February 27, 2009

Review: Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane is back on the hunt for the elusive Sinsar Dubh with the help of Jericho Barrons but this time her eyes are wide open to the dark world around her. Now that she knows who killed her sister she's also on a mission to track down the dark lord and get vengeance for her sister.

Mac has shed her southern belle persona and embraced her sidhe-seer ability as she begins to understand the power she possesses. What she also learns is that in order to get closer to the Sinsar Dubh she has to become something she never imagined.

Returning in this book are V'Lane and Maluce. One takes her to the happiest place she's been in months and the other takes her to the brink of death where she returns stronger than ever before.

I enjoyed this book more than book one, Darkfever. Mac's character evolves from the ditsy rainbow loving young girl into a woman with a darker side. She still has a little growing up to do but she's made leaps and bounds since the first book.

The relationship with Barrons is also pushed right up to the edge but not yet past the point where it becomes something more which I liked. So many books I read have unbelievable relationships where the characters jump right into bed with each other.

My review is based on the audio book read by Joyce Bean. In book one I didn't really like her accent but its grown on me and I really enjoy the way she reads. It makes Mac more real to me and I also like the way she reads Jericho and V'Lane. I recommend this series to paranormal readers and I can't wait to listen to book three, Faefever.

February 24, 2009

Review: Dying For Dinner by Miranda Bliss

Bank teller/restaurant manager/amateur sleuth Anne Capshaw has finally taken the plunge. She’s given up her safe and secure job at the bank and traded it for a full time position at her boyfriend Jim’s restaurant, Bellywasher’s. Things are heating up nicely for Jim and Anne outside of the kitchen when in walks Anne’s ex-husband, Peter. Anne used to dream that Peter would come back begging for a second chance but now she has Jim.

So not only does she have Peter to deal with, she’s hip deep an investigation. There’s been a murder at the chic gourmet shop Très Bonne Cuisine and its owner Monsieur Jacques Lavoie is missing. As Annie jumps into the investigation with the help of her best friend Eve, she learns some startling facts about Monsieur Lavoie that lead everyone to question who he claims to be. Getting to the bottom of it all just might mean more trouble than Anne bargained for.

Dying for Dinner is book four in the Cooking Class mystery series but also stands alone. There wasn’t as much action and intrigue in this installment as there was in the previous three books but it was still pretty cute.

Anne is good at putting two and two together and along with Eve they make a great pair of investigators. What’s especially refreshing is that the handsome Scotsman Jim is falling in love with the “cute” Anne instead of the “sexy” Eve. It makes her character that much more endearing. When you add in the fact that she absolutely can’t cook yet works at a restaurant and dates a chef there’s a lot of fun in reading this series.

Also included are nine delicious recipes. I recommend this one for all cozy lovers and I hope that another book in this series is in the works as there was a major cliff hanger at the end.

February 23, 2009

Review: The Codex by Douglas Preston

Product Description:

"Greetings from the dead," declares Maxwell Broadbent on the videotape he left behind after his mysterious disappearance. A notorious treasure hunter and tomb robber, Broadbent accumulated over a half a billion dollars' worth of priceless art, gems, and artifacts before vanishing---along with his entire collection---from his mansion in New Mexico.

At first, robbery is suspected, but the truth proves far stranger: As a final challenge to his three sons, Broadbent has buried himself and his treasure somewhere in the world, hidden away like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. If the sons wish to claim their fabulous inheritance, they must find their father's carefully concealed tomb.

The race is on, but the three brothers are not the only ones competing for the treasure. This secret is so astounding it cannot be kept quiet for long. With half a billion dollars at stake, as well as an ancient Mayan codex that may hold a cure for cancer and other deadly diseases, others soon join the hunt---and some of them will stop at nothing to claim the grave goods.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a great adventure with a happy ending that was real, not forced. The Broadbent brothers each have their good and bad moments and I learned to like them all. Preston made each character come to life in my head from the evil Hauser right down to the little monkey, Hairy Bugger.

