Friday, April 22, 2011

Follow Friday!

Happy Earth Day!!!!

It's Follow Friday & Welcome to anyone stopping by for the first time :)

Today's Follow Friday question is:

What is currently on your playlist?

First, I'd like to thank Parajunkee for giving me the opportunity to 'date' myself (insert sarcasm here), since everything on my play list right now hearkens back to my high school days.  I recently downloaded The Singles 81-85 by Duran Duran, so that is pretty heavily played.  I've also got some Depeche Mode, New Order, REM, Dead or Alive, The Cure and a heavy dose of The Smiths mixed in there.  My 6 year old is crazy about Black Eyed Peas (radio edits only), and Train, so they have found their way onto my play list as well.  Basically, I've got a lot of what, in the 80's, was termed as 'progressive' or 'alternative'.  Nothing like a little flashback music to start the day :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WOW: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, highlighting the upcoming releases being eagerly awaited by all of us bibliophiles.

This week's WOW is:

Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10)
First of all, I think that B&N will have all my money on May 3rd--Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10)Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) and The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons will be released that day!!

The Morganville Vampires series is another favorite of mine.  Although technically a YA series, the series should appeal to all fans of vampire lit.  The series builds on itself, one novel often starting just days after the last ended, so if you're not familiar with Morganville, get started with Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, Book 1).  

Rachel Caine has created a very interesting world, one where vampires and humans lead an uneasy co-existence in Morganville but the vampires' existence is unknown to the rest of the world.  Set in a small Texas college town, the story focuses on four friends, Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael, who are determined to find a balance among the vampires and humans, as well as battling outside forces that are trying to destroy the vampires, humans or both.  Here's the Goodreads summary for Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10):

After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare- knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other-or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire- accompanied by her friends and frenemies-to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville...
Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10) is scheduled for release on May 3rd!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Truthseeker by C.E. Murphy


Truthseeker by C. E. Murphy is a unique tale of a woman with an incredible ability--to know the truth when she hears it.  Lara hears the truth like music and a lie like horrible discord.  She has always heard the difference and it has shaped her world such that she is practically incapable of telling a lie.  She even has trouble with common sayings and harmless exaggeration, as both sound as lies to her.  She lives a very simple life, surrounded by a few friends that understand her situation.  Her job as a custom tailor allows her to work within a truth of beautiful fabrics and perfect lines.  However, a chance encounter changes everything...

While out at lunch with her best friend Kelly, they spot the local weatherman, David Kirwen.  As Kelly is always trying to get Lara to take chances and expand her horizons, she decides that Lara and David would be perfect for each other and she's right, but not necessarily in the way that she thinks.  There is more to David than meets the eye and he has been searching for Lara, for a Truthseeker, for a century.  Lara finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed, one which fosters her powers as a Truthseeker and opens up parts of herself as well.

I'm a big fan of C. E. Murphy's Walker Papers series, so I expected to enjoy this story and I wasn't disappointed.  I really liked Lara's character and enjoyed the way she grew and changed throughout the story.  The inclusion of both Celtic mythology and Native American legend was well done and very interesting.  The story was intriguing and the supporting characters are interesting and likable.  This definitely isn't a stand alone and there is a sequel, Wayfinder, due out in September.  I am already looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Hard Day's Fright by Casey Daniels

A Hard Day's Fright (A Pepper Martin Mystery)

I love the Pepper Martin series :)  It's like chick lit wrapped in a mystery with a paranormal bow on top.  Pepper is such an interesting character--a survivor with an impeccable sense of fashion.  After the high society world she was groomed for falls apart, thanks to her father & some Medicare fraud, she picks herself up, dusts herself off and gets a job as a tour guide at the local cemetery.  A mishap at the cemetery leaves Pepper with an interesting gift:  she can communicate with the dead.  She can see, hear and speak to them.  Apparently, she is quite a novelty because after word starts spreading around the afterlife, she keeps getting approached by souls with unfinished business.

A Hard Day's Fright (A Pepper Martin Mystery) is the seventh installment in the Pepper Martin series.  Pepper gets approached by a young girl who was murdered in 1966, the night she attended a Beatles concert with some friends.  She needs Pepper to find her body so she can rest in peace.  Unfortunately, her body was never found and Lucy can not seem to leave the Rapid (train) car that holds her last happy memory, so Pepper is basically on her own.  Until, she discovers that Ella not only knew Lucy, but was with her that fateful night at the Beatles concert.

