Book Minx

Sometimes the books I read/review are classics and sometimes they're so sweet they'll rot your teeth out. Basically, I read anything from critically acclaimed fiction to trashy romances. You've been warned.

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Kindan no koi de ikou #8 - Tomu Ohmi

I'm reliving my high school years and getting drawn back into Manga. However, the women in these things usually annoy the crap out of me.

 

Does anyone have any recommendations of a completed manga series with a strong female lead? (Aside from Sailor Moon)

Anyone else want a story focused on Keir or it just me?

Angels' Flight (Guild Hunter, #0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 3.5) - Nalini Singh

This anthology consists of four short stories set in Singh's Guild Hunter universe. I skipped Angel's Judgment since I had already read it in Must Love Hellhounds.

Angel's Wolf: 3.5

Nimra, the angel of Louisiana, discovers that she may have a traitor in her court after a cats dies from drinking an iced tea originally meant for her. Noel, the vampire who was tortured in Archangel's Blade, is sent to help her uncover the would-be murderer. Noel is still pretty screwed up from a brutal torture and is under the assumption that he's being sent down to Louisiana because he's broken. So, when he arrives at Nimra's court he's not the most pleasant person to be around.

 

Noel was a pretty fascinating character and I loved watching him work through his issues. However, his relationship with Nimra didn't work well for me. I had a hard time believing the attraction between them. It didn't help that I found Nimra a little boring. She was a little too much of a sad-sack for me to get into her character. I felt for what she went through and how the years have started to catch up with her, but I got tired of her constant depression. Even though it was refreshing to see a female angel in a position of power who wasn't bat-shit crazy. All in all, this was good short story but I wouldn't be in any rush to re-read it.

Angel's Pawn: 4

I think this was the shortest story in the anthology, but it was also one of the best. However, it doesn't have the traditional HEA the others do, but hopefully that just means that we'll eventually get a full book for Ashwini and Janvier.

If you've been reading the series, you'll recognize the characters Ashwini and Janvier since their odd relationship tends to occasionally get mentioned. Janvier is a Cajun vampire who drives Ashwini crazy by intentionally breaking his contracts, so she's forced to hunt him down in the swamps. Then, just to piss her off, he typically turns himself in to the angel he offended after leading her on a merry chase.

 

As the story starts in this one, their circumstances have changed a bit. Instead of hunting him down because of a broken contract, Ashwini has come to Janvier to ask for back-up in dealing with an angel who has specifically requested her help. This was a really great introduction to the characters and their relationship, but I wanted more... in a good way. Ashwini has some pretty powerful psychic abilities and the implications of that power was pretty intriguing. My only complaint is that Ashwini reminded me a little too much of Elena, both with the hints of her past and her attitude. So hopefully, if these two do eventually get their own book, Ms. Singh makes some strives to differentiate the two characters.

Angel's Dance: 4.5

This one follows the two angels, Jessamy & Galen. Jessamy has never been able to fly under her own power due to a deformed wing. Because of this, she has never left Refuge (basically a sanctuary for angels). She has also given up the hope of finding a mate, since most of the angels around her were once kids she taught. That is until Galen appears and immediately sets his sights on her.

Angel's Dance was the best story in this anthology, which, in part, might be because it had the most page time. (Banking a little over 100 pages.) So both Jessamy and Galen were able to be fleshed out and their romance had more time to evolve. However, I think most of my enjoyment came from seeing a relationship centered around two angels, which is a first for Singh.

 

I loved how even the dynamics in their relationship was since they were both on the same footing. This also let us see a softer view of the angel culture since there was no power plays or moral conflicts between a human and angel pairing going on. Instead, the majority of the conflict here centered on Jessamy's reluctance to get into a relationship with Galen, as she believed that due to her "deformity" she would hold him back. So this was a nice slow-burning romance.

 

Side note: This one left me really wanting to see Keir, the angelic healer, get his own story.

