December 30, 2010

Review: Soul Trapper by F. J. Lennon

Soul Trapper: A Novel 


When 27 year old Kane Pryce was only 7 years old his father disappeared under mysterious circumstances. He was part of a team working on a secret project when his lab was destroyed. Now years later an old friend of his father’s has turned up and leads Kane to the discovery of the Soul Trap, the secret project his father was working on. The SoulTrap allows Kane to trap ghosts, enter the trap and set the souls free to move on to their proper place in the afterlife.

Now actively working as a soul trapper Kane runs across the soul of a little boy who has been waiting in a church for his mother’s return for over 50 years. When his investigation leads him to an elderly philanthropist in Las Vegas something is nagging at Kane and he becomes obsessed with figuring out what happened to the boy and his mother. But when the truth is revealed Kane may just be the next soul on its way to the after life.

I really enjoyed Soul Trapper. It was a quick and mesmerizing read. Its part suspense thriller, part urban fantasy and I love the mix of these two genres. Kane is not your typical hero. He drinks, he treats women bad and he is on the verge of getting thrown in jail but you can’t help but fall in love with him when he decides to help the boy. I highly recommend this read for anyone who loves suspense books and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

October 21, 2010

Review: Sending Rupert Home by Tracy Fabre




Leanne Kendrick has turned down the womanizing English Lit professor, Rupert Arbery, countless times. She secretly has her eye on the photography instructor Noah Jaynes. Noah on the other hand doesn't have the guts to ask her out. He was hurt by his former wife who cheated on him countless times before her death. But even if he did, Leanne would turn him down too. Ten years ago Leanne was humiliated in front of her friends and family the night before her wedding when her ex decided that the easiest way to dump her was to bring a hooker to the rehearsal dinner.

One afternoon Noah comes into the library where Leanne works and asks her for help with a difficult microfilm reader. While getting Noah situated Rupert happens upon the pair and tells them he needs their help with a special project. Mystified they agree and Rupert runs off again.

What they learn the next day rocks them to the core. Rupert died the day before he approached them in the library. Beyond shocked they aren't expecting Rupert to show up again but when he does he explains that he needs their help to move on. Noah and Leanne embark on the mission with very little help from Rupert. The more the work together the more sparks fly but can they each overcome their own insecurities to find true love?

Sending Rupert Home was one of those reads that had me cheering as I turned the pages. I got so engrossed in the love lives of Noah and Leanne that I was flipping the pages late into the night. The book is a little bit mystery and a lot romance and Fabre weaves it all together in a very enjoyable read. I just wished there was a little more to Rupert's final task. It was a little bit anticlimactic but I understand that the story's focus was more on Noah and Leanne than Rupert so it's forgivable. This is a recommended read for anyone who loves contemporary romance.


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October 3, 2010

Review: Me, Myself and Why? by MaryJanice Davidson

Me, Myself and Why?



PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:
Sweet and innocent with a twist of girl-next-door, Cadence Jones is not your typical girl and certainly not your typical FBI agent. Just ask her sisters, Shiro and Adrienne. (Wait. . .best if you don’t ask Adrienne anything.) But it’s her special “talent” which makes Cadence so valuable to the FBI and it never comes in more handy than when she and her partner, George, get tagged to bring down the Threefer Killer. A serial killer who inexplicably likes to kill in threes, leave behind inexplicable newspaper clippings, and not one shred of decent forensic evidence, soon starts leaving messages that seem to be just for Cadence and her sisters. Could it be that this killer knows all about Cadence’s special “talent”? In the meantime, love blooms in the most unexpected place when Cadence meets her best friend’s gorgeous brother who is in town visiting—and she discovers that he knows her secret too! When attraction burns hot between them her best friend isn’t thrilled with the romantic development and this time Cadence just might agree!

MY REVIEW:
I was so disappointed in this book. I am a HUGE fan of everything else MaryJanice has written including the YA series she writes with her husband but this one is too confusing and disjointed to be good.

I get that it's somewhat choppy because of Cadence's Multiple Personality Disorder but besides those shifts in the middle of sentences the storyline jumps all over the place too and it was disorienting. I found myself having to re-read several pages to understand what just happened.

In addition I felt that it was just too predictable. I figured out the ending way to soon and I'm sad to say this one is not something I could recommend.

