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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,424
1. Review: Burning Fields Burns This Mother Down

By Davey Nieves

BURNING FIELDS #1

 

BurningFields01 PRESS 194x300 Review: Burning Fields Burns This Mother Down

 

Story: Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel

Art: Colin Lorimer, Joana Lafuente

Publisher: Boom!

 

In 2014, Curse did something I didn’t think possible. It told a werewolf story that didn’t suck. The 21st century has been all about glamourizing horror to some extent. It was awesome that a book like Curse could come along and craft a raw story about one of the monsters that’s never really received their due, the Werewolf. Now in 2015 the team of Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, and Colin Lorimer are back to work through more of their demons while sending a chill up your spine.

Their new book, Burning Fields is an analog combination of old school horror like The Thing in combination with the geopolitical drama of a Zero Dark Thirty. Where it plants its feet and sets itself apart is in the perpetual insecurity these pages bring and that is far from a bad thing.

Burning Fields is the story of Dana Atkinson, a dishonorably discharged army investigator, who’s pulled back to the Middle East when a group of American oil technicians disappear under bizarre circumstances. Dana is a true badass with the inner demons to match. In the first few pages we see her razor wit in arguing with her former commander and later her toughness as she dispatches would be assassins. The first issue also touches on the unstable political nature of the Middle East as we see both the American Military and Iraqi people’s side of the conflict. Indeed this entire opening issue leans heavy on tensions of various kinds from interpersonal to political and still manages to let the characters build through this tense fog.

BurningFields01 PRESS2 194x300 Review: Burning Fields Burns This Mother Down

Colin Lorimer’s illustrations are perfect for a dramatic horror story like this one. He’s no stranger to emotional drama having done books like X-Files, Harvest, and of course Curse. What sets Burning Fields apart from his previous works is how he masterfully brings out the necessary emotion on a page and seamlessly shifts it to a different mood without jarring the audience. On one page he can capture the turmoil in Dana’s eyes to evoke distress while on the very next page call forth the restlessness of local Iraqis in a marketplace standoff. To go along with this exquisite line work are Joana Lafuente’s colors. She uses tones similar to what Patricia Mulvihill used towards the end of 100 Bullets and gets the same moodiness on the pages in a very horror friendly way.

If there’s any flaw with the book it’s that it may not feel necessary to have eight issues by the end of the story. My only minor gripe about issue one was that I’d like to have known more about the supernatural evil Dana uncovers in the oil field which could have cut it down to seven issues. Being fully on for all eight issues I hope they allow all the volatile elements in the story to be breathe enough.

Boom Studios isn’t known for the number of original books but the quality of them. Burning Fields has the potential to not only join Irredeemable, Incorruptible, 2 Guns, and Curse but also surpass them.

 

 

 

 


Talk to Davey on Twitter about Comics, cats, and relationships. He prefers it be about cats. 

 

0 Comments on Review: Burning Fields Burns This Mother Down as of 1/21/2015 3:43:00 PM
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2. Review: Holy F*#k It’s Rambo Jesus!

By Davey Nieves

Holy F*ck #1

a186b521 604a 4eaa b8c0 3f76eecb3e07 200x300 Review: Holy F*#k Its Rambo Jesus!

 

Story: Nick Narino

Art: Daniel Arruda Massa

Publisher : Action Labs Entertainment

 

 

Action Lab Entertainment might not be a familiar name to you but they’ve got great books like Molly Danger and Nutmeg under their belt. The studio continues to further sharpen already edgy ideas with their newest book Holy F*ck.

After twice reading the opening issue, I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I just read. So the premise of Holy F*ck is this: From the shadows Zeus, Isis, and the rest of earth’s deities have come together to concoct a nefarious plan to unleash an Armageddon level of war on humanity. Our only hope of avoiding this cataclysm is Catholicism in the form of a nun named Maria, a basement D&D nerd Lucifer, and sex crazed Rambo-like Jesus.

Written by Nick Narino, the opening issue introduces us to most of the major players involved and sets up the stakes very punctually. By the middle of the first issue we know how Maria & Jesus come together, and how Zeus’s cabal intend to unleash their plan. We also see that the villainous gods are motivated by a need to be seen and worshiped much like the advertising mascots in that Halloween Simpson’s episode. For a book that exists to poke fun of religion in all its forms it’s an entertaining read. However, Holy F*ck is like a cup of tea; it’s just not for everybody. In fact anyone who holds their spirituality close to the chest will most likely be offended by all the ways the book plays with religious figures. Though the book suffers more from a lack of snap in the dialogue than any offense that could be taken by people. Granted the dialogue in a story like this is meant to be cheesy but here it unbalances the characters a bit.

Daniel Arruda Massa’s art feels right for the levity intended within the pages. The illustration feels at home in its Scott Pilgrim vibe, which makes the cover art a little deceiving. The cartoony nature of the interiors doesn’t always go well with intense action but a more realistic art style would have probably put this in another genre of comic while making some of the jokes less digestible. Visually, it just feels right.

When I first read Garth Ennis classic Preacher, I felt like I had done something wrong. While today I’m not religious in any sense of the word, I did grow up in the bonds of church going Catholicism. So reading a book like that made a tiny part of me feel I’d be struck down or unclean. Later I’d come to realize that it’s part of the magic of Preacher and remains one of my favorite stories ever. Holy F*ck had a similar effect on me just not nearly as intense because it’s a neat idea that’s not quite fleshed out.


Don’t throw holy water at Dave on twitter. @bouncingsoul217

 

1 Comments on Review: Holy F*#k It’s Rambo Jesus!, last added: 1/23/2015
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3. Review: Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I had to wait a long time for the library to get a copy of Deep Betrayal, so there has been a huge time gap since I read Lies Beneath.  When I first started reading this, the plot details were a little fuzzy, but things cleared up relatively quickly.  I really enjoy this series, and I was delighted when Deep Betrayal did NOT end on a cliffhanger!  Win for the reader!  I hate cliffhangers, with only love triangles scoring higher on my list of pet peeves.  There’s no hint of that here, either, with Lily and Calder deeply involved with each other for the entire book.  That’s not to say they didn’t have their disagreements, but another guy was never dangled into the reader’s face in an effort to force some tension into the plot.  Double yay!

Deep Betrayal picks up thirty days after the events in Lies Beneath.  Lily has been exiled to live with Jules’ family, and she’s seething because she hasn’t heard from Calder.  She alternately worries about him, then rages about him.  When he finally turns up, he’s  vague about where he’d been, but Lily forgives him.  I wouldn’t have let him off so easily, but since Lily forces him to go back to the lake house, I guess he got what he deserved.  He’s worried that Maris and Pavati will flip out if they discover that she’s still alive.  He also objects when Lily insists that they tell her father the truth about his heritage.  That probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but I think that even Lily could not have expected the revelation to cost her family so much grief.

In addition to her family crumbling in on itself, someone, or something, is attacking people on the water.  When bodies start turning up, Lily is convinced it’s Calder’s sisters feeding.  Calder protests; he knows they would never be so careless with their prey.  Then Lily has the horrible suspicion that her father is causing all of mayhem in the lake, and she’s determined to put a stop to it.

Lily and Calder follow many false leads before unmasking the killer, and even though the mystery isn’t all that difficult to figure out, I loved this book.  I enjoyed Lily’s narrative, and her courage.  She’s not the kind of girl to stand back and let her man take all the risks – oh no!  Lily wanted to save her family and friends, so she was willing to put herself at risk to stop the killer.  In the process, she discovers more about who she is, and what she is.  She even forges an uneasy  alliance with Calder’s sisters.  I really like them; they are treacherous and can’t be trusted.  They are also incredibly dangerous, so Lily has to stay on her toes to avoid their wrath.

When I stop and think about Lily’s relationship with Calder, I cringe.  He’s, what, 40?  She’s 17?  That’s creepy.  I kept telling myself, “He’s not human.  He’s not human.  He’s not human,” but it’s still kind of creepy.  Stop thinking about it!

Overall, this is an exciting book, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages.  Great characters, great ending – I can’t wait to read the final book in the series.  Hope the library has it!

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fans of Amanda Hocking’s novel, Wake, will dive into this paranormal romance featuring mermaids–the killer kind–and won’t come up for air!

It’s been thirty days, two hours, and seventeen minutes since Calder left Lily standing on the shores of Lake Superior. Not that she’s counting. And when Calder does return, it’s not quite the reunion Lily hoped for. Especially after she lets her father in on a huge secret: he, like Calder, is a merman. Obsessed with his new identity, Lily’s dad monopolizes Calder’s time as the two of them spend every day in the water, leaving Lily behind.

Then dead bodies start washing ashore. Calder blames his mermaid sisters, but Lily fears her father has embraced the merman’s natural need to kill. As the body count grows, everyone is pointing fingers. Lily doesn’t know what to believe—only that whoever’s responsible is sure to strike again. . . .

The post Review: Deep Betrayal by Anne Greenwood Brown appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Novella Review: One Mad Night by Julia London

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I decided to read One Mad Night because I thought the description sounded cute.  Two advertising executives trapped in together during a blizzard?  Could they put their animosity aside during their forced togetherness?  Or would they make each other miserable?

One Mad Night is a cute read, but I had a problem with Ian’s lie of omission.  Both he and Chelsea are competing for a large national account, and Chelsea’s supervisor, one of the managing partners (and complete scumbag), has all but promised the account to her.  If she gets it, she’ll finally have that corner office she’s been slaving for, as well as be a new partner.  She’s been working long hours for six long years for this recognition from her employers.  She’s watched as one idea after another was credited to someone else, and she’s not going to let hot-shot Ian steal her thunder.  What Chelsea doesn’t know is that her employers have already decided to give Ian the account, as well as the partner slot, without even having the decency to hear either of their pitches.  Yeah, that sucks, big time!

Ian has been attracted to Chelsea since he jumped ship from his previous advertising firm and accepted the carrot that his new bosses dangled in front of him.  With the promise of a huge paycheck and an eventual partnership, it only made sense to take the new job.  He and Chelsea are at odds from day one, in part because of her competitive nature.  As they compete for accounts, they both grate on each other’s nerves.  Chelsea definitely started the game of one-upmanship; she felt threatened when Ian started winning accounts that she felt should have been hers. 

When the blizzard blows into town, shutting down the subway system and causes massive power outages, Chelsea and Ian are trapped in the office together.  As the evening wears on, Chelsea begins to see that Ian isn’t the pompous ass she thought he was, and Ian realizes that Chelsea isn’t as uptight as he thought.  They actually have fun raiding the boss’s fridge for frozen dinners and breaking into the firm’s bar.  One thing leads to another, and with the help of her overpriced shoes, Ian and Chelsea act on their attraction.

If Ian hadn’t known that he was getting the account, or had told Chelsea about it upfront when she suspected that he knew more than he was letting on, I would have enjoyed this story better.  Instead, I felt that he took advantage of her and that they weren’t  on a level playing field.  It seemed that every male in Chelsea’s life took advantage of her, from Ian to her employers, and it made me mad.

I did enjoy how the ending worked out, and liked the mostly light tone of the novella. 

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A delightful new contemporary romance novella from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London.

One winter’s night a blizzard sweeps across the country, demonstrating that fate can change the course of lives in an instant…and fate has got a sense of humor.

Chelsea Crawford and Ian Rafferty are high profile ad execs in cutthroat competition for a client. When a major winter storm puts New York City on lockdown, the two rivals have to make it through the night together-oh, the many ways in which opposites attract…

The post Novella Review: One Mad Night by Julia London appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Review: Jupiter Adds To The Legacy Of Millar & Quitely

By Davey Nieves

JUPITER’S LEGACY #5

Jupiters Legacy 005 000 195x300 Review: Jupiter Adds To The Legacy Of Millar & Quitely

 

Story: Mark Millar, Frank Quitely

Art: Frank Quitely, Peter Doherty

Publisher: Image Comics

Full disclosure, I never pick up Mark Millar books when they first hit the stands. It isn’t because I don’t like the man’s work, because I think he’s tremendously talented and few writers’ craft dialogue as well as he does. I don’t know maybe it’s because Robin Williams always said it’s hard to understand Scotsmen. Who knows? Well it’s been over 10 months since the last issue of Jupiter’s Legacy and about 10 years since I’ve read a Millar comic book that wasn’t in trade form. So we’re all in for a bumpy ride.

 

Based on my read though of Jupiter’s Legacy #5, I can safely say I’ve missed out on one hell of tale by Millar and one of the best comic artist of this generation Frank Quitely. Issue five is the conclusion to the first book of hopefully many more to come. The dapper, matter- altering, superhuman hunting, villain Barnabas Wolfe tracks down a young boy named Jason who happens to have a lineage of superheroes in his blood. Jason and his super powered parents Chloe and Brandon battle Wolfe and his government army to keep from being thrown in this world’s version of the Guantanamo Bay.

Jupiters Legacy 005 014 195x300 Review: Jupiter Adds To The Legacy Of Millar & QuitelyMillar crafts another superb villain in Barnabas. He gets quick to the enticement of the character as he opens with Wolfe using his cunning to deceive a secretary into revealing herself to be an illegal superhuman. Throughout this issue the entire cast manages to have earned moments in these pages from Chloe demonstrating her overprotective mothering nature by chewing out her son on the moon to Jason who’s just trying to follow the footsteps of his family and rally the remaining superhumans. I haven’t read the first four issues but it appears as though this comic rounds out this first volume’s call to arms theme nicely and leaves readers in a place where they will definitely want more.Jupiters Legacy 005 013 195x300 Review: Jupiter Adds To The Legacy Of Millar & Quitely

For all the words purveyed in this issue, it wouldn’t feel whole without what Frank Quitely brings to the table. Jupiter’s Legacy is yet another example of why Quitely is one of the best visual storytellers in comics. His use of body language and posture make the pages come to life. The visual design of these characters is what he excels at; simplicity that catches the eye. Peter Doherty’s color work is a subtle compliment to the artist’s masterful line work and blends cool and warm tones very smoothly.

The 10-month gap between issues might be a deterrent for anyone who’s been following this series since issue one. However there’s enough in issue five to justify the wait. If we scored books this one would come in damn near perfect. Jupiter’s Legacy mixes influences such as Watchmen, The Incredibles, and V for Vendetta to craft Millar’s best superhero project since Civil War.

Anyone else for casting Christoph Waltz as Barnabas Wolfe?

 

 

 

 


 

If hockey is on your mind and Avengers Assemble is on your netflix follow Dave on twitter and leave him a cat gif.

1 Comments on Review: Jupiter Adds To The Legacy Of Millar & Quitely, last added: 1/18/2015
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6. Review: X “I’m Coming Over… Mostly To Kill”

By Davey Nieves

X #21

25675 194x300 Review: X Im Coming Over... Mostly To Kill

Writer: Duane Swierczynski

Art: Eric Nguyen, Michelle Madsen

Letters: Richard Starkings

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

 

There’s X-Men, Xzibit, the band X (if you get the reference I’ll buy you a soft pretzel if you’re onsite at SDCC), and there’s Dark Horse Comics vigilante simply known as X. Since the characters reboot under writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Eric Nguyen the series continues to be a rollercoaster of highs and lows. X #21 marks a good jumping on point for new readers but needs a little polish to keep them.

Issue 21 kicks off the “Marked For Death” storyline and like any good Steven Segal plot our anti-hero finds himself in the middle of a fight he has to kill a lot of people to get out of. We pick up on the continuation of X’s battle with the underworld crime armies of Arcadia as he tries to take out a major weapons cache. However, the hunter finds himself the hunted by the end of the issue when he comes face to face with The Archon; a being of superhuman strength that’s already beaten X within an inch of his life. His saving grace this time is another super-being known as The Mark, whom Archon believed X to be at first due to their horrible choices in eye covering fashion.

The issue’s furious pace is kept up like a rocket car that doesn’t run out of fuel. It’s so fast; it almost nullifies X’s internal monologue as he’s killing all those bad guys. No man could have that many thoughts over instincts when slicing that many vocal chords like someone had thrown cucumbers in the air. Action sequences are crisp, but there’s very little backing it up to make me care about the character or his predicament. He spends the issue setting himself up as the ultimate badass and by the end seems to change his tune. Ultra-violent brooding vigilante characters (Punisher, Judge Dredd) typically work best when they don’t bend, but instead let all the emotion work through the supporting cast. Which could be fixed as the story carries along.

Nguyen’s art feels like an anime game cut scene. (Google search: Gungrave) The brutality of the action is on point with explosions and sword slashing which has that freeze-frame feel at just the right moment. It’s in the sequentials that move the story along where the art suffers a bit. For example, characters feel like they lack expression during dialogue sequences causing hiccups when reading panel-to-panel. One thing I’d really like to see going forward is more risks with panel layouts. Experimenting a bit more in that area could polish Nguyen’s style.

Upon first glance, it’s easy to write off a character like X as a Punisher clone but this character has quirks that make him very unique. His one mark warning, second mark death rule plays well at times showing a code that lacks in other vigilante characters. “Marked For Death” is probably best taken as a whole as opposed to monthly chapters. If you’ve been reading the series then keeping issue twenty-one in your pull is definitely a reward. If you’re looking for a new series to read; I can’t really recommend X #21 because it just doesn’t do enough to get me interested in #22. Although as the arc continues it could warrant a trade pickup since there’s definitely a spark to it that has the potential to turn ablaze if some daring chances are taken.


 

If you like looking at pictures of Disneyland and funnel cakes follow Davey on twitter for his reposted instagram pictures.

3 Comments on Review: X “I’m Coming Over… Mostly To Kill”, last added: 1/16/2015
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7. Review: time, tide and Agent Carter wait for no man

by Edie Nugent

carter work 300x200 Review: time, tide and Agent Carter wait for no man

If Marvel was hoping Agent Carter would improve on its ratings from last week’s 2-episode season premiere, they must be somewhat disappointed this morning. While Agent Carter still snagged second place behind NBC’s Parks and Recreation, it’s ratings are still down 21 percent from last week.  Marvel should be interested in more than just ratings, as the show has received considerable critical acclaim.

Agent Carter opens with a summary of last week’s events and the show’s premise: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)  lost “the love of her life” when Captain America’s plane went down in the Arctic. It also mentions how Carter fought side by side with Cap during WWII only to be demoted to answering phones when the war ended. It’s a nice callback to the displacement many women who joined the workforce during WWII suffered in postwar America.

“Time and Tide” builds off of last weeks’ two part premiere and finds Agent Carter confronting the beau of her neighbor Molly (Laura Coover) as he attempts to pull a Montague by climbing to her windowsill. He finds the end of Carter’s gun instead, and shakily apologizes for choosing the wrong window. These antics get Molly kicked out of the women-only Griffith housing block the following day, making way for Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) who Carter ignores but seems as if she may come to be important to the series.

The attempted break-in reminds Carter of another, more successful break-in: the heist that saw Howard Stark’s “bad babies” taken from his vault. Here this episode subverted my expectations: I assumed the pursuit of Stark’s dangerous inventions would lead to a bad baby of-the-week style plot. It was a pleasant surprise when Carter doubled back to Stark mansion to do some good old detective work, exploring how the tech was stolen in hopes of revealing more about who took it and why.

Before she can fully explore the sewers beneath the vault, however, the SSR’s Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) appears at the door & questions Jarvis about the license plate to Stark’s car found at the implosion site of the Roxxon plant. Carter hides herself while Jarvis claims the car was stolen and that he filed a police report. Thompson drags Jarvis to SSR headquarters for questioning where he threatens to reveal Jarvis’ dishonorable discharge for treason. Now back at SSR, Carter plays dumb: telling Thompson she’s found the police report the SSR pretended to “lose” on Stark’s stolen car within earshot of Jarvis – forcing them to release him. This serves to confirm the SSR’s suspicions of her incompetence, and she receives a public dressing-down from Chief Dooley (Shea Wigham).

It was a nice touch to see Carter shaken by this experience, which reflects well on her character: SSR may be a cover job that condescends to her regularly, but it’s still something she takes pride in. It doesn’t slow her down, though, and on her return to Stark mansion she deduces that the sewer floodgates beneath it’s vault provided the smuggler’s route. Sure enough they discover a tug boat moored right outside of the sewer floodgate flying a flag bearing the symbol we saw scrawled in the dirt by Leet Brannis (James Frain) before he died last week.

Upon inspection of the boat, they discover a large cache of Stark’s bad babies. While Jarvis calls it in to SSR, Carter is set upon by a thug presumably garding the boat and engages in a fabulous fight scene where she takes as many punches as she throws before Jarvis hits the thug in the arm with a muscle-contracting invention of Stark’s. Sirens wail in the background and Carter & Jarvis flee the scene. The SSR team arrive and Agent Krezminski (Kyle Bornheimer) is tasked to bring the thug back to headquarters. On that drive, the thug reveals to Krezminski that an “English broad” is responsible for his beating. This seems to seal the Agent’s fate; only moments later an unidentified hitman kills both the thug and the Agent.

A somber workplace greets Carter the following day, with the SSR now pledged to pin both the Roxxon destruction and the killing of Kresminski on Howard Stark. “Time and Tide” is a tightly written and compelling episode of Agent Carter. A great deal of the show’s appeal is how it continues to function on three levels. You have the hardboiled cop-style narrative of the SSR Agents, contrasted with the spy-thriller of Carter and Jarvis’ adventures, set against the lives of Peggy and her roommate Angie: women empowered during WWII searching for their place post-war. I find myself wishing we had more than just 5 episodes left. We can only hope that Marvel and ABC see Agent Carter’s value in more than Nielsen’s ratings and grant it a second season.

Favorite moments:

  • “Mr. Stark would trust a shark not to bite him if it was wearing a short enough skirt”
  • Jarvis’ house husband by-day, Agent by-night routine is a lovely play against gender expectations
  • The back-story on Jarvis’ treason to save his Jewish wife following the war was lovely

What do you think of this week’s Agent Carter? Let us know in the comments!

5 Comments on Review: time, tide and Agent Carter wait for no man, last added: 1/15/2015
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8. Review: It Looks Like Mortal Kombat, It Walks Like Mortal Kombat, But…

By Davey Nieves

MORTAL KOMBAT X #1

STK661307 193x300 Review: It Looks Like Mortal Kombat, It Walks Like Mortal Kombat, But...

 

Story: Shawn Kittlesen

Art: Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini

Letters: Saida Temofonte

Cover: Ivan Reis, Alex Sinclair

Publisher: DC Comics

There used to be a time where people gathered at laundry mats, donut shops, and yes arcades in order to pop quarters into a fighting game. At least that’s how long I’ve been playing them for. One thing that’s remained true about them all these years is you don’t really play them expecting a nuanced story. Especially when it comes to the heavy-handed Kung-Fu clichés that drive Mortal Kombat’s –to the death– fights. Don’t get the wrong idea, like many of you I enjoyed ripping out people’s spines with Sub-Zero or watching Liu Kang uppercut his opponent’s head clean off. MK has always delivered an enjoyable level of cheesy bombastic action that’s good for a laugh. With developer Netherrealm Studios set to release the highly anticipated next chapter of the game later this year, DC Comics is continuing to capitalize on Warner Bros acquisition of the property with a prequel comic book series. Releasing first digitally, Mortal Kombat X will bridge the gap between the game released in 2011 and its follow up (also titled MKX) this year.

Written by Shawn Kittelsen, the book opens with a blind swordsman named Kenshi on the run with his son from members of a mercenary clan known as the Red Dragon. These events set up for one of the franchise’s most popular characters to intervene and begin the road of training for Kenshi’s son. The story (at least the first arc) follows a similar blueprint to Kill Bill or the Van Damme classic Bloodsport; just with none of the emotional hooks either film had. It caters to die hard fans of the Mortal Kombat franchise but at the cost of alienating new readers. From the moment you take in the first few pages; the readers are dropped in a story that feels like it’s years along in unfolding. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the execution had been on point. While the action is as brutal as a Mortal Kombat story should be, there’s hardly any tension on the pages. It should be easy to play on familiar rivalries in this universe and set up the stakes, but by the end of the first chapter it’s all just absent.

Mortal Kombat X 2015 001 010 300x230 Review: It Looks Like Mortal Kombat, It Walks Like Mortal Kombat, But...

One of the few things the book does land well is the art. Drawn by Dexter Soy, the action is as gory and barbaric as one would expect. The artist even draws x-ray panels of bones shattering just as in the video game. It helps to familiarize the material to its source but such connections are too rare within this first chapter. Another fix for the series going forward would be to play with the camera angles a bit more. The game is known for capturing extreme violence through lenses you wouldn’t have thought to use. Mortal Kombat X the comic could play with the same identity.

In order to understand, or even pick up, this comic you have to be already vested in the mythology behind it. Even doing so, there’s nothing going on here to rekindle your interest in it. Going forward the book can’t parallel the game’s mindless appetite for blood. Hopefully the creative team quickly realizes that the series can’t be gory because it has to be, but instead earn its moments like any of quality narrative. Wait for the series to become readable by letting it work out the kinks and jump on later.


Follow Davey on Twitter to talk comics, cats, and punk rock as he repost his instagram feed and makes the occasional complaint between naps. 

 

0 Comments on Review: It Looks Like Mortal Kombat, It Walks Like Mortal Kombat, But… as of 1/14/2015 11:16:00 PM
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9. Review: Red Sonja and Conan Together Again For The First Time

By Davey Nieves

CONAN RED SONJA #1

25317 195x300 Review: Red Sonja and Conan Together Again For The First Time

 

Story: Gail Simone, Jim Zub

Art: Dan Panosian, Dave Stewart

Lettering: Comicraft

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics & Dynamite

There’s an entire generation of readers who weren’t even born the last time Conan The Barbarian and Red Sonja teamed up for battle in comics or film. Both characters have had a bit of a renaissance as of late with such great books as People of the Black Circle and Dynamite’s own Red Sonja ongoing series. Was it time for the barbarian and the warrior to meet again? Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite think so, and they’ve certainly assembled the best team to do it as they deliver a subtle yet prolific opening to their new 4-part mini series.

What you’ll notice from the outset of the issue is a risk the writing team of superstars Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six) and Jim Zub (Samurai Jack) take by not just immediately dropping Red Sonja and Conan into mega-fight scenes. The opening of this series is really a heist story as the two are unknowingly both hired by an insidious figure known as Manus –Drath to steal a valuable treasure from the royals of Koth. Our conquerors get a bit more than they bargained for as they’re set up to be the only standing between us and Bloodroot covered dead Earth. By the time you reach the first issue’s end the twist feels a little predictable but doesn’t diminish the enjoyment.

conanrs1p2 200x300 Review: Red Sonja and Conan Together Again For The First Time

Fans who expect a certain level of savagery from characters whose battle skills are almost mythological won’t be disappointed. As with any team-up, readers will get all the slashing and hard-hitting melee you’d expect. Including a fight between the characters that can best be described as sensual. It’s just that the violence feels like a character reward for the story more than just being shoehorned in. More books could do well in following Simone and Zub’s lead in this manner.

A pair of high caliber writers need an artist who can bring the primal nature of these characters out in a way makes them feel anything but simple. Joining Simone and Zub is the urban barbarian himself Dan Panosian (X-Men, Thor). Upon first glance there’s such a unique neanderthal surface to his work in these pages. As you keep reading you’ll notice all the emotion underneath the savagery. Eyes, expression, and body gesture all click together as accents in his panel work. Colorist, Dave Stewart’s work is just as vital in the book. The warm pallet he uses makes the pop stand out in the battle scenes it needs to and unifies the flow of art with story making it one of the smoothest reads of the week if not the year.

This book is awesome! Simone, Zub, and Panosaian put peanut butter and jelly together then served it alongside a big juicy porterhouse steak. Fans of both characters will find plenty to enjoy in this limited series. A big plus for both publishers and retailers is just how inviting the book is for new readers. You need not know anything about the lore of either character or Arnold Schwarzenegger to understand what’s going on here. Conan/ Red Sonja #1 kicks the series off with the right balance of intrigue and good ol’ beat ‘em up action.


Follow Davey on Twitter to talk comics, cats, and punk rock as he repost his instagram feed and makes the occasional complaint between naps. 

1 Comments on Review: Red Sonja and Conan Together Again For The First Time, last added: 1/16/2015
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10. Review: Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

If a blogger friend hadn’t recommended Worth the Fall, I would have skipped it.  The pregnant heroine and all of those little kids… yeah, not my cup of tea.  Despite my reservations, the characters managed to charm me within the first few pages.  I breezed through this book and had a hard time putting it down, so if you decide to give it a try, plan your time accordingly Smile

Matt, a sexy SEAL, is on leave, and he’s bored out of his mind. The only reason he’s on this stupid beach vacation is because his cousin lassoed him into it.  His female companion is irritating the hell out of him, and he’d rather be working on his fixer-upper house, not wasting time with an air-headed beauty.  During a jog along the beach, he’s pelted in the back by a water logged football, and his life changes forever.

Jack, the young boy who threw the football at him, desperately wants someone to play catch with.  When Matt learns the boy’s father is dead, he feels sorry for him.  He comes from a large family, and he can’t imagine not having his parents there for him.  When he sees Jack’s gorgeous and very pregnant mother, he’s fascinated.  She’s like a mother duck with a flock of ducklings; Abby has four young children and another on the way.  She’s sweet and funny and he wants to get to know her better.

Abby has had a tough life.  Orphaned when she was a young girl, she’s only known heartache as she was abandoned time and again by the adults in her life.  She met her husband, thought she was in love, and married young.  It didn’t take long before she realized that Josh didn’t love her, and she didn’t love him.  He was hardly ever home, and she was left to raise their kids by herself.  When he died six months ago, nothing really changed.  She was still alone, still taking care of herself and her children.

Then along came Matt.  I have to say, Matt is the perfect guy.  As Abby referred to him, he’s a hero, always ready to dart out to save someone.  He’s a man of his word, he’s honorable, and he’s honest.  He also feels empty and he knows that something is missing from his life, but he doesn’t know what it is.  Then he meets Abby and her flock of ducklings and it’s crystal clear to him – he wants a family and he wants it to be them.

Abby is suffering with serious trust issues.  Never having had a stable home and then having an emotionally distant husband, she has erected walls around her heart that at first seem insurmountable.  How is Matt going to get her to trust him and make her believe that he wants nothing more than to be with her?  He’s a handsome young guy with so many more options than a woman who is six months pregnant!  Before starting Worth the Fall, I was skeptical.  How could the author convince me that dashing Matt would make the perfect match for Abby?  I was convinced about a third of the way through the book, and I wanted to shake Abby and make her get over herself.  Then I wanted to pat her on the head and tell her everything would be okay if she would just give Matt a chance. 

Worth the Fall is a feel good romance with a hard won HEA.  I thought it dragged a little near the end, but I did enjoy meeting Matt’s large family, as well as the wedding finale.  Both Matt and Abby helped each other work through their issues and learned to step outside their comfort zone.  The kids didn’t even annoy me!  I liked this so much I have the next book in the series, Worth the Risk, cued up on my Kindle.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Prepare to be swept away by a talented debut author with a passionate, powerful story to tell.
They meet on a beach. . . . Abby Davis isn’t wearing a skimpy bikini or sipping umbrella drinks, not when she’s busy chasing around four little ones. And Matt McKinney isn’t looking for fun—he’s a Navy SEAL, a grown man with a long list of missions . . . and fallen brothers.
They only have a week. . . . Abby has brought her children to this beach to start over, to give them the enjoyable memories they deserve. Matt’s been sidelined by a combat injury, and haunted by the best friend he lost and the promise he made: to remain a SEAL—focused and dedicated. This leaves no time for what he’s always wanted: a family.
But a week is all it takes. . . . Matt opens her heart while Abby soothes his soul. And though they plan to say good-bye when the week is over, something magical happens on that beach, something neither can forget. Something utterly, completely worth falling for.

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11. Novella Review: Riskier Business by Tessa Bailey

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

If Riskier Business hadn’t popped up on my recommendations page on Amazon, I would have missed out on Tessa Bailey’s latest novella.  I’ve read almost everything she’s written, so I was eager to see what Ruby and Troy have been up to since His Risk to Take.  That one click button is so convenient, and in just a few seconds, I was reading away.

Ruby and Troy are blissfully happy, burning up the sheets and supporting each other’s careers.  Troy is a cop and Ruby has launched her own business making custom pool cues.  They couldn’t be happier, until Ruby’s criminal father approaches Troy.  He has a proposition for Ruby, and he wants to see her.  Troy is conflicted; does he tell Ruby that her errant father is in town or does he chase the scumbag out of town?  He’s afraid that Ruby will be dragged back into a life a crime, and he is terrified of losing her.

He fesses up, and then Ruby has a dilemma.  Does she agree to meet the man who used her and then abandoned her?  She can’t turn her back on her father, though, so she reluctantly meets with him, afraid of the chaos he’ll inevitably brings to her life.  He tells her that if she’ll play one more pool match for him, against her mother’s brother, he’ll leave her alone forever.  And he’ll also get information they both want – the location of her mother, who walked out on both of them when she was a baby.

I find Bailey’s writing irresistible.  It’s lightning paced, sprinkled with suspense, and blazing with sexy times.  The dialog is snappy and fun, and the heroes have such naughty mouths.  Her books never fail to entertain.  Riskier Business sets up her new Crossing the Line series, and Ruby’s friend Bowen will have a starring role in Risking it All.  I can hardly wait to read it! 

Grade:  B

Review copy purchase from Amazon

From Amazon:

One more game. And this time, there are no rules…

After a life of pool hustling and living on the wrong side of the law, Ruby Elliott is living on the straight and narrow with sexy-as-all-hell NYPD detective, Troy Bennett. Now the only trouble Ruby has with the law is the naughty kind, pinned against the wall by Troy’s strict and spectacularly hard body. Obeying his every command. Both of them losing themselves in a lust that borders on obsession…

But then her father returns with an offer she can’t refuse: one last hustle in exchange for information. Information she’d die to have. As the pieces and the players of the game reveal themselves, Troy feels the fine edges of his control slipping—control he can’t channel without hurting Ruby. The stakes are high, and the risk higher. Because losing this final game could cost more than Ruby’s heart…it might cost her life.

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12. Review: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

One of my favorite reads of 2014, Burn for Me is an action packed race to save Houston from a psychopathic mage who uses fire to level anything in his path.  Set in an alternate world where a serum gave some people incredible magic powers, Nevada is a private investigator struggling to make ends meet for her family.  When she’s given the mission to bring in Adam Pierce before he kills anyone else, she knows that she’s a sacrificial scapegoat for the powerful families that own her firm and rule Houston.   Nevada can tell if someone is lying to her, and she knows that everything she’s been told so far is a lie.

Mad Rogan is after Adam Pierce for reasons of his own.  He’s another human with unmatched destructive powers and even fewer ethics.  He can kill with the flick of his wrist, arouse with a thought, and reduce a city to rubble.  I loved this guy!  He does what he wants, with little regard for the consequences, because for Mad Rogan, there are no consequences.  Wealthy beyond belief, powerful beyond measure,  Mad Rogan is godlike with his powers.  He is an indifferent, brutally decisive god who doesn’t hesitate to act, and it’s a good thing for Nevada, because without his help, however reluctantly she’s accepted it, she would be toast.  Literally.

Nevada is a very strong heroine who doesn’t realize the extent of her magic.  She knows that she can tell if someone is telling the truth, but she doesn’t know that she can compel another to speak the truth.  Mad Rogan discovers this, rather unpleasantly, when someone tries to kill Nevada’s grandmother.  I thought he deserved it.  He’s a guy you can’t entirely trust, and after their initial introduction (he kidnaps she), I didn’t think he would ever come across as a convincing romantic lead.  He did.  That’s part of the magic of this book.  Nevada’s influence on him changes him.  Mad Rogan has willingly done terrible, terrible things, things he doesn’t regret or even feel the slightest twinge of remorse over, but Nevada tempers his impulses to just let loose with his magic, at least when someone isn’t trying to kill them. 

I loved this book!  I wasn’t going to read it at first because of the cover, which I don’t think represents the book well at all.  I thought it would be a PNR with lots of sexy times – it’s not.  It’s more of an urban fantasy with a strong heroine, a badass hero who finally meets his match, and a whole lot of sexual chemistry.  And a ton of adrenaline-laced action scenes.  I LOVED it!  I want MOAR!!   And I want it NOW!!

Grade: A

Review copy proved by my local library

From Amazon:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

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13. Review: The 100 Spider War Continues

Too Many Spiders

By David Nieves

ASM2014012 DC11 00001 197x300 Review: The 100 Spider War Continues

Amazing Spider-Man #12

Written by Dan Slott   Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and Justin Ponsor 

(NO ASM 12 SPOILERS)

We all know the cliché about too much of a good thing. Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott probably hasn’t heard it, which is far from a bad thing. The latest chapter of the ongoing spider-vent Spider-Verse continues the break neck pace and suprising intrigue using a smorgasbord of Spider-People

 

For the benefit of those without google, Spider-Verse is a war for the survival of the spiders of all realties because a terrifying vampirey family called the Inheritors is hunting around the multiverse devouring the life essence of Spider-People. Amazing Spider-Man #12 picks up right after the father of the Inheritors killed the cosmic Spider-Man in the dimension which had up to that point been a safe zone for the spiders of all realities. So far every Spider-Verse issue has pushed the story in a manner that does make ASM the only series you need to read to enjoy Spider-Verse. However issue twelve doesn’t do as much for readers who have been following all the tie-in books. The audience drops in on Jessica Drew with the Inheritors along with Spider-Man 2099’s autopsy of one of their enemies. In fact the only thread of the web not seen in this issue are the Scarlett Spiders in the clone factory. Once you get to the end of the issue, if you’ve managed to avoid the Internet spoilers, you will be in for a big moment at the end of the ASM 12.

 

Each ASM issue of Spider-Verse has introduced an alternate reality Spidey that’s stood out among others. Though his time was deliberately short, Spider-Banner from ASM #9 remains my favorite thus far. Chapter four has a spectacular run in by Takyua Yamashiro, the Spider-Man of Earth-51778. I hope we can call him Spider-Voltron without being sued.

 

Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli’s work can best be described as busy. For a story where the sheer number of characters on a page borders on gluttonous; very little space feels wasted. Slott works very well with Camuncoli’s art by keeping the dialogue necessary and letting the visual unfold the story. If there is one criticism that could be offered to the overall arc, it’s in the color work. While colorist Justin Ponsor does a solid job; the shifts to different dimensions feel too similar in tone. For a reader on the stand just flipping through the book it would be difficult to understand that these Spiders are in vastly different places.

 

As a stand-alone issue Amazing Spider-Man 12 has to be looked at in two ways. Readers who have been strictly sticking to Amazing Spider-Man have to pick up this issue to keep going on Spider-Verse. You’ve come this far and if this is the lull of the event then it did a horrible job of being boring. However should you be one of the die hard readers who’s kept up with every tie-in; you almost don’t need ASM 12 because much of the meat of the issue is simply keeping readers apprised on what’s going on in the other series. Overall, Spider-Verse as an event is doing the same magic for Spider-Man as a character that Sinestro Corps did for Green Lantern. It continues to prove you don’t need a company wide crossover to make an extravaganza that resonates.

 

2 Comments on Review: The 100 Spider War Continues, last added: 1/8/2015
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14. Review: Last Chance Family by Hope Ramsay

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I wanted to read Last Chance Family for a few reasons.  First, Charlene is a veterinarian.  I love vet books.  Probably because I wanted to vet, but silly me – I listened when adults said girls weren’t good at math and science (yes, I went to school a long time ago and had zero self-esteem).  Second, Mike is suddenly forced to play the role of parent to his young niece.  I enjoy the single parent/guardian trope, especially when said parent/guardian is overwhelmed with their new responsibilities.  Mike is a gambler, he had an abusive and unhappy childhood, and he is blindsided by his duties taking care of Rainbow.  So blindsided that he immediately determines that he needs to make the brother he hasn’t seen since he was five Rainbow’s new caretaker.

Mike starts out as man whose every decision disappoints.  He convinces himself that Vegas is no place for a child, and that a gambler can’t possibly be a good father figure.  His brother, Timmy, however, would be perfect.  He’s a pastor, so he has to be good with kids.  Right?  The only comfort Rainbow has left after witnessing her mother’s murder is Tigger, her cat.  Mike knows how much that ball of fur means to his niece, but he’s ready to give him away because Tim is allergic to animals.  Isn’t a loving home better for Rainbow than that hissing menace?  Never mind that the girl has witnessed the brutal murder of her mother and hasn’t had the best home life.  Nah.  It’s just more expedient to take the cat to the shelter because Mike has a high stakes poker tournament coming up.

I’m not going to give too much background information on Charlene, due to spoilers.  Her biggest hang up is her inability to trust.  She’s been burned in the past, and her overbearing parents have interfered in her life, causing her to make a decision that haunts her to this day.  She can’t forgive herself, and she can’t forgive her parents either.  She can’t do anything to make them happy; even her successful career failed to make them proud of her.  Her mean and small-minded parents hold too much power over the little town of Last Chance, causing Mike and Rainbow a lot of grief.

Charlene knows that Mike is the wrong guy for her and that he’s a commitment-phobe.  His efforts to foist Rainbow off on his brother shout loud and clear that he’s not planning on sticking around.  Even though she is undeniably attracted to him, she forces herself to keep Mike at arm’s length.  Rainbow, on the other hand, desperately needs someone to love her, and Charlene is more than willing to give the girl some of the affection she’s starving for.

Last Chance Family is a feel good romance about second chances and learning how to forgive yourself.  Both Mike and Charlene have made plenty of mistakes, so the question for the reader is will they learn anything from them?  I was terribly worried that Mike wouldn’t, but I know that Charlene, after being bullied by her parents into doing something she knew was wrong, would eventually find the strength to stand up to them.  I enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more y Hope Ramsay.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Mike Taggart has always been willing to take a gamble. But these stakes are just way too high – there’s no way he’s prepared to become a legal guardian to his five-year-old niece. His only option is to head from Las Vegas to Last Chance to sort things out as quickly as possible. Problem is, he arrives to find an inconsolable little girl, her sick cat, and a gorgeous veterinarian he can’t get out of his mind.

Charlene Polk has two talents: healing sick critters and falling in love with the wrong men. Mike has trouble written all over him, but she can’t leave him in the lurch. And the more time she spends with the sexy high roller, the more she sees that this ready-made family is the best stroke of luck they’ve ever had . . .

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15. Review: Bittersweet Farm 1: Mounted by Barbara Morgenroth

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’ve had my eye on Mounted for a while, so I was beyond thrilled when it was an Amazon Deal of the Day a few weeks ago.  Cost?  FREE!  I loved this book, and once I finished, I promptly purchased book 2.  At $2.99, I couldn’t resist finding out what happens next.

Talia is a 17 year old equestrian.  She lives on her wealthy father’s farm, feuds with her half-sister Greer, and misses her mother who passed away after a painful illness.  Greer’s indiscrete behavior has cost yet another equitation coach his job, and their overindulgent father has just hired Lockie to take his place.  Lockie is young, handsome, and a talented rider, but Talia knows that he won’t stick around long.  No man can resist Greer, and once she gets her claws in him, it won’t be long before he, too, is canned.  Determined to put up with him until the inevitable, Talia is pleasantly surprised with his professionalism and coaching skills.  And, Lockie doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in Greer.

Mounted is an over the top soap opera, peopled with colorful characters and beautiful horses.  Greer is someone you love to hate; she’s spoiled, selfish, and lazy, and expects everyone to cater to her every whim.  When she keeps placing second to her number one rival, she blames her horses, and demands a constant string of replacements.  Lockie mocks her work ethic, assures her that until she starts actually putting forth an effort that she’ll always place second, and rebuffs her advances with barely contained patience. 

Talia is immediately drawn to Lockie, and she recognizes his swift mood changes for what they really are – indications that he’s in terrible pain.  Ever since he suffered from a traumatic riding incident, he’s been plagued by horrible headaches. Though she’s reluctant to ask her father for favors, she asks if he’ll help Lockie find specialists to help manage his pain.  Lockie reminds Talia of her mother and her final months, when nothing relieved the debilitating pain she suffered because of her illness.  She can’t stand by and just watch the new trainer suffer, so she’s determined to do something to help him.

I found the dialog confusing at first, but once I got used to the author’s narrative style, I no longer had that problem.  I really enjoyed the banter between Lockie and Talia, and how their love of horses brought them together.  Talia would be more than content to never show again, and she dislikes jumping.  When her old, trusted gelding pulls up lame, Lockie declares that they have to find a new horse for her.  Talia is reluctant to retire her equine friend; he helped her through her mother’s death, and she trusts him. The prospect of a new horse isn’t exciting for Talia, it’s stressful and she doesn’t want to have any part of it.  Greer, of course, ridicules her and laughs at her dislike of jumping, calling her a coward.  I personally completely understood where Talia was coming from.  I have no desire to jump, never did, never will, and so I ride saddleseat.  Lockie finds Talia a warm blood and is excited to teach her dressage.  Talia is not so excited, but at least she wouldn’t be jumping.  I am interested to follow her progress in her new discipline.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, so I immediately downloaded the second book in the series.  This was a very quick read for me.  The chemistry between Talia and Lockie kept me turning the pages, as did the horsey parts.  If you enjoy horses and soap operas, Mounted should appeal to you. 

Grade:  A-

Review copy purchased from Amazon

From Amazon:

Talia Margolin’s life has been marked by events completely beyond her control—her mother’s death, the move to her father’s horse farm, the retirement of her show horse.

Now she faces the arrival of a new coach whose job is to get Talia’s half-sister, Greer, qualified for the finals at the National Horse Show. Greer is brutal on trainers but Lockie Malone is different. Handsome, talented, and with a will of hardened steel, Lockie can be an immovable object. He also becomes the agent for change in the lives of everyone at Bittersweet Farm.

For seventeen year old Talia, change has never meant anything but loss. Will this time be different?


Mature content and sexual situations, nothing graphic.

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16. Review: The Vault by Emily McKay

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This series is proof that even if the first volume doesn’t work for you, maybe the rest will.  I couldn’t get through The Farm – I’m not sure why.  I don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood, or the pacing left me feeling impatient, or if it was just the wrong day of the week to start reading it.  I set it aside and moved on, forgetting about it,  until I was given the opportunity to review The Lair.  Now there was a book I couldn’t put down! 

I really enjoyed creepy darkness of Emily McKay’s nightmarish world.  A virus has ravaged America, turning its victims into mindless, violent monsters with a never-ending craving for blood.  To stave off the annihilation of humans, young Americans have been quarantined onto Farms, their blood collected and fed to the starving Ticks.  After forming an uneasy alliance with a vampire, Lily and Carter, two teens,  are determined to save the world.  Their little rebellion faces one challenge after another, and Lily lies in a coma at the end of The Lair, victim to the virus.

The Vault picks up right where The Lair left off.  Carter is desperate to obtain the cure for virus, which Sebastian claimed is hidden in his territory.  Carter and Mel, Lily’s twin sister,  can’t enter the lab where they think the cure is secured because of the security measures the vampire left in place to guard his domain.  They need Sebastian, or at least parts of Sebastian, to get inside.  The problem?  Mel left Sebastian staked to the ground after the battle with Roberto.  While she goes back to see if he’s still alive or salvageable, Carter heads to Sabrina’s territory.  The cruel vampire is rumored to have some vials of the cure, and a desperate Carter will do anything to get his hands on them if it means saving Lily’s life.

The Vault kept me on the edge of my seat as Mel and Carter attempt to save Lily from turning into a monster.  Told from all three characters’ POV, they all struggle to survive in their new deadly world.  Lily wakes from her coma, and she knows that it won’t be long before she turns into a Tick.  She can already feel her humanity and her reasoning skills slipping away.  Together with Marcus, Ely’s brother, she heads for a Farm, where she thinks she’ll find safety and medical assistance.  I enjoyed her POV the most, and was a bit disappointed when her voice went silent for part of the book.  I would have loved a first hand account of her experiences, instead of relying on Carter to narrate that part of the story.

There’s a lot of action in The Vault, which made it a rollercoaster read.  My biggest nit-picks? Sabrina was such a one-dimensional character I had a hard time taking her seriously, and Carter got a little (okay, a LOT whiny) near the end.  I just didn’t have the patience to deal with his sudden hang-ups about his relationship with Lily.  They both survived the end of the world, for goodness sake!  Just cherish the love that somehow flourished amid so much death!  Lily did, and even Mel got a HEA, so Carter’s reluctance to take things at face value grated on me.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay’s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, “Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games.”

In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

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17. Review: Sheikh’s Desert Duty by Maisey Yates

 

Please note that this review was originally posted at Romance @ Random

May Contain Spoilers:

I enjoy Maisey Yates’ writing, and I have a secret fascination with sheikhs, so how could I possibly resist Sheikh’s Desert Duty?  While I did ultimately enjoy the book, there are two plot points that kept me from enthusiastically recommending it.  Instead, I say read it with the following reservations.

First, it’s a kidnap trope. Zayn catches Sophie eavesdropping on him when he’s threatening James Chatsfield with bodily harm. The cad has gotten his younger sister pregnant, and Zayn just wants to choke the pompous ass to death.  When he discovers Sophie lurking in the shadows of the alley after James has made a hasty retreat, he isn’t sure how much she’s overheard.  To protect his family’s reputation and to stop yet another scandal from tainting the family name, he makes a drastic decision.  He’s going to take Sophie to his desert kingdom of Surhaadi until the entire thing blows over.

Sophie is a journalist digging up dirt on the Chatsfield family. They are trying to ruin her friend’s life, and Sophie’s not going to just sit idly by as Spencer Chatsfield takes over Isabelle’s hotel chain.  She is out for any information that will stop the sale, including hiding in rainy alleys spying on James. She doesn’t expect to be abducted.  But after Zayn makes a call to her boss, she finds herself on his private plane, jetting across the world.  Zayn has promised her boss an exclusive on his upcoming wedding, and now Sophie has no choice but to accompany him to Surhaadi.  If she doesn’t deliver the story, she’ll lose her job.

I don’t care for abduction stories. The hero holds all of the power, and the heroine is basically under his control.  Zayn never took advantage of the situation, but I am still not convinced that any romantic feelings under these circumstances would be real. Sophie even makes a reference to Stockholm syndrome, which made the background for their relationship even more jarring to me.

The other thing I didn’t like was that Zayn was engaged to be married. While his fiancée never makes an appearance, and it is made abundantly clear that he has no feelings for Christine and that their union was purely political, it still bothered me.  It made me question his character and wonder if he would be faithful to Sophie.  And for a guy who was avoiding scandals, this screamed “SCANDAL!!”

So, that’s what bothered me about the story.  Now I can share what I enjoyed.  I liked Sophie.  She is smart, funny, and driven.  After watching her mother ruin her life after falling in love with a married man, Sophie swore that she would never let that happen to her.  Love was a toxic thing for her mother, preventing her from seeking happiness.  Instead, she fawned after the crumbs of attention that were thrown her way.  Sophie’s father was never a presence in her life, and she resented that.  Her mother ignored her, her father never acknowledged her, and so she was determined to prove her worth to everyone.  Putting herself through school, struggling for everything she had, she worked with one goal in mind.  She wanted to make something of herself, confront her father, and make him see how worthy she is.

Love never played a part in her plans, and after a disappointing mashing of lips when she was in college, she determined that men were just not worth her time of day.  Zayn is the first man to make her heart race, and she finally begins to understand why her mother kept longing for the love of her life.  Sophie knows that Zayn is to be married soon, but she can’t stop herself from falling for him.  This finally made her see things from her mother’s perspective, though Sophie tells herself that she’s not going to let her feelings for Zayn to get out of hand. Ha!

Because of the problems I had with the plot, I can’t wholehearted recommend Sheikh’s Desert Duty.  I did enjoy it, but I had to push the problematic elements far to the back of my mind.  Since reader tolerance varies, some people might not be concerned with these points.  Yates’ writing is lively and engaging, so I would suggest reading it for that reason alone.

Grade:  B-/C+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

 

A Chatsfield Scandal!

Journalist Sophie Parsons needs a scoop to stop the sale of her friend’s hotel chain. And she’s found it! But being abducted by a sheikh goes way beyond the call of duty… 

Sheikh Zayn Al-Ahmar has a wedding to arrange, a sister to protect and a country to rule. He’s not going to let one woman bring it all down with a headline! Kidnapping Sophie seemed like a good idea, but soon her delectable company puts everything he values at risk.  

Only one mistress can rule Zayn’s heart—will it be Sophie, or his duty?  

Welcome to The Chatsfield, New York!

The post Review: Sheikh’s Desert Duty by Maisey Yates appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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18. Santiago Stays


Review by Ariadna Sánchez

Santiago Stays is the latest book of award-winning author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. Dominguez’s story is charming, delicate, and easy to read. Her narrative is about a young boy who tries to play with his French bulldog Santiago. The boy offers Santiago diverse colorful options like playing with a toy, going for a walk, and even eating a hamburger to captivate his attention. What the boy didn’t know is that Santiago had a very important job to do that’s why he could not play with him. When the boy lost control and became loud, her little sister woke up with a cry. As soon as she saw Santiago, she smiled. The boy now realized why nothing made Santiago looses his post. “Good Boy, Santiago” the boy exclaimed.

With engaging and simple text, young readers and listeners enthrall in the artwork illustrations created in pencil, ink, marker, and tissue paper.

Santiago Stays is a highly recommended book especially for pet lovers and families who enjoy great stories. Reading gives you wings! Visit your local library to emerge in the fascinating world of books.

To read more about Angela Dominguez please check the following links:


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19. Review: Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was in the mood for a historical romance, so I fired up my Kindle and started reading Twice Tempted.  I was hooked from the first page.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but a sweet romance, sprinkled with spicy interludes and a light spy thriller wasn’t it.  I enjoyed as the mystery slowly revealed itself, as well as the secondary characters helping Alex and Fiona solve it.  They actually made the read for me, because Chuffy and Mairead were so unique and their eccentricities were delightfully surprising.

Fiona isn’t having a good day.  The man she has obsessed over for the last four years has just delivered the heartbreaking news that her older brother Ian has been killed.  Worse, her cranky grandfather promptly throws Fiona and her twin sister Mairead out on the streets, because the honorable old man can’t abide the thought of Ian’s scandal rubbing off on his good name.  His granddaughters were only tolerated because Ian was his heir.  He can’t forgive them for the stain of growing up in the slums, and he can’t wait to be rid of them.

Alex, Ian’s friend, is dismayed to find Fiona and Mairead gone when he returns to inform the girls that Ian is still alive and the news of his demise was premature, as was the outrage he was accused of.  Now Alex truly is a man of honor, and he is consumed with guilt for not being there to protect the girls.  Four years ago he delivered Fiona to her grandfather’s estate, and after stealing a kiss from her, he thought that she was in good hands.  Little did he know that Fiona was verbally abused by the marquess, and constantly made to feel unwelcome in her new home.  Alex had only known love and support from his own family, so the thought that Fiona and Mairead would be treated so poorly never occurred to him.  Now he’s determined to find her and give her the life she deserves.

When Alex locates the young women, they are not interested in his plans for their future.  Both Fiona and Mairead are consumed with their intellectual pursuits, and they have no intention of giving up their mathematics and astronomy for a life of luxury.  Fiona has serious trust issues stemming from her childhood in the slums, and she doesn’t believe Alex is capable of delivering on his promises.  She fought to keep her and Mairead safe and fed, and it wasn’t always easy.  I have to say that I don’t understand where Ian was during this time; after their mother died, why didn’t Ian do anything to see the girls in a safer environment?  There was no excuse for him to have left them alone and defenseless for so long, regardless of his circumstances. Ugh.

I had a hard time putting Twice Tempted down, especially as Alex and Fiona became more enmeshed in the plot that threatened to destroy both of them.  They both have trust issues due to their pasts, and secrets they are keeping from each other.  I enjoyed the action, the romance, and how the diverse characters interacted, gaining strength and confidence from their new friendships.  This was a fun read!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . .

It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.
But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.

Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . . .

The post Review: Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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20. Novella Review: Sweet Cowboy Christmas by Candis Terry

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I have been struggling with this review, and I don’t know why.  I thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Cowboy Christmas, but I just can’t seem to put my thoughts down in any coherent manner, so I will instead give you my Top 5 reasons why you should read it

1.  This romance will put you in the mood for the holidays.  I read it last week, and afterwards, I was geeked for the holiday season.  Christmas plays a big part in the story, because Chase lost his father on Christmas years ago.  He’s still not over his loss, and he dreads the holidays, because he certainly doesn’t share in the holiday cheer that surrounds him.  Faith loves Christmas and giving to others, so she wants to help Chase regain his love for the holidays

2.  Both Chase and Faith are running unsuccessfully from their pasts.  Chase can’t get over the loss of his father, and now he’s just had a health scare himself.  He’s not sure who he is anymore, because he’s been told he has to give up his fast-paced, stressful life or he’s not going to be around much longer.  Faith is still smarting from a romance gone bad.  Her ex belittled her and she still hasn’t recovered her confidence after his contemptuous treatment of her.

3.  Chase is a caring guy, who realizes a good thing when he sees it.  When he learns that Faith’s confidence is still suffering from her past disastrous relationship, he isn’t shy about letting her know how special she is.

4.  The interactions between Chase and Faith are humorous, sweet, and romantic.  The ranch setting is the perfect backdrop for their budding romance.  How can galloping across a field and then sharing a kiss not be romantic?

5.  Sweet Cowboy Christmas is a novella, so you don’t have to invest a lot of time to reach the happy ending.  This is a great choice if you have some free time in between your own holiday preparations.  Who knows?  It may even get you in the mood to put out some extra Christmas decorations.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Mistletoe, holly, and cowboys, oh my! Christmas in Texas has never been sweeter.

Years ago, Chase Morgan traded in his dusty cowboy boots for the shimmering lights of New York City and a fast track up the corporate ladder. But when his shiny life is turned on end just in time for Christmas, Chase knows he needs to reevaluate—even if that means going home to Texas to endure his least favorite holiday.

When Mr. Tall, Dark, and Smoking-Hot walks through her door at the Magic Box Guest Ranch, Faith Walker sees just another handsome, rich exec looking to play cowboy for a week—at her expense. She’s sure the grumpy-but-sexy-as-hell Scrooge will put a crimp in her holly jolly plans. Until a sizzling kiss has her seeing him in a new light.

Chase is haunted by secrets, and even though it goes entirely against her “hands off the guests” rule, Faith is tempted to help him leave the past behind. As the magic of the season swirls around them, she is determined to succeed, because now she is certain one sweet cowboy Christmas will never be enough.

The post Novella Review: Sweet Cowboy Christmas by Candis Terry appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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21. Oaxaca al Gusto


Review by Ariadna Sánchez

December is here! A special and sweet way to share time with the beloved ones is through cooking. Oaxaca al Gustois by renowned British author Diana Kennedy. Kennedy takes audacious readers to an amazing and delectable journey into one of the most colorful and one-of-a-kind cuisines in the world.

The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is a complex and diverse region with a huge variety of flavors and gourmet dishes. The secret behind each recipe is reveal by Oaxacan natives. Kennedy travel from north to south and from east to west of Oaxaca to capture in words and by photograph the essence behind the three hundred recipes most of them from home cooks.

Oaxaca al Gusto is organized by regions for an easy search. Along with each recipe, readers can check some cooking techniques, learn from the community, and admire the stunning and appetitive images. In addition, Oaxaca al Gusto contains a special chapter that focuses on the three main components of the Oaxacan cuisine: corn, chocolate and chiles. Follow by a complete glossary, an extended biography of author Diana Kennedy and last by not least a note to the cook.  Oaxaca al Gusto is definitely a mouthwatering experience!

Have a safe and great Thanksgiving celebration and remember that reading is delicious. Visit your local library to merge into the fascinating world of books.

To read more of Diana Kennedy’s experiences please follow the next link:


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22. Review: A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise by Maggie McGinnis

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I decided to read A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise  because both protagonists are veterinarians.  Hayley is a big city vet, tending to pampered show cats, while Daniel is a large animal vet in rural Montana.  Hayley really wanted to be an equine vet, but obligations to her uncle changed her focus to small animals instead.  One of the things I enjoyed about the book was Hayley’s enthusiasm for Daniel’s line of work.  He’s an overworked vet, the only animal caregiver for hundreds of miles.  Even though he has two young daughters, he finds solace in his busy workload.  Since the death of his wife, he’s been trying to cope with his grief and be a loving father, but there are times when he’s overwhelmed juggling his work and home schedules.

Hayley is a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of girl; she has no intentions of ever settling down, and her longest relationship lasted a record two months.  Visiting Montana for her friend’s wedding (Kyla from Accidental Cowgirl), Hayley realizes that she needs to stay far, far away from Daniel.  Daniel doesn’t do casual, and Hayley doesn’t trust enough in love to risk a commitment.  Daniel is also fighting with his mother-in-law over custody of the girls, and it’s obvious that she disapproves of both Daniel’s work and the sudden appearance of Hayley in his life.

I loved the humor, and immediately wanted to read the first book in the series (which is in my Terrifying Tower of TBR, so there are hopes that I will get to it yet!).  The setting was also a huge plus, as was Daniel’s work.  I am fascinated when the vets come out to the barn, and like to watch them work on the horses, as well as ask questions about the procedures they are performing.  There’s a feeling of that in the book, as Hayley pitches in to assist with the equine care.  She desperately comes to love Montana, treating larger animals, and Daniel and the girls, but she doesn’t see a way to leave her own practice in Boston to take a chance on a permanent relationships with Daniel.

After she returns home from her vacation, she and Daniel stay in contact, calling and Skyping.  This part of the story felt very real, too.  Their long-distance relationship blossoms into something much deeper than friendship, and I found that their period of separation strengthened their ties to each other.  They really listened to what the other said, and used the information gained to do thoughtful things.  Usually I’m bored when the protagonists are apart, but that was never a complaint here.

Though Christmas plays a part in the story, it isn’t until the end of the book.  I mention this because when I told my mom how much I enjoyed A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise, she said that she didn’t care for holiday themed books.  Most of the story takes place during Hayley’s summer vacation, so even if you don’t like Christmas reads, download the sample from Amazon and give this a try.  I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

In a captivating novel spiced with holiday magic—perfect for fans of Rachel Gibson, Susan Mallery, and Molly O’Keefe—a rugged Montana man mends a Northeast girl’s jaded heart.

Boston veterinarian Hayley Scampini tends the city’s pampered pets but dreams of the rural life of a country vet. She’s single and determined to stay that way, convinced that love isn’t permanent enough to trust. Then a vacation to the Whisper Creek dude ranch introduces her to Daniel McKee, a sexy single dad who runs the kind of veterinary practice she aspires to—and rattles her conviction to keep men at a distance.

Managing a thriving practice, coping with the loss of his wife, and fighting a custody battle with his in-laws over his twin daughters, Daniel couldn’t be more overwhelmed. Hayley is a godsend, accompanying him in the field and winning over his girls. It doesn’t take Daniel long to realize he’s falling for this woman, hard and fast. So before Hayley returns to Boston, he extracts a promise: that she will return to Whisper Creek for Christmas. It’s the perfect time and place to show Hayley that the promise of a beautiful life together is something she can believe in.

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23. Review and Giveaway: Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

This is the my first Sarah MacLean, and I have to admit that I was attracted by the cover first and foremost.  While I thought things got off to a slow start, I become wrapped up in the plot and had a hard time putting it down.  I really enjoyed the protagonists, and found that they complemented each other perfectly.  Both of them have secrets to protect, and they will  do anything to ensure that their skeletons remain locked in a closet, out of sight.   Duncan, while wealthy beyond his dreams and the owner of several influential newspapers, is being blackmailed by the one person who knows of his past.  Georgiana, ruined at 16 and now the single mother of a precocious 9 year old, burns with rage at the society that shunned her, and how dismisses her daughter Caroline as so much trash. 

I didn’t completely buy into the admission fee for Georgiana’s gaming club.  I couldn’t see how anyone would be compelled to turn over their deepest, darkest secrets in order to gain entrance to the gaming tables, but maybe the thought of imminent disclosure was titillating in and of itself.  The fact that Chase, Georgiana’s male alter ego, never hesitated to bring ruin to those she felt deserved it, made me question the common sense of all of these wealthy men.  It’s not like Chase was known to be a kind-hearted guy who loved kiddies, puppies, and his fellow man.  No, he was out to get those that slighted him, and he didn’t make it a secret that he would divulge the dirt on his customers at any time.  This did drive me to distraction at the beginning of the book, making it difficult to me to engage in the plot.

When one of Duncan’s papers, a gossip rag, prints a particularly damaging cartoon about Georgiana and her daughter, she’s driven to do the one thing she’s avoided since she was a young girl.  She fears that Caroline’s future will be bleak, and that her scandal will rub off on her, so she’s determined to marry man with a title to protect Caroline.  She believes that the title will insulate both of them from the past, and open the door of opportunity for Caroline.  But it’s Duncan who turns her head.  It’s Duncan who she feels a blinding attraction to and can’t get the thought of him out of her head.  Despite her feelings for him, she knows that they have no future together because he don’t have that all important title to save her daughter’s future.

For his part, Duncan has some incriminating secrets of his own.  Even though he’s drawn to Georgiana, he knows that a future with her is impossible.  He has lived in fear for years, terrified that his deepest, darkest, most damning secrets would be revealed, and that he would eventually hang for them.  He could never subject another person to that gnawing fear. But that doesn’t stop him for longing for something that he can never have, and he longs for Georgiana.  He believes that she needs to be rescued from the elusive, villainous Chase, and he is driven to distraction trying to learn what hold he has over her.  This did get slightly tiring, and I wished Georgiana would just fess up and get that elephant out of the room.  Chase’s hidden identity nearly destroys Duncan and Georgiana when he unwisely enlists assistance in flushing the shadowy scoundrel from his hiding place.

I liked that Georgiana was a strong, stubborn woman who refused to allow the opinions of others destroy her.  Instead, she found strength in her wrath against society, becoming an extremely powerful figure who could destroy the lives of others at a whim.  She also refused to give up the name  of Caroline’s father, causing her brother to gnash his teeth in frustration. It’s hard to defend the honor of the women under your protection when they don’t cooperate with you!  I never got the sense that Georgiana needed protection from anyone, and that’s what I liked best about her.  She is not a simpering miss, even when she’s attempting to gain the good opinion of the society that distains her.

I really enjoyed Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, and I’m looking forward to exploring the author’s backlist.  I would like to get to know the supporting characters better, especially Pippa, who also seems like a quirky, interesting lead.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover
The Rules of Scoundrels # 4

By: Sarah MacLean

Releasing November 25th, 2014

Avon Romance

Blurb

By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking-in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered…until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear…including her heart.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/never-judge-lady-by-her-cover-rule-of.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17828895-never-judge-a-lady-by-her-cover?ac=1

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Never-Judge-Lady-Her-Cover-ebook/dp/B00IRC8ATQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-judge-a-lady-by-her-cover-sarah-maclean/1120522016?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-mdxm68jzjz8-_-10%3a1&ean=9780062068514&isbn=9780062068514&r=1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/never-judge-a-lady-by-her-cover/id833843816?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/never-judge-a-lady-by-her-cover-1

Author Info

Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.
Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.sarahmaclean.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahmaclean
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahmaclean
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1598076.Sarah_MacLean


Rafflecopter Giveaway ($50.00 Gift Card to Choice Book Seller and Print Set of Rules of Scoundrels Books 1-3)

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24. Review and Giveaway: Hello Kitty HELLO 40

About the book:

In 1974, Hello Kitty stepped on the scene, and she’s had the world wrapped around her little red bow ever since. Here, some of her biggest fans—from comic artists to muralists to toy creators—pay tribute in story and art.

Foreword by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, creators of Babymouse

My thoughts:

I am a huge Hello Kitty fan.   I own notebooks, pens, pencils, a tea set, a rice bowl, a cookie tray, and many other items emblazoned with the iconic character.  I was crushed when I broke my Hello Kitty sugar bowl, but I eventually got over the shock (a few years later).  I was confused this summer when reports shocked the world that she was not a cat, but a British girl instead, because, really, how many girls have cat ears?  And those whiskers? The Sanrio PR machine quickly responded that while Hello Kitty isn’t a human girl, she isn’t entirely a cat, either.  Huh?  I quickly shoved all of that nonsense back in a corner of my brain, and I am content to clearly state that, to me, Hello Kitty is a CAT!  What do you think?

Anyway, getting back to Hello Kitty: Hello 40, A Celebration in 40 Stories (Plus One for Good Luck) – this is a fun book.  A compilation of short comics by international artists, it’s a fitting tribute for Kitty White’s 40th birthday.  Featuring a fascinating variety of artistic styles, each artist celebrates her special day, contributing short stories and thoughts on how Hello Kitty affected their art and pop culture in general. 

The production values are very high, with a study hardcover binding, heavy paper stock that will stand up to repeated reading, and bright, vivid colors.  If you are a Hello Kitty fan, or if you have one on your holiday gift giving list, you really can’t go wrong with this book.  It’s also available digitally, for those who prefer an electronic format.

Thanks to VIZ Media, I have a copy to give away.  US addresses only, please. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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25. Review: Mai Tai’d Up by Alice Clayton

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is the first novel by Alice Clayton that I’ve read.  I have been avoiding reading her, because I’m getting tired of New Adult in general, but when I saw in the blurb that protagonist Chloe runs a pit bull rescue, I couldn’t start reading this fast enough.  I was expecting a spicier romp, but Mai Tai’d Up turned out to be a sweet friends to lovers story, with a great sense of humor, a heroine who won’t settle for the easy way out, and a lot of dogs.  Oh, there’s also a couple of very hot smexy times near the end of the book.

Chloe Patterson decides on the morning of her wedding that her fiancé, Charles, isn’t the man for her.  He doesn’t make her heart go pitter-patter, he’s a stick in the mud, and he has a little willy.  Sure, he’s rich and powerful, but she doesn’t love him.  And he doesn’t love her.  So she packs up her car (after getting kicked out of her pissed off mother’s house), and heads up the coast to her father’s vacation home in Monterey.

At first, I didn’t much care for Chloe.  She’s a former beauty queen, she was raised in luxury and has never wanted for anything, and she seemed very young and immature for a 24 year old.  She let her mother run her life, and she didn’t really have any goals outside of being a housewife and raising a passel of kids.  I had a hard time relating to that.  It’s not until the wedding is looming right before her that she takes a close, hard look at what her life would be like if she married Charles, and she runs like a bat out of hell in the other direction.  It’s after they have a disagreement about her volunteer work that she realizes that a future with Charles would soon be tedious and unfulfilling.

After settling in her father’s place, she takes up an offer from a friend.  While working with therapy dogs during her pageant days, she met Lou and was smitten – with his pit bull.  Lou wants to open a branch of his rescue organization in northern California, and Chloe decides to accept the challenge.  Her new home has more than enough land to host the rescue, and before you can say “Adopt me!” she’s got a game plan, as well as a life plan, and she is excited to finally have a goal that is hers and hers alone.  It’s not something that her mother wants her to do, it’s something that she wants to do. For herself.  It’s exhilarating!

All rescue organizations need help, and Lou gives Chloe a lead on a good vet to help care for her charges.  Lucas is a 3rd generation veterinarian working at his family’s clinic, and he’s gorgeous.  Chloe can’t stop drooling over him.  The problem?  Lucas is still smarting after his bride-to-be left him at the altar.  How can she possibly come clean about her past behavior when she did almost exactly the same thing?  Besides, they are both on the rebound, and Lucas is leaving the country soon for a 12 week volunteer trip to provide veterinary services in Belize.  Instead, they agree to be buddies and just hang out together.  Lucas can show Chloe around town and help her with the pit bull rescue.

I enjoyed this book so much!  It’s light and fast-paced and it never dragged.  I liked seeing the relationship between Chloe and Lucas grow and blossom into something more than friendship.  They have a lot in common, and they both have a great sense of humor.  They are also supportive of each other’s goals, and they are there for the other.  When Chloe needs help picking up a rescue, Lucas is right there to give her a hand.  When he wants company on a paddle board outing, she’s game, as long as she doesn’t see any fins in the water.

The rescue plays a big part in the plot, and because I am such a huge proponent of pet adoption, I loved all of the details.  The rescue gone wrong had me sniffling.  The dogs gave Chloe the agency to change into a more caring and compassionate person.  They also gave her the determination to stand up to her controlling mother.  And what can I say about Lucas?  I love vet heroes. 

Mai Tai’d Up is the perfect vacation read.  It’s funny and sweet, it’s about a cause I care about, and it has a super adorable hero.  It kept me up reading late into the evening, and was very hard for me to put down.  Now I’m excited to read some of the author’s backlist.  Where should I start?

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Looking for the perfect mix of smart, sexy, and sassy? Mai Tai’d Up continues New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton’s Cocktail series, which began with Wallbanger and continued with Rusty Nailed and Screwdrivered.

The gossip mill in the seaside community of Monterey is churning about Chloe Patterson, the newcomer who is starting a sanctuary for rescued pit bulls. It’s rumored that she’s a former beauty queen (true) who ditched her fiancé the morning of their wedding (also true). And that while she’s not looking for a new man, the good-looking local veterinarian has his eye on her. Absolutely, positively true.

When Lucas Campbell isn’t at the family veterinary clinic, he’s paddle boarding in Monterey Bay. Recently single, he’s definitely not in the market for a new relationship, but he still can’t resist taking a second, third, and fourth look at the recent arrival of Miss Golden State.

Neither Lucas nor Chloe has any interest in being tied down. Being tied up, however—now there’s a thought. But are a few Mai Tais, a moonlit night, and the music of Frank Sinatra enough to allow them both to forget their past? Let’s hope Ol’ Blue Eyes knows what he’s doing.

Mix one part tiki, one part kinky, and a splash of old black magic matchmaking, and it’s time to be . . . Mai Tai’d Up.

The post Review: Mai Tai’d Up by Alice Clayton appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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