Wednesday, August 26

New Releases - Aug 25 & Sept 1

Hmmmm, new releases. Don't you love those two words? LOL. I do... those two words are usually the cause of my wild booking adventures LOL. They mean new books to read, most of the time, sequels or favorite authors new work.

Something else I love as well: knowing which new releases people are waiting for, anticipating. Which books will make them rush to the bookstore (or perhaps, that's just me? :P) It always fun to see what others are anticipating and a lot of time, it brings new books/new authors to your attention. It can also start discussion and I'm hoping that it will help us looking for buddy reviewers LOL. As a result, this will become a new feature here at Breezing Through. For the moment, the plan is this new feature will be done on a bi-weekly basis, so the posts aren't miles long - since after all, there's four of us :) I hope you guys will enjoy!!

psst - anyone has a clever name for this feature?

August 25

With Seduction in Mind by Laura Lee Guhrke
A thoroughly modern woman…

Daisy Merrick has to earn her living, but she keeps getting the sack. When her rash tongue costs her yet another job, the feisty, outspoken girl-bachelor is undaunted, and she comes up with a plan that could give her a future beyond her wildest dreams. There’s only one problem. Her success depends on a man, the most infuriating, impossible, immovable man she’s ever met.

A most notorious man…

Sebastian Grant, Earl of Avermore, is England’s most famous author, but when writer’s block steals his creativity, Sebastian becomes more well-known for his notorious reputation than his work. When Daisy arrives on his doorstep, hired by his publisher to help him write his next book, Sebastian has no intention of cooperating. The provoking, fire-haired beauty stirs his senses beyond belief, and when collaboration forces them together at his country home, Sebastian knows he has only one way out. Seduction.
Genre: historical
Series: The Bachelorettes, Book #4

Nath: This is the 4th book in her Bachelorette series. I like Ms Guhrke's books and this series is cute. There was one that was so-so, but I really enjoyed the rest. I'm not sure about Daisy as an heroine from the glimpses we got in previous books, but still...

Chantal: I really liked The Marriage Bed by this author, so I should read some more from her. I'll have to start with the first in the series, though.

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposes Charles and his father is struck down. Charles's reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer-or Charles will take the fall.
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book #3 (including novella)

Nath: LOL, do I need to justify this book? Ms Briggs has gained a huge fanbase with her two werewolves series - Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega and I know that a lot of people will be on the look out for this book. Me, I'm really looking forward to Hunting Ground, especially after reading Seeing Eye, the novella in the anthology Strange Brew. Now, I'm not only looking forward for Anna and Charles, but also Moira and Tom!

Chantal: Is this part of the Alpha and Omega series? Because as much as I love Mercy, I'm not a fan of A&O. If its a new series or stand alone book I am on board!

Ames: Chantal, it is part of the A&O series. Which I happen to enjoy! Anna and Charles have a different dynamic and anything by PB is always a good read. I’ve been looking forward to this release too, quite anxiously.

Monroe: PB is AWESOME and I’d read an obituary if the woman wrote it. Needless to say I WILL be getting this book ASAP! :o) Im a huge fan of her Mercy Thompson series and am soon to start the Alpha and Omega! LOVE HER!

Set the Dark on Fire by Jill Sorensen
In a southern California town ablaze with sordid secrets, a free-spirited biologist and a straitlaced sheriff join forces to investigate a suspicious killing - and find themselves getting a little too close to the flames.

Shay Phillips knows her way around Dark Canyon. She's handy with a gun and can track a wild animal with the best of them. It's humans who usually give her the most trouble. And with a hormonally charged teenage brother to raise - and an admitted weakness for the wrong kind of man - they're giving her plenty of trouble these days. Then there's the matter of murder. As an expert on mountain lions, Shay is skeptical when a local prostitute turns up mauled without a drop of blood near the body.

Now, together with the town's newly arrived sheriff, Luke Meza - a Las Vegas city boy with his own dark secrets - Shay must navigate a dangerous valley filled with angry ex-lovers, unfaithful spouses, and poisonous snakes in a desperate search for the killer. But when suspicion falls on her own brother, and her attraction to Luke rages into a full-on erotic affair, can Shay quell the fires inside her long enough to uncover the truth?
Genre: romantic suspense

Ames: I don’t know why, but I’ve been craving romantic suspense lately and what can I say, I like the cover.

Nath: Do you know if this is a sequel to Crash Into Me? I planned to try out that one, but never did... Don't think I'll pick up this one either, unless the reviews are good... So you'll have to let me know, okay?

Strangers Kiss by Mary Blayney
A year after the death of his wife, Lynford Pennistan, Duke of Meryon, has returned to London and his weighty political responsibilities. But no burden can equal the regret Lyn feels for never allowing himself to show his wife the emotion that could have saved his marriage. Now an unexpected encounter with a beautiful widow may offer him a second chance..

As reluctant guests at a ball, Lyn and an elegant stranger talk of love and loss in ways they never have before. And when they are later introduced, their attraction goes from passionate to scandalous. As England's political unrest explodes, so do the fires between Lyn and Elena Verano. But when a secret is revealed that will turn Elena's life upside down, Lyn is forced to make a choice that could destroy them both - if Elena doesn't make it for him.
Genre: historical romance

Ames: I have Mary’s other book and I’ve heard good things about her writing. (I’m so easy, aren’t I? LOL) Also, another pretty cover.

Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare
Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society's constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it's one thing to sketch her most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.

To any well-bred lady, Benedict "Gray" Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest-until Sophia's perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly he'll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She's beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue's redemption? Or will the runaway heiress's secrets destroy their only chance at love?
Genre: historical romance
Series: Goddess, Siren and Lady, Book #2

Ames: Almost forgot this one! Yeah yeah, i haven't read the first one but I don't care, I'm still going to buy this one. LOL

Nath: Same here! LOL. I think it's good to be prepared and I heard good stuff about this author.

September 1

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder
Student glass magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal a magician's powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan's lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man now her prisoner has switched souls with Ulrick.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain...
Genre: fantasy
Series: Glass trilogy, Book #2

Nath: This is the second book in the Glass trilogy by Ms Snyder. Definitively looking forward to this one. Can't wait to find out what's going to happen to Opal and Kade. What I like about Ms Snyder trilogy is the sense of adventure that we feel as we're reading. I'm hoping will get some Yelena and Valek as well :)

Ames: I really enjoy Maria Snyder’s writing so I’ve been looking forward to this series. I haven’t read Storm Glass yet but I do have it. LOL

Highland Rebel by Judith James
Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.

A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife...

In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust...
Genre: historical
Series: sequel to Broken Wing

Nath: I think everyone has heard of Judith James after Kristie's Quest for Broken Wing. Highland Rebel is the sequel, this time featuring young James. Although the book is not out yet, I know that both Kristie and Brie highly enjoyed it. That's enough to put it on my TBB list :)

Ames: I really enjoyed Broken Wing so I’m really looking forward to HR. I didn’t realize that Kristie had already reviewed it, but its good to know she enjoyed it.

Nath: Not sure if she reviewed it yet, but I know she liked it :P

Black at Heart by Leslie Parrish
Wyatt Blackstone has done his best to mask his romantic feelings for Lily Fletcher, the brilliant but fragile young woman whose technical skills have helped him track countless violent Internet predators. But now he must fin out if the woman he loves has become a rogue agent obsessed with cold-blooded revenge.
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Black Cats, Book #3

Nath: Okay, okay, I admit it - I still haven't read the first two books Fade to Black and Black Pitch. However, I've heard a lot of good things about this series and Ms Parrish's writing. Many have compared her style to Karen Rose... and I just want to be prepared when I'll devour her books... because I know it's going to happen! (especially since Lori has been enjoying her so much!)

Waking Nightmare by Kylie Brant
First he learns your darkest fears. Then he makes you live them.

With a serial rapist on the loose on the streets of Savannah, hot-shot detective Ryne Robel needs all the help he can get for his task force. And he needs it now, before another woman falls victim. But Abbie Phillips isn't what he bargained for. Sent from an exclusive group of the best criminologists in the country, she's smart, fierce... and distracting. She may be a brilliant forensic profiler, but Ryne needs answers, not pyschobabble and head games.

However, Abbie convinces him that head games are exactly what this elusive suspect is all about. The seemingly random acts or torture are actually calculated to match each victim's darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he's watching them--the next objects of his horrifying obsession.
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: The Mindhunters, Book #1

Nath: I've never read this author before, but she has 3 books coming out in the next three months - just like Ms Parrish did earlier this summer. Her books are obviously romantic suspense... I guess I'm trying to find authors/books that will fill the void while I'm waiting for Ms Rose's next release. Anyhow, this caught my eye. Really hoping it'll be good...

Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman
When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she's hit the jackpot. Both sides - angel and demon - would give anything for it. But first she has to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies, and what she's ready to fight for. Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life.
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: The Tricksters, Book #1

Nath: Rob Thurman is my new author at the moment. I'm really loving Cal Leandros series, so I'm looking forward to this book. This is the first book in a new series and this time, the main character is a woman. I think it's going to be really interesting.

The Drowning City by Amanda Downum
Symir -- the Drowning City. Home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government.

For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her crown. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But she is torn between her new friends and her duties, and the longer she stays in this monsoon-drenched city, the more intrigue she uncovers -- even the dead are plotting.

As the waters rise and the dams crack, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the city she came to save.
Genre: fantasy
Series: The Necromancers Chronicles, Book #1

Nath: Love the cover. When I said that going through others' list of new releases can inspire you, I really meant it :) Saw this at Renee's blog not long ago and it sounded interesting and it definitively caught my attention. Now, it's on my TBB list since I've been in a mood for a good fantasy lately and I'm hoping this will be it.

Must Love Hellhounds by Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Charlaine Harris (anthology)
In these hound-eat-hound worlds, anything goes. and everything bites.

Follow paranormal bodyguards Clovache and Batanya into Lucifer's realm, where they encounter his fearsome four-legged pets, in Charlaine Harris's The Britlingens Go to Hell. Seek out a traitor in the midst of a guild of non- lethal vampire trackers, one that intends to eradicate the entire species of bloodsuckers, in Nalini Singh's Angels' Judgment. Find out why the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades has left the underworld for the real world - and whose scent he's following - in Ilona Andrews's Magic Mourns. Embark on a perilous search for the kidnapped niece of a powerful vampire alongside her blind - and damn sexy - companion and a hellhound in Meljean Brook's Blind Spot.

