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May
30

Quickie Reviews: Island Heat & Wicked Games

Quickie Reviews: Island Heat & Wicked Games Today I am doing quickie reviews for 2 of Jill Myles self-published titles. The books are available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Romance for next to nothing… so what are you waiting for? I received an e-copy of these books from Jill for the purposes of an honest review. Island Heat  Release Date: February 28, 2011 Publisher: self-published Genre: Paranormal Romance Format(s): e-book From the author’s website: On a business trip to Bermuda, realtor Diana Holcomb’s small plane goes down over the ocean, a victim of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Diana wakes up to find herself on a deserted island…that really isn’t all that deserted. First, a gigantic dinosaur tries to eat her. Then she’s captured by cavemen, and just when things are looking their worst, she’s rescued by none other than a gorgeous man with the body of an Adonis and the jungle skills of Tarzan. Salvador’s been stranded on the island for a very, very long time without a woman. A very, very long time. And now that he has Diana, he intends to claim her for his own… What I’m talking about: Poor Diana… always looking for the next commission, this realtor has her hands full with her latest client. When he invites Diana on a business trip to the Bermuda Triangle, she didn’t realize it would be for funny business.  But once the plane crashes, Diana has to forget all she knows and embrace island life. This story is Jurassic Park meets LOST.  There are dinosaurs, cavemen, and remnants of past (??) survivors that date back centuries. Salvador is generous, adorable and alpha… just how I like my men! Diana is a bit whiny, needs help managing her anger, and slaps and swats Salvador entirely too often.  But I suppose I could cut her a break since she’s just been dropped onto this crazy island.  There are some great moments of humor in the book. Island Heat is a cute story with a fairly substantial plot line and character development.  There are some enjoyable twists and turns, and the ending, while predicable, was satisfying. My Rating:  Liked it, but I had some issues – recommend (B) Wicked Games   Release Date: March 2011 Publisher: self-published Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): e-book From the author’s website: Abby Lewis never pictured herself on the survival game show, Endurance Island. She’s just not the ‘survival’ type. But when her boss offers her a spot on the show and the opportunity of...
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May
26

Review: Infernal Affairs

Review: Infernal Affairs Infernal Affairs Author: Jes Battis Release Date: June 2011 Publisher: Penguin Publishing OSI Series, Book 4 ISBN: #9780441020454 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (320 pages), ebook I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website: Being on the night shift as an Occult Special Investigator means losing track of what’s normal—or safe. And hiding a childlike demon named Ru from a four-legged bounty hunter qualifies as neither—even for Tess Corday. It doesn’t help that tensions have been rising between her and Lucian—her partner in the professional AND personal sense. Drawn into an investigation that spans multiple worlds, Tess must confront the one thing she’s dreaded most of all: her family’s own demonic past. Being mage-born, she never knew who—or exactly what—her father was. And she’s about to come face-to-face with the one power across the worlds that can answer the mystery of her past…if it doesn’t kill her first. What B is talking about: Tess Corday has her hands full. She lives with her friend who’s a mind reader, a college-aged vampire, and a teenager who would also be a vampire if she weren’t taking medication to stop her transformation. She’s also dating a necromancer, isn’t sure who her real father is, and she works the night shift for an agency of paranormal investigators. Throw in some inter-dimensional baddies, and is easy to see why she’s sleep deprived. But, as long as somebody keeps the coffee pot full, she’ll be okay. For all that, I really liked this book. It’s suspenseful, never stops moving, has very interesting characters, and fully embraces the art of the snarky response. I had to keep my browser open to Dictionary.com for a lot of it, but I think that’s a good thing. Battis seems to know a lot about everything: from specific autopsy methods (Rokitansky) to a proper reference to erythropoietin (a hormone that promotes the formation of red blood cells) levels. I had to look up both because I had no idea what they were. The plot is easy enough to follow without handy reference materials, though. Every scene is rich with details, and the dialogue is explanatory enough to keep the story “friendly.” Battis never talks down to the reader, but there are a lot of specialists and experts in the novel, and he lets them do their jobs. I always regret not being able to read a series...
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May
25

Review: Magic Slays

Review: Magic Slays Magic Slays Author: Ilona Andrews Release Date: May 31, 2011 Publisher: Ace Kate Daniels Book #5 ISBN: #978-0441020423 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (320 pgs), e-book I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website:      Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.      Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.      So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . . What I’m talking about:      The fifth Kate Daniels book opens with Kate and Curran in post-mating bliss, being as domestic as one of the most powerful magic wielders and the Beast Lord of Atlanta can be. Taking place shortly after the end of the fourth story, Magic Bleeds (review HERE), we find Kate trying to make a go of her new business. Kate’s best friend Andrea comes home (she took off after the climax of the fourth book), and her “ward” Julie has run away from school, again. Kate is learning her place as the alpha female and Curran’s consort, and things seem to be going okay. And that’s about as calm as it gets in this book. Right away, things go crazy. It starts with a renegade vampire that threatens innocents and doesn’t slow down until you close the book after the last page.      WOW – I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this series! Each book just gets better than the last. And I want to stress to you that if you have not picked up the Kate Daniels Series, you really need to add it to your TBR list –...
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May
24

Review: Agnes & The Hitman

Review: Agnes & The Hitman Agnes and the Hitman Author: Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer Release Date: August 21, 2007 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press ISBN: #978-0312363055 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Hardcover (368 pages), paperback (432 pages), e-book, audiobook We (Gikany) purchased a copy (in numerous formats) of this book for the purposes of our own enjoyment. From the author’s website: If you can’t stand the heat… Agnes Crandall’s problems are roiling to a boil. First, a dog-napper invades her kitchen, seriously hampering her attempts to put on a wedding that’s she’s staked her entire net worth on. Then a man climbs through her bedroom window to save her. “Shane” (no last name) may be Agnes’s hero, but he’s also a professional hitman–so he’s no stranger to trouble himself… Get out of the kitchen. Between a rival who wants to take him out and an uncle who may have lost five million bucks in Agnes’s basement, Shane’s plate is plenty full. Soon Agnes and Shane are tangled up with the lowlifes after the money, a gang of Southern mob wedding guests, a dog named Rhett, and–most dangerous of all–each other. What Gikany & Una are talking about: One of the most noticeable and delightful elements of this book, is the hardcover looks like a cookbook (once you remove the dust jacket). Maybe we are easily amused but we find that a really nice touch for this book. It is not the first book that Ms. Crusie and Mr. Mayer teamed up on, but is by far their BEST collaboration, bar none. Agnes and the Hitman is witty, sexy, fun, adventurous, engaging, did we mention fun? We can’t tell you how many times we have read this book and yet every time we picked it up, we laugh, we giggle and enjoy it all over again. The book begins with Agnes on the phone, baking of course, with Rhett, her faithful hound patiently waiting for scraps, when some kid comes into her kitchen with a gun. The kid attempts to dog-nap Rhett, which Agnes will have none of. She successfully thwarts the dog-napper, only to find herself deeper in trouble. Her “Uncle” Joey, looking out for her best interests, sends his nephew Shane to protect his “little Agnes.” We could go on, but the unraveling of the story is all part of the fun. Agnes tries to dig herself out of trouble while not falling for the mysterious Shane, hosting a wedding (if she gets the...
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May
23

Review: Kiss of Snow

Review: Kiss of Snow Kiss of Snow Author: Nalini Singh Release Date: May 31, 2011 Publisher: Berkley Sensation Psy-Changeling #10 ISBN: #978-0425242094 Genre: paranormal romance Format(s): Hardcover (432 pgs), e-book        I received an ARC copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website:      Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.      Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.      Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…      A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…. What I’m talking about:      For those fans of the amazing Psy-Changeling series, who like me, have been waiting for this book for a couple of years now… the wait is over and Hawke’s book is finally here. I am going to say right up front that this series is my absolute favorite out there, and I highly recommend to anyone that has not yet picked it up to do so. But PLEASE start at the beginning, and not with this book. This book is so special and amazing because of the emotionally investment in Ms. Singh’s characters and the time spent wrapped up in their world and events. For reading order and more information on this series, visit Nalini’s website HERE.      Kiss of Snow begins where the previous novel, Play of Passion ends (my review HERE). Like the previous book, the primary setting for this story are the territories and home of the Changeling wolf-pack, the SnowDancers. This story focuses on the pack alpha (leader), Hawke, and the young Psy packmate, Sienna. Sienna and her family defected from the Psynet and faked their own deaths...
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May
20

