Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Blood Oath

I admit, Blood Oath is not my usual read.  Yes, I enjoy vampire stories but my usual vampire stories usually include a lot of romance, peppered with a little action.  Blood Oath is exactly the opposite:  a lot of action and no romance.  However, when I learned that I had won an early reviewer's copy of The President's Vampire, the sequel to Blood Oath, my OCD-type personality required me to read the books in order :)  Unfortunately, I did not receive my copy of The President's Vampire prior to its release, but I'm still going to read and review the book.

I am not a big reader of this type of book--politics, intrigue, saving the world for an unsuspecting public.  I did, however, enjoy Blood Oath.  We are introduced to Nathaniel Cade, a young man turned vampire in 1867 while on a whaling ship.  He is discovered by agents of the US government and taken to President Andrew Johnson, who offers Cade the opportunity to work for the US government in return for pardoning his involvement in the deaths of his shipmates.  After binding Cade with a blood oath, requiring him to serve the President of the United States and his appointed deputies.  Cade has been in service to each President ever since.  He is a well-guarded secret, only known to a few in the inner circle of the President, including his liaison/handler.  Cade is responsible for handling any/all supernatural threats to the US.

Cade is a vampire/hero with some depth.  He refuses to drink human blood, although he knows that eventually he will begin to age/decompose by only drinking animal blood.  He takes his duties to his country/President very seriously, with or without the blood oath--although the constrictions sometimes placed on him by the blood oath can be very frustrating.  He is the biggest hero in the US as well as the best kept secret.  All he has is his duty. 

Cade is being assigned a new liaison.  Griff, his previous liaison for decades, is dying of cancer and it is time to train someone new.  Enter Zach--the young, golden-boy of the current administration.  He believes he is on the fast-track to power.  Just when he believes he is being promoted to Chief of Staff, he gets blindsided by Cade--his new assignment will take him out of the spotlight and completely into the realm of covert ops.  This is not exactly Zach's dream job.  However, he soon settles in and is along for the ride.

The US is being threatened by fundamentalist terrorists believing they can create Frankenstein-monster-type super soldiers that are practically indestructible and live to destroy.  They employ the services of Dr. Johann Konrad to animate the soldiers, as he is the man himself--the original Dr. Frankenstein, and an old nemesis of Cade. 

The paranormal elements of the story make it unique.  This could easily have been a story about a group of terrorists attempting an attack on Washington, DC in a more conventional manner.  Cade's vampire assets enhance him as a hero, but his heroism would be there without being a vampire.  Shadowy government organizations, a traitor in the inner circle, double & triple agents, these are all elements of a good spy thriller.  Cade being a vampire with an enemy that can re-animate the dead just makes the story more interesting.

I don't believe that the paranormal elements of this story would put off readers who enjoy traditional spy thrillers.  However, nor do I believe that Cade's being a vampire is enough to draw in the Twilight set.  But, overall, this is a very good book with interesting characters and an exciting story line.  There is a lot of potential for expanding Cade's story--both the present time line and the past and I look forward to reading what Mr. Farnsworth has to offer in the future.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Follow Friday!!

It's Follow Friday!!

Today's Follow Friday question is:

Q. How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

I generally average three books a week, sometimes more.  Lately, I've been reading more ebooks than printed books.  I tend to read on my iPhone more than anything else, since I already have it on me all the time & I can easily read a few pages when opportunity presents  itself.  I don't always carry paper books with me & I don't like audio books.  Plus, I tend to download at least one Barnes & Noble Free Friday offering a month & I've found an excellent ebook sharing group on Goodreads--reading on my iPhone just makes more sense.  I actually received an e-reader from a well-meaning relative for Christmas, but it wasn't a Nook and it's a bit of a klunker to use, especially since I'm a Mac.  I'm still trying to install an update that was released over a month ago!

What reading platform do you all prefer? 


