April 30, 2012

Book #48 - Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)

Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3), E. L. James
456 pages
romance, erotica
Started 4/23/12
Finished 4/25/12

The last book in the Fifty Shades series was equally as exciting, funny, sad, romantic and hot as the first two. I was so happy to see that James didn't fall off her game and botch the last book like Stephenie Meyer did with Breaking Dawn. As much as I enjoyed the Twilight books, I have to say it - this fan fict series is better than the original inspiration.

Again - I have to caution those that haven't read Freed that there WILL be spoilers below. It's impossible to talk about this book without giving away key plot points from the first and second books. Consider yourselves warned.

I was a bit bothered that the beginning starts six weeks after the conclusion of the second book. Although we do revisit much of that time through Ana's memories, it's just not the same as experiencing it firsthand. And I so enjoyed the masquerade ball in the second book - I would've loved to read more about Ana's and Christian's wedding as it happened. But, that doesn't make the fact that they actually bit the bullet and got married any less sweet.

And, thankfully, their being married didn't water down any of the tension between them. Christian is still trying to control every aspect of his life (including his wife), and Ana is still trying to maintain some semblance of self in the face of such intensity. I'm glad that the "I Dos" didn't magically fix the problems in their relationship. Anyone who's married knows that getting married sometimes complicates things even further. And, there's still a psycho out there trying to kill or kidnap Ana, Ana still has insecurities about Christian's many exes (and one, in particular), and Christian's past keeps getting in the way. Needless to say, these two have lots to work out.

But, the love they have for each other is palpable and exciting and real and utterly, heartbreakingly romantic. It's what kept me turning the pages long after I should've gone to bed. The last 50 pages or so are the absolute best of the entire book. I read them three times before I could consider myself "done." As a whole, this series is the most fulfilling one I've ever read. It's definitely one that will get read often. The writing is smart and funny. The characters are deep and complex and interesting. The sex is hot, yet not cheap and corny (and, that's really hard to do). I couldn't have asked for a better break from my life for a week.  

April 28, 2012

Book #47 - Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2), E. L. James
532 pages
romance, erotica
Started 4/20/12
Finished 4/22/12

I have a new favorite book. I can't really say what might have been my favorite book pre-Fifty Shades - there were several I really loved. Several I loved enough to re-read several times (I'm not generally a re-reader). And then along came Fifty Shades Darker.

At the risk of sounding all gushy - WOW. I mean, wowwowwowwow.

I'll warn you now - it will be difficult to talk about this book without giving away some spoilers. So, if you haven't read this book and don't want to know certain things, please stop reading now. And, don't say I didn't warn you.

Ok, so Ana and Christian have had a tough time of it. Especially Christian. He's feeling all these...feelings. And, he has no idea what to do with them or how to act. But, he at least recognizes the fact that Ana is something new - something special. And, he's willing to make a lot of changes and sacrifices for her. Ana, on the other hand, is afraid of those changes. Afraid she will never be good enough for him, which makes her cautious and insecure. But, Christian has never shared anything with anyone before. And, as the depth of both of their feelings grow, they both realize that they can never be apart again.

In my humble opinion, this is the best of the three books in the series. A lot happens in these 530-odd pages. Ana and Christian redefine their relationship, share details of their lives, fall completely apart at the seams and build each other up again with their love. Oh, and they have sex. Lots and lots of sex. But, the sex, which is what has made everyone talk about these books, is so secondary. It's just background noise. What has taken center stage is the story of this damaged man who starts to claw his way back to a real, whole existence, one "first" at a time.

And the ending...oh, the ending is so epically satisfying, I read it three times before I could officially say I was "done." This was an amazing, astounding, shocking, romantic, sexy book. What more could I say about my most favorite book ever? 

