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review 2018-03-24 10:30
Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Kiss of the Highlander (Highlander, #4) - Karen Marie Moning

Gwen Cassidy, virgin extraordinaire, wants to be a virgin no more. That's why she's in Scotland on vacation—she's looking for her cherry popper. Unfortunately, she ends up on a seniors bus tour of Scotland and right when she's quit smoking.

To get away from her travel companions, she goes on a short trek in the hills above Loch Ness only to end up chasing her backpack into a ravine, and ending up in a cave, on top of a male body. A warm, hunky male body. A warm, hunky, hard male body. And he doesn't seem to mind.

Pity, the kilt-clad Highlander isn't entirely sane, trying to convince her he's from the sixteenth century and literally kidnapping her to help him get back to his home.

Unfortunately, this is the second worst book in this series for me (after Beyond the Highland Mist). It's not that it's badly written, slow of pace or that the story is weak. It's the "conflict" and its span that bothers me.
For the first hundred or so pages, she's the stubborn one, refusing to believe him, thinking he's crazy...Then she falls for him (after mere three days of acquaintance), gives him her virginity (because we have to keep the reader engaged; sex is the best way)...And for the next hundred pages or so, the roles are completely reversed, with him being stubborn, refusing to believe her and thinking her crazy, while she takes on the role of "sexual pursuer", determined to seduce him (like he did in the beginning), while he secretly lusts for her (as she did in the beginning).

It went on for too long, this back and forth, not really adding depth or "crunch" to the story. Instead of spending that (unnecessary) time by giving depth and layers to the characters, providing much needed information to the reader as to why these two were in love (personality and personality traits, character etc.), these two hundred plus pages are spent with one of the other trying to change the other's mind, while drooling over the other's body. And in the end, poof, they're just in love.
Why? Because they're just too stubborn to give up? Because they're hot enough for the other to notice? Because they're open-minded enough to accept even the least possible explanations? I don't get it, and it bothers me.

The second thing that really bothered me, was the initial "incarnation" of the heroine. At the beginning, this supposed genius, came across as an air-headed, desperate virgin with only sex on her mind. She was twenty-five, not fifty-five, yet so desperate she was willing to toss her cherry at a complete stranger just to get rid of it.
The third problem was the hero. Sure, he was chivalrous, sexy, smart, tender, etc....Every character trait a hero in a romance novel should have was there, with that added dash of blind hard-headedness toward the end, but he still somehow came across as bland. He was a template, a form filled to perfection, but that was it.

Then there were their antics in the second half of the story, where she tried to pin him down to tell him the story, and he kept eluding her, going so far as jumping out the window, until she finally managed to trap him.
These attempts might've started off as slightly humorous, but quickly turned pathetic and too desperate for comfort.

This book also had its redeeming qualities (luckily). The "magic" elements, the wonderful supporting cast (with Silvan, Nell, and, of course, Dageus, the Dark Highlander, topping the list), and the enchanting setting of Alba. And yes, those pages where all was good between Gwen and Drustan, where they were on the same wavelength, woke up the romantic in me, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief for those moments (we all need those "aww, how cute is that" moments in our lives and our fiction).

Yeah, even on this second read, I had difficulties with this book. It's a wonderful romance story in all, but it could've been so much more.

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review 2018-03-23 09:55
The Highlander's Touch by Karen Marie Moning
The Highlander's Touch - Karen Marie Moning

In 1308 Circenn Brodie, the immortal laird of Brodie, swears an oath to kill whomever comes along with a hallowed Fae flask that's been recently stolen and put a binging spell on.

In present day Cincinnati, Lisa Stone is working two jobs to pay the medical bills for her deathly ill mother. One of those jobs include night cleaning at the museum...Then one morning, curiosity makes her touch a shimmering flask in a recently unearthed chest brought to the US from the Scottish Highlands...and she finds herself flung 700 years back, to 1314 and castle Dunnottar, smack in the middle of Circenn Brodie's chambers.

Yet the man who swore the oath to kill her, the man who lived his life with honor, cannot bring himself to do what he'd sworn to do. And the woman who, in the past five years, had seldom experienced tenderness, care and comfort finds herself falling for the towering warrior.

But there are obligations waiting for her back in the future, and even though Circenn claims he cannot return her, Lisa is adamant in finding a way out of her predicament and back to her mother's side...Even if it means breaking two hearts in the process.

This was the first Karen Marie Moning book I ever bought, it introduced me to the author and to this series. And yes, it's probably my favorite of them all. You know, you never forget your first one.

But what's not to like about this story, really?
It's set in Scottish Highlands (my favorite setting of them all; I've actually visited both castles mentioned in this story—Dunnottar and Brodie!), it features, albeit briefly, the battle at Bannock Burn (providing one of the best quotes in this book*), it's filled with wonderful supporting cast (the Douglas Brothers, the surprise appearance of Robert the Bruce in all his matchmaking glory...), and has one hell of a leading man.

Circenn Brodie, the ninth-century warrior living in the fourteenth-century war-torn Scotland, falling in love with a twenty-first century woman. And the man was barely ruffled, except when it came to the woman, of course, as it should be.
Granted, I'm not really sure why he fell in love with her, she (at least not that I could see) had any special characteristics, except for being "alien" and having a mind of her own. Yes, she's suffered, she had issues, but that was pretty much it. Not much was spent on her character at least not in the way for Circenn to fall for her the way he did.
While many pages were spent on Circenn and all his good qualities (did he even have any bad ones), making him known to the reader so that she/he would understand, empathize and sympathize with Lisa's plight as she stumbled over the proverbial cliff.

And then there was Adam Black whose real identity, as it was revealed, comes as a huge surprise for those who read this book for the first time. I'm glad he's starting to redeem himself after the "mischief" he concocted in the first book (where he was quite a villain) and we're slowly working toward his own story.

This book was a fast-paced, intriguing mix of historical romance and time-travel with a gripping, yet minor, suspense and treason sub-plot, the romance was lovely and heartfelt, the narration was wonderfully evocative, painting vivid pictures of the characters and their surroundings...All nicely intertwined with magical elements and the beauty of Scotland.


Along the Bannock Burn, Circenn Brodie was an animal, merciless and swift. Later the men would claim he vied with the Berserkers in his deadly rage, and epics would be composed in his honor. He was cold and sharp and hard, and good for nothing but slaughter. He lost himself in a blackness so complete that he cared naught if he slew legions, he simply raged, hoping to exhaust himself and gain the respite of unconsciousness, a temporary kind of death.
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review 2018-03-20 21:24
The Invisible Library...
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

If anyone is familiar with the Bookburners serial then you know that it's remarkably similar to The Invisible Library series. I really like the Bookburners serial so I was excited to come across something else comparable.


I enjoyed The Invisible Library too and really can't believe I waited so long to read it, but one thing I thought could have been better was the world building. It just wasn't as defined as I would have liked it, and I'm referring more so to the Chaos concept, the alternate realities, the Library Language even some of the characters and their abilities were underdeveloped.


I realize it's a pretty complex system but there were a couple of times I wondered if the author even knew where she was trying to go with it.  Maybe those loose ends are tied up in the next book but, I personally like for the foundation to be laid out and nicely detailed, right from the start. It drives me nuts when authors use future installments to fill in gaps and missing pieces.


I am intrigued by the Library though and I really like Kai, Irene and Vale so I'm definitely going to continue the series with hopes that the many underlying layers of the Library develop into something a little more cohesive.

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text 2018-03-19 21:26
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
The Fire Next Time - James Baldwin

This is the next read as picked by my RL bookclub. This time we're reading about racism in the form of 2 letters, written on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately I can't read much of it at the minute due to my head, but I have the suspicion it'll be another one to leave a lasting impression.

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review 2018-03-18 23:30
More fun with Sam and Jory...
A Matter of Time, Vol. 2 - Mary Calmes

So here we are at Vol 2 which is comprised of books 3 and 4 in Mary Calmes's series 'A Matter of Time' and again the narrator is Paul Morey and again this was an enjoyable listening experience...not great but no really issues. I like Paul Morey but for me he just didn't quite capture the character and voices of Sam and Jory...close but not quite.


Ok, so I'm outta' here for now to may RL things are demanding my attention so hopefully I'll revisit this and do a real review one day soon and if not I'll just have to re-listen to these audiobooks and then do a review. For now I'm outta' here.

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