Monday, 14 May 2012

Kiss of the Goblin Prince by Shona Husk

Kiss of the Goblin Prince (Shadowlands, #2)Author: Shona Husk
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Release Date: 1 May 2012
Pages: 353 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed by: Lyuba

Sexual Content: 
Surprisingly mild and I loved that. 

3.5 out of 5

Description from Amazon: 

The Man of Her Dreams
He is like a prince in a fairy tale: tall, outrageously handsome, and way too dark for her own good. Amanda has been hurt before, though. And with her daughter's illness, the last thing she needs right now is a man. But the power of Dai King is hard to resist. And when he threads his hands through her hair and pulls her in for a kiss, there is no denying it feels achingly right.
In a Land of Nightmares
After being trapped in the Shadowlands for centuries with the goblin horde a constant threat, Dai revels in his newfound freedom back in the human realm. But even with the centuries of magic he's accumulated, he still doesn't know how to heal Amanda's daughter—and it breaks his heart. Yet for the woman he loves, he'd risk anything...including a retun to the Shadowlands.

I've read The Goblin King some time ago and absolutely loved it, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of the second book in the series. After reading Kiss of the Goblin Prince I am left with somewhat mixed feelings about it.

On one side Dai was my favorite even in the first book (ok I have a thing for hot nerds, and he is the ULTIMATE nerd), but on the other his endless pity party was just annoying. There wasn't much story in the Goblin Prince, but more like characters coming in terms with their changed circumstances or realizing that it was time to change their lives or let go. It was different, refreshing almost, from the usual paranormal books I read, but at the same time I was almost wishing for something to happen. Something DID happen at the end of the book, but it wasn't enough to make up for the overall slowness and the lack of action.

I felt that Dai was the type of character that would really benefit from a series of books, (view spoiler)[ I mean her just got hired by the Birch bank and got access to their library, and got better at magic (hide spoiler)] but I doubt that will happen. His story still has a lot left to tell, because he is still pretty much who he was in the Shadowlands (while Roan is happy to be "normal", and has no powers as far as I could see), he has powers, it was heavily implied that he WILL use them too. I hope Dai will appear in the third book and I can read even a little about his further adventures.

Amanda took a definite back step compared to Dai, and while I felt that her character was very realistic and true to life, she just wasn't as interesting. At least she was honest with herself about what she wanted, and I loved how, as book progressed, she slowly started to let go of her past and move on.

Recommended For: 
Overall I did enjoy this book very much, although I would have loved to see more action. Still, I recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a somewhat different paranormal romance, one with the emphasis on character development and not on a constant action.

Disclaimer: A copy of this ebook was provided to me by the NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Treasure of the Carpathian Den by Don Cambou

Author: Don Cambou
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services 
Pages: 355 KB/134 pages 
Genre: YA/Children's/Action & Adventure 
Source: Provided by the author for review consideration.
Reviewed by: Lyuba

4 out of 5

Description from Amazon: 
Lew thought his nightmare was over. Far from it. In this, the second novel of the MOG POG Saga, he, Grandpa, Suzanne, and Brickhouse find themselves in the mountains of Romania battling legendary beings of very bloodthirsty persuasions. Good thing his fighting skills, intellect, and purity of spirit haven’t abandoned him. Neither have the MOG POG werebears. He’ll need all the help he can get, to keep himself and his friends alive. 

The whole gang from the first novel is back, along with many more unforgettable characters: the good, the bad, and the unspeakably evil. Lew has plenty of trials ahead of him. He’ll have to learn the ghastly price of jealousy, and he’ll have to survive a descent into madness, if the forces intent on destroying the natural world are to be defeated.

There’s treasure in the Carpathian Mountains, all right. But like nearly everything else in the MOG POG Saga, it just might not be what it seems.
“The Treasure of the Carpathian Den” is the second novel by Don Cambou, who for a dozen years Executive Produced “Modern Marvels” for the History Channel. It follows his first novel, “The Crystal Point of the MOG POGs.” Although it’s written for Middle Grade readers, few lovers of the fantasy genre will be able to resist the action packed, page turning, nail biting, ecological adventure Cambou has created. He is busy at work on the third novel of the MOG POG Saga, “Beyond the Temple of the Great Serpent.”


Don Cambou delivers yet again! I eagerly awaited the next book in his The MOG POG Saga, and I wasn't disappointed. 

Lew made me like him even more from the first pages, from "I added four inches, which pushed me to an acceptable height for any boy my age: five feet. I was almost twelve, and now I looked, well, almost twelve." As someone who had her brother be a "shortie" up until he hit 16 or so, I could relate to Lew's frustrations over his height (even if in a second-hand way). 

The tension is continuing to build, and just because Lew defeated the bad guys in The Crystal Point of the Mog Pogs, it doesn't mean that he can go back to his regular life now. He has more adventures coming for him that he could have ever imagined, along with some new friends. He is still just a kid thought, and I loved how Mr. Cambou was able to show Lew as a kid, mature for his age, but still a kid who needs help from the grown ups. And the grown ups in the book did not treat him well... like a kid, but instead took his suggestions, opinions and wishes into account. After all, he IS the Crystal Point. It is refreshing to see characters that still have to rely on each other, regardless of their age differences, and being parents, or grandparents, or grandchildren. 

The only thing I wished for was for Mr. Cambou to slow down a little, to give other characters a chance to develop. I understand that it's his writing style, and while I absolutely love it, I don't know anything more about Brickhouse or Suzanne than I knew at the end of the first book. While Lew got to grow and change, hey just stayed there at the same spot I left them in The Crystal Point of the Mog Pogs. Events happened so fast that I didn't get much chance to get to know them. In fact, I think I know more about Dragomir and the Count than about Lew's two good friends. 

I REALLY liked the new "bad guy", she made me chuckle more than once. Not only that, but there was a lot more to her than I expected, and I want to know what she will be up to in the next book(s). Is she really that "unspeakably evil"? I want to know!

Recommended For: 
Overall, I was impressed yet again, and I would recommend this book to anyone who is the fan of Percy Jackson's books. The MOG POG saga offers not only a great adventure with likable characters and lots of action, but also brings the environmental issues to the attention in a non-boring and memorable way. 

~ Lyuba

Disclaimer: A copy of this ebook was provided to me by the author. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Crystal Point of the Mog Pogs by Don Cambou

Author: Don Cambou
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services 
Pages: 395 KB/145p. 
Genre: YA/Children's/Action & Adventure 
Source: Purchased for Kindle 
Reviewed by: Lyuba

4 out of 5

Description from Amazon: 
Move over Harry and Percy, there’s a new kid in town. Or, more precisely, out of town. He’s eleven year old Meriwether Lewis Bowman, but he’d prefer it if you just call him Lew. He lives with his parents in the volcanic wilds of the Mt. Lassen area of northern California. With his Grandpa, who’s six feet five and looks like an NFL linebacker, Lew finds that the wilds are much wilder than he could ever have imagined. It’s a place where legendary beings like were bears and chupacabras do exist and they’re struggling for control of the natural world. Lew didn’t want any part of their ancient fight, but now he’s at the very center of it. His got only his wits, his best friends, the “Gift”, and the MOG POGs to help him battle some of the most powerful forces on earth. But then, it’s like his Grandpa says, “Life is full of surprises, and they aren’t all good. Sometimes you just have to make the best of things.”
This is the first novel by Don Cambou, who for a dozen years Executive Produced “Modern Marvels” for the History Channel. It's also the first novel of The MOG POG Saga. Cambou has turned his talent from nonfiction to this work of rich fantasy. Although it’s written for Middle Grade readers, few lovers of the genre will be able to resist the action packed, page turning, nail biting, ecological adventure he has created.


Oh I HAD to read this book, because in the description it mentioned my favorite Percy Jackson, and I wanted to see for myself if the book lives up to its (bold) claims. Well, it almost does! While there were few parts that made me question things, overall it was a great book and I was not disappointed!