August 30, 2010

Guest Post by Linda Weaver Clark - Romance VS Mystery!

Romance VS Mystery!

I have written five historical romance novels but have changed to mystery. The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. It’s so different from telling a love story. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know what the outcome will be. But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they haven’t figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it’s just a mystery or mystery suspense. Do you know the difference between a mystery and a mystery suspense novel? In a mystery, when a knock is heard at the door, the reader doesn't know who's behind it. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who's behind the door and yells to the heroine, "Don't open the door!"

Anasazi Intrigue is the first book in a mystery adventure series called “The Adventures of John and Julia Evans.” It’s about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.

Artifact theft is a very intriguing subject. That’s why I call it the Intrigue series. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While researching the second book in this series, Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. I also found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence.

Mayan Intrigue will be released on August 30th and I’m having a week long celebration with a book give-away at my Blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com. Mayan Intrigue is about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julia’s life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but it’s too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt from each of my books, you can visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com.

August 1, 2010

Review: Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson

Undead and Unfinished (Queen Betsy, Book 9)



When Betsy gets into a huge fight with her husband Sinclair she decides to make a deal with her step-sister Laura's Mom, the devil. Betsy agrees to accompany Laura on a trip to hell. When the duo gets there they learn the truth. The devil thinks it's time for Laura to embrace her darker side and learn how to travel to any time or place at will so that she can successfully run Hell when the devil retires. But they don't end up traveling to a random time or show up in places that are key to the very future Betsy is now living. Can they make it back without changing their lives as they know it?

Even thought the Queen Betsy series is one of my favorites, I'll be the first to admit that the series was getting stale (read my review of book eight Undead and Unwelcome). But with Undead and Unfinished MaryJanice Davidson really shook things up. And don't get me started on the ending. Before reading the book I read a blog post by MJ who explained that everything will be all right in the end. Together, that little tidbit and this book's ending has me over the top anxious for the next book. I totally understand the negative reviews of this book but if you're a fan of this series, Unfinished is a MUST READ!


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July 25, 2010

Review: One Season of Sunshine by Julia London

One Season of Sunshine

On the verge of accepting a marriage proposal, Jane Aaron has lots of unanswered questions about her birth that plague her thoughts. It's now to the point that she risks losing her boyfriend and hurting her adopted family by leaving the life she's always know to find answers in the small Texas town where she was born.

Taking a summer job as nanny for Asher Price, a handsome and rich widow, Jane hardly has time to breathe let alone research her birth. But in between dealing with a bed-wetting five year old and a surly pre-teen Jane feels herself falling for Asher and as she slowly uncovers the truth behind her birth she just might wish she never started looking.

One Season of Sunshine was an excellent read. It's covers some pretty deep topics to be more than just a typical romance book. The children were endearing even with their problems and I was rooting for Jane from the opening chapter. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves contemporary romances.

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July 18, 2010

Review: Unspeakable by Laura Griffin

Unspeakable




Elaina McCord’s father practically invented FBI profiling so when Elaina followed in his footsteps she had some pretty big shoes to fill. Plus being a girl in the male dominated field didn't help her chances either. When Elaina finally gets her very first solo case she knows that she's going to have to work extra hard to prove her worth. But in the small beach town of Lito, Texas the local police have the same macho mentality. The only one to trust in Elaina's skills is true-crime writer Troy Stockton and the last thing Elaina needs is a distraction but Troy is hard to resist.

When Elaina finally figures out what the killer is doing no one at the FBI believes her and she's booted off the case. Now she has no choice but to turn to Troy. If she can only figure out if he's using her for the story or his feelings are genuine.

I can't quite put my finger on why but Unspeakable didn't quite live up to the greatness of the other three books by Laura that I've read. Elaina wasn't as likable as her other heroine's and the relationship with Troy just didn't have the heat the other books did. That being said it was still a great read. The killer was always one step ahead and once I knew who it was I could trace the clues back to the very beginning of the book. I recommend Unspeakable for anyone who loves romantic suspense and highly recommend all of Laura's books.


My previous reviews of Laura's books:



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July 16, 2010

Guest Post: Helen of Troy by Margaret George Reviewed by Alexis Bonari

Helen of Troy




Margaret George’s Helen of Troy closely follows the story laid down by the original Iliad. Helen is born the daughter of King Tyndareus and Queen Leda, but her true father is the god Zeus who seduced or raped — we are never sure which—her mother in the form of a swan. As she grows to young adulthood, it becomes clear that Helen is unnaturally beautiful. When her early marriage to Agamemnon lacks passion, she soon falls for the handsome Trojan prince Paris. They run away together, leaving behind her husband, daughter, and her war-hungry brother-in-law. When Agamemnon was chosen as her husband, a pact was made among the other suitors that they would go to war against any man who stole Helen from her husband. Thus, her infidelity started what would become the 20 yearlong Trojan War.

While well written, I only give this book four out of five stars. The reason: Helen of Troy fails to live up to the extremely high standard set by George’s previous novels. Granted, the subject matter she chose to work with was quite difficult to manage. The story presented in the Iliad does little to shed light on Helen’s early life or her personality.

Also, George attempts to make Helen into a likeable, modern woman—a difficult proposition for a character whose infidelity leads her to abandon her 6 year-old daughter and to thousands of deaths including those of her brother, lover, and niece.

The scenery is rich, but the dialogue is somewhat contrived or stilted in certain parts. We never really get to fully understand how being the most beautiful woman in the world affects Helen as a person. It’s clear she’s ambivalent concerning the subject, but we never are never fully given insight into why.

True to her usual style, George follows the life of a single historical notable. What sets this novel apart from her previous work is the fact that Helen of Troy is, arguably, a fictional character. While the Trojan War has been proven to be quite real, it was more likely fought for economic gain than for the love of the Zeus’ mortal daughter.

George handles the departure from reality well. It would be easy to lapse into a completely mythical world when the original Iliad is so heavily laced with the doings of gods and goddesses. While she makes it clear that the deities do in fact exist and have their own motives for interfering in the lives of mortals, she doesn’t rely on them as a means to prop up her work. Primarily, this book is meant to be about the lives and choices of human. In this endeavor, it is a success.


Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at onlinedegrees.org, researching areas of online colleges. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

July 15, 2010

Guest Post: Ladders by Scott Nicholson

Every writer is climbing a ladder, and there are only two directions.

Some writers believe they are in competition with other writers, and that they must kick, claw, slap, and tickle their way to the top. They think they must displace people who are reaching for the same rung, and that those below them must be left far behind. For them, writing success is a blood sport, and up there in the clouds lays a heap of golden rewards. The rewards are sweeter to them knowing others have failed.

Others are just putting their virginal fingers on the first rung, testing its strength, wondering how they will measure up. They might look into those lofty stratospheres and gauge the distance. Some will let go before they put boot to wood, or else take a springing, desperate leap for a rung beyond their grasp. A few will stand at the bottom with chainsaws, hoping to topple the entire structure because they either have no faith in themselves or or their bitterness takes its turn.

However, writers aren’t climbing the same ladder and don’t have to fight each other to climb. Because there is no ladder waiting. Each writer has to build one and lean it against her own clouds.

The ladder is built of dreams.
The clouds are readers.
A nice, soft, welcoming destination.
Without readers, the ladders have nothing to hold themselves in the air, nor any reason to ascend.

Thanks for being heavenly.

-----------------
Scott Nicholson is the author of 10 novels, four story collections, six screenplays, and four comic-book series. He works as a journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His Web site has articles, writing excerpts, and multimedia files to enjoy.

July 7, 2010

Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable




Meena Harper, who was known as You're Gonna Die Girl in high school, has a gift or curse depending on who you ask. She has the ability to take one look at a person and know if they're going to die soon.

Now all grown up Meena has her eye on a promotion to become the head writer of the popular soap, Insatiable. But her bosses have something else in mind. They've promoted Meena's nemesis, Shoshana who has a bright idea to copy a rival soap and bring a vampire into the storyline.

Then something unexpected happens. Meena meets a real life prince and she has a wonderful idea. She's going to put her own twist on the storyline. She's going to introduce a vampire hunting prince to Insatiable. But there's just one catch. The prince, Lucien, is a real vampire and Meena falls head over heels in love. Now she's caught in the middle of a vampire war and an ancient society of vampire hunters. Will she make it out alive or will she see something she never has before... her own death?