These four novellas by today's hottest paranormal authors will have hellhound lovers everywhere howling.
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Series: NS Guild Hunter - MB The Guardians - IA Kate Daniels

Nath: Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews all have a novella in this anthology. Need I say more? LOL

Ames: Can I borrow this from you Nath? LOL

Nath: LOL, yes you can :)

Can't Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards
For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple's [LE1] kitchen to write an expos 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.
Genre: contemporary
Series: Recipes for Love, Book #1

Nath: I needed to add a contemporary to my list and this seems to fit the bill :) It sounds cute and it has a chef in it :) Good time ahead!

Monroe: Never read this author before but a few things here…the cover is super cute, it combines the two things I love…food and sex, and everyone knows how I love my contemp romances so why not try it?!? I'm sure it’ll be adorable!

Nath: Me neither. I actually think this is her debut novel!

Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman
Rachel Bailey may seem like just a beautiful newcomer to most of Reidsville, Colorado, but Sheriff Wyatt Cooper knows she's much more. Through a twist of fate, Rachel is the inheritor of a very valuable commodity: control of the railway that's keeps the isolated mining town connected to the world. That is, she will be, if she agrees to the surprising stipulation in her benefactor's will - that she marry Wyatt. Rachel has no choice: refusing the marriage could put all of Reidsville in the hands of an outsider - and not just any outsider, but the cruel tyrant she has come here to escape. Yet living with Wyatt will be her greatest challenge. For he has a tempting way about him that makes Rachel forget theirs is a marriage in name only - until her frightening past shows up to remind them exactly how much they have at stake...
Genre: western romance

Ames: I hear Jo Goodman’s a good author. LOL

Nath: I expect many will be getting this one, especially after the Great Western Drive. Also, Jo Goodman is a popular author, so I good combination for those who'd be interested to try a western.

Pleasure and Purpose by Megan Hart
Introducing the women of the Order of Solace-three new novellas from the national bestselling master of erotic romance.

The handmaidens of the Order of Solace are each named for the exquisite service that best reflects their true calling. Their greatest delight is giving pleasure-devoted as they are to fulfilling the desires of the mind, the needs of the soul, and the cravings of the body.

Meet Stillness, called upon to soothe the conscience of a man in need of redemption after a shocking act from his sexual past. Then there-s Honesty, whose vow of Solace is to a prince looking for a submissive handmaiden. Instead, he gets the unexpected. And finally, Determination, a handmaiden confronted with a client lost in a haze of random sex and drugs. She has just the plan to literally whip her man into shape.
Genre: erotic romance anthology
Series: Order of Solace, Book #1

Ames: I’ve read quite a few of Megan’s books and she’s definitely an auto-buy author.

Monroe: The cover alone is enough to make me want to read this book. I have only read one erotica book thus far so I’m really wanting to try another! YUM!

Nath: I still haven't read this author ^_^; I should right? LOL. She has quite a lot of new releases coming out this fall...


So there you have it, the new releases we're expecting :) What about you?

Wednesday, August 19

Buddy Review - Vampire Diaries - The Awakening & The Struggle by L.J. Smith

Vampire Diaries - The Awakening & The Struggle by L.J. Smith

The Awakening, Elena is a high school golden girl, the one boys want and girls want to be. And Elena is used to getting what she wants. When she meets handsome, haunted Stefan, he struggles to resist her because of his dark secret. Stefan is torn by guilt over his past, and mindful of the threat that his vengeful brother, Damon, poses to anyone Stefan gets close to. Soon Elena finds herself torn between two brothers—and in terrible danger.
The Struggle
Elena quickly realizes that the only thing more dangerous that being in love with a vampire is being desired by two. As Stefan struggles to suppress his instinctive thirst, Damon persists in his quest for Elena's heart. A dark turn of events forces Elena to risk her mortality to save one of her immortal suitors.

Monroe: So I thought we could start off with why we chose to read the Vampire Diaries series. For me, ever since Twilight I've REALLY been digging into the vamp books. I had a friend tell me about these books and I knew it was something I would be interested in. NOW I didn't expect them to be AS good as Twilight so I’m going to try really hard not to compare! :o)

How's bout you? Why did you want to read them (besides me making you of course ;op)

Ames: Well that's the only reason! Also, knowing that there's a show based on these books and planning to watch the show, I wanted to see what the big deal is about. And I wasn't thinking to compare the book to Twilight. LOL

Monroe: Oh ya I TOTALLY forgot about the show! Duh!! Ya we will be watching that together and I can’t wait!

So what's your take on the first two books? Did they live up to your standards?

Ames: Ok - for those who don't know, the book is actually divided up into two books.

So the first book, I hated Elena, our main character. She's the "queen" of the school and she's kind of self-centered. On the very first day of senior year, she's frustrated with the gaggle of girls who follow her around. There's a new mysterious boy in school and Elena decides she wants him, although she's kind of going out with Matt, a real sweetheart. And then the mysterious boy - Stefan - snubs her publicly when she tries to talk to him and she's infuriated and decides she's going to have him, no matter what it takes. She drove me bonkers. And then...and then she kind of grew on me! LOL So by the time the second book rolls around, I'm involved in her little drama and I want to see what happens to her next.