The things I didn't like were relatively minor, and could be fixed with just some thinking into the world building (like REALLY no one noticed any bears partying it up? How no one noticed anything?! What about all the other evil things?! There are a lot more people that could potentially notice and question things). I also thought some scenes at the end were not necessary for a series, but would have been perfect if it was just a stand alone book.

Now the things I liked were pretty much everything else (except what's mentioned above). Lew was fun, and not perfect, and I could see him overcome his fears and kick some major butt! I really liked his voice, which was witty but not overly annoying at all(I'm looking at you, [book:Skulduggery Pleasant|284440])! I liked how kids still had to rely on adults, yet adults didn't treat kids like you-don't-know-anything-because-you're-a-kid way.

The story was great, and I enjoyed the environmental message, although it didn't feel like there was a bigger story going on (sorry, but if you have to mention Percy Jackson in the blurb, I WILL compare it to Percy Jackson books). I really do feel like it could be a stand alone book, but since it's not, I'm looking forward to the next one!

Recommended For: 
Anyone wanting to read a book with a larger message and a great action & adventure story.

~ Lyuba

Friday, 9 December 2011

Ann Aguirre Sirantha Jax Novels

Hello Fran here! Just wanted to say… Yay for our new blog sorry I'm a little late jumping into it!

I been disappointed and a little off in my reading in the last couple years; I just hate reading cookie cutter books and that’s all I was seeing. If you are an avid reader you know how it feels to NOT read…. It was driving me bananas! But I refused to let my addiction make me spend money on something I was just going to kick myself for later, there is nothing like feeling like you wasted your money. One day last year I decided I had enough; I was ready to start reading again.

My plan was to start in the A and make my way to Z, taking names down and seeing if I could find reviews online before spending the money. I don’t remember how many names I wrote down, I know it was a few, and one name came out as the winner: Ann Aguirre

Be aware that I am reviewing the entire series here and it’s bound to have spoilers so don’t blame me later. You were warned. ;)

Grimspace Sirantha Jax, Book 1

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Ace
Date: March 2008
Pages: 311
Genre: Sci-fi
Source: Paper Back
Reviewed by: Fran

Amazon Description

As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.

Aguirre did not waste time introducing you to the world in the first book, so what if the reader had no idea what she was talking about? I guess she figured we would either catch on or at least use our imagination in filling in the blanks… which I did eventually.

We start with a promising typical hero; self assured and arrogant and the heroine seemed genuinely distressed and in shock (a damsel in distress?) Oh-oh! Cookie cutter alert!

I got to say that in the first book the heroine, Sarantha Jax, seemed pretty well developed but with enough room for future growth and the hero, March, well on his way into going down into history as yet another romance hero. The book itself was not bad, it was actually promising. There was enough conflict between the two that made their relationship something I could deal with, and there was also a good amount of action that kept the book moving and the plot developing. It was enough for me to go and buy the next book.

Wanderlust Sirantha Jax, Book 2

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Ace
Date: August 2008
Pages: 312
Genre: Sci-fi
Source: Paper Back
Reviewed by: Fran

 Amazon Description

Broke and unemployed, “Jumper” Sirantha Jax accepts a diplomatic mission for the government— only to find herself up against Syndicate criminals, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspaceweakened body.

I’m not sure if it was suppose to have been a single book that ended up a series, but in any case I was disapointed.
Wanderlust lacked structure and the depth of characters that was good and promising started to disappear and if it wasn’t for Valith Il-Nok, aka Vel, an Ichitorian (a human sized mantis like alien), I would have stopped right there and then but Vel caught my attention. From the first book where he shows up, more or less hunting our main character, he just seemed so much more then just a “bug” out to get Jax; In the end he was  only reason for reading the books.

At the end of Wanderlust, I strongly disliked the hero and heroine’s relationship, and the fact that they wanted to push down my throat their oh-so-awesome chemistry was ridiculous! I have to tell you that I skipped countless pages where the hero showed up and interacted with Jax, or more or less had sex and/or whined about everything.
I always laugh when I see a mind reader hero. Aren’t they the perfect women’s wet dream? I hear they make perfect bed partner (lol) but whether they make good life partners is a better question. Do you really want him to know EVERYTHING you are thinking about 24/7?

