Tour’s Books Blog

June 12, 2014

Finis – The Problem of the Endless Series – Part 3 THE END?

I find I can only do so many series before my head explodes.  Honestly, authors resurrect characters and series, like soap operas, recycle characters.  There are so many epic fantasy series out there, some starting life as a stand alone – or as an outgrowth of early works where and author developed ideas.  Dune was such as book.  I recall how blown away I was by it when I read back when it first came out.  I never did make it to the end of the series, just book 1 and 2, because book 3 was published nearly 7 years after book 2 and I’d moved on.  It would take 5 more years for book 4 and 3 more for book 5 and then book 6 followed and was the last.  Sort of.  Now his son, Brian, along with Kevin Anderson, have continued Dune stories as prequels and sequels to the original series.

The unique universal appeal of Dune is surprising.  It’s themes and characters carry well into other cultures making it one of the best selling science fiction novels of all time at 20 million copies.  But to put that in context, the Harry Potter series sold over 400 million copies and (Lord help us) Fifty Shades of Gray eclipsed that number at over 450 million.  Of course Dune, Harry Potter, and many other books will still be popular long after Fifty Shades is lost in time.  But it does prove one thing, SEX SELLS! Trust me, Fifty Shades isn’t selling based on it’s unforgettable characters, original plot, and brilliant writing.  It’s selling for the same reason Peyton Place sold in the 1950’s, SEX and the lure of the forbidden, in this case, BDSM.  (Quick, who wrote Peyton Place and what was the lead character’s name?)  Yeah, I remembered the author’s name, but in all fairness, I couldn’t get past page 50 in that book either, though it was decades after publication when I actually tried, and I can’t even recall a plot.  Was there one?

Will most of the series so beloved of readers stand the test of time?  Unlikely.  Anyone over 40 would be hard put to find titles popular in their teens and 20’s still on the shelves in print.  Dune?  Yup, that’s there.  So is everything by Tolkien.  But those ARE classics.  I’ll bet in 20 years you’ll still find Harry Potter for the simple reason that his story is one we can all identify with – and the reason adults read so much YA fiction.  Like The Hobbit, Harry will age well.  Some experiences just continue to resonate over time, long after the cheap, voyeuristic thrills of Fifty Shades has been supplanted by the next hot item.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of good, cheap voyeuristic thrills, just not a fan of BDSM.  Which segues nicely into another niche market, erotic paranormal romance and futuristic paranormal romance.  Kaitlyn O’Connor writes a lot of futuristic si-fi/paranormal erotic romance, spiced with humor.  She writes modern shifter romance as Madeline Montague.  I’ve kind of been avoiding this stuff because it is a small market, but I’ll include a few here, with fair warning, it’s for adults only.  Like most romance, alpha males abound, there is often some BDSM or at least D/s going on, but not the level of kink you get with true BDSM.

Si-fi and fantasy are no strangers to sex.  No less an icon than Robert A Heinlein got his book, Stranger in a Strange Land, pulled from school library shelves for a host of reasons including ‘cheap eroticism’.  Hey, if you can slog thru 160,000+ words and find a bit of ‘cheap eroticism’ along the way, more power to you!  Boy, did you earn it!

(Suggestion – if you actually enjoy reading BDSM, try Maya Banks (also writes mainstream), Shayla Black (also rites as Shelly Bradley), Sylvia Day, and Lorelei James among others.  All are light-years better than E.L. James.)

Joey W. Hill (living) – Vampire Queen series now up to book 13, future status unknown, paranormal vampire erotic romance.  Hill writes mostly in the BDSM vein, but does some more mainstream series, and stand alones in paranormal, historical, and contemporary genres; Arcane Shot series centers on witches (2 books so far), and she has a paranormal romance series based on mermaids.

Kaitlyn O’Connor (Madeline Montague) (living) – small press author that has gained a loyal following for her humorous ménage Cyberolution series futuristic si-fi romances, 6 books and complete, but as they were written out of chronological order, they can be read as stand alones; as Madeline Montague she writes Wolfen series, a loosely related group of werewolf shifter books, with some, but less humor. 3 books – status unknown.  Hard to find author.  Short books.  Buy the e-books.

Lara Santiago (living) – small press author; two futuristic stand alones – one intended as a possible series that never happened, Menagerie -is a clever apparently poly-amorous story that begins and ends in present day.  Rogue’s Run is an intersteller m/f/m ménage.  Reads like the start of a series, but she went from futuristic to Western.