Monroe: LOL I didn't HATE Elena but I will say that I was getting a bit tired of her being so conceited. I held off of hating her b/c I just knew something was inside her...a better person. And I love for once it's a good guy bringing out the better in a bad girl! Don't you agree? We normally see the good girls change the bad boys! :o)

So one thing I just had to bring up is when she dumped poor Matt. First off he totally proves to be a great guy that seriously loves her. And it shows even more when she mentioned that didn't he agree they had become just friends and he was like "no comment". He was such a sweetie he wasn't going to make him feel bad. OH AND EVEN MORE when he finds out she’s interested in Stefan he still doesn't snub her! What a great guy!

Ames: Matt was a great character. Everyone needs someone like Matt in their lives. LOL and yes, it was good to see a bad girl turned semi-good.

Ok, so what did you think of Stefan? I don't really feel like we got to know him. I mean, he loves Elena because why? She's strong and a fighter? I feel like all the relationship development between Elena and Stefan got skipped over. Were Elena only attracted to him because he was new and different and then a jerk for snubbing her and she had to prove she could bag him? I'm feeling like we're missing a piece of the puzzle. And then moving on Damon - he only wants Elena because Stefan wants her? Tell me!

Monroe: Good point! Ya you really don't get a good enough feel for the relationship between the two. At first I thought that the only reason Stefan wanted Elena was b/c she looked like Katherine. But later he talked about loving her differently and more for who she is...BUT you really didn't feel that. It didn't come off strong enough for me. And Damon, as far as I see wants her just because Stefan does. He doesn't even know Elena. that I think about it...technically doesn't Damon see Elena first? B/c he was the crow remember. He saw her when she came outside to walk to school on the first day back so maybe there is more about that...what do you think of that aspect? He did technically see her before Stefan...

Ames: Hey! That's so true! Like why was Damon stalking her already when Stefan didn't even know who she was?

Monroe: Well maybe we will find out in the last book...or maybe he was following Stefan and noticed Elena first?!?! Hmmm...that's something to think about right there! Ok so what did you Katherine/Stefan/Damon story? Seriously that girl was SO STUPID! She really didn't think about her actions putting herself between the two brothers then offs herself b/c she can’t choose?!?! WHAT?!? I did however like how L.J. wove it into the story line.

Ames: Katherine was weak. And I'm afraid Elena is going to make the same mistake...

But yes it was good to see how the brothers had a falling out over a woman and Smith wove it into the story very well. The books are well written but I would like more depth. What do you think of the new teacher?

Monroe: Well I think there is something up with him. He's just so nosey and weird. And what about the part where he invites everyone to his HOUSE to talk about the recent deaths...WTH?!? And then tells them participation is half their grade, basically forcing them to go. OMG! Something is up with this guy!

Oh and one thing I thought was weird is that they mentioned how Damon kissed Bonnie after Elena left, but didn't make a big deal out of it. Why even mention it then? OH And I thought it was weird how Elena found it so easy to leave even after she heard Bonnie and Damon laughing together. I would've been scared to leave a friend with a killer! Hello?!?!

Speaking of Bonnie…WOW I like her character. Her creepy ability to see into the future and get in touch with the dead! I loved it!!!

Ames: And Bonnie also has a crush on the new teacher. He's probably going to kill her. But she is an interesting character. I liked how loyal her friends were. Like even when they got into little fights they were still always there in a jam. And I like how Elena mostly keeps them informed on what's going on. But did not like how Elena kept telling little lies to everyone. Especially with Stefan.

Monroe: I know I loved the friendship between the girls! And I’m happy to see it was all the way through to the end. I hate in books when friends get in fights and the character is left alone :o( Ya...the one point I was like "girl just go tell him everything that's happening so he can fix it!" lol OH and what about the dream where Damon bit Elena and the crow was scratching her when she woke up and then she realized that Damon REALLY bit her! The book really started getting good then! That's the thing about this book. I don't think I REALLY got into it until over a 100pgs. But now I mean I think it’s pretty entertaining!

I don't read a lot of YA books but this is one I was happy to continue.

Ames: I enjoy a good YA from time to time (the last being the Forest of Hands and Teeth - zombies!). I agree - the second book definitely got interesting when Damon became the aggressor. It was kind of funny how Elena outsmarted him after he got the invitation to come in. But he's such a despicable character for threatening Elena with her baby sister! Ok - I'm definitely curious about the rest of this series. But I did not really care for the first book. LOL It is however, necessary that you need to read the first book to get the rest of the series. So first book (The Awakening) gets a C from me and the second book (The Struggle) is going to get a B-.

Monroe: Yes he is despicable however I am SO drawn to the bad boys! ;o) I think there’s more to him than what we are seeing. Idk...maybe wishful thinking on my part. Lol But don't get me wrong I still want her to stay with Stefan.

I have to totally agree with you on the grading.
The Awakening: C
The Struggle B-

Ames: Oh yeah for sure she has to stay with Stefan!

Also, the Vampire Diaries tv show starts September 10, so don't forget to set your DVR!

Friday, August 14

Review: Nightlife by Rob Thurman

I have been in the mood for fantasy and urban fantasy reads lately and when Leslie from Leslie's Psyche reviewed Nightlife by Rob Thurman, I knew I found a new series to start :) This series caught my attention at the bookstore (it has such nice covers) while I was browsing for urban fantasy reads and I came close to buy it several times (actually thought I already did ^_^;)… but the deterrent was the belief that Rob Thurman was a male author. Yes, yes, gender snobbism… can’t help it, I prefer female authors, especially when I buy books I know nothing about. However, after reading Leslie’s review, I would have bought Nightlife even if Rob Thurman was a man :) Then, I convinced Hilcia from Impressions... and Musings of a Bibliophile to read Nightlife so she could buddy review it with me. Yes, I am evil, muahaha LOL :P


Nightlife by Rob Thurman
published by ROC Fantasy in March 2006

There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that ever since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one…

… Well, half of one, anyway.

Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side – and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half-human.

His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares – and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t wanted to stick around long enough to find out.

He and his half-brother Niko have managed to stay a step ahead for three years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him… for he is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Cal Leandros Serie (Half Human, Half Monster, All Attitude) Book #1

Nath: So I really liked Nightlife and I’m so glad that Leslie reviewed it, making me pick it up :P But what about you Hilcia? Did you enjoy Nightlife or do you have regrets letting me talk you into it? :P

Hilcia: No regrets here, Nath. I really enjoyed Nightlife. I'm a bit of a newbie when it comes to UF, having only read 3 series so far... but, I enjoyed and loved what I saw as a good change of pace in this one -- the brothers! We get the 1st POV, the smartass, sarcastic attitude from Cal, AND the "kickass" characteristics from Nik, all usually found in UF in one character... but boy, oh boy... that relationship between the two brothers really made the difference for me.

Nath: Me too!! I definitively believe it’s Cal and Niko’s sibling relationship that made this book so good! I just love their relationship! There’s so much love and loyalty in their bond despite their different personalities. It’s the little extra something that makes this book stand out from all the other urban fantasy novels out there.

Hilcia: Absolutely! Thurman took her time developing the relationship at the beginning of the book and it worked... you can really feel the love between those two. Nik's loyalty, protectiveness and love towards Cal -- his willingness to do anything to protect him -- and Cal just totally worships him in return. Cal KNOWS he's lucky, don't you think?

Nath: Definitively. There’s a ton of emotions between the two, not only love and loyalty, but also trust, faith and guilt… Their understanding of each other also allows so much to be unspoken, but they know and that’s the most important.

Of course, in order to convey so many feelings, it means that the brothers’ relationship was extremely well-written. I felt that the characters remained real and “manly.” What I mean is that Niko and Cal acted like any brothers out there – taking shots at each other, keeping their deepest feelings quiet, etc. They weren’t too maudlin, didn’t use weird vocabulary and/or act too effeminate ^_^; That despite being a woman, Ms Thurman portrayed them well which is always tricky when your main characters are from the opposite gender. That’s a rare feat in my opinion.

So we’ve talked about the relationship, but what about Cal and Niko as individuals? Cal is a pretty interesting character, very complex. He’s such a smartass, LOL. I think that without Niko, Cal could have turned “evil.” As it is, Niko’s love keeps him grounded… human.

Hilcia: I don't think Cal would have survived his childhood without Nik's love and protection. I don't know if he would have survived Sophia, his mother, or the rest without him. Nik has that "motherly" attitude towards him, but in a "brotherly" way... if you know what I mean. I agree, without Nik, Cal would not have had the moral grounding that makes him the man he has become. Nik is Cal's conscience, I think -- he keeps the Grendel away.

Being secured in Nik's love, Cal has developed that bratty brother attitude that I liked so much. I loved Cal's sarcastic, smartass "voice" -- even when he was feeling guilty, having doubts or just wanting the best for Nik, he was funny in a dark sort of way. I laughed out loud quite a few times.

Nath: I had quite a few laughs as well, especially his logic and conclusions sometimes :) He reminds me a little of Harry Dresden in the Dresden Files… especially when he’s being sarcastic. However, Cal is not as funny, but he sure has this bad boy aura around him. Still, he’s not a bad-ass either; he’s quite sensitive. He might not voice them, but Cal has feelings other than anger and coldness. It makes for an interesting narrator and I love his sarcasm. Although, did you notice that most 1st POV nowadays are all cynical and sarcastic? I guess plain, normal doesn't cut it anymore… or very rarely.

Hilcia: Yes, I agree on the sarcastic, 1st POV voice, nath. Cal supplies that part of the UF "formula" in this series -- and it does seem to be a formula -- although I must admit, I enjoyed it coming from him, lol!

Nath: No complaint from me and after all, it works :) It’s also a good contrast with Nik’s seriousness… Awww, Niko…. I I looooooved Niko!! He is just soooo awesome! LOL :)

Hilcia: Oh yesss! Nik was THE rock in the relationship, wasn't he? I loved that he is the human, yet he's the kickass hero of the piece. Yummy too! *g*

Nath: Yep, yep, definitively yummy. I think that he’s an awesome character and very impressive as well. I mean, it seems that he learned everything himself – how to fight, how to take care of Cal, etc. Can you imagine, being on the run from monsters, taking care of a kid and surviving? The character strength it shows? I mean wow. He’s also so self-sacrificing when it comes to Cal… You can’t help but fall for Niko and root for him. In a way, I find that his character overshadows Cal a little bit… what do you think?

