Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Last Hellion (Scoundrels #4), Loretta Chase

1 star4 starhalf star
Vere Mallory, the Duke of Ainswood, has everything--he's titled, he's rich, he's devastatingly good looking--and he seems determined to throw it all away. Disreputable, reckless, and wild, the last of the Mallory hellions is racing headlong to self-destruction...until a mind numbingly beautiful blonde Amazon knocks him off his feet--literally. 

Lydia Grenville is dedicated to protecting London's downtrodden. Dissolute noblemen like Ainswood are part of the problem, not the solution. She would like him to get his big, gorgeous carcass out of her way so that she can carry on with her work. The problem is, Ainswood can no more resist a challenge, especially in female form, than he can resist the trouble she seems to attract.

If they can only weather their personal firestorm...
they might survive the real danger that threatens all they hold dear

After the brilliant Captives Of The Night and even brillianter Lord Of Scoundrels, the last Hellion was a bit... umm... yeah.

It was confusing. It seemed to fly from one crazy event to another. On one occasion Grenville and the Duke are making-kissy face, and then 2 pages later are having a raging argument over I still don't understand what.

I also didn't expect Lydia to give up her humanitarian work in London so quickly, and with so little reluctance (read: NONE, once she decided that, yep, marriage was for her), to take up as the Duchess. And what was the whole point of the house being dirty? And cobwebs? And then Ainswood getting cranky about cleaning, and maids, and what not, and THAT is where the book lost me. I was really enjoying it, till about half way through.

Random events and discoveries of Lydia's history suddenly appear in the storyline like they're hugely significant, but read more like 'umm... OK?' moments.

I ADORE Dain and Jessica from Lord Of Scoundrels, and their appearance in this book was fun, but the Ballister connection seemed... implausible or contrived, I suppose?

The book left me befuddled.

On the bright side:

  • Susan? Hilarious.
  • The scene where Lydia and Ainswood are runnng through the street reciting Hamlet was splendid, and laugh-out-loud funny.
  • The Rose of Thebes storyline thing reminded me a little of Julia Quinn's Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron thing, which I loved from the Bridgerton and Bevelstoke books.
  • The sub story with Trent and Tamsin was terribly sweet. I liked the poor fool getting a happy ending--he's clearly not a bad guy, just misguided. I also LOVE that he saved the day, with the poor ruined peasant-mother in the prison, undercutting our hero!

Books in This Series:

While it's worth noting this book IS part of a series, it certainly doesn't need to be read as such--each book is entirely standalone.
  1. The Lion's Daughter
  2. Captives of the Night
  3. Lord of Soundrels
  4. The Last Hellion

Want It?

The Last Hellion at Amazon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Passion (Fallen #3), Lauren Kate

Title: Passion
Author: Lauren Kate (author website)
Release Date: DATE
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal

My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

I LOVED Fallen, and was bitterly, bitterly dissapointed by Torment. Now Passion has come along, and now I'm in love all over again.

From Goodreads:

Luce would die for Daniel.

And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way...

Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel... and finally unlock the key to making their love last.

Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.

Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames... forever.

Sweeping across centuries, PASSION is the third novel in the unforgettably epic FALLEN series.

Back when Fallen was released, it was marketed pretty aggressively here in Australia, with a book trailer running before screenings Twilight: New Moon in cinemas. There were posters, and it was sort of huge. It was the marketing that drew my attention to it, and I was sold on that beautiful cover. It was gorgeous: atmospheric, dark, and creepy. It summed up the book for me.

Torment was a mess. Luce was a mess. I wanted to slap her, and I wanted ot hurt Daniel. And now this. Passion.

Passion picks up immediately where Torment ended. Luce has stepped into an Announcer, and now she's stepping further and further backwards through time, trying to discover her shared history with Daniel, and the source of the curse that both binds and separates them. Luce is joined on her odyssey by a very funny little character, named Bill (highlight for spoiler: who, from first sight, I was positive was utterly, diabolically, evil, as well, and pursued relentlessly by Daniel, trying to catch her before she's lost forever.

As we follow Luce throughout history, we meet past Luces: a parisian princess, a proper english lady, a russian girl who is fleeing bombings destroying her village, and as an aztec sacrifice. Each time, we see Daniel as they meet, and fall in love. It's exhilirating, breathtaking, beautiful, and desperately, desperatly sad, as we watch the star crossed lovers torn apart again and again.

And as Luce travels, she questions how genuine her feelings for Daniel are. It's painful, and I feel sorry for Daniel, but it's important if I'm to have a modicum of respect for her. Every life, every time, Luce falls for him instantly. Love at first sight, every time. So is it love, or the curse? I mean, of course it's love, but she has to learn it for herself. After the moaning and whining in Torment, we finally see Luce decide this for herself.

Passion is breathtaking, action packed, an a return to the mystery and magic that made me fall in love with the series in the first place. Now how do I survive the wait for Rapture?

Books in This Series:

  1. Fallen
  2. Torment
  3. Passion
  4. Rapture (July 2012)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heartless (Soulless #4), Gail Carriger

Hmmmm... I'm not entirely sure of how I feel about Heartless. I didn't love it as much as Souless or Changeless, but I don't want to say anything negative, as I wonder if my 'problem' with it is that I just wanted to be reading something else.

In any case! Heartless, the fourth installment in Gail Carriger's marvellous Parasol Protectorate, is another delightful romp through an alternate Victorian London. And this time, Lady Alexia Maccon must relocate a pack of werewolves, deal with a broken-hearted dandy-werewolf, all while being eight months pregnant. Oh, and someone is plotting to kill the Queen, too.

So Heartless was fun. We learn more of the history of the books' second most enigmatic character, Professor Lyall (the first being Floote, IMO), as well as the assasination plot that forced Connall's departure form the Scottish Kingair pack. Biffy (my favourite), is back, and is struggling to adapt. The relationship between him and Lord A is heartbreaking. Lord Maccon's struggle to help the young pup is touching. It was lovely seeing even more tender and emotional depths from the great, gruff, man. Biffy's struggling to fit in, and Connall blames himself. It's his fault the boy's now a wolf, and he sees it as his failure that he's not feeling part of the pack.

Mrs Loontwill is mercifully absent from this installment, but is more than made up for by the utterly vile Felicity's presence. This time, the ninny's up and joined the sufragette movement (like she even knows the meaning of the word!).

Some utter craziness goes down in this book, and never before has Alexia's true pragmatism shone through so brightly. After saving a hive of vampires, betraying a friend, being betrayed by another, THEN giving birth in a mechanical octopus, she brushes herself off, calls for tea, and goes to bed. No need to get emotional about these things.
I love that Carriger's characters aren't black and white, and especially so in Heartless. That even the good guys can be manipulative and self serving, even ones we've come to really like, gives these books a certain depth, even amongst all the frivolity and silliness that makes them so fun.
Heartless is fun. A must-read for fans of the series, but certain events in the ending upset me, even if they didn't manage to fluster Alexia.

The Series:

  • Souless
  • Changeless
  • Blameless
  • Heartless
  • Timeless (2012)

Friday, July 8, 2011

His Lady Mistress, Elizabeth Rolls

1 star2 star
You know what? I can summarise this one pretty quickly for you: girl falls in love with childhood rescuer over her father's grave, followed by misunderstanding after misunderstanding after misunderfuckingstanding.

Perhaps the greatest gift we are in possession of as homo sapiens is that of language. This is why I find it so very frustrating to see it squandered on two supposedly intelligent heroes, who surely have facilities enough to use it, non? Perhaps I'm asking too much. It's like these people are being willfully stupid.

This is what PISSES ME OFF about novels (and I swear romances are most often the guilty parties here), where the bulk of the tension is drawn from, and the plot driven by, the simple fact that our 'heroes' are too brain-dead stubborn to understand that everyone’s lives would be rendered a great deal happier by the simple act of engaging in a rational conversation, without flying into fits of histrionics. I mean, they're from Regency England, no? These people like words! And talking! I've read Jane Austen, it must be true!