April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

By:  Deborah Harkness
Due out:  July 10, 2012

I read A Discovery of Witches in November and loved the complex story that Harkness wove in it. It was a pretty long book, but there was lots to tell. When Diana and Matthew team up to find an ancient text, they also fall in love. These star-crossed lovers, though, are not supposed to be together - Diana is a witch and Matthew is a vampire. From my review that I wrote in November:

"I almost gave this book 5 stars. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that the author was sometimes so descriptive that I felt the need to skim. I'm a smart person and I was hopelessly lost in some places. Other than that, A Discovery of Witches was absolutely wonderful. It was romantic, suspenseful, sad, funny." I truly do look forward to reading the follow-up. 

Book #46 - Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1), E. L. James
514 pages
romance, erotica
Started 4/18/12
Finished 4/20/12

To be honest, I'm not quite sure where to begin with this one. I finished Fifty Shades of Grey nearly a week ago, and I'm still swirling it around in my head, trying to wrap my brain around the complexity that is Fifty Shades. I do know that I loved it. I mean, looooooooooooved it. And, I don't entirely get why. This book isn't normally my thing. It's sexy, kinky, and there's not a single vampire, werewolf, shifter or faery in sight. Let me break it down - maybe it will help my scattered thoughts come together.

Ana Steele is ready to graduate from college when she unexpectedly meets rich, beautiful Christian Grey. He is inexplicably drawn to her, which compels him to invite her into a part of his life. Ana is equally attracted to Christian, so she reluctantly yet happily accepts. He intrigues her and excites her and makes her feel things she has never felt before. As she grows closer to him, and even falls in love with him, she learns what a wonderful, but flawed man Christian is. It breaks her heart, and she hopes that her love will be enough to save him from himself.

This is most definitely an adult book. With a capital 'A.' The sex was a little distracting at first - it's all spelled out, and Christian's into some pretty crazy stuff. But, once you get past the kinky stuff, what you're left with is a really good love story. You have a man who, through no fault of his own, considers himself so abhorrent, so awful, so tainted, that he is not worthy of anyone's love. And then he meets this girl. This innocent, beautiful, sometimes cranky headstrong girl who gets under his skin in a way that no one else ever has before. He starts to have these...emotions...and he has absolutely no idea what to do with them. His cool, calm, collected self is thrown for a loop. He's wonderful and romantic one moment, and angry and aloof the next. Ana doesn't know what to do with this man that has become the center of her universe. Feelings that intense are bound to cause angst and strife. Right? 

April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox #4

As started by Kristi at The Story Siren, welcome to my listing of  all the books I've procured in the past week. Note that I did not have an IMM post last week. Sadly, that was because I went a WHOLE WEEK without getting any new books. Shocking, I know. But, never fear. That problem was rectified this week. Here's the run down:

Books I Won:

Touch of Frost, Jocelyn Adams (e-book)

Books I Was Gifted:

Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James (e-book)
Fifty Shades Darker, E. L. James (e-book)
Fifty Shades Freed, E. L. James (e-book)

Books I Borrowed (Library):

The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires #2), Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires #3), Rachel Caine

Book #45 - Evernight (Evernight #1)

Evernight (Evernight #1), Claudia Gray
327 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/16/12
Finished 4/18/12

Sorry to say that Evernight failed to captivate me, at least at first. It did have some redeeming qualities, however, it was like pulling teeth to get to them.

Our story opens with Bianca planning to run away from her new boarding school. She lives there now with her parents who are teachers, and she's really chapped about the whole situation. While she's hoofing it through the forest, she literally runs into Lucas, a cute new student like her. He talks her into going back and starting the school year with him. Bianca likes him, but he throws off mixed signals. The night of the school dance (which Bianca attends with Balthazar, the third element in our typical love triangle), Bianca and Lucas share their first kiss, and then she bites him in the neck. Yup. She's a vampire. Things get complicated from there for she and Lucas, as one might expect.

First off, I was quite annoyed to find out that Bianca knew the entire time she was a vampire. I thought it would be, like this big revelation. Like, "Holy crap! I like blood! I had no idea! Why didn't mom and dad tell me??" But, the reader finds out that Bianca was born a vampire, so she's known she's one her whole life. Obviously, her parents (and 90% of the school staff and students) are also vampires. It really confused me as a reader, when I think the intention was supposed to be cleverness.

