Lover Unleashed by JR Ward

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

Brace yourself. I think that this is the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book that I have read that I am not giving a 5 Star review to. Before we go there, it has nothing to do with how I liked the book. I actually liked it a lot more than I thought. The real issue is that I wanted more. Not that this book didn’t pack a lot into it, there was an awful lot going on. I just wanted more on everything that was there.

Lover Unleashed was Manny and Payne’s story, but as usual, theirs were not the only story told. Jane, V, Butch, Qhuinn and others all had voices in this one. Just a word of warning, as usual, V tore me up in this one. I didn’t think it was possible after Lover Unbound to feel anymore compassion toward the guy, but trust me. If you are a fan of V you are going to want to reach into this book and hug him, hard. You’re also going to want to share some of that love and compassion for Butch. Come to think of it, I’m not sure which one of these two deserves it more. I’ve always had a soft spot for Butch, Lover Unleashed just made it softer. *sigh*

I felt for Jane in Lover Unleashed as well, but most of the time, she just made me mad. I know that probably wasn’t fair, because the reader knows more than she does, but her reactions just drove me crazy in some cases. JR Ward has a habit of bringing out the ‘mom’ in me though. Sometimes I just want to grab some of these characters by the collar, lock them in a room together and give them a huge time out!

Speaking of which, there is no one in Lover Unleashed that I wanted to lock in a room together for enlightenment more than Qhuinn and Blay. They don’t even really communicate period in this book, but the turmoil that they put each other through is heart breaking. Besides that, I don’t have any real concrete reason to dislike Saxton, but I really do. There is just something about him that rubs me wrong. Maybe it’s just because he isn’t Qhuinn? Yeah, that might be it.

Lover Unleashed is another book that leaves out the Lesser POV. That’s okay though, because you get introduced to an even more interesting group of …. well, you’ll have to read Lover Unleashed to see what’s coming. These guys are going to play a huge role in the next BDB books, I’m sure. Ward also uses Lover Unleashed to introduce her feature character in Envy, which is part of her Fallen Angel series. I know some people weren’t happy about this introduction and I can respect that. I didn’t share their disappointment though. I’m a fan of both series, and I actually like it when the two ‘worlds’ interact in some way.

So what did I want more of? Actually, all of it. I wanted more of Payne and Manny, more of V, Jane and Butch with a little more Marissa thrown in and mostly I think I wanted more of Qhuinn and Blay with a little bit more from Blay’s POV. I still loved the book and I know that there is more in store for Manny, which is good. I was happy with the ending, but I know his story is far from over. If you haven’t read any of Ward’s Fallen Angel series, now would be a good time to start. You don’t need to read one series to appreciate the other, but it does make it more cohesive in the long run. What’s next for the Black Dagger Brotherhood? Unfortunately, fans of the BDB boys will have to wait until the end of March 2012 to find out. Lover Reborn will be Tohr’s book. Something tells me more tears will be involved. *sigh*

Khantara by Michelle Franklin

Khantara tells the story of the Den Assan Rautu’s mother and father.

Khantara is a Haanta conqueror, meant to wage war and rule over the enemy nation of Thellis, but after vanquishing Thellis and occupying a construction of a Haanta outpost, he meets Anelta, a woman enslaved by her own people bearing a brand of servitude on her neck. Khantara contrives to save her from a cruel home and bring her to the refuge his people can provide, but how can he do so successfully when the eyes of Thellis are upon him?

Once again, I became lost in the poetic prose of Michelle Franklin. I was first introduced to her writing when I read The Commander and Den Assan Rautu and so far, she has pleasantly surprised me with each new installment.

Khantara isn’t a long read, only 108 pages in the PDF that I read from, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. You can get a taste of Michelle’s writing style in the experts I pulled for her tour.

I really liked this introduction to Rautu’s parents. It gives you a sense of where he came from. It makes it obvious where Rautu gained his sense of loyalty given the traits that Khantara possesses in this story. The gentleness and patience that Khantara shows Anelta is beautiful. Giants aren’t normally depicted in the manner that Michelle has created them in her unique world. That in itself makes this series one worth reading.

If you haven’t introduced yourself to Michelle’s writing, Khantara would be a perfect place to start with as it can easily stand alone. The fact that it gives those of us who have read The Commander and Den Assan Rautu a glimpse into the history of Rautu makes it even more enticing.

