Reviewed by Piper Grey on August 6, 2010
Chocolate, anyone? I guarantee when you read Joanne Harris’ Chocolat, you will need some! No book has ever made me more famished and craving confections EVER! This tug of war story between Church and chocolate comes to bare in a sleepy little French community that holds a few less appetizing secrets of its own. But how can magical visitors, an ornery old matriarch and a sexy redheaded gypsy unlock the community’s unappetizing skeletons and overcome evil disguised as virtue? By way of indulgence, that’s how!
Flashy and unmarried Vianne Rocher and her 6 year old daughter, Anouk, meander into the petite community of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes as it prepares for Lent. Within a few days, Vianne opens a copious chocolate shoppe on the town square that the local church also borders. Countless handmade delicacies temp the town’s folk into disregarding their Lenten vows which draws the enraged attention of the austere parish priest, Francis Reynaud. Being the daughter of a “witch”, Vianne distrusts the rigid policy of organized religion and lives by a pagan belief in the wind that drives her along her life’s path. She holds a little magic of her own that she is careful not to abuse. However, in true Vixen form and to fuel the fire a smidge, Vianne announces a chocolate festival to follow Easter Sunday service and a sweet holy war breaks out!
Harris’ secondary characters were as scrumptious as the delicacies Vianne creates. Her uncanny ability to guess her clients favorite confections brings curious minds into her shoppe. Once there, Vianne becomes a savior to these suppressed souls. The abused kleptomaniac, Josephine, finds sanctuary and safety in Vianne’s friendship. The grumpy but wise senior, Armande, uses Vianne’s advice and trickery to help her develop a relationship with her only grandchild, Luke. As an elder of the town, Armande is privy to many of Lansquenets secrets and one in particular has Father Reynaud salivating in panic. And there’s Anouk! Vianne’s 6 year old daughter is a sweet little imp who has so much to teach about love and life; even to her mother.
Well, you can’t have sweet without a little sexy, right? My favorite must be “Roux Chocolate!” Roux is the mouthwatering leader of the river gypsies that stop at Lansquenet to sell their handmade goods. They are given a threatening welcome at the indirect hand of Reynaud; but Roux manages to spread some much need sugar Vianne’s way!
I’m giving this book 4 outta 5 pumps, taking one away for the sometimes drawn out discussions between Father Reynaud and a mute mentor he calls “pere” whose significance isn’t evident until the very end….which is why I didn’t mention him. Harris’ little morsel, Chocolat, was a bittersweet story of good vs. evil, new vs. old, change vs. stagnation. If you’re in need of something sweet but don’t want to burden your Vixeny waistline, savor this bon bon of a book and your taste buds won’t be the only thing that ends up satisfied!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on July 13, 2010
Wanda Schwartz is human. Quite terribly so. So mortal and ordinary that in any other novel her character may have been the one that readers would likely forget. However, in Dakota Cassidy’s laugh-out-loud paranormal romance,The Accidental Human, Wanda adds an interesting dynamic to a very unique circle of Vixen-like friends.
For starters, Wanda is a successful consultant for Bobbie-Sue cosmetics. She lives and breathes color wheels and is making the world a better place by pinpointing her clients’ exact color auras. She has the kind of girlfriends that every woman dreams of; Nina and Marty, who are always there for her even despite their vast differences. Wanda is trying to get her life on track after her divorce from her D-bag of a husband; however, a recent doctors visit reveals that our fair Wanda is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Like any good human, she isn’t welcoming of the news at first, but quickly discovers that she is given the chance to right some wrongs and live the rest of her days the way SHE wants to – courtesy of her spectacular F*ck-It List! Yet, it is not in her plan to tell anyone about her deteriorating condition.
Heath Jefferson wasn’t exactly part of the plan either! Ahh, dreamy-hunk-o’-white-meat-stick-a-fork-in-him-and-take-a-bite, scrumptious Heath. Yes, that same Heath walks right into Wanda’s life when he answers a classified ad for a job with Bobbie Sue. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “A man selling cosmetics?! Uh, no!” or “He MUST be gay!” Well, just you wait. Heath and Wanda’s chemistry is undeniable; and the hilarity that ensues is quite entertaining. I loved their strange but steamy relationship and how it worked quite nicely with the irony that is Wanda’s world.
It is worth mentioning that Wanda’s best friends are of the paranormal kind. Nina is a hot-headed mouthy vampire and Marty is the semi-sweet and emotional werewolf; and they are both on a journey to live forever with their life-mates. Still, they desperately need their reliable friend Wanda to referee their fights, make lists, and plan group shopping trips. She is the human glue keeping everything paranormal tied together with a pretty pink bow. And back to our man, Heath? Well, he isn’t exactly what he claims to be as Wanda discovers all too soon.
The Accidental Human is the third out of four novels in Cassidy’s series. I picked it up on a whim and can honestly say I don’t feel as though I missed much by not reading the first two books. It is chalk full of Vixen-esque vocabulary that will surely bring out your inner hussy. Cassidy’s humor and saucy language are appropriate, the world she creates for Wanda is very real, the characters are charming, and the sex scenes do not disappoint. Overall, Cassidy earns 4 out of 5 pumps from me. I’m only taking one away for the ending that seemed rather silly and far-fetched in comparison to the tone of the rest of the book.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on April 22, 2010
Fashion, flirting and fornicating! The three staple things a girl of today’s modern world embodies, right? But does that translate to the women of the 1920’s? You bet-cher Betty Boop it does! At least it does in Sophie Kinsella’s book, Twenties Girl. Sadie is a partying, fashion forward flapper who makes the most out of life but she has a few problems. She’s lost her necklace and, oh yeah, she’s sorta dead!
Sadie was born in the early 1900s and died a drooly old lady in a nursing home when she was a ripe old 105. However, her ghost is in her younger 23-year-old form and she’s haunting her 27-year-old great niece, Lara Leighton who turns out to be a serious mess. She’s just been dumped by the love of her life AND her business partner. She’s broke and going crazy because she thinks her Great Aunt Sadie’s ghost is haunting her. She can hear and see her plain as day going around screaming at strangers to get them to do her bidding… and its working! Of course, Lara is the only person who can see and communicate with Sadie so she badgers Lara into recovering her beautiful dragonfly necklace. Sadie is not all together sure why, but she knows that she cannot rest until its back in her possession. But where could it be? Or should we say “Who lifted it?”
We meet various lively and expertly developed cast members along the way to solving this mystery. A greedy, rich snake of an uncle, a ditzy self-centered flake of a cousin and boring yet bothersome parents are all suspects! Enter the classic preppy business man with penetrating eyes that has caught Sadie’s attention! Hello Daddy-O!! And she wants him. But the only way she can get him is through Lara. “Anyway you can get it” is what I always say! OWW! A reluctant albeit comical romance develops between Lara and this frowny American. Much to Sadie’s shagrin.
Eventually, Sadie and Lara start to unknowingly learn from one another and the impressions that they leave on the other are life (and death from Sadie’s point of view) altering. Lara uncovered the fact that Sadie’s life meant so much more to so many more lives than she could ever imagine. And Sadie helped Lara figure out the difference between going through the motions of a relationship and really living and loving another person by letting go of her inhibitions.
