Saturday 30 November 2013

Review: Full Blooded (Jessica McClain #1) by Amanda Carlson

Full Blooded (Jessica McClain, #1)
Full Blooded (Jessica McClain #!) by Amanda Carlson
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Publication date: September 11th 2012
My rating: 4 stars

Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.

After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.

But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can't control her like he can the rest of his wolves.

When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there's no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.

I’ve recently discovered that I love Urban Fantasy reads and Full Blooded had a little of everything I love about them.  Kick ass heroine, fast paced action and danger at every turn, and an interesting supernatural world and creatures.  Of course, I must have some romance in there, too, and this didn’t disappoint!

Jessica McClain is an anomaly in her Pack.  There are no female werewolves but yet here she is, and after years of thinking she would never shift she unexpectedly does, causing havoc and unease.  Shortly after her birth a letter was mailed to the Pack Compound called The Cain Myth claiming that a female werewolf would cause the end to their race. So Jessica’s always been viewed as a threat by some in the Pack. After years of not shifting the fear had died down a bit, but now all that’s changed.  When news gets out an attack comes almost immediately propelling her Alpha father and the Pack into a war with Vampires as well as their own kind.  Danger is around every corner for Jessica. 

Jessica is my type of heroine.  She’s strong without arrogance, has a good moral compass, and without an ounce of whininess.  She seems to have so many things thrown at her but she keeps her head up handling one issue at a time.  She’s trying to figure out and control her wolf, but is in awe of the power it gives her. 

I love shapeshifter stories because of all the pack dynamics and hierarchy.  All the impulses and instincts that come with being part animal are so much fun, as well.  I love the idea of a true mate and the strong connection formed once you find that person.  I’ve found when reading most UF series’ that the first book lays the rules and foundation for the stories to come, and Full Blooded did that without overloading us with an info dump.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions about Jessica, and what she’s capable of, but I suspect we’ll be learning that more as the series goes on.

There is romance, or rather an instant attraction, but it wasn’t a large part of the story.  What was there definitely had me sitting up and paying attention, because it was hot! I’m totally on board for this match up!

One thing I’d mention is that this story just sort of stops.  I’m not sure that I’d call it a cliff, it’s more like a “to be continued…” situation, but you’d definitely want the next book on hand when you finish.  Lucky for me I do!

Full Blooded was a thrilling read, and I plan on diving into Hot Blooded very soon!

Friday 29 November 2013

Blog Tour: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Hello everyone, today as part of the Racing Savannah blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, I get to share with you my review of Miranda Kenneally's upcoming release Racing Savanah. I have been a huge fan of Miranda's previous books, so was very excited about diving into this one. Here's a bit about the book. 

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: December 3rd 2013. 
My rating: 4 stars 

They’re from two different worlds. He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries. With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Miranda Kenneally has quickly become one of my auto-buy authors, she knows how to charm you into one of her beautiful stories and leave you with a nice glowy feel good feeling once you finish the last page of her book. I have been recommending her books to everyone I know because each time she releases a new book, she always delivers a solid read for me. 

With Racing Savannah however things were different, I didn’t find myself as involved with the characters or the gorgeous world Kenneally had created straight away. But knowing the way I had loved Kenneally’s previous books, I knew my reward for reading this book would still come. And it did. Personally I blame my reading mood lately for my slow start with this book, it’s either taking me ages to read a book lately, or I find myself reading for the sake of reading. But Kenneally once again reminded me why I love reading in the first place. She was able to take something which meant a lot to her in her own life and bring this belief out strong in her characters. Savannah never had the most privileged life, her family used to get by just fine, but then with her mum’s sudden illness and medical fees to pay, things became a bit tight. But then Savannah’s dad was given a great opportunity, Savannah and her family would be working for the Goodwin family of Cedar Hill farms. They were a well established family renowned for their horses. They’d had several successful horses under their belt already, not only would Savannah’s family get the chance to work with luxurious horses (Savannah’s dream), it was a job which they would pay them all well and provide a roof over their head at the same time too. But it meant Savannah had to leave everything behind during her senior year, make a fresh start and of course there was the Goodwin’s son Jack who was cocky, self-assured, but oh so cute, but as he was in charge of the farm and the Goodwin’s son clearly off limits. Could Savannah finally make a life for herself here and her family? And keep her head and heart in check around Jack? 

Kenneally for me is amazing at creating swoon worthy characters; Sam Henry, Will Whitfield and Matt are definitely on top of my fictional crushes list. So you could say I was expecting a lot from her latest character Jack. Whereas Jack could be caring and considerate when he wanted to be, I thought that he really wasn’t his own person. He did a lot of things to please others or because it was the right thing to do. A couple of times I did think he’d made the wrong decision and that I wouldn’t be able to forgive him, but he was quick to pull out some sweet gestures when I least expected him to. Although Jack wasn’t my favourite fictional crush, he has some great scenes in this book that I’m sure will woo many readers over. 

Whilst I had my ups and downs with Jack’s character, this was not the case with Savannah at all. She was such a hard working girl who wore her heart on her sleeve that I just wanted her to get her happy ending she deserved. Despite not been given many opportunities at Cedar Hill farm, she slogged it out to work her way up, despite disencouragement from many others including her father. Also she also knew in her heart what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to put it on the line. Alongside Savannah once again there were brilliant secondary characters, friends who were quick to take her side, when others were quick to make assumptions about Savannah. Also these two people went on to show just how brilliant they were, by having Savannah’s back whenever she needed it the most, but also brightening up a scene immensely with their bubbly personalities. 

Kenneally was able to deal with several real life issues in a realistic way, but a central idea to this book was family. There were several families involved in this book, they all had their different ways of how they treated one another, or how much money they had, but at the end of the day the question which mattered the most was, how important was ones family? There were times when some ran the risk of their family losing their history entirely, others which said family was important, but then did something completely different to contradict this and others who made decisions with interests of their families future in mind. I loved all the different areas in which Kenneally explored the idea of a family and how she made it such an integral part of the story. 

Kenneally totally surprised me with Racing Savannah, first of all I have never had any interest in horses, but Kenneally quickly enough got me into a first name basis with the horses and I soon understood Savannah’s passion and gentleness with them. Secondly Kenneally was able to change my earlier impressions I had made of several characters quite quickly, once I’ve made an assumption or decision I’m quite adamant in my ways, but here I found myself being won over quite quickly. Third this was a great story which explored several realistic issues that I’m sure many individuals could relate too. It also had a solid set of characters and a nice sprinkling of sweet scenes along the way. Also fans of the previous books will not be disappointed, there were a great amount of re-appearances and name dropping of characters from previous books that all I wanted to do was to re-read all three books there and then. Overall Racing Savannah was simply a sweet and beautiful story.

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

This wonderful blog tour for Racing Savannah will be running up until December 13th, you can follow all the great posts here

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Review: The Chocolate Heart (Amour et Chocolat #5) by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Heart (Amour et Chocolat, #5)
The Chocolate Heart (Amour et Chocolat #5) by Laura Florand
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: November 26th 2013
My rating: 3 stars
No one hates Paris--except Summer Corey. The moody winters. The artists and their ennui. The inescapable shadow of the Tour Eiffel. But things go from bad to worse when Summer stumbles into brooding, gorgeous chef pâtissier Luc Leroi and indecently propositions the hero of French cuisine...

Luc has scrambled up from a childhood panhandling in the Paris Métro to become the king of his city, and he has no patience for this spoiled princess, even if she does now own his restaurant. Who cares if she smiles with all the warmth of July? She doesn't eat dessert!

There is only one way to tempt her. A perfect, impossibly sweet seduction...

I’m addicted to Laura Florand’s Chocolate series. Her beautiful prose and descriptions of fine chocolate, food (mostly desserts!) and of Paris, a city so enchanting which comes through beautifully in her stories.  But most of all it’s her crafting of romances that has completely won me over. With that said The Chocolate Heart was a bit difficult for me. 

Summer Corey is back in her personal hell: Paris. Paris is where her parents dumped her off in boarding school when she became too old to cart around the globe for whatever business deal or entertainment that consumed them.  Summer spent the last four years living simply and teaching children on a small island away from most civilization.  She’s back in Paris coerced by her father’s promise to provide satellite communications to the island if she agreed to manage the hotel he bought her for three months.  Putting aside her past, Summer agrees for the good of the island people she has come to love. 

Luc Leroi has worked his way up from a life of performing and basically begging for money with his father in the metros of Paris as a young boy. At the age of ten social services puts Luc into foster care, and under the strict tutelage of his foster father and chef, Bernard.  From Bernard he learned strict control was the key to success in life and profession.  Luc has since become one of the most sought after chefs in Paris and has brought the hotel where he currently works its crowning glory: three Michelin stars.  The hotel that Summer is now currently owner.  Upon first meeting Summer, he’s immediately attracted to her, but she inadvertently insults him making for a very rocky start between these two. 

Both Summer and Luc were starved for love growing up.  Luc had it in cycles of love and then abuse from his real father. After he was put into foster care, Luc was provided for physically and no longer subjected to abuse, but his upbringing didn’t include affection. Summer was starved of love, affection, and attention by her parents.  They would cart her along to all their luxury hotels, but always with a nanny, freeing them up to do whatever they wished without the annoyance of a child. 

My heart went out to both Luc and Summer and you can see why they have so many shields up, but this didn’t make for a happy read for a good portion of the story. There were misunderstandings and miscommunications putting Summer and Luc at each other’s throats for about 60% of the book. I was getting extremely frustrated with the back and forth which was largely Summer’s fault, in my opinion.  I seriously wanted to pull my hair out! I knew the reasons behind Summer’s behavior but Luc didn’t, and she really did come off as a spoiled brat if you didn’t know her motivations. To me Luc kept trying and trying with her.  Yes, at first more for his pride and to teach her a lesson, but still he would send the olive branch and she would reject it. Time after time!

I was at my limit when FINALLY the ice begins to thaw.  Their sparks turn into a romance where they begin to understand the needs and wants of the other, finding the love and affection they both have so desperately craved. This is the point where the story completely turned around going from frustrating to utterly blissful! I love that both Luc and Summer found it so easy and immensely fulfilling to make the other happy.  My heart filled to bursting reading the epilogue which was sheer perfection!

I was also thrilled to catch up with Sylvain and Cade and Dominique and Jaime, my favorite couples of the series so far who pop in and out of the story.

While the latter portion of The Chocolate Heart was a solid touchdown for me I can’t forget the torture of the first 60% of the book which greatly affects my overall rating.  The first 60% is no more than 2 stars while the final 35-40% felt like a 5 star read for me bringing my overall rating to around 3 stars. In spite of my issues with this installment I plan on going back and reading The Chocolate Kiss (book 2) and The Chocolate Rose (book 3).  Laura Florand’s beautiful prose and mesmerizing romances hold an attraction that I can’t resist. 

Sunday 24 November 2013

Showcase Sunday #40


Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. The aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Hi all, I hope you had a fantastic week, I had another great haul of books this week and I only ended up buying one book (which is great after the size of my tbr pile). 

A big thank you to Hodder & Stoughton, Electric Monkey, Kayleigh from K-Books and Siiri from Little Pieces of Imagination.

Twinmaker sounds utterly fantastic to me, I know the reviews have been a mixed bunch, but I'm really excited about starting this book, I'm not sure what to make of the cover though. My cousin and I (another bookworm who totally understands my love of books) have been gifting each other books for our birthdays/Christmases for the last few years. This year we decided not to wait until Christmas and just give each other our books early, so thanks to my cousin I have Six Months Later and Secret Society Girl to look forward to. Siiri from Little Pieces of Imagination has quickly become one of my favourite blogging buddies, she writes the most awesome reviews and leaves lovely comments which always make my day. She was awesome in gifting me with a copy of Legend for my birthday (whereas all I've done is overwhelm her with my talk of Scandal!). I actually made a start of this book too, and so far I like it! 

Lets see what Rachel received

Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis | Playing the Playboy by Noelle Adams | Allegiant by Veronica Roth | I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.

Thank you to Berkley, Patchwork Press and Netgalley.

I didn’t much for review but I’m excited for what I got.  I read wonderful reviews of Rumor Has It by Andrea @The Bookish Babe and Jenny @Supernatural Snark so I’m excited to read this small town romance! I loved Seducing the Enemy so I’m thrilled to read the next one in the series: Playing the Playboy.

I HAD to buy Allegiant for my husband.  I was not spared from the spoiler extravaganza on Goodreads and I’m not upset by that, though.  I’m glad I found out before I finished the series. No thank you!  Ironically, my husband LOVED it and gave it 5 stars! But I knew this would not be for me. 

I have a physical copy of I Hunt Killers which was gifted to me by Wendy @ The Midnight Garden a while back.  I bought the audio version because I’m usually short on time and this was a way to squeeze it in as it was our poll winner for my next read on our Monthly Recap.   I love horror and all things scary but I have to say this book creeps me the HELL OUT!  *shivers* But I am enjoying it.  There is one particular scene that almost pushed me over the edge. The scene with Rusty, Jasper’s childhood dog.  Nooooo!!!!!!  I need to scrub that scene from my brain. 

We'd love to see which books you received in your book hauls, so feel free to leave a link in our comments below! 