Remember I hate cliché and that’s exactly what their relationship was to me: cliché.

But Vel was in there somewhere so I had to keep reading, or more like skipping and then… it happened! A whole entire book in Vel’s world!
 Doubleblind Sirantha Jax, Book 3

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Ace
Date: October 2009
Pages: 310
Genre: Sci-fi
Source: Paper Back
Reviewed by: Fran
Amazon Description
As a "Jumper" who navigates ships through grimspace, Sirantha Jax is used to kicking ass. So why is she suddenly chosen as an ambassador of peace?

Something was bound to happen between Jax and Vel, there were little signs all over the place but you weren’t sure until this book came out. In Doubleblind he was no longer an acquaintance and ally but an established friend and confidante.

There was just one problem: the “love of her life” was still there alive and more or less healthy. J

A lot happened in this book and I believe to be the best of the series, no I'm not being biased; It had a compeling story, it had a plot and March was barely in it! In Doubleblind Aguirre takes us into Ichitorian territory with its traditions and laws in a very female dominated world. We also learn with Jax the meaning of a simple bow, or wa, the most touching and most original piece of this series to me.
Fast forwarding after my favorite book of the series was over another book came and went.
 Killbox Jax, Book 4

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Ace
Date: September 2010
Pages: 312
Genre: Sci-fi

Source: Paper Back
Reviewed by: Fran
Amazon Description

Navigational grimspace "jumper" Sirantha Jax forms an army to defend colonists stationed on the outskirts of space from a legion of flesh- eating aliens.

In one word it was blah.

Even though there were a lot of “world shaking” events it was still not good enough for me. There were some good parts, I even teared up in one scene. But Vel was barely in it, I couldn’t understand why Aguirre would send him off somewhere. I logically know that it was part of the plot to make Jax realize her feelings, and start the set up for the last book but still! That gave too many pages for the so called hero, who now is giving the “let’s separate work and love” speech! 
Vel was in a couple pages and they were awesome! We see their realtionship really come forward and I wasn't EXTREMELY unhappy with this book because of those couple pages.

The fact that Aguirre kept giving you screaming signs about the relationship between Vel and Jax got me thinking: Just how brave is she going to be? Would she have the balls to actually have a human/alien relationship or would she going to succumb to whatever kept pushing her to keep the “hero” in the story?

I found out a couple months ago when the last book of the series came out.

Aftermath (Sirantha Jax)

Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Ace
Date: September 2011
Pages: 307
Genre: Sci-fi
Source: Paper Back
Reviewed by: Fran

Amazon Description
During the war against murderous, flesh-eating aliens, grimspace jumper" Sirantha Jax decided to go it alone. The cost of her actions: the destruction of modern interstellar travel-and the lives of six hundred Conglomerate soldiers. Now she's on trial fro dereliction of duty, desertion, mass murder, high treason...and her life.

To tell the truth I got it when it came out but I did not read it immediately; I was afraid and was preparing myself for the worst cookie cutter ending in history, but what I got actually surprised me.

There was a huge caution sign all over the place in the book; you could tell just how un-comfortable Aguirre was with the realization of what Jax wanted. There was a weird and random time skip, but I guess Aguirre needed to show you how everyone dealt with stuff and were “happy”. 

In truth it was not a masterpiece; it was actually kind of boring. The hero was still stuck and never changing, but Jax actually seemed to grow or at least confront things head on.

Yay for character growth at the end of the series!

And as my friend and co-blogger calls them: Yay for the OTHER guy!! The ending was not perfect but it was a good compromise and my dear Vel was happy. If he is happy then I am satisfied. :)

I give this series a 6 out 10.  

