Friday, April 30, 2010

Review! The Chief by Monica McCarty

The Chief
(A Highland Guard Novel, book 1)
Monica McCarty
Ballantine Books
March 23, 2010
ISBN-10: 0345518225
ISBN-13: 978-0345518224

 Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.
The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor’s bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.
Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart—before it’s too late.
Christina Fraser is between a rock and a hard place. That hard place being a certain highlander chief named Tor MacLeod. For most of her life, all she's wanted is to escape her father's temper and run to a nunnery with her sister but she soon finds out her father has other plans for her. She has been bartered in marriage to Tor by Robert the Bruce and her father to get him to agree to train an elite group of highlanders to help free Scotland from English rule. Tor never wanted to get in the middle of this war, he was more than happy keeping to himself in his lands and protecting his people. However, due to extenuating
circumstances, he doesn't have a much of a choice and agrees to marry Christina and to train the most skilled of Highlanders in secret. 

Unfortunately, Tor and Christina's marriage is off to a rocky start. He's been burned by women before and is not openly trusting at all. While the chemistry between them is explosive, their relationship outside the bedroom leaves something to be desired but Christina is determined to breach Tor's icy exterior. If their marriage is to survive, then something's got to be done. However, when her plan to do so ends up endangering herself and others, Tor will do anything to save his people and his wife.  

The Chief is the first book to a brand-new series and a really great start! The characters are highly entertaining. Tor will make you swoon! Sure, there are moments where he's a super alpha male but that's just what's so fun about the story. He's not one of those overbearing alphas and Christina's more than capable to get him to dial it down a notch even though at times she's really naive. Considering this is the start of a series, I'm highly intrigued about the coming books because some of the other Highlanders in this super-secret group sound really hot! The Chief has got it all: the hot romance, great action scenes and lovely characters and I had a wonderful time reading it. 

Lush Rating: 4!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cue Squee!

If I'm MIA lately, don't be surprised. I've got this baby in my greedy wee hands and I am in LURVE.

Nom nom nom!

One word: Curran. Be back later!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review! Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

Hunted by The Others
Jess Haines
May 4, 2010
ISBN-10: 1420111876
ISBN-13: 978-1420111873

They are the Others--the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they're stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again. . .
 In A Town Like This, Being A P.I. Can Be Murder
Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm--if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires.
As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend--a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing--and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil--whether she likes it or not. . .
I had been itching to read this story for months now and when I started it, it quickly became apparent that it wasn't going to be exactly what I had expected. The main character, Shiarra, is supposedly a P.I yet honestly, at times she was a down-right moron with the worst case of TSTLitis I've ever seen! To give her some credit, after she made some monumental mistakes, she really kicked herself up for it and admitted that hey, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to taunt the big bad vampire? Oh, lord. And she does make up for it, although it takes her a good chunk of the story to straighten herself up. 

On that note, Royce - the big, bad yummylicious vampire - is one of the things that kept me reading the story. I was highly intrigued by this sexy vampire and I really would have liked to have read some of the story from his POV but it's written in Shiarra's POV. Nevertheless, he easily became one of my favorite characters! The other secondary characters - Like Arnold, the nerdy mage whose motive might not be so pure and there's also the ex-boyfriend who is also a werewolf, Chaz, just to mention a few - really added more depth to the plot. 

Hunted by the Others is Ms. Haines's first book and as such, I feel it's a pretty good start! What I really liked is that she doesn't throw too much world-building at the reader, just enough to start the series with. And sure, while there were some moments where I just had to roll my eyes at the heroine, the reader can definitely see her transition from clueless P.I. into kickass-take-no-crap heroine and it's a highly entertaining story! With lots of funny moments, plenty of action and a bit of a romance, Hunted by the Others is a fun read and I'm definitely going to be reading the next book in this new series.  

Lush Rating: 3.5!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In My Mailbox! (28)

I've got a few books this week!

Hell, Yeah by Carolyn Brown - This is the second book in her upcoming cowboy series, I'm reading the first one right now!
The Turning by Helen Ellis - Which I already read! Review coming soon..

That's all! What did you get?

-- IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Review! Running Scared by Shannon K. Butcher

Running Scared 
(The Sentinel Wars, book 3)
Shannon K. Butcher
May 4, 2010
ISBN-10: 0451412907
ISBN-13: 978-0451412904

They are the Sentinels. Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes: the Synestryn. Now one Sentinel's survival determines the fate of them all.
Lexi Johns has one purpose: to free her best friend from the hands of the Sentinels. And Zach, the Sentinel she has been running from for months, has one goal: to convince her that their destinies are entwined. For the magic that Zach has absorbed could destroy him if he doesn't find the woman who can channel it for him. And he knows Lexi is the one.
From an early age, Lexi has been taught to fear the Sentinels. And now she is an agent of a group out to destroy them. So when Zach finds her, it is Lexi's chance to strike at the heart of the Sentinels. But, as Lexi sees Zach's courage, selflessness, and honor, she begins to doubt her beliefs -- and is faced with an unbearable choice.
Lexi has been running from the Sentinels all her life and when she's marked by Zach, one of them, she immediately goes on the run. But now, she has a plan. She's done running and she wants to rescue her friend, Helen, from those bloodthirsty monsters. To do that, she has to let herself be caught by Zach, the one Sentinel that terrifies her the most because she's being attracted to him ever since they first saw each other months ago. However, her plan is to not only rescue Helen but hurt those guys where it matters by planting a bunch of explosives in their compound and blowing the place to kingdom come.

Yet when Zach finally finds her and takes her back to the heart of the Sentinel world, she slowly founds out that Zach is not the monster out for blood she thought he was but a courageous, honorable being that wants to take care of her. Her decades-old beliefs battle with her new-found knowledge and as both their attraction to each other deepens, Lexi better make a decision fast before it's too late and people start dying. 

Running Scared is the third installment of the Sentinel Wars and a really great one at that! We first meet Lexi and Zach in Burning Alive, the first book, and since then, she has been running from him. The one thing that truly annoyed me about Lexi was how damn negative and pigheaded she was. No matter what Zach did to make her understand that he would never hurt her and that he wants to be with her, she's still treats him as a monster and she just can't let go of the beliefs her mother taught her. I can understand having a hard time when all you've even known for years turns out to not be completely true but she just took it too far and it got old real fast. 

Zach was an awesome character. He is so patient with Lexi and he practically bends over backwards trying to change her mind about the Sentinels and make her see the truth. While Lexi was being really pigheaded about trusting Zach, she definitely didn't have issues making out with him though! Their chemistry was sizzling and it made for some really hot scenes. No matter that Zach and Lexi were the main characters, Madoc and Nika completely stole the story for me. I am waiting patiently for their story but it's killing me! I'm happy to report though that the next book in this series is called Living Nightmare and it's their story! 

I really enjoyed reading Running Scared, even though Lexi annoyed me to no end at times, the plot and the other characters - especially Madoc and Nika! - kept me reading and I cannot wait for the next book in this really fun series.  

Lush Rating: 3.5!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday! (15)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Nom nom nom

Demon From the Dark 
Kresley Cole

A dangerous demon she can't resist...

Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he's pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.
A maddening witch he aches to claim...

Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.
Trapped together in a savage prison...

For them to survive, Malkom must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When he becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?

Cole's IAD series is pretty much my book crack and I am ITCHING to get my paws on the next book, Demon From the Dark. Out in August from Pocket and Oh-EM-GEE! I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review! Dead Matter by Anton Strout

Dead Matter
Simon Canderous, book 3
Anton Strout
February 23, 2010
ISBN-10: 0441018440
ISBN-13: 978-0441018444

When the paranormal raises its otherworldy head in New York City, the Department of Extraordinary Affairs executes a flawless, stick-the-landing smackdown. That’s the idea anyway, and Agent Simon Canderous can usually count on help from his mentor, Connor Christos. But Connor’s left Simon to handle a double case load as he cashes in on five years worth of saved vacation time. Simon suspects that Connor isn’t Club Medding so much as Club Deading it up—investigating the disappearance of his long lost brother.
Simon especially needs Connor when the spirit populace of Manhattan is shaken and stirred by someone intruding on their well-deserved R.I.P. But Connor’s relentless ghost whispering has sent him off the deep end; he’s haunted every night by visions of his brother’s ghost at his window. Simon’s partner may be going crazy—or worse, maybe he’s not...
As an agent for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs, Simon Canderous has dealt with his share of crazy, paranormal stuff, like chupacabras and fashion zombies, but none of that has been as important as his latest investigation. When he founds out his partner Connor is trying to found out what happened to his long-lost brother and in the process has gone the deep end, things rapidly become a lot more dangerous than Simon thought. Maybe Connor is not as crazy as they thought. The D.E.A has always had the belief that they beaten the vampires, but when Simon founds himself in the midst of these bloodthirsty beings, what he's always known comes into question and decisions have to be made before people start dying.

Dead Matter's another great addition to the Simon Canderous series, I think Simon has grown up a lot in the previous books and it definitely shows. Sure, he still has his quirky sense of humor that makes for such a fun read but he also thinks about important things like when he wonders about good versus evil and how it reflects the D.E.A and the vampires' war. While I've never been a big fan of Simon's girlfriend, Jane, surprisingly I didn't really hate her character in this book. She seemed to really care about Simon and tried to help him so I couldn't completely hate her.

I read Dead Matter in one sitting, it's an incredibly entertaining story! I definitely didn't see the "bad guy" coming until the very end. This is a very fun, action-packed story with great characters that will keep you on the edge of you seat! I'm so looking forward to the next Simon Canderous book.

    Lush Rating: 4!

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Quickie Review! Flirting with Forever by Gwyn Cready

    Flirting with Forever
    Gwyn Cready
    March 30, 2010  
    ISBN-10: 1439107246  
    ISBN-13: 978-1439107249

      Art historian Cam Stratford is about to make a name for herself with her sexy tell-all "fictographies" of 17th century painters, but she's more familiar with her subjects than her readers can imagine. Thanks to a time portal she's discovered, she has caused quite a stir in the Great Beyond. To protect their members' reputations, the Guild representing dead artists convinces playboy Sir Peter Lely, portraitist to Charles II and a man with his own dark secrets, to sabotage Cam's project. A few hours posing on Peter's modeling chaise lead to a night of seductive passion--then Cam returns home and discovers his betrayal. But before she can turn her angry pen on her lover, Peter makes a surprise visit, transforming Cam's 21st century life into chaos of classic proportion. 
      Flirting with Forever was a bit of a conundrum for me. I haven't read many time travel romances but I really did like the premise. I just thought it was too drawn out at times and this made some parts so boring! But I also loved the interaction with Cam and Peter. They have such great chemistry together! I really did like the story but the pacing killed me. If there hadn't been so much over-descriptions and the pacing was more even, I think Flirting with Forever would be awesome.

      I love humor and this book definitely delivers, there are some really funny parts that had me laughing out loud. That along with Cam and Peter's great chemistry was what kept me reading. While the pacing had me sighing and rolling my eyes at times, Flirting with Forever is an amusing story about two people who have been hurt in the past trying to get past that. 

      Lush Rating: 3!

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Review! Xombies: Apocalypticon by Walter Greatshell

      Xombies: Apocalypticon
      Walter Greatshell
      February 23, 2010
      ISBN-10: 0441018459
      ISBN-13: 978-0441018451

      XOMBIES: APOCALYPTICON is the continuing saga of the USS No-Name, an Ohio-Class submarine converted to a refugee vessel during the worldwide plague of "Agent X"--a disease that changes women into raving, homicidal Typhoid Marys.
      Leading the fight to survive are Dr. Alice Langhorne, whose research helped spawn the plague; Commander Harvey Coombs, Navy captain minus a navy; Sal DeLuca, BMX champ facing the ultimate Xtreme sport; and troubled teenager Lulu Pangloss, who died and was born again.
      Facing off against them are mutinous shipmates, yoga-crazed prison convicts, hostile mercenaries...and the all-encompassing threat of the Xombies themselves.

      In Xombies: Apocalypticon, we meet a band of stranded humans living in a submarine after civilization was asphyxiated by blue-skinned devils. When Agent X came about, it infected first women then moved on to men and as it quickly spread worldwide, not many survived. At least that's what the people in that 560-foot steel tomb thought until they see a fire burning along an Eastern shore. These survivors, including Sal DeLuca, a boy who lost his dad to Agent X, have barely any food left and are slowly starving to death. To make matters worse, there's some people in the submarine who don't like how it's being commanded and they're about to take matters into their own hands.

      Sal and a bunch of other boys are forced to go into land to look for food, no matter that to send a band of unarmed boys is pretty much a suicide mission against the Xombies but they're forced to go. However, they find more than just food but dozens of men who have not only survived but also have found a way to fight the Xombies. At first, it seems to Sal as these men have a pretty sweet life set up but soon enough, he finds there's more to the eye than eating all the junk food he wants and getting trashed, there's a dark underlying current under all the fun and games and Sal and the boys left are about to find out it's not only the Xombies they should worry about.

