December 31, 2008

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 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 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.



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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 16, 2008

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

    WINNER: Margaret in Lake Echo Canada

    My Review

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    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.

    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

    Review: I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith

    When eleven-year-old Lorelei Connelly's cat named Mud dies, she begins a diary to him. In it she chronicles her daily life with her family and her adventures in the sixth grade. She's also writing the diary to ensure that when she's a famous actress, chef and/or bestselling author her biographers can accurately report her life.

    The diary begins with Lorelei trying out for the middle school Peter Pan production. Lorelei wants to try out for Tinkerbelle but her mom, who played Wendy in college, is dead set on her trying out for Wendy in this play. Lorelei wonders how to break the news to her mom when her mom goes so far as to dig out her old Wendy costume.

    In the midst of Lorelei's normal tween drama which includes being replaced as Jenny's best friend by the much hated Veronica and being terrified by the school bully Matt Newsome, her parents' marriage begins to fall apart. We follow along in her journey as she shares it all with the much loved and missed Mud.

    It's hard to believe that this is Smith's first book. The writing is excellent and she captured the eleven year old voice so perfectly that I truly felt that this book was written by a young girl. Lorelei's diary entries are funny and you can't help but root for her when things start to go wrong. I fell right into the story and the characters became loved. You know a book is great when you find yourself thinking about the characters long after you've finished reading.

    This book is perfect reading for the tween crowd, ages 8-12 but I also recommend this book for any adult who loves reading young adult books also. I hope Smith continues writing books and that she ventures into adult books soon.

    Review: The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown

    By the author of Goodnight Moon comes a story that will delight children all over the world. The partial manuscript for this book was found fifty-six years after Margaret Wise Brown’s Death and children’s book publisher Laura Minchew was chosen to complete the book in Brown’s unique style.

    A little koala travels the sea at night with the moon shining down on him. As he visits Switzerland, the Far East, Mexico, France, The Outback Wild, An English Wood, Africa and The Oceans Deep the moon shines down over the people and animals and the koala says a little prayer to bless them all.

    The book is full of beautifully drawn and colored illustrations. The lands the koala visits are captured so accurately that you can almost guess where he’s visiting even if you hadn’t read it.

    The book is geared for children ages 4-8 however I think that children of all ages will love this book. I recommend this one with 2 thumbs up.

    November 28, 2008

    Review: Written in Blood by Sheila Lowe

    Forensic Handwriting Expert, Claudia Rose, was just hired on to authenticate the signature on a wealthy older man’s will after he passed away and left the majority of his estate to his significantly younger widow, Paige Sorenson. Based on Claudia’s analysis, a judge rules that the signature is genuine and Paige can now claim the Sorenson Academy for Girls as her own to the dismay of the widow’s step children.

    Against her better judgment about keeping her business and her personal life separate, Claudia befriends Paige and a troubled young student named Annabelle and the trouble soon begins. On Christmas Eve Paige and Annabelle disappear and Claudia is asked by Annabelle’s father to help find the missing pair. Suddenly Claudia is pulled in much deeper than she hoped and now her own life is at risk along with Paige and Annabelle.

    This was a great fast paced mystery that I read in two quick days even with the family over celebrating Thanksgiving. The “who-done-it” factor was a little predictable but the story is exciting enough to overcome that part of the story. The way Claudia gets pulled into the drama is very realistic too. Lowe captures the teen angst of the troubled Annabelle perfectly and the relationship between Claudia and Annabelle is not written as a “happily ever after” tale so I liked that about this book also.

    I almost forgot to mention this was book two in the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series by Lowe with book one being Poison Pen. It is a stand alone as I had not read book one and didn’t feel like anything was missing. I will be picking up book one and anticipating book two which is due out in August 2009. I recommend this book to all mystery and cozy lovers.