June 30, 2009

Review: Fragment by Warren Fahy

In search of fresh water in 1791 Captain Henders and the crew of the H.M.S. Retribution thought they were blessed by God to find an island in the middle of nowhere. As the crew is filling up their barrels with water something attacks the men and they flee. All except for the crewman Frears whose screams can be heard clearly across the water all the way to the ship. Since then no one has visited Henders Island until now.

As part of the reality show Sealife, a group of young scientists are exploring exotic locales around the globe aboard the ship Trident. Botanist Nell Duckworth yearns to visit Henders Island in hopes of discovering a new species of flower that she’s positive will be found on there but her hopes are dashed when bad weather puts their ship behind schedule. They have to bypass the island in order to make it to their next stop.

Just when Nell gives up on her dream Trident picks up the emergency signal of a ship that’s been missing for more than a year and the crew is required to investigate. Instead of a rescue mission the cast of Sealife and the crew of Trident become the ones in need of rescue as the horror of the islands true inhabitants is revealed.

I have such perfect timing when reading scary/creepy books. Of course I chose the day my husband leaves for business to read Fragment all alone in the house. The descriptions of the creatures on Henders Island and what happened to the crew were so vivid that I imagined something horrible around every corner in my house. It freaked me out so much that I wouldn’t even leave my feet hanging over the edge of the couch while I was reading. LOL

Fahy wrote such an amazing story with a terrific ending. The actions and reactions of the cast and crew are perfect for the story. Even though it is science fiction there is nothing too technical as sci-fi can sometimes be. As I was reading the book I was reminded of the movie Mysterious Island that my brother and I always used to watch as kids. This is a highly recommended read for all science fiction lovers but I do warn you not to read it alone.

For even more creepy crawlies, watch these 3 quick Webisodes on Amazon:

June 29, 2009

Review: Undead and Unwelcome by MaryJanice Davidson

At the end of Undead and Unworthy, Queen Betsy Book 7, Betsy’s friend Antonia, a werewolf, selflessly threw herself in front of Betsy when Chief Hamlin tried to kill her. Even though the gun wasn’t loaded with silver bullets, the result was fatal. Now Betsy, her husband Eric Sinclair and her best friend Jessica are on their way to Cape Cod where they will deliver Antonia’s body to the pack of Wyndham werewolves that shunned Antonia in the first place.

Even though the pack never fully accepted Antonia, there is a lot of bitterness towards Betsy who they blame for her death and Betsy has some serious doubts about getting home without getting staked.

Meanwhile back at home trouble is brewing for Marc and Tina in the form of Betsy’s half sister Laura, the daughter of the devil herself!

First I have to say that no matter what, I am a huge Queen Betsy fan and I will continue to read each and every book in the series. Now that I have that out of the way I have to say that I was very disappointed with this book. I read it on one afternoon, in practically one sitting but there was just no “meat” to the story. I feel it just didn’t have enough of a plot to be a standalone book even with the dual storylines. It read like it a continuation of book 7 that was turned into its own book by adding the problems with Laura.

This is definitely not a standalone book in the series and I only recommend it if you’re already committed to the series like I am.

Update: I just now peeked at Amazon reviews after writing my own review. I’m not surprised that out of 21 reviews, as of today there are no 5 star reviews and the book only averages 2 ½ stars. I hope MJD takes note and gives us loyal readers a much better tale in book 9… if there is a book 9 that is.

June 28, 2009

Giveaway: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

WINNERS: Francine in Canada, Danielle in Massachusetts, Amanda in North Carolina, Andria and Indiana and Karen in Illinois

Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture. Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. The film version is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia.


  • To enter to win one of five copies of this book, fill out the form below.

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    June 27, 2009

    Review: Trouble in Elf City by Anna del C. Dye

    Courtesy of I Just Finshed

    Three years have passed since Adren, The Silent Warrior, met and married Dellin and made her home in the elf city of Lothia. During the past two years Adren and a special group of ladies have been meeting for “tea parties” but in reality they have all been training with The Silent Warrior.

    When the previously banished Tahitans escape and come to Lothia seeking revenge against Adren’s father, Tadren, the elfs of Lothia are unable to fight back for two main reasons. Most of the elf warriors are away from the city for a training exercise and their enemy’s troops are mostly women. Based on a long standing tradition of men elfs refusing to fight women, destruction of the city seems imminent. Can The Silent Warrior and her newly formed group of masked warriors save the city from disaster when they are outnumbered thousands to one?

