Archive | March 2013

Review – Pretty When She Kills (Pretty When She Dies #2) by Rhiannon Frater

PWSK“The girl stood drenched in blood in the center of the graveyard.”  That, my friends, is how you begin a book about vampires.

All of the major players from PWSD are back – Amaliya, Cian, Innocente, Sam, Jeff, Sergio.  Even some of the secondary characters play a more major role – Pete, Rachon.  And, we meet Bianca, Eduardo, Cassandra, Aimee and more.

Others are after Amaliya for her powers.  She and her own Scooby Gang have to fight the big bads to not only save her but also….well, I don’t want to give anything away.  Let’s just say that there is some major butt-kicking and heartache in PWSK.

Things I loved most:

– Sam learning to use her new power.

– Adding Cassandra and Aimee to the mix (along with Cassandra’s unexpected connection to Cian.)

– Jeff and Sam advancing their relationship.

– Learning more about Rachon.

If you love vampire novels, you need to read this series.  Go ahead, you know you want to.  5/5 stars.

Thank you to the author for providing an E-copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Brush with Death (Gray Whale Inn Mystery #5) by Karen MacInerney

Brush with DeathI think I’ve been on a Cozy Mystery kick lately.  Brush with Death is one that I enjoyed more than many of the others I’ve read.

The synopsis from Goodreads: “With an upcoming gallery show and a popular artist visiting Cranberry Island, art is on everyone’s minds–especially innkeeper Natalie Barnes. When Gwen, Natalie’s niece, is invited to present her paintings at the art show, Natalie is torn between worrying about stressed out Gwen, the arrival of her future mother-in-law, and the threat of foreclosure on the Gray Whale Inn. But then Natalie finds Gwen’s mentor dead. Will she uncover the truth behind this murder masterpiece?”

After receiving this ARC from Netgalley, I realized that I had actually read some of the earlier books in this series a few years ago.  I was easily able to pick this one right up without going back to the others.

Natalie is always finding her way into trouble.  Each book starts with a murder on tiny Cranberry Island.  Nat either finds the body or is suspected of the crime.  Yes, it’s formulaic, but there is comfort in that when done well.

My favorite thing about Brush with Death is the relationships.  I especially love Natalie and her fiance, John.  What’s not to love about a man who will start dinner for you, do the dishes and who is also an artist?  The friendship between Nat and Charlene keeps things pretty light.  I can picture voluptuous Charlene wearing her Christmas outfit, eating all of Nat’s baked goods and enticing the island’s men with her figure.  Loved it!

We also get recipes for all the yummy food described through the pages.  My favorite may be the Ricotta Berry Muffins.

There were a few minor plot points that I found far-fetched.  But, overall, this is a good little mystery to read on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  4/5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Heard it Through the Grapevine by Lizbeth Lipperman

Heard it through the grapevineAn easy-to-ready, cozy mystery that I liked but didn’t love.  From Goodreads: ” Debut mystery chock-full of big Texas attitude.  Savannah television personality Elaina Garcia has the opportunity of a lifetime as a news anchor in Florida, but her plans are disrupted when she learns about the death of her estranged sister, Tessa, who ran a Texas winery with her ex-husband.  Back in her hometown of Vineyard, Texas, Lainey comes face to face with her dead sister. The problem is that Tessa is not in the coffin. Dealing with the wisecracking ghost of her sibling, Lainey and her three surviving sisters set out to fulfill Tessa’s wish from beyond the grave–to find out who killed her.  But hidden among the vines of the dead sister’s multi-million dollar wine-making business lurks a killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.”

Elaina is talented and smart.  She is also beautiful – here’s one of my issues with this book.  I really, really, really don’t like it when a drop-dead beautiful woman acts like she has no idea that she is gorgeous.  It just isn’t reality.  Beautiful women know that they are physically beautiful.  It drives me a little nuts when a female character acts like she has no idea that her face is perfect and body is amazing.  Heard it Through the Grapevine probably lost one star because of this.

Tessa, her deceased sister, was also beautiful but at least she OWNED IT.  She knew she was hot stuff and used it to her advantage.  I’m not sure I would like her in real life but I appreciated her snarkiness and sense of humor (as a ghost.)

I enjoyed the relationship between Lainey and her sisters.  Many of the scenes were a realistic portrayal of the relationship between siblings – specifically sisters.  Dan, Lainey’s boyfriend, seemed like a good enough guy but was pretty boring.

