Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Additions To The TBR Pile In March

March has turned out to be quite a productive month for me on the reading front, so I deserve a treat...here's what I rewarded myself with. :o)

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson

Description: Paris is stunning in the summer

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him--he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter's killer.

The killing is simply marvelous

Kanon's daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have been found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim.

Wish you were here

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm--and they think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson's most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

The Dark-Hunter Companion by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Description: Consider this handbook your education. Hunter 101. And don't go thinking you got off easy just because there's not a pop quiz at the end. This is the good stuff. The real deal. In here you'll find out all there is to know about being a Dark-Hunter.

Now for the disclaimer: This book is mutable. It goes with the wind. It changes more often than the mind of a sixteen-year-old Gemini with a closet full of clothes and a date in an hour. Don't be surprised if you open it up for the thirty-five thousandth time and find something old, something new, something borrowed or. . .well you get the point.

Curl up in a comfy chair with some millennium-old scotch and feast upon the informative banquet I have prepared for your enjoyment.

Welcome to your new life.

—-From the Dark-Hunter Companion

Murder Your Darlings by J.J. Murphy

Description:
I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.
- Dorothy Parker



On this particular morning, legendary wit Dorothy Parker is not the one under Manhattan's famed Algonquin Round Table. Someone else is --- and he's not dead drunk, just dead.

When a charming aspiring writer from Mississippi named Billy Faulkner becomes a suspect in the murder, Dorothy decides to dabble in a little detective work, enlisting the help of tablemates Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Sherwood, and other famous and fabulous literary cohorts.

With a marvelous Manhattan mystery on their hands, it's up to the Algonquins to outwit the true culprit --- preferably before cocktail hour --- and before the clever killer turns the tables on them...

I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk

Description: Angela Clark is in love—with the most fabulous city in the world!
When Angela catches her boyfriend with another woman at her best friend's wedding, she's heartbroken and desperate to run away. With little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins, and her passport in hand, Angela decides to jump on a plane for . . . NYC!

Settling into a cute hotel and quickly bonding with benevolent concierge Jenny—a chatterbox Oprah wannabe with room for a new best friend—Angela heads out for a New York makeover, some serious retail therapy, and a whirlwind tour of the city. Before she knows it, she's dating two sexy guys and blogging about her Big Apple escapades for a real fashion magazine. But while it's one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it's another working them out for yourself. Angela has fallen head over heels for the city that never sleeps, but does she heart New York more than home?

REVIEW: Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Title: Marked (House of Night #1)
Author: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Publication Date: May, 2007
Paperback: 306 pages
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal Romance
Rating: 6/10

Description: The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

My Thoughts: As a fan of vampyre and paranormal romance, it seemed that everytime I was in a bookstore or in Wal-Mart, this series would stand out on the shelf and draw me near with curiosity. I cannot pinpoint what was so compelling about the series or this book in particular, but everytime I saw it and I had to pick it up and hold the book, running my hand down the cover and then turning it over to read the back, even though I read it every other time I encountered this book. Even now, writing this review, I find myself moved to pick the book up again and run my hands across the cover.

As stories go, there are others that held my attention so profoundly I found it hard to do anything else while reading. The House of Night series didn’t draw me in the way I was anticipating, but I found myself immediately curious about the characters so when I thought this story was just OK, I was surprised at how much I was enjoying it after all. Immediately upon starting the book, my attention was grabbed when Zoey is marked by a Tracker. A Tracker is a vampyre (can’t get over the spelling) who marks select humans to become vampyres. In this series, once a human is marked, a mark literally appears on their forehead, probably so all the humans around them can freak out and go ballistic, like Zoey’s mother and step-father (whom she refers to as the Step-Loser) do. The marked individual is now a fledgling and they have to go to the House of Night, which is nothing more than a private school to learn the vampyre culture and prepare for their change. Unfortunately, not all fledglings are successful in becoming vampyres. If their bodies reject the change, they appear to die a very sudden and painful death. I’m hoping there will be more about that in future books as it is a little confusing still for me.

I found the characters to be interesting starting with Zoey and her grandmother to the Goddess Nyx and Zoey’s mentor, Neferet, a High Priestess. Zoey quickly makes friends with four other students that I liked too and there’s a romance blooming between her and Erik Night, another student. And even in vampyre stories involving young adults, there has to be a clique of mean girls and this one delivers.

