Thursday, March 24

Review: Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

Another week, another review! Let's hope we can continue this trend LOL. This week, I thank Leslie for joining me to buddy review the newest In Death book :) Ames, when do you think you will catch up? :P

*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*

Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb
published by Putnam in February 2011

Detective Eve Dallas and her partner, Peabody, are following up on a senseless crime-an elderly grocery owner killed by three stoned punks for nothing more than kicks and snacks. This is Peabody's first case as primary detective-good thing she learned from the master.

But Peabody soon stumbles upon a trickier situation. After a hard workout, she's all alone in the locker room when the gym door clatters open; and-while hiding inside a shower stall trying not to make a sound-she overhears two fellow officers, Garnet and Oberman, arguing. It doesn't take long to realize they're both crooked-guilty not just of corruption but of murder. Now Peabody, Eve, and Eve's husband, Roarke, are trying to get the hard evidence they need to bring the dirty cops down-knowing all the while that the two are willing to kill to keep their secret.
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Futuristic
Series: In Death series, Book #32

The Story: During her first case as primary, Peabody has an altercation with the killers and is told by Dallas to brush up on her hand to hand techniques. Thus after closing the case, Peabody finds herself in the station’s old gym.. and in a very dangerous situation. Hiding in a shower stall, Peabody overhears two officers discussing an illegal business and a murder disguised as an overdose. As soon as the way is safe, Peabody makes her way to Eve’s house to report what she’s heard.

It is clear to Eve that the officers in the Illegals department have their own little side business. She is determined to arrest those who have tarnished the badge... However, things are not as easy as they seem. Especially when the leader is the daughter, Renee Oberman, of the previous well-respected police commander...

Nath: What did you think of the latest In Death installment, Leslie?

Leslie: Well, judging from your grade (monthly read post), I liked it more than you. It didn't blow me away so not my favorite but a decent addition to the series. I was expecting Peabody to have more page time and was disappointed with that. She's my favorite secondary character, I really like reading from her POV.

No real surprises either. Bix was the obvious muscle. Garnet was the loose cannon. I would have been surprised if he'd been alive by the end of the book. I thought the investigation interesting but had a hard time believing that's how it would proceed in real life. Webster not filling his boss in sooner. And the fact that Renee had been doing this for 6 years and IAD didn't catch on? And yet it didn't take much digging by Eve's team to find discrepancies in the records.

Nath: It actually never crossed my mind that Peabody would have more page time LOL. I like the way the In Death books are narrated and that’s one aspect I don’t want to change :P For me, there’s something missing to Peabody’s narration... an edge. I find that too often, her passages are too soft or corny ^_^;

LOL, I guess sometimes I don’t think that much ahead. Yes Garnet was the loose canon, but we’ve seen Eve arrest some loose canon before.

As for IAD not catching on, it depends where you look. If you don’t look at the right place or don’t know what to look, you can’t find it. Plus, let give some credits to the villain - Renee was smart, did the job and had the people at all the right positions. Also, we’re talking Illegals, not homicide - so selling drugs, not pinning murders on others.

Also, lots of little things can be overlooked - for example, everyone in Renee’s team being evaluated by the other psychologist. Then, you add in Renee’s name and her father’s reputation and it’s clear people gave her some leeway - Dr Mira, Whitney - and she got away with a lot too. So while it did look obvious to us, readers, that something was wrong and it was so easy for Eve to find the discrepancy, let’s not forget that IAD never had cause to think things were wrong and Eve knew where to look.

For me, the reason why the grade is so low for this book is that I wasn't pulled into the story. Oh, I did enjoy the book... I love Eve and how her mind works; however, I just didn’t feel it in my guts. For example, when Peabody was stuck in that shower stall, I wasn't worried for her being discovered. There wasn't the suspense, the “I’m on the edge of my seat” feeling, the fear that Peabody felt... Unfortunately, I think that scene was really critical as it set the tone for the whole book. Like everyone was upset because Peabody could have died... and there was just no way something would happen to her, you know?

Leslie: Looking back at the scene in the locker room, I wasn’t worried about Peabody because like you said, she’s not going to die. If they found her they would have killed her so, she won’t be found. Compared to how I felt when Peabody was attacked in Visions in Death – huge difference. That whole scene in Visions was very emotional for me with Peabody’s POV during the attack and then McNab’s reaction. This scene with Peabody in the shower stall and two dirty cops airing their laundry didn’t have the same intensity.

Nath: That’s exactly it, that’s the word I was looking for: intensity. That scene with Peabody in the shower stall needed to be intense, heart-pounding and edge of your seat sitting to pull the readers into the storyline and I didn't for me. Reading Treachery in Death, I felt a sense of detachment... Yes, I enjoyed the book and the investigation, but at some points, I just felt like everything was going through the motion.

Something else that contributed to this feeling of detachment was Eve’s feelings for the badge. There’s no doubt that Eve is dedicated to her badge, to her job. It saved her and it defines her... But seeing all the other cops being all outraged that one of them would be dirty... I understood what they were thinking, the reasoning, but once again, I did not feel it. Maybe I’ve read too many romantic suspense or maybe I’m just jaded, but dirty cops exist and there are not rare :( Or some people become cops because it has a good salary and good benefits. I mean, not every cop is as dedicated as Eve... and so the emotional factor wasn't there for me. This case was really close at heart for all of the cops - Eve, Peabody, Feeney, Whitney... but for me, it was just like any other investigation :(

Leslie: The outrage and disbelief that one of their own could be dirty has never made sense to me. Isn’t that the point of IAD – because there are dirty cops? I guess it’s that bond they have, not wanting to believe that it could happen at their command.

Nath: Exactly. I have to say though, I was surprised at how many dirty cops were involved, especially in her team. I don't know, how can it be so secretive if so many people are involved? And just the beginning, the fact that Garnet and Renee would argue about it at work... That was really careless.

Leslie: Yes, almost her whole squad was in on it. That’s why I had such a hard time believing it could have gone on for so long. If it had only been a few, then I would have found it more believable. But the more people who know the more likely it will be found out. The feeling that i got was that it would have gone on indefinitely if Peabody hadn’t heard Renee and Garnet arguing. It was careless for them to discuss the business anywhere at Central outside of Renee’s office. I think it was spur of the moment because Garnet was about to lose it and Renee was trying to rein him in.

Nath: Well she was planning to continue till she made captain. Seriously, what astounded me though is that she believed she would be Commissioner some day. Some people really has delusion problems ^_^;

Leslie: Renee was smart but I think her downfall was her belief that she was smarter than everyone else. She really had a hate on for women! And talk about paranoid! I'm surprised she didn't have the restrooms bugged. I did think she was an interesting character – a good contrast to Dallas. Both seeming so similar on the surface, given their positions in the department, yet so completely different in moral character.

Nath: You know, what bothers me is that it seemed we had very little insight from Renee in Treachery in Death. In the past, we've had a lot of villains POV, but not much lately. Yes, we got Renee's psych evaluation, but I didn't get a feel for her. Why does she hate women so much? Why the need for power? Okay, she got daddy's issues, so what? Lots of people got daddy's issues, why would she got to such length? The last scene with her father, her hating him and loving him, that was a little too late for me. I would also have liked to know Renee's motivations for becoming a cop... Was it her father that pushed her? Her own choice?

Leslie: I do think had we gotten deeper into Renee’s head, found out what prompted her hate of women and her father, it could have made for a more intense story. The fact that her father wanted a son and got a daughter, so? Doesn’t mean she has to be a dirty cop. I didn’t get the feeling she liked men either, just liked to control them. Was that due to her father? I’m not sure.

Nath: I know that part of it was to contrast Renee’s situation with Eve’s. Someone who had everything and someone who had nothing. However, I thought Ms Robb didn’t flesh this aspect enough for it to be satisfactory. As you said, I think if Renee’s character had been more developed, it would have brought this book to another level.

Leslie: One good aspect of this book was the pacing. There were few down times and I didn’t find myself wanting to skim. I liked Eve’s scenes with Renee, the taunting and in-you-face attitude Eve would take just to piss Renee off. She got such a thrill out of it! We don't see that very often with two women unless they're fighting over a man.

Another was Peabody’s visit to the mom of the dead cop. It showed her strength when dealing with people – something I think she does better than Dallas. I would have like to see more of Peabody and Dallas together. I like how they work off each other.

Nath: LOL, that’s just Eve :P She takes such pleasure at getting into people’s face, especially people she disliked :P and oh, the hip dance! LOL. As for the pacing, it is always good in the In Death books. That’s one thing I’ve never had to complaint :P.

As for the Peabody’s visit... Didn't you think it was a little bit corny? I know Peabody is good at relating with people, but the whole way she reached out? A little bit to maudlin for me ^_^; I guess though that's what makes Eve and Peabody such a good team, they do complement each other. I wonder how Feeney and Eve were as a pair LOL.

Leslie: Okay, I can see how Peabody’s visit to the dead cop’s mom could be viewed as corny but…it’s Peabody and she is at times, well, corny.:) She has that free-ager background that comes out. Plus she tends to see the good in people – the job hasn’t jaded her yet.

LOL Feeney and Eve. They are so similar but I think Eve would have still been the bad cop. :D

Nath: I was going to say nah... but Feeney with his orange hair and basset hound eyes... LOL, yeah, perhaps Eve was the bad cop :P

Anything that didn’t work for you?

Leslie: I found that I still have issues with Roarke's near excessive involvement in the cases. I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that he own/runs so much and yet keeps popping up in Central. And the cops are so used to his involvement that they think nothing of asking for his help (mostly Feeney).

Nath: I also agree with you on Roarke's involvement. I feel that he is part of the investigations more to please the readers than for the storyline itself... and it has become a little bit too obvious. I do think Roarke should take a step back... and instead of having him involved in the suspense, maybe something emotional could be developed and I'm not talking about those out of characters' spats that Eve and Roarke seem to be having. Seriously, the "fight" between Roarke and Eve - probably the weakest part of the book. Once again, it seemed so out of characters and I found it superfluous. It didn't bring anything but momentary conflict, nothing worth mentioning ^_^;

Leslie: Roarke *sigh* I love him but I’ll find myself thinking “Don’t you have a job?” LOL Agree with you about the need for him to step back. Maybe it’s time for someone from his past to show up and stir things up a bit. That way Roarke would stay in the mix but it would feel more realistic instead of having him hanging around Central. Before you know it, they'll give him an office. :)

Nath: LOL, Roarke can multi-task and work while his wife is sleeping. That's the secret. Sigh. It's a bit unbelievable that such a businessman like him would have so much time on his hands. I wonder if he lost a lot of deals since he married Eve?

Leslie: I forgot that Roarke doesn’t sleep. *grins* You know, Eve did mention that Roarke was traveling less. It could be he’s not pursuing as many deals as he used to. Could be that being married to Eve is costing him money. LOL

Nath: Not that he really needs it LOL.

What was your favorite scene in this book? For me, hands down the scene with Eve and Bella! That was so cute! Ork, Ork LOL.

Leslie: Bella is adorable! Eve shows that rarely seen soft side of herself when Bella’s around. That doesn’t mean I think Eve is anywhere near ready for a kid. I'm not sure she and Roarke even need to have a kid.

I would say that the scene with Bella is one of my favorites as well as the scene at the end where Eve takes Renee down and the cat fight happens. I have no idea what that says about me that I enjoyed the fight but it was good to see Eve get some of that aggression out. :)

Nath: Oh! Eve and Roarke are so not ready to have kids, but that's an entirely other discussion LOL.

Well for someone who enjoyed it more than me, you do have your share of issues and disappointments ^_^; What’s your final grade?

Leslie: Ha – I did have a few more issues than I thought. My grade would be a solid B. At first I would have said B+ but after talking about the issues I had and the things you mentioned, it's not quite up to that level.

Nath: I'm going to earn my reputation of tough grader and going with a solid C. Solid book, but unfortunately, it failed to pull me in and that's what broke this book for me ^_^;

Thursday, March 17

Review: The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason

Today's buddy review is with Kailana from The Written World. We both read Gleason's Gardella series when they came out and we're both a fan of her work. Let's see if her next vampire series agrees with us!

The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason
published by Mira in March 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Regency Draculia #1
Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member of the Dracule—a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls—the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral…until Angelica.
Angelica Woodmore possesses the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger—for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him—to protect her.
Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica…but this vampire never backs down from a fight.

Kailana: Colleen Gleason, the author of this book, is an example of how much blogging works. If it wasn’t for her presence in the blogging world, I probably would never have read her. She is shelved in the romance section, which I never visit, and even if I did I hardly ever see her on the shelf. I think I did buy one of her books at the store, though, because I seem to remember mentioning in a post how I snuck into the romance section for it. Just reading and enjoying Gleason is a big deal, especially a few years ago. Now I do venture into the romance department a bit, but before I never would have at all. This book I found to be more of a romance than the Gardella series, though.

As someone that reads a lot of romance novels and spends time in the romance section, what do you think?

Ames: I agree that social media is definitely a good tool to reach out to new readers. And I’m glad it has you venturing into the romance section from time to time. It definitely worked in the reverse that I venture out more often to different sections as well, fantasy and young adult being the main ones.

In regards to Vampire Voss being more romance-y than the Gardella series, I agree. The set up of it is definitely more in line with the genre. Unfortunately, I found the romance aspect of The Vampire Voss to be weak.

Kailana: I wasn’t really all that interested in the romance. It was just sort of there and you knew it was probably going to play out a certain way. When I read the book I was more interested in seeing how the vampires were portrayed and to experience the time period. There was a lot that was worthwhile overall, but there were a few things that were a bit weak, too.

Why did you find the romance aspect weak?

Ames: I was more interested in the world building and the vampire stuff more too. The romance was weak in my opinion because I didn’t feel any chemistry. Why were these two characters so drawn to each other? We were just told they were. And Angelica was afraid of Voss for quite a bit of that time. I think that’s what bothered me too, how long she was kept in the dark about Voss.

Kailana: Yes, it was a strange romance. It was inevitable, but at the same time I was rather clueless why. I think it should have been explored in more detail or with more enlightenment. Instead, we knew who Voss really was for quite some time before Angelica was let in on the secret. I liked Voss, though, for whatever I thought about the romance. He was an interesting character. He played himself as a dark character, but he had a side to him that he attempted to keep hidden that was nicer. Angelica, too, was a good, strong female character. I never really had any major complaints with her. Her ability was strange, but not over the top. I am not so sure I would like to possess the same abilities, but that is just me.

What did you think of Angelica and Voss as characters?

Ames: I liked Voss. Yeah he was a 100+ year old vampire but he was open to change. I like how he wasn’t uber-perfect. An example of that is when the Mark overtook for a moment and he bit Angelica. There was a real dangerous aspect to him that way. Also, looking at his past, he realized he made some mistakes and he was looking for something different.

Angelica. I’m a bit torn on Angelica. But I think just in regards to her reaction to Voss. Every other way, she was strong and smart. When it came to Voss, not so much. Also, I feel like her ability was made a big deal out of at the beginning and then towards the last half of the book, it wasn’t as important. Like once Voss got what he wanted from her, her ability...and her to a certain degree, didn’t matter anymore.

That’s another thing. I had to remind myself about ⅔ of the way in WHY Voss was even interested in Angelica in the first place.

Kailana: Yes, Voss was admirable in wanting to change after all the years of living. I liked that about him, too. As to Angelica, I suppose I had forgotten that her ability all but erased itself from the book. It was mentioned a lot in the beginning, but then after a while it was just sort of hovering in the background. I think it would have been interesting if it had played a bigger role and it wasn’t just about the vampires abilities. Angelica and her sisters had interesting abilities that I would have enjoyed seeing more from.

What did you think of the secondary characters that played a part?

Ames: I thought a few of the secondary characters were frustrating beyond belief. I couldn’t stand Maia , Angelica’s sister and Chas, their brother. Chas doesn’t even show up until the last half of the book and that tells you something that I couldn’t stand him.

Maia I thought was irritatingly stubborn and tried to be bossy but was just annoying. I know she’s coming from a perspective of wanting more respect from the people around her, but I felt like she went about it the wrong way.

Chas. I felt like his storyline came in too late. All this other stuff is going on and then boom, Chas and his lover are introduced and they get a sex scene and it just seemed a bit out of place for me. I can see this couple getting their own book, but felt their introduction was in an awkward place. And what frustrated me with him was his secrets. He was trying to protect his sisters, but he’s been gone leading this other life and they’ve made do without him. He should have given them some credit and told them what was going on so they could have been better prepared.

Dimitri was an interesting character but I could see right away how his story was going to play out - and looking at the next book, I wasn’t wrong.

Kailana: Oh, yes, I couldn’t stand Maia either. I understand where she was coming from, but she drove me nuts. That’s why I am a bit worried about the next book. It’s a bit apparent that she will play a central role, so I am a bit worried about how things will go. And, yes, Chas... That’s a strange and undeveloped storyline. I feel like he should have been in the book before he was, but if he was then it probably wouldn’t have changed a lot of what happened and then Angelica and Voss might not have ended up together. So, I can understand why he wasn’t in it sooner, but he is a mystery at this point. He’s a Vampire Hunter in love with a Vampire. Obviously, there needs to be a bit more elaboration on why that happened. And, you are right. Normally he takes off and leaves his sisters with little to no supervision when anything possible could happen because of his work. He should give them more credit! They are obviously very able to take care of themselves, but they should have been made aware of the dangers that could present themselves.

Dimitri is interesting, but he also seems like a very stereotypical male figure from classic literature. I could see Mr. Darcy and Mr. Thornton in him easily, but the vampire version. I think Gleason was trying to make him seem more appealing by making him familiar, but then not at the same time. I am not sure if it will work, but I guess it is something to figure out in book two when he plays the central role.

So, what do you think of the book overall? Will you be reading book two?

Ames: Well I found the world-building and the Dracule culture Gleason created to be very interesting. But my enjoyment over that was detracted from by my frustration with some of the characters and the romance. If the romance was made to be more of a background thing with a focus on the other stuff - I would think about reading book 2. As it is, I think I’ll wait to see what others say about book 2 right now. Maia would be a difficult character for me to get over.

What about you, are you planning on reading the 2nd book?

Kailana: Probably, because I did find Dimtri intriguing, but I am not so sure I will enjoy Maia all that much... She sort of annoyed me and probably an entire novel with her in it would be exasperating. That being said, I want to see how the vampire culture storyline develops and I am actually sort of wondering what is the story with Chas and his vampire romance. I am not sure that there has been enough of an explanation of it all yet. I think for the next book I am more curious about the on-going story than the one that will be developed, but that can change. Voss was not very complicated, but there is obviously a story about Dimitri that is sort of hinted at and I want to know the details...

Ames: I do too.  But I'm ok to wait.

This one gets a C- from me. It was ok, there was an interesting concept buried in there with some meh characters.

Kailana: I don’t really give grades, but I will say that I prefer the Gardella Chronicles better. Like you said, the concept is interesting, but the characters sort of brought the story down.

* This review is cross-posted at Kailana's blog.

Thursday, March 10

Review: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh

Wooohooo, a buddy review!! Starting from this week, I'm telling you - no, I assure you, Breezing Through is back in business :) To start off the ball, we've decided to go with one of our favorite authors, Ms Singh. A big thank you to Tabitha from ... Tabz Book Blog for embarking in this adventure LOL! I love Ms Singh's books, but discussing them is always a challenge because her books are so complex! Also, big thank you for her patience, because when buddy reviews are this long, it always takes me a while to get in gear and put them together - the task is oh, very daunting ^_^;

So we've put a lot of efforts in this buddy review, feel free to comment and discuss with us! :) Enjoy!

*Warning: The are spoilers in this review. Read at your own risk!*

Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in January 2011

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux and her lover, the lethally beautiful archangel Raphael, have returned home to New York only to face an uncompromising new evil…

A vampire has attacked a girls’ school—the assault one of sheer, vicious madness—and it is only the first act. Rampant bloodlust takes vampire after vampire, threatening to make the streets run with blood. Then Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrolled rage, as inexplicable storms darken the city skyline and the earth itself shudders. The omens are suddenly terrifyingly clear.

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Guild Hunter, Book #3

The Story: After more than a year, Elena Deveraux finally returns home to New York City. However, as the first angel-made in centuries, her life has completely changed. For one, she needs to adjust to her new life and find the balance between being an angel and a mortal... As if it wasn't enough, Elena has to deal with her enemies who have no qualms going after her loved ones and the awakening of an Ancient... who might be Caliane, Raphael's mother who left in for dead...

Nath: What did you think of Archangel's Consort, Tabitha? :)

Tabitha: I enjoyed this latest installment of the Guild Hunter series. I loved seeing Raphael so protective of Elena, putting her safety even above his own immortality. Case in point, he knows that Elena has made him weaker to heal and more susceptible to injuries but there were no hints of regrets. Even knowing that the surest way for anyone to hurt him is to hurt Elena he agreed to her request to remove the guards. Though it wasn't only Raphael conceding; both he and Elena learned to compromise with each other.

Nath: I'm not disagreeing with you as I did enjoy seeing Raphael so protective of Elena too; it's just who he is. And I think what Elena brings to Raphael is above what he lost and in that case, why have regrets? :) However, I felt that the dynamics between Raphael and Elena dragged down the book a little. There were some issues in their relationship that was brought up over and over again and at the end, it was too much. I got it the first time about the possessiveness they felt for each other, the bodyguard and freedom issues and even how much they wanted each other and felt Ms Singh didn't have to keep hammering it down. I get that she was trying to convey the sensuality and the depth of the relationship, but it seems to me she missed her mark, because these definitively lessened my enjoyment of Archangel’s Consort.

Tabitha: Yep, I agree, there were issues in their relationship that were mentioned far too often. But I think the repetitiveness was hammered to show the progression of their relationship and the emphasis on two strong people finding their footing with each other in a relationship that neither ever expected. That's not to say the repetitiveness was warranted; and it lessened my enjoyment of the book too but I think I might've forgiven it a bit more easily than you did.

Nath: I agree on the emphasis, but I'm not sure about the progression. You know what worked better for me instead? It was the little things like Elena preparing Raphael a sandwich or inviting him to join her to Sara's. Those were cute scenes showing that each had to adapt. Much better than the "Mine and you better remember it! Hubba, hubba!"

