Friday 26 June 2009

Made to be Broken by Kelley Armstrong

The second in the Nadia Stafford series, Made to be Broken follows ex-cop Nadia Stafford as she investigates the disappearance of a teenage mother and her baby. With support from her hitman mentor Jack, and Quinn another hitman, she pursues a quest for justice for a girl that no one misses.

If you like your heroes and heroines to be morally superior then this might not be the story for you. But if the morally grey area between right and wrong intrigues you I'd recommend this series.

Whilst the main plot fills in more details about Nadia's past - as her desire to find out what happened to Sammi (the teenage mother) becomes an obsession - it is the interactions between Nadia and Jack that had me compulsively turning the pages. However, Kelley Armstrong makes it clear that Nadia's past is still a huge influence on her current life, her current thought processes and how she deals with the situations she finds herself.

I'm a huge Kelley Armstrong fan. I love the way she can get you into a character's head with just a few lines. And what I love most about the Nadia Stafford series is the relationship between Jack and Nadia. In a way I find them a more interesting couple that Clay and Elena. Maybe because a lot of 'stuff' between the werewolves comes down to instinct. Jack and Nadia don't have that, they have to rely on talking to each other. And as Jack doesn't

I'll briefly mention here that there is also a subplot about Nadia's continuing relationship with Quinn. But back to the good stuff. :)

Jack and Nadia. Their conversations in some ways remind me of those e-mail meme's - what people say and what they mean. Nadia is very visual and logical in her responses to Jack, she has a tendency to take what he says literally and doesn't read between the lines. Jack then cues his responses from Nadia's response to him.
"You don't need to be sarcastic."
"And you don't need to be stupid."
It would be frustrating if you didn't know that somewhere subconsciously Nadia knows what her feelings for Jack are. And I think part of the reason she responds the way she does is because the strength of her feelings is almost overwhelming. So she represses them.

As a reader you see different things to the characters. You have the luxury of being objective. Jack offers to get Nadia a corner gun and I'm put in mind of the courtship rituals of birds. "Look at what I can get you...Look at what I can provide." But obviously he doesn't say that. And Nadia chooses to assume that he's only getting her the gun so she can test it out and then teach him how to use it. (Which okay, I could be reading too much between the lines here, but it almost seems like it's screaming out.)That's not to say he doesn't respect her skills as a hitman.
"...Were you going to shout after me, 'Oh, by the way, this could be a trap'?"
"Nah. Hate shouting."
At the moment it seems to be unclear whether there will be any more books in the series and I think it would be a damn shame if there weren't. Jack and Nadia are one of my favourite couples. They are unconventional, have sexual chemistry that virtually scorches the page even though they haven't even kissed and I WANT to know what's going to happen to them next.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Hero by Perry Moore - thoughts so far

OMG Loving This!

So glad I picked this to read next.

So far just one unfortunate phrase:-
He had impressive nipples spread across his perfectly built, massive chest.
Which kind of leaves me with the image of a guy with nipples studded straight across his chest.

Other than that absolutely loving it!

Saturday 13 June 2009

Made to be Broken - The Older Hero

At the moment I'm reading Made to be Broken by Kelley Armstrong (loving it). But there's one little niggle. Nadia seems content to settle for Quinn - he's the hitman cum government agent (or should that be government agent cum hitman?) - he's in his 30's (I think) charming, witty and knows how to show a lady a good time. :)

So why does it nark me? Why am I not happy that Nadia (seems) to be with Quinn.

Because of Jack - mid-to-late forties, possibly pushing fifty, never met a pronoun he liked. Look up taciturn in the dictionary you'll find a picture of him there. He says one of my favourite lines ever.
...Jack said, "You saw my note, right? It said 'wait'."
"That was a note? I thought it was a haiku."
And he and Nadia have this amazing chemistry on the page that leaves you asking 'Quinn who?'

They are nowhere near having sex, I don't think they've even kissed but it doesn't matter. To me, they just fit as a couple. There's a spark between them that's missing between Nadia and Quinn (IMO :) )

Are there any other older heroes out there? Off the top of my head I'm struggling to come up with any - no guys that aren't vampires or werewolves anyway. :)

Full review of Made to be Broken coming next week. With more thoughts about Jack and Nadia to come.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Zero at the Bone - Jane Seville

When Jack Francisco returns to his safe house to find a hitman waiting for him, the last thing he expects is that the man won't go ahead with his assignment. But that's exactly what the man known as D proceeds to do. Instead the two of them end up on the run together, pursued by killers hired by the men who want Jack dead and other unknown enemies. Against the odds the two of them build a relationship, but what will happen when the danger is over and they then have to return to their lives.

I'd been loking forward to reading this ever since I read the review on Wave's site, I think I also caught a review on either Kris's or Jenre's blog as well.

D is something of an anti-hero, at least at the beginning of the book. He's a man who lives to his own set of rules. One of the things I liked most about this book was that we (as readers) get to meet both of the protagonists before they meet each other. And we also appreciate more (I think) the moment when their lives collide.
There was a man sitting in his living room, looking at him.
What I loved most about this scene was how we get into Jack's mind and how he starts channelling the film 2001. :)And I love the banter between them.
...He sighed. "I'm starting to see words like 'accessory' and 'accomplice' floating around my head."
D barely reacted. "How about 'dead on arrival'? Ya like that better?"
This is a real opposites attract story. Each man fulfills in the other something that is missing in himself. I've read in a couple of places that readers didn't like D, that they found him remote. But one of the things I liked was seeing Jack break through D's reserve. How D changes Jack, but also how Jack changes D.

So much of this story would be spoiled if I gave details. But D's relationship with X, left me hoping that X will make appearances in future books, or maybe in a book of their own.

As regards the epilogue. Much has been written about whether or not to read it and before I started reading the book I had kind of decided that I wouldn't. But having got to the end I couldn't resist. I appreciate the comments about multiple endings as I thought there were two places where the story could have ended before it did and that it would have felt resolved. The epilogue itself does feel like an excerpt for the next book, rather than wrapping up this story. It feels more like a pause before the next story starts. However, having said that, I did enjoy the sneak peek into Jack and D's life in the future.

And if like me you can't resist the sneak peek, there are some short Jack and D stories available on Jane Seville's website that are well worth checking out whilst we wait for the next book. I hope we don't have too long to wait.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Zero at the Bone - Jane Seville, Story so Far

So it's taking me a little longer than usual to get through this one, nothing to do with the book, just other life stuff getting in the way. Yes it's essay writing time again. :)

So far I am really enjoying the story. Though I'm still torn (after reading other reviews) on whether or not I'm going to read the epilogue. I said that I wouldn't, but I don't think it would be fair to write a review and not read it. Anyway here's the blurb. Review coming soon.

"After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hitman known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies.

Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D's cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack's testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives...but also fighting for their future. A future together."

Monday 1 June 2009

Interview with D.B.Reynolds

So something of a landmark today, my first interview on the blog. If anyone has any questions they'd like to ask D.B., she should be dropping by the blog so please put them in the comments thread and hopefully she'll be along to answer them.

For anyone who hasn't seen it, my review of Raphael, the first in the Vampire in America series can be found here.

Without further ado, the interview.

1 - For anyone who hasn't heard of the Vampires of America series can you tell us a little bit about it, where the idea came from...

Hmm. Well, the first idea was for the first book, RAPHAEL. And when I started thinking about the scene where we first see the character of Raphael, I pictured this big, brightly lit room, with the vamps all wearing sunglasses and sitting around this huge table, but there's only a few of them. And why only a few? Because these are the guys who rule every vampire in the country. And the concept of Vampire Lords and their territories flowed from that. Also, I figured if the series really took off, I could move on to Vampires in Europe, which would be a great reason to take a tax deductible trip to Europe, right? Research, people, research!

2 - I reviewed Raphael a few days ago - loved it - Jabril will be coming out in July, followed by Rajmund. Are there any hints that you are willing to drop about books 2 and 3? Okay - just book 2.

Hints. Hmm. Well, I'll tell you that the title character JABRIL--his full name is Jabril Karim--is the Southern Vampire Lord and a really bad guy. Also, I've heard from a lot of readers hoping Cyn and Raphael will get back together, and I think those readers will be happy with this book. Let's face it, those two are meant for each other, they're just too stubborn to do it the easy way. And believe me, they definitely don't have it easy in JABRIL. Book 3 actually introduces a whole new set of characters. Raphael and Cyn have cameos at the beginning and end, but the book itself is about a new Vampire Lord named RAJMUND. He's totally different from Raphael, in that he's younger, still new to his power, although he's definitely very powerful.

3 - Apart from the ViA do you have anything else on the horizon?

I'm writing a Science Fiction Shapeshifter story, with a strong relationship at the center, just like in Raphael. I'm hoping to find a home for that one in the next few months, and I have notes for a second book in that universe, as well. Also, I've written a Werewolf novella that could easily become the first tale in a much larger story. I love the characters from that one and would really like to write more about them.

4 - Every few months or so they'll be a blog post or an article somewhere saying the vampire genre is dead. Does that make you think Pffftt, No way or do you think there's something in it? (Hoping you'll go for option 1 or 2)

I don't pay any attention to those articles. I think the people who write them just don't understand the appeal of vampires and so can't imagine it being as popular as it is. The vampire genre is definitely NOT dead. There are a lot of us out here who LOVE to read good vampire tales and have been doing it for decades. We're not going to stop no matter how many articles tell us we are.

