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Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Moonlight Bleu

Moonlight BleuTitle: Moonlight Bleu
Author: Renee Rearden
Page Count: 304 pages (.pdf format)
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: At 500 years young, Saari Mitchell has a lot on her mind. Being cursed with immortality.  Long shifts at the hospital. Being the fated mate to two different Tueri men. Escaping a serial killer. You know how it goes.

If I had to pick one word to describe Moonlight Bleu, it would have to be ambitious.  Right from the start, the stage is set for a really engaging story with an easy-to-relate-to heroine, a great supporting cast, a pair of eminently likable heroes, and a villain who puts the "eep" in creepy.  All in all it adds up to a very fun way to spend an afternoon.

Saari Mitchell has a lot going on.  She was cursed with immortality in the same scary magical ceremony in which her lover, Miko, was murdered 500 years ago, and has been trying to make the best of things ever since.  She has a job completely devoted to helping people and a pair of best friends (one a cupid, the other a vampire) who not only know about her curse, but love her anyway and keep her secret.  She figures life is about as good as it's going to get, and that her chances of ever finding true love, or even something resembling it, died with Miko. 

Saari is just as surprised as anyone else, then, when she meets Dhelis Guidry while fighting off a rogue vampire and the sparks fly, literally.  Saari isn't sure what to make of their strange connection and is even more baffled to find out that instead of being a proverbial island, she's actually Tueri, a race of paranormally gifted beings with a rich history and a fairly strong, if hidden, presence in the contemporary world.

The surprises for Saari don't end there, as when Dhelis takes her to a Tueri healer, Brogan Vincent, after she's brutally injured by the rogue vampire (it's actually worse than that- the vamp killed her, but Dhelis doesn't know that) and they all find out together that Brogan is Saari's mate as well. 

I know what you're thinking, and I'll stop you right now- this isn't a menage romance, at least not yet.  These three share a kiss at the end of the book and that's it for romantic content, which I have to admit is unusual in books billed as paranormal romance.  One of my favorite things about the "romance" in this book, and the quotes are there for a reason, is that it's in its infancy.  These people just met and are thrown together into a powerful bond, and they all want to make sure that what they feel is real, Saari especially, since eventually she's going to have to reveal her whammy of a secret, that being that she's never going to die and they eventually will.  These three are still in the first date stammering and blushing phase of the relationship and are trying to wrap their minds around their unusual circumstances.

The story line involving the Full Moon Killer is interesting, especially because we know who the killer is and what his motivations are from the get go.  That dovetails into a further expansion and exploration of the supernatural world that serves as the setting for the story, and introduces some side characters that I'm hoping make appearances in future books as well.

If I had to make a criticism of this book, it would be that I wasn't entirely sure a) why Saari is still so hung up over Miko's death after five hundred years, and b) why it's so imperative that she keep her immortality a secret from the rest of the supernatural world.  I totally understand why she wouldn't want regular human folks to know, as the temptation to spirit her away to a secure location would be too much for most to resist, but we're talking about a secret community of vampires, werewolves, lunates (which are not the same as werewolves), psychic beings, and more who have just as much to lose from exposure as she does.  I guess I feel like the supernatural community at least would be more tolerant of her situation than she thinks.

With regards to Miko, maybe that's a facet of Saari's story that will get further probing in future books, especially now that not one, but two soul mates have appeared on the scene.  One would think that five hundred years of existence would have dulled the pain somewhat.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Besides that, though, this was a really entertaining and detailed book that definitely left me wanting to know what happens next for the characters involved.  If you're looking for an adventurous urban fantasy with a dash of romance but nothing sexually explicit, look no further than this.

Overall Grade: A

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: Drink of Me

Drink of MeTitle: Drink of Me
Author: Jacquelyn Frank
Page Count: 354 pages
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less: Reule is the Prime of the Sange people, the leader of his Pack of warriors, and the defender of his territory against brutal climate changes and freaky empathic enemies. The last thing he ever wanted to do was settle down and commit to one person, but when he finds a mysterious woman, beaten and dying, in a attic while trying to rescue a Packmate, he sets a whole boodle of events in motion, and even he wasn't prepared for the outcome.

I remember seeing this book come up as a related search result on Amazon awhile ago and for the longest time, I couldn't find out anything else about it (the same thing that's going on with this author's next release, Seduce me in Dreams, actually- there's a preorder page and nothing else.)  This is a real shame, because Drink of Me seems to have flown pretty much under the radar as a result (despite getting to #19 on the NY Times bestseller list- woohoo!)  I'm happy to do my part here to get the word out about this book, though, as it's excellent, fun, detailed, and romantic, with a heroine that makes me want to stand up and shout hooray.

Drink of Me is the story of the Sange people and their leader, Reule.  Reule has led his people back from the brink of extinction to settle in the Jeth valley, a cold and snowy contrast to the sunny tropical paradise they were all used to.  The Sange are reviled by other tribes and communities because of the fact that they drink blood during sex or during times of extreme physical stress, but closer examination reveals that they have a sophisticated culture and want to take a place among the other peoples for trade and other forms of cultural advancement.  There has never been a day when Reule, as Prime, did not put the needs of his people ahead of his own, so when he's out with his Pack trying to find a fellow Packmate who's been captured by the enemy, he's floored to discover another victim, a mysterious woman with amnesia who's knocking on death's door herself.

The woman is nameless for the first couple of scenes in which she appears; she has no memory of her past, how she came to be in such dire straits or anything else.  She literally starts building a new life for herself from the moment she regains consciousness, and that includes taking on a new name: Mystique.  The chemistry between Mystique and Reule is instantaneous and explosive; the fact that Mystique is an outsider is definitely cause for concern, especially among the Pack, who've never seen Reule act like this about anyone.

Mystique is no weakling or wilting blossom, though, and she has some serious skills that quickly make her a valued ally for the Pack.  When she saves the wounded warrior Chayne from the brink of death at the hands of a crooked doctor, she cements her place among the Pack and begins to build a reputation as a gifted healer.

Reule doesn't take long to figure out that Mystique is the queen he'd always hoped for but never really thought he'd find, and even in the face of tragedy, he works to cement Mystique's place in his life.  I really enjoyed reading about how they grew as a couple and became allies against pretty much overwhelming odds, and Reule's devotion in the face of finally uncovering the truth about her past was nice as well, and that devotion ends up paying off in spades for the Sange people.

Probably my favorite element of this story, though, was the interesting world in which it was set.  There was a neat fusing of modern elements (the Sange keep has electricity, for example) with the feeling of a fantasy type setting (castles and warriors and all that jazz.)  I was happy reading about the Sange trade routes and about their culture; the author created a world with plenty of juicy details for me as a reader to gobble up, but not so many that the pace of the story bogged down.

Although this book is presented as a stand alone book, the opportunity is definitely there for future stories if the author feels so inclined.  As much as I would love more books set in this world, I think it's cool that this book was intended as a one shot deal, something you don't see a lot of in the book world.  Either way, this is an excellent book with a sweet happily ever after, a fun setting, and characters that grabbed my interest on the first page and didn't let go until the end.  This is one for the keeper shelf, folks!

Overall Grade: A

Fall into Reading 2010- just checking in...

With less than a month to go before the end of the Fall into Reading Challenge for 2010, I wanted to take a minute and eyeball my progress.  For the most part, I have to say that I'm doing well!

For those who don't remember this post, here's the list of books for this challenge:

Blood, Smoke and MirrorsMaskedDark Warrior Untamed (Talion)Avim's Oath (Okal Rel Saga)Cinkarion: The Heart of Fire (Chronicles of the Karionin)Immortal Quest

Rider: Spirals of Destiny: Book 1Cinco de MayoDead Eye: Pennies for the FerrymanPaul Is UndeadOf Bees and Mist: A Novel

Last Exit In New JerseyInternational Kittens of MysteryLove Sucks!

And from NetGalley:

Motor City FaeAlien RevealedMob Rules (Luna Books)MercySunrise Over TexasCrown of Crystal Flame (Tairen Soul)

20 review books is nothing to sneeze at! I'm pleased to say that I've read and written reviews for 6 of these books so far:
International Kittens of Mystery
Of Bees and Mist
Alien Revealed
Blood, Smoke and Mirrors
 Love Sucks! (guest review at The Book Vixen back in October)

...Okay, I guess I thought I was a little further along than that.  Still, the purpose for setting these goals as a challenge to myself was to get myself motivated to read some books I've accepted for review, and so far I've done that!  Now it's in to some of these other excellent books.

With regards to my goal of building up a buffer of reviews, I've been pretty hit or miss on that one as well.  Two weeks seems to have been a little lofty, but I've been doing one week of scheduled posts much more consistently.  Although, I don't have any plans for the rest of the evening, so maybe it's time to get back in the saddle...

How are you coming with your reading/reviewing/blogging goals? If you haven't set any yet, do you have any in mind for the rest of the year? Discuss in the comments!

Finish this love song and win $250!

Many thanks to Elena over at Wunderkind PR for the heads up about this contest!

In celebration of the release of The Perfect Love Song back in October, the author, Patti Callahan Henry, is hosting a really fun contest.

As you might guess, a love song between the two characters plays a huge part in the book, and to win a $250 American Express gift card, all you have to do is finish it! The lyrics so far are:
“I cannot find or define the moment you entered my heart. 
When you entered and turned a light on in the deepest part…”

Easy, right? The official entry form is located at Patti Callahan Henry's blog, so if you want a shot at the prize, head over there to submit your entry!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Illustrated Friday: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Fans of Peter Rabbit's adventures in Mr. MacGregor's garden will find a lot to love in Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, which is about a trio of rabbits and their quest to eat all the vegetables! Mr. McGreely tries everything he can think of to keep them out but the bunnies just keep coming back! Repeated text and the fun antics of the bunnies and Mr. McGreely makes this one a fun one for group readalouds or for story time at home. Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Bounty- giveaways, interesting posts, and more!


I hope everyone is having a fantastic day filled with excellent food, surrounded by loved ones, but I have to say that there are TON of cool things going on in the book blogging world right now!

Interesting Blog Posts
To get the ball rolling, the always insightful Persnickety Snark has a really thought provoking post up about negative versus critical reviews that I highly recommend checking out. It's inspired by some recent blogging drama that I hadn't heard of until today, but the points she addresses are relevant to all of us.

Fun Free Stuff!
Owl Lover 2011 Calendar

2011 is almost here and that means it will be time for new calendars!  Via Craft, here's a free, customizable owl-themed calendar featuring all kinds of cool art from 30 different artists from My Owl Barn! There's also an option to download a predesigned calendar if that's more your bag. Check it out!

Want a chance to read the book that made Glenn Beck all angsty? Here's your chance!  The book's publisher is offering the book as a free PDF download. Here's the description, for those who haven't heard:
The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn't give you the date and it didn't give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die." MACHINE OF DEATH tells thirty-four different stories about people who know how they will die. Prepare to have your tears jerked, your spine tingled, your funny bone tickled, your mind blown, your pulse quickened, or your heart warmed. Or better yet, simply prepare to be surprised. Because even when people do have perfect knowledge of the future, there's no telling exactly how things will turn out. Featuring stories by: Randall Munroe * Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw * Tom Francis * Camille Alexa * Erin McKean * James L. Sutter * and many others. Featuring illustrations by: Kate Beaton * Kazu Kibuishi * Aaron Diaz * Jeffrey Brown * Scott C. * Roger Langridge * Karl Kerschl * Cameron Stewart * and many others.
Excellent Giveaways
I love this time of year, not only for all the festive togetherness and all that jazz, but because of the really awesome giveaways that pop up all over the blogging universe.  Check these out:
Among the Muses, Book of Secrets, and The Forbidden Bookshelf are giving away three excellent prizes in the form of gift certificates! First prize is $30, second is $20, and third is $10, and the giveaway is open internationally!  I'll get you started with the link to Among the Muses, but you can go to each blog sponsoring the event and enter there for three chances to win!

Literary Escapism has teamed up a bunch of authors to raise money and resources for Child's Play, a charity that works to put toys, games, and electronics into children's hospitals all over the world.  For each dollar you donate, whether in the form of a cash donation or in donating merchandise from a hospital's Amazon wishlist, you get one entry to win a whole boodle of prize packs- over 70 books are up for grabs! Head over to Literary Escapism for all the details!

Larissa from Larissa's Life always knows how to throw a party, and her combined Xmas/3rd Blogoversary is no exception. There are ton of excellent books up for grabs as well as Amazon gift cards, so get to Larissa's Bookish Life and enter enter enter!
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