Tuesday, August 30, 2011

~REVIEW of David Benioff's CITY OF THIEVES~

5 of 5 stars
I came away from this feeling very cold, very hungry and with an inexplicable need to make sure my pantry was full. CITY OF THIEVES is a fantastic story; set in 1942 during the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad. It’s a coming of age story filled with adventure, suspense, friendship, romance and tragedy all washed down with (from what I understand) a historically accurate picture of Leningrad during the blockade.

I should point out that despite the events of the time this is also a surprisingly funny read as our two main characters; Kolya the romantic optimist and Lev with his random internal observations both have an interesting way of looking at life around them during the absurdities of war.

The story begins with a powerful opening chapter; a writer asks his grandfather to tell him about his experiences during the war. All the narrator knows -and he doesn’t remember anyone telling him its just one of those family folklores that he always has. Is that his grandfather, "the knife fighter" killed two Germans before he was eighteen and is missing a finger. And so Lev begins to tell his story to his grandson. Talking openly for the first time about his childhood, coming to America and sex. Mostly though he talks about a two week period in 1942 when he met his best friend, the woman that would become his wife and killed two Germans. I actually referred back to this chapter several times during the course of the book and again when I finished.
Its January 1942 Leningrad is under marshal law, surrounded by the German army and what’s left of its inhabitants are starving. Our hero 17 year old Lev Beniov has just been arrested for looting and placed in a cell with a handsome friendly deserter named Kolya Vlasov. Both of their crimes are grounds for execution and as our heroes get to know each other that’s what they expect come morning. However in a twist of fate they are given a chance to save their own lives, a secret mission for a powerful soviet colonel. All they have to do is find a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake.

A dozen eggs in a city cut off from supplies, a city resorting to cannibalism and eating glue from book spines to survive. It is of course a ludicrous and impossible task one which takes our new friends far into German occupied territory, through the bitter cold of winter and countless adventures and atrocities. The outcome didn’t really surprise me but I haven't stopped thinking about it either.

“One moment I thought I had a few minutes left to live; the next a sniper was flirting with me. Was she flirting with me? The days had become a confusion of catastrophes; what seemed impossible in the afternoon was blunt fact by the evening. German corpses fell from the sky; cannibals sold sausage links made from ground human in the Haymarket; apartments blocs collapsed to the ground; dogs became bombs; frozen soldiers became sign posts. I had no food in my belly, no fat on my bones and no energy to reflect on this parade of atrocities. I just kept moving, hoping to find another half slice of bread for myself and a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter.”

Monday, August 29, 2011


Take No Prisoners (Black Op's #2)
5 of 5 stars

Opening Line: "A gecko, low slung, forked feet flying, skittered across the sill of an open window, hauling ass as if it actually had somewhere to go."

I'm loving this series! TAKE NO PRISONERS is another WOW read from Cindy Gerard’s fantastic Black-Ops BOI’s. This cleverly written story starts off with a bang and just keeps on going. Filled with action and suspense a-plenty Gerard whisks the reader to exotic locations filled with car chases, shootouts and several wicked bad guys all trying to out smart each other over a damn big diamond. Somehow our couple still manages to get in some passionate yet tender love scenes and with a whole team of interesting secondary characters this is everything you want in romantic suspense.

Ever since her divorce and a few subsequent bad dates Abbie Hughes no longer trusts men, besides between going to school, worrying about her wayward younger brother and working nights as a Vegas blackjack dealer who has the time? Her one vice would have to be her wild girlfriend Crystal but even she can’t persuade Abbie to let loose. All that changes the night Sam Lang sits down at one of her tables, On the outside he appears to be a shy rancher who just happens to look mighty fine in a pair of Wranglers but Sam Lang is much more.

Sam, a recently retired member of Black-Ops Inc is on a vengeful quest to find the international crime lord who murdered his sister. His leads have brought him to Abbie and her brother Cory who he suspects are involved in a lucrative gem smuggling business and working with Nader, the man responsible. To find Nader Sam is going to have to use Abbie however the more he gets to know her the less convinced he is that she’s involved and the harder its getting to fight the growing attraction between them. When Cory goes missing in Honduras Sam and Abbie are forced to work together to locate him and on Sam’s end obtain his ultimate goal, revenge. Together with the entire Black-Ops team they head into the Honduran backcountry using Abbie as the bait and with Sam now willing to lay down his life to protect her revenge may just have to wait.

I will admit that I didn’t fall for our hero Sam nearly as hard as I did for Gabe from book #1 SHOW NO MERCY however as a whole this story is much tighter and could easily be read as a stand alone. I should also mention how much I’m loving the ending chapters in this series, Gerard doesn’t just tie the story together into a neat little happily-ever-after, she leaves you hanging until the very last minute then follows through providing us with a glimpse of our couples future and I love that. Here we also get an update on my boyfriend Gabe from the last book (he’s doing fine now thanks)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

~REVIEW of Nina Bruhns' A KISS TO KILL~

A Kiss to Kill (Passion For Danger, #3)
5 of 5 stars

Opening Line: “They were using her as bait.”

Oh I liked this one and I agree with others that this is the best of the Passion For Danger trilogy. Its like Bruhns finally got the formula right here with each character getting just the right amount of page time, an exciting but not over-the-top storyline and the perfect balance of action/suspense to romance. It could also be said though that I’ve gotten used to her style and didn’t expect to read exclusively about just one couple. I actually enjoyed the multiple romances taking place this time around and since I’ve read these back to back (thanks to advice from other reviews) I was also seriously invested in the characters and seeing them through to their HEA’s.

 All in all this was a great read that I was sad to see come to an end. Theres some excellent action scenes; Rebel and Alex diving the “Allah’s Paradise” wreck during one of his flashbacks (yikes) and quite a few LOL funny moments including male bonding “fist bumps” and the continued witty banter between agents. The love scenes remain heartfelt and super steamy with just the right amount of alpha maleness thrown in.

I should mention that in order to fully appreciate the back story and romantic build up involved here this series should be read in order, as almost all of the characters stories began in book #1 SHOOT TO THRILL and are only now are seeing through to their conclusions.

Pegged as Gina and Gregg’s book -although as I said all the couples receive equal page time, this couple met eight months ago. Back then scientist Dr Gina Cappozi and black-ops agent Gregg Van Halen were (fantastic) lovers until Gregg committed the ultimate betrayal, turning Gina over to the hands of the terrorists. Tortured for several months, while they utilized her bio chemical talents to perform acts of terrorism Gina was rescued in the last book A KISS TO KILL and has now made it her mission to kill the man she once loved. Of course that wouldn’t be any fun especially now that she’s being targeted by kidnappers again and it seems that Gregg is the only one who can help her. Even if he is slightly controlling, in and out of the bedroom.

This is however only one of several ongoing plotlines we also; Alex and Rebel who have finally gotten it together, although he has a few surprises about why they can’t stay that way and newcomer detective Sarah McPhee and rebound specialist Wade Montana. Hmm, more secrets there too. While all the love is going on the agents are still running around trying to discover the identity (didn’t see that coming) of the person responsible for the terrorist attacks and also to stop “the trigger” from killing the president. All these subplots blend well this time into a fast paced romantic thriller. Cheers

~Last Movie I Watched -THE PIANIST~

  5 of 5 stars

This was so good, not exactly uplifting but just an amazing story I couldn't take my eyes off of. Directed by Roman Polanski with Adrien Brody giving his Oscar winning (and worthy) performance of Poland's most acclaimed pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman and his horrific unflinching view of life as a Jew in 1939 Warsaw under Nazi occupation. The fact that he survived through this time is miraculous, heartbreaking and no to be forgotten.

Adrien Brody won best actor oscar for his role, his oscar speech is actually really amazing too, you might remember him kissing Halle Berry.

Official IMDB synopsis:
A brilliant pianist, a Polish Jew, witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital, from restricted access to the building of the Warsaw ghetto. As his family is rounded up to be shipped off to the Nazi labor camps, he escapes deportation and eludes capture by living in the ruins of Warsaw.

This movie has been based on Szpilman's book:

Written immediately after the end of World War II, this morally complex Holocaust memoir is notable for its exact depiction of the grim details of life in Warsaw under the Nazi occupation. "Things you hardly noticed before took on enormous significance: a comfortable, solid armchair, the soothing look of a white-tiled stove," writes Wladyslaw Szpilman, a pianist for Polish radio when the Germans invaded. His mother's insistence on laying the table with clean linen for their midday meal, even as conditions for Jews worsened daily, makes palpable the Holocaust's abstract horror. Arbitrarily removed from the transport that took his family to certain death, Szpilman does not deny the "animal fear" that led him to seize this chance for escape, nor does he cheapen his emotions by belaboring them. Yet his cool prose contains plenty of biting rage, mostly buried in scathing asides (a Jewish doctor spared consignment to "the most wonderful of all gas chambers," for example). Szpilman found compassion in unlikely people, including a German officer who brought food and warm clothing to his hiding place during the war's last days. Extracts from the officer's wartime diary (added to this new edition), with their expressions of outrage at his fellow soldiers' behavior, remind us to be wary of general condemnation of any group. --Wendy Smith 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

~REVIEW of Charlaine Harris' CLUB DEAD~

~ENTER ERIC AND ALCIDE- this is going to be fun ~
 Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3)
 4 of 5 stars

Opening Line: Bill was hunched over the computer when I let myself in his house.

CLUB DEAD is the third instalment from the Sookie Stackhouse series and I really enjoyed this one, having finally come to terms with the fact that this is urban fantasy and not paranormal romance. I was able to focus on the action, horror, humour and mystery aspects here and just let the romance take a back seat. Sookie is also starting to feel like a delightful, adventurous friend who I can’t wait to hear from to learn what adventures she’s been up to lately. And with the broadening of sub characters and reappearances and “sightings” from others this series is beginning to feel like coming home.

Charlaine Harris continues to entertain with a fast paced, easy writing style and original ideas. She also manages to still keep Sookie relatable enough, despite her progression into the supernatural world that we can discover every bizarre occurrence right along with her. Sookie toughens up in this book, makes some new ‘friends’ and sort of comes into her own. And although I was at first disappointed by Harris’s storyline choices for Bill (what an arse he turned out to be) Eric and the arrival of Alcide sure made up for his absence. Leaving things wide open and this reader very curious as to where exactly things are heading in the romance department.

Lately Sookie’s vampire boyfriend Bill has been a little absent, having more of a relationship with his computer and “project” then with her. When he suddenly announces that he’s taking an extended business trip to another state Sookie realizes something other than vampire business is going on. Before long the bodies start piling up at work again, after a werewolf gang member tries to abduct Sookie and ends up face to face with some hard hitting but simple blue suede shoes.

Enter the ever sexy and cheeky Eric, who informs Sookie that Bill’s been kidnapped while spending time with an old flame in Mississippi. (So much for business) Now Eric needs Sookie’s mind reading abilities to help locate Bill before they torture him to a more permanent death. Despite the obvious betrayal Sookie agrees, although she might just kill him herself once she finds him.

Sookie soon finds herself under the care of one fantastic and yummy werewolf named Alcide Herveraux. They have an immediate connection and make a great team although romantically their timing is never quite right (what with all the body dumping, ex fiancé’s and flying vamps coming to call)

Alcide is to act as Sookie’s date and guide while in Jackson, gaining her access into the otherwise off limits, Club Dead. This is where the vampire king of Mississippi hangs out whom they assume is responsible for Bills disappearance. Before long Eric turns up in another of his quirky disguises and general carnage ensues. The action in this book is non-stop with vampires and humans alike getting staked and of course it’s a full moon which brings every beast in town out to play. It’s a ton of unputdownable, bloody fun

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

~REVIEW of Bella Andre's WILD HEAT~

 Wild Heat (Hot Shots: Men of Fire #1)
4 of 5 stars

Maya Jackson has come to Lake Tahoe to clean out her brothers cottage following his suspicious death in a fire. In her words "she was going to find the bastard that killed him and she was going to make him pay." As an arson investigator it's well within Maya's realm of possibilities but she's a little off her game today. Eventually grief proves too much sending Maya to the nearest bar to forget and straight into the arms of the most explosive man she's ever met. Never mind that he's a complete stranger they're doing things on that bar top that she'll be thinking about for the next 6 months.

 As the leader of the elite Tahoe Hotshot crew risking his life fighting wild fires is what gets Logan Cain out of bed every morning. So he's plenty pissed off when following an anonymous phone tip the fire investigator pulls him from the latest inferno and suspends him. Logan's just been accused of lighting the very fires he's been killing himself putting out and the real kicker is the person investigating him is none other than that wild woman from the bar 6 months ago. The very one that he can't seem to get out of his mind or quite forget the taste of on his lips.

Maya's not going to let a little thing like a kiss change how she works this case though, Logan may be the most appealing man she's ever met but that doesn't mean she trusts him any further than she could toss a match. And Logan's never been one to back down from a blaze so if swallowing his pride and working alongside Maya will help find the real arsonist and protect his fellow firefighters then they're just going to be stuck together and neither can deny the heat radiating between them.

As fire levels reach extreme Logan's men are getting injured, someone's trying to kill Maya and the forest is literally going up around them. Together they will battle car bombs, house fires and each other in a bid to find the deadly arsonist.

 You'll want to wash the smell of smoke from your hair and ash from your clothes after this scorching read. WILD HEAT is a well written story full of suspense, action and some excellent love scenes. Maya is a tough heroine and Logan will have you wanting a hotshot of your own plus you'll be smelling pine needles for days afterwards. Cheers.

Look for HOT AS SIN, the next instalment in this scorching new series.

Monday, August 22, 2011

~REVIEW of Lorelei James' LONG HARD RIDE~

Long Hard Ride (Rough Riders, #1)
5 of 5 stars

Opening Line: "On a drunken dare after too many kamikazes, Channing Kinkaid found herself standing on a shellacked bartop while a bartender named Moose sprayed her chest with ice-cold beer."
Yeehaw, what a great read, now I know what all the fuss is about. Based on good reviews and my love of cowboys in general I just had to give this series a try and wow am I ever glad I did. LONG HARD RIDE is all kinds-of-ways hot and sexy lovin but it’s also so much more. Between the erotic interludes theres an actual story and a whole cast of characters that I became invested with and in the end really cared about. All with relatable issues, deep emotions and yeah theres even a touching love story (or 3) to boot. Theres also several subplots going on here that got me so hooked I’ve since ordered the entire Roughriders series because I just have to know how things turn out for everybody.

So if you like hot alpha male cowboys and have a (secret) dream about hitting the rodeo circuit with a trio of your very own then I highly recommend joining the Roughriders family for a little ridin, ropin, chaps and spurs wearin western adventure. Giddy-up cowgirls.

Channing Kinkaid wants an adventure that she’ll remember for a lifetime she also wants to shed her sexual inhibitions and embrace a steamier, multi-partnered lifestyle. What better way to fulfill her fantasies than hooking up with Colby, Trevor, and Edgard. Three rowdy, bull riding, calf roping and bronco busting cowboys who are more than willing to take Channing on as their personal “buckle bunny” while they travel the rodeo circuit. However she has to play by their rules and Colby’s demands for complete submission are beginning to test her heart as much as her will. Of course everything is not always as it seems with this sexy threesome and when cowboys get injured and friends become lovers you better turn on that sad country music and hang on for the full 8 seconds because this is going to be quite the ride.

Just about anything goes here sexually speaking including light bondage, ménage a cowboy, partner sharing, partner swapping, oral, anal and some fine M/M lovin. Cheers

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The Blood Books, Volume I (Omnibus: Blood Price/Blood Trail
4 of 5 stars

Opening Line:"Ian shoved his hands in his pockets and scowled down the length of the empty subway platform."

BLOOD BOOKS Volume 1 contains the first two books in Tanya Huff's 5 part Blood series. These stories became the first few episodes in the Blood Ties TV show which luckily I discovered before the books because now I have the added bonus of visual references for all the characters. The books aren't as cheesy as the TV series sometimes became in fact the writing here is well above average, fast paced and contains several POV's and tons of witty dialogue. The three main characters diverse personalities play well off each other and ooze sexual tension even though all the love scenes are fade-to-black. They also take place in the real (Canadian) world which I loved because I like to think that vampires and werewolves may indeed walk among us.

The first story BLOOD PRICE is identical to the Blood Ties series pilot and was my favourite of the two. We are introduced to Vicki Nelson a tough, sarcastic P.I who because of degenerative eye disease has had to leave her job with the Toronto Police Dept. One night Vicki stumbles upon a suspicious murder victim and immediately becomes wrapped up in a case involving black magic and demons. As the victims pile up Vicki is forced to call upon ex-partner (and sometimes lover) Mike Celluci as well as befriending the 450 year old illegitimate son of Henry VIII, romance author and vampire. Together all three will try to stop the demon before it destroys humanity.

The second story BLOOD TRAIL takes Vicki and Henry into rural Ontario as they attempt to catch a sniper taking out members of a family of sheep farmers that also just happen to be werewolves. With Henry and Vicki growing closer the love triangle comes full circle as Cop Mike Celluci shows up to warn Vicki that he thinks Henry might be involved with organized crime. However that's the least of their problems as together the trio must fight off a mad gunman, angry werewolves and ultimately each other.

First written in 1991, this excellent series has been reissued with the 2006 omnibus edition. Except for the absence of cell phones and computers you'll never notice the age off the writing. Both stories are also complete and a great deal together which I would highly recommend to paranormal junkies. Cheers

Saturday, August 20, 2011

~REVIEW of Nicholas Sparks': A BEND IN THE ROAD~

4 of 5 stars

Opening Line: “On the morning of August 29, 1988, a little more than two years after his wife had passed away, Miles Ryan stood on the back porch of his house, smoking a cigarette, watching as the rising sun slowly changed the morning sky from dusky grey to orange.”

Nicholas Sparks is like comfort food, I always know going in the kind of emotional love story I’m going to get and I can count on being sucked into the lives, loves and heartache of his small town characters. They’re written realistically, I mean I feel like I know them, flaws and all and I usually want to move to whatever town it is he’s describing. Sure sometimes the stories are predictable and I find that the couple de jour spouts the “I love you’s” too soon for my liking or realism’s sake but still his stories are always a pleasure to read, which is what keeps me coming back for more.

A BEND IN THE ROAD was a surprise in that it keeps a sense of mystery going throughout, often leaving the main couples love story and allowing us into the mind of the anonymous “bad guy”. Slowly unravelling their story until the shocking big reveal at the end. I honestly didn’t know how Sparks was going to wrap things up here, his couples doesn’t always end up together and that too added to the mystery.

Sheriff’s deputy Miles Ryan is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved wife in a hit-and-run accident nearly two years ago. High school sweethearts, theirs was a love destined to last and Miles can’t seem to let go of the grief or the fact that as an officer of the law he’s been unable to find the person responsible. If it weren’t for their young son Jonah it’s unlikely that Miles would find the strength to get through the day.

Which brings into play Jonah’s second grade teacher Sarah Andrews. When Jonah begins having trouble keeping up in school Sarah offers to tutor him and a tentative relationship begins to form. Sarah is running away from a bad divorce (is there a good one?) and has a few skeletons in her closet as well. Our couple fall in love pretty fast (from one page to the next) and are just beginning to see a real future together when Miles’ past comes back, tearing everything apart. Unwilling to let go of his dead wife and obsessed with finding her killer and ultimately closure I can honestly say that I was surprised by events I didn’t see coming.

As I hinted at earlier I really enjoyed getting inside the head of the hit-and-run driver and slowly discovering who it was, becoming very sympathetic towards their situation. However I could have done without spending so much time running around with county sheriff Charlie and subsequently the middle parts of this story lagged. Still a recommended read. Cheers!

~Last movie I watched-THE WAY BACK~

.53 of 5 stars

An incredible story (these men escaped a Russian gulag and WALKED from Siberia to India, I mean come on.) Anyways...

Based on the memoir THE LONG WALK which was written in 1959. I had really been looking forward to this movie after reading the amazing true story and maybe my expectations were too high but I came away a little disappointed. Actually preferring the book over the movie (except for the lack of Colin Ferrell)  

The movie itself was very long movie and kind of jumped around a lot. Granted they had a lot of material to cover. Ed Harris was excellent as American Mr Smith (love him) and Colin Ferrell (love him a bit more) was awesome as a tattooed gang-style prisoner, with an amazing Russian accent. As a point of interest his character is not in the book. The scenes in the blizzard and the Gobi desert stand out to me and are brutal but well done.

Official IMDB Synopsis:
In 1941, three men reach India from Tibet, having walked 4000 miles after escaping a Siberian gulag. The film tells their story and that of four others who escaped with them and a teenage girl who joins them in flight. The group's natural leader is Janusz, a Pole condemned by accusations secured by torturing his wife; he knows how to live in the wilds. They escape under cover of a snowstorm: a cynical American, a Russian thug, a comic accountant, a pastry chef who draws, a priest, and a Pole with night blindness. They face freezing nights, lack of food and water, mosquitoes, an endless desert, the Himalayas, and moral questions of when to leave someone behind.