Suzanne Collins (living) – Hunger Games – best-selling YA trilogy set in Dystopian future.  Complete.  Before writing Hunger Games, she authored a series of children’s fantasy books about Gregor the Overlander in her Underland series, 5 books, complete.

Veronica Roth (living) – Divergent trilogy – 3 books plus numbers short stories, novellas, complete, YA si-fi Dystopian; kind of a Hunger Games knock-off with shades of Twilight Zone

Pittacus Lore (living) – Lorien Legacies (5 books but on-going to 9?) and Lost Files (12 books complete); YA futuristic alien invasion; Another variation on Hunger Games type tropes

Jaye Wells (living) – Sabina Kane, 5 books, complete, UF, vampire, mage, assassin – worthwhile read; Prospero’s War – 2 books complete another under contract.  Status of additional books – unknown, UF/magic

Kelly Meding (living) – Dreg City – 5 books, complete, Dark UF, si-fi, horror; about a bounty hunter who is killed, loses her memory, is resurrected, and has 3 days to live, but sometimes, you get to die more than once; Meta Wars – futuristic UF/superhero, 4 books, complete, each book focuses on a specific ‘talent’ of a group/

Linda Robertson (living) – Persephone Alcmedi – 6 books so far and 1 more due this year.  Completion status unknown.  UF, witches, vamps, weres, Fey.  Young witch finds she might be one that was in a prophesy, making her a target for her coven and the only one that change the outcome of a potential war.

Harry Connolly(Living) – Twenty Places, 3 books – series cancelled by publisher; UF/Paranormal/fantasy mystery; well liked by those who read it, but not enough readers.

Rachel Caine (living) – Morganville Vampires – 15 books, complete, YA/UF/vampires; Weather Warden – 9 books, complete; UF/paranormal/magic/romance – weather warden (magic worker) is unjustly accused of crimes and goes on the run to look for the one that can offer proof of her innocence. Outcast Season – spin off of Weather Warden, 4 books, status complete.

M. J. Scott (living) – Half-Light City, 4 books, complete, Fantasy/UF/Fae/Vampires – a new author who seemed to be improving with each book.  Watch for more from her.

Marjorie M. Liu (living) – Hunter’s Kiss, 5 books and several short stories/novellas, complete, Paranormal Romance/shifters/magic;  Dirk & Steele, 13 books – status unknown, paranormal romance, can be read as stand alone books.

Lisa Shearin (living) – Raine Benares, 6 books, complete 2012, fantasy/magic/high fantasy/some romance; kind of a classic fantasy adventure series featuring a female thief; SPI Files – 1 book released this year, one on order, UF/modern paranormal; author has engaging humorous writing style that makes for quick easy reading.

Jeanne C. Stein (living) – Anna Strong, 9 books, novellas, shorts stories, Plus 1 to complete?, paranormal/UF/shapeahifter/vamp/ romance …. If anyone has any comments on this series. let me know

Richelle Mead (living) – Dark Swan, 4 books complete, UF/paranormal/magic/romance; Vampire Academy, 6 books, complete, YA paranormal/supernatural/magic;  popular with adult paranormal fans; Bloodlines – spin-off of Vampire Academy, 6 books, ongoing, YA/paranormal/fantasy

Rachel Vincent (living) – Shifters, 6 books, complete; UF/paranormal/paranormal romance, power plays and life among shifters; Soul Screamers, 7 books, plus novellas and short stories, complete, YA/paranormal/fantasy – school taken over by Hellions and the fight to take it back OK, that is a wrap.


And I know a missed a WHOLE LOT OF SERIES, but I’ll try and update Finis every so often.  But seriously, too many hours on Goodreads, Amazon, hunting for author websites and I’m DONE.  So for those who hate waiting, you now have a place to start.  Anyone wants me to add a series they really liked, just post a comment.  I review them all.

July 23, 2013

Hot! Hot! HOT! Summer Reading Reviews

OK, I confess, summer can get just too damn hot for me.  Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve been spoiled here in the Northeast with several pretty mild summers in a row and summers are SUPPOSED to be hot.  Still, walking out the door is like getting hit in the face with a steaming hot towel.  ICK!  You don’t take your clothes off, you peel the sodden mess from your body and shower twice a day.  Have I been in hotter places?  Well, many years ago I was in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in July and it was about 130F.  The wavy air currents that you see coming from hot pavements extended above the heads of the visitors and the photos I took all had this odd pink hue to them, like I’d slapped a colored filter on the lens.  Abu Simbal was 123F.  And Scottsdale, AZ was 117F – so yeah, I’ve been in MUCH hotter places.  But hot, muggy, Northeast summers were meant for the beach or the lake, not grocery shopping at mid-day.

