25 November 2012

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5)


Synopsis: Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire husband Bones have fought for their lives, as well as for their relationship. But just when they've triumphed over the latest battle, Cat's new and unexpected abilities threaten to upset a long-standing balance...

With the mysterious disappearance of vampires, rumors abound that a species war is brewing. A zealot is inciting tensions between the vampires and ghouls, and if these two powerful groups clash, innocent mortals could become collateral damage. Now Cat and Bones are forced to seek help from a dangerous “ally” – the ghoul queen of New Orleans herself. But the price of her assistance may prove more treacherous than even the threat of a supernatural war...to say nothing of the repercussions Cat never imagined.

First line: The vampire pulled on the chain restraining him to the cave wall.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Avon, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011; received through BookCrossing.com.

My thoughts: Several thoughts have run through my head as I prepared to write this, but everything I want to say might be considered a plot spoiler for someone. So briefly, Apollyon is still inciting the ghoul nation, warning his followers that Cat will be their downfall; Masterless vampires are going missing; and things are getting tenser and tenser between the vamps and the ghouls. Cat and her crew need to find a way to stop Apollyon. There is another visit to the underground lair of Marie Laveau, a secret mission for Dave the ghoul, some drama with Don, and ghosts. The ending is very satisfactory, and leaves an interesting and enticing set up for next book.

20 November 2012

Tell It To The Marines


Synopsis: HOT CONFLICT: Rule number one for “How to Throw a Wedding”: Don't get kidnapped. Rule number two? Don't let your rescuer be DJ McAllister, as in tall, dark, and secretive with a bod to die for. As in the man who pushed wedding planner Mary Grace Heyward away once and left her heartbroken for, um, well forever. But now that they're running for their lives (so that's what it takes to get a man to commit!), the looks DJ's giving her tell another story, one that's making her very, very warm. And Mary Grace's mission is clear: Indulge the hot Marine's every fantasy and secure a victory of the everlasting kind...

HOT LANDING ZONE: The mission went bad, really bad. And Jake Mackenzie blames Dr. Katherine Collier, the egghead scientist his team was rescuing from terrorists. If she'd just obeyed his orders they wouldn't be stranded – alone – on a remote island with no way off. But hell, Jake's a Marine. He'll improvise, adapt, and overcome...as long as the drop-dead gorgeous Katherine stops accidentally setting off his booby traps, prancing around in what's left of her clothing and driving him wild with desire. Protecting her is his sworn duty, and the lady seems to have some specific requests in that area...

HOT TARGET: Rick Cahill's got his orders: Drop into the Amazon and pick up American Peace Corps volunteer Sam Previn. Who knew Sam was actually Samantha, a beautiful redhead with a temper to match? And who knew the Colombian drug cartels would be after them? On the run in the jungle, searching secluded spots for shelter, Rick has to remind himself that Sam is off-limits, no matter how it unhinges him every time her skin brushes his. But when the savvy Sam stars speaking in military abbreviations and can load a sidearm without looking, it's clear she's something special – and just Rick's type...

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Kensington Publishing Corp., 2004; purchased at Half Price Books (based on the title, which caught my eye, and then the cover picture, which held it).

My thoughts: Three novellas. Three lusty Marines. Three feisty women. Three hot stories. Three cheers for Ms. Fetzer!

The stories all follow a similar theme, and all open the same way. Our hero of the day is embarking on a rescue mission in a remote area (Panama, East China Sea, South America). It's just another job, another duty, another “package”. Marine and package are separated from the rest of the unit and spend a couple of days alone, and the package becomes more than just a package, more than just a duty.

I can't decide if I like this book better than the previous Fetzer book I read, INTIMATE DANGER. I generally like full length novels better than novellas or short stories. When I reviewed INTIMATE DANGER, I noted:

While I love military heroes in romance novels, I think I prefer reading abut them stateside. Crashing around in the jungles of some foreign country just doesn't really do it for me.”
I'd like to now revise that opinion. I think it was more the plot of INTIMATE DANGER that didn't do it for me. Because I loved crashing around in the jungle with these guys.

18 November 2012

Home To Crossroads Ranch (Love Inspired No. 485)


Synopsis: Finally, Rainy Jernagen has the child-filled home she's always wanted! Okay, so she still hasn't found Mr. Right, but the foster kids she's taken in fill her heart almost completely. Then handyman/rancher Nate Del Rio comes knocking, and Rainy starts to wonder if she really can have it all. There's only one problem: Nate doesn't want kids. At all. And nothing Rainy says will change his mind. Of course, she's not going to let that stop her. Not when she has a houseful of adorable allies to raid Nate's ranch and win his heart – whether he likes it or not.