Saturday 23 November 2013

Review: The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat #4) by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Touch  (Amour et Chocolat #4)
The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat #4) by Laura Florand
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: July 30th 2013
My rating:  5 stars

La Vie en Chocolat
Dominique Richard's reputation says it all--wild past, wilder flavors, black leather and smoldering heat. Jaime Corey is hardly the first woman to be drawn to all that dark, delicious danger. Sitting in Dom's opulent chocolaterie in Paris day after day, she lets his decadent creations restore her weary body and spirit, understanding that the man himself is entirely beyond her grasp.

Until he touches her. . .
Chocolate, Dominique understands--from the biting tang of lime-caramel to the most complex infusions of jasmine, lemon-thyme, and cayenne. But this shy, freckled American who sits alone in his salon, quietly sampling his exquisite confections as if she can't get enough of them--enough of him--is something else. She has secrets too, he can tell. Of course if she really knew him, she would run.

Yet once you have spotted your heart's true craving, simply looking is no longer enough. . .

I said in my review of The Chocolate Thief that reading it was a heady and sensual experience.  Reading The Chocolate Touch was that times about ten! Oh my, I am in love with Dominique Richard!

Big, rough, but oh-so gorgeous, Dominique Richard, is the top chocolatier in Paris. He rose from the bottom and gained success with sheer determination and will.  His upbringing was harsh, and he knows he’s rough and dark from it. Still, when a sees a little wisp-of-woman sitting in his salon day after day quietly drinking and eating his chocolate, as if absorbing him, he’s thoroughly mesmerized and drawn to her. 

There was no reason for her to stand out at all, except the way she sat there, too thin, so quiet, hidden in hoods and draping in spring sweaters, pulling all the essence of him into her body as if it was the only thing she wanted to do with her life.

Jaime Corey is Cade Corey’s younger sister and part of Corey Chocolate, the huge mass market American chocolate company.  Jaime has always felt guilty being born into such wealth and privilege so she has spent years working for those downtrodden and exploited in other countries without regard for the dangers that go along with such an endeavor. After suffering a trauma and a shake in confidence, she’s recovering in Paris where her sister lives, and trying to build her strength back up.  Sitting in Dominique Richard’s chocolate salon, and taking in bites of his exquisite chocolates with their edgy flavors, fortifies her.  When she finally lays eyes on the creator, she is like a rock-star groupie, and instantly swept up by him:

Watching him choose his chocolates for her was like being stroked all over, gently, by those big, hard hands of his.

Jaime’s definitely star struck, but what draws her even more is the lure of his strong presence. She’d love to just soak him in, or better yet, yield herself completely over.

The Chocolate Touch was a deeper, darker, more emotional read than The Chocolate Thief, and yet I think I loved the story even more because of that. I was actually misting over with tears at a few points for both Dom and Jaime.  They each have past damage and issues related to their upbringing, and with Jaime, a more recent traumatic event.

Dominique views himself as a big, brutish, dark soul, and has worries about turning into his father, a violent and horrible man. As a result he has no confidence that he could win a woman for more than just one night of rough and dirty sex. He’s convinced once she got a look at the real him she’s run off scared. But when he Jaime walks into his salon and life, he dares to dream the impossible.  I loved Dominique. *sigh* He was the dangerous looking, gorgeous, bad-boy with a soft marshmallow heart inside. Really, underneath it all is a man longing to be worth love.

My heart went out to Jaime as well. Because she was born so rich she always wonders at the motives for people liking her.  She feels entirely unremarkable in her looks, and the book doesn’t describe as gorgeous, but she’s probably a lot more attractive than she thinks with her current self-esteem. Besides her money, and with her work helping others on hold, she feels like she has nothing to offer. She fails to see what others see in her: a beautiful and giving spirit.  And because of all this, Jaime thinks there’s no chance Dominique would think twice about her.  Think again, Jaime!

This romance was so utterly hot and sensual! The longing and intensity was palpable.  Neither Jaime nor Dominique thinks of themselves as attractive or worthy of the other, but this is a romance where the attraction comes down to more than what’s seen with the eyes.  Has your attention been captured by someone you wouldn’t call traditionally good-looking, but there’s something about them that just draws you in anyhow?  With Jaime and Dominique there is a needy longing for what they sense inside the other, making their romance so very passionate!  

It was lovely to “catch up” with the characters from The Chocolate Thief. Seeing Cade and Sylvain as a couple was such a treat, and I loved how protective Sylvain was of Jaime, his soon-to-be sister-in-law. James Corey their spunky, protective, and loving grandfather has become my favorite secondary character. 

Laura Florand has again bewitched me with this powerful romance! It knocked me over and swept me under.  With the inclusion of gorgeous descriptions of chocolate and the setting of Paris, the consummate city of love, this story was near to perfect for me! I’m off to read the next in the series, The Chocolate Heart.  I can’t wait!

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