Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Captured By a Rogue Lord

Captured By a Rogue Lord (Rogues of the Sea, #2)Captured By a Rogue Lord by Katharine Ashe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: She would marry no man . . .

Serena Carlyle dreams of a happily ever after. Firmly upon the shelf at twenty-five, instead she's determined to find the perfect match for her beautiful younger sister. What better prospect than their neighbor, the wealthy, rakishly handsome Earl of Savege? Now Serena can beg his help in halting a local band of smugglers. Then, one night, stealing away from yet another disappointing ball, Serena finds herself trapped alone with a stranger . . .

Until he captured her—body and soul

His kiss was irresistible, his caress unforgettable, and he hides a devastating secret. A Robin Hood upon the sea, Alex Savege is the brazen pirate Redstone, seizing the yachts of spoiled noblemen to settle an old debt. Serena needs a hero, but her heart is in the gravest danger—for it is soon to be captured by a man as skilled at seduction as he is at plunder.

My Thoughts: I've learned that I'm a sucker for the nobleman who has a secret (or not-so-secret) life as a pirate, smuggler, man of the sea. That's particularly true when the gentleman in question is a Robin Hood of the sea, so our hero, Alex/Redstone, had high marks going for him from the start :)

I also like stories of the overlooked or on the shelf heroine, who finally gets a shot at love. This was most definitely one of those. A bit of Robin Hood, a dash of Cinderella, and you have Captured By A Rogue Lord.

I never had any doubt that Serena would finally get her HEA with Alex, but there were so many obstacles in the way that getting there was an interesting journey. From evil stepmothers to society's expectations, evil smugglers, tales of revenge and even the British Navy, there was never a shortage of events to keep the reader interested. Serena and Alex are great main characters, and the supporting cast and crew was lively and intriguing as well. A quick, enjoyable read, I liked the book well enough that I'm going to need to go back and find Book one in the series now.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2

I just saw this today and I. AM. EXCITED!  I cannot wait until July 15, I may have to break down and do a midnight showing of this one.  Until then, I'll console myself with the knowledge that in less than 2 weeks I get to visit the Harry Potter Adventure at Universal Studios!  YEA!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: The Vampire Voss

The Vampire Voss (Regency Draculia #1)The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Regency London – a dizzying whirl of balls and young ladies pursued by charming men.

But the Woodmore sisters are hunted by a more sinister breed: Lucifer's own.

Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member the Dracule – a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls – the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral ... until Angelica.

Angelica Woodmore possess the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger – for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him – to protect her.

Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica ... but this vampire never backs down from a fight.

My Thoughts: I couldn't pass up a chance to read this book, the first in a new series...after all, historical romance and vampires in one book?! Sounds like my cup of tea. And it was, to an extent. I found this an interesting twist on the whole vampire story, and we learn about the Dracule, at least a bit. The story started out a bit slow, but once things got going it became a much more interesting and fun read. Voss does not start off very likable...compelling perhaps, but not truly likable. He's got one motivation, and that is himself. Angelica on the other hand, comes across pretty well throughout the book. She and her sister Maia have a lot thrown at them to deal with. Angelica's Gift has put her in the crossfire between a Dracule battle, thanks in part to her brother, who is a vampire hunter yet ran off with the sister of the evil vampire (they get their own book later). Voss comes around enough to help save Angelica, and battles between his desire for her and his inability to control himself around her. As I said, it's an interesting take on the vampire "curse" and how it's resolved in the end was much different than I expected. I'm curious to see if that same theme carries over into the rest of the series as how the conflicts between vampire and humans falling in love are resolved.

It was a good 1/3 of the way into the book, maybe half, before I felt I really got into the story. The ebook version I read was almost 400 pages, and it might have been able to be condensed some yet still give the reader enough back story on the Dracule, the characters and Voss & Angelica's story. That being said, I do sort of feel like there are parts to the history and world of the Dracule that I'm unclear on, but I suspect some of that will be cleared up in later books. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next two that are set for release this spring. We met the heroes and heroines in this book and started to get a feel for them...although I'm particularly interested in how they bring about the storyline in the 2nd book, the Vampire Dimitri.

View all my reviews

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1)The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

My Thoughts: Rick Riordan may be my new go-to author for audio books. I did the Lost Hero on audio, and much like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, it was fabulous and I'm again hooked on a series of his!

The Lost Hero is told from the point of view of three demigods, Jason, Piper and Leo. The book starts as the three of them are on a bus on a field trip with their school. There are a lot of similarities as we learn about the trio to the Percy Jackson series. But rather than being annoying or repetitive, they tie the group together in a number of ways.

