The Week: 10th – 16th November

 The Australian Ballet performs La Bayadère Kingdom of the Shades

What a waste of a week! The heat probably didn’t help with my lack of motivation! This weekend is all about our trip to Sydney to see The Australian Ballet perform La Bayadère.

Stop Russia Stop Vladimir Putin G20 Brisbane 2014

There was a big anti-Putin protest in Brisbane, but unfortunately it’s a protest I had to miss.

A discussion on the Word Wenches blog this week, about places people want to set more romances, constantly turned up one place: Russia. I do find it really upsetting that no matter what Russia does to its neighbouring countries, and no matter how many thousands (millions!) of their neighbours they slaughter, they always seem to get a free pass because they’re “exotic”. Nobody affords that same kind of love to – say – Nazi Germany. I bet authors in 1939 weren’t rushing to write more romances set in Germany! It makes me sick how little people care about Eastern Europeans.

 Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia 13th November 2014 Sonya Heaney

Another week of pretty Canberra skies.

A stupid court summons (don’t worry, I’m not a murderer!) came in the mail, so there goes my Christmas season and my family trip to the Gold Coast. Sooooo annoyed about that! I can’t even begin to explain how mad I am… This is more than likely the last chance I have to travel with my grandmother (who is in her nineties and struggling both with mobility issues and dementia) and because of the stupid court, it isn’t going to happen.

Kittens Queanbeyan Australia 12th November 2014 Sonya Heaney

Something that did occupy quite a bit of my time this week was our shed full of stray cats! Gradually things are being sorted out with them. The kittens are learning to eat (notice the one hiding in the back corner!), and have started venturing out. There’re privately-run charities that are willing to help with everything from vet’s fees to placement for them when they’re old enough to be on their own.

I’ve not had that much to do with pets for years and years, so it’s been nice to learn so much and come across such helpful people in the region.

Misogyny in book reviews.

Outlander 1x06 The Garrison Commander Claire Ending Sonya Heaney Sceenshot

My review of Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

My review of Dove by Juliette Miller

Dove by Juliette Miller

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

In a world of shadows and dark, cosuming hungers, desire is the deadliest weapon…

For journalist Dylan Alexander, it began with the discovery of a hidden tomb, thrusting her into the center of a gathering storm of violence and secrets. But nothing is as dangerous as the scarred, lethally seductive man who rises from the shadows to draw her into his world of dark desire and endless night.

Fuelled by pain and rage over a shattering betrayal, the warrior Rio has pledged his life to the war against the Rogues. He will let nothing stand in his way—least of all a mortal woman with the power to expose the entire vampire race. For an ancient evil has been awakened, and a stunning darkness is on the rise. Suddenly Dylan is powerless to resist Rio’s touch, even as she uncovers a shocking link to her own past. And now she must choose: Leave Rio’s midnight realm, or risk it all for the man who has shown her true passion and the infinite pleasures of the heart…

Midnight Rising (Midnight Breed #4) by Lara Adrian

The Midnight Breed series, about a secret underground war involving vampires, got popular back when vampires were the Big Thing. Reading these books a few years after vampires went out of fashion, I still think they’re great fun. Midnight Rising is the fourth book in the series, and it was solid if not spectacular.

This series fills all your big, dark, dangerous hero needs and does it a hell of a lot better than other series. I like the consistency in the world-building, something that’s better here than in the similar Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

There’s something about this series that keeps you picking them up, even though some of the jumps in plot development make no sense. The books aren’t masterpieces, but the author has something in her storytelling that keeps you reading. However, Lara Adrian’s books tend to feel a bit similar after a while. The relationships happen at a rapid pace, which isn’t uncommon, but also a little hard to buy when we’re talking about immortal characters. You don’t make a commitment – an irreversible blood bond – for an eternity with someone after only knowing them less than a week!

I thought this situation was handled better in book two, Kiss of Crimson. In that one the hero’s half of the bond happened by accident, and the heroine’s half happened in order to save her life. In this book, we have a mentally and physically scarred man who was badly betrayed by a mate he’d been with for centuries, who suddenly does a complete turnaround and starts lengthy declarations of love with this new woman.

The rapidity of the relationships was also shown with hero and heroine of book two, who play secondary roles here. They’re going to be together for centuries and centuries, and she’s already pregnant after only knowing him a couple of months? Too fast!

Changes were made with some of the characters from earlier books. The whole nature of Rio’s relationship with his first mate was changed. It would have been a more interesting story if it hadn’t suddenly it turned out Rio didn’t love her that much. That’s not the story we’ve been told for the last three books!

This is a little bit of a transition book. The series gets “bigger” from here, with the wider vampire world coming out into the open and a war of sorts brewing. Even though it was far from my favourite book, as soon as I was finished I was online, looking to buy another one!

The Week: 13th – 19th October

sunset-canberra-australia-15th-october-2014-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney-2

One of Canberra’s spectacular sunsets this week.

So, I’m back! On my travel/Canberra blog I’m probably going to do a lengthy post about the horrors of flying with Qantas, but other than that, everything in Spain and Sweden pretty much went perfectly. I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain before, so I knew I loved it, but Sweden was a new experience. If only it wasn’t SO expensive, because it’s a wonderful place to visit!

 Russian Peace Donestk Airport totally destroyed 16th October 2014

Donetsk International Airport in Ukraine – after Russia paid a visit.

This week Russia continued to violate the ceasefire in Ukraine, and dozens more have been killed. They also destroyed the airport in Donetsk. We’re protesting next weekend, and I’ve been to so many of these now I’m going to dig out a new Ukrainian outfit to wear. If only we didn’t have to keep doing this. If only Russia wasn’t such a murderous monster…

 The Traitor by Grace Burrowes

I desperately need to catch up on my reading. I’m shocked by how little I achieved while travelling. There was many an afternoon where everyone else was asleep and I’d sneak out to a café or bar for a gin and tonic and an hour or two of reading, but I still hardly got anything read!

Most of my reviews were scheduled ages ago, but I discovered the wonderful Grace Burrowes while I was away. Highly recommend her books.

My thoughts on Outlander Episode Five (yes, I’m catching up!!)

outlander-1x06-the-garrison-commander-lunch-dougal-claire-redcoats-sonya-heaney-sceenshot

My review of Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

My review of  The Captive by Grace Burrowes

The Captive by Grace Burrowes

My review of A Weaver Christmas Gift by Allison Leigh

A Weaver Christmas Gift by Allison Leigh

My review of The Stolen Princess by Anne Gracie

The Stolen Princess by Anne Gracie

 

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

With a dagger in her hand and vengeance on her mind, Darkhaven beauty Elise Chase prowls Boston’s streets in search of retribution against the Rogue vampires who took from her everything she cherished. Using an extraordinary psychic gift, she tracks her prey, well aware that the power she possesses is destroying her. She must learn to harness this gift, and for that she can turn to only one man the deadliest of the Breed warriors, Tegan.

No stranger to loss, Tegan knows Elise’s pain. He knows fury, but when he slays his enemies it is with ice in his veins. He is perfect in his self-control, until Elise seeks his aid in her personal war. An unholy alliance is forged a bond that will link them by blood and vow and plunge them into a tempest of danger, desire, and the darkest passions of the heart…

Midnight Awakening (Midnight Breed #3) by Lara Adrian

This is the third book in Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed vampire series, and one of the best-loved. I really enjoyed it; it’s pure escapism and as I don’t read as many paranormal books anymore it made for a nice change.

I actually read this years ago – sort of. I’m not sure I ever finished it (probably because I was travelling or something and never got back to it). So it was nice to sit back down with it now.

The Midnight Breed books are all about big, tough vampire warriors and a secret war between good and evil. All the vampires in the world are men, and only able to be mated with particular women, women who are born with traits most don’t have.

Tegan is one of the oldest, most powerful vampires, and Elise is not a total newbie. The women stop ageing once mated to a vampire, and she has already loved and lost – a mate and their son. She is definitely one of Lara Adrian’s stronger heroines, which I think is what makes this book so popular.

There are some great moments between Tegan and Elise, the memorable sort of scenes that make people return to reread. One thing I don’t like about these books is how fast the relationships develop. The stories all seem to cover only a few days, and to commit to (literally!) forever with a person after that time is pretty hard to believe.