Retired Sherlock Holmes characterization done right.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2) - Laurie R. King

Technically, this is the second Mary Russell book, but it's the one I began the series with. I started with this book because the mystery involving a church run entirely by women really interested me. Plus, I had been told that King does a great job of incorporating women's history into her story-lines. This really intrigued me, as I was curious to see what aspects of the 1920's era King would incorporate into the narrative.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women begins with Mary about to turn 21, an age she has been eager to reach, as it means assuming full control over her inheritance. In addition to her birthday, Mary is also close to receiving her degree in theology from Oxford. So, when a friend from the university joins a church run exclusively by women Mary is fascinated. Agreeing to attend one of the sermons, Mary acts as a skeptical observer watching Margery Childe, the leader of the church. Mary quickly finds herself talked into returning to the church on a regular basis in order to teach Margery another language. During these lessons, Mary begins to notice some odd occurrences. Slowly, the deaths of several church members (written off as accidents) begin to surface, along with strange reports of Margery miraculously healing herself from extensive injuries. All of which leads Mary to investigating the church and it's leader.

Mary was pretty kick-ass in this one. She spends a lot of the book working by herself on the case with Sherlock Holmes only popping in and out of the narrative until close to the end. This is largely due to the fight they have near the beginning of the novel, but also because both Mary and Holmes are at an odd moment in their relationship and neither seem to know what to do about it. I loved Mary's internal struggle around Holmes. It really fit her character to be so up in the air concerning the potential shift in the dynamics of their relationship. Holmes' own realization that Mary is seeing him differently is pretty on-key as well. Aside from all this, Mary also goes through a pretty traumatizing experience that really allows the strength of her character to shine. I was pretty impressed with how King used that experience to incorporate one of Holmes demons into the narrative without making it feel contrived or forced.

My only problem with the book came from how, at times, it lagged. Mostly, this was when the theological discussions would get a little too dense for me, but things generally picked back up quick. Really, this was just an awesome read. Highly recommended.

Hell Hound investigates a murder in a blizzard

Frostbound - Sharon Ashwood

Vampire, Talia comes home one evening to find her cousin dead on the living room floor. The police have a bad reputation of seeing a vampire near any murder scene and immediately deciding they're guilty. Talia knows, that despite her innocence, the police will look no further than her fangs and she immediately decides to run. Before she can make it out of the apartment building, she's intercepted by the hell-hound called Lore. Lore also knows that, if caught, Talia won't get a fair trial, but he's not entirely convinced of her innocence. Until he's positive she didn't do it, Lore decides to keep Talia locked up in his own improvised prison. Eventually, they both have to work together to find out who is killing supernatural beings.

Honestly, Frostbound was a good time. I've mentioned before that I hate captive heroine stories, but it was done pretty well here. Talia wasn't kept locked up for long and Lore caught a lot of shit from both her and his friends for doing it in the first place.


There were basically two things that really made this book for me. The first was the blizzard/winter setting. I love winter settings. I also really enjoyed the hell-hound mythology that went into the book. You don't see it done very often and I have to say the hell-hounds here were pretty kick-ass.

 

My only issue was that there wasn't a lot of world building, which made certain areas of the story confusing, as I hadn't read any of the other novels in the series. However, I think Frostbound still stood well on its own.

Fans of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series and Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series will probably find something to love in this book.

Fate's Edge

Fate's Edge -  Ilona Andrews

Kaldar is sent on a mission by the Edge's version of the FBI to retrieve a magical weapon that was stolen. His search leads him to ex-conman Audrey Callahan, who he promptly blackmails/guilt's into helping him.

 

I have a thing for thief heroes, so I really adored Kaldar. My only problem with Fates Edge was the inclusion of the children, George and Jack. While they weren't annoying, I just got bored when POV would switch to them and whatever they were doing. I also would've liked more relationship development between Kaldar and Audrey, as it seemed that Audrey's decision to be with Kaldar sprang up suddenly towards the end. Other than that, this was a really fun romp.

