Archive | February 2012

Book Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Book Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #2)

Format: paperback

First Published: August 25, 2009

Genres: Urban Fantasy, Shifters, Paranormal

Synopsis (from Goodreads)Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son- and enforcer- of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either…

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything…

Review: 

Anna is really finding her feet! In this book Charles and Anna represent the Marrok at a werewolf convention. With all the alphas running about the place I was slightly worried for Anna but I shouldn’t have been. She more than managed to hold her own against the century old strong and dominant wolves. I love the characters in this series. Charles is used to being his father’s assassin and because of this he has always been wary of being overly friendly with anyone outside of Bran and his brother, Samuel. Briggs doesn’t forget the history she’s created for Charles (or Anna either for that matter). Charles has many things he has to overcome and in his new relationship with Anna, he has many struggles. I love that. I love that just because he has found his mate and fallen in love with his wife it doesn’t stop his former nature from showing at inappropriate times.

Anna, too, has to overcome her past in order to be with Charles. The problems they’ve both faced (separately and as a couple) are just one of the things that I find unique and refreshing with this series. The author doesn’t gloss over the hideous nature of the beast nor does she simply apply the notion of love overcoming everything. Despite the werewolf and supernatural nature of this series the character I’ve read in this book are more real to me than in so many other novels.

It was nice to see some more interaction between the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series – this time being in the inclusion of Fey and Vampires. The blending of the two series whilst still keeping things interesting and new is very well done. The things that we know about the Fey and the vampires already from Mercy are consistent with what Anna discovers in Hunting Ground. 

The new characters introduced in this novel delighted me. The slightly odd Arthur who believed he was the reincarnation of King Arthur, the blind witch, the Beast of Gévaudan as well as another Omega wolf and a whole range of other wolves were all brilliant. There were so many personalities and little stories playing in the background that there was always something to keep me interested.

I loved this novel. I loved the drama and the outcome. Most of all I adored the evolution of Anna and Charles’ relationship. I find it refreshing that one novel isn’t enough for one couple to go from meeting to happily ever after. This has been my favourite novel I’ve read so far this year. I can’t wait till the third in the series comes out next week. Expect to see a review of it very soon. 😉

Rating: 

5 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository / Amazon / FishPond

Read  my review of Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs here

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Three Books Being Released in March 2012 that I Can’t Wait to Read!

Happy Feburary 29th everybody!

As the end of a month is here I’ve decided to mention the three books that are being released next month that I’m most looking forward to.

Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10) by J.R. Ward (release date March 27)
– The BDB is possibly my favourite series. It’s a mix of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Ward has created an incredibly parallel universe – Modern day Caldwell, New York but with supernatural beings. Vampires who have to fight bad guys and look great in leather whilst doing so.

Lover Reborn is Tohr’s story and one that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time! Lover Unleashed (BDB#9) was my least favourite in the series so far so I hope that this latest instalment lives up to my expectations.

 

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3) by Patricia Briggs (release date March 6)
– I’ve just finished the second book in this series and loved it! (I’ll post my review later today or early tomorrow). I can’t wait to see what happens to Anna and Charles next.  The blurb for Fair Game is very short and not very informative but I’m hoping that’s a good thing – less chance it can ruin any major plot points. It has a lot to live up to and only a week to go!

 

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, #2) by Aimee Carter (release date March 27)
– This one I’m less excited about but still looking forward to see how Kate spends her time outside of Eden and without Henry.

 

 

How to Choose What to Read Next?

Photo Credit: The Pop Culture Divas

When I was younger I didn’t have many books. I’d read whatever I could get my hands on. I read text books from back when my parents were students, books about war – gun, planes and spies featured heavily in any book my brother owned and I read his entire library at a young age – and the occasional Mills and Boon romance novel that I found when I was visiting my parents. There wasn’t a lot of choice – I was just greedy for books and read without any real discernment.

These days I’m much more selective in my reading practices. Especially with online book stores – I don’t even need to get out of my pyjamas to browse millions of titles and one click gets them sent directly to my door.

With all those books out there, I decided to share how I decide to choose which books I choose to read.

  • Ask friends!

I’ve found some of the best books I’ve ever read have been recommended for me by friends and family. They know what I like and what I dislike. Often they even own copies of the books they’re suggesting so I can just borrow them without having to go out and buy a copy for myself.

  • Seen the movie? Now read the book!

It’s amazing how many of my favourite films were books first. It always surprises me just how many movies started off their lives as books. Many times I see a film and not until the credits and I see “Inspired by a true story” do I even realize that there was a book first. For all the dozens of books I’ve read and films based on the books I’ve seen, typically I find that I consider the book to be the better version. I recommend Google searching the titles of some of your favourite movies just to see if they were books first and is just waiting to be added to your to-read list!

  • Join a Book Club

There are millions of book clubs all around the world. There are ones devoted to specific genres or even certain authors (much like in The Jane Austen book club which coincidently is a book that has had a film based upon it). Either face to face or online, these book clubs offer many suggestions of what to read. I belong to a few book clubs. Typically they meet once a month and along with the recommendations, I’ve found that it’s a lot of fun to discuss books and literature with people who are as passionate about reading as I am.

  • I’m not sure I could live without the Internet…

I love the Internet but I’m not so sure my bank balance agrees. Thanks to the internet and sites like goodreads.com and amazon.com which give me recommendations of what to read taking into account authors I like and series I’ve read, I’m never at a loss of what to read next. I’ve also found sites like whichbook.net – just a few clicks of the mouse and it will give you many ideas of what book it suggests you read next.

  • Magazines/Newspapers

I often flip straight to the book recommendations in magazines and newspapers that I read. I don’t always select any of the books they review but I enjoy checking what is out there. The New York Times Best seller list is always a good one to check out for inspiration.

 

Book Review: Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas

Book Review: Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas

Format: ebook

First Published: Feburary 1, 2012

Source: an ARC provided by netgalley

Genre: Memoir, Food,

Synopsis (from Goodreads)Part love letter to New York, part love letter to Paris, and total devotion to all things sweet. Paris, My Sweet is a personal and moveable feast that’s a treasure map for anyone who loves fresh cupcakes and fine chocolate, New York and Paris, and life in general. It’s about how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a sliver of cheesecake and about how the life you’re meant to live doesn’t always taste like the one you envisioned. Organized into a baker’s dozen of delicacies (and the adventures they inspired) that will tempt readers’ appetites, Paris, My Sweet is something to savor.

Review: 

Reading this memoir, it’s easy to fall in love with Paris as Amy Thomas sees it. She has a way of describing food not just as the fuel the body needs to survive but rather as something to be savoured and revered.

As a lover of all things sweet and a desire to travel all over the world, at times it felt like this book was speaking directly to me. Amy Thomas, a thirty-five year old career woman who enjoys the single life in New York City gets the opportunity to live in Paris for a year. With the help of a Vélib, Amy travels all over Paris and experiences all the chocolate shops, bakeries and pastry stores that the City of Light has to offer.  This book is part memoir, part guidebook. At the end of each chapter Thomas gives a brief selection of venues in both New York City and Paris that offer some of the delicacies mentioned previously in the chapter.  There are a lot of French terms mentioned in story. I was over eager and looked up what they meant only to find a definition of sorts in the next paragraph. Whilst some may say there was too many foreign terms, I appreciated the chance to indulge my inquisitive side and felt better educated by the end of it. D’accord?

Amy as a narrator is fantastic. She’s romantic and shows Paris off in a way that you the reader can tell it’s a place she treasures. The beauty of the food and  the city are written about with such passion and detail that I could almost believe I’d been there.  At the same time, she doesn’t gloss over the negatives – like the pigeons and the unsmiling locals. She describes it in it’s whole. I also liked her attitude towards life – she’s practical and doesn’t take her situation for granted. I love how brave she was to take this chance and I also adored that despite the indulgence of the food, she doesn’t take it for granted.

Whilst reading this book I kept going online and sneaking peeks at Thomas’ blog, SweetFreakBetween the pictures there and the way the chocolates, cupcakes and other delicious morsels were written about, I was in food heaven. It’s a good thing that window shopping (so to speak) is fat-free. It was enough to both make me extremely hungry and at the same time dissatisfied with all the food options I had in my house. I was craving a Pain au chocolat from Paris, a banana cupcake from New York or another of other sweets that I’d just read about.

If I lived in New York or Paris (or was planning a trip to either city in the future) I’d be including at least one or two of the stores Amy Thomas wrote about!

Rating: 

4 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository / Amazon / FishPond

Book Review: Got Game? by Stephanie Doyle

Book Review: Got Game? by Stephanie Doyle

Format: ebook

First Published: December 11, 2011

Source: an ARC provided by netgalley

Genre: Sports romance, contemporary romance

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Oh Yeah, Game On! The world of professional golf is rocked when the new ranking system allows Reilly Carr – the country’s best female player – to compete with the big boys. Now everyone wants to know if she will or won’t play in golf’s premier event…The American.

But her tough choices are complicated further when Luke Nolan – her on again, off again lover – suddenly decides now is the time to turn their friends-with-benefits set up into a real relationship!

