Author: Holly

What Are You Reading? (320)

Posted February 24, 2017 by Holly in Features | 6 Comments

WAYR-New

Casee: This has been a really good reading week for me. I read and reread Silver Silence by Nalini Singh. It was good the first time, but it was great the second time.

I just finished A Cold Dark Place by Toni Anderson which is free on Amazon right now. It was pretty good. It is the first book in her Cold Justice series. Now I’m reading Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy. Rowena turned me onto the series awhile ago, but I’m just now starting it. It’s really good so far.

Holly:This week I read Silver Silence by Nalini Singh and Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs. I’m about halfway through Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. All three are pretty spectacular.

Rowena:This week was a slow reading week for me. I didn’t read much except Silver Silence because, well, it’s Silver freaking Silence by Nalini Singh. Of course, I read that shit. That’s the only book that I read and I really liked it. I’m so excited to see where that spin off series goes from here. I’m also curious to see who the next couple will be and Bo! OMG, Bo!!!

Anyway, now I’m reading Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh for my buddy review with Holly. So far, I’m enjoying it but I’m not that far into it. Wish me luck on getting it read before the month ends. 🙂

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!

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Review: Stolen Magic by Marina Finlayson

Posted February 23, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Stolen Magic by Marina FinlaysonReviewer: Holly
Stolen Magic (Shadows of the Immortals #1) by Marina Finlayson
Series: Shadows of the Immortals #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 262
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Lexi Jardine may be a thief, but she’s not stupid. When a crooked fireshaper wants her to steal a ring from the boss of his order, she knows it’s a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes. Her answer is to drop off the face of the earth.
Safely hidden in a quiet seaside town, she just needs to keep her head down and pretend to be a regular human. Since her only magical ability is the power to control animals, that should be easy, right?
Then a new fireshaper shows up in town. He’s hot as hell but oddly hostile. With his suspicious eyes watching her every move, her safe haven starts feeling more like a trap. When her best friend disappears, Lexi knows the time for hiding is over. The fireshapers might be more powerful, but Lexi’s not one to abandon a friend. It will take everything she’s got to save them both from the flames.

The world is broken up into Shifters (who change shape), Shapers (who control the elements) and Humans. Lexi is a little more than human, but not a Shaper or Shifter. She and her best friend, cat shifter Syl, have been hiding in a sleepy seaside town for the last several months to escape a Fire Shaper who wants them to steal a powerful magical artifact from the leader of the Red Adept, the ruling Shapers council. When another Fire Shaper, Jake Steele, shows up unexpectedly in town, Lexi knows she should keep running, especially after he takes notice of her and starts asking some pointed questions. She’s happy for the first time in years, though, so she talks herself into staying. As things heat up, Lexi finds herself getting in over her head – spending more time with Jake, meeting Vampires and getting wrapped up in a nefarious plot to steel magic from Shapers and Gods everywhere, In the end she and Jake will have to decide if they trust each other enough to work together.

This was a fun read. It wasn’t perfect – Lexi was almost too-perfect, aside from making questionable decisions (though her best friend often talked her down before she did anything truly stupid), but I enjoyed the premise. The world-building is shallow, but I was interested in finding out what was going on. Finlayson didn’t reinvent the wheel, but the mythology was fun to get back into. The action was good and I liked the budding romance between Lexi and Jake. This isn’t a deep read, but I was entertained.

Until it ended on a cliffhanger. Then I was just frustrated. The conflict was cleared up, but there were a lot of unanswered questions about the heroine and the overall story arc. I really wish this had been labeled as a cliffhanger. It wasn’t labeled as “Part 1”, either, but rather as “Book 1.” That seems rather disingenuous when this read as the first part of a full story.

I immediately bought Book 2, Murdered Gods, but it, too, ended on a cliffhanger (and felt even shorter and less complete than this one did). Book 3 isn’t out yet. I doubt I’ll be continuing the series.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Book Binge Turns 10: February Giveaway

Posted February 23, 2017 by Holly in Giveaways | 17 Comments

This month’s giveaway is coming to you guys a little late because life keeps getting in the way. Sorry about that. We’re going to keep this post short and sweet because we just want to give away some books and book swag. As a thank you to our lovely readers for sticking with us after all these years, we have a great prize pack this month. Whether you’re a new reader or an old friend, we appreciate you. This month, we’re giving away:

Autographed copies of:
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James
At Blades Edge by Lauren Dane
The Viscount Risks It All by Erin Knightly
Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh

An Erin Knightly bookmark
A Lisa Bingham pedicure set
A Book Binge water bottle (folds, expands, clips on a bag or and can be frozen)

All inside a lovely, Melody Anne tote bag.

Please use the rafflecopter widget below to enter this giveaway.