Thanks for coming by!!  Have a wonderful weekend & don't forget to hit the 'follow' button :)

Silly thing I need to include to verify my blog:

Rub your magic 8 gently

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Alpha by Rachel Vincent

Alpha (Shifters Book 6)

Alpha (Shifters Book 6) is the final book in the Shifters series by Rachel Vincent.  The series focuses, mainly, on Faythe Sanders and her family/community of Werecat Shifters.  Stray (Shifters Book 1) introduces us to Faythe and her world--the world she's been desperately trying to escape.  Certain events draw her back into the Pride and her place in the Shifters world.  Over the course of six books, we get to know Faythe, her brothers, her parents and Marc, her first love, as well as the various other members of her father's Pride.  Faythe isn't your typical Tabby, female werecat.  Tabbies are prized and treasured and Faythe wants no part of that.  She wants to blaze her own trail and she does, making numerous mistakes and enemies along the way.  You can't help but admire her determination to break the mold and be her own woman. 

I've really enjoyed the Shifter series.  However, knowing that Alpha (Shifters Book 6) is the final book in the series, it sat on my TBR shelf for quite a while.  You see, Faythe had gotten herself into a very sticky situation in Shift (The Shifters, Book 5) and since I knew she'd have to make her decision in Alpha (Shifters Book 6), I put off reading it because I wasn't convinced I'd like the way the series ended.  However, I did finally pick it up the other day and had a very hard time putting it down. 

Faythe and her Pride are getting ready to take on the Council and it's corrupt leader.  Still reeling from the events and losses of Shift (The Shifters, Book 5), they attempt to use their wits to outsmart their enemies.  Unfortunately, their enemies are so powerful that even concrete evidence of wrong doing is brushed aside.  They have no choice but to resort to force--and they are in a weak position.  Faythe is forced to develop quickly into a leader and her unique perspective on things just might be her ace in the hole.

The entire Shifters series was very enjoyable.  The characters are strong and likable and, despite being werecats, very believable.  The series really focuses more on family and Faythe's development as a person than on a group of werecats.  Granted, the stories all involve being werecats, since the Pride is struggling against the shifter Council and the other Prides, but the heart of the stories is about love, belonging and being able to stretch your wings and grow.  Rachel Vincent created a wonderful character in Faythe, a real role model for young women looking to be their own person.  She isn't afraid to stick to her beliefs, nor is she afraid to make mistakes--and she certainly makes more than a few :)  Faythe learns and grows so much during the series, becoming a strong, independent woman not afraid to ask for help--a very likable character indeed. 

I really loved reading the Shifter series and am sorry to see it end.  If you haven't read it yet, the sequence is:  Stray (Shifters Book 1), Rogue (Shifters Book 2), Pride (Werecats, Book 3), Prey (Werecats, Book 4), Shift (The Shifters, Book 5) and finally Alpha (Shifters Book 6).  Happy reading :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Remembering horse riding safety basics

Guest post written by Jerry Combes

When you do something over and over, it's really easy to just get into the habit of doing it without truly thinking about it. If you're doing something where you have to worry about safety, it can sometimes be hard to remember to practice safety instead of just go through the motions of your activity. Well, I've been really bad about doing that with horse riding lately. I've been doing it for so many years that sometimes I have to refresh myself on basic safety reminders.
The best resource for that is some horse riding blogs. I went online to read through some of them about a week or so ago and while I was doing that I found some information about Email for rural users. I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I decided to sign up for the service for my home.
I think one of the important horse riding safety tips that I found recently is that you have to remember to let the horse know if you're walking behind them. Lots of accidents happen when people scare them from behind, so I'm sure to let them know I'm there.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow Friday!!

It's Follow Friday!!

Welcome to any first time visitors and welcome back to any repeat visitors :)

Today's Follow Friday question is:

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...



I'm not sure I'm interesting enough to come up with five quirky/interesting things about me, but here goes.....

1.  I love to read--been doing it since I was 3.  I have a difficult time getting through the day if I don't get at least a few minutes with a book.