If she’s going to make the cut she’ll need to battle her game, the press and most of all her heart. The stakes have never been higher

Review: 

Reilly Carr is one of the most successful female golfers in history. But lately winning hasn’t felt as good as it used to and Reilly has been slighly discontented. After returning home to Nebraska to visit her grandparents and to recharge before her next tournament, the news breaks that due to a change in the ranking system Reilly has a chance to play on one of golf’s most sacred grounds and take part in the golfing event of the year – The American.

I’m not a very sporty person but I do love reading sports romances. And this one was no exception. Reilly Carr is competitive and good at what she does. But she’s also romantically challenged and has two divorces and a third broken engagement to prove it. Luke Nolan, two-time winner of The American is just as flawed when it comes to marriage – his third divorce just finalized. But together they work. I loved the chemistry between them and the fact that both acknowledge that the other isn’t perfect.

The supporting cast are another highlight of this novel. Kenny, Reilly’s caddy and brother, has his own romantic sub-plot that adds to the novel’s romance. I loved that in many ways Kenny and Reilly’s romantic lives paraellel each other. Despite Kenny being a bit of a playboy and Reilly being extremely good at committing (it’s just staying married she has a problem with), the Carr siblings are a lot alike. The sibling squabbles on the green amused me greatly – no matter how old you may be, there are times when a little petty sibling argument is justified.

There was a lot going on in this novel – the romantic relationships, the golf and the stalker storyline – but Stephanie Doyle managed to tie them altogether nicely. The golf aspect was not overwhelming to a non-golf fan but instead was written in such a way that it just added to the drama and story without being too much. I was enthralled by the sport angle which surprised me greatly. I really enjoyed this novel. I’ll definitely be looking out for novels by Stephanie Doyle in the future.

Rating: 

4.5 out of 5

Purchase book at:

 Amazon

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Book Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants #5)

Format: Hardcover

First Published: June 1, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Chick Lit

Synopsis (from Goodreads): From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

Review: 

Growing up I read the first book in this series and in many ways reading this latest instalment was like welcoming an old friend back into my life. The girls, now women, were true to how I remembered them and yet different.

This novel starts off with Carmen – the youngest of the group. Once an awkward teenager, now a glamorous TV star with a successful fiancé and a gorgeous New York City apartment, Carmen seems to have it all. Lena has embraced her artistic side and is selling her paintings and working at the art college she was attending as a student all those years ago. Bridget is still as impulsive as ever but still with Eric and now living in San Francisco. And Tibby? Well… that seems a bit of a mystery to everyone. Since she moved to Australia two years ago contact has been sporadic at best.

When Tibby gives the other three girls tickets Greece for an impromptu reunion all the women are excited. But what happens on the Grecian island is something that will change their lives forever.

I had some problems with this story. The characters were the same as I remembered and yet different in a way that felt odd to me. I connected so strongly with the girls when I was in my teens. Our struggles were somewhat similar and I could relate to them. But now, they’re facing problems that I haven’t – and hope in many ways that I won’t ever – and whilst I could imagine the things happening to them was right up their alleys, at the same time I didn’t feel the same way with regards to their relationships with me.

This story was in many ways nostalgic but I liked how whilst there were references to the events of the past books, the past wasn’t dwelt upon. The action was in the present. Whilst life hadn’t gone exactly according to plan for all of them, for the most part they weren’t trying to relive their past. I did miss the little letters and emails that prefaced chapters in some of the other books but the quotes before each chapter were fitting.

I felt like Tibby was a little out of character. The message of this book for me is one of friends forever, and as long as you have your sisterhood you’ll never be alone. And yet Tibby embarked on a whole new life without letting the other girls in. It worked in the sense of that mystery was needed to drive the novel to a fitting conclusion but it didn’t sit well for me with regards to the close-knit friendship that the four of them had.

I am a little worried about the sisterhood – Bee in particular. They seem a little too co-dependant. I like the friendship aspect but the ending message that I was left with was that for Bee, she couldn’t exist without the sisterhood and I for me… I’m so very worried about her. I spent the whole novel worrying about her and I hope that the others can help her. (I am aware these are fictional characters.)

This last installment of the Sisterhood was true to the series. In terms of structure and story it closely followed the formula set out by the others – They meet up, they have their seperate adventures and they come together at the end with lessons learnt about life and love. Throw in some overseas travel for good measure. It’s a format that has worked for the other books and worked well for this one too.

It’s an odd thing revisiting the literary friends of your youth and have them grow up without you. I am glad that Ann Brashares wrote a conclusion to the sisterhood’s story.

Rating: 

3 out of 5

Purchase book at:

Book Depository / Amazon FishPond