Casey Daniels really surprised me in this one.  I really thought I had it all figured out about 2/3 of the way through the book and actually wondered how she was going to drag the book out for that much longer without Pepper figuring it out--when I found out that I was wrong.  I had a part of the mystery right, but there was so much more going on.  Not only did she provide an interesting mystery, but the changes to Pepper's personal life were pretty remarkable as well.  Now, I can't wait to read the next book in order to find out how Pepper snaps back.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Follow Friday!

It's Follow Friday!  For anyone stopping by for the first time-Welcome!

Here's today's Follow Friday question:

Q. Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL? Tell us about him/her.

Unfortunately, I don't.  That's really what led me to start writing reviews on my blog.  I have two small children, aged 6 & 4, I run the house & I help run the family business.  I'm hoping that once my youngest is in school, I'll have a little time to myself and maybe I can find a book club or something.  Until then, I'll keep writing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers) by Holly Black is a book that I had on my Want list for quite a while.  It never came up on my book exchange sites and, for some reason, I passed over it whenever I downloaded new books.  This past week, I downloaded a handful of books that had been on my Want list for a while and White Cat (Curse Workers) is the first one I read.  I only hope I enjoy the rest of them as much as I enjoyed this one.

Cassel Sharpe belongs to a family of "workers", magic users or curse workers, a practice that is outlawed.  However, the gene seems to have skipped him somehow, because he is the only member of the family without power.  He is, however, an excellent con artist, which he did get from his parents.  With his father dead and his mother incarcerated, Cassel attends a very prestigious school, where he attempts to keep his family secrets while running a minor con here and there.  Cassel is also haunted by the memory of Lila, his best friend and first love.  Two years earlier he murdered Lila, although he has no recollection of actually committing the deed nor of why he did it.  His family covered up his crime and now his brothers and grandfather are trying to help Cassel move forward with his life.

However, all is not as it seems.  A terrifying bout of sleepwalking turns Cassel's world upside down.  Truths he has believed his entire life are false and nothing will ever be the same...

Holly Black has created an interesting world in her Curse Workers series.  Cassel is caught between many worlds:  his family's world of curse workers and organized crime, the elite world of his classmates and the world of Carney, where interesting characters reside.  Cassel is an intelligent, likable character whom you want to see get a happy ending.  I can't say if his ending is happy, but I can say that it leads me to want to read the sequel Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2), which was just released last week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WOW: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, highlighting the upcoming releases being eagerly awaited by all of us bibliophiles.

This week's Waiting on Wednesday is:

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11) 

I absolutely love the Sookie Stackhouse series!  Charlaine Harris' Southern heroine is such a great character!  And, she is surrounded by such lovely men :)  Here's the Goodreads synopsis of the upcoming release:  

"With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . . "
I'm not a fan of True Blood--I don't like how far the show seems to have veered from the novels, so I only get my Sookie & Eric fix once a year :)  I can't wait until May 3rd to see what happens to Sookie next!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Phantom of Pemberley by Regina Jeffers

Let me start off by stating that Pride And Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite novels.  I love Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennett is one of the best written female characters I have ever read.  So, I have studiously avoided any novels related to Pride And Prejudice, be it a sequel or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Deluxe Edition (Quirk Classics).  However, I came across The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Murder Mystery as a free Friday download from Barnes & Noble and decided to give it a shot. 

Before you read any further, let me tell you that there will be spoilers in this review.  I usually try to avoid spoilers, but find that when I don't like a book I have to include spoilers to fully describe what it is I don't like about it.  I will, however, clearly mark where the spoilers are in case you want to avoid those remarks and continue on reading.

I've already stated that I did not like this book.  However, my reasons for not liking this book actually surprised me.  I felt no opposition to the way that the characters were treated.  Darcy and Elizabeth are happily married, living at Pemberley with Georgianna.  They are very passionate about each other, truly in love, and are truly partners.  While awaiting a visit from Lydia, they are besieged by a snow storm and upon traveling to town to retrieve her, find that the local inn is overflowing with guests.  As is due his station, Darcy agrees to invite some of the people at the inn to stay at Pemberley until the storm passes and the roads are clear.  Here is where the mystery sets in.  There are hints at underlying relationships between certain characters, including Lydia's husband George Wickham, who is not with her on her journey.   All of them settle into an initially uneasy stay at Pemberley. 