I thought the book was going to be a Da Vinci Code type of adventure with clues they had to follow but their mission was pretty straight forward. There were a few curve balls thrown in and I like the way everything was neatly tied together in the end. I highly recommend this one for all suspense lovers.

My review is based on the audio CD narrated by Scott Sowers. Sowers did an awesome job. He distinguished each character with a completely different voice and added an extra bit of humor with his attitude.

February 21, 2009

Review: Fade by Lisa McMann

Dream catcher Janie and her boyfriend Cabel are back under cover at Fieldridge High. Someone left two anonymous messages on the school’s tip hotline and police believe there may be a sexual predator among the teachers.

Janie has been diligently training to better control herself while she enters the dream and nightmares of others but she’s still struggling. Cabel loves Janie in his own way but is unconsciously building a barrier between them to avoid the hurt that often comes with love. Stress pushes their relationship to the brink and Janie learns a devastating consequence to her ability that just might push one of them over the edge.

Fade is the follow up to Wake which I read last year. In my opinion Fade isn’t a standalone and I don’t recommend reading it without having read Wake first. That being said I feel that Fade is a great follow up book. Janie is trying hard to grow and improve her ability to better help the people whose dreams she falls into.

What bothered me a little was that for a teen book there were several scenes involving sex and teen drinking. They made the storyline flow but McMann was just a little too casual with the references making it all seem okay. Other than that I loved the book and the writing style of short bursts of words. It makes the suspense build quicker that way. I recommend this book if you’ve read Wake. If not they were both short one day reads that you should pick up if you love thrillers.

February 20, 2009

Review: Witch High Anthology

Life at Salem Township Public High School #4, also known as Witch High, can be very interesting. With fourteen different tales based both on the students and faculty its something different every day. There are the popular kids, cheerleaders, nerds, outcasts and bad boys each with a different magical adventure.

All fourteen authors were new to me and I found a few that I liked enough to look into their backlist. One of my favorite stories was the quick read Temporal Management by Laura Resnick about a teen that needs to learn a thing or two about time management. I recommend this one to all teen paranormal readers.

February 19, 2009

Review: The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

Amazon Product Description

Sumptuous historical novel from bestselling author of THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL and THE QUEEN'S FOOL Elizabeth I has acceded to the throne of England, a position she has waited and schemed for all her life. She is surrounded by advisers, all convinced that they know what would be best for the country and certain that a young woman cannot form political judgements. Elizabeth feels that she can rely on just one man: her oldest friend, Robert Dudley. It is soon plain that he is more than merely a friend. In a house in the countryside waits a very different woman, Amy Robsart -- Robert's wife. She has no taste for life at court and longs for the day when her husband will return home and attend to his family. She has loved him since she was a girl, but now they are adults she hardly sees him. Meanwhile, the pressure grows for Elizabeth to marry, for it is unthinkable that a queen should rule on her own. Elizabeth's preference is clear, but he is unavailable. But what if the unthinkable were to happen...Philippa Gregory blends passion, personalities and politics in this stunning novel of the Tudor court and a country divided. 

My Review

I think this is another case of too much hype swirling around the book before I got to read (listen to) it. With The Other Boleyn Girl as my starting point with Philippa Gregory plus my love of the Showtime series The Tudors and the Cate Blanchett movies Elizabeth and Elizabeth I (I still get chills watching the trailers), I had high expectations of this book. To my disappointment the book didn't meet that expectation.

Queen Elizabeth is portrayed as a weak individual who can be pressured into making decisions that go against her beliefs and I’ve always pictured her as a tough, admirable woman. To be fair the book does start out when she’s just appointed Queen at age 25 but I still think she was written too wimpy.

The high point of the book for me was Amy Dudley. She never backed down against Robert’s wish for a divorce and she showed more backbone than Elizabeth.

I will still give it three stars because I didn’t dislike it but I just hoped for more.

February 18, 2009

Review: The Demon King and I by Candace Havens

The eldest of four sisters and one brother, Gillian Caruthers, has two lives. Her public life is that of a wealthy socialite, party girl and owner of successful art galleries all over the globe. Her private life is as a Guardian Key. A trained killer of any demon that enters our world unauthorized.

When someone begins targeting Gillian and her family she requires the help of the newly crowned demon king Arath. Instantly she feels a connection with Arath which startles her as she normally kills those of his kind but there’s more to him than the demon she can see on the surface.

Together they work to uncover the evil ones behind the plot to destroy the earth while becoming closer each day. But Gillian is keeping a secret from Arath that may destroy their budding relationship.

First in the new series featuring the Caruthers sisters this book starts off with a bang. Gillian is a kick ass tough girl with a soft side and I love the way the paranormal aspects of the book weave so naturally with the real world. It kind of makes me think that maybe there’s more to Paris Hilton than we really know.

I was already a huge fan of Havens’ Charmed series featuring Bronwyn the witch and now there’s even more to devour. I can’t wait for the July release of book two in the series, Dragons Prefer Blondes and I recommend this one to all paranormal lovers.

February 16, 2009

Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane has two lives. The one before the phone call and the one after. Before the phone call she was a bartender living at home in a small southern town. After the phone call she now an only child on a quest to hunt down sister’s killer in Dublin, Ireland.

Using a cryptic cell phone message from her sister as a starting point Mac is drawn into a world she never knew existed. Mac is a sidhe-seer as was her sister. They can see and sense Fae. Turned down by the Dublin police, Mac begins investigating on her own when she runs into Jericho Barrons. A mysterious man who Mac can’t figure out which side he’s on. They team up to look for the elusive Sinsar Dubh, an all-powerful Dark Book that they must control to save the world as we know it.

My paranormal reads are usually a lot fluffier than this darker tale and I was a bit confused at first. The whole Fae concept had me off kilter because I always pictured fairies as small bright creatures with sparkly wings. Once I got the picture that there were evil fairies it was easier to understand the rest of the book.

My review is based on the MP3 audio download read by Joyce Bean. The southern belle accent was a little annoying at first but once the book progressed I could see why it would be read that way. It sets up a bigger contrast between the life Mac once had and the one she’s now living and I came to like it.

The ending is definitely a cliff-hanger meant to leave you eagerly waiting to read book 2 Bloodfever. Darkfever is a little older so book 3, Faefever, is also available and I can’t wait to read or listen to both. I recommend this one for all paranormal lovers.

February 15, 2009

Review: Blood and Bone by William Lashner

When Kyle Byrne was 12-years old he lost his father. Now as a young adult Kyle has lost both parents and he’s found himself drifting through life with no ambition and no prospects for his future. On the day he is fired from his job for not showing up he finds out that his father’s former law partner has been murdered. After the funeral he’s approached by someone claiming to need a file that his father my have left with Kyle and his mother. Suddenly Kyle has a goal; to find out the truth about his father’s death and to figure out why everyone is suddenly looking very hard to find this mysterious file.

I found this book very hard to get through. Kyle is just not likable with his “poor me, I’m an orphan attitude” and lack of ambition. He was an illegitimate child of a married man and his father was barely around while he was young yet we’re expected to believe that fourteen years later he’s still haunted by his father’s death of natural causes.

The plot wasn’t suspenseful enough to grab my attention but I kept reading hoping it would lead to a surprise ending which it never did. The only characters in the book I did enjoy were Kyle’s best friend Kat and the two detectives investigating the murder of his father’s law partner. They were believable and humorous throughout.

This is my first book by William Lashner and I don’t think I’ll be reading anymore.

February 10, 2009

Review: Deadly Housewives Anthology

Authors: Nevada Barr, Barbara Collins, Carole Nelson Douglas, Eileen Dreyer, Vicki Hendricks, Suzann Ledbetter, Elizabeth Massie, Christine Matthews, Denise Mina, Marcia Muller, Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard, S. J. Rozan and Julie Smith.

Product Description: In the expert hands of fourteen unsurpassed storytellers, being a housewife takes on a whole new meaning. Get ready for a lethal mix of meddling mothers-in-law, creepy neighbors, cheating husbands, fickle female friends, careers left behind, out-of-control kids, steamy sex, and much, much more in this thrilling collection of never-before-published stories! Go behind the lace curtains and PTA smiles to explore the often mind-numbing reality of being a housewife. You'll laugh, you'll scream, you'll recognize yourself or your best friend in each of these deadly situations.

Review: This review and my rating is based on the audio version read by Henrietta Tiefenthaler and Shannon Engemann. I found the narration of this book so distracting. Right from the introduction read by Christine Matthews I knew it would be bad. Her voice was so monotone I mistook it for one of those automatic computers that read and pronounce things funny. Then the stories began with the first two being read by Henrietta Tiefenthaler. Henrietta sounded either tired or drunk. Maybe both. I seriously thought I was going to give up on this one but I stuck it out.

Still, I honestly don’t think that if I’d read the book as opposed to listening to it I would have rated it any higher than 3 stars. Some of the stories fell short of my expectation especially Purrz, Baby by Vicki Hendricks which had an awful ending.

The stories read by Shannon Engemann were at least easier on the ears but she read a couple of duds too. My favorite story in the whole book was Joy Ride by Nancy Pickard. It was diabolical and I loved it. Others that get a thumbs up are Lawn and Order by Carole Nelson Douglas, The Next-Door Collector by Elizabeth Massie and He Said… She Said by Marcia Muller.

February 9, 2009

Review: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

When a policeman pulls over a disoriented woman after a hit-and-run accident she identifies herself as Heather Bethany. Heather is one of two sisters who disappeared from a busy shopping mall more than thirty years ago. Detective Kevin Infante is assigned to investigate her claims further but the woman is guarding her current identity closely. The last thing she wants is to become the next media sensation and pulling the story of their disappearance out of her is harder than he imagined.

This was my first book from Laura Lippman and I loved it! The story shifts back and forth from the present to different times in the past beginning with the seemingly normal home life in their house on Algonquin Lane. As the story gets further along you learn all is not what it seems to be. There is a huge build-up in the suspense because the description of the actual kidnapping doesn’t happen until the very end. In addition, Heather gives enough information for you to believe it’s really her but just when you’re convinced of her identity Infante proves something she said was a lie or a fact that can’t been proven nor dismissed.

About 2/3 the way in I had an idea of what was really going on but never guessed the full story. I love the way Lippman left us hanging until the very end. It’s a heart-breaking story with a somewhat happy ending and I look forward to reading more by her. I highly recommend this one for thriller and suspense lovers.

February 8, 2009

Review: Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

LVPD property crimes captain, Laura Gates, has a chance to prove to the narcotics division that keeping her off the team was a big mistake. Gates pulls together undercover task force of relatively inexperienced officers and calls upon former undercover officer, sergeant Ron Yeager to lead the team. Less than 2 years from retirement Yeager is not sure he’s the man for the job but Gates convinces him to take accept the position.

When assembled the team seems more like the Keystone cops with members like “Wiz” who has an unusually small bladder, “Dozer” who falls asleep at any given moment and “Mack” a female cop who wears her faith like a badge. Somehow Yeager has to train his team and make the bust that will bring Gates the respect she deserves in the eyes of the narcotics division.

This is second book in the Occupational Hazards series but stands alone as I have not yet read Scoop which includes Mack’s sister, Hayden. What I liked about the book is that although Mack is the character that ties the series together the story wasn’t focused solely on her. Gutteridge weaves together a great story using off the wall characters that liven up the plot with humor and wackiness throughout. It’s hard to categorize this one but I’d say if you love Christian fiction, chick lit and suspense books you’ll love this book.