July 11, 2012 / 8:25AM 6 notes

Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase
A NEW CHASE! A NEW CHASE! SING PRAISE TO THE HEAVENS, THERE IS A NEW CHASE!
Not only that, it is a continuation of her fabulously fabulous dressmaker series, which began last year with Silk is for Seduction. Are you ready for dress porn? Are you ready to read about sleeve puffs and chemises and luxurious materials and colors and the mechanics of dressmaking? ME TOO.
Well, okay, one thing I should tell you is that since this book doesn’t star Marcelline, the design queen of London’s most faaaabulous dress shop, Maison Noirot, we’re not going to get as much dress porn. Yeah, I’m sad too. And there’s a cute kid, but he’s not as great as Marcelline’s daughter, and not as prominently featured. So there’s all of that!
But, if we’re going to talk about old Chases, it must be said that Harry, the Earl of Longmore, definitely resembles everybody’s all-time favorite brawler, RUPERT CARSINGTON. I know, I was delighted.
However, in the midst of being delighted, I was a bit less-than-delighted to realize that much of the plot and many of the characters seemed a bit - and it pains me to say this about La Chase - recycled. I’m sorry. I have to be honest.
Sophy Noirot is the scheming sister of the Noirot trio, and if you read and enjoyed Last Night’s Scandal, you might find echoes of Olivia Wingate-Carsington. Sophy and Olivia are distantly related, as a matter of fact, but that’s not quite a great reason to have so many similarities between the two. Like Olivia, Sophy is a skilled deceiver and an unparalleled trickster, and she’s always Up to No Good.
So of course Sophy Noirot and the rakish Earl of Longmore (I have to admit the schemer-brawler pairing was a new one for me) have to get together to save one thing or another and help the Earl’s sister, the recently-spurned Clara, ditch her grody fiancee and save the shop and whatever else needs saving in this particular novel.
To repeat a tired simile (and repetition seems to be the theme of this review), Loretta Chase is a lot like pizza - even when she’s not great, she’s still pretty damn good. This is not her best work. It’s not as good as Silk is for Seduction. But it’s fun! There’s enough wonderful dress descriptions to keep you from side-eyeing too hard. It’s not exactly a sturdy, filling romance, but it’s a perfect beach read (or at least it’s what a hastily-researched magazine blurb would call “a perfect beach read”). Worth it, but it’s because Loretta Chase always is.

Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase

A NEW CHASE! A NEW CHASE! SING PRAISE TO THE HEAVENS, THERE IS A NEW CHASE!

Not only that, it is a continuation of her fabulously fabulous dressmaker series, which began last year with Silk is for Seduction. Are you ready for dress porn? Are you ready to read about sleeve puffs and chemises and luxurious materials and colors and the mechanics of dressmaking? ME TOO.

Well, okay, one thing I should tell you is that since this book doesn’t star Marcelline, the design queen of London’s most faaaabulous dress shop, Maison Noirot, we’re not going to get as much dress porn. Yeah, I’m sad too. And there’s a cute kid, but he’s not as great as Marcelline’s daughter, and not as prominently featured. So there’s all of that!

But, if we’re going to talk about old Chases, it must be said that Harry, the Earl of Longmore, definitely resembles everybody’s all-time favorite brawler, RUPERT CARSINGTON. I know, I was delighted.

However, in the midst of being delighted, I was a bit less-than-delighted to realize that much of the plot and many of the characters seemed a bit - and it pains me to say this about La Chase - recycled. I’m sorry. I have to be honest.

Sophy Noirot is the scheming sister of the Noirot trio, and if you read and enjoyed Last Night’s Scandal, you might find echoes of Olivia Wingate-Carsington. Sophy and Olivia are distantly related, as a matter of fact, but that’s not quite a great reason to have so many similarities between the two. Like Olivia, Sophy is a skilled deceiver and an unparalleled trickster, and she’s always Up to No Good.

So of course Sophy Noirot and the rakish Earl of Longmore (I have to admit the schemer-brawler pairing was a new one for me) have to get together to save one thing or another and help the Earl’s sister, the recently-spurned Clara, ditch her grody fiancee and save the shop and whatever else needs saving in this particular novel.

To repeat a tired simile (and repetition seems to be the theme of this review), Loretta Chase is a lot like pizza - even when she’s not great, she’s still pretty damn good. This is not her best work. It’s not as good as Silk is for Seduction. But it’s fun! There’s enough wonderful dress descriptions to keep you from side-eyeing too hard. It’s not exactly a sturdy, filling romance, but it’s a perfect beach read (or at least it’s what a hastily-researched magazine blurb would call “a perfect beach read”). Worth it, but it’s because Loretta Chase always is.

loretta chasesilk is for seductionscandal wears satindressmaker seriesromance novelsbookslitreviews

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July 10, 2012 / 7:23PM 19 notes

