Saturday, June 30, 2012

Azazel by Kristina Douglas

Demon (The Fallen, #2)Demon by Kristina Douglas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a solid four star book until the last hundred or so pages, when it really turned around, and I knew it would get the highest rating from me. I must say I think the storyline is very imaginative, artistic and surreal. Ms. Douglas isn't an overly expansive writer, but she somehow paints a very vivid picture of the sights and surroundings, emotions and actions of her characters. Dark City is a nightmarish place, and the imagery rang loud and clear as I read. Sheol has an otherworldly beauty and feeling of peace, and the images of the Fallen appeal greatly to this angel-lover, even in the dark aspects.

I don't love the theology here. Earlier on, I choose to view this book merely as fiction and divorce it from my Christian beliefs, which is the wisest choice for me. Otherwise, I think the portrayal of God would be problematic for me. As a believer in the God of the Old and New Testament, I don't think there is a disconnect between the God of the New and Old Testament, as portrayed in this book, although I know many feel this way. God is shown as a vengeful, angry, unfeeling character, which is not what I believe. I believe in a God that is equally loving and equally just. If I view this merely as characters who have their own way of processing their relationships with God and their subsequent choices and actions, I can still enjoy this book very much, and I did. Outside of my disagreeing with some of the theology, I find the storyline very interesting, and the portrayal of angels is majestic and hypnotically appealing and arresting. I feel that Ms. Douglas writes this books in a very visual and cinematic way.

Azazel is not a nice hero by any stretch of the word, for most of this book. He is almost cruel to Rachel in some ways, although his reluctant feelings (and the fact that he is not a woman-hater) holds him back from hurting her physically. He made a choice that led to something very bad happening to Rachel, and I know some readers won't be able to get past that. Although I don't condone his actions, I understand the turmoil that was behind them. I do like his sea change later in the book, and I think he proved he was worthy of her love. I like how I was able to see how he evolves in his perceptions of Rachel, and as he changes in his feelings towards her, this difference is very apparent in his physical expressions of lust and later passion/love towards Rachel. I could understand that he was angry and hurting over the loss of his latest and best loved wife, and how he wanted to blame Rachel for that because of the prophecy.

As far as Rachel, I liked her from the beginning. She starts as something of a blank canvas, and as the story continues, more and more depth and definition is evident with her character. Her latent identity is slowly and deftly revealed, and it was interesting to process this. The myth of Lilith is interesting, although I have never put much emphasis on it. It ties into that pervasive belief that Judaism and Christianity is inherently misogynistic, which I have never agreed with. More than anything this is a manifestation of the way that these beliefs have been used as a tool for control over others, and through human and societal cruelty, and not due to God disvaluing women (take religion out of the picture and people would find another tool to use against others). Having said that, Rachel is a very sympathetic character, and I liked how Douglas gives the Lilith myth a human and emotional (and relatable) feel instead of dwelling on the horrific aspects of that legend.

As I alluded to earlier in the review, the romantic aspects of the story bloom later, because initially, it's very apparent that Azazel mainly has hatred in his heart for Rachel. It was hard to see that possibility of love initially, but by the end of the book, I did see it. I think that took some skill on Ms. Douglas' part. I went from thinking Azazel was a total loss, and hoping he'd just leave Rachel alone and in peace and safety, to wanting him to prove he was worthy of her and for them to be together. I feel that this ultimately was a successful romance because I was able to arrive at the conviction that they should be together. The love scenes were well-written, showing not just the act of sex, but the emotions, good and bad that went along with it. They were integral to the story, because they revealed crucial aspects of both Azazel and Rachel's psyche, and also their healing processes from damaged emotions and hearts from their journeys in life.

Ultimately, I was very impressed with this novel. This is not just from the viewpoint of a lifelong (and therefore biased) admirer of this writer (Anne Stuart). It is because of her obvious and proven skill as a writer. To take a story that somehow shouldn't appeal and make into something that intrigues me and gets under my skin, leaving me thinking about the story long after I finish it. This book won't work for everyone. Although clearly paranormal romance, there is something very atypical about it. The writing has this flavor that puts it into a different and not always comfortable category. However, I found this to be a feast for the reader's senses. This kind of book takes me on a journey and fully rewards me for the time spent reading it. I definitely loved it.

Casting Suggestions:

Michael Fassbender as Azazel

Isla Fisher as Rachel

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Living Nightmare

Living Nightmare (Sentinel Wars, #4)Living Nightmare by Shannon K. Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Best book of the series thus far.  And better yet, it has built expectation for future books.  I loved Nika even more than Madoc, which is saying something.  Nika might seem frail and in need of protection, but she is a tough little woman.  Just the woman for Madoc.   I loved the symbiosis of their relationship. Their relationship wasn't  about one taking too much from the other, but an equal exchange between them both.  I liked how things worked out with Madoc's lifemark and his dire situation as far as his soul.  I loved the fact that Nika wasn't willing to give up on him.  And her determination paid off beautifully for them both.  Nika managed to be a determined, stubborn heroine without ever being annoying about it.  She just didn't give up on what was important to her, and that was a good thing. I was glad she powered through all those obstacles that stood between her and Madoc and finding her lost sister, Tori.  Now you need to know I loved me some Madoc. He's adorably fierce and grumpy, but so marshmallow for Nika.  Just the way I like my heroes!  It should be interesting to see how Madoc progresses as a character since he will now be happily bonded.  Looking forward to it.

Can I say that the Sanguinars have me the most intrigued?  I love me some Tynan.  He is a brilliant mix of cunning, beauty, intelligence, and manipulative nature. He reminds me of an Anne Stuart hero. That's a great complement.  I like Logan too.  The part near the end with the kids had me all warm and fuzzy! I like the whole Sanginar angle, and it makes me so eager to keep reading to see what they have up their sleeves.

