt awful for him. It was also the appearance of a character that I hope will be either a main in the third book, or an ongoing character in the series. Cecilia ‘Sissy’ Barten appeared briefly in ‘Covet’, as Devina’s virginal sacrifice. Jim stumbles across Sissy while he’s in the bowels of hell, and he is determined to save her. . . I was instantly intrigued by Sissy and her plight, and even more so by Jim’s reaction to her (calling her ‘his girl’ and being horrified when she sees his tortured body). I really hope that the Warden returns to Sissy’s story, because I was instantly captivated by her.

Second Act Downfall

I did like ‘Crave’ better than ‘Covet’. But the last 100 pages or so of the book went a little haywire for me. . . The action of the story is restricted to Grier’s house, and I found the claustrophobic setting a little tedious and boring. The action just sort of patters out, and the romance is set to fizzle instead of sizzle, with a hasty wrap-up that’s full of sickening schmaltz. It did feel like a very rushed ending, and there was no real cliff hanger to ensure that readers come back for number three (aside from my curiosity pique concerning Sissy).

All in all, the finale was not JR Ward’s greatest, but overall the ‘Fallen Angels’ series is growing on me (slowly). I would have given this book a 4/5, or even a 5/5 if the romance had maintained the spark and the ending hadn’t been such a dud. As it is. . .

3.5/5

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Most Anticipated Books...


JANUARY

‘Blood Challenge’ World of the Lupi #7 by Eileen Wilks

I really didn’t like ‘Blood Magic’, mostly because I wanted more Lily & Rule scenes and a focus on their relationship, and I didn’t get it. I have slightly higher hopes for this seventh novel though, mostly because the blurb appears to promise what I wanted from ‘Blood Magic’. Wilks writes action and intricate magic plots like no other, but I need some emotional/romantic pay-off to balance it out, hopefully ‘Blood Challenge’ delivers on that front.

Across the Universe’ by Beth Revis

Thanks to Penguin I got an advanced copy of this novel. . . and I am here to tell you that it is good. . . so very, very good! The first book in a trilogy from debut author Beth Revis, ‘Across the Universe’ is an epic and exhilarating space drama that is also a whodunit murder mystery. There’s also a very tender romance at the book’s centre, and a fantastic cliff-hanger at the end. This is a stunning novel, and an absolute must-read in 2011!

‘Crossed’ Void City #3 by J.F. Lewis

I read first book ‘Staked’ this year and fell head-over-heels in love with this unconventional series. Void City is a series of anti-heroes, blood, sex and gore. It is definitely on the darker end of the Urban Fantasy spectrum, but with heavy doses of black/gross-out humour. J.F. Lewis is a genius, Eric is a jerk and I love these books!

FEBRUARY

‘Iron Crowned’ – Dark Swan #3 by Richelle Mead

Fans have had a long wait for this third book. The last we saw Eugenie in 2009 she and Dorian were on the dawn of a fae battle. Richelle Mead has warned readers that, like all of her books, things for our heroine have to get worse before they can get better. Be prepared! We know what Ms. Mead has done to Georgina in her series, I can only imagine what sort of vicarious turmoil she intends to put reader’s through with Eugenie...

‘The Queen’s Lady’ Tudors Historical Romance #2 by Eve Ewards

I loved the first book ‘The Other Countess’. Ms. Edwards is blending steamy romance with epic historic settings and fascinating young characters.

‘This Side of the Grave’ – Night Huntress #5 by Jeaniene Frost

It feels like AGES since we’ve had a Cat & Bones book. ‘Destined for an Early Grave’ came out in 2009, and in 2010 we’ve had the two spin-off books about Spade and Mencheres. We got cameos of Cat & Bones, but nothing’s gonna beat a book dedicated to this hot vampire twosome! I look forward to reading about how their relationship has changed (/gotten hotter) since Cat got fully-vamped! I am also really looking forward to the new Vlad spin-off series! YAY! VLAD BOOKS! I am super-psyched about the plethora of Jeaniene Frost books coming out in 2011/2012. . . fingers-crossed for an Ian spin-off too!

Pale Demon 'Rachel Morgan: The Hollows' #9 by Kim Harrison

Okay, so I didn’t love ‘Black Magic Sanction’, but I still count ‘The Hollows’ as one of my all-time favourite Urban Fantasy series. I think my problem is that Ms. Harrison’s series is epic – with ‘Pale Demon’ we’re going to be nine books deep, with Harrison contracted for a final of 12/13 books by series end. But as a reader at the ninth instalment I’m getting frustrated with the lack of romantic development between Ivy and Rachel, I want something to happen plot-wise with Trent and I’m disheartened by Rachel’s merry-go-round of throw-away love interests. So I’m going into ‘Pale Demon’ with a sceptical heart...