A little while after we find out Bianca is a vampire, the story vastly improved. Until that time, the plot was slow, sometimes plodding along at what seemed like a snails pace. After Bianca and Lucas have it out and all the cards are laid on the table, the story quickens and I was finally engaged. The end was good, which I guess is the most important thing, since it left me wanting to read the next book in the series.

April 21, 2012

Book #44 - Falling Under (Falling Under #1)

Falling Under (Falling Under #1), Gwen Hayes
324 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/12/12
Finished 4/15/12

I was given this book by a friend who warned me. She didn't like it. I thought, "It can't be that bad, can it?" Well...

I didn't find any of the characters likable. And, really, how can I like a book when I the characters annoy the crap out of me. Haden is a whiny, grump. Theia is wishy-washy and blah. Donny is a stone cold bitch. Ame is flighty and air headed. And Gabe seriously needs to grow a pair. I found the character development to be weak (obviously, since I couldn't endear myself to any of them). The plot development was very disjointed. I was confused half the time and bored the other half. I was constantly reminded of Theia's sheltered British life - and, by the way, I totally didn't buy the British bit. It felt like a gimmick thrust in the story with a crowbar.

Somewhere in the middle, though, the story started getting more interesting. I believe it was around the time when Theia found out what Haden really was and what was going on with him. That revelation helped a lot. On the other hand, it was also the last third of the book's downfall. It felt like there was a lot of anticipation and wonder around what Haden was and why he was there. Why could he do what he did? Why didn't he want to touch Theia? What would happen if he did? In the end, nothing happened. And, it became so easy for them to shift between their worlds that the excitement and wonder of it all quickly wears away. What's the big deal? Once the cats were let out of the bag, my reaction was like, "Ohhhh! Cool. So... is that it then?" Not the hallmark of a stellar story.

April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

By:  Michael Scott
Due out:  May 22, 2012

This week's installment is a book that is finishing out a series that I started about two years ago. The Enchantress is the last of six books in the The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. The main characters - Nicholas Flamel, his wife Perry, brother and sister duo Sophie and Josh, and head baddie John Dee - were introduced in the first book, The Alchemyst. The books have gotten progressively darker and more complicated. And, the fifth in the series, The Warlock, ended with a bang and a BIG cliffhanger.  

Although I'm looking forward to reading this book and finishing up the series, I'm also glad it's ending. I haven't been thrilled with the direction the series has headed. There's no wonder or joy left at all. It's become a really depressing story. A satisfying and happy ending is what I'm hoping for here. I sincerely hope Michael Scott comes through for me. 

Book #43 - Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood #3)

Lover awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood #3), J. R. Ward
434 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/11/12
Finished 4/12/12

I tell you, this series gets better and better. I had heard from other BDB fans that book #3 was one of the best, and they weren't just whistling Dixie. Now, I only have the first three under my belt, and to date, there are 10 total, so I don't have many to compare. But, I really can't see how they can get much better than this.

Lover Awakened tells Zsadist's story. Z is the scary, mean, scarred brother that everyone is warned to stay away from. He's volatile, dangerous and has a really bad reputation. Yet, vampire Bella manages to see through all that and sees someone she wants to know more of. That, and a really hot body. Her interest in Z both exhilarates and scares him, and when she goes and gets herself kidnapped, he makes it his life's mission to find her. Find her, he does, and they both set themselves on a journey together into their past and current nightmares.

This book, more so than any of the others so far, is tragic and sad. So many horrible things happen to several of our main characters. And, with each thing that happens, the Brotherhood pulls together to take care of their own. Perhaps that is what draws me to these stories so much. It's not the hot, sexy guys and the great love stories, although, don't get me wrong - without those, there's no way these would be 5-star books. I think what I love the most is the relationship between the brothers. They're more than best friends. They're brothers in arms. They would die for one another. They rejoice in each others' happiness and mourn in each others' tragedy. One brother's pain is shared by all of them. Any of them would die for the others. Relationships like that are incredible.