    When I read book one in the Silent Warrior trilogy I was a little frustrated by the writing style but I can honestly say that the writing in Trouble in Elf City is much improved. The conversations flow a lot smoother and the writing seems more geared to an older audience than The Elf and the Princess was.

    As in book one the story was somewhat predictable but it was a very enjoyable read. It’s great to see the way Adren and Dellin have matured in the last 3 years. The love between the two is touching and I especially liked the way Adren played match-maker with her trainees. Another thing I enjoyed was how Adren was able to keep the secret of her new warriors. It was clever and was a great surprise to the people. I will definitely be reading book three, Elfs in a Conquered Realm. I recommend the series to all fantasy readers.

    June 25, 2009

    Guest post by Norm Applegate - Author of Blood Bar

    Read My Review

    Blood Bar, is a vampire tale.

    Vampires don’t exist...yet, on the brownstone back alley side streets of New York, a vampire dies. Desperate, his lover turns to Kim Bennett, author Norm Applegate’s quintessential heroine whose passion for S&M led to celebrity status as a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who’s been there, done that, and then some. This time, Kim finds herself caught between a secret vampire society’s attempts to locate The Black Testament (a sacred document written by Jack the Ripper), the modern-day vampire hunters bent on their destruction, and a white knuckled journey of self-discovery that catapults her into the bowels of hell and the arms of the ultimate vampire.......courtesy of The Haven, New York’s ultimate BLOOD BAR.

    Blood Bar is Norm Applegate’s third book, and visit his website at www.normanapplegate.com it’s stuffed full of links to horror sites, authors, actors, and just good stuff.

    Title: Blood Bar
    Author: Norman Applegate
    Paperback: 324 pages
    Publisher: BLACK BED SHEETS BOOKS (January 31, 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 098225301X
    ISBN-13: 978-0982253014
    Available: Amazon.com and on the Kindle

    When and why did you begin writing?
    Started writing in the 90’s while traveling to sharing my experiences with my wife. But began my first novel, Into the Basement in the mid 90’s. It took me a couple of years to get into the daily habit of writing, and reading everything I could about developing a story, it took a while to find the zone

    Always wanted to write a book, didn’t know how, thought it was beyond my capabilities, but while working in New Zealand it began. One of my careers, hypnosis changed my life, and realizing nothing is impossible, began writing short notes, tales, and just life experiences to my wife back in the States.

    How did you come up with the title?
    Blood Bar, A Vampire Tale...what the hell is a blood bar? Sounds creepy, but intriguing. The premise for Blood Bar, was what would happen if you found out you were turning into a vampire. Where else to be initiated but a bar. So I built the plot around my murder mystery sleuth and heroine Kim Bennett, she’s in my first two novels, murder at a bar for vamps, gothic dressed men and woman, and your basic role playing vampires, however it’s fertile ground for picking up fresh meat...if you like that sort of thing. Are you going ask if blood bar exists, I can’t disclose that here for fear of being arrested...blushing sinfully.

    What are your current projects?
    Just finished re-editing Into the Basement, was never happy with what my previous publisher did to it. Next is the screenplay to Basement, written by Nicholas Grabowsky and myself, we have a producer/distributer interested, and the movie is cast with Courtney Gains, then my next novel in the Kim Bennett series that I’m tentatively calling Black Sun Rising, is another vampire tale.

    Could you tell us a little about the whole experience of seeing one of your books turned into a movie and being able to write the screenplay for it.
    It's exciting, however not as free and breezy as it looks. The process began when shock-umentary film director J.L. Botelho read my novel Into the Basement, contacted me, and we started the process of moving forward. First we needed a script, J.L. and I talked about the type of movie we wanted, and agreed a back to the seventies style horror movie suited us both. I reached out to international horror writer and friend Nicholas Grabowsky who wrote the novelization of Halloween IV, has an extensive following in the horror literature world, and had written a screenplay for Wes Craven, Scanners II. Together we took my draft, worked it for three months, argued, re-wrote and came away with a sizzling screenplay.

    Next, find the cast, to play the heroine, Kim Bennett, we needed a smart, street tough, actress, who could be believable as a kidnapped victim, capable of enduring the torture and surviving the ordeal. We found a Lauren Bacall deep voiced blonde from Brooklyn that can act. Naama Kates, had just finished a French thriller with William Sadler (Shawshank Redemption), and our personalities matched, she was our girl.

    We found an abundance of talent through Myspace, actors recommending their friends and co-workers, and once the word got out, talent agents were all over it. Looking back, casting went fast, Courtney Gains, DeeDee Bigelow, Jamie McCall, Nicola Fiore, Jesse Kozel, David Fine, Larry Laverty, Two Foot Fred, Megan Lynn, and Melanie Robel, were on board to round out the characters.

    It was going too easy, a producer fell into our laps and we were going to make a movie. J.L. Botelho directed and released through his company, Triad Studios the trailer for "Basement." It was shown at the 2008 World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, myspace, U-Tube and just about everywhere available, the response was terrific. Then the wall hit, the producer had a different vision than J.L. and myself, which unfortunately led to a split. But through our Hollywood actors, another producer stepped up, we thought we were back on track, and again found ourselves in a disagreement. We were finding the Hollywood crowd not so easy to work with, a lot of talk, dreams, hype, but no results. A year and a half had passed since J.L. and I first began this journey, then unexpectedly a distributer/producer contacted us, we sent him the script, it went to a script reader who evaluated it, and with some new direction we are re-writing and developing a strategy for distribution to fund the project. We're beginning to understand why it takes years to make a movie, it's a tough business.

    The plan moving forward, over the next twelve months work the script, find a recognizable actor who is bankable, sell the distribution rights based on that person, film the movie, tour the festival circuits, and see where it takes us. Since J.L. and I started, I have written and released Blood Bar, re-edited Basement, and about a third of the way into my next Kim Bennett vampire novel. I suspect it will be released before Basement is a movie.

    You can go to www.intothebasementthemovie.com to read more about the cast, director J.L. Botelho, and see the trailer for Into the Basement...it’s wicked, prepare yourself, you don’t want little kids watching this, seriously don’t let your kids see this.

    Blood Bar on Amazon.com


    June 23, 2009

    Review: Blood Bar by Norm Applegate

    Come back Thursday June 25th for a guest post by Norm Applegate!

    Author's Website, MySpace and Twitter page

    In the alley next to The Haven a “blood bar” for so-called vampires, a young man named Drach is murdered. His life was taken by The Haven’s bartender, Erin who is seeking revenge against all vampires as payback for her father’s death.

    When Drach’s girlfriend, Rose, becomes a suspect in his murder she calls in Kim Bennett, an S&M Dominatrix and madam. Kim has been known to be useful in solving crimes and Drach had mentioned her to Rose before his death.

    Kim knows without a doubt that vampires don’t exist. She looks upon The Haven and it’s groupies with a strange fascination that she doesn’t understand. As she delves further into the investigation it becomes clear that Drach died to help keep The Black Testament, a sacred document written by Jack the Ripper, secret. Now Kim begins to question the reality of vampires in our world and ends up in a fight for her life with both Erin and a secret vampire society who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the book.

    Blood Bar was totally not what I was expecting from the description of this book. It is a dark and gritty tale of power and lust and it kept the pages flying by. Even though the product description describes Kim as a “quintessential heroine whose passion for S&M led to celebrity status as a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who's been there, done that, and then some” I was expecting a lighter paranormal tale that was more focused on humor than horror. Although I wouldn’t describe Blood Bar as a horror book its certainly not for the faint of heart.

    This is Applegate’s third book featuring Kim Bennett. She makes her debut in Into the Basement, which is soon to be a motion picture and continues her tale in Into the Spell. Both of which I will be going back and reading as Kim is literally a kick ass heroine that I want to read all about.

    June 21, 2009

    Review: Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey M. Gluckman

    World-renowned motivational speaker Jennifer Chance is the face of Lectures and More, Inc. For five years she’s been the protégé of Ulrich Rogers and has brought the company the success it’s been craving but behind the scenes Rogers and his co-conspirator, Dr. Jones, are up to something more sinister.

    Of late, Jennifer has grown more and more weary of the speeches she’s been making and yearns to take a much needed break from work. After a speech one night in San Diego she meets Frank. A tentative friendship grows between the two based on a strange connection they both feel towards each other. Frank is a retired government operative who is finally ready to move on after losing the love of his life five years ago when he meets Jennifer.

    As Jennifer makes plans to spend her sabbatical from Lectures and More, Inc. with Frank, it becomes clear that something is not right within the company and the pair work closely with a select group to uncover the horrifying truth. Lectures and More, Inc is looking at more than just motivating the masses. Their goal is total mind control using radio frequency identification devices (RFID).

    One word…CREEPY. Ok one more word… PLAUSIBLE. Yikes. You’ve all seen them. Those annoying little plastic tags that come on most electronic devices, DVD and CDs. That’s an RFID tag that stores use to track inventory from the warehouse through the purchase. But they can do a whole lot more. Just look at all the uses from the Wiki page and tell me this doesn’t freak you out just a little.

    Aside from the creep factor, Gluckman put together a great thriller. The book starts in a little awkward in two ways. First, some conversations between characters seemed a bit forced. It didn’t flow very well and initially that was a bit of a turn off until the action picked up and the interactions made sense. Second, with so many players in the mix it was hard to remember who was who but once I got them straight the pages flew by a lot quicker. I found this an enjoyable thriller mostly based on the plausibility of the plot. Big Brother is out there!

    June 20, 2009

    Review (sort of): Guilty by Karen Robards

    Has this ever happened to you? While getting ready to review this book I found a completely different product description for the paperback version than the audio version I heard.

    Product description for audio version I listened to:
    One cold November night when Kat Kominski was fifteen years old, she and some friends held up a convenience store. In the heat of the moment, one of the others shot and killed an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard. Kat and her pals fled the scene in a panic, and no one was caught.

    Thirteen years later, Kat - now Kate White - has built a new life for herself. Now a single mom with a nine-year-old son, she works as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia DA’s office. But her dark past returns to haunt her when she walks into court one day and has a devastating encounter with a prisoner, Mario Castellanos, one of her companions from that terrible night.

    Hardcore criminal Mario is facing a possible sentence of twenty years. He lets Kate know that he is counting on her, his old friend turned prosecutor, to make sure he goes free instead. If Kate doesn’t do what he wants, he’ll claim she was the one who killed the off-duty cop.

    Kate is in a bind: If the truth about her past gets out, she stands to lose everything, including her son. But she can’t do what Mario wants, either. As Mario ups his demands, blackmailing and terrorizing her, she is forced to turn for protection to a sexy homicide detective, Tom Braga, who suspects her of…something. The two clash repeatedly as Tom keeps digging into her past, trying to learn the truth.

    Then another, far more menacing, threat rears its head, and Kate realizes that her life - and her son’s - are in terrible danger. Frantic, she sees that she has nowhere to turn. Except, maybe, to Tom….

    Product description for paperback version:
    One cold November night when Kat White was fifteen years old, she and some friends held up a convenience store. In the heat of the moment, one of the others shot and killed an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard. Kat and her pals fled the scene in a panic, and no one was caught.

    Sixteen years later, Kat-now Kate-has built a new life for herself. Now a single mom with an eight-year-old son, she works as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia DA's office. But her dark past rears its head when she walks into court one day and discovers that she is to prosecute Mario Castellanos, one of her friends from that terrible night.

    Kate is in a bind: even though Mario was the one who probably did commit the crime, he's counting on Kate to make sure he's not convicted. If she convinces the judge of his guilt, he'll claim that she was the one who killed the off-duty cop. Before real despair sets in, Mario is found dead-in her apartment, and with her pistol. When homicide detective Tom Braga shows up to investigate the murder, Kate is far from relieved; the two have clashed since she started working for the prosecutor's office. But when another man who knows the secret of Kate's past gets involved in the investigation, she learns that her life-and her son's-are in danger. Frantic, she realizes that she has nowhere to turn. Except, maybe, to Tom…

    So not only did the plot get changed around a little, the gap from the original crime to the present went from 13 years to 16 years, her son got younger and they moved from a house into an apartment. LOL If my TBR pile wasn’t threatening to topple over I just might have been tempted to read it again in paperback to see what else was different.

    Besides all that, the story that I did get to hear was pretty decent as far as romantic suspense goes. Kate and Tom were likeable characters and her son Ben was so endearing with his keen observation and smarts. He reminded me of my own son’s difficulty in school being athletically challenged, book smart and shy. My only problem with the book really was that the ending let me down. There was this big lead up to an uneventful ending. Hey... maybe the paperback has a more thrilling ending?? Ha ha!

    June 18, 2009

    Review: Fluke by Christopher Moore

    Based out of a Hawaiian island, Nate Quinn, his partner Clay and research assistant Amy spend their time cataloging and researching humpback whales and their songs. Nate’s mission is to find out why the humpback whales sing.