Bout-of-Books 3.0 – 1/9/12 – 1/15/12

Yep, it’s that time again. The Hosts have been assigned, Schedule has been set, Prizes have been gathered (all thanks to Amanda’s amazing organizational skills :) ) The only thing missing is YOU! The Master List form is now up on our brand new Bout-of-Books blogspot. So, what are you waiting for? I’ll be posting more soon, including my goals as soon as I have them set. After you sign up, check out all the fun stuff we have planned for the week. You were gonna read that week anyway, right? Why not have fun and meet a great bunch of fellow readers while you’re at it? The basic info is below. If you need any more info, stop by the Bout-of-Books blog.

 

Here is your must-know information about Bout of Books:

  • Bout of Books will run from 12:01am 1/9 through 11:59 pm 1/15 (your time zone)
  • However, all posts on this blog and the challenges at the co-hosts’ blogs will publish at midnight CST (or UTC-6).
  • Read as much as you can whenever you can. The only person you are competing against here is yourself. There is no pressure.  Commit to the entire week or a few hours – whatever works best for your schedule.
  • Bout of Books should be about networking with fellow bloggers in addition to reading. You were going to read that week anyway, right? Bout of Books gives you the opportunity to share your reading experience with other readers.
  • Use #boutofbooks on Twitter to update people on your progress and what you are reading. Feel free to follow me (@BookBender) and your co-hosts (links in the side bar) for Bout of Books information, but please do NOT @ me (or the co-hosts) with all your updates. Using #boutofbooks should suffice. I will try to repopulate the Bout of Books Twitter list.  For ideas for using Twitter to your advantage during the read-a-thon, visit our Twitter Tips page.
  • All challenges and giveaways are separate, meaning you can participate in any challenge even if you are not interested in the prize that day.  All giveaway information can be found on the Giveaway page.
  • Help spread the word!  Grab the button in the side bar and post it on your blog.  Tweet.  The more people we have participating, the more fun it will be.
By creativedeeds

Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge 2012

You know how your mom always said “just because all your friends are doing it doesn’t mean that you have to do it too?” Evidently I haven’t grown out of that urge to play follow the leader. In this case, I think that is a very good thing. Who doesn’t like ‘free?’ I for one am a big fan. I habitually visit Amazon’s free ebook listings just to see what’s there. Unfortunately, a lot of those freebees are still sitting on my Kindle unread. That, my dear readers is a crime. I plan on taking care of some of those in another challenge, but I will inevitably download more. Hopefully with this challenge I will be sure to read them in a more timely manner. One can only hope. What makes this challenge even more tempting is that it is co-hosted by my reading bully … er buddy Kelly at Reading the Paranormal and Missie at The Unread Reader. When I found out that Amanda at On a Book Bender  and Hannah at Once Upon a Time were participating I honestly didn’t have a choice.

You’ll find all the details below. If you want to participate and you need more info, just follow the link to Missie’s page. How many books do I plan on reading? I’ll start with 12, which puts me in the Coupon Clipper category and only requires me to read 1 book a month. That, I think is completely doable. I will also probably cross over some of my books into my other challenge and the inevitable read-a-thons that I’m participating in. I’ll be sure to let everyone know as I review, which challenge I’m applying the books to. Since I didn’t keep track of all the books that I read last year, I’m hoping these challenges will help me in more ways than one.
Here is how it works:

  • Should you choose to participate in this challenge, your goal is to read at least twelve (12) legally obtained FREE e-books. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit.
  • Anyone can join. You don’t have to be a blogger, and you don’t have to live in the United States.
  • Any E-Reader will work for this challenge, including: iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, enTourage.
  • Please Note: If you don’t have an e-reading device, you can still join in with Amazon’s Free Kindle Reading Apps which you can download for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Blackberry and more.
  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You can join at anytime.
  • e-books in ANY genre count for this challenge as long as it was FREE at the time that you downloaded it.
  • Every month in 2012, I will make a post for the Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge 2012 so you can link your reviews.  Based on participation, monthly link ups may be combined.
  • Those that link their reviews will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a different prize each month, such as an Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card, a bookmark, or a GelaSkins for your e-Reader.

Challenge Guidelines:

  • If you have a blog, create a post announcing your participation in the challenge. Please include a link back to this post.
  • Non bloggers: participate by linking up your profile URL from the site you plan to post your reviews on such as Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
  • When you post your book review, you MUST reveal how you obtained the free & legal download. Please make your source clear.
  • You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them.
  • Crossovers to other reading challenges is acceptable, but ARCs/galley e-books DO NOT count. Again, this is a Reading Challenge to read as many of the FREE e-books legally offered for your e-reader. To get started, check out the Top 100 Free books on Amazon, or the Free e-books on Barnes & Noble.
  • Any linked reviews that do not meet the guidelines will not be entered into the monthly drawing for the prize of the month.

