Apr 9, 2011

In Which I Get Sucked Into the Contemporary Romance Genre

It all started when I read the synopsis for The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis. I had never heard of her before, but I had seen her newest release around the blogosphere and I finally tracked it down on Goodreads. I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, it hadn't been released yet and so I couldn't read it right then. Bummer.

Since I was in the mood, I cast about for another story that would satisfy me until my craving was met. I happened upon Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgans. I have only read one novel by her and it was a long time ago, so I reacquainted myself with the awesomeness of Kristan Higgans. Just One of the Guys was such a wonderful read! It even made me cry, which is unusual for a contemporary romance. I became so invested in the story and the character's lives that I completely forgot everything else around me. Thank goodness I read it after my munchkin went to bed, because obliviousness with a six month old does not go well together.

After reading that book, I realized that I had been spending far too much time with young adults and was desperately craving some sweet, mature romance. I then moved on to Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis, since I figured it would be better to read the first book in the series before the second. Loved it! It made me laugh and hot dang, was Jax (the main male squeeze) a hot one. This was my first introduction to Jill Shalvis and I was not disappointed in the least. Her characters are funny, quirky and the personalities of each mesh well together to create a story worth reading.

Still in the mood, I moved on to All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins. It was only okay. I am so in love with Just One of the Guys, that anything would have a hard time following it. My favorite part was the sunny, upbeat attitude of Callie, the heroine.

Then I happened upon a review of Hidden Away by Maya Banks, and I couldn't resist an action packed series about six delicious brothers. Hidden Away is the third novel in the series, and was just released. This was another first timer for me. I had never read Maya Banks before, and I was pleased with the outcome. If you like Alpha males, this book is for you. There is nothing sexier than a possessive man who thinks of you as "mine." Oh, be still my heart.

I was still jonesing for The Sweetest Thing, but I had a few days yet before it was released. So, on to a few more time fillers. Next up: My One and Only by Kristan Higgins. I think I've had enough of her for awhile. This was her newest release I believe, and again.. it was only okay. The main female character, Harper James, was a witch with a capital B. I didn't even like her until the very end. And I'm talking last few pages end. Why did I read the whole thing, do you ask? Well, Nick, the ex-husband and hero, was uber sexy and smoldering. I just had to see if he had a happy ending.

Finally, finally.. I was able to get a hold of The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis. The instigator of this whole adventure. I am in love with the men of Lucky Harbor. Holy smokes, they're hot. This is a really great series, and I highly recommend it for whenever you're in the mood to completely lose yourself in sweet, mature romances.

And now, I've moved back into the young adult realm. Don't worry, I'll spare you the details. I feel like I've gone on a binge or something. A contemporary romance binge. Interesting.

Apr 3, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Author: Holly Schindler
Genre: Young Adult
Published: March 2011

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Have you ever happened upon a book that gets stuck in your mind and you can't seem to move on until you've gotten your hands on it? Playing Hurt was one of those types of books for me. I'd troll through my TBR list looking for another willing victim, and I'd pass this and think to myself "man, I really want to read that book now!" I finally couldn't resist any longer, and bought it at B&N. I started it last night after my munchkin went to bed, and while I wasn't extremely pleased with it, I wasn't entirely disappointed either.

Chelsea is recovering from a horrific accident in which she is now held together by a metal plate and is struggling to deal with life with no basketball. She is a senior, and for a graduation present her parents decide to book a family vacation to a outdoorsy resort in Minnesota. Chelsea's father decides to sign her up for a boot camp, without her knowledge. Clint, her trainer, has also experienced personal tragedy of his own and the story focuses on the two as they overcome fears and learn to live and embrace life again.

Ms. Schindler's story is well developed. The characters have no glaring deficiencies, and the setting is beautiful and she described it in such a way that I felt like I was there. Chelsea and Clint seemed to be normal teenagers, coping with hurt and loss. The relationship between the two was very steamy. I could feel the physical connection and the desperate want. It was actually quite graphic for a young adult novel, I thought. I'm no prude, and I enjoy a good, lusty scene every once in awhile, but I'm just not sure they have place in the young adult genre. I think there are more eloquent ways of telling us what is going on, without being so descriptive.  

Chelsea left a boyfriend back home, and it added a skeevey side to Chelsea's character that didn't sit well. Perhaps she was a confused teenager filled with angst, but my sympathy for her dwindled throughout the story. I am still grimacing slightly thinking about her character, even after I finished the book. Clint, on the other hand, was every young girl's dream. Heck, every old girl's dream too! He was sexy, heart-felt and real. The kind of guy every girl wishes they could run into on a summer vacation.