As far as I'm concerned, J. R. Ward is a genius. She sucks me in from the first word, and not many books do that these days. I don't know what it is about her, but she's written about these men such that I care about them and what happens to them. I'd love to have dinner with her and pick her brain. One could learn a lot from an author like J. R. Ward. 

April 17, 2012

Book #42 - Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1)

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1), Rachel Caine
239 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/5/12
Finished 4/10/12

I don't have much to say about Glass Houses. Not exactly a good thing when I am writing a book review blog. First off, it's a super short book - about half the length of the books I usually eat for breakfast. Yet, it took me several days to get through it. Remember this post from January? The Meh Factor strikes again.

Claire Danvers is a prodigy, starting her freshman year of college at age 16. Even though she was accepted to prestigious schools like MIT and Yale, her parents would rather have her go to the rinky dink Texas Prairie University just so she stays in the same state. This is my first problem with this book. Does Caine really expect me to believe that any parent would force their child to go to a crap school when she is obviously brilliant? Even though she's only 16, I don't buy that any parent would deny their child an opportunity to go to MIT.

Moving on. Claire is an outcast and draws the ire of the popular girls. Have we heard this story before? This mean girl almost kills Claire, which causes her to seek out off-campus housing. Which she finds in an old house with new roommates Eve, Michael and Shane. Eve is a sweet goth chick, Michael is guarded but kind, and Shane is moody and protective of Claire. They are a motley crew, but they all appear to form a bond to protect and stand up for each other. And when the crap hits the fan and the secrets come out, that protection is a life saver.

There were aspects of this story that I did appreciate. I like the three roomies. They're all different, but they all seem to mesh well together. I think the town's secret is a different twist on the same old vampire story. And, I like how determined Claire becomes in the face of fear and adversity. I also like the tentative romance between she and Shane. For ones, the two that get involved aren't sucking face halfway into the book.

All that aside, though. the writing is rather juvenile, and I found many plot points to be totally unbelievable (you know - besides the vampire part). Caine could've done better.

April 12, 2012

Book #41 - Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2)

Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2), J. R. Ward
441 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/3/12
Finished 4/4/12

That's it. It's official. I am now one of the weeping masses of women who swoon at the feet of the members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I must admit that when I started reading Dark Lover (see my review), the first BDB book, I thought their names were a little weird, and there were some new vampire rules here that I wasn't familiar with. But, J. R. Ward's writing and these amazing characters she has created have completely sucked me in.

Lover Eternal is Rhage's story. Hollywood. The "pretty" one that gets... beastly, shall we say.. when he gets mad. Don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry (I'm such a dork). He's gorgeous and charismatic and has no emotions or love for anyone. Until Mary. Mary, Mary is quite contrary (I've got a million of 'em) to everything Rhage has ever known. She's human, for one. Her days of battling cancer have left her hardened and suspicious. They really need each other, and their love eventually saves each other from their fates.

Let's face it. Guys like this just don't exist. And, I don't mean vampires. I mean, strong, manly, confident, badasses who turn to puddles of mush around the women they love. I think that's why I love reading about them so much. The BDB books truly are great fantasy.   

April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

I admit it - I too am part of the Divergent Nation. I read Divergent at the end of 2011 and was blown away. I related to Tris so much and envied her even more. Here was a girl who was as I am - meek, quiet, subservient, and yearning to bust out and be MORE. And she did. Boy, did she ever.

The follow up to Divergent, Insurgent, is due out May 1. Check out this amazing cover, emblazoned with the Amity faction's symbol:

There has been an incredible amount of buzz surrounding the release of Insurgent. Fifty very lucky bloggers received ARCs recently in exchange for heading up and promoting one of the five factions from the Divergent series. As a marketing and PR professional, I have to say, the campaign is brilliant. I was already excited to read Insurgent. Now, I'm positively foaming at the mouth and looking for any Insurgent ARC giveaways that are out there and entering them six ways from Sunday.

