January 21, 2015

Review: The Dead of December by Ryan Bowman

Product Description:
Growing up in the suffocating grip of Detroit's most crime-ridden neighborhood, Sugar Sinclair has always aspired to defy the odds and make something of his life. But on a bitter December night, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and his hopes for the future are extinguished in the blink of an eye. 

Meanwhile, Gerald Dawes is a weary beat cop weighed down by the disappearance of his son and a crumbling marriage. When a monotonous night shift turns catastrophic and his partner is killed in the line of duty, Gerald reaches an emotional breaking point. Desperate for vengeance, he wrongfully arrests affluent real estate agent Clarence Sanford, whose true crime is one he hopes to keep from his family. 

As Sugar, Gerald and Clarence wage war against their inner demons, their lives become increasingly intertwined, the fateful intersection of their paths increasingly imminent. 
Will truth and justice prevail? Or will the streets of Detroit swallow three more souls? 

My Thoughts:
I think this is the first time I've ever felt like I was reading in slow motion. I could clearly see where everything was leading and I was in tense suspense hoping it wouldn't play out the way I expected. Clearly from the book description things did go wrong and the fall out afterwards leads to gut wrenching decisions that need to be made by all three characters. 

Young Sugar has to make a life decision that has already affected his family and so many in his neighborhood. Clarence is faced with making a confession that will implode his so-called perfect family. Gerald is torn between the politics of the police force and his inner turmoil. They each have nothing but that night weighing heavily on them and have to come to terms with doing the right thing versus doing the easy thing. 

The only reason I didn't give the book a full five star rating was the way the disappearance of Gerald's son was told. I felt like it was only thrown in to explain Gerald's struggles with alcohol. There was no "meat on the bone" in that part of the story and it didn't hold up to the rest of the storyline. Otherwise this was an incredible book that is going on my Top Five list for this year and even though it's only January, I'm confident it will remain there all year.

My Recommendation:
This is the perfect read for anyone who loves crime fiction and page-turning suspense. 

January 17, 2015

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Product Description: 
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My Thoughts:
I learned about Station Eleven in a Facebook post from one of my favorite authors, Marcus Sakey. He posted that he was only 121 pages in and was loving it. He had previously recommended The Martian by Andy Weir which ended up being my favorite read of 2014 (it's also being made into a movie staring Matt Damon, I CAN'T WAIT!) so I promptly downloaded it on Audible and started listening. 

By a couple of chapters in, I was a little skeptical. Station Eleven seemed a little too artsy for my liking. All the talk about the theater and symphony was making me think I wouldn't enjoy the book but I quickly got sucked in and was dying to finish the book. 

The only downside is that all the post-apocalyptic books I've been reading lately are starting to freak me out. They've got me thinking "what if?". It didn't help that during the December 2013 icepocalypse  we had in Dallas I made a run to the grocery store and was shocked by how empty the shelves were. This was only 3 days of ice and there was not a vegetable or loaf of bread to be found in a major grocery store.  Now I'm stockpiling water in my garage and thinking I should start buying bullets by the case. 

But back to the book. The way the story weaves in and out of the different time periods is so very suspenseful. I keep wondering how everything is going to tie together in the end and then suddenly it all makes sense. The characters are exactly as they should be. I despised the not so good guys and adored the heros. I absolutely loved this book. 

My Recommendation:
I highly recommend this for anyone who loves post-apocalyptic survival stories.

January 10, 2015

Review: Mosaic by Deborah Jackson

Product Description:
It wasn’t until Carlos helped me put the pieces back together that I realized how many were missing. 

Shattered. Tormented. Brain on disconnect. 

A car accident leaves Erin Rocheford, a seventeen-year-old hockey player, fractured, disfigured, near death. Not only has her future career in the NHL been erased, but when she’s finally released from the hospital, she can barely walk, her thoughts stumble into each other, and people grimace when they see the scars crisscrossing her face. 

Erin's parents decide that a vacation in Florida, on an island of palm trees and pirate lore, is just what she needs to recover. But in her post-traumatic state, Erin is vulnerable to attack, to a ghostly invasion, and to a further fragmenting of her troubled grey matter. Soon after arriving on the island, a tale of an odd English pirate and his feisty captive—a story of defiance and decapitation—weaves itself into her mind, threatening her very soul. Erin will need to call upon every reserve in her hockey-toned body to keep from falling apart altogether, to fight back, and to protect her star player—the one boy who can see beyond the scars.

My Thoughts:

I knew that Mosaic wasn't going to be a suspense novel like the two other Jackson books I've read, Ice Tomb and Sinkhole but I wasn't disappointed. Mosaic is geared towards older teens and hits the mark unlike some YA reads that tend to shock me with the amount of sex and drugs in the story. It has just the right amount of sexual tension and relationship drama to give the book a realistic teenage feel.

The story itself is pretty interesting. Pirates, serial killers and ghosts all lend themselves to a twisting tale. Throw in a troubled teen getting over an accident, a spoiled rich girl pouting over the bad boy who dumped her, a suspicious cop who lost a daughter and an over-protective dad and you have a winner that stands above most YA books I've read. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend Mosaic for anyone who loves YA suspense. 

January 8, 2015

Review: Peril in the Park by Barbara Venkataraman

Product Description:
There's big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn's boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can't figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late. 

My Thoughts:
Jamie Quinn has quickly become one of my favorite series characters. She's smart and helpful but isn't an annoying busy body like most cozy characters are. Her mysteries have all been quick and humorous, easy reads and the secondary characters are well done and lots of fun. 

In Peril in the Park, her and Duke get a blast from the past. Jamie's reaction and how quickly she got over it was the only reason I chose to give this one 4 stars instead of 5. If she was truly that upset I don't think she would be willing to put the past behind her so quickly. Other than that I loved the story and resolution. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. 

My Recommendation:
I recommend this book and the series for anyone who loves quick cozy mysteries. 

January 7, 2015

Review: The Basilisk's Creed Omnibus by Eme Strife

Product Description:
Moving to San Francisco was a decision twenty-three year old Elisheva Tilton thought would change her hard life in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the better. Yet, Eli still finds herself living in shambles and being constantly stressed out just to make ends meet in the Big Bad Bay. 

And the stress only piles on when the most unusual of things begin to happen around her—including the mysterious disappearance of the Atlantic Ocean—and even more so when she strangely meets the unlikely individual who would irrevocably change her life forever; a gorgeous, unbelievably sexy, and sophisticated high-ranking soul reaper.

My Thoughts:
I have to be 100% honest. If the author hadn't followed up with me on the promised review, The Basilisk's Creed just may have ended up on my Didn't Finish list for 2014. It wasn't a terrible book it just wasn't my style of read. 

I always take into consideration that I'm reading fiction meant to entertain when outrageous things happen in the books. I usually bump heads with a friend in my book club when unlikely scenarios play out in the books we read. She thinks it ruins the story and I think its fun if I accept it as fiction but this one was a little too over the top. Pigs fly, the Atlantic ocean disappears and my favorite, Eli's landlord goes a little over board when told to go eff himself, are just a couple of things that go too far in my opinion. 

Overall it's a good story (with a lot of spice) and good writing but not my cup of tea.

My Recommendation:
I recommend this to any who enjoys urban fantasy with emphasis on the fantasy. 

January 1, 2015

Books I didn't finish in 2015

Updated: January 1, 2015

Below will be any books I started and didn't finish and the reason why. 

  1. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
    • There were too many different characters in the beginning doing weird things. I found it a bit hard to follow.
  2. Parts & Wreck by Mark Henry
    • I was listening to this on audio and it just wasn't catching my attention. Next thing you know I was an hour in and only had a vague idea of what was going on. Maybe I'll try it again sometime soon as it did seem like fun. 

Top 5 books I've read in 2015

Updated: Februar 28, 2015
  1. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
  2. L.A. Rotten by Jeff Klima
  3. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
  4. The Teller by Jonathan Stone
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (re-read for book club & still awesome!)

Bumped off this list:
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Click here for my 2014 top five.

Books I've Read in 2015

  1. Zombies vs. Unicorns Anthology edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
  2. The Basilisk's Creed Omnibus by Eme Strife
  3. Peril in the Park by Barbara Venkataraman
  4. Mosaic by Deborah Jackson
  5. The Dead of December by Ryan Bowman
  6. September Sky by John A. Heldt
  1. The Glittering World by Robert Levy
  2. The Teller by Jonathan Stone
  3. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
  1. The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel
  2. Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep
  3. L.A. Rotten by Jeff Klima
  4. Medusa, A Love Story by Sasha Summers
  1. Arivaca: Guardians of the Light by John Poulsen
  2. Game On by Gabra Zackman
  1. Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge
  2. The Witch Must Burn by Danielle Paige
  3. The Stranger by Harlen Coben
  1. Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
  1. Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne
  2. Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep
  1. The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
  2. Fandemic by Jennifer Estep
  1. First Activation by Darren Wearmouth and Marcus Wearmouth
  1. The Last September by Nina de Gramont
  2. Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash
  1. The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
  2. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
  3. Descent by Tim Johnston
  4. Let Us Prey by Jamie Lee Scott
  5. The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton

  1. Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  4. Croak by Gina Damico
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (re-read for book club)
  1. Influx by Daniel Suarez
  2. Black Widow by Jennifer Estep
  1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  2. Revenge Of The Whale by Nathaniel Philbrick
  3. Much Ado About Magic by Shanna Swendon
  4. Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson
  5. Festive in Death by J. D. Robb
  1. Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski
  2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  3. Stakeout at the Vampire Circus by Kevin J. Anderson
  4. The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry
  5. The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Braun
  1. No Quest For The Wicked by Shanna Swendson
  2. The Escape by David Baldacci
  3. Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep
  4. Moving Day by Jonathan Stone
  5. Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge
  6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  7. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson
  1. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  2. Obsession in Death by J. D. Robb
  3. Memory Man by David Baldacci
  1. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  2. Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
  3. Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez
  1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
  2. Wild Thing by Josh Bazell
  3. Bone Shop by T A Pratt
  1. On the Edge by Ilona Andrews
  2. Frogs & French Kisses by Sarah Mylnowski
  3. Unnatural Acts by Kevin J. Anderson
  4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  5. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
  1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  2. Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng
  3. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
  4. Tyrannosaur Canyon by Douglas Preston
  1. How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz
  2. The Water Knife by Paulo Bacigalupi
  3. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  4. The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
  5. The Fold by Peter Clines
  1. The Keeper by David Baldacci
  2. The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn
  3. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  4. Bullseye by David Baldacci
  5. Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich
Grand Total: 83

Here's what I read in previous years: