Heart of the Dragon - Gena Showalter

Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book

Searching for her missing brother, Grace Carlyle never dreamed she would discover a secret world populated by mythological monsters - or find herself facing a sword-wielding being whos looks put mortal men to shame.

But there he was, Darius en Kragin, one of a race of shape-shifting warriors bound to guard the gates of Atlantis, and kill all travelers who strayed within its borders.

Now Grace's life was in his hands, and Darius had to choose between his centuries-old vow and the woman who had slipped beneath his defenses and stolen the heart of Atlantis's fiercest dragon.
...source, back over of book...

I was slightly disappointed with this book. I'm really not sure why that is. I love The Lords of the Underworld series, and perhaps I'm still caught up in that series that I'm having a hard time getting into this one? But really, the entire story seemed a little weak. I just can't put my finger on why. There was everything a romance lover AND a paranormal lover would want. Dark, big, bad, beautiful. It bothered me that Darius just kept jumping back and forth - "she will be mine,"..."I can't do this..." But I think the worst part was all this build up, all this getting ready for battle - and the battle itself was not that great in detail or dramatic, but then when he rescues Grace, it just seems to end abruptly. And somehow Darius has jumped from "NO HUMAN can pass through the mist..." to "hey, it's all cool...bring your entire family! Got any friends for my brothers here?" Yeah, it just was too abrupt and too much.

This is not my favorite Gena Showalter book, but I don't want to be all down and out and hard on her. She's putting out multiple books a year - many of which I like. And it is more than I can say for some of my other favorite authors ...cough couch - Stephenie Meyer, Karen Marie Moning - cough-cough.... I have the other books of the Atlantis series, I'll be picking up another one shortly...and I'm sure you all will hear about it!


Dark Lover - J. R. Ward

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book

The only purebread vampire left on the planet. Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed - orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead...

Racked by a restlesness in her body that wasn't there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both...

Dark Lover was a very good start to a series. It not only introduced the main characters, Wrath and Beth, but also many other key characters (I'm assuming) for the entire series. While it is not the greatest book I've ever read, this book was amusing and hit the "vampire spot" in my heart. I have plans on picking up additional Brotherhood books soon.

Some high points would be the detail to the connection between Beth and Wrath. It is undeniable, if not maybe a little rushed in the book - but the two are perfect for each other. I like how Beth is not afraid to stand up to Wrath, despite his status or size. Some low points - the name of all the vampires, just names of darkness or evil - and some with trendy spellings. I found it a bit silly, but easy to overlook for sake of getting into the story.


I Am Not Joey Pigza - Jack Gantos

I am not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos
Genre: Fiction
Form: Audio Book

Just when Joey Pigza’s wired world finally seems to be under control, his good-for-nothing dad pops back into his life. This time, though, Carter Pigza is a new man – literally. After a lucky lotto win, Carter Pigza has a crazy new outlook on life, and he’s even changed his name to Charles Heinz. He thinks Joey and his mom should become new people, too. Soon Joey finds himself bombarded with changes: a new name, a new home, and a new family business – running the beat-up Beehive Diner. He knows he should forgive his dad as his mom wants him to, and get with the new family program. But Joey is afraid that in changing names and going with the flow he will lose sight of who he really is.

In this rocket-paced new chapter in Joey Pigza’s life, a favorite hero discovers what identity and forgiveness really mean, and how to cook a delicious turkey burger.

I am not Joey Pigza was a pretty good book, and actually one that I can relate to when it came to his father. He was so accustom to his dad walking in and out of his life that he just expected it making it hard to trust him upon his return. When his dad takes on a new name, a new personality and a new life, Joey begins to open up and let him back in.

This book takes you on a fun loopy story through the mind of a young boy throughout some major changes in his life. It's a book about self discovery, trust, and forgiveness. While the father left me with a sour taste in my mouth pretty much the entire time (with good reason), Joey gave me a sweet happy feeling. He learned, just as I did, that it's better to love and forgive than to be angry and mistrusting towards your father. He also learned a lesson I'm not so sure his mother learned, that happiness is not money and doing whatever you want whenever you want to do it. It's about being complete and confident in yourself and choosing to your family regardless of their faults.


Back to the Bedroom - Janet Evanoch

Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Romance
Form: Audio Book

Professional cellist Kate Finn and her next-door neighbor, lottery winner David Dodd, meet cute when the camera pod from a helicopter drops from the sky, making a large hole in Kate's roof, smashing her (thankfully empty) bed, and ruining her brand-new and extremely expensive goose-down quilt. This comic contemporary romance, set in a high-rent Washington, D. C., neighborhood, was written by the author of the bestselling Stephanie Plum mystery series and coauthor of the Full romantic suspense series.

Back to the Bedroom was a wonderful book to listen to. I have never laughed so hard at a book in my life. The scenes, circumstances, everything was just perfect (or perfectly set up for disaster) from beginning to end. I enjoyed the story very much. Kate and Dave’s relationship is perfect, and beautiful. Dave is what every women would want out of a man; understanding, patient, funny, smart, romantic. This is setting aside the fact that he is filthy stinkin rich! I don’t know what else to say about this book. I can’t help but sing it’s praise. It’s just a simple, lovely, hilarious story.

I suggest the audio book version, the reader is wonderful, and I suspect made half of it for me, although I’m sure the book was funny without her as well. The character interaction is exactly what I crave in every book I have. You have perfect description of every scene without long wordy descriptive paragraphs. You got to know the characters, the neighborhood, the circumstances – and it was short, sweet and to the point. My favorite scene was dinner with Kate’s parents, and single hilarious thing that happened throughout that dinner. I’m sure my co-workers were peering over their cubes at me. I loved it, and will most certainly be seeking out more Janet Evanovich books in the future!

Sunshine - Robin McKinley

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Form: Book

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk Sunshine knew that. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while.

Unfortunately, she wasn't alone. She nver heard them coming. Of course you don't when they're vampires.

They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion - within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight.

She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she's to be his dinner, and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day...
Sunshine for me was one of those intriguing books that was also hard to read. Robin McKinley's style has her describing things in a LOT of detail. I mean, everything is very well laid out. You get a description of everything little background detail of everything. It was almost more than I could take. But the relationship between Sunshine and Con was interesting enough I continued to press forward. I actually probably missed some details because I would get lost in all the stuff, or find myself wanting to find dialogue again. I like interaction between characters - this book lacked that.

Outside of that, Robin McKinley really is a very good story teller. I found myself wanting more and less at the same time. In the end I really wanted more, but she did allow you to have an imagination and figure out the ending you would want in stead.

I actually stumbled upon this book in a trade at Swaptree (which if you haven't checked it out yet, you should!). The book wasn't on my want list, but someone offered up in trade for something of mine, and after reading the description I thought it was worth the chance. I am happy I got it.


To Tame a Highlander Warrior - Karen Marie Moning

To Tame a Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Romance
Form: Audio Book

A Woman's Tender Touch

He was born to a clan of warriors of supernatural strength, but Gavrael McIllioch abandoned his name and his Highland castle, determined to escape the dark fate of his ancestors. Hiding his identity from the relentless rival clan that hunted him, he called himself Grimm to protect the people he cared for, vowing never to acknowledge his love for ravishing Jillian St. Clair. Yet even from afar he watched over her, and when her father sent an urgent summons, "Come for Jillian," he raced to her side - into a competition to win her hand in marriage.

A Warrior's Steely Heart

Why had he run from her so many years before? And why return now to see her offered as a prize in her father's manipulative game? Furious, Jillian vowed never to wed. But Grimm was the man she loved, the one who urged her to marry another. He tried to pretend indifference as she tempted him, but he could not deny the fierce desires that compelled him to abduct her from the altar. She was the only woman who could tame the beast that raged within him - even as deadly enemies plotted to destroy them both....

To Tame a Highland Warrior was another good one from Karen Marie Moning. While I think it might actually be my least favorite of the entire series, it still offered the entertainment and general “goodness” I tend to expect from her. I did like the reversal of roles in this book which is different from every other Highlander book, where it is the female lead, Jillian, who must convince the Highlander, Grimm or Gavrael, to love her as he should. He does love her, but he’s so bent on who he is and his genetic inheritance – which his 14 year old self has somewhat botched up – that he cannot bring himself to allow him self to marry her.

This book was written before The Dark Highlander, but I think the male perspectives are similar. Both struggle with what they are which holds them back from loving their women as they should. The Dark Highlander is a much better rendition – just showing how KMM’s writing just gets better with each progressive book. The darkness that possessed Degas was much more alarming and sensual than the warrior hidden within Grimm.

I don’t really have a favorite part of this book. I guess perhaps maybe the fight and “make up” in the dining room, but really nothing really sticks out in particular as being the best part. I will say that the scene where Jillian is almost forced to marry Quinn and Grimm bursts through the door riding his horse, and leaves with Jillian, it just seemed like a stereo typical “romance novel cover” feel to it, and not something I’ve come to expect from KMM. I was sort of giggling at the cheesiness of the whole thing.

Two more books and I’ll have completed the Highlander series. Won’t you be so thrilled not to have read about them anymore?


Confessions of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Genre - Fiction
Form: Audio Book

Becky has a fabulous flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is that she can't actually afford it—not any of it.

Her job writing at Successful Savings not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. And lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from the bank—letters with large red sums she can't bear to read—and they're getting ever harder to ignore.

She tries cutting back. But none of her efforts succeeds. Becky's only consolation is to buy herself something ... just a little something....

Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.
Shopaholic was a fun book to listen to. The book was read by Emily Gray, and she did a wonderful job. I loved listening to her accent, and her expression while reading this book. I swear, it MADE the book for me!

I really enjoyed the letters at the beginning of the chapters from the banks, credit card companies. I found it humorous and true-to-life that while she was receiving debt and overdraft notifications she's also receiving notifications of "double points" opportunities and loan offers. While done in a humorous light, it really does show why and how people accumulate so much debt in these days, and also sheds some light as to why the economy (in America, can't speak for anywhere else) is declining at such a rapid rate. We live in a day and age where we believe we are entitled to everything we want, without paying no mind to how much it cost or how we go about getting it.

Becky has so many antics for getting past her bills, for finding ways to get out of debt - including everyone's dream; winning the lottery. Her materialism is funny and annoying at the same time; e.g. HOW MUCH FACE CREAM DOES ONE NEED?? Or cappuccino for that matter. I loved it when she got a part-time job at a boutique and then tried to hide a clearance item from a customer. The only complaint I have is about the whole thing is the happily-ever-after. Becky does not seem to truly learn from her mistakes, she just lands herself some additional freelance work that she does use to pay off her debt, but also enables her to continue shopping as she always does. It's a fun "dream come true" ending, but I sort of feel that, with the popularity of the book, more good might have been done if she got the guy (which she did) AND was beginning to learn to budget the money she already had. We all can't be so awesome that we land multiple jobs and start earning six figures in one day. Life just isn't that good.

But then again...I don't read books for real life. I read them for the fun. So strike that. The book was great! I'm excited about getting to see the movie, which I think can be just as good or possibly better than the book. There are not many books that I will say that about, but this is completely doable. This book can be done without missing any details quite easily. And watching the antics on screen will make it that much better. I'm hoping maybe I can convince y hubby to take me to see it for Valentines Day!


The Immortal Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Fantasy Romance
Form: Audio Book

With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam's only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

Enter law student Gabrielle O'Callaghan. For Gabrielle, cursed with the ability to see both worlds, Mortal and Faery, it is the beginning of a long, dangerous seduction. But as Adam's quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both Mortal and Faery realms...and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love...

The Immortal Highlander, as I thought it would be, was the my favorite book of the Highlander series. I still have 2 more I haven’t gotten through, but it’s going to be very hard to top this one as I have a bit of a thing for Faeries, and would love more books about them. Adam Black as the super sexy fae/human was wonderful. You learned so much about him in this book that you didn’t even get a glimpse at in the other books he was in. In The Dark Highlander you did get a touch of his human compassion, at which I was actually surprised at given his behavior in Beyond the Highland Midst. Here we learned a little bit more about his compassion, the extent of it as well as perhaps why for a time he lacked that compassion as well. For me it was heart wrenching.
Gabrielle was not my very favorite female lead, but she wasn’t bad at all. I like that I learned more about the concept of being a Sidhe Seer, the term I’d only first learned about in Dark Fever. She wasn’t really witty or feisty as some of Karen’s previous leads. In fact, I thought her character lacked some depth this time, although it didn’t really detract from the book. Hearing (the narrator for the Highlander books is excellent!) Adam Black say Gabrielle’s name was melting, and that was enough to make up for it. Gabrielle’s best scene actually was when she was telling the maids at Castle Keltar how awful Adam was as a lover. That was quite humorous.
Adam starts off the book as seriously arrogant, which was not very endearing really. I didn’t like he felt he had to “buy” Gabrielle’s trust and affection with gifts either. Watching his seduction change over to courting was great. The best part was when he realized that he thought he had been communicating his feelings to Gabrielle, but really was just confusing her. An age old mistake made my many a man, but he certainly made up for it wit his sacrifice I’d say.
A few of my favorite scenes include the train ride; just picturing Gabrielle sprawled against Adam in the train so intimately yet also innocently. Then when she tried to move away from him, my mind’s eye watching Adam try and keep hold of her as she realized she was in a different dimension and someone was sitting IN her. I just imagined him following her up to a sitting position, watching her with his deep eyes trying not to break physical contact, and keeping his head within a few inches of hers…– it was scorchingly sexy! Every time Adam says “You aren’t falling for me, are you Irish?” equally sexy. But the absolute best, made my heart pound out of my chest, part was when Adam recited the Scottish binding vows to Gabrielle. Once again, the narrator is the one who made that scene, but when his voice broke over the word “soul” I just smiled ear-to-ear. It was breathtaking to say the least!
The only complaint I have about Highlanders…..the hair. I do not like men with waist long hair. Maybe it’s just me, but in my altered version of the men, they usually have shorter hair that is wild long enough to run your hands through and even grab fistfuls, but nothing past the shoulders, or even past the ears really. I’ll never get the long haired hero of many a romance novel…what’s the deal? What’s the drawl? Muscles, yeah sure….but long hair???


Spell of the Highlander - Karen Marie Moning

Spell of the Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning
Fantasy Romance
Form: Audiobook

Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the silvery glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male.

Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, eleven centuries ago Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass, one of four coveted Unseelie Hallows, objects of unspeakable power. When the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it, destroying everything in his path–including the one woman who may just hold the key to breaking the ninth-century Highlander’s dark spell. For Jessi, the muscle-bound sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he’s offering his protection–from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants inexchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed.

Yet even as Cian’s insatiable hunger begins to work its dark magic on Jessi, his ancient enemy is about to obtain the final and most dangerous of the Unseelie Hallows–and the ninth-century Highlander must stop him from getting it. Nothing less than the very fabric of the universe and two passionately entwined lives are at stake–as Cian and Jessi fight to claim the kind of love that comes along but once in an ice age. . . .
I'm wondering if it's about this time that Karen Marie Moning started thinking about her Fever series, as everything is coming together in this book to cause a series collision in the making. I enjoyed a little more Fae background in this book than what I got in the last few as well. It was so exciting for me that I've decided to get the 3 current Fever books on audio book so I can go through them again. I wonder how much more I'll catch because of my new background information. I love it when author's intertwine stories. The best I've ever seen is how Stephenie Meyer made the Twilight series several layers in story thick. I think I find more layers and something new everytime I re-read or listen to them.

Cian and Jessi's story is a great one. I relate to Jessi very much. She's not the kick-butt girl that Chloe was, but she does have some confidence in herself as well. She didn't fight her relationship with Cian as much either. I liked that she gave in bit by bit, as opposed to being mean and distant in parts, she never really had an attitude that I've seen the past Highlander girls have. So, she seemed even more real. (This is not to say that I don't like a feisty girl who likes to kick butt, or at least defend herself. I liked Chloe for that reason, and I really like Mackalya in the Fever series because she kids major butt...but I do like real characters too.) Cian possessed the darkness in him that I find that I enjoy, but was still very "good." I'm not exactly sure that Karen Marie Moning intended this, but most of the time I just saw him as a misguided man. He inherited a household and responsibility when he was born, as his dad died before his birth. He had to make decisions as the head of house at a very early age, so naturally power and magic was very intriguing to him. I don't think he ever meant to cross over to the dark-side - he just didn't really know better until it was too late.

I also enjoyed the humor that Karen had in this book. I like it when characters tease, or when they just do something that is just plain laugh out loud funny. I think one of the better scenes is when Cian and Jess is having some make up sex, and Gwen is trying to convince everyone NOT to go into the hall. Very funny stuff.

For a series that I felt started off rather weak, the Highlander series has really been great. I have enjoyed the stories, and find that they are easy to read as individual books, out of order (which is what I've done), as opposed to being one big long story told throughout several different books. These series have been driving me nuts lately, because I want to know the end of the story, not be left hanging (cough...cough..HUNGER GAMES...cough...cough). But it's also a series where you get an underlying full story as well. Karen is a very good author. She knows how to put together a story that will keep you going - especially if you are into a.) romance, or b.) fantasy fiction.

I finally got The Immortal Highlander and I am SOO looking forward to reading Adam Black's story. I've been intrigued since I read the teaser a month ago.