Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TBR Challenge - May


A 3-fer

Once again, today is the day to post reviews for books from our TBR pile that Keishon has challenged us to.

Now I almost feel like I’m cheating with this first book. I know the rules say the book can come out in 2007 or before – but 2007 wasn’t really that long ago. But…. I console myself with this a caveat.

One of the symptoms of this addiction called book buying for me, and I know others, is buying a number of books in a series before ever trying one. I’ve done this a few times with different authors with varying results. With the Dark series by Christine Feehan, I purchased about five before actually trying one, only to discover they weren’t my cupa at all! Mind you I bought them used at a UBS – with a refund for books I had traded in, so I wasn’t really out that much money.

But on other occasions I go right wild. Such was the case with the Sons of Destiny series by Jean Johnson. I bought the first one, The Sword because it appealed to the shallow me who liked the cover. Mind you I also read a pretty good review of it somewhere so between the review and the Really Nice Cover, I was hooked. And not only did I buy it – I bought it in trade size which is quite a bit more than pp, although not so much when buying on line I’ve discovered. I still hadn’t read it when the addiction took over and I bought the second one, The Wolf, again in trade size.

Another symptom of this book buying addiction is justifying. We can find any excuse to justify buying books. So as more of this series came out, I justified the fact that I was going to keep buying by telling myself I already had the first two, I couldn’t stop now could I and I was still liking the covers. So I was up to having bought the first four – in trade size before even reading one!

So while is book was just published in 2007, it seems like I’ve had it longer.

Now onto the review(s)!

The Sword by Jean Johnson

Published: January, 2007

Can a book be called adorable? Because if it can, this is the perfect word to describe The Sword. This is a series about four sets of twin brothers living in a mystical, magical realm who have been banished to their own island because of a prophesy. Most important of all, there can be no women on the island because the prophesy states that it is a woman who starts the prophesy ball rolling. When Morganen, the youngest brother brings a woman through his scrying mirror in order to save her life; a woman in danger of being burned to death, Sabre, the oldest brother and our hero is not exactly a happy camper. He wants her sent home – ASAP. Kelly, the heroine, is from present day times here on earth and has been rescued by devious yet loveable Morganen. He has decided that it’s time to get the prophesy started with his oldest brother.

Kelly and Sabre battle each other and reading about them is a real hoot. Kelly also decides that a castle that’s been lived in by eight guys needs a lot of work and it’s also a real treat watching her order these tough magical brothers around. They each have their own distinct personality and their own prophesy to look forward too.

Now the conflict comes in because someone from the mainland doesn’t want these brothers around and sends horrid and evil creatures to take them down and it’s great reading seeing how they all use their unique talents to thwart said evil creatures; along with taking advice from non-magical Kelly.

I adored this book and was mighty glad that sometimes strange reading symptoms take over and I have the next three to look forward too.

I found the world building to be believable and while if I sat down and concentrated I might have found some of the brother magic a bit questionable as to when it worked and when it didn’t. But I didn’t, I just enjoyed the journey – and a very enjoyable journey it was!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


I figured since I had time, I’d dig deeper into the TBR pile for the next one. I have more Harlequin books than you can imagine so I decided I’d start reading them too finally. I consider Harlequins to be the cotton candy of romance books. They’re light and fluffy though not very nutritious. But when you’re in the mood for it – it really fits the bill

So the first one on the list is an old one.

Gabriel Hawk’s Lady by Beverly Barton

Published: December 1997

She has moved on now to single title books but before she did she wrote quite a few Harlequin books.

For a light, fluffy, cotton candy book, this one was pretty good. Gabriel Hawk is a former CIA agent who operated under cover in some Central American country. He gave up working for them when he couldn’t save a missionary and his wife, who was also the daughter of the countries king from being beheaded by rebels.

Now, four years later, Rorie, the sister of the missionary has hired Gabriel to take her back to the country, now in even worse shape, to rescue her young nephew. Gabriel does NOT want to take this young innocent with him, but she insists and manages to pass every test he puts before her, thus earning his respect.

This is typical Harlequin, the tough but tortured hero, the young innocent virgin heroine. It’s also pretty clich├ęd, but then one knows that going in when reading a Harlequin. And this is one of the better ones. I was in the mood for cotton candy and this one fit the bill.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5


The Wolf by Jean Johnson

Published: April, 2007

Can a book be called adorable? Wait – I already did that. OK then, I need to do it different this time.

I was so pleased with The Sword, right after reading GW’sL, I dove right into this one. And I’m very pleased to say I enjoyed this one just as much as her first book. This one is the story of Wolfer (I know – groan worthy name – but don’t let it distract you - besides he can shape-shift and his main form to shift to is a wolf) the twin of Sabre, the hero of The Sword and his destined mate Alys. Before they were banished Wolf’s family and Alys’s family were friends and there was a special friendship between Wolfer and Alys. Years later however, things have changed for both of them. Wolfer has been banished along with his brothers and Alys has come under the thumb of her very evil uncle. She manages to escape and flees to Nightfall Isle – the home of the eight brothers. Wolf is delighted to see his old friend but also confused that he feels a whole lot different for a grown up, matured Alys then he did for his childhood friend.

It turns out that her evil uncle is the one behind all the attacks and once again they must all ban together to defeat their enemy.

This one was just a charming and delightful as The Sword and while not laugh out loud funny, I did find myself smiling in quite a number of places and I was glad I was on the late shift at work so no one was around at breaks and lunch so I could keep reading this delightful tale.

The first two are out in PB now for anyone not wanting to pay trade sized prices and I already ordered The Cat, the fifth book in this series. In trade size of course though. I have to be anal about these books.

One thing I should also mention is that Ms. Johnson can write mighty fine and mighty hawt love scenes - just in case anyone is wondering that is. These first two were Very Steamy.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

So - once again I had great success from my TBR pile. I'm loving this!!


Bev(QB) said...

Kristie, the Jean Johnson series has become an addiction for me, and I got Shannon C. hooked on them too. Neither of us can adequately explain WHY they are so addicting, since they aren't even books that would normally be our flavor.

But ya just gotta love 'em, don't ya? My favorite so far is The Master.

BTW, and this is how my weird mind works, one of the things that stands out for me is that these characters actually have bodily functions! Who knew fictional characters used the toilet?!

In fact I still get a kick outta the fact that, in The Sword, they bond between intermittent mutual bouts of diarrhea.

Kristie (J) said...

Bev! I know! That was different wasn't it? I don't think I've ever read a book where both hero and heroine had diarrhea before. Yet amazingly it wasn't yucky or anything - just funny! And I got quite a chuckle out of The Wolf where they had awkward and realistic sex - I'd never read that before and as I was reading how she kept *losing* him, I thought how utterly refreshing - and real!
I do want to start The Master soon, but I think I'll read a book in between. And I'm really looking forward to Rydan's story. He's by far the most mysterious so far *g*
I'm hoping more readers get hooked on them because they really are adorable aren't they?

Aymless said...

I love your reviews. Once again you have made a series of books look irresistible. My poor wallet is groaning, thanks to my lack of will power when it comes to books. Food is optional, right?

azteclady said...

If Kristie(J)'s reviews weren't enough, bev(qb)'s comment just cinched the deal--I must have these books!

Katie(babs) said...

Gosh darn it, I have both these books TBR and now I find myself wanting to move them up to the top of the list.
*Shakes fist at Kristie*

But diarrhea??

Kristie (J) said...

Katie: yes, you see they were bitten by venomous water snakes and became very dehydrated. They had to sit in a tub full of water until their skin wrinkled, but a side effect of the poison from the snakes was diarrhea. But it wasn't explicit or anything - one would just have to jump out of the tub - it was quite funny. And you will have to move them up - they're delightful.

AL - if you get them, you won't be sorry! And since they are available in paperback now.....

Aymless: yes food is optional. Books are way more important as long as there are crackers and peanut butter - and chocolate. Regular chocolate - not those VERY ODD shaped chocolates that Katie found.

Christine said...

I've heard nothing but nice things about this series by Jean Johnson, and after reading your review, I want to add them to my toppling list of books to read!

.... lucky for me Kate already has these in her TBR pile, so if I'm patient, maybe she'll lend them to me when she's done! :D

... I'm inspecting for chocolate finger prints first, though! LOL :P

Shannon C. said...

Heh. An here's Shannon C. with my own comment. I love this series and am so glad Bev hooked me on them.

I really love her sex scenes. They are hot but definitely realistic, though my favorite example of her realism is in "The Master" where the heroine doesn't necessarily find the taste of the hero's, erm, secretions all that pleasant and she spits it out, hoping he won't notice. He does, though and he's all, "I'll never make her do that again if she doesn't want to." I thought it was sweet.

little alys said...

Ah! All these temptations! It must stop! I've already gotten into familial arguments on a daily bases over my increasing TBR pile. If I just saved my book money, I'm sure I can move out, but with books like the one's you're reviewing...*sigh* Might as well live with parents forever. Books...freedom...books...freedom, eh. I'll go 'cart' The Sword and The Wolf. *sigh*

Kristie (J) said...

little alys: At this point I know I'm in an enviable place. I make pretty good money at work, the house is paid off, the car is paid off and I don't spend a lot of money on other stuff - with the exception of the kitchen of course. So I can indulge my book buying addiction - which I'm not sure is a good thing as I've got more than I'll ever read already and I know I'll keep buying since it IS and addiction.

Shannon: I'm so glad I found them too! They are utterly delightful and the love scenes so realistic and true to life - but written in such a charming way! I forgot to mention I loved the scene in The Wolf where they were indulging in a little morning nookie and she had to get up to use the refreshing room right in the middle. LOL - so true!!

Christine: You WILL have to get Katie to lend them to you. I want the love for these charmers to grow!

Sarai said...

Okay you got me hooked now I must check out Jean Johnson's series. Lord b/c I need another series. However, there has to be an end at 8 right?

Nice review

Tracy said...

Oh I'm so glad you liked these books. I've read the first four and am waiting patiently for the next one. I'm very interested in Rydan's story as well, although Koranen with his whole flame/fire issue should be interesting as well.

Anonymous said...

After the diarrhea comment I wasn't real sure I wanted to read them, but realistic sex? I didn't know publishers published realistic sex. If I hadn't just returned from errands I would head right out to the book store. lol. I can't wait to try them. Thanks for the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I was about to sit down and write my very first sex scene in my WIP, but now I have to rethink it. Do you think readers prefer realistic love scenes? Or did you only like reading Ms. Johnson's because they were novel? What makes a good love scene? Have their been any that stand out in your mind as the best? Help!

Shannon C. said...


For me, I enjoy the fantasy sex in romance novels. I don't require or expect realism in the sex that I read, because if I wanted that, I'd go out and have some sex of my own. (Of course, I should be doing that anyway, but that's a subject for an entirely *different* blog.) But it's cool when you can read about two people experiencing orgasm at the same time and seeing rainbows and stars and sparkly things. I know it doesn't happen in real life, but it's a really nice fantasy.

I like Jean Johnson's sex scenes because while they are realistic there's still that romance sexiness. You know eventually both people are going to be satisfied, and the realism can create funny moments, like the heroine having to get up and pee before they can do anything. The scene still ended with orgasms for everybody, and I was still satisfied.

I read romance for the fantasy, and I think one of the fantasies inherent in romance is that all sex will be awesome all the time. I would read or write a sex scene that wasn't, and I would even write a bad sex scene between the hero and heroine at the beginning of the relationship. But as the relationship develops, I would expect, because of the fantasy, that the sexual side of things would develop, too, so that at the end of the relationship, the sex would be awesome all the time.

I hope that answers y0our question. I suspect you could devote a whole huge long blog to what readers look for in a sex scene.

Kristie (J) said...

LOL - what Shannon C said. While it was more realistic than most romance books, it was also very hot and both partners left happy *g*. It was a bit tongue in cheek but still very romantic. I don't know how to describe them properly really - one will just have to read them to see what I mean

LeeAnn said...

Can a book be called adorable? Because if it can, this is the perfect word to describe The Sword.

I thought the same thing but couldn’t come up with the word :o) And I found them the same way too by shopping the shelves and seeing the cover and having to have it.

I can’t wait for the next one to come out. But I really want to read Morganen’s story. I’m dying to see if he really does end up with Kelly’s friend (can’t think of her name off the top of my head).

I love the review and think that I need to do a re-read.

Kristie (J) said...

Leann: LOL - all you have to do is read his prophesy - I'm 99.9% sure it's Hope he's going to end up with. I'm looking forward to his too - the meddler. Hopefully all his brothers get back at him.
I've already pre-ordered The Cat - comes out in June, and as soon as I can do it, I'm pre-ordering The Storm, which comes out in September, neither of which seems too far off!
Aren't they grand?

Sarai said...

Hey heads up Amazon has book 2 and 3 on bargin price for 4.99 (Just saying!)

Kristie (J) said...

Well then! There you go - a good reason to give these ones a try *g*