Mannheim, Nalini Singh & Lara Adrian Signing

Nalini Singh (left), Lara Adrian (right)

I’ve been planning my trip to Mannheim for a few weeks now, ever since I’ve heard that the amazing Nalini Singh and Lara Adrian are coming to Germany! Together, a very good friend of mine and I, woke up early yesterday and drove around 250 km to meet these lovely ladies.

My friend and I, we’re both massive fans, so we were naturally pretty excited to meet them. We arrived in Mannheim around noon and the signing wasn’t until 6 p.m., so what should two girls do when in a new city and with lots of time to spare? Go shopping & exploring, of course!

Mannheim is an impressive city with a surprising amount of shoe stores – yes, we’ve been in every single one we could find 🙂 – and a few designer clothes stores. We walked around till our feet hurt, and I’m still in pain today, then sat down to have some lunch. Spaghetti Carbonara was on the menu for me, and it was delicious. Yeah, yeah, I know, but who cares about fitness when you’re in a new city and you’re exhausted? I don’t!

Anyways, afterwards we went to visit the famous university to scout the place as a possible option for the postgraduate degree. Yep, it sure was something! Have a look below:

Mannheim University

I think the picture says it all, doesn’t it? And that’s not all of it. The university used to be a castle and trust me, you can get lost in that place really easily! That done, we then returned to our exploring for another two hours, then went on to join the queue an hour before the actual signing even started. And we were not the first ones there! The line was so long, I couldn’t even see the end of it, but we were luckily among the first ones to get our books signed.

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“Lover Eternal” by J.R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2) – Review

Paperback: 441 pages

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: March 7, 2006

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret bound of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. 

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant to Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves…”

My thoughts

Oh man! Rhage, also known as Hollywood, has got to be the funniest of the Brothers. There’s never a dull moment in this book, and I found myself laughing over and over again. This man is truly a sweetheart, and he’s completely won me over.

This book was simply a pleasure to read and I couldn’t bear to let it go. Rhage is not only a very hot and charming vampire warrior, oh no, he’s a man cursed for a rash decision made in the past, and he now has to live with the risk of hurting those around him, because, if he doesn’t release the pressure inside, he’ll turn into a dragon that can kill anything, including his brothers.

Mary Luce is also not your typical heroine. From what I gathered, she’s not really good looking, just a plain woman. She’s also got a life-threatening disease. So when Rhage takes an interest in her, she’s bound to wonder what he sees in her. What she doesn’t know is that her calm nature calms the beast inside of Rhage.

Their love story is so emotional and so beautiful, I just had to cry in the end. I loved it! It’s got to be one of my favorite books in the series, and it finally introduces more of the brothers. The writing remains consistent throughout the whole series, and as always, you’ll probably need a slang dictionary, but I think that’s what gives it charm. There aren’t many books written in this particular way, and it gave me an insight into the New York life.

All in all, it’s a really good sequel to “Dark Lover” and I’m happy I took a risk and bought the boxed set with the first six books in the series. At least I didn’t have to wait for all these books to come out! Now is as good a time as any to start this wonderful series.

Make sure you read my review for “Dark Lover” a few posts back if you’re planning to start reading this series.

Rating: 🌙  – a golden moon!

“Dark Awakening” by Kendra Leigh Castle (Dark Dynasties #1) – Review

Paperback: 331 pages

Publisher: Forever

Release Date: June 28, 2011

Series: Dark Dynasties

“For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan McGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer – a human woman with a special gift – who can secure victory for their clan. Ty’s search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he’s never known…

Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she’s had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer – she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire’s vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces…or unleash her dark destiny?”

My thoughts

Wow! I mean, wow! This novel had me hooked right from the start, making me want more of Tynan McGillivray. A shapeshifting vampire with a Scottish accent and silver eyes is bound to be irresistible. Well, at least for me he is.

Kendra Leigh Castle has created a world where history meets fantasy, a secret world of vampires living within the world of humans. This is an incredible debut novel. I first got to hear about this book when I requested an advanced reader’s copy for it. I didn’t manage to finish it within the time limit – I got it as an ebook for a month – but only because of personal commitments. I was so sad when I finally had time and the book wasn’t available anymore. I had only read the first chapter, but it stayed with me for so long, I just couldn’t let it go without reading the whole damn thing.

So I did what any normal person would do, and just ordered it. I’m really happy I did! Reading it was an outright pleasure and Kendra Leigh Castle doesn’t sound like a new writer at all! She’s in there with the best of them.

The story is utterly captivating, sexy, and, of course, dark since we’re in the world of vampires. What I find really cool is that there a many types of vampires in this series. They’re not only your normal kind of bloodsuckers, but each dynasty has its own special talents. There are those who can turn into bats, smoke, cats, can fly or  have lightening speed.

Reading this book felt like watching the aristocracy of the old days, and there’s history everywhere you turn. One of the vampires is also Cleopatra’s sister, imagine that! But if you don’t like history, then you don’t have to worry much. There are no long paragraphs explaining historical facts or other such things. This book is clearly an urban fantasy novel, but inspired by historical figures.

The novel also contains sex scenes, so if you’re looking to avoid such books, then this is not the book for you. But if you’re not bothered, then I really recommend you read this. I can’t wait to read the second novel in the series, “Midnight Reckoning”, which came out in January. A hint for all you werewolf lovers: there was a werewolf character in the first book which will be further explored in the second book! Just saying.

This is not another Twilight, and honestly, I’m fed up with the fact that as soon as a book has vampires and werewolves in them, it’s immediately compared to Twilight. This has absolutely nothing in common with the series and I’m glad it doesn’t. The Dark Dynasties is a series for adults, and I hope it turns into a really long series.

I wish Kendra Leigh Castle all the success in the world with her books and am very happy to consider myself among the readers of her story. Go out there and buy this book! You won’t regret it.

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭ – 5 stars!

“Moon Called” by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson #1) – Review

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: January 31, 2006

Series: Mercy Thompson

Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they’ll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I’m not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me, too. 

Mercy Thompson’s sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf.

She’s tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire.

But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself…and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.”

My Thoughts

I looooooooooooove this series! Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite all-time authors and she certainly delivered with this first book in the Mercy Thompson series. The lead character is neither a werewolf or a vampire or any of your usual suspects, but a shapeshifter who turns into a coyote! How unusual and wonderful!

You may not know this, but coyotes are fairly smaller than wolves, and the werewolves in this series are even bigger. So imagine then how it was for little Mercy growing up in a werewolf pack, especially since werewolves think of coyotes as inferior to them. Then you can also imagine this sexy, ex-military next-door neighbor, who is also the Alpha of the local werewolf pack needing help from a coyote to save his daughter – who BTW is Mercy’s partner-in-crime at annoying her father!

Yes, this novel is absolutely brilliant, and I love the fact that the big, old tough werewolf has to rely on a coyote. Mercy is defying, brave and perfectly lovable! You’ll fall in love with her from the start, and you’ll get hooked into this wonderful world she has created.

Aside from the werewolves and shapeshifters, you also have the very “friendly” vampires and the fae. The latter have exposed themselves to the human world, and are utterly fascinating in my opinion. Patricia Briggs has this fabulous imagination and has managed to take several legends and twist them into something that simply belongs in her story world. And her vampires are downright scary, except for Stefan, who is also Mercy’s friend. He owns a VW bus that looks like the Scooby Doo van! Imagine that! Not really a scary image for a vampire, yet I find him totally appealing.

Anyways, the writing is superb, and if you’re into the Mercy Thompson series then you’ll be happy to hear that there is also a spin-off series, set in the same story world, but featuring another character that we only hear little about in the Mercy books. Charles absolutely took my heart away, as did Adam and a few side characters in the Mercy Thompson series.

From Indian legends to Celtic myths, there is something for everybody in these books. Oh, and the romance is absolutely worth it! Definitely a nice read, and one of my favorite series so far!

Rating: 🌙  – Another golden moon!

“Magic Bites” by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #1) – Review

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Ace

Release Date: March 27, 2007

Series: Kate Daniels

“When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake. 

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings – and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league – but she wouldn’t have it any other way.”

My thoughts

It somehow always starts with a murder doesn’t it? But that’s mainly where the cliche ends with this book. “Magic Bites” is so different than most of the things I’ve read that it’s truly a breath of fresh air. The vampires in this novel are not some incredibly gorgeous creatures, but fierce, bloodthirsty monsters, kept on a leash by necromancers. The shapeshifters don’t have it any easier though. They have a choice between living their lives under a strict set of rules or go rogue, becoming as bloodthirsty as any vampire. Count in the fact that there are magical waves overcoming the planet, destroying tall, modern buildings, and leaving mythological creatures in its wake, and you have something really fascinating.

At first, I though I wouldn’t like it. I don’t even know why I jumped to the conclusion before even reading the damn book, but I just did, and went with that.

The story world is really complex, and every details is so well-thought that you can easily imagine this kind of thing happening in the future. It would be a dangerous place to live in, but somehow, it’s still beautiful.

Kate Daniels has simply got to be the most funny and strong female lead character out there. I mean, for real! She’s been trained since she was a little babe to become a killer. Her powerful magical blood is also a weapon she cannot live without. But just reading her thoughts makes you smile. She faces danger with an amount of humor and fear, but she is brave and would do anything for the people she cares about.

The necromancers, or the People as they’re called in the book, and the shapeshifters bring fabulous conflict into the scene, and Kate must choose which side she’s on, because although she tries to be as impartial as she can, there’s just no way to do that. Will she then go with what her bloodline made her to be or follow her heart and make the world her own? Tough decisions, tough decisions.

As I was reading, I wasn’t quite sure if there was going to be any love scenes. Sure, there was some teasing and maybe even some flirting, but nothing substantial. It’s an urban paranormal romance novel so I was expecting some love scenes, right? Well, except for that one teasing kiss near the end of the book, there was nothing, nada! Yet, I found it incredibly compelling and believable. I wanted it to go on, I wanted more of the chemistry between Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord and leader of the Pack. They were constantly fighting, teasing each other, getting on their nerves. But the main thing was, they were attracted to each other. You could so tell despite both of them being in denial.

When I finished the book I wanted more. So much more. It was so addictive in the end that I didn’t really get what I was so worried about in the first place. I abso-lute-ly LOVED it! As you read the other books in the series, you can see the attraction between Kate and Curran develop into something deeper, becoming ultimately love. It is so beautiful to watch, especially since there are some parts that make you think they won’t make it.

This series delivers an incredible emotional experience and I would definitely recommend it to anybody asking me about it. I’m in love with it, utterly, head over heels in love with it! I could read it over and over again and never get bored. It’s that good! Just go out there and grab your copy. You won’t be sorry, I guarantee this!

Oh and here’s a taste of a few of my favorite quotes that simply cracked me up:

“I turned to leave and paused before the gap in the ruined wall. “One last thing, Your Majesty. I’d like a name I can put into my report, something shorter than typing out ‘The Leader of the Southern Shapechanger Faction.’ What should I call you?”
“Lord.”
I rolled my eyes.
He shrugged. “It’s short.” 

“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.”

“I gave him my best cryptic smile. He did not fall down to his feet, kiss my shoes, and promise me the world. I must be getting rusty.” 

“It took a qualified wizard to detect a summoning in progress. It required only a half-literate idiot with a twitch of power and a dim idea of how to use it to attempt one. Before you knew it, a three-headed Slavonic god was wreaking havoc in downtown Atlanta, the skies were raining winged snakes, and SWAT was screaming for more ammo.” 

“Please, Kate. Suspend your dislike of me for a few moments and listen to what I have to say. It makes sense.” 
“I don’t dislike you. It’s an oversimplification.” 

So that’s it for this review then! Go, buy it, and read it. It’s the best advice I can give you. 😉

Rating: 🌙  – Another golden moon! Man, I’m giving these out today!

“Dark Lover” by J.R. Ward (The Black Dagger Brotherhood #1) – Review

 Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: September 6, 2005

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood

“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate – Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead – a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.”

My thoughts

If you’re reading this, you are probably wondering why you should read another goddamned vampire novel. They’re basically all the same, right? Wrong! The world J.R. Ward has created is so different and so addictive, you won’t be able to have enough of the Brothers. So it’s a good thing that there nine novels already out, with the tenth one coming out on March 27, including an incredibly hilarious insider’s guide that’s worth every penny.

As I started reading “Dark Lover” I found it a bit dark and unusual. It was unlike any other novel I’ve read. Each brother has deep problems which they keep hidden under a facade of cold-blooded killers. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very good at killing their enemy, the lessers – a society of undead who smell like baby powder. Yep, you read right. Baby powder.

Wrath, the hero of this novel, also known as the Blind King, is, as the nickname already indicates, the king of the vampire race. His problem: he has no wish to lead his people. Enraged with the lessers for killing his parents, he blames himself for not being able to defend his family. So he fights alongside his brothers, focusing his anger on the enemy. Which is all good and dandy, and suits him just fine. The vampire race, on the other hand, is suffering without its leader.

And here’s where Beth Randall steps in. Growing up as an orphan human woman, she has no idea who she is or what the darkness hides at night. Her mother died at childbirth and she never knew her father, who unbeknown to her, is one of the seven vampire brothers, the warrior named Darius. He watches her from afar, not wanting to get her mixed up in the dangers of his world, but then, he fears that she might transition into a vampire when she hits the age of 25. Afraid something might happen to her, he contacts Wrath, and asks him to help her through her transition, because you see, in J.R. Ward’s novels, vampires only feed from other vampires of the opposite sex. Human blood doesn’t really sustain them much. And Wrath, as the only purebred vampire left, has incredibly strong blood, so it would certainly help Beth survive her transition, especially since she might not survive the change.