    While out to sea one day Nate has a strange encounter with one of the great creatures. The underside of the whale’s fluke had the word Bite Me! written in foot-high black letters. With no one around to corroborate what Nate saw he can hardly believe it himself but he managed to get at least one photo snapped and he sends the film off for developing.

    When Nate gets the pictures come back the incriminating photo is missing and soon there’s more trouble brewing for his team. Their office is wrecked and one of their ships gets stolen and is sunk. This leads him to believe that what he saw was real and someone will stop at nothing to keep that information from getting out.

    Next thing you know Nate disappears while out in the water and while his crew thinks he’s lost at sea, Nate goes on the ride of his life and gets pulled into the middle of a strange man vs. the sea struggle for survival.

    The first thing that comes to mind when trying to sum up this book is that it’s just plain weird. I read and loved Moore’s book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal so I was really looking forward to this read. I can’t exactly say that I was disappointed because overall I did like the book but it was a bit of a let down that the writing wasn’t the same caliber as Lamb. In Lamb I was cracking up with every chapter and in Fluke there were a few chuckles but it wasn’t nearly as humorous. What does amaze me is how in the world Moore comes up with these crazy plots. I recommend this one for anyone who loves to read humorous fiction but don’t let this be your first Christopher Moore book. Save that title for Lamb.

    June 15, 2009

    Review: Jungle Jack's Wackiest, Wildest, and Weirdest Animals in the World by Jack Hanna

    Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

    Emmy award winning Jungle Jack Hanna put together a wonderful collection of photos and weird facts on 30 wacky animals in this colorful collection. Each page has several photos of the animals, what they eat, where they live and how big they get along with a short description of what makes that animal wacky. From a Blue-Footed Booby to a Naked Mole Rat there are some real weirdos packed into this book.

    Also included is a quick 20-minute DVD with bloopers mostly from Jack’s show, Hannah’s Ark and some of his more recent adventures. I was hoping for real bloopers but it was more of a look back on things Jack has done than funny mishaps.

    I shared the book with my two and eleven year-old nieces. The two year old loved looking at the pictures but lost interest in the DVD and although my eleven year-old niece reads on a much higher level than the recommended age she enjoyed both the book and the DVD. I highly recommend this one for the wacky little ones in your life.

    June 14, 2009

    Review: The Way Home by George Pelecanos

    Despite being raised by two parents in an upper middle class neighborhood, Chris Flynn took his typical teenage rebellion to an extreme that landed him in juvenile detention until his eighteenth birthday. Now at twenty-six Chris is finally on the right path. He has a job in his father’s carpet business and steers clear of trouble.

    While installing carpet one day Chris and his friend Ben find $50,000 under the floor boards of a vacant home. Sorely tempted to take the money Chris does the right thing and convinces Ben that leaving the money is the right choice. But when the rightful owner of the cash comes to pick up his money its missing and he tracks down the pair dragging them back into the side of life Chris thought he would never see again.

    Pelecanos does an incredible job of depicting the turmoil within these characters. From Chris’s troubled life to his father’s disappointment in Chris and his inability to voice his love for his son the emotions are clearly felt by the reader. He also knows how to write a well rounded story and even though I did think it was very predictable I still enjoyed reading it. I recommend this one for all fiction readers.

    June 10, 2009

    Review: First Family by David Baldacci

    Being the president’s niece has its perks so as a special treat Willa Dutton’s 12th birthday party was held at Camp David. But when the party was over and Willa’s family was back home the unthinkable happened, Willa was kidnapped and her family was left with one person dead and the rest either knocked out or drugged.

    As a favor to the First Lady, private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in to assist in finding Willa’s kidnappers and bringing her home. In the middle of it all Michelle is dealt a major blow in her personal life and as the pair race to save Willa the truths they uncover lead all the way back to a surprising source.

    Well first off I have to start out by saying I love David Baldacci and have read all his books but that’s what makes First Family a little bit disappointing. It’s a faced-paced thrill ride but in my opinion it just doesn’t live up to Baldacci’s previous books.

    The bad guy is ho-hum. The good guy that ends up bad in the end is too unrealistic. Michelle’s personal situation seems to have no relation to the plot or the resolution. I feel that this could have been a much better book if there was less of Michelle’s drama and more work on the bad guys. Not one of my favorites from Baldacci but it’s still a recommended read as a library pick or borrowed book.