Thursday, November 29, 2012


Pages: 295
Date: 29/11/2012
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 4 Eighty Days
              Received from Orion

Lubov Shevshenko (Luba) was born in the Ukraine and raised both there and in Russia while she trained as a ballerina. Attracted to bad boys from her teenage years she has been known to give them pleasure and ecstasy without ever giving herself to them. It isn’t until she moves to New York and meets Chey, not so much a bad boy as a bad man, that she feels enough of a connection to fully surrender herself. Luba and Chey are made for each other and their relationship is exciting, exhilarating and filled with passion from the start. But bad man Chey has a darker side. Officially a dealer in rare amber, Chey often disappears without a word for months on end and his house contains many locked places. Uncomfortable about the secrets Chey is clearly keeping from her, Luba is nevertheless content to stay in their relationship until the day she makes a shocking discovery. Unable to live with either the secrecy or the implications of what she’s found Luba leaves without a word, determined to make her life without the man she loves so very much.
On her own Luba extends the career as an exotic dancer she started while living with Chey. A career that will lift her to exquisite heights on a secret but very exclusive circuit and provides her with the means to live as she pleases and set her own demands. While dancing her way through life, and various exotic locations, Luba drifts from short-term relationship to one-night-stand and back again, never able to find anything that comes close to the perfection she had with Chey. But even a reunion with Chey won’t bring the easy happy ending she might have dreamed up. Chey’s bad man past will have to be dealt with before life can settle down again.

This is the fourth book in the Eighty Days Series and the first one not to centre on Summer and Dominik, although they do make several appearances in this book. And they’re not the only familiar characters the reader gets to reacquaint themselves with. It was nice to have an another opportunity to read about our playful rock-star, Viggo Frank and Lauralynn, the cellist with very dark desires as well as other, more minor, characters from the earlier books.

It would be wrong to call this book a sequel to the three earlier books though. In many ways this book stands on its own. Although the story in this book intersects with the earlier narrative on several occasions, it isn’t necessary to have read those books in order to enjoy this one. Luba’s story can easily be read as a stand-alone without the reader ever feeling that they are missing out on vital information. Having said that, I do feel that this book would be more fun if you had read the other books first. Several scenes from the earlier story are revisited here but from a different perspective giving the reader a new insight into Summer and Dominik’s story. And, conversely, this book gives the full story of Luba who was a rather mysterious and enigmatic character in the earlier books.

Although I have labelled this book as “erotica” I wonder how accurate that description is. This is contemporary fiction with a higher than average sexual content. But the erotic scenes in this book are mostly written as if from a distance. There are few, if any, excruciating details. Details are either not mentioned or referred to later on, in a memory, rather than in the moment. And because everything that happens in the story is completely normal for the characters it is easy for the reader to treat it as such as well. Some of the acts as described in this book may be far from what most readers will have experienced or even imagined, but to me it never felt shocking or blush-worthy.

Vida Jackson (who is in fact two authors collaborating) seems to be hitting her stride better with each subsequent book. The writing is getting smoother all the time. Although there was one occasion in this book when I consciously thought that I had reached a point where one author had handed over the keyboard to another, the rest of the book could easily have been written by one single person.

One side remark; I’m still not sure why this series is called “Eighty Days”, but there is absolutely no mystery why in this case that part of the title is followed by “Amber”.

As far as I know there is at least one more “Eighty Days” book to come, giving the story of yet another background character and I am very curious about what is still to come and look forward to what I think will be Lauralynn’s personal road of discovery. Although I’m also very curious about the girl with the tear-drop tattoo and can’t help hoping that we’ll hear more about her too.

Related posts: Eight Days Yellow
                            Eighty Days Blue
                            Eighty Days Red

Monday, November 26, 2012


Pages: 368
Date: 26/11/2012
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Renegade Angels
              Received fromEternal Romance Books
              Through Book Geeks
Own / Manuscript Review Copy

Welcome to a world where mortals share the planet with Angels, Fallen Angels, and Lycans (shape-shifters). A world in which the Seraphim are supposed to be unemotional observers of life on earth; the Fallen are former Seraphim who lost their wings and were turned into vampires after they got too close to the humans they were watching; where Lycans are a subgroup of the Fallen who were spared being turned into vampires but in return lost their immortality and were enlisted to serve the Sentinels, a special group of Seraphim charged with enforcing the punishment of the Fallen. And for a very long time these groups lived more or less separate lives, occasionally interacting and never friendly towards each other. Now things are changing though. A group of Lycans has revolted against the Sentinels they were serving. Lead by their Alpha, Elijah Reynolds, they want their independence. At the same time a new virus is sweeping through the ranks of vampires, turning them into mindless killers. The vampires want and need to form an alliance with the troupe of renegade Lycans  in order to hunt those infected with the virus while also discovering what is causing it and what might cure it. Vashti is the second most powerful vampire in the world, and although she has a very personal reason to detest and mistrust the Lycans, it is up to her to contact Elijah and forge a working partnership. The moment Elijah, who has equally compelling reasons to want the vampire dead, and Vashti meet sparks fly. The attraction between the two creatures is instant, powerful and undeniable. As the Lycan and the vampire work together they get ever closer to each other while they uncover secrets, long-standing conspiracies and numerous betrayals. Danger is never far away, and neither is the strong and very sensual attraction between Elijah and Vashti. A journey filled with blood, violence and lust lies ahead of the two unlikely lovers while some unknown force seems determined to destroy them.

Honesty first; I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It took me a while to get my head around who everybody was, which group they belonged to and how all those groups related – or not – to each other, but once I had those facts straight and could just concentrate on the individual characters and the interactions between them, I really got into the story. The premise of the story is interesting and the characters all became real for me. At times I found myself forgetting that I wasn’t actually reading about humans, since the thoughts, feelings and the emotions the main characters display are all too recognisable even if their abilities aren’t. And while some might say that non-human characters should come with non-human characteristics, I don’t agree. Being able to relate to the characters’ emotions and actions meant that it was easy to fall into the story and just flow along with it.

Sylvia Day writes a wonderful story with sparkling dialogue. In a matter of a few pages I found myself completely submerged in this world she created and believing in it. What is more, even though I didn’t read the first book in this series, I never felt that I was lacking vital information. This story stood on its own without any problems, although it is clear that a lot of this story started in an earlier book. Sylvia Day is also very good at writing her erotic scenes. The heat rises off the pages and the attraction between the characters involved is palatable. More importantly, the author has made the sexual relations an integral and realistic part of the story without ever allowing it to become the story.

This may not be a work of great literary merit, but it is definitely an example of fabulous story-telling. Sylvia Day knows how to grab her readers at the start of a book and keep them hooked until the very last page. And now that I’ve read that final word on the last page I can’t wait for the third book to come out. To say I’m curious about the rest of this story would be an understatement. 

Related reviews: Bared to You
                                Reflected in You

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Pages: 113 (approx)
Date: 25/11/2012
Grade: 4
Details: no. 2 Bondage and Breakfast
              Received from Carina Press
              Through NetGalley

After a less than great relationship with worse than horrible man Bella Massey knows what she wants. She wants to be in charge. She wants a man who will kneel in front of her; a man she can tie up; a man who will do exactly what she wants him to do. One look at Markus Aiello convinces her that, attractive as he is, this fire-fighter won’t be the man to fulfil her fantasies.
Markus may look like a tough man, fully in charge of his life but he has hidden desires. Deep down he would love for a woman to take control; to tell him what to do occasionally. This is not a desire he’s prepared to admit to though.
As Bella and Markus get to know each other better and grow closer, their insecurities continue to put obstacles in their way. They may think they know what they want, but do they really? And how are they ever going to admit to each other exactly what it is they feel, need and want? It will take a near disaster followed by a steamy night in a very special B & B for the two of them to acknowledge that what they want and need is each other, regardless of who is in charge.

This was a charming erotic romance. I realise that my description seems to imply there is little to this story except sex, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the intimacy that does occur on these pages his beautiful, very erotic and understated. And it doesn’t make up the main part of the story either. There are funny, heated and touching encounters between Bella and Markus. There is soul-searching on both their parts. But most of all there are the three old ladies Bella plays cards with. I loved Myrtle, Edna and Alice. Not one of them younger than 80 years of age and all three of them, not only actively encouraging Bella and Markus to get together but also pushing them to give in to what ever desires they might have.

I really enjoyed this little, light-hearted erotic novel. The story flowed and the characters felt real. There was conflict between them but nothing forced or over the top. Marcus’ and Bella’s insecurities felt plausible and made the story more realistic. No sudden conversions from one sensual appetite into another in this book. The characters learned about each other and about themselves as they went together along a not altogether smooth road.

This was a very satisfying read to spend a lazy Sunday with and I can see myself paying this rather special B & B another visit in the not too distant future.


Pages: 452
Date: 25/11/2012
Grade: 5
Details: Young-Adult

“I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.”

The text above is an exact copy of the blurb on the back of the book. I don’t usually use book blurbs in my reviews, I do prefer to give my own summary of a story. But, since this isn’t actually a summary of the story and because it gives a perfect idea of the voice of one of the two main characters in this book I decided to change my habits for once.

The story, what to say about the story? This book is about friendship. It is about the Second World War. It is a story about love and hate, fear and courage, despair and hope. This a heartbreaking page-turner that will leave you breathless, with tears in your eyes and a smile on your face by the time you finish it.
I’m sorry; I was supposed to tell you what this story is about.
Picture England, Manchester, during World War II. Maddie is a mechanically minded girl who is fascinated by planes and flying. Queenie is her complete opposite; a Scottish aristocrat, privately taught with a talent for languages. Under any other circumstances their paths probably wouldn’t have crossed and even if they had, as Queenie says, chances are they would never have become friends. But the war is a great equaliser and when circumstances involving a stray German plane in British airspace throw the two girls together it is the start of a deep and beautiful friendship. And it is circumstances mostly beyond their control that have them fly to France together. Maddie, the pilot, is to drop Queenie of for a top secret assignment and pick up stranded pilots for the return trip. When things go wrong Queenie has to parachute out of the plane, leaving behind Maddie in a desperate struggle with a plane that has lost most of its controls. What follows is heartbreaking as well as uplifting and I can’t tell you anything else about it for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice to say you should read it and be amazed.

