Saturday, April 28, 2012

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Where to Buy

This is a fairly well-known book, though I wasn't particularly aware of the fact until recently. As such, I'm sure there are any number of reviews done by far more knowledgeable people than me that cover it. Still, I'll jot down a few of my own thoughts about it here, for the sake of writing some sort of review of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everlasting Desire by Amanda Ashley

The clientele at Shore's clothing store includes some of L.A.'s sexiest bachelors. But none of them affects Megan DeLacey as deeply as the dark-eyed stranger who strides into her boutique one evening - and keeps returning, night after night. Megan is drawn to Rhys Costain even as she fears him. Because his reason for being there is clear - he wants Megan, with an intensity that's both tempting and terrifying.

For almost five centuries, Rhys has lived alone, using women as it pleased him and never wanting more. As Master of the West Coast vampires, it's his duty to eliminate the ancient vampire who's draining humans on his turf, putting all of their kind at risk. But Megan's lush beauty and vibrant warmth is blinding him to a danger that will soon engulf them both - and tear him from the only woman who can satisfy his darkest hunger.

Where to Buy

An entertaining book with plenty of twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing as to what will happen next. Sure, there are plenty of things that are easy to predict, since this is a romance of the sort that you know will have a happily ever after ending, so some things are a given, but still the author manages to throw in plenty of things that are surprising. Even if only somewhat so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blood Oath by Kit Tunstall

Anca has believed her father was dead her entire life. When Demi appears to bring her to visit her dying father, at first she doesn't believe him. Once she's convinced her father still lives, she agrees to meet him. It's only when she arrives in Corsova that she realizes what's expected of her and what she is, what most of the people of Corsova are... vampires.

Where to Buy

Starting with the potentially interesting, if somewhat tired, premise of an heir to a throne that's been hidden away since birth to protect him/her from those who would seek to eliminate the threat to their own position, this book has a moderate success with the theme. For the first half, everything's going along fine, with a decent sort of pacing as Anca learns more and more about what she's been drug into, and the first big attack on her comes about the time you'd expect it to, and has pretty much the expected outcome. Anca of course resists her destiny at first, once she's told what it is, but also (of course) eventually comes around to accept it. I thought the acceptance came a bit too quickly and suddenly, but such was really only to be expected given the relatively shortness of the book. There are other conflicts thrown in, but they too are mostly overcome pretty easily such that whatever tension or suspense is generated at times is fairly short-lived. The villainess is eliminated (or is she?!) fairly easily really, and they all live happily ever after (maybe, maybe not...). There's just enough uncertainty about certain things at the end of the book to keep it from feeling like it was all tied up nice and pretty with a bow, and no doubt some things are going to come back to haunt (or maybe just annoy) them again in the future books of the series. All in all, a decent read, though not really one to write home about.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a hand print in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.

Where to Buy

An enjoyable sweet romance with teen characters that are refreshingly mature about their attraction and don't just get all gushy over one another. Add in the time-travel twist, and a girl that's literally hundreds of years ahead of the time she finds herself in, and this one is well-set to be interesting from page one. The author does a good job of pulling the reader in from the start as well with the way Gabi is written to sound just like any intelligent modern teenage girl you might know. You feel like you know her well from page one, and she's just mature enough that even those of us like me who are well past our teens can relate to her.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power - and fear - of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

Where to Buy

This book has shown me why I've avoided steampunk settings before, for I find the whole thing very bizarre as my brain refuses to reconcile an advanced tech like nanoagents inside a body with an 1800s-ish time period (though some of the clockwork devices described in this book are most definitely very intriguing...). That said, I found this to be a very enjoyable read with compelling characters that I couldn't help getting wrapped up with. Many things about this world might have been rather too strange for my tastes, but the characters were very easy to identify with, and the situations they found themselves in were, on the whole, fairly believable.

All In Time by Ciana Stone

Sara's life is filled with mysteries. Why did her parents abandon her as a baby? What's behind the baffling blackouts she suffers and the frightening images she creates while she's out? Who is the strange woman claiming to hold the answers - and why does she keep calling Sara a Hussy?

Morgan's got a few mysteries of his own. What was his father going to give him on the day he died, the gift he said would change Morgan's life? Who is this bewitching woman who keeps passing out and creating pictures of his past and future - and why was she sent to save his life?

All they both know from the moment they meet is that the bond between them is stronger and more passionate than anything either has ever known. And that fate has brought them together for a very important reason.

If only they knew what it was...

I can't really say much about this book other than it was OK. The author had a decent premise going about an immortal woman, Danu, who finds and trains women who have the power to save a man who is destined to do something that will change the world, presumably for the better. As a premise for a modern-day, real-world fantasy series, it has promise. But the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion, starting with the name given to these women: The Hussy Warriors. Yes, it's explained that the term "hussy" is being used in an ancient connotation where it denoted a strong woman who was the leader of her household and who fought to protect those she loved and all that, but the explanation simply can't outweigh the current connotations the word has, and so calling them Hussy Warriors just sounds super-cheesy I think, and makes it sound too much like they're just going to be a bunch of nymphos that "save" their men by giving them all the sex they want or something.