Archive | November, 2013

Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

25 Nov

Archangel's Legion

I’ve been on a good book roll these last couple of weeks and that has made me a VERY happy little fan girl. A lot of my favourite authors have released books this month but of all the books that I have read in November, the best one so far is Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh. I have made no secret of how much I love this author and her books but I have to say this book may be one of my favourites of hers.
This book is the 6th in NS’s Guild Hunter series. I strongly suggest to anyone who hasn’t read the previous books to please go back and do so as I think it would be difficult to pick up some elements of the story if you start on this book. Besides, the first book ROCKS and you really, really have to read it.
Here’s a quick background anyway for those not familiar with the series: The main characters in most of the books of the series are Raphael and Elena. Raphael is the archangel of New York and one of the biggest, baddest, scariest mo-fos out there by reputation. He has to be as the world they live in is kind of like ours except there are vampires and werewolves and angels (oh my!) walking the streets and each region is ruled by an archangel who has to have the scary control factor thing going or the supernaturals would just go around killing each other and poor hapless humans.
In this very interesting world, vampires are created by the angels. HOW and WHY this is done is one of the more interesting revelations in book 1. Once these vampires are created they have to go into the service of the angel who created them and are only considered free once that contract has expired. If vampires run out on their contracts or do something very naughty they are hunted by members of the Guild. Elena is a Guild Hunter. Not only is she trained by the Guild (I keep picturing a supernatural sort of police academy here. Helloooo Steve Guttenburg) she is a born hunter which means she can track vampires through scent. Anyway, Raphael and Elena meet when Raphael hires a very reluctant Elena to track a rogue archangel for him. In the way of these books, blood, gore, mayhem and near death experiences ensue and by the end of Angel’s Blood, which is book 1 in the series, Elena and Raphael are deeply and life changingly in love. Oh, and Elena becomes an angel. I’m telling you READ ANGEL’S BLOOD. It’s a totally kick ass, tres amaze book.
(Note: it was at this point where I got SO enthused about the first book that I went back and read it AGAIN for the 6th or so time! Then of course I had to keep going all the way again to book 6 so it’s basically taken me over a week just to write this review.)
Fast forward to book 6 and Raphael and Elena have gone through a really tumultuous period of unrest in the world. Elena in particular has grown a lot in terms of being a baby angel and in terms of being a consort to one of the most powerful beings in the world. There is a period of great change called the Cascade and it is signified by all things going wonky such as seas changing colour and unexplained storms etc. Through most of the book Raphael and Elena are dealing with the Cascade, changes with Raphael’s power and a coming war with another archangel/s.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but I do have to tell you that there IS a war in the book and it is EPIC. The battle scenes were so exciting and fast paced, and the story was told so descriptively, I could close my eyes and imagine it in my head. The images that were described were so beautiful such as skies full of wings or angels flying in formation that it was almost like having a reel of a really high budget fantasy movie playing in my head as I was reading.
What I really loved about the book though is that in spite of all the action and intrigue and plots, the love story between Raphael and Elena never got lost in the mix. Being really invested in these characters, I loved seeing how their relationship is continuing to evolve from the first book. One of the things that I feel NS is particularly good at is showing what a powerful, beautiful and intimidating creature Raphael is.
He laughed, her dangerous lover who wore his strength as a second skin and had a face of such violent masculine beauty that she was stunned anew each time she realized he belonged to her. Hair of darkest midnight and eyes of a painful blue found nowhere else on this earth, Raphael was a man blooded with power- no one would ever mistake him for anything but what he was: an archangel who had the capacity to snuff out a life as easily as she might crush an ant.
And again further along in the book:
It was a bone-jarring shock to be bluntly reminded that the man who was her lover was that man only for her. To the rest of the world he was-must be- the lethal, dangerous and sometimes cruel Archangel of New York.
And yet, NS saves him from being a cold, completely intimidating character by showing us the core of warmth and good in him through his people’s absolute loyalty to him and through all the wonderful interactions he has with Elena. I loved all the action and imagery of this book, but I adored the interplay between these two characters, especially their conversations mind to mind:
I’ll enter first. I’m the Hunter, Elena reminded him.
Of course you may go first. When I’m dead.
Scowling at that statement delivered in an eminently reasonable tone that fooled her into thinking he was going to agree, she pulled out her crossbow.
Go. We’ll argue about your autocratic tendencies later.
I look forward to it.
There was also a scene where another archangel and his consort were visiting that had to do with skimpy dresses and underwear that made me laugh out loud, and this little conversation about concubines:
Raphael, in case you’re getting ideas- I won’t be this civilized if you decide you need a concubine. In fact, it’s a good bet I’ll turn homicidal.
He didn’t look up from his conversation with Astaad as he said, A pity, in that cool “Archangel” tone of his. I will now have to ask the pilot to empty the hold of my chosen females.
We’re going to have to talk about this new sense of humor of yours.
The contrast between the powerful archangel and the tough as nails hunter and how sweet (because really that is the word for it) they are with each other is simply sigh inducing and is for me, one of the absolute best things about these books. The tender moments in between the action sequences were lovely:
“Eternity would mean nothing without you, For no power on Earth would I trade my Elena.”
Heart splintering at the tenderness of his words, she touched trembling fingers to his lips and hoped this choice wouldn’t doom him, this man whom she loved until she couldn’t breathe.

Just reading that made me sigh again. It’s an A ++ for me all around. I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series.

Random Fan Girlness November 2013

25 Nov

HAIYAN

First off I have to admit to being a naughty little fan girl about adding new entries the past couple of weeks. I was so caught up in that awful typhoon that hit the Philippines. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. In spite of a lot of things that went wrong with relief efforts, the generosity of the human spirit from all around the world was also so beautiful to see.

ARCHANGEL’S LEGION

Another thing that delayed adding to the blog was that I decided to do a review of Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh and because I loved it so much I took a lot of time writing the review as I wanted to do it justice. I also have to sheepishly admit that I got so excited about the book while I was doing the review that I had to read the book again (for research purposes mind you). And THEN because I read that book I was reminded of how awesome all the OTHER books were in the series and yup, total romance fan girl moment, read the whole series all over again. FYI there are now 6 full length novels in the series, so you can imagine that this took a bit of time.

COPYRIGHT LAWS

As mentioned earlier, November was a good month for me as a lot of my favourite authors released new books. This brought home a bit of a sore subject with me however- the fact that Australia and New Zealand have delayed releases as compared to the US. There are some books that I can’t even purchase if I don’t live in North America and this is SO FRUSTRATING for me- especially in this age of ebooks. I could understand a delay in terms of shipping actual hard copy or printed books overseas but when a digital book can be ordered, paid for and downloaded in less than 2 minutes I really can’t understand the delay. I know from reading posts that this is due to copyright laws being different for North America and the rest of the world but as a consumer it is maddening. Hmph.

ARCs

I’m really new to the blogosphere but have been following other romance blogs such as Dear Author and Smart Bitches Trashy Books for years and therefore have picked up some of the lingo. One term that I picked up and totally envied is ARC or Advanced Readers’ Copy. A call came out recently for bloggers to put their hands up for ARCs for some Christmas anthologies and thinking it couldn’t hurt, I did and I got them! Total romance fan girl moment! I was absolutely thrilled to bits and can’t wait to read and review them!

BOOKS I THAT I READ WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITING

  • Susan Mallery’s A Fool’s Gold Cookbook
  • Kinked by Thea Harrison
  • Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series (again)
  • Sealed with A Curse: A Weird Girls Novel by Cecy Robson
  • A Cursed Embrace: A Weird Girls Novel by Cecy Robson
  • Born Wild: Black Knights Inc by Julie Ann Walker
  • Jagged by Kristen Ashley
  • Play it Safe by Kristen Ashley
  • One Perfect Night by Bella Andre

Reviews to follow!

 

My Week in Books…

5 Nov

This week seems to be a week of new releases. I finished Nora Roberts’s Dark Witch and Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Legion over the weekend. Two of my autobuy authors, one weekend- yay me! I also re-read Danielle Monsch’s Stone Guardian and am currently reading Shannon Stacey’s Snowbound with the CEO.

Of all the above books I have to really, really recommend Archangel’s Legion. It was EPIC. I’m still trying to get my thoughts together so I can write a proper review because really I’m still feeling all gushy and ridiculously in love with the book- it was that good. Unfortunately, writing SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE over and over again does not a good review make so that review is forthcoming once I have come back down to Earth.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts and Danielle Monsch’s Stone Guardian were good books, but not great ones. I’ll write about them and Shannon Stacey’s Snowbound this week. After Archangel’s Legion I’m looking for a really good paranormal romance I can get into. Recommendations anyone?

Autobuy Authors 1

2 Nov

I started this entry thinking, “This should be easy, I LOVE these authors.” Four days later I have finally come to the realisation that because I LOVE these authors so much I’m having a really hard time writing short blurbs about them when in reality I want to squee like the ridiculous romance fan girl that I am across the whole page. This is just a short and sweet entry on who my autobuy authors are (and this is another reason it’s taking me so damn long I am now stressing out that I will forget a favourite and want to shoot myself AFTER posting the damn piece) and what kind of books they write generally. I’ll probably do recommend pieces on most of them later on. At least, that is what I am telling myself so that I actually finish this list…

Nora Roberts: La Nora is a GODDESS and I will buy anything and everything she writes. This includes her Eve Dallas/ JD Robb books and I have to note that Roarke must be one of my favourite alpha male heroes EVER. She writes mostly contemporary romances although some of her later stuff has her branching out into romantic suspense and romance with paranormal elements. At the end of the day, she is a highly prolific author whose not so good stuff is better than some other people’s good stuff. Enough said.

CL Wilson: If you love your romance with a lot of fantasy then you HAVE to read CL Wilson’s Fading Lands/ Tairen Soul series. Think epic fantasy on the scale of Lord of the Rings with an even more kick ass love story. This is one of my absolute favourite series of all time and has made me such a fan she is on my autobuy list. Be warned though, she is NOT a prolific author and her last book was published back in 2010 (!!!). Her next book is due out late 2014 but trust me, she is SO worth the wait.

Nalini Singh: Both her Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series are autobuys for me. She has amazing world-building skills and with her Psy-Changeling series in particular, is very good with continuing an overarching storyline through multiple books. Both series are based in alternate versions of our current reality. Her Psy-Changeling series is about shifters and humans and a human like psychically powerful race called the Psy, who have also instituted a protocol called silence (complete emotionlessness) in order to deal with their psychic capabilities. Her Guild Hunter series is about Angels and Vampires and Guild hunters and starts off with the story of Elena, a guild hunter (hunter of naughty vampires in other words) and Rafael, the Archangel of New York.

Christine Feehan: Christine Feehan was probably one of the first paranormal romance authors that I read and I LOVED her Carpathian series before I got all vampired out. She also has a Jaguar Shifter series, Drake Sisters and Sisters of the Heart Series (witches) and the Nightwalker series which is about psychically enhanced super soldiers. I love and buy them all. Her books tend to be quite intense and are not as light hearted as some of the other authors that I have on this list.

Julie Garwood: Although my first ever romance novel was a Judith Mcnaught book, the author who made me fall in love with the genre is Julie Garwood. Her historical romances, especially the Highland ones are HILARIOUS and very very romantic. You’ll find that I like funny, romantic books best of all. My apologies to those who love the darker authors- I’d rather laugh my way through a romance than cry through it. Even though she has moved to contemporaries, and I don’t think most of them are as good as her early historicals, she is still an autobuy for me.

Julia Quinn: Another historical author with tickle your funny bone and pull at your heartstrings romances. I loved her Bridgerton series because I loved the interplay between the siblings but all her books are good. She has a way with funny dialogue and making you believe that the hero and heroine of her novels actually like each other as well as love each other.

NB: This is just part 1 of autobuy authors. I just had to give myself a cut off or I would never end up posting this entry! So many wonderful authors and not enough time to talk about them all!

Rock Chick Daze

2 Nov

I am in a complete Rock Chick daze. I have lost weeks (WEEKS!) of my life and I blame it all on Kristen Ashley. There are 8 books in the series and as with all series there are some books that I enjoyed a little bit more than the others but overall I loved all the books so much and am recommending the entire series as a whole instead of individual books.
The Rock Chick books are laugh out loud funny, romantic and hot- as in HAWT. I enjoyed the heck out of them and couldn’t put them down in spite of several writing idiosyncrasies that KA has that would usually drive me up the wall. I’ll get the stuff that I didn’t like about her books out of the way first so that I can continue to gush embarrassingly for the rest of this entry.

Most of KA’s books are written in first person. I usually don’t like first person point of view writing as I like getting into the other characters’ heads. In her books KA gets around only getting the main character’s thoughts by breaking all the “rules” and jumping points of views. This is not something I enjoy usually but she placed spaces and sub headings in between the changes in point of view so you’re not taken by surprise. I didn’t like it but it didn’t really bug me too much either. What DID bug the heck out of me was when she would write things like “I was walking out of the room and therefore did not see… (insert action here such as main characters exchanging meaningful looks)”. These lines always left me exasperated. If you didn’t see it then you DIDN’T SEE IT. Period. I don’t get how you can NOT see something and still write about it.

I have read other reviews of her books where the reviewers complained about the amount of detail that KA goes into when describing the clothes that her characters are wearing. I didn’t mind this at all and while I agree that there were times that I would skim over some of the lengthier descriptive paragraphs, I found that I actually liked knowing what my favourite (which was whoever I was reading about at that moment) rock chick was wearing. In fact, what they were wearing was an important part of who they are such as Dolly Parton look alike Daisy or high maintenance Roxie. The Rock Chicks as a group are strong, quirky, attractive women and I believe that their choice of clothing added to their individual quirks/personalities.
The Rock Chick books I believe were originally self-published so there are a few typos here and there but nothing like some of the other self-published train wrecks that you can get via electronic publishing.

These Rock Chick books are my favourite kind of contemporary romance because they are FUNNY. Like laugh out loud, scream and cover your face FUNNY. The humour is similar Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in that the girls get up to all sorts of mischief by accident and by design. The things that come out of their mouth are both cringe worthy and hilarious. Some of the funniest moments come from conversations between the girls and their hot guys especially in the beginning when they are still fighting being together. Jet and Eddie’s whole racist episode down to the ex-boyfriend showing up will live forever in my mind. Ava’s time by herself in the afternoon that necessitated the cameras being turned off is another scene that made me scream out loud then burst out laughing.

The funny, light-hearted bits were a good balance to the more serious life and death/abuse situations that the chicks found themselves in a lot of the time. KA touched on some pretty serious issues in a couple of her books but managed to keep the books from becoming too heavy or depressing. I liked the fact that while the Rock Chicks all had their own physical life or death issues that they had to work out, they also had to spend a lot of time working out their internal issues and insecurities. Themes of not feeling special, not being good enough or not being worthy are all issues that I would think would resonate quite strongly with women as a whole regardless of background.

Following the whole internal work theme, I have to mention that probably my favourite thing about these books was the very strong theme of family/friends that run through the series. While reading it and certainly at the end of the book you WANT to be part of the Rock Chick family or something similar. You WANT these people to be your friends. Seriously. They always had each other’s backs, both the guys and the girls. The shared camaraderie and history really came through in the books and were very nicely backed up by the epilogues. I love me a good epilogue, especially in books where I get so attached to the characters that I want to know more about their happily ever after. KA does this really well. Nope, no short two page cryptic/ cliff hanger epilogue for the Rock Chicks, KA goes all out with a full chapter long visit to the couple and the group. Stella and Mace’s epilogue and Ava and Luke’s stood out for me especially as giving readers the reassurance that yes, they really WILL live happily ever after.

We cannot talk about the Rock Chick series without talking about their men, the Hot Bunch. Going back to the comparison with the Stephanie Plum series, imagine a whole bunch of Rangers and Morellis and… yup… sigh. The difference of course being that the Rock Chick novels are truly romance novels and while in some of the books there is another guy showing interest just to make things interesting, the stories are really about one guy and one girl falling in love with each other. The men in these books are either cops or part of a private investigation agency with the exception of Ren but in the end all the men are bad asses with a soft spot for women and really isn’t that a perfectly drool worthy combination? These alpha guys have their not so perfect moments (I believe that the term speak in Asshole was mentioned in one of the books) but KA always manages to pull them back before I ended up disliking them intensely. This is also something that she is good at- pushing characters to the limits of unlikeable and then pulling them firmly back into the likeable category (at least for this series. I had major problems with Knight which is in her unfinished hero series and to be fair she does warn readers that her heroes in that series are not the usual).

At the end of the day and all analysis aside, I couldn’t put down these books. I have read other more technically proficient books that I was able to put down and forget about. But with this series I was a total addict, even sneaking pages in at stoplights when driving home! This is not the one bite of beluga caviar that you nibble on daintily at a cocktail party. This series is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or a bag of Cheetos puffs that you just gobble voraciously and keep eating because you can’t stop even though you know it’s not good for you. The books are in no way perfect but they made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me believe in family and love and deep meaningful connections to other people. The Rock Chick series is fun escapism at its very finest which is why this is definitely a series that I would recommend.