Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Joint Review: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Posted May 8, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Joint Review: Moon Called by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #1
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)
Published by Ace Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2006
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
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four-stars

Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy's next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy's connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water...

Rowena: Thank goodness for you because without you, I wouldn’t read nearly as many of these books as I do. I’m SO glad that I finally got around to reading this book because it was hella good. Not just good, but hella good. I need more Mercy and Adam in my life…and it was good to see Samuel, Bran and Charles (from the Alpha & Omega series) and to see why Samuel was the way that he was in those books.

How was your re-read of the books?

Holly: I didn’t think I’d like this series at first. It took me ages to finally read it. I’m sorry I waited so long. Mercy, Adam and his pack, Jesse…They’re all amazing. I love how the world combines Magic with the Fae, Werewolves, etc.

My re-read this time was just as good. I love how normal Mercy is. She isn’t a super badass, despite the fact that she can turn into a coyote. She’s practical and down to earth, which makes her easy to relate to.

Rowena: I agree. As much as I adored both Adam and Samuel (you know I’m all about the heroes), Mercy was my favorite character in this series. Ames told me that she had such a huge girl crush on Mercy and I can totally see why. She’s really easy to relate to and she knows herself as well as her strengths and weaknesses. She’s not too stupid to live but she is brave and I just loved the hell out of her. I can’t wait to read more of these books.

I now see what you meant when you said that both this series and the Alpha & Omega series are kind of weaved together. Some of the things happening in here reminded me of stuff going on in the other series with Charles. I like that. It kind of reminds me of the Chicago Fire, PD, Med and Justice shows on NBC. I love how there’s this one world of characters that cross over to each different show. If done right, having so many different aspects of a world in different books and series is great and I think that Briggs does a wonderful job of that here.

What was your favorite part of this book?

Holly: It’s hard to say what my favorite part is, because now that I’ve read the entire series (and the A&O series) things have different meaning for me. I think it might be Adam demanding Mercy help him find Jesse. She’s weak by comparison to him and the other wolves, but he still wanted her to find his daughter because he knew she wouldn’t give up. I also love her interactions with with Bran. They have such a complicated relationship.

What about you?

Rowena: You’re right. Since everything is so fresh for me and I don’t know what’s to come, I see things differently. One of my favorite parts were Adam demanding Mercy help him find Jesse but more so because he knew that Jesse meant something to Mercy and he knew that she cared far more than Samuel did and wouldn’t give up. He knows her strengths and her weaknesses and …he claimed her to his pack. sigh I’m really looking forward to seeing their relationship grow.

It was nice to see Samuel learning of Adam and Mercy’s complicated relationship and really, the characters were well written and well rounded. No two dimensional characters in this series. I love how Mercy cared so much about a wide variety of people. People who didn’t get along with other people and yet, Mercy did. I could go on and on about how much I like Mercy but I think you get it.

I was invested in this story from the jump. This world is colorful and vivid and I’m so here for it all. I’m late to the party but what’s new? This was good stuff.

Holly: You’re right, he did know Mercy cared about Jesse and wouldn’t stop until she was found. That’s one of the things I like about Adam, period. He’s willing to set aside his own personal feelings in any given situation. It’s kind of a nice change for an alpha-male.

I really love how Mercy is sort of the glue that brings all these different elements together. We see this more as the series goes on, of course, but she’s like a neutral third party. I love it.

The world is my favorite thing about this book. It’s very well-drawn and immediately pulls you in.

I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Rowena: Same. This one gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Thanks for making me read this book!

four-stars

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Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Posted May 1, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
Published by Ace
Publication Date: April 1st 2007
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
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three-stars

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

People have been recommending the Kate Daniels series for years. Several times it was suggested I skip Magic Bites and start with book two, Magic Burns, because this wasn’t an accurate representation of the series or the author. Recently a friend read the series and pushed me to try it. She said I should read in order because most of the world-building is done in this book. Let me just say..she lied. Ha! I should have taken the advice of others and started with book two.

The story moved very slowly. I had a hard time slogging through all the descriptions and, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really care for Kate. I didn’t dislike her necessarily, but I didn’t connect with her and her monologues were frustrating and, often, boring. I found the world to be a bit chaotic and kind of confusing.

I didn’t dislike the story so much as I just didn’t fall into it. Had I not had book two already waiting (and all those friends encouraging me to continue) I probably wouldn’t have moved on with the series.

The good news is, I did move on and really ended up enjoying book 2.

For those who are on the fence about the series after this book, I encourage you to continue. The series only gets better as the books go on.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Joint Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Posted April 24, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Joint Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #3
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake
Published by Avon Romance
Publication Date: February 21 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 288
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four-half-stars

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven...

Holly: It’s been ages since I read a historical romance, but Sybil told me I needed to read Devil in Spring, because it featured Sebastian and Evie’s oldest son (they’re our favorite Kleypas couple). So I read it. Then I told Rowena she had to read it, too, because it was so good. We both ended up reading all three books, and we agree Devil in Spring is the best of the series so far.

Lady Pandora and her twin sister, Cassandra, were basically left alone to run free on their country estate. Their parents really wanted nothing to do with them, and didn’t bother to hire the proper governesses or tutors for them. As a result they’re both a little wild and not at all ready to enter society, despite the fact that they’re 19. After three years of proper tutelage from her step-sister’s very upright foster mother

When Pandora gets caught in a compromising position with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, she’s devastated. She has no intention of ever marrying. She doesn’t want to give up her independence for a man, especially one with a title and all the duties that accompany it. But she also wants to do what’s best for her family, so she agrees to spend a week with him and his family at their country estate to get to know one another.

For his part, Gabriel knows he has to marry someday, but he has no desire to marry a wild little savage like Pandora. He needs a proper wife who will be an asset to him as the future Duke. Still, honor demands he do the right thing…and the longer he spends with her, the more he wants her, in spite of the way her mind works.

Girl, I loved this book. I loved how unconventional Pandora was, and how Gabriel came to love her quirks in spite of himself.

Rowena: I really enjoyed this one too. I’m glad that St. Vincent’s kid ended up with Pandora because she’s a special one. I knew that I was going to love her the most in this series and that didn’t change after reading her book. If anything, I loved her even more.

Devil in Spring was my favorite book in this series, so far. I loved seeing familiar characters, enjoyed getting to know the new ones and it was even good to see St. Vincent, Sebastian, that is.

I loved that there wasn’t anything about Pandora that Gabriel didn’t love. The way that he wanted to be sure that she knew how special she was to him, no matter how bad her hearing was, how bad her vertigo was, or how independent she wanted to be, none of that mattered to him. She was perfect the way that she was to him and I melted into a puddle of lust for him every time he showed her how much he loved her.

Holly: She is. I meant to add that three years later she wasn’t much more civilized.

I totally cracked up in the beginning when she was trying to convince him he didn’t want to marry her.

“You do not want to marry me, my lord. I would be the worst wife imaginable. I’m forgetful and stubborn, and I can never sit still for more than five minutes. I’m always doing things I shouldn’t. I eavesdrop on other people, I shout and run in public, and I’m a clumsy dancer. And I’ve lowered my character with a great deal of unwholesome reading material.” Pausing to draw breath, she noticed that Lord St. Vincent didn’t appear properly impressed by her list of faults. “Also, my legs are skinny. Like a stork’s.”

Pandora was definitely the best part of this book. I love how unconventional she was. She didn’t think in straight lines and always seemed to be going in 8 different directions. Gabriel was great with her. I like how he was all about keeping her right from the beginning, even though he knew he should want a more proper wife.

Rowena: Okay, yeah they were 19 in the other books.

Yes!! She had me laughing so much throughout the entire series but more so in this book. Gosh, she’s one of those characters that I will remember for a long time. She’s got a distinct personality that I just love to pieces. I will probably incorporate some of her made up words into my vocabulary because some of her words were fantastic! I’ll definitely be using, “This is horriculous!” from time to time. I just know it.

More than her personality, I really loved her drive to be successful in her board game business. You don’t see historical heroines that serious about their own business endeavors very often so it was a refreshing change for me.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. If I had to pick a gripe, it would probably be all of that nonsense with Mrs. Black. Was that her name? Nola Black? I’m glad that Pandora was able to rise above such pettiness and I even understood why Gabriel was so blinded by keeping them apart but I didn’t really think it was necessary because there was so many other things going on to keep the story going but whatever, it was still a damn good romance.

What about you?

Holly: I loved her board game business, too. It was wonderful to read about a heroine who was more concerned with her independence than catching a gentleman’s eye.

I didn’t like the nonsense with Mrs. Black, either. It seemed rather ridiculous to include it when there was already the business with the Irish Anarchists Pandora came into contact with. Not to mention, the whole thing felt very unfinished. There was no mention of her after Gabriel admitted to having a mistress, until all of a sudden she shows up at the theater while Pandora is there? It really seemed to come out of nowhere. And what happened afterward? Aside from Gabriel being pissed and worried about Pandora’s reaction, there was no closure. He didn’t mention speaking to her again, or even refusing to give her the satisfaction of speaking to her again. The whole thing was silly.

What did you think about the Irish Anarchist bit? That, too, felt very unfinished to me. I’m sure she’s leading into what will happen in the next book (possibly Dr. Gibson and Ransom?), but I wish there had been something more.

Rowena: I was thinking that Gibson and Ransom would get like a secondary romance in someone else’s book since the series is about the Ravenels. I figured Cassandra and West were left and then we’d be done with this lot.

The Black thing felt unfinished because after Pandora gets stabbed, she fell by the wayside. I guess she served her purpose of distracting Gabriel so the stabber can get close to Pandora. I also thought it was dumb that Dragon’s whole purpose for being there was to be Pandora’s bodyguard but he was so far away from her when the Irish lady knifed her ass. Seriously, dude? Falling down on the job.

The Irish thing didn’t feel unfinished, but more anti-climatic. All of that and then they take him down, easy peasy. Meh. I was much more interested in seeing Gabriel and Pandora together and seeing them figure their shit out together. All of the other stuff was extra stuff that didn’t really do anything for me.

All in all, it was a solid romance and I enjoyed getting to know Gabriel and Pandora. I loved seeing Gabriel’s family and Pandora’s again because they were such a fun bunch. I loved Pandora’s made up words. I loved watching Gabriel fall under Pandora’s spell even when she was trying to push him away. Lisa Kleypas shines with her characters and the dialogue in this one and I give it 4.25 out of 5. You?

Holly: Right, but Ransom is a Ravenal, so if he gets his own book, it would apply to the series. (It was implied he was a bastard child or something).

The Irish thing wasn’t cleared up at all. They discovered it was dude from the Home Office, but he killed himself before he could be questioned, so it was just left open ended.

The romance was really great. I loved Gabriel and Pandora together, I loved both families, and I loved the way Gabriel loved her. I’m giving it a 4.25 also.

four-half-stars

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Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards

Posted April 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Can't Stand The Heat by Louisa Edwards
Series: Recipe for Love #1
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: September 1st 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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one-star

For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple's kitchen to write an exposé is a journalistic dream come true. Surely Miranda can find a way to cut the hotshot chef down to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. But she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: she has no idea how to cook.

Adam's not about to have his reputation burned by a critic who doesn't even know the difference between poaching and paring. He'll just have to give the tempting redhead a few private lessons of his own—teaching her what it means to cook with passion...and doing more with his hands than simply preparing sumptuous food.

*****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.

This review/rant was originally posted on October 29, 2009.

WARNING: This review contains a major rant about the heroine. It will contain strong language and spoilers for the story. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve mentioned before that I generally have a dislike for heroines who are journalists. I’ve made some exceptions, but generally I try to stay away from novels featuring them, because I know I have a personal bias and I don’t want that to color my reading experience. I chose to pick this one up anyway because Miranda Wake is a food critic, rather than an investigative journalist (the type I generally have the biggest issues with). Also? It’s a foodie book and I’m a huge foodie.

I went into this expecting one thing, and got something else entirely.

Miranda Wake is a bitter food critic who desperately wants a book deal. On the pre-opening night of a new restaurant, Market, she gets blitzed and has it out with the Exec Chef and Owner, Adam Temple. She hasn’t even had his food yet, but she’s already spouting off about how he’s pretentious and his food sucks. So he challenges her to spend just one night in his kitchen, thinking to shut her up. Only she accepts.

Then his investor gets together with her editor and they decide she’ll stay for a month. Which is when she gets a book deal; she’s to write a book “dishing” about Adam Temple and what really goes on in his kitchen. While Miranda is busy digging up dirt on Adam and the entire staff, she finds herself falling in love with him. Which I completely understood, because I adored Adam.

He was sweet and adorable, with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was probably the best part about this book. I loved that even though he had preconceived notions about Miranda he set them aside and judged her on his own observations. I loved that he was tough but fair in the kitchen. I loved that he hired chefs based on their merits as cooks, rather than their diplomas or schooling. He had a somewhat gruff exterior, but inside he was kind and loving.

I absolutely adored the secondary characters. The entire kitchen staff came alive for me. I really felt like I was right there with them, laughing and joking and cooking fabulous food. They were a rag-tag bunch, but they really brought flavor and spice to the story.

As a side story, Miranda’s younger brother, Jesse, turns up from college (somewhere in the Midwest) saying he’s not going back. He gets a job at Market working as a server. As it turns out, he’s gay and falls in love with one of the sou chefs, Frankie, which Miranda hates. She thinks Frankie corrupted and tempted her poor straight brother into being gay.

I thought the story with the brother was cute, though I did struggle with his age quite a bit. He’s only 19. The problem is I wasn’t as bothered by that as I felt I should have been. Especially since Frankie is quite a bit older than him. Why is it that I’m willing to forgive a 19yo hero when he’s gay, but wouldn’t forgive a 19yo heroine (in a contemp) regardless? Once I got past that, though, I really enjoyed his part of the story.

So at this point in the book Miranda comes off as bitter, cynical and jaded. She’s also a complete control freak. Which is fine. I could have dealt with that if it had been one of the centerpieces of the story – how Miranda grew up. Unfortunately I didn’t find that to be the case.

Because at the end? She SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND STILL SUBMITS THE FUCKING BOOK.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!

Her reason for doing so? She needs the money so she can pay for her brother to go to NYU. The problem? She only wants to pay for it to get him away from Frankie so he’ll go back to being “normal” instead of “gay”. Not only that, but he specifically told her he didn’t want her paying for his tuition. He said he wanted to be a responsible adult and contribute something himself. I understand that she wanted to help him as much as she could, but she SOLD OUT THE MAN SHE LOVED AND ALL HIS FRIENDS/EMPLOYEES to do it.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

And the best part? The only person she has to rely on and go to for support during this whole thing with her brother is Adam. She leans on him and lets him support her and SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND THEN SELLS HIM OUT IN A CHEAP FUCKING BOOK!

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

The thing is, I loved everything else about the book. The kitchen setting, the secondary characters, the hero. I even loved that the author included some of the recipes she used in the book (I’m sooo going to try them). I’m trying to decide if the heroine ruined the book for me, or if I can move past what she did. Right now I’d probably grade it:

3 out of 5 for the overall story, setting and characters
Bold
1 out of 5 for the heroine (maybe even a -1)

I did enjoy parts of it enough to want to read the next book in the series, On the Steamy Side, which will be available March, 2010.

Book CoverBook Cover

This book is available from St. Martin’s. You can buy it here or here (I’m not including a link to buy in e-format b/c I think St. Martin’s has terrible e-pricing. The paperback is $6.99 but the e-book is $14. WTF St. Martin’s? W.T.F?).

one-star

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Retro Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

Posted April 5, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #1
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: March 3rd 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-half-stars

FIRST IN THE GUILD HUNTER SERIES from “a major new talent” (CHRISTINE FEEHAN).
View our feature on Nalini Singh’s Angels' Blood.
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.

*****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.

This review was originally posted on September 11, 2009.

As many of you know, I have an aversion to vampires. A big one. I kind of have a mental block in place when it comes to them, as a matter of fact. So I put off reading this for quite some time. I’m sorry for that now. What an amazing story. The world-building and characterizations were fabulous. Casee already reviewed this book here, so I’m not going to go into the plot too much.

Elena was strong and witty. I might want to be her when I grow up. I love that she was independent and strong, but not the point of stupidity. I understood her fierce need to be in control of her own life and appreciated the way she stuck to her personal values and morals. I love that her attraction to Raphael didn’t stop her from standing up for herself, or doing what she felt was right.

Is there anything better than seeing an (arch)angel fall? Raphael started out cold and harsh, but really melted as the story progressed. Even though he was obviously dangerous and his motives were murky I still adored him right from the beginning. I think Singh really did an excellent job of writing him so he was the perfect anti-hero; Dark and dangerous, but lovable in spite of that.

I think one of the best things about this was how subtle the changes in their feelings for each other were. It’s obvious from the beginning that Raphael is attracted to Elena. But that doesn’t really mean anything to us as the reader, because we know he thinks of her as a toy. Watching his feelings slowly morph and change into something more was truly wonderful to watch.

I enjoyed the storyline, too. It was a different take on an old theme (angels and vampires) and I was drawn in from the first page. I do have questions about the Archangels and the major conflict of this novel, but I have a feeling the answers won’t be revealed until later in the series. I’m reserving judgment for now.

This was a fresh and amazing start to a new series. Singh has proven herself to be a master storyteller already, and this novel just secures her status.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

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