A Bookish Compulsion

Harm's Hunger

Harm's Hunger (Bad in Boots, #1) - Patrice Michelle

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main Site

Harm’s Hunger is a scorching hot read. From first to last this novella packs an amazing amount of passion and heat. The plot, in turns quirky and downright harebrained, also manages to invoke sweet emotion, capturing the foibles and strengths of human interaction. The characters are sweet and frustrating and stubborn to the core but also loyal and loving. While I’m not a fan of miscommunication being used as a plot device (among other highly improbable situational happenings) I can still appreciate the way it was used to speed up the pace of this very short work. All that said I think I would have liked a little more character development even if it came at the cost of some of the searingly hot love scenes.

All in all I give Harm’s Hunger three and a half smokin’ stars

 


I know Ms. Michelle from her Young Adult / New Adult series Brightest Kind of Darkness, a series that I positively adore. Ms. Michelle has been such a wonderful experience, both with the quality of work that she produces as an indie author and the interaction she encourages with her fans, that taking the leap from YA to adult fiction was a natural step. When it came to my attention that one of her contemporary romance novellas was being offered for free I figured I give it a go even if cowboys aren’t usually my first choice.

Karma Girl

Karma Girl (Bigtime) - Jennifer Estep

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main Site

Karma Girl was a fun and quirky story—filled out by tropes and expectations straight from the pages of comic book lore and brought to life with a heavy helping of suspension of disbelief—this light read was filled with both laugh-out-loud moments and sweet sentiment. Karma Girl was cotton-candy story complete with see-through plot and guessable mystery, none-the-less it was a fun and enjoyable read that had enough comedic value and lustful steam to keep me reading and a fun and engaging cast of characters that will see me coming back for the next book in the series.

I give Karma Girl a fun three stars ★★★

The Mystery Woman

The Mystery Woman - Amanda Quick

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main Site

I have had a soft spot for Amanda Quick’s (AKA Jayne Ann Krentz) books ever since I read Mystique; the first substantial book I voluntarily finished and my entry into the world of a reader. At fourteen the medieval setting was fascinating, the characters believable and somewhat scandalous, and the experience of entering another world within the pages of a book addictive. Over the years, while I still enjoy historicals, my tastes have shifted making it require a certain mood for me to really be able to delve into such books without my brain running a constant commentary on the societal differences. Which is why The Mystery Woman has been sitting on my shelf since it came out, waiting for me to be in the proper mood to enjoy it. Thankfully I finally was in the mood…

The Mystery Woman was a fun and fast read taking us back to the Ladies of Lantern Street and a world where Victorian England had a fascination with the paranormal. With our leading lady a practitioner and leading male a sceptic this was an interesting relationship to watch unfold. While I felt that the story itself was more of a variation on the theme of most of Ms. Quick’s works it was never-the-less an enjoyable read that kept me engaged and entertained throughout.

I happily look forward to the third installment of the series and give The Mystery Woman an entertaining four stars.

Heart of Obsidian

Heart of Obsidian - Nalini Singh

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main Site

Ms. Singh’s Psy / Changeling series is one of my all-time favorites so it was no surprise to me that I adored Heart of Obsidian. Even at a dozen entries this series holds me captivated; the intense world-building, faceted characters and deep emotions will keep me coming back for as long as Ms. Singh graces us with these amazing stories.

Heart of Obsidian was a book twelve books in the making. Not an entry I was advise for anyone not fully engrossed in the series, it draws from the base already set and then delves deeper into its own dark and thrilling world. Kaleb is a character we have watched grow and evolve and in this installment we see the impact of such evolution on the world. A Titan in power and propensity, it will take a miracle to stop him from tearing down the world. This book lets you read the miracle.

I did have some issues with Heart of Obsidian, mainly the dictatorial and possessive attitude of our male lead. However, I feel that as uncomfortable as these bits made me, they were also likely necessary to put forth the central idea that Kaleb is broken. He is not a stable being and both his actions and thought processes give us that and allow the story to pull both its readers and characters along to find a place of peace between fixing enough fractures from the past and accepting that perfection is not possible. That love means embracing both merits and flaws.

I loved Heart of Obsidian, flaws and all, and am happy to give it five stars.

More than a little biased...

