Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoyt

Aren't I on a roll these two days? I've probably jinxed it now, but here's another while I'm at it. I'm really quite pleased with my output, but really need to work harder to tackle my backlog of reviews. As a result, I've not really been able to start a lot of books that I've wanted to, but I figure that it's the reviews that are the priority, rather than the new books.

Blogger is annoying me at the moment. I can't figure out how to post a post with a picture on the top without Blogger automatically inserting a blank line at the top before the text. It hasn't happened in this post since I've got this note at the top, but it's done it to the last half dozen reviews or so. Any ideas? Fixed it!

The Ice Princess (2009) (novella)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: not quite hot
Source: NetGalley
Princes Trilogy: (1) The Raven Prince, (2) The Leopard Prince, (3) The Serpent Prince

Coral Smythe is the madam of the most infamous brothel in London, Aphrodite’s Grotto and does her job well. At only twenty-four years old, her age is one of the things that she’s most desperate to hide behind her elaborate mask and brazen behaviour. Coral knows her way around any man, but there’s one who is impervious to her and her girls’ (and boys!) advances that always presents an irresistible challenge.

Captain Isaac Wargate never makes any attempt to hide his contempt for the woman he only knows as Aphrodite. When he wins seven nights of her exclusive company, Isaac would rather use his time to uncover her secrets and past rather than her body.

Coral isn’t used to men just wanting to talk to her. She started out in the business young, and while it’s been two years since she’s last let a man touch her, Isaac is different. Isaac wants to know her, not Aphrodite and Coral doesn’t know how to be herself around men when all she’s learned to do is try and please them. As their relationship progresses at a lightning fast speed, Coral is in danger of letting Isaac penetrate the only place she’s never let a man enter: her heart.

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Scandal in Spring (2006)
Lisa Kleypas
Grade: B+
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot-tish
Source: own
Wallflowers: (1) Secrets of a Summer Night, (2) It Happened one Autumn, (3) Devil in Winter, (4) Scandal in Spring

At twenty-two years old, Daisy Bowman is in great danger of becoming a spinster. Considering all the time she has spent as a ‘Wallflower’ with her sister and friends, Daisy has resigned herself to the idea of staying unmarried forever. She would be very happy to live with her married sister Lillian and spend all her time reading and pursuing her own pleasures, but Daisy’s father has vowed to have her married to his protégé, Matthew Swift if she doesn’t find herself a husband of her own in three months. As Mr Swift is the last person in the world that she would want to be married to, Daisy is very keen indeed on finding her own match.

Mr Bowman might have three sons of his own, but none hold a candle to Matthew Swift. He’s business savvy, knows Bowman’s Enterprises inside out and is the son that Mr Bowman wished he had. Mr Bowman has no desire to pass his business on to his sons, but the only way that Matthew will be able to run it is if he marries Daisy.

My Olympic Experience

Abominably late - very sorry. I'm trying to type this as I'm watching the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games. Paralympics GB have just arrived in the stadium and I really can't put this post off for any longer.

Well, yes, I can delay it even more as it is clear that I wasn't able to finish this post last night. Well, here you go. 

The sixteen days of the Olympic Games have shown that London really did step up to the plate and produce a spectacular show. Much like many other people across the country, I'm left wondering what the hell I'm supposed to for the next month before I go back to uni. I've just had a massive overdose of the best sporting events in the world, and now I want more.

I was a supporter of London hosting the Olympics all along. Some people have moaned that we don't have the money to host the Games and we'll only damage ourselves further, but I was always an optimist about it. Yes, the Copyright Cops may have been out in full force and there was much speculation before the Games started about whether the London transport system would be able to cope, but I always viewed such criticism as silly, typically British attempts to put down the Olympics before it even started. Well, it didn't work. We delivered and our Games will be remembered for years to come.

