Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Madam de Stael: The First Modern Woman review

Madame de Stael: The First Modern Woman

Madam de Stael: The First Modern Woman by Francine du Plessix Gray is billed as being a biography about a French woman who defied a woman's role. It sounded very interesting and I'm always looking for good biographies to read so I took a chance. Unfortunately, the book didn't work for me on a couple of levels.

First, the writing style was not what I enjoy. There was a lot of jumping around in time and place instead of a linear story of de Stael's life. That combined with the author's refusal to simply use first names for the people in the book made for a confusing read. 

Second, Madam de Stael was not someone who defied the role of women in her society if this book is accurate.While she supported more egalitarian rights for the people of France, this did not necessarily translate to a larger, more participatory role for women. The only non-conformist action she ever took was to take lovers outside her marriage - and as any student of French history knows, this is not exactly a shocking occurrence among the elites. 

While it was very interesting to read about a period, people, and place that I haven't spent much time learning about, I would not recommend this book. It simply was too confusing and about a woman who isn't as interesting as the synopsis would lead you to believe.


"A writer of scintillating style and resonant substance," ("Publishers Weekly"), bestselling author Francine du Plessix Gray chronicles the incandescent life of the most celebrated woman of letters of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. 

The daughter of the second most important man in France, Louis XVI's Minister of Finances, Jacques Necker, Madame de Stael was born into a world of political and intellectual prominence. Later, she married Sweden's ambassador to the French court, and for a span of twenty years, she held the limelight as a political figure and prolific writer. Despite a plain appearance, she was notoriously seductive and enjoyed whirlwind affairs with some of the most influential men of her time. She always attracted controversy, and was demonized by Napoleon for her forthrightness, the sheer power of her intellect, and the progressiveness of her salon, which was a hotbed for the expression of liberal ideals. The emperor exiled her, on and off, for the last fifteen years of her life. 

Madame de Stael--force of nature, exuberant idealist, and ultimate enthusiast--waged a lifelong struggle against all that was tyrannical, cynical, or passionless in her time, and left Europe a legacy of enlightened liberalism that radiated throughout the continent during the nineteenth century.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Magic Bleeds review

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4)

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews is book four in the Kate Daniels series and continues the fantastic ride Andrews has been sending Kate on throughout the series.

In Magic Bleeds, we pick up with Kate ready to make good on her bet with Curran from Magic Strikes - only Curran doesn't show. Kate being Kate, she jumps into work - and into a whole lot of trouble. Between relationship problems with Curran, crazy magical diseases, psycho family members, and her usual work problems, Kate can't seem to catch a break in Magic Bleeds. But as always, it's an interesting and fast paced ride with moments of brilliant humor woven in for an awesome read.

I've loved the slow build up of Kate and Curran. The chemistry as they circled each other warily has been brilliant and the back and forth banter is laugh out loud funny. However, eventually there has to be a resolution though. We get that resolution in Magic Bleeds - in a spectacular fashion. I won't ruin what happens but suffice it to say it's a miracle someone didn't end up dead!

The slow reveal of information regarding Kate's powers and her family connections throughout the series has been both frustrating and fascinating. Each book provides slightly more information but leaves you wanting more. Magic Bleeds continues this trend and we get to meet a member of Kate's family that even Kate didn't know existed. For Kate, this is a vision of what her future could look like. For us, it's a fascinating insight into Roland and his history as well as the version of her father that Kate has been fed.

All in all, Magic Bleeds is a fantastic addition to the series that helps set Kate on a slightly different path than she'd been traveling. It will be interesting to see how this changes Kate - and how Kate changes the path :)


Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Shield of Winter review

Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling, #13)

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Nalini Singh's Shield of Winter at the RT Booklovers Convention! It will be released on June 3rd.

I've been reading the Psy-Changeling series since the beginning and have eagerly anticipated Vasic and Aden's books so you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that Vasic's story would be out this year. I worried a little that I would be disappointed - I'd been dreaming about his story for so long - but Singh hit it out of the park with Shield of Winter. I devoured this book in one sitting and then went back and re-read it a second time.

Vasic has been a solitary character from the very first time we met him, separate not just in the emotionless Psy way but going even beyond that in an isolation even from his fellow Arrows. Even with Aden, Vasic is withdrawn much to his friend's consternation and frustration. Is it because he is the perfect member of Silence? If so, why would he feel guilt at the lives he has taken as an Arrow? It was clear to me through the series that Vasic wasn't Silent at all and that was his reason for isolating himself. So who could connect with such a man? At first I thought it might be a changeling since they are so far opposite Silence but Singh's need to have protection for the newly acknowledged Empaths after the revolution in the PsyNet made the pairing of the Arrow and an Empath the perfect solution.

Ivy Jane was a bit of a surprise. Not because she was an Empath or because she was able to bring out the protectiveness inherent in Vasic but because her growth through the book was very clear. From a scared but determined Psy not willing to be silenced to a worthy match for Vasic and for her role in the lives of the other characters and community, Ivy showed what Empaths can become if given the chance to flourish rather than be stifled. We had seen this with Sasha but she wasn't in the PsyNet so it is a bit different.

The continued journey of a post-Silent Psy and the continued inclusion of previous characters such as Lucas, Kaleb, Judd, and the rest makes for a wonderful continuity as the series gets longer while progressing the world building and plot arc beautifully.

Shield of Winter is a fantastic addition to the Psy-Changeling series and now I have to (impatiently!) wait for the next book - I hope it is Aden!!


Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life. 

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hunting Ground review

Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, #2)

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs is the second full length book in the Alpha and Omega series after Cry Wolf. Hunting Ground takes us closer to Bran's plan for the big reveal that werewolves exist.

In Hunting Ground, Charles and Anna travel to Seattle in Bran's place to meet with the European pack alphas about problems with revealing werewolves to humans. We meet lots of wolves - including Tom and Moira, Tom's witch mate and the Beast, a French werewolf who is basically a serial killer. I liked meeting more of the North American wolves that owe Bran fealty as well as the alpha wolves from Europe because Briggs does such a great job of giving each one a unique personality.

Briggs builds more supernatural into the series with Hunting Ground. In Cry Wolf, there were werewolves and witches and in Hunting Ground, Briggs brings in vampires, the Fae and the legends of Arthur, which may not be legends after all. It's a neat twist, especially since the Alpha and Omega series is set in the same world as Briggs' Mercy Thompson series but has focused more specifically on the wolves because of the isolated setting of Bran's pack in Montana.

I liked that Anna is clearly growing into her role as Omega and her increasing understanding of who she is and what being an Omega means is underscored by her remaining mental and emotional issues from being changed and her early years in the Chicago pack. It's an interesting dichotomy and one that a less skilled author would not be able to balance as well as Briggs does.

Hunting Ground is an excellent entry in the Alpha and Omega series and I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and paranormal stories with interesting characters.


Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mind Over Murder review

 Mind Over Murder (A Raven's Nest Mystery #1)

Mind Over Murder by Allison Kingsley is the first book in the Raven's Nest cozy mystery series set in small town Maine and featuring cousins Stephanie and Chloe Quinn.

Mind Over Murder had lots of potential with a bookstore featuring Poe paraphernalia and a healthy occult section as well as a touch of the paranormal with Chloe's extra sense, called Quinn Sense. Unfortunately, the execution did not live up to the potential.

As a mystery, Mind Over Murder was okay. I actually knew who the killer was as soon as the character was introduced - and Kingsley dropped enough clues even as she tried to implicate every other character in the book to keep me firm in my belief of the murderer's identity.

I wanted to like the characters but not one of them was someone I would want in my life. Chloe, who we are supposed to cheer for and empathize with, needs to grow up. She acts and reacts like a tween with her first crush instead of an adult woman who lived alone in New York City for eighteen years. She is also far too much of a pushover for my taste, wanting to keep everyone else happy even if she is unhappy.

Stephanie is even worse than Chloe. She is flat out a horrible person. Stephanie always wants everything her way, no matter how miserable that makes everyone else. She also says "we" a lot but means "you" - as in "We need to investigate" meaning "Chloe needs to investigate" - and she always has a lame excuse and an emotional manipulation to get Chloe to do what Stephanie wants.

The secondary characters also left a great deal to be desired. They were either completely flat or were complete caricatures. The creepy guy who used to own a candy store, the New York City transplant who is a man eating model that hates other women, the cute, single hardware store owner who conveniently wants Chloe. These people don't have personalities of there own in Mind Over Murder.

Over all, I was pretty disappointed in Mind Over Murder and will likely pass on the rest of the books in the series.


Cousins and best friends, Clara and Stephanie Quinn run The Raven's Nest Bookstore, where people go to find their most coveted reads. But they have no idea it's the psychically-gifted Clara who's reading them...

The bookstore has made an enemy of the town crier, Ana Jordon, who claims that the store's occult collection is "poisoning" the town's youth. Meanwhile, the store's number-one employee, Molly, has made no secret of her anger over Ana's antics. So when Ana is found dead, killed by the bust of Edgar Allen Poe sculpted by Molly, the evidence is stacked against her. And Clara must rely on her gift to make sense of this senseless murder...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dangerous Curves Ahead review

Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison is the first book in the Perfect Fit series. The premise was great but I didn't love the characters.

I loved the idea of a romance novel featuring a fashionista who wasn't tall and skinny - a "real woman" so to speak. Ellis is a business owner catering to a customer base that isn't served by the traditional clothing retailers. She is intelligent, funny, and very loyal to her friends. However, Ellis is also too much of a pushover and Jamison's attempt to write Ellis as being perfectly okay with her weight and figure often comes across as Ellis being defensive and not nearly as okay as she is trying to pretend.

The hero, Michael, is someone who Ellis used to have a crush on but who slept with her sister - not exactly a forgivable offense to me but whatever.  Unfortunately, Michael sometimes seemed less intelligent than he should be given that he's a cop. He also expects Ellis to get over her issues but he certainly hasn't dealt with his own which is all too apparent throughout the book. Plus, he demands commitment from Ellis but isn't willing to give back the same kind of commitment. All in all, he's just not a guy I can think of as someone who should get the girl.

I did enjoy the secondary characters - Colin, Michael's Irish rogue best friend, and Cherri, Ellis's friend and retail help, as well as Ellis's sister who you just love to hate.

Overall, I can't say I recommend Dangerous Curves Ahead but if you don't mind uneven characters or romantic hero's who is neither romantic or a hero, you may enjoy this book.


Ellis Garrett is dumping her critical boyfriend, opening a plus-size clothing store, and starting a blog—all to spread the word that fashion shouldn’t require a size-two body, and happiness should allow for the occasional cupcake. Or two. But is indulging fantasies about her sister’s long-ago ex, the still-hunky Michael Edwards, biting off more than she can chew?

Mike must be losing his detective’s touch. He doesn’t recognize Ellis when he bumps into her at Size Me Up, and he certainly doesn’t remember his ex-girlfriend’s outspoken sister being so irresistible. Her curves are indeed dangerous—and so is her wit. Could it be that Ellis is his Perfect Fit? One thing’s for sure: Mike will make it his sworn duty to find out…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cry Wolf review

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs is the first full length novel in the Alpha and Omega series but you definitely should read the novella, Alpha and Omega, first or it is a little confusing.

I have been devouring this series compulsively - it's just addictive and that starts with Cry Wolf! The more I read about Anna and Charles, the more I want to read. The people and events surrounding them are always interesting and often dramatic but never seem to go too far, in the sense that it never seems over the top or eye roll inducing.

The relationship between Anna and Charles is an interesting read because the two characters are so different and each have their own issues that need to be overcome. Charles is an alpha and an enforcer, not exactly an emotionally available guy, plus he's several hundred years old. Anna is in her twenties, has only been a werewolf for a few years, and was severely abused during that time. However, as an Omega, Anna is learning about her place and her power now that Charles has told her what she is. For his part, Charles wants to protect Anna but is trying hard not to smother her or scare her.

Add in Anna meeting the members of Charles' pack, a witch with evil plans, and a new werewolf haunting the mountains near the pack's home, and you get a novel with a fast paced plot and a lot of emotional turmoil. Cry Wolf has a little bit of everything - action, romance, plot twists, beautiful location, and fantastic characters.

I highly recommend the Alpha and Omega series by Briggs but definitely read the novella, Alpha and Omega, before reading Cry Wolf.


Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack... and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she'd learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna's inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.