SPOILER ALERT — Another star was lost because of the Colton Winslow storyline.  Here you go – Lainey had a huge crush on Colton growing up.  Tessa, her boyfriend, Colton and his girlfriend would hang out and go on double dates.  Lainey watched from the sidelines and gushed about Colton in her journal.  Tessa knew about this crush after reading Lainey’s journal.  The couples eventually broke up as teenaged couples usually do.

Seriously, if you keep reading, I will spoil a major plot point.  Tessa spent a night with Colton and a few weeks later told him she was pregnant.  Being the all-around perfect guy that he is, he married her.  This, as you can imagine, caused a rift between Tessa and Lainey (who moves away and never speaks to Tessa again.)

I could have lived with it up to this point.  Tessa did a horrible thing to her sister.  Here’s what I didn’t buy into (and, again, SPOILER) – Tessa never slept with Colton.  They were both drunk and fell asleep that night.  Colton thought they did the deed but Tessa knew they didn’t.  She got pregnant by someone else but knew that Colton would “do the right thing” and take care of her and her child.  I could have still, sort of, stuck with it to this point.  But we find out that she and Colton never even slept together after they were married.  Seriously?!?  Here’s this gorgeous woman and this gorgeous guy who are married for years and they never have sex?  Not buying it.

Even worse – they eventually get divorced (can’t imagine why, can you?)  Why in the heck wouldn’t Tessa go and tell her sister the truth then?  It really makes absolutely no sense.

Overall, this is a good cozy mystery and I would read more from this author.  3/5 Stars.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review – Death Comes Home (In Darkness We Must Abide #1) by Rhiannon Frater

Beautiful lonely girl  in long dressAs you all may know, Rhiannon Frater is one of my favorite authors.  She writes interesting novels about people who just happen to be vampires, zombies, necromancers, witches or other ‘monsters’.  When I saw that she was writing an episodic serial, I jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first to read and enjoy Episode 1 – Death Comes Home.

Here is the Goodreads description: “In Darkness We Must Abide is the epic saga of one young woman caught in the dangerous world of the creatures of the night.  Already living in the shadows due to her albinism, Vanora is just a little girl when her older brother inadvertently unleashes a terrible evil from the family crypt that changes their lives forever.  As she grows up in a world where beautiful deadly beings hunt by night, one captures her eye and her heart. Yet, can she trust the mysterious Armando? For there is a powerful entity plotting to claim her when she reaches adulthood in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, and her enemy has enveloped her in a web of deceit, casting doubt on all she believes to be true. Soon, she will have to fight not only to save those she loves, but also for her very soul.  Rhiannon Frater delivers a chilling adventure once again with this multi-part epic serial with a dynamic cast, old school vampires, bloody action, a smoldering forbidden love, and a terrifying villain set against the backdrop of a modern day vampire war.  Each episode will be between 10,000 and 20,000 words with new installments being published every 2 to 3 weeks.  Episode 1: Death Comes Home – Roman Socoli inadvertently releases a terrible evil when he has his Romanian ancestors entombed on his estate in Houston, Texas.”

Death Comes Home delivers as the start to a great novel.  I finished it last night and am already itching to get my hands on Episode 2.  The cliffhanger is brutal!!  5/5 stars.

Readalong and enjoy each episode as it is published.  You can buy the e-book through Amazon or get it at Rhiannon Frater’s website (free – woo hoo).  Join the discussion on Facebook and check out the blog for sneak peeks.

The readalong is hosted by Contagious Reads.

Review – Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower IV) by Stephen King

Wizard and Glass“As for me, I choose the tower.”

Wizard and Glass picks up right where we left off at the end of Book 3.  Roland and his ka-tet (Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy) are on the Blaine train and fighting for their lives with riddles.  Spoiler – they make it (what did you expect, we have many more books to go).  This was a good start but the real meat of the story begins after the train ride.  Roland owes his ka-tet some stories from his history.  We learn of Roland’s first and only true love, Susan Delgado.  But, this is so much more than a love story.  It’s about friendship – Roland, Cuthbert and Alain share a brotherhood and their bonds are tested.  Roland’s mother and father provide another layer of history.  Cort, Roland’s teacher.  Rhea, the witch.  Cordelia, the bitter aunt.  Each character brings something special – whether wonderful or truly awful – to Wizard and Glass.

Roland, Cuthbert and Alain’s relationship was one of the best parts of W&G for me.  They drew me in and never let go.  Susan, I knew that you would bring heartbreak for Roland and for us as readers.  I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about halfway through and it’s still there even after finishing.  Susan is lovely and smart.  I couldn’t help but like her.  But, you go into it knowing it won’t end well.  It does give us background on where Roland’s obsession with the Tower began and how he became cold and unfeeling.

King references characters from other novels.  There is a good amount of tie-in to The Stand and Randall Flagg makes an appearance.  The turtle is referenced.  King also brings in some of The Wizard of Oz (more the movie than the original book) but it was done seamlessly.  Let’s just be honest, he is a genius.

5/5 stars and I wish I had more to give.  I know some of you don’t read King because of the HORROR.  Give this series a try.  It’s about friendship, family, the folly of youth, mistakes and their repercussions.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes to whet your appetite:

“Because it’s trouble,” Roland said, “and it’s in our road.  We’ll get there in time.  No need to live in trouble until trouble comes.”

“…it is from here that the blood will begin to flow.  In two years, no more, the world as it has been will be swept away. It starts here. From its field of roses, the Dark Tower cries out in its beast’s voice. Time is a face on the water.”

“True love, like any other strong and addicting drug, is boring — once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome… except, of course, to those who share the kisses, who give and take the caresses while every sound and color of the world seems to deepen and brighten around them. As with any other strong drug, true first love is really only interesting to those who have become its prisoners.  And, as is true of any other strong and addicting drug, true first love is dangerous.”

“If it’s ka it’ll come like a wind, and your plans will stand before it no more than a barn before a cyclone”

Review – Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

voyage“It has always been forever, for me, Sassenach”

Voyager is the third installment in the Outlander series.  After the roller coaster ride that was Dragonfly in Amber, I was excited/nervous/happy to get to this one.  Diana Gabaldon didn’t let me down!  I am so attached to these characters that I actually got sick to my stomach while reading.  We have such a long way to go (book 8 is coming out this fall) that I know any “Happily Ever After” is far down the road.

No plot summary – it would be impossible without spoilers.  We get to spend more time with our major characters (Jamie, Claire, Brianna, Roger and so on.)  Plus, we learn more about some minor players (Lord John Grey, Laoghaire-yuck, Jenny, Ian, Fergus).  And we meet new people (William, Marsali).

I’m loving Lord John Grey and have already picked up two of his books to read later.  I could have done without Laoghaire (honestly, couldn’t it have been anyone but her?)  Anger doesn’t describe the emotion this caused for me.  Claire is much more forgiving than I would be.  Let’s just leave it at that.  Interested yet?  YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!

While I loved Voyager and am patiently waiting to get to the next book, I do have some concerns about the series going forward:

– As I mentioned above, we have a long way to go.  It seems that Claire, Jamie and the others get themselves into one predicament after another.  I’m worried this could become old if it continues for 5+ more books.  Hopefully DG will find other ways to advance the story.

– Coincidence upon coincidence.  Claire and Jamie seem to run into people that they know all the time and all over the world.  In 2013, the world is a rather small place and I can see this happening but in the mid-1700’s?  I’m not sure it really makes sense for Jamie to meet up with a person he met in Europe while in the West Indies.  And, Claire meets the ancestor of her friend from the 1960’s.  If this happened occasionally, it wouldn’t stand out but it happens ALOT and I don’t want the story to become hokey.

– Is anyone ever really dead?  There are times when I was reminded of watching ‘the stories’ with my grandmother.  Noone ever really dies on a soap opera and apparently not in the Outlander world either.

None of these concerns kept me from enjoying the book but were in the back of my mind.  Honestly, no matter what happens, I will be there with this series until the end.  Jamie and Claire are a part of me now and I have to see them through.  I hope they do finally receive their proper ending.

5/5 stars for a great book!!

 

Review – Strange Fates by Marlene Perez

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Nyx Fortuna is the son of one of the original four fates – Lady Fortuna. She was killed by her sisters and now they are after Nyx. Can he get revenge before they get to him?

Strange Fates got my attention as a paranormal (sort-of) romance with a male MC. Nyx didn’t let me down. It was fun to hear the story from his point of view. His hatred towards his aunts and the need for revenge came through loud and clear. I loved that his perspective was challenged once he started meeting members of his family and hearing their version of events.

His love interest, Elizabeth, was my least favorite character. Hot, then cold. So wishy washy that I wanted to smack her through my e-reader. I honestly don’t see what Nyx saw in her other than looks. He deserves better and I hope he finds someone more worthy in future installments. Her roommate would even be better…hint hint Marlene Perez.

4/5 stars for a great start to the series. Thank you to Orbit/Hatchette Books for providing a copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.