April 29, 2009

Review: The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

On a foggy afternoon at the beach Abby Mason takes her eyes off Emma, her fiancĂ© Jake’s daughter, for mere seconds and by the time she turns around again Emma is gone.

Filled with guilt Abby does all that she can to help the authorities find Emma including flyering the neighborhood, operating FindEmma.com and even going so far as to have herself hypnotized. Jake on the other hand is easily swayed by the police department’s theory that Emma must have wandered to far into the water and got pulled under. After relentless searching and numerous TV and radio appearances fail to turn up any evidence that Emma is still alive Jake begins to lose hope. As each day passes Abby’s resolve gets stronger as Jake’s despair tears them further and further apart.

This book reminded me so much of What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. It’s part mystery and part drama filled with full descriptions, flashbacks and long narrations about the effects of time on memory.

Thinking about the guilt that Abby must have felt is almost unconceivable. I know this is fiction but incidents like this really happen. Just recently Haleigh Cummings, missing from her Florida home, was with her father’s fiancĂ© when she was taken. Richmond captures the heart-wrenching feelings so well that I was hanging on every word. I recommend this one for all fiction lovers.

April 27, 2009

Review: Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory

In post-World War I England seventeen-year old Lily Pears is just on the verge of breaking out of the chorus line into a career as a solo singer when she meets the older distinguished war hero Captain Stephen Winters.

Wracked by nightmares of the war Stephen sees Lily as his saving grace with her angelic face and voice. He desperately pursues her yet she can only see him as a friend and nothing more. While away on tour Lily suffers from a tragic loss and with no one else to turn to she marries Stephen and is whisked away to the family mansion where the sole occupants are Steven’s dour mother and invalid father.

As time passes Lily begins to bloom and breathe life into the previously glum household but Stephen finds that his nightmares haven’t stopped. If anything they are worse and the shocking truth behind his heroic acts is close to being revealed.

The book started off really slow and with just over 500 pages I almost threw in the towel with this one but I stuck with it and it actually picked up pretty quickly after Lily’s tragedy. Through the rest of the book I was almost too anxious expecting something more sinister to be just around the corner so I was a little disappointed when nothing horrible happened but still thought it was a moving story. (See how jaded we've become LOL)

Gregory writes historical fiction with such amazing detail that you can picture the settings and background with stunning clarity. I’m new to historical fiction so I don’t have a lot to compare it to but I thought this was a great book.

April 26, 2009

Review: One Deadly Sin by Annie Solomon

Courtesy of Hachette Book Group

As A little girl Eden Swanford and her mother left Redbud, Tennessee after her father’s tragic suicide. As a grown woman she returned as Edie Swan to get her revenge on those responsible for pushing her father to his death. To prove to them that someone was on to their secret, she leaves them a black angel. A symbol they’re sure to understand… and fear.

When one of the men who receives the black angel turns up dead, Edie is almost glad but when the next man dies she begins to wonder if there’s more to the legend of the black angels than she realizes.

Believing the deaths are accidents Sheriff Holt Drennen doesn’t have any reason to suspect Edie but as the spark between the two grows bigger he uncovers information that causes him to see her in a new light. Can she really be a murderer?

This was a perfect combination of mystery, suspense and romance. Solomon certainly knows how to keep a reader turning pages. With all the intrigue I was pointing my finger at several different suspects but was never able to figure out who was killing people right under Edie and Holt’s nose.

Edie, Holt and his daughter Miranda were such a great characters. I was rooting for Edie right from the beginning and I thought it was adorable the way Miranda called Edie’s tattoo a “fattoo”. For the most part you know that romance books will almost always end in a happily ever after but One Deadly Sin wrapped everything nicely and I was genuinely happy for the characters (cheesy, I know). This is a must read for romantic suspense lovers.

Review: Stakes & Stilettos by Michelle Rowen

Reluctant vampire Sarah Dearly is trying her best to return to a normal life. She’s interviewing for a job and getting ready to attend her 10-year high school reunion. When the interview goes south, instead of getting a dream job she gets staked. With the stake just centimeters from her heart she’s saved by a masked vampire calling himself the Red Devil. A vamp who was thought to be an urban legend, he’s rumored to have been saving vamps from the hunters for hundreds of years but Sara’s master boyfriend Thierry has a bad feeling about this so called savior.

With Thierry’s healing blood in her Sarah’s injury heals quickly and they’re off to the reunion. Instead of touching base with old friends she gets cursed by a witch holding a ten year grudge. Sarah is showing all the signs of becoming a nightwalker. She can’t go out in the sun, can’t enter a house unless invited and she has a sudden urge to chomp on all her friends.

Worse yet while Sarah’s figuring out how to break the curse Thierry’s busy trying to annul his marriage to the beautiful Veronique and when the Red Devil comes to extract his payment for saving her Sarah is caught without the bodyguards Thierry provided.