A reincarnation story I actually loved!

Archangel's Blade - Nalini Singh

Guild member, Honor, had been held captive by vampires for months before she was saved. Her captivity has left scars on both her body and mind. Because of this, she feels nowhere near ready to go out into the world, let alone work with vampires to uncover a killer. Unfortunately, Honor is given little choice in the matter when the archangel Raphael's tower calls demanding an expert who can identify some odd markings. Soon, she finds herself facing Dmitri, one of the oldest and most dangerous vampires in New York.

Well known for being brutal and cold-hearted, Dmitri is a far cry from the man he used to be. Lately though, Dmitri has been finding it harder to bury the painful memories from his past. This doesn’t get easier when Honor shows up in his office. Her scars and behavior, remind Dmitri too much of what happened to his wife and family. Never having been someone who could tolerate women and children brutalized, Dmitri takes over Honor’s case. Soon, both of them are working together to track down Honor’s abductors, as well as discover who’s behind a rash of murders.

Now this is how an anti-hero book should be. Dmitri has always verged along the lines of being an antagonist in the series. In the first book, he seems fairly intent to kill Elena until Raphael nixes that. But even after that, his main role in the series seem be threatening to kill Elena if she shows any weaknesses. With this in mind, I wasn’t too thrilled to see him get his own book. I was skeptical of Dmitri as the lead because I was afraid it would destroy his character by making him all sunshine and bunnies. Turns out I had nothing to fear. Archangel's Blade stays incredibly true to Dmitri's character, while at the same time making you want to see him get some happiness.

The other reason why I was hesitant about reading this addition to the series is because reincarnation stories are not my thing. However, I really liked the way Singh did it here. She took a subtle approach that you don’t see too often. Throughout the story, you just kind of slowly assumed what Honor was. This was a huge relief, as it avoided the common reincarnation plot of one character trying to prove they are a reincarnation.

All in all, this was a wonderful addition to the series and I can’t wait to read the
next book.

Mean heroine meets tiger shifter who gets turned on by mean women

Here Kitty, Kitty!  - Shelly Laurenston

Shelly Laurenston likes to write her heroines bitchy...and it oddly works for me.

 

Angie is kidnapped by two well-meaning tiger shifters and dropped off at their brother's house. Not knowing that his brothers have just unleashed a violent woman in his house, Nikolai is at first pleased to find the dark haired woman in his bedroom... until she knocks him out with a toilet seat. After finally wrangling her into a closet, Nikolai discovers that his relatives have just kidnapped a close friend of the Magnus pack's alpha female. Trying to make amends for the screw-up, Nikolai agrees to let Angie stay with him until the pack takes care of an issue they're having.

Angie isn't too happy finding herself surrounded by a bunch of tigers, but she twists the situation enough to suit her. The only problem she finds with her current predicament is just how attracted she is to Nikolai. She's never been interested in men except for sex, so the pull she feels towards Nik flat out disturbs her. It doesn't help that Nik feels the same pull or that his two brothers are also interested in Angie. I loved seeing Nik's two brothers constantly hitting on Angie, especially their odd techniques in trying to woo her.

My only problem with Here Kitty Kitty was the odd resolution to Nik and Angie's romance. It wasn't as frustrating as Go Fetch!'s but I felt like it broke the tone of the rest of the book. If you're fan of Laurenston's Pride series you should pick this one up. Otherwise, I think you really have to be in the mood for Laurenston's odd brand of romance and humor.

Ghost with the mentality of a 5 year old haunts annoying great neice

Twenties Girl: A Novel - Sophie Kinsella

Lara is haunted by her great aunt Sadie who insists that Lara help her find a necklace, so she can rest in peace. To save Sadie's body from getting cremated, Lara states that she thinks her great aunt was murdered, which was ridiculous. Lara makes up an extremely ludicrous story about her great aunt being poisoned and is taken down to the police station to be questioned. After this incident, that thread of the story is dropped. Lara never has any repercussions from leading the police on a wild goose chase except for a couple of toss away moments where one of the PI's calls or reappears.

This would have been easier to overlook if Lara wasn't such a twit for the rest of the book. She's freakishly obsessed with her ex-boyfriend and she's so wishy-washy about her own business that I want to shake some sense into her. Then there's Sadie who is constantly screeching in her ear about a necklace to the point that I was hoping the cops would come and arrest Lara to put her out of her misery.

I think Lara was supposed to be a Bridget Jones type character, but she lacks the charm and wit that Jones had. Lara's screw-ups and embarrassing moments are supposed to be funny, but all they achieved was to make me squirm. The only highlight to the novel was when Sadie stopped acting like a spoiled 5 year old. Once Sadie stopped yelling that things are "MINE!" and screeching about things, she was an interesting character. In fact, it got to the point where I started wishing that the two characters would swap places. I much rather have read about Sadie falling in love, getting a career, and making her life work rather than Lara who just coasted through everything.

Eternal Hunter

Eternal Hunter - Cynthia Eden

District attorney, Erin Jerome, has a stalker leaving her dead corpses as tokens of affection. After her admirer breaks into her house and writes a bloody message on the wall, Erin decides to hire bounty hunter, Jude Donovan, as protection. Jude knows that Erin is a shifter like him, even though she tries everything in her power to hide it. Being a bit of an opportunist, Jude takes the constant close contact as bodyguard to find out what exactly Erin is and to explore his attraction to her.

This was an okay read. Jude's constant saving of Erin got on my nerves, but otherwise the story was alright. I enjoyed the creepy tones of the stalker constantly watching Erin and the revelation of who that stalker is. However, I doubt I'll be picking up any other novels by Eden.

The Mane Attraction  - Shelly Laurenston

Wolf-shifter Sissy Mae Smith and lion-shifter Mitch Shaw have been close friends for quite some time. So when Mitch is shot, Sissy volunteers to help hide him from his would-be killers. Only problem is that this consists of holing up in middle-of-nowhere Tennessee with Sissy's extended family, who is none too happy about her being back in town.

This wasn't my favorite from Laurenston, but it wasn't bad. Watching Mitch and Sissy circle each other was highly entertaining, but I never completely felt the attraction between them. This is probably because I don't care for the way Laurenston writes her lion shifters. Nine times out of ten I just want to strangle them. However, I have to say that Mitch was much more enjoyable than Mace and Brendan were in The Mane Event. I would recommend this to people who have read and enjoyed other works by Laurenston, but wouldn't advise someone to start reading the series with this one.

What I Did for Love

What I Did for Love: A Novel - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

SEP's books are usually a hit or a miss for me. What I Did for Love is the first one of hers that landed somewhere in between. The story surrounding the main characters in was interesting, as were some of the side characters, but what almost killed the story for me were the hero and heroine.

 

Georgie would have been an okay heroine if she wasn't paired up with such an ass. It was interesting to watch her slowly take control of her life and transform from a doormat into a person who stands up for herself. But it was painful to watch this transformation because the hero, Bram, was such an awful person.

Bram was horrible to Georgie when they worked with each other on a popular sitcom called "Skip and Scooter". Then when he pops back into her life, with plans to use her to clean up his image, he is once again just an awful person. The only difference is that this time Georgie isn't a 15 year old girl with rose tinted glasses. She knows he's an ass when she agrees to maintain a fake marriage with him, but we see her slowly start to fall for him anyway.

 

As Georgie slowly starts to change her life, we see Bram maneuvering his way to a huge break for his career that will put him back on the map. While there are a couple of moments that hint at Bram developing feelings for Georgie, he is just such an incorrigible ass that when he does figure it out, you wish Georgie would find someone else. Bram doesn't even go through all that much to make-up for the way he's acted.

Like I said, the story was interesting in a kind of train-wreck way. And I liked the premise of it. But Bram really just killed this book for me.