This was a fun and light story that I absolutely loved! The ending was a bit heavier but delivered a sweet and tender message of family and keeping yours close. I’m giving this book 4.5 outta 5 pumps. Minus .5 for the lack of steamy sex! Sheesh, can I catch a break with the no-sex books already??? But I took away a valuable lesson from Twenties Girl. I want to be just like Sadie when I am 105 years old…. minus the drooling of course!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on April 12, 2010
Wisty! Whit! New Order! Magic! Ahhh, Fire! Prison! Dead girlfriend! Escape! Look a puppy! A.D.D. anyone??? I seriously think that James Patterson and/or Gabrielle Charbonnet are card-carrying members of A.D.D. Anonymous because that’s what reading their sorcery-slash-dystopia novel, Witch & Wizard was like with its 300 pages and about 100-ish chapters! In it, a smart aleck-y 15 year old girl, Wisty Allgood, and her older brother, Whit, are fugitives of the New Order, a newly elected but suppressive political regime that is absolutely con-witch/wizardry. This administration completely changes the world while everyone is asleep one night. …seriously…
Wisty and Whit are unaware of their supernatural abilities until the New Order comes to arrest them for it and Wisty burst into flames. Neat trick, huh? They are eventually overcome and thrown into prison where they have time to explore their new abilities. It also becomes evident during this time that the leader of the New Order holds a personal vendetta against the Allgood family as a whole. Despite the efforts of their “Nurse Ratched” type guards, they escape with the help of Whit’s dead girlfriend (yes, I said dead…she’s a ghost). While attempting to find & save their parents, they encounter group of teenage revolutionaries who are surviving in a holocaust type world. They believe the bewitched duo to be mystical entities and also prophets who will use their power to restore harmony and overcome the New Order.
The cast of characters are potentially colorful but are not completely developed. Examples of the more robust players include the evil “The One Who Is The One” that leads the New Order who has a foreboding and all knowing persona. And then there is Byron, a former schoolmate who is eventually turned into a weasel for witnessing the powers of the siblings and threatening to nark them out. There is also Whit’s dead girlfriend’s ghost, Celia, who helps them escape prison where they are made to run through a hallway lined with hell hounds for their supper. Finally! A diet that works!
The super short, 3 – 4 page chapters and constant switching between Wisty’s and Whit’s perspectives depicted blinky-type thoughts that never really amount to anything substantial. It was like watching a hyper 8 year old bounce around Santa’s workshop. The end result is a lack of depth that keeps the reader from creating a clear picture of the settings. This did, however, allow for an action-packed read with few lulls in the storyline.
So, while this was a suspenseful and vigorous tale, my mature hottie side was left completely ignored and I felt like I had whiplash from the rapid fire micro-chapters switching between thoughts at lightning speed. I also feel that the authors were writing to a strictly middle school aged audience. I would seriously doubt that our fantastically sexy fans could be intellectually (or otherwise, OWW) stimulated by this venture! 3 pumps outta 5, says The Vixen That Reviews!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on April 9, 2010
What girl needs an excuse to read about a tough, sexy, and romantic Army man? I sure as hell don’t!! Bring it on, baby! In Dear John, Nicholas Sparks delivers a love story to readers (like me) who can’t seem to get enough of his epic fictitious relationships. However, in this particular novel, readers receive a unique glance into the life of John Tyree: the Army grunt and surprisingly tender man after my own heart!
The book begins in present time, as John is observing the one true love of his life, Savannah, from afar. Readers quickly begin to wonder why he is not scooping her up into his arms and whisking her away on horseback into the sunset. So what went wrong with John and Savannah? Why does John continue to love this woman even though he is not with her? Will he come marry me instead?! Oops… er, that last question may have just been something I was wondering! LOL But Sparks answers these questions and many more; and readers soon understand love is not as easy as it appears on the surface.
You see, their love story begins pre-9/11 while John is on leave visiting his reclusive coin-collecting father back home in North Carolina. John meets Savannah on the beach and is immediately captivated by her. So much so, he finds himself doing everything he can to impress her. One thing I truly enjoyed was how thoroughly Sparks described the male psyche. Every glance, every touch, every word was carefully calculated by John ensuring he wouldn’t offend Savannah. He was a perfect gentleman, AND THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!! Arg! I can appreciate the innocence of a new romance, but John was returning overseas and a guy needs a little lovin’ to keep him comin’ back to his woman. Am I right, ladies?!