Friday, 11 November 2011

Spoil of War: An Arthurian Saga by Phoenix Sullivan

Author: Phoenix Sullivan
Publisher: Dare to Dream Press
Date: March 29, 2011
Pages: 597 KB
Genre: Historical Romance/Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased for Kindle
Reviewed by: Lyuba

Sexual Content
Not as explicit as the blurb and many reviews made it out to be. More like a description of it happening, but nothing compared to typical romance books. 

3.5 out of 5 (or 7 out 10)

Description from Amazon
Elsbeth of Olmsbury desires nothing beyond helping her father run his dukedom - until the duke's forces are overwhelmed, his castle torched and Elsbeth seized for the invading king's personal spoil. Expecting the same abuse as the other surviving women of her house, Elsbeth instead finds the king, Leodegrance, treating her with a civility that belies his flagrant desire for her. A desire that will have her his consort in Cameliard once he can convince her rank and duty alone forced his hand against her father.

But Elsbeth is not so easily won. There is the matter of Leodegrance gifting his steward with an unwilling young handmaid from Elsbeth's household. Of his marriage of convenience to his Byzantine queen. And of his plans to subjugate more of Britain's citadels and unite the wild isle under Roman rule.

If Elsbeth can't find her tangled way to forgiveness with the king - or escape the dark designs and perverse desires of Uther Pendragon, enemy to them both - then a legend of Camelot may never be conceived, never be born, and never change history forever ...

Please note: This novel takes place in a harsh era when spoils were often treated as commodities. While the violence toward women and children is period-appropriate and for mature adults only, it is never gratuitous. The story focuses on adaptation, survival and, ultimately, love in the Dark Ages before Arthur was made king.

112,000 words; about 440 pages.


Phoenix Sullivan has 20+ years in the corporate world as a writer and editor. Reviewers have compared SPOIL OF WAR favorably to MISTS OF AVALON, authored by Marion Zimmer Bradley. A fun fact: Marion published several of Phoenix's short stories in anthologies sold worldwide and in the fantasy magazine she edited in the early 90s. She was Phoenix's first editor.

From the Author

SPOIL OF WAR is best described as women's historical fiction with romantic elements. It is a realistic look at what it was like to be chattel in a time of war and how precious love can be when hope is nearly lost.

If you prefer lighter historical fare with a more conventional romance, I urge you to browse the list of "Also Boughts" on this page instead. Otherwise, please read the sample to decide if the quality of the story and the writing meet your expectations, and if the heroine, Elsbeth, is someone you want to root for and would like to spend more time with.

This book came up on the free list on Amazon, and of course it caught my attention. Then I started reading the reviews, and they were so mixed that I really wanted to see for myself what's the fuss was about. See that Please Note that I highlighted? THAT really made me curious! So I braced myself for the child rape, and started reading. 

The thing is, I can't tell you how many times I was reading books and imagining what I would do if I was unwilling bride/slave girl/woman in the X century with no rights/sold to harem/etc... and my conclusions were that yes, I would fight back however I can, but I am a survivor, and eventually I would give in. I've realized that I would choose to live as a well fed slave, then starve as a free woman. Not very heroic right? Maybe not even "strong". But I always tried to put myself in the shoes of those women, who tried to make the best out out of their situations and this is the conclusion I came up with. Well, this is the conclusion that Elsbeth comes up with too. And that's why I LOVED this book! 

Elsbeth questions everything that Leo does, she doesn't forget that he killed her father and destroyed her home, that he took her prisoner and kept her as concubine, when his wife was in the same castle. She wants to get free and rid of him. She resists! She eventually gives in, and tries to make the best of the situation, and it's HER choice! She tries to make the best out of situation that she was thrown in, and I think she does pretty well for herself. Because in reality, what could anyone expect out of her? Die? Because that would be the only way out, and Elsbeth makes it pretty clear that she would like to live. I wasn't bothered by the fact that she fell in love with her captor either, because I tried to think in the terms of that time period. War was normal, slavery was normal, women were property. She got elevated pretty high in status, and Leo was in LOVE with her to the point of catering to almost every one of her whims. 