The secondary storylines as usual, were compelling.  Some made me sad, and some very hopeful.  But all curious about what happens next. There is a lot of intensity, anguish, and suffering in these books.  I don't feel any sense of disconnection when I read, which is a very good thing. I love how Ms. Butcher builds excitement for the following books without making it into annoying cliffhangers.  Those drive me crazy. It's more of an, "Oh, can't wait for the next book" rather than shaking one's fist and spewing bad language out of frustration.

It's official. I've found another addictive, highly explosive paranormal series to follow. Works for me!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Running Scared by Shannon K. Butcher

Running Scared (Sentinel Wars, #3)Running Scared by Shannon K. Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have gotten stingy with five star reviews. But I had to give this book one. It took me to this point where I couldn't stop reading this series if I wanted to.

There isn't one thing that made this a five star book. But a culmination of things.


Zach--He is a real sweetie. A very worthy hero. His determination to do the right thing despite his own selfish needs. His complete commitment to following through. His tenderness and his fierce power together make him very drool-worthy. What a lovely combination. He is a hero after my own heart.

Lexi--Some aspects of her personality weren't my favorite. She's not trusting and she's hard about some things. Yet, her personality completely makes sense for someone who has led her life. I might be projecting a little. I know I am horrible at trusting people. When you have been let down, it's hard to open yourself up. And with a mother who always drummed into her head to run, to doubt, to reject, to project oneself from the ugliness and the evil in the world, it wouldn't make sense for her to be any other way. I can't expect anything less of her. What really shone through was that Lexi fought past this programming to do the right thing, to trust, to believe, and to sacrifice herself. I was so glad she came clean and she came clean when she needed to. That took some real integrity. I respect this girl. I really do.

Shannon K. Butcher has given us complex characters with so many angles to them. They feel realistic to me, their emotions. They aren't always pretty and pleasing to experience. But because I see the good and bad, that makes them come off the page to me. When a read a book, that's what I want. I don't want to be 'meh' or disconnected. I want to be engaged. Ms. Butcher has done a great job with this book.

The secondary characters in this series do so much to empower and endear this series to me. I am very intrigued by each and every one of them. I feel their pains and experience their suffering. I want to see their individual stories work out to their happiness and contentment. And there are several that I could name that I am eager to read more about, and none that I feel blah about. That's saying something.


The dire situation of the Sentinels is palpable in reading this book. It makes me want to keep reading to see the situation turn around. I love this concept of these men who are dying for women. Their whole civilization dependent upon it. Not that I derive a sadistic pleasure from the men suffering, but the idea of them needing a helpmate to channel their energy, to fight at their side, to heal and to keep them whole is what appeals to me. It takes the paranormal romance genre in a different direction. I know Christine Feehan's Carpathians have the idea of a male who needs his lifemate to keep him sane and whole, and I like it there. This is slightly different, and in an equally appealing manner, with its own distinct and organic feel. This series has a science fiction feel that I have to say works for me. I am curious about so much, and looking forward to seeing where Ms. Butcher takes things next.

Final Thoughts: I wasn't blown away with the first book, but I really liked the second book. It's safe to say I loved this book. This series is on fire for me now. I'm glad my sister gave me the push to read this one. She was right!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Seed of Vengeance by Elizabeth Power

Seed of VengeanceSeed of Vengeance by Elizabeth Power
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a bit of a chore to read, hence the lower rating. I didn't quite 'get' the character's motivations. Erica seemed to act meaner than necessary. After reading many HPs where I wish the heroine could use her tongue like a deadly weapon against the hero who more than deserved it, I found myself wincing at the mean things she said to Rafe. I was never convinced he was a bad guy. Yes, his blackmail wasn't ethical, but otherwise, I thought he treated Erica very well considering how she had treated him in the past, and how she continued to treat him. I understand self-protection in the context of a story where the heroine is married to a hero who might break her heart, I just didn't feel it was authentic in this book.

I think that because I liked Terms of Possession so much, I have higher expectations for this author's books that this one didn't meet. It wasn't a bad book, but just disappointing in the sense that the heroine was too mean for my tastes and the story wasn't that enthralling and lacked intensity for me. When it comes to Harlequin Presents, I want the intensity, angst and drama. Not enough of any of those for my tastes.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rio: Man of Destiny by Cait London

Rio: Man of Destiny: The BlaylocksRio: Man of Destiny: The Blaylocks by Cait London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was glad to come back for another visit with the Blaylocks. I love the atmosphere in this book. The modern Western feel. Small town life. Family and friends, and everything in between. The strong, tough Western hero. Rio might not make a habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve, but he feels deeply and woos Paloma with every bone in his body. Works for me! I felt the language was a bit repetitive at times, but I did love the physical and emotional bond between Rio and Paloma, and how Rio slowly showed Paloma that she could open up to him and have a home and family with him. With her sad childhood with a mother who used her and neglected her, she needed to be shown rather than told that she could be safe in a relationship with Rio. To know that she was worthy of being loved. I think he did that.

Although not a technically perfect book, there was enough substance here for me to say I really liked it. Paloma is a survivor, and strong enough to overcome demons of the past to believe in and invest in a future with Rio and in Jasmine, Wyoming. As for Rio, he was yummy. The song "Where have all the cowboys gone?" by Paula Cole comes to mind. If only he was real!

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Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham

Angel of Darkness (Harlequin Presents, #1712)Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This was a fantastic book! Intense, passionate, well-written. I found both characters complex and compelling. Their bond was so emotionally powerful, I couldn't stop reading about it. And the payoff makes it all worthwhile.

Kelda holds her own against Angelo. She is not a pushover by any means. She was tough. Yes, she allowed Angelo to think the worst of her, but in a way, I liked it, because it was brave and ballsy of her. I really dislike when the heroine in these books is so willing to be walked on just because they are sexually attracted/in love with the hero. Even though Kelda is very susceptible to him, she still has a toughness about it, despite that. She was unwilling to be used or manipulated by this man, merely because she had loved him for so many years. I could feel the turmoil and pain that Kelda suffers, and understand her uncertainty and fears.

Angelo starts out a guy I wanted to hit with a frying pan, hard! But even then, I was like, "There's something to this guy." I loved how LG took me on this journey of discovery with Angelo. I think out of many HP heroes I've read, Angelo suffered a lot for his love of Kelda, and I felt for him and I was glad he won Kelda's heart. He earned it. When he opens up to her, I definitely fell in love with him, so I can see why Kelda did before that.

This was a book that I dived into head first, and I never came out until I was done reading. This is going to be a favorite by Lynne Graham, because she delivered so much in this short read. In that 1.5 hours, I was utterly engaged emotionally, feeling the pangs in my heart as I suffered along with Angelo and Kelda. I also cheered and felt their joy in realizing how deeply they loved and were loved by one another.

Thumbs way up!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare

Hard Evidence (I-Team, #2)Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hard Evidence was an excellent book. It quenched my thirst for good romantic suspense, that's not just about a hot hero and a cute, likable heroine scratching an itch while dodging bullets, and ultimately falling in love. No, there's nothing wrong with that. But it's great to read something that goes deeper and touches on issues that are real and meaningful in the world today while I get my high octane romance fix.

Julian is a man who has spent most of his life in the dark. He started out with a less than ideal childhood, a truly heartbreaking childhood, and channeled that into undercover law enforcement. He's seen only the worst of people. And while he believes that this has barred him from the possibility of a good, normal life and a good woman, undeserving of both, he is a very good man. He has put his life, soul and sanity on the line everyday to help the helpless. That made me love him. He's a gorgeous, sexy man in every way, but it was his heart that touched me the deepest.

Tessa is a crusader in a different way. She works as an investigative journalist to use the print media to bring positive change. Some of the risks she takes makes my hair stand on end. (And knowing that the writer, Ms. Clare taps from her own experiences in journalism makes it even more harrowing). Sometimes I wanted to ask her if she was crazy. But I also understand her need to help others, to use what God gave her to effect change in a world where too many people either don't know, don't care, or look the other way.

These two together make sense in a beautiful way. It was a pleasure to read their emotional, highly sensual, and meaningful love story. I started out reading this slowly (around my other review read), just taking it all in, enjoying the leisurely visit with Tessa and Julian, and soon I couldn't put the book down because I was so compelled to see what happened next.

Hard Evidence does hits hard with the realism of this world in which underage/teenage girls are abused, brutalized, and treated as objects and commodities. It makes me upset and angry to know that this is really happening, and it made me cheer for Julian (who is so well named, for he is a Dark Angel), and Tessa, who is an angel of justice from a whole different direction to do what they could to help those girls. Sometimes it seems as though the good guys don't win nearly enough, and it's too easy to give up the fight. But reading about heroes in these books like Tessa and Julian, that they represent the many unsung heroes, and knowing that there are those in real life who sacrifice and strive to make this world a better place is hugely encouraging. Some dark subject matter, but ultimately hopeful. A beautiful love story in which the light of love shines into places where most angels fear to tread, but not these in this book. Highly recommended!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Captain and the Wallflower by Lyn Stone

The Captain and the WallflowerThe Captain and the Wallflower by Lyn Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick and enjoyable read that I pulled out of the pile because I am a sucker for the plain jane, marriage of convenience, and scarred hero themes. Captain Caine Morleigh is an heir to an earldom who was badly scarred in the Napoleonic Wars. His fiancee' repudiated him after the bandages came off. She even screamed and fainted. That was enough for Caine to know he wouldn't be marrying her. Now Caine needs to find a new bride. This time around, he will choose an unattractive bride, a wallflower desperate for marriage, one who won't mind his unpleasant visage and make few demands on him, happy to be married. His eyes fall on Lady Grace, and he decides she's the one. She's very thin and unprepossessing in appearance. But she has spirit, which he finds out when he asks her to dance and then to marry him. Grace says yes, only to get away from her uncle, who has been mistreating and threatening her. But she is going to make sure that her marriage is to her benefit as well. She wants a real marriage in which her husband respects her and allows her to be true to herself and in which he demands no less than they both deserve in a marriage. Caine comes to realize that his wallflower bride will require a lot more of him than he expected, and give a lot more in return. And that he loves her for it.

I've missed reading Lyn Stone's historical romance books. I'm glad she's writing them again. This book has a trad regency feel, with authentic characters and actions that take me back to that period. Although not G-rated, it is not very explicit in sensuality, but the chemistry, attraction and bond between Caine and Grace is apparent and appealing. I loved Grace's spunk. She wasn't passive or willing to allow herself to be treated as less than she deserved. Her situation with her uncle put her in the position of being a victim but that wasn't natural for her. When she accepts Caine's proposal, she blooms with the freedom and safety he offers, and her real personality comes back to life, and in the process, Caine falls head over heels for her. I was glad that he came to appreciate his bride for the pearl that she was. I liked Caine a lot too. Although his initial plan seemed cold-hearted, he treated Grace kindly and respectfully from the beginning. There was never a question that he was a good guy. He just had some wrong idea about controlling his life by marrying the kind of woman who wouldn't demand too much from him. Fortunately, something in him choose the right woman in the end, and she was exactly what he needed, if not the convenient wife he expected.

Not a ground-breaking book or a foundation-shaker, but a good read. A pleasant love story that kept me reading. Write more please, Ms. Stone. 4 stars!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Predatory Game by Christine Feehan

Predatory Game (GhostWalkers, #6)Predatory Game by Christine Feehan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

****3rd Reread between 6/16-6/19/12
My Thoughts:

I loved the unique vibe of this story. Well honestly, all the books are different, but this one starts out sort of deceptively.  It's kind of a boy meets girl book.  However, then you realize that these friends turned lovers are not exactly typical. They are both lethal killers and they don't want each other to know that.  It was so cute how they both had feelings for each other and were just barely keeping things on a friendly level. Until those feelings exploded into something more.  Boy did I enjoy watching the sparks fly!

This man is so adorable. He's like a deadly teddy bear. He doesn't look like one, he's all hot, hard man with a seductive smile.  But he's sweet and caring and protective, like a little kid's teddy bear that they take to bed to keep the boogeyman away.  But beneath that is a very lethal man who will protect those that belong to him.  I loved that he wasn't willing to let Saber go, to run away from him and what they had together. That kind of hero is my favorite.  The man who will do anything to get and keep his woman.  They make me sigh.  So he's the best of both worlds.  The scene in the basement just gave me shivers. I don't like killing or violence for the sake of violence, but I honestly love a kick*ss hero like no other!  His power is so fantastic, and kind of scary. He proved to Saber that she was safe with him and he could protect them both.  Together they are formidable. 

I loved her character.  Lethal but having the appearance of a beautiful girl-woman. Very small but fierce.  She's a protector, not a destroyer as she has been led to believe. Her heart is not that of a killer. It never could be, but she fears that part of herself. To the point that she stays on the run and doesn't allow herself to get close to anyone. She thinks she's not good enough for Jesse, but she's the one woman for him. I love how she tries to protect Jesse because she thinks he needs her protection.  You could see her love for him, even when she was afraid to love him.  I understood her issues.  Holding back out of fear.  I was glad that she found that place of rest with Jesse, and came to realize that the GhostWalkers were the family she was always missing.  I love all the GW women, but Saber is one of my favorite GhostWalkers, up there with Mari and Rose.

I truly enjoyed this reread.  I could live in these books. They are so enjoyable and real for me.  I love all the aspects of these books:  fiery, beautiful romance, complex relationships between men and women, found and born families, fighting the darkness, and formidable warriors all together.  Everything I love in a good fiction book.    I have to wait until July to reread Murder Game, but I want to just dive in now and keep reading, so I don't have to leave the GhostWalkers behind.  That's how good these books are!

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***Listened to audiobook from 6/29/11-7/5/11. Here are my thoughts:***

I have to be honest and admit I didn't care for the narrator. His voice wasn't suited to the characters and Christine Feehan narrative. I think he would do a great job narrating noir/detective novels, though.  With this story, he just didn't bring Jesse, Saber, and any of the other characters (except the sicko villain) to life in a pleasing manner. He actually made me want to reread the book again right away (and during) to get my own visuals of the characters back in my head, which I will probably do early next year.

Narrator aside, I enjoyed listening because I love this serious so darn much.  I really enjoy spending time with the GhostWalkers, and I don't think that will ever change.  Listening to this book in the early morning hours (and after long hard days) kept me awake on my long journey, and I'm thankful for that. I love turning over the conspiracies involving the GhostWalkers in my head, and hearing it adds a new layer.  If I could change one thing, it would just be the narrative choice.

I am so tempted to go to the library and grab the other GhostWalker audiobooks off the shelf like the greedy junkie that I am.

Overall rating for audiobook:  4.25/5.0 stars

Original review below (I didn't change it because that would be unfair based on the audiobook version)

Another great Ghostwalkers book.  This one had a more semi-normal tone. Boy and girl getting to know each other.  Sort of, if you consider that girl is on the run from a secret agency who trained her to kill with her touch since she was a child, and boy is a super-soldier.  It was sweet but at the same time, both Saber and Jess are two dangerous people you do not want to have as enemies.  I thought that the direction that things went with Saber's ability was really cool. It reminded me of Rogue from the X-Men a little bit.  She was such a likable heroine, and also really dangerous.  I liked that she protected Jess and put her life at risk for him, even at times when she wasn't sure she could trust him.  I liked how Jess fell in love with Saber early on and wanted to make a home for her and for her to feel comfortable enough to stay with him.  He took things slow so that he didn't rush her.  In that way, it was a sweet book.  But when things start to escalate, this book is just as intense as the other Ghostwalkers book.  It was great to see that things worked out for Jess, after reading about how he lost the use of his legs and how awful that was.  It's funny how he played all sweet and harmless but you realize that he is far from that, even though he has to use a wheelchair.  Again, not a guy I would want as an enemy.  He is a powerful Ghostwalker with abilities that remind one of Charles Xavier and Jean Grey from the X-Men, which I thought was really cool. He's also a computer genius type as well.  And he's hot.  Did I mention he was a Navy SEAL?  THUD!   Where can I get one of him? It was nice to see Ken and Mari again, and to see that they are going well.  And to see Lily give birth to the first of the second generation of Ghostwalkers. I am just as addicted as ever to this series, but since i only have one left, I am going to try to hold off on reading that one and read something else because I cannot imagine the void in my life with no Ghostwalker books to look forward to. 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

John Constantine Hellblazer: War Lord by John Shirley

Hellblazer: War LordHellblazer: War Lord by John Shirley
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book. He gives out this vibe of the bumbling ineffectual, who could give a flip about anything. However his ability with magics and the arcane is inestimable. A drunk, chain-smoker, and a bit of a lecher. His sense of morality doesn't seem to fit into the boxes that you might usually ascribe characters. However, he does have a sense of honor, just believes in doing things his own way. All in all, hard to pin down and not one to be taken for granted.

The storyline itself is very harsh. It's about war, and the fact that many use war to profit. That's no secret, but seeing it written down on paper emphasizes the wrongness of glorifying in human suffering, causing it for one's own ends. In this case, a dark cabal is stirring up violence to awake an ancient War Lord to bring about the apocalypse, so they can rule. However, that's not going to go over well, not with Constantine on the opposite side (even if he dislikes the fact that he has to choose sides).

