Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Temporary Hiatus

Besides my husband, I honestly can’t think of one thing I love more than reading and sharing my love of books.

That being said, life sometimes creeps up and bites you in the behind when you least expect it, and for me, life has been chipping away at me for awhile. So, starting today I’m going to be putting Books, According to Nicole on a temporary hiatus. You’ll still be able to follow my reviews over at The Book Pushers and chat with me about books on Twitter and Goodreads.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review - Hunting Human by Amanda Alvarez

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: 3/28/11
How I got this book: NetGalley

For two years, Beth Williams has run from the past, and the beast that dwells inside her. She is haunted by memories of being kidnapped and the savage attack that killed her best friend. Now Beth finally thinks she's ready to move on...with Braden Edwards, a charming, irresistibly sexy man who tempts Beth to embrace the present.

But the past lurks closer than Beth realizes. Markko Bolvek, one of the werewolves who kidnapped her, has tracked her to Portland, Oregon, his pursuit fueled by a hunger for vengeance. Only Braden, a werewolf himself, senses the danger shadowing her steps. The Edwards and Bolveks have been enemies for centuries—and despite the instant connection he feels with Beth, Braden isn't sure which side of the war she's on.

With suspicion at odds with their attraction, Beth and Braden must learn to trust one another to stop Markko for good. Can Beth accept the wolf within—and love a man who embodies everything she fears?

*Blurb from Goodreads*

Carina Press has been a little hot or miss for me, with many of their books being absolutely amazing and incredible, and some not so much, But I have to say, Hunting Human was one of the better stories I’ve read from them this year.

Beth has been on the run for some time now. She is settling in Oregon, wanting more than anything to make it her home. She has a job she loves, a home she likes, and a city that appeals to her human and forest that appeals to her wolf. When she starts becoming romantically involved with Braden, she wishes and hopes that she can find a way to make it her permanent home.

But she is still being chased, and Markko is not one to let bygones be bygones, and he wants blood. When he tracks Beth down, she finds herself in an even more precarious situation. Markko and Braden’s families have been at war forever, but suspicions run high in Braden’s family and they have their reservations about Beth’s loyalty. But once she proves just how horribly Markko ruined her life, they will do everything in their power to help her get out from under his threats.

I really enjoyed the world building of this one, and I hope that Alvarez continues to write in this world. I loved the way Alvarez was also able to weave such a well done suspense plot into it as well. I was constantly on my toes about what Markko’s next move would be, how Braden’s family would retaliate and so on. It was very well done.

The characters were great as well. I loved the way Beth was able to survive even after all the horrible and awful things that had happened to her. Her display of strength was incredible, and I loved that she didn’t back down on anything. Although I really enjoyed Braden at first, he kinda got on my nerves when he was so quick to jump to assumptions about Beth. I really wanted him to have a little more faith in her.

That being said, I was glad to see that Beth really made him work to make it up to her. It was refreshing to have a lead female character who was strong and yet no insecure in herself as well. The fact that she really stood up to Braden, forced him to prove how much he wanted her in his life, just made her all the more believable to me.

I thought the secondary characters were great as well. All of Braden’s family was so fun. The dynamic between them was full of love and craziness and fierce protection of one another. Braden’s sister was one of my favorites, and I really hope that if Alvarez continues writing in this world, that she gets a chance at her HEA.

I was happy with the resolution with the Markko saga. I loved the way that Alvarez compared him and Braden, showing how the insanity of being a shifter could really go one way or the other, but how destructive it can be to let the wolf take charge. It was a great contrast.

All in all, I give Hunting Human 4 out of 5 wolf stalkers!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

JIll Myles new book deal

A fabulous and talented author friend of mine, Jill Myles, announced on her blog yesterday that she signed a new book deal! You can find her post about it here.

To sum it up for you, Jill signed a two book deal to write for Berkley Heat under a pen name Jessica Clare. The first book in the series, When Sparks Fly is a contemporary romance set in a small Texas town called Bluebonnet. Jill sums up the first book:

Miranda Hill is the local librarian, with a naughty, unjustly deserved reputation for being the town slut. It’s left her with a few hangups, you see, and she can’t get past the moment that her reputation was destroyed. So when the man that destroyed it returns to town, she decides to get her revenge on him…but finds herself falling for him instead.

I can't wait to read these. Jill has such a fun voice, and her writing is always face paced and full of sexiness. The first book should be coming out summer of 2012.

