Monday, January 31, 2011

January Reading and Challenges

This past January I read 19 books and purchased/received for review 76 books. 

I had eye surgery on my right eye to remove a cataract and implant a new lens on Jan. 12. I have been reading a bit slower than normal and likely will in February too. I won't get my new prescription for glasses until Feb. 22 and then have to wait for the glasses to be made. Strangely enough, reading on the computer is easier than reading a print book.

A listing of all the books I read can be found on my 2011 Challenges spreadsheet. You can see my 2011 Challenges spreadsheet here.

Here is my January 2011 progress report for the challenges I joined this year. All of the books have already been reviewed on either Ms. Martin Teaches Media or Inside of a Dog unless the review date is listed in parentheses. Luckily, there is a lot of overlap in the challenges I chose this year.

At Ms. Martin Teaches Media:

2011 YA Debut Author (12 books; reviews to be posted monthly at The Story Siren)
1. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
2. Warped by Maurissa Guibord (review posted Feb. 3)

2011 YA Reading Challenge (50 books)
1. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
3. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
4. Hexbound by Chloe Neill
5. Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
6. You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
7. Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
8. Warped by Maurissa Guibord

At Inside of a Dog:

2011 Mystery & Suspense (12 books; post reviews monthly at Book Chick City)
1. In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
2. The Mysterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton
3. Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
4. You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin
5. Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks (review posted Feb. 3)

2011 Futuristic & SF (12 books)
1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
2. The Mysterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton

2011 E-Book (20 books)
1. Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
2. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
4. The Mysterious Lady Law by Robert Appleton
5. The Bartered Virgin by Chevon Gael
6. Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley
7. Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines
8. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
9. Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
10. The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya

2011 Romance (12 books)
1. The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
2. In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
4. Haunted by Your Touch by Jeaniene Frost
5. The Bartered Virgin by Chevon Gael
6. Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley
7. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
8. Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks
9. Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh
10. Warped by Maurissa Guibord

2011 Shifter (20 books; post reviews monthly at Parajunkee’s View)
1. Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks
2. Once Bitten by Kalayna Price

2011 Horror & Urban Fantasy (24 books; post reviews monthly at Book Chick City)
1. Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
2. Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines
3. Hexbound by Chloe Neill
4. Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
5. Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks
6. Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh

2011 Paranormal Romance (20 books; post reviews monthly at Bitten by Paranormal Romance)
1. Haunted by Your Touch by Jeaniene Frost
2. Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh

2011 Show Me the Free (12 books; post reviews monthly at The Unread Reader)
1. Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines
2.

2011 Read Me Baby, 1 More Time (15 books; post reviews monthly at Midnight Book Girl)
1.
2.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (Jan. 31, 2011)

It's Monday, What are you reading is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey 

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last week I read:

Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks - This is the the latest in this urban fantasy series. It has shifters and sorcerers and dragons. My review will be posted on Feb. 3.

The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya - This is a fantasy debut about a young girl who is looking for her future and a young man who is running away from his. My review is here.

Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh -- This is the third in this urban fantasy series in which the main character has been transformed into an angel and is the consort of the most powerful Archangel of New York. I loved the romance and the adventure. My review is here.

Once Bitten by Kalayna Price -- This is an urban fantasy where the main character is a shifter who has run away from home and finds herself turned into a vampire and is under a sentence of death unless she can find the rogue shifter who is killing young women. My review will be posted on Feb. 5.

Warped by Maurissa Guibord - This is a 2011 YA Debut Author title that I enjoyed very much. It is about a modern girl who pulls a loose thread on a tapestry and finds herself dealing with a young man from 1511, the evil witch who imprisoned him in the tapestry, and the Fates who don't want anyone stealing the threads of life. My review is scheduled for Feb. 3.

I am currently reading:

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton -- I have the eARC from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for this one. It is an urban fantasy dystopia for young adults. It is also the author's debut book. Look for it in bookstores on Feb. 22, 2011.

Next week I plan to read:

Twice Dead by Kalayna Price -- I have this somewhere in my TBR mountain and I want to find out what comes next for Kita and Nathaniel.

Timeless by Alexandra Monir -- This is another book by a 2011 YA Debut Author. It is a time travel story.

Deadly Vows by Brenda Joyce -- This is a review book on my Kindle. It is another Francesca Cahill adventure. I have enjoyed the previous historical mysteries and look forward to reading this one.

A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller -- This is a review book on my Kindle too. I haven't read Linda Lael Miller for years and am eager to see if I still enjoy her romances as much as I did.

I may not have as much reading time as I would wish this week. I have meetings Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week besides the full five days of work. I could really use a "snow day". Has anyone checked Minnesota's weather forecast?

In My Mailbox (Jan. 30, 2011)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
 
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

This was another big week for me. I don't think that I will ever be able to catch up on my TBR stack. But I just couldn't resist all these lovely books.