I'll even jump on the bandwagon and declare myself officially a member of TEAM AMITY! Although, it would be so cool to be the badass Dauntless chick, I know in my heart of hearts that I'm a lover, not a fighter. So, if you have a chance, head over to Team Amity's faction leader, The Divergent Lexicon, and find out more about the most awesome faction of them all. Go Team AMITY!

April 9, 2012

Book #40 - Silence (Hush Hush #3)

Silence (Hush Hush #3), Becca Fitzpatrick
405 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 4/1/12
Finished 4/3/12

Can I take a moment to comment on the serious shelf candy that is the Hush Hush series? I was intrigued before I ever cracked the spine. The black and white and teensy bit of red is simple, yet impactful. I love the cover of Silence the best. Patch looks so majestic, strong and protective with his wings outstretched. I'm told the cover design for the final book, Finale, will be released sometime in June. I can't wait to see what Becca Fitzpatrick comes up with next!

So... Silence. It was really wonderful. It picks up a few months after the point where Crescendo ended. Nora wakes up in a cemetery and thinks it's April, when, in fact, it is September. All her memories of what happened to her are gone. Worse yet, all her memories of Patch are also gone. Her mom is dating the devil incarnate. Her BFF is acting really weird around guys. The reader does eventually find out what happened to Nora and we do see her ever so slowly (painfully slowly, at times!) get her memories back. But, in the meantime, she meets and gets to fall in love with Patch all over again. Who could be so lucky? To meet your soul mate and fall in love TWICE!

The ending left me feeling pretty satisfied, yet yearning for more. It wasn't a big cliffhanger, but there is most definitely the promise of more to come. Unfortunately, we have to wait awhile for that promise to be fulfilled. Book #4 isn't due out until late October. If any of the first three books are an indication, the fourth and final installment in this series won't disappoint.

April 7, 2012

In My Mailbox #3

As started by Kristi at The Story Siren, welcome to my listing of  all the books I've procured in the past week. Sadly, this week it's a pretty pitiful haul. The business of my job that brings home the bacon along with spring happenings (egg hunts, birthday parties, walks in the nice weather) have slowed my progress in getting through the massive pile of books I have to be read. My IMM post today is not totally bereft, however. I did get one e-book from the library this past week:

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires #1), Rachel Caine

I'm starting to yearn for more adult-oriented books. Not that I'm giving up my YA obsession - hardly. I just need a little break is all. And, my new friends on Goodreads have recommend this as a good bridge between the two. I haven't started reading it yet, but it's next on my list.

The Hoppy Easter Giveaway Extravaganza is going on this week on almost 300 blogs, and I'm making it my goal to visit all of them this week. Hopefully this will be my chance to finally win a giveaway or two. I NEVER win fun stuff! I'd love to be able to report on a IMM post soon some good swag procured from my giveaway entering frenzy. Wish me luck!

April 6, 2012

March Book Report

Wow - another month down. Hard to believe March is now gone and spring is here. I had a good month full of good books!

Books Read - 16
Books Read To Date - 39
Total Pages Read - 15,217
Favorite Book of the Month - Dark Lover

Picking my favorite book of the month was really hard this month. I had it narrowed down between Delirium, Hush Hush, Dark Lover and Bloodlines. I decided to go with Dark Lover because it's the only adult book in the mix, and lately all the teen angst is starting to get to me. Don't get me wrong - I'm definitely a YA fan through and through. But, I think even the biggest YA fan needs a break from them from time to time. Thankfully, I've discovered the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and those books are just what the doctor ordered when the emo love triangles start to grate on the nerves.

April 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine to give we read-a-holic bloggers some real estate to devote to books we're pining away for.

Yeah, yeah - I know. It's Thursday. *sigh* This week has been insanely difficult and stressful, and honestly, in the evenings, I've only felt like losing myself in good books. I'm sure you can appreciate that. So, the bad news is, my Waiting on Wednesday post is a day late, as is my March Book Report. But, the good news is that I'll be reviewing some great books in the next few days!

