May 31, 2011

Review: A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man
Author: Celeste Bradley, Susan Donovan
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312532563
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviews program

For more information please visit Celeste Bradley's website and Susan Donovan's website.

Regency London’s most celebrated courtesan, The Blackbird, was a woman before her time—uninhibited, financially independent, and free to live by her own rules. Schooled in the sensual arts by the one man she loved the most, she recorded every wicked detail in her diaries…

When Boston museum curator Piper Chase-Pierpont unearths The Blackbird’s steamy memoirs, she’s aroused and challenged by what she finds. Could the courtesan’s diaries be used as a modern girl’s guide to finding love and empowerment? One curious curator—and one very lucky man—are about to find out…

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting You Man by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan was quite possibly one of the most intense, emotional and utterly amazing novels that I've had the pleasure of reading. With two worlds perfectly entwining and chock full of masterfully created characters, amazing chemistry and romance hot enough to make your blood boil this is one novel that will live on in the reader's memory far passed the final page.

Without a doubt this has one of the most intricate worlds imaginable spanning from present day all the way back to Regency London. Each world is vividly created with wonderful attention to details bringing each into perfect clarity from the wonderful settings in which the story takes place to the society in which each character lives emphasizing not only the differences but the similarities of each. Now, what initially had me worried about this when I first started reading was the fact that it would entail both contemporary and historical romance. I was a bit nervous that because of the split focus that the plot of the novel and the characterization would suffer, but I can say that all of those worries were for nothing. In fact, this story perfectly spans these two very different times creating a great duality that suited the theme of the novel.

The characters themselves were beyond endearing, from Ophelia, otherwise known as the Blackbird, to Piper and their respective lovers, Sir and Mick. In fact, I don't think I've ever found a character that I've respected more the Ophelia. She's iconic and impassioned and unabashedly herself. If ever there was a woman to feel inspired by it would be her, with her wonderful intellect and fierce heart. Piper, in her own way is much the same, however, she's extremely accessible with her own set of vulnerabilities, emotions and self worth issues. Just as intelligent as Ophelia but lacking in confidence, she follows in the footsteps of the Blackbird earning her courage and the love her life, Mick,  in the process. And now for the men in their respective lives. First, let me start with Sir! Delectable isn't even a strong enough word for how deliciously wicked this mysterious man is. I loved him and found him intriguing and beguiling. His love for Ophelia was obvious no matter how each other them shy away from the fact. But, I will say that I was so, so happy to be right about his identity! It was so perfect and when he is finally unmasked I think I loved him a bit more. Truly, this was a realistic man who any woman would wish was flesh and blood and not only in their bed, but in their lives. But, it was his unending support of Ophelia, even in her darkest moments, that really won me over which on emphasized my idea of this being something extremely close to the perfect man. Mick was pretty much the same way with Piper in so much as he was devoted, caring and over all rather remarkable. While I loved Mick though there was a charisma to Sir that I couldn't ignore.

But, what is a romance without well, the romance? This novel was beyond scintillating with two separate affairs that set my blood to boil. There were so many wonderful emotions that were intense and masterfully realized and the chemistry, don't even get me started it was so wonderful. The sexual awakening of both Piper and Ophelia was marvelously written creating an erotic, passionate connection between these amazing women and the men within their lives. I really couldn't get enough, and while I loved Piper immensely, I fell in love with the passionate affair between Ophelia and Sir. I was completely sucked in to their hesitant relationship eagerly anticipating my next fix, and when the story was finally over, just wow.

Honestly, I don't know which side of this story I loved more, but I am leaning toward Ophelia and Sir. They were each just so charismatic and I adored Ophelia and her spine of steel, her devotion and loyalty to her friends and her verve for life. But, at the same time I adored Piper's courage at stepping outside of her comfort zone and finally allowing herself to grow and to be daring even when she knew the result would not end favorably. I think that these authors did a phenomenal job of bringing these two spunky ladies to life and creating a world and characters that readers can find some great messages and inspiration from. And the writing styles were perfect creating separate, but connected characters with fluid writing and prose that only served to ensnare me further in to this story.

