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review 2014-03-27 03:05
Absolutely Unexpected
Goddess of Spring - P.C. Cast

How wonderful is it to find a book about soul-mates where the coupling is actually focused on two people loving the soul of another person, and not about two people being brought together by some sort of instant connection? 

Before I go into what I really liked, two other things : 

1. The amount of Batman references were horrible. And annoying. Repetitive gushing - STOP IT. Besides, when is cape wearing a "romance hero thing?"
2. While I did sigh heavily at mentions of the street cats organization, animal affinities with cat/horses, the Tulsa location, and the close-knit relationship between the female lead and her grandmother (all things repeatedly mentioned in other Cast books), outside of those few things, I would have never known this book came from the author of the HoN train wreck. Apparently, there are still some things in this world which can surprise me. 

Now, I will commence with the good stuff :

This story is about a 40 something woman named Lina who is running a struggling bakery. She stumbles upon a recipe with a spell attached and (stupidly) does the spell in a plea for help. 

Demeter answers the plea and offers a solution : switch bodies for 6 months with her daughter Persephone, Goddess of Spring. Basically - go to the underworld and hook up with Hades, so her daughter didn't have to. 

Lina (again, stupidly) goes along with it, and in the process, inherits a youthful, nubile appearance which isn't her own true self.

Yes, stupidly. But this one time, I don't care as much about "stupidly" as I usually do because I loved the multiple messages of this story :

1. Friendship and bonds with other women are something to be celebrated. 

2. Kindness can break down walls.

3. People are rarely what they seem on the outside (this went both ways for Persephone and Hades). 

4. Real love is about more than physical attraction or outward beauty. 

Outside of the first few awkward chapters (I thought I wasn't going to like the book before Lina got to the underworld), the story flowed from one scene to the next, pulling me along in wonder. From Lina bonding with Orion the dreadsteed, to Lina helping Hades make narcissus bloom, I had a happy little smile pasted on my face as I read. 

This is the type of adult fairy tale that I love.

There was a little bit of everything. I appreciated the positive messages, I felt a little emotional over the scene with the soul-mate spirits at the river, I relished the steamy scenes, I laughed at a few light-hearted moments, and I even felt a couple of tears leak out as the story came to a close.

What would the Lord of the Dead do if he knew he had wooed, not the Goddess of Spring, but a middle-aged baker from the mortal world?

Rarely, do I even get excited over hot guy descriptions in romance anymore. Most of them are all the same and nothing new. But even I had a bit of a "hot damn" moment when it came to the scene with Hades working at the forge. My personal notes written in the book at that scene : FFS, I don't usually get worked up like this.

I wasn't sure if this would be a spoiler or not, but since it's not a huge plot point, I'll add it. I loved how Hades wanted to learn how best to please Persephone/Lina. It wasn't that he was inexperienced, but he knew that in order to be the right lover for her, he would need to learn her as she was, and not based on other experiences. It was a refreshing change from romance novel men who cockily think they know how to set every woman on fire. The intimate scenes between Hades and Persephone were tender and sincere, much more so than I've read in many books. Yet, he still had his "shake the ground with anger" type of wicked god moments, so it wasn't all about breaking every stereotype of his persona. The balance was lovely. 

"Teach me how to set you afire, too."

I'm not sure if this will be the book for everyone, but if you've been reading a lot of the same types of romance novels over and over, you might consider giving Goddess of the Spring a try. This is one of those books which could appeal to all ages, but I think would be special to women over 30. It really celebrates being a woman and becoming your own unique form of beautiful, even if you're not young and perfect looking. Just speed through the first few weird chapters (and pretend Lina doesn't make 50 Batman fangirl references) and it will get better.

~Lina as Persephone~

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review 2014-03-24 06:59
Underwear is Unavailable in the Underworld
The Surrender of Persephone - Selena Kitt

Adult review for erotic content. Trigger Warning : Dubious Consent.

"Aidon, are you trying to recapture your youth with nubile young virgins? What's next, a new red chariot?"

