Kiss Of Death

Kiss Of Death CoverBook: Kiss Of Death by Rachel Caine

Published April 2010|Published by Penguin Group|194 Pages|Purchased For My Nook

Part Of A Series: Yes, Morganville Vampires #8

Genre: YA/Paranormal- Vampires

Find out more: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Rachel Caine’s Website Summary: Claire Danvers has a few things on her mind. First of all there is the laundry, which is now an unfortunate shade of pink. Then there is her boyfriend, Shane, who is never too far from her thoughts. Finally there is her best friend Eve’s relationship problems. As if life as a student wasn’t complicated enough, Claire just happens to be studying in Morganville. A town run by vampires.

Trouble seems to follow Claire and her friends like a shadow and tonight is no exception to the rule. They must find the most difficult documents for a vampire to acquire; people passes that will allow “bad ass” Morley and his friends to leave Morganville. But it’s proving incredibly difficult, and with the odds seemingly stacked against them, the biggest question of all is…

Will they survive?

I liked Kiss Of Death, but I think it’s my least favorite book in the series.  Claire and her roommates get to leave Morganville for a few days, so Michael can record a demo, and even though they talk about never going back to Morganville, such a plan would never work, so in the end, they have to go back.

Since we are talking about Michael, Shane, Claire and Eve, they don’t have any ordinary trip, and they run into trouble along the way.  They make a couple stops, because Bishop passed through a couple towns before going to Morganville, turned almost an entire town into vampires, and also (somehow) gave them that god-awful vampire illness.

I do think it was good to see life outside Morganville, and that Bishop created more vampires…the idea that there are vampires not in Morganville, potentially leaving chaos in their wake is a bit weird.  But it really shows that life exists outside Morganville, and that it really does seem like a pretty safe place to live.  Plus, you really see how sheltered they are in Morganville, especially Eve and Michael, and you see how used they are to vampires just walking around that they’re not quite sure what to do when they’re not in Morgvanille.  It will be interesting to see how they adjust to Morganville after leaving for a few days.

One thing I love about this series is how consistent the characters are.  They’ve all changed in some way- though Claire seems to be the most different out of the entire group- yet they still manage to be themselves and don’t have drastic personality changes.  Like, in Glass Houses, I NEVER would have predicted that Claire would stake a vampire with A NUMBER TWO PENCIL!  And Caine totally builds on each book, so things we see in each book carry us through the next couple.

Final thoughts:

I liked Kiss Of Death, and while it’s definitely my least favorite book in the series, it’s nice to see the gang out of the confines of Morganville.  It just didn’t get my attention the way the other ones have.  I can’t wait to see how some things in Kiss Of Death play out in the next couple books.  It gets 3 stars.

Sweet Evil

Sweet EvilBook: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Published May 2012|Published by HarperTeen|303 pages|Purchased for my Nook

Part of a series? Yes, The Sweet Trilogy #1

Genre: YA/Paranormal- Angels

Find out more: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Wendy Higgins’ Website Summary: Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

I like this whole Nephilim trend, and Sweet Evil was great.  I like that she has a lot of good in her, but also has a dark side as the daughter of Belial.  It’s a really interesting take on angels and demons, and I like that she has a little bit of both in her.  I really loved the hierarchy and the mythology of angels.  There’s definitely a structure as far as demons of hell go, and I loved reading the world the Higgins built.  Especially because the whole hierarchy was based on the seven deadly sins (plus a few others).

I thought the characters were pretty typical for the story Higgins wrote.  I didn’t mind, though, because everything else in Sweet Evil was good.  In a way, I was reminded of A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies, and I think it’s because Anna has both good and evil in her.  I can see Anna needing to choose between two different sides, much like Skye had to do in A Beautiful Dark.

Anna is pretty innocent, which was a little annoying at times, because she’s such a good person.  But at the same time, it was quite nice to see a character who’s still pretty innocent.  In some way, it’s a little hard to believe that she could be so innocent, but I think it works really well.  I have a feeling that it may become important later on in the series.

