Wednesday, February 29, 2012

By A Thread

By A Thread by Jennifer Estep is one of the novels in her fantastic Elemental Assassins series.  Those of you who haven't met assassin Gin Bianco are in for a treat but you really should start with the first in the series, Spider's Bite and continue with Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, and Spider's Revenge to get up to speed.  This excellently crafted world is peopled by those who are inherently other than human and use their powers accordingly (giants as bodyguards, a vampire madam, a dwarf obssessed with mining, etc.) intermixed with those who appear human yet have powers based on elements such as fire, ice, stone, and metal.  Gin Bianco was tortured and orphaned as a child by the machinations of the evil Fire Elemental, Mab, but was adopted and trained to become an assassin and incidentally, a fantastic cook.  Her adult life has been divided between expertly fulfilling her assignments as an assassin, attending class, working at a barbeque joint and planning revenge on Mab.

***SPOILER**** beyond this point

Thread of Death is the novella that connects the first 5 stories to Gin's life after Mab.  By A Thread follows Gin's life after she has defeated Mab and is trying to go back to her version of normal.  Unfortunately, just like the gunslingers from the old West, everyone wants to challenge the victor and Gin is unable to rest on her laurels.  She finally acquiesces to her foster brother's repeated requests to go out of town for a vacation in an attempt to relax and get reacquainted with her long-lost sister, Bria, but discovers that it is not going to be a simple matter to visit the place where her sister was raised after their family was destroyed and meet the woman who has been the friend that Gin wishes she herself could have been.  Gin finds herself in the middle of yet another struggle against a villain who seeks to monopolize business in the town, no matter who he has to intimidate or kill to achieve his goals.  She could have stayed at home and needed her assassination skills less but what would have been the fun in that?

I really enjoy the creativity that goes into this series.  There is a fair amount of violence but it isn't so overt that one becomes numb or overwhelmed and the fascinating characters and scenarios keep the story moving.  The author has a facility for painting vivid word pictures that make it easy to visualize someone like the Goth dwarf who is as efficient at serving up a tasty meal as disposing of a dead body, a person receiving stories from the stone walls that have witnessed many events, or an assassin who can keep her equanimity even as she distributes countless sharp silverstone knives over her person.  My only complaint is that I am inevitably hungry after reading about the tasty dishes served up in these very entertaining tales.

My Amazon review is at this link under ELF2060.  I'd appreciate a "helpful" vote if you enjoy it.

I received an ARC of this work in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ponderings from someone else

A cousin and friend sent me this made me think...

 Subject: I am in the 7% today 
 Some very good life lessons! 
 Written by a 90 year old This is something we should all read at least 
once a week!!!!! 
       Make sure you read to the end!!!!!! 
 Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , 
Ohio . 
      "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. 

    It is the most requested column I've ever written. 
     My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more: 
        1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
        2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

        3. Life is too short - enjoy it.

        4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. 
           Your friends and family will. 
        5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
        6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

        7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
        8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
        9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
       10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
       11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
       12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

       13. Don't compare your life to others. 
           You have no idea what their journey is all about.
       14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
       15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye 
           But don't worry; God never blinks.

       16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

       17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. 
           Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
       18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
       19. It's never too late to be happy 
           But it's all up to you and no one else.

       20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, 
           don't take no for an answer.
       21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. 
           Don't save it for a special occasion. 
           Today is special.

       22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
       23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

       24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
       25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
       26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 
           'In five years, will this matter?'

       27. Always choose life.

       28. Forgive but don't forget. 

       29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 
       30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
       31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
       32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
       33. Believe in miracles. 
       34. God loves you because of who God is, 
           not because of anything you did or didn't do.

       35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
       36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

       37. Your children get only one childhood.

       38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 
       39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
       40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, 
           we'd grab ours back.
       41. Envy is a waste of time. 
           Accept what you already have, not what you need.

       42. The best is yet to come...
       43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

       44. Yield.
       45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." 
 It's estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will,
       forward this with the title '7%'.

      I'm in the 7%. Friends are the family that we choose.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


by Lisa Marie Rice is the third in her 'Protectors' series and focuses on the former Marine, Mike Keillor, who is part of the security agency, RBK Security, Inc. that was formed by the three buddies who became brothers when they ended up in the same foster home.  His attraction to the fragile-looking woman who comes into his life is complicated by his need to keep her safe when her life suddenly is endangered.  The desire to help others escape from the brutality that she knows only too well causes Chloe Mason to reach out to abused women.  She is a little puzzled about the attraction that she feels for Mike who makes such strong efforts to move carefully around her yet refrains from deepening their relationship.  Mike has sought escape in meaningless affairs and alcohol prior to meeting Chloe but finds that she effortlessly quells his demons while he seeks to defeat all of hers.

A great conclusion to the series that provides such stark contrast between overwhelmingly capable males whose protective instincts cause them to go to such great lengths for the females that they care for.  The wonderful caring that they demonstrate for all of the abused women and children that they come into contact with demonstrates the softness that underlies the steel that has formed the character honed by their difficult backgrounds.  One really should read all three of the stories, Into the Crossfire, Hotter Than Wildfire and then Nightfire for maximum appreciation of this great series.

My review at the Seductive Musings blog for Nightfire is at this  link.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tempted By Her Innocent Kiss

Tempted By Her Innocent Kiss is part of Maya Banks' "Pregnancy and Passion" series for Harlequin Desire.  Although I enjoy Ms Banks' wonderful stories (including the milder versions such as this one, the suspense-laden 'KGI' series and the spicier ones such as her 'Sweet' books) I am old-fashioned enough to be a little disturbed at the overall theme of starting a family without having a stable relationship.  That being said, the author is always great at creating unique characters and I enjoyed the description of her heroine's journey of self-discovery.  I think any of us who have engaged in a relationship has had to walk that line between conforming to someone else's perception and expectations and being comfortable in our own skins.  This was another quick and sweet read in that genre of series romances one expects from the milder Harlequin line.   My Amazon review is at this link.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing this copy for me to review.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Affair With Mr. Kennedy

An Affair With Mr. Kennedy
by Jillian Stone is a very entertaining debut novel that mixes the fascinating developments in England of the late 1800s with an unconventional love story.  Cassandra St. Cloud is a widow who is an ardent advocate of women's rights and dares to wear britches to ride a bicycle, smoke a cigar, and explore her talents as an artist by painting nude models.  Zeno Augustus Kennedy is a Scotland Yard detective who is investigating possible sedition in the government and discovers a tie to Cassandra's relative which makes it expedient to explore his attraction to the charismatic widow who becomes his tenant and next door neighbor.  Cassandra's brother Rob is an inventor and scientist who is exploring a mechanical carriage as well as other items, including rockets.  This action packed read has a nice combination of sensuality and adventure and serves as an intriguing introduction to a series that promises to continue entertaining readers with its eccentric characters, including the progressive physician mother who has bequeathed her forthright nature and sexual curiosity to her daughter as well as the dedicated Scotland Yard men who help Zeno in his investigations.  My Amazon review is at this link.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two great reads soon to be released

By a Thread by Jennifer Estep and Spellbound Falls by Janet Chapman will be released at the end of the month!  Both were fascinating reads and I will look forward to sharing my review with you soon.  If you have not read the first books in the series by Jennifer Estep, I suggest you start with those so that you can get to know the fascinating cast of characters and appreciate this one even more.  Spider's Bite is the introduction to the series about Elemental Assassins and ensnares you in the wonderful web about Gin Blanco and her remarkable talents and skills.  My Night Owl Review for Spider's Bite is at this link.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Expanding my horizons

I'm a little distracted this week since I am visiting Las Vegas...the city that never sleeps!  I am not a big gambler...I enjoy playing the slots more for their resemblance to video games although I am always offended when they eat my money, lol.  It is fascinating to see the mega-hotels on the Strip and it has been awhile since we have done the tourist thing and oohed and aahed over the fountains at Bellagio, the giant talking head at the Rio, the beautiful artwork and live statues at Caesar's, etc.  I always forget how much walking is involved in these casinos nowadays and the irritating (to me) cigarette smoke that is inescapable.  I am a big fan of crepes (and used bookstores) so I drag my poor hubby around to various places although it is less of a hobby now that I have been receiving so many review books!

Which leads me to my new adventure...the Seductive Musings blog author has accepted me as a new reviewer!  I had the pleasure of reading Lisa Marie Rice's NIghtfire and my review should be posted soon.  It was an amazing coincidence since I just got through skimming through Into the Crossfire because I inadvertently requested it from the library again.  That is the first in the trilogy (Protectors) and unfortunately I have not gotten my hands on the second in the series, Hotter Than Wildfire, but certainly will endeavor to do so in the near future.  Ms Rice writes a wonderfully sensual tale that has great emotional connections between her characters and this was no exception.  The alpha males who make up the security agency are endearing in their helplessness in the face of the women who enter their life and provide a softer influence but are certainly the 'go to' guys when danger threatens.  My review is live on the Seductive Musings site (link)   This was a very enjoyable read and a great addition to the series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shiloh Walker's Friday 56

About the Friday 56

  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
  • Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

"But Mac traveled light and saved nothing.  And an apartment like this one, in a crappy part of town, was just a place to crash.  Or to keep some guy that she occasionally liked to screw."  ARC of Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

(This is one of the things that Shiloh Walker encourages on her's an interesting way to find out what people have been reading or to get snippets from a wide variety of books!)

Born to Darkness

Suzanne Brockmann always has books with plenty of action, romance and thorny problems.  Born to Darkness is no exception and it was a blast to read!  She has decided to write the 'Fighting Destiny' series centered around people who are able to use more of their brains than the average person as well as amoral individuals who have found a way to exploit some of those capabilities through a drug.  I am always fascinated by the idea of telepathy, telekinesis (moving items with your mind), psychometry (picking up memories by touching an object), etc. because I have read that we use only a fraction of the capabilities of our brains and think that we could all learn to expand our minds.

There are multiple romances in this volume and it was particularly heartwarming to read about the pair that had secretly adored each other but were afraid to reach out and suddenly there is a dramatic sacrifice that each makes for each other.  Sigh, what a great romantic moment.  (And I confess to being bemused and entertained by idea of the 'fireman's hold' being used to carry one's lover into the bedroom, what a wonderful visual). There are plenty of SEAL stories being published today but Ms Brockmann always has distinctive heroes who perfectly reflect the credo of these fantastic men while creating multiple storylines that the reader becomes invested in.  It is always somewhat frustrating in her works that not everyone gets their HEA and this story is no exception but without a doubt, this is another winning series that has been launched with a fantastic first novel.

A peek at Amazon reveals that there is a short story for sale that tells of the last mission of the hero of Born to Darkness but I can't give any other opinion about it since I haven't read it yet.  I do warn the squeamish that there are deliciously scorching love scenes as well as pretty intense and disturbing descriptions of the torment that the young girls experience.  My Amazon review is at this link

I had the great good fortune to receive a copy of this title through the Goodreads program (as well as a copy to review for Night Owl...for which the link will be posted once it is live on that site).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love is in the air today (or is that the smell of chocolate?) and I wanted to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day...whether you are celebrating the love of family, a furry one or a special partner (who could be four-footed and furry some of the time according to the plethora of paranormal books on the market).  I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who tolerates my fixation on books (and forgives the burned smell emanating on the times that he leaves me unsupervised in the kitchen with my nose in a book, steps around the piles of TBR books everywhere, and patiently tolerates being dragged to used bookstores in whatever town we are visiting) as well as a loving friend who accepts me as I am (absent-minded and prone to forgetting dates, opinionated and prickly and prone to odd quirks).  I am thankful for the opportunity to form new relationships with people this year and look forward to recovering from the losses that weighed down my spirit last year.  I hope that you all have a special someone or someones in your lives as well!

I started thinking about some of my favorite new books that have my kind of romance and think that most of them have a deep connection between the characters which reflect my own personality.  A regular theme seems to be the feelings of unworthiness that one person feels that is healed by the other who sees the underlying character...whether it is Dante, the prickly mage in Carol Berg's The Daemon Prism, snarky Cal in Rob Thurman's Doubletake, mysterious Rowan in Barbara Ashford's Spellcast, intensely overwhelming Gideon in Thea Harrison's True Colors, emotionally wounded Ezra in Shiloh Walker's If You Hear Her, rough-edged Spencer and survivor Arizona in Lori Foster's A Perfect Storm...well, the list goes on and on.  I hope that all of you find or have found someone who gives you that sense of forgiveness and self-worth and allows you to accept yourself for who you are--a work in progress who has some faults but is by no means irredeemable(and if not, adopt a dog...who will always love you unconditionally!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

If You Hear Her

 If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker is a wonderful start to a mesmerizing suspense trilogy.  Ms Walker always has thorny characters who are honed in a crucible of emotional upheavals and there are plenty of strong yet vulnerable people introduced in this fantastic read.  I suspect that the heroines and heroes of all three have been introduced in this initial rollercoaster novel.  Fans are fortunate that all three books have been (and will be) released close together.  Fortunately, If You See Her is already out. Depending on the speed with which you read, you may want to wait a week because the final book, If You Know Her, will be released at the end of this month.  That way, you won't be biting your nails, gnashing your teeth and growling because of the cliffhangers!  My Amazon review for If You Hear Her is at this link

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

Such a tragic loss but what a gift to have heard her beautiful voice when she was at the top of her game.  I still get chills when I hear her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and the soundtrack to the Bodyguard is one of my all-time favorites.  I hope that she is now at peace and offer my condolences to her family.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Twice Fallen

Twice Fallen by Emma Wildes is the newest in her 'Ladies in Waiting' series that started with One Whisper Away (my Amazon review is at this link).  Lillian's story was introduced in the first novel in the series and she is now spotlighted as she complies with the efforts to reintroduce her to Society after her ostracism.  Naturally, through no major fault of her own, fate is conspiring to keep her from repairing her reputation.  Lord Damien Northfield is feeling a bit insecure at being handicapped by a serious injury but he finds Lady Lillian to be a captivating diversion.  The secondary romance in the story centers around the carnal and passionate artist, Regina and her affair with James Bourne, both of whom have ties to Lillian and different expectations for their relationship.  Ms Wildes crafts yet another sensual and enjoyable Regency romance with an entertaining underlying plot that centers on a blackmail plot that involves several members of Society.  The resolution was a little forced but the overall story was enjoyable nonetheless.  My Amazon review is at this link

I received both of the aforementioned books in exchange for honest reviews

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Giveaway party...mostly spicy e-books

The Romance Studio frequently has new release parties and today is no exception.  The titles trend toward erotica but there are usually a small number of entries so you have an excellent chance of winning a title to read if you are interested.  The link

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Erotica titles, please only read if you are over 18!

Stud by Cheryl Brooks was released today.  The Cat Star series is based around alien males (Zetithians) whose planet was destroyed by a jealous megalomaniac, causing the few survivors to be dispersed across the galaxy.  These beings are semi cat-like creatures that purr when happy, have cat-like pupils, pointed ears and long hair and are incredible lovers.  The various books follow the individuals who have utilized their skills to find different niches in life and this one centers on Tarq Zulveidione who has made it his mission to repopulate his race by traveling across the galaxy and impregnating willing females everywhere.  The books are unabashedly spicy and entertaining reads (and you should see the author's blog itself!) but this is the first one that I really felt such a strong rapport for the main character, perhaps because of his vulnerability due to his learning disability and his humility despite being such a sought after being.  Lucinda Force is also delightful as an ordinary female who can't believe that such a charismatic and sexy guy is interested in her and resonates with her gradual blossoming into a force in her own right as she revels in Tarq's attentions.  My Amazon review is at this link under ELF2060 and I ask that you click the 'yes' button if you like the review.

I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

I also enjoyed Julia Erickson's Indulgent Pleasures which is a sexy contemporary romance.  The storyline is a little predictable but filled with steamy scenes and engaging characters whose vulnerability also bring complications to a no-strings affair as it gets more and more intense.  Everybody wishes for a knight in shining armor, even independent modern women!  A nice frothy romance!  My Amazon review is at this link

Finally, I like the Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin novels that I have read but am a little ambivalent aboutThe Breeder:  Wasteland, Book 3.  I am not a big fan of post apocalyptic books as I really like my HEA (happy ever after) endings but this short novella does have some mitigating elements.  I do take exception to the remarkably recuperative abilities displayed by the heroine and hero but the author does a nice job of world-building and creates an intriguing environment for her tale with plenty of room for expansion into other stories.  My Amazon review is at this link

I received these titles in a giveaway contest by the respective authors (thank you again!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cupid Cats

Cupid Cats  is a cute anthology of novellas that was published last year a little out of synch with Valentine's Day and features the talented authors Kate McAlistair, Connie Brockway and Vicki Lewis Thompson.  All three center around special types of shelters (Cupid Cats' Shelter) which take in felines of all sorts...even one who turns out to be a shapeshifting jaguar.  A purrfect mixture of magic and romance!  My Amazon review is at this link

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A nice giveaway on Kimberly's Bloomin' Corner blog

There's a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card at this lovely blog. 
There is a nice recipe for a slow-cooked chicken corn chowder as well.  Please check the following link

Friday, February 3, 2012


The latest from Rob Thurman, Doubletake, is another fantastic read.  Cal and Niko are great examples of brotherhood and I always love that Niko doesn't look at his little brother and see a half-human, half-auphe being...he sees the kid brother whom he will defend against the world and die to protect.  Cal struggles with his heritage and the monster that he is capable of becoming but he stretches to be a better person because of his faith in his older brother and the unconditional love that he receives.  Ms Thurman effortlessly captures the roughhousing and vicious repartee between the two that would be almost disturbing to witness as an outsider but which covers the deep emotion that bonds the two who see their share of evil and disturbing creatures yet continue to adhere to their code of conduct.  This book gives a sobering look at the extremes of absentee fatherhood as it depicts an example of the hellish childhood experienced by the young boys even as yet another character displays his frightening version of parenting.  The virtually infallible opponent provides a nice counterpoint to the fighting techniques demonstrated by the brothers as they work their way through their arsenal of defense.  There are many disturbing creatures described and the fight scenes are impressive but this is primarily a tale of the ultimate in dysfunctional families and a wonderful story about the unique brothers named Niko and Cal.  The book is to be released March 6, 2012, well worth the wait.

I received an ARC of this title at no charge for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thread of Death

Thread of Death is a novella by Jennifer Estep which is a snippet of the life of Gin Bianco, semi-retired assassin and restaurant proprietor.  It might be a bit confusing for someone who hasn't read the previous books in the Elemental Assassin series but it gives the flavor of this engaging kick-butt heroine who has taken what life has thrown at her and used it as a crucible to become the strong self-reliant person she is.  This excellent series will have an additional novel published at the end of the month so that gives you time to read the first five (Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, and Spider's Revenge) and get up to speed.  Ms Estep has free reads of short stories that give a flavor of her fascinating characters from this series at this link

My Amazon review for Thread of Death is at this link under ELF2060.

I received a free copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I will post later this month once my review for By A Thread is available.