This book is very well written and at times painfully understated. Horrific events are occasionally referred to in such a casual way that the reader almost misses exactly what they’ve just been told. In fact, the reader is in the dark about exactly what is going on and even what the purpose of the story is until well into the second half of the book. But even with the purpose obscure the story is so fascinating and the below-the-surface tension so intense that it is hard, if not impossible, to put this book down for any period of time.

Years ago I promised myself I wouldn’t read anymore books about World War II. Growing up in Holland every second book – if not more – I read seemed to be about this period and I just couldn’t and wouldn’t invest anymore of my reading time in it. And, for the most part, I’ve stuck to that promise. Occasionally though a book comes along that forces me to break my word to myself."The Book Thief" was one such book. And this is another one. Yes, this story is set during World War II, and the war in all its horrors pays a huge role in it. But for me this is, beyond anything else, a book about friendship and loyalty and what people are prepared to do in order to honour both of those. This is a wonderful and thought provoking book, containing a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Editor: Lori Perkins
Pages: 305
Date: 21/11/2012
Grade: 4+
Details: Non Fiction
               Received from Smart Pop Books
              Through NetGalley

Divided into six sections this book analyses the Fifty Shades of Grey books and phenomena from every conceivable angle. The literary merits and quality of the writing are discussed; the book is compared to and given its place in a long history of romantic and erotic literature; publishers comment on the randomness of the success this book achieved. Lawyers evaluate the content and the value of the contract Christian Grey wants Ana to sign and people who live the lifestyle comment on the way their BDSM relationship is described and Christian’s mastery. Feminists tell us why these books are bad for the cause while other women tell us how and why these books empower us. I know I’m forgetting angles here, but I’m fairly sure that this book didn’t leave a single one out.

To be honest, I was more interested in the factual analysis of the book than I was in the literary one. As far as the pro’s and cons of the story, the way it is told, originality and literary merit are concerned, the authors in this book didn’t say a lot, if anything, that I haven’t said, thought or written myself (although it is of course always gratifying to see “professionals” agreeing with what you thought was an “amateur’s” point of view).
I was far more fascinated with the things I learned about contracts, the thoughts and opinions of those involved in the BDSM life-style and discovering how fanfiction actually works.

Did I find a lot of new opinions in this book? Well no, I didn’t. I found all the pro and con arguments I have read many times before again in these pages. But, it was nice to have them all together if only because it felt like taking part in a balanced debate. Because every single contributor gets to have their say without anybody trying to shout them down it is easier to try and see all sides of the argument.

I find myself wondering if all this attention on what is, at its core, nothing more than a love story (tale) as old as time, isn’t out of all proportion. And I can’t help feeling that someone looking back on this year of "Fifty Shades of Grey" isn’t going to smile, if not laugh, at how exercised we became at this phenomena. On the other hand, I’m delighted that at last people feel safe reading, thinking and talking about sex. For a very long time now I have been amazed that while most adults, educators and parents are perfectly happy about their kids watching all sorts of horrific violence, they tend to panic as soon as a long kiss or, worse even, a naked body appears on a screen. How did we end up living in a society where brutal violence is acceptable but love scenes aren’t? I’ll stop this argument here since this is supposed to be a review of a book with views on FSoG, and just as I didn’t find many new or original opinions in this book I doubt that mine will shine any new light on the subject.

Reading all of this book in more or less one sitting is probably not a great idea. I did so because I got my copy for review and wanted to get my thoughts on “paper” as close to the publishing date as possible. In an ideal world though I’d be dipping in and out of this book; reading submissions from various sections as the mood strikes me before putting the book down again and getting back to it hours, days or even weeks later. I will probably end up doing that in the future anyway, especially the section at the end of the book where a long list of titles mentioned can be found.

As in the general media and in private conversations between friends, this book too has a lot of, at times very diverse, opinions on Fifty Shades of Grey, the story and the merits and or downfalls of it. This book does not give the reader the ultimate answer as to how to feel about Christian and Ana’s story. And let’s be grateful for that. I firmly believe that books while written by the author are told by the writer and reader in equal measure. Every reader brings their own background, believes, morals and emotions to a story. And as a result, every reader will take something different from that story. This is a good thing, a thing that should be applauded and embraced. I think it is safe to say that this book and I agree on at least one point: There is no right or wrong opinion about Fifty Shades of Grey, only every individual’s personal one.

My favourite quote (and I’ve got about ten pages of them) comes from Dr. Logan Levkoff and goes like this:

“Do you know what is really demeaning to women? Telling us who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to turn on to.”

And for me that can be the final word on this subject.

In May, after reading all three books in the Fifty Shades trilogy, I posted my own thoughts on them in a post called Fifty Shades Completed. If you're interested in those thoughts or in the links to my reviews of the individual titles you can click the link.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Pages: 400
Date: 19/11/2012
Grade: 5
Details: no. 3 Original Sinners (The Red Years)
              Received from Harlequin
              Through NetGalley

“In all things involving Nora Sutherlin, proceed with caution.”

I finished reading The Prince about five minutes ago and am still gathering my thoughts, my sanity and my composure. However, my very first thought after reading the last line was, “Oh you bitch”. And yes, that is very much aimed at the author. This book doesn’t end so much on a cliff-hanger as it does on a self-destruct button. And just in case Tiffany Reisz is still looking for a blurb for the cover of this book, I’d suggest: ‘don’t read this book unless you already have the sequel’.

And that’s enough ranting for now (although I can’t promise I won't do some more before I get to the end of this review) so I guess I’d better tell you something about the story in this book.

Nora has left New York and Søren to travel to Kentucky with Wesley. A year and a half apart hasn’t been enough for 32 year old Nora and 20 year old Wesley to forget each other and they are going to give being together another try. Things are different this time around though. Wesley, as it turns out, is not the poor struggling student Nora thought he was, but rather the only son of Kentucky horseracing royalty. In fact he was once named "The Prince of Kentucky" in a newspaper article. Nora finds herself transported to a huge estate where Wesley and his parents live in a palatial home, surrounded by endless grounds and numerous stables. Nora’s delight at being reunited with Wesley struggles with doubt though. She loves the young man more than she imagined possible, but she can’t quite picture herself in a long term vanilla relationship anymore than she can see Wesley succumbing to her more extravagant tastes. And her doubts are only increased by the more than frosty welcome she receives from Wesley’s father.
In New York Kingsley Edge is delighted that Nora has left town and Søren. The priest was Kingsley’s first real love and now that Nora is gone, he sees his opportunity to re-establish a relationship with the man he has never stopped loving, but had to let go when Nora entered the picture. Kingsley and Søren are on a quest though. Somebody has stolen Nora’s file from Kingsley’s archives and set fire to Søren’s childhood bedroom. Someone appears to be determined to destroy one, if not all three of them and it is imperative that they discover who this is before any real damage can be done. All clues seem to point towards Maine and the Catholic school where the two men met as teenagers and that is where they start their investigation. And as Kingsley and Søren return to the place where it all began, their past gets revealed in all its shocking glory.

I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. The story is shocking, beautiful, heartbreaking, brutal, tender, kinky and violent. This is a love story, although not necessarily of the happily ever after variety, as much as it is extreme erotica. It is also a mystery and a study of human nature and relationships. Beautifully written this book sparkles with clever and witty dialogue and shines with clear descriptions of surroundings and people. Tiffany Reitz is an accomplished and highly intelligent author. Her words flow with an ease that almost makes the reader miss how clever and well plotted the story is. This author loves her characters. Nora, Søren, Kingsley and Wesley must be real for Miss Reisz since her descriptions of them have made them into people I would recognise and be delighted to meet.

The Prince is an inspired title for this book. Not only does it fit perfectly into the sequence of titles for this series (TheSiren, The Angel, The Prince and, still to come, The Mistress) it also references to several characters and motives in this story. There is of course, Wesley – The Prince of Kentucky. But we also have Le Petit Prince (as in the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) not to mention the strong Machiavellian themes in the whole series. And I can’t help thinking that I must have missed one or two other references. As I said before, Tiffany Reisz is one very clever lady.

I really can’t praise this book – and this series – enough. These books are original, captivating and completely addictive. Having said that, I am well aware that a lot of people would be shocked, if not offended by some of the content in this book. This book is nothing like a traditional romance. Heck, it isn’t even like traditional erotica. It is shocking and very graphic – at times painfully so. Miss Reisz has taken my (reading) boundaries and stretched them beyond what I would have thought possible, and has made me enjoy every single word of it. And now I’ve got a wait of at least four months ahead of me before the last book in this quartet is published. Four long months before I’ll be able to get my hands on The Mistress and find out what happens on the other side of that incredibly cruel cliff-hanger. Four long months during which this story will never be very far from my mind.

One final thought: Although I would strongly advise against reading this book without reading The Siren and The Angel first, this book does conveniently start with a file on Nora Sutherlin which would give the novice reader something to go by. Having said that, I would tell anybody to read the two earlier books first. Don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure and revelation that is reading all The Original Sinners’ books.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Pages: 308
Date: 18/11/2012
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 Bannon & Clare
              Received from Orbit
              Through Book Geeks

Emma Bannon is a powerful sorceress, in fact she is a Prime; magic doesn’t come more powerful than hers. Archibald Clare is a Mentath, someone with incredible observational and deductive powers. Emma is in the service of Victrix, the young queen of England and vessel of the god-spirit Britannia. When Mentaths all over Londinium are being killed, Emma is send to Clare in order to keep him safe and recruit him to her quest to find out exactly what is going on. Combining their powers of deduction and sorcery soon brings them to the conclusion that it is the queen herself as well as her whole empire that are under threat. The ensuing battle will take everything Bannon and Clare have and take them beyond what they thought possible. They and their allies are few against many and powerful enemies. And failure is not an option.

Set in an alternate London where illogical magic has changed the course of the industrial revolution, this is a world filled with mechanical marvels and mysterious forces. Magic, in this world, is quite common and widely used, which is a bit of a problem for our hero Mentath who finds his logical mind can’t cope with the illogical craft and its consequences. This is a London with clock-work horses, altered humans, dragon spirits and areas where the “normal” rules of nature don’t apply.

Apart from Bannon and Clare there are a few other and very interesting characters. Mikal is a Shield, one whose sole purpose is to protect their Prime. And while Bannon is close to her solitary shield, she is not quite sure she can trust him. There is also an Italian mercenary, hired to protect Clare and a German inventor who seems to get really angry only when he’s forced to miss his breakfast.

In fact there is an awful lot going on in this book. The reader is introduced to new characters operating in a freshly created and fantastical setting, surrounded by powers (both magical and logistical) that don’t exist in our everyday world either. And all these novelties form the centre of a mystery and adventure that takes off on the very first page and rarely stops to catch a breath. The reader constantly finds themselves caught between the urge to speed along in order to find out what happens next and the need to go slowly so that they can take in all the details and form a good picture of the fictional world in all its fantastical detail. And this is a balance that the author almost finds in this book. I did find myself a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new information I had to absorb occasionally. There were times when my need to understand the setting took me right out of the story. Having said that, as the story continued and the world became better established it became ever easier to stay caught up in the adventure and stay there.

This story is told from both Bannon and Clare’s perspective in alternating chapters and this means that more often than not the reader finds themselves leaving one character at a cliff-hanger moment only to follow the other until they reach their own. I don’t always enjoy this way of telling a story but I found it worked quite well in this book, especially since the author never describes the same scene twice but from different perspectives.

Both Bannon and Clare are fascinating main characters. Clare is obviously strongly based on Sherlock Holmes (up to and including his steepled hands resting against his chin when he is thinking and his use of certain stimulants), although you won’t find Dr. Watson’s twin on these pages. Emma Bannon is, as far as I know, an original creation by this author. And as such she is a triumph; very strong and independent she is also insecure when it comes to certain matters. Operating in a field that forces her to face evil, violence and destruction she still manages to come across as a true woman. It is going to be interesting to see how these characters, and their side-kicks, develop in future books.

Although the first part of this book did feel a bit like hard work at times I really enjoyed my introduction to this magical world and Bannon and Clare. And I can’t help feeling that I would probably enjoy any sequel to this book even more. Without having to introduce the reader to a whole new world, the author will be able to concentrate more on the adventure and characters in any subsequent books, and that should turn them into true page-turners.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I guess there is a first time for everything. Although this is by no means the first time my husband, Dermot, and I shared and loved a book, I have never before asked him to put his thoughts down on paper. I did this time because I've completely fallen in love with this author and her Original Sinners series and want to share my enthusiasm far and wide. Below, therefore, are my husband's thoughts on The Siren by Tiffany Reisz (and for anyone interested in mine, they can be found here).

Zach Easton is an editor at a niche publishing firm when he is asked to take on a new project by Nora Sutherlin, an acclaimed writer of erotic fiction. As this is outside the normal “highbrow” genres usually covered by his firm, he is more than a little bit sceptical about this new assignment and only takes it on under protest when his boss explains the importance, financially, of acquiring this book. Zach goes to meet Nora content in the knowledge that the project will fail before it even starts. Unfortunately, Zach’s pre-conceived ordered world is shaken to its core by the unrelenting, wild force of life that is Nora Sutherlin, who flirts outrageously with Zach, constantly throwing him off balance. Against Zach’s better judgement, he decides to give Nora one chance at proving to him that she can be a serious writer.

Nora wants to be considered a serious writer but she also has a darker side to her. She gets most of her research for her erotic fiction from her years of experience in the BDSM world of New York’s underground, first as a submissive to the mysterious Sóren, and in more recent years, in her role as the most famous Dominatrix in the city. Nora also has a nineteen year old student, Wesley, lodging with her, who she is extremely attracted to but has to keep her hands off in fear of driving him away.

Although this is a work of erotic fiction, the overriding theme throughout the book is one of suppressed love. That said, the sex scenes and the portrait of New York’s BDSM scene in general are much more extreme then one would encounter in other books of this genre. These, however, take a background seat to the wonderful repartee between the main characters where the dialogue really fizzes of the pages. (I am reminded of Aaron Sorkin). The characters are believable and well developed and I would consider this book an excellent work of fiction with some serious sex scenes rather than a work of erotic fiction, a label I find a little confining for this really very good book.

On a side note, I would love to find out more about Zach’s assistant, Mary; a fascinating character who didn’t get enough of a chance to shine for my liking.

Marks out of 70: 69

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Pages: 357
Date: 15/11/2012
Grade: 4+
Details: Book Club Read

“Family stories intermingle in such ways that what happened generations ago can have an impact on seemingly irrelevant developments of the present day. The past is anything but bygone.”

Armanoush has an American mother and an Armenian father who are separated. When her mother remarried it was to Mustafa, a Turkish man. Armanoush spends part of her time in San Francisco with her father’s family and part in Arizona with her mother. She is a young woman, caught between cultures, raised on stories about the horrendous hardships Armenians went through in the early 20th century with little idea of what her forefather’s homeland looks like. When curiosity gets the better of her she decides to travel to Istanbul without telling anybody. After all, in Istanbul she can stay with her stepfather’s family. Mustafa may not have been back to his homeland or his family in twenty years but now his stepdaughter will come to visit.
In Istanbul 20 year old Asya has grown up in a house filled with women. Born out of wedlock she has no idea who her father is and calls her mother “Auntie” just as she does her mother’s three sisters. Asya has initially no intention of becoming friends with this stranger from America but as the days go by the two girls grow closer and, unbeknownst to them, so do their stories and histories.

There is a lot more to the story in this book than I have described above. I could extend the summary with descriptions of the individual aunts, the back-stories of the various older generation characters as well as the troubled history between the Armenian and Turkish people. To do so would mean writing a short story rather than a review though. And I can’t help feeling that no matter how much I expand on my summary, I will still leave out details that others might consider vital to the story.  And besides, one issue I had with this book was that the author seemed to want to tell too many stories. I don’t think this book needed the detailed histories and descriptions of so many different characters. I can’t help feeling that the book would have left a deeper impression if the author had concentrated on the two young women while using their families as background figures – characters with walk-on parts so to speak.

What I did enjoy was the insight this book gave me into a history I knew little or nothing about. I had some vague idea about troubles between the Turkish and Armenian people but wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about it or even place it at a specific moment in time. The author did a great job explaining this history in all its heartbreaking detail without either turning it into a tear-jerking drama or sounding overly judgemental. I feel she also dealt very well with the feelings modern day, exiled, Armenians hang on to and the ignorance of a lot of Turkish people with regard to that history and those feelings. The reader isn’t forced to take sides. There is no need to condemn one people in favour of the other. Just as the characters doing despicable or objectionable things in this story don’t stay bad all their lives, neither do the sins of the fathers determine relationships between their children. The past may be anything but bygone, that doesn’t mean that those in the present can’t create a new future.

Another thing I really liked, and something that took me by surprise when it first came up in the story, was the supernatural aspect to this story. This made information available to the characters, and therefore the reader, that would have been far more difficult to share without the fortune telling "auntie".

This was a clever, insightful, very well written and easy to read book with a fascinating story. Maybe the author tried to cram in a bit too much information for me, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to turn the pages at a ferocious pace.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Pages: 372
Date: 13/11/2012
Grade: 4
Details: Received from Constable & Robinson through Book Geeks

A twenty year old girl and a forty-six year old man, the man slightly older than the girl’s father, a married man with five children.

“I have an indecent fascination with men who read. Particularly these books. An Interest in erotica is very telling.”

When twenty year old Ellie finds out that a colleague of her uncle has an interest in and a collection of erotic literature the thought excites her and awakens her curiosity. It isn’t long before she has found this man on Facebook. When, soon after, she sends him a message, indicating both her own interest in erotica and subtle hints at where those might lead she sets in to motion a chain of events that will take her on an emotional roller-coaster and will, eventually, leave her devastated.  Initially the two illicit lovers meet regularly, on Tuesdays, in a cheap hotel in Paris where their encounters and especially Monsieur’s needs and demands are of such intensity that they both intrigue and revolt the young woman. This state of affairs doesn’t last long though. After only a few weeks their encounters become less regular and contact between them fragmented and ever more one-sided. Torn between need and despair Ellie doesn’t know what she wants or needs anymore. Other lovers can’t distract her from the need she feels for Monsieur and neither can her girlfriends. She will have to make up her mind if an affair, conducted according to his schedule only, is something she can live with or whether her, ever more fragile, hold on her sanity requires her to make a clean break.

This was a book unlike anything I’ve read before and I’m not quite sure what I think of it. Exceptionally well written this story is both shocking and thought provoking. The reader finds themselves alternating between very graphic and often crude descriptions of sexual intercourse and philosophical thoughts about love, life, erotica and relationships.  And because the story is told by a girl in her early twenties we are spectators as she slowly grows up, learns things about herself she might not want to know and discovers her boundaries.

As for Ellie, there were several occasions on which I felt like slapping some sense into her. I wanted her to make up her mind about what she wanted and needed. Either she enjoyed the way he was treating her – in which case continuing made sense – or she didn’t – which should have her walking away from this unpredictable and utterly selfish man. It was hard not to feel that the young woman was as addicted to this man as she was to the bad way in which he was treating her. The way she describes her despair had me thinking that those feelings were as important to her as her physical need for him was.

One issue I had early on in this book is that it wasn’t always clear who was saying what. The perspective could shift from one paragraph to the next and there were occasions when I would have finished reading a paragraph before realising that, apparently, the perspective had changed. I think this might be a language issue though. It’s been years since I last studied French in school but I do remember enough to know that if I were  (able) to read this book in the original language the use of gender based words and word-endings would have made these shifts more instantly recognisable. I also find myself wondering if I made allowances for this story and the language used because it is, originally, a French story; as if the French are entitled to behave, think and talk in ways that I wouldn’t find acceptable coming from any other nationality. Even now that I’ve finished the book, I can’t answer that particular question.

This book is very sexually explicit and doesn’t mince its words. In fact at times the language in this book is crude. The author doesn’t shy away from using vulgar words, doesn’t try to make the sexual acts the characters indulge in look or sound polite. These two characters abandon themselves in each other and in the animal attraction between them; the words they use reflect their very basic needs. Any shame Ellie feels is there for the reader to share, and the words used make it easier for the reader to do just that.

Fascinating and disturbing, beautifully written and at times almost philosophical, vulgar and shocking; there are so many aspects to this book and it raised so many, conflicting, reactions in me that I’m at a loss to come up with a short description of my feelings about this work. What I will say is that this is not a book for those who find themselves easily shocked or offended. And it is also not a book for those who want a quick and easy erotic tale. This book provides the reader with both a shocking story and lots of food for thought. This is a story that, for a variety of reasons, will linger with the reader.

According to an interview with the author this is a semi-autobiographical story which makes me wonder if the man she calls Monsieur in this book has read it, how he feels about it and if they have had contact (in any way, shape or form) since the book was published.  At the same time I’m not sure whether to admire the way in which the author described herself or be shocked by her apparent lack of shame. What I will say though is that if an award was given for brutal honesty in a novel, this book would be in with a good chance of winning.

Three quotes from the book that, for me, illustrate the literary standard in this work:

“How curious it is that the men we love already exist in their own right before our perception changes them and they enter the familiarity of our world.”

“You can be a friend or you can be a lover, and when you happen to be lovers and enemies, like Monsieur and me, you end up with a broken heart.”

“How could individual universes collapse on themselves and leave the rest of the world unaffected?”

Monday, November 12, 2012


Pages: 355
Date: 11/11/2012
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 5 Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas is a young fry-cook, originally from Pico Mundo, who can see the lingering spirits of dead people and finds his “gift” takes him from one place and situation to the next in order to help those lost souls to their final destination. Initially Roseland, a mansion in the middle of huge and immaculately kept lands in California, seems like a peaceful and safe place for Odd and Annamaria, his mysterious and pregnant friend, to spend some time. That is until Odd meets the ghost of a woman riding a huge black ghost horse. Although the dead can’t talk to Odd it is clear to him that the woman was murdered and that there is something she desperately wants him to do for her. Combined with night-time suddenly descending in the middle of the day and bringing with it deformed and violent monsters it soon becomes clear to Odd that Roseland is anything but a safe haven. This is a place that defies the laws of nature and time, inhabited by a small group of people who appear friendly enough but are talking in riddles, put restrictions on where he can go and turn hostile once he starts digging into their world. The more Odd gets to understand the environment he finds himself in the more he realises that he needs to end the evil that is being enacted there. It also becomes ever more clear that he may well be up against too many enemies this time. His dreams seem to indicate a horrible death for him and it may well be that the only way to end the horror is also a sure way to get himself killed.

I don’t usually read horror stories. In general they don’t work for me because I tend to find myself caught between scenes I really don’t want to picture and too much suspension of disbelieve. I do however make a very happy exception for this series of books by Dean Koontz.

What makes these books so special is the character of Odd Thomas. A young man from a small town, in many ways an innocent and in every way an honourable person, he finds himself up against the most depraved of evils. But while he sees and experiences the horrific deeds people are capable off he manages to retain his own pure core. He may occasionally have to do things he abhors, but the fact of his reluctance combined with the pain his actions cause him means that no matter what fate throws his way, he emerges as the same honest, charming and funny young man at the end of every encounter with evil.

These books are written in a wonderful and chatty style. They are presented as Odd Thomas narrating his own adventures and although he does so with hindsight he doesn’t foreshadow any of what is about to happen. The reader experiences everything, in the moment, with the main character. But, since an author friend of Odd advised him to keep the telling of his stories light since there is so much darkness in the events he shares, these stories are never oppressing and at times almost light-hearted. They are however filled with heart-stopping tension and the sort of suspense that keeps the reader turning the pages at a furious rate.

When I read “Odd Thomas”, the first book in this series, his character captured my heart while his story broke it. Now, five books later I still find myself eagerly awaiting each next instalment, safe in the knowledge that Koontz and Odd will manage to scare and charm me in equal measure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Pages: 37
Date: 27/10/2012
Grade: 4.5
Details: Original Sinners 0.6
Own/Kindle (free download)

The story starts with Mistress Nora in handcuffs, which wouldn’t be that unusual except that these are official issue handcuffs and she finds herself arrested and in a police station. When she’s released her boss, the sexy, demanding and very French Kingsley, is there to pick her up. Exhausted after months of constant Dominatrix work, Nora asks Kingsley for time off. A wish he is prepared to grand provided she’ll infiltrate a rival BDSM club first, finds out who the owner is and why they are stealing Kingsley’s staff.
Dressed in a red coat and carrying her little red riding crop Nora knocks on the rival club’s door and finds herself face to face with Brad, also known as “The Big Brad Wolfe”, and she will have to submit to this powerful Dom if she wants to discover the secrets behind this new and very successful club. Submitting to Brad means turning the clock back for Nora, opening herself up to memories she’d rather forget but also to sensations she still thrives on.

This was one hot and fun short story. I’m constantly amazed at how much plot Miss Reisz manages to get into her shorts without losing any of the steamy details. Story by story I find myself loving Nora more and needing to read more about her and those in her world.  The Big Brad Wolfe was a very interesting addition to the characters in this series and I can’t help hoping I’ll be seeing more of him in future books and/or stories.

This story can be found as a free download on the author’s website.

Pages: 116 (printed)
Date: 05/11/2012
Grade: 5-
Details: An “Original Sinners” Short
              Sequel to “Seven DayLoan
Free Download

Daniel returns to America and Manhattan after a year of travelling the world and testing his limits. A year that has helped him come to terms with his wife’s tragic death but has done nothing to help him get over Eleanor, the young sub he shared a week with, who helped him escape from his self-imposed house arrest after his loss and wouldn’t stay with him once the week was over. Now he’s about to enter Kingsley Edge’s world again; a world of BDSM as well as the world where Eleanor spends a lot of her time. Before he meets Kingsley though he has to get past the front door and Anya, a young woman from Quebec who appears to take an instant dislike to him. When Daniel finds out that Anya is about to put her virginity up for auction in order to care for her five, younger, siblings he is worried about the young woman and what she may have to face. But it isn’t until he has another encounter with Eleanor and finally realises that she will never be his that he realises that Anya may well be the ideal woman to make his own. Making Anya feel the same and saving her from the auction won’t be easy though and require assistance as well as a devious plan.

As always Tiffany Reisz managed to captivate me with her story. Daniel is a wonderful character; strong and very dominant as well as caring and thoughtful he reads like a dream come true. With the story taking place over only a few weeks the falling in and out of love happens a bit unrealistically fast. Having said that, the speed with which things happened didn’t bother me at all while reading and only occured to me after I finished the story.  This was a wonderful and very sexually charged love story and I was very sorry when it was over. I just can’t seem to get enough of these characters or of Miss Reisz’ stories.

Pages: 60
Date: 07/11/2012
Grade: 4.5
Details: Original Sinners 0.7

Oh wow, it’s another good one!

Charlotte Brand is fed up with her oh so nice but very boring boyfriends. Out with two friends for the night after her latest relationship has hit the dust, she attracts the attention of Kingsley Edge when she performs her fire-breathing act. When Charlotte finds herself alone with the very attractive and dangerous looking Kingsley he puts a proposal to her. He wants her to move in for a month during which he will train her and turn her into the perfect submissive for an exclusive client of his. Over the course of the next four weeks Charlotte faces her darkest fears and desires and discovers a world of pleasure. She also finds herself getting every more attached to Kingsley. Will Charlotte be able to submit to a stranger after everything she has learned to love with Kingsley or is that one order too far?

This was another exciting story by Miss Reisz. Nowhere near as emotionally charged as “Daniel Part Two” this, like “Little Red Riding Crop”, is more of a fun interlude but oh so erotic. I enjoyed reading a story in which Kingsley took centre stage. He has appeared in almost every other “Original Sinners” book and story I have read but so far I hadn’t been able to from a real picture of him. After this story I feel I’ve got a slightly better idea of who this character is and find myself eager to get to know him better. I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of “The Prince” for a while now, and after reading this story I find myself more impatient than ever.

Tiffany Reisz continues to mesmerise, amaze and delight me with her stories, her characters and her fluent writing. I’m not usually inclined to gush about authors, but I could easily make a well-deserved exception for Miss Reisz. Long may she write…

Two quotes:

“Vanilla sex is all about trust. Rape is all about fear. In that place between fear and trust is where we live.”

“Charlie, in this house the word slut is the highest compliment I can give. It means you are a person who owns her sexuality and is unafraid to experiment and open her mind and body to new experiences.”