2.  I met my husband at my first wedding---he was dating a friend of mine & I was marrying the wrong man.  We met again 4 years later--he was single, I was divorced.  He moved in with me a few weeks later.  Still together, almost 12 years and 2 kids later...

3.  I'm fascinated by magic--not the David Copperfield kind--and I truly believe that there are people in this world that can manipulate forces in a way that others can't.

4.  While I love romance, I'm not one much for chick flicks.  Give me a good action movie any day.  Can't wait for the new X-Men and Transformers movies this summer :)

5.  I collect old editions of classics.  I don't have anything valuable, but I have copies of Pride and Prejudice and Crime and Punishment from the early 20th century.  I pick them up at used book sales :)

So, that's me.  Not the most interesting/quirky list in the world, but there it is.  Hope you all have an amazing weekend!

Don't forget to hit the Follow button :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

Dear Barnes & Noble:

Thank you for giving me such a wonderful book for free.  I don't always appreciate the books you offer on Free Fridays, but this week you've given me a gift :)

The Four Corners of the Sky: A Novel

Annie has had an interesting life.  She spent the first seven years of her life with her father, Jack Peregrine, running cons and constantly on the go.  She's never known any other life until, on her 7th birthday, he leaves her with her Aunt Sam & Sam's best friend Clark, and vanishes for 10 years.  During that time, Annie learned to adjust to a 'normal' life in Emerald, North Carolina--being raised by Sam and Clarke bearing a remote resemblance to normal.  She is a star athlete, has a wonderful best friend and gets accepted into the Naval Academy to reach her goal of being a fighter pilot.  On her seventh birthday, when her father left her at his childhood home to be raised by his sister, he told her that her birthday present was in the barn--an old airplane.  Annie loved that plane and convinced Sam & Clarke that she wanted to fly.  She even convinced D.K. Destin to not only give her flying lessons, but to teach her to be a flyer.  Annie hadn't slowed down since. 

Aside from a brief encounter on her 17th birthday, where her father emerged at full speed from a corn field to leave Annie a ruby for her birthday present, only to exit at full speed when the local police showed up, Annie hasn't had any contact with her father since her left her when she was 7.  Until, on her 26th birthday, he contacts her.  He's dying and he needs her help.  Annie, currently in the middle of a divorce from a man who will not divorce her, is heading home to spend her birthday in Emerald, as she does every year.  She's on top of the world, divorce not withstanding, because she's been chosen for an incredible opportunity to test a new aircraft and take a crack at a new speed record.  Why would she drop everything to help her father?  the man who abandoned her?  Love.

I absolutely loved this book!  Michael Malone has created some wonderful characters.  Annie, self-confident, successful woman, abandoned little girl on the inside.  Her best friend Georgette, raised by the 'perfect' mother with all the emotional baggage to show for it.  Sam and Clarke, best friends, totally devoted to each other with the wrong sexual preference to turn their friendship to romance.  Jack Peregrine, fast talking con man with more secrets than the CIA.  Their family is completely dysfunctional and works so well.  The relationships are solid, anchored in the kind of love that not every family has but this mashed together family has in abundance.  As the characters grow, you find yourself wanting to know more and more about them.  You are rooting for each of them to find their happily ever after--it's a wonderful story. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Follow Friday!!

It's Follow Friday!  

Just glad Blogger got things worked out in time to do this on Friday :)

Today's Follow Friday question is:

Q. The Blogger Apocalypse made me a little emotional. What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?

Let me think--I haven't read a lot of overly emotional books lately.  I recently finished The Hollow (The Hollow Trilogy) by Jessica Verday and there are a few emotional scenes in it.  If you haven't read the book & want to, stop here to avoid spoilers :)  The most emotional scene, for me, was on prom night when Abbey goes to the cemetary in her prom gown to visit Kristen.  She wades into the river where Kristen drowned and finally seems to accept that her best friend is dead.  Her emotional turmoil mirrored my own when I lost someone close to me and reading it was a little difficult.  The other emotional scene is at the end of the book when she learns the truth about Nikolas, Katey and Caspian and feels like she is losing her mind.  The scene is so powerfully written that, even though you can see it coming, her shock is still overwhelming.  I think the theme of loss that is so prevalent in this book made the whole experience personal for me, making it very emotional.  But, it is still a good read and I'd recommend it.

Thanks for stopping by my Follow Friday.  Don't forget to hit the follow button :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons by Katie MacAlister

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons is the latest Katie MacAlister installment in the Light Dragon series.  Isolde has a lot going on.  She is still trying to recover her dragon memories, get the weyr to call off the war against Baltic, have the interdiction lifted from her magic and figure out what on earth the First Dragon wants her to do for him.  Along the way, she's charged with rescuing the half-dragon granddaughter of the Arch Mage and plots with Aisling and May to release one of Baltic's lieutenants from the weyr's custody.  However, her seemingly unrelated tasks are beginning to add up to some answers about her past, Baltic, Konstantine and the First Dragon. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons: A Novel of the Light Dragons is the second in the Light Dragons series, and is clearly not meant to be the final Light Dragons book.  Isolde finds a lot more questions than answers in this installment, although some light is shed on her past and her connection to the First Dragon, she is still missing her memories and there are many open issues.  This second book in the series is just as much fun to read as the first, in fact, as all the dragon books by Katie MacAlister.  There is plenty of adventure, intrigue and romance.  Baltic seems to be evolving, as most of the dragons have, into a more modern man capable of allowing his mate a little independence.  I look forward to the next installment of the Light Dragon series.

If you aren't familiar with Katie MacAlister's dragon works, start with You Slay Me (Aisling Grey, Guardian, Book 1).  While technically referred to as the Aisling Grey, Guardian series, this book introduces us to the dragons and provides the basis for both the Silver Dragon series and the Light Dragon series.

Wednesday, May 11, 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 title is:

I actually read about this book on someone else's WOW a few weeks ago.  It sounds sweet, but mixed with some heartache and intrigue.  Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.

Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all together. And they threaten to change everything—including Bean’s relationship with Henry, her first friend, and who also might turn out to be her first love.

I haven't read anything else by Jo Knowles, although her other books, Lessons from a Dead Girl and Jumping Off Swings both sound like good reads, if a little dark,  and are currently on my Want List.

Pearl  is scheduled to be released on July 19, 2011. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11)

I love the Sookie Stackhouse series--my only complaint is that the books aren't long enough & I have to wait another year to read the next one!

There's trouble brewing in Bon Temps and Sookie finds herself in the middle of it all.  Her past has come back to haunt her in a most unpleasant way, her relationship with Eric is severely strained and something is definitely up with the fairies.  And, in the midst of all this, she nearly forgot that she's hosting a baby shower for her best friend Tara.

Sookie has come a long way from the waitress who never dated, due to her unique abilities, to the wife of a vampire sheriff.  She finds herself in a world surrounded by supernatural beings, some of whom are her relatives, and caught up in the politics of these worlds.  She's dealing with weres/shifters, vampires and fey in this story--which has a return visit from Bubba, one of my favorite characters in the series :)  She feels a growing separation with Eric and believes it is due to the current regent of the area, Victor, who is doing everything in his considerable power to find a reason to justify killing Eric.  Victor is a problem, but there is more going on beneath the surface than she knows.  She is still living with Claude and Devlin, although she finds out that what has drawn them to live with her is more than just her fae blood.  The mysterious Mr. Cataliades makes an appearance, revealing more to Sookie about her fae heritage and also managing to save her skin, albeit indirectly. 

Overall, the book has a lot going on.  Sookie seems to have a lot of balls in the air while juggling all the intrigue and politics surrounding her.  Throw in a visit from an old friend and things get almost chaotic.  My only disappointment in this book, and indeed in some of the more recent books in the series, is regarding Sookie's relationship with Eric.  I understand that the characters will have problems, particularly since Sookie is a fairly independent woman who enjoys taking care of herself and Eric is still, in many ways, a Viking warrior.  However, I feel like the relationship is only given consideration when it is relevant to a separate plot point instead of being relevant for it's own sake.  I know this isn't a romance series, but I keep feeling teased at the end of each book.  It's like:  come on already!  Things start to look happy and then something else happens to drive a wedge between them!  I hope that this relationship either blossoms or ends soon because I'm seriously craving some progress on this point.  Otherwise, I really liked the book.  I hope I didn't include any true spoilers in this little rant of mine because I would hate to ruin the book for anyone, but I really needed to share :)

So, for all you Southern Vampires fans, go and read the book!  If you haven't read the series, go start now with Dead until Dark.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Follow Friday!

It's Follow Friday!!

Welcome everyone & thanks for stopping by!

Today's Follow Friday question is:

Q. Circle time! Time to share. What character in a book would you most like to be, what character in a book would you most like to date?


This is a tough one for me because there are so many ways to answer this question.  My first instinct was to say that I would most like to be Elizabeth Bennett, since I love Pride And Prejudice.  However, I think I would most like to be Thursday Next from the Jasper Fforde series.  She gets to travel in and out of books, have incredible adventures and smuggle cheese--how cool is that?


What character would I most like to date?  Hmmm, tough one.  First thought:  Mr. Darcy, because any man who overcomes his prejudices, sets aside his arrogance & declares his love for you is definitely a keeper in my book.  I do, however, read a lot of romance, which makes it difficult to narrow the field.  Drake, from Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey series comes to mind--yummy dragon :)  Eric from the Sookie Stackhouse books--yummy vampire :)  Bones from Jeaniene Frost's Nighthunter series--another yummy vampire :) Adam from the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs--yummy werewolf :)  Basically, I like my modern literary boyfriends to be paranormal with a bad boy edge :)


So, thanks for stopping by on Follow Friday!  Have a great weekend & please don't forget to hit the 'follow' button :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bite Club by Rachel Caine

Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10)

Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10) is the latest in the Morganville Vampire series.  I really love this series and I finished it in about 24 hours :)  In Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10), Shane gets involved with a new gym promoting martial arts training and winds up in over his head.  Claire, Michael, Eve and the usual suspects all have to fight to get him out of trouble before Amelie exterminates everyone involved in a secret that threatens to expose Morganville.

In many ways, this installment felt like the middle of a trilogy or something.  The main story line was basically resolved by the end, but it left open a lot of unanswered questions and possibilities.  Some old villains resurface, including Gloriana from the short story Drama Queen's Last Dance, found in Eternal: More Love Stories with Bite.  While the vampire-related dramas seem to come to some conclusion, the human dramas seem to be building up.  Claire and Shane's relationship is strained by the end of the story, and Michael seems to be harboring doubts about Eve.  I strongly suspect that in the next Morganville Vampires book, the main focus will be on the relationships, with vampire enemies falling second.  I could be wrong, but that's how things felt to me at the end of Bite Club (Morganville Vampires, Book 10).

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  The characters are very interesting and it's been nice seeing how they have developed over the course of the series.  Claire, in particular, seems to really come into her own strength in this story, although at the cost of some of her innocence.  Shane seems to find more of his inner demons, more than he is truly able to explore in this story.  As I said, the ending of this story really leaves a lot of emotional issues unresolved--I hope that there is some closure in the next installment Last Breath: The Morganville Vampires due out in November 2011.

Wednesday, May 4, 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:

I've just finished the first book in the series, Matched, and I really enjoyed it.  If you haven't read Matched, just stop now & go read it.  Here's the link to my review of Matched and Goodreads description of the book:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Matched, I am eagerly anticipating the November 1st release of Crossed (Matched).  Again, here is the Goodreads synopsis:

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
Crossed (Matched) is scheduled for release on November 1, 2011.