‘How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf’ by Molly Harper

When I heard that Ms. Harper was writing a new paranormal romance series I had a mild fan-girl freak-out (that is to say I did a happy dance around the house... and possibly imitated a werewolf howl, but I admit nothing!). Plus in 2011 we get. . . drum-roll please. . . A FOURTH JANE JAMESON BOOK! *squeeeeeeeeeeee*

MARCH

‘River Marked’ – Mercy Thompson #6 by Patricia Briggs

I. Can’t. Wait! The ‘Mercy’ book is always my most anticipated each year. A lot changed in ‘Silver Borne’ – mainly that Mercy shifted from ‘loner’ to ‘pack’ and took her rightful place by Adam’s side. I really look forward to how her change in situation impacts her world. But more than anything I want to read about Mercy & Adam being loved-up!

‘The Dark and Hollow Places’ by Carrie Ryan

A new Carrie Ryan book is always a good thing. Ryan has written a chilling post-apocalyptic world which is beautifully balanced by a very heated romance.

'Lover Unleashed' - Black Dagger Brotherhood #9 by JR Ward

The new Black Dagger Brotherhood book is always most anticipated... but I think JR Ward will have a tough road ahead with this ninth instalment. ‘Lover Mine’ was John Matthew’s book and therefore one of the most anticipated BDB instalments, ever! ‘Lover Unleashed’ is Payne and Mannie’s book... two characters that readers know virtually nothing about, as both are fairly new introductions. I’m not saying that JR Ward can’t pull it off, I’ll just be very curious as to *HOW* she pulls it off. All I hope is that Layla doesn’t make much of an appearance, Trez & iAm feature heavily and Qhuinn/Blay get another fantastic side storyline (and their very own novella soon!).

‘The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf’ by Molly Harper

Have I mentioned that I worship at the writer-alter of Molly Harper? I bow-down to her quick-wit and supernatural steaminess. . . and two books in a brand-spankin new paranormal romance series is almost sensory-overload. . . almost. You can’t have too much of a good thing when it comes to Molly Harper.


APRIL

‘Alien in the Family’ – Katherine ‘Kitty’ Katt #3 by Gini Koch

This is one of my favourite series of 2010, hands-down incredible. I salute Gini Koch and her space operatic magnificence! I can’t wait for more Kitty & Martini in all their alien butt-kicking, heavy metal glory. And isn’t this cover absolutely STUNNING? Seriously, I know Daniel Dos Santos is a cover-genius but he has really outdone himself with this one. It’s like crack for my eyes, and my eyes appreciate the hit.

‘Rock Hard’ Sinners on tour #2 by Olivia Cunning

I loved the first book ‘Backstage Pass’ and can’t wait for the rest of the series (five books in total!) I just love the fact that Ms Cunning has filled an erotica-void I never even knew existed – ROCKSTARS! It’s so obvious, and yet so unique. I wish the release-dates were closer together, but I’ll take what I can get from these Sinners. . . yum!

Red Glove 'Curseworkers #2' by Holly Black

White Cat’ was incredible, with an intricately woven plot, complex antagonists and compelling anti-hero’s. I was blown away by Holly Black, and can’t wait for the follow-up.

‘Mona Lisa Eclipsing’ Monere: Children of the Moon #5 by Sunny

Last year Sunny hinted that she was done with her paranormal erotica series, ‘Monere: Children of the Moon’. I was disappointed, especially because the last book, ‘Mona Lisa Darkening’ left so much hanging in the balance and was in no way a series finale. So I was *THRILLED* to learn that Sunny was coming back for more with a fifth ‘Monere’ book. . . this may be the last book ever, but if that’s the case then I’m at least glad that Sunny is going to give fans a proper send-off.

The Gathering 'Darkness Rising #1' by Kelley Armstrong

So, this is the new spin-off of the ‘Darkest Powers’ YA trilogy. Chloe and the gang won’t feature in this new trilogy (but I’m assuming that they might be referenced?). ‘Darkness Rising’ is about a new crop of Edison Group kids on the run from the organization who created them. Kelley Armstrong is always a crowd-pleaser, but when she broke away from the adult Urban Fantasy and wrote for YA she really showed her brilliance. I am so pumped for this new series because I know I’m going to love it as much as ‘Darkest Powers’.

MAY

‘Bite Club’ Morganville Vampires #10 by Rachel Caine

I am a huge ‘Morganville Vampires’ fan-girl, and ‘Ghost Town’ whet my appetite for more Morganville-goodness. . . I love the fact that Claire and Shane are very open and lovey-dovey since Claire ‘came of age’. I’m curious about Amelia/Oliver (wrong as that sounds). I kind-of-don’t-but-really-do want to know about Myrnin’s possible crush on Claire. . . I basically just want more, more, more Morganville!

Blood Law’ by Karin Tabke

I really loved Tabke’s ‘Blood Sword Legacy’ books when I read them this year. So I am beyond thrilled to learn that Ms Tabke has a new trilogy coming out in 2011. . . It’s paranormal romance, all about a Lycan war and two brothers in the middle of the conflict – sounds fantastic! Trust me, Karin Tabke writes romance and smut like it’s nobody’s business. . . so her foray into paranormal romance is going to be SMOKING HOT! Bring it on!

War Cry 'Chronicles of the Warlands #4' (Elizabeth Vaughan)

I really loved Vaughan’s ‘Chronicles of Warlands’ series – it was a very different fantasy than I’m used to reading, but it was exhilarating and romantic and I loved them. I honestly thought that the series was over with third book ‘Warlord’, so I was really shocked to hear about a fourth book coming out in 2011! YAY! One minor complaint I had about the series was the lack of smutty goodness. . . but this cover is giving me high-hopes for a smut infection in this new instalment! And while I’m on the cover. . . doesn’t the model bear a striking resemblance to Channing Tatum?


‘Dead Reckoning’ Sookie Stackhouse #11 y Charlaine Harris

Hmmm. . . I liked the last book ‘Dead in the Family’. . . but I haven’t *really* loved a Sookie Stackhouse book since #7, ‘All Together Dead’. I miss the chase between Sookie and Eric. I miss Bill trying to win Sookie back. I miss Alcide when he wasn’t a douche-bag (Joe Manganiello helps). But lately, it feels like Ms Harris’s ‘Sookie’ books have been a little all over the place. Harris keeps saying that Sookie hasn’t met her HEA yet, but she knows who it’s going to be. So basically, fans know that Sookie and Eric aren’t soulmates, and we’re all just waiting for them to come to an end. It makes reading the books a little. . . empty, of late. And it’s hard when Ms Harris doesn’t know when the series will be over– she says she doesn’t know how many Sookie books she will write. And, presumably, she won’t pull this mysterious HEA out of the bag until the end is in sight. Grrr.
I love this series, so I will keep reading. But lately I've been going into the new Sookie instalments with trepidation and lowered expectations.

‘Magic Slays’ Kate Daniels #5 by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds’ was so amazing, and I have absolutely no doubt that ‘Slays’ will be just as fantastic. I know that Ilona Andrews will come out with ass-kicking for Kate and head-rolling for Curran. . . but what I really, badly want from this fifth instalment is some gooey Kate/Curran goodness! *squee* I want them to be all luuuuuurved up and smutty!

JUNE

Hunt the Moon 'Cassie Palmer #5' (Karen Chance)

There was no new ‘Cassia Palmer’ in 2010 because Ms. Chance was recuperating from an illness that left her behind schedule with her series. But she’s back in 2011 and fans are excited to the nines! I am especially tingly at the prospect of a Cassie/Pritkin/Mircea love triangle – since Pritkin and Cassie had interesting romantic developments in ‘Curse the Dawn’. And if that sexy cover is anything to go by, this instalment may very well be filled with ‘oh la la’ love!

‘Kitty’s Big Trouble’ Kitty Norville #9 (Carrige Vaughn)

I’m going into this new instalment with the hopes that *something* happens between Kitty and Cormac. PLEASE! I really didn’t like ‘Kitty Goes to War’ because nothing much happened – with plot, characters or emotional relationships. At this point in the series, I need Kitty to acknowledge the tension between her and Cormac. . . and for Ms. Vaughn to admit that maybe Ben and Kitty are stagnating and boring. Basically, I just hope for more Cormac!

JULY

In The Heat of the Bite by Lydia Dare

So it seems like the werewolf portion of Lydia Dare’s historical paranormal romance series is over. Now it’s onto the vampyres. . . YAY! We got a little teaser of the vamps in ‘Taming of the Wolf’ and I am intrigued, to say the least.

Forever "Wolves of Mercy Falls #3" by Maggie Stiefvater

ARGH! I don’t want it to end but at the same time I want it so, so bad. The glorious red cover of ‘Forever’ looks lush and after the cliff-hanging events of ‘Linger’ I am dying to know how it all ends for Sam, Grace, Cole and Isobel. I want, I want, I want! But I have a feeling that Ms. Stiefvater is one author who doesn’t mind a not-so happy-ending and that has me gnashing my teeth in nervousness.

Blood Work "The Hollows Graphic Novel" (Kim Harrison)

I loves me a graphic novel! I’m a big fan of the Mercy Thompson adaptations and adored Diana Gabaldon’s ‘The Exile’.
So I am once again super-excited that one of my all-time favourite series’ is getting the adaptation treatment. ‘Blood Work’ has been penned by Ms Harrison and is a recounting of the first book in ‘The Hollows’ series, ‘Dead Witch Walking’. But ‘Blood Work’ will mostly be told from Ivy’s perspective. I’m a HUGE Ivy/Rachel shipper, so I look forward to reading/seeing Ivy’s first impressions of our red-headed witch. . .

AUGUST

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron 'Mackenzies #3' by Jennifer Ashley

I didn’t love ‘Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage’, but ‘The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie’ is still a favourite and stands as one of the best historical romances I have ever read. And the sneak-peak of Cameron’s book has me very intrigued... even if it’s Hart’s story that I really, desperately want to read.

Let it Bleed 'WVMP Vampire Radio #4' by Jeri Smith-Ready

I don’t know if things can get better than ‘Bring on the Night’ (and all its Zombie-cheerleading magnificence), but if there’s one author who can deliver an impressive follow-up it will be Jeri Smith-Ready. WVMP is one of the greatest Urban Fantasy series in the history of ever and I always look forward to more, more, more!

