Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review of "The Renegade Hunter" by Lynsay Sands

Ahhh Lynsay Sands, you never let me down! I love everything I've read by her, which is limited to a few historicals and the Argeneau series, which I own all of them. She's one of my go-to authors for a good time, and I've not been disappointed so far.

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by me, the reviewer, for my own personal use. I was not given this book, nor any other compensation, in exchange for a review.

From the back of the book: " Nicholas Argeneau was once a successful hunter who went after rogue vampires who broke the immortal law. Except no one has mentioned his name in the last fifty years, not since he turned into a rogue himself. But once a hunter, always a hunter. When Nicholas sees a bloodthirsty sucker terrifying a woman, it's second nature for him to come to her rescue. He had no idea he would also want to kiss her senseless...
One minute Josephine Willan is taking in a breath of fresh air, and the next sharp fangs are heading straight for her neck! Luckily, a gorgeous stranger saves her life... and gets locked up for his troubles. Can a man who kisses so lovingly and passionately really have committed the crime he's accused of? Jo isn't so sure... and she's determined to prove that this renegade hunter is worth fighting for. "

As I said, I'm a huge Lynsay Sands fan, in fact, she's written one of my all time favorite vampire romances. And she writes some seriously delish heroes, wink wink. Nicholas Argeneau is no exception, and after his brief mention in an earlier book, I was hoping he'd get his own chance in the spotlight. Why? Well, here's a little confession... I'm a sucker for a wrongly accused hero. Or heroes that have done something bad in the past, and now they spend their lives doing good to make up for past wrongs. And that's exactly what this Argeneau is doing - atoning for past sins. Even when the rest of his family turned their back on him, and knowing if caught - he'd be tried and probably put to death, he still is out hunting rogues and being the good guy.

And as always with Lynsay Sands' books, the characters were excellent. Very relatable, always consistant, and practically addicting. I didn't want the book to end! On the plus side, I know that as long as the series continues, I'll get to see all these characters again and again, since the Argeneau clan seems to enjoy big gatherings. It's always a treat when all the characters I've loved from past books in the series get together. The interaction between them is classic. And speaking of classic, I won't go into too much detail - but Jo certainly has some... spunk. Lucian is the head enforcer of the family, top dog so to speak, and it was quite fun watching Jo chew him out. The names she called him! "Mr. Sourpuss Pants"!!! I was snickering up a storm, which earned me some seriously weird looks for anyone nearby. Lucian is one of my favorite Argeneaus, and to hear him being taken down a peg, it was perfect. But as I said, it's always enjoyable when the whole gang gets together - I was smiling through the whole scene.

This book was a bit of a whirlwind - taking place in a very short amount of time. I mean, the bulk of the book took place in a few days, maybe four at the most. And then from one page to the next, at the end of the book, two weeks had gone by. The book is far from short, 357 pages, but since all the action took place in such a short time, it made the book go by far too fast, in my opinion. The pacing was good, I didn't feel rushed or the like while reading it, I just wished I had more time with Jo and Nicholas. And speaking of that ending - GAH, talk about a cliffhanger. I mean, there's an ending, and some freedom, but there's a HUGE question left there. I actually kept flipping through the pages to see if I was missing more of the book - but alas, no such luck. But after a little research tonight, I came accross the reason. That huge question, and therefore that huge cliffhanger, will be tied up in the next book, and it seems as though if everything had been tied up in this book, it would have given away far too much of the plot for the next one.

So on to the rating - another FIVE out of FIVE book for me! I'm on a good streak, here's hoping I can keep it up! I really do love this book, and I wish I could keep Nicholas all for myself. Or maybe - I think the Argeneaus should just adopt me! Yeees, yes, I see that plan working out perfectly! What? Oh shush, I can live in my little dream world!

Happy reading! And I hope you all get to check out "The Renegade Hunter" by Lynsay Sands. Or really, ANY of her Argeneau books!
~!~ Morning Glow

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review of "Vampire Taxonomy" by Meredith Woerner

I'd had this book for ages, and yes, I've just recently finished it. I'll get into why shortly...

Disclaimer: I received this book via a contest on Vampire Wire. I was not given this book, nor any monetary compensation in exchange for a review.