So what can one do but read?  Not that I ever need much of an excuse.  And I’m falling behind in getting books read for swaps.  I wrote 3 book reviews for PBS (paperbackSwap) book blog so I can’t review them here, but I’ll give you a few sentences and my rating.


Book 2 of the Sweet Nothings series is a well written bust because you know the who and why by page 50.  If you don’t, shame on you and turn in your Nancy Drew badge at the door.

My rating is C- (2.6*) and a suggestion you give this dull effort a pass.  You’ll miss nothing.  I spent $7.19 for this from Amazon and it was a waste of time and money.



A year, I waited damn near a year and was ready to strangle Jory Strong half way through this sex fest masquerading as urban fantasy erotica.  Honestly, this is a 16 year boy’s wet dream, with pieces of an actually good story threaded thru it.  Not as well done as Inked Magic, the first book and overall, disappointing in its story quality.  I found myself skipping pages so I could keep up with the plot, which wandered badly.  The sex would put the book in the XX range.

My rating for Inked Destiny is C (3*) and I’m being kind.  Will appeal to erotica lovers, but UF fans are doomed to be disappointed.  Only smut lovers need to consider a buy, everyone else wait for a cheap or free copy.  I can’t believe I wasted nearly $11 on this through Amazon.


werewolf in alaska

Did someone forget to tell me July was Mediocre Book Month?  Seriously, another paranormal romance from a usually reliable author that’s BLAH!  Good thing this book cost me less than $5 on BAM or I’d be ticked.

My rating for Werewolf in Alaska is C (3*) and again, that’s being kind.  Get it free or used.


biting Oz

I like the Biting Love series by Mary Hughes and her books in general.  Yeah, they’re another vampire romance series, but they’re done with a flair and fun to read.  Published by Samhain in both print and ebook, I bought Biting Oz from Amazon to read and use as part of a prize basket I offered in a big swap.  It was on my wish list anyway, so the fact the prize winner wanted it too gave me the excuse to buy it.  At $12 with tax, it was a good thing I enjoyed it, but it’s still over priced.

For a small town Miers Corners has a lot of strange events happening lately.  But on the upside, someone is spending a LOT of money to renovate places like the old theater where they’re staging a rewrite of Wizard of Oz, called Oz, Wonderful Oz, a musical starring a quite talented young woman who seems a bit lonely to ‘Junior’ Stieg, a member of the orchestra and worker in her father’s sausage store.  Junior and her pal Nixie (Biting Nixie, one of the few books in the series that kind of annoyed me with all the punk cant) and Nixie’s handsome lawyer husband Julien.

Junior is running late to the dress rehearsal, hauling multiple instruments and a music stand when she – literally – runs into overexcited Munchkins blocking the aisle to the pit.  Suddenly, tall, dark and really, really big saves her and the Munchkins from disaster.  Glynn is a Welsh vampire who was hired to protect the young star, Mishela, by the show’s financial backer and town’s fairy godfather, the enigmatic Mr Elias.  But when Rocky, Junior, Mishela see something strange attack, Gylnn’s phone all to Mr Elias seems to convince her ever thing is normal.  Unfortunately, it did NOT convince Junior.  And Junior’s attraction to Gylnn not withstanding, what the hell is going on?

It’s only when Junior’s parents invade her bedroom after hearing obvious sounds of an amorous adventure that has Junior realize Gylnn really isn’t human.  Not when he hid in the one place they’d never look – on the ceiling!  Enter a jealous ex-girlfriend, problems with the cheeseshop owners next door, and things get really out of control.

Biting Oz has more substance than the usual paranormal fluff romance, but the nosy parents of an adult woman (especially the bedroom invasion which did nothing but make me dislike her parents) and the way her mother speaks to Junior really annoyed me.  Frankly, Junior should have stood her ground more.  That was the only part that really annoyed me.

Overall, I give Biting Oz C+ to B- (3.5*), better than average, but not by much.  For series fans, buy the ebook.  For print readers, wait for a used copy.



Waking up handcuffed to an uptight female French vampire, Lizette, who refuses to believe Johnny Malone is really alive and his supposed death just a way to dump a persistent girlfriend, is no way to spend the morning after one of his best friend’s wedding to a dominatrix – who is also out cold in the same room.  But even worse, he’s staring at the naked butt of his bandmate, ladies man Drake, in some kind of a sex swing contraption inches from his face also and the very human caterer, Josie – wearing nothing but the frilly shirt that Drake had on when dressed as the best man in a pirate costume.  The really bad part, no one could remember the night before.   Must have been a hell of night if Drake ended up wearing nothing but chaps, leaving a lot more than his ass hanging out.