      Xombies: Apocalypticon is the sequel to Xombies: Apocalypse Blues and I must give it credit for originality. While the Xombies in this book kind of remind me of the ones in Dawn of the Dead, they are wicked fast! the way Greatshell writes them is really creative. I'd always said that if the zombie apocalypse comes, I really hope the zombies aren't fast or I would be one of the first ones to die. In the first quarter of this story, I was hooked. The description of the Xombies is so well written that at times I was a bit scared. Yet somehow along the way, and I honestly can't exactly said when or how it happened, this story turned psychotic. It stopped making any sort of sense and the ending was a huge "What the hell was that?" moment for me. I can say that the only thing that kept me reading was morbid curiosity. It was like a horrible car crash, I simply could not look away. So, if Greatshell was looking to hooked the reader in a horrified kind of way, then he's more than succeeded in my case! 

      While the description was excellent and I was strangely hooked on finding out what was going to happen next, I was left with more questions than answers and honestly, I'm not really interested in reading the next book in this series. I like reading about and watching movies that feature zombies but I'm afraid these Xombies just didn't do it for me.

      Lush Rating: 2!

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      Zombies make the Book Lush a HAPPY GIRL!

      The other night I was on youtube at work (What? I was floating to OB. have you any idea how boring that place can be?!) when I came upon the trailer for Resident Evil: Afterlife and squealed like a little girl. I'm so damn excited to see this movie!

      Hey, did you notice how that dude looks a lot like Pyramid Head in Silent Hill? Aka the scariest dude EVER. I can't wait to watch it! Are any of you guys as excited as me?! Also, it seems like the zombies are WAY scarier in this one too! Wheeee!

      Okay, I'll stop. By the way, I'm still dealing with my mail thief, hopefully this will be fixed soon and I get my power cord for my poor, lonely laptop.

      Saturday, April 10, 2010

      Review! Where Angels Fear to Tread by Thomas E. Sniegoski

      Where Angels Fear to Tread 
      (Remy Chandler, book 3)
      Thomas E. Sniegoski
      Roc Trade
      March 2, 2010
      ISBN-10: 0451463145
      ISBN-13: 978-0451463142

      Six-year-old Zoe York has been taken and her mother has come to Remy for help. She shows him crude, childlike drawings that she claims are Zoe's visions of the future, everything leading up to her abduction, and some beyond. Like the picture of a man with wings who would come and save her - a man who is an angel.
      Zoe's preternatural gifts have made her a target for those who wish to exploit her power to their own destructive ends. The search will take Remy to dark places he would rather avoid. But to save an innocent, Remy will ally himself with a variety of lesser evils - and his soul may pay the price...

      Remy Chandler is an angel-turned-human-turned PI living in Boston and he has a new case to work. A woman just showed up saying that her ex-husband kidnapped her autistic kid and she wants him to find her little girl. At first, Remy thinks it's a pretty glaringly obvious, the two separated and now the guy stole his own kid. However, Remy soon enough finds out that this is no ordinary case or even close to it. Apparently, this little girl can see the future, her drawings are of things that haven't happened yet and she has scary powers that can either create wonderful things or utterly destroy everything and Remy is not the only one looking for her. But for the little girl's sake, and along everyone else in the world, Remy better find her first. 
      Where Angels Fear to Tread is the third installment in the Remy Chandler series by Sniegoski and the best yet, in my opinion! The characters, down to Remy's dog Marlowe, are so wonderfully thought out and feel so alive that you can't help but want them to be happy, you're invested in what's happening to them in the story. Remy Chandler has easily become one of my favorite characters ever, he's so damn noble and good and he fights for his weak humanity constantly because his angel side is always looking for an opportunity to overcome Remy's humanity and he always has to be careful. The story progresses at a pretty even pace and the plot kept me very entertained. The way Sniegoski worked the Samson and Delilah bible story into the plot was awesome and I really didn't see it coming! 
      Where Angels Fear to Tread is an exciting fantasy PI story with such compelling characters and a plot that will keep you guessing until the very end. I seriously cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

      Lush Rating: 4!