I tried not to think about the situation from the modern women's perspective, instead recalling the words of my favorite history professor at the university "The concept of gender equality did not exist at the time". Even so, Elsbeth was pretty "modern" if I try to relate her action and thinking to the modern world. Our world still struggles with rape, and women are treated as spoils of wars in the current warfare, so why would it have been different during the Dark Ages? Even the rape of an 11 year old girl didn't turn me off this book (and her age was speculation, later on it was said that she was 13). Yes, I was disturbed, until I remembered a romance novel I've read where a girl was sold to harem and she was 13. And no, I'm not condoning the rape, I just think that it was probably expected at that time period and during war. Women always suffer when war happens, and this book actually dared to show the terrible things that happen to them. 

I also think it to be ironic that author put that note in the description. Was she expecting all the criticism she got? Hmm..... interesting. And because of that, I can't say that those readers were not warned. 

Overall, I really liked the book and I thought it to be pretty realistic in terms of women experiences during that time. I don't know how historically accurate it was in other aspects, but at least from the women's perspective I think it did  a great job. Why did I give it only 3.5 stars if it was that great? Check out below. 

Why is the hair of the girl on the cover BROWN?! The books makes such a big deal out of the color of her hair, and in current day and age it is not that hard to change the color of hair. I bet even I could figure it out! 

SPOILER ALERT!! Highlight if you want to read. 
So up until this point (about 75% on Kindle) I was happily reading the book and loving it, and then the main characters do something that make me go WTF and wish the book was real, so I could throw it against the wall. Alas, all I have is my iPhone, and I'm not doing anything to harm 'my precious'. Anyways, Elsbeth is almost raped again, when Lynette walks in and saves her. But of course the knight that tries to rape her is a bastard, and he makes it seems like she came on to him "See! I even hit her trying to thwart HER advances! But I'm only a man" :( :( :( Lynette, because she is so freaking smitten with him, immediately believes him and basically ends the friendship with Elthbeth. Fast forward to when Leo comes home, and Elsbeth says NOTHING to him! For whatever reason, I think she was most afraid of hurting Lynette (who you know, totally doesn't deserve it at this point since she will take knight's word over Elsbeth). 

At this point, I literally went "REALLY?! She is all outspoken and not afraid to stand up to the king, but she is afraid to tell on that knight?!" (Oh, I wrote down what I thought). My desire to read the book just went down the drain. All the admiration and respect I had for Elsbeth went the same way. She is freaking loyal to Lynette for what?! Does she enjoy being raped? Before she wasn't afraid to speak the truth, even said so herself. But now all of a sudden she is afraid? She is an idiot, because not telling now OF COURSE will make it worse later (and it sure did). 

The king is a freaking idiot too! For all his love and care and obsession with making her happy, he sure believes the knight awfully fast when knight accuses her again. Where is his love and trust then? Apparently never was there, because he wouldn't so easily NOT believe her! Because you know, Elsbeth asking for like 100 times and going against his will to NOT leave her alone with that freaking knight just means nothing. She only was asking to stay away from him because in reality she wanted to be WITH him! And of course Leo didn't even listen to her to begin with, because she went with him to war as a camp follower TO GET AWAY FROM THE KNIGHT!! So what does he do? Present the knight as a 'present' for her when he first summons her to him. WTF LEO?! For someone who is smart, you're awfully stupid and dense. 

And Elsbeth! I get it, I've read about it. Many women do not yell or scream for help when they are getting raped, and they should. I'm not making light of it. But really?! She got raped twice in the book (more once she was captured and chained, but I'm talking about when she could have fought back), plus there was 1 other attempt, And all these times SHE BARELY FOUGHT BACK AND MADE ANY NOISE!!! There was one instance when I get why she kept quiet (just before she was chained), but all the others? Especially with the knight, who was distrusted to begin with! Even if she is considered an "enemy", wouldn't it been better to yell and scream and do something? And especially in the camp, when she already was "king's woman" and knew that her camp protector was nearby, why not scream? Or at least fight back? I might be too hard on her, but she showed herself as a pretty strong character and these actions, or lack of them, just surprised me. 