Review: Dark Needs at Night’s Edge

Review: Dark Needs at Night’s Edge Dark Needs At Night’s EdgeAuthor: Kresley Cole  Release Date: April 2008                      Publisher: Pocket Star Immortals After Dark #5 ISBN: # 978-1612580234 Genre: paranormal romance Format(s): paperback (384 pgs), e-book I purchased a copy of this book for my own reading pleasure. From the author’s website: Néomi Laress, a famous ballerina in the early 1900s, became a phantom the night she was murdered. Imbued with powers, but invisible to the living, she haunts her beloved home, scaring away any trespassers–until she encounters a ruthless immortal even more terrifying than Néomi herself. To prevent him from harming others, Conrad Wroth’s brothers imprison him in an abandoned manor. There only Conrad can see the dancer with wild raven hair–who seems determined to drive him further into madness. The exquisite creature inflames him with desire, leaving his body racked with lust and his soul torn as he finds himself coveting her for his own. Yet even if Conrad can win Néomi and claim her completely, evil still surrounds her. Once he returns to the brutality of his past to protect her, will he succumb to the dark needs seething inside him? What I’m talking about: The story opens with the history of Neomi’s brutal murder by her ex-fiancé while she was in the prime of her life. Next, forward ahead eighty years and Neomi is stuck as a ghost in her beautiful home. This is the same home that the vampire brothers Murdoch, Sebastian (from No Rest for the Wicked) and Nikolai (from “The Warlord Wants Forever”) have purchased with the intent of using it to hold their blood-hungry brother, Conrad while they attempt to rescue him.  Unlike his brothers, Conrad has lived the past 300 years of his vampiric life feeding off “live blood” (direct from the source) causing madness and he should be executed on sight.  Yet the Wroth Brothers believe that they can save Conrad and stage an intervention of sorts – holding him prisoner and forcing him to change his “evil” ways. As Conrad slowly emerges from his madness, he begins to realize that he isn’t alone in his room.  Neomi sits with Conrad day after day and watches the Wroth brothers undetected, learning about the Lore (paranormal world). Finally, Conrad sees and begins to communicate with Neomi – the first and only living being to do so. Soon, the two are left alone for several days which allow them to forge a friendship and develop strong feelings for...
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May
18

Review: The Stepsister Scheme

Review: The Stepsister Scheme The Stepsister Scheme Author: Jim C. Hines Release Date: January 6, 2009 Publisher: DAW Princess Novels Book #1 ISBN: #978-0756405328 Genre: Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (352 pages), e-book We bought this book because…well, Gikany bought this book because she liked the cover while shopping in the bookstore and she told Una to read it while handing it to her. From the author’s website: “You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures until you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after….” Guess what? It’s not true.” Cinderella–whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas)–does marry Prince Armand. And if you can ignore the pigeon incident, their wedding is a dream come true. But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia–otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty–comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away. That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her own very secret service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy duty flirting. Can the three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains? What Gikany & Una are talking about: We decided to give you a review of this book simply because we feel it is our duty to ensure other genres are brought to your attention. We decided to stretch our wings because we believe strongly in variety and we know that so far TwiMom has focused on urban fantasy, romance and a few young adult novels. That being said, since our first post was Urban Fantasy, it wouldn’t be too far a stretch for you to be introduced to some pure fantasy. The Stepsister Scheme is what we consider pure fantasy. It is set in the world of fairy tales, where Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty all exist and are real people. However, “happily ever after” is still just the fairy tale. We begin this story shortly after Cinderella’s (or Danielle as she is really called) honeymoon. For her, she thought she thought all...
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May
13

Review: Ender’s Game

Review: Ender’s Game Ender’s Game Author: Orson Scott Card  Release Date: January 1985 Publisher: Tor Science Fiction Book #1 Ender series ISBN: #978-0812550702 Genre: Science Fiction Format(s): Paperback, e-book, audiobook Gikany found it on her parents’ shelf when she was a teenager. She bought the ebook a few months ago…because it is nice to have handy on her iPhone. From the author’s website: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast. But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails. Newsday said of this novel “Card has done strong work before, but this could be the book to break him out of the pack.” It was. Ender’s Game took the sf world by storm, sweeping the awards. It won both the Hugo and Nebula, and rose to the top of national bestseller lists. What Gikany & Una are talking about: Una has not read much science fiction (but has enjoyed many television shows and movies) while Gikany holds it close to her heart (she almost has the whole book memorized *Gikany mumbles, not entirely*). Through Gikany, Una finally read Ender’s Game...
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May
3

Review: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

Review: Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel Authors: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris Release Date: April 26, 2011 Publisher: Harper Voyager Publishing Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1 ISBN: #978-0062049766 Genre: Steampunk Format(s): paperback (416 pgs), e-book   I received a copy of this book from the NETGALLEY for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website:      These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s top-secret organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest…and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.      For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot…or see England fall to the Phoenix! What I’m talking about:      Agent Eliza Braun is one of those secret agents that always gives 100 percent, lives for the thrill, and always uses a bit more dynamite than necessary.  After completing a mission to save the Ministry’s Archivist, dashing Wellington Books, she is sent to work with Agent Books in the Archives. There she discovers countless abandoned and unsolved cases, including one that lead to the downfall of her previous partner.  Soon Ms. Braun has dragged the prim-and-proper Agent Books into the middle of a far-reaching, diabolical plot against Her Majesty.      Phoenix Rising is a well-written amazing adventure. The plot unfolds at just the right pace, leaving me at the edge of my seat throughout much of the tale. The story is smart and the characters witty. The steampunk world created in this tale is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes or the movie The Prestige. (For those still unfamiliar with “steampunk,” the authors have a wonderful post you can read HERE.)      Agents Eliza Braun and Wellington Books are the perfect duo. With her field experience, fighting capabilities and feisty attitude and his vast knowledge, keen interest in mechanisms and upper-crust breeding, they complement each other. They may not run like a...
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May
2

Review & Giveaway: Hard Bitten

Review & Giveaway: Hard Bitten Dear Readers: Please help me welcome my friend Wendy, a big fan of the Chicagoland Vampire series. She brings you today’s review of… Hard Bitten Author: Chloe Neill  Release Date: May 3, 2011 Publisher: NAL Publishing Chicagoland Vampire Series Book 4 ISBN: #978-0451233325 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (368 pgs), e-book I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website: Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals–and they’re camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are … tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else. Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn’t help that she can’t tell who’s on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who’s tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago’s supernatural society–a world full of vampires who seem to ready to fulfill the protesting human’s worst fears, and a place where she’ll learn that you can’t be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands…. What Wendy is talking about: I love it when I know there’s a new Chloe Neill novel coming out. She writes excellent urban fantasy with plenty of action, humor and just enough romance to draw me in. Hard Bitten is the fourth novel in her Chicagoland Vampires series and I was ready for number five before I hit the last chapter!  As Sentinel of Cadogan House, Merit is a newly-made but completely bad-ass vampire who was very recently a “nerdy graduate student.” Neill has a real talent for writing very regular people into her supernatural world. Merit loves shoes and baseball, and like most girls (the girls that I know, at least) she over-indulges in chocolate when she’s feeling sorry for herself. And she has a fair amount of things to be bummed about this time around. Her boss, Ethan, has changed his mind (again!)...
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