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010

      Review! Mad, Bad and Blonde by Cathie Linz

      Mad, Bad and Blonde
      Cathie Linz
      March 2, 2010
      ISBN-10: 0425233405
      ISBN-13: 978-0425233405

      When a man's too good to be true.
       Jilted on her wedding day for being the queen of dullsville, librarian Faith West goes on her Italian honeymoon solo, hoping to leave her pain behind. That could take a miracle, but she's about to discover miracles do happen. His name is Caine Hunter. Smart, spontaneous, hot, and sexy, he has her feeling like a real woman for the first time ever until the truth surfaces.
      A former Force Recon Marine turned PI, Caine was doing what he does best: spying. And his new target was Faith. But falling for the enemy's daughter was never part of his plan. Caine is a man used to winning, but this time his mission is much more personal  -- and now that he and Faith are both back in Chicago, the rewards could be, too.
      Being left at the altar will piss any girl off but when it happens to Faith West, she doesn't go home and bury her sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry's! Instead she goes to Italy. While flying solo on her honeymoon, she decides to reinvent herself - Now, she's blonde with a new attitude on life. While in Italy, she meets Caine Hunter. He's gorgeous, attracted to her and they're having a wild, hot fling until Faith founds out that he's lied to her. Apparently, he's a former Marine turned PI working for her dad's arch-rival, Vince Kings from Kings investigations. Faith's beyond mad to found out she's being lied to by another man, especially when she founds out Caine was sent by Kings to seduce her to get back to her father but he also has ulterior motives. Caine is investigating his dad's suicide and thinks Faith's dad massively messed up the investigation back then because he's completely sure that his dad would never kill himself. 

      After Faith comes back to the States, she thinks she's done with the Caine fiasco. Yeah, not so fast. Especially when she quits her librarian job and asks her dad for a position in his PI agency as she actually has her PI license. She's happy with her new direction in life until she starts bumping into Caine everywhere. He is not giving up on finding out what really happened with his dad's case and that just might bring them closer than ever before. 

      Mad, Bad and Blonde was one of those books that took me a while to get into. The characters seemed a bit robotic at times. Honestly, there wasn't anything memorable about them or the story. It took me a few weeks to actually finish the book and that's because I had no problems setting it aside to read others due to that the story just wasn't grabbing my attention. But I was determined to give this book a chance and I'm actually glad I did. While I feel that there was just too much tell, not enough show and Linz repeats and repeats the same things, like Caine being a Marine. Yes, I know that. Or Faith thinking that just by changing her hair color, it'll magically be able to make her life better. I'm not saying she only rely on her hair color to make her life better, especially after being dumped at the altar, but it did seem to really be part of the equation for her. However, the chemistry between Caine and Faith just comes right off the page and their interaction was great to read. And once I managed to really get into the story, the plot was entertaining. Faith and Caine are both trying to find out what really happened to his dad and they do make a great team. Mad, Bad and Blonde is a quirky story about two people who are trying to make the best of what life dishes out to them and while I did have some problems with the characters, I did finish the book with a happy smile. 

      Lush Rating: 3!

      Saturday, April 3, 2010

      In My Mailbox! (27)

      I haven't done an IMM in weeks! Mostly 'cause I haven't had any books come in and I've been insanely busy with work and such. But not to fear! I did get books this week, yay!

      Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig
      The Chief by Monica McCarty
      The Demon in Me by Michelle Rowen
      Chimera by Rob Thurman
      Red Hot Fury by Kasey Mackenzie
      Running Scared by Shannon K. Butcher

      I'm sure that if you follow me on Twitter, you've already read my rant about the post office. I lose 2 books this past week and I'm still whining about it. Turns out? Well, someone tried to break into my mailbox and now we can't even open the thing! Yeah, the person messed up the whole locking mechanism so I'm shelled out money for a PO box. And that brings me to another thing: Why are PO boxes so damn expensive?! Gah! And with the PO box came the whole address change business so yeah, right now? So not liking our post office system. Deep breath.

      However, I'm really happy that these books came and I'm so excited to read them all!

      That's my broken-into poor little mailbox, what's yours?

      -- IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren!

      Friday, April 2, 2010

      I miss you interneeeets!

      Hi, guys!

      Quick note - I won't be able to update the blog until possible later this week due to my laptop being on the fritz.

      Not me but perfectly describes my frustration.

       The battery is long dead and the power cord - I swear to god! - starting throwing off sparks. I almost burned the house down! So I ordered a new cord but I have to wait for it to get to me.

      I'll hopefully be back soon! 

      Happy reading!

      He can Chapter-32 me anytime!

      Bones is Mine