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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Review - The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #2)

Publisher - Allison and Busby
Publication Date - 7th April 2008
Paperback - 320 pages
Genre - Young Adult/Urban Fantasy

Source - Purchased

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Book Info - Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls’ Dance, hell is really going to break loose.

My Thoughts - ***It is impossible to write this review without giving away some spoilers for events in the previous books in this series. If you have not read the other books please read this review with caution***

This book carries on directly from the amazing cliffhanger at the end of Glass Houses (if you have not read Glass Houses then please do not even try picking up this book as it will be pretty difficult to figure out what is going on!). The action starts right from the beginning of The Dead Girls’ Dance and it doesn’t stop until you turn the last page. Although I have to say that, as much as I enjoy a good action-packed novel, there were definitely times when I was wishing for a few quiet moments in the book just so that I could relax and catch my breath.

In this novel, Shane’s father is back in town and he wants to kill a few vampires whilst he is in Morganville. This obviously leads Shane and his housemates (including Claire) into a lot of trouble with the vampires. Shane finds himself being captured by the vampires and it is up to Claire, Eve and Michael to help rescue him. In her attempts to help him, Claire finds herself in some very dangerous situations and she has to be rescued several times. Although this did at times make me want to tell her to sort herself out and stop being so stupid, at other times Claire comes across as being incredibly brave, strong and determined.

I think Shane was my favourite character in this novel. He is strong and very protective of Claire, but we also see a much more vulnerable side to him as we learn about how his mother and sister died a couple of years ago. And we also see him making a few mistakes (such as the phone call that brings his father back to Morganville) and, for me, this all makes him a much more likeable and relatable character.

Rachel Caine has the ability to write an action-packed story that will keep you hooked from the very first page and will keep you guessing about what happens to the characters. I really like all of the four housemates in this book and I couldn’t help but feel for them as they all try to do what they feel is right – even though at times things still go very wrong for them.

Summary - Although I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I enjoyed Glass Houses, I still had difficulty in putting it down once I had started it and once again the author has left us with a huge cliffhanger, which means I will be picking up the third book in the series very soon!

Other books in this series:
1. Glass Houses
2. Dead Girl's Dance
3. Midnight Alley
4. Feast of Fools
5. Lord of Misrule
6. Carpe Corpus
7. Fade Out
8. Kiss of Death
9. Ghost Town
10. Bite Club
11. Last Breath

Other reviews of this book:
Electrifying Reviews / Karin's Book Nook /  Love Vampires


Friday, 30 March 2012

Follow Friday #15


Hi all and welcome to Follow Friday!

This is a great feature hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read and I am very excited to be taking part today.

Every week participants have to answer a question so that we can all get to know each other a little better. This week's question is:

Q: Do you read one book at a time or do you switch back and forth between two or more?

I always used to read just one book at a time but over the last couple of years (ever since I got my ereader) I generally have one physical book and one ebook on the go at any one time. But I always have to make sure that they are from pretty different genres so that I don't get confused about what happened in each book. So, for example, at the moment on my ereader I am reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah Maclean (Historical Romance) and in paperback I'm reading Crave by Melissa Darnell (YA Paranormal Romance). Not sure if other people have to do this too or if I am just easily confused :P

So let me know how you feel about reading more than one book at a time. And also let me know if you've found me through Follow Friday today and I'll come and return the favour!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Guest Post with Daniela Sacerdoti: Writing From the Heart


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Daniela Sacerdoti to Once Upon a Series. She is the author of Watch Over Me and her second novel, Dreams, will be out in May.



Writing From the Heart

As a new writer, I’ve been faced with a choice: write from inspiration, following my heart, or trying to nail a successful book by giving the market what it’s looking for? It didn’t take me long to find the answer.

In the beginning, there were vampires: everybody wanted to write the new Twilight. Now it’s the Hunger Games, and everybody wants to write dystopian. In between, there were zombies and angels.

Problem is, when a trend is at its apex, it means it’s on its way out. The trick is to identify the next big thing, and write accordingly.

Is it?

I don’t think so. Not for a minute. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight wasn’t a cynical exercise: she wrote from the heart, weaving her dreams and her religious beliefs into a story that was innovative, and in its use of traditional folklore figures, entirely original. Millions of readers all around the world believed in the story, because Stephenie believed in it first.

Any reader, young or old, will know by instinct if the writer believes in her story or not – if she’s truthful with it. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by the stories written and published all around us – Twilight and the Hunger Games have bred a whole flood of books whose authors are genuinely moved by the scenarios depicted in those books. Far from being pale imitators or cynical market-followers, these writers have their imagination brought to life by the stories they inspire themselves to.

But those who sit at their desk planning a bestseller – the next Hunger Games, the next Shiver, the next this or the other, will fail. A cynical exercise in market taming, orchestrated by a skilled writer and an even more skilled editor, and aided by clever marketing, will only reach so far.

Because readers will know.

Readers like you and me, whatever our background, whatever our knowledge of literature or our education, will instinctively feel if a story comes from the heart and soul of the writer. Human beings are experts in stories – we’ve been telling them since time began, translating our reality, our fears and our desires into symbolic tales and quests. Fairy tales, epic poems, and more recently, novels, channel the souls of whole communities, and capture the spirit of the times. These stories aren’t only the product of their individual writers, but the product of our collective subconscious; writers seem to be able to channel them.