The romance was great- Kaiden and Anna make an interesting couple in so many ways.  There a lot of obstacles to overcome…if they ever figure out how they can be together.  There is a hint of a love triangle, and it’ll be interesting to see if Kapono and Anna ever have a thing, and to see how Kaiden feels about that.

And as much as I enjoyed Sweet Evil, it kind of felt like something was missing.  You get a good idea of how things are, and who the characters are, but it felt a few things could have been explained a little more.  Like, not a lot was mentioned about Anna’s mom, and I’m curious about her angelic side will play out, and if it’ll have a bigger role in the other 2 books.

Final thoughts:

I really liked Sweet Evil.  Higgins definitely created an interesting world in Sweet Evil, and I love the hierarchy of the demons.  There are a few things that need more of an explanation, but overall, Sweet Evil was a fun read.  It gets 4 stars.

Mary Boleyn: The Mistress Of Kings

Mary Boleyn The Mistress Of Kings CoverBook: Mary Boleyn: The Mistress Of Kings by Alison Weir

Published September 2012|Published by Ballantine Books|416 pages|Own the paperback

Part of a series? No

Genre: Non-fiction: History- Tudor England/Biography

Find out more: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Alison Weir’s Website Summary: New York Times bestselling author and noted British historian Alison Weir gives us the first full-scale, in-depth biography of Mary Boleyn, sister to Queen Anne as well as mistress to Anne’s husband, Henry VIII—and one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age. Making use of extensive original research, Weir shares revelations on the ambitious Boleyn family and the likely nature of the relationship between the Boleyn sisters. Unraveling the truth about Mary’s much-vaunted notoriety at the French court and her relations with King François I, Weir also explores Mary’s role at the English court and how she became Henry VIII’s lover. She tracks the probable course of their affair and investigates the truth behind Mary’s notorious reputation. With new and compelling evidence, Weir presents the most conclusive answer to date on the paternity of Mary’s children, long speculated to have been Henry VIII’s progeny. Alison Weir pieces together a life steeped in mystery and misfortune, debunking centuries-old myths to give us the truth about Mary Boleyn, the so-called “great and infamous whore.”

Tudor England is one of my favorite periods in history, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it.

It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.  The thing with Mary is that very little is known about her, so it was of Weir trying to dispel all the myths surrounding her.  It was more along the lines of what we know and think we know about her and why they’re correct (or not correct).  We learn a lot about her family and how she didn’t seem to have a huge impact in a time that had a lot going on.  It really was more about what we don’t know than what we do know.

Mary, as a person, was pretty unremarkable, especially with how little information there is about her, but Weir did the best she could.  Learning more about her 2 husbands was really interesting, but she spent a little too much time on possible birth dates for both Anne and Mary.  It really seemed like their ages were going to be important- only for it to not be as important as I expected.

I did like this book, but it was just too much of a stretch.  There just isn’t enough to fill pages upon pages.  I found myself getting slightly frustrated with how pop culture gets history wrong.  It has to be frustrating to see t.v. shows and movies take liberties with history, but at the same time, it was frustrating to see her take it so seriously.  She is very readable, and she has an eye for detail, but I really felt like she lost something with this one.

I think the part about how she wasn’t this great and infamous whore was the most interesting part of the book.  Weir goes into quite a bit of detail, and the idea that if she had such a reputation, there would probably be more in terms of records.

Final thoughts: I liked it, but it was more speculation and debunking of myths than anything else.  I think it would have worked slightly better as a biography of the Boleyn family as a whole.  It gets 3 stars.

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top 10 lists based on the topic of the week.  You can find all top 10 Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books I Read In 2012

Since last week was all about my 10 favorite authors, I’ve decided to do 10 books not by those authors.  I really could have kept going with that list, so I’m definitely including the authors that almost made the list.  I’ve read a lot of great books this year, so narrowing it down to 10 was a little hard.  But I managed it…somehow…and it was painful.

  1. Rachel Caine.  She is not a book.  But I have LOVED everything I’ve read by her- whether it’s the Morganville Vampires, Outcast Season or the Weather Wardens, I am a fan for life!
  2. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.  I loved this book so much, and it’s such a great book.  I’m so glad I read it.
  3. The Iron Fey series.  I did read the Iron Fey last year, but I’ve read most of the series this year, which is why I’ve included it on this list.  It’s such a great series, and I’m definitely excited that the story continues with The Lost Prince series.
  4. A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.  I need to read Beauty Queens and The Diviners, and I’m pretty sure that me wanting to read them is partly because of the Gemma Doyle series.
  5. Reason To Breathe/Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan.  It is not even funny how much I love this series, so to not include it would be completely horrible.  Once I started crying, I couldn’t stop, so be sure to have some tissues handy.
  6. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  Because not including it would be absolutely HORRIBLE.  And it is so awesome that awesome doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how good it is!
  7. Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg.  I loved this book, and how it focused on 4 different people at a performing arts high school. I couldn’t help but love Emme.
  8. My Life Next Door.  I just adored this book!  I loved how different Samantha and Jase were, but also how cute they are together.  I just loved how warm and open the Garretts were.
  9. A Mighty Long Way by Carlotta Walls LaNier.  It’s a great book and I cannot recommend it enough.  It really is a good reminder that things were different once…and that it wasn’t that long ago.
  10. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  This is one of my favorite series, and it is so good!  I really liked Tally and Westerfeld did a great job with world-building and coming up with some great characters.

And the ones that almost made the list: Enough books to fill another list!  Stay tuned for round two!

GG 1 x 18: The Third Lorelei

The Third Lorelei originally aired March 22, 2001.  It was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and was directed by Michael Katleman.

Episode 18 Overview: We meet the original Lorelei, who is visiting the Stars Hollow Gilmores.  She offers to set up a trust fund to pay for Rory’s education- which Emily wants to keep to herself.

We open with Friday night dinner, where everyone is quiet.  Emily brings up the discussions the Kennedy family would have at dinner. Richard comes in and tells everyone that his mother is coming to visit, which prompts Emily to freak out.

Emily is in the basement, trying to find everything that Lorelei 1 ever gave to her, so she could put it around the house.  Rory asks about her on the way home, and wants to like her great-grandmother.

At Chilton, Rory is working on a group assignment with Paris, Louise, Madeleine, Tristan and a few other people.  Paris is annoyed that only Rory is taking the assignment seriously, and wants everyone to meet in the classroom on Saturday and Sunday.  Seriously, what kind of school is that that students can come in on the weekend to do their homework?  Shouldn’t they be learning to meet at people’s houses or something?  This is a very strange fictional school.

At the inn, Lorelei gets a call from her mother, who wants her hat rack back.  Meanwhile, Rory and Tristan talk about the kiss.  He says he’ swearing off girls, which makes Rory laugh.  She tells him he’s going out with the wrong girls, and that he should ask out Paris.

Rory and Lorelei go to Friday night dinner, which Lorelei is excited about because she wants to see her grandmother making her mother uncomfortable.  Rory tells her to be nice, but Lorelei just laughs.  Richard calls his mother Trix, and she meets Rory for the first time.  They talk about different things throughout the night, including Rory’s education and how Richard and Emily are paying for it.

Rory brings coffee and donuts to the study group in the morning, and Tristan asks Paris out in the hallway.  Paris comes to Rory for fashion advice, because she doesn’t want to go to Madeleine and Louise.  She is certainly calmer than Madeleine and Louise, but they would probably be better at it than Rory.  Rory loans Paris an outfit from her mom’s closet because Paris doesn’t have a great wardrobe.

