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review 2018-12-13 03:04
Hot Winter: Shades of Passion (Shades of Love #9) by Cristiane Serruya
Hot Winter: Shades of Passion - Cristiane Serruya

 

 

Scrooge has a broken heart. It's up to the people that love him to show him the error of his ways before he loses his soul forever. Been there. Done that. Moved on. Not quite. Serruya proves there's more to the story. Hot Winter is a passionate re-telling of a story we all know by heart, but there's a twist. At the center of Barbara and Sebastian's love affair lies a mystery that can endanger more than their hearts. To find a happy ending, these two strangers will risk everything and take us along for the ride. An edge of your seat thriller, with heart.

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review 2018-11-14 14:32
The Shades - Evgenia Citkowitz
Evgenia Citkowitz explores the devastating effects of loss in her first full-length novel The Shades. Catherine is a gallery owner who is still reeling from the loss of her daughter in an accident over a year ago. She wanders around the family’s country home-unable to return to work, barely coping with daily activities, and hiding from neighbors and friends. Her husband is spending increasingly more time at their London address, working and trying to reconcile his own beliefs about his relationship with Catherine before it became so distant and disconnected. Their teenage son, Rowan, has reacted to the death of his sister by running away to a private school. He becomes increasingly involved with environmental activism and seeks concrete ways to wrest back control of his life. The short novel alternates between these three characters, highlighting their separation and alienation from the world and each other. When a strange waif-like girl arrives at her doorstep, claiming to be the daughter of the previous owners, Catherine immediately sees her as a surrogate for her own lost child. Catherine become increasingly obsessed with taking this stranger under her wing, but Keira may not be who she claims to be. Catherine may not be able to recover from another loss and she is casting about for a sense of purpose as depression threatens to overwhelm her. In The Shades, Citkowitz provides a dense tale filled with emotion and a sense of lingering despair as this small family verges on collapse under the weight of their own grief.
 
 

 

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text 2018-11-08 01:04
24 Festive Tasks Door 4: Diwali
Stolen Songbird - Danielle L. Jensen
Uprooted - Naomi Novik
These Old Shades - Georgette Heyer
Sprig Muslin - Georgette Heyer
The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

Tasks 1, 2, and 4 completed. Points = 3

 

Task 1:  Share a picture of your favorite light display. ~ I might be reaching here, but no man-made display has ever captivated me as much as the night sky (though lantern festivals come close).

 

 

Task 2:  Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it.  Give us the before and after photos.  OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information. (If in doubt, see here: http://jenn.booklikes.com/post/1782687/state-of-the-database-booklikes-database-halloween-bingo-and-a-mini-rant-with-pictures). 

 

I literally just rearranged my shelves and have no before pictures, so digital it is. I'm not sure how to track this, so I'll just list the titles I tried to tidy up. (Kindle editions only. Hope I didn't screw up any book data. Y'all might've opened Pandora's box with this task.)

 

1. Call of Poseidon by CP Bialois (Added cover and description, corrected ASIN and erroneous crediting of editors as authors)

2. Illegal Magic by Arlene Blakely (Added cover etc., corrected ASIN)

3. The Savage Blood by Tamara Rose Blodgett (Reported duplicate book entry with incorrect ASIN)

4. Stolen Peace: The Untold Story of the Spanish Conquest by Gloria Bond (Added cover and other book data, corrected ASIN)

5. Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman (Added cover and book data, corrected ASIN)

 

Task 3: Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.

 

I'll come back to this one.

 

Task 4: During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower. Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.

 

See books at top of post. This was a struggle. Thank goodness for my small Heyer collection! I might be stretching it with a couple, but I'm reasonably sure I see flowers in that basket on The Grand Sophy's cover, and I think those are flowers in her hand on Sprig Muslin.

 

Book: Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)

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review 2018-10-31 14:13
Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost
Shades of Wicked - Jeaniene Frost

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I loved this book! I have to tell you that I went into this book with pretty high expectations. How could I not?! I have enjoyed the heck out of the books in the Night Huntress world and Ian is an awesome character. I knew that this would be a great book and I am happy to report that I was right. Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to put it down. It was really a lot of fun to be back in this world for just a bit.

This is the first book in the Night Rebel series which takes place within the Night Huntress world. Fans of the Night Huntress series have had a chance to get to know many of the characters that appear in this story but this book does stand on its own. I think that readers new to the Night Huntress world will be able to start with this book without any problem. I have read most of the books but it has been quite a few years and I hate to admit that I forgot a whole lot of the details but I had no problem keeping up with this book.

This story focuses on Ian and Veritas. Veritas is determined to take care of a demon and she thinks that Ian may be able to help. I really didn't remember much about Veritas from earlier books but she is a Law Guardian and upholds vampire laws. She is really old and has a few extra abilities. Ian quickly learns that she may be willing to bend a few rules if it helps them achieve their goal.

Ian and Veritas made a great pair. They seemed to understand each other from the very start. It was fun watching them try to outsmart the other, oftentimes unsuccessfully. They fought well together and against each other. It was just a ton of fun to see their interactions and I loved the way that they instinctively knew when they should trust each other.

This book had everything that I was looking for when I picked it up. There was plenty of action with some pretty intense scenes. I found that parts of the book were rather comical and couldn't help reading with a big smile on my face. I loved the chemistry between Ian and Veritas and enjoyed watching them become a team. I had a great time learning about the background and extra abilities that Veritas has.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I had a fantastic time with this story and thought that Ian and Veritas were perfectly matched. I cannot wait to read more from this new series!

I received a review copy of this book from Avon Books.

Initial Thoughts
It was as good as I hoped it would be. Ian has met his match!

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-22 17:25
Review: Shades of Gray (Jude Magdalyn #1) by L.M. Pruitt

 

 

Shades Of Gray is the debut UF novel by L.M. Pruitt that stands out more for its ridiculous scenarios and inane characterization than anything else. Virtually every trope and cliché is displayed in full unpolished glory and drags the whole thing down into head-shaking wonder.

Jude Magdalyn Jeffries has been on her own since she was fifteen; now twenty-five she's an accomplished street hustler in New Orleans with a touch of magical power- she can feel it on the edges of her perception, like intuition, but can't manage it. But it does come in handy for the occasional scam. A tarot reading for some wealthy clients goes wrong when she feels an instinctive loathing for a man at the party and she leaves, only to discover him following her. The man, Hart, is revealed to be a vampire but Jude is rescued by a mysterious group of people called the Covenant- an alliance of magical families and of late, vampires- whose existence was only whispered about. Jude is revealed to be the Prophecy- her coming foretold centuries ago- and is the last descendant of those who ruled the Covenant. They need her to finally win the war against Hart, who has his own ties to and designs upon the Covenant. Jude quickly assimilates the lessons and skills required of her, making both enemies and friends and even gets embroiled in a love triangle with Williams- a vampire who rescued her from Hart, and Theo- a worldly priest. Hart maintains the pressure, always waiting to strike, and lands a decisive blow that threatens both individuals and factions within the Covenant. Now vulnerable, Jude must find a way to stop Hart before he can achieve his ends.
 
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This book goes wrong in so many places it's hard to know where to start. In the pdf copy I read the text was improperly formatted and riddled with typos and misspellings- copyediting was sorely lacking here. Unfortunately, that's the least of my concerns. Jude herself is a complete mess of a protagonist, just all over the place. She starts out as Stock UF Heroine #43: Twenty-Something Edgy But Caring Orphaned Loner What Had It Rough, until it's revealed that she ran away from the orphanage and the nuns who raised her so she could live on the streets stealing, selling drugs and even whoring herself out. Because it makes more sense to lose your virginity in a back alley to some sleazebag than to get a solid education and forge a decent life for yourself. And she never misses an opportunity to get Smart & Sassy with everyone, even when there's no reason to- except just to be annoying. Yet Jude constantly falls back upon all the things the nuns taught her- like archery (good for hunting vamps) and quoting Shakespeare (nice for those romantic moments), which makes it even harder to understand why she ran away. None of this makes her seem like a flawed hero so much as a stupid, self-centered bimbo.

This is underscored by her ironclad status as a MarySue. As the leader of the Covenant, Jude is elevated from hustler to trust fund baby, with millions at her disposal and a magically reinforced mansion to dwell in, complete with enchanted training room. Within a week of being brought into the Covenant Jude can cast magic spells by synonym instead of incantation, mix heretofore unknown compounds, stop time, heal people, astral project, alter the genus of plants... do I need to go on? The magic and mixing is particularly grating; the compound she puts together could've been done by anyone in junior high, yet is a revelation to the most learned members of the Covenant. And instead of reciting the entire tract of a magic spell to conjure gale winds she simply substitutes the word 'hurricane'- and voila! Did I mention this all happens within a week? One of the characters sums it up best: "Well, it looks like the Prophecy can do any little thing she sets her mind to. How lucky we all are." Too bad half the time she never seems to know what to do with any of them.

And what would a MarySue be without her utter sex appeal and complete lack of common sense? In one scene, Jude awakens to find a vampiric assassin in her room watching (instead of killing) her. She distracts him with snappy banter, cleavage and come-hither looks until he decides to put his weapon down (!) and get some, but still tells her he'll kill her after. One guess how this all turns out. Then in spite of making out with Williams at every opportunity she has what amounts to polite small talk with Theo and immediately wonders about him naked. After that Jude decides to leave the mansion- alone,but during daylight. While she wanders the streets trying to sort things out she starts to get the feeling that something's not right. It takes her a full TEN MINUTES while standing next to the Mississippi River to understand that the sun's gone down and Hart will be coming for her. Yes- the Prophecy is too stupid to realize when night falls. It takes four days to recover from the beating she gets- during which she's assured that's she totally worth the trouble and not an utter moron. At this point she uses Paris Hilton logic to decide which man she wants: since Theo stayed to hold her hand while Williams was out hunting for Hart, he's clearly the man for her. Afterwards the happy couple leaves the safety of the mansion and goes out on a date... at night. Because that's just what Chosen Ones do when vampires are hunting them.

After the death of a Covenant member, Jude and Williams find themselves alone together and end up having Insanely Awesome Sex While Emotionally Vulnerable. Yet Jude not only feels guilty for betraying Theo she resents Williams for using her solely to soothe his own pain (at least that's how it seemed to her). But wait- after she confesses it to Theo he rationalizes she was raped despite the fact that she let Williams finger her, they undressed each other and she willingly laid down for him simply because she never verbally said yes. Like any true hero, Jude eagerly seizes upon this foolishness so she can push Williams away and have a guilt-free relationship with her true love... that she just met last week.

The other characters were supplied through Central Casting- Gruff Yet Wise Terminally Ill Mentor, Hot-N-Sexy Man O' Mystery, Ebil Blonde Haterz, Big Bad Guy Who Always Avoids Killing The Heroine, etc. As bad as this is, some of the names are worse- a Blonde Hater named Wily has twin girls named Lies and Guile. Seriously. Williams is always referred to as such, and no one ever bothers to ask what his given name is. God only knows why.

The plot points are so implausible they're almost a parody. The world is apparently full of magic yet it never seems to impact daily life. Jude herself heard whispers about the Covenant on the streets, so how do law enforcement and government bodies deal with it? At the funeral representatives from virtually every local governing body are paying their respects, yet none of these agencies ever impact the story. What's all their influence for when it's never used in the war against the vampires? And why wasn't it used to help Jude while she was on the streets? Heck, why was Jude not with the Covenant in the first place?

Hart has several opportunities to simply kill Jude outright, yet doesn't. And what's his connection to and interest in their group? Why are Williams and his followers all good vampires? Several members of the Covenant harbor an intense hatred against Jude- particularly the blonde members, since blondes are always up to no good- but there's not even a hint as to why. Even as answers get dumped into your lap in the last few chapters via villainous monologues not only are half of them more clichéd nonsense, you're probably not even reading it anymore. It all wraps up in a half-baked casserole of overused tropes including- but not limited to- a magical weapon convenient for literally any occasion, some blatant disregard for vampire mythology only to insert it when necessary, and a little magical martyrdom throw in for seasoning.

And if you think this all sounds silly here, imagine over 400 pages of it.

Shades of Gray is a disastrous UF novel. Sorry to pile upon a new author, but there's nothing to recommend about it other than blowing it up and starting over.
 
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