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted February 22, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Ransom
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, General
Pages: 438
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Throughout her acclaimed writing career, Julie Garwood has captivated readers with characters who are compelling, daring, and bursting with life. Now one of the most popular novelists of our time proudly returns to her beloved historical romance roots–in a thrilling tale of love, murder, adventure, and mystery set against the haunting landscape of medieval Scotland.
For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows–skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.
For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom–when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.
Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.
A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions–unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire–Shadow Music is magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.
From the Hardcover edition.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Man, I love me some early Julie Garwood historicals. She lost me with her romantic suspense. I remember being so excited when she announced she was releasing a new historical. I’m still pretty disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wonder what would happen if I read it now? I might need to reread it and see if I still feel the same. 

This review was originally published January 8, 2008

This is less a review about this particular book and more my thoughts on the writing of Julie Garwood. Casee reviewed the book here. You can check that out for a plot summary and her thoughts, for they mostly mirrored mine.

Throughout her career, JG has remained a favorite of mine. Well, let me clarify. Prior to Killjoy she was a favorite of mine. Her historicals still call to me on occasion and I find myself picking them up at random, anxious to sink into an old, comfortable story, similar to how I might slip on my favorite sweats after a long day at work, or pop in a favorite DVD if I’ve had a particularly bad day.

But after Killjoy, not only did I think contemps were not her thing, I decided her writing itself deteriorated. The last novel I read by her was Slow Burn. While I enjoyed the basic premise behind it, I was sadly disappointed in the actual writing. Sentences were choppy, paragraphs seemed to bleed together, or go in odd directions that made no sense to me, dialogue was stilted, characters were half formed or one dimensional. I thought the plot was an awesome one, and had it been better fleshed out it had the potential to become her best written novel yet. But instead it fell far short.

After that, I decided not to read another of her contemps. I told myself, and others, that I’d buy her again if she went back to historicals, but otherwise I was done with her. I removed her from my auto-buy list and comforted myself with her old historicals, the ones that got me hooked on romance to begin with.

Then the announcement came. That yes, Julie Garwood, historical legend, would be returning to her roots. Love her older historicals or hate them, you can’t deny she’s a basic staple in romance. I was happy to hear she’d be returning, but somewhat apprehensive. Because although the moment I’d been waiting for had finally come, I was concerned about her actual writing style. The way she wove a story back when was unconventional perhaps, but still engaging. I didn’t think she’d be able to return to that, not after seeing evidence of her decline in her more recent novels.

I’m sad to say I was correct. She may have done quite a bit of head-hopping in her previous novels, but the focus remained on the two main protagonists. In this novel, however, she chose to write in a more narrative style than from one POV or another. So I was constantly pulled out of the story by her glossing over things, or seeming to sum things up. Very frustrating.

I’m also extremely unclear about how they H/H came to fall in love. There was hardly any interaction between the two, and what there was was disjointed and…once again, glossed over. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her writing. A chapter would start out from one POV or another, and then half-way through she’d jump into a narrative style, summing things up rather than allowing us as readers to follow the progress.

I suppose it would be like me starting a story, in which I use rich, colorful detail and much humor only to say, once you’re engaged and intrigued, “Blah blah, yada, yada, you get what I mean” and then just leave it at that. Frustrating, no?

There were some good parts. When the POV was written from either the hero or heroine, I was drawn into the story. Unfortunately, those parts were few and far between, and when they did happen, they didn’t last long. The basic premise was also a good one, and classic Garwood. Sadly, the point of the plot was lost somewhere in the muddle of switching from one writing style to another, the jumping between characters and places (i.e., from the Barons in England to the clans in the Highlands to the heroine to the hero to the guards of the heroine to her father back to the barons to the king of England, etc, etc) and the mass amount of inconsistencies presented.

A lot of the reviews I’ve read for this book said the Priests provided a lot of comic relief, but I didn’t really see that. Sure, there were some amusing parts, but I think I assumed they played a bigger part in the overall story (with actual read time, I mean) and that just didn’t seem to be the case.

I’m sure I’ll end up buying her next book (assuming she continues to write historicals), just to see if she somehow improves…hmm, or perhaps that’s not the right word. Regresses into her old writing habits? Goes back to being the Garwood I knew and loved? I’m not sure. I have a feeling I’m going to be sorely disappointed when (if) that time comes, however.

On a related note: Ange, The Romance Groupie, posted about this book on Saturday. I mentioned my disappointment in the overall writing in the comments, and she responded with this:

Actually, I’ve noticed that many of the popular authors appear to be going down in the quality department. I’m wondering if it’s the editors, publishers, etc. that are ruining it. It just seems strange that so many great authors have gone bad in the last year or so. Is it just me? Are you seeing this trend too?

I thought about it some, and yes, I have to agree. Some of my favorite authors have seriously declined in the last few years. Could it be because of the publishers or editors? Or is it just simply something with them personally?

Regardless, I’m disappointed.

Even though I said this was less a review and more my thoughts on JG’s writing as a whole, I’ll still rate the book:

2.5 out of 5

You can buy it here in hardback or in eBook format here. When I bought it from Books on Board, they were offering a $5 cash-back incentive, bringing the total book price down to $9.95. I’m not sure if they’re still offering the promotion, but you could email them to see.

two-half-stars

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