The mystery is what I really didn't like about the story.  It felt too much like someone trying to write Jane Austen in the style of Agatha Christie, but coming up short on the Christie end.  The coincidences revealed in the story are too much for my taste--both of Mrs. Wickham's traveling companions are connected to the family.  Mr. Worth is both an acquaintance of Mr. Darcy and had previously prosecuted her husband for his debts.  Both of these facts are unknown to Mrs. Wickham.  Then, Mrs. Williams, who really isn't Mrs. Williams, is related to the man trying to blackmail Lady Catherine.  It's too much for me.  But, the real kicker is in the identity of the murderer.  I fully suspected that Lydia Wickham was the intended target of the fall down the stairs, and it made sense that her husband would want to kill her while besmirching Darcy's good name.  However, Wickham's multiple personality disorder was far too over the top for me.  I can't believe that Lydia would tell her sister that she was being physically abused by her husband, but not tell her of his clearly mad behavior. 

I was so disappointed when I got to the end of the story.  I really thought that I would like it because the author has written a Darcy and Elizabeth that I enjoyed reading and didn't feel like it was belittling of the original work.  However, the attempt at a Christie-type mystery was too much for me.  I enjoy Agatha Christie as well, but this mystery didn't work like a Christie mystery.  Instead of being left marveling in the skill of a well-written mystery, I was shaking my head in disappointment.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

 City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)

I am a big fan of both the Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices series, so I have been anxiously awaiting the release of City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4) for a while now.  I have to say that I was not disappointed.

After defeating Valentine and his followers in Idris, we find most everyone back in New York adjusting to the new order of things while the Clave prepares new accords uniting Shadowhunters and Downworlders.  Clary is caught up in her training as a Shadowhunter, her mother & Luke's impending wedding and Jace--always Jace.  Simon is trying to live a 'normal' life while hiding his true nature from his family and juggling Izzy and Maia, who do not not he is dating both of them.  It all starts off as somewhat typical young adult issues, until the dead bodies of Shadowhunters start showing up in different parts of town.  Then, the intrigue begins...

I don't want to give away too much of the story because I believe that the anticipation of what happens next is probably the best part of a really good story.  This is a really good story.  There are mysterious new characters introduced and some characters from Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) are brought into this series.  The main mystery, while disturbing, is well-developed and I have to admit that there were more than a few times when I thought "I didn't see that coming".  Those are moments that I truly enjoy.  The characters are very real and likable, the stories are wonderfully fantastic without going so far as to be science fiction.  While the main characters are young, the stories go beyond the label YA and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Cassandra Clare has created an incredible world in both series, all of her stories have been captivating and incredibly well-written.  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the Mortal Instruments series and look forward to City of Lost Souls (scheduled for 5/2012 release).  If you have not read any of the Mortal Instruments series, start with City of Bones (Mortal Instruments).  Also, for any fans of the Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices) will be released on December 6th!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Follow Friday!!

I just came across Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee.  It's a great way to find new reviewers to follow!  I am adding new blog feeds like crazy!  If that is what brought you by -- thanks for checking me out!

This week's Follow Friday Question:  

Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

I do and I have found some great books because of it.  I found myself being drawn over and over again to the cover of City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare.  Finally, I picked it up on a trip to Target and have been hooked on the series ever since.  In fact, I am currently reading City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4).  And I have no doubt that I have probably missed out on a few good books because I was turned off by the cover.  The cover is the first thing you see, designed to grab your attention.  If that fails, then most of time I won't even read the blurb unless it's a book I've been recommended.

Kept by Zoe Winters

I'm not a big reader of Indie authors--no prejudice, I haven't been exposed to too many and the ones I have read weren't very good.  However, I began following Zoe Winters on Twitter--I'd seen some of her tweets being re-tweeted by people I followed and found her to be very entertaining.  Anyway, long story short (too late), she was tweeting about people complaining about having to pay for her work and the plight of Indie authors and I decided to check her out.  I'm glad I did.

Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1 ) is a very well written, captivating story.  It centers on Greta, who is a therian (werecat) about to be sacrificed by her tribe due to her extraordinary power.  She is sent to Dayne, a sorcerer with a questionable reputation, for protection.  Greta is drawn to Dayne, but is having trouble trusting him; however, that doesn't preclude some steamy scenes between the two of them. 

I really enjoyed this story.  I was surprised to find Greta's world written so fully, considering this is a novella.  There were some questions left open at the end, but since I haven't read further into the series, I assume that these will be revisited later on.  Zoe Winters' characters are interesting and she provides an air of mystery surrounding them that makes you want to read more about them.  I certainly plan to read the rest of this series and recommend her work to any fan of paranormal romance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WOW: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, highlighting the upcoming releases being eagerly awaited.

My WOW for this week is:  The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong, who is expanding the YA version of her Otherworld.  This is the second YA trilogy, Darkness Rising, the first is Darkest Powers.  I'm a huge fan of her Otherworld series, a must-read for any paranormal fiction fan.  Her YA series runs parallel to Otherworld, comprised of the same species of creatures--werewolves, witches, sorcerers, necromancers etc.  But her YA series comes with a twist: young people coming into their powers are finding that they have been the victims of experiments meant to create super powerful versions.  Darkness Rising focuses on a new group of teens facing these challenges.

The Otherworld created by Kelley Armstrong is amazing.  Her world lies parallel to ours and is filled with intrigue and interesting characters.  I am anxious to see how she furthers this world in the Darkness Rising trilogy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is riveting.  I am not normally drawn to post-apocalyptic stories, but this one is an exception.  I'd read so many good things about the series that I decided I'd give it a chance, and I am so glad that I did.  I'll admit that while reading it, I often wondered if Carrie Ryan got her idea for the story while watching The Village by M. Night Shymalon.  However, her concept is original enough that any comparison to the movie would be cursory.

Mary lives in a very simple world where everything is controlled by the Sisters.  Her village is very Godly with everyone contributing and everyone provided for.  You just have to stay inside the fences.  Outside the fences are the Unconsecrated--victims of a plague that kills and then re-animates its victims as mindless flesh-eaters.  Mary, however, is restless and unsettled.  She was raised with her mother's tales of the ocean and a world untouched by the Return and the Unconsecrated and she longs to find that world.  When she stumbles upon some secrets being kept by the Sisters, they do everything in their power to bring Mary under their control.  However, circumstances in the village change and Mary is about to learn more about the world than she bargained for.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth blew my mind.  As I said earlier, this is not my normal style of book.  However, the story captivated me from the onset and kept me interested throughout.  I am very much looking forward to reading The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3) in the near future.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader's copy of Shift (Shade, Book 2) by Jeri Smith-Ready.  I was thrilled because I absolutely loved Shade (Shade, Book 1), as well as her WVMP series, and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Shift (Shade, Book 2) since I finished Shade (Shade, Book 1).  If you haven't read Shade (Shade, Book 1), go get it now and read it--it's excellent.

Shift (Shade, Book 2) picks up shortly after Shade (Shade, Book 1).  Aura is still reeling from Logan having gone shade and is desperately trying to bring him back.  She is also trying to deal with her feelings for Zachary, while they work together to uncover the role of Newgrange in the Shift, as well as their place in it.  This second installment, the series will be a trilogy, really focuses on Aura and her feelings.  She is trying to reconcile the loss of her first love, while facing her feelings for Zachary--who may be her destiny.  Aside from the supernatural aspects, the emotional development of Aura is well-written and very true to life.  She is at an age where she is transitioning into a more mature mind-set.  Her priorities are changing and her emotions are maturing.  Her relationships are maturing as well, not just with Zachary but also with her Aunt Gina and her grandmother. Together, Aura and Zachary begin to unravel the mysteries of the Shift, Newgrange and Aura's parents.  They learn about the connection between Zachary's father & Aura's mother and what may have happened to them on that fateful Winter Solstice.

In truth, I started reading Jeri Smith-Ready because she writes about where I am from.  I really enjoy reading about familiar places in my fiction.  However, her books are great, with or without the local connection.  I highly recommend  all of her books, but this series is my favorite of hers.  The concept is original and fascinating.  The relationships are well-developed and, supernatural elements aside, very easy to relate to.  Her WVMP series runs a close second--and if you love vampires, you should get started with Wicked Game.