Piper, Leo and Jason (who is suffering from amnesia brought on by the Goddess Hera, who stole his memories) are whisked away to Camp Halfblood by Annabeth, after the field trip turns into a battle with monsters. Hera has been kidnapped, Olympus cut off, and Jason, Piper and Leo have only a few days to rescue Hera and prevent catastrophe.

The ties to the Percy Jackson series are strong. In fact, I'd highly recommend reading and completing that series before starting this one, but even just having read the first two PJ books I found I was ok. In addition to the quest that Jason, Piper and Leo are on, Annabeth and Rachael (the Oracle) are searching for Percy, who disappeared the same time that Jason appeared.

The story is fabulous, this time bringing in the Roman aspects of the Gods. Riordan does a great job of weaving in history and adventure and tells a great story. I'm still too impatient to want to listen to all the books on CD, but when I have to make a long car trip, they are a great way to fill the time. Not just for kids, I think this is a fun book and think it has set itself up to be a great series. We'll find out if the two camps of demigods can work together to prevent the fall of Olympus...and destruction of the world as we know it.

View all my reviews

Review: Driftwood Cottage

Driftwood Cottage (Chesapeake Shores, #5)Driftwood Cottage by Sherryl Woods

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Single mom Heather Donovan's dreams of home and family are tantalizingly within reach when she settles in Chesapeake Shores. The welcoming arms of the boisterous, loving O'Brien clan embrace her and her son. But accepting their support seems to further alienate her son's father, Connor O'Brien. His parents' divorce and his career as a high-powered divorce attorney have left him jaded about marriage.

Then everything changes. Will the possibility of a future without Heather make Connor look at love and his career differently? Heather's just about given up on her old dreams—of love, of family and especially of Driftwood Cottage, the home she secretly wishes were hers. It's going to take a lot of persuasion—and some help from the O'Brien family—to make Heather believe that some dreams are worth fighting for.

My Thoughts: The first Sherryl Woods book I ever read was "A Chesapeake Shores Christmas", which was my introduction both to her writing and to the O'Brien family. My review of that book (#4 in the series) emphasized the point that it was just such a "nice story". When I saw the chance to read the next in the series, Driftwood Cottage, I couldn't resist. I found that I really liked the O'Brien family, and there had been enough lead in to Connor and Heather's story (the focus of Driftwood Cottage) that I just HAD to find out how they got their Happy Ever After.

Of all the O'Brien kids, Connor is the one who took his parents divorce, and subsequent remarriage, the hardest. A top-notch, tough as nails divorce lawyer, he had sworn never to marry. He even went so far as to hide the fact he had a long-time live-in girlfriend and a son from his family. That secret was blown to pieces in the previous book, and his life is turned upside down when Heather leaves him. In Driftwood Cottage, we see Heather working to begin a life on her own, doing so in Chesapeake Shores, the home of the O'Briens.

There is never any doubt in either of the two Woods books I've read that there is going to be a HEA. Yet how the couples in question get to that point is done in such a way to keep it interesting, and reflects a good amount of emotion and drama and family life that smacks as true. The O'Briens are amazing meddlers in each other's lives, yet there's always the undercurrent of love in all their actions.

Not only did I enjoy Connor and Heather's story in Driftwood Cottage, but I enjoyed getting a sneak peak at the next two couples whose stories are yet to come. Like I said, there's no surprises here about who couples will end up with, or will they end up together, but how they get there is done in a way that keeps the reader interested and leaves you feeling good when the book is done. This is not my typical type of book or author, but I'm looking forward to the next installments of the O'Brien family story.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adventures in Cooking - Sauteed Chicken w/Roasted Lemons and Wilted Spinach

Today was the latest installment of Adventures in Cooking, with a recipe I picked up from the Facebook page.  It sounded good, so I thought I would give it a shot today, with a few tweaks of course!

The recipe link above called for capers and olives.  Now I don't like olives, and I didn't feel like capers tonight, so I skipped both.  I had chicken tenders (as opposed to breasts) handy, so I used those instead.  With three eaters, two packs almost disappeared quickly!  I used gluten free bread crumbs in the part when called for, and they didn't toast up very well, but still did ok.  I also used the bread crumbs instead of flour on the chicken.  Since I did a double pack of the tenders, I used the whole can of chicken broth, which was about a cup and a half in all.  Otherwise, I pretty much just followed the recipe.  I think it took closer to 45 minutes as I did it, but that was still pretty close to the time called for. I will say it made the kitchen pretty darn smoky...I think it was the toasting of the bread crumbs, but let's just say it's a good thing it was nice enough to have the windows open!

Leftovers were at a minimum, so I took that as a sign of approval!  I'd make this again, especially as we're moving into the warmer weather, as it had a nice light flavor and sauce.  Paired with the spinach and wild rice, this one is chalked up as a success!