On top of all that, Saxon, the groom, is missing and there’s an alligator in the hallway.  Oh, the handcuffs?  Titanium.  Johnny and Lizette are stuck together – and her blouse is covered with blood down the back.  Now Johnny and Lizette need to get free of each other, and Drake and Josie have to figure out what the hell happened to everyone’s things – including Drake’s pants.

Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love created a fast, fun read.  Short on substance, but entertaining enough to finish it and not feel cheated.  No, it wasn’t captivating, just a good beach read.  Undemanding and amusing.  While the ending kind of loses steam, the bulk of the book is better than average for fluff.

Fangs for Nothing came to me via a PBS bookswap and I’d give it C+ to B- (3.5*) and a suggested summer read if you can find it cheap in a used book store because the ebook is no bargain.

November 11, 2012

Sandy Was Here, Voting, and a Few Reviews

Yup, I live in the Northeast in Bruce Springsteen’s home state, but away from the coast.  Our ‘sand’ here is on the beaches by one of our lakes, if at all.  But living in a rural area has it’s pluses and minuses.  I can stay in touch with the world on my chat boards where we have members from the UK, Norway, the US, Australia and more, just on out one little thread.  On my book swapping site, it’s US only and lot of us live in what the Weather Channel is fond of calling ‘The Megalopolis’.  Well, Sandy was like something from one of their ‘It Could Happen Tomorrow’  episodes.

We were lucky here.  We lost power in my complex, except for a few units in a bizarre pattern.  I kept mine and was clueless about the fact that 80%+ of my neighbors were without.   The pump on the well switched to a generator which lasted (thank-you so much) for the 8 days it took to restore power.  I lost phone, internet, and TV – right in the middle of Monday Night Football.  (insert loud scream) As I said, I was lucky.  I was also bored.  Turned out, you kind of get sick of watching movies.  Then I watched episodes of Magnum PI on my laptop and played computer games. ………….. And I read.  Yup, I know you’re shocked.  Typical week I read 4-6 books.  In 6 days I read 11 books.  And one thing I did NOT miss – political ads.

For many days, my news came via my brother who lives up in Western Massachusetts.  It wasn’t till Friday that I really sat down with my neighbor and learned what happened locally.  I thought we’d done OK, but the town is still without water and power – and that means no heat in some VERY cold temperatures – in many area.  Schools were closed all week (no heat, water, or lights).  Over a week later some people still weren’t getting mail delivery because their streets are blocked with downed trees and wires as crews from all over the country came into the state to help.  But Tuesday the sun was shining, the sky a cloudless blue, and folks flocked to the polls in town to vote.

Funny, it’s a right we take so lightly,often less than half of eligible voters actually bother to vote.  Did you know, in some countries it’s against the law to NOT vote?  You get fined.  And you better not do it twice.  I learned that from my Aussie friends on the chat board.  Here we have a right that people die for, and have our voters ignore it.  My mother, an American History teacher, must be turning in her grave.  If I learned nothing else, it was if you don’t vote, SHUT UP BECAUSE YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM.  I voted.

Sandy was about the worst storm, including blizzards, that’s I’ve seen in my life.  I was inconvenienced, but warm, dry, and with plenty of food and electric, I had no real complaints.  It was sheer luck.  The roads were blocked by downed power lines and trees, so even though I had the good sense to fill my gas tank before the storm, I wisely stayed stayed off the roads and let the emergency crews do their work.  Good thing, because there was no gas available in town and we still have only one station open off and on.  Sunday my neighbor needed to pick up her daughter from the hospital about 20 miles away, but she was low on gas and rationing had started and she couldn’t buy more, so I drove her and her SIL down to pick up her daughter.  Lines at the open stations weren’t as bad as they had been, so the rationing was already helping – just not around here due to the continuing power outages.  It was my first look at the real mess in the area, and it wasn’t good, but already things were improving – except along the coast.

As a child, I went ‘down the shore’ at least once each summer.  I can remember sitting in the rocking chairs on the wide veranda of the Seaside Hotel in Ocean Grove where my grandmother would vacation, then walking down the boardwalk to Asbury Park and playing endless games of skeeball in an amusement building called ‘The Casino’.  It had those claw machines, a beautiful old carousel that I just loved, and my beloved skeeball.  On the way, we’d pass the place with the salt water taffy machine in the window.  It fascinated me to just watch it work.  (It still does.  LOL)  Years ago the Northend Hotel that marked the border between Ocean Grove and Asbury Park was leveled.  So was the Old Homestead Restaurant that sat on the pier at the edge of town.  The roller-coaster fell into ruin as Asbury Park went downhill in the 60’s.  Springsteen immortalized this slide with ‘My City of Ruins’ which became famous when he later sang it for the live 9-11 concert in Sept 2001.  One of his early album covers shows the Casino in the background as he leans on the boardwalk railing with beach and sea behind him.