This is the first book in the series that takes us far away from Boston and the compound. The characters spend a significant part of the book in Europe, and we see the wider vampire world. There are plot points setting up later books (I’ve read these out of order). I appreciate the way Adrian lets the world grow. Unlike some authors in this genre, she seems to have a plan for where to take her series, which is why the quality stays consistent.

The Midnight Breed series is one of the more entertaining paranormal romance series out there.

Best of 2013

Just as I did last year, I’m going to make this a list of the books I *read* this year, rather than a list of books released in 2013. Many of these are 2013 releases, but not all of them! I’m sure I’ve also forgotten some of my favourites.

I’ve not included some great reads that wouldn’t fit into my ‘entertainment’ category; these are the best of the books I read for fun.

The strangest thing is how many historical books made it onto my list. For someone who used to swear I wasn’t interested in anything that combined history and romance I’ve certainly changed my tune!

I think my reading habits this year have changed a bit largely because of what has been happening in the contemporary genres. New Adult fiction (I have one book in this genre on my list, so I’m not saying they’re all bad!) has engulfed regular Adult fiction. There’s just so much misogyny on the market at the moment I don’t feel safe exploring too far with new authors… I’m also finding more complex storylines in historical books than many others (meaning there’s more to the plot than a drunk thug punching someone, followed by endless sex scenes with his doormat girlfriend!).

Seeing as suspense was my first true love (after I spent a while riding the paranormal bandwagon), I’m planning to add a bit more (contemporary) variety to my reading in 2014!

So, with that said, here were some of my favourite entertaining, emotional, funny or otherwise reads this year:

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

The Moorland Cottage by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Moorland Cottage by Elizabeth Gaskell

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Killing Time by Cindy Gerard

Killing Time by Cindy Gerard

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy by Tammara Webber

Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

Lethal Pursuit by Kaylea Cross

What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracie

The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracie

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Man Drought by Rachael Johns

Man Drought by Rachael Johns

Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter

Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter

Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter

Provocative in Pearls (The Rarest Blooms #2) by Madeline Hunter

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

Bringing Maddie Home by Janice Kay Johnson

From This Day On by Janice Kay Johnson

From This Day On by Janice Kay Johnson

Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match by Michelle Styles

Hattie Wilkinson Meets her Match by Michelle Styles

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Caroline and the Duke by Sabrina Darby

 Caroline and the Duke A Regency Short Story by Sabrina Darby

And keep a lookout for these books, which I highly recommend and will be released for general sale early in 2014:

Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction by Jayne Fresina

Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction (Sydney Dovedale, #4) by Jayne Fresina

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

The Chance by Robyn Carr

The Chance by Robyn Carr

Currently Free: A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian

A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian is free at the moment.

A Touch of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Savannah Dupree is halfway across the country from her Louisiana bayou hometown, a freshman studying at Boston University on a full scholarship. But academic excellence is only one of Savannah’s gifts. She possesses something even more remarkable than her quick mind and insatiable curiosity for learning. With a simple touch, Savannah can see an object’s past—a skill that puts her life in danger, when her studies bring her into contact with a centuries-old English sword and the secret hidden within the blade’s history: the vicious murders of twin boys by a group of fanged creatures borne of the worst kind of nightmare.

In all his three hundred years of living as one of the Breed, vampire warrior Gideon never dreamed he’d see the blade again that spilled his young brothers’ lives ages ago on that blood-soaked night in London. Ever since the boys’ deaths, Gideon’s been on a personal quest to rid the world of Rogue vampires, but now he can’t help wondering if the brutal slayings of his only kin was something more sinister—an act perpetrated by an unknown enemy. An enemy who is apparently living in hiding somewhere in Boston. There’s one certain way to prove Gideon’s suspicion, but it will mean using innocent, gifted Savannah to help uncover the full truth—a truth that will shatter everything she knows about herself and the world around her. And with danger closing in from all sides, the passion that ignites between Gideon and Savannah will tempt them to risk their hearts and lives for a love that might just last an eternity…

This novella, a prequel to the Midnight Breed series, was previously published in its entirety in The Midnight Breed Series Companion (May 2013).

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

He comes to her more dead than alive, a towering black-clad stranger riddled with bullets and rapidly losing blood. As she struggles to save him, veterinarian Tess Culver is unaware that the man calling himself Dante is no man at all, but one of the Breed, vampire warriors engaged in a desperate battle. In a single erotically charged moment Tess is plunged into his world—a shifting, shadowed place where bands of Rogue vampires stalk the night, cutting a swath of terror.

Haunted by visions of a dark future, Dante lives and fights like there is no tomorrow. Tess is a complication he does not need—but now, with his brethren under attack, he must shield Tess from a growing threat that includes Dante himself. For with one reckless, irresistible kiss, she has become an inextricable part of his underworld realm…and his touch awakens her to hidden gifts, desires, and hungers she never knew she possessed. Bonded by blood, Dante and Tess must work together to thwart deadly enemies, even as they discover a passion that transcends the boundaries of life itself…

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

This – the second book the Midnight Breed vampire series – is my favourite.

In this universe, all vampires are male and can only mate with human women called breedmates: women who are born with a special marking to identify them. Once one feeds from the other, they are permanently linked.

In an unfortunate (or fortunate, perhaps!) turn of events, the author starts this book off by putting vampire Dante in a difficult position: he drinks from Tess before realising what she is, accidentally linking himself to her forever.

Because he has reason to believe he will soon die, the last thing he wants is to have a mate.

Dante and Tess work perfectly together. Dante is everything dark and broody and vampiric and Tess is strong and smart but also easy to identify with. The vampires of this series are of the tough, leather-clad, fighting the bad guys variety, and there’s plenty of that to go around in this book!

As I’ve said before, Midnight Breed is my guilty pleasure series. I have hardly read any paranormal books in the past few years, but this is one series I always know I’ll enjoy. Kiss of Crimson provides a few hours of dark fun.

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

A Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle Maxwell’s deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night—or this man—is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed—a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind—and the unwitting humans existing alongside them—from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed’s formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all…

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

A lot of people have a guilty pleasure series – often a paranormal series. Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series is mine.

I have seen this compared with J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and yes, there are similarities. Both feature vampires who are living, breathing races. Vampires in both books are fighting a war in the streets around us, and yet humans don’t know. There’s a whole lot of gun-leather-tough guy stuff going on.

However, the Midnight Breed holds extra appeal for me because it’s lighter on the mythology and religion. Nobody turns into a dragon/dinosaur or chats with a Scribe Virgin aka the BDB.

Kiss of Midnight kicks the series off in strong style. Taking place on the streets of Boston, Lucan is one of the oldest vampires and the leader of the Breed, and he has no choice but to bring Gabrielle into his world after she sees far more than she should have.

Breedmates are the only women who can mate with vampires (and vampires are exclusively male). Each breedmate has a distinctive mark on their body somewhere, and Gabrielle has one. The thing that differentiates the mythology of this series from many others is that relationships are a choice. Mating for life is a choice. It’s not some mystical, binding thing until both parties decide to make it so. For those tired of those light-bulb moment ‘Mine’ declarations in paranormal romance, this might be one for you.

The history of these vampires might sound a bit crazy if you think about it too much: they arrived on Earth from elsewhere hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and have bred with humans. There are no longer pure-blooded vampires. It sounds crazy, but as that part is hardly mentioned, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Two criticisms I have seen of this series are:

#1 The geography of Boston is largely wrong.

I haven’t ever been to Boston, so I can’t tell you whether this is true or not.

#2 Some readers don’t like the idea of women largely being kept safe, behind closed doors.

I don’t really know where to go with that. It’s something that would usually bug me, but for some reason I didn’t notice it until I read some other reviews!

As I said: total guilty pleasure. Dark, enjoyable and an excellent introduction to the world of vampires.

Best of 2012

Everyone’s doing their ‘Best Of’ lists, but you know what? In a lot of cases, I can’t remember if I read certain things in 2012 or before that!

Something else that I see happening is that other people forget about their great reads from earlier in the year. So many popular books released earlier in the year don’t seem to be making appearances on many lists.

My list isn’t really ‘the best stuff I read this year’ as much as ‘good stuff I can actually remember reading in 2012’! So most – but not all – of these were published this year.

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry

Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry

Willow Springs by Toni Blake

Willow Springs by Toni Blake

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

Bridie’s Choice by Karly Lane

Bridie’s Choice by Karly Lane

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen

Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde