January 26, 2012

Review: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Poppy Wyatt is in big, big trouble. In the melee of a fire alarm going off during a hotel conference she’s somehow lost her engagement ring which is a treasured family heirloom. As she steps outside to get better cell reception phone is snatched right out of her hands. On the bright side, as she’s pacing in the hotel lobby she spies a cell phone in the trash can and snatches it right up. Taking the saying finder’s keepers to heart Poppy quickly gives everyone the new number out to all her contacts.

When the calls start coming in Poppy learns that the phone belongs to the former PA of businessman Sam Roxton who after much negotiation allows Poppy to keep the phone until she can replace hers. As part of the agreement Poppy has to forward all Sam’s emails but curiosity gets the better of her and she starts reading all the messages. When she decides to “help” Sam out by replying to important work issues, the craziness begins.

I completely enjoyed reading I’ve Got Your Number but I have to say, if you’ve read any of the Shopaholic books by Kinsella you’ve basically read this one. Poppy is the same character as Becky Bloomwood and Sam is the same as Luke Brandon and the ending was pretty predictable. One thing that set this book apart from that series was the use of footnotes. Poppy’s fiancĂ© Magnus and his family come from a family of academics and Poppy feels inferior to them so she uses footnotes in the story to seem smarter. They are at times informative, cute, funny or snarky and add just the extra touch this book needed to make it a winner. I highly recommend this one for all chick-lit readers.

January 25, 2012

Review: The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

Half vampire, half mage Sabina Kane was raised by her grandmother who just happens to be the leader of the Dominae council which controls all vamps. Recently Sabina learned that her grandmother was actually trying to kill her so she flees to the east coast. Sabina learned that she has a twin sister there, Maisie who was raised as a mage. In the middle of learning to use and control her mage powers Sabina steps right into a heap of trouble when she's out for a midnight snack. And on top of that, things are looking more and more like war with the Dominae is inevitable and Sabina suddenly becomes the target of someone who will stop at nothing to see her dead.

The Mage in Black is book two of the Sabina Kane series. I really didn't remember much about book one in the series, Red-Headed Stepchild, so I went back and read my review to refresh my memory before starting this book. I gave book one a glowing five star review and was disappointed that I couldn't give this one the same.

Sabina was too stereotypically vampy in this one. She was tough and kick ass in the first book but in this one she ran across one obstacle after another. Plus being an assassin it doesn't make any sense that she would regret a killing to the point where she pukes just remembering it just because the kill was done using her newly forming magic. It just didn't mesh with the character I remember.

Another disappointment with this book was Sabina's demon familiar, Giguhl. In book one he was wise cracking and loved the home shopping network. In this one he's kind of whiny, strains his groin and falls sappily in love. Nothing seemed to work together as well as it did in the first one.

I'm hoping the next book in the series, Green-Eyed Demon pulls it all back together otherwise I'll be quitting this series. I liked the book but I'll hold off my recommendation until I read the third book in the series.

January 24, 2012

Review: Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

Read an Excerpt      Author's Website

Seventeen year old Kate Anderson wakes up one morning and finds herself naked and in bed with a stranger. But wait... something is seriously wrong here... who is that adult staring back at her in the mirror? Somehow Kate woke up missing the last fifteen years of her life and she's now a thirty-two year old woman with no idea what made her lose her memory. With the help of Jake, the guy whose bed she woke up in, Kate tries to find out who she really is all the while wondering if she lost those years for a reason. 

Ack!! There are so many things I want to say and describe about this book but I can't without giving away any spoilers. All I can really say is that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and stayed up late more than once anxious to find out what and why Kate forgot about her past. This is my first Wardell book and I will definitely be reading more by this author. This is a must read for all romance lovers. 

January 20, 2012

Review: The Ocean and the Hourglass by Dan O'Brien

Life has been hard on Nicholas Miles. His father left him and his mother when he was younger and his mother uses alcohol to deny that reality. Added to that, he’s bullied at school because he loves to get lost in his reading adventures. One morning when three bullies confront him and tear up one of his favorite comic book, Nicholas runs away to the library. The librarian immediately realizes what happened and shares something special with him; a book and an hourglass. Together they transport Nicholas to the land of his comic book hero and the adventure begins.

If you loved the movie The Neverending Story you will love The Ocean and the Hourglass. Nicholas goes on an epic adventure with the book guiding his way. The world and characters that O’Brien brings to life is amazing and vivid. The only reason I didn’t give the book five stars was because of the ending. The fantasy portion of the story was wrapped up nicely and the reality portion of the story had the beginnings of a wrap up but I wish I knew more of what happened to Nicholas once he got back. Other than that this is a perfect adventure for YA readers or anyone who loves a great fantasy read.

January 19, 2012

Camino Island by John Grisham

Updated: April 9,2024 

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

Top 5 in 2014

Updated August 24, 2014

Below is my top five reads in 2014.

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir
  2. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  3. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
  4. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    January 18, 2012

    Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

    In the distant future all teens must make a life changing choice when they turn sixteen. Society is now divided into five groups called factions. There are Abnegation (selfless) , which Beatrice Prior and her brother Caleb grew up in, Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), Amity ( peaceful) and Erudite (intelligent). They are then initiated into their groups and taught all the rules of their faction all in effort to become the “perfect society”.

    But Beatrice is one of only a few who don’t have a clear faction after taking the required aptitude tests. People like her are called Divergent and being Divergent is extremely dangerous so much so that she has to keep the results secret and choose a faction anyway. Shunning her family Beatrice chooses another faction, renames herself Tris and begins the long and hard initiation. But things in this so called perfect society aren’t what they seem and being Divergent means Tris can see past what the leaders want everyone to see and with the help of another Divergent she wants to make things right for her and family.

    Divergent was another book that fell victim to the “Too much hype” curse. So many times I’ll read a book that has many, many positive reviews that claim the book was amazing while I struggle to get through it. People compared Divergent to The Hunger Games which I had just finished so I thought I would give it a try.

    First off the story was just not too interesting. Without revealing any spoilers, while Tris is being initiated and trained she begins to hear rumors that two factions are gearing up to start war on another faction. On top of this she is trying to hide the fact that she is Divergent but there’s just not enough action to keep me entertained.

    Secondly the story is just not believable enough for me. There is no way that society can be divided into just five groups. If this were realistic the factionless (people who don’t fit into any faction) would be the majority not the factions. Plus I’m supposed to believe that this perfect society relies on 16 and 18 year olds are going to lead the training and security of the faction. Where are all the adults?

    Honestly if I was reading this one instead of listening to it on audio I would have given up but since it was audio I hung in to the end. Towards the last 1/3 of the book the pace picked up and I started to enjoy the book more but I was still disappointed that it didn’t live up to the hype. I would recommend this one for sci-fi fans as a library read or audio book.

    January 17, 2012

    Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    Amazon Product Description:
    In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

    My Review:
    So by now I'm sure that everyone has either read or at least heard of The Hunger Games. I actually read the book in May 2010 and just finished listening to the audio book this month for my book club but never reviewed it. I absolutely adored The Hunger Games. The way that Katniss progresses from thinking she would never survive the games to dominating them is told so well and at such a fast pace that even though I read the book once before I was on the edge of my seat again. This is a must read if you love sci-fi/dystopian novels. I cannot wait to see the movie which will be out March 23, 2012!!

    January 12, 2012

    Review: Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls by Victoria Laurie

    Ghost Hunter M.J. Holliday and her team have gone from the frying pan, in their last adventure, to the fire during their latest assignment for their reality TV show Ghoul Getters. They are investigating Dunlow Castle which is known to be haunted by a malevolent phantom that guards a hidden stash of gold. On their first foray into the castle their producer, Gopher, comes up missing and if they phantom has his way Gopher is gone forever.

    With each new book in in this series I have been just a little more disappointed than the last book. Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls is book 5 in the series that started off so fun. In the beginning it had me eagerly awaiting the next release but now I’m to the point that I’m thinking of giving up on the series completely. M.J,’s assistant Gilley was such a whiny, petulant, brat in this book that each time he threw a fit I wanted to throw the book in the trash. Ugh! Additionally this book was pretty much a repeat of the last book with just a different location. Overall it ended well but I’m seriously thinking about whether I want to read the next book up, Ghoul Interrupted. I’m on the fence about recommending this one so I’ll just say if you’re a fan of paranormal romance this one might be for you if you start with book 1 in the series.

    January 10, 2012

    Review: Naked Heat by Richard Castle

    When Detective Nikki Heat gets called to her most recent crime scene she gets two surprises. The victim is the despised gossip columnist, Cassidy Towne and who should happen to be sitting in Cassidy’s kitchen? None other the Jameson Rook, the journalist who was shadowing Nikki and her team and who also happened to be the one that used to steam up Nikki’s sheets. Once again they team up and try to solve Cassidy’s murder and there are plenty of suspects to choose from.

    Naked Heat is a book within a TV series. The hit ABC show, Castle, is about Detective Kate Beckett and author Richard Castle and within the series Castle is releasing his books that are written based on Beckett. Characters within Naked Heat mirror the characters on the show which makes this read a lot of fun. Read my review of book one in the series, Naked Heat, here. I recommend this for all suspense lovers even if you haven’t read book one in the series or don’t watch the TV show.

    January 9, 2012

    Review: Real Vampires Don't Wear Size Six by Gerry Bartlett

    Now that Glory St. Clair has finally rid herself of the demon that inhabited her body she hopes that life will return to normal. No such luck. The Austin Vampire Council just stuck her with a newly turned vampire. She has to show the young college student the ropes but Penny is a super genius who thinks she knows it all and can do it all herself.

    In the middle of dealing with the headstrong new vamp, two demons show up and as punishment for Valdez using his demon powers the demons demand that Glory collects souls for Lucifer. They tempt her into working for the devil by promising to make Glory a size six and allow her to see her reflection which she hasn’t seen in over 400 years.

    As much as she’d love to be a size six again Glory turns them down but agrees to collect one soul to get Valdez out of trouble. As Glory works on a plan to collect that soul she gets a visit from Lucifer himself that shakes her to the core.

    Real Vampires Don't Wear Size Six is book seven in the Glory St. Clair series and if the next book in the series doesn’t wow me like the first few books did I’ll be giving up on this series. The storyline didn’t make very much sense to me. I don’t understand why Glory has to collect souls when it was Valdez who used his powers. Yes there is an explanation about how the demon who possessed her talked about how strong Glory was and that made Lucifer want to recruit her but it just didn’t go over well with me. Also Glory and her constant man jumping is getting very tiresome. She swears she’s Blade’s girl but then lets Valdez and Ray kiss and put their hands all over her. I enjoyed the book overall and recommend this series to anyone who loves paranormal romance but I hope that Real Vampires Hate Skinny Jeans, out in April, can save it for me.

    January 5, 2012

    Review: The Road to Nowhere by Lee Argus

    A man wakes up in a hospital and he knows nothing. Not his name, not how he got there and not even where he is. As he stumbles out of the hospital he realizes one thing. Everyone is missing. But there is something even scarier lurking in the dark and it's coming after him.

    The Road to Nowhere is part one of a two part series. It's kind of a combination of the movie I Am Legend and the TV show The Walking Dead and I really enjoyed the mix. The only thing that kept this book from being 5 starts was the fact that the creatures went from being anonymous zombie/vampire type monsters to being called Kuru with no explanation. It made me think I skipped something and had to re-read quite a ways back just to be sure I didn't. Also the relationship between the John Doe and the two girls he runs across is a little too fake. I mean how realistic is it that they will be wearing make up when they think they are the only ones alive in the city and they are fighting just to scavenge food and supplies and battling illness. Looking good will be the last thing on my agenda when the apocalypse comes.

    Still, I recommend this one for urban fantasy readers and look forward to the 2nd part in the series, Chance Escape, due out at the end of January.

    January 1, 2012

    Books I've Read in 2012

    Here's what I've read so far:

    1. 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King

    2. By a Thread by Jennifer Estep

    3. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

    4. The Road To Nowhere by Lee Argus

    5. The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

    6. Real Vampires Don't Wear Size Six by Gerry Bartlett

    7. Naked Heat by Richard Castle

    8. Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls by Victoria Laurie

    9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (re-read for book club)

    10. Divergent by Veronica Roth

    11. The Ocean and The Hourglass by Dan O'Brien

    12. Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

    13. Honey Badger Don't Care: Randalls Guide to Crazy, Nastyass Animals by Randall

    14. The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells

    15. I've Got Your Number: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella
    1. Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

    2. Hell's Corner by David Baldacci

    3. Dead Head by Rosemary Harris

    4. Gods and Fathers by James Lepore

    5. Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins

    6. Under the Dome by Stephen King

    7. Chance Escape by Lee Argus

    8. Twisted by Laura Griffin

    9. Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

    1. The Concubine's Gift by K. Ford K.

    2. Arctic Fire by Paul Byers

    3. Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb

    4. The Hunt For Atlantis by Andy McDermott

    5. The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

    6. A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

    7. Invisible by Jeanne Bannon

    8. Trail of the Spellmans: Document #5 by Lisa Lutz

    9. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

    10. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

    11. The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

    12. Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

    13. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

    14. Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

    15. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    1. The White Lilac by Christina Adams

    2. Playing with Fire by Katie MacAlister

    3. The Future of Us by Jay Ahser and Carolyn Mackler

    4. Thread of Death by Jennifer Estep

    5. Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

    6. Matched by Ally Condie

    7. Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

    8. The Reversal by Michael Connelly

    9. The Prisoner of Snowflake Falls by John Lekich

    10. Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov

    11. The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly

    12. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

    13. Missing in Death by J.D. Robb

    14. The Litigators by John Grisham

    15. Dead Running by Cami Checketts

    16. The Columbus Affair: A Novel by Steve Berry

    17. The Innocent by David Baldacci

    18. Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
    1. Real Vampires Hate Skinny Jeans by Gerry Bartlett

    2. Changeless by Gail Carriger

    3. Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

    4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

    5. New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb

    6. Sidney Sheldon's Angel of the Dark by Tilly Bagshawe
    1. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James

    2. Blameless by Gail Carriger

    3. The Mine by John A. Heldt

    4. Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb

    5. The Wrong Man by David Ellis

    6. Heartless by Gail Carriger
    1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

    2. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

    3. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

    4. Fifty Shades Freed by E L James

    5. Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie

    6. Undead and Unstable by MaryJanice Davidson

    7. Timeless by Gail Carriger

    8. Widow's Web by Jennifer Estep

    1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    2. Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

    3. The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett

    4. Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf

    5. The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman

    6. Wild Thing by Josh Bazell

    7. Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights by Kyra Davis

    8. Charlie's Trips by Jack Felson

    1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

    2. Crossed by Ally Condie

    3. Ghoul Interrupted by Victoria Laurie

    4. Crunch Time by Diana Mott Davidson

    5. The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony

    6. Seconds Away by Harlan Coben

    1. The Devil's Fan Club by Mark Kirkbride

    2. Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine

    3. Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

    4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

    5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    6. Delusion in Death by J.D. Robb

    7. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

    8. Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

    1. Fire by Kristin Cashore

    2. Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline

    3. The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

    4. Devil's Gate by F. J. Lennon

    5. Defending Jacob by William Landay

    6. Darklandia by T.S. Welti

    7. Enclave by Ann Aguirre

    1. Tick Tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

    2. Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

    3. Black by Ted Dekker

    4. The Journey by John A. Heldt

    5. The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose

    6. Outpost by Ann Aguirre

    7. Be Still by Tania L. Ramos

    8. Here's what I read in previous years:


    Review: 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King

    One afternoon Jake Epping receives a frantic call from his friend Al Templeton, who owns Al's Diner. Jake rushes to the diner and finds Al has changed literally overnight. In less than 24 hours Al has aged and lost a tremendous amount of weight. Sadly Al also shared the news that he has cancer. Dumbstruck by this Jake is reeling. But that's not all. Al confesses the reason for his changes. In the storeroom of the diner there is a portal to 1958.

    Every visit through the portal lasts only two minutes in present time no matter how much time you spend in 1958 and each time you go back, the past resets to the same place and time so you end up repeating history. But you can also change it and that's what Al was trying to do. He wanted to prevent the assassination of JFK but the cancer diagnosis forced him back to 2011. Now it's up to Jake to head back to 1958 and change our history forever.

    11/22/63 is an outstanding book!! I was mesmerized by Jake's adventures in the past and I had to stop myself from jumping to the end so I can find out if Jake was successful or not and what the present was like if he was. I was hanging on every word and could not get through the book fast enough. Being written by Stephen King, I kept expecting a horror element to pop up but the book is in no way horror. It's part sci-fi, part romance and part suspense. I highly recommend this one for all readers.