Overall, this is not a bad beginning to another young adult vampyre series. There are currently eight published installments and two more looming on the horizon. I cannot honestly say I will stay with the series, but for the moment I am intrigued and have ordered the second book.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

REVIEW: The Good Ghoul's Guide To Getting Even by Julie Kenner

Title: The Good Ghoul’s Guide To Getting Even (Beth Frasier #1)
Author: Julie Kenner
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: April, 2007
Paperback: 256 pages
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal Romance
Rating: 6/10

Description: Elizabeth Frasier's ticked off. Her junior year of high school was going just fine. But thanks to a bunch of jerkwad vampire jocks, she ended up undead, and with a thirst that a thousand Diet Cokes couldn't quench. Now she's out for blood-and revenge. And she knows exactly what to do...Elizabeth's read Salem's Lot. Separate the good vamps from the bad and wipe out the crowd that did her in. On top of that, she's got to figure out how to be mortal again-unless universities start accepting dead girls.

My Thoughts: This was a very fast read told from Beth’s point of view. The ending left me hanging which didn’t come as a surprise as I knew there is a second book. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think that this story could have been done in one entire book instead of being separated. At any rate, as I said before, this was a very fast read and entertaining for the most part. Beth doesn’t waste a lot of time in “setting the scene” of what happens to her. My first impression of Beth is that she is your typical overachiever teenager (do they even exist?) who is pretty obsessed about what college she wants to attend and has made up her mind that staying in Austin, Texas is not an option. One of the things I found strange for me was she didn’t seem to mourn the fact that being undead meant her life had ended. She needs blood to survive and there are vampire hunters out there with only one agenda, which is killing her. She didn’t seem to be affected by what her parents would say or do. Nope. She probably isn’t going to tell them. No, instead, she seems more put out and pissed off that her plans for college seem to have been derailed. Even, as a vampire, she remains more concerned about remaining Valedictorian. That having been said, it didn’t put me off of the story. I liked that Beth continued to want to live a normal life or as normal as she could without fully turning undead and becoming evil. I liked that her best friend stuck by her once she got over the initial freaking out moment. And I liked that Beth manages to find a little romance along the way.

I prefer this author’s demon-hunting soccer mom series, but if you are looking for a light vampire themed romance that isn’t bogged down in details and isn’t too heavy on angst and turmoil, give this one a try.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

REVIEW: You Had Me At Halo by Amanda Ashby

Title: You Had Me At Halo
Author: Amanda Ashby
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: August, 2007
Paperback: 288 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 7/10

Description: Heaven can wait, but not for long.

She’s halfway to heaven…and she’s just been pulled over.

Holly Evans has just seen her own body laid to rest, and if it had been up to her, she wouldn’t have chosen that particular polyester dress for the event. Still, she could live with that (so to speak), if it guaranteed a quick jump to Level 3 of the afterlife, which she hopes will feature both reruns of Friends and reunions with long-lost loved ones.

But Holly has some mortal baggage to unload first, starting with the matter of how she died. Yes, she drowned in her bathtub under suspicious circumstances, but she did not kill herself. Holly had too much to live for, from her recent promotion to taking the next big step in her relationship. OK, her life had a few loose ends, but whose doesn’t? Holly’s heavenly shrink isn’t buying it. He says she has to return to Earth to straighten things out. The problem is, she’ll need to borrow someone’s body to do so, and the body in question belongs to none other than computer geek Vince Murphy. Oh, and although Vince was supposed to have vacated the premises, he apparently never got the memo.

Now Holly has forty-eight hours to resolve her issues while sharing arms, legs, and … other things with a guy she barely noticed while she was alive. But the real surprise is what life has to offer when you have only two days to live it.

My Thoughts: First time reading this author and liked the premise of the life after death / reincarnation theme. Holly is a likeable character who at first comes across as a little self-centered and shallow. I had to forgive her, however, because how is one supposed to act when they are viewing their own funeral and finding out that everyone thinks they committed suicide? Holly doesn’t seem to adjust to Heaven very well and has brought all of her “earthly” baggage with her. One of the things that I liked about her was that even during the bleakest of times, she manages to weather it with determination to continue forward. She doesn’t let all of the rules of Heaven drag her down and sets her mind to doing what she has to do so she can advance out of Level 1 and catch up to her parents. In order to do that, she has to return to Earth and occupy the body of a living human and resolve all of the issues she is holding on to. She doesn’t count on being put into Vince Murphy’s body and that she would have to share his body with him. Apparently, he was supposed to die and she was going to take his place. I really enjoyed how they try to adjust to one another and though Vince’s acceptance of the situation seemed to be a little fast (I don’t think I would accept it so easily), they become a good team working together.

Vince was a great character. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” came to mind many times while reading. On the outside, he appears to be a computer geek and maybe a little anti-social. Before Holly died, she barely noticed his existence and even turned him down when he asked her out a while back. I enjoyed getting to know Vince and discovering more to his personality with each turn of the page. Once Holly gets past the fact that he works with computers and works with other geeks, she begins to see Vince for his true nature and it doesn’t take long before Holly realizes what a great guy he truly is. There were several humorous scenes. One of my favorites is Holly in Vince’s body trying to talk to her best friend, Gemma, but Gemma doesn’t realize it’s really Holly and she freaks out a little thinking he’s stalking her.

Overall, this story was entertaining and enjoyable with a few surprises thrown in. If you like lighthearted romance with a paranormal theme, give this one a try.

Friday, March 25, 2011

REVIEW: I'm Watching You by Karen Rose

Title: I’m Watching You
Author: Karen Rose
Publisher: Warner
Publication Date: October, 2004
Paperback: 474 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 8/10

Description: I KNOW THEIR CRIMES

Star prosecutor Kristen Mayhew has a dangerous secret admirer. He seems to knows her every thought, her every move. He sends her letters. And he kills the criminals she herself is powerless to stop.

I HUNT DOWN THE GUILTY

This avenger even knows Kristen’s deepest secret—the one that has kept her from surrendering her heart to Abe Reagan, the police detective sworn to protect her. Like Kristen, Reagan is haunted by the loss of something precious that he can never regain. But in the shadow of a calculating serial killer, the two turn to each other and dare to rediscover passion...even as the messages and vicious murders continue. Even as the killer’s thirst for retribution makes Kristen a target for murder.

My Thoughts: Very enjoyable story filled with intense and, at times quite disturbing scenes of violence and retribution. At the center of this story is prosecutor Kristen Mayhew who begins receiving letters and photos from someone who is seeking vengeance against the criminals who have escaped the wheels of justice. Police Detective Abe Reagan is assigned to protect her when she begins receiving threats from the family of one of the vigilante’s victims.

I really loved Kristin and Abe. They are both damaged emotionally and carrying very painful pasts. I enjoyed how they were able to work through the painful baggage they are carrying and begin to build a relationship built on trust. This story also has a lot of interesting secondary characters, including Abe’s entire family, Abe’s coworkers and even the vigilante, whom I found myself feeling a lot of sympathy for.

I recommend this author if you are looking for character driven stories that keep your interest trying to work out who the villain is while delivering romance and suspense.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

REVIEW: The Postcard Killers by James Patterson

Title: The Postcard Killers
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: August, 2010
Hardcover: 400 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Rating: 8/10

Description: PARIS IS STUNNING IN THE SUMMER

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him—he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafĂ© through the eyes of his daughter's killer.

THE KILLING IS SIMPLY MARVELOUS

Kanon's daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have been found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim.

WISH YOU WERE HERE

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm—and they think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson's most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

My Thoughts: Patterson gets major points from me for delivering another story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat with each page. Just when you think he has pulled out all the stops and can’t shock you anymore than he already has, BAM! There he goes again! As shocking and intense as the story was, it wasn’t one of my favorites. I didn’t feel much of a connection to the characters though I was intrigued by them and curious to see what Jacob was going to do once his daughter’s killers were brought to justice. I have felt a much stronger connection to other Patterson characters like Lindsey Boxer and Michael Bennett. Those characters I am practically in love with. But, even so, I gave this story high marks for the “in your face” rollercoaster ride of a story.

Jacob Kanon is a damaged character. He has seen horrible things in his life and experienced his share of heartbreak so when his daughter and her boyfriend are brutally murdered while on vacation in Rome a year before, he becomes a man obsessed. He shows up in Stockholm and makes contact with, almost to the point of stalking, Swedish reporter Dessie Larsson. He places himself into the investigation, almost to the point of interfering and obstructing it. He comes across as brash and abrasive and though his behavior is completely understandable given the circumstances, I was surprised that he didn’t end up in jail or getting himself killed. Dessie is a complex character. In love, she has batted for both sides of the team and has been unsuccessful with both. Her family history is slightly shady but she appears to be straight forward and committed to solving these murders. The attraction between Jacob and Dessie is made known fairly early on in the story so the romance twist between them doesn’t come as a surprise and doesn’t enhance or take away from the core story.

The characters I actually found the most riveting and was the most focused on were the suspected killers, Sylvia and Malcolm Rudolph. Upon first meeting them, I assumed they were a married American couple vacationing in Europe. These characters are what gives the story the “in your face” rollercoaster ride. With each page, more is revealed about this couple making them more complex and drawing the reader into their web. Some of the things that are revealed are quite shocking but instead of turning the reader off of the story, it draws them in even further. Are they innocent or guilty? Are they the monsters that Jacob Kanon believes them to be or are they innocent tourists who have been wronged by the Swedish justice system? You are going to have read the book to find out so climb aboard, buckle up and hang on for one hell of a ride!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Starbucks I Love You



On my way to the chiropractor this morning, I stopped into Starbucks to get a caffeine boost. While I was waiting for my white mocha, I spied this awesome cup. Had to have it. Feels like ceramic when holding it and it's insulated so my hot beverage will stay hot, but I just love the look of it!

