Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews

Title: Fate's Edge
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Edge, Book 3
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Release Date: 29 November 2011

Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she's determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades...

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he's going to need Audrey's help…

This book started a bit slow for me. There was quite a bit in the beginning in Jack and George's POV, which was interesting, but I was really looking forward to getting to the story.

Once Kaldar - what a great character, full of life, charm, and loyalty - and Audrey met the story really picked up and I couldn't stop turning pages, staying up far into the night to continue reading.

If you've read Bayou Moon you know Kaldar of the Mar family. He's taken a job with the Mirror in order to gain his vengeance on the Hand. The Hand had dwindled the numbers of his family, killing a favored aunt, in their last meeting. Kaldar is determined to make every last one of them pay. He's the same charming, smooth-talking grifter that he always was, and watching him work his own particular brand of magic was a pure delight.

While Kaldar treasures family and would do anything for them, Audrey comes from the opposite side of that coin. She only wants to be left alone by her family. She'll do anything to get them to forget she exists, including one last job, where her picklock experience is needed. When the job is over and she goes home she has no idea that her life as she knew it is all but over. Regret, duty, and just a little bit of thrill compel her back into the field to right the wrongs she unknowingly spurred.

Seeing the ultimate conman meet his match in another of his kind was brilliant. They knew each other so well because they were so like one another. They fit together perfectly. With hills and valleys to fill the other. Watching them go from mild flirting, to desperate wanting, to true desire and finally love was like a pot of water slowly brought to boil. The heat built and my anticipation with it.

The world continues to be first rate, switching between the Broken, the Edge, and the Weird smoothly. New characters pop up to make things interesting, and known characters continue to make themselves a part of the story.

Fate's Edge was a thrilling roller-coaster ride of intrigue, locks, spells, battles and love to the end. I can't wait to see what Ilona Andrews has in store for us next in The Edge.

Grade: A-

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Ace Books

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: Blood Rose by Riley Shane

Title: Blood Rose
Author: Riley Shane
Series: Realm of Nine, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 29 November 2011

To save his people, a half-mad prince must enlist the aid of a woman who has no reason to help him...and who he has every reason to desire.

At sixteen, Rose Carrison lost both her parents and her freedom. Since her father’s death, Rose has had to pick up the mantle of her family’s legacy and guard an object of incredible power, one the monsters who murdered her parents would kill to get their hands on. After ten years on the run, Rose’s luck finally runs out. A fate worse than death threatens to consume her. Then, out of the darkness, comes the most unlikely of rescuers...

Grayson van Court is a man skating on the edge of damnation. He’s a revenant: a powerful, blood-drinking, returned-from-the-dead, magical creature that no other magical species wants anything to do with. For centuries, Gray has bargained and fought for the revenants’ right to survive, but his efforts are hampered by his sociopathic mother and the madness that permeates his own soul. When Gray rescues Rose from his mother’s machinations, his intention is only to stop the attacks against his people that would surely come if Rose were harmed. But then he sees her, and everything changes. Two people who should never have met soon find themselves fighting side-by-side for the chance at a love that could prove to be their salvation.

I have to start this off talking about the two main characters - who drive this story. When we first, really, meet Rose, she's a young woman that's having everything stripped from her. Her family is dead, her control over her life is done, and her very survival is dependent on those more powerful. She's just a human, surrounded by eight species that are all contain magic and strength in abundance. But that doesn't take anything away from her. She's strong, with opinions of her own, smart, able to reason through things others often overlook, and incredibly caring.

Gray is honorable at his core, but he's fighting a pretty damning madness - one that's threatening to overtake him. While fighting for his people, against his mother no less, he certainly doesn't need anything more pulling at him. Honor pulls his to rescue Rose, but then he gets something he never bargained for. Rose pulls him, eases him, challenges him as nothing ever before. He's thrilled by this, and scared by the possibility of following a little too closely to his father's footsteps. The line he walks between good and evil is as sharp as a blade, and I was pulling for him to overcome everything and get his happiness throughout the book - even when I sometimes wondered how that'd come to be.