Hilcia: Oh, I was definitely rooting for Nik! But I don't know about him necessarily overshadowing Cal. Cal sees his brother as a big hero and he worships him -- he's bigger than life in Cal's eyes -- and we're seeing Nik from Cal's POV. I thought Cal was definitely central to the story as a character. They both had important roles to play, and I thought Thurman did an excellent job of balancing those roles... I liked them both equally, if for different reasons.

Nath: What about the rest of the characters? I think Ms Thurman did a good job, introducing the readers to many quite unknown or less popular paranormal species. I seriously did not know what a puck was!! Well I know what a hockey puck is, but I don’t think that’s what Ms Thurman is referring to :P

Hilcia: I agree, Nath. I not only liked the other species that were introduced, but the way some other familiar ones seem different here (the werewolves)... and let me tell you, some of them are right down scary!

Hah! I looooved Goodfellow, the puck! I recognized him from mythology (Greek)... he's taken from one of the gods (Pan)... but really, I'm loving what Thurman did with this character. She made him into a sad/lonely/full of himself / horny as heck PAN! I really want to know more about him! Don't you?

Nath: I liked Goodfellow quite a lot as well :) I was curious about him, because I saw his name in Leslie’s review… I was a little bit confused at first because I didn’t know what a puck/pan was exactly and even after reading the description in Wikipedia, I’m not sure… but I quickly realized that I don’t care LOL :) He entertains me and that’s what matters :) I think Goodfellow brings something really good to the mix. He definitively livens things up :) Great contrast with Niko's seriousness and Cal's cynicism. At the same time, he's not just there for comedy relief. As you mentioned, he has a lot more depth than one could imagine.

Hilcia: Goodfellow... what a great sidekick! I'm afraid I fell hard for the goat boy, lol! And jeez... he fell for Nik. Hmmm.... who wouldn't? LOL! But yeah, I'm hoping for some development in his character in future. :)

What did you think of the female characters in the book?

Nath: I think it’s cute that Goodfellow fell for Niko and it explains well why Goodfellow stuck with them. At the same time, can’t help but feel a little sad for Goodfellow, because we all know that Niko will never reciprocate his feelings :(

As for female characters… Hmm, I’m reserving judgment for now :P So far, we have been introduced to only 2, Georgina and Promise, and neither played a big role, so it’s hard to pin them down. I have to admit though, Promise is not what I expected ^_^; I knew she was a vampire, but I did not know she had 5 old husbands and inherited great fortunes from each of them... it makes her sound so gold-digger and mercenary ^_^; As for Georgina, I think Cal has met his match :) I’m definitively looking forward to read more about them in the next books!

Hilcia: Yeah... the female characters were a bit of a puzzle in the book. It's seen from Cal's POV, so we know little at this point. But not developed here -- a bit of a mystery both of them.

That whole scene with Georgie's ghost or whatever that was, at the Diner was a bit strange... I was hoping for an explanation.

Nath: Yeah, it was never really explained. We know that Georgie is a psychic – a seer. My hypothesis is that she’s able to do astral projection, that would explain the scene and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched given she’s a psychic already.

All right, onto the plot! What did you think of it? I thought it took a lot of time before the “story” really started. Ms Thurman spent a lot of time building the brothers’ relationship. So while there was action, I think it was less than most UF novels…

Hilcia: I did find that the "narration" went on a bit long at times and the "dialogue" part of the story was short changed, especially on the second part of the story. I think it slowed things down a bit.

Nath: I think it was actually cool that when Cal got possessed by Darkling, readers continued to get Cal/Darkling POV. First, it’s so rare that the hero or anti-hero gets possessed and when it happens, s/he usually disappear swhile the other characters search of him/her. In Nightlife, it was the opposite; we stayed with Cal/Darkling, got to witness all of Darkling’s evilness, and we missed Niko and Goodfellow’s search for Cal. But yeah, there was a lack of dialogue in the second half since Cal/Darkling didn’t have anyone to talk to ^_^;

Hilcia: I liked the transition in "voices" between Cal and Darkling -- it was quite pronounced and I thought well done. I also must admit to loving the evilness of the character. He was one scary egomaniac! The length of his internal dialogues, hmmm... I thought were too long sometimes. I think I was expecting a bit more action at that point... although the action did come!

Nath: You definitively could tell the difference between Cal and Darkling. In a way, it was quite creepy, as if it was split personality. The overall plotline was quite interesting and clever as well. The most important I think is that it’s not random, it explains Cal’s existence - it usually takes forever before character’s purposes are explained LOL.

There were also some interesting twists that I didn't totally expect and I love the fact that Cal and Niko are self-trained and so strong. It’s quite impressive :)

Hilcia: Speaking of creepy, who scared you the most in this book?

Nath: That’s a good question… Quite frankly, I don't think the Auphe were scary at all and I don’t understand why Cal is so afraid of them. Okay, yes, I do know… in Cal’s case, it’s more psychological and for Niko, it’s more the fact that he’s afraid of losing Cal.