Tabitha: LOL. I liked those scenes too. For me, Elena preparing Raphael a sandwich and her inviting him to accompany her to visit her friend shows the progression that I speak of. Not just in their relationship but the extension of their family because Sara is Elena’s family.

Nath: Exactly!

I have to say, what I really liked about Archangel's Kiss was that the story took place at the Refuge, where Elena didn't have to deal with her friends and all, where she could focus only on being an angel... So coming back to New York City, I didn't really know what to expect. I did like seeing Elena getting together with her friends again, seeing their reactions.

Tabitha: Same here, I enjoyed seeing her friends’ reactions. Also, the moment when Elena realized her best friend bought the house next door? Now that's what I call a dear friend!

Although now that Elena is an angel I thought she would be conflicted and torn about sharing secrets with her human friends. But when the time came Elena didn't hesitate to withhold angel information and easily admitted that her loyalty is to Ralph. That scene made me smile and also surprise me a bit because I thought there would be some conflict about her loyalty and the other Archangels putting Raphael in the middle.

Nath: To me, there was never a doubt where her allegiance should go. Although, I guess it really depends on the information... such as Caliane waking up. I could see her sharing that information with Sara, who is also the Guild Director, but with Detective Santiago? Nah. I don't see how this information could have helped the detective and seriously, there are secrets about angels that are not good to share, to be known. As such, I don't think there was much conflict.

Tabitha: I don't mean sharing secrets with the Detective in particular. I know some things would have to be shared with Sara. I just meant that it is nice to hear her clearly voice that her allegiance is to Raphael.

Nath: Oh.

Tabitha: You know, the focus of Archangel’s Consort seems to be about family. There was the surprising revelation about Elena's father and her younger half-sister and then the awakening of Ralph's mother. I was really looking forward to "meeting" Caliane and how she has changed, if any, from the mad angel who threw her son and broke all the bones in his body. Some parts of Ralph's reminiscence of his mother were poignant and had me hoping, wanting, his mother not to be insane. Those scenes made Ralph appear more human and as he shares it with Elena there was a vulnerability to him that pulled the intimacy between them even tighter, stronger, and hotter. The dancing scene? Whoa x10. It was weird but a good weird for that tough Archangel.

Nath: LOL, for me it was when Elena said that a lot of women had problems with their mother-in-laws!!! I wished I could have seen Raphael’s face, it must have been sooo priceless! LOL.

Tabitha: I was laughing over that scene too and trying to picture his reaction as well! Truly priceless. Lol.

Nath: Otherwise, I didn’t really care much about Caliane ^_^; From the beginning, it felt like there was more to it than just Caliane waking up. I think the problem for me is that Caliane was so abstract. Raphael was so worried about how she would come out of it and I didn't really care ^_^; It does show though how strong mother and son’s relationships are, whether they’re good or bad. Not just Raphael and Caliane, but the Hummingbird, Ilium and Raphael.

Tabitha: What do you think of the scene with Ilium and his mother? I was expecting more but I felt sort of lost afterwards.

Nath: It seems like a kind of Alzheimer :( Definitively due to living too long, losing track of time. In a way, it’s her own kind of craziness… I wonder if she shouldn't go to sleep... or is that only the Cadres or archangels? Like you, I was expecting a bit more from it as well, but I guess it was there to show that Raphael has another mother, another family.

In any case, I’m more interested to see how Caliane's awakening is going to affect the power. Is she really not going to get involved in politics?

Tabitha: The other archangels would force her hand even if she doesn't want to. Personally, I think she will in later books. This book was dragging as it was so it made more sense for Caliane to settle her people first and at the same time to regroup her strength since she was forced to wake up before she was ready.

Nath: You're right. Even if she doesn't want to, nobody will leave her alone on account of being the oldest. Interesting politic plots to come :) I do wonder though if she'll adapt to how the world is right now... but I guess that’s also for the future books.

As for Elena’s family, I’m surprised at how much Archangel’s Consort focused on hers. From the blurb, I thought her “reunion” with her own family would be overshadowed by the Caliane storyline… Although that was a bit naïve considering how complex her relationship with her family is. Still, it didn’t go in the direction I expected.

Also, it’s been a while since I read the first two books and I was a bit fuzzy on her family. I didn't realize that her mother committed suicide; I thought she died at the same time as Elena's older sisters. I didn't even remember that Elena had half-sisters! Ah well. I'm pretty sure there is something more about Jeffrey's treatment of Elena. By the way, I would have liked to see more interactions between Elena and Evelyn.

Tabitha: I would've liked to see more of Elena's father's reaction to her being an angel. When he sees her for the first time with angel wings, his response was a bit disappointing for me. I mean, he can't be any more of a jerk than he is now but yet I was looking for something bigger than how he reacted.

Nath: I agree with you, I would have liked to see Jeffrey reacts to his daughter being an angel... but in this case, I think it was taken away a little as Elena was too quick on the trigger ^_^;

The thing is, if Jeffrey is smart and he seems to be, I think he must know that Elena will take care of the family. So in that aspect, he doesn't have to worry as much. Also, you know how Jeffrey says that among his children, Elena is the most like him? I think he is right. Seriously, I'm hoping that all Jeffrey did had a good reason behind it, because I'm really hoping that they'll come to term...

Tabitha: A part of me wants them to reconcile...but I'm not sure I can ever like him. Or want to read much about him. I have more interest in her half-sister, Evelyn, than in Jeffrey and Beth.

Nath: I don’t think that Ms Singh will ever be able to redeem Jeffrey’s character. After all, what he did was horrible, but if there was a good reason behind it, it could soften the blow for Elena. Because as mother and son’s bonds are strong, father and daughter as well. I also agree with you, I’m definitively looking forward to Evelyn in the future.

What did you think of the storyline?