From the back of the book: " Whether you accept it or not, the world is overrun with vampires - behind you in the line at the store, "living" in the house next door, walking their undead dogs. Not content to live quietly in the shadows, they appear blatantly in every medium from television and movies to books and comics. With so many different species running amok, it's hard to know whether the vamp you meet will want to marry you or have you for dinner. With this guide, however, you can easily identify which type of bloodsucker you're dealing with and how best to approach (or avoid) it by understanding:
-Physical attributes: Recognize each type of immortal with fang diagrams, dissections of the vampire anatomy, and other helpful classification tools.
-Habitat: Does it venture out in the day (and look awfully sparkly when it does) or board up the windows in mysterious manor hours?
-Demeanor: Is it a brooding loner waging a never-ending struggle against the temptation of human blood, or a carefree creature with a biting wit who views the world as its own personal blood buffet?
-Weakness: Crosses, sunlight, cutting off heads - What will do the job?
-Cultural Assimilation: Prime yourself with the appropriate response to any situation you may find yourself in with someone "Long in the tooth."
Read this book and when the vampires come calling, be prepared with either your heart on your sleeve or a stake in your hand. "

I'll start by saying I love the description on the back of the book, it sounds like it'd be a great, funny read, right? Well... If there is wit in this book, it's so dry it isn't funny. I honestly felt like I was reading a textbook from highschool, written by someone who didn't really like vampires. I had some issues with this book, which is probably why it took me so long to finish. I would read a little, get bored or just not get into it, set it aside, and couldn't bring myself to come back to it for a while after. And frankly, it wasn't until just now that I noticed the cover was actually fangs with dripping blood.

My second issue, and the biggest reason I didn't like this book, is that she broke the vampires down into different races. For example, if you're turned by a villainous vampire, you will be a villainous vampire, no ifs, ands, or buts. At least, that's why I got out of reading this book. There were several types of vampires, but basically there are Romantic vampires (hemophage romanorum), Villainous vampires (hemophage sceleratus), and Tragic vampires (hemophage tragicus). I think the idea of giving them a scienfitic latin name was an interesting one, but breaking them into groups like that just goes against some of the things I believe in. I mean.. when you get turned into a vampire, it shouldn't change your basic sense of self. If you're a good person in life, why would you suddenly become a bad person in your un-life, just because some not-so-nice guy turned you?

However, there were some good things about the book - the pop culture vampire references were excellent. I mean, for example, it mentions Lost Boys, Tales from the Crypt, Dracula 2000, Twilight, Blade, Dresden Files, etc. A broad range of vampire lore is mentioned, from old myths, to modern day books, movies, and more. There was even a few references I didn't know about, which meant they had to be added to my "Stuff to watch/read" list.

I also enjoyed the illustrations and diagrams. Yes, it made it seem even more textbook-y, but it was great to have a picture to go along with some of the things the author explained, especially since there was a time or two I had no clue what she meant. I enjoyed seeing the different types of fangs and physical attributes, most of them with a footnote explaining where these were from - be it vampire lore, or more modern movies and books.

I have reviewed a similar book, "How to Catch and Keep a Vampire" by Diana Laurence, and I suppose it didn't help that I kept comparing "Vampire Taxonomy" to the earlier book. But all in all, it felt too dry, and didn't keep my attention. So I'm going to give "Vampire Taxonomy" a TWO out of FIVE. I just wasn't feeling it. I enjoy reading about vampires because they always make things exciting, this had to be one of the first instances I was bored by them.

Happy Reading!
~!~ Morning Glow

Monday, April 5, 2010

Books Received - Yay!

I actually got some great books in over the weekend, and I'm so very excited that I wanted to share it with all of you! I apologize for the picture being so dark, I used the camera on my phone since it was handier, and I can just email myself the pictures. But let's get right into it...

"Bite Me" by Christopher Moore - book AND a tshirt (pictured). The shirt says "Bite Me" on the front, and "Don't Forget - You Suck" on the back, along with Christopher Moore's website. Love this author. I laughed my way through "You suck," and I can't wait to dive into "Bite Me." Actually, I enjoyed all of his books I've read so far. Always on the lookout for more, too. Won this great prize pack via Scifiguy.