Congratulations again and again Jill!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review - My One and Only by Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN
Publish Date: 3/29/11
How I got this book: NetGalley

Divorce attorney Harper James can't catch a break. Bad enough that she runs into her ex-hubby, Nick, at her sister's destination wedding, but now, by a cruel twist of fate, she's being forced to make a cross-country road trip with him. And her almost-fiancé back at home is not likely to be sympathetic. Harper can't help that Nick has come blazing back into her life in all of his frustratingly appealing, gorgeous architect glory. But in Nick's eyes, Harper's always been the one. If they can only get it right this time, forever might be waiting -- just around the bend.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Higgins and I have an ongoing love/hate relationship. Some of her books are absolutely incredible and I can’t stop thinking about them for days and days after I’ve finished it. Others made me want to scream and wish I could erase part of my brain. I’ve found it very hit or miss with her. I have to say though, My One and Only was an absolute HIT for me!!

Harper is a divorce attorney, jaded with relationships and stuck headed out to a wedding for her younger sister and her ex brother-in-law! Taking her boyfriend along for the ride doesn’t help, especially since she keeps running into her ex-husband Nick. After a disastrous weekend, her boyfriend heads home as no longer her boyfriend and Harper is stuck in a car, road tripping across the country with Nick. Being stuck in a car together runs havoc on their relationship, but will they be able to admit that maybe they were wrong going their separate ways all those years ago?

One of my biggest beefs with Higgins’ romance books are that many times it feels as if the romance is so rushed. Many times Higgins focuses on the character development of the heroine, and when there is finally a HEA, it feels forced and rushed. With My One and Only, Harper and Nick have lots and lots of screen time together, and I love the progression of their relationship from enemies to friends to lovers.

There were times in this book when Harper got on my nerves. She as always so pessimistic and down, although Nick was able to lighten her outlook, there were times I felt like she was just too much of a Debbie Downer. I wanted to poke her to get her to smile at times. I’ve always been a fan of Higgins’ heroes, and Nick was no exception. I loved that he knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. He was a good old boy, old fashioned respectful and yet just so male. Every time he came onto the page I was engrossed in everything about him. For me, Nick really made this story come to life.

Harper’s relationship with Dennis, the sexy firefighter and boyfriend was a little weird to me. As someone who dealt with divorce on an every day basis, why she even wanted to get married to anyone was beyond me. There are times I cringe at the situations that Higgins’ heroines get themselves into, and Harper and Dennis’ relationship just happen to be one of those things. I enjoyed Dennis as a side character, but saw his relationship with Harper as something that just didn’t completely add up.

One of the things I love about Higgins’s stories is her ability to realistically portray families, in all their craziness. Harper’s family had me laughing and cracking up, and falling in love with them every moment. Her stepmom and stepsister were so funny, providing a light comedic undertone. And Harper’s father was great as well, reminding me of my grandpa who struggled to show emotion, but you knew instinctually just how much he loved you.

All in all, I give My One and Only 3.5 out of 5 cross-country road trips!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review - Already Home by Susan Mallery

Publisher: HQN
Publish Date: March 29, 2011
How I got this book: NetGalley

After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She's supported her ex-husband's dreams for so long that she can't even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents' home and envisions her very own cooking store.

Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But just as she's gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.

Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex's latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love….

*Blurb from Goodreads*

I’ve come to count on Susan Mallery as being one of my favorite romance authors, but when I ready the blurb for Already Home, I was both intrigued and scared. I can always count on Mallery to provide a fabulous read full of romance. This blurb read to me like it was going to be more Chick Lit, and while I was somewhat nervous to try it, knew that Mallery wouldn’t let me down. I have to say, I was pretty surprised.

Jenna is recently divorced and her self-confidence has taken a nose dive. She returns home and buys a retail space on a whim. Determined to open her own cooking supply store, Jenna throws herself into her business. She hires Violet, a wild child but savvy store manager to help with everything. Once getting settled into her new life, her birth parents show up at the front door, wanting to have a relationship.

Jenna is suddenly being pulled in every direction imaginable. Her birth parents, adoptive parents, new friends, two brothers and new boyfriend are all vying for her time. But as time wears on and things get more and more hectic, Jenna will learn that just because there are more people in her life, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have enough love for all of them.

For fans of chick lit and family fiction, this read is a MUST BUY for you! Jenna’s journey of growth and self discovery are so well done. Plus, I loved watching her struggle with building her business. Makes me want to open a cooking store. (and I hate cooking!) While I don’t usually love these kinds of reads, Mallery does such an amazing job of pulling the reader into her world and character’s lives, I felt like I was a part of their world. Along with Jenna, Violet also gets the chance to really grow as well, having to experience a hardship that kills her faith in men. But with an unexpected friendship in Jenna’s newly discovered brother Dragon, she is able to regain that confidence.

The appearance of Jenna’s birth parents was great as well. I loved how hippyish Serenity and Tom were, they brought some crazy antics to the story line. Having known a few people who were adopted, the ever changing relationship between Jenna and her birth parents and adoptive parents was so interesting and well done. Mallery did an amazing job of capturing everyone’s emotions as they changed and evolved on a daily basis.

The tragedy that struck towards the end of the book had me in tears, and wishing that I could change the ending to make it a fairy tale. But, I understand why it had to happen, and could appreciate the way it really tied up everything.

All in all, I give Already Home 3.5 out of 5 cooking supply stores!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on... The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

I love Molly Harper. I have yet to read anything by her that I didn't immediately fall in love with, and the naked Werewolf Series is no exception. I feel in love with the folks from Alaska, and can't wait to see just how fun and crazy Maggie can really be. If you are a fan of Harper's Jane vampire books, you will definitely love these as well! The second book in the series, The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf releases March 29th. It's a definite MUST READ in my book!

Baring It All

Generations of werewolves have been secretly residing in a secluded valley a stone’s throw from Grundy, Alaska. So when a snooping Outsider comes to Grundy to investigate rumors of lycanthropic shenanigans in the area, the valley’s pack alpha, Maggie Graham, resolves to chase him away, even if doing so takes a quick bite on the butt. What a pity that researcher Nick Thatcher turns out to be so drool-worthy, and that his kisses make Maggie want to sit up and beg. Maggie just can’t seem to convince Nick to leave . . . and even worse, she can’t convince herself to stay away from him. Cross-species dating is problem enough for a harried alpha female, but on top of that, a rival group of werewolves is trying to move into the valley. With interpack war threatening, Maggie can’t afford to be distracted. Combining romance and a career can be tough for anyone; for a werewolf in love with a human, it may be disastrous. . . .

*Blurb from Goodreads*

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review - Friendly Fire by Megan Hart

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: 3/21/11
How I got this book: NetGalley

DEA Agent Kendall Frasier doesn't want to see the man who shot and killed her partner. Zane Vincent wants to forget about the bust gone bad and the man he killed. When both officers arrive at the same tropical island for a department-regulated vacation, more heats up than just the sand and sun. Will they let their past prejudices keep them from giving in to their mutual attraction, or will Zane and Kendall both succumb to a little Friendly Fire?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

This is only the second book I’ve read by Megan Hart, but I have to say I actually found myself enjoying this book despite a few initial reservations I had.

Kendall Frasier is a DEA agent dealing with the loss of her partner. She is having to work through her issues of guilt and anger and confusion, and was given the choice between going to an island on the department or dealing with her issues at home. Wanting the beach and sun, she chooses to head to the island. But unfortunately for her, Zane Vincent the man who killed her partner in a round of friendly fire is also there during that time.

While Kendall is instantly attracted to Zane, she honestly doesn’t want anything to do with him. The guilt and anger over her partner are eating her up inside, and a relationship with the man who caused all her grief is the last thing she wants. But as she deals with everything that happened, she realizes that Zane might be able to provide for her in ways she never imagined.

My initial impression of this story was a little weary. This short 53 page story doesn’t have any chapters, and that quite honestly threw me for a loop. But I was quickly pulled into Kendall and Zane’s story. The issues that Kendall had to deal with in regards to losing her partner were very real and Hart portrayed them in a way that was easy to relate to.

I know that Hart is known for her very sexy and steamy erotic novels, but a part of me felt as if Kendall and Zane jumped into something physical in order to escape the emotional turmoil within. While that isn’t something new, it was also somewhat hard for me to believe in their HEA. To me, something that starts off like that is rarely able to last on a significant level, and parts of me just couldn’t buy it.

That being said, I also thought that both Kendall and Zane were able to provide a lot for each other, and did a great job of really helping each other deal with their trauma. While an incident of losing someone is never easy, they were both able to really guide each other into acceptance, and that spoke to me.

The physical relationship between the two was very smoking, and although I’ve only read a few of Hart’s books, I know that I can count on her to provide a steamy hero and heroine who click on so many levels.

All in all, I give Friendly Fire 3 out of 5 island getaways!