Tabitha: The discovery and subsequent awakening of the ancient mother was a bit long drawn. But I have to say that one of my favorite parts involved Caliane waking up to fight. For me, it was an aw moment that she woke up when she did. And the first meeting of mother and son was sweet in a ways.

Nath: Nod nod. I thought the plot was interesting, because once again, things are not as they appeared regarding the awakening of the Ancient. However, I agree with you, it was long drawn and combined with the repetitiveness mentioned above, it threw off the pacing. This series is better when it is fast-paced, but there were too many lulls in Archangel’s Consort.

Tabitha: In addition, this was a darker and even more complex read than the last two books. Honestly, I'm not sure where the story arc is heading. At first, I thought there goes another mad Archangel but the ending (fight) scenes had me even more puzzled and shocked.

Nath: I'm not sure if the storyline was darker. More complex, yes, but darker? I feel it was more personal... and because of that, I'm not sure where the story arc is heading either. Especially since I heard the next book would focus on Dmitri. I do think it's a good idea though to change the focus of the series for a little while. I think that Raphael and Elena's relationship and Elena's growth as an angel need to evolve a little bit away from the spotlight.

Tabitha: I say it was darker because it delved into the personal and darker aspects of Elena and Raphael's past. But yeah, while I'm not fond of Dmitri I think it would be a nice change to have the book focus elsewhere from Elena and Raphael. But how much of Elena and Raphael and the other Archangels would we see and could there be in Dmitri's book without putting the couple back in the limelight?

Nath: I'm not a fan of Dmitri either and it’s mostly have to do with the way he antagonizes Elena ^_^; However, there's a lot that we don't know about him, so there's hope. And I do believe we'll see a lot of Raphael, after all, Dmitri is his second... it'll also be interesting to see the bond between Raphael and his Seven.

Speaking of the Seven, what did you think of Elena's relationship with them?

Tabitha: Hmm, aside from Ilium I don't think Elena has much of a relationship with the other members of the Seven. Aside from Ilium the others watch over her more so out of duty to Raphael. Though I have to admit that before this book the other members didn't really interest me and I didn't pay much attention to them. But now I'm looking forward to finding out more about Venom and Jason since we're also getting more glimpses of each of them now.

Nath: It seems to me Ms Singh has spent a lot of time fleshing their characters for subsequent books... but I agree with you, Elena doesn’t have much of a relationship. Mostly because they see her as a weakness, which she is... but I think many are starting to respect her and that's a good way to further relationships. I like it though that Ms Singh hasn’t facilitated that aspect for Elena, because she’s the heroine and everyone has to like her – kind of in a Mary Sue way, and being chummy with everyone would just be too weird. This makes it more realistic… I’m sure as she grows more powerful and they come to an understanding, the friendship will come. You already see it a little with Aodhan.

Tabitha: I do see more of the Seven starting to respect Elena now as before they were indifferent, even insufferable to her. They were concerned for Raphael's well-being; obviously, of him becoming weaker because of her but as we saw at the end of Archangel's Consort she's not his weakest link but quite the opposite!

Nath: Well I think that it’s understandable, because that’s their job, protecting Raphael… But true, it’ll be interesting to see when they realize that Elena is bringing something else to Raphael… However, that won’t happen if Elena persists with the bodyguard issue!! That part really annoyed me, sigh. I understand that Elena needs her freedom and that she was used to be on her own, but I thought she was being a little too stubborn. She said she understood the situation - that she was vulnerable and was Raphael's weakness, but she didn’t act like she understood the ramification. Seriously, I was surprised that Raphael compromised. Glad, but surprised.

Tabitha: Oh yeah, Elena was foolish to remove the guards entirely. When she called Raphael to pick her up showed how easily her life could've been compromised.

Nath: Totally agree!! She has to realize the situation - I mean, she can't even do a vertical take off yet! Or what would have happened if Illium hadn't been there with the media chopper? Plus, you know, when she goes on a mission for the Guild, she usually has back-up. Why can't she consider the Seven assigned to her as back-up instead?

Tabitha: Yeah, she can't do vertical take offs and she can't even use her wings for long before tiring. Yet, she insists on the bodyguards backing off. To me, that was TSTL.

That's a good point you mentioned about her having back-up when she's on a mission. I think Elena needs to review her survival training lessons again. ^_^;

Nath: Definitively. Lucky though she’s smart in all the other areas :)

So, what is your grade for Archangel's Consort?

Tabitha: I was debating between B and B-...but the more I think on it the more I prefer the B-. I was looking forward to Raphael's mother awakening but too much dragged on before the showdown that turned out to be a let down...and then the post-fight meeting (with a certain archangel still attending) was a WTF for me. Sadly, I'm not sure I can re-read this book without skipping around a lot of the parts.

Nath: Nod nod. LOL, I’m so happy you’re as tough a grader as me :) It means I won’t get lynched alone LOL. Kidding :)

For me, it's a B. I think it was a good book, but not as good as Archangel's Kiss. The intrigue wasn't as interesting and the repetitive parts dragged it for me and threw the pacing off. Part of me wished it had focused more on the story and action, but another part of me is happy for the focus on personal aspects of Raphael and Elena. I liked seeing Elena returning to her world - perhaps could have used more scenes, and see where Raphael and Elene's relationship is.

Tuesday, March 1

March New Releases

For some odd reason, March feels like there's less new releases coming our way compared to previous months. But I'm not complaining, because what's being released is going to be good!!

I actually totally agree with you Ames. It does seem like less releases or perhaps it's because the schedule is so unbalanced - most releases are coming out in the beginning of the month and very few the next few weeks :) 

Still, there are more books on the list than I thought there would be. So let see what caught our attention :)

March 1

A Lot Like Love by Julie James
published by Berkley
The FBI wants her cooperation.
As the daughter of a billionaire and the owner of the city’s top wine store, Jordan Rhodes is invited to the most exclusive parties in Chicago. But there’s only one party the FBI wants to crash: the charity fundraiser of a famous restaurateur, who also happens to launder money for the mob. In exchange for her brother’s release from prison, Jordan is going to be there—with a date supplied by the Bureau.

Agent McCall just wants her.
As the top undercover agent in Chicago, Nick McCall has one rule: never get personal. This “date” with Jordan Rhodes is merely an assignment—one they’re both determined to pull off even if they can’t be together for five minutes before the sarcasm and sparks begin to fly. But when Nick’s investigation is compromised, he and Jordan have no choice but to pretend they’re a couple, and what starts out as a simple assignment begins to feel a lot like something more...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Connected to Something About You

Nath: The cover! The cover! I really like how Ms James is able to link the cover to her storyline or vice versa :) Tell you the truth, I didn't even read the blurb before putting A Lot Like Love on my TBB list. While I don't love Ms James' books as much as other readers, I do enjoy them and that's good enough for me :). I just wish her writing was more romance-romance instead of a mix of romance/chick-lit. I'm really hoping though this book will be the one for me :)

Ames: I LOOOOVE Julie's writing!  I can't wait to read this book.  Also, I'm going to try and make it last.  I usually read her newest book in one sitting and then I get mad at myself because I have to wait so long for the next book.  LOL  So I will savour this one. :P

Nath: Not sure you're going to be able to, Ames... It's a pretty good book!

Hidden Away by Maya Banks
published by Berkley
A man who shoots first and asks questions later...

Most people would take an all-expenses-paid trip to the beach in a heartbeat. Garrett Kelly only accepts to keep tabs on Sarah Daniels, who’s in hiding after witnessing a murder by Marcus Lattimer, her half-brother—and a personal enemy of KGI. This gig may be beneath a disciplined soldier like Garrett, but if he gets a shot at Lattimer, it will all be worth it...

...and the ultimate moving target.

But Garrett hadn’t counted on falling for Sarah. He’d considered seduction as a tactical maneuver, but when he glimpses Sarah’s dark past, he feels an urgent desire to keep her safe—even after she disappears on him. Garrett doesn’t know exactly who, or what, Sarah’s running from, but whatever it is, she’s running for her life...
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: KGI series, Book #3

Nath: I still haven't read the first book in this series and I really want to sample the writing before buying more books ^_^; Still, out of all three books, this one sounds the most attracting to me and more like something I would enjoy :)

Monroe: It's Maya Banks...I'll read it!!! I have to admit I have a TON of her books to read but I know I'll eventually get to this day! ;)

Ames: Ok, I have a thing with series...where I'll read the first book and then buy the rest and not read them.  It's a problem, ok?  Anyway, I read the first one, really enjoyed it, and have the second one, which I haven't read yet.  But like Monroe said, it's Maya Banks, so I know I'll buy it and read it eventually.  She rocks!

River Marked by Patricia Briggs
published by Ace (Berkley)
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help...
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercedes Thompson series, Book #6

Nath: I'm really, really, really looking forward to this one, mainly because I'm in withdrawal where Ms Briggs' werewolf world is concerned LOL. I'm actually quite looking forward to River Marked. Now that the relationship is established and we know who Mercy has chosen, it'll be fun to find out more about Mercy and her kind :)

Monroe: Ok Ames laughs at me all the time...I get anxious about my fav series coming out with I have to admit I'm STILL sitting on Silver Borne...I KNOW! But I get scared to read the latest books bc then what will I read??? lol Ok so I think I can finally whip out SB! ;P

Ames:  I still haven't read Silver Borne either!!  Bwahahaha.  But that's ok, cuz when I get my hands on this one, I'll have two PB's to read back to back.  Woot woot!

Nath: Hey, there's a book you two could buddy review!!

The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis
published by Grand Central Publishing
Two Men Are One Too Many...

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered... and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Lucky Harbor series, Book #2

Nath: I'm not really convinced about this book. One because Tara wasn't that likable a character in Simply Irresistible and also, the fact that her ex-husband wants her back. I mean, is there any doubt who she is going to choose? If I get this book, it'll be in e-book format as I've decided Ms Shalvis is going to be on my e-book list :)

Monroe: I loved the first book in this series and I loved all the sisters! lol I can't wait to devour this one!!!

Ames:  *sigh*  I'm starting to feel like a broken record...have the first book, haven't read it.  But it's JILL so of course I'm looking forward to this one.

Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
published by Grand Central Publishing
Dear Reader,

Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.

I've owned the Cut 'n' Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it.

And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.

But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Last Chance, Book #1

Nath: The blurb sounded interesting and caught my attention. I enjoy small town contemporary romance usually and thought why not this one? :)

Blackout by Rob Thurman
published by ROC (New American Library)
I was alone, and I was lost. I didn’t know where I was; I didn’t know who I was. It doesn’t get more lost than that. Knowing what I knew and not knowing anything else at all, why would I want to be in the darkness where monsters hide?
Because killers hide there, too...

Half-human Cal Leandros has always walked a bloody line between keeping his mortal soul free and clear (sort of) and unleashing the horror of his otherworldly heritage. The one thing that’s always saved him is the memory of his brother, Niko, his friends, and those he loves.

Until now.

Cal wakes up on a beach littered with the recently slaughtered remains of a variety of hideous creatures that were obviously looking for trouble. The fact that he was the one doing the slaughtering doesn’t bother him. The fact that he feels like a natural-born killer doesn’t either. What bothers him is that Cal doesn’t remember Cal anymore...