So, back to business. This week's Waiting on Wednesday post is about:

By:  Cassandra Clare
Due out:  May 8, 2012

This week, Cassandra Clare has teased and tempted us with the first chapter on her Website for the series, http://www.mortalinstruments.com/chapterone-souls.php. It doesn't disappoint. We are recapped on what has happened in the few weeks since the final scene in The City of Fallen Angels. Simon was kicked out of his house, Jace and Sebastian are missing and the Clave, which had been searching for them, has decided to stop looking. Clary, Isabelle and Alec are determined to not give up, so they start trying to figure out how to continue the search under the Clave's radar.

I must confess, I wasn't too thrilled with The City of Fallen Angels. I sincerely hope that Clare took the time between books to regroup - I want the final books in the series to finish it off with a bang. No matter whether it's an out-of-the-park homerun or not, I'll eagerly wait on these last two books to find out what happens with my beloved Jace and Clary. They better get a happily-ever-after, or I will be very grumpy.

April 2, 2012

Book #39 - Crescendo (Hush Hush #2)

Crescendo (Hush Hush #2), Becca Fitzpatrick
378 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/30/12
Finished 3/31/12

Loved it. Love, love, love. I want a Patch.

In the second installment of the Hush Hush series, Patch and Nora hit a rough spot in their relationship. Someone works very hard at breaking them up, and it actually works for awhile. To make matters worse, Nora is convinced that Patch is on the rebound with her arch nemesis, Marcie Millar. It absolutely kills Nora to not be with him - seeing him with Marcie was just salt in the wound.

Argh - this is one of those books that frustrates the hell out of you. I found myself wanting to throttle Nora more times than I could count. I talked to the pages of my book. My conversations went something like, "No! Don't do that, you stupid... Shut up! Stop talking! Aw, Patch. You poor thing. Nora, shut up, dammit!" Yeah - something like that.

I take my slightly crazy ramblings as a sign of a really good book. Any book that sucks me in so much that I start talking to an inanimate object is accomplishing a very important goal. Any plot holes or editing mistakes were completely overlooked because I was so invested in the story and in the characters that I didn't even care about the other stuff (not that there was a lot of other stuff).

I'll say it again. I want a Patch. 

Book #38 - Hallowed (Unearthly #2)

Hallowed (Unearthly #2), Cynthia Hand
403 pages
urban fantasy
Started 3/27/12
Finished 3/30/12

Because I'm a sucker for reading all the books in a series - in order, of course - I felt this unnatural urge compelling me to get this book from the library. I must confess, I wasn't crazy about Unearthly. It wasn't bad, but I have a whole stack of books waiting to be read that I just know are going to be good. Great, even. I'd like to think I don't have time for "not bad." But, as I mentioned earlier - I have "seriestotia."

I will say, I found Hallowed to be better than Unearthly. It seems the author found her groove with the second book. It flowed better, it was more interesting, and I found myself caring about the characters a lot more than I did in the first book. In fact, for the first time, I don't really care which guy our heroine ends up with (because, you know, there ALWAYS has to be a love triangle). I love them both, so I'll be happy either way it pans out for her.

My biggest gripe about Hallowed is that it is ridiculously depressing. Clara is trying to figure out what her relationship with Christian means and where her relationship with Tucker can feasibly go. She loves Tucker, and I think she also loves Christian. So, of course, she's torn up inside at her constant turmoil. To make matters worse, Clara finds out that her mother has weeks left to live. I know - bummer, right? On top of that, the nasty Black Wing that tried to kill her and her mom in the first book is back and is constantly threatening Clara's life and sanity. Sure, it's all really good drama, but holy crap. Didn't Hand ever hear of comic relief?

Because of my severe case of seriestotia, I will read the third book of the series, but thankfully, I have awhile to wait until it comes out. It will probably take that long until this dark cloud lifts.

April 1, 2012

In My Mailbox #2

As started by Kristi at The Story Siren, welcome to my listing of  all the books I've procured in the past week. Thanks to my new friend Jen at At Random, I can now call all these beauties mine:

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1), Rachel Vincent
Falling Under (Falling Under #1), Gwen Hayes
Kiss Me Deadly:  13 Tales of Paranormal Love, various authors
Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods #1), Melissa de la Cruz
Masquerade (Blue Bloods #2), Melissa de la Cruz
The Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods #4), Melissa de la Cruz
Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods #5), Melissa de la Cruz

Having friends with overflowing bookcases is a good thing. A very good thing. :)

Let's not forget about my library stash. Since I had such a big haul last week, this week's is a bit more modest. I probably shouldn't have done at all, but I just. can't. stay. away.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Laini Taylor
Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2), J.R. Ward

Looks like I have my work cut out for me.

Book #37 - Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)

Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1), Richelle Mead
421 pages
urban fantasy
Started 3/22/12
Finished 3/26/12

Ok - before I write a review, I just have to ask a stupid question. If the alchemysts are so concerned about secrecy, why in Heaven's name did they choose THE FACE as the place to put their tattoo??? The shoulder blade, chest or butt cheek would've been much easier to hide. Duh.

I very reluctantly read this book. I absolutely LOVE the VA series. It's one of my most favorite series of all time. And, honestly, Sydney was not a character that I liked in them. So, when I found out the Bloodlines was a continuation of the VA story told from Sydney's POV, I balked for quite awhile. I ended up deciding to read it only in the hopes that eventually I could see Adrian end up happy. Because, although I never wanted he and Rose to be together (Dimitri!!), I did love his character and felt so badly for him at the end of Last Sacrifice.

It was a total shock to me when I actually found myself really enjoying Bloodlines. Sydney didn't bother me nearly as much as she did in the VA series. Perhaps it's the glimpse into her back story that helps to explain away some of her abrasiveness. That, and, as alchemysts go, apparently, she's mild in that department.

I loved seeing more from Eddie, too. I really liked his character in VA, and it's nice to see him fulfilling his dream. Do I detect a future love interest with he and Jill? For some reason, that icks me out.

My only complaint is that there were no surprises whatsoever in Bloodlines. The big twist - the "who-dun-it" moment - at the end of the book, I had figured out very early on. For how smart Sydney is supposed to be, it was disappointing to see her so clueless sometimes.

I am really looking forward to The Golden Lily when it comes out in June. I really hope Sydney can get over her hang-ups enough to see what an awesome person Adrian is. And, how great they could be together.

Book #36 - Vanish (Firelight #2)

Vanish (Firelight #2), Sophie Jordan
294 pages
paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Started 3/20/12
Finished 3/21/12

I'm seriously in love with this series. I love the differences between this book and other YA urban fantasy/paranormal romance books. Jacinda is part of a race whose decendants are dragons. She can turn into a dragon on command, but can also walk around as a human. There are "hunters" out there who hunt those like her to sell them to butchers who use their hides and blood in various products. In the first book in the series, Firelight, Jacinda runs away from her pride with her mom and sister and ends up falling in love with a hunter. Talk about forbidden love.

In Vanish, Jacinda is trying to deal with being separated from Will, the hunter she loves, as well as bring shunned by her community. It's a lot to handle for a teenage girl who's already lost her father and her mother is in a downward drunken spiral. The beginning part of this book found me close to tears almost constantly. It was heart-wrenching and beautifully written so that I felt so much of what Jacinda was going through.

One of the seemingly bright spots in Jacinda's life is Cassian, the hot draki guy that ALSO loves her. She's so torn between doing her duty and doing what she really wants. Being responsible or being reckless. Being with Cassian, the prince of her race, or being with Will, the killer of her race. By the time she finally makes her choice, things have become more complicated and it's not as easy of a choice to make (as if it ever was to begin with).

Jordan's writing is wonderful. She made me feel all the anguish and desperation that Jacinda was feeling. She made me like "the other guy!" Although Will is the one Jacinda wants to be with, and will be the one she ends up with when all is said and done (I'm sure of it!), I find myself thinking I wouldn't be TOO upset if she ended up with Cassian instead. Jordan has truly come up with a gem in this series. I can't wait for Hidden.