Archive | March 2013

Relax Riesling 03/30/13

relax riesling Riesling is one of the few white wines that I really like. I don’t like dry wines – so I mostly avoid whites. Hubby prefers whites so…we buy what I want most of the time, lol. This one is more for him. We tasted it when we went to a seafood restaurant during Lent and both of us liked it. When I saw someone purchasing a bottle recently, I had to get one for hubby (and me!).

This particular riesling is a sweet wine though the bottle says it’s “medium sweet.” I think I like the spicier ones the most but the sweet ones are good, too. The color is a nice golden yellow and – while its pretty sweet (which to me means it has a low alcohol content) – the legs *I think* are pretty strong. It smells pretty strongly of fruit. I’m not good enough to tell which kinds but I think I smell apples and pears.*

*The bottle says apples, peaches and a hint of citrus

Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines

goblin quest

Jig is a scrawny little nearsighted goblin-a runt even among his puny species. Captured by a party of adventurers searching for a magical artifact, and forced to guide them, Jig encounters every peril ever faced on a fantasy quest.

I first heard about Jim C. Hines via a mention the Dear Author blog. Jim Hines created a hilarious poem based off of the song Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot. I laughed so hard when reading his poem Baby Got Books that I had to chase down his blog.

I learned that Jim Hines wrote comedic fantasy in the same vein as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Another Fine Myth. Delighted, I poked around his back list to locate a good starting place. I decided to start with Goblin Quest and I’m so happy I did.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this year. There’s not been much that has caught my attention. But this? This was wonderful! I had so much fun while still getting every single bit of a typical fantasy adventure. !!!

I loved Jig. He’s a great character. It was funny to read the point of view from someone who is normally considered “the bad guy.” Instead of being the bad guy, Jig is a totally awesome good guy. He helps others, he loves and cares, he’s smart and canny.

I’m currently waiting for the rest of this series to arrive. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Jig the Goblin Hero.

Song of the Beast by Carol Berg

song of the beast

From Carol Berg, acclaimed author of the Rai-Kirah series, comes the epic story of Aidan MacAllister, a musician beloved by the gods, whose voice and harp could transform the souls of men…

This review will be tweaked.

Aidan: the most talented bard of his generation, beloved of gods, follower of dragons and cousin to the king, is imprisoned and tortured for 17 years.

Why? Aidan is clueless.

This book follows Aidan as he struggles to live after 17 years of torture and abuse. It also focuses on Aidan’s journey to learn why he was imprisoned.

I didn’t expect to like this book. When I read the blurb I thought, “Sounds sad, not for me.” (I’m a wussy. No dark and gritty for me) The only reason I read this one was because it was the Fantasy Aficionados book of the month pick. As a Mod…I’m sorta supposed to participate. 😉

After jumping through hoops galore to borrow this book from my library…I still put off reading it for a day or two. Finally, I sat down one day to thumb through it…and I looked up several hours later. Finished.

Carol Berg is a wonderful storyteller. The way she crafts her words are something to stand up and notice.

I was right…this is a sad story. Aidan is a ruined wreck of a body when he gets out of prison. His triumphs – for the most part – are far and very small. The story itself is rather bittersweet…and there’s some major betrayal going on. And that’s what makes Berg so powerful an author: I HATE everything I just mentioned in a book! Seriously, I am very much a wussy reader who hates sad stories. But I could not put this book down. I doubt that I’ll reread the entire book but I did reread a few sections and the end already (thus the 5 stars).

I’m not going to lie – I cried like a baby reading this book. This book is heart breaking but the ending is full of…the beginning of healing, of hope reborn. I don’t know…it just touched me. A lot.

SPOILER BELOW!!  Highlight text with cursor to read.

The way that Narim stalked and set up Aidan throughout his life was simply disgusting to me. Someone should done the world a favor and stuck a knife in his back.

Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood


Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire the Slayer in this original urban fantasy eBook about Geekomancers—humans that derive supernatural powers from pop culture. Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.

When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.

Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?

Have you ever read such a good [fantasy] book that by the end of it you believed in magic…if only a little? Or maybe watched Star Wars, episode 2 and walked away from it feeling that if you only found a Master and practiced your latent Jedi powers would manifest? What about reading one of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels and then find yourself shopping for a trench coat and a skull? Or walking away from an episode of Firefly itching for a sixshooter and a spaceship…?

If so, this is the book for you. Geekomancy is a love song written by a geek for geeks. This book is pure comedy wish fulfillment for the person who wishes that the force really exists.

Ree Reyes is a screenwriter (see “barista”) who suddenly finds herself in a world in which magic exists…and that the geeky TV shows, books, movies and games that she has always loved powered that world.

Ree jumps into this newfound world of magic and danger with both feet…and of course she gets slapped sideways, lol. Ree has does has help, however. Her introduction to “Geekomancy” (the use of magic fueled from the world of Pop Culture) is by Eastwood, a scruffy old Geekomancer who becomes her mentor. She also hooks up with another character that totally stole the show for me, Drake, a Steampunk inventor and adventurer extraordinaire. I ♥ Drake. As you wish. 😉

Ree and Eastwood’s task is simple (on the surface): find out who is causing a string of teenaged virgin suicides and stop them before they kill again. But…as anyone who’s ever read any Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Comic books or played any MMO RPGs…things are never quite as simple as they seem.

There are a great many geektasic references that a reader may or may not get. This books is hip deep in geek references like D&D, Firefly, BSG, Gaiman, RPGs, MMORPGs, comics, anything Joss Whedon (of course), Doctor Who, Sherlock gets a mention, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Princess Bride (book and movie), Dresden, Steampunk and I even detected a hint of Bleach…. There are a lot of references (too many references?) and I didn’t get all of them. I think it would be almost a drinking game to get them all, lol (*ahem* or maybe a great companion book? If you read this and do it, Underwood, I want acknowledgements! lol) As I haven’t read any Gaiman (shoot me, ok? I own a few…but I’m being very hipster about the whole “Gaiman” thing) I had to look up the Sandman reference (that I caught). I had to look up a couple of things, TBH. But I didn’t feel that it really distracted from the story in any way.

If you didn’t live your childhood with your face planted in a book/video/computer game or you didn’t get most or any of those comments I made in the above paragraph…this may not be the book for you. But…if you want some fun brain candy that doesn’t take itself too seriously AND you have a sense of humor yourself, this is a great book to read! Note: Please keep Wikipedia on hand.

A lot of people have complained about the beginning RPG references…which I ate up with a spoon (I will keel you yet, Diablo!!) but one of my biggest problems was the characterization of Ree. She…was a little too gun-ho and a little too much of a know it all. I get that she’s 23ish and people of that age seem to feel immortal…but she took it to the next level sometimes and I occasionally wanted to slap her. She’s like the protagonist that just blunders into plotlines. Much like the standard orphan hero that finds the “special sword” and instantly becomes a better swordsman than a master…Ree stumbles and bumbles her way into a win over people/entities she should not be able to overcome.

The book dragged a bit starting around 50% but it picked back up again around 65% – 70%. And I had a major issue with the ending. A major issue. A issue so large that I’m not sure how the author plans to redeem this problem in book 2. To avoid spoilers but still giving hints…it’s a serious Bleach type of event. Let’s just say that Ree was Ichigo and entered the Soul Society for a bit. Ugh, I guess. But I have certain plans to read book 2 when it comes out.

I also want to make a point to say that I greatly appreciated this book for one more thing. The complete and TOTAL lack of sex. There’s not a lick of (hehe, I said lick) of sex in this book. Nor is there any smooching or heavy petting. There is no scantily clad, stiletto boot wearing angry UF Chick with a sword marching around. There’s no Romance in this book. Well…there’s a slight hint of geeky love…that you might catch if you get the reference. And the MC is a woman. A regular woman working a regular job who will get her ass fired if she doesn’t show up to work. Sleep is mentioned quite frequently…as in she gets none and wants some with her entire heart.

I had a hard time scoring this one. Its wavering between a 3 and a 4. I’d love for the author to make the book a bit more accessible to the non-geeks and I’d like for him to do a little more work on his female characterization. So, I’m going towards the 4 because I would pick up book 2, Celebromancy tomorrow. If it was available.

Bearing All by Tiffinie Helmer

bearing it all

All he wants for Christmas is her…
Former Russian spy, Sergei Lavinsky, code name The Bear, is hibernating on the edge of Alaska. He lures the woman he loves to the Edge of Reason Lodge, hoping enough time has passed that her heart has softened and her knives have dulled.

All she wants is revenge…
Kate “No Mercy” Mercer is a CIA Agent sent to assassinate him. Again. This time she intends to succeed without ending up in his bed. She has a dozen reasons to kill him, and one of them is personal.

They’ll be completely unwrapped before the holiday is over…

What did I think? I think I overrated this with 3 stars, lol.

But seriously, I liked quite a bit of it but disliked others. The heroine is an US Spy who has gone rouge to kill a former Russian spy living in the US after defecting. She’s there to kill him because of the way he treated her (and the killing of her partner/mentor) 3 years or so previously.

Reading this book made me think of the major action scene in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. There was lots of major fighting going on there…but the difference between the movie and this book is that this book has the hero almost always clearly having the upper hand. Although the heroine is a great fighter, a great spy, well prepared and stealthy – the hero is portrayed as a better fighter, a better spy, more well prepared and even stealthyier. It kinda pissed me off – one of the reasons I love Mr. and Mrs. Smith is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s characters were portrayed as 100% equals (and sometimes she was his better in a few things…as women usually are :-)).

This book has the heroine getting played on all sides by the men surrounding her – in one way or another.

All in all, a decent book that I enjoyed. I just wish the heroine was even more bad ass.

Xmas Spark by Delphine Dryden

xmas spark

Jack’s Christmas list is short. He wants…
1. A violet wand
2. And his willing sub, Katie

When he finds both under the tree, Jack decides their first Christmas together is the perfect time to create some delightfully shocking traditions.

So, I think I must love Delphine Dryden, lol. This book is a “sequel” to the first book I read written by Ms. Dryden, When In Rio.

So excited about catching up with this couple!


I finished up last night. It was a very cute vignette that works the best if read 100% with When In Rio. There are just things that you will miss the importance of without it.

That being said…this book was pretty hot! (Or should that be shocking? LOL) While I’m not really into pain…the lower levels of the violet wand sound rather delicious and I would love to try. But starting at $150 $300 a pop and only going higher…I can see why Katie didn’t run out and buy a new gift!

I have to say I was kinda excited that they finally had anal sex! OMG, the scenes from When in Rio definitely deserved a follow up and I’m so glad she did!

All it all, a great short! I do think that the score would be lower if the book was not read after When in Rio for a lot of people.

ETA: I looked up the violet wand attachments… How perverse am I that I was excited to learn that electrical current through the person attachment really exists? So…for $350 you can also get all sparkly with the love of your life. 😉

The Unrequited Dom by Carolyn Faulkner

the unrequited dom

It wasn’t supposed to be like this between them. She knew it was wrong, but it was so very, very right at the same time.

Technically, Eden “Sugar” Maillheux had been Cash Daughtrey’s step-sister for more than a decade now, but she’d never felt sisterly towards him in the least, and, aside from the fact that he took to disciplining and controlling her very, very strictly – once she became an adult – it definitely wasn’t brotherly love that was radiating hotly from his side of the desk he bent her over so often, either.

Cash’s brand of lovingly strict discipline naturally developed into something more – much more between them – wildly hot lovemaking that took her breath away every time she thought of it, and kept her coming back for more through out her college years.

Yet it wasn’t quite enough to ease her mind about the rightness of those deep, dark desires, and she moved away, taking his heart with him.

But he ruthlessly used the only means that presented itself a few years later to get her back on his land, knowing he would never again let her go.

3 stars with major reservations

I’m starting to think that Carolyn Faulkner is the Queen of Great Blurbs…because this is the 3rd book of hers that I’ve read that sucked me in via the blurb. She should give lessons, lol. I’m not sure how this keeps happening.

I have to say…I liked this one a lot better than the first one (Kept) but just as the last one (Skye’s Submission) this one has some glaring problems.
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The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams

war of the flowers

Returning to the fantasy genre that made him a coast-to-coast best-selling phenomenon, Tad Williams has written a new stand-alone contemporary novel set in Northern California-and also in the strange parallel world that coexists in the farthest reaches of the imagination.

Theo Vilmos is a thirty-year-old lead singer in a not terribly successful rock band. Once, he had enormous, almost magical, charisma both onstage and off-but now, life has taken its toll on Theo. Hitting an all-time low, he seeks refuge in a isolated cabin in the woods-and reads an odd memoir written by a dead relative who believed he had visited the magical world of Faerie. And before Theo can disregard the account as the writings of a madman, he, too, is drawn to a place beyond his wildest dreams…a place filled with be, and has always been, his destiny.

This book.

This book should be called “Depression in 5 easy steps.”

It starts with our hero. 30 y/o Theo who sings in a garage band with high school students.

It progresses to his girlfriend having a horrible bloody miscarriage while he’s out playing around with said teenagers.

Moving on from there, his girlfriend dumps him and kicks him out (agreed) and then 30 y/o Theo moves in with mom.

Depressed yet? No? Don’t worry, I have more.

Turns out Mom has cancer…and she dies after a few months.

So Theo then sells mom’s house…to a couple who get brutally murdered inside that same house within the month.

Guess what page we’re on? 88.Yeah, there’s no way I want to read more of this. But Carol has a wonderful review of what else depressing and asshole-ly actions Theo gets up to here:

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar

blood smoke and mirrors

Photobucket Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian — until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.

Please Note: There are some small spoilers in this review. If you want no spoilers at all, please do not read this review.

This book went down the crapper so quickly after 40% that it damn near gave me whiplash. O_o The difference between the two parts of this book are SO VAST that I have separated them: Book I, Part I and Book I, Part II
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Kissing Phoenix by Shona Husk

kissing phoenix Blurb:

When Lilith fell into lust with musician Aidan, she never expected it to last. And she was right. Her doctor has given her months to live, and telling Aidan is the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Aidan has been keeping his own secret. He is a Vampire . . . but he can’t turn Lilith to save her. The solution he proposes is illegal and dangerous and breaks every rule set up to protect non-humans from humans. He doesn’t care. He will do anything to save the woman he loves.

Discovering the kiss of a Vampire and reveling in the erotic thrill, Lilith realizes her feelings are deeper than lust. But is giving up her humanity worth it?

This one was different. I liked the take on vampires – that they don’t have to have blood – Very different than most.

I also liked that the couple had to deal with a problem that was much bigger than “being different” – the heroine was dying of cancer. The hero didn’t have the ability to cure her with vampirism (unlike almost all other vampire romances). I loved the complexity of the entire situation.But all in all, it just wasn’t satisfying for some reason. Maybe it was too shallow (this is a novella) for such deep subjects or maybe it was the complete lack of wish fulfillment in the relationship? I can’t put my finger on it, however. It just left me wanting.