Well needless to say, John goes back overseas (without getting any action!), but he and Savannah agree to write to each other all the time. This portion of the story began to drag for me because I was longing for more romance. However, after 9/11 occurs I found myself invested in the story, worrying over the impact that this huge event would have on John and Savannah’s relationship. With letters and occasional phone calls keeping their relationship together, I wondered if their love would overcome the hefty challenges of time and distance.
Dear John invites readers into the life of a young soldier who wants nothing more than to be with the woman he loves. Sparks won me over by giving me rare insight into the mind of a son, a boyfriend, a soldier, and a man. The raw emotions John has in the story permeated the pages and touched my heart. For these reasons, I give Dear John 4.5 out of 5 pumps. I am taking a half pump away from Sparks for failing to wow me with his abrupt ending that left me wanting nothing more than a John to call my own.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on October 16, 2009
Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday ever since I can remember. Not the gory / monster part but the ghostly / cemetery part is how I explain it to people. There is just something about the possibilities of ghosts roaming the earth on that one special night that just gets my heart pumping and my imagination soaring. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman gave me butterflies like Halloween was just around the corner. Please understand up front that this book targets an audience of 4th to 8th grade readers but carries great weight & depth; a story that anyone can enjoy. So there is absolutely no hanky-panky, people!
This novel opens with a pretty macabre event. A family is massacred off-screen and the killer searches for the sole remaining family member to complete his gruesome task. The toddler he seeks has wandered out of the house, up the hill, to an old graveyard and into the protective hands of its residents. The babe is given the name Nobody Owens (Bod for short) by his ghostly adoptive mother, Mistress Owens, and is granted the “Freedom of the Graveyard.” This status enables Bod to execute various tricks of the dead like fading and dream-walking. Just give me one day with those little tricks and Diabolical Piper would RULE THE WORLD BABY!
Bod experiences the pains and thrills of growing up through a string of otherworldly adventures. As a result, he discovers various life lessons through his interactions with a treasure-trove of descriptive and beloved characters from various historical periods. These characters include an impish witch, a melodramatic poet, a roman leader, and a shadowy nocturnal guardian (who I suspect to be a vampire but can’t be sure) just to name a few. Readers are first introduced to each ghost through their clever epitaphs engraved on their headstones. This will certainly get you thinking about what might be on your own headstone! Hmm… “Piper Grey – 19(blah-dee-blah) to 20(someday) – Rawkin the Afterlife in Pink Sequins!” Whadayathink??
The villains in this gothic fantasy are all a bit sketchy and vague. One version of the ‘bad guy’ is a coiling, 3 headed serpentine called The Sleer and is the oldest thing in the cemetery. Imprisoned in its tomb, it guards a small treasure and fruitlessly waits for a master to protect. We never get to the history of the creature, the treasure, or the missing master. Another type of villain belongs to an ancient order whose members names are puns off of the name “Jack” but not much else is explained about them.
Although this novel is dark at times, the overall message it delivers is one of self-discovery and overcoming fears of experiencing life. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a 5 pumper in this Vixen’s opinion. This coming of age story of Nobody Owens has the potential to become a classic…. and would create delight in graveyards everywhere if it were to make its way to the big screen. Here’s hoping!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on July 16, 2009
If you’re looking for a series to capture both the male and female audience, The Black Dagger Brotherhood is it! This series is filled with intense action scenes, light-hearted comedy, and the kind of sex scenes that leave your tongue draggin the pages and heart racing at each climax. You smellin what I’m cookin?!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is an erotic, paranormal romance series by J. R. Ward. This chronicle surrounds six vampire warriors who are bound by brotherhood and sworn to protect their race against the Lessers: de-souled humans who threaten their kind. This ongoing war between the Brotherhood and the Lessers is your typical good vs. evil scenario with romantic love stories intertwined. Each book is focused on a specific warrior and his saga, yet the ensuing war drives the plot to thicken with each book; coincidentally, so does the warrior’s ‘size’, if you get my drift!
The setting of the story truly adds to the excitement, as it takes place in the heart of modern-day Boston, giving it that dark and edgy feel. The depiction of the surroundings gives the reader an eerie sense of anxiety throughout, especially when the Brothers are out on the prowl, hunting for their next victim (or love interest, whichever it may be). Whether they’re in a trendy downtown club, or a hoity-toity suburb, the author’s choice of location is perfect for each scene.
The vampire warriors in the Brotherhood are totally entertaining and deliciously tempting! J.R. Ward had me rolling at the hilarious repartee that goes on between the warriors throughout the series. She also does a great job of capturing the essence of ‘man-talk’; none of that cheesy “Fabio” crap that sometimes interferes with your sexual fantasy, errrr (COUGH)… I mean visual representation of the story. This author should win a prize for her ability to create characters that embody every girl’s ‘dream man’ six times over! I’m not going to lie and say that I fell in love with these beefy man-treats, but I definitely fell in ‘lust’ with them! The steamy sex scenes had me literally coming up for air afterwards, and panting like the ‘Twigar’ I am! Raaawwrrr!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is definitely a series I would recommend to any vampire loving girlfriend of mine. It will keep you thoroughly entertained for weeks since there are nine books altogether. If I’m being honest though, the individual storylines do get a bit predictable by book three. But I’m not your Momma, so let’s not pretend that you’re going to be reading these books for the plot! OOOWWWW!!! NAUGHTAY! So with all that in mind, I give this book a 4 outta 5 Humps…I mean Pumps! Yes, four incredible, everlasting Pumps! Whew! Anyone got a cigarette?
Reviewed by Laney Belle on June 30, 2009
The Sookie Stackhouse Series, by Charlaine Harris is an absolute MUST READ for vampire lovers everywhere!! BE WARNED though—The vampires in this exciting series are not like the swanky, glamorous, vegetarians that you find in Twilight.
The Sookie series takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana; a backwoods, redneck location. At first I was taken back by this setting, allowing my bias for the usual sexy, urbane vampires take over. However, once I got to know the delightfully-tacky people of Bon Temps, I completely fell in love! Their tendency to resemble what most people would call “typical trailer trash” surprisingly became the heart of my enjoyment. The setting truly adds to the unique charm and continuous comedy in the series.
The readers enter on a BANG, starting with a news broadcast of a scientific breakthrough among the medical community. You go on to learn that the Japanese have invented a synthetic blood substitute, TruBlood, in hopes of alleviating the demand for human blood donors in hospitals. Of course, the secret race of vampires see this is as opportunity for them to ‘come out of the closet’ and announce to the public that they are real! They go on to claim that this new invention of TruBlood will enable them to live among society with humans, on account of they won’t have to kill anymore to survive.
The nine books continue to revolve around the adventures of a barmaid named Sookie, who is anything but your average girl. Sookie has the gift of telepathy, though she refers to it as her disability. Relationships are not easy for Sookie, as she is always aware of what everyone is thinking. But something happens the day she meets her first vampire; Sookie discovers that her disability doesn’t pertain to this recently “outted” race, and with that she finds the peace of mind she’s been longing for. As her relationships grow with the second-natured so does her status among them. This humorously presents just as many challenges as benefits. Sookie’s uncanny ability to attract danger at every turn helps form the series overarching plot which will keep you constantly entertained.
Vampires are not the only fictional characters introduced in this series; each book holds new surprises and enticing drama to boot. The character development is flawless, allowing the reader to really appreciate each individual’s circumstances. Charlaine Harris has an incredible knack for using humor during moments that would seem too intense to most authors. Using heavy sarcasm, she is able to maintain a light hearted feel even during the darkest hours.
In reading these books, you get to experience Sookie’s many exciting escapades in which love is formed and lives are always at stake! It’s definitely my favorite adult vampire series thus far! I give this series 5 outta 5 pumps for being full of imagination and unique flavor.