And he’s not sure he cares.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros series, Book #6

Nath: Woohoo, another Cal Leandros book! I have to admit I'm a bit worried, I don't know which path Cal is going to follow... Isn't it something when a character has you worried about him? I'm also looking forward to catch up with all the other characters :)

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
published by Hyperion
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Hex Hall, Book #2

Nath: This will depend on whether I enjoy Hex Hall or not. All I can say is this is one gorgeous cover! :)

Ames:  I'm in the same boat, Nath.  I picked up Hex Hall b/c you were interested in it, so we'll wait and see on this one.  :)

March 8

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann
published by Ballantine Books
Izzy Zanella didn’t need another reason to butt heads with his Navy SEAL teammate and nemesis, Danny Gillman. Then he met Danny’s beautiful younger sister, Eden. When she needed it most, he offered her a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on—and more. And when she got pregnant with another man’s child, he offered her marriage. But Eden’s devastating miscarriage shattered their life together—and made the intense bad blood between Izzy and Danny even worse.

Now Eden's back, on a mission to rescue her teen brother, Ben, from their abusive stepfather. Winning legal custody is her only chance, if she and Izzy can prove their broken marriage is still in one piece. But they’re not alone: when Danny and his girlfriend Jenn offer to help, he and Izzy agree to bury the past and fight for Ben’s future.

As they plan their strategy, Izzy and Eden grapple with the raw passion that still crackles between them—while Danny and Jenn confront new depths in their own rocky relationship. But events take a terrifying turn after Ben befriends a girl fleeing a
child prostitution ring. When the young runaway seeks refuge with Eden and Izzy, her pursuers kidnap Ben—and a deadly standoff begins. Now, they must all pull together like never before, and strike back swift and hard, to protect their unconventional little family and everything they hold most precious.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Troubleshooters series, Book #16


*catching breath*  Seriously.  Izzy's book.  'Nuff said.

March 15

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
published by Harper Teen
It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her.

This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.
Genre: Young Adult, time-travel
Series: ?

Nath: I can't remember why this book caught my attention. It was probably the mention of a sword LOL. Then again, there's that great cover... Ah YA authors are really lucky! LOL.

Monroe: Me likey the cover!!!

Ames:  Me too!!

March 22

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
published by Simon & Schuster
Baring It All

Generations of werewolves have been secretly residing in a secluded valley a stone’s throw from Grundy, Alaska. So when a snooping Outsider comes to Grundy to investigate rumors of lycanthropic shenanigans in the area, the valley’s pack alpha, Maggie Graham, resolves to chase him away, even if doing so takes a quick bite on the butt. What a pity that researcher Nick Thatcher turns out to be so drool-worthy, and that his kisses make Maggie want to sit up and beg. Maggie just can’t seem to convince Nick to leave... and even worse, she can’t convince herself to stay away from him. Cross-species dating is problem enough for a harried alpha female, but on top of that, a rival group of werewolves is trying to move into the valley. With interpack war threatening, Maggie can’t afford to be distracted. Combining romance and a career can be tough for anyone; for a werewolf in love with a human, it may be disastrous...
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Naked Werewolf, Book #2

Nath: : I read the first book, How to Seduce a Naked Werewolf, and I didn't enjoy this as much as the Jane Jameson series. So I'm not totally sure I'll be getting this one. Most probably yes because I still enjoyed Ms Harper's writing... Hopefully, the storyline of The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf will measure up to the expectations this time.

Monroe: The title made me giggle...I might check this one out!

Ames:  As I've just read And One Last Thing by Molly Harper, I can recommend her writing.  Even though I'm not into paranormals right now, I can still say she writes a good yarn.  :P

Almost Home by Mariah Stewart
published by Random House publishing
When she was young, Steffie Wyler always knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life: 1. Make ice cream. 2. Marry the coolest boy in town. 3. Live happily ever after. These days, Steffie is the proud owner of One Scoop or Two, a wildly popular ice cream parlor. But the cool guy left town right after high school, before they could scratch the surface of their mutual attraction to see what, if anything, lay beneath. Steffie’s made a great life for herself in St. Dennis, but true love has never come knocking.

Wade MacGregor left for college in Texas and remained there to start a successful business with his best friend, Robin Kennedy, but he’s always felt something was missing. Then life throws him a curveball: A third partner has robbed the company blind, and Robin has died—but not before entrusting Wade with a precious secret. Now back in St. Dennis, Wade’s determined to do whatever it takes to protect his friend’s legacy—and to figure out, once and for all, if the sparks that fly whenever he’s with Steffie are just temporary fireworks or the lights in the window leading him home.
Genre: Romantic suspense
Series: Chesapeake Diaries, Book #3

Nath: Another book that caught my attention through its blurb :) It sounded like a good book and it seems there are some really good characters :) I just like the fact that the heroine knew what she wanted in life and has achieved it :) Also, I like this kind of story where the hero or heroine got away...

March 29

My One and Only One by Kristan Higgins
published by HQN Books
Divorce attorney Harper James can't catch a break. Bad enough that she runs into her ex-hubby, Nick, at her sister's destination wedding, but now, by a cruel twist of fate, she's being forced to make a cross-country road trip with him. And her almost-fiancé; back at home is not likely to be sympathetic.

Harper can't help that Nick has come blazing back into her life in all of his frustratingly appealing, gorgeous architect glory. But in Nick's eyes, Harper's always been the one. If they can only get it right this time, forever might be waiting;just around the bend.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: none

Nath: I like Ms Higgins' books. A lot on the chick-lit side of the spectrum of romance, but still entertaining. I heard that this time around, the heroine is not as bubbly as the others, so I'll have to read and see :) Also another author who's really been lucky with her covers :)

Ames: I love Kristan Higgins' writing.  Even when I think I shouldn't.  LOL  I'm looking forward to this one.