But the Jersey shore lived on, and prospered and eventually even Asbury Park came back somewhat, though it’s now a very different town.  Others, like Ocean Grove seemed almost unchanged.  Spring Lake, a beautiful, and very wealthy community, was had hit hard.  Like many other places it played home to an array of historic homes 100 years old give or take a few years, built when folks fled the heat of cities for the cooling shore breezes.  Houses with wide covered porches with awnings where you could sit and enjoy the breeze off the Atlantic.  Atlantic City morphed into a casino mecca – and not the harmless nickle kids games I played, but gambling casinos.  I’ve never been in one.

Once my internet was back and I saw the photos of communities on Long Beach Island, towns line Seaside Heights and Breezy Point in Brooklyn, the extent of the damage really registered.  Yes, North Jersey is a mess, and towns along the river suffered greatly, but seeing whole towns wiped out was sobering.  I have always believed that a certain amount of good natured whining is allowed – snow storms (heaven knows we get plenty of those), things like the Halloween Storm of 1991 (AKA The Perfect Storm), Hurricane Donna in 1960, and others have come our way.  Life goes on, but many lives change forever – and some, tragically, end.  Nature isn’t kind, and never was.  Not since Katrina had I seen this kind of devastation, and even though Sandy was a MUCH weaker storm, it hit the most populous part of the US.  And that could change history, in more ways than one.

With Election Day just a week after Sandy, folks were still in shock in the hard hit areas.  There were a lot of lives in ruins out there, homes gone forever, irreplaceable family photos washed away or lost to fire.  People left with nothing, not even a roof over their head.  Voting for them was a test of will, and act of sheer determination.  All these people left in dark by Sandy voted on paper ballots by flashlight.  I’ll give Gov Christie this, he has done all he can to give the affected folks a way to vote.  Regardless of the outcome will be, I strongly believe we should always participate in state and national elections.  On this Veteran’s Day, it’s the best way to give thanks to the men and women who sacrificed so much for freedoms, especially our right to vote.  Thank a Vet today.  The price of freedom is paid in blood.

Now, this is a book blog, so allow me to get to a few book reviews.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones – A- (4.5*) This installment of the highly original Charley Davidson series missed a A for one reason, suddenly Reyes was willing to share a lot of information about where Charley came from and her history before being born as Charlotte Davidson.  It was just too pat and too easy.

The story opens with Charley suffering PTSD from the assault and torture she suffered by the supposedly dead Earl Walker, Reye’s step-father and childhood tormentor – and the man he was in prison for supposedly killing.  Now Walker is really dead, Reye’s is free and hates her, her father had her arrested, supposedly for her own protection, and they’re not speaking.   Being betrayed by Reyes, her father, and tortured by a man supposedly dead has left her with a serious case of agoraphobia, and no office, so it’s not like she has anywhere to go anyway.  So insane purchases from TV shopping networks fill her day – and her apartment, until a case comes to her door.

Charley has another problem.  There are a series of bank robberies and even though the robbers wear masks, there’s something so familiar about them!  A young woman comes to her with a bizarre story of being stalked and terrorized – something that’s been happening since she was a girl of 5 and he father remarried.  Dragging her sorry butt outside is a special hell, but Charley starts to investigate – and finds another step-mother from Hell, like her own.

Charley also decides to give Reyes a bill for all the work she did to get him free – $1 million.  Reyes sister claims he has $50 million, he says he broke and he’s doing cage fights – but they’re more than that.  Demons are taking over humans – special humans.  Humans that can ‘see’ – demons can steal their bodies and Reyes is killing them to kill the demons.  It’s Charlie they want.

As always, Ms Jones spins a lively, very readable story.  Reyes suddenly revealing a lot of information about Charlie and where she came from, her cosmic history – well, that was annoying to have a data dump like that.  Why had he with held it all so long?  Was the sole purpose for the sudden openness to lay the groundwork for future books?  Not sure I bought the whole thing, and it kept the book from an A rating.

Is Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet worth  $14-16 at discount?  Kindle is $11.99.  Well, it is an excellent read in the series, so for any series followers, the answer is yes.  Otherwise, give it some time and pick it up used or at the library.  At 320 pages, it was a quick and easy read and a bit short for the price.