Then don't even get me started on Lynette. I had a feeling that she would die at the end, with her being all depressed and deeply romantic. I didn't expect her to turn into such an idiot when the knight was concerned. She literally was so in love that she believed every word he told her, even if they were not true. She, along with Leo, believed the KNIGHT'S word over Elsbeth! I was pretty disappointed at her for it, considering she was shown as pretty smart too. And she continues to believe until the very end. 

One final thing. Lynette could not conceive a child after 3 years of actively trying, and Leo only *supposedly* had 1 bastard. Elsbeth lives with him for over 6 month, where he comes to her bed pretty often. With him being THAT obsessed over a heir, he doesn't even ONCE thinks about the possibility of Elsbeth getting pregnant? Nor is she! And then she gets raped too, and doesn't even worry that she MIGHT get pregnant?! That seems so not believable for me. Of course, in the end she magically gets pregnant right away. I kinda want to know, who is the daddy? Considering she got raped repeatedly when she was in captivity....

Recommended For
Anyone who likes darker books, or who is interested in women's perspective and lives during the time of war. 

~ Lyuba

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Utterly Charming by Kristine Grayson

Author: Kristine Grayson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanka
Date: October 1, 2011
Pages: 320/512 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased for Kindle
Reviewed by: Lyuba

Sexual Content
None, aside from some suggestions. 

4.5 out of 5

Description from Goodreads
Bestselling author Kristine Grayson's fairy tale romances bring the classic stories into the present day, where fairy tale characters must grapple with the complexities of modern life as well as their own destinies.
This time when Sleeping Beauty wakes up, she wants nothing to do with the man who kissed her. Consoling Alex Blackstone, the rejected suitor who is a brilliant magician but inept when it comes to women, falls to modern career woman and lawyer, Nora Barr. Nora now has to deal with Beauty's evil stepmother, and the discovery that Alex just might be her own personal Prince Charming...

Wait, is this supposed to be book 1 in the Fates series? Then I must be missing something, because I read Wickedly Charming first and was waiting for this book to come out. Well, I do not claim to know how the book world works, and for all I know, this could be a re-release. 

I actually did not pick this book right away, even if I absolutely loved Wickedly Charming. The reason? The blurb didn't exactly appeal to me for some reason, so I let it pass by until I've noticed that this book is on special for $2.99 and I figured what's the heck. So I've bought it, and I'm glad! 

I think the book blurb is rather misleading, because the book itself deals with Nora a lot more than it deal with the Sleeping Beauty. And Nora doesn't console Alex Blackstone, she spends the whole book fighting her attraction to him. And unlike many, many, many other romance books I've read, she doesn't give in to it just because Blackstone is drop dead gorgeous. This alone, was like a breath of fresh air for me. I'm so used to women simply loosing their heads in the proximity of the main hot guy, that here I was cheering for Nora. 

Of course everything works out at the end, but Kristine Grayson skillfully does it without an ounce of sex involved. I was pretty impressed by that. I was also pretty impressed by Nora. She tickled my feminist mind in all the right places, by asking all the questions I want to ask so many other female characters. Like, what about what SHE wants? Is it HER decision? She also has a very strong sense of ethics, and her struggle with wanting to do what's right made her seems extremely real to me. It was almost like I could meet someone like her in person. 

Blackstone was great too, because I could actually see him grow and change as the book progressed. I could relate to their romance, because I know how it feels to want someone that you're deeply attracted to, while knowing that he/she is just out of your reach for whatever reason (and while suspecting that the person is also attracted to you). 

The supporting characters were great, especially Sancho Panza. I even kinda liked the main villainess in the story, and early on I thought there would be more to her than there ended up being. 

Overall, it was a great read. The book kept my attention and I couldn't put it down until I finished it. 

At first I couldn't even come up with any, but after thinking for a while I think I know some little things that I wish were in the book. More Sancho!!! I felt like there was a lot more story to him, and while Ms. Grayson hinted at it, she never developed anything further. At the end, I felt something along the lines of BUT WHAT ABOUT SANCHO?! 