I received these books for review:
I got Minding Ben by Victoria Brown through Shelf Awareness. This will really be a genre-stretcher for me. I don't often read adult contemporary fiction. This one about a nanny in New York City is way outside my boundaries and experiences.

Survivor by Sean Slater was sent to me because I am taking part in the 2011 Mystery and Suspense Challenge at Book Chick City. This one doesn't even have a cover available online yet. My ARC does have a sort of creepy mask on the cover.
I received Lucifer's Tears by James Thompson from Shelf Awareness too. This is a murder mystery that takes place in Finland.

The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya was sent to me by the author for review. This was an ebook and was a nice quick read. I will be looking for the sequels for this fantasy series.

I added these eBooks to my Kindle this week:
Big Girls Don't Die by Crystal Jordan and Catch of a Lifetime by Judi Fennell were both free offerings this week. Both are in the paranormal genre.
Linked by Hope Welsh is a shifter story and was only $.99. Origins by Randolph Lalonde was another free book. This one is science fiction.
Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione is a short story in her Demonica series. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Crystal Jordan is the first in the series that included the free book listed above. I had to have the first in the series before I would feel comfortable reading the second.

Last, I purchased a couple of paperback books.
I have been seeing good reviews for A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang and thought I would give it a try. 

I had to have Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh. I really liked the first two books in the series. This one was also excellent. You can see my review here.

That is my mailbox this week. What did you get in yours?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Consort
Author: Nalini Singh
Publication: Berkley (January 25, 2011)


Description: An ancient and malevolent female immortal is rising in Manhattan to reclaim her son, the archangel Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena Deveraux, a vampire-hunter-and Raphael's lover.


My Thoughts: This was another great entry into the Archangel series. The romance was strong as Elena and Raphael are learning to forge a relationship that will last for a vast period of time. Given that they are both very strong people, the relationship includes quite a number of battles. He wants to protect her; she was to be seen as an independent equal. 


Trouble is brewing too. Vampires are doing unexpected things. Lijuan is still making trouble. Other cadre members are behaving in uncharacteristic ways. Even the weather is becoming violent and unpredictable. The signs are that Raphael's mother might be awakening. The main question is whether or not her long sleep has restored her sanity. Raphael has grown stronger in the almost 1000 years that she has been asleep. But is he strong enough to kill his mother and, even if he is, can he?


This conflict is paralleled by Elena's own family issues. Her mother committed suicide after Elena's older sisters were brutalized and murdered by a monster. Elena father has disinherited her. There only contact is when he decides to try to hurt her again. But Elena finds out that one of her young half-sisters is also a hunter. She needs to deal with her father to do what is best for her young sister. 


This was a taut, emotional story. It was fascinating watching the relationship between Elena and Raphael grow and strengthen. This was a very good paranormal romance. I recommend it but also recommend that readers begin with the first book in the series rather than this one. Readers need the back-story to fully appreciate this episode.


Favorite Quote:
"No more babysitters," she said, her anger a honed blade. "I won't allow it. Neither will I toddle off home like a good little girl."


You will do as I say.


"Yeah, how's that working out for you so far?"


Friday, January 28, 2011

We Have a Winner!

I drew the winner for my gently used copy of Love Me to Death by Allison Brennan this evening.

The winner was

Catslady (also known as Jeanne)

Congratulations! The book is packed and will be mailed as soon as I can get to the Post Office.

I hope you enjoy it!

Book Beginning: Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 


Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 


If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.


My beginning is from a book I have been looking forward to for a long time - Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh. This is the third in the Guild Hunter series. Here is the book description: An ancient and malevolent female immortal is rising in Manhattan to reclaim her son, the archangel Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena Deveraux, a vampire-hunter-and Raphael's lover.


And the beginning is....
Swathed in the silken shadows of deepest night, New York was the same...and altered beyond compare.
I can't wait to dig deeper into this story. I'm hoping for a snowy day tomorrow (even though the forecast doesn't give me any real hope of one) so that I can snuggle in and read without guilt.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

Hunted by the Others
Author: Jess Haines
Publication: Zebra; 1 edition (May 1, 2010)


Description: Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm - if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires. As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend - a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing - and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil - whether she likes it or not...


My Thoughts: This was a great story about a very reluctant kick-ass heroine. If Shia had her way, she would have absolutely nothing to do with the Others that came out in New York after 9/11. She is afraid of them all. When she found out her boyfriend was a were, she screamed the house down and dumped him immediately.  But the investigation business she and her best friend started when they graduated from college isn't going well and a mage comes to her with an offer that she can't afford to refuse. She, very reluctantly, agrees to investigate an old, rich, and powerful vampire to find the magic object the mage wants.


But things start to go wrong almost immediately. The vampire tries to force her into a binding contract, the mage she was working for was murdered, and she has become the focus of another mage's attention. The object she is looking for can allow a mage to control vampires and weres or vampires to control weres. Even worse, her mother is trying to get her back together with her werewolf boyfriend Chaz though the mother doesn't know he's a werewolf and is quite prejudiced against Others.


