Tag: Sharon Shinn

Guest Review: Still Life With Shape-Shifter by Sharon Shinn

Posted March 21, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Tracy’s review of Still Life With Shape-Shifter (Shifting Circle #2) by Sharon Shinn

For her entire life, Melanie Landon has hidden the fact that her half-sister Ann is a shapeshifter—determined to protect Ann from a world that simply wouldn’t understand. After months of no contact, Melanie fears the worst when a man shows up on her doorstep saying he’s there about her sister. A freelance writer, Brody Westerbrook intends to include Ann in a book about the existence of shapeshifters. While Melanie is immediately drawn to the stranger, she knows revealing Ann’s secret isn’t an option. Protecting her sister has always been such an enormous part of Melanie’s life, but when Ann finally appears looking frail and sick, Melanie must come to grips with the fact that saving her may mean letting go..

This book is really two stories in one book. We follow Melanie and her life as she deals with the comings and goings of her sister, Ann, and the ups and downs of that. We also get to read about Janet and her life from the time she was 16 and helped an injured wolf in her back yard. While I think the book blurb told us a tiny bit of what happens in the story it doesn’t even begin to explain the emotional situations that this book delivers.

I kind of have to start at the beginning of the story with Ann and Melanie. Melanie’s father married a woman named Gwen who would disappear every once in a while and then come back like everything was wonderful. This was confusing for both Melanie and her father. When Melanie was 10 years old her father and Gwen had a baby. Melanie was pretty much her caretaker from day one as she was so in love with the baby. When she was watching Ann one day she put the baby into the crib, walked away for a minute or two and when she came back the baby was gone and in its place was an adorable white husky puppy. Melanie should have been alarmed but everything in her mind started to kind of make sense with Gwen and her comings and goings.

Since that time Melanie has been the adult. When Melanie was just 15 Gwen took off for good and Melanie’s father started losing his sense of reality and had to be in a home where he eventually died. Then it was just Mel and Ann and they loved each other to pieces. Now they’re adults and Mel worries when Ann is away in husky form but knows she’ll come home one day and everything will be good.

When Ann comes home for the first time in the story she tells Mel about the man, William, that she’s fallen in love with. Mel is a bit jealous that he’s around but learns to adapt to his presence. William alerts Mel that there’s something wrong with Ann. Ann denies this of course but as the days go on when she’s in human form she sleeps longer and longer.

Melanie meets Brody when he comes to the door asking about Ann and the fact that she’s a shapeshifter. After keeping the secret from almost everyone her whole life Mel’s not about to spew that info to a total stranger, especially one that’s going to write a book about shapeshifters. Brody likes Mel, however, so he keeps coming around and eventually they get together. Though he does learn the truth it’s not something he’s likely to share as he know it would be a betrayal of Mel.

Eventually Mel, William and Brody take Ann to a Vet who specializes in shapeshifters and they find out that Ann is basically dying. Whenever she shifts to human her organs start to give out because they can’t transform to the correct size to sustain her human needs.

The second story is about Janet. When she’s about 16 she helps an injured wolf in her back yard and eventually meets Cooper. She knows almost immediately that he is the wolf and they start a friendship and relationship that neither are prepared to give up, ever. The story takes us through Janet’s college years, their life, their love, and Janet’s eventual decision to try to come up with a serum that will keep Cooper in his human body forever. Janet and Cooper’s story took up much less page time than Melanie, Ann, Brody & William but I don’t think it actually took anything away from the intensity of their story.

The book is a very dark and somber tale of shapeshifters and those who love them, the lengths they’ll go to protect them and how it affects their lives. In this story shapeshifters lead very hard lives and because of the toll that the shifts have on their bodies they only live to be about 50 years old, if that.

At first I thought the book was going to be more of a tale of Melanie and Brody and a romance. I’ve read so many books about shapeshifters when they live extended lives, rather than abbreviated ones, that I assumed that it would be more of an upbeat book. It wasn’t at all. Yes, there were times of joy and happiness in the both storylines but overall it was extremely sad. Yes, there were definitely tears when I closed the last page and the story has stayed with me since I finished. I really liked it but even now as I write this and think about the book it makes me tear up a bit. The two love stories that were involved not only dealt with love of a significant other but that of family as well and that just really got to me. I think the author did such a great job of bringing us so many different emotions in a subtle way that each time it kind of snuck up on me.

Overall a very good book and one I would definitely recommend. Just know going into it that you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster the entire time, but in a good way.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Series:

Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Ace. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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What I Read Last Week

Posted March 18, 2013 by Tracy in Features | 6 Comments

What Beautiful Monday! 

They said it was supposed to be overcast today but so far it’s a gorgeous day here in Southern California. I did have a bit of a shock this morning on my way to work. After dropping the kids off in beautiful weather I drive down the street a couple of miles and found a wall of fog. Weird. (Not sure if you can see it)

Yesterday the girls and I went to the mall to buy a gift for one of their friends and my youngest found these glasses. I couldn’t believe the amount of “stache” stuff they had on hand! Funny. 

Since I’m sharing pictures I thought I’d add this one in of my oldest and my kitteh, Echo. So cute together. If anyone else in the family tried to do that to the cat she’d run like hell. lol (It’s a little grainy, sorry)

So I started off the week with Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs. I just LOVE the Mercy Thompson series so much (thanks again, Renee) and this one was no different. In this story Mercy is almost on her own as she searches for the entire pack after they’re kidnapped. She gets help from unlikely sources and of course kicks some ass. As a bonus in this story we got 2 whole chapters from Adam’s POV! Woohoo! Good stuff! 4.5 out of 5 

Next up was The Baby Bargain by Jennifer Apodaca. This story is about Adam who’s pretty messed up from his childhood and his horrible parents as well as another incident that is undisclosed. He is back in his hometown after being gone for years to sell his parents home with no plans to remain after the sale. That’s before he sees his old love, Megan, and the old feelings start to stir. Pile those feelings on top of the fact that he finds out he has a son and someone is framing Megan and Adam is suddenly feeling things he never thought he would, nor does he want to. This was a good category length story with a definite alpha hero. 3.75 out of 5 

Still Life with Shape-Shifter by Sharon Shinn was not the shapeshifting paranormal story I expected. It was 2 stories in one that eventually intersect for a very short time. I can’t possibly even give you a little without telling you a lot of the story. It’s somber and dark and has to do with loving and losing those you love and how you deal with those people in life and in death. My review will post on Thursday over at Book Binge if you’d like to read more about the story. 4 out of 5

No Turning Back by HelenKay Dimon was a contemporary read about three brothers who claim a house that their grandmother had left them. Their father was a con man and he once stole from the town. Now there are more than a few that want the brothers gone, including Mark Baron. Mark’s daughter, Leah, was raised to hate the Hanovers and it’s her job to get them out of town. She’s nicer than her father though and while she’s trying to move them out she’s falling in love with brother number 2, Declan. This was an angrier book than I expected. The brothers have their issues with the town, the townspeople are divided on their feelings toward the brothers, Mark Baron is a complete ass and treats his daughter like dirt. Yes, there was an HEA for the most part but lots of things were left open when the book ended. It just wasn’t a happy tale to me, at all. 3 out of 5  

Bite Me, Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann is the story of a woman who is caught in a compromising position (kind of) and ends up having to marry the Duke that lives nearby. He’s a vampire though and there are lots of things going on with her not wanting to marry him at first and with him trying to decide what to do with the little wifey in the future when she starts aging and he doesn’t. It was a decent read that was entertaining. 3.5 out of 5  

Last for the week was Steamroller by Mary Calmes. How do I describe this story? Carson is a star player on the college football team – famous really – and he wants Vince. Vince has no idea that Carson knows he exists but when Carson makes his move there’s nothing Vince can say to deter Carson from his chosen path. The love story in this book happened SO very quickly but it was so well done that I was totally rooting for the guys to stay together. Carson was the steamroller and I loved his confidence in himself as well as the confidence he had in Vince. Really good. 4 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Mating Instinct by Katie Reus
The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm
From Here to Eternity by Paige Cuccaro

Happy Reading!

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Guest Review: Angels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook & Sharon Shinn

Posted November 9, 2011 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, PenguinGenres: Paranormal Romance

Tracy’s review of Angels of Darkeness by Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook & Sharon Shinn.

They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.

Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews

When a young woman is taken captive by a dangerous male, she is pulled against her will into a world hidden from humanity’s view, where those with superhuman powers fight a bloody civil war. Now she must make a choice: to submit and become a pawn or to take hold of her own destiny.

Karina is minding her own business, driving children, including her daughter Emily, home from a field trip when she takes an exit on the road so that one of the children can use the facilities. Little did she know that that decision would change her life forever. She’s infected by a demon with a fatal poison and the only way to counteract the venom is by letting yet another “alien” feed on her. Karina fights for Emily and eventually the human race in general and is eventually drawn into the life and hell that she’s come to know.

This was a new world that Andrews created and though a very violent and strange one, it was incredibly compelling. I loved that Andrews, once again, pulled no punches. She made the bad guys bad and the good guys one step behind them. What would you do in order to save the world and those you love? It’s a hard moral question and one that Karina has to ask herself. As a reader I was intrigued by the story and can’t wait to read more stories set in this world.

Angel’s Wolf by Nalini Singh

Rafael sends Noel to Louisiana to help out the head of that territory, Nimra. She’s deeply feared but Noel can’t quite figure out why. Noel believes that Rafael is actually demoting him when in actuality he’s putting a ton of trust in the vampire.

Nimra finds that she’s was almost poisoned by someone close to her but she can’t figure out who it is. She hesitates to accuse someone who’s been with her for so long and that she’s lived so closely with. Noel is the vampire who is there to be an outside eye. Nimra and Noel find that they have more than the case in common and soon become more than indispensible to each other.

This was a story in the Guild Hunter series and it was another great one. I really love Singh’s characters in these stories. They so unapologetically hard yet they have to be because of the world that they live in. They’re good people though – you just have to crack the outer shell. Lol A great story.

Nocturne by Sharon Shinn

This is the story of Moriah who works as a cook at a remote school and we find out that she’s hiding from something. She’s a very curious sort and likes to investigate things. She soon discovers that there’s an angel living in the Housekeepers house – that no one is allowed to enter. Due to certain circumstances she eventually meets the angel and through her brash talk soon talks him into trying to live again – after he was blinded. Moriah talks with Corban and manages to get him to try flying again – along with living.

I’ve not read anything by Shinn before but this story made me think that maybe I’ve been missing out. Her world of angels was quite intriguing and this novella was quite good. Moriah was a tough talker even though she had some issues in her past. She didn’t really take shit from anyone and I really liked that about her. Corban was really at his lowest point – even though he’d been blind for 2 years. He was ready to give up on just about everything and Moriah made him see there are ways around disabilities. It was a lovely start to a romance and a nice message of hope.

Ascension by Meljean Brook

Marc has been a Guardian for years and has been in love with fellow Guardian for many, many years. They were great friends for a while but after they slept together Radha took off and never spoke to him again. Now Marc is in a small town looking for a demon when Radha shows up and chooses to stay with him. After some communication the pair discover that their problems aren’t insurmountable. Neither Radha nor Marc ever fell out of love with the other so they pick up…more or less…where they left off.

I love Brook’s Guardian series novels and her novellas are just as good. I really felt Marc’s pain when he was thinking about his past with Radha and still, after many years without her, trying to figure out why she left. Radha giving into the feelings that she never lost was sweet – even though she wasn’t really a “sweet” woman, was wonderful to see.

Overall the anthology was very good. All of the stories were good and they all kept me reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Berkley Trade. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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What I Read Last Week

Posted October 10, 2011 by Tracy in Features | 5 Comments

Hey there!

I’m writing this lovely post straight from lovely downtown Madison, Alabama. Ok, maybe not exactly downtown but close enough. 🙂 I’m here visiting my sister before I head down to NOLA GayRomLit. I flew in yesterday and got here in the afternoon. My sister and her hubby then took me on a personal tour of United Launch Alliance (where my b-i-l works) and I got to see where the Delta and Atlas rockets are built. I actually stuck my head into a rocket that was about 90% built.

My head was in the center part near the top. lol

It was pretty freakin cool to walk through that huge place and see how each piece is made. I have to say a lot of it was WAY over my head (my brain just doesn’t work that way, ya know?) but I loved it. We then went out for some great German food and I got to eat schnitzel for the first time.

I had to get up at 2:30 in the morning to catch my 6am plane yesterday so I was asleep pretty early (for me) but now I’m rarin to go. We don’t actually have plans for the day but when we do…I’m up for it! Lol

I’m sure there was stuff that I want to tell you about this past week but frankly I can’t remember a thing right now. Lol

Since my brain’s in stall mode I’ll just get to what I read last week:

First up was Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh. The story continued from the last book but this one wasn’t about Elena and Raphael this was the story of Dmitri, Raphael’s second. Dmitri gets involved in a case with Honor is a Guild Hunter and they have an amazing connection. They also investigate some murders. I loved this book. I thought Dmitri was a great character and I loved seeing him in a closer way than we’ve seen him in previous books. I read this one for The Book Binge so I’ll let you know when my review posts. 5 out of 5