Besides watching avidly in front of my television (and laptop) screen, I haven't had much direct interaction with the Olympics. I've been watching my friends post on Facebook pictures of themselves dressed in their volunteer outfits, looking like they're having the time of their lives, but it had never really occurred to me to apply to do the same. I really wish now that I had.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: Heart of Darkness

Episode 1.16

We’re back to focus on Snow and James’ relationship and this is a big episode for them. The last we saw of them, Snow had just swallowed the potion to make her forget her broken heart, and James has escaped his arranged marriage to search for Snow. He’s ridden off with Red to escape King George’s pursuing men and Red has promised to hold them at bay while he gets as far away as possible. Ominously, we see her shed her luxurious red cloak just as she casts her eyes to the full moon and see her eyes flash red …

Meanwhile, the potion has had some negative after-effects on Snow. She has no idea of James’ existence or her love for him and rather than being a good thing, the dwarves are all fed up with her behaviour. She’s turned nasty and vindictive and a terror to live with. When they confront her, she leaves to go and kill the Queen. Grumpy is convinced that this isn’t the right answer and so drags her to Rumpelstiltskin so that he can reverse the potion’s effects.

Once Upon a Time: Red-Handed

Episode 1.15

After all the episodes that we’ve seen Red/Ruby helping out Snow or in Granny’s, she finally gets her chance in the spotlight. This episode has an interesting take on Red Riding Hood and Peter and the Wolf.

In fairytaleland, it’s the time of the month when the wolf comes out to play. Hunting trips only ever end with good men slaughtered and Red is sick of being cooped up in the house under her grandmother’s watchful eye. One morning, she finds Snow hiding out in their chicken coop and takes her in. She confesses that she’s in love with a boy from the village, but Granny isn’t keen on their relationship. Snow urges Red to do what she thinks is best for love, and Red gets it into her head that if she kills the wolf, there’ll no longer be any danger and so Granny can’t object to her relationship with Peter.

On hunting down the wolf during daytime wearing their gorgeous cloaks, Red and Snow discover that the wolf is actually human! And they think it’s Peter! They form a plan for Red to sneak out and tell Peter, but it all ends in blood and tears as it turns out that Peter isn’t the wolf, but Red. Her cloak is the only thing that stops her from turning during the full moon and she’s gone without it so that Granny doesn’t know that she’s not in the house. It turns out that the condition is hereditary; just as Granny and Snow find Red, the hunters begin to descend. We end with Snow and Red running away from the scene of the crime.

AlphHole heroes

This is a FANTASTIC article from Heroes and Heartbreakers.

Too often AlphHole heroes are let off easy from their asshole behaviour because he's had a bad childhood or any of the other 'empathy coupons' that are listed in the article, when in fact they deserve a good kicking!

I might just have to use the phrase 'AlphHole heroes' more often.

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thief of Shadows (2012)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: B
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: shy of hot
Source: NetGalley
Maiden Lane: (1) Wicked Intentions, (2) Notorious Pleasures, (3) Scandalous Desires

As the manager and head-honcho of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, Winter Makepeace has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Not everyone is so sure that he can handle it on his own and a certain patroness who has more money than sense is determined to see Winter gone.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall has been charged by one of the original patronesses of the Ladies’ Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, to make Winter presentable to society. The children may have been moved to a new home after the old one burnt down, but they are still in dire need of funds and they don’t stand a chance of survival if Winter behaves in his usual dour and staid self to potential donors. In addition to their lessons, Isabel finds it her mission to stop Winter being usurped from his position as manager. As Isabel begins to teach Winter the art of making small talk and generally how to act in polite society, both find themselves drawn in a romance/seduction that neither anticipated or wanted.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Rainshadow Road (2012)
Lisa Kleypas
Grade: B
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: steamy
Source: library
Friday Harbour: (1) Christmas Eve at Friday Harbour

Lucy Marinn knows first-hand what’s worse than getting dumped by your boyfriend of two years: getting dumped by your boyfriend of two years for your sister. Kevin Pearson is the lowest of lowlifes. As for Alice Marinn, she is used to getting what she wants. She nearly died after contracting meningitis as a child and as a result, she was spoiled and indulged afterwards; unfortunately, this is still the case even though she is an adult. Alice has had excuses made for her all her life and Lucy herself has forgiven Alice for a lot of things over the years, but this may be just the one thing that she can’t forgive and forget.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Scandalous Desires (2011)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: B+
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: not quite as hot as might be expected from Elizabeth Hoyt
Source: library
Maiden Lane: (1) Wicked Intentions, (2) Notorious Pleasures

Widowed Silence Hollingbrook has a history with Charming Mickey O’Connor and it’s not a very pleasant one. A year ago, she spent the night in his bedroom (quite possibly the most innocent night of Mickey’s life) in order to free her husband from a crime he didn’t commit. Though they did nothing but stare at each other all night, neither her husband nor her siblings would believe that Mickey – the most notorious pirate in St. Giles – hadn’t touched her. When William died at sea, Silence moved into the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children run by her brother, Winter.

As manageress of the Home, Silence must care for and ensure the safety and well-being of all the children in her care, but one child holds her heart: Mary Darling was left on her doorstep a year ago as a newborn infant and Silence has raised her as her own. When she wakes one day to find Mary Darling missing, Silence goes to the only person who might have a clue where she is: Mickey O’Connor.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Forbidden by Nicola Cornick

Forbidden (2012)
Nicola Cornick
Grade: A-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Scandalous Women of the Ton: (4) Notorious, (6) Forbidden 

The Earl of Templemore has never given up hope that his granddaughter is still alive; when new evidence arises that Lady Marguerite Catherine Rose Saint-Pierre might be living right under their noses, he sends his godson and current heir to discover the truth. Lord Henry Wardeaux is guaranteed to become penniless if this girl is indeed Lady Marguerite (the Templemore estate being only one of a handful in England that can be inherited through the female line) but Henry involves himself in the investigations anyway and finds himself drawn like a moth to a flame.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep (2011)
S. J. Watson
Grade: B+
Genre: psychological thriller
Sex scenes: the boring type you get in mainstream fiction
Source: library

There was a lot of hype about Before I Go To Sleep when I was on a work experience at Random, which is how this book was brought to my attention. It was high in the charts and the book club title on Eastenders for that week. The concept sounded interesting and my curiosity was piqued; being a Random book, it was likely deliver. When I saw it at the library, I thought that I might as well go for it, otherwise I would never pick it up again.

Memories are precious things; without them we would have no identity, no links with our fellow humans and nothing to attach us to the world around us. Christine knows what this is like; or, at least, she re-learns what this is like on a daily basis. Every morning, she wakes up lying in a stranger’s bed, next to a married man after a one-night-stand, with no idea where she is. The truth is that she lost her memory in a terrible accident and has to re-learn everything about her life every day before she goes to sleep, only to forget it all again by morning.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran

A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal (2011)
Meredith Duran
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: shy of hot
Source: library

Simon St. Maur, the ninth Earl of Rushden might be titled, but he is completely penniless. The previous Earl made sure that all his money would go to his twin daughters – one of whom has been missing for more than ten years. The recently deceased Earl, however, had never given up hope and Lady Katherine Aubyn will be coming into half of the money when she comes of age. The other half is to go to Lady Cornelia Aubyn, Katherine’s twin, long presumed dead.

Nell Whitby works in a factory and the most exciting thing in her recent existence was standing up to her employers to ask for better working conditions for the girls. Her mother died several months ago and she is living with her abusive brother and his wife, trying to earn enough money to break out on her own. One night on leaving the factory, she and her friend Hannah spot a society picture of the Lady Katherine who bears a remarkable resemblance to Nell herself. Nell thinks nothing of it, but she doesn’t know what this will mean for her future.

Once Upon a Time: Dreamy

Episode 1.14

Yay for Grumpy! Only his name isn’t Grumpy: it’s Dreamy. We’ve seen him a few times in Storybrooke and he was in jail with Snow a few episodes ago. I said then that there’s an interesting take on the seven dwarves and this episode shows how Dreamy/Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Dopey, Doc, Sleepy and Sneezy got together – oh, and Stealthy too. That’s right, there’s eight dwarves. In this set, at least.

Dwarves are brought into the world in a huge barn-like facility where hundreds of eggs are waiting to be hatched. One egg is visited by the fairy Nova and this seems to have some sort of incubating effect as it hatches early to reveal a very smile-y Grumpy. All these dwarves are destined for the mines and Grumpy is to live and work with his seven brethren. Their task is to mine diamonds and rocks that will be used to make fairydust using special axes that name their owners when they first touch them. That’s how Dreamy became Dreamy.

Once Upon a Time: Fruit of the Poisoned Tree / Skin Deep/ What Happened to Frederick?

Episodes 11, 12 and 13

This is my last 'batch' of Once Upon a Time reviews so I'm now all caught up and don't have any unfinished television reviews hanging over my head. Well, except Dollhouse. And as for book reviews - don't even get me started.

Episode 1.11: Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

It’s now the turn of the genie in the lamp and we begin with the genie being released from his lamp. His newest master is the King (who isn’t a King in fairytaleland?) who also happens to be Snow White’s father and the Evil Queen’s husband. He does a true act of kindness and sets the genie free, useing his second wish to bestow the last wish onto the genie. Back at his castle, it is clear that the King dotes on Snow and still hasn’t got over the death of his first wife; the Evil Queen leads a very morose life and the genie is smitten.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: Desperate Souls / True North / 7.15am

I seemed to have missed Desperate Souls in my review document and so had to re-jiggle all the numbers and such when I saw in my notes that the episode names didn't all match up to the former document. It's an important episode too, and so it was lucky that I saw it!

Episode 1.08: Desperate Souls

We’ve seen that Rumpelstiltskin is as pivotal a character in Once Upon a Time as Snow, James and the Evil Queen, but we don’t know much about him. It’s clear that he’s a bad guy, yet he remains the go-to man when people want something done – for a price, of course. Anyway, Desperate Souls shows us how Rumpelstiltskin got hold of his immense powers.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: A Still Small Voice / The Shepherd / The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Once Upon a Time episodes 5, 6 and 7

And now for your next Once Upon a Time digest in three manageable bites. Another four? five? episodes are being aired today as I type, so I figured that I should probably finish these round-ups before watching them. Here we go.

Episode 5: A Still Small Voice

We finally get to see Archie’s greater role in the fairytale world. We’ve already seen that he is Henry’s shrink and obeys Regina’s every demand, but we haven’t seen a glimpse of him in the other world. Henry has already told us matter-of-factly that his alter-ego is Jiminy Cricket and this episode explores his life before he becomes a cricket.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: The Thing You Love The Most / Snow Falls / The Price of Gold

Or Episodes 2, 3 and 4

We're currently going through something of a Once Upon a Time marathon in my household: so what started as a round-up of one episode has become an amalgamation of something like ten. We're watching them too fast for me to write a single review for each, so this is going to be a really quick round-up. It’s got to the point where I can’t even round-up in a single post anymore because there are too many episodes to do it for.

Beware of some MAJOR spoilers. Had I done individual reviews, I would have probably tried to hold off for as long as possible, but considering all that I've now seen (and how all the episodes are blurring together in my head) it's not really possibly anymore. So here we go.

Episode 2: The Thing You Love the Most

Evil v. Good
Emma is more determined than ever to remain in Storybrooke, Maine (for reasons that I didn't mention in my first post and will still not do so here - much too spoilerific!) despite the Mayor (Evil Queen's) attempts to push her out. The Mayor/Evil Queen is Henry's adopted mum and it's clear that he is very unhappy with his home life and is deeply caught up in the book that everyone else thinks is just a crazy fantasy. His mum has been sending Henry to a shrink for years.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Once Upon a Time: Pilot

This is my newest favourite show. Heroes and Heartbreakers do an episode-by-episode breakdown as the series runs in America and so while I've refrained from reading them, the show has been sitting on my to-be-watched list for a while. About a month ago, I was scrolling through the channel listings on the television and saw it on. There aren't words for how excited I got. Granted, it was two episodes in the middle of the first season (Red-Handed and Heart of Darkness) and while it's not the easiest show to get to grips with if you don't watch from the start, I had enough of the basic gist of the show to mostly understand everything.

I think it's something that I've said before, but I have a thing about re-tellings of fairytales. Beauty by Robin McKinley features somewhere in my top twenty books and Beauty and the Beast is definitely my favourite fairytale to read. I've recently read books two and three in Eloisa James' Happily Ever After series (reviews to come) and they were brilliant. So far, Ms James has covered Cinderella (A Kiss at Midnight), Beauty and the Beast (When Beauty Tamed the Beast), The Princess and the Pea (The Duke is Mine) and The Ugly Duckling (The Ugly Duchess). The last will be released in October and after reading books two and three, the fourth in the series has become one of my most highly anticipated books of 2012. Fairytales are just one of my things.

Linkety Links

These few days, I haven't been doing much except sit in front of the TV and watch the Olympic coverage. An amazing four gold medals today as well as two silver and a bronze - such a shame that Victoria Pendleton didn't make the three golds she'd been hoping for to make her the most decorated female GB Olympian in history. Still, two golds and a silver is nothing to sniff at.

In other news, I've just re-found the excerpt from The Angel, book two in Tiffany Reisz's The Original Sinners series, due to be released in 24 September 2012. When I saw the link on Ms Reisz's website, I got so excited, thinking that this was new and I hadn't read it before. A quick glance shows me that I have (not that I remember this) and it's nothing that I haven't seen before. Still, I'm going to be re-reading it in a sec. Awesome stuff.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts

The Last Boyfriend (2012) (Piatkus)
Nora Roberts
Grade: C
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: library
Inn Boonsboro: (1) The Last Goodbye, (2) The Last Boyfriend, (3) The Perfect Hope

Only the last finishing touches are left on the construction side of things at the Inn Boonsboro and the Montgomery brothers are almost ready to step back and allow the women in with the furniture to make the inn start to look like the finished article. With Beckett handling the plans, Ryder the main design work and Owen making sure that all the tiny details are seen to, the Montgomery brothers - under the watchful eye of their mother, Justine - make a formidable team. The Inn had been in a derelict state for years before the Montgomerys added it to their portfolio and soon the building will be fully restored to its former glory, much to the excitement of everyone in the town.

The most awesome thing about Inn Boonsboro is that the rooms are named after famous literary couples. Guests have a choice between Elizabeth and Darcy, Titania and Oberon, Nick and Nora, Marguerite and Percy, Jane and Rochester, Westley and Buttercup, Eve and Roarke and The Penthouse. Each is decorated in its own unique style to match the relevant time period and it sounds lush. Even better is that Inn Boonsboro is an actual place in NR’s actual hometown, making it that tiny bit awesome. I admit to being rather disappointed by the photos of the real thing (Titania and Oberon and Westley and Buttercup look the best) as my imagination had gone rather wild at all the brilliant descriptions in the books, but nevertheless, it’s a great concept for a hotel.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Yay for first Team GB golds!

Well, today was a most productive day at the office.

Out of a regular nine in the main office, there were only four of us and the amount of work we got finished today astounds me - really. We spent ten minutes watching the awesome Helen Glover and Heather Stanning row to victory where they were more than a whole length ahead of the other competitors, and then nearly an hour this afternoon glued to the sofas as Bradley Wiggins became the most decorated Olympic athlete in British history. Mentions also to the mens' eight and Chris Froome who all bagged bronze medals to push Team GB into tenth position in the medals tables - whoo!!!

All this makes up for the fact that (a) I was given the most boring, time-consuming task EVER that I couldn't even finish and (b) that when I tried to watch all the action live on my laptop, it was delayed at least a whole minute because the laptop must be the crappiest one in the whole office. Oh well.

Fingers crossed that our four medals today spurs the rest of Team GB to victory. Off now to watch the mens' individual all-round gymnastic finals - will we manage another?