I have a couple of Meg's books on my bookshelf but this is the first one I've read and I absolutely loved it. The were so many characters that were vital to the plot and they were all fabulously written. The best part of reading this one was the ending. It wasn't at all predictable and I loved the way the ending was completely satisfying yet left enough of a cliff hanger to keep me hoping that Insatiable is the start of a new series. I highly recommend this one if you love paranormal romances.


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June 24, 2010

Review: Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne

Sweet Misfortune: A Novel



After a terrible tragedy left Sophie an orphan at age 9 she always had trouble connecting in relationships. However a surprisingly fun blind date with Garrett slowly had her opening up to him but just days before their wedding, Garrett tucked tail and ran for the hills leaving Sophie devastated.

After picking herself up and dusting herself off Sophie creates Misfortune Cookies in Garrett's honor which become a best seller in her chocolate shop. They're fortune cookies with a twist. A delicious cookie dipped in bitter chocolate with not-so-good luck fortunes such as "The one you love is closer than you think. If you were smart, you'd start running."

Just when life starts looking brighter, Garrett walks back into her shop. He wants a chance to explain why he ran off but Sophie is having none of it. After much badgering, Sophie agrees to one date if at least 100 people respond to an ad that states, "Wanted: Happiness." and with Sophie judging what is true happiness from the responses it's going to be tough for Garrett to break down the wall Sophie built around her heart.

Aww, Sweet Misfortune actually made me cry! It was surprising that a male author could stir up such emotion in genre that female authors usually dominate. The only reason I couldn't give the book 5 stars is that it was just a little too predictable but it was still a "sweet" love story that I zoomed through in two days. I highly recommend this one for anyone who loves a good contemporary romance. 



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June 23, 2010

Review: Play Dead by Ryan Brown

Play Dead




When the Killington Jackrabbits are one win away from being district champions, their biggest rival, the Elmwood Badgers, decides to tip the scales in their favor by jumping the jackrabbits quarterback, Cole Logan and chopping off a few fingers. This doesn't stop Cole though. It just makes him that much more determined to play.

When the badgers learn that Cole is still going to play they take things a step further and set up a road block meant to keep the jackrabbits from making it to their game. But things go horribly wrong and the bus plunges off a bridge into the river. With a bus full of boys in full gear there's no escaping from tiny bus windows and everyone except the coach who was not wearing pads and Cole who was not on the bus, are killed.

Seeking revenge himself, Cole turns to his neighbor Black Mona who has the ability to raise the dead. But when you raise the dead with revenge in mind things go horribly wrong. The undead Jackrabbits have to finish what the Badgers started within 2 days or they can never move on. You'd think that with a team of Zombies it would be easy to defeat the rival team but when your opponents are pumped full of illegal steroids, think again.

I'm very much on the fence with this one. It was a pretty cool story but it was so full of clich├ęs. The handsome quarter back from the wrong side of the tracks, the rich obnoxious rival, the coach with a hot daughter that hates football and the small town sheriff that gives the good guys breaks. But accepting that this is a zombie story and not classic literature it is a pretty fun read. I recommend this one for anyone who wants a quick break from reality.

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May 30, 2010

Review: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Web of Lies


After her mentor Fletcher was killed in book one, Spider's Bite, Gin Blanco retired from her life as an assassin. Bored to the point of tears things liven up for Gin when two thugs try to rob her BBQ restaurant. It turns out that one of the creeps is the son of a high powered attorney who will stop at nothing to ensure Gin drops the charges against his son.

Then to make matters worse, the very next day a customer is shot at inside the restaurant. Voilet Fox came to the Pork Pit looking for the Tin Man, Gin's former mentor. Since so few people knew about Fletcher this raises a red flag that has Gin more than curious to find out why and you know what they say about curiosity.

With each Jennifer Estep book I read I'm more in awe of her writing. She always has fresh storylines with well developed characters. The dual plot lines are each tied up nicely in the end yet we're left with a delicious cliff hanger that will have me first in line to read the third book in the series, Venom. Web of Lies will stand alone but I highly recommend reading Spider's Bite first to get the full effect of the awesomeness of Estep's genius. This is a must read for anyone who loves urban fantasy.

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