Vampire Academy Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead

I am obsessed with Richelle Mead. ‘Vampire Academy’ is my drug of choice and a graphic adaptation is a drug-fuelled dream come true. I am ridiculously excited to see a picture-representation of Dmitri and to read/see certain pivotal scenes.
There’s also a graphic novel of ‘Storm Born’ coming out, (date TBA) and the graphic representations of Eugenie look fantastic and smokin’! (seriously, she has P!nk abs - *drool*!)

Bloodlines ‘Vampire Academy spin-off’ by Richelle Mead

I have to admit; knowing that Ms. Mead was contracted for a Vampire Academy spin-off lessened some of the climaxes and drama of ‘Last Sacrifice’. . . but I have been anticipating this series for a good long time now. Having now read Rose’s last instalment, readers know who the cast of the spin-off will be, and we can also anticipate a delicious new romance with a fan-favourite who got a pretty bum deal in ‘Last Sacrifice’. . . I can’t wait!

SEPTEMBER

Succubus Revealed 'Georgina Kincaid #6' by Richelle Mead

Ahhh... Georgie, Georgie, Georgie. This series is rough – I love it to death, but Richelle Mead doesn’t pull any punches with the emotional side of things. Georgie is a glorified prostitute (with a heart of gold) and she has been down on her luck for a while now. She’s had the love of her life cheat on her, dated psychotic warlock’s and been stalked by a half-angel from hell. But at the end of ‘Succubus Shadows’ things were looking up on Georgina’s romantic front... but I am nervous going into this, the final Georgina Kincaid book. This is it, the swan-song and I am dying to know how it all ends while also terrified that Richelle Mead is going to sucker-punch fans with a sad ending. I want it, but I’m scared to read it! Please, Ms Mead, don’t hurt me. . . I mean, Georgina. Don’t hurt Georgina!

‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ by Stephanie Perkins

This is the ‘companion novel’ to Perkins’ debut, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’. I absolutely and unashamedly loved ‘Anna’ and am now convinced that anything Perkins writes I will be subsequently obsessed with. Bring on this YA contemporary romance!

‘Untitled Downside’ #4 by Stacia Kane

I can’t wait to revisit Downside! There’s no set release date yet for the continuing adventures of Chess Putnam. . . Kane has guesstimated a Fall 2011 release for book #4, and Spring 2012 for book #5. Honestly, I’m not too fussed about the wait between releases. . . because I have complete faith in Ms. Kane. I loved the first three books in the ‘Downside’ series, and I know the next three books will only get darker and better. All I really want is more Chess/Terrible goodness and possibly to read Chess’s sobriety (but I won’t hold my breath!).

Alpha & Omega #3 by Patricia Briggs

I love this series so much, almost as much as ‘Mercy Thompson’. It was hard going through 2010 without an Alpha & Omega release. . . but maybe the anticipation will make the third instalment all the sweeter. I can’t wait for more Charles & Anna gooeyness!

‘Supernaturally’ Paranormalcy #2 by Kiersten White

I really loved White’s first novel in the ‘Paranormalcy’ trilogy, and can’t wait for book number two (release date TBA). I am a total Evie/Lend shipper and I can't wait to see how much more awesome Evie's normal/paranormal life can get. I also really love the cover art of this series, check out this link to see a glimpse of the cover model at work.

NOVEMBER

Crossed by Ally Condie

Ally Condie’s novel ‘Matched’ appeared on my 2010 favourite’s list. It was such an amazing book and a revelatory YA read. . . and luckily, it was the first book in a trilogy. ‘Crossed’ is the second book in that trilogy and I cannot wait! I hope we get more about Cassia and Ky!

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Dracula in Love' by Karen ESSEX


Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula's beautiful, eternal muse, Mina - the most famous woman in vampire lore - vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and Count Dracula through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers.

Mina's gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into Victorian England's dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries and terrifying asylum chambers, revealing the dark secrets and mysteries locked within. Time falls away as she is swept into a mythical voyage far beyond mortal comprehension, where she must finally make the decision she has been avoiding for almost a millennium.

Historical novelist extraordinaire, Karen Essex, takes Stoker’s story and infuses new life into the old work.

The story opens with a promise from Mina Harker to the reader. The year is 1897, and in the wake of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ story being released, Mina wants to set the record straight and tell her side of events, lest Stoker’s fanciful imagination carry the truth away with time and embellishment. . .

The year is 1890, and Mina Murray (soon to be Harker) awaits the return of her fiancée from his work with an Austrian Count in Styria. Alone and pining for Jonathan, Mina starts to have wild and wonderful dreams – dreams of a strange man who she has never forgotten, but cannot remember. He is a man from her childhood, one who watched over her and kept her safe. Now he has returned to make appearances in her most carnal dreams. . . even when she ventures to Whitby and calls upon her dear friend, Lucy Westenra, the handsome stranger follows Mina’s dreams and waking fantasies.

We all know the story of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, whether from watching the various adaptations or reading the cliff-notes. The Irishman’s story is even more widely known today when the paranormal romance genre has gripped the hearts and imaginations of reader’s everywhere, and people venture back to the beginning of the vampire legend.

Karen Essex has imbued Stoker’s original story with fascinating folklore and heightened sensuality. Our protagonist is Mina Murray – an Irish orphan working as a teacher at a Ladies college when her life tumbles out of her control. With her fiancée’s absence comes hidden memories from Mina’s childhood, a sensuous stranger she can’t stop yearning for and secrets within herself she can no longer deny.