 

Side Note: What I Did for Love must have been written during all the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston drama because hints of that are written all over the characters in this one.

Within the Flames

Within the Flames - Marjorie M. Liu

When she was twelve, Lyssa watched as her parents were murdered for their powers. Feared and cast out of the shapeshifter community because of her mother’s heritage, Lyssa has no one to turn to. In order to survive, she has been living on the streets, hiding her erratic powers, and avoiding others. However, the murder of the one person who knew what Lyssa was leads her parents’ killer straight to her. It also sends Dirk and Steele pyrokinetic, Eddie, her way.

Eddie has always had trouble controlling his powers and his most recent flameout was caused by news that his sister’s killer had been released from jail for good behavior. He wants nothing more than to hunt down her murderer, but finds himself assigned the task of protecting Lyssa. Working with the gargoyle, Lannes, he discovers that Lyssa is not the helpless little lamb they had been led to believe. Instead, he finds himself faced with a woman who everyone, Lannes included, seems to instinctively fear and hate. Soon enough, Eddie finds he's the only one willing to help Lyssa take down her parents’ killer.

Eddie has been a reoccurring character in the series since the very first book, so I was pretty thrilled to see him get his own story. He hasn’t had it very easy, with his powers constantly flaring up and almost killing him. He also didn’t have a very great childhood, growing up with an abusive step-father and then living on the streets for a little while. What I loved about this, though, was how his past experiences made it easier for him to understand where Lyssa was coming from. He was understanding of her predicament, but also knew when to push at the walls she put up around herself.

Lyssa was another of Liu’s great heroines, but I think she was also one of the most vulnerable. Don’t misunderstand when I say vulnerable for lacking backbone though. The girl has some serious guts; she just had been on her own for a long time and it shows. So, to have Eddie pop into her life and then refuse to abandon her (even with everyone saying that he should) touches and scares her to death. She’s petrified that he’ll die either by her own hand or by the person who’s hunting her.

One of the things that I really love about this series is how Liu incorporates her side characters. She never makes them flat and when she brings in main characters from past books, it’s always to serve a purpose. She did that in this one with Lannes, the hero from The Wild Road. He was a pretty prominent figure in the story, but he wasn’t exactly the good guy here, which I just loved. He had reasons behind his motivations and seeing how much he feared and hated Lyssa highlighted just how prejudiced the paranormal community is. Because seriously? Lannes is such a sweet character that seeing animosity and distrust from him was pretty shocking.

My only complaint, which really isn’t a complaint but me pouting, is that Koni didn’t make an appearance in this book. I missed the crow shifter. He’s the character that I always look forward to seeing in these books. Since Eddie got his own book I’m hoping and praying that Liu will eventually give Koni his. (Or that she'll even continue this series at all since its been almost 2 years since she wrote a book in this world.)

Don't Mess with Texas

Don't Mess with Texas - Christie Craig

I had high hopes for Don't Mess with Texas. It seemed really cute and I had heard a lot of good things about it, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get into it.

Nicki Hunt needs cash because she's flat broke. If she doesn't get any money soon, then she's going to lose her art gallery. After getting a phone call from her wealthy ex-husband, Nicki goes to dinner with him thinking that maybe she'll be able to overlook his cheating ways for a reunion. However he vanishes in the middle of the meal on a phone call and doesn't return. Fuming, Nicki returns to her car only to find her ex, dead and stuffed in the trunk. Nicki is immediately the prime suspect with only P.I., Dallas O'Connor believing she didn't do it.

Craig has a light writing style that I typically enjoy in contemporary romances. However, a lot of the jokes here seemed like cheap shots; such as a gassy dog and birds pooping on nurses. Dallas also didn't work for me. I think he was supposed to be an angsty character who slowly starts finding some happiness, but this just didn't work with the slap-stick comedy tone of the story. The tone made Dallas seem pouty and a bit of a tool. I did like Nicki though. She was an entertaining character and I loved her relationship with her grandmother. Despite that, I probably won't be picking up another book by Craig in the future.