His Lady Mistress is not terrible. A little stressful to read? Yes. I truly can't abide the tropes as described above, but not unenjoyable.

Also, it uses lots of big words, which I liked. It makes me feel intellectual.

While I found it started (on a dark and stormy night, no less) a bit slowly, once Verity reached adulthood, I was hooked, and unable to put the damnable thing down. It's just that, when compared to Julia Quinn's delicious The Viscount Who Loved Me and An Offer From A Gentleman (truly, combine the two, and you very nearly have the plot for HLM [reluctant marriage + poor maid, who is actually a lady in disguise, asked to become rakish gentleman's mistress. Oh my!), it's not half as good (perhaps I shouldn't be comparing, but just try and stop me!).

Not awful. Just not as good as Julia Quinn, who is my official touchstone by which all other romance is judged. It's definitely worth $0.01 from the Kindle store. Perhaps even $0.02! (joking--it's truly not bad).

And now for this pretty purple passage (Look, look! I can alliterate!), because, well, it really was kind of pretty): 

"Dreams deceived, phantoms of hope that shimmered into nothing. Leaving only an aching heart with too many bitter secrets entombed. Better to be like the falcon. Alone. Dependent on nothing but the air beneath her wings. At least for the falcon, the air had more substance than her foolish dreams of love."

Want It?

His Lady Mistress (Harlequin Historical) at Amazon

Lord Of Scoundrels (Scoundrels #3), Loretta Chase

1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star
Tough minded Jessica Trent's sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And When Dain's reciprocal passion places them in a scandously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction...

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him...and then for forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can't wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place -- and in some amorous position. And if this means marriage, so be it -- though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remian aloof...and stell his heart to the sensuous, head strong lady's considerable charms.

I loved Lord Of Scoundrels. LOVED.

I have 3 passions in my life (excluding my husband, but let's just leave that aside as obvious): Reading, Caffeine, and Skiing. Perhaps foolishly, I chose to start reading Lord Of Scoundrels in the car on the way to a weekend ski trip, with Husbandman. We arrived, after the five hour long drive, and the snow was gorgeous, if not a little windy. We skied a while, then stopped for hot chocolate (as you do). I immediately excused myself for a 15 minute long toilet break... where I snuck away and continued reading this on my phone's eReader. Throughout the day, you could find me in a lift line (keep in mind it was actually snowing, too), sneaking a few more pages while I waited for the queue to move. Folks, my name is Sarah, and I'm an addict.

Folks Our Main Attraction: Jessica Trent:

This book is awesome for many reasons, but ZONG. The heroine. Possibly one of the coolest female leads I've read anywhere, ever. Fiercely intelligent, independent, wise and witty, take-no-bullshit. Jessica. Is. Just. Kickass.

She's blunt and funny, and the intellectual equal--if not superior--of all those we encounter in the book, and it's lovely reading about an empowered heroine who isn't a damsel in distress. Or a moron. Or both. She's incredibly intelligent, brave, and self assured. She's self-aware, and when she finds herself attracted to Lord 'Beelzebub' Dain on sight, doesn't call herself wanton or wicked. She acknowledges magnetism for what it is (bothersome though it is). Rather than flogging herself, she goes, "oh well, it's natural." Later on down the track, she genuinely enjoy sex within her marriage. No virginal blushing, or nerves, no playing coy.

Most of all, Jessica Trent is whole within herself. She doesn't need a man, or the security of marriage. She's a spinster, but she's capable of supporting herself. She's sane, rational, not hiding some childhood trauma that has her all messed up and dark and twisty inside. All she needs is herself and her good reputation. Herein lies the problem.

After the simply charming Lord 'Beelzebub' Dain destroys aforementioned-good-reputation, She's kind of screwed. Nevertheless, she approaches the situation rationally, plays her cards like a pro.

Also, shooting the hero? THIS IS AWESOME SAUCE. Asshat had it coming.

Moving On From My Jess Love-Fest:

I loved watching the relationship between Jess and Dain develop. It didn't feel forced, they have their probs, but I loved seeing them grow as a couple, and watching Jess heal Dain's heart (which is dark and twisty) is so sweet, I swore rainbows and unicorns were going to burst from the (e-)pages.

ALSO! that Dain's all Byronic-hero-like, and then they're talking about Lord Byron was sort of amusing and not at all subtle.

Lord Of The Scoundrels=AWESOME with sprinkles. And a CHERRY ON TOP.

On a COMPLETE aside, the cover shown is a major case of WTFery. So, so very incongruous with the story withing...

Books in This Series:

While it's worth noting this book IS part of a series, it certainly doesn't need to be read as such--each book is entirely standalone.
  1. The Lion's Daughter
  2. Captives of the Night
  3. Lord of Soundrels
  4. The Last Hellion

Want It?

Lord of Scoundrels at Booktopia
Lord of Scoundrels at Amazon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Across The Universe, Beth Revis

Is this the prettiest cover EVER, or what?
I DARE you to argue with me on this.

Title: Across The Universe
Author: Beth Revis (author website)
Release Date: January 11th 2011 by Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

Wow. I've just turned the final page of Across the Universe, and I'm not quite sure how to gather my thoughts. I'm breathless from holding my breath.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book. I'd read reviews, and I'd recently read Maria V. Snyder's brilliant Inside Out, but I think that, on some level, I was expecting some kind of loosely plotted, sappy romance; it's not. In fact, it's not even close. This isn't love at first sight, and it's not even a romance, though it has an element that should satisfy genre fans.

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 

Let's start at the beginning: From the moment I experienced Amy's terrifying cryogenic freezing I was wrapped. The end of the first chapter of this book chilled me to the core ('I AM ice'), and for the first part of the book (until she woke), I was restlessly flicking ahead looking for more of her dreams and nightmares as she is locked in ice and terror.

Both Amy and Elder spend a lot of time being led and manipulated, rather than directing their own paths, but I don't think this shows weak characterization on their parts. They're part of a web of lies and secrets so much bigger than themselves, what we're seeing seems authentic. What makes them strong is their internal resilience. Even though they can't control their destinies, they CAN fight.

Parts of the book are creepy and disturbing, but in a way that adds to the story. The Season? Eck. But every part of the book seemed so perfectly plotted, so carefully orchestrated, yet never contrived. There are some very carnal and 'adult' themes (including the female lead being physically attacked in a very unpleasant way).

Across The Universe is just so prettily written. Full of petic, flowing, lyrical prose that dances across page after page, but somehow doesn't seem flowery. Across the Universe is wonderful on so many levels, and I've not been so pleasantly surprised by a novel in a long time. It's an intelligent, mesmerizing read that I honestly believe deserves the attention it's garnered of late.

Update 26/07/2011:
Over 3 months after reading this book it's still haunting me. I keep getting caught up staring out the airlock to the countless stars; feeling the claustrophobia; running from danger during the season; dreading Elder's menace. Surely that's the mark of a good book, no? I really can't wait to fall back into this book, and I'm holding my breath for A Million Suns.

Books in This Series:

  1. Across The Universe
  2. A Million Suns
  3. Shades Of Earth (expected 2013)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons #3), Julia Quinn

1 star2 star3 star4 star
When Bridgerton 'Number 2', Benedict, meets the girl of his dreams at his mother's masquerade ball, he knows he must marry her. But when the clock strikes midnight, she dissapears, leaving nothing--not even a name--but a monogramed glove as a clue to her identity.

Two years later, he still dreams of the woman in silver he met and fell in love with in an instant that night. But when he resuces maid, Sophie Beckett, from a terrible fate at her employer's hands, he starts to feel something stir inside him he was sure he'd never feel for anyone but

A clear adaptation of Cindarella, An Offer From a Gentleman is the third installment in Julia Quinn's fabulous Bridgerton Series.

I'm a sucker for these books. The wit and charm, and the delightful Bridgerton family make the books irresistable, and they're light and fun to read, but in Quinn's hands, somehow manage to be a lot more than total fluff. The more of these books I read, the more completely immersed I become in Quinn's early 1800's London, the more in love I fall with the Bridgertons, and the more I have to read.

Sophie and Benedict are, as are all Quinn's characters, a delight to read. Sophie, on the surface meek and servile, is a strong girl with a real sense of self; in contrast, Benedict, the picture of confidence and charisma, really suffers with his identity as Benedict, as opposed to 'Brigerton Number 2'. I love the teasing between Quinn's romantic leads. The humour and light hearted, friendly needling is what makes these books so much fun to read.

As all books in this series, the book works as a standalone, but it's very enjoyable reading in order, and revisiting much loved characters from previous books.

Books in This Series:

  1. The Duke & I (Daphne)
  2. The Viscount Who Loved ME (Anthony)
  3. An Offer From a Gentleman (Benedict)
  4. Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Colin)
  5. To Sir Phillip, With Love (Eloise)
  6. When He Was Wicked (Francesca)
  7. It's In His Kiss (Hyacinth)
  8. On The Way To The Wedding (Gregory)

Want It?

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgerton Family) at Amazon

Friday, July 1, 2011

Captives of the Night (Scoundrels #2), Loretta Chase

1 star2 star3 star4 star
When bourgeois artist Leila Beaumont's scoundrel of a husband, Marcus, is murdered, she is drawn into a murder inquiry, and she's suspect number 1. She's forced to work with the seductive Comte d'Esmond to solve the riddle of Marcus' death. An assignment neither of them is very pleased about.

Yep. You can guess where it goes from there... but it's a long, complicated road, with a LOT of tension, friction and heated words. I enjoyed that these two didn't fall straight into bed, despite both of them very much wanting to. Leila doubts her 'goodness', but she shows a great deal of integrity resisting a man she's deeply attracted to, while she's at her weakest, and when the practiced seducer is pulling out all stops. On the other hand, Esmond, a man used to being in control, finds himself quite out of control when it comes to Leila. There's a rather touching scene between the two, where he admits he's trying to seduce her, can't help himself, and even as he's speaking these words, he's doing it to weaken her defences, and play her. He doesn't want to manipulate her, but he wants her so badly he can barely stop himself.

The 'side story' to the romance here is actually not a side story at all. The murder investigation is what drives this story, and it plays as large a part in the plot as the romance. Equally as much time is spent on each. I really enjoyed this. It wasn't a contrived little background plot, but a huge part of the story. This being the case, if you want a light hearted romance, or an easy/quick read where the two leads fall fairly quickly into bed, it's possibly not the book for you.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the two. I guess that's the whole point, but the teasing between the two, the tension, the inexorable pull they both feel, but one is trying so very hard to resist. There's a short part in the book where the two converse about a man sleeping with a woman, or woman sleeping with a man out of wedlock. For a man, it's a conquest, if handled well; for a woman, it's ruination. Esmond has nothing to lose by acting on his attraction towards Leila, but Leila could lose everything: her reputation and her career, which are really all she now has left.

Once the two inevitably become lovers, the softening of Esmond towards Leila is lovely. He's sweet, funny, gently teasing, fiercely protective, and completely enslaved. And Leila comes into her own as well, truly embracing who she is, and what she wants, she's empowered, witty, in control.

The book starts out slow, in Venice, with the murder of Leila's Papa, to her marriage to Marcus, to his death, the inquest, and her dealing with the fallout. When Leila and Esmond are partnered to investigate, it really comes into its own, but I love that the book wasn't over eager to just have the two fall into bed. It's a slow build, and I enjoyed it.

I really liked this book, and more levels than just its romance.

Books in This Series:

While it's worth noting this book IS part of a series, it certainly doesn't need to be read as such--each book is entirely standalone.
  1. The Lion's Daughter
  2. Captives of the Night
  3. Lord of Soundrels
  4. The Last Hellion

Want It?

Captives of the Night at Amazon


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