Levels:
Coupon Clipper: 12 Books
Penny Pincher: 24 Books
Super Saver: 30+ Books

Please visit this post to sign up for the challenge: Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge 2012!

Places where you can legally grab some free e-books:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
All Romance eBooks: offers random freebie books throughout the year (signing up for the newsletter to get updates)
Pocket After Dark: offers free online reads that change monthly and/or bi-monthly
Sony’s Reader Store: occasionally pops up with free books that aren’t available at Amazon or B&N
Harlequin: offers Freebie Friday
Sourcebooks: offers monthly freebies
Books on the Knob pulls freebies from around the web in different genres for reader consumption

By creativedeeds

In My Mailbox 12-25-11

In My Mail Box is hosted by The Story Siren and is an opportunity to share the books we receive each week.

Yep, it’s Christmas Day. I would have posted this last Sunday, but since I didn’t actually receive most of these books until Monday, I decided not to cheat. I usually don’t get books for myself every week so I doubt if this will ever be a weekly post for me, but we’ll see. The more I blog, the more I find creative ways (and reasons) to acquire books. ;)

The first books that I ordered from Amazon were chosen because they needed to be read. I think they’ll fit nicely into my TBR Pile Challenge for 2012. Since 11/22/63 sparked my interest in Stephen King again, I decided to get Bag of Bones. I also didn’t want to start watching the new series based on the book before actually reading the book. There are actually movies that I still haven’t seen because I have yet to read the book. I’m funny like that. My second purchase was a book I chose because for some reason I’ve just been putting off reading it. When a group of fellow bloggers participated in a read-a-long I felt a pang of sadness because I didn’t have the book. That’s what led to my purchase of If I Stay. When my daughter saw it she said, “wow Mom, you’ve wanted to read that one forever.”

Now, thanks to some very persuasive book bullies, I felt the need to fortify my personal library with Books 2 & 3 in Thea Harrison’s The Elder Races series. Hence, Storm’s Heart and Serpent’s Kiss also got delivered to my mailbox this week. True, I haven’t read Dragon Bound yet, but I’ve been told that I will fall in love with this series and I’ve learned to take the sage advice of others and also to always be prepared.

Then there was the Black Dagger Brotherhood influence in my book purchasing this week. I’ve been (re)reading all the books in the series along with a few other obsessed bloggers. It started out as a way to convince a few of our nearest and dearest to take the plunge and start reading the books. Let’s face it though, any excuse for some of us will do. I’m working my way up to my first read of Lover Unleashed. However, I had never read Father Mine and couldn’t think of a better time to rectify that over site. Like I said, any excuse. ;)

What else came in my mailbox this past week? Well, even though it isn’t a book, my interest in this movie was started with a book. Actually with 7 books. Of course I’m talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Nope, I’ve never watched the movie. I usually don’t watch movies in theaters and wait for the DVD. I quizzed everyone in my family and was assured that no one was getting it for me for Christmas so I broke down and bought it for myself.

And then, just when I thought my week of bright and shiny additions to my mailbox was over, I found out that I WON A KINDLE FIRE! That’s right, you heard me. I entered Trish McCallan’s Kindle Fire Giveaway/Drawing and I actually won! It’s safe to say that this was the highlight of my week. I was beyond excited and still am. Yay Me! And a huge thank you to Trish, for not only offering this giveaway but for doing her part to acknowledge other independent, self published authors.

So there you have it. That was what was in my mailbox the week before Christmas. If I get anything special from Santa I’ll be sure to share it with you next week. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

By creativedeeds

Follow Friday – 12/23/11

Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee’s View and  Alison Can Read. This week’s question is:

If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?

Well, my first gut reaction to this question was Harry Potter even before I read Parajunkee’s response. I love Hogwarts and the magic and the friendships and the ….. well, I could go on forever. After thinking about it a little while longer, I decided that it was a toss up. I could also spend eternity inside the pages of Cassie Clare’s Infernal Devices books. It’s not only because of Jem and Will either. ;) I love the romantic era of Victorian England and I would also be surrounded by fiercely loyal friends and all the magic I could handle. Perfect!

So what pages would you like to find yourself lost in?

By creativedeeds

Khantara by Michelle Franklin Virtual Book Tour

Khantara tells the story of the Den Asaan Rautu’s mother and father.

Khantara is a Haanta conqueror, meant to wage war and rule over the enemy nation of Thellis, but after vanquishing Thellis and occupying a construction of a Haanta outpost, he meets Anelta, a woman enslaved by her own people bearing a brand of servitude on her neck. Khantara contrives to save her from a cruel home and bring her to the refuge his people can provide, but how can he do so successfully when the eyes of Thellis are upon him?

Khantara is the first standalone novel in the Haanta series. I was first introduced to this series when I read The Commander and the Den Asaan Rautu. It was then that I fell in love with Michelle’s writing style and world building talent. This story about giants and magic took me totally by surprise. Michelle also has several short stories and collections that go along with her Haanta series. One of the most entertaining has to be Tales from Frewyn – The Opera.

As I was reading Khantara in preparation for this tour, I was once again drawn into the wonderful and entertaining world Michelle has artfully created. I’ll have my review posted soon, but for now I thought I’d  share a few of my favorite excerpts.

This is the first image we get of Khantara:

“While Khantara may have been foreboding in stature, he was kindly in countenance. His long grey and molded locks acquitted him of tidiness, his yellow irises and black sclera gave him an air of uncommon penetration, his dark grey and stone-like skin boasted of a life spent in training, but his cloak, long and black, sleek and draping, made him seem a walking shadow.”

Here is an excerpt describing the first time Khantara sees Anelta:

“Khantara could bear the sight of the woman standing before the dreadful home no longer. He must try to assist and console her, if she would accept his company, but as he separated from the shadows and walked toward her, he was stopped by the sight of a strange brand on the side of her neck. The Thellisian symbol for ‘marked’ was burned into her flesh, and though it could not answer for the exchange he had just witnessed, it could explain her bare feet and poor dress. He was aware of Thellisian slaves and thought her to be one, but her missing restraints, upright figure and elegant hands told him otherwise. He found, however, other features to excite his curiosity: a braid of thick hair so long as to sweep the backs of her thighs was his chief delight; blue-green eyes and a tinge of colour in her cheeks were his other concerns. He made a slow approach as she wiped her tears, and he bowed to her to gain her attention and convey his gentle civility.”

Both excerpts illustrate Michelle’s poetic detail and descriptive talent. It’s easy to get lost in her prose and become a part of the world and people she describes. I hope this little taste of Michelle’s work will entice you to sample her Haanta series for yourself.

Michelle Franklin’s Amazon Author Page

Michelle Franklin’s Blog

Megg Jensen’s Sleepers Gets a Brand New Cover!

Introducing the new artwork for Megg Jensen’s bestselling novel SLEEPERS

To celebrate the re-launch of SLEEPERS in January of 2012, Megg is giving it a new cover with artwork from the incredible PhatPuppy.

Synopsis: An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she’s filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.

Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?

On sale now for only 99 cents!

See my 5 Star review of Sleepers here. Still not convinced? You can check out more reviews on Goodreads.

Sales outlets for SLEEPERS:

http://meggjensen.blogspot.com/p/where-to-buy-meggs-books.html

Megg on the web:

Website: http://www.meggjensen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/meggjensenauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/meggjensen

By creativedeeds

The Seven Year Witch by Jodi Redford

After this much foreplay, something’s bound to combust.

As head mistress of Beaumont coven house, Clarissa Miles has perfected two things: keeping her sister witches from accidentally turning innocent bystanders into toads, and resisting the sexy overtures of her familiar, werewolf Logan Scott.

But her resolve is vanishing—fast. Seven years ago she sold her soul to save her father, and that contract is coming due. The allure of spending her last days indulging in some dirty, naked loving is too tempting to resist.

Logan has patiently ridden out the past seven years, content to do Clarissa’s bidding and ignoring his consuming need to mark her as his. Now that the ban on witch/familiar fraternizing has been lifted, he’s off the leash and ready to launch a full-on sensual assault on her defenses. They’re destined mates, and he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her.

It’s delightfully easy to get her in bed. Get at her heart? Not so much. Especially when a deadly predator stakes its claim on her…and Logan faces a battle not only to win her heart, but save her soul.

Warning: This book contains a villain with more personalities than Sybil, a witch in search of redemption and a dirty-talking werewolf hell-bent on claiming his mate in every wicked, sexy way possible. Spontaneous howling may occur.

The Seven Year Witch is the second book in Jodi Redford’s That Old Black Magic series. It pretty much takes up where the first book in the series, That Voodoo You Do, left off.

I love the mix of paranormals that Jodi has created. The concept of witches and familiars isn’t a new one, but the connection that Jodi’s witches have with their shape shifting familiars is a unique spin. It also leaves the door wide open for territorial, alpha male possessiveness that the author takes full advantage of ~ in very creative ways. (Let’s just say it will be a long time before I drink champagne without certain images coming to mind.) ;)

This book was about two very strong willed, fiercely loyal individuals. We found out at the end of That Voodoo You Do that Logan wanted Clarissa. In The Seven Year Witch we find out exactly how much he wants her and how deep his love goes. I fell in love with Logan’s snarkiness in the first book. He was sarcastic, funny and my original description of him being ‘a mess’ still stands. He was the personification of bad boy. Not at all the character that I expected to be capable of breaking my heart. Well, brace yourself. The pain that both of these characters go through is heart wrenching. Clarissa is in a no win situation and does the only thing she feels she can do to save a loved one. Logan refuses to give up even when he’s pushed away. *sigh*

There’s still a lot of light-hearted banter between the characters. Not to mention the steaminess that you would expect in That Old Black Magic series. There’s a lot of action and the ‘bad guy’ in this one is beyond evil, so basically, there is something for everyone. Well, probably not everyone, but if you read That VooDoo You Do and want to know if the sequel measures up? No worries. Jodi delivers just as much in The Seven Year Witch as she did in the opening book. There is also some nice set-up to the next book in the series, Maximum Witch. I can’t wait to see what Jodi has in store for us next. ;)

Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward

In Caldwell, New York, war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now the cold heart of a cunning predator will be warmed against its will…

Ruthless and brilliant, Vishous, son of the Bloodletter, possesses a destructive curse and a frightening ability to see the future. As a pretrans growing up in his father’s war camp he was tormented and abused. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has no interest in love or emotion, only the battle with the Lessening Society. But when a mortal injury puts him in the care of human surgeon, Dr. Jane Whitcomb compels him to reveal his inner pain and taste true pleasure for the first time-until a destiny he didn’t choose takes him into a future that cannot include her.

Oh Vishous. *sigh*

I’m not really sure where to begin. This book was one of my favorites. Not just because of Vishous and Mary, but because of all the other tangents that this one took off on. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve read it. Almost impossible to explain if you haven’t read any of the other books, but here goes nothing.

I think one of my favorite relationships in all of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books is the one between Vishous and Butch. They’ve had the best friend vibe ever since the two of them were introduced in Dark Lover. I love the way they interact, I love the bond that they have and I love the way that Vishous is tormented by his feelings and Butch just accepts them. It’s probably something that I should be totally weirded out by, but I never have. I guess, like Butch, I just accept it. As smart as Vishous is, Butch is sometimes smarter when it comes to feelings. Maybe that’s where the balance comes in. Whatever it is, it works for me and I hope it continues throughout the rest of the series.

Phury and his personal demons come front and center in Lover Unbound. That’s only fitting since the next book in the series is Phury’s Lover Enshrined. Phury is a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood who hides his demons well. You begin to see things start to unravel for him in Lover Unbound though. It’s a great glimpse into what’s to come in his book.

Lover Unbound also features more of the mystery of John Matthew. This is one character that is built upon a little more in each book. Be patient, even if you don’t understand what all the fuss is about. He is a character that deserves every bit of the build up he is given. Besides, what’s not to love about John Matthew? Quinn and Blay are characters that deserve the extra attention too. The more you read the BDB books, the more you realize that face time with characters isn’t something to be taken lightly. They will more than likely return.

One of the things that I found pleasantly missing from this book was the Lesser point of view. I always read them, unless I’m doing a reread, because they do give you some insight and important details. Vishous’ back story and history in Lover Unbound more than makes up for the lack of Lesser POV. It also gives you some important details into the history of some other characters. Some of these backgrounds are really hard to read because Ward doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the pain that these characters have endured in the past. They are important to read though because they give the reader some insight into how these brothers became who they are today.

This was the third time that I read Lover Unbound. I’m warning first time readers now that there will be tears. I got to a certain point and didn’t want to go on because I knew what was coming. The power of Ward’s writing is that no matter how many times I read it and how prepared I think I may be, certain scenes effect me the same way every time. That’s why I keep coming back for more.