I will warn that a good portion of the book is in suspense as we await Mina coming face-to-face with the Count. She is visited by him in her dreams and remembers him from her past. . . but the first 100 pages or so details Mina awaiting Jonathan Harker’s return and her repressed London life. Essex imbues the first half of the novel with delicious suspense that reads like foreplay for Mina and Dracula’s anticipated meeting. . .

And when Mina does finally meet her monster, it is spectacular.

The real focus of this retelling is Mina herself, and Essex writing new and fascinating dimensions to the unwitting heroine of Stoker’s tale. And so, a big focus of ‘Dracula in Love’ is Essex explaining and deepening the connection between the Count and Mina – the monster and his muse. Essex does this by weaving a tale of reincarnated love across time and space, as Dracula lives his seven hundred years searching for his true love as she is continually reborn.
“I am dying,” I said, the words staggering out of my mouth.
“No, you are dying into me. And if you die into me again and again, I promise you will live forever. Do you want to live forever?”
“I do, my love, I do. I want to be with you forever.”
“You will not turn me away again? You will not sentence me to enduring your cycles of birth and death while I wait for you to remember who and what you are?”
“No, my love, I am yours.”
Essex is writing ‘Dracula in Love’ in the wake of renewed fascination with vampirism and Gothicism. So Mina and the Count’s love story is aptly sensual and daring – spread across different folklores and era’s to become something truly beautiful and heartrending.

As fascinating and sexy as Mina and Dracula’s love affair is, equally enlightening is Essex’s reimagining of other aspects of Stoker’s tale. She writes a number of checks and balances for the ‘Dracula’ story – at once shedding a more factual light on certain parts (like the real reason for Lucy Westenra’s wasting away) while also writing deeply disturbing explanations for characters like Dr. Von Helsinger, a psychiatrist with an unhealthy obsession with vampirism and medical treatments involving blood. This is the real Gothicism in Essex’s tale – the true darkness of Stoker’s original lies more in the world of mortal men than with the monster. Astounding.

I do wish that Essex had more fun with the ending, and given herself more freedom from Bram Stoker. Essex had done such a wonderful job of infusing the old ‘Dracula’ story with new dimensions and fanciful layers. Throughout the book she enlightens the character of Mina Murray and adds a sensual depth to her relationship with the fabled monster, Dracula. But then the ending, in complete contradiction to Essex’s previous character building, sticks to the Bram Stoker original. After heightening and romanticizing the love between Mina and the Count, and sullying Jonathan Harker’s reputation, the ending just didn’t ring true to all the reimagining that had come before it. Even more so when you think that Karen Essex is writing her novel in the aftermath of ‘Twilight’, ‘True Blood’ and Edward Cullen.

We are not a Victorian audience to anticipate a happy ending of good triumphing over the caricature monster evil. . . Indeed, I could not fathom Mina not choosing the monster over the mortal man. She and the Count had such a heartbreakingly epic romance, they reached such heights of sensuality and love that when Mina did choose Jonathan over him – I wasn’t buying it. This was the one aspect of Bram Stoker’s original story that I hoped Karen Essex would get carried away with. After she illuminated Dracula and Mina’s love affair, and ridiculed Jonathan Harker throughout the book – there was just no conceivable way that, as a reader, I could bite my tongue and accept that Mina would choose the ordinary over the extraordinary.
I sat up, and he sat with me, arms around me. We said nothing for a long while but simply held each other. I stared into the flames as they resurrected images and memories from my first days with him in this very room so many lifetimes ago. There is no explanation for love; no spoken words compare with its silent exhilaration. If that was true of the ordinary love between two mortals – if love is ever ordinary – then it was true of a love that has contorted itself into different bodies in different eras over the centuries.
I cannot deny that I read ‘Dracula in Love’ well into the night, consuming Essex’s fancifully sexual tale with absolute joy and fervour. I didn’t love the ending, and I do wish that Karen Essex had taken more of her own imagination into the finale, the same way she had with so many other aspects of Stoker’s tale. Regardless, ‘Dracula in Love’ is a full of spicy Gothicism and eerie sensuality, a darkened and awakened tale of reincarnated love for the most famous fanged fairytale.

4.5/5



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well the opening-presents portion of Christmas is done and dusted over here in Australia. And looky at the bookish things Santa bought me! I'm going to be one busy little bookworm over my holiday break!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with delicious food, good company and much merriment.
Stay safe and have fun!

Love, ALPHA reader.


Hardback Anniversary edition of my favorite book, 'To Kill a Mockingbird'! OMIGOD! *SQUEEEEE*

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Favorites List

These are a few of my favorite things....


Young Adult
The Piper’s Son’ by Melina Marchetta

This book was always going to have a special significance for me. It’s a sequel to Ms. Marchetta’s ‘Saving Francesca’ (2003), a revisit to all those old characters who I first read about when I was in high school and grew an affinity for. It seemed befitting then, that in the sequel those character’s have grown with me – we’re all older young adults now, some of us still at University or getting ready to leave, some motivated, other’s aimless. This is a story of grief and fragmentation, but it’s still very much a Marchetta YA-read and therefore goes to the heart of young Australia. Sublime.

Beautiful Malice’ by Rebecca James

This was a twisted YA psychological thriller... and I know, that doesn’t seem like something befitting the Young Adult readership. Rebecca James has written a ‘Basic Instinct’ for her young audience, and it is disturbingly wonderful. Not for everyone, but this is one YA read that breaks boundaries and pushes the ‘edgy’ envelope. Impressive debut, to say the least.

White Cat Curse Workers #1 by Holly Black

This became one of my all-time favourite YA reads – ever. It was *that* good. I've read ‘White Cat’ described as a ‘Memento’ YA paranormal thriller – and that is actually quite an apt description. This was a complete page-turner, and I cannot wait for the next book in the ‘Curseworkers’ series.

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The first book in a YA ‘Tudors Historical Romance’ series, explores young lovers in the Elizabethan era. Don’t be fooled by the quaint yea old-time setting though; the romance is sizzling and unrequited and plays out amidst religious persecution. A superb YA read – one of the best I've read in years!

Linger’ by Maggie Stiefvater

I had my doubts about this follow-up... but ‘Linger’ was the perfect complement to ‘Shiver’. I loved the introduction of new bad-boy narrator Cole St. Clair, and his tenuous romance with bad-girl Isobel. Their new narration is a wonderful complement to Sam and Grace’s intense young love. I cannot wait for the third and final instalment, ‘Forever’.

Matched’ by Ally Condie

A stunning novel set in a perfect prison. ‘The Society’ decides everything, from when people die to where they work and who they are matched with. Amidst her sterile existence Cassia finds herself torn between the boy Society has assigned her, and the one she is forbidden to love. This novel is GLORIOUS! An absolute must-read.

Saltwater Vampires’ by Kirsty Eagar

This book has to be on my list, for a number of reasons. To start with, the cover is drool-worthy and goosebump-inducing. Plus the novel is set in Australia! Eagar turned sun, sand and surf into gothic horror magnificence that left me pining for more Aussie vamp books. ‘Saltwater Vampires’ also deserves a mention for having my all-time favourite one-liner of 2010; “Yippee-ki-yay, bloodsucker!”

Flygirl’ by Sherri L. Smith

Oh wow. This novel, right here, had me soaring and crying. It tells the true story of WWII WASP’s (Women Airforce Service Pilots) through the fictional character of Ida Mae Jones. Ida wants nothing more than to fly for her country – but she’s a woman. . . more than that, she’s a black woman. This book was exquisite. Seriously, one of the best YA novels I have ever read. Don’t miss it, read it and weep (literally!).

Mockingjay’ Hunger Games #3 by Suzanne Collins

I've got to hand it to Suzanne Collins – she offered up a take-no-prisoners, balls-to-the-wall, cutthroat finale that fans are not likely to forget. I absolutely inhaled ‘The Hunger Games’ when I finally got around to reading the trilogy. I was relieved to dive straight into the final instalment, but that doesn’t mean ‘Mockinghay’ didn’t still kick my fangirl ass. I cried. I cursed Suzanne Collins. I cheered. . . overall, I freakin loved this goodbye! It sucked that *so* many beloved characters died – but ‘Mockingjay’ is no ‘Breaking Dawn’ and this trilogy will make for one fantastic film adaptation!

Hold me Closer, Necromancer’ by Lish McBride

This book is like a cross between ‘Clerks’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, complete with Josh Whedon-esque witticisms. It’s all about a fry-cook called Sam who discovers he is actually a necromancer. . . with a fellow death practitioner hot on his trail and gunning for his head (literally). Hilarious and deliciously gothic. . . this book rocks, plain and simple.


Anna and the French Kiss’ by Stephanie Perkins.

This was a swoon-worthy young adult contemporary romance. Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel blew me away – the Paris setting, the neurotically relatable protagonist, the crush-worthy boy! Everything comes together beautifully. . . thank God Perkins has two more ‘companions’ to this novel coming out in 2011 and 2012. I’m willing to wait that long for something I know will be spectacular!


Urban Fantasy
Touched by an Alien’ and Alien Tango’ by Gini Koch

I LOVE this series. It’s a helter-skleter, pedal-to-the-metal full-throttle action ride right from page one. I bought ‘Touched’ on a whim when I saw the cover-art on Daniel Dos Santos’s website – and I am so glad I took a chance because now the ‘Kitty Katt’ series is a favourite and I have discovered one very fabulous author in Gini Koch. If you haven’t already read ‘Touched’ then you have got to take the phone off the hook, disconnect the doorbell, hide the TV remote and READ THIS BOOK! Seriously, I dare you not to love it (and crave a tall drink of Martini after reading... he he he)


Succubus Shadows’ by Richelle Mead

This series has put me through the emotional ringer – but I felt like Mead made up for my tears with this, the 5th book. Fans were given a very satisfying lead into the 6th and final ‘Georgina Kincaid’ book and some fan theorizing was all but confirmed by Ms. Mead. But best of all was that, for once, Georgie got a bit of happiness instead of her regular heartache.


