28 October 2012

The Devil to Pay


Silhouette Nocturne #55
Bewitching The Dark, Book 5

Synopsis: After the devil Himself claims Ivan Drake's soul on his twenty-first birthday, the vampire phoenix has no choice but to enforce his wicked role. But when the devil sends him to claim the Book of all Spells, the last thing Ivan expects is to square off with its gorgeous protector, the witch Dez Merevech – or to be attracted to her.

To retrieve the book might end the escalating war between the witches and the vampires, but to take it from Dez will ensure her death. With the fate of the paranormal world hanging in the balance, Ivan must choose wisely – and quickly...

Stats for my copy: paperback, published by Silhouette Books, 2009; purchased at Half Price Books.

I'd seen Michele Hauf's name before, but was unfamiliar with her work when I bought this book. Normally I don't read series books out of order, but with category romances the entries are often not linked to each other enough to matter if you read them in order or not. And indeed, in the “Dear Reader” letter from the author at the front of this book, Ms. Hauf states each story in this series stands alone. So I dove right in.

The hero of this book, however, Ivan Drake, is related to the couple in the second book of the series, KISS ME DEADLY. And two pages into the prologue, which gave a bit of background on his parents, I realized that I had read that entry, and at the time had not been overly impressed.

But I forged ahead anyway, and I'm glad I did. And let me say now, that as I read, more and more of that previous book came back to me, and I began to remember it a little more fondly. And I honestly think part of my problem at the time was that I read it on my iPhone. I don’t read many ebooks, and when I would put one on my phone, I usually only read it when out somewhere without a regular book with me, which meant I might go days between chapters, or even between paragraphs. After having an iPhone for about six months, I stopped even bothering with ebooks. I just don't like reading that way.

So. Ivan is a 28 year old half vampire, half witch, whose parents bargained away his soul before he was even born. The devil, always referred to as Himself, left Ivan alone until he turned 21, at which time he claimed his soul, and Ivan became his fixer. His days were his own, but his nights belonged to Himself, when he was given assignments and had to track down various creatures who had wronged Himself or reneged on a deal or whatever, and exacting whatever punishment Himself has directed. His newest assignment: to locate the Grande Grimoire, a magical book that contains every spell ever written, and take it from the witch who is its guardian.

Said guardian is Dez, a very powerful witch who is much older than Ivan. When she discovers he is only 28 years old, not 28 decades, or centuries, she is slightly appalled, calling him a baby boy. More than once throughout the book she reminds herself that in the world of the witches and vampires, age doesn’t really matter.

Of course Ivan and Dez are attracted to each other, but despite his growing feelings for Dez, Ivan can't not attempt to take the book from her. At night he is under the control of Himself, and he has no choice but to carry out his assignment. Or to attempt to anyway.

I like this world that Ms. Hauf has built. There is a war going on between the witches and the vampires, but (like many wars) it is unnecessary, and Ivan's parents and other members of the Gray Council, both witch and vampire, are searching for a way to end it. I like the characters. The author takes us inside their heads, giving us a good look at what has made them who they are today, and what is keeping them from being who they would like to be. With Himself being so powerful, it was hard to imagine how Ivan and Dez would be able to thwart him, and each victory they enjoyed over him, however fleeting, was very satisfying.

I read this book in a single day. Thankfully it was on the weekend and I didn't have to work! I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the series, and someday I may even go back and reread the book about Ivan's parents.

27 October 2012



Synopsis: Imagine having a personal cupid -- an actual winged being -- pop into your life and offer to make your dreams come true. The catch is that he can help you in only one way: artistically, academically, or romantically. That's what happens to aspiring photographer Allison Jean (A.J.) McCreary. A.J. knows she should concentrate on getting into a top-notch art school. But she's spent five torturous months obsessed with handsome hunk Peter Terris. Just one shot from cupid's bow and thwonk! A.J. will have the undying devotion of Peter...forever.

Stats for my copy:  Puffin Books, Published by the Penguin Group, 2004. Given to me by a BookCrossing member in December 2003.

A.J. is a funny, self-deprecating narrator. She has a crush on Peter, the most popular boy at school, who takes absolutely no notice of her at all. A.J. is the photographer for the school newspaper, and when she's given an assignment to provide a cover photo for the Valentine's Day issue, she goes searching for the perfect picture. Cupids are everywhere, but she wants something more artisitc. Then she finds a stuffed cupid doll in the street and takes it home. The next day, it's come to life.

Of the three ways in the synopsis that Jonathan, the cupid, can help her, of course she chooses romantically. She wants Jonathan to shoot Peter Terris with one of his little arrows and make him fall in love with her. Well, we've all heard that old saying - be careful what you wish for.

When A.J.'s wish comes true, her joy is short-lived. It's tiring and hard work being with someone who is fanatically devoted to you.

In the end, A.J. learns about herself and about what she really needs in life to be happy. Her story was cute and amusing, though the characters were often a little frantic, always shouting or screeching. Like that wouldn't get tiring in real life. A lot of young girls out there need to learn the lessons A.J. learned.

26 October 2012

September Acquisitions

In Sepember our local library had their annual book sale. I popped in during my lunch break the first day of the sale, a Saturday, and picked up three books:

Whispered Lies, by Sherrilyn Kenyn and Dianna Love; Time and Again, by Jack Finney; and Sex and the City, by Candace Bushnell.

I went back on Sunday for bag day - they provide paper grocery sacks and you stuff as many books into a sack as you can for $5.00 - and went home with three bags and 105 books. Score!

After reading yet one more intriquing review of Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov, I broke down and ordered "the complete collection" from Amazon. I've read so many reviews, and at first I thought, not for me, but the more reviews I read the more interested I was.

A weekend trip to a Salvation Army thrift store yielded three shirts and five books:

Death of a Hangman, by Joseph A. West (which looking at the cover I thought was by Ralph Compton but turns about to be part of a series Compton started that was later written by West...or smething like that); Confessions of an English Maid and Other Delights, by Anonymous; The Heritage, by Frances Parkinson Keyes


Season of Joy, by Virginia Carmichael; and The Barefoot Princess, by Christina Dodd

And from the sale shelf at Half Price Books:

Heart of Steel, by Meljean Brook; and Dead Man's Walk, by Larry McMurtry.

Another trip to the Salvation Army thrift store one day yielded a small pile of books:

An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex, Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, And Other Fields of Human Knowledge, by Richard Zacks - this just grabbed my attention, I started to put it back on the shelf, but couldn't resist it;
Dispatches From the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, by Anderson Cooper; and Dogs Gone Wild: After Hurricane Katrina, by Theresa D. Thompson


A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar - this is a book I probably never would have picked up if I hadn't already seen the movie version.

Knockout, by Catherine Coulter - the 13th book in her FBI series. I've yet to read any of this series, but my mom liked them and gave me a few, so I've started picking them up when I come across them.

And three books by Janette Oke: Julia's Last Hope; Roses for Mama; and A Woman Named Damaris. Books 2, 3, and 4 of her Women of the West series. Of course, I do not have Book 1.

And an Amazon shopping spree:


How To Remodel A Man, by W. Bruce Cameron; The Heartbreaker, by Vicki Lewis Thompson; The Marriage Lesson, by Victoria Alexander


Old Enough to Know Better, by Vicki Lewis Thompson; Warrior, by Zoe Archer; Loverboy, by Victoria Redel

From two Book Mooch members:

Soul Whisperer, by Jenna Kernan; and Master of the Highlands, by Veronica Wolff

And through BookCrossing:

First Drop of Crimson, by Jeaniene Frost, which I've read and  reviewed, and Death's Excellent Vacation, which I've read and reviewed.

14 October 2012

Behaving Like Adults


When I picked up this book to read, I wasn't really sure what it was about and I didn't bother reading the jacket copy. I knew it would be chick lit, you can tell that by the cover. And I enjoy the genre. In fact, I've been so immersed in paranormal the last couple of years I've come to crave contemporary stories, be they chick lit or straight out romance.

The way I see it, there are two varieties of chick lit. You have the fluffy stories with the silly young heroine who goes through life making a series of funny mistakes which often lead to hijinks and misunderstandings. Usually she grows a little as a person, though sometimes over the course of a series she never seems to really learn anything (yes, I'm talking about you, Rebecca Bloomwood).

Then you have the stories that still include a lot of humor but have a little more depth to them, a heavier subject matter, and a heroine who faces real and serious adversity (not to belittle addiction to shopping since that can certainly cause real and serious problems for people, so don't glare at me Becky). The heroines in these stories definitely grow as a person, and often do some soul searching along the way.

Behaving Like Adults falls into the second category. Holly is 29, fun and breezy, and loves love. She owns and operates a dating agency, where her life's work is to make perfect matches for other people. She and her long time fiancee, Nick, bought a house together but never actually set a wedding date, and after breaking up, are still living together (though sleeping in separate rooms) in that same house three months later.

When Holly dips her own toes into the dating world, she goes out with Stuart, who has applied to the dating agency and seems on paper to be too good to be true. And sure enough, he's a caddish jerk and the date is a bust. But when Holly needs a date for an agency event, she gives Stuart a second chance. And that second date turns into a nightmare that leaves Holly questioning the validity of love, the goodness of the human race, and doubting her abilities and instincts for matchmaking. I'm not going into detail about that date, but if you read further you are likely to figure it out, so be warned that this could be a SPOILER ALERT.

There is a great supporting cast in Holly's sisters and friends. As Holly sank deeper and deeper into her own thoughts and began pulling away from socializing, work and her friends, there were times where I sort of wanted to shake her and say “Talk to them! Tell someone about what that jerk did to you!” But she has a hard time believing that she didn’t bring her problems onto her self and putting the blame on Stuart rather than just on herself.

The narrative is in the first person from Holly's point of view, but the author does a good job of conveying the supporting character's personalities, so you feel as if you get to know them pretty well and know what they are thinking and feeling also.

There was just one tiny niggling detail that bothered me. Twice there is reference to calling 911. But do they use 911 in England? I thought the emergency services number there was 999 or something like that. Did the publisher's change it to 911 for us ignorant American readers? If so, I'm insulted.
Towards the end of the book, I cried. Literally. That doesn't happen very often when reading a book. I am definitely be adding Anna Maxted to my list of authors whose back lists I need to hunt down and read.

(I bought this book new. Because the cover jumped out at me.)

12 October 2012

Photo Op


I was very interested and intrigued when I started this book and realized that Dena, the heroine, is closer to my age than your usual romance heroine. In fact, she's older than me , being 52 I believe. Then the hero, Wayne is introduced, and he's like 38 I think (sorry, I don't remember exactly and don't want to go look).

There were lots of obstacles for the couple to overcome, in their minds anyway - neither had been in a relationship in about twenty years and neither was sure if they were ready to be in one; they lived in different cities, though Dena's son is the pastor at Wayne's church, so she has some ties to his community; they have very different careers, and Dena makes a lot more money than Wayne. It took them a long time to work through all these issues. Personally, for me, the fact that he is so much younger would have been the biggest issue, and I don't know if I could get past that kind of age gap. But for them, it was barely mentioned in passing and never seemed to really matter.

There was a background mystery going on about poachers, and when the culprit was caught it came out of left field, but part of the resolution to that whole storyline was very rushed and not completely explained away.

But overall, a pleasant read for some escape from real life.

Oh, and Wayne winked way too often. I don't trust a man who's constantly winking. I don't even like the sound of the word. Wink. Wink wink. A winker is a wanker.

(I purchased this book at a library book sale.)

10 October 2012

Death's Excellent Vacation


This was definitely a hit or miss collection. I had been wanting to read this book for quite some time, because of Charlaine Harris and Katie MacAlister. That was long before I'd ever read anything by Jeanine Frost. Her story, "One for the Money", and the Sookie Stackhouse story, "Two Blondes", were by far the best two in the collection. I enjoyed MacAlister’s story “The Perils of Effrijim”, but not as much as her novels about Aisling Grey, Guardian, which Jim appears in.

The only other author in the book I was familiar with was Christopher Golden, and that was just for his Buffy/Angel books. His entry, "Thin Walls", was ok. “The Innsmouth Nook”, by A. Lee Martinez, was just weird and ended abruptly. I enjoyed the banter between the characters in “Meanwhile, Far Across the Caspian Sea…”, by Daniel Stashower, but the ending felt unfinished.

I was excited that L.A. Banks had contributed a story, “Seeing is Believing”. She’s an author who I’d never read before, but had heard/seen a lot about and so I was eager to be introduced to her work. But I didn't care for her story at all. I couldn't connect with the characters and I did not like the way they talked. When Justin tells Jessica he’s leaving by saying “So, I’ma go, okay?”, I just can’t take him seriously. I almost closed the book right there. But since the story only had eight pages left I forged ahead, only to give up in disgust one page later. Jessica says to Justin, “You’ve lost so much…even your dog.” But four pages earlier, she had said “You have a dog?” He replied, “Kinda.” Nothing else is said about the dog, so how does she know he lost one? Okay, I realize that Jessica has some kind of second sight, but she kept wondering why she couldn’t "read" Justin, so she wouldn’t have picked up the knowledge that way. I scanned backwards thinking I missed something, but could not find any mention of anything happening to his dog. And yes, I know, there had been some talk about werewolves. But it still didn’t make sense. And it just now occurred to me that maybe she "read" Justin’s grandmother and that’s how she knew about a lost dog, but you’d still think that something in the narrative would have indicated that. Of course, since I was having trouble staying interested in the story, I still could have missed something.

(I received this book through BookCrossing.)