All I Ever Wanted

All I Ever Wanted - Kristan Higgins

It's always a bad idea to date your boss. No one knows this better than Callie Grey who has just been blind-sided by Mark, her boss and ex-lover, announcing his engagement. Callie has been in love with Mark for years and has always held onto the hope that he would eventually return her feelings. Having that dream crushed in the middle of work and on her 30th birthday is all Callie can take. Fleeing the building, she proceeds to have a very public meltdown in the middle of the DMV. Weeks after her meltdown, things have not gotten better for her. Mark's fiancée has made it her personal goal to torture Callie at work. Ian, the new veterinarian, thinks Callie is stalking him and all the dates she's gone on in an effort to get over Mark have ended in disaster.

All I Ever Wanted was a fun contemporary romance. Callie was annoying though. She seemed too perfect to be believable. (Who goes out of their way to offer homemade scones to their ex-boyfriend's new love bunny?) She was portrayed as mind-boggling sweet and without any character flaws, which didn't make her a very engaging character. After awhile, it just got old seeing Callie able to make everyone into her new BFF. Also, because of how sweet her character was, it made the fights she had with Ian, the hero, seem forced.

Ian was what really made this book enjoyable. What's not to love about a guy who's so shy he hides in his office from a group of little girls? I also loved how the relationship between him and his ex-wife was portrayed. It wasn't full of animosity and the ex-wife wasn't shown as a raging bitch. It was a nice change of pace to see a hero be on good terms with his ex.

Higgins also does a pretty great job of writing pets into the story. The two dogs involved in the plot felt just as much like side characters as Mark and the fiancée did.

I would recommend this to fans of Julie James or Jennifer Cruise.

Bayou Moon

Bayou Moon - Ilona Andrews

Cherise Mar's parents have gone missing which leaves her in charge of the family. In a race to get back home, Cherise runs into the wolf shifter William. William is working undercover to track down a vicious killer called Spider who is searching for something. William has been hired to find whatever Spider is looking for and turn it over to the Mirror. (The Mirror is basically a magical CIA.) William and Cherise's paths intersect more than either first imagined as Spider has set his eyes on something that the Mar family owns.

I really loved Bayou Moon. The atmosphere was excellent and one that I really adore in stories. It felt like hardcore Cajun country bayous. Very swampy, remote, and muddy.

 

Also, Andrews always does a great job writing shifters in her stories. It's nice how she manages to thread specific animal natures into their personalities. (Such as William's distaste for being fenced in by so much water.) As for Cherise, she was pretty bad ass. Intelligent and bit a ruthless, she knew how to take care of herself and those relying on her. I'll definitely be reading the rest of this series.

Demon Bound

Demon Bound - Meljean Brook

Jake is one of the younger guardian angels, who was turned during the Vietnam War. Since he's still fairly young, Jake is a little more enthusiastic than the older guardians. So, he often runs his mouth off and is forced to pay five dollars to a fellow guardian for saying something offensive. In this story, he starts working with the guardian Alice.

 

During her human life, Alice made a bargain with a demon that she would bring him Micheal's heart. Fearful of being forced into fulfilling that bargain, Alice has never gotten close to many of the other guardians. At the beginning of this story, Alice's fears are being realized. The demon has gotten impatient for Alice to finish their deal.

I really adored this entry in the series. Jake's out-going and enthusiastic nature was a great contrast to Alice, a modest introvert.The only reason why Demon Bound isn't getting a full five stars is because the main plot featuring the bargain got a little lost in the middle of the story. Jake and Alice get stuck in hell and, while it was interesting, it was a little jolting getting back to the main plot on Earth. The time spent in Hell was important, but it was just more important to the over-arching plot of the series rather than the one focused on in this particular book. We also got a lot more background on Michael here and I love him even more now. I can't wait to see what Brook does for his book.

Currently reading

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain
Swamplandia!
Karen Russell
Progress: 22/397 pages