Recommended For
Anyone who wants to read a romance book without having sex as a driving force in the story. 

~ Lyuba

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Frost Moon by Anthony Francis

Hello Everyone,

I'm Lyuba from Funky Makeup Junkie, but fear not, although I love makeup I also love to read. Usually I read fantasy and/or romance novels with some women and cultural studies books thrown in for good measure. So today the book I have for you is not a romance per se, but more of a paranormal mystery which is a nice fresh breath in my otherwise romance overrun Kindle. I love me some good romance (and when it's paranormal or fantasy it is even better) but sometimes I get tired of women loosing their minds in a proximity of a hot guy, and I want something different. Frost Moon by Anthony Francis is that something different.

Product Description
In an alternate Atlanta where magic is practiced openly, where witches sip coffee at local cafes, shapeshifters party at urban clubs, vampires rule the southern night like gangsters, and mysterious creatures command dark caverns beneath the city, Dakota Frost's talents are coveted by all. She's the best magical tattooist in the southeast, a Skindancer, able to bring her amazing tats to life. When a serial killer begins stalking Atlanta's tattooed elite, the police and the Feds seek Dakota's help. Can she find the killer on the dark fringe of the city's Edgeworld? Among its powerful outcasts and tortured loners, what kind of enemies and allies will she attract? Will they see her as an invader, as a seducer, as an unexpected champion ... or as delicious prey? FROST MOON is Book One of the SKINDANCER fantasy series by debut author Anthony Francis. Filled with unforgettable characters, spine-tingling action, kinky rebellion and edgy love, FROST MOON is classic storytelling at its best, and Dakota Frost is an irresistible new star of fantasy fiction. Anthony Francis is a computer scientist who works at the 'Search Engine That Starts With A G'. By day he studies human and other minds to design intelligent machines and emotional robots; by night he writes fiction and draws comic books. He received his Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from Georgia Tech. He lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.
The books follows the (mis) adventures of Dakota Frost, the best magic tattooist in the whole  southeast. She lives in the world that is our own, except magic is real and all the paranormal creatures are real too and are out in the open. Except I got a feeling that some people in the world are in denial about that from all the surprised looks and reactions. The world was the first thing that drew me into this book, because it was so real! The characters are not bad-ass, they don't kick butt every time and they get their butt kicked plenty of times too. They seemed like someone I would meet in my local bookstore or Starbucks, and someones I will fit right in with too. 
Dakota Frost is openly bisexual and and there is a heavy emphasis on talking about lesbians and her experiences with her ex. At first I thought it would turn me away, but it didn't seem imposing. Sure she is bisexual (who is strangely gets pretty shy around guys), and although I normally prefer my books to be completely heterosexual I can take a different view once in a while. Since she is a tattooist, there was plenty of technical terms and explanations but it felt more informative than boring, and I was glad for all the extra info. I personally don't want a tattoo but it's interesting to read about how tattoo process works without having to go out of my way to research.

The characters are well developed and fun, the good guys (although not perfect) are likable and the bad guys need to be kicked in the nether regions. I kept getting annoyed at Dakota for all her bravado and tough talking without actually having anything to back her up, but after complaining to a friend I realized that this is exactly why she seems so real. She might seem tough, but she is not a stereotypical kick-ass female character and it was so refreshing to read. My favorite character was Cinnamon and I felt like her relationship with Dakota was resolved rather nicely and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in the second book (whenever that comes out).

My only minor gripe is that Dakota never actually says how tall she is? We know she is tall, because she constantly talks about being taller than most men, but she never actually says how tall! It was driving me nuts a little, because I just wanted to know! At some point she mentions that she is taller than 6'1", but that's it. She spills the beans in the excerpt from the 2nd book (yup, just my luck it's a series and the 2nd book is not even out yet) and says she is 6'2". So for those of you who are like me, and will be dying to know here it is, her mysterious height!

I recommend this book for anyone who likes paranormal stories but not necessarily likes romances (or got tired of paranormal fluff and is looking for something different).

5 out of 5

~ Lyuba