Posts tagged ‘JR Ward’

April 2010 Book Releases

There were so many releases in March, that my tbr pile is groaning, and now there’s a whole gang of must-have books coming out this month.

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April 1, 2010: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Here is a book description:

Guardian of the Dead“You’re Ellie Spencer.”
I opened my mouth, just as he added, “And your eyes are opening.”
Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.
But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie’s circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, “You need it. It will save your soul.” Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.
  • Karen Healey’s site.

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April 6, 2010: Hell Fire (The Corine Solomon series, book 2) by Ann Aguirre.

Here is a book description:

Hell FireI’m still a redhead. Before we left Texas, I touched up the roots, and then I had some tawny apricot highlights put in. I guessed that meant I intended to keep this color for a while. Symbolic—I’d made a commitment, at least to my hair.
As a handler, Corine Solomon can touch any object and know its history. It’s too bad she can’t seem to forget her own. With her ex-boyfriend Chance in tow—lending his particularly supernatural brand of luck—Corine journeys back home to Kilmer, Georgia, in order to discover the truth behind her mother’s death and the origins of her “gift.”
But while trying to uncover the secrets in her past, Corine and Chance find that something is rotten in the state of Georgia. Just a few miles away, no one seems to know Kilmer exists. And inside the town borders there are signs of a dark curse affecting the town and all its residents—and it can only be satisfied with death…
  • Ann Aguire’s site.
  • Excerpt on author’s site. (Scroll down linked page.)

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April 6, 2010: Changes (Dresden Files, book 12) by Jim Butcher

Here is the description from the author’s site:

Changes by Jim ButcherLong ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden’s lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.
Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry’s not fighting to save the world…
He’s fighting to save his child.

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April 6, 2010: The Reckoning (Darkest Powers trilogy, book 3) by Kelley Armstrong

Here is the description from the publisher’s site:

The ReckoningOnly two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now, along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I’m on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We’re hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We’ll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we’d left behind and to take out the Edison Group . . . or so we hope.

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April 13, 2010: Tales of the Otherworld anthology by Kelley Armstrong

Here is a book description:

Tales of the OtherworldHave you ever wondered how lone wolf Clayton Danvers finally got bitten by the last thing he ever expected: love? Or how the hot-blooded bad-girl witch Eve Levine managed to ensnare the cold, ruthless corporate sorcerer Kristof Nast in one of the Otherworld’s most unlikely pairings? Would you like to be a fly on the wall at the wedding of Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne as their eminently practical plans are upended by their well-meaning friends? Or tag along with Lucas and Paige as they investigate a gruesome crime that looks to be the work of a rogue vampire?
Now devotees of the Otherworld can share these special moments with some of their favorite characters—as well as discovering deeper insights into the lives of some of the lesser-known players. But even readers new to the Otherworld universe will find much to love in these seven tales of friendship, adventure, and enduring romance. For when the superhuman men and women of the Otherworld set their minds to a task, they do so with fierce passion and an undivided sense of purpose that make them, in the end, very much human.
  • Kelley Armstrong’s site.

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April 20, 2010: Radiant Shadows (Faery Court series, book 4) by Melissa Marr

Here is a book description:

Radiant ShadowsHunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.
Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.
Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.
Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?
  • Melissa Marr’s site.

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April 27, 2010: Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood series, book 9) by JR Ward

Here is the description from the author’s site:

Lover MIneJohn Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.
Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.

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April 27, 2010: Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran

Here is a book description:

Wicked Becomes YouShe’s pretty enough to be popular, and Lord knows she’s rich enough for it. But what society loves best about Gwen Maudsley is how very, very nice she is. So when a cad jilts her at the altar—again—an outraged London bays for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor, Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue.
Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils a very personal interest in her. He has no desire to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But amidst the glittering temptations of Parisian nights, Alex’s past and Gwen’s wildness enter a collision course. As their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs…

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April 27, 2010: Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett

Here is a book description:

TriumffSir Rupert Triumff. Adventurer. Fighter. Drinker. Saviour?
Pratchett goes swashbuckling in the hotly anticipated original fiction debut of the multi-million selling Warhammer star.
Triumff is a ribald historical fantasy set in a warped clockwork-powered version of our present day…a new Elizabethan age, not of Elizabeth II but in the style of the original Virgin Queen. Throughout its rollicking pages, Sir Rupert Triumff drinks, dines and duels his way into a new Brass Age of Exploration and Adventure.
  • Dan Abnett’s site.
  • Excerpt (PDF) at publisher’s site.

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April 2010: The Darkling Thrush by Josh Lanyon

I found that this book is already available at Loose Id.

Here is the description from the author’s site:

The Darkling ThrushFed up with his desk duty in the Imperial Arcane Library, book hunter Colin Bliss accepts a private commission to find The Sword’s Shadow, a legendary and dangerous witches’ grimoire. But to find the book, Colin must travel to the remote Western Isles and solve a centuries’ old murder.
It should be nothing more than an academic exercise, so why is dour — and unreasonably sexy — Magister Septimus Marx doing his best to keep Colin from accepting this mission — even going so far as to seduce Colin on the train journey north?
Septimus is not the only problem. Who is the strange faery woman that keeps appearing at inconvenient times? And who is working behind the scenes with the sinister adventuress Irania Briggs? And why do Colin’s employers at the Museum of the Literary Occult keep accusing Colin of betraying them?
As Colin digs deeper and deeper into the book’s mysterious past, he begins to understand why Septimus is willing to stop him at any price — but by then, it’s too late to turn back.

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Hell Fire and Changes are already on my shelf, waiting to be read! (Hopefully, this week.)

The Reckoning, Lover Mine, Tales of the Otherworld, and Radiant Shadows are on request from the library. I’m 76th on the list for Lover Mine, so it might be a while before I get a chance to read about JM and Xhex. But, Tales of the Otherworld is  already “in transit” to my library branch—score!

I’ve been fighting with myself ever since I realized The Darkling Thrush is already out. I’ve more than blown my book money for this month. However, it’s already sitting in my cart at Loose Id, so I might treat myself  later this week when my tax refund check comes in. ::rubs hands together::

I’ll probably pick up Guardian of the Dead in a couple of weeks. It’s wish-listed on my nook, and it really looks intriguing, doesn’t it? YA with original storylines really get my interest, and this looks pretty unique—especially with the Maori mythology.

I’m still off historicals, and to be honest, I’m not really dying to get back to them, at the moment. Fantasy seems to have filled that niche nicely, for now. However, I LOVE Meredith Duran’s writing style, so will definitely get Wicked Becomes You once my historical mojo is back.

Did I miss any books coming out this month that you’re looking forward to?

For information on other future releases, check out my Upcoming Releases page. For information about other previously released books, check out my Released in 2010 page.

April 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm 18 comments

21 Author discoveries in 2009 (well, at least they’re new to me)

One of the ways I was able to limit myself to choosing only 5 for my Top Reads of 2009, was that I told myself I would acknowledge some really great new and new-to-me authors that I read last year. (This list is in no particular order.)

Here they are:

  1. JR Ward-Black Dagger Brotherhood

  2. Lover AvengedWell, duh. Honestly, I was sort of put off by the random h’s, “bro-talk” and ubiquitous brand-name-dropping that I had read was so prominent in this series. But, at the same time, so many people whose reading tastes I shared (and whose opinion I heeded) loved this series. They were so right. I call it my “Pringles” series. Totally fun to devour and completely irresistible. I’m waiting for Lover Avenged to come in from the library. I have found the controversial switch from a pnr style to more of a uf style hasn’t affected my enjoyment of this series.

  3. Suzanne Brockmann-Troubleshooters series

  4. Dark of NightDuh, again. Spec Ops/Military themed romances aren’t my first choice. But, this is another reason to read outside my comfort zone. Lori (among others) convinced me to give this series a try. And I have come to love not only the action-romance combo, but also the way the characters and their relationships grow over the course of the series. This is one of those series where, when I think I’ve chosen my favorite hero or couple, I keep remembering others, and have such a hard choosing just one. This is just such a consistently great series, and Suzanne Brockmann is a masterful writer.

  5. Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Her site.)

  6. Yeah, again, I’m sometimes late to the party. I won What I Did for Love over at Book Binge. It was celebrity romance, another theme I don’t really read. But, SEP writes both incredible characters and some of the best dialog around. Natural Born Charmer has become one of my Top 5 Contemporary Romances, as well as a “comfort listen”. I’m still working my way through her very lengthy backlist, and have only had 1 so-so read.. BTW, if you haven’t listened to SEP’s books in audio format, they are SO worth checking out.

  7. Jordan Castillo Price-PsyCop series, Hemovore

  8. Camp HellI’m SO digging Vic Bayne and the PsyCop universe. Tracy first turned me on to JCP’s Hemovore which was an awesome m/m parnormal romantic suspense. I’d heard great things about her PsyCop series, but just never got around to reading it (I think I melded it in my mind with RoboCop. :-P ) But, after enjoying Hemovore so much, I had to read it. Right now, Vic is one of my favorite misfit heroes: edgy, a loner, and still trying to figure out what Jacob is doing with a guy like him. The supernatural mysteries are tightly plotted and really absorbing. And, the chemistry between Vic and Jake is smoking. I’ve also got to say, the PsyCop book covers are among my favorite in the m/m genre.

  9. Loretta Chase (Her site.)

  10. Lord of ScoundrelsSO GLAD I listened to Carolyn, who told me I HAD to read Lord of Scoundrels. This is now one of my Top 5 Historical Romances. The dialogue is great, and I love how Loretta Chase can take a romantic convention and completely stand it on its head. In LoS, Jessica doesn’t treat Dain like the jaded rake that he projects, but nurtures  (sometimes with VERY tough love) the wounded child she sees inside of him. LC’s heroine’s are smart, and she always has a surprise for the  romance reader. So far, I haven’t been disappointed in a Loretta Chase book.

  11. Meredith Duran (Her site.)

  12. Bound by Your Touch was such a beautifully written book! I just wish the covers weren’t so cheesy. To me, they distract from the wonderful story inside. The story of Lydia’s and Sanburne’s romance was an exciting read. Also, there was a love scene in BbYT which was the best I’d read all year. It brought together the emotions and sex that really revealed so much about these two characters (and was incredibly hot.) I also enjoyed Written on Your Skin immensely, which involved characters introduced in BbYT. I’m not currently reading historicals, but when I’m back in the mood, I’ll definitely be picking up MD’s debut novel, Duke of Shadows. ETA: I forgot that I won this over at Ciara Stewart’s! And then, the lovely Rosie brought me a signed copy from RWA!! THANK YOU, ladies!

  13. Lauren Dane-Federation series

  14. Relentless by Lauren DaneRelentless (Book 2 in the Federation series) was such a surprise for me. I had seen it, and book 1, Undercover, around, but the plots hadn’t really caught my attention. Then, I went to a So Cal Bloggers get together, and it came home in my bag after one of our book swaps. Then, it blew me away. I was worried that starting with the 2nd book in the series would leave me confused, but Lauren Dane seamlessly weaves in the essential information from book 1 without ever seeming to info dump. I loved Relentless so much that I immediately went out and bought Undercover. I’ve also started LD’s shifter series, Cascadia Wolves, and have been told that her Chase Brothers series is also excellent.

  15. Ginn Hale-Wicked Gentlemen

  16. Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn HaleAuthor of one of my Top 5 books. I’d been hearing some buzz about this book, and then read a post by JenB  at the Den of Iniquity (her former blog) that made me HAVE to get this book. I’ve written ad nauseum about how much I love this spec fic m/m novel. But, really, it comes down to Ginn Hale’s wonderful story telling skills. Even in her short online story Shy Hunter, and her story in the Hell Cop anthology, it is clear that she has a way with characterization and plot. I’m eagerly looking forward to her Wicked Gentlemen sequel, as well as anything else written by her.

  17. Scott Westerfeld-Uglies series, Leviathan series

  18. Uglies by Scott WesterfeldScott Westerfeld has been around writing YA fantasy for ages, but I finally listened to his Uglies series this year, and was blown away. This series set in a futuristic society where everyone receives plastic surgery on their 16th birthday to make them “pretty” was not only an exciting read, but also much food for thought about accepted standards of beauty and the need/desire to conform to society’s norms. SW’s current release, Leviathan, is a steampunk adventure that takes place on the eve of WWI.

  19. Maggie Stiefvater-The Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver) series

  20. Shiver by Maggie StiefvaterI’ve had Maggie Stiefvater’s Lament on my tbb list for ages, but it was her new shifter book, Shiver that finally got me to read her books. Shiver really demonstrates what a multi-talented author she is. The prose is beautiful, the atmosphere is vivid and the characters were ones I really cared about. Maggie Stiefvater writes in a beautiful, lyrical style, and she is also very musically talented. (She wrote the music for as well as animated Shiver‘s book trailer-scroll down to bottom of linked page to view trailer.)

  21. LB Gregg-Men of Smithfield series

  22. Happy Ending by LB GreggI was nervous about reading a book by a person I knew (virtually) and then I was relieved to read the fun, sexy and fast-paced first installment in the MoS series, Gobsmacked. I love how LB has developed her stories around the rural NE town of Smithfield, and her men are guys I’d want to go out for drinks with. I’m also enjoying the  elements of suspense in this series, and I can’t wait for 2010 to bring MoS 4 and LB’s new series, Romano & Albright.

  23. Jill Sorenson (Her site.)

  24. I’m not a big romantic suspense reader, but Jill Sorenson’s debut novel, Crash Into Me was a great departure from my regular reading. I love the San Diego area setting of her 2 books, and the characters are original and compelling. One of my other favorite things about both Crash and Set the Dark on Fire are the strong secondary storylines featuring YA characters. The suspense plots kept me guessing, and even after I knew “who did it”, finding out the “why” kept me reading. I’m really looking forward to finding out what 2010 will have in store for Jill!

  25. Jill Shalvis-Wilder Adventures series

  26. Instant Attraction by Jill ShalvisJill Shalvis really knows the mountain setting (again, a part of California not often written about) she writes about, and her characters in the Wilder Brothers Adventures are interesting and sexy. I was worried that I’d be disappointed with Instant Attraction (book 1) after hearing so many raves for it. Luckily, it was as good as I heard, and Instant Gratification (book 2) was even better. Jill Shalvis takes characters that are sometimes a little hard to warm up to, like Emma in IG, and over the course of the book makes the reader understand why she is the way she is, and enjoy reading about her growth.

  27. Julie James (Her site.)

  28. Practice Makes PerfectHollywood and law firms are 2 settings I usually don’t enjoy in romance. Yet, Julie James proves that great writing will trump reading biases every time.  Great dialogue and character growth are my 2 favorite things about JJ’s books. Especially in Practice Makes Perfect, I LOVE how smug, arrogant lawyer JD Jameson is slowly revealed to be the great hero he is. There’s a scene toward the end of the book revealing a secret about JD that got to me so much I had to re-read the scene a couple of times to take it in. Can’t wait for Something About You, out in March.

  29. Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett (Their site.)