A Week to be Wicked, by Tessa Dare
YOU WERE RIGHT, I WAS WRONG. This was a lovely book A wonderful book. Funny and charming and a total blast to read. All I had to do was get past the first quarter of the book.
You see, it starts off being like EVERY OTHER ROMANCE NOVEL EVER, in which Minerva (Greek name, take a drink!), the bookish bespectacled spinster (another drink!) comes up with a preposterous plan to pretend to elope with the rakish and womanizing (take a sip) Lord Payne (PAYNE? finish your drink) so that her sister won’t be ruined and also so she can attend a … geology conference.
Yeah, I know. Like I said, I really had a hard time getting through the first quarter of the book, where Minerva was all bookish and practical and having convenient little asides with Lord Payne (UGH THE NAME), but once they hit the road it became an excellent romance novel buddy comedy adventure story.
The thing that made this book special is, to me, the very natural and sly humor in the interchanges between Min and Lord Pay—let’s just call him Colin. Minerva is an academic spinster, but she manages to loosen up enough to trade barbs with Colin, and it’s never in a “oh look how clever I am” kind of way. The dialogue between them is organically funny and sweet.
Long journeys up to Scotland are pretty common in romance novels - you have to get the hero and heroine together in a confined room SOMEHOW, and it’s easier to be bad in the midst of strangers - and I personally think it’s difficult to pull off this plot device without the story becoming overly episodic or repetitive. To be fair, it is true that Minerva and Colin find themselves running in and out of various wild scenarios, characters we meet on one leg of the journey show up later to be a punchline, etc. With a weaker writer, it wouldn’t work, but it was seamlessly comedic and entertaining to me. Min and Colin’s relationship develops naturally (I keep going back to planty adjectives, sorry) and believably.
A Week to Be Wicked was an unexpected treat for me, and totally deserving of the lavish praise that has been heaped upon it. Strongly recommended!
Note: it’s been hard for me to consistently review the books I’ve been reading lately, but I have finally caught up with every other book enthusiast in the world and joined Goodreads. I’ll keep it updated with everything I’m reading currently. I’ll keep reviewing books here, of course, but reviews might be a little slower.

A Week to be Wicked, by Tessa Dare

YOU WERE RIGHT, I WAS WRONG. This was a lovely book A wonderful book. Funny and charming and a total blast to read. All I had to do was get past the first quarter of the book.

You see, it starts off being like EVERY OTHER ROMANCE NOVEL EVER, in which Minerva (Greek name, take a drink!), the bookish bespectacled spinster (another drink!) comes up with a preposterous plan to pretend to elope with the rakish and womanizing (take a sip) Lord Payne (PAYNE? finish your drink) so that her sister won’t be ruined and also so she can attend a … geology conference.

Yeah, I know. Like I said, I really had a hard time getting through the first quarter of the book, where Minerva was all bookish and practical and having convenient little asides with Lord Payne (UGH THE NAME), but once they hit the road it became an excellent romance novel buddy comedy adventure story.

The thing that made this book special is, to me, the very natural and sly humor in the interchanges between Min and Lord Pay—let’s just call him Colin. Minerva is an academic spinster, but she manages to loosen up enough to trade barbs with Colin, and it’s never in a “oh look how clever I am” kind of way. The dialogue between them is organically funny and sweet.

Long journeys up to Scotland are pretty common in romance novels - you have to get the hero and heroine together in a confined room SOMEHOW, and it’s easier to be bad in the midst of strangers - and I personally think it’s difficult to pull off this plot device without the story becoming overly episodic or repetitive. To be fair, it is true that Minerva and Colin find themselves running in and out of various wild scenarios, characters we meet on one leg of the journey show up later to be a punchline, etc. With a weaker writer, it wouldn’t work, but it was seamlessly comedic and entertaining to me. Min and Colin’s relationship develops naturally (I keep going back to planty adjectives, sorry) and believably.

A Week to Be Wicked was an unexpected treat for me, and totally deserving of the lavish praise that has been heaped upon it. Strongly recommended!

Note: it’s been hard for me to consistently review the books I’ve been reading lately, but I have finally caught up with every other book enthusiast in the world and joined Goodreads. I’ll keep it updated with everything I’m reading currently. I’ll keep reviewing books here, of course, but reviews might be a little slower.

tessa darea week to be wickedromance novelsbooksreviews

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May 13, 2012 / 2:03PM 9 notes

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Oh this is such a lovely book in so many ways. To start, there’s this cover with the attractive keys on it. There’s also an appendix filled with wonderful illustrations and a list of characters by the castle librarian, who basically the best character ever. There’s love, there’s mystery, there’s intrigue, and there’s a big fucking castle where it all takes place. 
Kristin Cashore’s first book, Graceling, is one of my favorite YA novels EVER, and it introduced the character of Bitterblue, who at nine years old becomes the queen of her country (Monsea) when SPOILER ALERT: her insane sadistic father is killed.
Bitterblue follows the now-18-year-old queen through the challenges of trying to be a good monarch to a broken (and barely healing) country, in the midst of lies and deception and mysteries and a past that never really goes away. At night, Bitterblue escapes the drudgery of day-to-day queening (and really, there is a LOT of paperwork involved) by sneaking out and seeing the streets of her city. She meets a boy with purple eyes. He’s pretty awesome. 
This is a stand-alone novel, but I think it is best enjoyed if you read Graceling first, because Po and Katsa are back in a MAJOR way, and you won’t feel the ~*~*~ if you don’t already know them. That said, as much as I loved Graceling, I think Bitterblue is a better book. Bitterblue is far more complex, the writing is stronger (in my opinion - I prefer the florid descriptions of castle life and art to the very sparse and simple style of Graceling, but your mileage may vary). It’s also a pretty long book, which I really appreciated - I waited for over a year to read this book, and I was glad to be able to spend a long time in Bitterblue’s castle, and to visit a lot of new and old characters. 
This book deals a lot with truths and secrets. Cyphers, codes, and keys are all integral to the story. These are all plusses for me, since there’s nothing I love more than a good mystery, particularly if I get to hear the full story in the end. I would be the tuning in every Friday night to watch a Robert Stack in a show called Solved Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong - not everything in this book wraps up neatly or is perfectly resolved, but the big questions are answered. 
Recommended for any and all fans of YA, fantasy, strong female characters, good books. 

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Oh this is such a lovely book in so many ways. To start, there’s this cover with the attractive keys on it. There’s also an appendix filled with wonderful illustrations and a list of characters by the castle librarian, who basically the best character ever. There’s love, there’s mystery, there’s intrigue, and there’s a big fucking castle where it all takes place. 

Kristin Cashore’s first book, Graceling, is one of my favorite YA novels EVER, and it introduced the character of Bitterblue, who at nine years old becomes the queen of her country (Monsea) when SPOILER ALERT: her insane sadistic father is killed.

Bitterblue follows the now-18-year-old queen through the challenges of trying to be a good monarch to a broken (and barely healing) country, in the midst of lies and deception and mysteries and a past that never really goes away. At night, Bitterblue escapes the drudgery of day-to-day queening (and really, there is a LOT of paperwork involved) by sneaking out and seeing the streets of her city. She meets a boy with purple eyes. He’s pretty awesome. 

This is a stand-alone novel, but I think it is best enjoyed if you read Graceling first, because Po and Katsa are back in a MAJOR way, and you won’t feel the ~*~*~ if you don’t already know them. That said, as much as I loved Graceling, I think Bitterblue is a better book. Bitterblue is far more complex, the writing is stronger (in my opinion - I prefer the florid descriptions of castle life and art to the very sparse and simple style of Graceling, but your mileage may vary). It’s also a pretty long book, which I really appreciated - I waited for over a year to read this book, and I was glad to be able to spend a long time in Bitterblue’s castle, and to visit a lot of new and old characters. 

This book deals a lot with truths and secrets. Cyphers, codes, and keys are all integral to the story. These are all plusses for me, since there’s nothing I love more than a good mystery, particularly if I get to hear the full story in the end. I would be the tuning in every Friday night to watch a Robert Stack in a show called Solved Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong - not everything in this book wraps up neatly or is perfectly resolved, but the big questions are answered. 

Recommended for any and all fans of YA, fantasy, strong female characters, good books. 

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May 2, 2012 / 8:05PM 104 notes

That, dear friends, is the steampunk vampire hero who manages a traveling circus in a fantasy world.
He is the hero of this paranormal romance novel.
His name is Criminy Stain.
Criminy Stain.
CRIMINY STAIN.

That, dear friends, is the steampunk vampire hero who manages a traveling circus in a fantasy world.

He is the hero of this paranormal romance novel.

His name is Criminy Stain.

Criminy Stain.

CRIMINY STAIN.

CRIMINY STAINcriminy staincriminy stain?cri.min.y. stain.romance novels that I'm not going to readbookssteampunksteampunk vampire circus masters

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April 30, 2012 / 9:53PM 18 notes

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
You guys probably know that I think Julia Quinn is totally overrated. If you didn’t know that, then I have a newsflash: I think that Julia Quinn is totally overrated. Or at least I DID. My change of heart came about after my friend Ali badgered me to read this book, which I did. Then I had several glasses of wine to drown out the horrid baby epilogue. Then I came here. You see, I reserve my best self for you guys. 
Hold on, I’m going to get some ice cream. 
I got some. 
Okay, so the guy in this picture is Gregory Bridgerton. There are a whole lot of Bridgertons, and they go in alphabetical order from Anthony, the oldest, down to Hyacinth, the youngest, and this is the very last book. Since it is the last book, there are a lot of appearances from all the other siblings (although I can’t remember anything about Eustace or Freud or whoever E and F are). But the one we care about is Gregory. Got it? 
The lady is Lady Lucinda Abernathy, and her best friend is the epically hot Hermione Granger Watson. Hermione gets all the dudes. INCLUDING our own Mr. Bridgerton. What a twist, right? 
Lucy decides to help Gregory flirt, since she is already “practically engaged” and you know what I am totally bored with plot summary, let’s move on. 
So my problem with Julia Quinn before was that her romances (okay, let’s be real, I only read one) were totally standard, you know? They (it) weren’t really that funny. I was not impressed. HOWEVER: this book had all the wit and charm I had been expecting. I quite enjoyed it! And, at the end (and this is totally rare): I DID NOT KNOW HOW IT WAS GOING TO RESOLVE ITSELF. It was not immediately obvious! So I quite enjoyed that.
WARNING: This a book that is more sweet than sexy. There’s totally sex, but not a lot of it.  
Side Note: DO ANY OF YOU READ TESSA DARE? I tried to read A Week to be Wicked but I got through literally three pages before I put the book down in disgust. I will try again but I promise nothing.
I also reread this but have not reviewed it, yet: Sloppy Firsts
Next up: MOTHERFUCKING BITTERBLUE IS OUT TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!
Apology: sorry, I wrote this under the influence and it’s totally half-assed.

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

You guys probably know that I think Julia Quinn is totally overrated. If you didn’t know that, then I have a newsflash: I think that Julia Quinn is totally overrated. Or at least I DID. My change of heart came about after my friend Ali badgered me to read this book, which I did. Then I had several glasses of wine to drown out the horrid baby epilogue. Then I came here. You see, I reserve my best self for you guys. 

Hold on, I’m going to get some ice cream. 

I got some. 

Okay, so the guy in this picture is Gregory Bridgerton. There are a whole lot of Bridgertons, and they go in alphabetical order from Anthony, the oldest, down to Hyacinth, the youngest, and this is the very last book. Since it is the last book, there are a lot of appearances from all the other siblings (although I can’t remember anything about Eustace or Freud or whoever E and F are). But the one we care about is Gregory. Got it? 

The lady is Lady Lucinda Abernathy, and her best friend is the epically hot Hermione Granger Watson. Hermione gets all the dudes. INCLUDING our own Mr. Bridgerton. What a twist, right? 

Lucy decides to help Gregory flirt, since she is already “practically engaged” and you know what I am totally bored with plot summary, let’s move on. 

So my problem with Julia Quinn before was that her romances (okay, let’s be real, I only read one) were totally standard, you know? They (it) weren’t really that funny. I was not impressed. HOWEVER: this book had all the wit and charm I had been expecting. I quite enjoyed it! And, at the end (and this is totally rare): I DID NOT KNOW HOW IT WAS GOING TO RESOLVE ITSELF. It was not immediately obvious! So I quite enjoyed that.

WARNING: This a book that is more sweet than sexy. There’s totally sex, but not a lot of it.  

Side Note: DO ANY OF YOU READ TESSA DARE? I tried to read A Week to be Wicked but I got through literally three pages before I put the book down in disgust. I will try again but I promise nothing.

I also reread this but have not reviewed it, yet: Sloppy Firsts

Next up: MOTHERFUCKING BITTERBLUE IS OUT TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!

Apology: sorry, I wrote this under the influence and it’s totally half-assed.

it's the wine reviewingJulia Quinnbridgerton serieson the way to the weddingromance novelsbooksreviewshalf-assed reviews

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April 22, 2012 / 6:23PM 7 notes

White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
I picked up White Oleander during my first trip to LA last month. One of the friends I was visiting was reading it at the time, and she said “Yeah it’s kind of a bummer but I really enjoy reading it.” And if I had to sum up my whole experience of reading White Oleander, I would probably say that exact thing. Janet Fitch writes beautiful, lyrical prose, but jeeeeeeeeeeesus chips was this a depressing book. Not quite in a “I am going to spend the next three days sobbing” kind of way like Where the Red Fern Grows, or in a “Mankind is utterly doomed” kind of way like 1984, or even a “What the fuck is wrong with this author and why does everybody LIKE this” kind of way like The Velveteen Rabbit. White Oleander is pervasively sad, and there are many times when we are given hope that we know is going to be miserably crushed in the next chapter. However, it ends on a neutral (if not slightly positive) note. 
So, now that you know very specifically how depressing this book is or is not, we can get to a bit of plot summary: Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, is a frighteningly intense poet who goes to prison after murdering her former lover with the poison of the white oleander flower. Like I said, INTENSE. Astrid is bounced through a series of foster homes (all varying levels of depressing) from the time she is 12 until she turns 18.
This is a coming-of-age novel, and one that focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters, and more specifically on how men ruin the mother-daughter relationship. I think Janet Fitch must have had serious issues with her own father, because male characters with any redeeming qualities are few and far between. In White Oleander, men are cause for obsession, irredeemable selfishness, and almost always betrayal. At one point, Ingrid calls fatherhood a “social construct,” which is a really interesting (but, you know, hideously depressing idea) and there are not many examples in the book that prove her wrong. 
That said, the real villain in the story here is Ingrid, and one of my favorite things about the novel is how Fitch just lets Ingrid be terrifying and evil. She’s brilliant, sure, but you also get the impression that if this were a different kind of book she’d fly around on a broomstick and turn young princes into beasts and throw people off bridges if they didn’t answer her riddle correctly. She’s Medusa and Medea, the best and the worst example of a woman. She’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, and she’s eerily charming and you might want to watch out because she might kill you just because she’s bored and she thinks it might make great material for a poem later. 
Her daughter has a bit of a Bella Swann complex, in that she’s a blank slate and generally mirrors whichever woman happens to be passing through her life at the moment, but it is so, so, sosososososo great to watch her go from being a terrified pre-teen to naive teenager to hardened street rat to survivor to artist. Astrid makes a lot of terrible decisions in the book because of her need for love and acceptance, and each mistake leaves it share of mental (and physical) scars, but she grows. She also doesn’t spend a lot of time beating herself up with regret, which I appreciate. 
This is definitely a book-club type book, in that there’s a lot of heavy ~*~symbolism~*~ and there’s a lot you can talk about in a way that will make you feel very literary and smart. It does indeed have very lush and descriptive writing (think Francesca Lia Block for adults), and some pretty raw emotional depths. Thankfully, it never gets overly sentimental, and those looking for a Big Redemption or a Grand Emotional Speech will be disappointed. It is an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it to any other woman. Even the sad parts are good, I promise. 

