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My book reviews are lagging, due to storms keeping me offline. Guh. Anyway, at work on Monday, I finished reading my "work" book, which was Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett. It's the first book in the author's paranormal lite series, featuring voluptuous vampire, Gloriana St Clair.

Glory has been a vampire since she was turned in the 1500's by handsome Highlander Jeremiah Campbell, aka Jeremy Blade. Jeremy would like nothing more than to coddle, cosset, and protect Glory, but she wants her independence. Glory has opened a vintage clothing shop, called Vintage Vamp's Emporium. When a new vampire hunter bursts onto the scene, armed with technology that enables him to take out even old, powerful vamps, Blade insists that Glory move in with him so he can keep her safe. She scoffs at the idea, but a couple run-ins with Westwood have her feeling scared for the first time in her long life.

Now it's up to the vampires to band together and fight their common enemy, and Glory has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Fun story. It was lighthearted for the most part, but there were some sad scenes as well as some anxious ones. Glory was relatable, being a "modern" woman, as well as one who's more curvaceous than most heroines are portrayed as. It's obvious she loves Blade, but she is frustrated that he can't understand her need to make her own way. I will give him credit for at least trying to back off and give her space, even if his old, chivalrous manner demands that he simply pick her up and carry her off to safety.

Favorite line: Metrosexual to him would mean a quickie on a bus.

Not a genre I read much these days, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Tonight, I finished reading First Grave on the Right, which is the first in author Darynda Jones' series about Charley Davidson: PI, smart ass, and grim reaper.

Charley was born a reaper, which means she can see, speak to, and even touch dead people, and it's her job to move them on. Some, however, have unfinished business, and that's where Charley's PI license comes in handy. When three attorneys from the same law firm are murdered on the same night, it's up to Charley to find out who had them killed and why.

In the meantime, Charley has been having wicked hot dreams of a mysterious, nocturnal lover...one who reminds her eerily of a boy she met when she was a teenager. As Charley works the attorneys' case, she's also trying to figure out what became of Reyes. What she uncovers, in both cases, is bigger than anyone could have imagined.

Loved this book! Charley is smart and funny and brave to the point of foolish. In spite of her status as a grim reaper, she doesn't seem to have any special powers, at least none that she knows of. A select few people know about her abilities, although no one knows the whole truth. My only complaint about the story is that, once again, I was treated to the tired trope of a woman who is literally unable to function when confronted by a hot and dreamy hunka hunka burnin' love. Seriously?! If I wanted to read that shit, I would have read 50 Shades of Abusive Relationship. Aside from her inability to function around Reyes, there's also the fact that, when they met as teens, he threatened to rape her. Be still my heart! *shakes head* In spite of this major annoyance, the rest of the narrative made up for it.

Favorite lines:
♦ Death via extreme pleasure was a serious concern. The prospect led to the following dilemma: Do I seek help or buy drinks all around?
♦ He had a wrinkled suit, round-rimmed glasses, and mussed hair that made him look part young-wizard-we-all-know-and-love and part mad scientist.
♦ I went down like a drunken cowgirl trying to line dance to Metallica.
♦ ...I stormed into my apartment...then rummaged through my entertainment center to lay out all my exorcism equipment. I kept it in my entertainment center because exorcisms were nothing if not entertaining.
♦ It was hard being such an utter disappointment to the woman who'd raised me, but gosh darn it, I gave it my all.
♦ "Because at this point, my sanity is all that I have. Well, that and a breakfast burrito."


Super funny; I could have quoted the entire thing! I can't wait to read more in the series. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Over the course of two evenings, I read the ebook Ghost College by Scott Nicholson and JR Rain. It's the first in a series, but subsequent books appear to be credited to different authors. I don't know if that means they'll follow the same characters (in a round-robin format) or if the next books will branch out in different directions.

This story was wonderful. It's told in first person pov by skeptical ghost hunter Monty. He and his wife Ellen use a two-pronged attack when conducting their investigations. Monty relies on his technology, while Ellen is "sensitive". Monty doesn't really believe in ghosts, but he does believe in his wife, whom he adores. Their banter throughout was one of the best parts of the story. Monty and Ellen are called to investigate a small, religious college, where staff and students have been hearing voices, seeing shadows, and finding objects moved.

Ellen quickly connects with a young girl named Sophia, and Monty's instruments fail when the batteries are drained. When Ellen convinces him to act as a conduit to allow Sophia to communicate with them, Monty finds himself in a battle between good and evil, as he and Ellen try to save Sophia from the man known as the Dark Master.

This was a fun, engaging story. Even though it was short, Monty and Ellen are portrayed well, and I loved that Monty had so much faith in Ellen, despite the fact that he didn't experience the things she could.

Favorite lines:
♦ But this was also Southern California, where there were only two seasons: Oscar season and everything else.
♦ Middle age is hell, old age will probably be worse, and after that...well, we'll all find out when we get there.
♦ Me, I tended to ignore higher callings, because they entailed responsibility, and all I wanted was the next round of chocolate pancakes.

A man after my own heart!

Loved this one, and I am looking forward to reading the rest! Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Having the day off afforded me the opportunity to read an ebook novella, Murder of a Werewolf, by April Fernsby. It's the first story in the "Brimstone Witch" mystery series.

Cassia Winter is stuck in a soul-sucking job, a boring apartment, and a manipulative relationship. Even her cat, Stanley, seems depressed and morose. Unable to see her suffer, Cassia's Gran tells Cassia that she's a witch--they both are. Cassia doesn't believe her Gran at first, but gradually, childhood memories of playing in Brimstone begin to resurface. Cassia learns that the Winter witches have long investigated crimes in Brimstone, and she learns that her Gran is involved in a murder investigation. A werewolf, who initially seemed to have committed suicide, was instead murdered. When someone attacks Gran, it's up to Cassia to accept the mantle of the Winter witches and take up the investigation.

Cassia meets some odd people and creatures in Brimstone, including werewolves, elves, and the beautiful butterflies that act as messengers. She also reconnects with Luca, her childhood friend, who is now a handsome man. Cassia isn't sure what she's doing, but she knows one thing: she's not going back to her humdrum life again.

This was a fun, lite story. The narrative was simplistic, but not in an aggravating way. Rather, it made for a nice, light, afternoon read. Cassia was a likable heroine, and I enjoyed meeting other characters. Some things, which seemed obvious at first, turned out to be a surprise, but other things were not fully resolved. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read.

Favorite line: Did cats become morbid?

The talking cats were my favorite part! Good story, and I'll certainly read more. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
I read an ebook novella last night, A Ghost in the Store, by Gillian Larkin. It's the first installment in her "Ruby & Nessa" ghost hunters series. It was short enough that it almost feels like a cheat to include it here, but hey, it was chaptered. Ha ha!

The story opens with Ruby dragging her younger sister Nessa along with her on an investigation in a grocery store. It's reputed to be haunted, and Ruby and Nessa do see the ghost of a young woman there. After doing some research, they learn the store was built on the site where a home for unwed mothers once stood. They go on to check church records and learn the woman's identity and her tragic story. From there, it's a matter of helping Mary cross over, but Mary has some unfinished business.

Nothing exrtaordinary about the story. It was a cute, light, fun read. Editing was good; characterizations were two-dimensional, but that may change as the series progresses. There is some friction between the sisters, which seemed to have been resolved too easily, but oh well. One thing that bothered me is that Nessa twice made a crack to Ruby about coloring her hair to get rid of the gray, and then we learn that Ruby is only 28. WTF?

Favorite line: "...she's always been two pork chops short of a barbecue."

Okay story, three hearts:

♥♥♥
chez_jae: (Books)
When I was laid off, I brought my work book home with me. I just finished reading it last night. Ahem. It was The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers, the second installment in Angie Fox's "Accidental Demon Slayer" series.

Having recently learned she's a demon slayer, Lizzie has been winging it. As a result, she decides to begin writing her own learner's manual for demon slaying. Now, however, she learns she needs to have a license to perform her duties. Lizzie doesn't have time for such nonsense; she's on a mission to travel to Las Vegas to save her fairy godfather from the clutches of a Succubus.

Lizzie makes the trek to Vegas along with her griffin-shifter boyfriend Dmitri, her dog Pirate, her grandmother Gertie, and Gertie's friends--a biker gang of witches called the Red Skulls. There, Lizzie encounters a demon hunter (he can kill demons, but he lacks the natural ability of a slayer), and she discovers there is an infestation of Succubi in Las Vegas, and that they are plotting to unleash hell on earth, using Lizzie's fairy godfather to do so.

The story was fun and lighthearted, for the most part, with enough real danger and drama thrown in to keep it from being a fluff fest. It was enjoyable and humorous; it simply wasn't engrossing enough (until the end) to keep my attention away from other, more shiny books.

Favorite lines:
♦ "You're tighter than a bull's ass at fly time."
♦ "Sic 'em, Gene! Ace, Paul, and Peter!" // Leave it to Grandma to name her spells after the original members of Kiss.
♦ I stared at the cinder block in front of us. "Are we going through?" // Grandma rolled her eyes. "Sure, Hermione, whatever you say."
♦ "I've got a mess of antidemonic spells, but without any wards in place, they're basically like tossing Pop-Tarts at a pissed-off lion."

Grandma Gertie had all the best lines!

Not an exceptional book, but fun nonetheless. Four (switch) stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
I had very little left to read of my work book, so I brought it home to finish. The book was How to Date a Dragon by Ashlyn Chase.

When firefighter and dragon shifter Drake Cameron responds to a burning building, he rescues Bliss Russo and her computer from death and destruction. Bliss is more concerned about her computer than her home, because she's competing in a greeting card contest/reality show, and she was afraid of losing all of her hard work.

Drake can't help but think of the pretty mortal woman, but he has no way to find her again. In the meantime, he goes on a date with a female dragon shifter who's more dragonlady than anything else. Bliss manages to track Drake down, and the two of them reconnect...and sparks fly. Zina, the female dragon isn't keen on letting Drake get away, however. She begins threatening Bliss and setting fires all over Boston. Zina's activities come to the attention of Mother Nature herself, and she isn't having it.

This was what paranormal lite is meant to be. It was cute and fluffy, hot and sexy, and just all around fun. Bliss has a snarky sense of humor and a strong backbone, which Drake hopes will enable her to accept him for who and what he is.

Favorite line: "Well, of course dragons don't exist. Oh, wait. Maybe they do. Let me go ask my unicorn."

I don't read much paranormal romance any more, but this was a sterling example of why I used to. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
At work today, I finished reading Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, by Molly Harper. It's the first in a series, featuring librarian-turned-vampire Jane Jameson.

When Jane is let go from her position at the local library, her beastly boss gives her a gift certificate to the local pub, rather than a severance check. Jane goes to drown her sorrows, and she meets a hunky stranger. On the way home, her car breaks down, and Jane is mistaken for a deer by a local hunter, shot, and left for dead.

Three days later, Jane awakens to her new life after-life, as a vampire. Now she realizes the great-aunt who left Jane her house is still inhabiting it. In addition to her ghostly roommate, Jane must learn to adjust to being a vampire, try to avoid outing herself to her family, and find a new job. As if all of that weren't difficult enough, now it seems that someone is trying to frame her for the murder of a fellow vampire.

Fortunately for Jane, she has some allies: the hunky stranger who turned her into a vampire, her best friend Zeb, and Zeb's new girlfriend, who just so happens to be a werewolf. Unfortunately for Jane, her mother, sister, and grandmother all rank among her enemies, at least in terms of their sheer annoyance factor. All three of them needed to be lined up and bitch-slapped into the following week. Guh.

Overall, however, it was a cute story, and a fine addition to the "paranormal lite" genre!

Favorite line: "...I'm wandering the earth, seeking revenge on Ben and Jerry for giving me the fat ass and massive coronary."

Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
I brought my work book home to finish, because I had two pages to go. It was Howling at the Moon by Karen MacInerney, and it's the first book in her trilogy about werewolf Sophie Garou.

This was sort of a Sex in the City meets The Werewolf. Sophie has a cushy job and a lawyer for a boyfriend. Her bff Lindsey looks like a super model, and Sophie's closet rivals a boutique. On the negative side, Sophie is half-werewolf, and her mother is a witch and a psychic. When Sophie's mother is accused of poisoning a prominent local politician, and someone begins sending Sophie little care packages threatening to out her as a werewolf, Sophie's perfect life is on the verge of collapsing. Add in another werewolf, the first she's ever encountered (Sophie works hard to keep a low profile and embrace her human side), and Sophie suddenly has her paws hands full trying to keep things on an even keel.

This was a fun and funny story--very "paranormal lite". Sophie's struggles to keep her animal side at bay were amusing, but when she needed to go all wolfie on someone, she did so with aplomb. One humorous bit was that, since Sophie shaves her legs, her wolf-self had hairless hind legs, too. While that certainly made for a comical visual, I couldn't help but think, Then why doesn't the clean-shaven male werewolf transform without fur on his face? The lack of logic sort of ruined that for me. All in all, however, this was a cute story with an engaging heroine and two hunky love interests.

Favorite line: If you're going to break into a car, you'd better make sure it doesn't belong to a werewolf.

Four of five:

♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I finally finished the book I'd begun forever ago. Guh. Thankfully, it did get more exciting.

The book was The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox, and it's the first in her "Accidental Demon Slayer" series.

Lizzie Brown is a normal woman, living a boring, normal life, and she's on the cusp of her 30th birthday. When her long-lost grandmother comes to visit, Lizzie expects a warm, matronly woman. What she gets is a Harley-riding biker mama who is also a witch. Gertie tries to tell Lizzie that she is a destined demon slayer, but Lizzie doesn't believe her, until a demon appears in her bathroom.

Now, Lizzie and Gertie are on the run, trying to meet up with Gertie's biker gang, the Red Skulls, before a 5th Level Demon can get his claws on the untrained Lizzie. Help comes in the form of Dmitri, a griffin shifter, who has reasons of his own for providing assistance.

I'd classify this as "paranormal lite", rather than urban fantasy. The book was humorous, with occasional tense moments to balance out the fluff. Gertie's gang were a tough bunch of witches, and there were also sinister werewolves, imps, and (oh yes!) Lizzie's dog Pirate, who can now speak. The plot was a bit hit and miss, but I enjoyed the characterizations, especially of some of the biker mamas. Lizzie was attracted to Dmitri, which is fine, but I found it tedious and annoying that she couldn't seem to focus on anything but her girlie parts when he was around. Is it too much to ask for a heroine who can keep her mind on business, in spite of how attractive a male character is? *shakes head*

Favorite line: Ah, the memories lingered long after the underwear had dried.

Average read, three out of five:

♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
At work on Wednesday, I finished reading A Date with the Other Side by Erin McCarthy.

High-powered exec Boston MacNamara has been banished from Chicago to the small town of Cuttersville, OH. There, he meets local gal Shelby Tucker, when Shelby troops through his rented house on her Haunted Houses of Cuttersville tour. While he finds Shelby attractive, she is the complete opposite of the polished, corporate women that Boston is used to dating.

For her part, Shelby also finds Boston attractive, but she finds him amusing, too. She can see how out of place he feels in her small town. When some of the ghosts in the haunted house conspire to get them together, Boston and Shelby can't help but act on their growing attraction, even though they are from different worlds.

This was a light, fun story. Characters were well-drawn, including such secondary characters as Shelby's ex-husband Danny, and her grandmother, whom Boston is renting the house from. I loved Strawberry the (dead) cow, too! Mostly fluff, with a pinch of angst, and all-around delightful.

Four out of five!

♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
Today, I finished reading the book I had at the office. It was Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles. It's the first in the author's "Succubus Diaries" series.

Plain jane Jackie Brighton wakes up in a dumpster, and her life gets weirder from there. Her appearance changes from dowdy to va-va-voom, and she can barely control her own libido. Jackie learns that she's been changed into a Succubus, and she meets the only other "Suck" in town, a porn star named Remy. Since no one gave Jackie a Succubus handbook, she inadvertently makes a deal with an angel. Her faux pas lands Noah, a fallen angel who has taken Jackie under his wing, into the clutches of the vampire queen Nitocris. To free Noah, Jackie must retrieve an ancient halo and return it to the queen. Nitocris sends one of her vamps, Zane, with Jackie to make sure she succeeds.

The premise was interesting, but several points stuck in my craw. I didn't like the fact that the angel was portrayed as the "bad guy". I didn't like that Jackie was basically a slave to her new nature. While the sex scenes were definitely sexy, her reluctance made them cringe-worthy for me. Also, she and Noah got it on in a church confessional. Now, I'm not uber-religious, but that was so much NO right there.

One review on the back cover called this story "laugh out loud funny". Um, I found it amusing, but I never once laughed at anything. Two lines in particular appealed to me:

Sometimes I hated my job. Mostly due to my boss, who made a boring job completely unlikable,
I can relate!

The security guard should have at least stopped by to say hi or do a bit of random clubbing with a nightstick.
Okay, that was pretty funny!

Overall, an average read. Giving this one a 3 out of 5:

♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
Thursday night, I finished reading Conspiracies and Stuff, which is an ebook by author Kendra Ashe. It is the first installment in her "Dreamland Junction" series.

The story is set in Dreamland Junction, which is near Area 51 in Nevada. Kat Parker is a waitress, as well as a writer. She tries to expose conspiracies relating to Area 51, UFOs, the "men in black", etc. One of her friends believes he's a victim of alien abduction, while another friend has just learned she's pregnant, even though she's been in a dry spell. In the meantime, Kat stumbles onto the scene of a murder and learns the dead woman's young son is missing. In addition, Kat's evil ex-boyfriend shows up at the diner and causes trouble for her again. When he's found murdered later, Kat is more involved in the mysterious goings-on than she wants to be. Throw in a mysterious stranger and a paranoid, former Area 51 worker, and the story had more than its fair share of colorful characters.

The premise was interesting, but I felt like I was missing something. This was meant to be the first book in a series, yet it seemed I was picking the story up in the middle. In addition, it ended poorly. Not merely a cliff-hanger, but an ending that lacked any resolution at all. There were some editing issues that were vexing, such as an overabundance of commas. I had to re-read several lines to make them sound right in my head. The narrative was choppy and disjointed.

This one gets a three out of five (good idea, poor execution):

♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
At work on Thursday, I finished reading Hex Appeal by Linda Wisdom. It was a sequel to 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, which I'd read previously.

In this story, witch Jazz and her vampire lover Nick have a good thing going, until they begin having horrible nightmares, which seem geared to driving them apart. Not one to take things lying down, Jazz begins asking questions and rattling cages to find out who's behind her magicked nightmares. Along the way, she has to prove that Fluff and Puff, her man-eating bunny slippers, did not, in fact, eat a were-weasel named Willie.

There was a lot going on in the book, from Jazz's dual jobs of curse-breaking and chauffeuring creatures of the night, to learning her mortal roommate is dating a vamp, and dealing with Irma, the ghost who haunts her classic car. It was a fun story, and I was glad to see how things came together at the end.

Four out of five:

♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Jae cat)
On Thursday, I brought home my "work book" to finish reading it. It was Derik's Bane by MaryJanice Davidson. Apparently, this story is part of a verse that she began with two short stories published in the "Secrets" anthologies. However, it this was easily read without having read the others.

The story begins with werewolf Derik nearly getting in a fight with his best friend and alpha Michael. Derik is beginning to show signs of being an alpha, and he knows it's best he leaves. The Pack has a psychic who sends him on a mission to save the world. The reincarnation of Morgan le Fay is living in California, and she is fated to destroy the world. However, there's a problem. Dr Sara Gunn has no idea she's an evil sorceress, and she's just so darn cute.

Derik can't kill her (like, literally canNOT kill her), and the two of them join forces and go on a cross-country trip in an effort to foil Sara's destiny and save the world.

This was a fun, funny and sexy romp. Highly recommended if you enjoy "paranormal lite"!

★★★★
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Two weeks ago (eep!) I finished Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowan. It was the first book in a series about Sarah Dearly, all-around Girl Friday, who gets bitten by her blind date and turned into a vampire. Unfortunately for Sarah, her Sire is immediately killed by vampire hunters, leaving her clueless about her new lifestyle.

Sarah meets master vampire Thierry, and he steps in to help her. Thierry has issues of his own, however, such as the desire to end his endless existence.

Throughout the book, Sarah tries desperately to cling to her old life even as she must learn to accept and adapt to her new one. Along the way, she must dodge vampire hunters, deal with her growing attraction to Thierry, and oh yes, attend her cousin's wedding.

I do have more of the books in this series, and I am looking forward to reading them.

Four stars
chez_jae: (Default)
At work, I polished off Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye. It was a cute and fluffy paranormal, in which the main character, Lil, opens a dating service for vampires, werewolves, etc. She needs to be able to fund her shopping habit. She is drawn into the hunt for a serial killer when handsome bounty hunter Ty Bonner checks out her service, as that is the killer's MO.

The book was light and fun, and it was a quick read. Definitely looking forwward to reading more in the series.

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