  30. Shadow MagicHavemercy reminded me a lot of Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths when I first picked it up (dark fantasy magical world told in alternating 1st person povs), but by the end of the novel, I felt like Jones and Bennett had set their own path. Then, with Shadow Magic, they took Havemercy’s world and made it even better. Their story-telling  is exciting and still is able to touch on themes like the act of storytelling, legend and myth, and the intersection of an individual’s story with the story of a culture. I love it when a writer’s books get progressively better, and I am really psyched to see what happens with this series in the upcoming Dragon Soul.

  31. Jane Seville-Zero at the Bone

  32. Zero at the BoneI meant to get around to reading Zero at the Bone for months, after seeing a review of it at Lesley’s. When I finally picked it up, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long. I loved the intense relationship between D and Dr Jack, and the action kept me riveted to my reader. As soon as I finished ZatB, I went to Jane Seville’s site, and read all the Jack and D short stories she has there. Now, I’m waiting like a kid with my nose pushed up against the pet store window looking at puppies, hoping for a new book by Jane Seville.

  33. Carolyn Jewel (Her site.)

  34. My Forbidden DesireI’ve come to love both her historicals and paranormal romances. Her beautiful prose style really smacked me upside the head when I read Scandal, and then when I read her pnr My series, Carolyn Jewel became one of my favorite all time authors. In fact, Scandal is on my Top 5 historical and 2009 Top 5 reads, and My Forbidden Desire is on my Top 5 pnr reads. (See sidebar on right for Top 5 links.) I think that what Carolyn Jewel does so well in these very different types of books is that she really gets inside the characters and lets the reader not just see, but also feel what they are feeling, be they a 19th century widow or a 21st century fiend.

  35. Gail Carriger-Alexia Tarabotti series (Soulless)

  36. Soulless By Gail Carriger

    I love checking out the Orbit release schedules to see what one of my favorite fantasy publishers has coming out. I’ve found more than one new author on their schedule that I’ve come to enjoy. This year, the cover for Soulless caught my attention, and the description of this steampunk paranormal made it at the top of my to be bought list when it was released. Gail Carriger’s smart and witty writing style made this book so much fun to read.

  37. Seanan McGuire-October Daye series (Rosemary and Rue)

  38. Rosemary and RueThis is on of my favorite new uf series that debuted this year. (Ilona Andrews’ The Edge series and Ann Aguirre’s Corine Solomon series would be my others.) Though, this is the only one by a debut novelist. I first saw this at Kmont’s, in a New Author Spotlight post. The story was dark and starts out quite melancholy (given what happens to Toby, it’s understandable) yet the action never bogs down in mopiness or self-conscious angsting. The world is very complex, but doesn’t info dump and Seanan McGuire allows it to be revealed naturally, through the action of the plot. I can’t wait for the rest of the series, starting with A Local Habitation, coming out in March.

  39. Jennifer Ashley-Highland Pleasures series (The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie)

  40. The Madness of Lord Ian by Jennifer AshleyThis was another book that had so much buzz, I was afraid to read it for fear of being disappointed. Luckily, for me, The Madness of Lord Ian was a wonderful historical romance. This wasn’t just because Lord Ian was such an unusual character (which he was) but also because I found Beth to be equally interesting. Now, in 2010 not only will Jennifer Ashley be releasing the next book in this series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, but also the first book in her new pnr series, Pride Mates, which due to its shifter-y goodness, I’ll be really looking forward to as well.

  41. Samantha Kane (Her site.)

  42. Though Sam Kane’s m/m/f Brother’s in Arms series is better known, I first read her m/m romance, Islands. The romance and emotions blew me away. She is so great at showing how the characters feel about each other, whether it’s through a love scene, a conversation, or simple looks or touches between characters. Of course, after loving Islands so much, I did go back and read The Courage to Love (BIA 1). I’ve been meaning to get back to finish reading the  series, because I know that there are some great love stories to be told there.

PHEW! I feel so lucky that I found so many great new authors last year. They are now all on my upcoming books list as I look forward to their new releases, or on my to be bought booklist as I continue to read their backlist. A couple of things I noticed while compiling this LONG list:
Many of these were books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. The were stories that were either outside of my comfort zone or had story lines that I don’t usually like.
The other thing was that I DID pick up these books because of other bloggers’ recommendations. So, a big THANK YOU to everyone who led me to these great authors.

Did you have any author discoveries in 2009 that you want to share?

January 5, 2010 at 4:00 am 14 comments

My Top 5 . . . paranormal romances

This week’s top 5 list is a mixture of both series and individual books. I never thought about how many fewer paranormal romances I read as compared to urban fantasy, but I guess that makes sense, since I’ve been reading uf the longest. Also, in all honesty, I had quite a few that after reading 1 or 2 paranormals in a series, I just didn’t feel strongly enough about them to continue reading the series.

I’ve been debating on whether I should try to define the difference between uf and pnr. I’d hoped to avoid it, but I think for clarity of the list, I’ll give it a shot.

I consider a book “paranormal romance” if the book is essentially character driven. That is, the action of the book springs mainly from the h/h coming together. (For uf, the book would be more plot driven, and the main thrust of the action would spring from that.) Also, generally speaking, each book will end with a happily ever after for the main couple. If it’s part of a series, the next book will focus on a new couple, since the previous protagonists’ story has reached its conclusion.

Of course, this is only MY definition, since I have a feeling everyone asked would give a slightly different one. ;-)

When I list a series, the book pictured is usually my favorite of the series. This list is in no particular order.

Previous week’s lists:

ETA: Katie, over at Katidom has also posted her Top paranormal, uf, and alternate reality books. Be sure and check out her list!

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Branded by FirePsy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh

I had heard for so long that this series was so great that by the time I got around to starting it, I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Luckily for me, it really did. I think it’s one of the best written, most consistent pnr series out there.

I actually had a hard time picking out a cover of my favorite in the series. I wound up going with Branded by Fire, not only because it’s really really good, but also because it will be released this coming Tuesday, July 7, 2009.

Not only are the shifters sexy and the chemistry between the heroes and heroine’s sizzling, but I thing what makes this series a stand out for me is the balance in the books between world building, plot action, character development (of both the primary couple and secondary charactes) and romance.

I have been dying for Hawke’s story, as he is one of my favorite heroes around, and love how a little bit of his story has been given in each book so far. Hopefully, his book will come in the next year or so. (Dev’s story, Blaze of Memory, is next, to be released November 2009.)

  • Nalini Singh’s site

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Lover Eternal by JR WardBlack Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward

This was another series I had apprehensions about starting. Again, hyped all over the place. What made me more nervous about it was that, while I really liked the Dark Lover excerpt that’s on JRW’s site, the whole “bad-ass” brotherhood with funky spelled names sounded too cheesy for me.

Well, I was wrong and I was right. I still have to control the automatic eyeroll when I see the random letters in their names, and the hood talk still makes me giggle, but boy, what fun books! I’ve posted before about their Pringle’s factor for me. I’ve only read the first 2, but when I did read them, I did not want to put them down until they were all done.

Now, because I’m still in the early books from this series, they are still definitely in paranormal romance territory. I’ve heard mixed things about the series’ later books, and am very interested to see how her shift in style (less romance based, more plot driven, heading into uf territory) affects my enjoyment of this series.

Zsadist’s (my favorite Brother) book is waiting for me at the library, as I write this.

I feel a sudden craving for potato chips coming on . . .

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Angels' Blood by Nalini SinghAngels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

OK, because this is a “hybrid” book, packaged as an “urban fantasy romance” I wasn’t sure where to put it. I decided to include it in my paranormal list, since the uf list was already hard to keep down to 5.

Also, the relationship between Elena and Raphael is entirely central to the story, thus (for me) putting it more in the paranormal side of the house.

Aside from the absolutely stunning cover, this book is awash in beautiful images, especially those of the Angels, and Raphael in particular.

Nalini Singh, again, has been able to create such a compelling and original world. The more I read her, the more the word “balance” comes to mind when I think about her writing. Plot depth is not sacrificed for more time spent on character development.

I am so excited that this is a new series, and am so looking forward to more of Elena’s story.

BTW, NS also released an excellent prequel e-novella, Angels’ Pawn, which is available for purchase. I was thrilled to read on her site that she will be revisiting main characters, Ashwini and Janvier, later in this series.

  • Nalini Singh’s site
  • Angels’ Blood excerpt. (Scroll down linked page.)

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With Caution by JL LangleyWith or Without series by JL Langley (M/M)

This was the first M/M novel I read, and this series is a really good one. I originally won this book when JL Langley was a guest over at the DIK blog.

Since then, I’ve read just about all of her back list, and have become such a fan of her 3 series (this one, the Ranch series, and the Sci-Regency series.)

The With or Without series focuses on a werewolf pack whose territory includes a Native American reservation. Pack politics, family drama, race issues, and of course, romance all get covered so well in this series.

To me, the biggest strength of JLL’s writing is her ability to write characters that really connect with the reader. When reading one of her books, I often find myself wondering about them throughout my day. I love the dynamics between the heroes, and how they work out coming together, usually amid an abosrobing mystery.

With Caution is my favorite of the 3 stories. Jake is one of the sexiest alpha heroes around, and I love how he helps Remi heal from his tragic past. Also, this book includes Remi’s little brother Sterling, whom I love to pieces!

  • JL Langley’s site.

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My Wicked EnemyMy series by Carolyn Jewel

I loved Carolyn Jewel’s historical romance, Scandal, so much that I was eager to read her new paranormal romance series.

The world of fiends, mages, and witches is really original and interesting. Though powerful, the fiends are vulnerable to a witches or mages power, and can become enslaved (mageheld) by them. This makes for an interesting dynamic between the h/h, where (at least in the first 2 books) the fiends are the heroes, and very alpha, and the heroine witches — while theoretically having the upper-hand, with the potential to “capture” the hero — are ignorant of the power they possess.

If you like alpha heroes, the men in this series are as alpha as they come.

I am currently reading My Forbidden Desire, book 2 in the series, and enjoying it a lot! I was really intrigued by Xia in My Wicked Enemy, and am so glad CJ is telling his story. Book 3, will tell Durian’s story, according to Carolyn Jewel’s blog.

  • Carolyn Jewel’s site.

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OK, so I’m trying to see what these books and series have in common. The most striking thing to me is that they have not only really good romances between the h/h, but also original worlds that have been very well developed.

I actually sort of struggled with this list. I have a few more that (like the Psy-Changeling series) I’ve heard great things about, and am meaning to try. Meljean Brooks’ Guardian series, for one. Do you have any recommendations for me? What are your top 5 paranormal romances?

July 6, 2009 at 5:00 am 22 comments

Best Reads-January 2009

mandala-butterflyJanuary flew by. We had a lot of personal events happen in January, and I can really see how that made a difference in how much I read. I read or listened to 13 books in January, and the books below are the one’s I thought were the best.

I think it’s sort of significant that 2 of the best books I read in January are re-reads. I’m not sure if that means that January’s books were uneven,  or they suffered in comparison to the tried and true, or that I’m just re-reading more—and, of course, if I’m going to bother re-reading, it’s going to be a stand-out book.

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Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett

I had heard so much buzz about this speculative fiction debut novel by these 2 young writers. And, as I’ve said before, I have love of the dragons: Havemercy is a magic fueled, mechanical dragon.

I checked this book out from the library, but enjoyed it so much, I’ve gone out and bought myself a copy.

Here is a book description from the author’s site:

Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov’s greatest weapon. But now one of its more unruly members is at the center of the city’s rumor mill, causing a distraction that may turn the tide of victory. 

With Volstov immersed in a scandal that may have international repercussions, the Ke-Han devise an ingenious plan of attack. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save the kingdom they love: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student—and the unpredictable ace airman who flies the city’s fiercest dragon, Havemercy. 

But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it….

It started off a little slowly, but once it got going, I really loved it! Split between 4 perspectives, the voices were distinct, but as the book progressed, the 4 characters come together, to differing degrees.

Havemercy was unexpectedly romantic. The relationship between young tutor Hal and Royston, an older, world-weary magician, was sweet, poignant at times, and satisfying. Their storyline and interactions very much reminded me of a historical novel, with Hal in the traditional female role of the young, naive, impoverished “governess” and Royston, who has been exiled to his brother’s country estate for having an ill-advised affair with a prince in the traditional “rake’s/gentleman’s” role.

The split perspective really worked well to tell this part of the story, allowing the reader to see each character from the other’s perspective. Especially in Royston’s case, I could see why he found Hal’s honesty and unpretentiousness a balm to his jaded soul. Also, Royston’s struggle to maintain propriety and protect Hal’s reputation and position in the household were so touching to read.

Thom’s and Rook’s story line, centering around the Dragon Corps, was very different. Combative and sometimes painful to read, the strange push/pull of their relationship was compelling. An airman in the Dragon Corps, Rook is very bitter, and an unrepentant bully. Thom, a university graudate student,  is brought into the Dragon Corps to “clean them up” and prevent the members from causing anymore scandals. Rook greatly resents Thom’s presence, and makes him pay dearly for it. 

Havemercy reminded me very much of Sarah Monette’s speculative fiction novel, Mélusine, the first book in her Doctrine of Labyrinths series. Like Mélusine, Thremedon is a city steeped in magic and political intrigue. Also, there’s a wonderful sense of the city being a character in the novel, with clearly imagined districts and inhabitants.

According to authors’ note on the Random House site, JJ and DB are working on “a semi-sequel to Havemercy about the other side, the Ke-Han. Hopefully there will be a full incorporation of Japanese folk legends, culture shock, and cross-dressing!”

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The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh LanyonThe Ghost Wore Yellow Socks by Josh Lanyon

I had really been looking forward to this stand-alone novel by Josh Lanyon. JL has not disappointed me yet.

Here is a book description from the author’s site:

His romantic weekend in ruins, shy twenty-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat — and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that’s not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont? Perry turns to help from “tall, dark and hostile” former navy SEAL Nick Reno — but is Reno all that he seems?

I really like Perry and Nick. The story is told in 3rd person, following both characters closely. This allows the reader to see each character through the other’s eyes, and lends much to the insight on both of them.

Perry is introverted, and has just returned from a failed romantic vacation. What I like about him is that while reticent, and even sometimes timid, he isn’t a wimp: he has a spark of initiative and strength. He also grows through the process of the story, which is always something I love to read.

Nick is the strong silent type, and a bit of a mystery. He’s a former Navy SEAL, and is rebuilding his life after crushing personal and professional events. The thing for me that really makes Nick interesting is that he is drawn to Perry. I’m loving reading how Perry brings out protective instincts in Nick, despite Nick’s desire to remain uninvolved.

This is very much a murder mystery with “ghost-y” elements. Josh Lanyon is great at plotting mystery (I tend to forget that when I think of the Adrien English Mysteries, ’cause I get so caught up with Adrien’s and Jake’s relationship.) This one is very tightly woven, and a satisfying read.

  • Josh Lanyon’s website.
  • The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks excerpt on author’s site.

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Caressed by Ice by Nalini SinghCaressed by Ice (Psy-Changeling series, book 3) by Nalini Singh

I’ve really enjoyed this series, and am slowly working my way through it. So far, book 1, Slave to Sensation has been my favorite, but I think I liked Caressed by Ice better than book 2, Visions of Heat. Of course, I will be reading book 4, Mine to Possess really soon!