Popped Off by Jeffery Allen is the second book in a stay at home dad mystery series.  Deuce is a soccer dad to his wife’s ambitious attorney.  When the entire treasury of his daughter’s soccer league is stolen, along with all the trophies the girls will get, he gets dragged into looking for their errant league president.  Using his association with a dwarf PI (politically incorrect humor got childish at times and made Deuce seem petty and mean), Deuce finds a cousin in a gambling casino – who also embezzled money.

Unraveling the trail for money, illegal gambling, and enterprising sonority sisters selling smuggled Viagra on campus to horny undergrads is amusing, but shallow.  I really enjoyed parts and parts were a turn off – especially the whole sex thing with his angry wife, which was weird and creepy.  The story was only half believable.   The solution forgone.

Is Popped Off worth $7.99?  Nope.   At C- (2.75*), I’m glad got my copy for free through a book swapping site and it has since moved on to a new home.  A very lightweight read that is amusing for the most part, but has many annoying sections.

The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker, his 5th book in the Bruno, Chief of Police French countryside mystery series, finds the author once again weaving history, both ancient and recent, with modern murders and potential terrorism.  It’s spring in St Denis and Bruno finds himself embroiled in something more serious than a PETA member letting ducks loose, though he’d like that resolved with a minimum of fuss.  A representative from Spain’s anti-terrorist group is there because a Spanish and French minister will be signing new agreements at the local castle and Bruno finds himself being assigned as the local defense expert.

As with all of Martin’s books, there are many sub-plots.  Bruno’s sometimes lover and local B&B owner, Pamela, is back in Scotland with her semi-estranged mother in the hospital with a serious stroke.  His former lover is the leader of the security detail for French Intelligence Service and the attraction is as strong as ever, an old friend has made an historic discovery of a prehistoric burial at a local excavation, while one of the professor’s students finds a much more recent burial – a body dating back to Spain’s ‘Dirty War’ against the Basques and other groups, many of whom were assassinated in the south of France.

The author immerses the reader in village life and the unique pace of daily living in rural France, a life that is being eroded away, but traditions still clung to by in villages throughout France.  Part history lesson, part slice of life, and fully entertaining, with well planned plot and a writing style that is descriptive, atmospheric, and evocative without going over the top, The Crowded Grave was an excellent read.

Is The Crowded Grave worth $14 or so at discount?  I bought a like new copy thru an Amazon reseller for $11 with shipping.  Loved it and thought it worth every penny.  So try for a well priced used book or wait on the paperback, which will take awhile  as it was just published in the US in July.  There is a notation in the front that this edition differs from the UK edition and earlier publications.  No idea how the text had changed.  My grade is B+ (4.2*) Recommend for mystery readers who enjoy enjoy Colin Cotterill and Tony Hillerman.  They do not have to be read in order, though it helps a bit, it isn’t essential to following the plot.

Black Lament by Christina Henry is Book 4 in the Black Wings series.  One of the more original series in the crowded paranormal/UF market, Christina Henry created a unique character in Maddy Black, who got married, pregnant and widowed in in the last few chapters of Book 3 to her love – Gabriel.  Book 4 picks up immediately after Gabriel’s death.  Maddy might be Lucifer’s granddaughter – many generation removed – but it was her father Azazel, Lucifer’s rebellious son who killed Gabriel.  Now Maddy will return the favor and kill him if she can.

Maddy needs protection now that she’s pregnant with Lucifer’s many great-grandson’s and Azazel is still after her.  Of all people to send her for protection, Lucifer sends Nathaniel.  He’d betrayed her, tried to rape her, generally followed every order that Azazel gave, but he fled Azazel’s court and Lucifer is making his protecting Maddy his act of atonement.  Needless to say, he’s not exactly welcome.  Then attacks start happening.  Attacks that smack of Fey.

Angry at Maddy for killing Queen Amarantha.  Even though the queen broke Fairies own laws, Oberon and Titania want payback.  SO Maddy decides to take the fight to them.   Actually, that all she does in this book, is fight.  First the Fey, then her father Azazel, and finally her own Agency – which suddenly seems not so impartial and benign as it did.

The book felt like 3 short stories strung together linked only by threats to Maddy and her unborn child.  She seemed almost a different person, suddenly very violent and powerful.  The interesting supporting characters that made the stories feel complete were little more than walk on parts here.  Filled with action, but no character or soul.