Next up was What a Duke Wants by Lavinia Kent. This was a great historical that I really enjoyed reading. You can read more about the book and my review here if you’d like. 4 out 5

Next up was Chicken Ranch: Hunger by Amanda Young. The story is about an 18 year old guy who comes out to his father and gets kicked out of the house. After being on the street he finds out about an all male brothel called Chicken Ranch. He decides to check it out as he’s desperate and ends up working there. He’s a virgin until Killian comes along and makes it great for him. Killian and Declan run into each other later and actually start dating though Declan is still working at CR. They have their issues but still fall in love and deal with it all. It was a great story of love and hope and I really liked it. 3.75 out of 5

Next was a free story called Once Upon a Dragon by Jambrea Jo Jones. This was a choose you own m/m story from Kris’s blog and it was a good one. It was simple, short and a destined mates story and it just hit me the right way. About shapeshifting dragons and one finds his destined mate living in a tower that he thought was deserted. 4 out of 5

My next read was If It Ain’t Love by Tamara Allen. Also a free short story, this one took place in the great depression and is about two men who meet in the Bowery and decide to share some time. That time turns into a relationship that sweet and loving. The story was quite poignant in the descriptions of the desperation felt by the people living in that time – the bread lines and need for a job – just very realistic. A great read. 4.5 out of 5

Next was Bridges by M.J. O’Shea – another free short. The story follows Dallas and Brooklyn in their hatred for each other starting in the 3rd grade. The pair grow up hating each other but then start working together after high school graduation. They find that they really can get along and end up falling in love. I loved this story so much! There was just something about the boys and their hatred turned love that really got to me and I couldn’t get enough of them. 5 out of 5

Angels of Darkness by Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh, Sharon Shinn and Ilona Andrews was a book about angels. I really liked all of the stories in this book. I adore Andrews, Brook and Singh’s writing so I knew I’d like those. Shin’s and Andrews ended up being a bit of a surprise. Shin I’d never read but I really liked the story about a blind angel and the woman who helps him deal with life. Andrews’ story was a bit of surprise as well as it was a new world that they introduced about demons and aliens and though it was different I really liked it and can’t wait to read more about it. I read this one for The Book Binge. 4 out of 5

Last on the list for the week was another book I read for The Book Binge called A Bride Unveiled by Jillian Hunter. I really liked this book. It even had some things in it that I usually don’t care for and I still really liked it. It was the story of childhood friends finding each other again. Yes, the woman is engaged when they meet but it’s like she hardly knows her fiancé. No excuse to cheat on him but it still worked for me. I’ll let you know when my review posts. 4.5 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison

Happy Reading!!

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Guest Review: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Posted December 16, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Publisher: Ace, Jove, Penguin

Mary’s review of Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn.

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

When we first meet Zoe, she’s just lost her father and is completely devastated. Since they’ve been exiled, he’s been the center of her world for so long, she doesn’t know what she’s going to do. Then Damien Serlast shows up at her front door, says she’s to marry the king and whisks her off to the city.

I wasn’t sure what to make of Zoe. At first, she’s so muffled by grief, she has no personality. Then, when it finally penetrates her brain that she’s being married off, she wakes up, realizes she doesn’t want to be added to the king’s stable of wives, and jumps ship (so to speak). From there, her personality starts to emerge, a little bit anyway. She lives by the river for a while, finds out she’s the coru prime and head of her family, heads to the family homestead, stays there for a while, still drifting through life and staring pensively into the river. The only time she seems to show any spark is when Damien’s around. He gets her all fired up.

Their romance develops very slowly, especially since she spends much of her time avoiding him. I really wanted to see more of the two of them together. Couples who challenge one another and who make each other think are my favorite types. There wasn’t nearly enough Zoe-Damien interaction.

Even though the romance didn’t do it for me, I did love the world building in this novel. Zoe’s society revolved around blessings. The blessings they got at birth influenced them throughout their lives and, whenever they needed guidance or support, they’d pull random blessings to see what path to take. As coru prime, Zoe’s strengths revolve around water and blood, influencing most of the decisions she makes. This includes some very questionable actions, where she seems to have no control over what she does and doesn’t seem to care about anything but the end result. The lack of repercussions for her actions left me a little baffled.

Beautiful world building and gorgeous writing redeem this novel somewhat but I prefer a heroine with a little more oomph and more romance.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

This book is available from ACE. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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