There was a lot of adventure and danger as Shia, her best friend Sara, Chaz, and Arnold - a wizard from the Circle, try to find the focus and stay alive in the process. This was an enjoyable Urban Fantasy with likable and realistic characters. The two possible romantic interests for Shia - Chaz the werewolf and Royce the vampire - were both attractive with positives and negatives. I don't know which I'd choose. I am eager to read the sequel - Taken by the Others - to see if Shia is any nearer to choosing between them.


I recommend this title to lovers of Urban Fantasy. This was an entertaining story in a well-built world. When I downloaded this title to my Kindle, it was free. Now I see that it is selling for $4.39.


Favorite Quote:
Vamp-run establishments are "the thing" right now. I guess to some people, the idea of rubbing elbows with a leech is titillating.
Source: This was a free download for the Kindle in late December or early January. It is no longer free. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley

Sweet as Sin
Author: Inez Kelley
Publication: Carina Press (January 31, 2011)

Description: John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he's driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.

Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won't lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she's as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?

My Thoughts: This was an excellent romance novel. Both main characters were well-rounded and well-drawn. John was an intensely private man who had a childhood from hell - abused by his stepfather to protect his younger sister and finally driven to kill him - he still suffers from nightmares and flashbacks. He has channeled some of his pain into the books he writes and is extremely proprietary about them. He doesn't feel that he will ever have a relationship that is more than superficial.


Livvy is a pastry chef and a bakery owner whose business is not doing as well as she wished it were. She grew up with a beloved father who had a series of affairs and a mother who was bitter but couldn't or wouldn't leave him because she didn't have the skills to support herself and her children. Livvy's bakery is her safe place. It is her security. 


They meet when John moves in next door. They are immediately attracted to each other. Livvy knows that he doesn't want the same things she does but gets involved with him anyway. They fall in love - both quite reluctantly. The romantic scenes are very well done. So are the emotional scenes as each manages to trigger the others survival reflexes. John throws away some sketches, Livvy rescues them from the trash and uses them to start a new line at her bakery that will give her the boost her business needs. She does have his verbal permission but, since she gets it during a hot and heavy sex scene, John doesn't know what he is agreeing to. When John finds out how she is using his drawings he feels betrayed that she has stolen something from her. He threatens to take her business which hits her most tender spot.


These two characters have to battle through a wide variety of problems before they get to their happy ever after. But I felt a great satisfaction when they got there. The characters were very real for me. This was a lovely, emotionally intense romance. 


Favorite Quote:
Deep blue, almost navy, his eyes could have been too pretty for his rugged face except they were hard and unflinching. Tiny lines creased the corners but beneath the desire lurked something dark, something shadowed, something dangerous. This wasn't a man for frivolity. He was made for hard work, hard play, and heartache.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!




My teaser this week is from one of the books I recently got from NetGalley. Carina Press is a new participant there and I chose three books to try. This is from Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley. It will be published on Jan. 31, 2011. 


This is shaping up to be a really hot romance. The main characters are a cynical young adult novelist and a pastry chef. 
This wasn't a man for frivolity. He was made for hard work, hard play and heartache.
Sounds good, doesn't it? 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (Jan. 24, 2011 )

It's Monday, What are you reading is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey 
 
It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I had a mostly YA reading week this week. I managed to read three books that I had for review and two from the stacks.

My review books were
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton. This was an eARC from NetGalley. It was a very nice paranormal that reminded me a lot of the first seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My review is here. Look for the book on Feb. 15.
  • Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann is a mystery that creeps over the edge into horror but isn't too scary for younger young adults. The main character has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that causes problems but also lets her solve the mystery. My review is here. Look for the book on Feb. 8.
  • You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin was a mystery written like the old noir movies. The main character is a 17-year-old hard boiled detective. The story is rife with double crosses and triple crosses. It is also wildly satiric and humorous in a black humor sort of way. My review is scheduled for Jan. 27. Look for the book on Feb. 1.
These were from my stack (also known as TBR Mountain).
  • Hexbound by Chloe Neill is her second book in her Dark Elite series. This one is action packed. It is a paranormal boarding school story. My review is here.
  • Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast is the eighth in the House of Night series. It was a good entry into the series and will be gobbled up by fans. There was lots of danger and excitement. My review will be posted on Jan. 26.

I am currently switching up and reading a book from my adult stacks. Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks is the seventh in her World of the Lupi series. I really like these urban fantasy stories with werewolves. dragons, and others with paranormal abilities.

Next week is completely undecided at this time. I haven't read anything on my Kindle for a while. I have some great 2011 Young Adult Debut Author books on the stack. My adult stacks are tall enough to be in danger of toppling over too. I'll just have to wait and see what kind of mood I'm in.

That was my week. What was your week like?