The ability to channel what the times are trying to tell us is an innate talent that comes rarely, and cannot be imitated; and the courage to dig deep into our souls, to really and truly bare our innermost fears and secrets to the readers, is even rarer. It can’t be reproduced artificially, it can’t be the product of a cynical exercise.

Writers must bare their souls, even when it’s painful. We must listen to the times we live in, listen to the voice of the community and the voice of the world, and dig deep, deep into our personal history. If that process guesses the trend and comes out with a best seller, good for us – if it doesn’t, at least we’ll have produced something we can be proud of.

Thank you Daniela for visitng us today with such a great guest post. I definitely agree that readers will know if writers are just striving to write the next best thing rather than something that they really care about.

If you would like to stalk Daniela, you can find her at her website and on Twitter.


About the Author

Daniela Sacerdoti is a mother and a writer. Born in Naples, but brought up in a small village in the Italian Alps, she lives near Glasgow with her husband and sons. She steals time to write when everyone has gone to bed, or before they wake up. She’s a Primary teacher, but she chose to be at home with her children. She loves being with her boys, reading anything she can get her hands on and chatting with her girlfriends. But she also adores being on her own, free to daydream and make up stories.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)

Publisher - Bantam
Publication Date - 2nd February 2012
Paperback - 400 pages
Genre -  Urban Fantasy

Source - Purchased

Rating - 2 out of 5: It was ok

Book Info - Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't - or won't - reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon - and risk the ultimate sacrifice...

My Thoughts - Please note, there are some HUGE spoilers for previous books in the series so only read this review if you have already read them. Consider yourselves warned :)

I am a big fan of Richelle Mead and I rate her Dark Swan books as my favourite of all her series'. I have been looking forward to Shadow Heir for a long time to find out how things would end for Eugenie. However, I fear I may have been hyping it up a bit too much in my head as when I finally got to read it, I found myself feeling pretty disappointed.

The first problem I had was the pacing. The other books in the series have all been full of action and moved so along quickly that it was pretty much impossible to put them down. The same could definitely not be said for Shadow Heir. For the first half of the book, Eugenie is hiding in the human world awaiting the birth of her twins. Nothing really happened during this part of the story and I found myself breathing a sigh of relief when the babies were born early as I had hopes that the pacing would finally pick up again. And to a certain extent it does, but not in the way that I have come to expect from previous books in the series, and it still dragged in places.

The second problem I had was that the plot just was not what I wanted it to be. At the end of Iron Crowned, Eugenie is pregnant with Kiyo's children - one of whom will apparently lead the gentry into an invasion of the human world according to a prophecy. Kiyo is dead set that this can't happen and even goes so far as to try and kill Eugenie to prevent the prophecy from coming true. The whole of the Otherworld either wants to see Eugenie dead or will support her whole-heartedly to lead the invasion. I thought that this would be the focus of Shadow Heir. I expected there to be a big showdown between the two factions and I expected something big to happen. As it turned out, this part of the plot just seemed to be brushed over at the end rather than being the main focus. And I felt as though the author only did that to tie up loose ends.

I also found the ending to be disappointing. The author sets it up near the end so that there is an opportunity for a perfect happy ending. However, right at the last second that happy ending is snatched away and I felt very frustrated by that. Don't get me wrong, the ending is a semi-happy one, but it could have been so much better.

The redeeming feature of this book for me was the romance between Eugenie and Dorian. They have been on again/off again during most of the series but in Shadow Heir they are working hard to resolve their issues and what follows is a very sweet and tender romance that leaves no doubt about how they really feel about each other.

Summary - Shadow Heir is a disappointing ending to what has been up until now an amazing series. But the first three books are so amazing that I would still definitely recommend the series to fans of Urban Fantasy.

Other books in the series:
1. Storm Born
2. Thorn Queen
3. Iron Crowned
4. Shadow Heir

Other reviews of this book:
Caught in a FAB Romance / Parajunkee's View / Wicked Lil Pixie

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #1 for 2012 Finish the Series Reading Challenge
Book #21 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Monday, 26 March 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (26th March 2012)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books Completed:

Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...
The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't - or won't - reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon - and risk the ultimate sacrifice...

Books Reviewed:



Caught by Jami Alden (Gemini Men #1)
Read my review here
Got an investigation situation? Call the Gemini Men: Ethan and Derek Taggart. Yeah, they're twins. Double the trouble and twice as sexy - women can't get enough of them or their older brother Danny, who keeps 'em in line when things get wild. The three Taggart men are hot, hard, and ready to take on all comers...
Ex-military. Tall. Chiseled. Intelligent and arrogant. And so hot he's on fire. That's Ethan Taggart. Male to the max. Toni Crawford, computer genius turned PI, can't stop looking at him and Ethan's returning the favor. Nice and slow. Those piercing blue eyes of his are about to melt her down but... nothing doing. Toni has to stay cool. Focus on the assignment: the teenage daughter of a multimillionaire just vanished in plain sight. Chasing down leads, investigating every freaky angle, pushing past the boundaries of a hellish underworld of sex and drugs, Ethan and Toni are forced to work closely to stalk an unseen enemy with a taste for cruel games. Risking their lives to save the missing girl is only half the battle. Their blazingly sensual attraction grows every second, until there's no turning back. Their passion is about to explode... and Ethan and Toni soon find that danger breeds the hottest desire of all...

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #1)
Read my review here
Morganville is a small town filled with unusual characters – when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. In Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows – one that will spill out into the bright light of day.
For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder. It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school’s mean girls, but now she’s got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own. And the biggest secret of all isn’t really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood…

Books I'm Currently Reading:


Crave by Melissa Darnell (The Clann #1)
Bloodlust. Magic. Forbidden secrets.
When Savannah Colbert returns to school after a mystery illness, the fact that she has changed is clear to everyone. None more so than every school girls golden boy Tristan Coleman. Ever since their first kiss in fourth grade, Savannah and Tristan have been cruelly and inexplicably banned from associating with each other. Now, as the pair navigate the tricky social life of high school, the truth is about to be revealed.
As Savannah learns of their paranormal ancestry and Tristan deals with the repercussions of her new powers, the relationship they have been denied for so long becomes utterly irresistible and all consuming. Like Romeo and Juliet centuries before them, Savannah and Tristan’s love is destined to fail; and Tristan’s powerful magical family, the Clann, are watching.

Books Up Next:

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade #3)
Is true love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.



Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #1)

Publisher - Allison and Busby
Publication Date - 2006
Paperback - 348 pages
Genre -  Young Adult/Urban Fantasy

Source - Purchased

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Book Info - Morganville is a small town filled with unusual characters – when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. In Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows – one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder. It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school’s mean girls, but now she’s got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own. And the biggest secret of all isn’t really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood…

My Thoughts - I found Morganville to be a fascinating place. The idea that a town could be run by vampires is an amazing premise for a book. The inter-vampire politics and vampire/human politics that are explained really help the reader to understand how the town works. It appeared to me that humans were only allowed to live in the town to satisfy the vampires needs.

The storyline surrounding Michael is really interesting. When Claire first meets him, and finds out that Michael is never seen during the day, I assumed (probably like most people) that he is a vampire. I was nowhere near the truth in this assumption and I thought this was a great twist in the story.

I also really liked the budding romance between Claire and Shane. He is very protective of Claire, and he is called in to protect her several times when things start to get dangerous, but at the same time is incredibly sweet and caring towards her. I hope that this is a storyline that is followed up in the rest of the series.

The book is fast-paced, barely leaving the reader a chance to catch their breath, and making it impossible to stop reading. The end of the book is amazing – a complete cliffhanger – and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Summary - Overall, I loved this book as it was different to the other vampire novels I have read. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the paranormal genre.

Other books in this series:
1. Glass Houses
2. Dead Girl's Dance
3. Midnight Alley
4. Feast of Fools
5. Lord of Misrule
6. Carpe Corpus
7. Fade Out
8. Kiss of Death
9. Ghost Town
10. Bite Club
11. Last Breath

Other reviews of this book:
Electrifying Reviews / Love Vampires / YA Reads

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: Caught by Jami Alden (Gemini Men #1)

Publisher - Brava
Publication Date - 3rd November 2008
Paperback - 320 pages
Genre -  Romantic Suspense

Source - Library

Rating - 5 out of 5: It was amazing!

Book Info - Got an investigation situation? Call the Gemini Men: Ethan and Derek Taggart. Yeah, they're twins. Double the trouble and twice as sexy - women can't get enough of them or their older brother Danny, who keeps 'em in line when things get wild. The three Taggart men are hot, hard, and ready to take on all comers...

Ex-military. Tall. Chiseled. Intelligent and arrogant. And so hot he's on fire. That's Ethan Taggart. Male to the max. Toni Crawford, computer genius turned PI, can't stop looking at him and Ethan's returning the favor. Nice and slow. Those piercing blue eyes of his are about to melt her down but... nothing doing. Toni has to stay cool. Focus on the assignment: the teenage daughter of a multimillionaire just vanished in plain sight. Chasing down leads, investigating every freaky angle, pushing past the boundaries of a hellish underworld of sex and drugs, Ethan and Toni are forced to work closely to stalk an unseen enemy with a taste for cruel games. Risking their lives to save the missing girl is only half the battle. Their blazingly sensual attraction grows every second, until there's no turning back. Their passion is about to explode... and Ethan and Toni soon find that danger breeds the hottest desire of all...

My Thoughts - As you may have seen on my blog recently, I have been wanting to read more romance, so when I stumbled across this romantic suspense at the library I decided to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did as I absolutely loved it.

Ethan is one of my favourite main characters ever. He just oozes charm and sex appeal, and he's obviously very good at his security job. Oh, and he's ex-military too just add to his charm. The only thing that did irritate me a bit is that he can come across as being a bit too arrogant at times.

Toni is also a great character. She is a bit of a geek, but being a geek myself I just loved that about her, and it made her so much more realistic than if she were perfect. She has a lot of insecurities based on the way she looks and the fact that she has only recently been betrayed by another man, but she is a very caring and loving woman who is just trying to get on with her life after a troubled past.

The romance between these two is just sizzling and had me feeling a bit hot under the collar for a large percentage of the book! But it wasn't just the physical chemistry between them that kept me turning the pages. Once they started to trust each other it became obvious that there is a deeper connection that is fuelled by past hurts - Ethan's mother disappeared never to be seen again, while Toni's little sister disappeared and was later discovered dead. They are able to help each other work through the issues that surround these past events and this helps to bring them so much closer.

The mystery element of the book is also well-written and there is a good balance between this and the romance. There are some action-packed scenes that keep the book moving along at a fast pace, making Caught impossible to put down - I finished the book in less than a day, which I very rarely do. Plus I wasn't able to work out who had kidnapped the millionaire's daughter so that is always a big plus in a mystery novel.

Summary - A must read for fans of romantic suspense - full of likeable characters, sizzling romance, action and intriguing mystery. I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

Other books in the series:
1. Caught
2. Kept
3. Unleashed

Other reviews of this book:
Genre Go Round Reviews / The Good, The Bad and The Unread 

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #1 for 2012 Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge
Book #19 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spotlight On... Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti (Sarah Midnight #1)

On Twitter I have recently come across a book that is being released here in the UK in May and it looks so good I thought I would share it with you all. Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti is the first book in the Sarah Midnight Trilogy and I just love the cover!

Ever since her thirteenth birthday, seventeen-year-old Sarah Midnight’s dreams have been plagued by demons – but unlike most people’s nightmares, Sarah’s come true. Her dreams guide her parents’ hunt as Sarah remains in bed, terrified but safe, sheltered from the true horrors of the Midnight legacy. But all this is about to change. After the murder of her parents, she is cruelly thrust into a secret world of unimaginable danger as she is forced to take up their mission. Alone and unprepared for the fight that lies before her, Sarah must learn how to use the powers she’s inherited and decide whom to trust before it’s too late . . .

Monday, 19 March 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (19th March 2012)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books Completed:
Night Magic by Jennifer Lyon (Wing Slayer #3)

Books Reviewed:
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor #2)
My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #4)
Night Magic by Jennifer Lyon (Wing Slayer #3)

Books I'm Currently Reading:
Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #4)
Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl (Tumble Creek #1)

Books Up Next:
Not really sure, although it will probably be from this list of books that I want to read some time soon.
Last Breath by Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires #11)
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade #3)
My wicked Marquess by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #1)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review: Night Magic by Jennifer Lyon (Wing Slayer #3)


Publisher - Rouge Romance
Publication Date - 14th November 2011
Genre -  Paranormal Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Book Info - Ailish Donovan is a witch, raised unaware of her powers. She is only sixteen when her mother tricks her into binding with the demon Asmodeus. Pure-hearted Ailish escapes but pays a heavy price: for the next eight years, she is shunned by her earth sisters and tormented by the demon's lust. After hardening her body and mind Ailish returns home to break the bond - or die.

The Wing Slayer Hunter Phoenix Torq is sworn to protect earth witches, but he is shaken by Ailish's fierce independence - and his own forbidden cravings. Torn between mistrust and desire, each must go to hell and back to seek the magic that could set them both free.

My Thoughts - I am a big fan of the Wing Slayer series, so I was very excited to read Night Magic. Especially when I learned that the heroine is a blind kickboxer - how cool is that! And I was not disappointed by this book in the slightest.

Ailish is an amazing character and I fell in love with her straight away. She is an intriguing mix of strength and vulnerability that makes her extremely endearing and instantly likeable. At the age of sixteen, her demon witch mother tricked her and handfasted her to a demon. All young Ailish wanted was for her ex-boyfriend to love her again and her mother used this vulnerability to trick her into the binding. It is so easy to feel heartbreak for Ailish and the situation she is in - because of a young girl's desire for love (something I think most readers will be able to identify with!) and an incredibly wicked mother, Ailish now finds herself in a situation where she must either complete the binding with the demon or die. She wants nothing more than to be a good earth witch and help people but she has nobody who is willing to help her. As a result Ailish has had to learn to depend on herself and protect herself from a demon and a coven of demon witches. Her desperation to succeed as a good earth witch and her loneliness jump off the page at the reader. All this combines to make Ailish one of my favourite paranormal romance heroines.

Phoenix is a Wing Slayer Hunter - a man with supernatural strength and speed who is tasked with protecting earth witches. All hunters have been afflicted by a curse where they desire the power that is in witches blood. The hunters that give into this curse and kill a witch become soulless rogue hunters who live for nothing more than killing yet more witches. The Wing Slayer Hunters are trying to fight this curse and, rather than give into this bloodlust, are tracking down and killing as many rogue hunters as they can. Phoenix is struggling every day with this curse and I love the strength that all the Wing Slayers show as they battle against the impulse to hurt innocent women. But Phoenix has also had a troubled background. As a child he was a carer for his schizophrenic mother, who eventually killed herself. He has lived with the guilt of his mother's death for a long time and is trying to atone for his mistakes by helping as many women as he can. I was really able to relate to a lot of Phoenix's feelings about caring for his mother, as I am also a carer for a loved one. It is not an easy task and I was impressed with how well the author handled the topic. Phoenix becomes scared when he realises that his soul-mirror is blind and he has to overcome this fear of caring for, and possibly letting down, another woman. But Phoenix soon learns that Ailish is pretty kick-ass and is absolutely able to look after herself.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters. The author manages to bring these two damaged people together and fill their lives with love and hope - two things that neither of them have felt for a very long time. They have to learn how to trust each other and work together to break the handfast so that they can get their happy ever after. It is a road filled with a lot of heartbreak but their love for each other makes them believe anything is possible.

Summary - The Wing Slayer series is a must-read for fans of paranormal romance. With loveable characters, action-filled plots and heart-melting romance, I can't recommend this series enough.

Other books in the series:
1. Blood Magic
2. Soul Magic
3. Night Magic
4. Sinful Magic
5. Forbidden Magic

Other reviews of this book:
Joyfully Reviewed / Night Owl Reviews

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #12 for 2012 Speculative Romance Reading Challenge
Book #20 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Review: My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #4)

Publisher - Piatkus
Publication Date - 16th February 2012
Paperback - 384 pages
Genre - Historical Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it.

Book Info - To London society, the Inferno Club is notorious for its scandalous pursuits. In private, these warriors would risk their lives for king and country.

His fellow warriors fear Drake Parry, the Earl of Westwood, has turned traitor. Emily Harper, who has loved him since childhood, knows this is impossible, as impossible as a marriage between them could ever be - she, the gamekeeper's daughter and he, a bold and adventurous nobleman.

Driven by hatred and revenge, Drake is playing a deadly game of deception, bent on destroying the enemy's dark conspiracy from the inside, and he's furious when Emily plunges herself into danger for his sake. Forced into close quarters, their long-suppressed desire explodes into all-consuming passion.

Emily knows her love can save him... but Drake is a man who doesn't want to be saved.

My Thoughts - This is my first ever historical romance and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by it. Although it did take me a little while to get into the book, I was soon immersed in Drake and Emily's world and I fell in love with it.

I really liked Emily as a heroine. For some reason I expected the women in historical romances to be reclining on their fainting couches waiting to be rescued by the hero, but Emily firmly put me in my place with this assumption. She has followed Drake half-way across Europe to drag him home with her - this in a time when women were rarely allowed to travel anywhere alone. And once she is with Drake she never turns her back on him, despite the danger she often finds herself in. She displays a level of feistiness that wouldn't look out of place on the best of urban fantasy heroines - and I loved her for this.

Drake is a dark and complex hero, and given what has happened to him in the past it is easy for the reader to sympathise with him and to fall in love with him. He puts himself in a huge amount of danger by infiltrating an enemy group in an attempt to break them apart from the inside. He knows that this is a suicide mission yet he never backs down from doing what he believes is right.

The romance between these characters is a bit of a slow-burner. They have known each other, and been in love with each other, since childhood but they have been unable to do anything about it because of the fact that Emily is the daughter of a servant. This is probably the first romance book I have read where the characters already know each other and so I did miss that spark of attraction at the beginning that is so common in the other books I've read. Plus, I could count on one hand the number of times that Drake and Emily are actually in the same room in the first half of the book. Instead the focus is on their back story and the mission that Drake is on. Although this information did help me to understand their relationship, I still would have liked to see more interaction between them at the beginning of the book.

But once they do give into their feelings for each other, it just all feels so right. They know each other so well and there is no doubting their feelings for each other. Plus the forbidden nature of their relationship and the danger that they are in all add to a romance that is full of passion and tenderness. It is impossible not to feel how much they need each other.

Summary - My Ruthless Prince was good introduction into the world of historical romance. Full of danger, suspense, romance and well-drawn characters, this was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more about the Inferno Club in future.

Other books in this series:
1. My Wicked Marquess
2. My Dangerous Duke
3. My Irresistible Earl
4. My Ruthless Prince

Other reviews of this book:
Night Owl Reviews / The Romanceaholic / Unwrapping Romance

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #16 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Monday, 12 March 2012

Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor #2)

Publisher - Piatkus
Publication Date - 1st March 2012
Paperback - 336 pages
Genre - Contemporary Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 5 out of 5: It was amazing!

Book Info - Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in beautiful, inspiring Friday Harbor, Washington. Creatively fulfilled and engaged to be married, she is content with her life, until she is stunned by the worst kind of betrayal: her fiance Kevin announces he's leaving Lucy to be with her younger sister.

Facing the disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, one of the owners of the Rainshadow vineyard, to 'romance' Lucy and help her get over her anger. But then Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love and things become complicated, especially when Kevin starts to have second thoughts. And as Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses, her world is shattered, and she is forced to question everything.

My Thoughts - I've never read any contemporary romance before but when a review copy of Rainshadow Road arrived through my door I instantly fell in love with the beautiful front cover and knew that I was going to give it a try. I'm so glad I did - I just loved this book and am very much looking forward to reading more from Lisa Kleypas.

I really liked the main characters, Lucy and Sam. Lucy has been hurt by her fiance and is reluctant to get into another relationship in case she gets hurt again. She shows a great deal of strength when she feels attracted to Sam but doesn't act on it - she isn't the kind of woman who feels as though she needs a man on her arm. I enjoyed reading the back story of Lucy and her younger sister, Alice, and I felt it added a lot of emotional depth to the story. It really helped me to understand Lucy more and, although I still don't like Alice, it did help me to understand why she acts the way she has and I even ended up feeling sympathy for her.

And I just loved Sam! He is a man who enjoys a woman's company but he definitely has commitment issues. Again, his back story gives a lot of insight into this behaviour and I really felt for him and his brothers as I learnt what their life was like when growing up. But what made my heart melt the most about him was his relationship with his niece, Holly. She is an orphan and Sam and his older brother Mark have become her guardians. There are some very heart-warming moments between Sam and Holly that just made me melt inside and fall in love with Sam even more.

The romance was very sweet but also had a lot of heat behind it. They have both experienced a lot of pain in their past and don't want to hurt each other but they just can't fight the attraction they feel for each other. And when they do finally give in to temptation there are some very hot and steamy moments.

Summary - A sweet and charming love story that is full of well-written, three-dimensional characters that you can't help but fall in love with. Whilst reading Rainshadow Road I became completely immersed in the story and even managed to finish it in less than a day (and with two boys under the age of five to run around after that is quite an accomplishment!). I predict that I will be reading more from this amazing author very soon.

Other books in this series:
1. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
2. Rainshadow Road
3. Dream Lake (August 2012)

Other reviews of this book:
Book Binge / Dear Author / Smexy Books

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #18 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (12th March 2012)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books Completed:
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor #2)
Caught by Jami Alden (Gemini Men #1)

Books Reviewed:
Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate (Fallen #3.5)
Demon Soul by Christine Ashworth (Caine Brothers #1)

Books I'm Currently Reading:
Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft #2)
Night Magic by Jennifer Lyon (Wing Slayer #3)

Books Up Next:
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (Love by Numbers #1)
Guilty Pleasures by Lora Leigh (Bound Hearts #7)

Also, last week I put out a call for help. I have recently discovered a love of all things romance. I have been a fan of paranormal romance for a couple of years but after recently trying out some other categories of the genre I want to try more! If anybody is a fan of historical romance/contemporary romance/romantic suspense please visit my post and let me know which books and authors you love!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Review: Demon Soul by Christine Ashworth (Caine Brothers #1)


Publisher - Crescent Moon Press
Publication Date - April 2011
Genre - Paranormal Romance

Source - Received from author for review

Rating - 2.5 out of 5: I liked it

Book Info - Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn't get it back soon, his next step will be into Hell. Only the naïvely mysterious Rose can help him retrieve it. Without her, he really will become the devil himself.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task-save Gabriel Caine. She's drawn to Gabriel on the most basic level, but restoring his soul may cost Rose her life.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself—demon, human, and Feri bloodlines, and the strengths of each—into harmony and into the fight that decides their fate.

My Thoughts - What I really liked about this novel is that it brings some originality back into the paranormal genre. Gabriel and his brothers are tri-breeds - a mixture of demon, fae and human - and they have each inherited slightly different characteristics from their parents. Rose is also very different from any other characters I've read about. This meant that I became intrigued by these characters from the very start.

I think that the novel moves along at a good pace, with a nice balance between the romance and action elements. The author slowly unravels the story, meaning that the plot kept me hooked and I was always guessing at what would happen next. I also liked the way that Gabriel's relationship with his brothers is portrayed. Gabriel has been on his own for a decade and we see how each member of the family was affected by this absence and also how they have to work at building a new relationship once he comes home.

However, I found it quite difficult to like Gabriel very much. He experienced some bad things as he was growing up and as a result he goes into a self-imposed exile. And when he comes back home in Demon Soul, he continues to keep his distance from the people around him, especially Rose. I couldn't help but feel as though he was taking the easy way out rather than dealing with the issues of his past. Plus he does far too much brooding for my liking. Near the end, once he accepts his feelings for Rose, he does become more likeable but I wish that this could have started happening sooner in the novel.

Summary - A new twist in the paranormal genre that is well-written and gripping. However, my inability to click with the hero meant that I did not enjoy the story as much as I would have liked. I am still intrigued enough by the concepts introduced in Demon Soul to continue with the series and see what the author has in store for the other tri-breeds.

Other books in the series:
1. Demon Soul
2. Demon Hunt

Other reviews of this book:
Judging the Book By It's Pages / Reader Views

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #10 for 2012 Speculative Romance Reading Challenge
Book #14 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Friday, 9 March 2012

Paranormal Romance Month Giveaway Winners!

Ok, so here is the moment you have all been waiting for! The announcement of all the lucky winners of the giveaways hosted here at Once Upon A Series during my Paranormal Romance Month during February.



Lords of the Underworld Giveaway

Natalie C
Dani S



Demons of Infernum Giveaway

Regina




Michele Hauf Giveaway

Katie




The winners have been notified by email and have got 48 hours to get back to me before another winner is picked. If you can't see my email in your inbox, please check your spam folder just in case!

Congrats everybody :)

Help! I need more romance in my life!

Over the last couple of years I have become a great fan of paranormal romance, but I have avoided the rest of the genre. I'm not entirely sure why, but they have never really appealled to me.

That all changed recently though. Imagine the scene - I have just finished up reading all the books I need to read for my recent Paranormal Romance Month and I am looking for something a little bit different. I start to browse my review book shelf and find Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas and My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley, both of which have been sent to me by the lovely people over at Piatkus Books. One is contemporary romance and one is historical romance, and neither of them are books that I would normally pick up. But I decided to give them a try. And I ended up absolutely loving both of them! Especially Rainshadow Road, which I gave five stars to. Reviews will be up some time next week.

Now, here is the problem and I'm hoping you might be able to help. I really want to read more historical and contemporary romance and I have no idea where to start (apart from backlist titles from Lisa Kleypas and Gaelen Foley). Do you read these genres at all? Who would you recommend I start with?

Also, I am thinking I would like to read some more romantic suspense whilst I am at it. I have read a couple as I quite often read mysteries, but I am thinking that this is something else that I would like to explore some more. I have read a couple of books from Bella Andre's Hot Shots series about sexy firemen which I quite enjoyed, and a book from J.D. Robb's In Death series, although that was a long time ago and I'm not entirely sure now which one it was I read - I do remember that I enjoyed it though! So, are there any romantic suspense fans out there? Who are your favourite romantic suspense authors?

I look forward to reading your recommendations! I've got no idea where to start looking on my own :)

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Review: Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate (Fallen #3.5)

Publisher - Doubleday Children's Books
Publication Date - 2nd February 2012
Paperback - 256 pages
Genre - Young Adult/Paranromal Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it

Book Info - Unexpected. Unrequited. Forbidden. Eternal. Everyone has their own love story.

And in a twist of fate, four extraordinary love stories intersect over the course of a romantic Valentine's Day in medieval England.

Miles and Shelby find love where they least expect it. Roland learns a painful lesson about finding and losing love. Arriane pays the price for a love so fierce it burns. And for the first - and last - time, Daniel and Luce spend a night together like none other.

Fallen in Love is filled with love stories... the ones everyone has been waiting for.

My Thoughts - The first thing I want to say about this book is that I absolutely love the setting. Medieval England just makes everything feel so much more romantic! There's knights, damsels in distress and a Valentine's Day Fair *sigh*. It all worked so well and made me wish I could be there with the characters.

I really enjoyed each of the short stories included in the book, but they all bring something different to the table. Love Where You Least Expect It (Miles and Shelby's story) is possibly my favourite. It is a very sweet story of two friends who are trying to work out their feelings as they realise their friendship is turning into something else and it is filled with touching moments between the pair.

Love Lessons (Roland's Story) is a bittersweet look into Roland's past and helps to give a better understanding of his serious nature.

Burning Love (Arriane's story) was the most interesting, but also the most frustrating for me. It gives some insight into her relationship with a female demon and the feelings of heartbreak as they realise they can't be together just jump off the page at you. However, because the story was so intriguing, I found myself wanting to know more about them than it was possible to learn in such a short story.

Endless Love (Luce and Daniel's story) was, of course, a happy and romantic story of the only Valentine's day the pair ever spend together. I loved reading about how their friends meddle in events to make this happen and about the love that Luce and Daniel share despite everything that is against them.

Summary - These are a set of short stories that cover all aspects of love - friends-to-lovers, destined love and heartbreak. Fans of the Fallen series will love this book, although people who haven't read the other books in the series might get confused as there just isn't enough time to include any back story. My only complaint would be that I wanted to read Cam's story but I can still hope that I'll get to read it one day! A great set of romantic short stories that all fans of the series must read!

Other books in the series:
1. Fallen
2. Torment
3. Passion
3.5. Fallen in Love
4. Rapture

Other reviews of this book:
Bewitched Bookworms / Books With BiteImaginary Reads

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #17 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Monday, 5 March 2012

It's Monday! What are you Reading? (5th March 2012)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey that gives us all a chance to list the books that we read last week and what we hope to read this week.

Books Completed:
Eternal Blood by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2.5)
My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley (Inferno Club #4)
Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate (Fallen #3.5)

Books Reviewed:
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter #4)
The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter (Lords of the Underworld #3)
Eternal Blood by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2.5)
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning (Fever #1)

Books I'm Currently Reading:
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor #2)

Books Up Next:
Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (Alex Craft #2)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning (Fever #1)

Publisher - Gollancz
Publication Date - 8th September 2011
Paperback - 368 pages
Genre - Urban Fantasy

Source - Purchased

Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it

Book Info - MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks... until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death – a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone – Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae...

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands...

My Thoughts - I have been hearing so many great things about this series for so long that I finally decided it was time to give it a go. And I certainly was not disappointed by Darkfever!

The best thing about the book for me was Barrons. He's dark, dangerous and mysterious and I found myself hooked on his every word hoping to find out something about him. I am very much looking forward to reading more about him as I continue on with the series.

And the author has created a perfect setting for Barrons in the dark, dark world she has created. The streets of Ireland are a scary place and certainly not a world I would like to visit. There are all types of paranormal creatures and none of them play nice.

My one problem with the book was Mac. I didn't find her particularly likeable at the start. She is incredibly shallow and I found it very hard to relate to her. Even when she is in Ireland tracking down her sister's killer, being chased by fae and vampires and who-knows-what-else, and she still insists on wearing her favourite pink outfit as it makes her happy. I just can't help but feel like her attire should be the least of her worries. Also, throughout her narrative, the author seems to be in the present describing the events that happened in the past, so there is a lot of 'If I had known about [insert dark, dangerous type situation] at the time then I would have done [insert brave kick-ass type action] but I didn't know so I [insert not-so-brave type action that normally involves a lot of tears and acting like a child]'. This technique was used too many times for my liking and I did find it frustrating at times. I found myself wishing the author would just get on with telling the story - a story that had me completely hooked and wishing there weren't little distractions like these.

Summary - A great start to a series that promises to deliver much in the way of danger, intriguing storylines and sexy alpha males. I can't wait to get my hands on book two!

Other books in this series:
1. Darkfever
2. Bloodfever
3. Faefever
4. Dreamfever
5. Shadowfever

Other reviews of this book:
Feeling Fictional / Love Vampires / Saz101

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #2 for 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Book #6 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Review: Eternal Blood by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2.5)


Publisher - Piatkus Entice
Publication Date - 14th February 2012
Genre - Paranormal Romance

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 3 out of 5: I liked it

Book Info - Gray Donahue is crippled by the guilt he feels for his father's death. An Impure vampire cursed with the ability to hear the thoughts of others, he indulges in blood and sex to stave off the pain of his existence. He is then abducted by the Eternal Order of Vampires, who subject him to a nightmarish ritual. But when he is rescued by the icy pureblood vampire Dillon, he finds something that is worth living for, dying for, and killing for...

My Thoughts - Eternal Blood is a very short novella that is part of the Mark of the Vampire series. I recently read Eternal Kiss (book two of the series) and I was very intrigued by the character of Gray so I was very pleased when I found out this was his story.

The best thing about this novella for me was the growth that Gray makes during the course of the story - something I found amazing considering the fact that it was only 21 pages long. At the start, he really couldn't care less about anybody else. All he wants to do is get drunk and have meaningless sex with as many women as possible so he can try and forget about everything. But, after the events of Eternal Blood, he is ready to take responsibility and try to take down the Order (a group of ten all-powerful vampires who have complete control over all other vampires). This is a Gray I could fall in love with, as he takes control of his life and actually wants to make a difference in the lives of others.

What I did feel was lacking was the romance element of the story. There is one steamy scene at the start with somebody who isn't Dillon (the heroine of the story), but once Dillon arrives on the scene there is just constant bickering between the two of them. There is a lot of chemistry between them and it is obvious that the bickering is the grown-up equivalent of pulling the pig-tails of the girl you fancy in the playground, but I was really hoping it would turn into something more.

Summary - A great insight into the mind of one of the more intriguing characters of the series. But I wish more could have been made of the romance between Gray and Dillon.

Other books in the series:
1. Eternal Hunger
2. Eternal Kiss
2.5. Eternal Blood
3. Eternal Captive

Other reviews of this book:
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews / Under the Covers

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #11 for 2012 Speculative Romance Reading Challenge
Book #15 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Paranormal Romance Month Wrap-Up Post!

Well, Paranormal Romance Month was a lot of fun and I manged to read and review a lot of PNR books that have been sitting in my TBR pile for a long time! I think I might be making a habit of events like these ;)

So here is a list of all the books I managed to review during PNR Month:

Kresley Cole - A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #1)
Christine Feehan - Dark Hunger (Carpathians #14)
Christine Feehan - Water Bound (Sister's of the Heart #1)
Michele Hauf - Angel Slayer (Of Angels and Demons #1)
Michele Hauf - Fallen (Of Angels and Demons #2)
Michele Hauf - The Ninja Vampire's Girl (Of Angels and Demons #2.5)
Michele Hauf - Ashes of Angels (Of Angels and Demons #3)
Rosalie Lario - Heart of the Incubus (Demons of Infernum #3.5)
Jennifer Lyon - Sinful Magic (Wing Slayer #4)
Lynsay Sands - A Quick Bite (Argeneau Vampires #1)
Gena Showalter - The Darkest Fire (Lords of the Underworld #0.5)
Gena Showalter - The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld #1)
Gena Showalter - The Darkest Kiss (Lords of the Underworld #2)
Gena Showalter - The Darkest Pleasure (Lords of the Underworld #3)
Nalini Singh - Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1)
Nalini Singh - Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter #2)
Nalini Singh - Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter #3)
Nalini Singh - Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter #4)
Laura Wright - Eternal Kiss (Mark of the Vampire #2)

Wow, that's 19 reviews! I feel tired just looking at that list! And I thought that I would pick a favourite book of the month too. Although I couldn't narrow it down to just one and ended up having to choose two instead. So, my favourite books of Paranormal Romance Month are:

Heart of the Incubus by Rosalie Lario

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh


And for those of you who are eagerly waiting to find out if you are a winner of my PNR Month giveaways, I will be picking and announcing the winners over the next couple of days.

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