Kinked - Thea Harrison

This Review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main Site

 

I feel that this review might not be as helpful as I would like it to be simply because a large part of my reaction to this book had nothing to do with what was between its pages but rather with current social culture and how it has affected the books I have recently read.  Also, I ramble quite a bit in my attempt to explain my views.

 

I wanted to love this book.  I love Thea Harrison and have loved most of the entries thus far in the Elder Races series, so I was expecting to love Kinked as well.  But I just couldn’t.  I eventually got to the point where I could separate out my own issues enough to like the book and enjoy the plot and characters but that complete abandonment to the story…the ability to lose myself and trust that the author would see me to the end without my help, was impossible.

 

Now to try and explain why

 

A couple years ago my husband and I were going to see a movie and had arrived quite a bit early (maybe it was opening night of a big blockbuster or maybe it was just way too hot to wait outside, I don’t remember.) in either case we talked for a bit then both dug out our electronic devices to help pass the hour or so until the movie would begin.  I, of course, opened up my reader and stared a book and after a few minutes I realized that while I was immersed in the text another couple had sat next to us because the girl leaned over and asked me what I was reading.  After a quick look-up (it was a new book by a new author) I told her I was reading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.  She nodded enthusiastically and then blurted something along the lines of “Isn’t this reading thing just fantastic?”  I smiled and made a positive reply, somewhat taken back and her fiery excitement but approving of any love of books.  She then went on to gush about how she had just discovered it after some of her friends had insisted that she read Fifty Shades of Grey which she had loved and now she is just reading everything.  She was so excited, describing the satisfaction of making it from one dot to the next on her Kindle reading progress bar and how wonderful it was to have just so many books out there that she could read, like…whenever she wanted to. 

 

I should probably point out that this woman was probably somewhere around twenty (a good few years younger than myself) and not exactly book worm material but much closer to the party-girl who went club hopping on the weekends.  She would not have been someone I expected to bond over books with, and yet sitting in that theater for the twenty or so minutes that were left before the movie that is exactly what happened.  And while our taste in books were not compatible, seeing the fire of such a love and excitement for reading that was discovered in this girl was pretty darn amazing, a memory that even years later has stuck with me.  It is this memory, this conviction, that has led me to defend against anyone who would naysay books like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight and even those crazy few who were against the Harry Potter books as unworthy or bad or shouldn’t have ever been.  Because these books, whether you like them or you don’t, have gotten people who otherwise might never have discovered the wonder that is the written word to read.  And that is a beautiful, magical, incredible thing.

 

I truly believe that there is a kind of magic in any book that can spark a mass revolution of new readers to discover the wonder of books. 

 

That said…can we please be done with the Fifty Shades thing already?  I am SO over BSDM invading my books as the “in” kink.  I have no problem with the lifestyle, even though it isn’t the one I choose, and can even see some amount of sexy in the complete trust and giving thing.  But over the last couple of years it had just gotten to be too much.  I am so very done.  Just like with vampires invading everywhere so that I was half-afraid that any paranormal would stuff one in just to play to the market, the bondage and dom/sub thing has just gotten on my very last nerve.  Not necessarily because of what it is, but because everyone seems to be trying to write it to get a piece of the Fifty Shades pie and that’s just sad.  And unoriginal.  And it makes me as a reader feel like I have to dodge landmines and figure out whether if there is BSDM in a story it is because it belongs there or whether it was put there because publishers have decided that’s what sells.

 

Which was my main problem with Kinked.  While I actually liked how the relationship and even sexual give and take was handled, the bad taste in my mouth that began with the “oh no, not another one” feeling never really let up.  And while by the end I was thrilled and invested in the happy ending for two very distinct characters, too much of my reading time was spent dreading a downward spiral.

River Road

River Road - Jayne Ann Krentz

This Review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's main site

 

Ms. Krentz has been my favorite author for over a decade; it was, in fact, one of her books that first helped spark my love of reading.  Which is why the last few releases of hers have caused me great sadness, they just didn’t resonate well with me…until this last one, River Road, which reminded me why I loved her writing so much in the first place.   It may be the return to straight romantic suspense after years of paranormal or that this entry did not try to be part of a series, but whatever it was made it clear to me that I do still love reading the thrilling ride that winds its way from Ms. Krentz’s mind straight into my heart.

 

River Road was a fun read--intertwining interesting characters, a charming setting and a thrilling mystery.  While I wouldn’t say it was perfect, (as there were loose ends, some predictability and repetition) I did find the characters relatable, the setting to be spot-on small town and the mystery to expand beyond the simple plot points to make me ponder the varieties of right and wrong, and what you would do for someone you love.  As always in one of Ms. Krentz’s works I loved the fact that the characters were whole in and of themselves, not needing but wanting the other person, adding an element of choice that I feel is sometimes lacking in the fate-inspired books so popular today.

 

River Road was a quick and fun read that I would recommend to anyone looking to get away for a day and visit some truly special characters and I am happy to give it four charming stars. 

Found on the internet
Found on the internet

Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend

Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend - Victoria Laurie

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Main site

A good second book, Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend had most of the elements I liked in What’s a Ghoul to Do? The comedic snark, the light mystery that none-the-less was scary and had me invested until the very end, the straight acceptance of the paranormal and the vivid writing that had me able to picture both the world and the characters well. What I felt was weaker in this book was the character interaction. M.J. dipped into the whiny trop a little much for me, pulling the whoa-is-me card and straining relations with Steven and Gilly both before snapping out of it to revert to her usual self. I’m not sure why the about two chapters had her being a whiny witch other than to add drama to the relationship development between her and Steve, a device I was not thrilled with. However it was pulled together at the end, baldly stating she had thrown a fit to demonstrate she needed to concentrate on her work while working and not on furthering relationships, but still I felt it read somewhat sloppy.

Otherwise I enjoyed this fun read and will happily move on to the next in the series.

Just because my TBR pile is bigger than I am doesn't mean I don't need more books.
Just because my TBR pile is bigger than I am doesn't mean I don't need more books.

What's a Ghoul to Do?

What's a Ghoul to Do? - Victoria Laurie

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Home Site

 

Let me start by saying that this was a really fun book.  Somewhere on the crossroads between a Paranormal Cozy Mystery and a Paranormal Romance, it struck that perfect balance sweet-spot for me.  Just enough mystery to keep me engaged in the plot and just enough romance to have me loving the characters.

 

Speaking of characters, these were some good ones.  From M.J.’s lead (right through the completely entertaining Gilly, the smolderingly suave yet linguistically challenged Steven) down to Mama Dell who owns the coffee shop at the corner the characters were well drawn, believable, relatable and charming.  I loved reading the by-play between M.J. and Gilly (and I will never think of a fire-drill the same way again) and found the relationship development between Steven and M.J.—from skepticism to acceptance—a fun and realistically tangled journey.

 

I also really liked the way that the paranormal element was incorporated into this book.  It just was.  No angsts (or only when in relation to how difficult it was to find a date when you can talk with the dead…apparently that scares a lot of guys away.) no metaphysical explanations, just—this is how I was born, either deal with it or don’t, your opinion is not going to change anything.

 

I found the plot of What’s a Ghoul to Do? an entertaining journey through twists and turns that thankfully all felt realistic at the time.  I never felt like something was being thrown in just to serve the plot (although there were times I felt truly sorry for the character as I winced at yet another twist they had to deal with.).  It was a light and fun ride and I am happily looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

 

I give What’s a Ghoul to Do? a happy five stars.

 

As a side note, I saw these books years ago and while they looked interesting I shied away from them because I not a huge fan of Ghouls (the whole flesh-eating thing).  I was happy to find when I read What’s a Ghoul to Do? that, while there were ghosts galore, there were no ghouls to be found.

The Sock Poppet 2014 Reading Challenge

Just a way for me to keep what books I put where in The Sock Poppet 2014 Reading Challenge straight.

 

A is for April (the month in which you read the book)
B is for Bathing Suit (this book takes place at least partly in hot weather months)
C is for Children's book
D is for Doctor (one of the characters)
E is for Ever (in the title)
F is for Family (book is about a family or family relationships): Pushing the Limits
G is for Geography (the story takes place in at least two different countries) : Kinked
H is for Heart (it's a love story)
I is for Ice (the setting is cold - snow, ice, rain) : The Grendel Affair
J is for Jokes (the book is humorous) : Demons are a Ghoul's Best Friend
K is for Keyboard (at least one character plays a musical instrument)
L is for Lamp (the book takes place before electricity was discovered) : The Mystery Woman
M is for Mom (one of the characters): Touched by an Alien
N is for New-to-you author: Read it and Weep
O is for Out of This World (where the story takes place) The Damsel and the Daggerman
P is for Pilgrims (the story involves moving someplace new):The Bane
Q is for Question Mark in the title : What's a Ghoul to Do?

R is for Run (the main character is running from something) : Torrent
S is for Sequel to a book you've already read : Tethered

T is for Time (the book travels time, moves through time quickly or flashes back)
U is for Useful (which you found the book to be)
V is for Veteran (at least one character is/was a member of a military force) : The Cuckoo's Calling
W is for Wind (the book blew you away)
X is for XXIV (it's the 24th book you read this year) : Harm's Hunger

Y is for Yo-Yo (your emotions were up and down as you read the book) : Heart of Obsidian
Z is for Zoo (there is an animal on the cover)

Torrent

Torrent - Lindsay Buroker

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Home Blog

 

When I started this book I was expecting an Indiana Jones type adventure with some mysterious twists.  By the time I had gotten a third of the way through it was clear that my initial assumption was pretty far off base but left me unsure as to whether that was a good or bad thing.  At the half-way mark I decided it was good, and now having read the whole thing the only summery I can come up with is “WTF did I just read?”.

 

I think that overall I liked Torrent.  It was engaging and certainly not slow; the characters where well drawn and the world, while filled with quite a bit of contradiction, was interesting.  That said, it came off a little flat and far too convoluted for me to really have any kind of rapport with the characters or story other than I may have liked it.

 

The characters in Torrent, while well detailed, were difficult for me to connect to as they never seemed to be deeper than the page.  Perhaps it was that lack of emotion (the interaction was supposed to give depth was done on an intellectual level, which only goes so far in getting inside a character) or the inconsistency of physical factors having an effect or even the illogical and ever-shifting motivations, but while I could clearly picture the characters I wasn’t really all that interested in them.

 

The plot is a whole other issue. I had no clue most of the time where this story was going, but not in a “gosh I never expected that,” or an “I wonder what will happen next,” way.  More of an “is this going somewhere or is the author just lost,” and a “you have got to me kidding me” kind of way.  So much was stuffed into this story, and while some of it was somewhat explained, most of it is left at very ragged loose ends after having run around in circles for a good deal of the page count.  That this was meant to be the start of a series became painfully clear at the end, but truly it read more like a pitch for a series than a well thought-out beginning.

 

With all of that said, I still enjoyed reading Torrent.  It kept me guessing and theorizing until the very end and if some characters and plot points felt a little shoved into place they at least found a place and a point by the end.

The Grendel Affair

The Grendel Affair - Lisa Shearin

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion

 

I loved just about every part of The Grendel Affair.  The unique world-building overlay that had blended Psychics, Vampires, Werewolves, Dragons and Ghouls into a believable reality that was both light enough to allow for jokes and absurdities and gritty enough to keep the stakes high.  The interesting characters...from the spunky heroine who had me in her corner even when her only back-up was a tequila-filled water pistol to the disapproving partner that grew on me…even the cantankerous toupee-wearing-sailor-swearing shopkeeper added a special kind of charm to this utterly enjoyable read.

 

While I will admit that the plot in places was a bit obvious (if you’re trying to find out what a creepy creature causing chaos is and one of your choices is a Grendel, and the book is called The Grendel Affair, chances are…that’s it) and some things were a bit conspicuous as future devices for intervention, I still found the whole book, from beginning to end, entertaining and downright satisfying.

I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas

I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas - Molly Harper, Amanda Ronconi

This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion

This was a freebie audiobook put out as a Christmas special.

I enjoyed listening to I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas. Audio is not my format of choice, however with this quirky cast of characters listening to voices and accents that were decidedly more out-there than the ones in my head only added to the fun. A snarky and very light read, this trip to the Half-Moon Hallow carried forth Ms. Harper’s don’t-take-too-serious comedic writing style and blended it with her motley crew of diverse characters to humorous results.

I would not recommend this story as a stand-alone as it does pull heavily on established characters, however for anyone who has had an introduction to Ms. Harpers Half-Moon Universe (even if you haven’t read all of the books as I haven’t) it is a fun and quick listen.

Three shiny stars for I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas