The Kraken King (Part 1) by Meljean Brook

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Steampunk, Serial
Series: Iron Seas #4.1 (Part 1 of 8 parts for this story)
Published: 4/15/14
Reviewed by Anne
78 ebook pages

So, I did something I swore to myself I’d never do… I started a serial.  I hate cliffhangers.  I’d rather wait a serial out and read the whole thing once it’s done!  But then I saw this one.  And it’s Meljean Brook.  MELJEAN BROOK!  And it’s in the Iron Seas world.  One of the coolest worlds I’ve read.  Best steampunk I’ve read.  And can I wait until August to read the whole thing??? No.  I cannot.  So here I sit, in the mess I made for myself, wanting more but having to wait until the next installment.  Because it was GOOD.

Zenobia Fox, author of the tales of Archimedes Fox and Lady Lynx has always lived in the adventures she writes.  Besides a couple kidnappings, she hasn’t traveled much.  But she’s off to see the world now.  She’s smart about it, though, as she’s travelling under an assumed name and taking her trusted body guards with her.

Not long into her journey, the airship she’s on is attacked and blown up.  She’s rescued by her bodyguards, her own coolheadedness, AND by the Kraken King.  Ariq, the Kraken King, goes by many names. He’s mayor of his isolated town and has been fighting off and investigating the group that took down Zenobia’s ship.  Zenobia and her friends take shelter in his town as they wait for another ship to take them on to their destination.

I don’t think there’s anything mind shattering about the plot as it seems to be standard adventure fare, but the book really shines in the relationship between Ariq and Zenobia.  They’ve got a lot of sexual tension and they don’t deny it! Acknowledging it doesn’t mean acting on it, necessarily.  They’re both smart, and they’re not going to make stupid decisions.  There is no TSTL in this story!  Zenobia not only depends on her bodyguards, but she listens to them!

I’m primarily a romance reader, so I appreciate the development of Zenobia and Ariq’s relationship, but the action sequences really rock, too!  The escape from the airship was a scene I could picture in a blockbuster summer movie!  Well written and exciting!  And I really want to see the dead Kraken on the beach!

My only complaint (besides the fact that it’s a serial, and that’s my own fault for being weak and not waiting it out…) was the misunderstanding set up in this installment.  I hope that’s cleared up soon.

I think this one would stand alone if you hadn’t read the rest of the series.  The characters are all new – Zenobia has been mentioned in other books, but not featured.  The world building is easy to catch on to.  So, go forth and enjoy!  Join me in the agony of waiting for the next installment!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, Nerdmance
Published: 10/1/13
Reviewed by Anne
292 pages
So, I saw this book had some good buzz last fall as a funny romance told from a Sheldon-like character’s POV.  I put it on my To Read List and finally got around to it over Christmas Break.  I devoured this book!  It gave me a serious case of Book Cranky as I had to fit it in around my kids and family obligations!
It’s told from the first person point of view of Don.  Don is someone I’d guess is on the autism spectrum.  He is certainly very literal minded and has a hard time understanding people.  He is very self aware, though, and his narration is unintentionally funny.  Actually, it’s unintentionally hysterical!  He knows he would like to have a wife, because he has observed in others a happiness level he associates with a long term partner.  After deciding that being set up with people and online dating are very unefficient ways to meet a potential mate, he begins The Wife Project.
He runs The Wife Project with the help of his married friends, Gene and Claudia.  Their relationship is a secondary story line.  In the course of The Wife Project, Don meets Rosie, who he immediately recognizes as unsuitable for wife material.  However, he’s intrigued at her current quest to find her biological father.  He finds this situation interesting enough to start The Rosie Project, his effort at helping Rosie in her quest.  
This story was touching and sad at points, but it’s so funny throughout that it didn’t bring me down.  Along with Don and Rosie’s quest, we hear about Don’s relationship with his elderly neighbor, Daphne, who helped inspire Don to undertake The Wife Project.  This story reminded, in emotional tone, to the beginning of the movie, Up.  Don and Daphne’s story is very simply told, but so much lays between the lines.  It’s an excellent way to get insight into Don’s character and it left me rooting for him!
I don’t really know if it’s an accurate portrayal of someone with Asperbergers or autism.  If it is not, a reader with familiarity to this issue might not enjoy the story.  That issue aside, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it!
Note: I’m listing this one under Best of 2013 and Best of 2014, because I read it late in December, after I made my Best of 2013 list.

Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

Christmas on 4th Street (Fools Gold #12.5)
Hotness Level-Ember
Kink Level-No Kink
Series-Fool’s Gold #12.5
Reviewed by Kay
336 pages

“That’s the thing about love. We often get more than we deserve and isn’t that incredibly wonderful?”
Yet another installment of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series and I fall more in love with the series every book. This one is about Noelle who runs the Christmas Attic store in town. That’s right a store specializing in Christmas 365 days a year. I can’t help it, it warms my heart.  Noelle was very sick in the recent past but has overcome it. She lost her mother and grandmother to a auto accident and her fiancé to her illness. She made her way to Fool’s Gold and never looked back. She loves the town, townspeople, friends, her store and her home. But she wants her own HEA and watching her friends marry one by one is bittersweet
Gabriel Boylan is the brother of Gideon, who settled in the town a couple of years ago. Gabriel is a trauma specialist with the Army. He has worked overseas and had seen enough horror to last a lifetime. After losing his fiancé to a combat related his issue, he decides that he won’t ever fall in love again because it hurts too bad to lose someone you love. He comes to his brother’s house for the Christmas holiday and meets Noelle.

I so much enjoyed this book because of it’s sweetness. I’ll admit the ending was a little far fetched for most towns but not Fool’s Gold. I can’t wait for her next installment. My continued complaint regarding her separate books with this series is that the heat content is totally unacceptable.