Black Lament gets a C (3*) rating for it’s lack of heart, an important element in the previous books.  Is it worth $7.99?  Not really.  I got mine on the 4-for-3 plan from Amazon, so I paid $5.99 and read it in a few hours.  Like all her books, it’s fairly short.  It was also a very quick and easy read, since it lacked depth and complexity.  It is, however, important if you plan to continue the series, so try to buy a cheap used copy.  This is a series that needs to be read in order to make sense.  The earlier books are better.

Tart by Lauren Dane is one of her loosely related contemporary erotic romances.  Set on Bainbridge Island Washington State, this installment has Juliet ‘Jules’ Lamprey running her bakery and sharing space with her friend and caterer Mary while they get ready for the wedding of their close friend Gillian.  They decide to incorporate local produce and other ingredients whenever possible, so Jules heads out to see an elderly widower who runs and farm and meets up with his grandson, a former high school crush, Gideon Cater.

Gideon came back to Bainbridge after successfully starting and running a ranch with his former brother-in-law.  His divorce made it impossible to stay on the land, so he sold his share and knocked around the world for a few years.  His grandmother’s death and yearning to get back to the land brought his home.  Jules was a major bonus.

Cal Whaley was his best friend in high school and is now the local lawyer.  Cal swings both ways, but is a serial monogamist.  Jules has had a major crush on him since they were kids, but she and Gideon get together and she has no intention of letting Cal get in the middle.

As you can imagine, Cal and Gideon get together with each other and with Jules.  Lots of m/m sex, m/f sex, and various combinations of m/f/m sex held together by a fairly slim plot.  Of it’s type, well written, even if the characters lacked originality.  I could have written the dialogue in my head.  Dane is a favorite of mine, but I find her contemporary books rather short on plot and long on trite and predictable.

Best part – the friendship between the women.  The least believable, the easy way everyone, except Jules brother Ethan,  accepts the triad.  My grade for Tart is C+ (3.5*) – though it gets 4.5* on Amazon, so it’s a matter of personal taste.  Is it worth about $10.00?  No.  Just not enough substance, but if you want a hot contemporary read, it’s a good choice.

February 12, 2012

Recent Reads – A Mixed Bag of Brief Reviews

I’ve been hauling in deliveries from Amazon almost daily – like a true book addict looking for fix.  I have no defense, some authors are ‘must have’ even at hard cover prices, and many trade paperbacks would take forever to get through a book swapping site, then there’s the lure of the 4-for-3 promotion that extends to unreleased titles on pre-order.  What can I say, I’m just weak.

For the first time in awhile, I read some erotic romance.  With so many of the ebook authors moving from small press publishers to major print houses, I ended up trying 3 new to me authors at Siren.  Keep in mind, the current popularity of m/m, f/f, and BDSM books cuts way back on what I might read.  Not opposed to them and many good ones have m/m or BDSM elements, they just don’t have a lot of interest for me.  With what I did buy, the results were not encouraging.  In print, yet another anthology came up, meh!, another a cut average thanks to good wring – and there were two winners – Cipher by Moira Rogers and Jory Strong’s Inked Magic!  YEAH!!!!!   I had other winners too –  in the mystery category Boca Daze by Steven M. Forman, in the historical cozy category The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose, and in the noir Urban Fantasy category Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey.

First up are the Erotic Romance ebooks and print books:

  • Title:  Cowboy Commandos Seduce Their Woman (Wyoming Warriors 3)
  • Author: Paige Cameron
  • Type:  Contemporary erotic romance
  • Genre: ménage
  • My Grade: C (3.0*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Short/ Category Novel – under 60,000+ $5.99
  • Where Available:  Available online at Siren
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased through an online publisher bookstore

I know, the title should have been a dead give away.  I bought it anyway.  Actually, it was the pick of the litter, even though the shopworn plot has one used so many times, by so many authors, it embodied trite.  Still, the characters had some personality and  for a short novel, it managed a beginning,  middle, and end.  The sex was OK, but not really pulse racing. (more…)

September 30, 2010

New Releases – Paranormal UF and 2 Siren Erotic Romance

We all know I do love my paranormal, especially shifter and UF and there have been some good and blah releases lately, plus a couple of erotic romances.  Here we go.  First is a favorite series of mine, the Elemental Assassin.

  • Title: Venom
  • Author:  Jennifer Estep
  • Type:  Paranormal Urban Fantasy
  • Genre:  #3 of the Gin Blanco Elemental Assassin series; murder and mayhem as Gin finds her youngest sister
  • Sub-genre:  Former assassin goes after the elemental who murdered her family
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller (more…)

August 27, 2010

New Concepts Publishing – 3 Books; Erotica – Shapeshifter to Futuristic

New Concepts Press has several very reliable authors in their stable, the two I read most are Madelaine Montague and Kaitlyn O’Connor and this lot was no different.  NCP does not release books on any particular schedule, so it’s not a site I check on any regular schedule.

