March 31, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Hated by her poor turnip-farming father seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes an arranged marriage with an abusive man and is whisked away to the convent of St. Mortain. But this is not your ordinary convent. The nuns of St. Mortain have special skills... they are gifted in the art of death. They serve the Mortain, the god of death, as assassins against those who wish to harm Anne, the Duchess of Brittany.

Trained for three long years Ismae finally ready. She completes her first two assignments but on both she narrowly escapes capture by Gavriel Duval, half-brother of Anne. She returns to the convent only to find that her next assignment is to accompany Gavriel Duval into the court of Anne and find the traitor who is trying to sabotage the country of Brittany against the French but the convent has their suspicions about Gavriel so Isame has to be especially watchful.

As the political maneuverings swirl around her things turn confusing for Ismae quickly and she has to deal with the pressure of serving Mortain or her own heart before all is lost.

In 2010 I got on a huge historical fiction kick and read tons of historical books but they soon grew tiresome. Last year I didn't pick up too many but when I started seeing tons of glowing reviews and read the synopsis of Grave Mercy I snagged it up in a heartbeat. Who can resist assassin nuns? Not only did this book live up to the hype it wowed me. The plot is so well done, the characters became amazingly real and I didn't want the story to end. This is the first book in the His Fair Assassins Trilogy and I cannot wait for the next book in the series out next year. I highly recommend this one for anyone who loves historical fiction and kick ass heroines. 

March 24, 2012

Review: Trail of the Spellmans: Document #5 by Lisa Lutz

Product Description:

FOR THE FIRST TIME in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities—with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy’s brother and sister are at war—for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying “banana” even though she hates bananas.

That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother.

Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers—even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.

My Thoughts:

I was so happy when I found out that The Spellmans Strike Again was not the last book in the Spellman series as I had originally thought. Lutz returns with more zany adventures for Izzy and her eccentric family. There is intrigue that weaves all the different characters into one hilarious escapade that actually made me laugh out loud at times. There is one sad note to the book but I don't want to give away any spoilers. I am anxiously awaiting the next "Document" and recommend this series for anyone who loves mysteries with plenty of humor.

March 16, 2012

Review: Invisible by Jeanne Bannon

Being the big girl in her family is hard enough but for 5' 9" Lola Savullo it's even worse because she's overweight and forced to wear a bathing suit during her summer job as a camp counselor. Not anticipating having to wear it she didn't even shave her legs and sadly her towel doesn't cover up much. Humiliated beyond belief Lola is in for a shock when she realizes that she's become invisible.

Now eight months later she's about to graduate from high school and since it never happened again she's thinking her invisibility was her imagination. But when the school bully sets his sights on making Lola miserable, she learns that it was real and sets about learning to control her awesome power.

It's really sad to think that bullying like this happens everyday but there is no magic power to help real victims. I like the fact that Lola didn't use her power as a crutch. She actually became a better person because of it along with her best friend Charlie, another social outcast, and her friend Jon. Invisible is a great story with a positive ending that I recommend for anyone who loves a quick story with a paranormal twist.

March 15, 2012

Review: A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

Seventeen year old Farrah "Digit" Higgins has a secret. She's a super math genius but when she moved, she decided that she was going to make a fresh start at her new high school and hide her gift to become one of the popular girls. While hanging with her friends watching a mind-numbing teen show, Farrah noticed something. For the past 3 weeks she's watched a number sequence pop up during the show's opening credits and when she gets to thinking about it she realizes that the show is being used as a method of communication for environmental terrorists who have just killed 8 people. Now all she has to do is convince the FBI to take her seriously.

I think it's kind of creepy that Farrah and the FBI agent, John Bennett, hook up in this book since she's only seventeen (about to be 18) and he's twenty-one so I had a hard time accepting the relationship but other than that I loved the story and thought it was well done. I'm sure many teenagers can relate to hiding in plain site and I'm glad that Farrah was able to get past her insecurities about her talent and learn how to manage it in the real world while embracing the "Digit" side of herself. The storyline was fast-paced and realistic (yes, teens do drink at parties) and I recommend this one for both young adult and adult readers as a fun quick read.

March 12, 2012

Review: Born To Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

The philanthropic organization Obermeyer Institute is doing incredible research working with Greater-Thans, people who can use more of their brain than normal people. In fact these elite individuals can use anywhere from 30% to 70% of their brain and have special talents like telekinesis, the ability to heal their own bodies, super seduction and empathic powers. Part of what the OI does is seek out Potentials who have an elevated brain function and show potential for more with their specialized training.

Dr. Joseph Bach heads up OI with 70%, Dr. “Mac” Mackenzie and Dr. Stephen Diaz are second in command with 50%. Enter dishonorably discharged and blacklisted former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin and suddenly there are mysterious spikes in their numbers. While looking into this further, another potential that was on OI’s radar, Nika, is kidnapped by The Organization, an evil group that is draining the life out of young potentials to create a drug called Destiny which gives the user Greater Than powers and is instantly addicting. Can the team save Nika and figure out how to manage these spikes in their Greater Than powers without losing anyone?

Phew! That was a longer than usual description but there is so much going on in this book and I wanted to touch on a little bit of it all. Basically Born to Darkness is a love story between three main couples but there is so much more going on throughout the whole book. I love the characters and their quirks. They are written so well that I wanted to reach into the pages and take one or two of them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. When a book has you that hooked you know it’s a winner. This is book one in the Fighting Destiny series and I will definitely be reading the next installment as soon as it hits the shelves. I highly recommend this one for all paranormal romance lovers.

March 9, 2012

Review: The Hunt For Atlantis by Andy McDermott

Archaeologist Nina Wilde is 100% sure that she’s located the lost city of Atlantis but unfortunately her none of her superiors at her university believe her and they aren’t willing to fund her expedition to prove her theory is correct. Enter billionaire Kristian Frost. Frost not only funds the expedition but sends his daughter Kari and bodyguard Eddie Chase to keep Nina safe. But even before their journey begins danger is lurking around every corner.

I knew going into the book that The Hunt for Atlantis was going to be pure cheese. So knowing that I enjoyed the fast-paced action and following the group from one remote location to another. What I didn’t like very much was the villain in the story. He was way too over the top with his scheming. It just didn’t mix well with the rest of the story for me.

I also had no clue that this was book one of the Nina Wilde/Eddie Chase series of which there are 8 books written so far so the ending was a big surprise. I’m pretty sure I’ll read the next installment, The Tomb of Hercules, but maybe after I let this one settle for a while. Recommended as a library read for anyone who loves suspense thrillers.

March 7, 2012

Review: Arctic Fire by Paul Byers

Imagine the chaos that we would face if there was a worldwide water shortage. Scary right? Well billionaire Nigel Cain has a solution. He’s figured out a way to transport giant icebergs to the US and then use the same transportation equipment as a water treatment system to bring fresh clean water to everyone. All he needs is the final approval that the system is safe and he can dock in New York Harbor and get down to business.

Gabriel Pike is the engineer tasked with that last inspection but as a harsh winter storm wreaks havoc on the iceberg and the hotel/casino on top of it (did I mention Cain was an eccentric billionaire?) Gabriel has serious doubts as to the safety of allowing the iceberg in. When Gabriel voices his concerns he learns that Cain will stop at nothing to ensure the iceberg arrives as planned.

When I was first asked to review Arctic Fire I laughed out loud. I’ve always wondered why someone didn’t just do this exact same thing to help the countries that go through droughts so I was really looking forward to reading this one and I wasn’t disappointed. Arctic Fire is a fast paced read that I finished in just one day. I feel in love with Gabriel Pike from the first chapter and was dying to know just what sinister plot Cain had in mind. I highly recommend this one for anyone who loves suspense thrillers.


March 6, 2012

Review: Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Life in New Beijing is chaotic to say the least. There is a plague that is decimating the population including the emperor. His young son Prince Kai is now faced with becoming a ruler before he is ready. For Cinder life as a cyborg who is hated by her step month and one of her step-sisters is difficult to say the least. But throw in the complication of her beloved step-sister catching the plague and her step-mother volunteering her for medical testing and now Cinder’s life is completely turned upside down. But when Prince Kai walks in to Cinder’s life she has no idea that her whole existence is going to be absolutely shaken to the core.

At first glance it looks like Cinder is just another re-telling of Cinderella with a sci-fi twist but there are so many more aspects of this story that make it a whole new and fresh adventure. About the only similarities are the evil step-mother and step-sister. Cinder is an endearing character and I like that way she accepts what was handed to her while working to change her circumstances.

The only reason I couldn’t give this one 5 stars is that it was a little predictable but I find that to be the case with most YA books I read. Cinder is book one of The Lunar Chronicles series and I highly anticipate the next installment. I recommend this one for anyone who loves YA.

March 5, 2012

Review: The Concubine's Gift by K. Ford K.


Amazon Product Description:

Bernice Babbitt, a sexually inhibited, thirty-nine-year-old woman, leads a peaceful life in the tiny resort town of Valentine, Nevada. Living only two miles from the famed bordello, The Honey Bunny Ranch, she can’t imagine what goes on behind its closed doors. Things begin to change when Bernice buys an old, black-lacquer makeup case in an antique shop.

The case once belonged to Blissful Night, the most famous and powerful concubine in Hong Kong. According to legend, Blissful Night could give a man more pleasure in one night than he would have experienced in an entire lifetime. Inside the makeup case, Bernice discovers a forgotten jar of face powder, the secret to Blissful Night’s success. Thinking the face powder is an herbal concoction that will beautify her skin, Bernice begins to use it, only to find that the powder causes her to see visions of other people’s sex lives. Bernice is horrified to discover that the only way she can rid herself of the visions is to blurt out sexual advice.

Soon the entire town is in an uproar. But it isn’t until Bernice learns more about Blissful Night’s past that she knows what she must do. The Concubine’s Gift is a delightfully sexy novel in which Bernice Babbitt is drawn into a seductive world she never knew existed. A provocative and entertaining Pandora’s Box of a tale!

My Review:

I was really surprised by how much I loved The Concubine's Gift. When I agreed to read and review it I thought the book was going to be an erotic novel of which I don't mind reading from time to time but this was just a sweet romantic story with a little bit of spice. 

Even though she is really inhibited Bernice blossoms into becoming more comfortable with her sexuality while helping others.  She has a good core of friends that help her manage the visions and what comes with them. I also like the way the problem of the magical powder is resolved. Also there is a side story line that is tied up quite nicely in the end. I highly recommend this one for all contemporary romance lovers.