December 31, 2008

$20 Amazon Gift Card Winner

WINNER: Kristi in Oklahoma

Well the year is at an end and I've read 140 books in 2008. As promised in my Guess and Win contest a winner has been chosen by Random.org and I'm waiting for confirmation from the winner before I announce the name.  Out of 82 entries 11 people correctly guessed that I'd read 140 books this year.


For 2009 I am hoping I read a few more than 140 now that I have my blog. I've also joined a 999 Challenge and have to read 81 books to complete the challenge. I'm pretty hopeful that I'll make it. Wish me luck!

Review: House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo



Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Fifteen year old Xander King is miserable. His family is moving from Pasadena to the small town of Pinedale. “Still in California, but barely.”  When the family arrives they find what his parents consider a dream house but Xander just considers creepy.

 Full of mysterious sounds, creepy shadows and unexplained footprints, the house just seems too sinister for Xander to feel comfortable. As Xander and his twelve year old brother begin to explore the house they find things are even weirder than they could have ever imagined.

 For a young adult book I was surprised at how well the storyline and suspense are written. Usually with YA writing the storytelling is a little too cheesy or predictable but this book breaks out of that mold and I was as creeped out as any Dean Koontz or Steven King book makes me feel when reading late at night.

 House of Dark Shadows is Book 1 in the Dream House Kings series and after reading it you’ll want to immediately pick up Book 2, Watcher in the Woods as the ending clearly warns that it’s “Not The End.” You’re left with some answers and a HUGE cliffhanger. I enjoyed this quick read and recommend it for both YA and adult suspense readers. 

December 28, 2008

Elisabeth Naughton Giveaway

I cracked up on this contest and thought I would share.

"I'm not afraid of the dark," Monie snapped. How the hell did he know what she was thinking? And why had they bothered to stop now when they were so close to the prize?

Indiana Jones chuckled, the sound low and sexier than she wanted it to be as he made himself comfortable on the damp ground and leaned back against the boulder where they'd stopped to set up camp for the night. "You should be. The lost Anasazi warriors are out there."

"There's no such thing as the lost Anasazi warriors," she tossed back. "That's a stupid fairy tale made up by naive common folk like yourself in order to scare others away. I need the Golden Bow to solve the rubic cube. If you're too afraid to get it for me like you agreed, I'll just do it myself." She pushed to her feet.

The sinister smile that spread across his face stopped her feet and only irritated her more. "You go right ahead, tinkerbell. Dressed in red-leather hooker boots like you are, I guarantee the Golden Bow's the last thing those savages'll be focused on. Last I heard, they were looking for a new sex slave." His scorching gaze ran over her. "Come to think of it, you look like you fit the bill."

Her blood warmed at the approval she saw in his brilliant blue eyes. Then she thought about the blood-letting tools they'd stumbled across and the public beheadings Indiana Jones had babbled about earlier in the day. She glanced toward the windy beach surrounding them and felt her anxiety leap into her throat. Were those beady eyes watching them from the dark?

"That's right, tinkerbell," Indiana Jones said in an arrogant voice, like a man who knows he's won the super bowl. "I think you're safer here with me, too. Looks like your only option is to scoot on over here and lay right down where I can make sure Cruella DeVil doesn't get you in the middle of the night."

Her eyes snapped back to focus on his. "I'm not sleeping with you."

That suggestive grin slid across his face, the one that did weird things to her pulse. "Who said anything about sleeping?"


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December 27, 2008

Review: Fault Line by Barry Eisler


Courtesy of LibraryThing


Brothers Alex and Ben Treven are as different as two brothers can be. Alex is a brilliant, up and coming lawyer in a Silicon Valley law firm and Ben is a government assassin who hasn't had contact with Alex in over seven years. When an inventor Alex represents is murdered Alex begins to question if the murder has anything to do with the new encryption program his client was working on. Then within hours the patent clerk working on the invention coincidently dies of natural causes and Alex himself is attacked in his home. With no where else to turn he calls upon Ben for help in staying alive.

Ben grudgingly returns home and together with associate lawyer, Sarah Hosseini who was also working the on the case, the three are forced into hiding to try and figure out who would murder to keep the program from ever seeing the light of day.

I really enjoyed this book. It's the perfect combination of action and adventure mixed with technical expertise. Some of the plot was a little predictable but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. I read the entire book in one day because the action kept the pages turning.

I especially liked the character interaction between the two brothers. They each felt the other was at fault for the rift in their family stemming from a tragedy when the boys were in high school. At different times in the book I'd find myself rooting for one brother or the other while hoping for reconciliation. The ending was realistic and not too over the top or too "happily ever after" which annoys me. I highly recommend this book for all suspense/thriller lovers.



December 25, 2008

Review: Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy


Courtesy of BookReporter

Shauna McAllister wakes up from a six week coma with six months of memory loss her doctors can’t explain. During her coma Shauna was on a trial mix of medications based on her DNA profile which, as she later learns, have a mysterious side effect. Faced with the reality of the accident that led to her coma Shauna turns to Wayne Spade. He’s one of the few people from her inner circle that haven’t turned their back on her yet she remembers nothing of their relationship before her accident.

As Shauna begins to investigate the accident, thinking it will help her memories return, the result is more questions instead of answers. It seems that her father’s company isn’t as legit as it looks to be and discovering the truth puts her in a killer’s sights.

Kiss has a great twist that gives this thriller a unique story line. Throughout the whole book you’re guessing who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy with surprising revelations. The story flowed nicely with the action and the writing was filled with so many clues that by page fifty I’d already come up with three different theories on what was going on. They were all wrong by the way. I highly recommend this book to suspense/thriller lovers and can't wait to read the next Dekker/Healy collaboration.

December 24, 2008

Review: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld




As you’ve probably heard by now American Wife is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. We are given a look into four distinct times in the life of Alice Blackwell. From Alice as a third grader to a significant day in her life as First Lady the story draws you in.

Alice Lindgren was an only child raised by her parents and paternal grandmother in a small Wisconsin town. With no extended family to grow up with she was a quiet, reserved child with a great love of reading books. A terrible accident occurs when Alice is seventeen and it changes her life forever.

The next period in her life covers the time when Alice is in her early thirties. She’s become an elementary school librarian who doesn’t lament not having a husband or starting a family. Just then Charlie Blackwell walks into her life and after first turning Charlie away she’s swept into a whirlwind romance that leads to the next period in the book.

Charlie was raised the exact opposite of Alice; with wealth, privilege and plenty of family around to encourage his loud and boisterous teasing. Charlie becomes obsessed with his legacy and brings Alice into a world where she doesn’t feel that she belongs.

Lastly, we get a look into Alice’s life in the White House. This period covers just one day however Alice flashes back on some of her thoughts up to this point in her life and the decisions she’s made that have ultimately come down to this day and the effect it can have on Charlie’s presidency.

I loved the idea that this book was based on Laura Bush’s life. It opened my eyes to seeing politician’s wives in a different light and it made me more interested in learning about our current First Lady.

The characters are endearing and the writing so real the events in Alice’s life really touched me and left me thinking about American Wife long after the last page was read. The one downside to the book was that some of the stories seemed to drag on longer than was necessary. I honestly feel that the book wouldn’t have suffered if the writing was condensed a little more. Other than that it was a great read that lived up to the hype and my expectations. I recommend this book to all general fiction lovers.

December 21, 2008

Review and Giveaway: Cross Country by James Patterson


Courtesy of Hachette Audio


When Detective Alex Cross is called to investigate the grisly murder of an entire family he discovers that one of the victims was his college girlfriend. She was murdered because of research she was conducting for a book in progress based on corruption in Africa. During the investigation he is drawn into the horrible world of The Tiger. A notorious killer fore hire that Alex follows to Nigeria where the trouble heats ups.

Immediately upon his arrival he is thrown into jail for three horrifying days and upon his release he was encouraged to go home and mind his own business. At this point he’s already drawn to far into the investigation and has no choice but to continue following The Tiger’s trail of death and destruction to the final nail-biting climax.

My review is based on the unabridged audio book which is excellently narrated by Peter J. Fernandez and Dion Graham. What I especially love about listening to the book on CD the sound effects and voice characterizations painted a clearer picture in my mind of the action and characters. At one point I was listening while driving and almost jumped out of my skin when a car honked inside the story.

Cross Country is vintage Alex Cross that deals with a “ripped from the headlines” topic. The action starts from the very first chapter with the murders and doesn’t stop until the end. The secondary characters in the book are great. Some are humorous some are open-hearted and the bad guys are really bad. I’ve read a lot of other reviews that bashed the book for being unbelievable or that Cross was acting unreasonable in Nigeria but to me the story was just plain great suspense fiction that kept me hooked throughout the story. I highly recommend this book to all James Patterson and suspense thriller fans.


GIVEAWAY

RON IN MICHIGAN

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    Review: The Coffee Shop of the Living Dead by Michael Sullivan


    Courtesy of Publishing Works

    Author's Website


    When eleven year old Escapade Johnson gets detention for being one of the three students participating in their fifth grade class homework strike, he inadvertently gets stuck walking home with trouble makers Davy and Jimmy. Of course trouble ensues when they cross paths with two girls and begin teasing them. Next thing you know the trio causes a car to crash and Jimmy breaks the window of Joe’s Cup of Joe. As punishment the three boys are forced to pay off the cost of the damage by working at “The Coffee Shop of the Living Dead”

    Over the next 10 weeks Davy and Jimmy do nothing more than try to get Mr. & Mrs. Peterson to fire them to no avail but along the way Escapade learns some good lessons.

    This book was a real treat. It reminded me of the books I would read as an elementary school student that would lead to my fascination and love of books. It has the right amount of humor and adventure while ending on a lesson taught. I highly recommend this book for all elementary and middle school readers.

    Also Available in the Escapade Johnson Series:
    • The Witches of Belknap County
    • Mayhem at Mount Moosilauke




    December 19, 2008

    Disaster Strikes!!!

    I had all my blog pictures and book covers hosted on a Road Runner Personal Home Page and today they pulled the plug on my PHP because I'm no longer a Road Runner subscriber (and I haven't been for over 6 months).

    This in itself wouldn't have been so horrible because I had all the pictures on my computer except for the fact that JUST LAST WEEK!!!! I had to reformat my computer without being able to save anything due to a horrendous malware locking up my computer. Everything was lost.

    So now I'm going to have to find/save/create all new pictures and go through all 103 posts to replace the PHP urls with my googlepage urls. Please me bear with me while I updated everything. If you see the dreaded red x, just know I'll get to that picture as soon as I can with family in town and the holidays around the corner.

    That's all for my pitty party. Please wish me luck. LOL

    December 16, 2008

    Giveaway: Win my ARC copy of I, Lorelei by Yeardly Smith

    WINNER: Margaret in Lake Echo Canada

    My Review


    To enter please fill out the form below.

    Entries will be accepted until December 21st at 9:00 and the winner will be announced on December 22nd.

    Open worldwide.

    Winner must respond to notification email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected. Good Luck!!



    December 14, 2008

    Review: The Ark, the Reed & the Fire Cloud by Jenny L. Cote


    Max & Liz Website

    When Scottish terrier, Max hears a voice coming from the grassy reed he has no choice but to begin his journey by following the fire cloud. Along the way he meets other animals who also head the Maker’s voice summoning them to follow. Among these animals is a petite black cat from France named Liz. Together they lead the group to their destination, Noah’s Ark.

    During their stay on the ark Max and Liz interact with the other animals and when trouble starts brewing they uncover a plot to murder Noah and his family and heroically save the day

    I enjoyed the adventures of the group (especially those of the big scaredy cat Al) and loved the story of their time on the ark. The portions that cover Noah’s family and the lives lost in the destruction of the flood are heart breaking and thought provoking. I recommend this story as a family read for the children ages 7-12.

    More Amazing Tales of Max & Liz to Follow:
  • Book Two: The Dreamer, The Schemer, and The Robe
  • Book Three: The Prince, The Plagues and The Promise
  • Book Four: The Voice, The Revolution and The Jewel

  • December 13, 2008

    Review: The Unseen by T.L. Hines



     
    Courtesy of Thomas Nelson
    Author's Website



    For many years Lucas Freund has lived his life by mostly being unseen. He has a fascination with hiding small nooks and crannies in buildings all over the city watching strangers through hidden peep holes. He makes up elaborate stories about their lives that give him comfort in between the times when he makes a connection with them. The connection happens when someone either feels his presence without seeing him or when someone seemingly makes eye contact with him again without seeing him.

    Lucas is a loner with no permanent address. He sleeps in vacant buildings or underground tunnels. One night, his home for the time being is almost found by another “infiltrator”, Donovan. Surprisingly Lucas is drawn to Donovan and meets with him the next day. Donovan introduces him to a group called Creep Club whose members watch and record people in their homes... the one place Lucas never dared to watch.

    Soon Lucas is approached by a federal agent who wants his assistance in gaining access to the group. Lucas is torn by this request but when people start disappearing and turning up dead, things start spiraling into chaos and Lucas is forced to figure out a way out of the trouble.

    The Unseen pulls you in from the first chapter. Although Lucas has a strange way of life I was rooting for him right from the start. He’s such a likable character who is a “do-gooder” at heart. The book is full of surprises coming in the form of plot twists and other characters.

    The only thing I felt let down about was a strange character at the end (when you read it, you’ll know who I’m talking about). Maybe I just didn’t understand the author’s intentions with this character but I felt he really didn’t belong in story and thought the book could have had the same type of ending without him.

    To me the best part of the book was that it brought up a great point. Many of us see without really seeing. I know I’m guilty of being oblivious to my surroundings which drives my husband nuts. Reading this book has made me a little more conscious of the happenings around me and I’ve been constantly thinking, “Someone could be watching me right now”. I recommend this book for all suspense and thriller lovers.

    December 7, 2008

    Review: Mysteria Lane Anthology




    "Hundreds of years ago, in the mountains of Colorado, the small town of Mysteria was accidently founded by a random act of demonic kindness. Over time it, has become a veritable magnet for the supernatural – a place where magic has quietly coexisted with the mundane world."

    Disdaining Trouble by MaryJanice Davidson
    Twelve-year-old witch triplets Withering, Derisive and Scornful Desdaine love to wreak havoc through out the town of Mysteria. On one particular morning they cast a spell sending the mailman, who is afraid of heights, onto the top branch of the nearest tree. In his rush to get away once the triplets bring him back down he accidently knocks Withering Desdaine into the wishing well where she disappears and reappears moments later a very changed girl.

    The Nanny from Hell by Susan Grant
    For thousands of years the demon Shay has bedded men with the sole intention of ruining their happy lives but this time her current assignment is to take the like of a small child and Shay is beginning to have doubts about her life as a demon. Distracted while driving to her current assignment in Mysteria Shay crashes into the wishing well and when she wakes up from the accident she finds things very different under the watchful eye of the demon killer Quel Laredo.

    A Tawdry Affair by Gena Showalter
    Love witch, Glory, is miserable. Not only does she have to live with her two sisters that have already found their true loves but she has to live with the humiliation of remembering what happened when she dressed in nothing but a trench coat and showed up at the doorstep of her crush. Now armed with a magical pen she can write herself into fantasies which star Falon and herself (pounds lighter of course).

    It’s in His Kiss by P.C. Cast
    Summer Smith has returned to Mysteria to begin teaching at the high school. She choose to return after college because she’s hoping that her best friend Ken will finally see her in a new light but on a field trip to the art gallery she meets the dark and brooding vampire, Colin. Summer is torn between the two men but fate has more in store for Summer than she can ever imagine.

    Mysteria Lane is a follow up to Mysteria which I have not read. There are some references to characters from the previous book but I had no trouble following these stories.

    I picked up this book because I am a huge MaryJanice Davidson fan but I liked all of the stories in the book. They each had a unique storyline with ties to each other. It’s total romantic fluff but it worked well in these stories. My favorite was A Tawdry Affair. Glory was endearing with her lack of self confidence and the bedroom scenes were HOT. I recommend this book to all paranormal romance readers.

    Guess and Win

    Entries are closed. I will announce the winner 1/1/09.


    Correctly guess the total number of books I'll read in 2008 and your name will be entered in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

    Entries will be accepted until December 15th and the winner will be announced on January 1, 2009. Open worldwide.

    For a hint, click the book on the right to see the number books I've read so far.



    Winner must respond to notification email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected. Good Luck!!



    December 6, 2008

    Review: DNA by W. Craig Reed


    Author's Website


    In 1992 Navy Seal George Anders and his team are assigned to a mission in Iraq to track down Fahkir Kaseem. Kaseem is a terrorist who recruited a group of Russian scientists with the intention of creating a biological weapon that could potentially eliminate two-thirds of the world’s population. Unfortunately one of the scientists is brought in against her will and as George and the team spoil Kaseem’s plans he falls in love with Annelia and she’s taken away from him under ill-fated circumstances.

    Fast forward sixteen years later and a new bad guy is working on the same bio-weapon and Annelia is taken against her will again.

    I usually describe more of the book but I feel like I’d give away too much if I added anymore. The book was action packed from the first page and I kept reading long past the time when I would have put down any other book.

    The storyline is unique with an extremely surprising ending. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters especially the Navy Seal team members. The one thing I think the book is lacking is just a little more background to the characters so that they become a little more real to the reader. Other than that I recommend this book for all action and thriller lovers.

    November 30, 2008

    Giveaway: Win an ARC copy of The Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater

    WINNER: Wanda in Winnipeg Canada


    READ MY REVIEW



    To be entered to win, please fill out the form below. For additional entries leave a comment on any of my book reviews. You'll earn one extra entry for each comment you leave.

    I will take entries until 9:00pm CST Sunday December 7th and the winner will be announced Monday, December 8th. Open worldwide.

    The book will be mailed to the winner as soon as the winner's address is confirmed. Winner must respond to notification email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected. Good Luck!!