The Realm of Nine is the world that Rose and Gray inhabit. So called because of the Nine species that make up the balance of magic: Fae, Elf, Shifter, Merrow, Sylph, Shadowkin, Goblins, Witches/Revenants, and Humans. I loved how the world was, at the same time, incredibly intricate and detailed, and practical and easy to understand. Everything made sense within the world, I never felt lost on how the magic worked or why, and there's definitely enough there to keep me wanting more. With so many species in the world, I know that Ms. Shane has a lot more up her sleeves for me to learn!

Blood Rose fairly thrums with tension, from beginning to end! I couldn't wait to see how Rose and Gray could work through their incredible difficulties and tasks. And they never let me down. One of the true pleasures of this story was seeing them work as a team. They went from attraction, to lust (oh-so-sexy times!), to love beautifully. It was easy to see why they fell in love with each other, because they fit one another.

Because I usually like to know this, there is some deception (by omission) in this story. While this is usually a hot-button issue for me, I thought it was well done, the reasoning for it was completely understandable, and it was perfectly handled. In fact, I'd say this is how it should be done.

I'm so excited to see where Ms. Shane takes me next in the Realm of Nine. I'm particularly interesting in a certain cousin to Gray - and definitely interested in the mystery that pops up near the end. I've got some ideas and can't wait to see if I end up right!

Highly, highly recommend for those looking for an excellent paranormal romance. This one has everything I look for. Characters you can love and root for, a world you could live in, and tight plotting that keeps you turning pages.

Grade: A+

Book Link | KindleSony | Loose Id

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Title: Lothaire
Author: Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book 12
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 10 January 2012

From the humblest of beginnings a millennia ago, Lothaire the Enemy of Old rose to power, becoming the most feared and evil vampire in the immortal world. Driven by his past, he will not rest until he captures the vampire Horde’s crown for himself. The discovery of his Bride, the female meant only for him, threatens to derail his plot.

Elizabeth Peirce is a mere mortal, a glaring vulnerability for a male with so many blood foes bent on annihilating anything he desires. Yet soon he discovers his Bride’s secret. A magnificent power dwells inside the fragile human, one that will aid his quest. But to possess that power, he will have to destroy her. Will Lothaire succumb to the torments of his past, or seize a future with her?

I started Lothaire with a huge sense of expectation, and finished it out of breath after being unable to put it down.

Lothaire is great - don't expect too much reformation from him. He's still the same great character that, if you're like me, we've always loved. He's a smart-ass, brilliant, a consummate strategist, and a collector of debts.

His heroine's fantastic. She's totally underestimated, and extremely intelligent and able to see clearly through people and situations. She has a great instinct and she isn't afraid to follow it. I really like her. While the 'hill-billy' drawl (she's from the Appalachian Mountains) was sparingly used, it did get on my nerves having it typed. Of course I prefer to imagine Scottish brogues instead of reading them phonetically.

The sexy times in this book are off the wall hot. I've seen some compare it to dubious consent, and I guess I can see that, but I'd consider it more of a mutual using for personal gains. I think it works, and can appreciate what each hopes to gain, as well as how it moves them closer to their HEA.

But my favorite part was watching Lothaire be totally caught off guard by Ellie. Their verbal sparing and discussions were a true delight. They fit each other.

Some other perpetually favorite characters make appearances, as well as a whole host of new characters. The Dacian that we meet will apparently feature in Ms. Cole's new series - Realm of Blood and Mist - which starts with Shadow's Claim due August 21, 2012.

I enjoyed every moment of reading, though thinking back it doesn't seem like much happens, the story moved along at a good pace. However, I did finish it feeling like there was that indefinable something missing from this book. I still can't lay a finger on what exactly, but there was that little bit that takes a great book to truly amazing - and it wasn't here.