There’s another dinner with Lorelei the First, who doesn’t like the idea of Lorelei borrowing money from Richard and Emily so Rory can go to a good school.  She offers to have a trust fund made available to right immediately, so it can be used for school.  Lorelei’s excited, but Emily isn’t, because it means Lorelei will pay back the money, and they’ll never see Rory or Lorelei again because Emily doesn’t have something to hold over Lorelei’s head.  Emily is convinced that Lorelei will lose Rory the way Emily lost Lorelei.  Seriously, Emily and Lorelei have a very different relationship than the one Rory and Lorelei have.  From what we know of Lorelei and Emily’s relationship so far, there’s a good chance Emily was going to lose Lorelei no matter what happened.  Rory is always going to need Lorelei, because they’re best friends.

Lorelei is letting Emily’s comments get to her, so she doesn’t tell Rory away.  She uses Rory being asleep as an excuse, but plans to tell her after a reassuring talk with Sookie.

Emily talks to Richard about how she wants him to ask Trix to take the money back.  She knows Lorelei the First will never like her, but she worries Lorelei won’t come back if she takes the money.

At Chilton, Tristan tells Paris that he sees them as friends and that Rory set them up.  Paris isn’t happy that Rory set them up, because she doesn’t want to be with a guy Rory rejected first.  Then Rory is annoyed with Tristan for telling Paris and thinks it’s because he’s not over summer…when it’s really because he likes her.

At tea, Emily and Lorelei fight about Lorelei not telling Rory right away.  Lorelei the First trusts Rory with the money, but doesn’t trust Emily and Lorelei with it.

The episode ends Rory telling Lorelei that she probably won’t be getting that outfit back, and Lorelei telling Rory about losing out on a lot of money.

Favorite scenes: Friday night dinner, Emily freaking out about Lorelei the 1st coming, Lorelei talking to the dog statues

Pop culture: Kennedy’s and Camelot, Henry VIII, Barbie, Marx Brothers

Final thoughts: I thought this episode was just okay.  We do see the lengths Emily will go to in order to keep Lorelei coming back for Friday night dinner, and we also see a little bit of the tension between Emily and her mother-in-law.  Lorelei and Emily still don’t have the best relationship but you’d think Rory has gotten close enough to her grandparents to still go visit them every once in a while.  Marion Ross is great at Lorelei the First, and I’m glad that she makes a few more appearances over the next few seasons.  It gets 2 mugs of coffee.

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke CoverBook: Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine

Published August 2004|Published by ROC|215 pages|Purchased for my Nook

Series: Yes, Weather Wardens #2

Genre: Adult/Paranormal

Find out more: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Rachel Caine’s Website Summary: Mistaken for a murderer, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is hunted down and killed by her colleagues. Reborn as a Djinn, she senses something sinister entering earth’s atmosphere-something that makes tomorrow’s forecast look deadly.

I’m finding the Weather Warden series so intriguing!  We learn more about the Dijin, and that having a successful transition from human to dijin is very rare.  So rare, that it’s only happened once.  Not only that, she doesn’t realize what David has done in order to keep Joanne around in some way.  I liked seeing her adjust to life as a Dijin, and her struggles with leaving her human life behind.

I really love the concept of the Weather Wardens, and we see more of what they can and cannot do.  I also loved seeing the Dijin and the extent of their abilities…but mostly I loved learning about how they were created.  There was one part of their creation story that I found really interesting, but I think it’s because I’ve read Outcast Season, and I’m curious as to how that will play out in this series.

The characters have developed a little, but they’re mostly the same characters we see in Ill Wind.  I love that her characters are pretty consistent from book to book, while still growing at a natural pace.  I love that Joanne’s bad-ass but loves clothes!  I like that combination.  As for Lewis, I don’t completely get why people seem to be so threatened by him.  Yeah, he’s super-powerful, but he’s been rescued a few times between Ill Wind and Heat Stroke.  But…maybe we’ll see more of why he’s seen as a threat.

I really love how Caine describes the weather, and I admire the research she must have done to make sure everything’s right.  You get a great sense of how powerful and awe-inpsiring weather is, and you really don’t think of weather in the same way.  One of my (very few) complaints is the length of each chapter.  There were around 3 or 4, so each chapter was super long.  I get not wanting to break things up, but shorter chapters…also good.

We also meet a lot of new characters, and we haven’t seen the last of Kevin, Jonathan, and Ashan.  I can’t wait to see what Caine has in store for them, and all of the other characters.

Final thoughts: Heat Stroke was definitely fun to read, and while I really like this series so far, I’m not completely in love with it.  I love the world that Caine has created, and there are some really interesting characters.  It gets 4 stars!

Fade Out

Fade Out CoverBook: Fade Out by Rachel Caine

Published November 2009|Published by Signet Books|191 Pages|Purchased for my Nook

Series: Yes, Morganville Vampires #7

Genre: YA: Paranormal-Vampires

Find out more: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Rachel Caine’s Website Summary: Without the evil vampire Bishop ruling over the town of Morganville, the resident vampires have made major concessions to the human population. With their newfound freedoms, Claire Danvers and her friends are almost starting to feel comfortable again.

Now Claire can actually concentrate on her studies, and her friend Eve joins the local theatre company. But when one of Eve’s castmates goes missing after starting work on a short documentary, Eve suspects the worst. Claire and Eve soon realize that this film project, whose subject is the vampires themselves, is a whole lot bigger and way more dangerous than anyone suspected.

I cannot put this series down!  Things seem normal in Morganville, which doesn’t last very long.  I mean, we are talking about Morganville, after all.  There isn’t a lot of action in Fade Out, but we do see a lot more of Ada, who gets reset and then dies.  I thought Ada was a great character, with how she wanted to destroy Morganville.  I don’t blame her, with how she became the machine that keeps it running.  You can’t help but wonder how Morganville is going to change with Ada being down and Claire and Myrnin needing to find a new way to keep things going.

I didn’t like Kim, and while her idea of exposing Morganville was kind of brilliant, I half expected her to try to break up Shane and Claire, which would not be cool.  At all.  I wasn’t surprised that Michael had to make a choice between the vampires and Claire, Eve, and Shane.  I’m also not surprised that Eve is finally dealing with Michael as a vampire and that he’s different now.

We also see Amelie mourning over Sam, and not being on top of things as the founder of Morganville…until Oliver suggests that he act as regent while she deals with her grief.  This, of course, snaps Amelie out of her grieving, because she doesn’t want to hand things over to Oliver.  We do get a little more of their background, and their relationship.

The humans in Morganville have a lot more rights, which is nice.  And Shane, Eve and Claire having Neutral status in Morganville (which is very rare, as less than 10 people have had Neutral status) was something I wasn’t expecting.  I’m not completely sure why Amelie would change Claire’s status to Neutral, and it makes me feel like she has something in store for Claire.

Final thoughts: I love how consistent this series is- Caine keeps building on each book, and things flow so naturally.  It’s not one of my favorite books, but it does feel like the turning point in the series.  Things are definitely changing in Morganville, and Caine does a great job at keeping you interested while wrapping up loose ends and bringing in new mysteries.  It gets 4 stars.

Your Scandalous Ways

Your Scandalous Ways CoverBook: Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase

Published January 2008|Published by Harper Collins|239 pages|Purchased for my Nook

Series? Yes, Fallen Women #1

Genre: Adult/Historical Romance

Check it out at: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Loretta Chase’s Website Summary: James Cordier is all blue blood and entirely dangerous. He’s a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first-class lover–all for King and Country–and, by gad, he’s “so” weary of it. His last mission is to “acquire” a packet of incriminating letters from one notorious woman. Then he can return to London and meet sweet-natured heiresses–not adventuresses and fallen women.