So I would say the troll or even Darkling! Glad by the way that he’s dead and there’s no chance he’ll come back LOL :P

Hilcia: I agree with you Nath. The Grendels/Auphe were not clearly drawn for me for some reason. They seemed really scary at the beginning and then became kind of meh later on. Frankly, Darkling and the troll scared me a lot more...

Nath: Well see, the thing about the Auphe... is that they seemed easy to dispose. I mean, how did such a fearful race dwindled down so much? Also, Niko seemed to be able to fight them quite easily (okay, granted, Niko is very highly trained)… But for example, in the showdown in the warehouse, you can see that guns are effective against them… unlike Abby and other races. So they are definitively not invincible. So the fear factor isn't there. The ick factor, perhaps, yes, but the fear factor? Nope.

Hilcia: Agreed!

Nath: So how would you grade Nightlife? I’m giving it a B+. I really enjoyed it. I think it’s a good first book and it stands out quite well… and I just love the characters! :)

Hilcia: Well, for me it was definitely a B+ read, Nath. I loved the characterization, the world building was good and the plot definitely kept my attention. I already purchased the next one *g*...

Nath: Psst, I just realized that the author has another new series starting on September 1st!! Trick of the Light. Sigh, another book to add to my TBB list! LOL :P

Monday, August 10

Buddy Review: Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Description~ The tempestuous marriage of Alexandra Lawrence, an innocent country girl, and Jordan Townsende, the rich and powerful Duke of Hawthorne, is about to face its ultimate test of tender loyalty. Swept into the endlessly fascinating world of London society, free-spirited Alexandra becomes ensnared in a tangled web of jealousy and revenge, stormy pride and overwhelming passion. But behind her husband's cold, arrogant mask, there lives a tender, vital, sensual man...the man Alexandra married. Now, she will fight for his very life...and the rapturous bond they alone can share.

Monroe: I thought we could start off by talking about why you chose to read Something Wonderful in the first place. I know you told me this was your first romance, one that got you sucked into reading this genre right? What made it so special?

Rowena: Before I started reading romance novels, I used to hear all of my older sisters discuss different books from time and time. Judith McNaught was a huge favorite of theirs and I overheard my sister’s Blanche and Helen talking about Jordan. I used to see them reading books all the time and then one day, which I happen to remember was January 21, 1999. I picked up Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught and started reading it just to see what the big deal was. I read that book in two days and I knew that I was lost. From that day on, I haven’t gone very long without reading a romance novel. I’m hooked and I don’t ever want to stop reading these. I am in love with these books and as much as I love all of the heroes that I read, I will always have a special place for Jordan Matthew Addison Townsende in my heart. =P I think what made it so special was the drama. Over the course of the book, you’re getting to know two characters so well that you can’t help but root them on toward their happy ending and when they’re going through the different conflicts, it makes you that more excited to see how they’ll finally get their shit together and do right by each other. That happily ever after is what’s so special….and Jordan and Alex’s happily ever after remains one of my most favorites of all time.

Monroe: Yes! Romances are awesome. They tug at all the right strings of your soul! I too read this book in two days! How could you not?!? I got so wrapped up in it that I had to make myself go to bed at 4am one night! I just loved that at every turn you were on the tip of your seat with some new drama taking place. If someone wasn't being shot at, poisoned or in the midst of a screaming match they were being seduced in the most amazing ways! ;o) This was my first McNaught book to ever read and I knew once I was done reading it I wanted this review with you b/c you're the reason I even picked it up! And man am I ever thankful! You know I think one of my favorite things about this book is that Alex is so innocent which in turn makes Jordan very protective. He has such a hard exterior that you never expected him to be so careful and loving with her. He just knew she was something different! I think one of my favorite scenes actually shows how innocent she was after they were married and Jordan was going to take her to bed that night...she goes behind a screen to change and she’s appalled by the holes and slits in the night gown. She goes as far as saying his seamstress should have her scissors taken away from her! lol Of course Jordan can't help but laugh and neither could I! And how about when Jordan went missing? OMG I lost it there for a while and thought he was never coming back!

Rowena: Jordan knew that she was something wonderful. =P For me, this book reminds me of the kind of marriage that I want. Well, not the kind that starts with my soon to be husband plotting to ship me off to live in some far away estate and leave me there while he goes on his merry way but the way that this book ended and the depth of Jordan’s love for Alex at the end is definitely something I’ve always wanted ever since I was a little girl. I really enjoyed this story as a whole. There was plenty of angst, plenty of verbal sparring between the characters and it was just one very emotional but very fulfilling ride. One of my most memorable reads that’s for sure. So let’s get down and dirty with this mess….what did you think of Jordan Matthew Addison Townsende? What was your favorite thing about him? Your least favorite thing about him? I want to know all of the juicy bits so let’s get to it!

Monroe: What I LOVE about Jordan...that even when he was mad he loved her unconditionally! He even talked about at one point wanting to beat her! lol But at the same time couldn't help but think of how beautiful she was and how much he cared for her! That right there is a great love. Even when he was mad he never doubted that he cared for her! :o) And you know...there's not much to hate about Jordan...I mean sure he’s quick to anger at times and I cringed when he talked about pitying her and sending her off but otherwise he came out of all of those bad qualities and in the end totally redeemed himself! My question...what about after you thought Jordan was dead? I mean sure there was a voice in the back of your head telling you he was still alive but did you sorta get a liking for Tony? I did in a way that I hurt for Alex and Tony was so sweet, I never really considered him as the villain...BUT I think deep in Tony's heart he didn't TRULY want her. I think he more of had a infatuation with her. That's about it.

Rowena: You know when I first read the book, I remember wondering why Judith McNaught chose to write the book the way that she did with the reader thinking that Jordan was dead. As I got deeper and deeper into the book, Jordan’s supposed death helped to bring out different emotions in me. I felt and grieved for Jordan the same way that Alex did even though I knew what an ass he was by what he was planning to do with Alex once they were married. None of that mattered because that scene when they had their mock duel happened and I saw a softness in Jordan that I absolutely loved and held on to. As far as Tony was concerned, I didn’t hate Tony. I doubted him for a little bit while I was reading this for the first time but I just liked Tony. I didn’t absolutely love him but I didn’t hate him either. I just liked him. I thought he did as best as he could by Alex and I admired the way that he stepped into his role as back up Duke even though a little part of me wondered if he was behind all of the Jordan business. It was too obvious so I didn’t hold on to those thoughts for long but to me, Tony was no replacement for Jordan. Nobody was. Jordan was in a league all his own. I loved him more than anyone in this book even when he was being an obtuse ass. I loved Jordan as well, he’s one of my favorite Judith McNaught heroes because he was my first….and you always remember your first! =P

Monroe: Very true you do always remember your first! :o) I really love how McNaught seemed to perfectly sum up every loose end! From Jordan's grandmother's distaste for Alex to Tony and his lost love of Sally! Speaking of Jordan's grandmother...I loved her and Alex's relationship! At first she totally despised Alex and then Jordan's disappearance brought them together! :o) I thought it was extremely touching how she stayed right by her side when she was basically a vegetable! And I teared up when Alex told her the stories of how proud Jordan was of her and how much he loved her. Super touching!

Rowena: That’s right. That scene with Jordan’s grandmother when Alex goes to see her after Jordan’s disappearance was announced. How she fought until she started crying? I love that scene. Judith McNaught does a fantastic job of writing stories that engage the reader in the different emotions. She knows how to make me laugh, cry and sigh all while reading her stories. You really get into these books and this book was no exception. Jordan and Alex’s relationship is one of the sweetest and powerful because when Jordan is with Alex at the end, pleading with her not to leave him. When he’s telling her that he remembers the colors of the flowers outside and when he’s telling her that if she leaves him, his soul will be black and how much he needs her. Those kinds of powerful scenes where there is just no doubt of the hero’s love for the heroine makes reading romance novels all the more worthwhile for me. What did you think about Roddy Carstairs? Haha.

Monroe: Oh ya and I just loved Alex's words as she first came to...about how big Elizabeth Grangerfield's feet where! LMAO! TOO FUNNY! Oh that IS someone I expected to be in on everything. How he was so dumb telling everyone about saving Jordan and then the bet he put her name! Ya I figured he was in on it! I really liked his character though! He was so openly flirty and you could tell he just didn't give a hoot about what people thought! But all in all he ended up being a decent friend of Alex's! What did you think about Jordan coming into her own? I loved how she blossomed into a beautiful girl (even though Jordan loved her before she matured :o) and when she started going out to the balls and being around the men! I rooted for her to be happy SO MANY TIMES! She tried so hard!

Rowena: Oh yeah, I totally remember that. I laughed out loud because that is so something Alex would say. Then to see Jordan laughing while crying? Awww. It was too cute, the perfect way to end the book. Roddy made me laugh and he got on my nerves a lot too but he was a good character in the book. As you read more and more of JM’s historical novels, you’ll see Roddy pop up here and there. He’s fun. I thought that the growth Alex went through in this story was outstanding. To see how far she came in such a short amount of time. The Alex at the end of the book was sure of herself, was in total love with her husband and she was a young woman that her grandfather would have been outrageously proud of. I loved how she kept right on coming back and proving everyone wrong about her. She was so strong. After having been embarrassed by Jordan and then to have everyone talk about her the way that they did and to see her brave the crowds anyway made me admire the socks right off of her and just like you, I was cheering her on so much. She was a great heroine!

Monroe: Yes I really loved her too! :o) She I think has probably been one of my fav heroines in Historicals! So overall I seriously loved this book. It made your emotions go all over the place and to me that’s good writing! As I said this was my first McNaught book and I have to thank you Ween for making me read it b/c I KNOW it won’t be my last. I can’t help but give this book an A+! I think it’s pretty obvious, but what’s your rating?

Rowena: Oh, my grade is an A+! This book entertained me so much that it seriously hooked me on romance forever! It was such a long journey but after I finished the book, I was so content with the book as a whole and so giddy that I knew that this book would be one book that I will love forever. Jordan was an unforgettable hero and Alex was an outstanding heroine. They were perfect together and I love how Jordan came to realize that over the course of this book. I loved how it was Alex that got him through the worst of his abduction and I loved how Alex made him work to get back into her good graces. I love that she knew, even as a historical heroine that she was meant for more than just a crotchety ol’ marriage. I love how she wished and dreamed for that something wonderful…and then got it in Jordan. Love this book, A+!