Silver Borne’ by Patricia Briggs

This is my favourite Urban Fantasy series – Ms. Briggs can do no wrong in my eyes. This book had plenty of Mercy/Adam goodness – more romance between them than we’ve ever seen before, and a definite transition for Mercy from ‘loner’ to ‘pack’. I didn’t love Samuel’s love interest, I actually felt a little bit cheated. But ultimately I loved this book, and I cannot wait for ‘River Marked’ (the cover makes me drool, just a little bit).


‘Magic Bleeds’ by Ilona Andrews

This was fantastic! Kate & Curran have come leaps and bounds since their initial tension of book #1 (“here kitty, kitty”). I loved every moment of their ‘will they or won’t they?’ saga, but I've got to say I am glad they cemented their mateship in this, book #4. Any longer and I may have gone crazy reading all that pent-up sexual tension. Now I’m looking forward to them being loved-up in ‘Magic Slays’. . . with maybe a little bit of fighting on the side. . .but I want LOVED-UP, gosh darnit!


Mind Games’ and ‘Double Cross’ by Carolyn Crane

Fantastic! Phenomenal! A very different superhero fantasy – this series is about a neurotic psychological hit-squad. Need I say more? Okay, how about a sexy love triangle between a sweet hypochondriac, a highcap ex-con and a neurotic city mayor? Damn, this is one smokin’ new series! Be warned though, there is a Grand-Canyon-sized cliff-hanger at the end of ‘Double Cross’ that will have you banging your head in frustration (thereby triggering vein star syndrome. . .)

Spider’s Bite’ Elemental Assassin #1 by Jennifer Estep

This is one new Urban Fantasy series that has serious balls. It’s a mad-cap thrill-ride with bloody fights, messy corpses and a kick-ass heroine assassin at the centre of it all. Gin Blanco is one seriously cool protagonist – cool, with a little psychotic thrown in for good measure – you wouldn’t want to meet this girl in a dark alley. I love this hard-edged Urban Fantasy from the cool and twisted mind of Ms. Estep. Blew me away.


Bring on the Night’ WVMP #3 by Jeri Smith-Ready

Oh. My. God.
Zombie cheerleaders. Vampire turnings. Shane’s Alpha/Beta intensity. My favourite instalment in the WVMP series thus far... and did I mention Zombie cheerleaders? Jeri Smith-Ready is one of my favourite UF authors, and ‘Bring on the Night’ just reminded me why she is one of the best in the biz. Hands-down incredible.


Chess Putnam / Downside series by Stacia Kane

I held-off reading this series, even when internet hype reached fever-pitch. And when I did finally succumb and got around to ‘Unholy Ghosts’ I wanted to KICK myself for being such a procrastinating moron! This series is goooooood, dig? The dialogue, the anti-heroine, the Downside setting, the Terribly good love interest and a ‘will they or won’t they?’ to set you on edge. I love this series so much I want to eat it! I am beyond thrilled that Ms. Kane is contracted for at least 2 more books; it just sucks that there’s going to be a LONG wait for books #4 and #5, aye?


Haunted Honeymoon’ Casa Dracula #4 by Marta Acosta

This is another series that I happily stumbled across in 2010. Marta Acosta’s ‘Casa Dracula’ is a rambunctious comedy-of-manners that follows Latina writer, Milagro de Los Santos as she is accidentally bitten into vampire high-society. I was sad for Milagro’s story to end with ‘Haunted Honeymoon’. . . but Marta Acosta certainly knows how to go out with a BANG! This was an ending befitting our buxom Latina heroine-extraordinaire. . . I’m sad to see her go, but I loved reading her walk away.


Revamped’ Void City #2 by J.F. Lewis

I love this series so, so hard! J.F. Lewis writes urban fantasy like no other – screw romance and alpha male heroes! Lewis has written vampires as traditional, blood-thirsty monsters and a protagonist who is as wickedly funny as he is wickedly awful. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m treating the ‘Void City’ series as my own personal book-crack. . . so wrong it’s right!


‘Total Eclipse’ Weather Warden #9 by Rachel Caine

So long, farewell.
The final instalment to one of my all-time favourite Urban Fantasy series was a little hard to read. I’m going to miss Jo Baldwin and her feisty ‘down, but never out’ attitude. I will miss David Prince; sexy, sexy dijn David. And Lewis, for all his complications and love triangle goodness. But damn!, did Ms. Caine give these characters a noble send-off. I cried, I laughed, I cheered.... I will miss this series, but I can’t fault the finale (and caps off to Ms Caine for showing us how epilogues are meant to be done!... Pay attention Rachel Vincent!).


Bayou Moon’ The Edge #2 by Ilona Andrews

I was a little sceptical going into this book. . . I loved first book ‘On the Edge’, but wasn’t sure how I’d like the second book when Declan wasn’t going to be a main protagonist again. My fears were soon put to rest when William stepped on the scene – WOAH! Ilona Andrews writes yet another drool-worthy UF hero. . . William and Cerise are a couple to rival even Kate and Curran!

Historical Romance
Love in the Afternoon’ Hathaways #5 by Lisa Kleypas

I am a total Lisa Kleypas fan-girl, it’s true. And I have loved every page of her Hathaway’s series. Regardless, I was a little sceptical going into this, the final book for the Hathaways clan. I wasn’t sure how youngest sibling, Beatrix, would go on the romantic front. She was, after all, always just a bit of light comic relief in previous books. But I was absolutely BLOWN away with ‘Afternoon’. Beatrix and her pen-pal amour, Captain Christopher Phelan, are one of the most sincere and sizzling pairings I have ever read. Their coupling is a slow-burn; unrequited and mired in secrecy to make their eventual HEA all the sweeter. Absolutely stunning... I’d go so far as to say this is Kleypas’s best historical romance (and that’s a big call, if I do say so myself).


Ruthless’ House of Rohan #1 by Anne Stuart

This is a deliciously dark historical romance, bordering on gothic erotica. Comte de Giverney Francis Rohan is one seriously mean bad-boy rake, and I loved him. He is so ruthless and despicable that his romance with poor, penniless Elinor Harriman is made all the sweeter for their impossibility. I didn’t love the follow-up ‘Reckless’, but this first book in the House of Rohan series set me to sizzle. Impressive.

Crime

'The Dark Tide' Adrien English #5 by Josh Lanyon

Technically, a 2009 Kindle release. . . but I loved this finale so much that I’m including the 2010 paperback.
Josh Lanyon’s ‘Adrien English’ series has been an M/M revelation for me! Lanyon combines the best of tender romance with the brittle edge of noir in this sublime five-book series. I went into this final book with a heavy heart, knowing it would be the last time I’d read Adrien English and Jake Riordan. I love these two so much! But I can’t fault Lanyon’s sayonara – it had romance, mystery, suspense and an altogether perfect wrap-up for my beloved Adrien and his darling Jake. *sigh*


Broken’ Grant Country #7 by Karin Slaughter

I love this series... but it’s a love/hate masochistic kind of affection. Karin Slaughter writes crime fiction like no other – but as good and deliciously dark as her ‘whodunits’ always are, it’s her screwed up characters that keep bringing me back for more. The residents of Grant County infuriate and frustrate me. They are imperfect people who make HUGE mistakes and then have to live in the aftermath.
Then there’s the fact that Karin Slaughter doesn’t pull punches. In recent books she has killed off a main (beloved!) protagonist and left fans to wallow in the wake of death. Well, ‘Broken’ is the first follow-up to that dramatic character assassination and I loved reading the fall-out.
I cried. I cursed Ms. Slaughter. I wanted more! She is the queen of crime fiction, and ‘Broken’ just proved why she deserves the crown.

No Such Thing as a Free Ride’ Brandy Alexander #4 by Shelly Fredman

I discovered this little, unassuming cozy mystery series this year, and bulldozed through all four books in a matter of days! Brandy is kick-ass, but ordinary and relatable. Her love life is a criss-cross between the childhood sweetheart who broke her heart, and the town bad-boy with a shady past. I love it! Everything came to a head in this fourth instalment. . . and now I’m chomping at the bit to see where Ms Fredman (and Brandy!) go from here.


Contemporary Romance
The Unidentified Redhead’ / ‘The Redhead Revealed’ by Alice Clayton

Ahem. Fangirl squeal – *SQUEEEEEEEE*. Thank you.
I loved this book so freakin much. Protagonist Grace Sheridan says things like ‘breasticles’ and is obsessed with The Golden Girls. Her love interest is twenty-four year old up and coming ‘it’ actor, Jack Hamilton (who likes spending time down south. . . WAY down south). The Redhead books are deliciously sweet and funny contemporary romance reads. Honestly, to read is to love – so hurry up and read em’ already!

‘And One Last Thing. . .’ by Molly Harper

Is it really that surprising that Molly Harper is an author of cross-genre genius? No, it’s really not – her ‘Jane Jameson’ series is phenomenal, and her first foray into contemporary romance is equally incredible. . . a novel of revenge, self-discovery and Hugh Jackman lookalikes. Hilarious and feminist, perfect summer reading! I also loved this book because I was able to pass it on to all my female family members and friends (those who were less keen on the idea of reading a paranormal romance) and I managed to convert them to my way of thinking. . . Yes, I am slowly introducing everyone I know to the Molly Harper reading cult. . . world domination, here we come!

Erotica
Backstage Pass’ Sinners on Tour #1 by Olivia Cunning

Ms. Cunning lived up to her surname with her debut novel ‘Backstage Pass’. How bizarre that the erotica genre is all but devoid of books with rock-star love interests. . . until the ‘Sinners on Tour’ series, that is. This book is not only smutty and steamy, it’s also heartbreakingly romantic – the golden moment comes when rock-god Brian Sinclair writes musical notes all over Myrna’s body. . . while they’re getting hot n’ heavy. Yeah, it's pretty darn smokin'!


‘The Lovers’ by Eden Bradley

This is the thinking woman’s erotica. Bradley weaves a tangled web of introspection, threesome’s and sexual exploration in her tale of writers retreat sexcapades. Bradley writes a love triangle, that is equally steamy and complicated. Brilliant.