The first thing you should know : Surrender of Persephone is PwP (Porn Without Plot) erotica. Here's where I pull out my apples-to-apples genre rating comparison because I'm only rating this compared to other PwP, not other "stories" in general. Now, PwP doesn't necessarily mean that there is no plot at all; what it generally means is that there is a higher ratio of sex to plot than a normal romance or mainstream erotica. In the case of Surrender, I consider the book to be one long rolling sex scene with some cool mythology references thrown in. Even though the story itself is sparse, the author still brought her own unique spin on the Hades/Persephone tale. If you've read into the darker tones of the myth involving the kidnap and conquering of Persephone, then you might understand why the author chose to take her story down the BDSM path.

His eyes glowed in the dimness, and he had a small, satisfied smile on his face. "You like the struggle, don't you?"

Now, as far as PwP goes, it's no secret that if I'm in the mood for it, I'll generally pick up Selena Kitt. Why? Because I like the way she writes sex. This woman writes sex how it feels, smells, sounds, etc. taking the reader to a place where it's not hard to imagine being there in the story.

In true Kitt fashion, there's always going to be a scene or two that runs over-the-top. In this case, the story's very first sex scene starts with spoiled little Persephone frolicking and engaging in a very giggly threesome with Artemis and Athena, sure to please any man's barely legal lesbian fantasies. 

They roll, tumble, twist their bodies in every position imaginable as three young, nubile young ladies get each other off over...and over...and over...

Yeah. I smile with amusement because it's kind of hot, in spite of how the girl-on-girl scenes in Kitt's books tend to run toward "oops, did I spill something on my see-through shirt?" kind of a blatant hook.

So I read through the "come on in!" intro and waited for the main event to happen - the appearance of Hades (translated to Aidon here) and his kidnapping of Persephone. Because that's when everything is going to change from giggly play to dark and dirty deeds.

"I will be the instrument of your greatest pain and pleasure."

Yep. That's where we're going. And clothing isn't optional - it's completely forbidden. 


The sound of his palm biting her flesh made a resounding slap and she bit her lip, trying not to cry out. 

"I will be your sun...your moon...

Your day...your night..."

Persephone felt the impact vibrating through her. 

"Your heaven...your hell..."

Sure, there were cheesy sex terms aplenty. But I forgive some of it with Kitt's writing because I like the overall result. 

And for the glaring lack of plot, the mythology was surprisingly well-done. Each character's position and how they related to the Underworld was tied back to the actual mythology. The names weren't just thrown out there; each character was a fleshed-out representation of the god or being they were named after (well except for Athena and Artemis because they were just the barely-legal candy to get the party started). 

And I LOVED that Hephastus was put to good use making epic sex toys. This was never covered during my read of Percy Jackson (it was a joke, people - don't freak out). 

Do I have any Complaints? It's probably the usual one for books like these. I prefer my PwP to be shorter in length, if I'm going to read simply for titillation's (I can't even write this word without laughing) sake. It's always sort of strange to start a steamy read before bed, then find that you need to break and pick up the second half the next night. It's much more enjoyable if you can tackle the entire thing in one shot before drifting off to sleep and possibly some interesting dreams.

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review 2014-03-03 17:01
Am I Asking for too Much by Wanting an Epic Ending?
Killer Frost - Jennifer Estep

I...uh...yeah. Breaking Dawn plot tactics, really?

What do I even say? What CAN I even say without spoiling?

As indicated by my star rating, Killer Frost was my least favorite book of the series, which is a bit of a shame for a series ender. Even so, 3 stars is still a halfway decent rating from me, so all is not lost.

FIRST, the not-so-great...

1. It took far too long to get to the point where the story grabbed me and took over. 

2. Logan Freaking Quinn (her words oft borrowed by me) was not as shiny as he'd been in the past. I almost forgot that he was there.

3. Breaking Dawn -

no one really dies who's important to the story, which is unrealistic when you go to WAR

(spoiler show)

 all up in a fight scene - no. 

BUT what I did like...

1. As usual, Ms. Estep put a lot of care and thought into her world and the characters who live in it. Groundwork that was laid in the very first book came back full circle. 

2. I appreciate the variety of mythological gods and creatures the reader gets to learn about (or revisit). You can tell that this author loves her mythology...maybe not on the same level as Rick Riordan, but still. I had wished for more information at times than just face-value name dropping, but I've (unfortunately) read much sparser "mythology" founded stories than this one, so I'm happy for the most part.

3. Since it was time to get things wrapped up, at least Gwen got to go out in a blaze of glory. She'd never be able to fill Rose Hathaway's shoes, but the kid's got some guts, nonetheless.

I'm ready to close the page on Mythos Academy. It was a fun ride, but the time was due to end the story. 

I'll definitely be curious to see what series is up next from this imaginative author.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-02-26 03:08
Before Love Triangles Were a Thing, We had Gwarthalot
Queen of Camelot - Nancy McKenzie
Magical vag strikes again.

Fion. Lancelot. Arthur. Mordred. Spin the wheel of fortune, and hope you pick the right man. I probably would have taken Fion right off the bat and would have never gotten a chance to meet the others because I thought he was pretty awesome. The very first guy who takes an interest is a hot, nice, witty guy with an accent, who is also a king? Sold. Story over.

Actually, since Gwen didn't sleep with all of the men, she must have a magical aura instead. 

Spoilers ahead. Yes, I mean it. This time, I'm not going spoiler free. I notice that I tend to want to post spoilers when something is bothering me and I need to write it down for my own sanity, hah. Please don't read on if you don't want the book spoiled. 

Queen of Camelot would have been a solid 4 but there's one thing I can't get over. WTF was up with that foreshadowing prologue? The way it tied in with the end...uh...yeah. 

Gwen had a few moments which made me scratch my head. The reasoning of hers that it was okay to kiss Lancelot on the lips as long as Arthur was around hurt my brain. And don't get me started on the "we're almost about to die" scene where she missed a big opportunity. For the sake of the reader, that loyalty should have been put on the back burner when good ole Lance and Gwen were convinced that they'd never live to see Arthur. I wanted the famous scandal. WHERE WAS THE SCANDAL?!?

Lancelot had a few moments of his own. He started off so swoon-worthy, then the hardcore loyalty sort of fried his brain. Did I detect a few moments of simpering? I think I might have. MAKE ME SWOON, PUPPET. 

Arthur...I don't even know what to say. His faith in Gwen was admirable, if a little stupid. 

But I kid, sort of. My men complaints are so minimal. I felt Lancelot's loyalty, admired Arthur's justice, and yearned alongside Gwen as she longed for both men who were equally brilliant in their own way. 

Do I believe that Arthur was Gwen's soul mate in the end? NO. I believe that she loved and admired him. I believe that she felt him worthy of her undying devotion. However, I had a hard time believing that she shifted all of her focus from Lancelot to Arthur at the end. Why? Because Arthur died? So she can't love Lancelot in close proximity now, even though THEY FLAUNTED IT IN FRONT OF ARTHUR FOR ALL OF THOSE YEARS?

You'd almost think with my capslock ranting that I disliked the book, right?

The writing was beautiful. The emotions were powerful. The story had me by the throat. I honestly loved the book...up until the end sort of pissed me off.

I didn't expect a super happy ending. But the self-sacrificing seemed pointless when there came a time that it wasn't necessary anymore. 

That said, for any story to have me wanting to discuss and hope and speculate like this one did, I do consider it to be a success. There were so many powerful and emotional quotes that I would have liked to have included, but then I would have been here all night copying them. So, no. It's not happening. 

Oh, and mothereffing Mordred. Not that any of his behavior was unexpected. But still.

I'm honestly glad I read the book, and hope to read Galahad's (Lancelot's son) story in the near future. 

Thanks Leea for the buddy read/discussion thread/phone question & answer session!

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review 2014-02-04 22:15
Still a carnie girl
The Mysterious Madam Morpho - Delilah S. Dawson

I kind of feel bad for The Mysterious Madam Morpho. Sometimes, when you read stories in reverse, the earlier works don't always come out as strong as the later ones. I liked Morpho, but mainly it was because I got to see a bludbadger and Criminy again (albeit briefly). I didn't get the same exact crazed passion that I felt for the other two short stories I'd read (which were fabulous - I'm not even kidding. The one in Carniepunk was absolute perfection).

Then again, reading Delilah S. Dawson is sort of like reading Richelle Mead or Lisa Kleypas for me. Most likely, even a weaker story is still going to be satisfying enough, which was the case here. There were some funnies and a bit of sexy time. So there we go. Decent, but nothing to write home about, even though I love this series overall. L O V E. 

Anyway, I only have one short story left in the series, then I can move on to book 3 finally. Woo hoo!

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