"SEALed with a Ring" by Mary Margret Daughtridge. I'm a sucker for arranged marriages, or in general, when characters are forced together (into a relationship) for some reason. Also a sucker for heros. And for half-naked male torsos on book covers. Guess what this book has! - All three! It's perfect. Side note, All Romance Ebooks will be offering the first book in the SEALed series for free as an Earth Day promotion. In fact, they're offering a free ebook for 22 days this month to celebrate - on top of a few free reads they always offer. I want to thank reviewer Mason Canyon for holding this giveaway.

And next... not very well pictured (Bad lighting, ahh!), is an ARC of "Shadow Bound" by Erin Kellison. This book will be released June 29th, and while I may read it soon, I might save my review for closer to the release date. "Dark fantasy meets modern fairy tale" - well, I'm intrigued already. Thanks to Dorchester Publishing for sending this one, can't wait to read it.

And last, but certainly not least.. as well as not pictured at all, since it's electronic, is "Heat Wave" by Richard Castle. I'll admit it, I'm in love with the show, and while browsing the store a few weeks ago, I happened upon this book. I didn't know they actually released "Heat Wave"... I didn't get it until a few days ago, but yay! It's already loaded onto my reader and sitting there, taunting me with it's Castle-ness.

Well, that's it for today. Seems like a good haul to me, though! But now comes the tough part... What do I read first?

Happy Reading!
~!~ Morning Glow

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Review of "The Seduction of a Duke" by Donna MacMeans

Donna MacMeans is one of the authors I met at the book signing in February, and I remember her being extremely nice and easy to talk to. My copy of "The Seduction of a Duke" is signed, and I smile a little every time I remember the process she went through when signing it. A signature, rubber stamp, peacock feather, and bookmarks were all involved - quite the list! Let's get right into the review..

Disclaimer: Neither this book nor any other form of compensation was giving to me in exchange for a review. The book was purchased by myself, and reviewed solely for fun.

From the back of the book: " Francesca Winthrop had every intention of marrying for love... but her nouveau riche mother, to advance her own social standing, has arranged a bethrothal for her reclusive daughter with an English duke. William Chambers ascended to the title upon his father's death, but he also inherited his father's gambling debts. Desperate to avoid scandal and ruin, he is willing to go to any lengths - including marrying, sight unseen, an American heiress.
A chance encounter and intrigue at a costume ball throw the matrimonially mismatched couple together. Though sparks fly, friction abounds. If Fran is to secure the future of her dreams, she must find a way to reach past the duke's mysterious aloofness. Fortunately, a courtesan's journal suggests there is more than one way to seduce a duke. "

I read this entire book, 331 pages, in one day, because once I started reading, I couldn't put it down for long. I stayed up way later than I intended, but I was so engrossed in the story I lost track of time. While my blurry eyes were complaining the next morning - I totally think this book was worth it. The descriptions were perfectly vivid, enough left alone so that my imagination could fill in all the little details, but enough detail that I knew what was going on, and what objects, movements, etc, were important to the story. It was the epitome of show, don't tell, which is excellent.

The characters were relatable, which is great, considering the time difference. All the characters, most obviously the main ones, felt human, not just created. They had their strengths, and their flaws. And it might be the flaws that you end up falling in love with the most - because you can understand them, and it explains why they act the way they do. And I loved how dynamic the characters were. I understood their motives, even though sometimes I wanted to hate them for it. And for a few sections, I thought about lowering the rating this book will get just because I got so frustrated with Fan and William, because they just couldn't seem to reach each other's level. But then, that's also what makes this such a great story, and why I loved it so much.

And I loved the cover! Most especially the corset - which is actually featured in the book. I think it adds an excellent touch. Occasionally when you're reading a book, you realize a certain piece of clothing, or a certain article of jewelry plays a huge role in the story, but isn't featured on the cover at all. It's was great to see the Unforgetable Corset on the cover - one of Fran's ploys to seduce the Duke.

I am giving "The Seduction of a Duke" by Donna MacMeans FIVE out of FIVE. I loved it, I couldn't put it down, and it's definitely a keeper, one of those books you put aside to re-read when you need something comforting. I really hope to see this author again at future signings/author events, and tell her in person how much I enjoyed reading this. And I definitely can't wait to check out more from her. Donna MacMeans is definitely on my list of authors to look for when browsing the bookstore. Probably need a shorter title for that list, though...

Happy Reading, everyone. And Happy Easter (if you celebrate it)!
~!~ Morning Glow