White Oleander, by Janet Fitch

I picked up White Oleander during my first trip to LA last month. One of the friends I was visiting was reading it at the time, and she said “Yeah it’s kind of a bummer but I really enjoy reading it.” And if I had to sum up my whole experience of reading White Oleander, I would probably say that exact thing. Janet Fitch writes beautiful, lyrical prose, but jeeeeeeeeeeesus chips was this a depressing book. Not quite in a “I am going to spend the next three days sobbing” kind of way like Where the Red Fern Grows, or in a “Mankind is utterly doomed” kind of way like 1984, or even a “What the fuck is wrong with this author and why does everybody LIKE this” kind of way like The Velveteen RabbitWhite Oleander is pervasively sad, and there are many times when we are given hope that we know is going to be miserably crushed in the next chapter. However, it ends on a neutral (if not slightly positive) note. 

So, now that you know very specifically how depressing this book is or is not, we can get to a bit of plot summary: Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, is a frighteningly intense poet who goes to prison after murdering her former lover with the poison of the white oleander flower. Like I said, INTENSE. Astrid is bounced through a series of foster homes (all varying levels of depressing) from the time she is 12 until she turns 18.

This is a coming-of-age novel, and one that focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters, and more specifically on how men ruin the mother-daughter relationship. I think Janet Fitch must have had serious issues with her own father, because male characters with any redeeming qualities are few and far between. In White Oleander, men are cause for obsession, irredeemable selfishness, and almost always betrayal. At one point, Ingrid calls fatherhood a “social construct,” which is a really interesting (but, you know, hideously depressing idea) and there are not many examples in the book that prove her wrong. 

That said, the real villain in the story here is Ingrid, and one of my favorite things about the novel is how Fitch just lets Ingrid be terrifying and evil. She’s brilliant, sure, but you also get the impression that if this were a different kind of book she’d fly around on a broomstick and turn young princes into beasts and throw people off bridges if they didn’t answer her riddle correctly. She’s Medusa and Medea, the best and the worst example of a woman. She’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, and she’s eerily charming and you might want to watch out because she might kill you just because she’s bored and she thinks it might make great material for a poem later. 

Her daughter has a bit of a Bella Swann complex, in that she’s a blank slate and generally mirrors whichever woman happens to be passing through her life at the moment, but it is so, so, sosososososo great to watch her go from being a terrified pre-teen to naive teenager to hardened street rat to survivor to artist. Astrid makes a lot of terrible decisions in the book because of her need for love and acceptance, and each mistake leaves it share of mental (and physical) scars, but she grows. She also doesn’t spend a lot of time beating herself up with regret, which I appreciate. 

This is definitely a book-club type book, in that there’s a lot of heavy ~*~symbolism~*~ and there’s a lot you can talk about in a way that will make you feel very literary and smart. It does indeed have very lush and descriptive writing (think Francesca Lia Block for adults), and some pretty raw emotional depths. Thankfully, it never gets overly sentimental, and those looking for a Big Redemption or a Grand Emotional Speech will be disappointed. It is an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it to any other woman. Even the sad parts are good, I promise. 

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March 14, 2012 / 8:51PM 10 notes

A Few Words on the Alpha and Omega Series, by Patricia Briggs 
This is a werewolf romance series. There is basically no new ground to cover in a werewolf romance series, but Patricia Briggs does a pretty good job of refreshing the genre enough to make this worth reading. I waited for probably a year for the third book in the series to come out, if that says anything. You probably know Ms. Briggs from her Mercy Thompson series, who if I remember correctly is a coyote shifter somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I read the first book of that series and was like, yeah okay whatever, and I didn’t feel the need to continue (though the Alpha and Omega books have a bit of overlap and the latest book indicated that Mercy hooked up with someone verrry interesting). 
The Alpha and Omega series is a lot more appealing to me personally, since I’m a sucker for alpha heroes, and the dude in this series, Charles, is basically one of the highest alphas to ever alpha. He’s half Native American and half Welsh, and his father is the leader of all North American werewolves. Charles himself is the pack’s executioner and justice dealer. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s almost unbeatable. 
So, as it always goes in these kinds of books, he’s paired with his opposite. Charles finds Anna, a newly-changed werewolf, after she calls for help. Her pack alpha has gone insane, the rest of the pack has not fared much better. Anna, considered the most submissive wolf of the pack, has been horribly abused by her leaders. So she’s mistrustful of all people, not to mention men, double not to mention scary men like Charles.
Charles meets Anna, and he pretty quickly figures out that she’s not a submissive wolf, she’s actually something called an Omega wolf. In Briggs’ universe, Omega wolves are the counterpoint to the Alpha wolves. They are neither dominant nor submissive and they’re a sort of soothing emotional presence for all other wolves. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not doing a very good job, but it makes sense the way Briggs presents it. 
Series that follow one couple through multiple books obviously hinge on the strength of that couple, and in my mind, Anna and Charles get a solid A. They’re very different (… obviously), but their pairing is very sweet and steamy enough to keep it interesting but slow enough that it’s believable, particularly given Anna’s past. 
The books all involve a standalone mystery of some kind, and this is another aspect that I really enjoy. I looove a good procedural, and the fact that there’s a romance involved makes these books a rich treat for me. 
The third book, Fair Game, came out last week, and admittedly it was not as strong as the first two. I’m starting to wonder if one SHOULD read the Mercy Thompson series to fully appreciate the Alpha and Omega series, and the ending was rather rushed and was sort of clumsily paving the way for another book. 
That said, I guess I’ll be waiting however long it takes to read the next one. 

A Few Words on the Alpha and Omega Series, by Patricia Briggs

This is a werewolf romance series. There is basically no new ground to cover in a werewolf romance series, but Patricia Briggs does a pretty good job of refreshing the genre enough to make this worth reading. I waited for probably a year for the third book in the series to come out, if that says anything. You probably know Ms. Briggs from her Mercy Thompson series, who if I remember correctly is a coyote shifter somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I read the first book of that series and was like, yeah okay whatever, and I didn’t feel the need to continue (though the Alpha and Omega books have a bit of overlap and the latest book indicated that Mercy hooked up with someone verrry interesting).

The Alpha and Omega series is a lot more appealing to me personally, since I’m a sucker for alpha heroes, and the dude in this series, Charles, is basically one of the highest alphas to ever alpha. He’s half Native American and half Welsh, and his father is the leader of all North American werewolves. Charles himself is the pack’s executioner and justice dealer. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s almost unbeatable.

So, as it always goes in these kinds of books, he’s paired with his opposite. Charles finds Anna, a newly-changed werewolf, after she calls for help. Her pack alpha has gone insane, the rest of the pack has not fared much better. Anna, considered the most submissive wolf of the pack, has been horribly abused by her leaders. So she’s mistrustful of all people, not to mention men, double not to mention scary men like Charles.

Charles meets Anna, and he pretty quickly figures out that she’s not a submissive wolf, she’s actually something called an Omega wolf. In Briggs’ universe, Omega wolves are the counterpoint to the Alpha wolves. They are neither dominant nor submissive and they’re a sort of soothing emotional presence for all other wolves. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not doing a very good job, but it makes sense the way Briggs presents it. 

Series that follow one couple through multiple books obviously hinge on the strength of that couple, and in my mind, Anna and Charles get a solid A. They’re very different (… obviously), but their pairing is very sweet and steamy enough to keep it interesting but slow enough that it’s believable, particularly given Anna’s past. 

The books all involve a standalone mystery of some kind, and this is another aspect that I really enjoy. I looove a good procedural, and the fact that there’s a romance involved makes these books a rich treat for me. 

The third book, Fair Game, came out last week, and admittedly it was not as strong as the first two. I’m starting to wonder if one SHOULD read the Mercy Thompson series to fully appreciate the Alpha and Omega series, and the ending was rather rushed and was sort of clumsily paving the way for another book. 

That said, I guess I’ll be waiting however long it takes to read the next one. 

patricia briggsalpha and omegacry wolfhunting groundsfair gamemercy thompsonbooksreviewslitromance novelsparanormal romance

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March 8, 2012 / 9:49PM 9 notes

Timeless by Gail Carriger
So when was the last time you finished a series and felt completely satisfied by the last book? Oh, yeah. And I guess the series I read before that one ended pretty well. Okay you know what, are there ANY standalone romance novels anymore? 
Anyways. That is not the subject at hand.
Gail Carriger did a pretty great job with the Parasol Protectorate series. The first book, Soulless, is an exceptionally good paranormal romance. The rest of the books sort of zig zag back and forth between being okay and being GREAT and pretty good and then we’ve got this one, which is pretty good, but Gail Carriger even when she’s not at her best is still a highly enjoyable and amusing read. She writes in highly stylized but very jokey prose, and I probably cracked at least one smile on every page. 
In this book, Alexia Maccon, her husband, her daughter Prudence (who is an excellent character, btdubs), and a collection of actors go to Egypt for reasons that are way spoilery. Back in London, all of your old favorites investigate a murder (well, Lord Akeldama mostly watches and says italicsy things). Gail Carriger has always been LGBT-friendly, and I’m happy to share that there’s a M/M secondary romance that is very sweet. 
The end is a bit of a clusterfuck as Ms. Carriger ties together just about every loose end dangling throughout the whole series, but it’s a witty clusterfuck and in the end it’s tied up in a big fancy ribbon and served with tea and assorted pastries. 
There are no surprises here, but it’s light, relaxing reading and an airy finish to a lovely series. 

Timeless by Gail Carriger

So when was the last time you finished a series and felt completely satisfied by the last book? Oh, yeah. And I guess the series I read before that one ended pretty well. Okay you know what, are there ANY standalone romance novels anymore? 

Anyways. That is not the subject at hand.

Gail Carriger did a pretty great job with the Parasol Protectorate series. The first book, Soulless, is an exceptionally good paranormal romance. The rest of the books sort of zig zag back and forth between being okay and being GREAT and pretty good and then we’ve got this one, which is pretty good, but Gail Carriger even when she’s not at her best is still a highly enjoyable and amusing read. She writes in highly stylized but very jokey prose, and I probably cracked at least one smile on every page. 

In this book, Alexia Maccon, her husband, her daughter Prudence (who is an excellent character, btdubs), and a collection of actors go to Egypt for reasons that are way spoilery. Back in London, all of your old favorites investigate a murder (well, Lord Akeldama mostly watches and says italicsy things). Gail Carriger has always been LGBT-friendly, and I’m happy to share that there’s a M/M secondary romance that is very sweet. 

The end is a bit of a clusterfuck as Ms. Carriger ties together just about every loose end dangling throughout the whole series, but it’s a witty clusterfuck and in the end it’s tied up in a big fancy ribbon and served with tea and assorted pastries. 

There are no surprises here, but it’s light, relaxing reading and an airy finish to a lovely series. 

Gail Carrigerparasol protectorateparanormal romancesteampuktimelessbooksreviewslit

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February 28, 2012 / 10:37PM 10 notes

Shadowfever (and thoughts on the whole Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning
Phew. Picture me whistling right here, because this was one hell of a book, and one hell of a paranormal romance series. 
For those of you just joining us, you should probably go back to the first book and start reading there, because this is one of those series that is one big story spread across five books, and the last book is over 500 pages. It was long, sure, but I think I read this book even faster than my #1 Paranormal Romance Boyfriend Book, Lothaire.  
Okay, sorry, tangent. For those of you just joining us, MacKayla Lane journeys to Ireland to investigate the brutal murder of her sister and finds out that she’s part of an ancient line of sidhe-seers (people who can see fae) and oh, there are fae, and also one of them is an incredibly sexy prince who kind of goes Edward Cullen over her, then she falls in with an EVEN SEXIER AND MORE MYSTERIOUS bookstore owner named Jericho Barrons. These books are erotic (there’s no other word, I’m sorry, one day I’ll go into why I hate that word, but that’s what it is) even though sex doesn’t appear until the very end of the third book and even then it’s NOT what you’re hoping for. They’re exciting, and they’re well-written. This series has about twenty important characters, more recurring characters, and an incredibly convoluted and complicated plot BUT it’s still easy to follow. 
Can you tell I finished this book today? I’m still in gush phase. I JUST COULD NOT WAIT, YOU GUYS. 
MacKayla is a terrific character. She’s believable. Throughout the series, she made decisions that, even if I wouldn’t have made them myself, I understood. Even though she starts the series as naive and overly perky, she never once veered into Too Stupid To Live territory. 
Barrons … well, I gotta be straight with you. He can be a total asshole. He can be creepy. He is most definitely an alpha dude. If that floats your boat (I say, “Anchors away, Captain!”), then you’ll enjoy it. If you are really NOT into alpha dudes, stay far, far faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr away because basically every dude in this paranormal world is BRVTAL. 
The worldbuilding is terrific. It’s not as seamless and gorgeous as, say, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and there are times when it gets a bit infodumpy, especially in the last book. There’s a few scenes where villains do that whole movie villain thing where they wax their mustaches and say “DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW BRILLIANT MY EEEEVIL PLAN WAS?” But at the end of the day, Moning did a great job of incorporating fairies (or faeries, I guess) into modern Dublin, and an even better job after something INCREDIBLY SPOLIERY SO I WON’T SAY IT happens. 
There are times when the writing is strained, and there are a few metaphors that are just BAD (the peacock who’s lost its feathers and grown claws was a particularly clunky one), and there are points where something SUPER EXCITING happens and there’s a chapter break and some narrative introspection before we pick up the action again, and can I just say, that is a terrible writing device and let’s all send it back to Satan and whatever terrible thriller novels he’s writing in Hell and shipping up to Dan Brown. 
Still, I’d say this is a stellar paranormal romance series. There are 600+ Amazon reviews and also a FeverCon and people apparently love this series so much they get Fever-inspired tattoos on their body, so I can say that I am officially late to the game on this one. I’m kind of glad, because I didn’t have to wait a year or more between books, and since the series is really one long story it helps to have a clear memory of what happened in the last book. 
On the other hand, her next book isn’t coming out until Halloween. God dammit, what am I supposed to do until then? Someone talk me out of ordering $30 Fever-themed tarot cards. 

Shadowfever (and thoughts on the whole Fever series) by Karen Marie Moning

Phew. Picture me whistling right here, because this was one hell of a book, and one hell of a paranormal romance series. 

For those of you just joining us, you should probably go back to the first book and start reading there, because this is one of those series that is one big story spread across five books, and the last book is over 500 pages. It was long, sure, but I think I read this book even faster than my #1 Paranormal Romance Boyfriend Book, Lothaire.  

Okay, sorry, tangent. For those of you just joining us, MacKayla Lane journeys to Ireland to investigate the brutal murder of her sister and finds out that she’s part of an ancient line of sidhe-seers (people who can see fae) and oh, there are fae, and also one of them is an incredibly sexy prince who kind of goes Edward Cullen over her, then she falls in with an EVEN SEXIER AND MORE MYSTERIOUS bookstore owner named Jericho Barrons. These books are erotic (there’s no other word, I’m sorry, one day I’ll go into why I hate that word, but that’s what it is) even though sex doesn’t appear until the very end of the third book and even then it’s NOT what you’re hoping for. They’re exciting, and they’re well-written. This series has about twenty important characters, more recurring characters, and an incredibly convoluted and complicated plot BUT it’s still easy to follow. 

Can you tell I finished this book today? I’m still in gush phase. I JUST COULD NOT WAIT, YOU GUYS. 