Review: Firelight

Firelight (Firelight, #1)Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads - A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

My Thoughts - I'd heard (read) a lot about this book over the past year and finally decided to add myself to the library wait list. I was put off a bit at first because of the overall writing seemed sort of choppy, reminding me a bit of Stephanie Laurens, with very short or almost incomplete sentences. Yet the story overall stuck with me (even after I went to bed last night I found myself thinking about it!) and I did enjoy it. Jacinda is in some ways a typical tormented teenager -- yet her issues are much different than those of a typical teen. You can't help but pull for her and Will, and I'm anxious to see how that relationship continues to develop into the next book, and more about the secret we learn about him toward the end of the book. We're definitely left with a bit of a cliffhanger, with Jacinda and her sister fleeing with Cassius back to the pride (we think). I enjoyed the story, after a while becoming more or less immune to the style. If anything, it might have helped make it the quick read it was. I'm looking forward to book two and think I need to go put my name on the wait list now!

View all my reviews

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: It Happened One Season - Anthology

I'll say upfront that I'm normally not a big fan of anthologies. Sure, there's usually one or two good stories from one of my favorite authors, but overall, I plan on about a 50% favorability rating. Needless to say though, when I saw the authors involved in It Happened One Season I was pretty can you go wrong with Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Allessandro and Candace Hern?! Yet while I love all 4 of these historical romance authors, I was a bit concerned because all the stories were to have the same basic plot (based on a reader contest):

A couple, who have never met before, accidentally meet during a ball while clandestinely searching for the same thing in a room of the host's home. There is an immediate attraction even though the man is considered a scoundrel and the lady is considered "on the shelf" because she is too outspoken and smart. They agree to work together to find what they both want, but there is someone who is determined to prevent them from doing so.

I will say though, that I was pleasantly surprised. While all 4 stories had some similarities to them, I never felt like I was re-reading the same story. I found that I really enjoyed all the contributions, particularly the references back to some of their other stories and characters (most of which I've read...nice, but totally not necessary).  It was a good mix of heroes and heroines and at times plot lines that would either make you laugh out loud, smile, or slightly fall in love. I'd definitely recommend It Happened One Season, and if you're aren't familiar with all 4 authors, this is a great anthology to try someone new.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads: After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don't stay quiet for long.

Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders that protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia. Only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: The Bermuda Triangle.

Together with his friends, Percy must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family, one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.

My Thoughts: Second in the Percy Jackson series, I found I liked the book even more than the first, although the story may not have grabbed me quite as much as the first. I listened to the first book on audio - about 8 hours - and thoroughly enjoyed it. It took me just over an hour to read Book 2, and I enjoyed that process much more. The audiobook was good, and it made me appreciate the fact that there was a good story here, but I'm too impatient to "read" a book in 8 hours when I can read it in 1 :)

Book 2 continues to seal the bond between Percy, Annabeth and Grover, setting up what is sure to be an enjoyable rest of the series as they continue to battle Kronos and his supporters, as well as deal with the challenges and issues that come from Mount Olympus as well. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest in this series (and in fact already started listening to Riordan's followup series on my last car trip!)

View all my reviews

Review: The Spymaster's Lady

The Spymaster's LadyThe Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: She's braved battlefields. She's stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She's played the worldly courtesan, the naïve virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can't outwit...

British spymaster Robert Grey must enter France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful-and dangerous-Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable as the fates of nations hang in the balance.

My thoughts: This was my first Joanna Bourne novel, and I'm slightly of mixed views as I've completed it. I think I will be seeking out a few more to make my final determination, but while I liked the book overall, there was something about it that keeps needling the back of my mind, and not necessarily in a good way. I do like the characters though, they are a unique, interesting and fun bunch to read about. In fact I'm hoping there are more books about this group, those are the ones I'll be looking for. Interesting plot turns kept me guessing. I think there was something about the writing style that is what needles me, it just didn't quite flow as well as I would have liked it too. That however, didn't keep me from enjoying it, and thinking that there were some pretty great characters in this book. Strong heroes, heroines, loyal, conflicted, altogether likable, it was a good weekend read.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I've lost motivation to sit down in front of the sewing machine lately.  Block 10 in the Layer Cake Quilt Along was released today, and I'm still working on finishing block 8, and haven't even started number 9.  I thought I'd use some Spring Break time to catch up, but I've managed to fill that up already. I just need to make myself focus and get back on the horse here, I want to finish this quilt!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Audio Books

Over the course of the next 10 days or so, I'll be spending a lot of time in the car...we're talking 20+ hours of driving, by myself, across parts of the Midwest.  I'm not normally much of an audio book person, but when it comes to long car trips by myself, that's a different story.  So I'm looking for suggestions of good books to look for on CD!  I need something with enough action to keep me interested, but I've done all the basic genres before, from mystery to YA to romance and general fiction.  So if you have any suggestions, please let me know!