The shocker, or well not so surprising decision considering the way Wrath feels about humans, he turns down Darius’ request for help, telling him to find someone else for the job. Just as Darius then leaves the meeting, he gets killed, which sets off the entire story, forcing Wrath to care for the half-breed daughter as the dying wish of his brother.

The attraction between Wrath and Beth is incredible, starting with their first encounter. I do have to warn you though – if you’re not used to really hot sex scenes in a novel, then you’re in for a very tasty surprise, well if you’re into that sort of stuff. Which I totally am. The book is so much more than sex scenes and killing though.

Wrath is an incredibly hard man to approach, and poor Beth has a hard job at reaching his heart, but when she finally does, its incredibly heartbreaking. The story is so beautiful and, in my opinion, sets up the stage for the next stories perfectly. You get to meet the lovely and fierce brothers: Rhage, Zsadist, Phury, Tohrment and Vishous. I think these are fabulous names! I mean, would you really expect a vampire warrior to be called something like Sam or Edward? Their names totally fit!

The lovely J.R. Ward also created this intriguing language – the Old Language – and I find myself already using some of the terms explained in the book. In the first book, you’ll have to keep going back to the glossary in the beginning of the book, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Oh, and if your first language isn’t English, you might want to read the books translated into your own language. If you normally read books only in their original language as I do, you’ll find that Ward uses a lot of slang, the American one to be more precise, and some phrases might be a bit hard to understand. You might not even like it at all. I personally fell in love with the slang and now find myself using expressions and words I would have never used otherwise. Which is rather cool, true?

Well, other than that, I’m not sure what else to say about this book. I really, really loved it, and feel like I cannot get enough of this world. I find myself wishing I lived in the world and with every book I read, I fell in love more and more. I love the Brothers and their shellans, or mates as we humans call them. I cannot wait for the next book coming out in March, “Lover Reborn”.  It also features my favorite brother and I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

So if this all sounds appealing to you, or if you’re looking for a really good book to get you started in the whole urban fantasy genre, I recommend you start with “Dark Lover”. You’ll fall in love with Wrath, I guarantee it!

Rating: 🌙  – I’m giving this book a golden moon! The highest possible rating on this blog. Only my absolute favorite books will be getting this award as of now! 😉

REVIEW: ‘Shadow Kiss’ by Richelle Mead

Paperback: 448 pages

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: November 13, 2008

Series: Vampire Academy

WHAT IF FOLLOWING HER HEART MEANS ROSE COULD LOSE HER BEST FRIEND FOREVER?

“Rose knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa – the last Dragomir princess – must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken…
Then a strange darkness begins to grow in Rose’s mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy’s iron gates. The immortal undead are closing in, and they want vengeance for the lives Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most…but will her choice mean that only one can survive?”

My Thoughts

As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t like talking about what happens in a novel during my review cause I don’t want to spoil the fun for other readers. I remember that I DEVOURED the whole Vampire Academy series within 6-7 days and as practically all books, I had parts I loved and parts I didn’t like quite so much.

I loved that Rose’s character developed a lot in this installment and she shows us her more softer and vulnerable sides. The events that happened in the first two books are starting to take their toll on our ‘little Dhampir’ and she needs help from the two people she cares about most, Lissa and Dimitri. Rose never loses sight of who she is or what she stands for though! Each book shows us another side of hers and it gives us the same experience as getting to know another living being.

The third book in the series is my second favorite from the whole Vampire Academy saga with the last one, ‘The Last Sacrifice’, picking up the number one spot! Why isn’t this book better than the last one? Well, it depends on what you like and how you see everything. I personally like happy endings and with the regret of spoiling your fun, the ending of this book disappointed me a lot. Maybe not exactly disappointment, but I was literally shocked that Richelle Mead could do such a thing!!!

It gets better during the next few books, but I would have probably written just four books instead of six. VA fans will probably want to choke me, but I would have changed the ending in book #3 and did something similar to ‘Last Sacrifice’ in book #4. If you haven’t read any of the books from the series, then you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. All I can tell you is: read the whole series, cause it’s worth it!

As a reviewer I also have to talk about the parts I disliked and even though some people may not always agree with me, I hope there will be no hard feelings. Just to make myself clear: I am not saying this is a bad book, on the contrary, it’s an amazing novel and I would recommend it to anyone who asked me if they should read it. I personally couldn’t put the book down and read the whole series twice.

 So all in all, I think Richelle Mead has outdone herself with this book and it’s far better than the first two books in the series. I kept thinking all day what rating I should give this book and I really have to stomp on my foot and go over my pride and give it a 5-star rating! Read it, it’s worth it!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ – 5 hearts!

Additional Info
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