Tag Archives: book review

Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperback (February 18, 2002)
Kindle: 352 pages / 415 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Dear Reader,

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn’t. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior’s day.

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander’s sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace–the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?

Julian of Macedon

Review:

An oldie but a goodie? Maybe so. After a recommendation from a customer, I gave this book a chance. Not really knowing what to expect (sometimes I like to just jump into books without looking too far into the premise), I took the plunge into Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series with this book.

Though a bit scandalized by the content (which, I suppose, should have been expected since the main character did summon a “love-slave” from a book), the story played a lot with Gods, Goddesses and paranormal mysticism. The concepts Kenyon came up with were interesting enough to keep me reading.

One thing that did confuse me was where the “Dark-Hunter” part was supposed to come into play. It was only with a bit of research and the start of the next book that I realized that “Fantasy Lover” was more of a prequel of sorts.

The characterizations of the Gods and Goddesses that showed up felt fitting and appropriate. Or at least, Kenyon made it feel appropriate. I enjoyed how she portrayed them and her other characters.

Definitely a recommendation for those in the mood for a steamy romance, and enjoy that bit of paranormal.

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Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville

Publisher: Del Rey (February 13, 2007)
Kindle: 448 pages / 1504 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

I just finished reading Un Lun Dun, By China Miéville, and I found it to be very much fantastic. It definitely reminded me of the whimsical style of The Phantom Tollbooth, and made me want to pick up that book again.

Un Lun Dun is a story about two cities—London, and its “abcity,” UnLondon—in the midst of a brewing war with a foreboding enemy: The Smog. No, not Smaug, the Dragon. Smog the substance, sentient smoke that can rain down deadly chemicals, raise the dead, and essentially raise holy hell. Two Londoners, unaware of the existence of the abcity, mistakenly stumble into UnLondon and are forced to participate in the battle against Smog. Their coming, apparently, was long foretold in a persnickety old book—who is quite a character—by a group of Prophets. Zanna (short for Susanna) & Deeba must take up arms against the Smog and help the UnLondoners, lest the Smog makes its way across the “odd” and into London itself.

Anyone who read and loved The Phantom Tollbooth will adore this book. I suppose it’s technically a YA or even independent reader story, but it’s an awesome one nonetheless. It’s the kind of book you really just want to lose yourself in. My reading (read: devouring) of this story reminded me of the pull I felt when a new Harry Potter had just come out. It’s the kind of pull you feel when you’re reading in the bathtub and suddenly realized that a few hours have slipped away without you even noticing.

This is the first book I’ve read by Miéville but it will most certainly not be my last—the man seems to have so much fun with words. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the storytelling that really ensnared me—the characters were batty and imperfect and wonderful, and the adventure put a really amusing twist on the classic “chosen one” style of fantasy quest story. The chosen one in this novel is referred to as The Shwazzy (think: the French choisir: to choose).

This book is hilarious, sparkling, dry, fanciful, youthful, sad—and at times legitimately terrifying. For instance, one of the creatures the protagonist encounters in UnLondon is called a Black Window—and it is indeed a window spindly spider legs. This in itself isn’t very scary, but each window opens up into a small world, and the spider traps you by making you forget you want to leave. And then you’re gone. Legit terrifying.

I don’t want to give too much away but seriously, how can you go wrong with a story that has Spider windows, predatory giraffes, sentient garbage, ghosts & flying busses? You’re right. You can’t.


The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Publisher: Harlequin Teen (May 1, 2011)
Kindle: 304 pages / 441 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

Review:

It was a fun read that was easy to get caught up in. Carter brilliantly craftered this tale that, rather than being a retelling of Hades and Persephone, was very much it’s own story.

Fast paced, almost too fast at times, I was able to enjoy Katie’s changing feelings in regards to her tests and towards Henry. The mysteries that kept me reading late into the night were one by one revealed in the end.

Though I would have been happy if this was a stand alone novel, to find out it is just the first in a trilogy is great as well. I recommend others even remotely interested in YA romances and Greek myths to read this. You won’t be disappointed. Then we can anxiously anticipate the next books together. (“Goddess Interrupted” coming late January 2012 according to AimeeCarter.com!)


We’re making a comeback!

Hey Book Munchies readers,

Sorry for disappearing all summer like that. Ali and I got caught up in life and school and work. But now, we’re ready for another shot at this. We’re “working” hard reading like crazy and writing reviews as we go. Coming up in the next few weeks we should start posting reviews and other fun stuff again. Anticipate it.

– Kim


The Search by Nora Roberts

Publisher: Putnam Adult (July 6, 2010)
Kindle: 768 pages / 680 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare…

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He’s the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon’s house, and he’s at his wit’s end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can’t handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he’s a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn’t want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona’s life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands…

Review:

It’s the latest of Nora Roberts’ stand alone novels (not counting Chasing Fire being released tomorrow).

Frequently with her novels, Roberts presents an interesting plot to explore. The idea of a search dog/ dog trainer being stalked by a convict, who’s back to finish the botched job, has potential. Added to that, we have the love interest, a new arrival in the small community, is a necessary but interesting aspect. He adds to the story because of how delightfully casual their relationship is and how it grows into something more without them really noticing. There’s a sense of ease, yet discomfort that feels natural (despite the catalyst of a stalker/killer).

Clearly a Roberts’ novel, it follows her basic formula, which tends to be a drawback for many. But as a faithful reader, there is a comfort to be found there. Combined with her interesting plot ideas and ability to make these characters real for me, I feel it balances out into an enjoyable and easy read over all.


Stay by Deb Caletti

Publisher: Simon Pulse (April 5, 2011)
Kindle: 352 pages / 670 KB
Source: Galley Grab
Ratings: 5 of 5 stars

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is–and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough…

Review:

This is my first Deb Caletti book, and I was simply blown away by it. Normally I’d stick with YA science fiction & fantasy, but for books like this one, I’d gladly try other YA contemporary fiction novels.

Masterfully written, Caletti finds a balance in her novel that could easily have come out poorly. Alternating chapters helps the reader to learn of what was happening to Clara now, and her relationship with Christian from the beginning. With books that switch back and forth that way, I traditionally find myself preferring one time frame, and impatiently reading/skimming through the other section. That wasn’t the case with Stay however. Caletti’s writing was flawless and kept me enchanted and engaged, even when the darkness in Christian started to make itself more known.

I realized, as I was writing this review, that I wanted to start off a lot of my points with a “normally I don’t” or a “usually I wouldn’t”. This entire book is outside of my norm, yet isn’t. Caletti has this way with words that I can’t get enough. Her metaphors are dead on, and her language brings this novel to life. The idea isn’t unusual in itself, but it’s the way Caletti takes it and makes it her own that makes Stay as good a read as I found it to be.

Caletti was able to take a dark and serious topic, and wrote it in such a gripping way that it is not only relevant to the YA target audience, but to an older audience as well. Definitely a recommendation for anyone remotely interested.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 23, 2009)
Paperback: 664 pages
Series: Millenium #1
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch – and there’s always a catch – is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Review:

Let me start by saying, I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t immediately fall in love with this book (if at all). I’ll admit though, Larsson had an interesting idea. Partly because of my aunt’s recommendation and to be able to watch the movies guilt-free, I forged through and read the book.

Set in Sweden, it was interesting to read about a foreign place. The story circles aroudn the two main charachters: Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who recent lost a major libel case, and Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but largely misunderstood girl who is considered legally incompetent in the eyes of the Swedish law. Then we throw Henry Vanger into the mix, the elderly former CEO of Vanger Enterprises. Vanger is obsessive over the cold case, and now, in his old age, wants to try one last time to put it all to rest.

Definitely an interesting plot, and a great set of well developed, flawed characters to keep us interested. But maybe in part due to my lack of understanding for Swedish society, there were times when it felt like the story dragged. More often then not, I found myself skimming through quite a few information centered sections, and the story didn’t progress as swiftly as I would have liked.

Again, I mostly read this book for the movie. There were several topics that made me quite uncomfortable (because I have the sensibilities of a maiden aunt). There were things like adultery, rape and corruption in the system. One particular scene involved Lisbeth and the scum ball social worker (or whatever they’re called in Sweden), who makes his appearance again in the next book so I wasn’t allowed to forget his existence easily. I’m inclined to believe people love these books for a reason, so I tentatively recommend this book in hopes you all find something redeeming that I missed. It’s a slow start, but for others (just not myself) it does pick up as you get into the book.


Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

Publisher: Pocket (September 1, 1997/ November 24, 2009)
Kindle: 384 pages / 562 KB
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Roanna Davenport was raised a wealthy orphan on her grandmother’s magnificent Alabama estate, Davencourt, where she had a passion for horses, a genius for trouble, and a deep love for her cousin, Webb. But everyone expected Webb to marry their ravishing cousin, Jessie. When he did, Roanna’s desire became no more than the stuff of dreams — until the night Jessie was found bludgeoned to death.

After the shocking murder of his wife, Webb left for Arizona, abandoning the legacy that he had once believed was all he wanted. But then an all-grown-up Roanna walked into a dingy bar in Nogales to bring him home; the mischievous sprite he had known ten years earlier was no more. Gone, too, was her fire. In its place was ice that melted at his touch. Webb is drawn back to Davencourt, to Roanna, and to the killer that once destroyed his life and waits only for the chance to finish the job….

Review:

This is a pretty old romance novel. I’d been looking for something new to read now that I’ve exhausted all my Nora Roberts options. (I haven’t read any of her J.D.Robb works, but I’ll get to it sooner or later.)

I hate to sound cliched, but I read romance novels for the plots and not the smut. Since this will be my first romance novel review, I’ll explain myself a little here. They have an adult fairy tale feel for me: you can trust them to have a decent, happy ending. “Shades of Twilight” hit the limits of what I find acceptable amounts of smut. The book even starts with a sex scene! How scandalous! The smut bordered from being simply too steamy to over the top and crude. If they weren’t having sex then the characters were thinking about it.

The storyline was relatively different enough to keep me interested even when the smut made me want to go away. One issue readers may have is how seemingly incestuous the relationships in the book are. Howard pushes the lines on what is and isn’t socially acceptable, but writes it in a way to keep the reader hooked and willing to explore the possibilities.

I haven’t read any of Howard’s other works, but her ability to keep me engaged and emotionally vested in the character’s well-being, despite my discomfort, has me contemplating what else to read by her. If you able to keep an open mind and are looking for a new romance to read, do check this out.


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (Fiction)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (February 24, 1999)
Kindle: 352 pages / 379 KB
Series: Stephanie Plum #1
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

After her Miata is repossessed, Stephanie Plum turns to bounty hunting for quick cash, and her first quarry, an ex-cop accused of murder, turns out to be her first lover, with whom she still shares a powerful chemistry.

Review:

For anyone who reads mystery/ thrillers and has browsed in a book store, it more than likely you have seen this book before, even in passing. It’s Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Sporting bright, colorful and bordering obnoxious covers, I almost avoided picking up this first book.

The reason I picked up this series was the countless recommendations. One way it was described to me was as being “light, easy reading”. And, it is. I’ve read a few of Janet Evanovich’s re-published romance novels & “Wicked Appetite”, her new book that came out last fall (which is a spin-off of the Stephanie Plum un-numbered set of books). Her romance always had too much packed in to really work well. With the Plum series, by simply being a series it gives Evanovich adequate time to fit in what plot themes she wants and time to develop her characters.

In this first book, we meet the main cast of characters. There’s Stephanie’s family: her mother (who constantly wants Stephanie to settle down and live up to the “Burg” expectations), her Grandma Mazur (who decided to let loose after her husband passed on), and her father (who tries his hardest to ignore them all at the dinner table and focus on his meal). Vinnie is her cousin, whom she blackmails into giving her a job as a Bond Enforcement Agent (BEA) aka bounty hunter. Then there’s Joe Morelli, the bad boy turned cop turned Failure to Appear (FTA), who has a sexual history with Stephanie. Through Stephanie’s new job, she meets Ranger. He’s the hot Cuban American bountry hunter, who, on a lark, takes Stephanie under his wing. He likens it to a Professor Higgins and Eliza Dolittle type of relationship.

It’s an interesting mix of characters with an interesting plot to boot. However as a standalone, the sheer amount of people you meet can be overwhelming. Luckily it’s part of a series, and Evanovich has the space to spread her creative wings. Overall, this series is definitely an easy read. Give it a chance, and you’ll find yourself flying through all the books.


River Marked by Patricia Briggs (fiction)

Publisher: Ace Books (March 1, 2011)
Kindle: 576 KB
Hardcover: 336
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She’s never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father’s people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help…

Review:

This is the newest Mercy Thompson book I mention in my last review. I pre-ordered it on Amazon/Kindle and spent Tuesday reading it. Definitely a fantastic continuation of the series.

As the readers of the series know, (mostly) through no fault of her own, Mercy inevitably finds herself embroiled in all sorts of trouble. This time though, Mercy and Adam are away from the pack and their friends on their honeymoon.

With the past books, there was a lot of focus on Mercy and her “crew”, as I’ll call them. That “crew” consisting of Stefan the vampire, Adam, Warren, Kyle, Zee, Adam’s pack, etc. This time Briggs moved us away from that focus. Instead, for majority of the book, we get to see Adam and Mercy on their own interacting with strangers. What I loved about this book was how the mystery of Mercy’s father was finally touched upon and explored.

No longer is it just the typical supernatural creatures being represented. Briggs is moving away from just werewolves, vampires, etc. for this book. Instead we get to delve more into Native American folklore. Which I felt was a brilliant move on Briggs’ part to keep the story interesting and the reader coming back for more.

A must read for any Patricia Briggs/ Mercy Thompson fan. And if you haven’t read any of her work/ this series yet, go read “Moon Called” and fall in love with them as I did.

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Side note: Thanks to Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic for letting me use her book review style!