Here is the description from the author’s site:

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna… 

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Nalini Singh did a great job with Judd’s character, a Psy, able to balance his controlled icy demeanor with the explosive passion he feels for wolf Changeling, Brenna. Brenna’s character was really interesting, as well. Following her on her road to wholeness after her experiences at the hands of a Psy sociopath made for compelling reading. 

  • Nalini Singh’s site.
  • Excerpt for Caressed by Ice.

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Dark Lover by JR WardDark Lover by JR Ward

This is another series I had heard so much about before I finally got around to starting it. The only reason I haven’t yet read the rest of this series, is that I have told myself I need to finish the Psy-Changeling series before I move on to the rest of this series. (This is my way of getting my reading list a little more streamlined. Of course, this strategy might work better if I weren’t constantly adding more books to it!)

Here is the description from the author’s site:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There also exists a secret band of brothers like no other — six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Among them, none relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood…

The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed- orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate —Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…

I did a pretty complete post about my thoughts on Dark Lover. In a nutshell: I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the rest of the series, especially Zsadist’s story!

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RE-READS:

Moon Called by Patricia BriggsMoon Called (Mercy Thompson series, book 1) by Patricia Briggs

Since it’s a re-read and I’ve already recently posted on this, I’ll just say again:

This is, IMO, one of the best urban fantasy series around. :-) 

  • Patricia Briggs’ site.

 

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Dead to the World by Charlaine HarrisDead to the World  (Southern Vampire series, book 4) by Charlaine Harris

I’m continuing my revisit with Sookie. I’m working my way through the audiobooks. They’re excellent productions, narrated by Johanna Parker. I really don’t get tired of reading or listening to this series. To me, that really says something about CH’s excellent writing.

Dead to the World is my favorite book in the Southern Vampire series. Eric totally steals the show on this one, and there is more than a little wish-fulfillment for Sookie.

  • Charlaine Harris’ site.
  • Dead to the World audio excerpt at Audible (click audioplayer link below book cover image.)

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I’ve already got 2 books for my “Best Reads” for February, so I’m hoping this coming month will continue to be a good one!

Were there any great reads for you in January?

February 3, 2009 at 7:00 am 14 comments

A little late to the party… (Dark Lover by JR Ward)

Dark Lover by JR Ward. . . but enjoyed it immensely!
Dark Lover was such a fun read!

For those (like me) who’ve been under a rock, and never read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, here’s the description for Dark Lover, book 1:

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There also exists a secret band of brothers like no other—six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Among them, none relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood…

The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed—orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate—Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…

Highlights for Dark Lover (minor spoilers):

  1. Chemistry between Beth and Wrath
    Hot! Pole-axed doesn’t begin to describe what happens to them when they first meet. I was a little surprised at how fast their first encounter moves, but by the second time they meet, I was totally caught up in it. 
  2. Wrath’s vulnerablility
     I think this is one of my favorite things about the book. He’s so tough, but Beth really gets under his skin. Despite his desire to remain untouched by her —emotionally, at least — his love for her just lays him bare. (Emotionally, I said! lol) And boy, he really fights it!
  3. The Brothers
    I’m such a sucker for all that camaraderie. I love how they are there for each other, and really enjoy being around each other.
  4. Zsadist
    I’m also a sucker for a tortured hero. I think he’s my favorite Brother, so far. I’m looking forward to seeing his character develop, and eventually getting his own book, Lover Awakened
  5. Butch
    See above re: tortured hero. I love what JRW did with Butch. He could have been a stereotype, “cop burn-out goes bad”, but when he connects with the brothers it’s totally awesome. His connection with Vishous was great!

I’ll definitely be reading book 2, Lover Eternal, though I think I want to catch up with Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series before reading the rest of BDB.


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Challenge Update:

TBR Challenge: Fantasy Lover (Dark Hunter series, book 1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I’ve had this on my shelf for a while (though not with the much nicer, newer cover.) I read Sieze the Night, book 8 in the series when publisher, St Martins Press was giving away the ebook. I also won One Silent Night, book 18 from the Ramblings on Romance, etc. blog (also on my TBR shelf.) 

So far, so good! :-)

Re-Read Challenge: Moon Called by (Mercedes Thompson series, book 1) Patricia Briggs

Man, I love this series! I’m getting ready for Bone Crossed, book 4 to come out February 3, 2009. My plan is to read all three previous books.

I had a moment of panic this morning when I went to get it from my shelf, and realized I had lent it to a friend. Luckily, my local library has it in, so I’ll pick it up this afternoon.


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OK, I’ll be heading over to JR Ward’s site now, so I can read the Lover Eternal excerpt!

January 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm 18 comments

And on to the books!

doll-reading-heart-bookAfter all the “Best of” posts, and “Resolution” posts, and “Challenge” posts, I’m ready to get back to the business (well, pleasure, really) of reading!

Once again, however, I’m feeling an urge to clear the decks and put aside the books I’m currently reading.

I’ll finish Here Be Dragons by TA Chase. I’m enjoying it, despite a couple of issues with it. I’m worried that Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow might be a DNF. I really, really want to like it, but I’m hanging by a thread here. (See more about these 2 books below.) Midnight Never Come is good, just not what I’m in the mood for right now. I’ll put it down to pick up later. (Is this another TBR Challenge possibility?)