MacKayla is a terrific character. She’s believable. Throughout the series, she made decisions that, even if I wouldn’t have made them myself, I understood. Even though she starts the series as naive and overly perky, she never once veered into Too Stupid To Live territory. 

Barrons … well, I gotta be straight with you. He can be a total asshole. He can be creepy. He is most definitely an alpha dude. If that floats your boat (I say, “Anchors away, Captain!”), then you’ll enjoy it. If you are really NOT into alpha dudes, stay far, far faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr away because basically every dude in this paranormal world is BRVTAL. 

The worldbuilding is terrific. It’s not as seamless and gorgeous as, say, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and there are times when it gets a bit infodumpy, especially in the last book. There’s a few scenes where villains do that whole movie villain thing where they wax their mustaches and say “DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY HOW BRILLIANT MY EEEEVIL PLAN WAS?” But at the end of the day, Moning did a great job of incorporating fairies (or faeries, I guess) into modern Dublin, and an even better job after something INCREDIBLY SPOLIERY SO I WON’T SAY IT happens. 

There are times when the writing is strained, and there are a few metaphors that are just BAD (the peacock who’s lost its feathers and grown claws was a particularly clunky one), and there are points where something SUPER EXCITING happens and there’s a chapter break and some narrative introspection before we pick up the action again, and can I just say, that is a terrible writing device and let’s all send it back to Satan and whatever terrible thriller novels he’s writing in Hell and shipping up to Dan Brown. 

Still, I’d say this is a stellar paranormal romance series. There are 600+ Amazon reviews and also a FeverCon and people apparently love this series so much they get Fever-inspired tattoos on their body, so I can say that I am officially late to the game on this one. I’m kind of glad, because I didn’t have to wait a year or more between books, and since the series is really one long story it helps to have a clear memory of what happened in the last book. 

On the other hand, her next book isn’t coming out until Halloween. God dammit, what am I supposed to do until then? Someone talk me out of ordering $30 Fever-themed tarot cards

fever serieskaren marie moningparanormal romanceshadowfeverbookslitreviews

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February 26, 2012 / 5:11PM 7 notes

Key of Valor by Nora Roberts
I FINISHED THE SERIES YAY! Here’s part one, and here’s part two. 
I know that the Key series is not super fascinating stuff, and it’s basically been one of the least-popular things I’ve ever reviewed, so let’s keep it quick and painless. My next review is going to be the conclusion to the Fever series, and I know y’all have a big fat crush on Jericho Barrons so bear with me and we’ll get there.
But first, I do want to tell you that I DID enjoy this series, and the last book most of all, as it focuses on Zoe, the young mother of the group. The dude is Bradley Charles Vane, and with a name like that, you know he’s either A) rich, or B) a doctor on General Hospital (in this case, he’s rich). 
What I liked: Zoe is at once very kind and very courageous, and she was the warmest and most relatable of the three. Her son, Simon, was adorable. Brad was sexy and interesting. There was more going on than JUST the hunt for the key, and I read this book the fastest of the three and enjoyed it the most.
What I didn’t like:OMG GIRLS AND THEIR CHOCOLATE, RIGHT? Seriously. Ugh. Nora, stop stereotyping us. There were a few times where I added a Kindle note that just said “fuck off” because it mentioned emergency chocolate or pastries YET AGAIN. 
Anyways, it was still pretty good. If you’re going to read the Key series, hold out for the end, because it’s the best. Be prepared to swallow some truly clunky mythology and the idea that three mystical keys of ancient power are hidden in rural Pennsylvania. 
However, if you’re going to read a Nora Roberts series, skip this and go straight for the Chesapeake Bay books. 

Key of Valor by Nora Roberts

I FINISHED THE SERIES YAY! Here’s part one, and here’s part two

I know that the Key series is not super fascinating stuff, and it’s basically been one of the least-popular things I’ve ever reviewed, so let’s keep it quick and painless. My next review is going to be the conclusion to the Fever series, and I know y’all have a big fat crush on Jericho Barrons so bear with me and we’ll get there.

But first, I do want to tell you that I DID enjoy this series, and the last book most of all, as it focuses on Zoe, the young mother of the group. The dude is Bradley Charles Vane, and with a name like that, you know he’s either A) rich, or B) a doctor on General Hospital (in this case, he’s rich). 

What I liked: 
Zoe is at once very kind and very courageous, and she was the warmest and most relatable of the three. Her son, Simon, was adorable. Brad was sexy and interesting. There was more going on than JUST the hunt for the key, and I read this book the fastest of the three and enjoyed it the most.

What I didn’t like:
OMG GIRLS AND THEIR CHOCOLATE, RIGHT? Seriously. Ugh. Nora, stop stereotyping us. There were a few times where I added a Kindle note that just said “fuck off” because it mentioned emergency chocolate or pastries YET AGAIN. 

Anyways, it was still pretty good. If you’re going to read the Key series, hold out for the end, because it’s the best. Be prepared to swallow some truly clunky mythology and the idea that three mystical keys of ancient power are hidden in rural Pennsylvania. 

However, if you’re going to read a Nora Roberts series, skip this and go straight for the Chesapeake Bay books. 

nora robertskey seriescontemporary romanceromance novelsbooks

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