So here we go, with the Good, the Bad, and the Really Icky.

  • Title: Dragon’s Blood
  • Author:  Madelaine Montague
  • Type:  Paranormal erotic romance; ménage or polyandry
  • Genre: Dragons living hidden among Native Americans
  • Sub-genre:  FBI recruit finds herself pregnant and confused about a bear attack
  • My Grade: C+  (3.4*)
  • Rating:  NC-17 to X
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 80,000 words ebook for $5.99
  • Where Available:  book available at New Concepts Publishing book store online
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s website (more…)

April 25, 2010

Short Reviews: Mystery, Erotic Romance and Paranormal Reviews

My apologies for slacking off on reviews the past few weeks.  I’ve been reading a lot, but too busy with life to get here as I should.   Here are a few books worth mention.

Well reading I’ve been lately has been quite a mixed bag – erotic romance, mystery and paranormal.  I’ve also had mixed results, as usual, but a couple worthy entries – one erotic futuristic and one mystery.

  • Title: The Forgotten: Discovery
  • Author:  Kaitlyn O’Connor
  • Type:  Futuristic erotic romance
  • Genre:  Human discovers cyborgs;  cybogs discover themselves and sex
  • Sub-genre:  Science fiction with a touch of ménage
  • My Grade: B  (4.0*)
  • Rating:  NC-17 to XX
  • Length and price:  Full length novel; about 90,000+ words for $7.99
  • Where Available:  ebook available at New Concepts Press
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s website (more…)

January 29, 2010

Book Review: Claimed by the Wolf by Charlene Teglia

  • Title: Claimed by the Wolf
  • Author: Charlene Teglia
  • Type:  Erotic paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Witch accidentally opens a portal for demons and is given second chance – at a price
  • Sub-genre:  Sex magic and death
  • My Grade: C+ (3.5*)
  • Rating: xxx
  • Length and price: Full novel.  80,000 words for $13.99, discounts available
  • Where Available: Where books are sold
  • FTC Disclosure: Purchased from online bookstore

In Claimed by the Wolf, Charlene Teglia writes a super hot paranormal sex romp that tells the tale of what happens when rookie witch Sybil Ames dabbles in magic well beyond her skill level.  Sybil is the coven’s youngest witch and frustrated by her very slow training.  One day she stops at an estate sale and discovers a book hidden in an old dresser.  Thinking it an old grimoire, she buys it for $1.   In just barely trying it, she accidentally opens a portal to the demon world when the old spell book compels her to speak a spell.  Realizing she’s done something awful, she calls on the Goddess for help.  Caught in the lash of power she can’t control,   Sybil does the only thing she can think of, breaks the magic circle to allow a Guardian in to try to destroy the spell book she’d thought so ordinary.  Kenric, a werewolf, breaks through, but in trying to burn the book. the spell is able to jump and write itself in her body.  She has become a living spell that could open a portal to the demon world. (more…)

October 29, 2009

Book Review: Dark Abyss by Kaitlyn O’Connor

Kaitlyn O’Connor is one of my favorite furturistic erotic romance writers.  Her Cyborg Nation series is funny and brings up a lot of interesting philosophical points and men just dying for sex.  For Dark Abyss, she freely borrows many of the elements in her cyborg series and blends them with catastrophic climate changes on Earth to create the near future world in which Dark Abyss is set.

  • Title: Dark Abyss
  • Author: Kaitlyn O’Connor
  • Type: Futuristic erotic romance
  • Genre: Near future after cataclysmic climate change
  • Sub-genre: Genetically altered humans
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Length: about 78,000 words – full novel
  • Where Available: ebook only at this time from New Concepts (link for convenience only)
  • FTC Disclosure: This ebook was purchased on the publisher’s website

Dark Abyss opens with an act of sabotage against the underwater territory of New Atlantis, the primary supplier of food, water, and power to now devastated US that lost much of its arable land to the rising seas when the polar ice caps melted.  The men who agreed to start the underwater cities were genetically altered so they could live and breath underwater, even though the cities are domed and filled with air so the machinery can function for things like the desalinization plant, and plants can grow in the greenhouses.  These genetically altered people are called ‘mutants’ by those who live on the surface.  They in turn call the surface dwellers ‘air breathers’. (more…)

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