And the ending. It was sort of a happily ever after, but sort of not. I needed some sort of closure and I didn't get any. Or at least, I didn't get the closure that I was looking for. It felt like Ms. Schindler left me hanging, and I'm pretty sure that this is a single novel, with no sequel. Slightly frustrating.

So really, Playing Hurt was worth the read, I'm just not sure it was worth the buy. It contained a good message, and the chemistry was actually pretty good. I just wish the circumstances were different (the whole boyfriend thing) and the ending didn't leave me thinking "that's it?". I'd recommend it, but I wouldn't rush out and read it right this minute.

Mar 27, 2011

On My Wishlist

OMW is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where we list the books we desperately want, but haven't read yet. This can be books that are already published, or books that have yet to be released.

I realize that I have been a total slacker on my reviews lately. I also realize that a book blog filled with OMW posts does not a good blog make. I hope to remedy that this week.

This week I have a few for ya'. I picked them randomly from my Goodreads list, so there is no rhyme or reason and have absolutely nothing to do with eachother. That's how we roll here at Love Letters. Chaos is our friend!

Playing Hurt
Author: Holly Schindler

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Smexy Books gave this a glowing review on Goodreads, which intrigued me. It sounds so good!

The Reluctant Nude
Author: Meg Maguire
To be published: April 5, 2011

Fallon Frost’s late foster mother had done so much to heal the wounds of her damaged childhood. So when a lecherous developer plans to bulldoze her old home to make room for a strip mall, the practical, ordered life Fallon has built for herself is threatened.

Then he makes a twisted proposal. He’ll leave the land alone if she poses nude for a sculpture that’ll end up in his collection. Seeing no other choice, she heads for Nova Scotia—only to find something totally unexpected. A sexy, hot-blooded, infuriating sculptor.

Guarded, sexually detached Fallon is a challenge Max Emery can’t wait to tackle. Yet with each tap of his chisel, he uncovers a woman who rekindles a dream he thought lost. Home, family…love. And the closer he gets to her core, the harder it becomes to accept that he’s carving her naked body for another man’s eyes.

As progress on the sculpture almost grinds to a halt, their fragile fantasy world collapses under the weight of reality. Threatening Fallon’s one chance to save her foster mother’s land…and any chance she and Max have to find love.

Oh, Kate and Curran. I can't get enough of you two!

Magic Slays
Author: Ilona Andrews
To Be Published: May 2011

Kate Daniels has quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but starting her own business isn't easy when the Order starts disparaging her good name. And being the mate of the Beast Lord doesn't bring in the customers, either. So when Atlanta's premier Master of the Dead asks for help with a vampire, Kate jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, this is one case where Kate should have looked before she leapt.

Mar 19, 2011

On My Wishlist

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually read yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here.

I've never read this author, but have Grimspace on hold at the library. I'm not sure if this is her first foray into the YA world, but it definitely looks good!

Title: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Coming Out: April 2011

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

Feb 27, 2011

Mega Review Post

I've done a lot of reading this week, and not a whole lot of reviewing. Do you ever get into weird moods that just calls for a week of non-stop reading? That's what happened here. I was able to clear out some of the books that have been on my TBR list for awhile, as well as throw in some new ones as well.  

Instead of splitting up the reviews in different posts, I'm going to do quickie reviews in one post. This way I'll be able to get caught up!

Go here for synopsis.

I haven't read very many steampunk novels. This is my second attempt in the genre, and there were parts I loved, and parts I didn't.

Loved: The characters and the romance. I believed in the characters and the story. It was a great concept, and I was truly captivated by Meljean Brook's ability to create characters with such hidden depth.

Struggled with: Maybe it's because I'm not very familiar with the steampunk world, but I had a hard time picturing what everything looked like in my head. I just couldn't get into the setting. I didn't see that anyone else had a problem with this, so maybe it's just me with this issue. For example, Mina was described as looking this certain way - different from everyone else. She was ridiculed and treated poorly because of the way she looked, because it reminded everyone of the horde. But I could never find out how she looked differently. Was it her hair color, her eye color, or maybe her facial structure? I kept struggling not to picture her as a neanderthal!

All in all: It was interesting, and maybe if I read it again my issues and problems with the setting and world would be resolved. Other than that though, I'd recommend it!

Go here for synopsis.

There is nothing that I can say that will do this book justice. Phrases like "I loved it!" and "I thoroughly enjoyed it!" aren't adequate enough to describe how much I, well, loved it. Delirium is first in a trilogy, and I can tell it's going to be one of those series that I will buy and read over and over again. It's wonderful, magical, and it will make you think about who or what is important in your life. I can't imagine a world without love! Ms. Oliver gives us a completely put together dysotopian world, down to the minute details.

Read it. It's amazing!


Go here for synopsis.

I read Poison Study (the first book in this series, which I loved!) over the Christmas holidays, and was finally in a mood to finish up the series.

Magic Study: This one was enjoyable, but not as much as the first book. I'm having a hard time pin pointing exactly why, but there was just something about it that was off. Perhaps it was the serious lack of Valek and Yelena lovin' going on. It was mostly about Yelena's life, and the romance with Valek was tacked on there as an after thought. I also didn't enjoy the side characters as much in this one as in Poison Study. The two I fell in love with in that book, were also tacked on as an after thought in Magic Study. After I finished reading this book, I hoped for a magnificent ending in Fire Study.

Fire Study: It seemed my magnificent ending was not meant to be. I'm afraid this was the worst book of the three for me. It moved incredibly slow, and Yelena's interesting character kind of went down the tube. She developed a hero complex, and it started to annoy me after awhile. Truthfully, I only read about half the book and then skimmed the last of it. I stopped to read the last pages, just to make sure there was a happily ever after for Valek and Yelena. This is not a series that I will not buy and read again, but it was good enough for a one time read.

Go here for synopsis.

Graceling: Why, oh WHY did it take me so long to get to this book?! It was wonderful! Exciting and adventurous, this book definitely made my week. I love Katsa and her strength. She had some incredible skills and Po.. oh, my dear Po. So sweet, so tragic and so perfect for Katsa. And the bad guy in this novel was the worst I've seen in a long time. Thank you Kristin Cashore, for gifting us with the wonderfulness of Graceling. It completes me. 

Fire: I'm iffy about this book. It's a prequel, set 30 years before Graceling takes place. It explains a lot about the above mentioned bad guy and how he came to be. I wasn't a big fan of Fire. She had her great moments, but for the most part I thought she was kind of whiny and dramatic. Those two qualities don't go hand in hand. But everything else I thought was well done, and I'm completely in love with Brigan, Fire's main squeeze.

Kristin Cashore's next novel is called Bitterblue and will be out Sept 2011. Can't wait to see what her story is!

So apparently not only have I been in a reading frenzy, I've been in a YA dysotopian reading frenzy specifically.

I have so many books to read next, I don't know where to begin! Do I start with This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost? I love me some Bones! Or do I continue on with my YA mood and read Jane by April Lindner? I also have the first book in the Jessica Darling series, Sloppy Firsts. Apparently anyone who is anyone has read that series and I'm feeling a little left out. Hopefully it will live up to all the praise..

Happy reading everyone! Have a great week!

Maggie Stievfater's Stack of Books Giveaway!

One of my favorite author's Maggie Stiefvater, is spring cleaning and giving away three stacks of books to three lucky people. Seriously hoping I'm one of them!!

Go visit her blog for details!

Feb 17, 2011

Cry Sanctuary by Moira Rogers

Author: Moira Rogers
Series: Red Rock Pass #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Published: Oct 2008

Keith Winston is tired of fighting. The war between werewolves and wizards rages on in Europe, but he's come home to Red Rock, Montana in hopes of finding a bit of peace. Instead he finds more strife as he struggles against the pack’s dictates that he resume his place as the alpha’s right hand man.

When he rescues a new wolf on the run, he knows his instant attraction to her could cause trouble. What he doesn't expect is to find himself embroiled in another battle that goes against all his instincts—and his heart.
Abigail Adler learned about the existence of werewolves only when she became one. With her life is threatened by a corrupt alpha, she flees to the only sanctuary she knows: Red Rock. While she’s grateful for the pack’s protection, she chafes under its unbreakable rules of conduct—except when it comes to submitting to the passion Keith stirs in her.

Then her tormentor kidnaps her sister in an attempt to lure her out of hiding. To save her, Abby and Keith must be willing to do the very thing that could get them all killed—break all of the rules.

This is my first book by this writing team. I really want to read their Southern Arcana series, but that would mean I have to get an e-reader device of some sort and then actually buy the book. So, it might be awhile before I get to it. The library had a copy of this one, so I downloaded it and read it on my computer. I was surprised by how short it was. There was so much story packed in those pages though, that the length of the book never factored in or took anything away from the book.

I was in the mood for a lusty read when I picked this up, and hot dang Moira Rogers delivered. There is some great werewolf lovin' in this novel, and I got all sorts of hot and bothered. I felt like the plot was well formed, especially considering the length of the novel. The "world" that Moira Rogers began creating is not nice to her characters. All is not well in the werewolf community, and I'm interested to see how it is all resolved in later books.

All in all, an exciting read for when you are in the mood for some quick and feisty lovin'. Some day I'll get my hands on their Southern Arcana series!

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