I'm positively on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens with Nix, and Furie, Kristoff and a whole host of other characters that are soon to be hugely affected by events that occur in Lothaire.

Lothaire's another wonderful entry meaning this continues to be one of the strongest series I read. The world building and time lines continue to be true to themselves, and the characters remain interesting and layered.

Grade: A-

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Gallery Books

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 New-To-Me Author Challenge

I've tried this previously, but never with much success. However after seeing how many new-to-me authors I tried last year, I'm determined to try again this year. I found quite a few new favorites among authors I'd never read before last year, so I'm looking forward to a great amount of the same success this year.

The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.

Dates: January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

My List:
1. Author: Krystle Jones
Title: The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1)

2. Author: Michele Zurlo
Title: Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1)

3. Author: Cari Silverwood
Title: Iron Dominance

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2012 Books Read

A friend of mine, Kat lists the books - in order - that she reads each year. I thought this would be fun, so I've decided to do it too.

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them.

Additionally, at Goodreads I've challenged myself to read 225 books this year (which is 25 more than I read last year).

There are sure to be many wonderful books on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

  1. Gift of Magic (Nine Kingdoms, Book 6) by Lynn Kurland - 4 January
  2. Beauty and the Black Sheep (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 4 January
  3. His Comfort and Joy (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 2) by Jessica Bird - 5 January
  4. From the First (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 3) by Jessica Bird - 5 January
  5. A Man in a Million (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 4) by Jessica Bird - 6 January
  6. The Billionaire Next Door (O'Banyon Brothers, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 7 January
  7. Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 1) by Cherise Sinclair - 7 January
  8. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 2) by Cherise Sinclair - 8 January
  9. Breaking Free (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 3) by Cherise Sinclair - 9 January
  10. Lean on Me (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 4) by Cherise Sinclair - 10 January
  11. Make Me, Sir (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 5) by Cherise Sinclair - 11 January
  12. To Command and Collar (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 6) by Cherise Sinclair - 11 January
  13. Lothaire (Immortals After Dark, Book 12) by Kresley Cole - 12 January
  14. On the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 14 January
  15. Blood Rose (Realm of Nine, Book 1) by Riley Shane - 14 January
  16. Bayou Moon (Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews - 16 January
  17. Fate's Edge (Edge, Book 3) by Ilona Andrews - 18 January
  18. The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1) - 22 January
  19. Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1) b Michele Zurlo - 23 January
  20. By My Side (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 2) by Michele Zurlo - 6 February
  21. Time Out by Jill Shalvis - 7 February
  22. Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell - 7 February
  23. "A Questionable Client" (Kate Daniels, Book 0.5) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February
  24. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February
  25. Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  26. Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  27. "Magic Mourns" (Kate Daniels, Book 3.5) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  28. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  29. "Curran" (Kate Daniels, 4.1) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  30. "Fathers and Sons" (Kate Daniels, 4.2) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  31. "Magic Dreams" (Kate Daniels, Book 4.5) by Ilona Andrews - 11 February
  32. Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) by Ilona Andrews - 12 February
  33. "Magic Gifts" (Kate Daniels, Book 5.5) by Ilona Andrews - 13 February
  34. Victorian Valentine by Riley Shane - 14 February
  35. Captivated (Donovans, Book 1) by Nora Roberts - 15 February
  36. Entranced (Donovans, Book 2) by Nora Roberts - 15 February
  37. Charmed (Donovans, Book 3) by Nora Roberts - 16 February
  38. Enchanted (Donovans, Book 4) by Nora Roberts - 16 February
  39. Iron Dominance by Cari Silverwood - 17 February
  40. One Night Stand by Cassandra Gold - 18 February
  41. Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom, Book 1) by Devon Monk - 20 February
  42. Storm Front (Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher - 22 February

2012 A to Z Challenge

I've really enjoyed this the last two years I've participated:

Challenge Details:
1. January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012
2. Read 26 books (or more) with titles that begin with the letters of the alphabet.
3. You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
4. For 'X' - read any book that has an 'X' in the title.
5.You can sign up anytime. Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
6. A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

A - 

B - Beauty and the Black Sheep (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 4 January

C - Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 1) by Cherise Sinclair - 7 January

D - Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 2) by Cherise Sinclair - 8 January

E - Entranced (Donovans, Book 2) by Nora Roberts - 15 February

F - From the First (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 3) by Jessica Bird - 5 January

G - Gift of Magic (Nine Kingdoms, Book 6) by Lynn Kurland - 3 January

H - His Comfort and Joy (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 2) by Jessica Bird - 5 January

I - Iron Dominance by Cari Silverwood - 17 February

J -

K -

L - Lean on Me (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 4) by Cherise Sinclair - 10 January

M - A Man in a Million (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 4) by Jessica Bird - 6 January

N -

O - On the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 14 January

P -

Q - "A Questionable Client" (Kate Daniels, Book 0.5) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February

R -

S - The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1) by Krystle Jones - 22 January

T - Time Out by Jill Shalvis - 7 February

U -

V - Victorian Valentine by Riley Shane - 14 February

W -

X -

Y - Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1) by Michele Zurlo - 23 January

Z -

2011: Best Of...

2011 was a year full of extreme highs, and bitterly disappointing lows. I've been doing a 'Best Of' post for a couple of years now, but I'm going to change the format a bit.

A good friend of mine, Kat at Wit and Sin organized hers beautifully - and we all know I can't resist something that's perfectly organized.

Number of books I read (not including re-reads): 202
Number of new-to-me authors I read: 39

Favorite New-to-Me Authors of 2011: Jim Butcher, C.C. Galloway, Kevin Hearne, Josh Lanyon, Sarah MacLean, Nicole Sheldon

Favorite Authors of 2011: Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Kresley Cole, Lynn Kurland, Karen Marie Moning, Riley Shane, Nalini Singh

Solid Read Authors Discovered: Jennifer Estep, Elle Kennedy, Jill Shalvis, C.L. Wilson

Now for the really fun part. I've included not only my favorite new books for 2011 - some of which weren't published in 2011 because I've just found them - books that nearly made the list, and because this year was filled with some horrible let-downs, the Disappointments category. I've never listed one before, and even as I hit 'publish' I'm wondering if I should now...

My Top 25 Books of 2011 (new to me)
Note: Because I hate ranking my favorites, at any time, these are listed in alphabetical order by author (and if needed in series order).

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) by Ilona Andrews

I loved this newest addition to the Kate Daniels world. Like each previous edition, it kept me turning pages. In my opinion you can't get better than the combination of fantastic characters and a solid, fascinating world than this series.

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6) by Patricia Briggs

One of my favorite series - Patricia Briggs consistently delivers strong books with two of my favorite characters. I loved that we got so much time with Adam and Mercy together in this one.

Hunting Grounds (Alpha & Omega, Book 3) by Patricia Briggs

Even though Ms. Briggs is one of my favorite authors I'd avoided this series since the beginning. I think because I didn't feel that there was any possible way she could deliver two awesome series simultaneously. I'm so happy to know that I was wrong. Charles and Anna have joined the ranks of my favorite characters.

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, Book 2) by Meljean Brook

Ever since I first met Yasmeen in The Iron Duke I've been wanting to read more about her, spend more time with her, and see her find the man who would compliment her. I loved everything about this book.

Storm Front (Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher

This series has been on my radar for a long time. I've heard nothing but good things about it and was slightly trepidatious about starting it. I worried it wouldn't live up to what I'd heard. But Harry Dresden is a fantastic character and I can't wait to read more about him.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, Book 11) by Kresley Cole

I stopped reading this series for a while - around book 5 - and just recently started my catch up again this year. Luckily I had 6 books to devour. They were all fantastic, but there was something extra special about this book. I wasn't sure how Ms. Cole was going to handle the redemption of the hero. I went into it thinking it was going to be a very hard sell. I was amazed that she not only pulled it off, she did it beautifully.

Hail Mary (Portland Tide, Book 1) by C.C. Galloway

It's so hard to find good contemporary romances. I grabbed this one because it's a sports romance too. The characters are great and it's obvious that C.C. Galloway knows her football, which is a refreshing change from a lot of sports romances I've read. I can't wait to read more from her.

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1) by Kevin Hearne

One of my favorite finds of 2011, this series is something fresh and new and interesting. It runs the line between fantasy and urban fantasy. Atticus is a 2,100 year-old druid - the last of his kind. With a deep connection to the earth, both drawing power for his magic from it and feeling the need to protect it, Atticus has been on the run from an angry Celtic god. And now he's been found.

Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2) by Kevin Hearne

Witches. Fallen Angels. And Hunters of darkness. Atticus can't catch a break and gets tangled in a mess that he didn't ask for. But he won't back down from it.

Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 3) by Kevin Hearne

This series just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to see what happens with Atticus next!

One Enchanted Evening (DePiaget/MacLeod, Book 21) by Lynn Kurland

This is one of my favorite authors. I found her a few years ago, in a book swap library at work. I'm so grateful I did. I fell a bit behind in her series of books, so I was playing catch up in 2011. Finally, finally I got to Montgomery's book - who I'd been looking forward to since I first met him. I was so happy to see he got a heroine that was perfect for him.

The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon - I'm cheating here and putting a whole series, because honestly, I can't choose a favorite out of it. I think this was the find of 2011 for me. (Includes 5 books: Fatal Shadows, A Dangerous Thing, The Hell You Say, The Death of a Pirate King, and The Dark Tide)

This is a fantastic series. Romance, mysteries, heartache and, best of all, a happy ending. I've been glomming up Josh Lanyon's extensive back list ever since I finished it. Adrien and Jake are still my favorite though.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers, Book 1) by Sarah MacLean

What a great set of characters! This was a fun, diverting historical romance. Callie and Gabriel were perfect for each other. I'd thought that I had burnt myself out on historical romances long ago. The title of this was what made me decide to give it a chance - and I'm so glad I did. Honestly, this one book made Ms. MacLean an auto-buy author for me. I've been trying to space out her other books, but I've already bought books 2 and 3 to read.

Shadowfever (Fever Series, Book 5) by Karen Marie Moning

A journey started in 2006. I eagerly awaited each installment in Mac's story, and the final year for the concluding story was by far the most interesting. We'd learned so much, but had many more questions. There was a lot I looked forward to, but mostly I wanted to see Mac hold that happiness that she'd been fighting for.

This book blew me away. I was sure my expectations were going to ruin it, but this finish made it my all-time favorite series.

Two-Man Advantage (Seattle Marauders, Book 1) by Riley Shane

After reading The Taste of Magick last year, I was so ecstatic to see another book coming from Riley Shane. AND it was a romance with hockey, which I love. It was an absolute joy to read this story, and I'm happy to say that there are more coming. Thankfully the next Seattle Marauders book is already scheduled (In the Penalty Box coming in March 2012).

Read my review here

Chasing Alex by Riley Shane

A quick reunion story that was sexy and satisfying.

Read my review here

Blood Rose (Realm of Nine, Book 1) by Riley Shane

The first m/f paranormal romance from Ms. Shane. Just wow. I love the world, the characters and the story. I can't wait to see more in this series. I'm especially looking forward to Cáel right now. Though there are quite a few others that have me intrigued.

International Relations (International Relations, Book 1) by Riley Shane

Beautiful start to the story of Connor and Delaney. I loved that the second book in the series came out so closely after this one, because I was excited to see what had happened to this couple I fell in love with.

Winter Wonderland (International Relations, Book 2) by Riley Shane

Years later. Such a sweet story. Even better than the first. I hope we get to visit Delaney and Connor again! Right now there's a story planned for this summer.

Unlikely Protector by Nicole Sheldon

An exciting novella by a debut author. I expect great things if this is how it starts. Nicole Sheldon created a believable, detailed world and kept me  eagerly turning pages caught up in the story and the characters lives.  I've got a couple of full length novels to look forward to this year, according to her website and I can't wait to see where she takes me next!

Read my review here

Make Me, Sir (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 5) by Cherise Sinclair

When a friend first recommend Cherise Sinclair to me, I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a fantastically layered set of stories set in the BDSM lifestyle that soon became the bar I measured every other BDSM themed erotica by. I look for erotica that doesn't just have sex for sex's sake, but for the very vital reason of furthering the plot, character development or arc. Ms. Sinclair delivers. And this story delivered a compelling suspense story-line too.

Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, Book 3) by Nalini Singh

It's probably no surprise how huge a fan I am of Nalini Singh. She consistently writes books that keep me up well into the night. I've long considered her a master of the perfect balance of world and characters. Not only does this book have one of the most beautiful, fitting covers I've ever seen, the story inside is not to be missed.

Read my review here

Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changelings, Book 10) by Nalini Singh

Another highly anticipated book this year. I've been waiting for Hawke's story since I first met him back in book 1, Slave to Sensation. Ms. Singh didn't let me down. This is one of my favorites of the series.

Read my review here

Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter, Book 4) by Nalini Singh

Not one, not two, but THREE full length novels that absolutely blew me away. Dmitri was another favorite from the first meeting. I loved everything about this book, most especially his heroine - Honor. I loved it so much that immediately upon finishing it I started at the beginning again.

Read my review here

Lord of the Fading Lands (Tarien Soul, Book 1) by C.L. Wilson

I'm always on the look out for fantasy romance novels. For some reason they seem to be few and far between. I'd had this entire series on my shelf for more than a year before some random urge made me pick it up. And once I started I couldn't stop. This book made me stay up all night reading, until I had to get in the shower to go to work the next day.

Honorable Mentions
Note: These are the books that were just shy of being on my 'Best of' list. I couldn't not mention them, because they're fantastic books.

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, Book 1) by Ann Aguirre

I'm not usually into science fiction. I think they have a tendency to get a bit too technical for my tastes. However, I gave this one a shot after much prodding. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was. This book has some fantastic characters, and interesting plot, and a really detailed (without being overly so) world. I'm looking forward to reading further in this series, and more by this author.

Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews

I read On the Edge, the first book in the series before ever starting the Kate Daniels series and absolutely loved it. So when this second book came out I was so excited. William is a great hero and Cerise is an interesting, awesome heroine. I've quickly come to the conclusion that I love almost everything by the writing team that is Ilona Andrews.

Geist (Book of the Order, Book 1) by Philippa Ballantine

I admit I was first drawn to this book because of the cover. But Philippa Ballantine quickly drew me into an intricate world with geists (ghosts) and those that protect people from them - called Deacons. Following along after Deacon Sorcha's husband was gravely injured in a geist attack and seeing her battle ghosts, possessed sea creatures and deal with devious humans, all with a new partner in Deacon Merrick was truly gripping.

Demon From the Dark (Immortals After Dark, Book 10) by Kresley Cole

Malkom, the hero of this story, is one of my favorite characters ever. He made me love him from the first. Ms. Cole handles her intricate over-arcing plot beautifully. When I think about the details and timeline she's keeping straight it amazes me. I'm so glad I'm able to read something so, seemingly, well thought out and planned.

 Read my review here

Spider's Revenge (Elemental Assassin, Book 5) by Jennifer Estep

This entire series is enjoyable, if with some flaws, but by the fifth book Ms. Estep brought the main arc to an amazing conclusion. There are more books scheduled and I'm excited to see where Gin goes next.

The Out of Uniform Series by Elle Kennedy - Again with the cheating on my listing, but I eminently enjoyed this series and read them one after the other this year. (Includes 6 books: Heat of the Moment, Heat of Passion, Heat of the Storm, Heat It Up, Heat of the Night, and The Heat is On)

This series was a lot of fun to read. There was very real chemistry and palpable feelings between the characters in this series. I look forward to reading more of her work...after re-reading these, of course.

Spellweaver (Nine Kingdoms, Book 5) by Lynn Kurland

This is actually the second book in the second trilogy set in the Nine Kingdoms world. I won't say too much because I don't want to spoil the first series at all, but the Nine Kingdoms is probably my favorite fantasy romance series. Great characters that make me fall in love with them.

The Perils of Pleasure (Pennroyal Green, Book 1) by Julie Anne Long

While there is suspense in this historical romance, I loved that the characters still actually fell in love - not just lust. I was rooting for them the whole way through and look forward to more from Julie Anne Long.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin

I started this book because of the (then) upcoming HBO series. Full of politics and intrigue, I was mostly drawn in by the characters. I've decided to read a book just before each new season starts, and I'm excited to see where we go next.
Be warned: If you need to know that your favorite characters are going to be okay, this is probably not the series for you. Mr. Martin has no qualms about killing off beloved characters.

Initiate (The Unfinished Song, Book 1) by Tara Maya

I started this book excited by the fresh book description. While it starts out a little slow (probably to be expected with it being the first book in a planned 12 book series), I was soon drawn in and couldn't put down my Kindle. I'm looking forward to reading much more from this author about these engaging characters.

Read my review here

Instant Attraction (Wilder Brothers, Book 1) by Jill Shalvis

A fun contemporary romance set against the backdrop of the Sierra Mountains. Katie and Cameron are both recovering from tragic events that have affected them deeply. Seeing them find peace and happiness with them was a true joy.


Living on the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Shannon K. Butcher

I actually wanted to read the Sentinel series by Ms. Butcher, but this was available at the time I looked. It sounded like a good romantic suspense so I decided to give it a shot. After getting more than halfway through I decided I just couldn't finish it. I was just extremely bored throughout and decided this wasn't for me.

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5) by Jeaniene Frost

I've enjoyed the first 4 books in this series quite a bit. But this one was a huge disappointment to me. There was something missing here, and I'm still not quite sure what. There's something that kept me from being engaged in the story and characters here. I just didn't really care. I still look forward to each new release by Ms. Frost.

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, Book 1) by Molly Harper

Perhaps expectations were high for me on this one. I'd heard a lot about the humor of Molly Harper and was looking forward to a good book filled with laugh-out-loud moments. What I got was a bland story, filled with exposition, and what humor there was felt forced.

Dragon Bound (Elder Races, Book 1) by Thea Harrison

There was a ton of love of this book around the blog-o-sphere, but I had far too many problems with it.

Read my review here

Ascension (World of Ascension, Book 1) by Caris Roane

There was a lot of potential here, but the confusing, inconsistent world building and characters that seemed to act in strange ways kept me from really enjoying this book. I'll be happy to give something else of Ms. Roane's a chance in the future.

Shadow Kin (Half-Light City, Book 1) by M.J. Scott

Technical problems kept me from getting into this story, and made it far too easy for me to pick at the flaws that I saw. No seeming direction to the plot, erratic world building, and characters that were both weak and assholes left me with nothing to enjoy.

Read my review here

The disappointments were extremely disappointing, but looking at this list it's easy for me to see that there were far more great moments than bad. I'm looking forward to an even better year in 2012!!

What were some of your favorite, or disappointing, reads of 2011. What are you looking forward to in 2012?

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