I so love this series but I wish this one didn’t end in such a HUGE cliffhanger! Now I have to wait until August when Tall, Dark & Fangsome is released. I hope Sarah and Thierry resolve their relationship soon.

Sarah is such a fun character. I always love the snarky, quick with a comeback characters. I want to be like them when I grow up. LOL With Thierry and his serious and calming nature they balance each other out perfectly. Then you add secondary characters that are loveable yet you don’t know if they’re trustworthy and you have a great cast. The entire series is a must read for paranormal lovers.

April 24, 2009

Review: Run For Your Life by James Patterson

A new killer is on the loose in New York City and Detective Michael Bennett is assigned to head up the team tasked with tracking him down. The self-proclaimed Teacher is targeting the city’s elite residents and those who cater to them. In a letter sent to the media the Teacher has a message to these people, “Remember your manners or suffer the consequences”.

But as the hunt for the Teacher intensifies Mike has another problem. All 10 of his kids have the flu and almost all of them have projectile vomit that Michael the nanny have to clean up. Soon the Teachers killing pace increases as does Michael’s frustration and complete exhaustion and the possibility of catching up to the crazed killer slips further from his grasp.

Run For Your Life is another Patterson book in the win column for me. It’s got all the aspects that made me love his Alex Cross series; a psychotic killer, a tough, handsome and dedicated police detective with a loving family at home and unwavering love from grandparent.

So many people dislike that the books are co-written saying that Patterson is a sell out but to me it just gives us more stories to love. There was only one co-written book that I didn’t like (to remain nameless). The co-writer on that one was a children’s author so that may have had something to do with it.

My review is based on the audio book read by Bobby Cannavale as Michael Bennett and the main narrator plus Dallas Roberts as the Teacher. They both did an incredible job and I love, love, love when there are two narrators. It gives the audio book so much more depth. It’s like you’re watching a movie with your eyes closed. I recommend this book to all thriller lovers to read or listen to.

April 23, 2009

Review: Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

In the small village of Hawkins Hollow, Maryland friends Gage, Fox and Cal sneak into the woods for a sleepover at the Pagan Stone on the night before their shared 10th birthday. Armed with plenty of snacks and 3 cigarettes, beer and a Penthouse magazine they snuck out with, the boys are feeling more grown up already. After one of them pukes they start to reconsider the idea of acting more grown up and think up the idea of a pact. Best friends since birth, they vow to always remain close and seal their bond with blood.

When their blood touches the Pagan Stone they unleash a three-hundred year curse. Since that night, every seven years Hawkins Hollow becomes closed off to outsiders and the residents are plagued by a week of unexplainable tragedies. On the eve of the third seven year cycle author Quinn Black has come to town to investigate the mysterious happenings for a new book.

In the interest of controlling what Quinn learns Cal works closely with her as she researches the strange phenomenon. When Quinn herself becomes victim to strange visions Cal knows it’s no coincidence that Quinn was drawn to Hawkins Hollow.

I love that Nora Roberts can churn out so many books each with a strong plot and great characters that turn into successful trilogies. Other than her Eve Dallas books written as J.D. Robb I haven’t read anything by Roberts in about seven years. Remembering that my similar return to a romance author from a long term hiatus resulted in one star review for Sandra Brown’s A Treasure Worth Seeking I was a little nervous starting this one. I shouldn’t have worried. Nora Roberts is the queen of romance and it shows.

Book Two: The Hollow

Book Three: The Pagan Stone

April 22, 2009

Review: UFOs, JFK, and Elvis by Richard Belzer

Product Description:
"I'm not asking you to believe every conspiracy theory you'll find in this book. . . . I didn't write this book to give you all the answers. The Warren Commission did that, and the answers were all wrong. I wrote this book to inspire you to do what the powers that be wish you wouldn't: to question authority . . . and to keep an eye out for Elvis."

In UFOs, JFK, and Elvis, the distinguished statesman of stand-up comedy tackles some of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups this side of Roswell. Just what is it that they don't want you to know about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Area 51, and what the American astronauts really found on the moon? The unexplained crash at Roswell and the mysterious "face" on Mars? The link between the Nazis and the U.S. space program? Evidence of extraterrestrial experimentation?

Finally, one lone "nut" exposes the conspiracy to keep conspiracies a dirty little secret, standing up to the shadowy forces that would have us believe that Oswald acted alone, those lights in the sky are weather balloons, and fluoridated water is good for you (yeah, right). "Some of the smartest people I know . . . find it easier--and certainly more comforting--to believe that America is the only country on earth with no conspiracies at all." Just remember: do not ask on whom The Belz has told--he's told on them.

My Review:
I love reading conspiracy theories and I hoping for some new information in this book but everything JFK related was all information that’s been discussed before. Granted the book is 9 years old so that may be the reason why.

On the other hand the UFO section of the book was pretty good. He gave me plenty to think about in regards to the little green men, the moon landing, life on mars and government cover ups.

He never did cover Elvis so I’m not sure why that’s in the title. Overall it was a good read but I didn't learn as much as I expected. Recommended for conspiracy lovers.

April 21, 2009

Review: Lady & The Vamp by Michelle Rowen

Product Description:

She fights.

Janie Parker’s a supernatural assassin - not by choice, but what’s a girl gonna do? The only thing standing between her and decapitation at the hands of her hellish boss is a magical artifact called The Eye. To get it, all Janie has to do is find a dark, broody vampire named Michael Quinn and take it. Easy, right? Except if Quinn keeps kissing her that way, she just might lose her head…in more ways than one.

He bites.

Former vampire hunter Michael Quinn is determined to become human again. If he grabs hold of The Eye and makes a wish - then boom, everything’s good with the world. But now Quinn has a sassy tagalong with a long, delectable neck and orders to stake him on sight. He just hopes his first bite won’t be Janie’s last moment on earth…

My Review:

I thought this third book in the Immortality Bites series was a perfect addition to the series. The book lived up to the previous two books Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous with fun characters and a great in-depth story line. It does stand alone if you haven’t read the previous two books but I highly recommend all three for paranormal lovers.

April 19, 2009

Review: The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello

Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Author's Website

When Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is called in to assist the local police with a routine missing person case it quickly escalates into a special circumstances case when the mission girl is revealed to be the daughter of a rich and powerful Seattle couple. Using her forensic geologist background Raleigh gathers clues but can’t quite seem to piece everything together.

Suddenly things take a difficult turn when a ransom note arrives and suspicion turns to one of her fellow agents. Being new to the Seattle bureau she doesn’t know who to trust. To make matters worse, at home her mother’s mental condition is deteriorating and her aunt has called in her clairvoyant friend in to “help” Raleigh which only leads to more frustration as she tries to track down the kidnapper before its too late.

The Rivers Run Dry had a very slow start but after about the first quarter of the book things started to pick up nicely and I quickly finished the rest of the story. The kidnapper was a complete surprise and I love that in a mystery book. To me it shows that Giorella took her time with the plot and not just rushed through it to complete the book.

I also loved all the characters in the book. Raleigh was a tough agent but clearly still a woman and there are plenty of quirky characters thrown in to make the suspense book a lot of fun. This is a must read for suspense/thriller lovers.

April 18, 2009

Review: Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man by Steve Harvey

Comedian Steve Harvey of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show shares with us his ideas on how a woman can catch and keep a man. He gives us a heads up (in case we didn’t already know this) that most men are out for one thing only. There are tips on how spot a mama’s boy, how to train your man and even answers the questions you’ve always wanted to ask a man but never did.

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. A lot of woman who’ve read this book have been offended or turned off by his thoughts saying that he’s sexist. First of all he’s a comedian not a relation ship guru but second of all there’s a lot of truth to what he shares. If you start a relationship by letting the man run all over you that’s what he’ll do the whole time but if you put your foot down in the very beginning he’ll either shape up or ship out. And no one knows this better than Steve Harvey… his wife did it to him when they first got together.

Nothing I read was new to me but seeing it laid out like this by a man just kind of gives you a refreshing take on it. Harvey is direct at times but he’s always honest with humor thrown in. And the book is not just for single women in the dating world but for any woman in a relationship or not. I was reminded of a few things I could do to improve my own marriage and I recommend this to anyone who wants to understand men better.

April 16, 2009

Review: Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa

Sixteen-year old Hailey Trosclair’s family is going through a tough patch in the midst of a tough life in a lower class neighborhood in New Orleans. Recently her mother had a miscarriage and her father lost his job.

After the miscarriage her mother turned to religion to heal her family but neither Hailey nor her older brother Cyrus could embrace it as fully as she did. In fact Hailey questions why her family has to face so many hardships if her mother is praying all the time. The answer she gets comes from an unlikely source, failed preacher and ex-con, Moses. He tells her that sometimes things have to get worse before they can be saved and what unfolds from there definitely proves that point.

Dirty Little Angels is a dark and gritty story with characters so real I swear Tusa is writing about people I know. He captures Hailey’s voice along with her growing angst perfectly and the secondary characters are remarkable and I especially loved the way the title ties into the story. The writing flowed perfectly chapter after chapter but the reason it’s not rated higher is that I wish the story had more depth. There was no build up or intensity and although there is a shocking conclusion the book didn’t have the page turning affect I expected from such great writing.

A recommended read for fiction lovers