First line: Nate Del Rio heard screams the minute he stepped out of his Super Crew Cab and started up the flower-lined sidewalk leading to Rainy Jernagen's house.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Steeple Hill Books, 2009. I don't remember where I got it – I have a zillion Love Inspired books that came from book sales, my sister, and directly through Harlequin Reader Services subscriptions.

My thoughts: When talking about Love Inspired romances, I always name Linda Goodnight as one of my favorite authors (along with Jillian Hart). But looking back over my reading logs today, I realized that this book is only the third book I've read by her (the other two being Finding Her Way Home and Missionary Daddy). Obviously I really enjoyed them, but if I hadn't already discovered her, this book would make me an instant fan.


Rainy is a sweet and likable heroine, a school teacher who is fostering a sibling group of three, plus another little girl. She's always wanted a houseful of kids and after not finding a Christian man and falling in love and having kids with him, she's turned to being a foster parent instead, putting romance on the back burner. She's not adverse to being married someday, but isn't willing to settle for just any man either.

Enter Nate Del Rio. He's certainly not looking for a wife, and he doesn't want to have any kids, ever. Which was a baffling attitude, because he's really good with the kids and they take to him very quickly. There's a tragedy in his past that is often alluded to, and it doesn't take long to sort of figure out the gist of it, though he details and circumstances are still quiet a surprise when he finally tells Rainy about it.

Great characters, including the children. Some snappy dialogue that made me laugh out loud at times. A very enjoyable book.

*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* Do not read further if you don't wish to be spoiled:

Being a foster parent can be heartbreaking at times, and some of the storyline dealing with that left a sour taste in my mouth. I work in the adoption field and I'm familiar with my state's DHS and the push for reunification. The little girl who is not part of the sibling girl ends up being placed back into her mother's custody, and I would have really liked more resolution to that storyline, i.e., reassurance that her mother really had turned her life around and that reunification really was the best step for that child. Because in real life it doesn't always work out that way.

Some other Linda Goodnight books currently in my TBR pile:


Rich Man, Poor Bride; The Christmas Child; A Time To Heal


His Prince's Secret Son; The Wedding Garden

15 November 2012

Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World, Book 2)


Synopsis: Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she's only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he'd seen it all. Then Kira appears – this fearless, beautiful...human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.

First line: Mencheres smelled blood even before he caught the earthy scent of ghouls clustered on the ground floor of the decrepit warehouse.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Avon Books, An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2010; received through BookCrossing.

My thoughts: I love the Night Huntress Books. I love Cat, and I especially love Bones. The Night Huntress World books are spin-offs, featuring supporting characters from the other books. This one features Mencheres, Bones' grand-sire. Mencheres is, in his own words, “older than dirt”. He's also extremely powerful and has been well known for his visions of the future. However, he's recently lost that power and now he only has one vision – of a vast darkness. He takes this vision to be a portent of his pending death.

Kira is a private detective, who is walking home from work one night and hears the sounds of someone in pain coming from an old warehouse. Unable to walk away from someone who may need help, she goes into the warehouse where she sees Mencheres being tortured. Despite her fear, she pulls out her gun and demands “put down your knives”. Of course, since the torturers are ghouls, Kira is the one who ends up having to be saved by Mencheres.

After getting her to safety, Mencheres prepares to mesmerize her into forgetting what she saw. Except it doesn't work. He stares into her eyes, and she looks right back at him, and nothing happens. He thinks maybe it's because he forced some of his blood down her throat to heal her wounds – maybe his blood has made her temporarily immune. So he tells her that he cannot allow her to leave until the effects wear off and he can mesmerize her.

In the Cat and Bones books, Mencheres was never one of my favorite characters. I want to say I didn't dislike him, yet I think in a way I did. Maybe because Cat disliked him...I'm not sure why. Getting to know him and learning more about his background is nice. I like him a lot more now. Not as much as I like Bones, but then I'm starting to realize I may never like another vampire as much as I like Bones. Seriously. I'm head over heels about Bones. Which is a little embarrassing at my age, I mean for Pete’s sake, he's a fictional character in a book.

I do really like Kira, however. She's a wounded soul, who's heart was broken in the past, along with her dreams of being a police officer. She lives a pretty solitary life, not being close to anyone besides her younger sister, Tina. She doesn't want be attracted to Mencheres. Well, who in their right mind wants to be attracted to a vampire anyway. Especially when they've only just learned that vampires do exist.

Anyway, there's an enemy of Mencheres who wants his power and will stop at nothing to get it, there's lots of conflict and battles and hiding out and longing looks and self-discovery and so forth.

I enjoyed this book very much. Much more than the first Night Huntress World book. My understanding is that the next book will feature Vlad, and I'm looking forward to it, though I really wish Ms. Frost would give us a book about Tate.

10 November 2012

October Acquisitions

One of the best days of October is bag day at one of our local library's annual book sale. They give you brown paper sacks and you cram as many books into the sack as you can for $5.00. I usually leave with three bags. This year, I left with five bags and around 150 books!

Not counting the library sale, only eight new books came into my home in October:

The Ivy Chronicles, by Karen Quinn

This came in the mail as a surprise from a BookCrossing member who saw it on my wish list.

Just The Way You Are, by Christina Dodd

I picked this up at Walmart while buying groceries.

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

This came in the mail from a Book Mooch member.

My Lie: A True Story of False Memory, by Meredith Maran

I ordered this from Alibris.

The Fifteenth Pelican, by Tere Rios, another one I got through Book Mooch. I used to love the TV show when I was younger, and have been watching reruns recently on one of our local TV channels, and when I realized it was based on a book, I immediately went searching for it.

And I did make a trip to a thrift store, which yielded three books:

Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear; The Sweetest Gift, by Jillian Hart; and Wish List, by Fern Michaels.

I really need to refrain from buying/ordering/mooching books as there's no space in my room for more! In addition to the five bags from the library sale I mentioned above, I have four bags of book from another library sale in September, and I've nowhere in my house to put them!

What I really need is a bigger house.

08 November 2012

Intimate Danger, by Amy J. Fetzer

Synopsis: Clancy McRae is mad as hell. Charged with creating technology-enhanced troops, she's discovered her top-secret nano-device has been surgically implanted in four U.S. Marines without her approval. Though it makes them smarter, faster, and stronger than any human on earth, in this untested stage it can also drive them insane - or kill them. Now she's stolen classified data, risking her career - and her life - to go after them.

While recovering from a shoulder wound, Spec Ops leader Mike Gannon learns the rest of his team was dropped into the jungles of Peru to locate a chilling new weapon. Then: nothing, nada. Injured or dead, it's his duty to bring them home and destroy the threat. But when a scrappy red-haired beauty butts into his rescue mission, insisting the government turned his men into lab rats, Mike doesn't believe her - till she becomes a moving target.

Keeping Clancy with him keeps her safe, yet as the tropical temperatures rise with their passion, Mike and Clancy are ensnared in a labyrinth of ingenious deceptions concealing a peril no one suspects - and only they can stop. In the dark forgotten Andes, they unearth a deadly plan and an ancient menace that turns a rescue into the crucial fight for their very survival.

And the clock is ticking...

First line: Some people were a waste of human tissue.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp, 2007.

My thoughts: It took me a bit to get into this book, though I was hooked on Mike within a few pages. Clancy wasn't introduced until page 9, and she took a little longer to appeal to me. Until they actually met, I was more interested in Mike's parts of the story than hers.

While I love military heroes in romance novels, I think I prefer reading about them stateside. Crashing around in the jungles of some foreign country just doesn't really do it for me. With a plot like this, I tend to get a little lost in all the military and scientific talk. And there's a lot of it. And it gets pretty detailed - I certainly felt like the author knew what she was talking about even when I didn't.

Once Clancy and Mike finally met and began to interact with each other, I loved the banter between them. And I liked that while Clancy is a military girl herself, having served in Desert Storm, she's not just all tough and fearless. While struggling to keep up with Mike in the jungle, she often whines about how tired she is, and in one scene where their lives were in danger she whimpers with fear. Mike is the definition of the macho Alpha hero, but then he'll pull her close and is tender and encouraging. Of course attraction flares up, and eventually they share a kiss. And then another one here and there.

There was a subplot about an archeological dig that, while it was tied into the overall plot, still seemed irrelevant and extraneous. I felt those sections could have been removed and it wouldn't have made a difference.

I'd not read anything by this author before, so I don't know if all of her books are in this type of setting or not. But she did a great job with the two main characters, and based on that I do want to read more by her.

And a quick search of my TBR pile has revealed that I have one of her other books - TELL IT TO THE MARINES, a collection of stories which I bought at Half Price Books about a year ago because it just sorta jumped off the sale shelf at me. If the heroes are anything like Mike, then I'm sure I'll enjoy it!

03 November 2012

A River Runs Through It and Other Stories


Synopsis: Unique in the annals of modern fiction, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT is more than just a portrait of a vanished America – it is a living piece of that world. Written when Norman Maclean was in his seventies, his first book of fiction was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and became a bestseller.