Francesca Bonnard has weathered heartbreak, scorn, and scandal. She’s independent, happy, and “definitely” fallen; and she’s learned that “gentlemen” are more trouble than they’re worth. She can also see that her wildly attractive new neighbor is bad news.

But as bad as James is, there are others far worse also searching for Francesca’s letters. And suddenly nothing is simple–especially the nearly incendiary chemistry between the two most jaded, sinful souls in Europe. And just as suddenly, risking everything may be worth the prize.

I am slowly becoming a fan of Loretta Chase.  Your Scandalous ways was so fun to read!

I have to say, Francesca was hilarious, and she was a lot more witty than I expected.  I LOVED Francesca and James together, and they really are well-matched.  I thought Venice was a great setting for the book, and it made it seem fun and exotic- and you got a great sense of what Venice was like during the 1800’s.  Plus, I loved the random historical references throughout the novel.  She does a great job at weaving in history and Italian.

What’s interesting about Francesca and James is that were okay on their own, but great when they were together.  Seriously, it’s a shame that they couldn’t be together in every single scene.

I wasn’t expecting so much action, and there’s a lot more going on than just romance.  There’s quite a bit of intrigue, and quite a bit of adventure.  I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the characters were fun to read and all had their own personalities.  Like, I love that Francesca becomes a well-paid courtesan in Venice after getting divorced.  And she completely owns that, which is also pretty cool.  And James as a spy sent to get letters from Francesca but getting distracted by her beauty?  Certainly interesting, but also very predictable.

Final thoughts: I’m just annoyed that it took me so long to read it, because it really was fun to read.  I definitely need to read more Loretta Chase, and more romance in general.  Your Scandalous Ways gets 5 stars- I couldn’t help but love it.

Ill Wind

Ill Wind CoverBook: Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

Published December 2003|Published by Penguin Group|352 pages|Purchased for my Nook

Part of a series? Yes, Weather Wardens #1

Genre: Adult: Paranormal/Fantasy

Find out more at: Goodreads|Barnes And Noble|Amazon|Rachel Caine’s Website Summary: First in the new Weather Warden series… 

Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now, she’s trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So, she’s resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life… 

Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful warden known. Unfortunately, he’s stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn-making him the most wanted man on earth. Still, she’s racing hard to find him-before the bad weather closes in fast…

I am such a big Rachel Caine fan, and after reading most of the Outcast Season series, I knew I had to read Ill Wind, the first book in her Weather Warden series.  I really liked it, and it’s a series I’m really looking forward to reading.

I love the idea of a secret agency that helps out Mother Earth by making the weather not so bad, and having mad skills with the elements.  I love the idea of weather wardens, and the idea that the weather (mostly storms) would be a lot worse without them to guide the weather.  I also love what she did with the dijinn and their connection to the wardens.  They definitely have a life of their own, and the dijinns in Ill Wind (and Outcast season) are definitely interesting.

Some of the descriptions of the weather went over my head, but it definitely made Ill Wind really interesting, and it really added to the book.  I also liked the flashbacks, because we got to see how Joanne became a Weather Warden and her relationships with some of the other wardens.  I also liked seeing them because we learn about why she’s on the run and in the situation she’s in.  We do start off right in the middle of things, which was great things got going really fast.

I wasn’t expecting that ending, but Caine is great at writing endings I don’t expect.  I liked the characters, and there’s definitely a lot of potential for the characters.  I really loved all the relationships between the characters, and how connected the wardens seem to be.  The world was pretty familiar because of the Outcast Season series, so it’s nice to get the background for that series.

As much as I love Rachel Caine, Ill Wind wasn’t quite up to the standard she set with Outcast Season and Morganville Vampires.  But I think it’ll get better as the series progresses.  I really did enjoy it, and it was a fun read.

Final thoughts: I loved what Caine did with the weather and all the mythology and magic surrounding the magic and structure of the Wardens.  I enjoyed it- not as much as the Morganville Vampires and Outcast Season- but it was a fun, easy, quick read. It gets 4 stars.