So. Truth telling time. On Saturday, I went to the library and picked up Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 1) by JR Ward, one of my library requests. I started it Sunday night, and am really enjoying it so far!

Dark Lover by JR WardIt’s actually been on my radar since 2007, when I read a really good excerpt on JR Ward’s website, but all the “tough-dude” talk, and H’s in the names sort of put me off. However, I’ve read so many awesome things about it, I finally decided to take the plunge. So far, I’m glad I did!

I like to read more than one book at a time, so I can pick a book up depending on my mood. To balance Dark Lover, a contemporary paranormal romance, I’m thinking I’ll read The Companion (also published under the UK title A Rare Interest in Corpses) by Ann Granger, a historical mystery. I also like to have an ebook going (especially now that I’m reading them from my Palm), so if I ditch Night Shift, I’ll start Josh Lanyon’s The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks.

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Here Be Dragons by TA Chase

I was really excited about this book. The description and excerpt really caught my imagination:

Herpetologist, Kael Hammerson is hiding in Ireland working at a research lab. While Ireland may seem a strange place for someone in his field, it was the furthest away he could get from his abusive ex-partner. Now, a year later, his heart is ready to heal.

Kael’s boss, Hugh Price, is very interested in Kael, but is afraid to cross the line from employer to lover. When a strange sea creature is brought into the lab, Hugh and Kael are swept into a fight for their lives and the lives of mankind.

Dragons have returned and the men must decide if their own love can survive the interference of a goddess.

Here Be Dragons by TA ChaseI really liked the setting (Ireland is one of my favorite places in the whole world!) and Kael’s dv survivor story caught my attention. I’m also a sucker for dragon stories, so this seemed perfect.

And, in a lot of ways it really worked, especially in regards to the characters. Kael is a really special guy. He’s suffering from PTSD, due the the abuse he suffered at the hands of his ex-partner. Yet, he is courageous enough to work through all of the flash backs and anxiety attacks so that he can become more emotionally healthy and give a relationship with Hugh a chance.

Hugh, too, is great. Gentle and caring. Really supporting Kael while he deals with his issues, and loving him enough to allow Kael to develop strength in his own right, without jumping in to “save him”, no matter how much he’d like to do just that.

The chemistry between them really works, too. When they get together, it’s great!

I’ve only had a couple quibbles. I can usually buy the “instant love” of many romances, be they the paranormal shifter/vampire kind, or the romance, erotica, or m/m kind. But for some indefinable reason, I just didn’t buy it in HBD. Kael and Hugh know each other as boss/employee for some time before the book starts, but it just felt like the “love you no-matter-what” came way too soon for me (like within a day of admitting their attraction to each other.) It’s like they were ready for it, but I (the reader) wasn’t.

The other issue I’m having is that it feels like the book is suffering a bit from “kitchen sink” condition. I mean, I’m down with the dragons, and even accept that in a book about them, there will be other mythical beings. But, a little more than halfway through the book, we are up to: dragons, sea serpents, visions of St George (which I get, cause of the whole dragon-slaying thing), Mordred from Aurthurian legend, Gaia, mermaids, talking cats, and telepathy. I swear, I groaned out loud when the mermaids showed up!

But, I’ve a weakness for good characters, and that’s what is keeping me reading HBD.

Unfortuantely, the character of Jill Kismet is what is probably going to make …

Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow

Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow a DNF.

Here is the book description:

Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night.

Not everyone tries.

But Jill Kismet is not just anyone.

She’s a Hunter, trained by the best – and in over her head.

Welcome to the night shift…

Man, I love kick-ass heroines, but there needs to be more them than ass-whupping and a painful past. The character really reminds me of the main character in the movie La Femme Nikita. But unfortunately, all of Jill’s complexity seems to come from anger and pain, and very little from any kind of self-knowledge or growth.

Time and time again, I’ve been frustrated by Jill’s pulling a bonehead move just because she’s pissed-off. She justifies all her actions because shes angry.

I find Lilith Saintcrow’s world building fascinating. Her Dante Valentine series was one of my favorite reads last year. Though, I have to admit, I did have some of the same frustrations with Dante after a while.

On the positive side, LS’s worlds tend to be dark, violent, and an interesting mixture of spiritual and gritty. I’m also liking the weres in this story, especially Saul, who, for some unknown reason is really attracted to Jill, and keeps sticking around regardless of how she treats him.

I had read a number of mediocre reviews of Night Shift, and more glowing ones of book 2, Hunter’s Prayer. So I figured if I could just get through book 1, book 2 would be my pay-off. I just don’t know if that much delayed gratification is worth it for me.

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I’m so excited! For the last week, my guy has been listening to the audiobook, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. He agreed to let me “interview” him about a guy’s perspective on this awesome book. I’ll post it tomorrow!

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ETA: Just finished reading Here Be Dragons. It has got one of the most abrupt endings I’ve ever read! There was a conclusion, but after the lead up to the big confrontation, that conclusion was shockingly short.

As I was reaching the end of the book, I kept checking the remaining pages, unable to believe it would be wrapped up so quickly. It was. *shrugs in resignation*

January 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm 8 comments


Vintage pin-up girl reading
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Angels of Darkness with stories by Meljean Brook, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, and Sharon Shinn

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