The title novella recalls the experiences of a young man in frontier Montana: of his minister father, who taught his sons the ways of grace and fly fishing; of his brother, an artist at trout fishing but less than successful at life; and the swift, cold rivers that ran from the heart of the mountains into the still-mysterious heart of man.

First line: In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.

Stats for my copy: Paperback, published by Pocket Books, 1992; purchased at a library book sale in 2007.

My thoughts: I made it through about 60 pages before I gave up. It's not a novel, it's a fly fishing manual.

The Mirror


Synopsis: The Mirror. It is a full-length looking glass in a grotesque bronze frame of talonlike fingers, brought from China to San Francisco in the late 1800s. And it is evil. When Shay gazes into the mirror's smoky depths on the eve of her wedding, she is mysteriously drawn back in time, awakening in the same house, but in another body, that of her grandmother, Brandy. And the independent, tempestuous Brandy is transported as well--from seventy-five years in the past into the present body deserted by her granddaughter, Shay.

Plunged into a primitive, 19th-century mining camp, condemned to a living hell of knowing the future and being forced to endure it unalterably, Shay finds herself marrying her own grandfather, giving birth to her own mother, and astonishing everyone by predicting the future--a future which is all too cruelly her own family past.

First line: The mirror was old.

Stats for my copy: hardback, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1978; purchased from the sale shelf at my local library.

My thoughts:  I first read this book many, many years ago, probably sometime in the 80's. It's one of those stories that I loved and it has always stayed with me, with a couple of scenes from the book still vivid in my mind. Only a couple though, as I realized upon rereading that the vast majority of the book did not jar any memories. Which was nice though, as it was like reading it for the for the first time. Anyway, when I saw it on the sale shelf at the library back in April 2006, I snatched it up. So now I've finally gotten around to actually reading it.

I love time travel stories. Not necessarily the science fiction time travel, though I'll read those. But my preference is the accidental, how in the heck did this happen and where in the heck am I time travel. Like Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, my all time favorite book ever, which I've read twice, and have recently been itching to read again even though I have a million books I haven't yet read once. And Seducing Mr. Darcy, by Gwyn Cready, a close runner up, which I've read once but kept because I know I'll read it again one day.

Shay Garrett lives in 1978, and is marrying Marek Weir tomorrow. Her elderly 90-something Grandma Bran has been released from a nursing home to attend the wedding. Shay and Grandma Bran both look into the ugly mirror and their eyes meet, and then Shay feels like she's in an earthquake, and when she wakes up, she is in another time, another body. She is now in Brandy's body, on the eve of her own wedding.

Shay finds herself married off and living in destitute conditions with her new husband, who seemingly has no interest in or affection for her – indeed, he married her in exchange for her father's mine. Cuz marriages often happened that way in those days (shudder). Brandy is known as being a little crazy, and had already turned down two marriage proposals, and her father hopes that with this marriage, and maybe some kids coming along, the talk and gossip about her will settle down and her family will no longer need to be ashamed of her. Little did he know.

Over the years, Shay attempts to get the mirror to work it's magic again and send her back to her own body in her own time, while learning to live in the past. She becomes known as a seer of the future. She ends up marrying again, this time to her own grandfather, and eventually she gives birth to her uncles and her mother.

At first, when she met her grandfather, I was a little put off by where the story would go, as was Shay. I mean, it's kind of creepy to think about having sex with your grandfather, even if he is young and gorgeous.

The book is divided into three parts, Shay's story, Rachael's story, and Brandy's story. Shay's is the longest, and the most interesting. Rachael is Shay's daughter, and her section is short, starting when she's a young girl and going up through her marriage, which her mother of course predicted. Rachael loves her mother, but resents Brandy (really Shay) always knowing what she will do before she does.

Then we get Brandy's story, starting from her own new awakening in Shay's body, and trying to adjust to this new loud and crowded world, where women go around barely dressed and couples kiss and grope each other in public. Where the wife sits at the table while the husband cooks. Where Shay's parents seem to actually care about their daughter and want her to be happy, rather than sending her off to marry a stranger.

Brandy has a lot more trouble adjusting than Shay did. For Brandy the struggle to adjust was more internal. I would have liked to see her out in the world, interacting with people more, but I get that the whole experience was probably a much larger culture shock for her than for Shay. Going into the future, you have no idea what to expect. Going into the past, you've studied history in school, you've heard stories from your parents, you might not have seen something in real life but you still know what it is because in your time people know about the past. Brandy was a much more passive person than Shay, but then she was also very much a product of her time.

I didn't really like the direction Brandy's story took, but I was satisfied with the way it ended. But even if I hadn't been, I still would have loved this book just for Shay's story. The writing is wonderful, the detail, particularly in Shay's story, is fantastic. The book is awesome.