It looks bigger in the picture. I'm told it will hold a "tall" beverage perfectly, which will be perfect since I need to cut back on my caffeine intake anyway. And, even better, when I bring in my cup, they will put my drink into this cup and knock 10 cents off the price and I'm helping the environment...

I can justify the $11 I paid for this cup until the cows come home...but at least now I have a look alike cup for the hot as well as the cold beverages while I am waiting for those cows...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

REVIEW: At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost

Title: At Grave’s End (Night Huntress #3)
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December, 2008
Paperback: 342 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: 10/10

Description: It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover has finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.

My Thoughts: So often, a series begins to get stale and redundant by the third book. Happily, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this series and if this book is any indicator, it won’t. My failure to read this book sooner is why there was so much confusion when I read “First Drop of Crimson” in January. Now that I have rectified that situation, I can happily report that this At Grave’s End was well worth the wait! I cannot gush enough about how much I love Cat and Bones. As a couple and individually, these two characters sure know how to get the job done.

This story really opens up more of the Night Huntress world that I wasn’t aware of. We get to see more about Cat’s father, Max and what a truly deviated and pitiful excuse of a former human he truly was. We get to see more of Cat’s mom and there are some interesting twists and surprises with Justina that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. We see one of Cat’s men, Tate, getting more of a storyline and so far, I am enjoying the triangle his character is trying to create with Cat and Bones. I definitely see potential there for Tate to get his own book.

I know if I decided to leave my current career path and become a vampire slayer, then Cat is the one I would want to mentor and train me. This series and in particular, this book, delivers everything I look for and want in my reading selections. In addition to the intense action and fighting scenes, there’s humor and even some very heart wrenching sad moments.

I can’t think of one thing in this book that didn’t work for me so instead I will say if you haven’t yet read this series, get off your tush and get started. You’ll be glad you did.

New Additions To The TBR Pile In February

Even though February wasn't a productive month reading wise, I did manage to acquire some interesting titles...

The Survivor by Sean Slater

Description: Columbine. Dunblane. Virginia Tech. Winnenden. But Saint Patrick's High?

In his first hour back from a six-month leave of absence, Detective Jacob Striker's day quickly turns into a nightmare. He is barely on scene five minutes at his daughter's high school when he encounters an Active Shooter situation. Three men wearing hockey masks - Black, White, and Red - have stormed the school with firearms and are killing indiscriminately.

Striker takes immediate action. Within minutes, two of the gunmen are dead and Striker is close to ending the violence.

But the last gunman, Red Mask, does something unexpected. He runs up to his fallen comrade, racks the shotgun, and unloads five rounds into the man, obliterating his face and hands. Before Striker can react, Red Mask flees - and escapes.

Against the clock, Striker investigates the killings for which there is no known motive and no known suspect. Soon his investigation takes him to darker places, and he realizes that everything at Saint Patrick's High is not as it appears. The closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his world becomes. Until Striker himself is in the line of fire.

And the violence follows him home.

Tainted by Julie Kenner

Description: Lily Carlyle has never been a good girl. She's lied, cheated, and stolen, but she did it all to protect her younger sister. To keep food on the table after their mother died. She made a promise, after all. A promise to take care of her sister. To keep the family together. And that's a promise she's determined to keep.

EVEN TO THE DEATH...

When her sister is brutally attacked, a vengeful Lily resolves to exact her own justice from the monster responsible. She succeeds --- at the cost of her own life. As she lies dying, she is given a second chance: Though what she has done is evil, she can earn her way into paradise by fighting for the forces of good.

LILY AGREES...

...and wakes up in the body of Alice Purdue --- a Boston barmaid who has more than a little familiarity with the battle raging between the light and the darkness. Each side is mustering its forces for all-out-war --- and Lily is going to become an assassin for the light.

It's a job she believes she can really get into --- but she doesn't realize that she may not be able to get out...

Torn by Julie Kenner

Description: Lily Carlyle had always lived on the edge. But after she died while avenging her younger sister, she came back to life as someone else --- and was recruited as an assassin for the light.

AT LEAST THAT'S WHAT SHE THOUGHT...

Lily is in trouble of the deepest kind. Having been tricked the forces of evil, she killed what she believed were "demons" at will. Now she knows better, and with a little help from half angel, half demon Deacon Camphire, she must try to take down the bad guys from within as a double agent.

Far easier said than done. The dark ones neither trust nor need Lily anymore. So to prove her loyalty, she'll have to lie, betray, and maybe even continue to kill the innocent. She thinks she can do all that --- but when she's asked to work with the one demon she most despises, she may be willing to lose her soul to end his existence...

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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at sharalsbooks@yahoo.com Happy Reading! :o)