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Monday, January 31, 2011

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H. P. Mallory

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book of the Jolie Wilkin's series, and also my first read for the Paranormal Romance Challenge that I have joined that is hosted by Bitten by Paranormal Romance. Also the first book that I read on my kindle app for Android! I have to say it's a little strange reading an entire book on such a small screen, but very convenient to have a book (or many) with you all the time. I do usually have a paper book with me all the time, but just in case I forget, I now have them on my phone! woohoo!

In honor of the release of her second novel in the Jolie Wilkins series, currently the kindle edition of Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is still just $.99 at Amazon, so check it out! This is apparently a US only sale.

Jolie Wilkins owns a new age shop, which her best friend Christa helps her to run, where she performs psychic readings. Life is going pretty well, until Jolie sees a ghost, and a handsome stranger named Rand Balfour hires Jolie to do readings for him. She feels that she isn't making any headway, but Rand assures her that he is pleased and so they continue. He was testing her, because he wanted to hire her for the job of finding out who murdered the ghost that she saw earlier in her shop. During the job, Jolie accidentally discovers that she is able to bring back the dead. Once her power is realized, life can never be the same, and she becomes the focal point between factions that are about to go to war. The attraction between Jolie and Rand is undeniable, at least Jolie can't deny it, though Rand seems to try, claiming that it just would never work since he is her employer. His resolve is put to the test when Jolie is taken captive. There is also a sexy vampire in the mix, not to mention werewolves and faeries, all having to choose sides in the coming power struggle.

I will give this one a 3/5, I liked it, but I had some lukewarm feelings about the characters. I just couldn't bond with them, so while the story was fun, I'm not sure if I will continue the series. I really think that characters sometimes just speak to a person and other times they don't, and that's very much subjective to the reader, so give it a try!

For more information on the author and her books, check out her website!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dante's Girl by Natasha Rhodes

This is the first book of the Kayla Steele series (of which there are now 3 total) and my second read for the Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge at Book Chick City.

This is a busy story! Kayla Steele is a perfume counter girl, who just wants her boyfriend Karrel Dante to propose to her. She believes he works at the humane society, with no clue to the secret life as a supernatural hunter he's been leading. She's about to be introduced to that world up close and personal, when she finds out about Karrel's death and true vocation, then becomes a target in the treacherous game being played between the different paranormal factions. Karrel is not completely gone, and by making a bargain he was able to pass along his strength to Kayla so that she can avenge his murder. Along with general mayhem, there's double crossing and back stabbing, biological research and testing, and power plays for dominance.

I'm only giving this one a 3/5, I liked it, but not really enough to pursue the rest of the series. There was too much going on for me, and not enough explanation or background for my liking. There are two big baddies that have branded their followers with their initial, but one of them is absent for almost the entirety of the book. I just felt like there was a lot of backstory on their history that I was missing. There are likable characters, Phil and Ninette from the hunters are fun, but I think I really expected Karrel Dante to be a much bigger player in the story than just the catalyst and a few small cameos.

Natasha Rhodes has done film novelizations for some horror, and sci-fi/fantasy franchises, and I feel like that is how this reads, like a sci-fi action movie, which is fine, but not my fave style. There is lots of fighting and chasing and running and more fighting and breaking things and blowing up places, and it's all quite well done. I say that because I often have a hard time keeping track of things during scenes like that, but I felt like the action was pretty well diagrammed here.

Check out Natasha on Fantastic Fiction to see her other novels.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Favorite Commercials

I'm usually annoyed by commercials, especially all the food ones, tempting me with a greasy hamburger or a cheesy pizza, because yeah, I want that stuff, quit showing it to me! But sometimes commercials are really funny, usually they're the ones that I don't even have the service of, or buy the product for, but I still appreciate the entertainment! Here are a few of my favorites, and no, I don't have Allstate, and I've never tasted Dos Equuis, and yeah, I'm a girl, so no Old Spice for me, but I guess they've still accomplished their goal if I'm saying their name because I like their commercials, huh? Ah well...

"OMG, Becky's not even hot!" This guy cracks me up, I just tonight saw the GPS commercial for the first time.

I think this is most of the Most Interesting Man in the World commercials that are on, but they're just so funny... "the right look should suffice", "He can speak French in Russian..." or something like that! ;)

And I think by now we've all seen the Old Spice guy commercials, but have you seen all of his twitter video responses? Probably not, they're great, so go check 'em out, especially if you just want to ogle him standing there in the towel.

What are your favorite commercials?

Giveaway: Your Big Break by Johanna Edwards

From the BOB: Dani Myers has become an expert at romantic breakups ever since she was hired to "facilitate" them for clients of Your Big Break, Inc. In other words, she dumps people for money. But company rule #5 (do not get personally involved) is getting harder to obey. One of her dumpees is turning out to be the kind of guy she might just want to pick up on the rebound. and a new client has just walked in, begging for Dani's help breaking up with The Big Jackass, who's been leading her on all this time-and now turns out to be married.

It would be a routine job except for one problem: the so-called Big Jackass is married to none other than Dani's mother.

Shaunie's opinion: This was a fast and fun read, I'm really enjoying Johanna Edwards' books. The idea of the breakup company is hysterical, and the clients that hire them are just so painful you want to strangle them, it's great!

The Giveaway: This is a gently used, and Bookcrossing labeled copy, that I'm ready to pass on to make a new friend! To enter, please comment on this post and tell me what you are reading right now, no answer, no entry. You get an extra entry if you are a follower, and another if you are a Bookcrosser, please tell me your Bookcrossing name to claim this extra entry. I will choose the winner on February 5th, 2011. Giveaway is open internationally.

Vamped by David Sosnowski

I loved this book! It was a surprise, not because I didn't expect to like it, but because of how much I liked it. The concept sounded kind of silly, and in many ways it was, but there were serious heart tugging moments as well, and that was completely unexpected. So at the same time I'm laughing and shaking my head, I'm also thinking this guy gets it, and is somehow displaying it with this unlikely duo of vampire and little girl. It comes across as a strange mix of horror, chicklit and family drama, but it works!

Martin Kowalski is a vampire, just like everyone else. In fact, he's part of the reason that almost everyone else is a vampire, and he's getting bored with life. He begins taking chances, driving too fast, letting things fall out how they may, in fact, the night he finds Isuzu is the night he'd planned to possibly be his last. Everything changes when he decides to take her with him, at first as a test in delayed gratification, real humans are rare, and expensive. Somehow that delayed snack never happens, and instead Isuzu worms her way into his not-so-dead-as-he-believed heart. Somewhere along the line Martin stops being a predator and starts being a parent. Every day brings humor and horror in equal measure.

I gave this one a 5/5 because it was just so different and gripping. You're holding your breath along with Marty that this little girl is going to grow up and make it in a world where everyone views her as a tasty snack! I had to read many passages out loud to my husband because they were just too good! Sosnowski's first novel, Rapture sounds like an interesting read as well, so I will definitely be on the lookout for it!

This is my first read for the Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge hosted by Book Chick City.

David Sosnowski on

Friday, January 07, 2011

2010 Wrap up

Now that we're a week into 2011, I'm finally getting around to my 2010 wrap up/faves post. It's a difficult thing, I read a lot of books in 2010 that were really great, and I'm having a hard time picking which ones to talk about, because talking about all of them would be much too long!

Just for Fun Reading Stats:

Books read/listened to: 132 (a personal record yay!)

Pages read: 33,794 avg of 91 per day, I was really shooting for that 100 per day mark, but didn't quite get there!

Genre Breakdown: I'm a little ashamed to say Young Adult/Teen was my most read category since I'm in my 30's, but there are so many great books for that age group now, and I'm loving the teen paranormals!

29% Young Adult/Teen
18% Romance
14% Fantasy and Sci-Fi
13% Audiobooks (ok, not really a genre, but that's how I kept track)
11% Mystery
15% All that other stuff (Chicklit, Non-genre fiction)

Oldest Copyright Date: 1979, Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson (a very cute YA Fantasy book!)

Events: I participated in Dewey's Read-a-thon both times this year and had a lot of fun, reading, blogging, and visiting other blogs! The next one has just been announced, so mark your calendars for April 9th, 2011! It's a fun friendly reading frenzy!

Now for the hard part, picking favorites!

Best reads:

*Mind Games by Carolyn Crane (I think my top fave of the year, looking forward to Double Cross!)

*Heart of Stone by C. E. Murphy (I'm listening to the second book now and loving it!)

*The Ruby Ring by Diane Haeger (historical fiction about Raphael the painter)

*A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card (quick, but powerful)

*Inside/Out by Maria V. Snyder (looking forward to Outside/In!)

*Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (Shakespearean themed thriller)

*Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison (Teen paranormal)

*Firespell by Chloe Neill (Teen paranormal)

There are actually many more I could mention, but it would probably take me until next year to get it all posted! Good luck with your reading in 2011, I can't wait to see what the year brings us!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Christmas Revels by Mary Jo Putney

Christmas Revels by Mary Jo Putney is my fifth and last read for the Christmas Spirit Challenge. This was a collection of five short romances all by the same author, the first a contemporary, and the other four historical. I have to say I think this was my favorite read of the Christmas books I read this time, and I'll definitely be looking into more of this author!

In A Holiday Fling a British actress and an American cameraman rekindle their relationship while filming a local production as a fundraiser to save a historical building.

The Christmas Cuckoo is a historical case of mistaken identity that actually turns out well for everyone.

Sunshine for Christmas brings together a despondent Englishman and a relocated English Governess in Italy, as he is trying to escape winter doldrums.

A young French seamstress accepts an indecent proposal to make ends meet when she is unjustly dismissed. It turns out to be the best decision of her life, in The Christmas Tart.

The Black Beast of Belleterre is a Beauty and the Beast story, where the young and beautiful wife proves to the "beast" her husband that her love for him goes far beyond the surface.

I'm really not sure which one is my favorite as with each one I read, I decided it was the best at the time! These were very enjoyable short romantic novellas, and Ms. Putney does a good job of making the characters likable, and fills each story with good description of action and setting. This was the first book by Putney that I have read, but it certainly won't be the last, I'll be adding some to my wishlist! Highly recommend this one to someone who wants some holiday historical romance!

And that concludes my Holiday Challenge reading! Bring on the next challenge!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sookie it is!

Well my first poll ended in a tie between the Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris and the Women of the Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong, so I STILL had a make a decision darn it! WestofMars suggested that a tie meant I had to read all of both series that were tied, but I'm not going to even try that! So here it is, Sookie wins! Which is not to say that I won't start reading the others as well, but I'm going to TRY to read all of the books listed below in 2011.

1. Dead Until Dark (2001)
2. Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
3. Club Dead (2003)
4. Dead to the World (2004)
5. Dead as a Doornail (2005)
6. Definitely Dead (2006)
7. All Together Dead (2007)
8. From Dead to Worse (2008)
9. Dead and Gone (2009)
10. Dead in the Family (2010)
11. Dead Reckoning (2011)

This didn't go so well for me on Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series, as I missed it by two, and there were fewer books to read that time, but I'll give it a go. At best I'll catch up, and at worst, I'll still hopefully be farther than I am now!

I've set 3 challenges for myself, and signed up for 4 more hosted challenges, for a total of 95 books if I don't let any of them count for multiple challenges. *faints* Um... yeah... well, I guess I'd best get to readin' huh?

Good luck on your challenges, or just in your reading, I look forward to seeing what books the year brings!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Teaser - "The Christmas Cuckoo" in Christmas Revels by Mary Jo Putney

"Please, don't say anything more -- words are never adequate for the deepest truths." Wanting to remove the shadows from Jack's anguished blue eyes, she laid a gloved hand on his arm. "My trials have been different from yours, but I have learned that heroism lies beyond despair. And while it is certainly admirable, it is never glorious." -- pg. 132 of "The Christmas Cuckoo" in Christmas Revels by Mary Jo Putney

I'm reading this as my last book for the Christmas Spirit Challenge, and was really struck by that quote, so I thought I'd share. I think this might be my favorite of the Christmas books I've read this season.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge hosted by Book Chick City

Here are the basics, please click on the picture above to get full details on how to sign up.

* Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011

* Rules: To read TWENTY FOUR (24) horror & urban fantasy novels in 2011

I hope it's okay if they are all Urban Fantasy because I'm just not much of a horror reader. Urban Fantasy on the other hand... ;)

And this is the last challenge I'm signing up for, really, I mean it! No, really I do mean it!

Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011 hosted by Book Chick City

I read mysteries anyway, so this should be an easy one, I hope! Here are the basic details:

* Timeline: 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011

* Rules: To read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2011 (12 is the minimum but you can read more if you wish!)

* You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

* You can join anytime between now and the later part of next year.

* At the beginning of Jan 2011, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews. There will be a monthly prize too courtesy of the lovely Simon & Schuster - you must be signed up to the challenge and add the link to your review to be entered into the monthly prize draw.

There are also ARC's and other prizes involved, so if you'd like to join, click on the picture above, and read the details carefully, there are certain things you must do in order to qualify!
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