January 31, 2009

Review: Whisper of Warning by Laura Griffin

RELEASE DATE MARCH 31, 2009 - Pre order your copy today.

Courtesy of Laura Griffin

Courtney Glass only agreed to meet her married ex-fling David at the park to get him to stop his constant text messaging and hash things out once and for all. When he finally shows up she’s pissed. It’s hot and humid and he made her wait when he’s the one who wanted to meet. When he finally gets into her car he’s acting all annoyed and accusing her of harassment. With no time to ponder this confusing accusation a masked gunman gets into the back of the car. After taking their cell phones he forces Courtney’s hand into his and shoots David. Courtney manages mace the gunman right in the mouth and flees the car, literally running for her life.

Newly promoted Detective Will Hodges lands the case along with his partner Nathan Devereaux. When Nathan has to step down from the case because of his ties to the Glass family it’s up to Will to solve David’s murder and he can see right through Courtney’s lies. Her story about the shooting just doesn’t add up but he still believes she’s innocent. With heat from David’s rich widow, his lieutenant pressures him to arrest Courtney and close the case.

As the walls beginning closing in on Courtney she realizes that she has an important piece of information that the real killer wants and she has no choice but to turn to the brooding detective for help. Will knows that getting involved with his prime suspect will end his career but he just can’t help being drawn in. Will he find the real killer in time or will the killer catch up to Courtney?

From the opening chapter I was hooked (read it here!) . Having read book one in the series, Thread of Fear, I already knew that Courtney attracts trouble but this situation takes the cake. I loved the fact that the action starts immediately and the rest of the book keeps up the pace.

Another great thing is that I never figured out who the killer was. It’s so refreshing when you can’t see it coming from a mile away. I also liked that the relationship between Courtney and Will happens naturally. I hate when characters jump into bed within hours of meeting each other. This was another great read by Laura Griffin. I do recommend reading Thread of Fear first just because I loved it so much but Whisper of Warning is definitely a stand alone read if you just want to jump into the action.

Review: Speed Demon by Erin Lynn

When we last read about sixteen-year-old Kenzie Sutcliffe she had just closed a demon portal in her shower drain by running the family minivan in the pipes. Unfortunately it created a minivan sized hole in her kitchen wall. Now she’s not only grounded but won’t be getting her drivers license until she’s eighteen.

On day one of the kitchen reconstruction she’s so creeped out by the large guy working on the wall she tries to take her breakfast cereal elsewhere in the house but her mom won’t let her. She sneaks off with her cereal and a Diet Coke to sit in the minivan. When she accidentally sprays her drink on the radio another demon portal pops open. That’s when Levi, the “good demon” who’s been staying with her family, points out that there are actually 5 demon portals and Kenzie has to figure out how to close them all permanently, with no help from him.

I definitely recommend reading the first book, Demon Envy, before picking up Speed Demon. A majority of the story references book one and it has the background on why Levi is with the family. I enjoyed Speed Demon much more than I did Demon Envy. Kenzie’s character is a little more realistic in this one and the storyline was cute.

I like the way Kenzie’s character deals with Levi and the new demon from the portal not to mention her regular teenage drama which includes boyfriend and best friend trouble. The book is also a set up for the next book which I will definitely be reading. I recommend this for teens and anyone else who loves YA books. 

January 27, 2009

Review: Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict

Courtesy of Hachette Audio

Susette Kelo Tells Her Story at the Cato Institute and a podcast interview

(Thanks to Chris for sending these links) 

When Susette Kelo’s five boys grew up and moved out of the rural house she shared with her husband it became apparent that their marriage was no longer working. Susette made the decision to leave him and move out on her own. Having also made the decision to use no money from their joint account all Susette was able to afford was a small fixer upper on the waterfront in New London, Connecticut.

Around the same time Susette purchased her new home and began to fix it up. The New London Development Corporation was formulating a plan to re-develop the waterfront which included the Ft. Trumbull area where Susette’s house was located by selling the land to the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

When Susette and more than a few of her neighbors refused to sell, the city and the NLDC tried to take their homes using eminent domain, the law which allows the state to seize a citizen's private property for public use. What resulted was court case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court and a fight that lasted over 9 years. 

Burb: “In Little Pink House, award-winning investigative journalist Jeff Benedict takes us behind the scenes of this case -- indeed, Susette Kelo speaks for the first time about all the details of this inspirational true story as one woman led the charge to take on corporate America to save her home.

The amazing spirit of Susette Kelo and the other families that refused to leave is so moving. They refused to back down when it seemed impossible that they would ever win. I admire they way Susette showed no sign of weakness in front of the big corporation and the rest of her opposition.

The news stories about the case became national news and the Supreme Court ruling became one of the most unpopular rulings of all time. Since this case states either have or are considering amendments to the eminent domain law which prohibit the state turning over land seized under the guise of public use over to private corporations.

My review is based on the abridged audio version which was read by Maggi-Meg Reed. I think that listening to this as opposed to reading gave me a better mental picture of Susette as fighter and a strong woman to admire. I highly recommend this book to readers of all genres as it is an inspirational story.

January 26, 2009

Review: Houdini by T. J. Banks

Courtesy of Publishing Works

One day while walking near a college campus apartment David heard an unbelievably loud meow coming from a tiny kitty that fit in the palm of his hand. He was abandoned in one of the apartments when the semester was over. David convinces his friend Jim Leonard and his daughter Jill to adopt him and the kitty with no name was smuggled onto a plane for the ride home.

Once home Jill still couldn’t figure out what to name the kitty until the next morning when he mysteriously escaped out of the box he was in and Houdini was officially named. Houdini spent his days on the Leonard farm, chasing squirrels, basking in the warmth of the dryer vent and playing with the numerous cats and toms on the farm.

One day while seeking shelter from the wind Houdini sneaks into a hole on the under carriage of Mr. Leonard’s car and when he wakes up and gets out of the car to look around he gets left in the drug store parking lot. Houdini goes through a rough few days and eventually finds shelter but will he find his way home to Jill?

I’m not embarrassed to say that Houdini made me cry. The story is told mostly from his point of view and it was super cute but a little sad in some parts. Overall the book is a good story for kids and there is a great message at the end about disabilities. I recommend Houdini for readers aged 9-12 and cat lovers of all ages.

January 24, 2009

Review: Lifelines by CJ Lyons

Courtesy of CJ Lyons

In Lifelines we meet four strong ladies who work at Angels of Mercy Medical Center in Pittsburgh. Lydia Fiore, the ER attending physician whose first day on the job may be here last when she fails to save the life of the Chief of Surgery's son who was struck by a car. Nora Halloran, the charge nurse whose relationship with her boyfriend is falling apart but Nora seems oblivious to that fact. Amanda Mason, the med student with aspirations of being a pediatrician who refuses to accept the fact that she's showing symptoms of a major illness. And perfectionist Gina Freeman, the resident who comes from a wealthy family but works to give something back.

Initially turned off by Dr. Fiore's tough exterior Nora, Amanda and Gina befriend Lydia when they realize what an excellent doctor she is. When Gina and Lydia are attacked outside of a restaurant Lydia realizes the death of the Chief of Surgery's son was no accident and Gina calls in her boyfriend, Detective Boyle, to begin investigating the murder and clear Lydia's name.

The plot is definitely planned as the first of the series. Lifelines is really the story of Dr. Fiore. The storylines of the three other women are set up but not wrapped up so you're left with major cliffhangers in regards to their stories.

I really enjoyed this one as it was fast-paced and action packed throughout the whole book. Having read this right after two books which both have medical aspects to them (the slower paced Irreplaceable and the outrageous, but still awesome, Beat the Reaper) this one was more up my alley as it was a suspense story just a little romance thrown in. To quote other reviewers, reading this is like watching your favorite episode of ER or Grey's Anatomy. I will definitely be reading book two, Warning Signs and I recommend this one for all medical thriller/romantic suspense lovers.

January 23, 2009

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

I'm telling you... J. Kaye's Book Blog has a lot of challenges. LOL

The goal of this one is to read 12 Young Adult books in 2009 and since I'm already reading 9 as part of my 999 Challenge all I have to do is read 3 more. Pretty sneaky, huh??

1. Witch High Anthology
2. Fade - Lisa McMann
3. Dork Diaries: Tales From A Not-So-Fabulous Life - Rachel Renee Russell
4. Elijah's Coin - Steve O'Brien
5. Oh My Goth - Gena Showalter
6. Speed Demon - Erin Lynn
7. You Are So Undead to Me - Stacey Jay
8. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
9. Jennifer Scales and The Ancient Furnace - MaryJanice Davidson & Anthony Alongi
10. Jennifer Scales and The Messenger of Light - MaryJanice Davidson & Anthony Alongi
11. Dramarama - E. Lockhart
12. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X - James Patterson

January 22, 2009

Review: Mayhem at Mount Moosilauke by Michael Sullivan

Courtesy of Publishing Works

Author's Website

Fifth grader, Escapade Johnson, is in for an adventure. His class will be going on a five hour hike up Mount Moosilauke. From the moment the class steps onto the bus to the top of the mountain Escapade and his pals Jimmy, Benny and Davy face one mishap after another some of which include “bear poop, a poisonous belt, teddy bear underwear and a peanut butter sandwich that saves the day”.

I loved this Escapade Johnson adventure just as much as I loved The Coffee Shop of the Living Dead. It's a cute story that would appeal to both girls and boys that read on a 4th-7th grade level. This was actually book one in the Escapade Johnson series but it there isn’t any disconnect from reading them out of order. Look for my review of The Witches of Belknap County in the next couple of days.

Review: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Courtesy of Hachette Audio

As part of the Witness Protection Program, Pietro “Bear Claw” Brnwa, is relocated from New Jersey as a mob hit man to become Dr. Peter Brown who works Manhattan Catholic, one of the city’s worst hospitals.

One morning during rounds he bumps into a patient with stomach cancer by the name of Nicholas LoBrutto. Turns out Nicholas also goes by the name of Eddy Squillante and if Peter would have know this he would have ran out the back door instead of into the hospital room. But he didn’t and Eddy gives him ultimatum… keep him alive or the mob will find out exactly what happened to Pietro Brnwa.

Told in alternating flashbacks from the present to his gruesome past Beat the Reaper is a laugh a minute thrill ride. I listened to this book on audio CDs so I got the added benefit of hearing the sarcasm and wit instead of just imagining it. Both in the past and in the present Peter goes through some amazing adventures and lives a wild life. The horrors of the hospital were so awful you can only pray that places this hopeless don’t exist in real life.

I read an article saying that Beat the Reaper is already optioned for a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio to star as Peter. I would definitely be first in line to see it and I highly recommend reading/listening to the book so when your friends start talking about it, you’ll be in the know.

Review: Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely

Racing her bicycle back home to beat a storm, Isabel Voormann accidentally veers too far into the middle of the lane and is struck by a truck driven by Jasper Klass. Isabel’s husband Alex is now faced with an enormous decision. Isabel is an organ donor but the doctors still need his consent for the procedures. Reluctantly Alex agrees and Isabel’s heart is given to Janet Corcoran, a married mother of two who teaches art in an inner-city Chicago school.

During her recovery from the transplant Janet tried contacting Alex but her advances were always rebuffed. One year later Alex is slowly trying to get his life back in order but his mother-in-law, Bernice, keeps pushing the issue of Alex meeting or at least talking to Janet.

Janet feels that talking to Alex would give her an opportunity to thank him and in the process absolve some of her own guilt over Isabel’s death which is something her husband David doesn’t understand. Over time David becomes more distant with Janet and the family and a recent rejection episode with the heart forces him further away.

Meanwhile Jasper can’t get over the fact that by ending one life he’s saved another. Eventually his warped mind leads him to follow Alex to the point of stalking him in order to learn the identity of the heart recipient and things quickly tumble out of control in his life and in his decision making.

Irreplaceable was a book filled with a lot of emotion but it didn’t call out to me. I thought it was a good read but none of the characters made their way into my heart as books of this type usually do. I just didn’t feel a connection nor was there anything in the book that left me thinking about the characters once I closed it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I didn’t like the book because I did enjoy it and I do recommend it for anyone who loves books similar to Jodi Picoult’s. The book was well researched and I’m sure that it will touch people’s lives in a deeper way than mine if they have personal experience with being a transplant recipient or the loved one of a recipient.

January 19, 2009

Review: Modern Magic by Anne Cordwainer

Courtesy of Clotho Press

Siblings John and Liz Prospero are two very different people. John takes after most of his ancestors as a very powerful sorcerer and Liz was born without an ounce of magic in her. She's what the magical community calls mundane. Surprisingly this combination works well for the pair as John is constantly called upon to fight renegade sorcerers who are out to murder both mundanes and other sorcerers while Liz pitches in with her mundane perspective on all things magical.

With a rise in renegade sorcerers the magical community has to band together and figure out a way to move into the modern world when banishing renegades to their family heads is increasingly becoming another problem rather than the solution.

Modern Magic is a story cycle which is several short stories spanning 11 years with the Prospero family. This was my first book written this way and I absolutely loved it. It made for quick reading and pretty much every chapter is jammed packed with the action because there's not a lot of extra story line needed to fill pages. I love that you get to know both main characters and quite a few secondary characters in detail even with these quick stories arcs. You even get to see most of them grow into adulthood and their respective responsibilities.

Each of the twelve stories all tie together neatly at the end with plenty of surprises throughout. The ending was a complete shocker that I never figured out. It had me so amazed that I almost felt like going back and re-reading just so I could see if there were any clues I missed. This book was a lot of fun and I can't wait to read more from Cordwainer. I recommend it to anyone who loves Urban Fantasy or a great surprise ending.

January 18, 2009

Review: The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy

Late one night Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics rep, Marty Andrews, is bit on the hand by what she thinks is a huge scruffy looking dog. A few days later she learns the truth… that was no dog. It was Keegan Flaherty in his were form and now Marty is a werewolf, too.

 In order to make the transition a little smoother for Marty, Keegan tries to convince her to stay with him and the rest of the pack but Marty stubbornly refuses to believe him. Then she gets knocked out and kidnapped and after escaping from the kidnappers Marty has no choice but to follow Keegan home while they try to figure out who is out to get her.

 Marty quickly learns Keegan is the head of the rival Pack Cosmetics and after sparks start to fly between them she also learns that Keegan is destined by the Lunar Council to mate with the skinny but beautiful Alana. Things just keep going down hill from there when she discovers who is behind the plan to get rid of her permanently.

 The book had a very slow start but I so love reading these “lighter” paranormals that I gave it a chance and kept reading. Once Marty finally accepted that she was a werewolf the story picked up and the rest of it was good enough to make up for the so-so beginning.

 There’s a little bit of humor, a little bit of suspense and a little bit of a hot romance that all come together in the end and I’m definitely going to give book two in the series a try. Hopefully Cassidy will pick up the pace and get to the meat of the story a little quicker. I recommend this one for fans of light paranormals like MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy series.

January 16, 2009

Review: American Outrage by Tim Green

As host of the TV news show American Outrage the widowed Jake Carlson is an expert at digging up the truth behind the real story. When his teenage adopted son, Sam, asks Jake to track down his birth mother Jake grudgingly agrees. Sam has been acting up in school lately and Jake thinks finding his birth mother might bring Sam some peace.

The further Jake digs the more he reveals shocking evidence of crimes including illegal baby trafficking and a long line of cover ups in one of New York’s wealthiest political families. Jake and Sam get caught up in a dangerous game with players who will stop at nothing to keep the truth from being revealed.

I enjoyed listening to the abridged version of American Outrage and thought it was a great story but just a little too predictable. I saw situations coming from a mile away and even correctly guessed the ending but I still felt that it was worth my time. Jake is endearing as the caring Dad who is trying to do right by his son and Sam is an annoying know-it-all with a “potty mouth” but Green makes it work within the story line.

What I also liked about the story is that when all was said and done, Jake got a taste of what it was like to be on the opposite end of the media spectacle. This was my first book by Tim Green and I liked it well enough that I’ll be on the lookout for more by him. I recommend this one for action lovers.

Review: Where is Simon, Sandy? by Donna Seim

Courtesy of Publishing Works

Author's Website

Based on a true story, Where is Simon, Sandy? tells the tale of Simon who lived on the island of Grand Turk and his donkey Sandy. Water was hard to come by on the island so Simon and Sandy would get up early each morning, fill empty pails with water from one of the two wells on the island and delivery them throughout the town.

One morning the people of the town find Sandy walking the same delivery route, alone with no Simon and no water. Unexpectedly we learn the true meaning of determination when Sandy’s persistence and intelligence saves the day.

I absolutely loved this book. It was a cute tale that makes a perfect storytelling book for kids. I even got teary eyed on one part of the story but don’t worry there is a happy ending. I highly recommend this book for parents who love reading to their children.

All proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to The Children’s Programme of The Turks and Caicos National Museum.