5 - Leading on from that, what is it about vampires that made you want to write about them? Personally I love reading about vampires.

For female readers,I think it goes back to the whole "why do we love bad boys" question. Vampires, and maybe werewolves too, are the ultimate bad boys,aren't they? Incredibly strong, powerful, don't play by the rules because they don't have to, immortal--which means always young and good looking. I personally love the idea of bringing that much testosterone to heel, having that much muscle wanting only ME. Yum. But male readers like vampire stories too. I've heard from plenty of male readers saying they were surprised at how much they liked RAPHAEL, and lots of female readers who've reported their husbands and sons loving the book. I suspect they're drawn more to the action, conflict and more violent aspect of vampires, but not being of the male persuasion, I can't really speak for them.

6 - Apart from vampires are there any other supernatural creatures you'd like to write about? Zombies, werewolves, fairies...ghosts?

I mentioned my werewolves earlier. I'd really like to write more about them and shapeshifters in general. The shifters in my Science Fiction manuscript are big hunting cats, by the way. Big, beautiful, sleek and very dangerous hunting cats. Zombies don't interest me as a writer--you can't really do much with them if you stick to the true Zombie myth. I mean, they're literally the walking dead, so I would think the whole relationship angle is pretty much out. I I don't think I've ever written anything with fairies or ghosts, but I do love epic sword and sorcery tales and, like so many others, I have a fantasy manuscript of my very own sitting on the back burner.

7 - You've blogged about Cyn's sexuality elsewhere (Bad Boys/ Good Girls blog by D.B.Reynolds at The Romance Book Club) do you think there is still this negative perception about female protagonists who are sexually active before meeting the hero - a kind of virgin or whore attitude, with no middle ground. Offhand I think the only other heroine I can think of who slept/lived with someone (in the same book) before meeting the hero is Elena from Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series.

Yeah, that's kind of a pet peeve of mine. I think it's unrealistic and unreal to have a contemporary, professional woman, in her late twenties or even thirties and pretend she's never had sex before. It depends on the story, of course, but especially for the character Cyn, it just didn't fit. Cyn's a very sensuous woman, very sure of her own femininity and aware of her sexual appeal. She doesn't flaunt it, but it's there and it's part of what draws Raphael to her.

8 - The other thing I liked about Cyn was that she changes out of her 4-inch heels before going into a bad situation - she has common sense. I was curious about your writing of this scene - if you can remember - did you 'see' her going into the party and think "hang on a minute this isn't going to work?"

Not consciously. When I'm writing, I'm totally inside my character's head and that's just what Cyn would have done. She's a very confident person and doesn't worry too much about what other people might think. In JABRIL she puts on some very sexy shoes for a purpose, but at heart Cyn's a very practical woman. In the scene you mention, she's walking into a situation that suddenly doesn't feel right, so she grabs her gun and changes her shoes into something she can fight in, just in case. She couldn't care less if the boots don't match the dress, it's all about surviving.

9 - Do you have a favourite line from any of your books? Lol, yep still angling for a tidbit.

My favorite line from RAPHAEL is still the one where Cyn is asking Lonnie about vampires getting married and when Lonnie says they don't usually, Cyn says, "Not up to eternal fidelity?" And Lonnie shakes his head and says, "No nutritional value." From JABRIL, let me think ... okay, there's a line where Cyn gets exasperated with Duncan and says, "Will you answer the [effing] question or not? There's more at stake here than Raphael's dick!" I'll leave you to figure out the context. (Just wanted to add here that Duncan is one of my favourite characters, LesleyW:) )

10 - If you still have time to read, what are you reading at the moment? And what releases are you looking forward to in the latter half of 2009, going into 2010?

I do have some time to read, although not much right now, because I'm racing to finish the third Vampires in America book, which is RAJMUND. I just finished a new Urban Fantasy by Mark del Franco called "Unshapely Things." It's the first book in his Connor Grey series and I thought it was great. Books 2 and 3 are both out already, so they're definitely on my TBR list. And right now I'm reading the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book by J. R. Ward. This one's really big, so it might take me awhile to get through it in the little time I have to read.

11 - Where can readers contact you, find out more about your upcoming releases?

I have a blog at that includes all the latest release info, as well as weird things I discover on the Internet, and what's going on in my life, especially with writing. I also have contests with book giveaways and other stuff. Right now, I'm running a trivia contest for those who've read RAPHAEL, with a $25 Amazon gift certificate as the prize. And I'm always happy to hear from readers. There's an email contact where anyone can reach me to ask questions or just let me know how much they LOVED the books! LOL