I found myself laughing at some of the admittedly coarse humor. But it was very funny. I loved the side joke in which Constantine remarks about the parallel worlds that exist, one in which he has black hair and wears a black coat, and lives in Los Angeles. That might sound familiar to some folks.

Some parts are off-putting, even repulsive. The dark magics are rather disturbing (in the fact that some folks might choose to go down those roads). However, those who like reading fiction about the arcane and esoteric might appreciate this book. There's even a cameo by a descendant of Aleister Crowley. Some stuff went over my head as far as the Hidden World, but I'm okay with that.

I can't give it a high rating because it has a very slow start and the pace was too uneven in parts. Not to mention the fact that the atrocities committed to see the dark purposes of the cabal to fruition didn't sit right with me (even though they make sense for this book). However, it was a good read and I enjoyed it. So it's easily 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rosemary and Rue is well-written urban fantasy. This novel is full of the melancholy. Not what I would call fatalistic or depressing, but instead in touch with the sad, the weary, the timeless angst of the faerie folklore and myths. San Francisco is a beautiful setting for this story, this grand old city of hills, water, and mists. It's not difficult to believe that Faeries would situate their courts in this place. There is something magical to this setting that does half of the world-building in itself. Ms. McGuire very credibly does the rest with her descriptions of the various faerie and changeling denizens. I am no stranger to faerie fiction, but she brought something new to her treatment, describing creatures both achingly beautiful, and horrific, sometimes at the same time. Not to mention their convoluted and ancient rituals sealed in blood and by their words spoken in oaths. When I read books this rich in authentic details, I have trouble doubting that Faerie is real afterall.

It's not fair to compare, but I did feel like October Daye could hang in the Dresden club, with that feel of the ne'er do well, who gets wounded more than her share, much like the wizard from the series by Jim Butcher. Also the fact that her lot in life has lead to losses that she can't slow down to count, or she wouldn't keep moving. This adds to the melancholy vibe of this novel. Nothing excessive, but inherent to this story, like the mists climbing the twisted streets of San Francisco just before dawn. This is not light-hearted, happy-go-lucky urban fantasy. This is the serious kind where you know that October won't come out of this adventure unblemished. But she will be a little wiser, and probably sadder. With faerie, it's expected. That sadness mixed with wonder pulls me back every time. The reason I'll pick up the authentic version of faerie any day over a Disney-style version. (If you need an example, read The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson and give the Disney version a pass). There's a place for Disney, but it doesn't satisfy like the real thing, tears and all.

Rosemary and Rue was a good start to a series. I can see myself become quite captivated with it, due to its rich faerie texture and hint of sadness and sacrifice. I'd recommend it.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Shadow Game by Christine Feehan

Shadow Game (GhostWalkers, #1)Shadow Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*****Reread May 3-7, 2012****
My Thoughts:

This series remains one of my all-time favorites. I love this concept and the characters. The suspense/action elements are easily as strong as the romance, and it satisfied my multi-faceted reading nature with both.


Ryland is one of those sneaky alphas who acts like a beta towards his woman. He was adorable at how in love he was with Lily. But don't be fooled. He is a lethal, fierce man. Very droolworthy. Even though I love some of the GhostWalker men more, it's a relative thing, because I realize on reread how much I love Ryland. I think for a nine (soon to be ten) book run, having only mildly disliked one hero (Mack) and loved all of the others, that's saying something.


Lily is a multi-faceted heroine who I love and admire. She is wicked intelligent, with a highly cerebral scientific nature balanced by a fiercely loyal, caring, passionate and loving heart. I liked her in this book a lot, and it's great to see what a lynchpin she is for the GhostWalkers in the later books.

Together, their chemistry is sighworthy and hot! If you like plenty of love scenes, Feehan won't let you down.

Team One--

I adore all these guys. I love their strong bonds and their loyalty to each other. Not to mention their soldier bad*ssedness! They know how to joke around, but they also know how to take down the bad guys. It's great to see each one with their women. Going back and rereading this makes me even more excited for Sam's book. (big smile)

Final Thoughts--

I never find Christine Feehan a quick read, but I love her books all the same, particularly this GhostWalkers series. I am glad I did a reread and was able to dive deeper and appreciate things I may have missed the first time around, or just to immerse myself in this book world I love so much.
Mind Game is next and I am so looking forward to it! Glad to get GhostWalker fix. I an a stone cold addict for this series.

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Original Review

I gave this book five stars because I enjoyed it so much. I have heard that it is not the best of the series. I am happy to say that if this is not the best, then it will be a pleasure to read the rest of the books. Right from the start, I knew I would like Ryland, the hero. He came off as a principled, caring person, although with a dangerous edge (which I like in a hero). I liked his immediate attraction to Lily, and how he saw the beauty in her although she never thought she was beautiful. Lily is a good heroine with some qualities that make her stand out from other cookie-cutter heroines. I like that she has the tendency to be a nerd/brainiac type and is very cerebral. She can get sucked into her research and be cranky at times. It's refreshing to read about heroines who aren't goody-goody all the time, although they are good people all the same. It is clear that despite being a very scientific person, she also cares about people and about doing the right thing. I definitely saw the chemistry between Lily and Ryland and hoped that they would get together. I loved that they had a psychic bond that helped each other, when either was feeling pain or anguish. By the time the love scenes came, there was already a deep emotional connection that made the love scenes that much better.

I also liked the premise of the story. It's cool to read a paranormal with humans who happen to have enhanced mental powers. I loved how the Ghost Walkers could tell someone to look away and not see them, and persuade them to do things, yet they never used these powers in a cruel way. I thought the science was plausible, although clearly Feehan made an effort not to bog the reader down with it. The romance and the relationships were the strong focus, yet set in a world that is very exciting and interesting.

I also liked Ryland and Lily's relationships with the other Ghost Walker men and also with Lily's family of employees that have been with her since she was a small girl. I would say that Feehan has a skill at writing about relationships and the intricacies of those interrelations with people. She shows the turmoil that Lily had about her father and her discovering that her father did do some less than ethical experimentation on her and other young girls in his quest to develop psychic powers in human subjects. All the characters in this book were interesting, and I had quite a few good laughs as they joked with each other.

The action scenes were exciting and well-written, showing that this was another area that Feehan is good at. I love reading about tough people who can kick butt, and this book has this in spades. Also I liked seeing the Ghost Walkers and Lily use their powers when they got into fights and went on missions. It reminded me of the X-Men movies, comics, and tv show.

I can heartily say that this book was enjoyable and I am adding it to my keeper shelf. I am eager to read all the books in the series.

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Mind Game by Christine Feehan

Mind Game (GhostWalkers, #2)Mind Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

****Thoughts on Reread from May 10-May 13, 2012

I was very intrigued with Nico from Shadow Game, for his dark, lethally dangerous, very controlled aura, and how he seemed to fade into the shadows. I thought he'd make for a very good hero in his own book. His story lived up to his potential, both the first and second times.


I like his controlled, ice cool persona, but also how Dahlia penetrates through his icy facade when no one else does. I also liked how he was very smitten with her early on and wanted to find a way for them to be together. He was protective and caring for her, but he realized that Dahlia was an independent woman, and he respected that about her. Even though she was going to go do her job, he was waiting for her in the shadows, there to protect her. I saw growth in his character from Shadow Game, or at least an expansion of his dimensions. He isn't or will ever be gregarious, but I was able to see how important Dahlia, the GhostWalkers, and Lily are to him. I also appreciated his dual background as Lakota and Japanese. I very much appreciate Asian main characters, and Nico whets my appetite for more!


Dahlia is tough as nails. Despite her considerable disabilities, she manages to live a productive life. I certainly wouldn't want her abilities, with the horrible cost that comes with them. I can see why she feared she couldn't have a future with Nicolas, but I was very glad that they were able to work it out. Nico wasn't going to give up on her, and she needed someone to believe in after what Whitney had done to her, and the half-life she'd been living. I like that she also has depth as a character. Not a stereotype, but a full-fledged person. She's beautiful and delicate in her looks, but highly agile, and very strong for what she's dealt with her in life. I like that she doesn't back down from a challenge, and can handle a somewhat commanding man like Nico. I was very glad to revisit her character, and I hope she shows up again in Sam's book.

Overall Thoughts--

Great sexual chemistry, and otherwise. I loved the interchanges between Nico and Dahlia, and between them and the other characters. I loved how the GWs world expands with the introduction of Jesse Calhoun and his team of Navy SEALs. This is the book where we get introduced to the Norton twins, and they build expectations that they live up to very well. Some of the suspense elements were a bit hard to follow, but interesting all the same. I liked this book even more on reread, maybe because I had more time to focus on it when I read it the first time.

Next is Night Game with the smooth-talker Gator and his Flame. Looking forward to it!

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Original Review

I was so excited to read Nicolas' story when I met him in Shadow Game. And I was not disappointed. He was a great hero. I loved his ability to stay in control, but also the fact that one person, Dahlia made his ice cold blood turn molten. He can't seem to understand why this one little woman is the person who can turn his brain into mush and light his body on fire, when he is known for his ability to do what needs to be done without letting emotions get into the way. This is why he takes on the mission to bring in Dahlia when she is known to be a potentially dangerous loose cannon from Dr. Whitney's group of young girls he experimented on.

I thought that the chemistry and the connection between Nicolas and Dahlia was classic. They are a perfect couple and the scenes of them interacting were memorable and delightful, and not just the love scenes, which were pretty incendiary, if you ask me. This book had a lot more action and intrigue than Shadow Game, and Dahlia is a lot more tortured than Lily was. I felt sorry for Dahlia to be so affected by other people's emotions that they made her sick or made her manifest the excess energy as fire. Her situation is a tough one, but Nicolas is there to help her and protect her every step of the way, and he stakes his claim early on and isn't about to let anything take her away from him. You start the book wondering how this couple can get the happy ending that you crave, but you don't end this book disappointed. I was quite impressed with Ms. Feehan's imagination. I have read and watched books with people who are psychically gifted, but the direction that she took with the subject matter was different and exciting.

Mind Game was the kind of book that was hard to put down, and also makes you eager for more stories about the GhostWalkers. Meeting all these delicious, dangerous men is like getting invited to an All Books One Cent sale (or chocolate, whatever your addiction is). And we get introduced to even more GhostWalkers who are just as yummy, such as Jess Calhoun, and the Norton Twins. Can't wait to read their stories. Oh, wait, I do have other books I have to read that aren't Ghost Walkers books. But at least I can look forward to more Ghost Walker books with anticipation. Again I enjoyed the camaraderie between the Ghost Walkers and their gentle care and adoption of Dahlia, who has always felt like an outsider, and has lost the little family that she ever had. I really enjoyed this book, and finished it knowing that I am thoroughly addicted to the Ghost Walker series.

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Night Game by Christine Feehan

Night Game (GhostWalkers, #3)Night Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

****** Reread from June 3- June 6, 2012
My thoughts:

This book series sets me on fire. I know I talk about these books way too much.I can't help it. I just adore them so much! First of all, I find the idea brilliant, and I love the interactions between the characters. The heroes and heroines complement each other, and the passion is fiery. And the action and kick*ssery freaking awesome! The elements of family, both blood and by choice make these book shine, and make me wish I was a GhostWalker (yeah, I know that's crazy, but I kinda do).

Although I loved the first two books, Night Game definitely moves faster, and the chemistry between Gator and Flame keeps the story flying. As I loved it the first time, the banter is just wonderful. Humor is used perfectly, to keep a story that has dark undertones from being excessively dreary.

--Flame: Flame is an outstanding heroine. Life has shaped her into a strong and intrepid woman. She truly is kick*ss. I honestly love all the GhostWalker heroines, and it's hard to choose my favorites, but she might be in my top three. She has very deep scars that keep her from easily giving her heart to Gator, and that is utterly understandable. However, she has a very loving, warm spirit that makes it hard to cut herself off from others. Near the end, when she is so angry at Gator, I could see why. But I am glad she comes to realize that he had his reasons and his love for her will cause him to make choices that she might not always agree with. However, she needs that kind of man, and she knows it.

--Gator: A complex mix of qualities. I love his charm. He has seen the worse in life and has sins on his soul, but he still manages to keep a smile on his face and a positive outlook. But the guy is highly lethal! Loved him in the first book books, and adored him early in this book. I didn't think I'd be as drawn to him because he's the laid-back, carefree GW, but boy was I wrong. Gator snuck up on me, and on the reread, I smile at how irresistible he is. Flame doesn't stand a chance. Neither did I!

The action in this book is off the charts. And I love that Flame is in the thick of it. The suspense elements are quite dark, since they are looking for a young woman from the bayou that was kidnapped and run into a group of men who hate women. I like how they handle those men. I like it very much.

As usual, another well deserved five stars. So glad I took the time to reread this series!

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Original Review:

Another outstanding book for the Ghostwalker series. It was awesome and unputdownable. I loved Flame and I loved Gator. They had a special relationship, and were made for each other. The banter was wonderful. I loved how Flame totally fit into his family like a missing puzzle piece. Loved how Gator wanted to take care of Flame, but also respected that she was a tough woman and could take care of herself. Flame is an alpha heroine, but she was never annoying and didn't get herself into scrapes she couldn't get herself out of. The bayou was another character that seduced me. I don't think I'd like the humidity, but I'd love the animals and the tranquility of the swamps. Again, it was great to see the other Ghost Walkers and to enjoy the camaraderie between them. What Flame suffered ripped a hole in my heart but filled me with admiration. She was an incredibly strong woman, and I loved that Gator got that and never tried to change her or mold her. He was happy with her the way she was. The action was incredible and intense. I was happy on all fronts as I love action/adventure to accompany my beloved romance story. I am so in love with this series. Please keep writing many more, Ms. Feehan.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Deadly Game by Christine Feehan

Deadly Game (GhostWalkers,  #5)Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

******Reread 6/13-6/15/2012
My Thoughts:

For the longest time, this was my favorite in the series, and that's saying something. I had thought I couldn't possibly love it as much the second time around, but I did. Something about this love story just did it for me. I know it has the beauty and the beast thing going on, which appeals, no doubt. But moreso, it's about a person who thought he was 100% ruined/broken/bereft of all things worthwhile except the ability to kill. And he meets a woman who never knew anything more than a cold, brutal soldier's life. Both lonely in different ways. Never expecting to be loved for who they are. My heart and my head is always drawn to these stories. Maybe because of my belief in redemption and the power of love to save what is lost. I think Christine Feehan wrote this story so well. She didn't solve all their problems. There will be issues for Ken and Mari to deal with. But they will deal with them together. How can I not love that about this book? This is a dark love story, but then I love my love stories dark. I guess it was fate that me and this book met and made a love connection.


I love you man. You are so intense and hurt. So dark and lonely. You're a scared little boy in need of a hug. You're a scary, tough man who feels there is no place for you outside of the dark. But there is. There is so much to love about you. I love how you take it on the chin for Jack, but don't cut yourself any slack. Now you have Mari to take care of you, to love you. Your family is complete now with Jack and Briony. I'm so glad. I love all you GWs like crazy, but you're still one of my favorites. Always will be! You're my darling. I hope Mari doesn't come after me for saying that!


You rock, woman! You are seriously a woman after my own heart. You are soft as silk and hard as steel. I guess you never knew you'd find a man like Ken. I'm glad that you did, even though we both know you don't need a man, well not really. You chose him and he chose you, and don't let that Dr. Crazy tell you any different. I'm so glad I could spend time visiting with you again. You made this reread so precious! Mari, you are my girl!

No other way to say it. I adored this book. It's in my heart, and this series takes me to that Book Cloud Nine. I'm out of words. If you don't feel it, I can't change your mind. I know it's real!

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Original Review:

Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much. It was so intense it was like spending hours on the edge of a cliff. The storyline is like a Gordian Knot, getting more and more intricate as we discover that the conspiracy and the tendrils of the Ghostwalker experimentation go deeper and farther than ever could be imagined. Ken went through hell, but he's not a man you could or would dare feel sorry for, although if you're like me, your heart will ache for him, and you'll just want to give him a hug. And he was given the perfect woman to meet his needs. Mari lived through hell as well, so she is the perfect mate for a man like Ken who can never feel or live a normal life again. Mari is a total and complete badass. I could hug the woman. She is a machine of death, but with a woman's heart and soul. She's just what a tortured man like Ken needs. No gentle princess for him. But she's capable of the tenderness that his aching soul is afraid to cry out for. And Ken also meets Mari's needs. He teaches her that a man's touch doesn't have to be disgusting or painful. And considering what Mari endured, that's just what the doctor ordered. I love dangerous heroes and Ken is Platinum American Express card-carrier in the the dangerous heroes club. Can't help not loving them. I like reading stories about people who have surmounted tremendous odds but get their happy endings. This book is way up my alley in that sense. It's full of action, but the romance is the center focus. It was such a great mix of both, that I have this tremendous craving to re-read the book again, like now. But I have to move onto other books. At least I have my memories of this book until I get my tbr pile under some semblance of control and can revisit the rollercoaster ride that is Ken and Mari's romance.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Vampyre by John Polidori

The Vampyre: A TaleThe Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The history of this short story might be even more intriguing than the actual writing itself. Mr. Polidori was the personal physician of the infamous Lord Byron, and this work of fiction was conceived on that famous holiday event in which Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Godwin (who would later become Mary Shelley) issued a challenge to each other to write Gothic stories. This was Mr. Polidori's result.

My thoughts:

I have little doubt that Lord Ruthven was inspired by Lord Byron. Polidori's feelings towards his debauched past employer are quite clear. In this case, Lord Ruthven has a supernatural ability to ruin, damage, and destroy anything he lays his hands on, and enjoys doing so in the process. This does not speak well of Lord Byron, and based of what I have read of him, I can see some echoes of him in this character. Lord Caroline Lamb, the incredibly outrageous for her times, cast-off mistress of Byron is immortalized in a character who appears briefly in the beginning of the story, at least in my opinion.

As far as the writing, I didn't feel that it was particularly inspired or brilliant. This short story is all telling and little showing. This created a distance between the characters in this story and myself. It was hard to feel much sympathy for Aubrey, his sister Miss Aubrey, Ianthe, or anyone else because the narrative was too much like a bland newspaper article, with little connection to the intense emotions of the persons involved. I had a distant feeling of dislike and disgust for Lord Ruthven, which with more active, vivid writing could have been outright disgust. That is a sadly wasted opportunity for a writer, in my opinion.

It's hard to say much overall about this story. It wasn't bad. I can't say I was disappointed, because I didn't have high expectations. Regardless of the issues as far as the writing, Mr. Polidori has earned his place in the vampire fiction canon. Sadly, he lived a short, disappointing (to himself) life. Although he could not be aware of the famous status of this story, it is some comfort to me that he has created something that endured two hundred years later. For that I will respect and appreciate The Vampyre. And also for its commentary of Lord Byron, a man whose antics pretty much created its own character archetype in literature, the Byronic hero. Admittedly in this case, there is nothing at all to recommend Lord Ruthven. Lord Byron himself, I cannot say yay or nay to that question.

End verdict: Any vampire fiction aficionado should take the opportunity to read this story at least for its historical value.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan

Conspiracy Game (GhostWalkers, #4)Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*******Reread 6/11-6/12/2012
My Thoughts:

I did not want to put this book down, which is saying something for a reread. I feel that as much as I loved the first three books, I can see the storyline coming together in a lovely way, and I can imagine that Ms. Feehan is as excited at writing these books as I am a reading them.

Jack is hardcore and dark. I loved him. I think that he was authentic. I can imagine with his tragic family past, he would go down that path. What I appreciated was that for self-image, Jack is not the unworthy man that he thinks he is. For all his ability to kill with ice water in his veins and his gruff way of expressing himself. He shows a sense of honor and integrity, and the ability to be tender and loving. He's what Dr. Bill Winston would consider a transition figure. Instead of continuing the cycle of violence that his father perpetuated, he chooses something different. Despite the fact that he believed himself unable to love, it's clear that he does love deeply. One of the best things about this book is the way he takes care of the two most important people in his life, Briony, and his brother Ken. Actions always speak louder than words. Not a man that a lot of women could love, but I think the right woman definitely could love him. And that woman is Briony.

Briony is a woman who shows what courage is. She feels that she is always afraid of everything, and she hates that about herself. Sometimes we can't help being afraid, but what we do in the face of that fear is the really important thing. Briony has fought to live in a world that is hostile to her because of her psychic abilities. Being around people causes her pain and anguish. And with her family profession, she is around a lot of people, and works through that pain to do something that could be life-threatening everyday as a high-wire performer. When she encounters Jack Norton, she acts as a champion, continually facing her fears and not allowing herself to be boxed in or caged by them. She takes steps that make me quake in my boots, and I loved her for it. I am a broken record. I really do appreciate the heroines in this series. Each one unique and wonderful.

Even though Ken is a secondary character. He is a very important one. His role in this book is crucial and adds delightful flavor to the book. He shows without words that Jack is not the lacking man that he thinks, but also augments Briony's understanding of Jack in important ways. He pokes, prods and matchmakes this couple together, and provides some delightful comic relief. He helps to makes this book the successful read that it is.

This book focuses more closely on the particular couple in focus than the GhostWalkers as a group, which some readers may like. I always enjoy the fellowship of this group, so I missed that, but the more intimate dynamics of Briony and Jack along with Ken definitely make for a rich read. The GhostWalkers show up a little, so that was good. I love how this story forwards the overlying storyline. The conspiracy thickens as we become aware that things are not as they seem, and the mastermind of the GhostWalker plan has even more sinister plans. Even on second read, this book makes me so excited to read the subsequent books!

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Original Review:

This book rocked my world. which is why I made myself put it down after four am to go to bed. When I woke up this morning, I immediately reached for it to pick up where I left off. Jack is a hero after my heart. I love the dangerous, gamma heroes, and I liked that he did worry that he was too dangerous and too intense to be with a woman. But when it came to Briony and his unborn babies, he's a marshmallow but will kill or die for them. The relationship between Jack and his twin Ken was really cool. I was glad that Briony and Ken got along so well. I liked Briony's brothers and how they protected her when danger came at her.

The plotline was pretty unique. I love pregnancy storylines anyway, but the pregnancy theme was used in such an unforgettable and creative way. Imagine a plot to pair you up with a warrior so you can breed second generation warrior offspring. Pretty interesting. Both Briony and Jack worried that the intense connection between them was just engineered. Maybe it started that way but they were definitely fated to be mated.

The action was incredible and there is no question that Jack and Ken are badasses, and so is Briony. She has tremendous inner strength to survive as an empath in a family that is full of loud people and as a performer in a circus. You can't help but admire her and you know that she was meant for Jack.

I can't help but fall more in love with Christine Feehan as an author. She knows how to write men that will keep your interest and keep you drooling. And the women are so perfect for them and admirable in their own right. This is one book that I didn't want to end. But at least I get to read Ken's book next. Yay!

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