Over all, this book was amazing. It's just that simple. I fell in love with the characters, the worlds, the authors, the whole package. If you love romance that will make you laugh, cry and keep you hooked from the first page to the last, then this is it! And for those who want characters that pop from the pages then this novel definitely delivers on that front too!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Explicit sexual content

May 30, 2011

Review: Demonspawn by Glenn Bullion

Author: Glenn Bullion
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

*Novel provided by the author for a honest review

For more information please visit Glenn Bullion's website.
Alex Teague tried to live a normal life. He was a normal high school senior . . . until he talked to his first ghost, exorcised his first demon, and cleansed his first haunted house.

If only it ended there.
Now a young man in his twenties, Alex makes a horrifying discovery.

He is part demon. And the supernatural world won't leave him alone.

Demonspawn by Glenn Bullion is a wonderful mix of horror, urban fantasy with just a twist of sexual tension to strum you along late in to the night. Thrilling, suspenseful, action packed and above all else utterly engaging, this novel kept me up far past my bedtime eager to know more about these wonderful characters and the intricate and mysterious world they live in.

First off, let me just say the scope of this novel was amazing. We literally follow these characters from childhood in to adulthood, learning pretty much everything that there is to know about them. This was beyond unusual, but I must say that the insight in to the childhood of Alex and his deep friendship with  Cindy and his connection to his sister Alicia was amazing. I don't think I've ever enjoyed the journey of a character more. The emotions and fears of Alex as he tries to understand what is happening to him came across perfectly making him a sympathetic characters, but he is still very much in control and accepts these oddities making him a strong and likable character that doesn't mope or whine about the lot he was given. In fact, I found him to be rather impressive allowing his friends and family to help him cope with the question of what he is and the unpalatable answers that he comes to find. And likewise, the other characters are wonderfully developed as well, from Cindy, his lifetime friend and the crush of his life, to his sister Leese and a rather varied assortment of other friends that come and go. The group dynamic was wonderful and very fluid creating a ensemble cast that was very devoted and loyal to one another. I really loved that aspect, the loyalty and love between characters. It pretty much went without explanation that any one of the characters would do anything to help the others as well as accept Alex no matter what he was or what he could do. And overlying it all was a heaping helping of sexual tension between Alex and Cindy, yet another aspect that was wonderfully created, extremely organic and utterly intriguing. It really helped to keep the pace of the story while melding perfectly with all of the chaos that Alex is experiencing and only serves to heighten all the emotions running rampant.

The world building was also quite impressive. With not only ghosts and demons in the forefront, we come to find a world where pretty much anything can and does exists, including vampires. But, what I loved was the ever expanding depth in which we become immersed. And from the beginning Bullion does a wonderful job of bringing to life the horrific atmosphere of the ghostly demonic presences that Alex comes in to contact with. Truly, the air horror was chilling and the visceral details really add to this aspect. There is some vivid imagery involved, so reader be warned. However, I feel that it was perfectly placed to get across the true nature of both the demons and the inhuman feats that they are capable of. But, there was also a healthy dose of urban fantasy that I really loved with lots of action and some great suspense. And the culmination? Wow. Just wow. I was so pleased with how this novel ended and only hope to see future ones take place within this world and with these wonderful characters.

The story was highly developed and extremely well thought out taking the reader on a journey. While most novels have a very quick insight in to what the plot will actually be, this novel is fifty miles of hard road. We literally live from moment to moment, problem to problem, and I utterly enjoyed ever single moment! I never once wished for anything else instead relishing in the wonderful evolution of the characters and the ever changing situations that they find themselves in.

What kept this novel from being a 5 from me? Seriously, not much. Literally, it was some editing issues with quite a few missing or wrongly placed or chosen words. Seriously, it isn't much, but given the high quality of everything else, it was a bit bothersome to be so engrossed in the moment only to have to stop and puzzle out an oddly written sentence. But, like I said, this is minor and really didn't detract too highly from the novel as a whole because frankly, I want more.

In the end, I highly recommend this. Unique, original and above all else, I couldn't get enough. These characters are beyond endearing and the world is intriguing. As I said before, I can only hope that this turns in to a series because there is so much greatness left to explore with an ending that certainly left a great opening. So definitely, if you love demons, horror or urban fantasy, then be sure to check out this novel! You won't be disappointed.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Graphic horror related violence some sexual content

May 27, 2011

Review: The ElectroLive Murders by Don Broma

The ElectroLive Murders
Author: Don Broma
Purchase Information:

*Novella provided by the author for a honest review
When a rich old man is brutally murdered, detective Richard Dashiell loses all patience for protocol. Rookie inspector Natalia Helenas, assigned to the same case, finds herself caught between respect for her partner and respect for the rules. As the investigation leads them from the immaculate halls of a cutting-edge medical business, to the seedy chambers of a twisted sex club, Helenas and Dashiell learn that sometimes not even the dead get to rest in peace.

The ElectroLive Murders by Don Broma is a futuristic noir romance that was wonderfully intriguing, highly developed with a great horrific twist. Nicely written with a great tone and word that is a Frankenstein-like mix of various genres, this was a fun hard boiled detective mystery that I really enjoyed reading.

The world building, considering the length of the novella, was actually really well done bringing to life a world that was advanced without being too far fetched from the world that we know. With bits of science fiction and horror thrown in to an atmosphere that felt as it were straight out of a Dashiell Hammett noir novel, this was an eclectic and original mix that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The characters, while being only two dimensional (something that pretty much always goes without saying in shorts and novellas for obvious reasons) were interesting with great voices and conflicting personalities. Dashiell is a hard boiled detective who has no problems getting his hands dirty and stepping outside of the law to solve a case is paired with Natalia Helenas, a fresh recruit eager to work with a living legend. But, while a bit green behind the ears, she is willing to toe the line with Dashiell in order to get their man. They had a decent 'partner' camaraderie that came across nicely.

The story itself was nicely developed with some good twists and turns that managed to keep the balance between science fiction, horror and mystery nicely. Well written, this novella had a great flow that perfectly captured the tone of the Gothic noir novel, something that I found myself r highly impressed by, especially since this story wrapped up so quickly. It seems like there should have been something missing or lacking and I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall, as it were, for the chink in the armor. But, by the end the short tale was wrapped up rather nicely.

In the end, I was quite impressed by this short tale and really enjoyed the quick read. If you love a story that has a bit of everything, then this story is for you. The perfect quick read that is entertaining and at the same time has some nicely executed twists and turns. It definitely wasn't what I had expected, and was all the better for it!

My Rating:

Review: Unsavory Delicacies by Russell Brooks

Unsavory Delicacies
Author: Russell Brooks
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Short story anthologies provided by the author for a honest review

For more information please visit Russell Brooks' website.

A three-course story collection with a side-order of revenge.

For fans of Barry Eisler, Robert Ludlum, and Clive Cussler. Three short stories of suspense with unsavory results.

Crème Brûlé—Rogue operative, Monique Beauvais, cons a software genius into selling her a coveted technology that would allow its user to control CIA drones while they’re in flight. And she will go as far as killing him in public in order to have it.

To the Last Bite—A renowned food critic—whose scathing reviews have closed down restaurants—gets a savoury surprise.

Shashlyk and Morezhenoe—CIA operative, Ridley Fox, leads a team against one of Russia’s most powerful crime families. He discovers secrets, but not one that he was expecting to find.

Three stories with three consequences. All containing three Unsavory Delicacies.

Unsavory Delicacies by Russell Brooks takes place within the same world as his novel Pandora's Succession featuring many of the same characters and the same clandestine organizations. At something like thirty pages, this is a quick nibble that definitely has it's share of action, thrills and chills.

Given that this short anthology is so, well, short, I don't want to go in to much detail that will give away any of the tasty --erm, tasteless-- treats within. What I can say is that each of these 'delicacies' is action packed, well developed and extremely well thought out giving the reader a tempting sample of the world surround Ridley Fox and the nefarious Arms of Ares organization.

Given the length, I can honestly say I was a bit surprised at how well developed and entertaining this little tid-bits were. They each had great action, a nicely developed premise and even delivered some creepy chills a la 'Tales from the Crypt'. The writing was superb, flowing and fast paced creating an engaging read that will give readers unfamiliar with Brooks' previous works a decadent sampler leaving them eager for the main course.

Overall, while this short-order anthology is only thirty pages, it is an entertaining read that was wonderful fun filled with some great action and intrigue. If you need something to read on the go, then is definitely a great choice!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

May 26, 2011

Review + Giveaway [CLOSED]: 44 by Jools Sinclair

Author: Jools Sinclair
Publisher: You Come Too Publishing
ISBN: 0012242837
Purchase Information:

*Novel provided by the author via The Bookish Snob Promotions

For more information please visit Jools Sinclair's website.

