Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coyote Dreams by CE Murphy

Coyote Dreams (The Walker Papers, Book 3) by CE Murphy picks up a short time after Thunderbird Falls (The Walker Papers, Book 2).  Joanne Walker finds herself in a rather precarious position--hungover, with no recollection of the previous night & a gorgeous, naked stranger in her bed.   She never gets drunk and she certainly never has casual sex, but all evidence points to the contrary.  However, nothing is truly as it seems for something powerful has been awakened & it's working it's way into Joanne's life. Her friends and co-workers are falling asleep and not waking up.  She starts receiving powerful dreams, apocalyptic dreams where the world ends & she is at the center of it all.  She is also having dreams where she has everything she ever wanted:  her old job back, the respect of her co-workers restored & the attention of a certain police captain.  But what is real and possible and what is just manipulation?  She'll have to figure it out if she is going to defeat the powerful force feeding on the life force of those that make up her life.

In this latest installment of the Walker Papers, we find Joanne still looking for Coyote to guide her, only to find out that he is trapped and can not help her without drawing attention to her.  Instead, she has to start looking inside herself for the answers.  CE Murphy has created a wonderfully complicated character in Joanne Walker. Her mixed heritage, her unconventional upbringing by her father & abandonment by her mother create a backdrop for a lost sense of self in a woman who needs to know who she is.  As a powerful Shaman, Joanne is capable of great things, but her inability to accept her power combined with her own issues of self-loathing are working against her.  In this latest story, Joanne has to look deep inside herself, to find the answers to defeat the powerful force that is slowly devouring those that make up Joanne's life.  We finally start to see her acknowledge and accept issues from her past that desperately need to be healed.  We also come into some interesting information about Coyote, which I hope is pursued in the next book, Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4).  Joanne's character is truly beginning to evolve and she just might be able to accept who she is and what she is meant to do.  However, nothing comes without a price and, in the end, she is faced with a very difficult decision about which path in life she is to take.

I really enjoy this series and Coyote Dreams (The Walker Papers, Book 3) is no exception.  I appreciate how Joanne's character evolves at her own pace & doesn't have a lot of major, life changing epiphanies that solve all her issues at once.  I'm seriously looking forward to reading Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4) to see how her decisions in this story have manifested in her life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fun Opportunity

So, this morning I got an email inviting me to preview Spirit Dances (Luna Books) by C E Murphy, the upcoming 6th novel in the Walker Papers series.  I love this series & am looking forward to reading the new installment.  However, I have been trying to finish The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor for over a week now & I still haven't gotten through it.  It's not a bad read, but I don't find myself engrossed in it like most other books I enjoy.  Anyway, instead of plowing ahead through The Looking Glass Wars, I have decided to put it aside in the name of opportunity.  Unfortunately, lately I have been trying to read authors that I haven't read before so I've fallen behind on the Walker Papers series.  So, my friends, this week I will be catching up on the Walker Papers in order to read and review Spirit Dances (Luna Books) before it's March release.  Looking forward to reading:  Coyote Dreams (The Walker Papers, Book 3), Walking Dead (The Walker Papers, Book 4) and Demon Hunts (Walker Papers, Book 5) very soon!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Just got my latest book order!!  Unfortunately, I am not privy to a lot of advanced reader copies (not yet anyway, but I'm on a ton of lists!).  So, I have to buy my own books when I can.  I spent some of my Christmas gift cards & got some titles I've been dying to read.  First up, Home for a Spell (A Bewitching Mystery) by Madelyn Alt.  This is the latest installment in the Bewitching Mystery series.  The series follows Maggie O'Neill, a young woman who is getting in touch with her psychic powers.  The series has seen Maggie grow both as a woman and as witch.  I'm really interested in seeing how her relationship is developing :)

Second in the box is The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel by Bree Despain.  I loved The Dark Divine and have been eagerly awaiting the release of the second novel in the series.  In the first, we are introduced to Grace who lives a fairly sheltered life.  A preacher's daughter, her life is filled with volunteering, studying and being an all around "good girl".  However, the facade of her seemingly boring life is cracked by the return of Daniel, a childhood friend who left under mysterious circumstances.  As the reason behind Daniel's leaving comes to light, more and more secrets about Grace's own family are revealed and the facade is no longer cracked but shattered.  The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel, picks up with Grace's brother Jude having gone missing and Grace having to face demons of her own.  I don't think this will gather too much dust on my to-be-read shelf.

Finally, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.  This is the follow up to Beautiful Creatures, the first in the Caster Chronicles.  We return to Gatlin to find Ethan and Lena dealing with the fall-out of the first book.  Lena's claiming doesn't go quite as planned and she is reeling from a family tragedy.  Together, Ethan and Lena were able to face what seemed like the impossible in Beautiful Creatures.  But, will they be able to stay together in the aftermath?  Again, the review for this one should be coming soon.

I'm currently reading The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, so that will be my next review.  However, it's hard waiting to dive into these new books!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

I always thought that this was a romance between young people and so it sat on my shelf until I was in the right mood for that kind of book.  It sat there for quite some time until, recently, I felt the need for a change in genre and decided to pick it up.  I couldn't put it down--it mesmerized me.  The story is a romance between young people, but it's so much more than that.  It's a true love story--not just a story about true love, but a story that defines love, clarifies it and shows the enduring power of it.  This book is about love, faith, trust, hope and miracles.  I loved it.

I don't know that there is anyone out there who hasn't already read this book, but, just in case, I'm going to try and avoid any spoilers.  This story touched me so deeply that I'm more inclined to write about my emotions than the substance of the book itself.  In some places, I felt my heart warm and happiness bloom inside me.  In others, I cried so hard I had to stop reading because I couldn't read the words anymore.  I didn't expect to feel this way over a story--not many stories have touched me this deeply--but I can't say enough about how much I loved it.

The Notebook was, in short, amazing.  It made me feel and believe and wish and hope and dream.  I realize now that I have this love in my life and I can only hope it continues to grow and sustain.  Love won't be denied and it can create miracles.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's next?

So, normally at this point, I'd be starting My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers, Book 3) since I've finished the first two novels and generally like to read a series without interruption.  However, I have decided to take a break from the Soul Screamers series for a little while.  First of all, I've downloaded the series on my new e-reader and I'm still getting used to reading on it.  My hands want the feel of paper beneath them again :)  Second, I look at my to-be-read bookshelves and I see a variety of options to choose from; conversely, looking at my book reviews shows that I've been reading a lot of paranormal fiction right now and maybe it's time for a brief interlude of something else.

So, after perusing my shelves, I've decided to read The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.  I know that this book has been out for a very long time, it's been on my to-be-read shelf for a very long time.  But, since I've not read it nor have I seen the movie, I'm going to give it a go.  I haven't read anything by Sparks before so this will be a first.

I'll let you know what I think.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

The second novel in the Soul Screamers series finds Kaylee adjusting to living with her newly returned father.  She is taking lessons from Nash's mother, Harmony, on 'how to be a bean sidhe' in order to avoid the kind of trouble she got into in the past.  The problem is, Kaylee seems to be looking for trouble or, at least, trouble finds her pretty easily.  She and Nash, with some help from Tod, stumble upon a system where a Dekker media, bearing a very recognizable resemblance to Disney, sells the souls of young entertainers to an avarice demon in order to guarantee financial success and market domination.  Kaylee and Nash are thrust into the middle of the whole ordeal when we learn that Addison, Tod's old girlfriend and rising teen star, has sold her soul for fame and fortune.  Tod, who clearly still cares for Addy, plays upon Kaylee's sense of righteousness and convinces her to help him find a way to reclaim Addy's soul.  Of course, things can't go smoothly.  Kaylee finds herself in a mess with her father and, along the way, Addison's sister Regan sells her soul as well, so Kaylee is faced with having to save two souls instead of just one.

In the end, all doesn't end happily.  But, I think that's one of the things I like best about Vincent's writing.  She's not afraid for her characters to fail--or, at least, not succeed entirely.  I would have liked more of the story to have taken place outside the main plot line.  Kaylee's character is facing some major changes and I'd like to see more exploration of that.  Also, I hope that, in the future, Aiden's character, Kaylee's father, is more developed.  I'm sure that Kaylee and Nash's relationship will be explored in more depth, as things progress and the characters grow.

My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers Book 2), overall, is a good story.  I feel like it was focused a bit too much on the main plot, to the extent that character development was minimal.  Aside from some insight into Tod, I don't feel like I learned a whole lot more about the story's characters.  I didn't really care for Addison or Regan, so it wasn't easy to empathize with Kaylee's desire to help them; though I easily understood Nash's reluctance to have any part in helping them.  I am looking forward to reading My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers, Book 3), and I hope that I'll learn more about Kaylee and her family/friends in the books to come.

A different review

So, every once in a while, I'll be reviewing something other than a book.  While I read for pleasure & enjoy sharing my reviews, a girl has to eat too.  I'll be honest & forthcoming about my experience with whatever I am reviewing, so, hopefully, my wisdom will benefit my readers :)

I went to Become to check it out & found a great price comparison website.  I love to shop & Become offers a wide variety of categories to choose from, as well as a coupon section--and who can pass up coupons these days?  The main page features hot sellers & top deals, along with shopping blogs and product reviews.  You can really become an educated shopper here!  Also, each subcategory home page includes the same information for that category and highlights the stores connected to each category.  

I started to explore.  The site is fairly easy to navigate.  Naturally, I went to the book section to check it out.  The site is linked to Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and it provides a way for savvy shoppers to compare prices between the two sites in one stop.

However, in order to truly experience the site, I wanted to look into something of which I have no real knowledge.  The automotive category gave me just such an opportunity.  My husband needed some things, so I asked him for suggestions.  First up, fuel injector cleaner.  The site gives you the opportunity to either shop or research your topic, so I started with research.  I found articles reviewing different brands, as well as articles explaining how to use the product or why you need the product.  So, armed with some research,I chose the Shop option next.  I checked out the 08828 regulator price 3m and found prices and information to help me make a more informed shopping decision.  I also looked at the 05 zx10 factory socket  and might have found my husband's next birthday present. 

Overall, my experience at Become was very good.  I appreciate the way the site it set up, especially with giving me the opportunity to both research and compare prices on a product.  This is a site I will be visiting in the future.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

The first full novel in the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Book 1), picks up nicely where the novella, My Soul to Lose, leaves off.  We are once again introduced to Kaylee Cavanaugh, who can tell when someone is going to die.  Kaylee and her best friend, Emma, are out at a club when Kaylee has a death premonition and who is there to help her through it?  The hottest guy in school, Nash Hudson.  Oddly, Nash doesn't seem to find Kaylee's behavior unusual.  In fact, he seems to know more about Kaylee than she knows about herself.

Rachel Vincent brings us into Kaylee's world--her mother is dead, her father moved away & left her with her Aunt Val, Uncle Brendan and, oh so perfect cousin Sophie.  She's already been hospitalized for her inability to control her 'panic attacks' when someone she encounters is going to die soon.  She's completely confused about her life and where she belongs when Nash Hudson starts to notice her.  Not only does Nash notice her, he holds a lot of the answers about Kaylee that her father and her family are holding back from her.

The story is well-written and presents a different subject in the paranormal romance genre.  No werewolves or vampires here.  Nor is there an overabundance of teen angst, which makes the story more appealing to those of us out of our teens :)  Kaylee is an interesting young woman who, once she begins to understand her true nature, takes the information for what she can do with it rather than falling apart and spiraling into teen drama.  I liked Kaylee's character and am interested to see how she develops in the future, as well as the characters of her friends and family.  I'll be starting My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers Book 2) very soon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent

Recently, Barnes & Noble's Free Fridays download offered Reaper by Rachel Vincent, a part of the Soul Screamer series.  It looked pretty interesting, so I downloaded it and then decided that I needed to read the series up to Reaper before reading it.  So, I started with the novella, My Soul to Lose, which was released as a prequel to the Soul Screamer series.

My Soul to Lose introduces us to Kaylee Cavanaugh, a young girl suffering from unusual panic attacks.  They are triggered when someone in close proximity to her is going to die and when onset occurs, she can not stop screaming.  Usually, she is able to sense when it is happening and can remove herself from the situation before losing control.  Unfortunately, she isn't able to avoid a dying soul at the mall one day and ends up in the psychiatric ward.

What a great teaser for the series.  Kaylee has no idea the purpose for her abilities or why she even has them.  We are also introduced to Lydia, another young girl with special abilities, allowing her to absorb other's pain.  I assume that Kaylee will be the focus of the Soul Screamers series, but it will be interesting to see if Lydia appears in any of the other books in the series as well.

I was a fan of Rachel Vincent's Shifter series prior to reading this, and I hope that this series is as interesting and well written as the Shifter series is.  Next up for me is My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Book 1), and then, most likely, the rest of the series.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

Save the world, Save Sonny, Save the theatre, Save yourself.  Tyff's advice pretty much sums up Kelley's role in Tempestuous, the third and final installment in the Wondrous Strange trilogy by Lesley Livingston.  Kelly has lied about not loving Sonny because she feels it is the best way to protect him from the truth and those that would hunt him down for his abilities.  Sonny takes off and finds himself drawn underground to a world inhabited by Lost Fae.  One little lie brings everything together and sets both Kelley and Sonny on the path to not only finding the truth about their enemies, but the truth about themselves.

I really enjoyed the end of this trilogy.  Livingston goes beyond wrapping everything up in a neat package and shows that her characters really have grown during their journey.  Both Kelley and Sonny learn from mistakes made in earlier parts of the their respective stories and even the Fae Royals are able to admit some wrongdoings.  Overall, the entire series was highly entertaining.  I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the Shakespeare references/parallels in each story.  Livingston writes her characters as complicated, yet trusting and inexperienced young people.  Kelley really grows from the somewhat insecure young actress into a young woman worthy of being Fae royalty.  Sonny also matures from the blind, trusting young guard into a man who sees beyond the surface of people and begins to understand their natures.  I am sorry to see the story end, but it does end well.  I look forward to see what else this author has to offer in the future.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel is the first installment of The Infernal Devices series, a precursor to The Mortal Instruments series.  The story is set in London in 1878 and it revolves around a young woman named Tessa & the London conclave of Shadowhunters.  Tessa comes to London from New York to live with her brother Nathaniel, her only remaining relative.  Upon arrival, she is taken by the Dark Sisters, who claim to have Nathaniel imprisoned, and is forced to comply with the Dark Sisters wishes in order to save her brother.  Tessa learns that she has a very rare and unusual ability, one that is highly prized by members of a world she never even knew existed.  She is rescued from the Dark Sisters by Will Herondale, a Shadowhunter, and is brought to the Institute where she meets Charlotte, Henry, Jessamine and Jem, all Shadowhunters.  She is also befriended by the help, Agatha, Thomas & Sophie, who all have the Sight, which sets them apart from other humans, known as mundanes.  Tessa adjusts to this new world and her new abilities rather well, perhaps out of necessity to retain her sanity, and does her best to aid her new friends in their attempt to bring down The Magister, the head of the notorious Pandemonium Club, a group of mundanes & Downworlders that is killing humans.  Along the way, Tessa is thrown into a world of Shadowhunters, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other beings she only believed existed in fairy tales. She finds out that her life is truly not as she thought:  her brother, her parents & her Aunt Harriet seemed to be knowledgeable about her abilities, and yet all was kept from Tessa, presumably to keep her safe.  She does not learn the truth of her existence, but as there are two planned sequels, one can not expect to find all the answers in a single volume.

Tessa also learns that her new friends, soon to become her second family, have secrets as well.  Jem's unusual appearance and mysterious illness are explained later in the story, but there seems to be more to Jem's family and background that has yet to be explored.  How Will came to be at the Institute and his reasons for keeping everyone, including Jem, at arm's length are barely touched upon.  Jessamine's family, too, seems to hold secrets, as she, like everyone at the Institute, is an orphan and under mysterious circumstances.

Readers of The Mortal Instruments series will find some familiar names in the story.   Benedict and Gabriel Lightwood are, most likely, ancestors of the Lightwood family found in the modern series.  Will is Herondale, most likely an ancestor of Jace.  We also find Magnus Bane in this series.  Personally, Magnus is a favorite of mine from The Mortal Instruments series and I look forward to learning more about him in The Infernal Devices.

I really enjoyed this book.  I particularly enjoyed how the women are not portrayed as typical of the time period.  Even Jessamine, who is determined to leave the Institute and live as a lady should, is fully trained and capable of combat.  Charlotte runs the Institute on her own and Tessa, sheltered her whole life, seems to find her inner strength and courage as the story progresses.  Although I am not generally a fan of 'historical' fiction, Clare seems to use the time and place setting as merely the background for the story, without imposing the rules of polite society to the point of restraining her characters.  I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next book in the series, Clockwork Prince, scheduled to be released in September 2011.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger is the second in the wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, soon to be followed by Forever. I was captivated by the first installment, Shiver, by Stiefvater's take on the werewolf phenomenon. Her wolves become wolves for the winter, human for the summer until they eventually stop shifting and remain wolves. In Shiver, it appears that Grace & Sam have found a cure for Sam--to stop shifting and remain human. Linger builds on that premise, focusing more on Sam's adjustment to having a future as a human & on his relationship with Grace. However, Sam's cure may just be a stop-gap solution. Wolves are dying and someone human may be dying as well.

The focus on Sam's adjustment to being a human once more is very interesting. He approaches with caution & often seems to forget that he won't be shifting anymore. His relationship with Grace is tested by the sudden interest of her parents, who were all but absent in Shiver. We are also introduced to Cole, one of the new wolves, who has his own dark past & is drawn to Isabel, who desperately wants what Grace & Sam have. At this point, however, Cole is not the man to give it to her. Cole's character is interesting--his life & background seem incongruous & somewhat convenient to the plot. However, one could argue that Beck specifically chose him for his family history and, therefore, his placement in the pack is specific & intentional.

Overall, I enjoyed Linger & look forward to reading Forever. There were some places where the story was a bit slow & some of the teen angst was a little more than I would have liked. But Stiefvater's story of Sam & Grace is so compelling that it's easy to overlook any minor faults. I'm very interested to see how this all ends in Forever.