Last year after falling through the ice, seventeen-year-old Abby Craig woke up from death.

But she woke into a world she barely recognizes. She can’t see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her. And then there’s Jesse, who she loves, but who refuses to forgive her the one mistake she made long ago.

Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, the visions begin. In them, she sees a faceless serial killer roaming the streets. While the police believe that there have been a lot of accidents in town lately, Abby knows differently. And she soon realizes that it’s up to her to find him.

But to stop him, she’ll have to confront more than just the killer. She’ll have to face something else that was lost in those dark waters. The truth.

In the tradition of Amanda Hocking, 44 is a thrilling paranormal romance mystery novel that keeps readers at the edge of their seats and glued to the very end. The ending will haunt you forever.

44 by Jools Sinclair is a wonderful paranormal mystery for young adults with all the suspense and plotting one would expect in an adult thriller. Wonderfully planned out with some nice twists and turns and endearing characters that are sympathetic and endearing, this novella may be short, but there is no lack in quality!

The lead character, Abby is a wonderfully adult character that was masterfully developed with great emotions and thoughts. She's somewhat independent, struggling to find herself and adjust to her 'new life' after a fatal accident in which she was finally revived some forty-four minutes later. Though she suffers through moments of depression and struggles with her frustration at no longer being able to lead the life she once did, she is seen as an outcast among her peers, but instead of sulking she mourns her old life and moves on finding her place on the fringes. And close at hand is her best friend and love interest Jesse, a character that I really loved. His relationship with Abby is dynamic and organic with great turmoil and tension that is perfectly relatable to young and old readers alike. Throughout the tension mounts, but it is never questionable the devotion that both characters have to one another and this close knit bond is marvelous to see change over the course of the story. But, more impressive is the relationship between Abby and her older sister Kate. No doubt Kate has a tough task raising her younger sister and then coping with all the repercussions of her near fatal accident. When these mysterious visions of a serial killer start effecting her little sister I was really impressed that she so easily believed her. Though, more important was the connection between these two. There's something of a protective quality about their relationship showing a strong familial bond, as well as a wonderful closeness where each fully divulges to the other. Kate never sees Abby as being a child and accepts her as an adult and never considers her sister a burden which is a unique attribute that I especially enjoyed reading.

The world was also wonderfully created with a great atmosphere that was at once somewhat disconnected while being fully realized. This seemed to perfectly mirror Abby's character showing a world where things are far from the normal life of a teenager. But, at the same time, I really loved the diversity ranging from the crime hunting side where Abby delves in to her visions to catch a killer with her sister and still maintain a realistic high schooler appeal of a young lady trying to find her place and herself. The locale was nicely described as well, creating a nice backdrop for the tension and journey of the story.

Sinclair also did a marvelous job with the storyline and still maintaining a lot of 'character' based content in parallel to the varying directions of the plot line. There's a great mystery surrounding the mysterious serial killer, the visions that Abby experiences and the truth surrounding her accident which she remembers very little about. Everything really ties together very nicely and there are several twists along the way eliciting a lot of wonderful emotions making this something of a roller coaster, especially towards the end. But, after reading the story from beginning to end, I did end up with a few little niggling issues that seem to conflict with how the story ends. I know I'm leaving this extremely vague, but to go in to any amount of detail will completely spoil the ending. What I am willing to say is that while I found a few of the occurrences in hindsight to be odd or completely off, it doesn't change my opinion of the story as a whole.

In the end, this was a great, short read that I really enjoyed. There were some great characters that were able to bring forth a lot of emotion from the reader. Definitely a great read and I will be checking out this author again in the future!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars


In honor of Jools Sinclair's blog tour she's giving one lucky commenter an eBook copy of her novella '44'. To enter simply leave a comment on this post with a valid email address where you can be reached should you win. For more rules please see below.

-Be a GFC Follower
-Leave a comment with your email address
-Contest ends June 1, 2011

Be sure to visit the next stop on this blog tour at:

May 25, 2011

Review: The Source by Ursula James

The Source
Author: Ursula James
Publisher: Tarcher
ISBN: 1585428787
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review
Shot through with life-altering rituals, rites and spells, The Source guides readers to the place in their lives where true magic can finally begin

Ever since she was a little girl, Ursula James has heard a voice. For years she tried to ignore it, but a personal crisis at the age of forty forced her to finally listen. That, as well as the actual appearance of the speaker-also named Ursula-at her bedside one dark and cold night. The woman who revealed herself to James was Ursula Sontheil, known as Mother Shipton, a sixteenth-century prophetess, healer, and-some say- witch. Legend has it that Mother Shipton was burned by the king's men for her heresies, and her spirit became trapped in a cave in Yorkshire. This cave had an unusual characteristic: Anything taken there was turned to stone by the action of the lime-suffused waters from a nearby well. Mother Shipton used this water to create an image of herself on the wall, and then split the cave open to call the needy. Sick at heart or in body, people came to her in the cave to offer her objects in return for her healing powers.

In The Source, Ursula James describes how Mother Shipton appeared before her with urgent new prophecies for our troubled times- prophecies that include spells for, as Kabbalah says, Tikkun Olam-the healing of the world. Mother Shipton asked James to put these messages into writing to share with others-and record them she did, verbatim, in this book.

The Source by Ursula James was most definitely not what I was expecting. I’ll be honest - I had no clue at first that this was not from the fiction section (I was at the end of the second chapter before I caught on). This is a book with rites, rituals, trances and about creating your own magic. There is no wand waving but there is a bit of soul searching.

There are parts of two life stories told within these pages. You learn a bit of Mother Shipton’s (Ursula Sontheil) life and trials and how she became legendary. You also follow along with Ursula James as she decides she wants more from life and how Mother Shipton showed her the path to the Source.

The book reads easily and is almost reminiscent of a letter from an old friend filled with advice. With each step of the journey James shares with the reader how she succeeded and sometimes failed only to try again. After all, letting go (no matter what it is we are holding on to) is almost always difficult.

If you strip everything down to the basic messages and tasks, I think even skeptics can benefit from the lessons that James/Shipton imparts. To borrow a line from James “That is true magic, to take the clay of your life and model it in your hands.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Scars
Book review provided by Sarah

May 24, 2011

Review: Mine by Jill Noelle

Author: Jill Noelle
Publisher: Noble Romance
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Noble Romance

*Novel provided by the author via Book Lovin' Bitches eBook Tours

For more information please visit Jill Noelle's website.

In a decadent empire of the far distant future, Gabriella is chosen to serve as a sexual companion for the king. However, Brie has no intentions of joining the Select Few. In fact, she has another mission, that is destined to alter the future of the kingdom's poverty-stricken population.

Michel also serves the king. It's his job to train Brie to suit the king's sexual preferences. Trouble is, Michel wants Brie for his own.

Mine by Jill Noelle was not exactly what I was expecting. Part historical romance, part futuristic fantasy and a whole lot of erotic goodness and yet this novella still managed to have a great story line that kept me interested. Easily devoured in one sitting, this is a great quick read that really delivered.

The world building was actually pretty impressive given a length of only a little over seventy pages with great descriptions and a wonderful atmosphere that was filled with quiet tranquility with underlying tension that was wonderful. The idyllic peaceful palace is anything but and as the story progresses it becomes clear that the same can be said of the characters as well. A world where nothing is exactly as it seems, this makes for a great setting filled with betrayal, intrigue and a great forbidden romance.

The characters themselves are interesting if not a little two dimensional, but again in such a short time, you can't expect miracles. In truth, all things considered, I thought Noelle did a wonderful job of creating characters that seemed serene on the surface only to reveal that underneath they're far more intricate and complex. And while the dialogue at times was a little mundane and simplistic, even a little laughable in a few places, it only ended up serving as yet another facet of this seemingly utopian, dystopian society.

The romance was good, simmering actually, with some really heated sex scenes, but again, as can be surmised of a two dimensional character, the relationship was a bit lacking. However, the tension between characters really added to the immediacy of the relationship. On the other hand, what I didn't really enjoy was the fact that it was purely physical. Sure, there was a history of friendship between them, but I didn't actually get the impression of any shared intimacy other than in the bedroom. So naturally, when the idea of love is being thrown around I had to sort of scoff a bit. But, again, in terms of the story, it fit perfectly well and wasn't a deterrent as it sometimes can be.

The storyline itself was quite good with action and intrigue. The murderous plot to assassinate the disgusting and cruel King added a bit of spice that I really enjoyed reading. In fact, Noelle's writing style was quite good showcasing her wonderful storytelling ability, a skill I feel is often overlooked especially for authors of novellas where the story is what really draws you in. While I feel that this story could have benefitted from being a bit longer, it was concise and surprisingly detailed.

In the end, this is a good story with a great plot, interesting premise and a romance that quickly reached a boiling point. Definitely a wonderful read when you're looking for something short and sweet, with a bit of a spicy twist.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Strong sexual content

May 23, 2011

Review: The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason

The Vampire Dimitri
Author: Colleen Gleason
Publisher: MIRA
Series: Regency Draculia, Book 2
ISBN: 0778329828
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Colleen Gleason's website.

Dimitri, also known as the Earl of Corvindale, should be delighted that the headstrong Maia Woodmore is getting married. His mortal ward and houseguest has annoyed—and bewitched—the Dracule nobleman too long, and denying his animal cravings grows more excruciating by the day.

Miss Woodmore's family has a rather…complicated history with the immortals and she herself possesses a keen sensibility far beyond mere women's intuition. Marriage will give her safety, respectability and everything else a proper young lady could wish for. Everything, that is, except passion.

In the looming battle between Dracule factions, all pretenses will shatter as Maia and Dimitri come together in an unholy union of danger, desperation and fiercest desire.
The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason is the second novel in the Regency Draculia series focusing on Dimitri, Earl of Corvindale. While the first novel in the series swept me away with the wonderful characters and thrilling romance, this novel fell a bit flat in comparison. Really, really, I tried to like this one and get in to the story because through it's predecessor The Vampire Voss I truly loved Dimitri and Angelica's sister the overly prim and proper Miai Woodmore. Together they seemed to be an ideal fit, but the reality and the illusion are very different things.

In fact, my biggest gripe about this book was the retelling of the first through the eyes of these two particular characters. It rehashed so much of the original plot line it felt like I was re-reading the first novel instead of something new. In truth, I saw a lot of the same conversations, situations and emotions that I already knew to have existed. I didn't need over 150 pages to put me back in to these characters lives, nor to relive what had already happened. In truth, if this novel would have started fresh from the end of the first novel, I think I would have been a lot happier. But, with the recap on top of a small portion of new story, I really felt like I never made any progress while reading.

Of course, that's not to say that I didn't like it, but honestly, I didn't love it like I did Voss' tale. The characters were just as I remember them: Dimitri-damaged, reclusive and essentially very shut down while Maia is strong, independent and head strong. And while I do like these characters, what I didn't see as much of previously was the annoying manner that Miai had in wanting everyone to accept her thought and opinions. I hate to say it, but in this novel I found her really hard to take and I found myself wanting to slap her myself. She's very self centered despite her desire to protect her siblings and I don't know, she just rubbed me the wrong way. Dimitri on the other hand, I found to be quite a sympathetic character. Seeing some of the events of his past through his eyes versus Voss' was interesting and really explained a lot about his personality. I came to really love him. But, the bickering between he and Maia quickly got on my nerves. It was very childlike, especially when it was gone in to in this amount of detail. On the peripheral it didn't seem quite this...agonizing.

The romantic aspect also wasn't quite as developed as it was previously. I felt that the connection was tenuous at best to begin with, though it seemed like the chemistry was far better from the point of view of the first novel. This fact definitely confused me a bit because I saw the same scenes with a completely different tone. It was just plain odd. As the story progresses however, the romance does begin to follow suit, but again, it was slow going.

Overall it was a good read, but definitely wasn't what I had been expecting nor what I had hoped it would be. Maybe the next installment, The Vampire Narcise will recapture the intensity and characterization of the first novel. In the meantime, it still definitely had it's moments.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

May 21, 2011

Review: The 17 Day Diet by Mike Moreno

The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan  for Rapid Results
Author: Mike Moreno
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1451648650
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*Novel provided by the publisher for a honest review

For more information please visit Mike Moreno's website.

If you need to shed pounds fast and in a safe, effective, and lasting way, this is the book for you! Unlike many diet programs that starve you down to size, Dr. Mike Moreno’s 17 Day Diet relies on proven methods to help you take weight off and keep it off for good—whether you’ve got 10 pounds to lose or 100. His revolutionary program adjusts your body metabolically so that you burn fat day in and day out. The program is structured around four 17 day cycles:

Accelerate—the rapid weight loss portion that helps flush sugar and fat storage from your system

Activate—the metabolic restart portion with alternating low and high calorie days to help shed body fat

Achieve—this phase is about learning to control portions and introducing new fitness routines

Arrive—a combination of the first three cycles to keep good habits up for good. On weekends, enjoy your favorite foods!

Each cycle changes your calorie count and the food that you’re eating. The variation that Dr. Mike calls ‘body confusion’ keeps your metabolism guessing; this means that you can expect big changes in the first 17 days alone!

This is not a diet that relies on a tiny list of approved foods, grueling exercise routines, or unrealistic calorie counts that leave you hungry and unfulfilled. Moderation and proper portions are key factors in the 17 Day Diet—the trick is to figure out the foods and routines that work best with your real lifestyle. That’s why the book is filled with tips for how to avoid the usual food pitfalls like holidays, eating out, or even just a tempting candy jar. Along with a comprehensive explanation of how each segment works, every phase comes with an extensive list of foods, recipes, and sample meal plans to help make grocery shopping a breeze. Because of the diversity that you are allowed from the very beginning of the program, there is a way to make this diet work with almost any food allergies you might have or what cuisine you’re used to eating.

The 17 Day Diet is a simple plan that gets big, long-lasting results if you stick with it and let Dr. Mike help you along the way. Whether this is your first attempt at dieting or your fiftieth, you must believe that you can do this. What matters now is focusing on your goals, identifying what you need to get there, and taking action to begin the process. Your health and happiness are important, so stand strong, believe in yourself, and let your 17 Day Diet begin now!

This isn't my typical review, nor my typical review material. However, the concept of dieting and weight management is something of a universal issue. My stance is usually pretty simple. If you're happy with you then that's all that really matters. But, there does eventually come a time when you want to drop a few pounds and strive to better yourself. As I've kept it no secret, I am about to begin school to become an EMT, and in so doing I wanted to get rid of a few extra pounds in order to better prepare for the rigors that this profession presents and therefore, this diet sounded like an interesting way to accomplish it.

So let me begin by saying, my dieting mantra has and will always be 'moderation'. Eat what you want, when you want, but in small portions. This dieting regiment also sticks by those guidelines therefore this sounded like a good fit for me. What didn't sit so well with me was giving up bread and potatoes, two of my favorite foods. So my results weren't exactly what you would expect if I'd actually stuck completely to the plan. But, I did limit my intake versus giving up my favorite foods completely. Otherwise, this diet was pretty much an extension of the way that I eat anyway.

The result therefore weren't as monumental as what the cover promised, however, by sticking more rigorously to this plan and altering my diet minimally I did loose quite a bit and do feel better. Ultimately, though, I didn't see any great results then I did with the 'Sugar Busters' diet from some years back as this is just another variation of it.

Now something else I should be upfront about. I did not read this book cover to cover, instead skimmed the portions pertaining to the diet itself, because really, who is going to read through all of the jargon and explanations. Either you try it and it works or you try it and it doesn't. They whys and hows of it seem fairly irrelevant to me.

Ultimately, if you are serious about dieting then this book makes sense and offers up a rigid set of guidelines to optimize your weight loss. If you're like me, however, it offers up a set of idea to slowly change the way you eat to come round to a healthier lifestyle. In the end, it does work, the diet makes sense, and the book approaches it in a way that is accessible to the dieter. Definitely a good place to start.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Scars

May 20, 2011

Guest Post + Giveaway [CLOSED] with D.B. Reynolds

The Vampires of Vampires in America
by D. B. Reynolds
There are a lot of vampire stories out there; every author puts her own spin on the mythology. And I’m always getting asked … what are my vampires? What are they like?

Now Available!

So, let’s start with first facts. And the firstest fact of all is … my vampires aren’t, and never have been, dead. I know many writers begin with the idea that vampires are dead, and I know the traditional mythology has them as dead and risen from the grave. And I love many of those books, too. But for me, risen from the dead smacks of zombie, and I don’t want to worry about bits and pieces falling off my lover, even if they’re not the important ones (and especially if they ARE.) Which means my vamps are very much alive. Their hearts beat and their lungs take in oxygen and put out carbon dioxide. What makes them Vampire is something like a symbiotic virus that invades their bloodstream and alters their bodies to suit its needs. They do sleep through the day, because the “virus” demands it. And no one knows exactly how it works or exactly what it is, because vampires aren’t eager to share the special qualities of their blood with human scientists. As Rajmund told Sarah, if humans ever discovered the full benefit of vampire blood, vampires would soon be rounded up and imprisoned as permanent blood donors for wealthy humans. Because vampire blood not only bestows vastly enhanced speed, strength and all five senses, it also includes rapid healing. Which means they’re very hard to kill and, most importantly from a human standpoint, they don’t age. No wrinkled skin, no fading eyesight, no lost muscle tone … no death.

Also, my vamps don’t shrink away from crosses or sizzle when touched by holy water. What made them Vampire has nothing to do with morality or spirituality of any kind, so none of the usual religious symbols have an effect. I could have made them sensitive to silver, although if I had it would have taken more than an ankle bracelet’s worth of chain to keep them down (what were you thinking, Alan Ball?). But, in any event, I saved the silver sensitivity for my werewolves, who don’t appear in the vamp stories. I did keep the stake as a killing device, but that’s mostly for form. Anything that destroys their heart beyond the ability of the “virus” to heal will kill them. Chopping off of the head will also work, because no living thing (except maybe certain worms) can survive having its head removed. Well, there was that one guy’s chicken, but that’s just freaky and proves once and for all that chickens have no brains! (Look it up if you’re interested - Mike the Headless Chicken.)

Of course, I don’t want my vampires to be ordinary, either. And I figure as long as I’m writing about the existence of vampires, I can extend an aspect of magic to the most powerful among them, the ones I call Vampire Lords, the ones the books are really about. Regular vampires live regular lives in my books. They have video stores, they’re lawyers and accountants and computer nerds, they even work for the FBI as you’ll see in later books. But the Vampire Lords rule the world of Vampire. The weaker, regular vampires are literally dependent upon their lord for the power to continue living, and a Vampire Lord can extinguish any of his subjects’ lives with nothing more than a thought. They also rule empires. They’ve had hundreds of years to accumulate wealth and power, and their personalities as humans were such that when they woke as vampires to discover they have real power, the power of life and death, they use it! Couple that with the aggression and hunter instinct that the “virus” creates in them and you have men and women who will stop at nothing in their drive for power over others, who will sacrifice almost anyone and anything to serve their own ends.

I say almost anyone because the one person my vampires will never sacrifice is their mate. Not even the greedy, asshat vampires will sacrifice a mate. Of course, the truly evil ones, like Jabril, don’t have it in them to care enough about anyone to have a mate in the first place. But one of the qualities I love most about my vampires is their total devotion to their mates. We see the most powerful Vampire Lord of all, Raphael, made vulnerable, not by his enemies, but by his love for Cyn. There is nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice for her, including his own life. And there’s Raj (Rajmund), who fights it every step of the way, but who ultimately has to accept that his life is empty without Sarah. I just love my guys (and my gals, too, now that I have Sophia.)

But you’ll also find barefaced aggression and, frankly, bloody violence with my vampires. They don’t flinch from what they are and I don’t flinch in showing it. They’re bloody and brutal and territorial and demanding, and they can be quite cruel. They may live in human society, they may even thrive there, but they’re the most powerful creatures on earth and they relish the rush of power just as much as they do the warm rush of blood fresh from the vein.

But don’t take my word for it! If you want a taste of my vampires, you can visit my blog at I post mini-short stories of my characters there, which I call Vampire Vignettes, and right now there are a few deleted scenes from Rajmund. And you can always enter my contest below … maybe you’ll win my latest and fourth book, Sophia.

About the Author

D. B. Reynolds is the author of the award-winning Vampires in America series, including Raphael, Jabril, Rajmund and the latest book, Sophia. Her books have garnered high praise from authors Kelley Armstrong and Adrian Phoenix, as well as reviewers and readers alike. Recently, her second book, Jabril, won the 2010 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance, Indie Press.  DB is also an Emmy-nominated television sound editor and lives with her husband of many years in a flammable canyon near Los Angeles. When she’s not writing her own books, she can usually be found reading someone else’s.  Visit her at for free stories and more! 


D.B. Reynolds is generously offering a copy of either Rajmund or Sophia to one lucky winner! And because she's a seriously wonderful lady, she is willing to ship Internationally so this contest is open to everyone!


-This contest is open Internationally
-To enter fill out this FORM
-You do not have to be a Follower to enter

Extra Points:
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Contest ends June 3, 2011